Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Homemade, Shea Butter, Lotion Bars

Hello Dear Reader,

I have been using and loving a lotion bar from Ethique for quite a while now but I wanted to see if I could make one myself. I have quite dry skin, it's not sensitive and I can usually use most skincare products on my skin with no issues. I already had the beeswax from when we went to Kuranda Honey House up in Kuranda, I had bought it to have a go at making beeswax wraps (I did have a go but I didn't use quite enough beeswax, that's another job for later ) anyway, all I had to do was order some Shea Butter, which I got from here, melt it down with some olive oil and coconut oil, add some lavender oil, pour this combined melted oils, wax and butter into silicon moulds, let them cool and voila, moisturising lotion bars made in no time for very little outlay.

I made a very small quantity for my first go, it still made 8 little, cupcake shape, portions and I think it will keep me going for quite some time. The ratio I used was 33 grams each of Shea butter, Bees Wax and Olive oil, 50 gram of coconut oil and 1 gram of doTERRA Lavender oil or other good quality essential oil, suitable for application to the skin. I added the first four ingredients to a high sided, wide mouthed glass jar, popped it into a small saucepan of water and bought the water to a very gentle simmer, turned it down and stirred the oils, wax and butter occasionally until they were all melted together. Off the heat I added the lavender oil and stirred it through and then poured the still hot mixture into waiting silicon moulds. Easy and a success on the first go, don't you love it when things just work out?

Ingredients for Homemade Shea Butter Lotion Bars, clockwise from upper right
50 grams of coconut oil, 1 gram of good quality lavender essential oil, 33 grams of beeswax, 33 grams of olive oil and 33 grams of Shea Butter plus silicon moulds to set lotion bars in

In a wide mouthed, high sided glass jar melt the first three ingredients together in a water bath on lowish heat

Mix occasionally with a wooden skewer until melted 

Off the heat, add the lavender essential oil and mix well

Pour into clean silicon moulds of your choice and let cool and set

To use, simply warm the lotion bar in between the palms of your hands and apply resulting oil to your face and body. It's also wonderful for dry cuticles, heels and lips, in fact any where on the body that is dry or chapped. Even though it is an oil it doesn't leave your skin super shiny or feeling oily, just soft and smelling wonderful.

Have you ever made your own lotions and potions? What is your favourite beauty product to make?

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Stuff that doesn't matter to me

Hello Dear Reader,

On my quest to live a more frugal lifestyle, some things, that I once thought I couldn't live without, now simply don't matter to me anymore. Some people might think being frugal means lowering your standards or going without. My life couldn't be further from that version of frugalism. I am simply more discerning in my choices and choose quality over quantity. I try and find a way to have what I love, on a budget, while sourcing products that are made with love and are kinder to the planet.

I always in-source my life, never paying for services I can do myself. I make do and mend, and this philosophy, I think, is fundamental to living a small and frugal life. Keeping my life simple and small takes effort and it is sometimes hard work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  For instance, one of my favourite pastimes is gardening, I always say gardening is not for wimps, for I find it physically challenging, however the few successes I have had, far outweigh the failures. There is nothing like picking fresh herbs, fruit or veggies from your garden to add to your lunch or dinner, it is a small pleasure that I just love and couldn't do without.

For 20 years of my working life I worked it retail Pharmacy and at the time I just loved it. I worked in every aspect of Pharmacy and when I was younger, just adored the cosmetic department. I would spend a long time getting ready for work, making sure my skin and makeup was perfect, my hair, just so, my nails polished and that I was perfectly groomed. I still take pride in my appearance but I no longer buy and wear makeup that is on trend. I have simplified my makeup to a good quality foundation, a natural blush and a lipstick. My hair has always been short but now even more so and takes me no time at all to keep it styled. So staying up with the latest trend in hair and makeup, simple doesn't matter to me anymore

Most of the time away, from work, I don't wear any makeup at all

Keeping up with TV shows and movies also doesn't matter to me, as I now only watch two shows, they are both on the ABC on Sunday. I watch Landline from 12 till 1 and then Gardening Australia from 1 till 1.30.

