Wednesday, June 24, 2009


A few weeks ago I was invited to a gathering at a friend of a friends house. There was a lady there who was going to talk about how her whole family have changed to an additive free eating lifestyle.
Gathered in the room were at least 20 other women around my age, some with kids, some without, some working mothers some not but all interested in a simpler, healthier eating style.
The lady talked about how and why she decided to change her families eating habits and how she eliminated all additives from their diet. Their family have maintained this healthier lifestyle for over 18 months now. She had lots of wonderful hints, delicious recipes, talked about additive free treats for the kids and their additive free birthday parties. She explained where she sources her organic foods from and a normal daily eating style for their family. Her kids have chips, chocolate, biscuits and cakes. they eat sausages and lots of other meats. But the difference is that she buys foods with no additives or if she cant buy them she makes them.
After the talk she had books for sale. Then we all had nibblies and stayed around to chat.
The talk went from eating habits, organic foods, growing our own foods, cooking fresh foods to making yoghurt and bread, soap and perfumes.
Everyone seemed to have something to contribute and different people had different things that they were interested in or talents to share.
We ended up swapping email address', and names and phone numbers.
We have decided to all get together again and share some of our knowledge.
We have organised a yoghurt making day and a herb swapping day as well. We have labelled our little group "Living Good".
One lady has sourced a bulk buy of local organic grown macadamias, macadamia oil and macadamia body wash at a fantastic price. We are also investigating bulk organic chicken and beef group buys and organic grains as well.
I am very excited by all this! It wasn't that long ago that people interested in organics, growing own veges, making yoghurts and breads were a rarity. Now it is becoming a trendy thing to do - a trend I am very happy to follow. I hope it isn't just a trend though - I hope these changes I am seeing everywhere are here to stay. Times are changing, peoples attitudes are changing and I am excited.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Soap making - this is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I have read about it and always felt like it was a complicated thing to do. Also the danger of using sodium hydroxide has scared me off in the past - it is a powerful corrosive and can cause blindness if splashed in the eyes, it can burn skin.

So I chose a day when no kids were at home.

I used a basic soap mix recipe from Organic Gardening Magazine (Jan/Feb 2008 issue).
The instructions were very easy to follow.

First I gathered my equipment.
Now let me say right here that stainless steel pot is the go! NOT ALUMINIUM! I tried making soap in an aluminium pot (I didn't realize it was a problem) and the sodium hydroxide reacts with the aluminium. The mixture instantly reached boiling point and great bubbles burped from it. Then clouds of horrid steam came into the air. I was in the laundry and left until the steam had settled, leaving a fine dusting of chemicals over the surfaces. The smell lingered for ages too.

This time I worked outside. I donned my safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves. I made sure I had some vinegar handy as vinegar will neatralize the soddium in case of splashes. I added the sodium hydroxide to the water (never the other way around). There is an instant chemical reaction that heats the water. I stirred a few times with a wooden spoon which I will use only for soap making and then left until the mix had cooled to 48 degrees.

After this I added the oils being careful not to splash myself. Then I stirred... and stirred...and stirred. Stirring helps saponification. This brings the acids and alkali into contact and helps neutralize the mix. So although soap is made with sodium hydroxide it doesn't contain any at the end of the process. The recipe said to stirr until trace occurs, 5 -40 min. I stirred way over an hour and got the mix to a light trace. Trace can be recognized when you dribble a bit of the mixture on the surface and it sits on top for a while before sinking. I read in another soap making book I have Gourmet Soap Made Easy by Melinda Coss that trace can sometimes take several hours and dont worry if you are sure the mixture was correct just pour into a mould and leave it to set.

So I poured the mix into my mould and left for 24 hours before taking out of the mould and cutting. For a mould I used a shallow cardboard box and lined it with freezer bags opened up so they would cover the base and sides of the box. Now it is in a warm, ventilated place curing for another 2-3 weeks. Looks rather rustic , doesn't it. The cutting is rather haphazard. This being my first batch, I decided not to add any essential oils. Next time I will experiment with some herbs or oatmeal or essential oils. I am also very interested in making soap with goats milk. Has anyone had experience with using goats milk? I have read that the milk can curdle and turn a nasty yellow and makes the initial mix smell strongly of ammonia.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I've never grown them before.
I planted a few sweet potatoes that had started to sprout a few months ago and picked the first one today. I had a bit of a dig around but the others aren't big enough yet so I will wait a while longer before digging them up. The sweet potatoe plants have just started to flower - pale purple flowers that remind me a bit of morning glory flowers.
I have just made a potatoe bake with normal potatoe and sweet potatoe for tea tonight.
M xx
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