Tiny Table

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We’ve had this table for about six months now, but the organiser and historian in me needs it to be posted! I like the idea of being able to look back over the years and see how we began to build our home together.
Our friends moved to a larger home and had space to fill. We exchanged our large table for their small one. They also passed on four folding chairs and we purchased two more to match. It works great folded up as an ‘altar’ area, unfolded halfway when I work from home or we have a meal for two, or moved away from the wall and open on both sides to seat guests. I love that our chairs fold neatly next to the table as well. Our living room now feels much more spacious.

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First Batch of Kefir

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A few months ago, before a yoga class, I was talking with classmates about fermented food and how to make kim chi. My teacher asked if I had ever made kefir and when I said no but I have wanted to, she said that she would share some grains when they were ready.

Last month, she brought me about a tablespoon of the ‘grains’ in milk and a container and I added them to a jar (with more milk, effectively staring the ferment again). I let it sit on the counter for 24 hours but it didn’t seem to be done in that amount of time, so I let it sit another day. That time, it looked ready. It didn’t thicken like I’ve read sometimes happens, but it definitely begun to look right and smelled sort of like fresh bread and yogurt. Two days in my cold kitchen is what it seems to take.

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I carefully poured the kefir into another jar, using a picnic fork to keep the grains separate. I then started a new batch and popped the fermented kefir into the fridge. When I tried it later, I was surprised to discover that although it didn’t look bubbly, it felt bubbly! Until that taste there had been lingering doubt that it had worked! Since there is tons more probiotics (and beneficial yeasts) in kefir than yogurt, I’m only going to make small amounts until I’ve weaned myself on and my grains have increased.

I’m so excited about having received the grains (reading our cheese book, I didn’t wonder where on earth I would even acquire them), how easy it was to make, and look forward to sharing grains when I begin to have extra.

Life Changing: Deodorant Recipe

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I have now tested a homemade deodorant recipe during regular work days, rushing around stress, training delivery, a full day exploring 80 degree Bordeaux with a backpack, and dancing at a wedding until 3am. It works and is life changing. Something simple, chemical free, cheap, and reliable.

About a month ago, I admitted that the natural deodorants that I had used had either been discontinued in the UK, changed to include gross chemicals, or had stopped working for me. I was basically reapplying with another ‘rescue’ deodorant in the afternoon on most days. Since I had nothing to lose by trying a recipe that didn’t work, I looked online for a few homemade recipes.

My original plan was to try one with what we had on hand (ruling out anything complicated like infusing flowers or ordering and melting beeswax) then try an arrowroot recipe. Arrowroot is meant to be stronger than baking soda recipes so I thought that I might need that.

I made half a batch of this recipe from Becoming Peculiar and accidentally used twice the amount of essential oils. I kept this ratio in my second batch. For a standard batch, this means 10 drops each of tea tree and lavender. I also used the full 4 Tbs of coconut oil.

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The first time I used it, I put it on for a work day and…didn’t smell anything by midday or in the evening. I even asked Honey to check. On my third day or so, I used far too much; I was used to using a lot of deodorant before switching to this recipe. Using too much meant that the oil soaked through my shirt once I warmed up quickly due to stress. It washed out fine and I learned my lesson to just spread a thin layer on my skin.

When I apply the deodorant, I start with a small pea size and warm it up in my fingers until it is the consistency of putty then rub it into place.

After I raved disbelievingly about the deodorant for a week, Honey started using it and hasn’t looked back. A friend has now tried it and it also did the trick for her!

Because this is such a precious find, I’m recording our ‘house version’ of this recipe here:

1/4 C each of corn starch and baking soda
4 Tbs coconut oil (melted briefly in microwave)
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops lavender oil

We have a share pot for the bathroom and a travel pot for each of us.

Apron

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I often think about kitchen aprons- when washing dishes, cooking with oil, or gathering from the garden. I have thought about wanting an apron since we had this place that feels like a home. I have no idea why it took me so long to finally think of actually making one for us, other than the fact that I thought of it as a luxury and generally only take the time to make things that we ‘need’. This time around, I also remembered to use fabric that we like rather than just saving that for gifts.
I used an adjustable apron tutorial for some of the measurements, but modified the top width and the length. It was designed for women who share their homes with taller men. As two short women, we don’t need that.

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I made it double sided, added a top pocket, and made the neck band an adjustable length by making one side button-on. I kinda love it. I wear it every day to do dishes, have used it for cooking and gathering aprons full of produce…exactly as I imagined I would.

My learning:
1. Make ‘unnecessary’ luxuries for us too
2. Use fabric we will like
3. Sew slowly enough to do in well, even if it is not a gift (do you see a theme here?)
4. Take the time to modify it to match how we will wear or use it. Before tucking in the second side of the neck strap, I decided on a button. I had to unpick about two inches (big deal!) before finishing that top. I also shortened the bottom by about 4 inches. It feels right like this so we’re more likely to use it.

True Political Engagement

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Today is the day that Scotland decides on its future! While I am very disappointed to not have the right to vote, I am thrilled by the level of political engagement taking place; people are discussing what they want from a democracy with their friends, family, neighbours, teammates, and colleagues. A friend wrote about this engagement.

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Honey and I went to the polling station this morning just after 7am and it was busier than I have seen it at that time for previous votes and elections. This makes me proud. I have also felt proud to see people on Scotland show passionate patriotism. I do not mean the ‘patriotism’ shown when Scotland’s rugby squad is playing or any other sports type patriotism which is generally the strongest sort displayed, but real discussions and beliefs that Scotland could be better (regardless of the outcome) and that it is our duty to drive that change. Pride in the country, what it is and what it could be. In the past decade I’ve lived here, I have never seen such a high level of pride in this nation coupled with the crucial belief that what citizens want to see is valid and worth acting on. I hope that this is the start of a more engaged society because it makes me proud and I believe that it can take us far!

Our Yard Was Web Bombed

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This is the scene we woke to this morning, a yard full of spider webs as far as the eye could see! Most of the time, I couldn’t get my camera’s focus spot to work on the webs so these are mostly full manual focus with much to be desired but it should give you an idea!

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(I should have moved some of the clothes pins!)

Geocaching

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A few weekend ago, Honey and I tried geo caching. We read clues, wandered around Stirling looking for them,and saw the space around us–in the beautiful early autumn warmth- in new lights and with reawakened eyes.

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We’re headed out this weekend to see what else we can find.

Weekend Joys

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This weekend, when my friend came to drop off these awesome and gorgeous children, she handed us a bag of plums and a dozen beautiful eggs from these lovely ladies.

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We spent the day with four kids (our neighbour came along too), enjoying wonderful fall weather at two parks, in our back yard, and around the campfire. When our house was silent once more, Honey and I headed back to the fire for an evening watching the dancing flames.

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