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.
Most people are kind. There are a few who are not but the vast majority of the human race is considerate and kind. You get busy , though or stressed or preoccupied and kindness just doesn’t flow as easily as when you are relaxed. Shari’s Berries blog has a random act of kindness generator which can be used in so many ways. You can click it and get a random . You can focus on just family or just work colleagues. You can also download the whole list of acts of kindness and you could customise it to suit your mood and how you want be. You could create challenges. They really make you feel good. I did one last year and some of it was actually hard but I learned so much and it was just a positive contribution to my life even though I was the one doing the acts of kindness. It works. It creates a well world and a well you.
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.
Morag Gamble shares her knowledge and experience in a really good way. She knows what she is talking about because she lives it. She has a really good Facebook page if you look her up. As part of revamping my compost system this year I wanted to make a worm farm and have decided to create an in ground one. I have my little compost bin with a lid which I was given for Christmas where my peelings and kitchen scraps go. When that is full it will go into my bokashi bin. I then have a big compost bin outside which I have always had in my garden. I decided my old indoor compost bin would easily convert to a worm tower. I cut a hole in the bottom with my jig saw, drilled holes in the sides and then set it upside down in the garden. I put the swing top lid on it which is now on the bottom of the bin with the hole cut in it so it does not clip on. I can feed scraps in and it will protect the bin from heavy rain which we seem to have at the moment. I am getting the worm farm ready now but I won’t put worms in it until after the summer heat passes. I have set it in a shady, protected spot but 45 degree heat can be very harsh and damaging. By April my bin will be ready and the weather will be kinder. I can get worms for the bin then. I feel now like I have a more complete composting system which will serve me and my garden better. I had to think it out what would suit me and the little compost bin at Christmas was what put it all in place for me.
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.
I saw “It is your year to shine “ on my new calendar. I thought I’d make myself a picture just to remind myself!
The Little Veggie Patch Co are good at getting people growing! Their approach is based on doable ideas , a straight forward approach and then upcycling where they can. They have approached gardening in a very visual way. Their book, the 1-Minute Gardening is a photo book with text which gives you tips and ideas. I was lucky enough to get a copy of it as a present for the Christmas before last. The main point to this video is you can grow vegetables anywhere. You do not need a huge amount of space. In one of my homes I was growing veggies in the wall box on the front patio while I was setting up a big veggie patch in the back garden. In my current home I am rejuvenating my veggie patch and growing some veggies and herbs in pots . Parsley grows around my back garden. It’s green, attractive and can make a nice pot plant! I like to have fresh herbs and I like to have fresh vegetables. I have mixed success with the vegetables but I never give up. I grow silverbeet and potatoes because they always work and fresh potatoes are lovely. Grow what you can because even if you don’t immediately become successful it is a very relaxing activity and gets you outside. There is a lot of evidence now that gardening has a good impact on your health and wellbeing.