Potting, Pickling and Screaming like a Banshee

I have, for a long time now, been wanting to make my own clothes washing liquid. There are so many recipes out there so it's not that difficult to do, however, for me it was necessary to use my handmade soap as I always have an excess of soap loaf ends which, of course, I wouldn't want to waste. Along with the loaf ends I also have the shaved edges of soap bars which are left over after I bevel the edges of the bars before sending out to customers. So, this week I have been sampling different ways to do this. In the supermarket you can buy bags of soap flakes which you soak in hot water overnight then simply use like a liquid in your machine so that sounds simple so that's where I started. 

Hands down my 100% coconut oil bar is the best clothes and household cleaner. Coconut oil is a brilliant cleanser and de-greaser when turned into soap and I already use, and sell on the website, the 100% coconut oil bar for all my household cleaning. The loo, sinks, work surfaces, pots and pans all come up a treat with 100% coconut oil bar.  So I started my clothes washing liquid soap the day before by soaking 2 cups of grated coconut oil soap covered with boiling water. The next morning i had a white, gelatenus lump of soap that came out of the bowl very easily without leaving a mark. It was pretty cool actually and I thought maybe this lump could be turned into a paste as another option for household cleaning but that's for another time. To my soapy gel I added  SCI (Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is a mild and gentle solid surfactant derived from coconuts) which is the detergent that I use in my solid shampoo bars along with the equal amount of salt. I then made up the ingredients to 2L with demineralised water and added some essential oil. Give it a shake, decant and job done!

Recipe for 2L Laundry Detergent:

2 x Cups Grated soap (any is good but 100% coconut oil is the best)

De-Mineralised Water

1/4 Cup Surfactant (I use SCI) www.aromazone.com have a great selection of surfactants

1/4 Cup Table salt

1/4 cup Borax (optional)

Essential oil (I use Lavender 

 

In the soap kitchen this week we are still perfecting our new candle range. To all of you that have message to ask the release date the answer is 'we are still not certain but it won't be long! Candle making is a bit of a science and we absolutely want to get it right but what I can tell you is that we do have a couple of great new fragrances to tempt you with. Other than that things are pretty quiet after the madness of Christmas. It is good just to sit back and contemplate what joys, sadness and challenges last year brought and what this new year has in store for us. 

I have missed my pottery lessons over Christmas so am stoked that classes begin again next week. I am lucky enough to have a potters wheel in my barn and I have taken advantage of it big time this Christmas to perfect (ahemm...) my skills. I always feel pretty free and stable at the same time when sitting at my wheel. Totally free of obligation and worries it's pretty meditative for me  and wish I had more time. Maybe a NY resolution to make some time?  Since starting my classes with Mollie three years ago a lot of my creations have gone to the great pottery grave yard,  (otherwise know as crocks at the bottom of the flower pots) however, this week I turned my leaky teapot into a pretty super bird feeder. Not only am I mad on it but the birds are too and I often find myself stopping what I am doing to watch the birds busily foraging, playing and generally getting fat from the feeders! I get a great sense of joy from watching them and I appreciate that small threadlike connection with nature even if it lasts just a minute. 

 

My other extremely important connection with nature is my daily walk with my dogs. It is an essential part of my day, if only because they don't stop pestering me until we have been. Most of my ideas, creative thoughts and contemplation is done while performing this daily ritual. That is unless they chase a deer then you can find me screaming like a banshee to 'stooooop'!! You get the picture i'm sure!

In the kitchen we continue to eat local and seasonal where possible so still we have pumpkins and squash. I like to turn squash in to a curry with some cauliflower and potato. A simple sauce with onions, garlic and ginger some spices, chillies and a squirt of tomato paste and a tin of coconut milk then add the veg and cook until tender. Simple food!Lovely.  OOOh I also made pickled shallots this week. I blinkin' love pickled onions and have vivid memories of mum in the kitchen pickling away when i was a kid. It dawned on me this week that mum always pickled in October but where we are in France we can pretty much get shallots all year around so I can create a constant supply. I always add a chilli to the jar for extra bite! Mum always used Sarsons but i use a mix of sherry and white wine vinegar 'cos I is refined don't you know'

In the garden things are pretty quiet and tidy, suprisingly, for us apart from all the fat blue tits of course! We are already thinking about the potager for next summer and we are hoping to learn all that we can about the permaculture way of gardening. So we are reading, watching YouTube and absorbing what we can. We are hoping to do a course locally sometime soon so any tips on this would be great. I have been mulching like mad with our rotting leaves though, that I can tell you. It is suprisingly satisfying although our lone chicken seems to disagree as she is very swift to pounce on the mulched area when i have finished and proceed to move it all over the garden {picture an image of me chasing chicken off the garden with broom}

That's all from me this week folks. Thanks for reading I'm off to fill bird feeders, walk hounds and chase the chicken off the garden!

 

J x 


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