My Spring cleaning adventure Part 1.

My Spring cleaning adventure Part 1.

Me and my partner are always complaining that we never have time to clean the house between us. We go to work, come home, eat and sleep. We both work 12hr shifts and like many people put off anything more than the basic dust and hoover as really don’t want to spend what little time we have when we are both off and awake cleaning the house.

This is a struggle faced by many of my friends who are of working age. Unfortunately very few people enjoy cleaning there is always something we would rather be doing such as taking the kids to the park, relaxing in the garden or just watching TV.

We finally decided to bite the bullet and start our spring cleaning today. I have a few days off work so no time like the present to gain some control over the environment.

First thing we did was open the curtains and windows. A bit of fresh air helps to blow away the cobwebs and any lingering smells. Then we cleaned the windows to get the maximum amount of light into the house which also helps with shaking off the winter and finally acknowledging the spring. Natural light can play an vital role when combined with other factors it has amazing affects on individual moods uplifting and re-energising.

We used a combination of vinegar warm water and washing up liquid to clean the windows till they sparkled (or at-least no longer had cat fur stuck to them).

Next we flipped the mattress (to prolong its lifespan) and changed the bedding. The bedding gets changed regularly in our house but there is nothing better then fresh bedding when you have spent the day cleaning.

Then I spent the next hour sorting through my clothes organising them into four categories : Bin, charity, keep but put into storage, keep and put away. I was amazed by how many clothes I had been hoarding that didn’t fit me anymore. My wardrobe has now gone from an overflowing mess to a neatly folded delight.

Whilst I was sorting out my wardrobe my partner made a start on washing the bedding we had just changed, catching up on some laundry and starting dinner.

I hoovered the bedroom floor and used a damp cloth to get up cat hair stuck to the carpet.

After that we put out the washing together and decided to have tea and call it for the day.

Tomorrow I will clean downstairs whilst my partner is at work.

websites

http://myfrugaladventures.com/2013/04/homemade-glass-cleaner/ – where we got the window cleaner recipe from.

https://uk.pinterest.com/sonoga/diy-cleaning-tips/ some ideas for making your own cleaning products.

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Save the Bank Gift Idea

Free word art for every occasion

Mothers day has just been and the next occasion I have coming up is my siblings birthdays in april. Sometimes the need to spend money on gifts and going out to celebrate occasions can feel never ending especially when your on a tight budget. So instead of breaking the bank I am going to create home-made presents for the next few occasions. Hopefully more if I have any success. I want to create something unique without having to spend hours working on it. Im all for gifts from the heart which you have spent time and effort making however with three separate birthdays in the next two weeks and very little time to make anything due to working twelve hour shifts I need something simple.

Looking at gift ideas on Facebook swap sites and google I found this website where you can buy personalised word art for any occasion :https://www.facebook.com/Wordartforyou

I really liked the concept but didn’t want to spend £13 buying something I could probably make myself. So I googled it.

The first helpful website I found belonged to another blogger Maggie.  http://blog.thelovenerds.com/2013/09/free-shaped-word-art.html Her website provided instructions on how to make your own word art using a free online engine called Tagxedo. http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html

I decided to give it a go. First I headed over to the website.

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Then I clicked on create. Next I had to install silverlight as I am now working on a new (second-hand) laptop.

This took me to the creation engine

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Next you need to click load. On the left hand side.Then you can either type in the words you want to use, upload a file from your desktop (perhaps of your favourite poetry) or choose a web address.

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For my first trial I chose to use a web address. In fact I chose the address for my blog.

Then I hit submit and waited.

Once you have chosen your text you can change the shape.

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I decided to try a dinosaur as they are awesome.

din 1

If you then want to change the colour of your creation use the theme arrow down the left hand side.

If you want to change which words are which colour then clock thee circular arrow next to colour.

If you want to change your text font then you can either select the circular arrow next to font for a random selection or use the arrow to pick a specific option.

The software is nice and easy and best of all free to use. Have a play around until you find something you are happy with.

“Orientation” : allows you to choose the direction that you would like your words to face.

“Layout” shifts the words around

When your done click on the save/share button to either print or save the image to your computer.

Good luck                                            dino blog

Fungus Foraging or A day outside in the fresh if damp air.

English: fungus

English: fungus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fungus Foraging or A day outside in the fresh if damp air.

Last week I got invited to attend a fungus foraging course at my local woods. I was very excited by the prospect and after a bit of organising managed to get a lift to the start point.

