Happy Fish… A Stress Buster!!!!

It’s Gk!!!!

Keerthana is energized when she pens down something very close to her heart…..I used to write in the past, thanks to her I am trying to rekindle my past passions and leave those memories to stay for years to come. We both have a few hobbies that keep us locked up while we have our daily morning tea. This site is a namesake of my favorite childhood hobby of fish keeping. People who know me can relate how close I am with this hobby. Rain or Shine keeping aquariums was never boring or tiring.

This is my marine aquarium landscape as on May 10, 2020.

Like many other aquarists, my story also starts with keeping freshwater fish. When I was penniless I used to go to ponds/river to catch Tilapia/Barb/Tinfoil and keep them in whatever I found at home and that is how this hobby started…somewhere at the age of 16 with around 10 aquariums at home all the money given by mom would be spent on the hobby. I still remember the day when I saw Ocellaris Clownfish at my regular aquarium shop and that was the first time I encountered marine fishkeeping in India (Chennai). I saw this clownfish inside the anemone and it was really beautiful, with no idea of what it would take to keep marine fish I spend all my pocket money in buying them on the same day. I requested the fish shop owner to lend me some saltwater,  came back home, and worked on setting up my first marine aquarium. A week later I went to the sea (Bay of Bengal) and got saltwater for my first water change. The same week I saw that my anemone is dying and my clownfish’s eyes were gradually swelling. I lost both of them in a few weeks.

Long story short, I quit Marine fishkeeping and I continued with my freshwater setup for years but I always wanted Marine aquarium. Thanks to my love, I set up my marine aquarium in 2012 and started learning about them.

My First Setup

My 2012, 20 Gallon setup

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Very healthy growth of Hawaiian Tang, 2013

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Really not sure why this happened, our aquarium is filled with Star Polyps, 2014

It’s been 8 years now and my aquarium is a lively ecosystem. I have not seen the crystal clear water, change color apart from one overfeeding mishap while we were not at home.  We lost most of our fishes in this mishap, need to be cautious when you have automated feeders.

Let me introduce the family one at a time with some easy tips to keep fish happy.

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Vivid Puple color

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He is relaxed, with lot of space

Purple tang is a reef surgeonfish, found in the Arabian sea & Red sea. He can survive for 25-30 years and we wish to see that happen (My record was a clownfish which survived with us for 7 years from 2012). This purple tang has been with the family for 3 years now and we have been seeing him grow bigger. The pleasure of fishkeeping is ecstatic when you get the fish as fry(little ones) and make them grow under your watch. I try to get them very young and watch them grow.

Purple tang is semi-aggressive and territorial. They demand lengthy space to swim around and need greens(Sea weed) to be fed for better immunity. Eventually, I plan to create a family of 2 purple tangs, and 2 Hawaiian yellow tangs in my dream aquarium.

Spring 2020

Our 8-year-old Pink Jasmine bloomed two weeks early this year! It usually starts blooming in the first week of May and is in full bloom in the second week. This year, it was in full bloom in the last week of April.

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Pink Jasmine

The plant is not in its best form because of the two typhoons Faxai and Hagibis. There are fewer flowers than usual but the fragrance still fills our home!

This is our favorite rose plant which produces at least fifteen roses every flowering season. Last month, there were around five roses and now the second round of flowering has started. This rose plant gives us a feeling that it is always happy with its big fragrant roses and healthy leaves. 😀

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Double Delight Rose

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Double Delight Rose

I had never bothered to know the variety of the rose until my friend asked about it. I found out that it is called “Double Delight”. A very apt name!

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Pink Jasmine and Double Delight Roses

I had sown some Fenugreek, Dill, and Holy basil seeds early spring. Fenugreek and Dill grew faster than the others.

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Fenugreek

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Dill Plants

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Fenugreek Plants

There were a lot of small Aloe Vera pups (offsets) growing in the pot, so I cut off the bigger ones. I got a bowl full of natural moisturizer!

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Aloe Vera

I have not repotted the Aloe Vera in years. I have grown it in the same pot, only cutting off the bigger ones twice a year.

This year’s experiment, Onions!!

T, now in Grade 2, is now learning how to propagate plants. When he saw the sprouted onions in the kitchen, he asked if he could plant them. So we read a few articles about how to grow sprouted onions and let them grow roots by putting them in a bowl of water. After three days, we saw the roots growing and planted them in a pot.

