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

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.

 

The wedding song.

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love (Photo credit: epSos.de)

I’m getting married ! and what better to celebrate the announcement than Bob Dylan’s wedding song :

I love you more than ever, more than time and more than love
I love you more than money and more than the stars above
I love you more than madness, more than waves upon the sea
I love you more than life itself, you mean that much to me.

Ever since you walked right in the circle’s been complete
I’ve said goodbye to haunted rooms and faces in the street
In the courtyard of the jester which is hidden from the sun
I love you more than ever and I haven’t yet begun.

Me and my fiance have finally decided to set a date for our wedding. We want to keep the costs as low as possible so we will be doing it ourselves where possible and only calling in the experts where it is cheaper to do so or in an area we have no clue whatsoever and necessity demands.

We have already decided on our guest list of 50 guests. Now we need to finalize the date with the vicar who is not back till Monday and send out save the dates.

There is a huge list of stuff to organize in the next month or so but once that is sorted there will be little else until about a month before the wedding.

Here is the list of what me and The Count came up with when starting our list of things we need to do

Wedding countdown to do list

Finalise guest list

Decide budget

Inform bridal party of date

Book church

Book reception venue

Choose theme/ colour scheme

Pick dress and suit

Send out save the date cards

Choose and order invites

Set up a wedding website

Investigate photographers

look into Entertainment

research Caterers

Decide on honeymoon plans

Flowers

Choose Music

Create an order of service

Decide on order of plans for wedding day

Hair and makeup

Choose a cake

Favours

Vows

Toasts

Menu cards

Table plan

Seating arrangements cards for guests

Table decorations

 

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:

Homemade gift kombucha starter

This is my first full day back in sunny Yorkshire since Easter.  I spent the day unproductively enjoying the sunshine that has been reluctant in its appearance. This post is dedicated to my sister whose birthday is next week. She has just moved flat and I wanted to get her something nice but personal. For this reason I decided to make a gift this year rather than buying one. She is very supportive and often offers me both ideas and encouragement for my blog. After careful consideration I decided to gift her with a kombucha starter kit.

I researched what kombucha is in an earlier post along with instructions for starting your own.

http://wp.me/p3vj8Z-8Y

Kombucha

Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is what I learnt about basic Kombucha care:

Kombucha type of drink made using a micro-culture which is sometimes refered to as a mushroom or scoby. The mushroom is used to fement a mixture of black tea and sugar in order to produce a cold tea that can (depending on care) taste like anything between vinegar and champagne (although its usual taste is similar to cider).

You have to keep your kombucha mix in a glass jar out of direct sunlight. The lid should be removed in order to let air in but covered (I find kitchen roll and a rubber band work well) in order to stop dust and flies.

The scoby should not be allowed to come into contact with metal as this will kill it.

There are two ways to make kombucha either a batch at a time or in a running (continuous batch). For the batch at a time method you transfer some of the last batch of ready kombucha and the scoby to a clean glass jar and then add the cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the continuous batch every time you take out some of the liquid from the kombucha mix you replace it with more cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the second method it has been suggested that you add slightly more sugar than in the initial batch as the pre-existing mix as well as the new tea feeds off the sugar.

Plain kombucha takes 10 to 14 days from adding the sugar black tea mix before it is ready to drink.

The ready kombucha can be flavoured by decanting into another glass jar, without the scoby and the kombucha needed to start the next batch (or continue brewing), adding your flavouring of choice and leaving it a few days to take on the flavour.

I hope this explains the basics for those of you who are interested. I hope to do a post in the future about the different recipes which include kombucha.

Best wishes

Rachael

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

Free legal resources; reading and films.

Books

Books (Photo credit: henry…)

Hello nice to be back. Sorry it has been a while since my last post I have been busy with end of term chaos. For this post I decided to write about the availability of free books on the internet.

I have just got a new tablet so have spent several hours creating a collection of books for different purposes. However you don’t need a tablet to access these books just access to the internet.

If you download the amazon kindle application there are thousands of free books available. Not just the classics. Some are specifically published free for kindle. Some are free when first made available however then the price goes up. So if its free its worth grabbing it whilst you can.  The best thing to do is type in any key word and then tell amazon kindle store to order it cheapest first. There is usually about a hundred pages of free books available at : http://www.amazon.co.uk/b/ref=amb_link_157681107_38?ie=UTF8&node=434020031&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=left-2&pf_rd_r=0VNJN4GXSQZ8ETZMSX28&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=361270347&pf_rd_i=341689031

I may have got slightly carried away and downloaded 700 free books yesterday.

