Here you will Find Topics such as Organic Gardening, Biodynamics, Whole Earth Gardening, Artisan Sourdough Bread making, Cooking from Scratch, Candle making, Soap Making, Beekeeping, Simple Living, Stockpiling, Energy Saving, Living Frugally and lovingly sharing with like minded people.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Goats Milk Soap

Here is another batch of soap I made, cut it up this morning, just a plain Goats Milk Soap.  Very gentle on the skin, soothing in this dry winter weather we are having at present.
 Cut up and then placed on the rack with the lavender soap I made the other day to sit for a month until it is ready to use, can't wait.
Enjoy your Sunday whether it be relaxing, working in the garden or entertaining friends.

Cheers Shirley :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Lavender Soap

So here is the latest soap I have made.  Lavender, it contains lavender essential oil, organic lavender flowers, olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil and castor oil.  I am really happy the way it has turned out and it smells absolutely divine, now to wait for a month before it can be used.
Here the ingredients are gathered, the oils are melted and heated, the lye solution mixed and cooling down, the mold lined and ready to go. As I have made quite a few batches of soap I find it actually quite relaxing, there doesn't seem as much rush as when I made my first batch.
The oils and lye solution combined, stirred with a spoon ready for stick blending.
Here the soap has reached trace or a consistency of thick custard and the lavender essential oil and organic dried lavender are being added.
Poured into the mold, ready to be insulated and left for twenty-four hours before it can be cut up into bars ready for drying.
                                Removed from the mold and sliced.
All sliced and placed onto the drying rack.  The hardest part now is to leave it for the month before it is able to be used, at least I can enjoy the smell of the lavender every time I enter the room while it is drying.

Once you have used home made soap with all natural ingredients it is impossible to go back to the supermarket soaps, it sort of spoils you.

Have a great day.

Cheers Shirley :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


While I was away I picked up yet another book, I just love books, this one is a beauty though. Isabell Shipard's "How can I grow and use Sprouts as a Living Food"
I have been sprouting for many years now but just the usual, alfalfa, mung beans.  This book gives 100 kinds of seeds for sprouting, the list is really quite endless and fascinating.  I am definitely going to be more adventurous from now on.
Any spotlessly clean jar can be used for sprouting left to drain on the sink with a piece of chux or similar material covering the open end of the jar.  The important thing is to rinse several times a day to keep them fresh.
There are jars designed to sprout in, this one I picked up at the Maleny Co-op that has a lid which allows it to sit draining, this came with a small packet of seeds to get you started.
Isabell also suggests many other containers that can be used for sprouting, even baskets where the small seeds can fasten themselves, great for wheat grass and larger seeds.

Isabell Shipards books are available directly from her, her website is well worth checking out "

Off to soak some seeds.

Enjoy your day.

Cheers Shirley :)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Day Spent In the Vegie Garden

Yesterday I managed to spend a few hours in the vegie garden, in just the few days that we were away things just seem to have grown like crazy although we could certainly do with some rain to freshen things up.  
Even though it's winter here in the sub-tropics we are still getting tomatoes ripening on the vine.  These are Tommy Toe, I have found them very suited to our climate and pest resistant.
The sugar loaf cabbages are heading up nicely, these are easy and quick to grow in our climate. 
This year with the very cold start to winter that we have had the broad beans have set flowers, these can be difficult to get to set pods in the sub-tropics, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a good crop this year.
This is our salad and greens picking bed, you will notice some of the Asian vegies are going to seed, this is probably due to the dry weather we have been having.  We let some things go to seed for the bees, sometimes we also save our own seed.  I quite like the flowers in the vegie garden too.
Here is some curly leaf kale, the leaves are just fascinating, kale is very good for you too.

A little blurry but here the tropical peach tree is bursting into flower.

Just a few of the sights from our garden that we are attempting to turn into our Little Paradise.

Have a wonderful day.
Cheers Shirley :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Paradise Visited

So back from our short break feeling relaxed and ready to take on the world again.  It is really great to get away, unwind a little, recharge the batteries, come home with a fresh clear mind.

This morning I will share some of the photos I took while we were away.
There is nothing nicer than sitting by a cosy fire watching the flames flickering on a chilly evening.
Here early in the morning as the sun is rising looking out towards the coast, the picture really doesn't do it justice.
Here is a better view during daylight hours, truly spectacular to look out at each morning.
A delightful visitor that came each morning and sang a beautiful song to us.
Two beautiful alpacas that we visited each day that were living close by. :)
I adore these belted cattle, I would dearly love to have a property big enough to have a couple of these.

So there are a few of the snaps I took while we were away.  

Now off for a busy day in the garden and I am hoping to make a new batch of lavendar soap this afternoon.

Enjoy your day.

Cheers Shirley :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A few days away

We're heading up the Sunshine Coast so I wont be able to post for a few days.

   View from Mary Cairncross Park looking out to the Glass House Mountains.

Enjoy the remainder of your week and weekend.

Cheers Shirley :)

Great Aerobin Find

I managed to pick up an Aerobin yesterday, the people who owned it had moved into a unit so had no further use for it.

I have been looking to get hold of one of these for a while as I have read they can produce fabulous compost quickly if it set up correctly.

