Soapmaking, Take 1

It’s been on my summer bucket list for years, and now I can finally tick it off: soapmaking! 

Over the past few gardening seasons, I’ve dried and tucked away herbs for soapmaking, and began growing calendula last year for the same reason.
I told my parents that I’d probably buy soapmaking supplies with the money they sent me at Christmas, but then I used it for an indoor trampoline.
On reflection, I was a bit intimidated to try soapmaking alone, so when a sisterfriend said she was going to make soap, I was excited for her and gushed about it always being at the top of my to-try list. She suggested we try it together so we set a date and gathered our supplies. On Sunday, we met at hers, layered on the safety gear and gave it a go. 

1. It was much calmer than I had anticipated considering the warnings all over the internet. I had expected the lye to splatter and spit, but it didn’t even splash or ‘jump’. One helpful tip I read somewhere suggested to mix the lye into the water while the bowl was sitting in the kitchen sink, so we did that. 

2. We made a hot process and a cold process (led by the recipes we found and wanted to try) and I’m so glad it turned out that way because now they’re both my foundation for further experimentation. I don’t feel ‘tied’ or more familiar with one over the other. 

3. We started the hot process and as the lye solution cooled down, started weighing and melting the oils for the cold process. The cooking stage of the hot process is really where things slow down: as I stirred and stirred the hot process, she brought the cold process to trace and poured it into the molds! I saved juice cartons but we used lined loaf tins for better structure and portability. 

4. The hot process was a lard-free goatmilk soap that we scented with lavender essential oils and decorated with lavender flowers, and the cold was an olive oil blend from Little House in the Suburbs that we scented (essential oil) and topped with rosemary. The plant matter was gathered and dried from my garden. We ran both recipes through Brambleberry’s lye calculator. 

5. Next batch, I’ll infuse the oils and consider teas and other liquida. 

6. I don’t know yet how they’ve turned out, but I am so hooked. Making soap fits perfectly into the state change crafts /activities I love: take some liquids and a powder you shouldn’t ever touch, and create something that’s good for your skin. Win!

Some terrible, soapy puns I held back from the title:

Not going to lye, I’m hooked on soap.
Block out some time, I’ve a solid love for soapmaking.
Straight talk & clean speaking: adventures in soaping.
(Not sorry) 

Early May Garden 

As I (somewhat) patiently approach our 19th May average frost date, I’m finding joy in the things I won’t have to plant out. Yes, the greenhouse is full of seedlings at various stages, but the autumn sowings, volunteers, and perrenials are winning my heart in the quasiallotment because I know they’re past that nerve-inducing tender stage.

The onions and garlic seem to be continuing fine, last year’s calendula is flowering, we’ve some volunteer potatoes in the backyard veg patch, and I’ve spied some visiting nettle which I hope to naturalise in a section of the plot. 

Finally, the alliums that I planted to be an end of June bloom creep ever earlier and have begun blooming now. 

This Week’s Garden 

It was beautiful on Sunday so we tidied up the garden. 

In the quasiallotment, the onions & garlic (don’t ask me which is which!) are doing well, the field beans made it (I hadn’t seen anything by late November when I stopped visiting), and the kale was still perfect. I didn’t harvest the kale all winter. I thought it would have gone off, but I picked a bunch and vowed to consistently visit the plot next winter. 

And the bulbs are up! 

Forgotten Photo Friday: Lost Gardens of Heligan II

My absolute favourite part of the Lost Gardens of Heligan was the actual garden area. The walled garden and greenhouses were impressively productive and I imagined just pitching a yurt in the grass in the walled garden and living there. I wanted to share these images in their own post.

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Lost Gardens of Heligan II | Riotflower's Realm

Forgotten Photo Friday: Blackberry Leaf Medicine

When we got back from our holiday (which I will write about eventually!), one of our blackberry canes was bent over. Although the full branch was still green, I expected the weight of the ripening fruit to strain the bend further as the season went on. So, I trimmed it back.
image
When you prune your blackberries, save the leaves. Blackberry leaves are a perfect herbal medicine for diarrhoea. Put 1-2 dried/fresh leaves in a glass pint measuring jug and pour in boiled water to steep. Drink 2-3 mugs spread throughout the day when diarrhoea is severe.

I have used this natural remedy when apples did not work and I was desperate enough to ask a neighbour for immodium. The immodium they had was not vegetarian so I couldn’t take it. Luckily, logic and my mom’s teaching kicked in and I headed into the garden for some leaves. One day of doses stopped it in its tracks and one more mugful the next day sent it packing. To make sure I’m not stuck without this medicine in the dead of winter, I’ve stocked our cupboard with some dried leaves.

Sweet Spot, Early September

Right now, it’s that sweet spot between summer and autumn that feels calm and slow. A place where I can still be barefoot and the sun rises and sets at perfectly agreeable times. A place where all I want to do is sow, pot up, harvest or preserve plants and these efforts are turned to bringing indoors as much of the outside as I can while the barrier between the two remains fluid. I don’t want to cover up or close up the house, but I know it is coming so I take this moment to give thanks for the summer we’ve had and dream up ways for it to fill our hearts, stomachs, and homes in the seasons to come.

image

image

Gather, preserve, remember, savour.

image

image

Current soundtrack: summer songs (campfire songs) or Rites of Passage.

image

Potatoes

We grew a bunch of volunteer potatoes (from last year’s patch and a compost trench) in the veggie patch and intentionally planted ones in the quasiallotment plot.

Although so far I’ve only plucked a few from the soft soil in the veggie patch (top photo) and harvested about 8 small plants from the plot, those from the veggie patch yielded larger potatoes.

image

This could be for several reasons because the veggie patch soil is softer and richer and the plants were also ‘ planted’ earlier.

image

The first harvest was dug up on the last week of August and the rest are soon to come.

image

image