It was a wet day but the tree’s afforded plenty of shelter from the rain. I was surprised and delighted by the turn out. There must have been 40 of us who had dug out wellies and braved the weather to explore the outdoors.  Other than me there were plenty of families many with children. It was fantastic to see how excited the kids were at the concept of searching for and identifying something so basic and often overlooked.

We searched for about an hour covering only a small area. Then retreated to the car park to display our finds on a trestle table and ask the expert questions about our finds.

Personally I was surprised by the vast variety of fungi we found in such a small part of the woods.

I had a very enjoyable day and would go to other events at the forest in future.

foraging and recipes 025 foraging and recipes 030 foraging and recipes 033 foraging and recipes 040 foraging and recipes 039 foraging and recipes 041

Jelly bean mushroom

jelly bean mushroom jelly bean mushroom

Jelly bean mushroom

foraging and recipes 052 foraging and recipes 053 foraging and recipes 054 foraging and recipes 055

Apple Day

Left: sweet cider. Right: apple juice.

Left: sweet cider. Right: apple juice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was apple day in the town where I live. As well as an assortment of stalls selling fair trade good there was also a traditional apple press.

Me and a friend collected two bags of apples and decided to have a go at making our own apple juice. Our two bags of windfalls made 1 and ½ bottles of apple juice (or about three litres). We are going to drink the half bottle this week and use the full bottle to make cider.

First we washed the apples.

Then we chopped them into quarters.

Next the apples were fed through a scratter in order to pulp them. Essentially this is a mincer.

Once the apples are pulped they are then put into a muslin bag which is put inside the press and squeezed. Our press had small enough holes that the apple couldn’t escape therefore the muslin bag was not needed.

Juice is transferred from the press via a tube and then collected in bottles and ready to drink or use as desired. We collected ours in a glass jar and then transferred it to plastic bottles due to the lack of stability plastic provides.

It was a sunny day and lots of fun. I learnt several new things.

We decided to use our full bottle of juice to make cider so we will be buying a bung and air stopper to attach to the bottle. This will allow gas to escape from the bottle without allowing air in.

I will let you know how the next process goes asap.

Other fun articles

http://quintessentialruminations.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/confessions-of-an-english-apple-scrumper/

Friday Foraging Fun (well almost)

Today we went foraging. It was a delightful sunny day and we had finished our chores so we decided to take advantage of the weather and head outdoors. We wanted to go foraging as September is a prime time for free foods. The main aim was to collect as many dandelions as possible to make a batch of dandelion liquor that would be ready for Christmas.Yarn anf foraging 005

As the weather was so nice it was just lovely to be outside and we weren’t expecting to find much.

We were pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed a good few hours in the open air and returned with dandelions (heads and leaves), clovers (the flowers are amazing and very sweet), crab apples, blackcurrants and mushrooms (which we decided to compost instead of eating to be on the safe side).Yarn anf foraging 007

Yarn anf foraging 010

Overall it was an invigorating experience that made us feel like children hunting for hidden treasure.Yarn anf foraging 008

This afternoon was spent making the base for the dandelion liquor with honey and lemon juice. As well as cleaning our prizes ready for use tomorrow.

We have found a few recipes for crab apple jelly and lemon aid that we want to test although this may involve a second trip at some point to collect more fruit now we know where it can be found. The site I will be using for my base recipes is :http://www.sallywise.com.au/blog/crabapples-the-not-so-humble-fruit/

I still have some leftover apples that I picked whilst at home and the blackcurrants picked today which will be cooked into either a preserve or a desert.

If you have any suggestions for things to do with foraged ingredients or want to share your own experiences please leave a comment.

 

I hope you are enjoying a pleasant September and reaping the benefits of what is available locally.

I hope you will come back again.

Dandelions revisited

In june I made a batch of dandelion liquer which I then proceeded to forget about and left to ferment. on getting back to uni we all decided to try it. it was a delicious very fruity liquer with a slight after taste for the alchohol.  I have been implored by my test subjects to make this again and will probably be giving away strained versions of the drink as gifts next year, a few of myfriends have suggested it had a mellow taste similiar to a sweet mead. however i have not tried mead so can’t compare the two.

I got the initial recipe from http://vallenuova.blogspot.it/2012/05/foraging-dandelion-liqueur.html

however the idea came from http://wildcraftvita.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/things-to-do-with-dandelions.html

the initial recipe You need:
100 dandelion flowers (collected when fully in bloom)
A syrup made with 250 g of water and 300 gr of sugar
2 whole lemons cut in pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
750 g of water
750 g of 95º alcohol
(you can use Vodka and reduce the amount of water accordingly)

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some g...