We have many of the what I call normal compost bins, a couple of open piles that we tend to put the larger cuttings etc in for a while, also dog or pig wire circles that we line with plastic, add clippings and horse manure allowing it to break down and they work very well, we find that once the worms move in it doesn't take long for us to have rich compost to add to our vegie gardens.  I don't think you can ever have enough though, so this is another addition to our composting systems.

This is it as we unloaded it off the trailer.

This is a view of the underside showing the chamber that collects the leachate, this is fitted with a tap so the nutrient rich water can be drained and used to feed plants as the compost is maturing.

Here the leachate is running into a small container, we will set something better up to catch this.
The Aerobin has a central aeration core which is designed to speed up the composting process.
There are a couple of huge doors in the base for easy access to the matured compost.
The bin needs to be located on a firm base to ensure it is well supported as an Aerobin that is full of compost can weigh up to 400 kg.

I am quite excited to see how this works, interested if it is as good as claimed, I will keep you informed.

Cheers Shirley :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Microbes & Composting

I recently came across an excellent book that will change the whole way we think about soils.  It's titled "Teaming with Microbes" by Authors Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.

We all know the benefits of compost, it is beneficial for the retention of moisture but this book takes it one step further explaining how the microbes, bacteria and fungi's roll in converting it into a healthy productive soil for growing the most healthy plants and produce.  

It explains when we use chemical fertilizers how it takes the soil food web a long time to recover as we are doing much more harm than good.

I have found it such an impressive book, I simply can't put it down.  I thought from other books I have read that I had a good understanding but this book truly puts it in a form that is easy to understand, well worth getting hold of.

The Rodale Book of Composting is another excellent book, the composting bible in many peoples eyes, written for conditions in America but easily applied to local Australian gardens.

Of course we couldn't go past the excellent Jackie French and her book Soil Food, 1372 ways to add fertility to your soil.

On the weekend we were very fortunate to obtain a huge round bail of lucern that had got a little damp so was of no use to the farmer as feed.  What a score, for free, we are now going to build a new compost pile using biodynamic preparations, so in a few months we will have a beautiful friable compost teaming with microbes, worms, bacteria and beneficial fungi.

We use Sugar Cane to mulch our gardens and have found that this in itself brings lots of earthworm activity and is excellent at retaining soil moisture.

                   A healthy Zucchini, the plant mulched with sugar cane.

These three books are the most valuable books to anyone growing their own food.

Cheers Shirley

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lighting & Mood

I like to try and create a relaxed atmosphere in our home, that can be done with lighting, candles, lamps and statues, greenery or ornaments.  In the evening there is nothing nicer than sitting in a calming environment.

Flickering light from a candle in a decorative holder

The beautiful soft light of a Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp can add to the bedroom  

 Home made beeswax candles give off a gorgeous natural aroma when burning

A conventional table lamp with a crystal hanging over a Buddha adds to the mood 

I love that a few simple things can add to a homely feeling helping to create an inviting home.

Shirley :)                                                                                

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Love Making Soap

Soap making is something that grabs you and becomes addictive.  There is just something about it, your own creation, excitement to see what it looks like as it is taken out of the wooden mould and cut into bars ready for drying.  Trying new recipes and adding ingredients that give it gorgeous soft bubbles.

                    The ingredients assembled ready to be blended
                                 Adding some finely ground oatmeal to the soap
                                                               Trace is Reached
                                               The Soap is poured into the Mould
                   Here is a batch I made with Natural Green Clay, 
                                    Goats Milk and Oatmeal
    A few others I have made, sometimes they can look good enough to eat.

I find it a very satisfying interest giving great pleasure making it using it and giving it as gifts to family and friends.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tasmania Memories

At the end of March we were very fortunate to spend 11 days in beautiful Tasmania.  That 11 days weren't nearly long enough to explore this wonderful place, there is so much to see, the history of the place is just amazing, majestic old buildings, vineyards, markets, the place is just packed with interesting places to visit.

             Constitution Dock, Hobart with Mt Wellington in the Background.

To the west of Hobart there were large orchards the trees heavily laden ready for the picking.  Stalls on the side of the road with many different old varieties of apples to purchase.

   Here is one of the many beautiful old buildings, built from huge stone slabs.

       Mole Creek Caves, absolutely gorgeous formations, well worth a visit.

Of course no trip to Tasmania could you go past a trip to Port Arthur, the historical convict site.  Their lives must have been so hard, children as young as 9 were sent here for the rest of their lives.  A visit here can't help but stir emotions, there is an island where many of the convicts are buried too.

On Saturday mornings a trip to the Salamanca Markets, Hobart, heaps of interesting stalls, fresh produce, music, best to get there early.

Matt Evans,  SBS TV Series The Gourmet Farmer, Author "The Real Food Companion" and his new book "Winter on the Farm" serving at his popular market stall.

                           Crates of many different varieties of Apples

                  Stalls filled to the brim with the freshest of produce.

We visited the Patch in the Royal Hobart Botanical Gardens from the ABC Series Gardening Australia, unfortunately no one was working or filming on this day.

This is the old Callington Mill, still in use today, vistors can watch wheat being milled into flour, read of the history and beautiful fresh flour can be purchased.

We enjoyed our holiday to Tasmania and will definitely be visiting again but for much longer next time.