19 Feb 2015

Busy week, gifts from nature and special mail :D!

It’s been a busy week for me as I “lost” my RMO last Friday due to staff shortages and then was rostered on Saturday with the regular work schedule so Sunday was catching up on things around the house – laundry, house cleaning etc and catching up on a few hours sleep. I also tried out some  additions to my sourdough baking and ended up with this. It's in the freezer until I finish eating the current loaf.



 I had my regular RMO on Tuesday and had a friend visit and even though Wednesday was a real “stinker” at work with the humidity I was rewarded with these lovely views of the evening sky when I took Flash for a walk after I came home.




 Shame they were only taken on the mobile phone as the colours aren’t what my eyes could see but if you “picture” almost iridescent blue skies and peachy orange clouds I’m sure you’ll see why I was entranced with the view J.

I discovered these on one of my pumpkin vines this morning as I was watering them and squashing 28 spot ladybugs. The leaf pictured below is what happens when these decide to chow down on your curcurbita!




This morning, when I arrived home from work, I took Flash for a walk across the park to the post office and collected the Soap by Sandy that I’d ordered a couple of weeks ago. Darn Auspost took their sweet time delivering them…..grrrrr. I love them! Some are for gifts and some are for me. They are currently sitting on the kitchen bench where I took this photo and the lounge/kitchen area smells divine J.




Hoping everyone else has a wonderful week too….or at least a few delightful days!

Cheers,
RobynLouise xo


13 Feb 2015

Brief summary of Rendering Beef Fat

I've had a request re fat rendering so I hope this helps those impatient to try tallow or other animal fat soap making. When I render the next lot of beef fat I'll do a photo tutorial for those who follow picture instructions better than text only instructions.

My original batch of beef tallow was made on the stove in a pot, mostly following the directions here -  http://justlikemynanmade.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/rendering-animal-fat-for-oils-part-2.html, but chopping the fat. Thanks Narelle :)!

Since then, after I trim the unwanted bits off, I just chop it into chunks about an inch or two in size and throw it all in the crockpot, without the water as it isn't in danger of burning/boiling in my crockpot on the lowest heat setting, and periodically check it. Please know your crockpot before you try this as it may need to be closely supervised the first time this is done. When it has melted, as much as it can, I turn off the crock pot, remove the undissolved pieces of  hard fat/gristle (they are cooled and fed to the dog) with a slotted spoon and let the fat go cold and set in the crockpot. Then I loosen the fat block, cut it into quarters for ease of handling, slice off the sediment (scungy looking) part on the base (more dog food!) and remelt to liquid in the crockpot on low heat setting again. I let it cool slightly, a thin skin should form on the top this time, then strain it through an old fine cotton tea towel into my pyrex jug and pour it into room temperature glass containers (hot fat and cold glass = nasty accident!), to let it set, if I'm not using it immediately. Glass containers with wide tops let it slide out in a block into a freezer bag and you can just pop it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. You can also slide it out onto a plastic bag or waxed paper on your zeroed scale and weigh it before you pop it in your freezer bag then write this on the bag for future reference when making soap batches. Ensure you write "Beef Tallow" on the bag and the date it was rendered otherwise it may be mistaken for something else.

Note: The fat can be strained after both heating periods if you don't have a dog for scungy bits disposal purposes :).

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Please use common sense when trying this as I take no responsibility for any accidents that happen.

KEEP CHILDREN, PETS AND HUNGRY INQUISITIVE MALE FRIENDS/PARTNERS CLEAR

As the title says this is a brief summary not an extensive tutorial. Any burns, fingers sliced off, dogs with digestive dysfunctions, curious children or pesky partners ARE NOT my problem.

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Cheers,
RobynLouise xo

12 Feb 2015

Laundry Soap



I'm quite pleased with these and I'll probably medium grate them and swish about a tablespoon in hot water to dissolve it before placing in the soap dispenser of my front loader. As they contain eucalyptus oil I should be able to wash wool jumpers with them too. The laundry, where they are drying, smells of eucalyptus at the moment as the temperature has been in the mid-high 30C range this week.

Here is the recipe for anyone who wants to try it - though you may wish to wait until I've given it a try with my laundry first! :

550g Beef tallow
250g Copha (I used this as it was in the freezer and I've had it for a while)
200g Rice bran oil, 380g Water
146g Caustic soda 
I also blended through 30gm (grams not millilitres) of eucalyptus oil at trace.

Ingredients cost = $4.79 with the copha at $2.86 being the most expensive. As it costs me $4.80 to buy 1kg Planet Ark Orange washing powder when it's on special, and now they've changed the recipe somehow as it makes me sneeze, I think I have a good thing here and it will definitely last me longer than a packet of sneezy laundry powder!