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some grass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make a syrup with 250 g of water and 300 g of sugar and let cool.

In a glass jar that you can close tightly put the flowers, lemons, lemon juice and syrup.
Close, store in a warm place and let rest for 1 week.
Add the 750g water and the alcohol and leave for about 3 months.
Filter and enjoy!

 

the adjustments i made was using honey instead of sugar and vodka instead of alcohol. only a tiny amount of vodka is needed however less than a teaspoon. the only other significant thing to note as i found with one of my earlier batches once open the mixture if not drunk within 3 or 4 days starts to go off. it would definitely be best to make this in smaller portions to avoid waste or invite friends round to help test each batch.

 

Kombucha continued

English: Mature Kombucha

English: Mature Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Hey again,

Last post I outlined the basics of Kombucha.  This time I am going to investigate  how to flavour the finished product.

 

 

Here is a video outlining the basics of how to start your own culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z58FzJdliRE&feature=share&list=PLWzMfwDxBs_m9uVcO74d6KeRm8-eN6sGz

Once you have made your own Kombucha and got the hang of making plain batches you might want to have a go at flavouring.

Flavouring is done after the first fermentation. Once you have a batch of plain Kombucha you are happy with you can decant some of it into a separate Glass container (don’t forget to set aside some of your kombucha mix to start your next plain batch)  and then begin to experiment by adding the flavours of your choice. Bear in mind that Kombucha is a living substance so do not use chemicals to flavour it. Instead why not try adding fruit or fruit juice.

Once you have added the ingredients you are using to flavour the Kombucha then you have to re-cover it (still allowing it to breath) and leave it to re-ferment in a warmish (room temperature) place out of direct sunlight. After 5 to 14 days it will be ready to drink depending on your personal taste. Don’t forget to leave a comment on your own mixtures as it is always nice to find new flavours.

There is a fantastic video available on how to flavour Kombucha available here:

Felting a bag.

This week i went to a free felting workshop. all the materials were provided and it has given me a few ideas for what to do with my own wool.

Here is an explanation of what i did in pictures

 

Base layer of bubble wrap in tray

Base layer of bubble wrap in tray

Template for felting in tray

Template for felting in tray

Template for felting

Template for felting

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

A selection of wool

My selection of wool

My selection of wool

The first layer would form the outside of the bag

The first layer would form the outside of the bag

I had to keep the wool wispy and make sure there were no gaps

I had to keep the wool wispy and make sure there were no gaps

Then I put a layer of lace over the wool to hold it in place.

Then I put a layer of lace over the wool to hold it in place.

I used a watering can to sprinkle water onto the wool.

I used a watering can to sprinkle water onto the wool.

Then presses it down to ensure it was wet.

Then presses it down to ensure it was wet.

Next i rubbed soap into the wool.

Next i rubbed soap into the wool.

After this I massaged the wool to felt all the strands together

After this I massaged the wool to felt all the strands together

I removed the lace curtain to prevent it felting to the wool. Then relayered it and continued massaging.

I removed the lace curtain to prevent it felting to the wool. Then relayered it and continued massaging.

I Flipped my felt using a spare sheet of bubble wrap.

I Flipped my felt using a spare sheet of bubble wrap.

I folded the corners neatly over the template.

I folded the corners neatly over the template.

Massaged them together.

Massaged them together.

then layered more wool over the template. This would also be an outside layer.

then layered more wool over the template. This would also be an outside layer.

I repeated the same process as before. covering the wool with a sheet of lace.

I repeated the same process as before. covering the wool with a sheet of lace.

sprinkling with water.

sprinkling with water.

massaging the soap and water into the wool.

massaging the soap and water into the wool.

Flipping the felt and turning the edges in again.

Flipping the felt and turning the edges in again.

layering more wool. this will form the inside of the bag. massaging it. then repeating the process on the final side.

layering more wool. this will form the inside of the bag. massaging it. then repeating the process on the final side.

cutting along the top edge and removing the bubble wrap template from the bag.

cutting along the top edge and removing the bubble wrap template from the bag.

messaging the felt bag then turning it the right way out and continuing to massage it with one hand inside and one out.

messaging the felt bag then turning it the right way out and continuing to massage it with one hand inside and one out.

squeeze out excess water to shrink the felt.

squeeze out excess water to shrink the felt.

when a suitable size leave to dry naturally.

when a suitable size leave to dry naturally.Fe

Making felt from scratch aka what to do with raw unprocessed wool

I went for my walk this week to visit my friend with my emergency rice-pudding cake. On the way my other friend and I decided to collect the wool which we kept discovering caught on thistles and hedges. This was a successful venture and we collected far more raw wool than we initially expected.

