Sunday, January 30, 2011

Op shop finds

I spent a lovely hour at my local recycled goods shop that based at the tip. Here are some of the treasures I brought home.
 Most of these plates will become mosaics but the blue and white ones I'll keep to use.
 LOVE this Hanimex slide box!

Vintage tupperware.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Soap making is easy

I have been making soap for years now. I prefer to make a basic soap, nothing fancy.  It is lovely to use your own handmade soap and know that there is nothing harmful in it.

Soap is a mix of fat: animal or vegetable oil,  and lye otherwise known as caustic soda.  If mixed in the right proportions they will thicken and then harden over a few days. You must wait 4-6 weeks however for the full chemical reaction or saponification to take place and turn into soap which is no longer caustic. 

Many excellent recipes can be found in books and on the internet. I recommend The Handmade Soap Book by Melinda Coss the sunflower and calendula recipe being my favourite with the dream castile (olive oil and goats milk) coming in second.  I make strictly vegetarian soap using various types of vegetable oils. 

Soap can be made with ingredients and equipment to be found in any kitchen.
When the lye and fat are mixed together they begin to react immediately. Once trace is reached, where the soap mix thickens and looks like custard it is ready to mould.
Metal containers cannot be used as moulds as the soap is still caustic at this stage and will react. Whilst commercial moulds are available plastic containers, chocolate moulds and even milk cartons can be used.
My niece pouring soap into moulds.
Soap curing on racks. I always wait 6 weeks before using the soap to ensure it is completely cured.
Soap can be made in many shapes and colours although I keep it as natural as possible.  Here I have used fresh lavender and simple food colurings.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Colours and textures of summer

A few snapshots of Summer in Robertson.

 Herbs on my front verandah.  I love this rustic barrow.
A rose that seems to have multiple hearts.

Wild daisies.

An old looking, new letter box.

Blackberries in the making.

Not so dry, dry stone walls.

Fuchias or ballerinas?

Hydrangeas stunning in blue.

A dingy swallowtail butterfly.
Morning dew.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Perfect muffins

After trying many recipes, finally the perfect muffins!

Banana and walnut muffins

Here's the recipe
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Grease muffin pans

Mix flour and baking powder. Add brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Don't over mix.
Add fruit of your choice.
Spoon into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Apple, sultana and cinnamon muffins

I take this to work for breakfast on the go or share with workmates for morning tea.
Hope you enjoy them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why blog?

Considering today I have made by first blog post since July last year this seems a very pertinent question. Its still basically New Year so all questions about life, work and happiness are pertinent.

Firstly I didn't deliberately stop posting. In August and September work was very crazy so I had to shelve all other creative pursuits. Depressing though it was to let work take over one does need to preserve one's sanity and there isn't always enough energy for everything we want to do.

Mid September we headed to Europe for a month long holiday which was simply divine. A week in Paris, a week in Cote d'Azur, a few days in Cortina in the Dolomites in Northern Italy and then a week in Venice. I would have loved to blog whilst I was away but we didn't take a laptop and I found internet cafes too scarce.

Then I came back and life seemed crazy again. But its January so time to regroup and reconsider all priorities.

Yes I want to keep blogging. Probably no one will ever read any of it or view my photos. But it is a way to keep sight of what is important to me. If I have nothing to blog about then I am not being authentic, not being me. I love sewing, embroidering, learning to watercolour, gardening, cooking and seeking a way to jump off the workforce merry-go-round and spend more time for me. So if I keep chipping away at my goals I will have plenty of homespunbliss topics to share.

So my blog will be my personal barometer and keep me to my goals. If you want to come along for the ride, please jump aboard. I'll be happy to chat to you.

Here's to a fabulous, creative 2011.

Salvaged furniture

Our local tip has a very good shop where they sell salvaged goods like toilets, bicycles, furniture, crockery and clothes.  I have picked up some great outdoor chairs there recently.  This rocking chair was a mess with lots of layers of paint and rust.
I stripped it back, repainted it and made a new cushion to give it a new lease of life.

The cushion cover has been made out of a fabulous vintage table cloth I found at an op shop.It is very comfortable and looks great on our verandah.

Question - what do you call an op shop? Op is short for opportunity and is a shop run by a charity selling second hand goods, especially clothes.  Do you call it charity, thrift, jumble?


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