Tiny tea bag book of nature

 

Lately I have seen a lot of wonderful art on the Internet using tea bags. As an avid tea drinker, I decided to start saving my used tea bags to make my own little book. Although mostly I use loose leaf tea, I do use some tea bags and got some interesting effects from black tea, green tea, and nettle tea, while some I left unstained.

I decided on a nature theme for my little book. I stitched down the center of the tea bags to bind them together, then added cardstock and vellum to the front and back covers. To embellish the tea bag pages I used stamped images, stickers, stamps, tiny pictures, pressed flowers and leaves, and washi tape.

Here are a few of the pages.

 

Finally I glued coloured hemp and recycled silk fibers to the spine.

This teeny tiny book is as light as a feather and fits into the palm of my hand.

Larkspur art journal page

I love purple and blue flowers, and larkspurs are one of my favourites. In the language of flowers, larkspurs signify lightness and levity. They also have magical connections to health and protection.

Larkspur

For the journal page I used paints and inks, washi tape, corrugated cardboard, a stencil, cutout butterflies, a pressed larkspur flower, larkspur seeds, rust-dyed fabrics, a white pen, and impasto gel medium.

Larkspurs self-seed in our garden and come up every spring in myriad colours of blues, purples and pinks. Their soft, feathery foliage is pretty, too.

At the moment, with the end of summer and herbs starting to die off, my studio has become a drying room with bunches of bergamot, lemon balm, and basil hanging from the rafters to dry for use in the winter.

Wildflower Meadow

I hope all the mums out there had a lovely Mother’s Day on Sunday. It was a beautiful autumn day here, continuing our run of amazing autumn weather.

I made my mum this mixed-media picture using watercolour and inking techniques from Jane Betteridge’s book Watercolours Unleashed. After the background was dry, I added pressed flowers and leaves from my garden, and a few butterflies cut from scrapbook paper.

wildflower meadow

Jane Betteridge does the most beautiful watercolour painting, using nature as her inspiration. I was so pleased to have discovered her book. You can see her lovely work on her website at www.janebetteridge.com.

Pressed Flower Journal

flower journal

I love collecting flowers from our garden, and wildflowers from our walks, to press and use in craft projects. It is always interesting to see, after they have been pressed between the pages of a book for a few weeks, what they will turn out like. Some hold their colour much better than others. I find that blue and purple ones seem to hold their colour well, while red and pink often seem to fade quickly.

I bought this lovely journal a couple of years ago and have been saving it for a special project. When I thought about keeping a record of the pressed flowers, the journal seemed like a perfect place to keep them. I simply attached a few of each of the flowers to the pages with washi tape, and wrote the names below on a strip of masking tape. These are a few of the flowers that I have pressed over the last two or three months.

pansies

wildflowers2

larkspur

white clover

violas

radish flowers

cornflowers

lobelia

lavender

feverfew

daisies

wildflowers

pansies

alyssum

I’m looking forward to filling up the rest of the pages as different plants come into flower over the seasons.

Garden Journal

There is a lovely lot of colour in the garden at the moment with all the spring flowers in bloom. Last summer, on one of our walks, we saw some pretty poppies growing wild and we took a flower head home to save the seed. We planted the seeds in our front garden, and they have been flowering the past few weeks. Nick took these lovely photos.

poppies

poppies

poppy

poppy

Yesterday I planted the veggie garden with the tomatoes, zucchinis, lettuces and spring onions that I raised from seed. I still have a lot of planting out to do of flowers and herbs. Hopefully we won’t get any more frosts. I’ve planted the beans, saved from last summer’s crop. Nick had to erect a new bean frame, as our old one blew over and broke in the wind. There are still a few cabbages, red onions, silverbeet and spinach growing in the garden from the winter, although the silverbeet and spinach are starting to bolt and go to seed now.

These are the October pages from my garden journal.

garden journal

garden journal

Our Summer Garden

Our summer, so far, has been very hot, with not very much rain. The flowers, veggies and weeds are all growing well! Some of my favourite flowers in our garden this year are the foxgloves, snapdragons, asters. . .

Foxglove

Foxglove

Foxglove

Foxglove

Snapdragons

Snapdragons

Aster

Aster

Osteospermum

Osteospermum

. . . and the good old-fashioned hydrangea, which is a beautiful blue colour with tiny flecks of red.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

I love the soft blue and lemon of the newly forming blooms.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

These pretty blue cornflowers self-seeded throughout the garden.

Cornflowers

Cornflowers

Here are a few pictures of our veggie garden. Although it is small, made up of raised beds tucked away in a corner, we manage to grow a lot in it.

Vegetable garden

Vegetable garden

I picked our first zucchinis last week.

Zucchinis

Zucchinis

The climbing beans have lots of flowers, so shouldn’t be too far away.

Beans, Basil & Marigolds

Beans, Basil & Marigolds

I have bottled several jars of beetroot and there are lots more coming on.

Beetroot

Beetroot

Bottled beetroot

Bottled beetroot

We are picking radishes and lettuces and spring onions, and we had a really good crop of strawberries this year.

Radishes

Radishes

Lettuces with blue and purple flowers for the bees

Lettuces with blue and purple flowers for the bees

Spring onions

Spring onions

Tomatoes, Anise Hyssop and Feverfew

Tomatoes, Anise Hyssop and Feverfew

Anise Hyssop and Oleander

 

I hung shiny things over the spinach and chard to keep the birds from eating it, and surrounded the small plants with grit to deter the snails and slugs.

Spinach and Chard

Spinach and Chard

Finn keeps me company in the garden while I plant, weed, and harvest.

 

Finn

Finn

Garden Journal – August

With another winter almost over and spring just around the corner, the gardens and roadsides are coming to life with blossom-covered trees. The tuis adore the nectar they provide at this time of year. Nick took these photos of a tui drinking from the blossom flowers where he is working at the moment.

Tui

Tui

Tui drinking nectar

The bright yellow flowers of the wattle trees have been adding a splash of sunshine to the winter days. I wish we had room for one in our garden. I love the Golden Wattles with their clusters of small pompom flowers that we see when we go for walks.

Golden Wattle

Golden Wattle

The weather is warming up and new growth is emerging, with flowers appearing that have been dormant over the winter months. I’ve been planning what to plant in my garden this year, drawing diagrams, making sure to rotate the crops where I have room, and reading through my companion planting book to make sure not to plant things next to each other which don’t get on. I’ve started a few seeds off inside to get a head start. A little glasshouse is on my wish list, the trouble is finding somewhere in the garden to put one!

I have been keeping a garden journal for a year now. I started last September, at the beginning of spring. It’s interesting to look back over a complete cycle of the seasons and see how the garden changes.

august garden journal

Our broccoli are finally ready for harvesting. I cut the main heads off and and let the plants continue to grow so that they form side-shoots.

broccoli

Broccoli and Mushroom Gratin

1 large head broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter or non-dairy spread
2 tablespoons flour
1½ cups milk (or soya milk or oat milk)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1½ cups grated cheese
2 tablespoons butter or non-dairy spread, melted
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 180º C.

Cut the broccoli into florets and steam until bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes. Place in lightly greased baking dish.

Heat the oil and saute the onion and mushrooms until the onion begins to soften and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Spread mixture over broccoli.

Heat the butter or non-dairy spread in a saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth, then gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Pour the sauce over the broccoli mixture in the dish.

Stir together the melted butter, breadcrumbs and remaining cheese, and sprinkle over the gratin.

Bake about 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

broccoli & mushroom gratin