Brielle is quite capable of introducing herself and presenting her information. I ‘ll just leave this here and allow you to love and learn from her cuteness.
I first heard the word “stuffocation” at the Living Smart course I attended last year. It’s a brilliant word and says so much. We are forced too much into consumerism. There is a frenzy about it and we are stuffocating in it because we now have rubbish disposal problems which have become nightmares. Our stuffocation has affected oceans , in particular, we have created great piles of e-waste which are hideous, our plastics are blocking waterways and decorating our landscape inappropriately and much of this plastic cannot be broken down easily or at all. There is no easy fix for this. Stuffocation is then a good word to remind ourselves what we are doing to ourselves. It is also a reminder we need to keep thinking and address the issue in a logical fashion so we can change our lives and world around and get the balance back. James Wallman has done much to get us thinking about the implications of all this stuff and then what we can do about it. For some reason I am not allowed to find the interview via WordPress on YouTube which features James Wallman and Lily Coleman. Treehugger explains the stance and rationale of James Wallman well and you can see that he advocates swapping things for experiences in order to create a better life with less waste. My own personal preference is for upcycling and repairing. Europe has gone big on repair cafes and I am hoping the trend will take off here. I love repairing things or repurposing them so they function in a different way and upcycling for many has become a very creative outlet for their skills and knowledge.
I was lucky to be able to attend the beekeeping workshop organised by the Willunga Environment Centre and it didn’t disappoint. Apart from all the useful information I was given I also received this lovely Caryopteris plant which is bee and butterfly friendly. Adelaide is supposed to be a bee sanctuary and we are making some good inroads into that but not enough information is getting out. There are things we can easily do to help support bee populations. We need bees. They pollinate what we eat. Europe lost around 38 million bees to insecticides and GMO crops. They have learned and got some good urban bee keeping programmes going. America has had bee colony collapses from diseases, insecticides and pesticides. All this is widely publicised but then there are organisations like the beekeepers of New York who are working hard to counter the the loss of bees. Urban and suburban areas are well suited to helping sustain bee populations because we can limit our use of insecticides and pesticides (do we want those on our food anyway??) . We can help the bees and the video shows us 4 easy ways of doing that. Urban bee keepers Australia wide are doing their bit and have been creating some good connections for bee keeper training, bee awareness and increasing the number of hives. The Adelaide bee sanctuary is part of that bee sustainability network and it’s an opportunity to increase the number of hives through sponsorship. Bee keeping in South Australia can be hard, especially when we have bush fires. We all need to think and work together. The beekeeping workshop was one way of doing that. It helped new keepers become encouraged and find contact with support. It helped people like me develop a plan of how I could help support bee populations and health. We have stingless bees in Australia , too, and not enough is broadcast about those. They produce honey in small quantities and might be more suitable for some people , some areas and some venues. The momentum is building and we are now aware a lot more education around bees needs to be done so we can join together and get healthy bee populations again. We have expert beekeepers in South Australia.We also have numerous people well trained and well versed in biodiversity . We need to work together to strengthen the bee sanctuary project so it is a reality for all of us. It’s not like bees don’t contribute to our economy and wellbeing.
I set my new Bokashi bin up after Christmas. I use my small compost bin to collect the food scraps over a week and then it goes into the Bokashi bin with the Bokashi bran. Could not be easier. I am getting the tea or juice now which is very exciting! The main use for it will be my front garden which has sandy, dry soil even though I have put so much organic matter into it. It just sucks it all up. I am hoping the Bokashi juice will take the strain off my front garden and help keep it well fed and more able to sustain itself through our hots summers in South Australia. The Bokashi bin contents will go into the the compost bin out the front adn maybe once in a while I’ll put a binful into the compost bin out he back. Today I have also tried what was suggested in this video . I have put Bokashi juice into my sink drains and the toilet just to see what happens. I am now getting plenty of juice but was pleased to hear in the clip that I need not worry if I don’t because it will depend on what I feed the bin. I have also used the juice today on my pot plants to see if it improves them. They are pretty healthy but it would be nice to see them even lusher. In about a month’s time I should be seeing a difference in all these things and I shall report back. By then I should have my worm farm going and they love Bokashi tea!
