The Butterfly House: Chrysalis

HortusButterflies1In my favourite role-playing background, Changeling: The Dreaming, a Chrysalis is the point where the fae soul that has been lying dormant in a human is awakened. There are glimpses of the hidden world, the veil blown aside a bit by the winds that change ever so often, bits of glamour revealed.

HortusButterflies4After these sneak peeks into the world behind the world, the one that only the enchanted can see, there follows the dream dance, a swirling, manic, intense experience. It’s frightening to go through this alone and many refuse the call to their truest self, go crazy, get lost in the maelstrom of wonder, monsters, feelings. But those who don’t, those who either get found in time, rescued, those who somehow make it by themselves, those who embrace who they really are, enter a whole new world-behind-worlds where (almost) everything makes sense, all of a sudden.

HortusButterflies8When a larva grows it sheds its skin, more than once. We, too, try on skins in the shape of subcultures, styles, personality traits. Once the caterpillar encases itself and turns into a pupa, it turns liquid. Whether that pupa is in a soft cocoon or in a hard, shiny chrysalis doesn’t matter, the progress is the same. Self-digestion might not be an option for humanoids – it sounds incredibly unhealthy – let’s see it as a metaphor, an analysis of oneself, a quiet retreat inside our own mind.

HortusButterflies5Just like it’s the case with the larva that turns liquid we still keep some parts of ourself. I call these parts our essence, the very thing that makes you you and that makes me me. The very parts that are still there after you discover the world-behind-worlds, that are still you even when you made it through the Dream Dance.

HortusButterflies9I’m entirely fascinated by the progress, the one of the butterfly metamorphosis as well as the Chrysalis of a Changeling. I know that the journey of finding myself will never end but I think having a liquid state – a time where I just decide to dissolve and keep only the most essential parts of myself, maybe in meditation, maybe getting lost in something else – a creative process, swimming, dancing, music – might be exactly what I need. What all of us that are weird and sometimes strangers in our human forms that seem* to live in a world cold and devoid of magic, always searching for something – others like us, our true selves, our true meaning – need from time to time.

HortusButterflies11* because I know that there is magic, it’s just not always easy to spot!

HortusButterflies2So I make a cocoon for myself, or a chrysalis, and I turn into a hedge-goo, a pool of energy and essence, and you can decide for yourself if that’s just in my mind or if I actually dissolve into a slime on my bed.
My cocoon is my bedroom, a spot that is mine alone, soft and good for falling asleep to wake up with another bit of the veil behind me, on my way to waking up to myself, all my memories, all my skills and things.
A Changeling rarely has all of the memories of their former incarnations, and I see regaining them as a mini-metamorphosis of its own.

HortusButterflies7I’m sorry if this post strangely and randomly switched between casual biology, RPC nerdery, storytelling and esoteric, witchy self-care. What can I say, it’s how the mind works (at least this one).

HortusButterflies6All these pictures were taken in De Hortus‘ butterfly greenhouse, a magical place where you can watch the pupae of the species that live there real close, marvelling at the beautiful textures.

HortusButterflies10My most magical experience at the botanical garden though I kept for the end: I was blessed enough to see this beauty wiggle itself part of the way out of its pupa and into its imago stage. I don’t think I have ever seen something so strange and magical at the same time and I hope it will never fade from my memory.

HortusButterflies3Have a lovely start into the week!

Liked this? Read my other posts about De Hortus in Amsterdam! Part 1 | Part 2


UFO Friday: Balcony Garden Edition

UFO Friday is my (usually) bi-weekly series where I show you what projects I’ve been working on (UFO standing for UnFinished Objects). For more of these, look here and for every other week’s feature, Finished Things Saturday, look here.

During the last weeks I’ve brought home at least two plants from work each Thursday. I desperately want to get them out of their seedling soil (it has fewer nutrients than usual soil to get the plants to grow faster) but I’m horribly short on pots. I found two lovely little milk jugs at the thrift store a few days ago, though, for the stuff that doesn’t need as much space (yet…).

The good thing about farmer’s pottery like this is that it can easily be drilled for draining with an old knife – I have a particularly battered one for these kinds of things.

