Sunday, 27 October 2013

Simple Living Sunday

Sundays are the day I have chosen to summarise my simple living efforts for the week. This may be my gardening successes or failures, or my experimentation with home made cleaning products, or ways to save money. As I have been home this week, I have dabbled in quite a few different areas and have some progress to report on various projects I started when I commenced this blog a little over a month ago.

It may not look beautiful but my soap is adequate and certainly lathers and smells like soap. The white layer
(Homemade Soap) I ended up with seems to be a problem with my saponification, according to a few people I spoke to at Simple Living Forums and a lovely lady I met for coffee from there. It could have been caused from the heat of the oils and caustic not being the same or perhaps in cooling down too quickly. Basically the caustic has separated a little from the rest. Easy fixed, I just cut it off and still have plenty of soap.

I put together a sour dough yeast starter. I used half a cup of my bread floor and one cup of spring water, then covered it with thin cotton fabric from an old shirt. I will report back on its progress, and then I will investigate how I actually use it to make sourdough bread. It's all a learning curve.

Homemade Pesticide

To control my pest situation I made a batch of pesticide from Going Grey and Slightly Green. I made a half mixture of the All Round Insecticide. You just chop two onions, one clove of garlic and two chillies (I used minced chilli from a jar). Place them in a bowl with one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and cover with warm water. Leave overnight.

Strain it and then add to 2 1/2 litres of water. I will report back on its effectiveness as my Broccoli and Spinach have now been sprayed.

Homemade Shower Gel

I prefer to use shower gel in our upstairs glass shower as it leaves less residue to be cleaned. I adapted a few recipes and came up with this one which worked really well.

You will need 1 1/2 cups spring water, 1 x bar of soap, a desertspoon of glycerin and any fragrance you prefer. My husband loves Palmolive Gold soap so I ended up leaving out the fragrance for this one.

Grate the soap with a cheese grater - it is very easy to clean afterwards.

Combine all ingredients and heat in a saucepan on medium heat until all the soap is melted.

Leave for approx 12 hours (overnight) and you will have a jelly type surface with a creamy, soapy mixture underneath. Beat with a stick mixer until smooth.

Then pour into bottles. I have a dispenser for the shower and an extra litre for storage. I tried it this morning and gave the boys a sample to use. Thumbs up all round! Can only imagine it will be even better with more natural soap but at least I utilised something I already had.

This was my first attempt at making breadrolls. The kids loved them but they were more like a large scone. I let the breadmaker mix a normal bread dough on the dough setting and when I removed it, it had risen beautifully. I really was not sure what to do next so I just broke it apart and rolled into rough balls before placing them straight in the oven. Advice I have been given is to re-knead each roll and let them rise before baking. Also to place a tray of water in the oven to keep them soft, instead of crunchy. Will definitely keep you updated on my next batch! Any suggestions are welcome.

Weekend Gardening Update

I turned the compost today and finally have something which is starting to resemble soil. Still a while to go yet. I am now not adding to this pile and have a separate pile for new scraps, following advice from a seasoned gardener.

The toilet roll seedling trays have not yet been a huge success. I have a few small Thai basil seedlings. I have now bought some seed raising mix (I used potting mix initially) and will try some carrot seeds.

I potted this hot climate variety of blueberry for the verandah. Not a very attractive pot covered in flood mud. It will do until I find another.

This Zucchini has gone crazy and has several large flowers which I will pick and experiment with. There are five small Zucchini growing on it.

Finally have a few small beans. Some of the plants died and I am not sure why. Beans are usually so easy to grow.

This is one of the Bok Choi I cut off which has new sprouts so hopefully will get another one for nothing.

The Roma tomato finally has fruit but the plant is very small so not sure how big the tomatoes will grow.

The strawberries are going well again. These are from the Lemon Tree garden, near the Zucchini.

More cherry tomatoes popping up everywhere. At least we will have some tomatoes if my others don't grow.

More progress with the cucumber. It has flowered but no fruit yet. Needs a good weeding.

These are Rockmelons. Paul threw some seeds under the lemon tree and they have gone crazy. Will need to thin them out soon. There would be 20-30 plants and these are the more mature.

Paul planted a few watermelon seedlings on the grass and they are doing well, to my surprise.

Another beautiful salad for lunch and a Spinach slice to be baked this afternoon.

So, there you have it. A round up of my simple living endeavours for the week, and some new ideas for you to try yourself. Any feedback on what you may have tried or any processes I have used above, is greatly appreciated as always.

How has your week been?

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