For those of you who have a tablet but can’t access the kindle software I recommend Aldiko.  This allows you access to feedbooks who have a variety of books written just for them and made available for free. Their website can be found at http://www.feedbooks.com/ they are fantastic with free original and classic books. The ordering isn’t always as consistent ass amazon but its worth bearing with for some truly awesome free reads.

Then for those of you who like romance books check out https://www.allromanceebooks.com/ just read the description first as there is a selection of teenage and adult romance. Depending on your preference of graphic detail and avoidance of sex I suggest checking the category before purchase.

There is loads of websites that offer free reading; both online and available to download to your laptop so don’t miss out.  The latest sight I have found is http://www.free-ebooks.net/ which I will be testing out in the next week or so. Also don’t forget anything out of copyright is often available free online.

I use sight such as http://www.gutenberg.org/ for out of print academic texts. There is also http://archive.org/web/web.php which has a range of out of copyright resources including films. These are legal ways to pass the time. I particularly love the films found on archive.org as they are often a bit different from the mainstream genre.

If you have ideas of where to get free films and books legally why not share. It is always nice to support the websites that give something back by sharing with friends.

Until next time I wish you a fabulous week.

Best wishes

Rachael

Beans of any other name

English: Pitha made from rice flour with cocnu...

English: Pitha made from rice flour with cocnut,jaggery,black pepper filling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my quest to make gluten-free flour for my friend, after the unsuccessful attempt at grinding the rice, I decided to see what else I could get hold of locally that would allow me to produce flour at less than the supermarket price.

I returned to my initial site: http://glutenfreegirl.com/2012/07/how-to-make-a-gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mix/ and worked my way through the list looking at what my blender could survive and was cheap enough to be in my limited budget. Anything nut based was automatically disregarded as my fiancé is allergic to nuts.  I didn’t want to try rice flour again so began to research the other possibilities.

WHOLE GRAIN FLOURS

 

buckwheat flour

Corn flour
mesquite flour
millet flour
quinoa flour
sorghum flour
sweet potato flour

teff flour

WHITE FLOURS/STARCHES

arrowroot flour
cornstarch
potato flour
potato starch
sweet rice flour
tapioca flour
white rice flour

However, one section that interested me was the bean flours. I had never heard of flour made from beans before. On the other hand I had never heard of any of the beans on the list either: fava bean flour, garbanzo bean flour and kinako (roasted soy bean) flour.

I worked my way through the list to see how much they were on amazon as an example. Then realised I had no idea what these beans looked like and if I had to use these specific ones or if I could use others. I Googled the fava and garbanzo beans and found that fava beans are a type of broad bean and that garbanzo was another name for chickpeas.

Apparently chickpea flour classes as a whole grain, so following the rule from earlier of 40% wholegrain to 60% white flour or starches; I needed to find another flour to create my all-purpose celiac substitute.

I really wished I could use the white rice flour as that was the easiest to get the ingredients for however after my last attempt I needed something else. This left me with the option of garbanzo flour.

To make the garbanzo (chickpea) flour:

You take dried chickpeas blend them in a food processor and then sieve out any remaining lumps.

However it has been suggested that it is possible to use canned chickpeas instead if the recipe you intend to use the flour for will be adding liquid anyway. We used canned chickpeas to make pizza (Post to follow soon) and added less water than suggested by the recipe as the chickpeas were already soft.

White and green chickpeas

White and green chickpeas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope this post was helpful. There will be more up shortly on how we used the flour, hopefully, with pictures.

Relevent:

How to make your own bean flour can be found at http://www.livestrong.com/article/472318-how-to-grind-bean-flour/ along with ideas of the best things to use it for at http://www.livestrong.com/article/516649-how-to-cook-with-bean-flours/

Over at the little house on the prairie Julie also suggests the ways different bean flours can be used why not check it out at: http://www.littlehouseliving.com/making-and-using-bean-flour.html

Whilst Googling for garbanzo beans I discovered the recipe for a gluten free snack which I will test out and let you know the results asap:  http://www.steamykitchen.com/10725-crispy-roasted-chickpeas-garbanzo-beans.html

http://www.celiac.com/articles/863/1/Gluten-Free-Flour-Alternatives-by-Karen-Robertson/Page1.html – an article about different uses of gluten free flour. No recipes but helpful nonetheless.

http://www.cooksinfo.com/broad-bean-flour – a cooking dictionary where I learnt about bean flour this week.

http://the100poundchallenge.wordpress.com/ – a recipe for pizza using chickpeas as the base

http://www.whats4eats.com/blogs/chefbrad/how-to-make-chickpea-flour – one way to make chickpea flour