I have wanted to try making home made shampoo but had a lot of thinking to do. I grew up when dry shampoo was a thing. I hated it. It made my hair dull and clogged and it never ever felt clean. I am sure all those powders go into your pores and then they can’t breathe. I haven’t enjoyed putting chemicals in my hair either because your pores would absorb those so I was an early adopter of organic shampoos. I don’t like the notion of putting bicarbonate into my hair. Futurederm explains my point of view reasonably well. Bicarb is a household cleaner, it’s very alkaline. I don’t want it in my hair. So I have been thinking. Castile soap is used to wash and condition wool and fibre and is also quite strong. I wasn’t wholly keen on the idea of a shampoo made from Castile soap because I thought it would be too harsh on my hair. So I have been researching and looking things up. The video shows the basic approach I have taken and thenerdyfarmwife has some good ideas which helped me get an action plan together.
So what have I done? I looked at the ingredients for the melt and pour soap. I thought they were better than using Castile soap. When I was making my soap the other day I saved a third of a cup and poured it into a bottle. I added a third of a cup of coconut cream. I then added some vitamin E drops , some fresh rosemary and some lemon zest. I topped the bottle up with orange flower water (distilled water would be fine) and left room for it to expand. I shook it up well on a regular basis during the day. Next morning I used it. It’s quite thick and like a hair mask . It conditioned my hair as well. There was some lather and then it vanished. It cleaned my hair well and it made it feel stronger. For me this is a once a week treatment.
I made a spray to put on my wet air with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to about a cup of orange flower water. It fits nicely in a little spray bottle and by the time I had put that on my hair felt renewed.
Today I used Castile soap and coconut cream. About a third of a cup of each. I added a few drops of Argan oil, a teaspoon of honey , a few drops of vitamin E and topped it up with orange flower water. It’s quite thin and didn’t lather so I have just added some more Castile soap for the next try. It cleaned my hair all right but I don’t find this shampoo to be as good as the other one. Not for my hair. I think it will help , though, and I might have to fiddle around with the quantities until I get it right for my hair. Everyone’s hair is different and so you do have to be prepared to try adjusting the mixture.
I am just wondering what will happen if I mix the two shampoos together! Best of both worlds and it might be right for me. In any case, I am happy with the way this has gone. I wasn’t expecting it to be perfect but it has turned out far better than I anticipated and so I shall persist until I get it right. Experience is a great teacher.
With the Castile soap I used the one recommended for babies and generally it seems to be recommended to add Castile soap and other liquid in the ratio of one to one. Oil will cut back lather. I have used plastic containers because glass and I in the bathroom never go well.
I have just made my first batch of organic melt and pour soap. Some time ago I made soap the hard way with lye and, for me, it was too much messing around. There are some good videos about how to make soap from scratch these days , though. I went for the melt and pour. Couldn’t be easier. You can buy a kilo of melt and pour organic soap for around $13-$20 dollars. I made sure mine didn’t have palm oil. Organic melt and pour can be made from different oils and butters. I chose one with a coconut oil base. I forgot to put in the Vitamin E drops and I decided against essential oils. I went with lemon zest and fresh rosemary instead. I also put in half a cup of coconut cream but you wouldn’t know it! The mixture was still pretty clear. You just melt the soap in the microwave as in the video and I used a bamboo stick to stir it all together. I sprayed my little muffin container with oil and after a couple of hours the soap came out really easily. Now that I have done it once I can now become a bit more adventurous. I would have used about 500g and it makes quite a few small soaps and isn’t arduous.
I have just made my own eco lipbalm and am more than happy with it. I found a few empty containers . I decided not to use old lipbalm tubes I had because I am getting rid of plastic in my life. These containers I can refill and you can see how much you can make with the recipe. I shaved the beeswax off the block. The beeswax took longer to melt than the other ingredients so next time I shall melt that first. I zapped the mixture in 20 second bursts in the microwave. In between I stirred for a little while to melt the beeswax as much as possible. It look 3 lots of 20 seconds in a ceramic dish. I could then pour it into the containers. I had a little bit left over so I mixed it with an old lipstick and it has made great lip gloss. I used half and half because that’s how it worked out but I like what I have made. I have a bottle of Vitamin E oil but you could just as easily use a Vitamin E capsule and pierce it with a pin to get the oil. I used coconut oil and will try this recipe with almond oil next time I buy almond oil. I bought the shea butter from the Honey Shoppe in the Adelaide Markets. It doesn’t cost much. Now for the recipe:
1 tablespoon beeswax
3 tablespoons almond/coconut oil
2 teaspoons shea butter
5 drops Vit E
You can use a couple of drops of essential oils if you like. I just left mine plain.