I used to love Masterchef, but to me, it is now out of reach of the simple, good home cook and you must already be able to cook and primp and display your food to such a high chef-y standard that it lost me along the way. I loved it way back when Julie Goodwin won it, she is such a wonderful cook and baker but still has a commonality amongst the everyday home cook and I can relate to her style.

A few other things that simply don't matter to me anymore are

Clothes-of course I buy and wear clothes but I never go to expensive fashion stores for them, I Op shop for anything I need

Jewellery-I have a small range of jewellery that will see me out. I don't even look at catalogues from jewellery shops, it just doesn't float my boat

Bags and shoes-again I have a small selection of bags and shoes. I have whittled down my shoes to ones that are comfortable and practical. I have also made quite a few patchwork bags that will keep me going for a while

Fast food and going out to restaurants-We rarely eat out and only when it is a special occasion and we never get take away, we just decided not to do it. I would rather have an egg on toast or open a can of baked beans than get take away. It's easier and of course cheaper. It does help that we both love cooking and eating good food so it's a no brainer.

So, high fashion, on trend makeup and hair, fashionable bags and shoes, expensive jewellery, eating out and keeping up with the latest TV shows and movies do not matter to me one little bit. I think I still look okay and my hubby and family love me the way I am. As long as I am happy and healthy, I will continue whittling down my life to achieve my wish of living a small, thankful and frugal life.

Over to you, what doesn't matter to you any more?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Rosella Tea

Hello Dear Reader,

I adore tea, mostly the herbal variety and enjoy it all year round. I have vivid memories of having scorching hot, milky, tea with sugar, on the front open veranda, at my Nan and Papas home, in the middle of a Gympie summer. All the adults drank hot tea on a hot, hot day, so I just did the same. It's funny because you heated up and sweated so much, you actually felt cooler.

It's been a long time since I drank normal black tea with milk and I don't know if I would enjoy it as much as I do my herbal teas. I am absolutely in love with Liquorice tea and would drink it all day if I could, but as they say, all good things in moderation, so I allow myself just one really big, strong cup at night. I swear it's like a drug to me, I always feel wonderful after having it, like my bodies been craving it all day! I also have my usual cup of green tea and paw paw leaf for breakfast and peppermint with morning tea and lunch.

I have just discovered the beauty of Rosella tea, thanks to Morag from "Our Permaculture life". Last Sunday at the Jetty Markets I bought a small box of fresh Rosellas, just for the purpose of making tea. I knew the colour would be amazing and it is and the taste is faintly sweet, strawberry like with a slight astringent note as well. You can blend the rosella tea with ginger and mint or lemon myrtle but I love it just straight, as it is. I simply cut the end off the Rosella and peeled the petals or calyx's off the seed pod, I then let them dry out on a clean tea towel for a week or so. You can use the petals fresh as well. I have kept the seed pods and am in the process of letting them dry, in the future I will have a go at growing a Rosella plant.

I have the most adorable little tea infuser that my daughter left behind when she moved. I use it everyday, as I buy all my teas as loose leaf now and can source most of them from the Jetty markets as well. I bring my own jars for them to fill with loose leaf tea and they are more than happy to do so. It cuts down on packaging, both plastic and cardboard. Did you know, that some tea bags are made with a plastic component in them? MMM, Plastic infused tea, anyone?

To make the tea, I infuse about 4 or 5 dried or fresh Rosella Calyx's in a tea infuser, top with, just off the boil, hot water, let infuse for as long as you like, I just leave the little infuser in the cup while I drink my gorgeous tea. Look at that colour, it makes me happy just to see it.

What is your favourite tea? Herbal, black or green?

Friday, 21 April 2017

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

Our life is slowly getting back into a routine, which is wonderful as I don't cope well without a structured day. We are having lots of public holidays here in Australia at the moment, in fact we are in the middle of four weeks worth of only four working days per week, I could get used to this. Starting with Easter Friday, then Easter Monday, coming up next Tuesday is ANZAC day and then the following Monday is Labour Day, yeah for extra days off!

Blogging wise, I am not quite back into my normal routine of my weekly post about "What we bought, spent and ate" but I will try for next week, but I have managed to get todays normal post of 5 frugal things done, so that's a good sign of some normality returning.