106_5218I’m still not sure how far I’ll go in terms of decoration but I’ve always enjoyed little treasures in my potted plants. I usually carry shell-shaped glass nuggets like the one in my Thyme with me to leave them in sunny spots that I think might need them but they make a lovely addition to my herb pots, too.

106_5215My Mum sent me a sachet of edible flowers in the post. They seem to like it on my balcony as they are growing bigger by the minute (that’s not even an exaggeration)!

106_5214And last but not least a peek at what I planted into the pot from the first picture: an Allium lusitanicum! It’s commonly called Portuguese or mountain onion although the taste ventures more into garlicky realms. I can’t wait to try it, especially because the flowers are edible, too!

106_5219I’m a bit worried about the cherry tomato I brought home, it’s in desperate need for a bigger pot and decent soil but I couldn’t find the right thing for it yet – maybe I’ll find something tomorrow.

Have you been planting (that’s those of you in the Northern hemisphere) this spring (and if you’re in the Southern, how did your harvest go)?

Have a lovely weekend!


De Hortus: Outside

HortusOutside8Last time I showed you my favourite pictures from the Hortus Greenhouses, this time it’s the outside areas. As I mentioned before this was the cloudiest, rainiest day of the whole trip which is sad because from what I see from De Hortus’ instagram account it’s so beautiful there when the sun is out!

HortusOutside2I loved how vibrant these blossoms were even in the rain and grey. I didn’t find out the exact species but it seems to be a Holly variant.

HortusOutside7I’m also always a lover of twisted, gnarly trees – they have so many stories to tell (and they are very huggable!).

HortusOutside9HortusOutside3Did you know that some fern species’ fiddleheads are edible? I imagine they look lovely on a dinner plate and they’d make an aesthetically pleasing addition to any mori or fey themed feast.

HortusOutside1I can never not take pictures of magnolias. When I was little I was always so taken with the smooth, fleshy texture of their petals and the fascination seem to still go on…

HortusOutside4Is it strange that with all the exotic beauty of the greenhouses I still find the local varieties that patiently wait outside in the rain for their sunny days to come a tiny bit more endearing? Maybe it’s my always-support-the-underdog syndrome, maybe I’m just not into so many flashy colours, but anyway I’d love to visit here again when the sun is shining and more things are in bloom, even though I love the resilience of what greeted us when we took what at first glance seems like the worst date imaginable.

HortusOutside5There’s one more Hortus post left to write, the one about the butterflies. Thanks for reading this one!

If you enjoyed this post on De Hortus make sure to have a look at the greenhouses and butterflies, too! Part 1 | Part 3

10 Things I ♥ in April

April 2018 Favourites

  1. Seed by N-Dr01d on DeviantArt. It’s a mesmerizing game of breeding flowers but my favourite feature is the Evolve-O-Matic that does the breeding for you. You can chime in any second to alter the course of natural selection, but I love having it run in the background just to check in once in a while to see where it’s going and maybe add some fresh, uh, juice to the progress.
  2. Amsterdam, once again.
  3. Lately thanks to a whim I’ve been watching Wakfu. Its colourful, quirky world really reminds me of Deponia, the way it’s designed and animated, too. I’m absolutely in love with the scenery that’s a bit reminiscent of Daedalic’s works, too.
  4. The progress I make on my tiny balcony garden. It’s far from perfect but I’m really proud of it!
  5. Southern Gothic by Tyminsky is in my current cycling-to-work playlist and fits perfectly well into my current aesthetic – and my upcoming Dresden Files RPG campaign.
  6. Curry Plants. Until we got the thing at work I wasn’t aware of helichrysum italicum being a thing which is a SHAME. It smells delicious and can be used to spice up rice and fish, much like Rosemary except it smells and tastes like curry. I mean, what more do you want?! And did I mention it’s incredibly healthy, too? (Of course I got one for my balcony.)
  7. Hogwarts Mystery. How could I not. This is the new mobile RPG set in the Potterverse and it reminds me so much of the first computer game of the franchise (except it has less lag because my phone can do far more than the really shoddy PC I had back then). I love that it’s set before the books so you can meet characters that would have been at Hogwarts at that time. I can’t wait to get on with the game! (Yes, it has drawbacks, but I’ll get into that in a separate post someday.)
  8. Warm days by the lake. There are going to be so many more this year.
  9. Making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.
  10. I think Mareep, this month’s community day pokémon, is really cute. It’s a sheep, of course I find it adorable! I’m not as big of a fan of its evolutions, though, as far as I’m concerned I’d rather have a more badass ram pokémon than a half-naked giraffe, but hey.