It was only idly wondering which made me go to the Apple store on my iPad to see if there were any compost apps. They have apps for everything. Why not compost? A couple came up but I have done an online search and appcrawler has come up with a lot of paid and free compost apps. The benefit of having hem on a device is the device can go in a plastic bag if necessary and you can still use it. They are more portable than a book outside and lighter. I’ll try a couple of the free apps first but I was looking at Home Composting, which is paid because it looked like the sort of app I’d find useful. I want to see how they work first, though, so the free apps are the way to go.
I am sticking to my promise of getting my composting really well organised this year. I was given the little bin on the left for Christmas. That gets all my kitchen scraps. There is a plastic black pail with a handle inside. I just put my first pail into my bokashi bin today with the bokashi bran. My big compost bin in the garden is getting plenty of brown matter at the moment and I put soil in there as well as the canister of bits from my vacuum cleaner. The bokashi bin will empty into it and I shall have plenty for my worm farm too when I get that going in the cooler weather. At any stage I can break my compost chain and just dig a trench in the veggie patch and bury the organic scraps directly into the soil. Plan B for if I need to bypass the steps for any reason. As it stands my composting process just got a whole lot easier this year because I have thought about it. I am hoping the apps will give me some even better approaches.
I am not going to use a bokashi bin because I am short of composting space. I want to make my composting more effective. I have decided to remodel what I do with kitchen scraps. I now have a small compost bucket with a lid to use for peelings etc as I go. That will be emptied into the bokashi bin.When necessary the bokashi bin will be emptied into my big compost bin out the back or be dug directly into my veggie patch. I am still investigating it all so this is by way of the first post .
My bokashi bin arrived yesterday and so I am set to go. Unfortunately, we have storms forecast for tomorrow so I guess that will be research day and I should be able to get my system in place over the weekend. The old indoor compost bin will be repurposed into an inground worm farm.Bit by bit I have got my garden to be better . I do it gradually and plan the things I want to do and as I talk about them I get other ideas so by the time I am doing something I feel ready and confident. I am excited to see how the bokashi bin works.
Today was the day. I had my material, beeswax and pinking shears. One of the co-presenters at our Living Smart SA course at McLaren Vale had suggested using an iron to infuse the wax into the cloth as it spread it very evenly and it permeated the cloth more effectively. This is why I had chosen to use the video from the Half Acre homestead. That lady had made me feel very confident about making these beeswax wraps. If you want to use the oven baking method then MoralFibres UK explains it very well. She also shows you how to make a beeswax snack pouch and explains how to care for the beeswax wraps.
I used my wooded chopping board trolley in the kitchen because it’s mobile. I heated about a cup of beeswax which I had in an old cake tin on top of my stove. At no stage did I let it boil. I kept it melted and warm. You can get beeswax locally in the southern suburbs of Adelaide from the beekeepers at Aldinga Beach(DoBee is on Facebook) or at Lonsdale. The Honey Shoppe in the Adelaide markets will also organise beeswax for you. For the wraps you don’t need a lot. My cup of wax was too much but I have saved it because I’ll be making more of these. I made 4x38cm ones, 2x28cm ones and 2×18 cm ones. It doesn’t take too long.
Make sure you ventilate the area you are working in. I was in the kitchen and had the back door and windows opened. Melted wax is melted wax. You might not need the fumes even from beeswax.
I cut the lightweight cotton material to size with the pinking shears.
I melted the wax on a very low heat and put the iron on
I put old towels and then a sheet of foil on my chopping board trolley.
I used a 6 cm paint brush to brush the melted wax quickly over both sides of the cloth
I put a layer of foil on top and ironed quickly
As I was doing the first one I realised the beeswax was a bit too thick in some places on the cloth. My decision was to use the next cloth to iron over that first one to absorb some of the excess beeswax. Worked like a charm. No streaking.
I then painted the second cloth and so on. I was putting the finished ones on a wooden board . They dry quickly but now, a few hours later, they are even better. I love the look and feel of them and can’t wait to make more! I have Christmas 2017 nailed.