Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lathering Up - New Experiences

soap making

Oh wow, so much fun!
I think Stefan and I have found a combined hobby :)
It combines the cool chemistry experience with all the good whiffs of essential oils being mixed into one big bowl of soapy love!

I have wanted to do this experiment for the longest time and I am most definitely hooked! 

Do we have enough space for all the soaps I plan to be making - probably not.
Will that stop me from making all those soaps - probably not!

Stefan and I made a provisional mold and it worked out fabulously, albeit the bars turned out a bit on the biggish side, but we remedied this by cutting them in two. This batch is only for our pleasure any way so they didn't have to look all too pretty but I still think they turned out quite nicely!

Homemade soap

make soap at home

Don't they look cool?

And the you try....

Oh sorry, that doesn't work yet - would be great if it did!

Anyway, they have been put into their new resting home for the next 6 weeks to cure.

curing soap

For our first batch we followed the guidelines in Susan Miller Cavitch's book "The Soapmaker's Companion" a great resource if you are looking for a reference/how-to guide.

Keep your eyes pealed for more as this topic will most definitely be continued.....

Have you made soap yet?

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Garden Joys

Square Foot Gardening

The garden seems to be really coming into itself at the moment and it is with delight that I go and visit it each day :)

On Friday Stefan and I went out bright and early and pulled out the peas, the rest of the radishes and most of the carrots.
We pulled out the peas as they were overshadowing the marrows and I desperately want them to grow a little bigger. 

It seems to be working, because this morning I went to have a look and the marrows are already much bigger!

marrows zucchetti

And the best news of all - our gems are finally growing :)

gem squash

We have sowed different sorts of cauliflowers: Cheddar, Neckarperle, Universal and Violet Queen. I love them being all different colours, and I do hope they start to grow soon.

select cauliflowers

We also sowed some broccoli and some beets.

Here are the images from the garden once we had finished :)

bed 1 sfg

bed 2 raised beds

potatoes in blossom

How is your garden coming?
What have you recently sowed or reaped?

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Friday, August 16, 2013

A New Experiment :)

cold process soap making

soap ingredients

I couldn't wait to share this little bit of news with you....

Look what arrived for me to play with (well "play with" is a bit of dangerous phrase when talking about Sodium Hydroxide amongst other things - hmmm - "create with" then :))

Stefan and I will be trying our hand at homemade soaps in the next while (am just getting all our utensils ready), watch this space for more!

Do you make your own soaps?
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Bees - Summer Treatments

Bee Treatments summer

This week at my bee course we went through the process of treating the bees for the varroa mites as this is a big problem here in Switzerland, as it is world wide.

For the summer treatment we used Formic Acid in an easy to use compact Liebig Dispenser.

Liebig Dispenser Bio Vet

The bees were awfully aggressive and I got stung twice, so at the moment I have a wonderfully crease-free left hand, twice the size as normal - at least it should work wonders in the carpal tunnel department ;)

For the bees this is quite a stressing time and the colonies that were treated tended to hang outside the hives as I am sure the gases bother them quite badly too.

beekeeping summer treatments

If you are a beekeeper when do you treat your bees?
Do you treat them twice yearly?
What do you treat your colonies with?

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dried Meat in Rounds

dehydrate meat recipe

Whilst living in S.A. Stefan and the girls used to enjoy a meat snack from the local garage.

The snack was thin rounds of meat, looking like the consistency of minced beef dried - something like hamburger patties with the water taken out of them!

Stefan was determined to give it a go, and so we came up with our own recipe as it developed.

Here is what we used for this recipe:

850g - 1kg of minced beef
3 Garlic Cloves chopped fine
5 Tbsp Worchester Sauce
2 tsp Herbed Salt
1 pinch sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp BBQ spice
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients really well.

dried beef recipe dehydrator

Then using a patty press, press out the beef mix into even hamburger patties.
Once divided, place into the dehydrator and allow to dry at 70°C for roughly 8 hours or until well-dired.

drying patties in the dehydrator

As soon as they are done, pack them up and hide them, otherwise if your family is anything like ours, they will be devoured in roughly 15 minutes flat :)

dehydrated meat


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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Recycled: Emergency Candles

Recycled emergency candles diy

We had some coconut oil leftover in the cupboard that I wanted to use up in a way which didn't mean disposing of it.

Stefan and I decided to make an emergency candle that we can keep sealed and ready in the cellar should it ever be necessary to have some extra light on hand.

To create this candle we needed:

An empty jar with lid
Some thickish wick
Coconut oil
Box of matches

emergency candle

To make:

1. Attach the wick to the base of your jar with some glue
2. Center your wick
3. Heat the oil and fill into the jar.
4. Allow to cool.
5. Attach your matchbox to the lid of the candle.
Done :)

emergency candle

Here is a quick video to show you how we made this candle :)

What do you use for emergency candles?

See you soon

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How does your Garden Grow?

 Yes, you guessed right - this is hail - any gardeners nightmare!


This hailstorm hit us 2 weekends ago, hence the silence, I was too scared to go out into the garden to see how bad the damage was.

Luckily for us the storm only lightly damaged the garden, thanks to the fact that our pumpkin and zucchini have got their leaves growing and covering a great deal of the garden.

But what do you know - the last 2 days we have had hefty hailstorms again!
Both not as bad as the first one, but bad enough to cause considerable damage to the already stoned plants :(

Our little garden experiment is turning out to be a bit of a catastrophe!

I was thinking the other day that our little garden would have probably blossomed wonderfully if it was:

a) Not in Switzerland
b) Not in Europe
c) In the Southern Hemisphere
d) Had been under the protection of a greenhouse!

Needless to say, today I ventured out to have a look, and was rather surprised to see out little piece of nature pushing forward with all its' might and against all odds!

Here are the photos I took this morning:

square foot gardening

potatoes, chamomile, gemsquash

The peas are the worst hit and have a lot of scars from the bad weather. But besides that our cabbage looks great, we have loads of beans growing, albeit covered with lice :(, the chamomile is looking wonderful and the potatoes are growing like there is no tomorrow!

I  am a bit worried that we are slowly running out of time for the pumpkins, gem squash and zucchini though, as they are just starting to produce their first sets of buds, fingers crossed that we still get some kind of produce from these.

How is your garden growing?
Have you been having the same unfortunate kind of events?
We would love to hear from you below.
Until next time..

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