T is waiting for it to grow and is very happy to check on the plants every day. 

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Curry Leaf Plant

And finally, after trying to find a curry leaf plant all these years, I bought one online. It came home looking sad 😛 I really hope it grows well. Fingers crossed! 

Peter Pan Costume

For the fairy tale theme this year, I made Peter Pan Costume for T. We decided very late and I had very little time to make it. I couldn’t click any pictures while making the costume. 😦

Peter Pan Costume

Materials required:

  • Light green felt for the top
  • Brown felt for the belt and hat
  • Little straw and red felt for the feather
  • Elastic for the hat
Materials required for Peter Pan costume

 Tunic:

I didn’t have light green felt fabric. I had light green rayon+cotton fabric with me which I bought during a sale. It was lying idle for a long time, so decided to use it. It was not a good choice. I had great difficulty in cutting and sewing it. Felt is always a good choice when making costumes.

I used T’s old T-shirt to cut the body shape and sleeve. I sewed the open end and made cuts below and on the sleeves. 

Belt:

I folded a long brown strip of felt into three, sewed end to end and attached a velcro on both ends.

Hat:

I followed the below link. It was simple and easy. 

https://makeit-loveit.com/peter-pan-costume

For the feather, I cut two pieces of red felt in the shape of a feather and glued them together with the straw in the middle. 

In the end, I felt the hat was too small for T. I should have made a bigger one. 🙂

Finished Peter Pan Costume
Peter Pan! 🙂

Knight Costume

It was the fairy tale theme for the month of November (2017) in T’s school. He wanted to be a Knight. I made him a simple vest, sword and a shield.

Knight Costume

Vest

Materials required:

  • Grey, Red and Yellow felt fabric
  • T-shirt for the vest outline
  • Template for the lion

I had some leftover grey felt fabric from BB8 costume. It was a small piece but just right to make a vest. I used a T-shirt to draw the outline for the vest. Fold the felt fabric in to two and draw the outline. Cut along the outline giving some space to sew the open end of the vest.

Cut a piece of Red felt and use a glue gun to stick it on the vest. Take a piece of yellow felt, cut it in the shape of the lion template and stick it on the red felt. Cutting the lion shape was the tough part. For detailed felt cutting, use good quality felt and scissors. I used good quality felt for the lion shape and dollar shop felt for the vest.

Shield & Sword

Materials required:

  • Cardboard
  • Gold and silver Craft paper 
  • Red paint / Red craft paper

Shield:

Cut the cardboard in the shape of a shield. Cut two holes in the middle and insert an elastic/ ribbon and tie the ends together. This will help to hold the shield. On the other side, stick the gold craft paper.  

Cut the lion shape using the same template and the red craft paper. Stick it to the shield. I colored the edges and the lion using red paint. I painted it because I ran out of red craft paper. Using red craft paper is less messy.

Sword:

Cut the cardboard in the shape of sword. Use Silver and gold craft paper to decorate.

Knight Costume

Farmer & Tractor Costume

This month’s theme for T at his school is “At the farm”. I thought of making him a simple farm animal costume. Not the full costume but just a headband with felt ears attached to it. But two days back, T reminded me that I had promised him to make a farmer & tractor costume. I totally forgot about it. 😦

After few minutes of browsing, I decided to make a simple tractor using cardboard. I had a cardboard box of recently bought food processor. It was of perfect size.

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I coloured the cardboard with green acrylic paint. Painted a thick yellow line on the sides.

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Used two large sized paper plates for the back wheels and smaller ones for the front wheels. Coloured them with yellow and black acrylics.

Coloured a toilet paper roll black and used it as exhaust pipe.

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Made the headlights using styrofoam cube (Sliced the cube into half)

Used an elastic band to wear it. Punctured two holes in the cardboard and tied the elastic.

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Simple Tractor Costume

Making the costume took around 2 hours. Gathering the materials took much of the time. Luckily, I had all the materials at home. And here is T as a farmer driving a tractor.

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Farmer driving a tractor

 

Baker Costume

I made this simple baker costume for my LO’s Pre-K Theme party. The theme was “Piece of Cake”.

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Baker Costume – Apron & Hat

I made the apron using felt. I used an old apron to trace the shape on white felt and cut it. I also made a simple birthday cake using felt and glued it to the apron. The alphabets are pre-cut felt alphabets.