I decided that this was my opportunity to card and comb my own wool, dye it and then make my own felt from scratch.

Feeling ambitious I did some research and decided on the steps I was going to take.

1)      I knew I needed to clean the wool first.  This would involve washing and removing any stray pieces of straw or thistle that had got into the wool. I got advice from this website on the best way to wash wool before combing.

http://www.newenglandsimpleliving.com/processingwoolfibersbyhand.htm

2)      Combing I needed to comb or card the wool after washing in order to prepare it for felting.

The steps of cleaning the wool:  I placed the wool in my clean crafting bucket along with warm (not boiling) water.  I had also dissolved the remainder of a bar of gentle strawberry soap in the water before adding the wool.   Then I left this overnight to soak.

I changed the water that was filthy 3 times before splitting the wool into four smaller batches. These batches were soaked again until the water was clear.

Once the water was clear excess water was gently squeezed from the wool. The wool was then laid -out on a towel to dry.

After the wool had partially dried I began to tease it (pull it apart) to prevent unwanted felting.

Bag of raw wool

Bag of raw wool

Raw wool in bucket before adding water

Raw wool in bucket before adding water

wool in bucket first soak

wool in bucket first soak

The last batch to soak

The last batch to soak

a batch of clean wool in tea towel

a batch of clean wool in tea towel

Clean wet wool in tea towel ready to squeeze some of the water out

Clean wet wool in tea towel ready to squeeze some of the water out

some of the clean wool drying on a towel

some of the clean wool drying on a towel

Damp wool teased out left to dry on towel

Damp wool teased out left to dry on towel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other useful sites

http://knitsnthings.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/combing-wool/

http://sweetleafnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/washing-wool-fresh-off-sheep.html

http://www.ranching-with-sheep.com/wool-processing.html

http://members.peak.org/~spark/PDF_files/Preparing%20Wool%20for%20Spinning%20or%20Felting.pdf

How to make banana cake

Today we decided to have a go at making banana cake. It is one of those deliciously moreish things that never seem to last in our house. It’s really simple and a fantastic use for those bananas that are a bit too ripe.

Here is the original recipe we were supposed to follow courtesy of test subject A’s mum.

Banana Loaf

2 ripe bananas

2oz marge

5oz sugar (I use a bit less and add extra banana)

2eggs

8oz self raising flour (sometimes I use 4oz white SRF and 4oz wholemeal SRF

Pinch of salt (I don’t bother)

1.   Mash bananas

2. Cream marge and sugar

3. Beat in eggs

4. Add flour salt and banana

5. Add any extras like choc chips/chunks cardomon seeds etc.

Line baking tin with baking paper or if you haven’t any, grease the tin well.

Bake at gas 5 , 190°c ( the recipe I have says 1hour but its never taken that long when I’ve made it. Try about 20 minutes then check.

 

Here’s what we did:

Warning we may have messed up slightly although it was still tasty. For this reason we suggest you follow the above recipe. And read directions before beginning (unlike us).

1)      We took 3 overripe bananas and mushed them using a fork in a glass bowl.

2)      Next we added the sugar and butter (soya pure) into the same bowl (this is where we went wrong).

3)      We mixed these together to get a smooth mixture.

4)      We beat the eggs in a separate cup. Then added them to the bowl.

5)      We added the flour, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of chilli and mixed well.

6)      We poured the mix into a silicon cake tray (hoping it would all fit).

7)      We turned on the oven to 190 degrees ( forgot to do this earlier)

8)      We waited for the oven to heat up. And used this time to wash up our stuff and put away the ingredients.

9)      The mix went in the oven. And we waited again.

10)   After 20 minutes we checked the cake but it was still very gooey.

11)   We kept checking on it at regular intervals until cooked. (tested by sticking a normal knife into the cake and waiting for it to come out clean)

12)   Once it had cooled it was well received.

Overripe banana's

mush banana's with a fork mush banana’s with a fork

Overripe banana’s
mix in sugar and butter

mix in sugar and butter

a nice smooth mixture

a nice smooth mixture

break two eggs into a cup

break two eggs into a cup

fun 15.5.2013 025

pour into bowl

pour into bowl

banana cake banana cake

Mix in eggs

Mix in eggs

pour mix into baking tray

pour mix into baking tray

put baking tray in oven

put baking tray in oven