Cheers,
Robyn xo


8 Feb 2015

Reboot.....Back to basics in life

Friday mornings are one of my RMO's (Rostered Mornings Off) and as I needed to go to town anyway I decided to drop by the Regional Aquatic Fitness Centre (aka - the local pool!) and personally check out the facilities I'd seen online. You can never judge something from photographs - try house hunting to rent or buy and you'll see what I mean!

To say I was surprised is an understatement. The facility isn't huge but the pools are under cover and heated (yay, swimming all year round) and the Gym has a nice range of machines and weights to use without it being crowded or confusing. There's a spa too and water, sorry aqua, aerobics :). The Gym also has fitness classes that I can attend as they are in my non-working hours unlike a couple of local privately owned gyms that only had classes I wanted to do in my working hours. They also do introduction to the fitness machines and plan out an initial individual program for you when you join based on your fitness level and your little quirks - like my swinging vertebra.

This all led to my needing to work out a proper budget to see if I can warrant the $29/fortnight cost which covers both pool and gym fees. Paying a once off yearly payment is a fraction cheaper but at the moment I don't have that lump amount of cash available.

I averaged out my weekly wage since I've had this job, including public hols and Christmas shutdown, so I'm not working off the current nett pay but the average which is about $120 less a week than I receive now. I've over estimated costs with everything, and not included the money ex (still) owes me as well as adding in a clothing allowance which I probably won't use much anyway as it will only be for secondhand jeans for work, and then there's the unknown tax return I will receive this year as I nominated to be slightly over taxed.

I'll definitely have to jump into the sewing now or I'm going to have a cold Winter! Yeah, yeah I know I've been trying to destash for years but now it's become a necessary reality. LOL, now I'll also have to make the cash wallet envelope on my Pinterest board to keep all my regular payments in :). It's a bit of a bugger being paid cash wages these days.

Cleaning and groceries cost will reduce from what I've budgeted for as I'm baking bread and making my own soaps again as well as stockpiling specials more often now I have the initial base stockpile set up. In the future I hope to grow my own herbs/veges again so that will also lower the grocery cost. 

Yesterday, I made tallow based soap and changed the recipe again, as I wanted to include more tallow for eventual hardness and longevity, and therefore had to fiddle with the other oils so I had less cleaning and bubbly (I'm not that dirty :D) and more conditioning and creamy. I sort of need this now I've passed the half century *roll eyes*.

Anyway, here's the recipe:
Beef Tallow 900g
Coconut Oil (not copha) 150g
Olive Oil 450g
Water 570g
Lye 206g
Fragrance 46.5g - optional - but I didn't fragrance mine as it may be used on a couple of little ones and all I have at the moment is clove or lemon myrtle oils which can cause reactions in some people as they are quite strong.

If you want to know basic soapmaking go here to Rhonda's DTE blog, as she has explained it wonderfully, and she also has her basic soap recipe there if you want to try it as well, or instead of, mine.


I can't post a soap recipe without a pic of the outcome so here they are.



When they are sufficiently dried out in about 6-8 weeks I'll weigh them and see how much I have. Should be around 2kg.
As the tallow was free, the cost was a total of $4.81 for the other ingredients as I bought the oils on great specials and the lye was regular price of $4.39/500g at the supermarket. Minimal gas used to heat the oils so even rounded up to $5 for pretty close to 2kg of all natural soap it's a bargain :D.

I made some laundry soap this evening but more on that later in the week as this post is already quite long!

Cheers,
Robyn xo




4 Feb 2015

Country, Cucurbitaceae and a Mad Cat

I finally put the strings on the guitar last weekend and have started relearning my chords and decided to learn how to play Little Bitty, performed by Alan Jackson as I like it and it has easy chords. Lol, more about that in the future!

My Cucurbitaceae, or pumpkins, are growing really well and starting to form flower buds.


I'm already hoping for a bumper crop and thinking soup, scones, fruit cake, open face pies, roast pumpkin, pumpkin/roquette/lentil salad.....I'd best stop as I'm making myself hungry!

The dog, Flash, and I went for a walk Monday evening. We didn't anticipate having another attendee but our fool cat decided she was coming and wouldn't be chased home. Miss Mad Cat decided that we were walking too fast so yowled loudly and continuously every time she thought we were too far ahead of her. I called her and slowed up a little but she had to run to catch up with us each time as I knew if I stopped she would just collapse and want her head or belly rubbed *roll eyes*. I'm really hoping this doesn't become a habit as it means I can't go far or fast and walking is my means of exercise and helping to keep fit and control my weight. A busy main road crosses one end of our street and our street is also the main entryway to the village so I can't really leave her and hope she returns home of her own accord.


Cheers,
Robyn xo