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Old apron used as reference

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Baker’s Apron

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Baker’s Hat

I made the baker’s hat using parchment paper after seeing some tutorials on Youtube. It was easy and I was able to make both the apron and hat in few hours. 🙂

 

BB-8 Costume

We had celebrated Halloween 2016 with our friends in Yokohama. Little T was dressed as BB-8. I had only a week’s time to make the costume. For BB-8’s body, I used the same technique that I used to make angry bird costume.

Materials Required for Headpiece:

  1. Felt fabric
    • White
    • Orange
    • Grey
    • Black
  2. Baseball cap
  3. Glue gun / Fabric glue
  4. Acrylic colour
  5. Thin straw
  6. Toothpick
  7. Capsule cap from the capsule toy / Styrofoam ball (for the black optical lens)
  8. Silver glitter pen

Materials Required for Body:

  1. Felt fabric
    • White
    • Orange
    • Grey
    • Black
  2. Filler material
  3. Glue gun / Fabric glue
  4. T-shirt for outline
  5. Pencil & Chart paper
  6. Sewing needle and thread (White)
  7. Scissors
  8. Black marker

Procedure for making the headpiece:

Cut the white felt in the shapes of the front, side and back panel of the cap.

My cap’s brim is grey in colour so I didn’t use felt there. If the brim was of some other colour, I would have used grey/white felt to cover it up.

Use fabric glue/glue gun to stick the felt to the cap.

For the black optical lens of BB-8, I used the transparent cap of capsule toy and painted it black. You can also cut the styrofoam ball into half, paint it black and stick it on the cap. I have used silver glitter pen to draw a thick outline on the base of the optical lens.

Use white acrylic to paint the straw and toothpick. Both ends of the straw must be painted black.

Glue the straw and toothpick on the top of the cap. Glue gun works better here.

Cut the orange and grey felt patterns for the headpiece. Glue them on the cap.

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BB-8 Headpiece – Front

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BB-8 Headpiece – Back

 

Procedure for making the body:

Please refer to the below link:

Angry Bird Costume

The procedure is the same as the one for making the body of the angry bird costume.

Instead of the angry bird pattern, cut the pattern for BB-8 using orange and grey felt. I’ve used a black marker pen to draw the outlines.

Note: Its easier to glue the BB-8 pattern on the front side before filling the filler material.

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Finished body of BB-8

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Side view of BB-8 body

Unlike the angry bird costume, for BB-8, I’ve used elastic on both sides to keep them together.

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Full BB-8 Costume

Tamarind Surprise

I usually get Tamarind blocks (used in Indian cooking) from my grandma in India. She has few tamarind trees from which we get enough tamarind for the extended family for one whole year.

Sometimes I find seeds in the tamarind block which have escaped deseeding. Recently I started planting them in the pot where I grow veggies. The first seed I planted was in Autumn last year.

One fine morning last week, there was this surprise! There were two tamarind plants! 🙂 After browsing for a while, I learnt they can thrive indoors in high light conditions during winter. That’s great news to me.

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I’m planning to transfer them to separate pots. I hope they survive this winter!

 

 

Black Nightshade (Manathakkali /Kamanchi/Kaachi Soppu)

Last summer, when my MIL visited us, she found the black nightshade plant growing around the trees in the pavement. This is a common plant in India. (Manathakkali/ Kamanchi/Kaachi soppu). The leaves and berries of the plant are used in cooking.

I’ve never noticed them before. These plants were also growing in the garden maintained by our apartment. When the gardener was weeding them out, MIL took a well grown plant and brought it home. It was peak of summer and the plant didn’t look healthy. There were lot of berries which were falling into the other pots nearby. Then it was fall and winter. The plant died.

This spring we noticed lot of plants growing fast in the pots in which I had planted garlic & dill.  Initially, we thought it was a weed but later recognised it. The berries that fell last summer had started growing now.

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Harvested leaves – 21 May 2017

I had enough leaves to cook this recipe from Padhu’s Kitchen  🙂

Keerai Kootu Recipe-Manathakkali Keerai Kootu

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Black night shade plant with berries – 26 May 2017

Now there are white spots/ discolouration on the leaves. I’ll update this post if I find the reason for discolouration.