The days are finally turning a little cooler and of course the days are getting shorter, I am now walking the dogs after the sun goes down, I do try and get their walk done late afternoon when there is still a little light around, but even at 6.15pm it is already dark. We are lucky to have the Dolphin Football fields just across the road and as they are in full swing of football training they have all their big lights on so I feel safe to walk the dogs, even on night fall. It also helps that lovely hubby has been walking with me as well, the dogs are only little but boy are they strong, it takes me all my strength not to be pulled over by these little balls of muscle!

I have, as always, been spending all my free time at home and have started some new projects like fermenting water kefir, starting off a new batch of sour dough starter and making a new kind of bread, it's made with cottage cheese and I just love it. The cottage cheese makes for a light but moist loaf and the method is super easy so I will make that my first of 5 frugal things this Friday-

1. Made a batch of bread rolls with some left over cottage cheese, it used up the one cup of cottage cheese that was at risk of not being used. Love. love, love no waste!

2. Sliced up and froze some daggy bananas to use at a latter date. I have in mind to make this Banana and Peanut Butter Ice-cream. But I will use some of my home made Roasted Mixed Nut Butter

3. Roasted the outside leaves of a cauliflower when we had a family lunch on Monday. I usually just chop up the outside leaves of the cauliflower and put it in the cauliflower in cheese sauce. But there were quite a few leaves with this particular cauli, so I googled a recipe and this is the one I used. I didn't have any dill or garlic powder, as per the recipe, so I used Caraway seeds instead. It was totally delicious roasted like this.

4. Hung all the washing to dry in the sun

5. Went to a big shopping centre and only spent money on what we went there for. We had to pick up our Apple computer on Easter Saturday and I think we did well not to buy anything else on a whim. Except for this magazine and that wasn't on impulse, I had wanted it for quite a while and a punnet of raspberries that were a good price of $3.99

So, that's a wrap of my 5 frugal things this week, I'd love to know what you have been up to one the frugal front.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Fab, Fish Pie, in Four Easy Steps

Hello Dear Reader,

I have been making this fab fish pie for years now, and I love it's simplicity and flavour. Over the years I have made it with all sorts of combinations of seafood (salmon, reef fish, pelagic fish and prawns) but this year I kept it really simple and just used some Snapper that lovely hubby had caught a while ago. There are really only four main steps involved in making this fish pie-

Poach the fish
Make a white sauce
Boil some eggs and slice
Make some mashed potato for the topping

I made this particular fish pie with 650 grams of fish and about 500 grams of potatoes, it easily fed the two of us over two night. Of course, you will feed more people by increasing the amount of seafood and potatoes.

Using up to 800 grams of fish or whatever combination of seafood you like, poach gently in 500 mls of full cream milk, along with 1 small, whole, peeled onion, spiked with 4 whole cloves, for 8 minutes

Pour poached fish and milk into a sieve over a large bowl, remove the onion and discard. Now flake the fish into an oven proof, casserole dish. Retain the poaching liquid and set aside till needed

Boil 4 eggs, peel and slice

Place sliced egg over flaked  fish

Make a white sauce with 40 grams of butter, 40 grams of plain flour and the reserved poaching liquid. Add fresh herbs like parsley or dill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour white sauce over eggs and flaked fish

Boil and mash up to about a kilo of potatoes. I add lots of butter and milk

Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 200 C

Super easy, comforting and delicious

Do you make a fish pie? What seafood combo do you put it yours?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Hello Dear Reader,

I had bought a "bucket" of tomatoes from the Northside Discount Fruit Barn last week and didn't realise until I got home just how many tomatoes were in the 'bucket" Out the front of the market, they have all the really good specials and most of them are pre-packed into plastic bag lined, smallish buckets, they really fill them to overflowing. At the register we transfer anything we bought in a bucket into our mesh bags so we aren't bring home any plastic bags. They can then re-use the plastic bag lined bucket. In this bucket there were 2.015 kg of tomatoes and at only 75c a kg, in total they only cost $1.51!

