Sunday, 23 September 2018

Hobonichi Art Diary 2019 Unboxing

Just like I did last year, I purchased the yearly art diary from Hobonichi. The diaries went on sale on 1st September as they always do, but this year the sales system was different. Hobonichis have become much more popular in the last few years, and the company have had problems with their website crashing, so they divided up the sale over 3 days. Certain products in their range went on sale on different days, and customers had the option to hold their order until the end to enable them to buy everything they wanted and have it sent in one parcel.

I was a little intimidated by this system when I first heard about it, but there was ample information about how it worked (in written, video and manga form!), and it all went very smoothly. I have to commend Hobonichi for this. But let's get on to the unboxing! Get ready for lots of photos! (P.S. Stay tuned for a slightly disconcerting surprise at the end!)

This year the items came in an amazing bright orange-coloured box with a graphic pattern on it.

The quote says:
Don't ever lose hope. It's far too important.
You know how a pinch of salt
changes the whole flavor of a dish?
Your hope is that salt.

This year I decided to buy more than just the book itself. Previously I'd thought to make my own covers, but after 3 years this still hasn't happened! A couple of Etsy sellers are making nice covers, but they weren't any more cost effective than the official Hobonichi ones, so I decided to go straight to the source. I also got a few washi tapes and other things.

I purchased the Peach Sky cover with a Cover-on-Cover. The Cover-on-Cover is a clear plastic cover which slips on over the top of the standard cover, which is made from fabric, and protects it. There is a plain plastic cover, but I purchased the Forest Secrets print.

This years' free gifts were a multi-pen (the standard gift), this time in a beautiful cream colour, and a Not-Scary Bear paperweight. He looks a bit scary to me! But I think it's a reminder not to judge by appearances.

The book came with a cute poster which says "Happy Nothing Special Day!" I'll hang it up on my wall so I can see it when I'm getting ready for work in the mornings.

As I mentioned before, I want to purchase covers for my Hobonichis from now on, and that means my previous books from 2016 onwards, too. My first book was the A6 size, before I switched to A5 size. The shop had an adorable cat cover which I needed to have! The design is called "I Forgot When It Was, But I Sure Had Fun", designed by Ryoji Arai. I'm glad I purchased it, because it sold out on the first day!

I also purchased a couple of washi tapes, and some A6-sized plastic folders which I will use to hold planner stickers. The folders are designed by Nao Sakamoto and are really adorable! The Kitta stickers are decorated strips, and are a bit like a cross between stickers and washi tape.

Lastly ... the disconcerting surprise! Hobonichi have accidentally sent me a second book! It's the English language A6 planner, plus the free gifts that come with all books. I didn't order or pay for this! And I'm not sure what to do -- if I should contact them and try to return it, give it away or use it. What should I do?

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Confession time : My Garden is a Mess!

Yes, it's true. My garden is a complete mess. Husband and I have just hit the 5-year anniversary of living in our house, and the garden isn't what I wanted it to be at all. Not that this is a 5-year celebration post. That would be a bit sad.

I wanted to explain though, why I haven't posted any garden updates for a long time. I've become less interested in looking after my garden in the last year or so, but a garden is something you can't just give up on -- there are consequences! Last Summer I didn't water the plants as much as I should have, and while some did okay, others didn't thrive. There were other times when I was more enthusiastic about working in the garden but life got in the way. I was busy, I was sick, I sprained my ankle (twice), I did my back, it was pouring rain all weekend. I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses -- it's just life.

Anyway, let's look at the shame.

This is the view I see when I leave the house in the morning and come home. This stand was supposed to be a greenhouse, but I took the plastic off last Summer as it seemed to be just cooking the plants. Some of the plants are doing pretty well, others are expiring before my eyes:

Here is our backyard. (Technically it's off the side of the house, but it's where the space is and functions as a backyard.) The fruit trees are blossoming like they're supposed to, but the lawn hasn't been mowed in months and the orange tree really needs help.

Some of those oranges are ready to be picked and are just weighing down the tree, and those yellow leaves mean it needs to be fertilised. Mowing underneath it would help the fertiliser to penetrate and prevent the tree from competing with the grass for nutrients.

This rosemary bush grows incredibly well -- too well. It's become all tangled up in the long grass and a bit weighed down. It could do with a trim, too. On the other hand, the flowers are lovely and attract bees to the garden. The dead stump has been there ever since we moved in; we've yet to find a way to get rid of it.

This is technically the back yard. It's a narrow strip that runs along the back of the house. It's where I sprained my ankle when I was gardening a few months ago. It's the area I'd like to deal with first as not only is it an ugly view from my bedroom window, it's the only way to access the side yard and it's an actual safety hazard.

The lavender bush I planted last year is growing very well and I'm very happy with it. However, it's getting a bit crowded out with grass and that bush on the left is encroaching on its sunlight.

This is at the front of the house -- in full view of anyone walking past! The garden bed here is a strange mix of vigorously growing plants, and ones that have just dropped dead and been replaced by weedy grass. It really needs a good mulching and a few nice plants put in to replace the dead ones.

At least there are some dandelions among the grass. I've been deliberately leaving them alone wherever I see them. There aren't enough yet for me to feel comfortable harvesting them, but perhaps this Summer I can make some dandelion leaf salad and fritters from the flowers.

I hope this post goes some way to explaining why I haven't blogged about my garden in such a long time, despite my professed love of gardening, as well as motivation for me to start improving things this Spring season!