FinThSat: All the World’s Foe

Finished Things Saturday is the (usually) bi-weekly counterpart to my UFO Fridays. While there I show you what I’m working on FinThSat is about finished projects – sometimes I used to think that small things weren’t worthy of a separate post but now just put in this feature. They deserve it! For more FinThSats, look here.

106_5204It’s not really a secret that Klaus Störtebeker is probably my favourite pirate of all times (closely followed by Gráinne Ní Mháille). It’s no wonder then that I’ve taken his alleged skull, impaled with a rusty nail for all the world to see, as one of my personal… visual things. It’s not mine exclusively, of course but just as others use a skull with crossed bones this one is my own Jolly Roger, imbued with myth and legend about a daring, generous and fantastic crew of mates.

106_5206I love how gritty the skull came out – I had the design drawn and finished months before I even touched a paintbrush to bring it to fabric.

106_5209I’m particularly happy with these corners – the stitching gives a bit more texture and live to the patch and I improvised the stamps for the sornaments with some fake stucco I intended to use for something different entirely, but well… you know how it is.

106_5211When I first saw this sweater I knew I had to do something with it – the original tagline on the thing was something fairly nonsensical that had something to do with “sweet bandits” (okay) and Replay (the brand, which I don’t particularly care about). Had it been plainly striped I’d probably done nothing but I’m really pleased with the outcome. The project allowed me to test a new way of bringing more detailed motifs and even watercolour-ish effects to fabric and I can’t wait to get some wear out of it this summer!

What have you crafted lately? And do you have a favourite pirate? I’d love to know!

Footnote: “God’s Friend and All the World’s Foe” is said to have been Störtebeker’s motto, hence the title.

De Hortus: Greenhouses

hortus13The Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam or, less formal, De Hortus, is one of the eldest botanical gardens worldwide. It was established during the 17th century in a cooperation between a mayor or Amsterdam and the then-president of the Dutch East India Company who managed to get plants and seeds from all over the company’s reach.

Hortus9With Torc not only being a gardener by trade but also the person in my aquaintance that knows most about plants in general this one was a stop we happily agreed to when he proposed to check it out.

The outside areas weren’t as magnificent as they are probably in later Spring or Summer (yet they were still beautiful enough to warrant a lot of picture-taking) but we still had a great time around the greenhouses and especially the butterfly house. I even decided to give all three parts – greenhouses, butterflies and outside areas – their own post because I don’t just want to dump all the pictures on you. It might look like I’m dragging this out but I think they all deserve attention on their own.

Hortus5Hortus3Hortus4Even though the forecast was pessimistic for the whole week we were there the day at the Hortus was the only one with more than a few drops of rain. There is something strangely poetic about strolling through a desert climate greenhouse while looking out to a grey, cloudy, wet Amsterdam afternoon.

Hortus1Hortus12Hortus10There are three climate-themed greenhouses, all connected with each other – subtropics, desert and tropics – at the Hortus. The boyfriend was especially smitten with the tropics and very much un-smitten with the desert greenhouse as it’s befitting for a poor creature with too many allergies (I’m actually really sorry for him in that regard, though). I loved that they had turtles and a couple of frogs and goldfish in there, especially in the tropics. I’m a bit sad we weren’t there at the right time to see the Victoria waterlilies, though. No matter to which botanical garden I go I always seem to miss them (but never think of looking them up in the first place, I’ll have to admit)!

Hortus6Hortus2Hortus11And there’s the palm greenhouse, a beautiful turn-of-the-century building filled to the brim with lovely, lush greenery, scaly trunks and shiny leaves. It’s a wonderfully quiet place this time of year and I could imagine myself very well just sitting there, writing or sketching.

Hortus8Hortus7And before my writing gets any more flowery I’ll leave you here for now.

If you liked this post head over to the outsides and the butterfly house for more! Part 2 | Part 3