I picked the tomatoes over, there were a few where the tops had a few marks on them so I just cut those daggy bits off and composted those.  I ended up with 25 halves for this recipe. These are just run of the mill tomatoes, not "vine ripened" or "Roma" and are okay to eat but by slow roasting them and giving them some love from brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and garlic, these "okay" tomatoes are transformed into absolute deliciousness.

Halve the tomatoes and put on a lined oven tray, cut side up

For every 6 tomatoes you will need, 1 tablespoon each of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, a fine slice of garlic per half tomato and salt and pepper. Simply sprinkle over brown sugar, spoon over balsamic, place a slice of garlic on top and grind over salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a 150C oven for 1 hour

Once cooled, top with torn basil and devour!

Not bad for $1.50 worth of "okay" tomatoes! Over to you, what do you do to improve not so marvellous produce?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Any left over Hot Cross Buns?

Hello Dear Reader,

I love traditional, Hot Cross Buns and usually limit myself to having, just a few, over the actual Easter holiday, but this year I started earlier than usual, like, about a month ago. One of the big supermarkets is literally a stones throw from us and while there one afternoon picking something else up, I spied a new variety of Hot Cross Bun I hadn't tried before. Double Chocolate, Hot Cross Buns. I must have been hungry because a pack of these found their way into my basket. I have to say, they were just delicious, not too sweet, soft and chocolatey, just as you would expect them to be.

And then, the free monthly magazine came out from this supermarket and what should be on the front cover? A recipe for Raspberry and Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding, using these little chocolate hot cross buns. Well, the decision was made then and there, this is what I would be baking for our Easter dessert!

It was amazing dessert, everyone loved it and it was super easy to make and bake. So if you are in the fortunate position where you have a few Hot Cross Buns left over (any variety) I would encourage you to whip up this super yummy dessert!

Simply halve 5 or 6 hot cross buns (any variety) spread them with butter and jam (I used strawberry, as that's what I had in the house) put them in a 2 litre casserole dish, alternating between cross side up and cut side up, sprinkle over 100 grams of chocolate buttons/nibs (I used a combination of white and dark chocolate) and a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries (I used frozen) For the custard mixture-in a big jug, whisk up 1 cup of milk, 6 eggs and 1/2 a cup each of sugar and cream. Pour this custard mixture over the hot cross buns and let sit for about 15 minutes to absorb. Then bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the custard is set, in a 160C oven 

Well, it didn't look as lovely as the picture in the magazine, but boy, it was delicious. I served it with plain vanilla ice-cream. YUM!

What did you make for your Easter Dessert?

Monday, 17 April 2017

Here and Now 1

Hello Dear Reader,

This lovely idea comes from Sarah at Say Little Hen. I believe it's a form of mindfullness and being aware of what is going on in your world at the present time. We don't always take the time to really think about how we are feeling, do we? I know the feeling of being thankful, just to get through the day, have dinner and fall into bed, that's easy, I do that everyday. But this "Here and Now" makes you stop and really centralise those thoughts that buzz in and out of your brain everyday, while you are busy with your real life.

Loving-The cooler weather, it is an absolute delight to ride my bike, in the cooler air of the morning and afternoon

Eating-Chorizo and Chickpea Pot Pies. They have been our favourite dinner so far this week. They are easy to make and totally delicious, perfect for the cooler weather.

Drinking-My different teas-Green tea and Paw Paw leaf for breakfast, Peppermint tea made in a plunger at work and my glorious Liquorice tea made with loose liquorice bark and infused with the cutest little infuser, at night.  I have also just discovered Rosella Tea, just delicious.

Feeling-Emotionally tired and a little disconnected as we go through the Easter break. To me, Easter has always been about family. This is the first Easter where our adult children haven't been here. It was a bit odd and the house too quiet. Today. though, my sister and my Niece and her family are coming over for lunch, I love having my home full of people I love.

Making-Water kefir for the first time. I have already made one batch and it is on it's second ferment, I have flavoured it with mint and ginger.

Thinking-That I would love to retire early, just a thought.

Dreaming-Of our future and hoping to realise our dream of owning a small home with a big productive garden, living off grid while practicing permaculture principles. That is my dream.

Have a wonderful Easter Monday everyone and I hope you have had a good break and was able to spend it with people you love.