Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Visiting a Good Friend and Fellow Blogger

Brad and Josh and I had a lovely day yesterday visiting our gorgeous friends Kim and Lewi. Kim is the person behind the blog Feather and Nest. It is a bit of a drive to their place, but well worth the effort. 

Have a look at this loaf of bread I bought on the way! It is about the size of two loaves of bread. 

We sat outside Kim and Lewi's new studio, in the beautiful sunshine, and enjoyed this lovely lunch made by Kim. It was yummy.

After lunch had settled and after lots of conversation (we had a lot of news to catch up on)  we enjoyed some of this chocolate cake. 

During the day Kim and I belatedly exchanged our birthday gifts. Kim gave me this gorgeous card and the River Cottage Handbook Herbs book. I love the book. It contains heaps of info about herbs, how to grow them and their uses. There are also some yummy recipes. I love the pictures too. 

We had such a great day with Kim and Lewi. We all agreed that we must catch up more often. Now.....if  I could only get them to move a little closer.........mmmmm. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


We had a fairly quiet weekend which was nice. I spent Sat. morning doing some housework followed by this yummy lunch. Homemade flatbread with salad greens grown by us, grated carrot, quinoa and lentils drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.

I've been making some changes to my smoothie recipe over these past few weeks. To the usual kale, almond milk, frozen blueberries and banana I've added some tofu, cinnamon and some superfoods:

- 1 heaped tab. cacao powder
- 1 tab. raw honey
- 1 tab. goji berries
- 1 teas. maca powder

When adding new foods to my smoothie I added one new thing at a time, starting with small amounts and adding to them gradually. I have found that this works best for me. In the past I have added larger amounts of new ingredients and at times haven't liked them. Whereas this way you can gradually try new ingredients without the smoothie being ruined.

On Sat. afternoon we visited some friends who were staying in a holiday park near us.  This was the view they had outside their cabin.

 Brad and Josh had a lovely time playing on the jumping pillow.

Today I have been doing some housework, putting some of the new soap out (it's not quite ready to use yet though), and getting some pots ready to plant some Cyclamens in. 

As you can see, we haven't done anything terribly exciting, but it was nice just being together and pottering around. 

What did you get up to over the weekend? 

xxoo Julie

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wholemeal Apple Chocolate Cake :: Calendula Soap

One of my favorite breakfasts at the moment, porridge with homemade almond milk, dates and walnuts with a teaspoon of honey on top and a pinch of cinnamon.

On Tuesday I had a sore throat and headache. I made some herbal tea with ginger, thyme and cloves with a bit of lemon added at the end. I also ate an orange and had stir fry for lunch with onion, ginger and garlic in it.  The next day the sore throat and headache were gone. There is something to be said about the power of food. It is as Hippocrates said: 'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.'

I love taking recipes and making them healthier. Yesterday I took a Chocolate Cake Recipe and changed a few ingredients to make Wholemeal Apple Chocolate Cake. The ingredients I used were:

1 cup wholemeal flour (I used spelt)
1/3 cup plain flour (or you could use all wholemeal)
1/3 cup cacao or cocoa
3/4 teas bicarb soda
1/2 teas salt
1 teas vanilla
1 tab apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup water
1 grated apple

Sift the dry ingredients. Melt coconut oil and add to the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Add apple. Mix. Pour mixture into a 20cm cake tin and bake at 170 'C  (150 'C  in a fan forced oven) for 35 - 40 mins or until cooked.

This makes a nice moist cake. Do not over bake. This cake passed the taste test by me and my 11 and 14 year olds.

After the Chocolate Cake I decided to make some soap. Thank you to Christine for her inspiration to make Calendula Soap.

These are NOT detailed instructions for soap making. You can find detailed instructions on Rhonda's blog. If you haven't made soap before you will need to read Rhonda's instructions before doing so as soap making could be dangerous if not done correctly. Make sure you wear goggles and gloves. Not very attractive but it might save your eye sight. 

 I use Rhonda's method but with these ingredients:

460 gms olive oil
600 gms rice bran oil
440 gms coconut oil
570 mls water
230 gms lye (caustic soda)
calendula petals

I steeped some calendula petals in the rice bran oil from the recipe. To do this I put the oil and petals in a saucepan on low and turned the hotplate off after about 1 hour. Christine put hers in a crockpot which is probably a better/safer idea. I left it there for about 2 hours keeping a close eye on it. I then strained the petals off, reserving the oil. I rechecked the oil and found it didn't quite weigh enough so I added a bit more to make it 600 gms. 

While this was happening I ground some more calendula petals in a coffee grinder and put them aside.

The oils were weighed, placed in a saucepan and heated to 50 'C.

The lye and water were weighed, added together and left to do their thing.

When the oils and lye were both 50 'C  I carefully added them together. This is what it looked like to begin with.

After carefully mixing with my blender it changed to look like this.

When a trace forms you can add the ground calendula petals. Mix well.

I put my soap in molds and left them overnight.

The different colours shows some of the soap has cooled more than the rest.

The end result. This soap will need 3-6 weeks to dry properly before using. The colour will end up more uniform when it's dry and the white colour will disappear.  The first time I used these molds the soap had gaps in the sides. This time I used a teaspoon and kept putting little bits of soap into the molds and pressing down. Problem solved. One happy mumma. 

Thank you for reading.

Love Julie xxoo

Monday, June 18, 2012


I've had a lovely morning outside this morning in the garden. It is a perfect sunny, winters day. Warm, but not too hot. Perfect for gardening. 

I'm noticing the plants in the wine barrel are growing really well. I used organic potting mix in them. I wonder if it's the good quality soil or the wine.

The leafy veges are going well in the tubs too.

We have some lovely lemons. Some ready to be picked, some green. Perfect.

I'm getting some garden beds ready for spring. Digging, removing weeds and putting some horse manure on them. Each year we add more nutrients to the soil and each year there are more and more worms and witchety grubs.

We planted this globe artichoke plant last year. I wonder if we'll get any artichokes this year. I've never tried them before.

I nearly pulled these calendula plants out yesterday. I'm pleased I didn't as they're still pretty. New plants are coming up underneath where the seeds have dropped. I love this.

I hope you have a really good week.

Thanks for reading.

xxoo Julie

Sunday, June 17, 2012


It's been a lovely, relaxing weekend. Reading the latest Country Style magazine. Eating a bowl of popcorn while watching a recorded episode of Downton Abbey. Knitting dishcloths in cotton yarn. Reading some more of Rhonda's book. Grocery shopping. Gardening. Hoping to make a batch of soap tonight. 

What did you do this weekend?

xxoo Julie