Thursday, May 31, 2012

Making the unusual habitual

It is so easy to feel that whatever we are doing is not enough - there are so many fantastic examples out there on the web of things people make themselves. I recently saw a tutorial for making a seriously professional-looking wallet. I fully expect to see someone posting about making their own umbrella at some point.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bread failure

I had another shot at bread again today - not so successful. It entirely failed to rise, and is burnt on the top but uncooked in the middle. It's just about ok as toast, but my sandwiches will not be amazing this week.

Homemade bread sounds and smells so amazing, but sadly the final product is rarely as good as the smell foretells. I'm not quite sure what has gone wrong. Last week, I left the dough to rise on top of the oven, and I thought that was too hot and dried it out too quickly, so this week I added more moisture and left it to rise on the table. Nada.

Too many linseeds? Not enough sugar? Too much salt? Should I try adding more yeast? Next week, I plan to 'go back to basics' - make the very simplest dough imaginable, not adding extras like buttermilk and honey. Fingers crossed that will do the trick! I just hope that the oven isn't on the blink again...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How to: clean a bathtub with a lemon

My homemade cleaning tips come from a variety of sources - from books, blogs and tv series. This one comes from the tv series How clean is your house, in which the Queens of Clean Kim and Aggie tackle the dirtiest houses you have ever seen. Often the inhabitants suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems (probably in part from the dust), so the programme often demonstrates non-toxic cleaning techniques.

This tip for shiny bathtubs with minimum cost comes mostly from Kim and Aggy, with one addition from me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Booky cleaning inspiration

After five months of waiting, Amazon has finally come through for me and delivered this thing to my door. "Self-Sufficiency Household Cleaning", by Rachelle Strauss.

The self-sufficiency guides look pretty good - they've got volumes on soapmaking, beekeeping, weaving and cheesemaking. The principle is, as the title suggests, self-sufficiency - doing things from scratch, in enough quantity or with enough regularity that it can become your only source of whatever is in question.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lazy weekend and Brussels tea shops

Don't you think this is just the best way to start a lazy day? Long weekends - how I love them. And again, this little picture marks something of my journey towards a handmade life - the bread is homemade, the tea is loose-leaf organic in a handmade, hand-painted mug. And what is it about the tray that brings it all together somehow?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baking bread

I love baking bread. I love the feel of the dough in my fingers. It's much the same reason that, when I make a cake, I enjoy beating all the ingredients by hand - the world disappears for a few minutes, and I get to watch all the chemical changes in the batter.

Friday, May 25, 2012

On my mind

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog.

This picture is of my current sewing project - miniature stocking Advent calendars for my cousins - but what I like about this is all the bits peeking out of corners which are unique and individual: you can see the three blankets I've crocheted, under the table and over the sofa; you can see the cushion with the signatures of my schoolmates on; and you can see the mug of tea - the mug was handmade by my boyfriend's best friend's sister, and hand painted by her. (You can see more of her work on her blog)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No poo: Week Two

So, today is officially two weeks of no shampoo! What do you think? Myself, I think it looks remarkably clean - much like it did with shampoo - but it feels softer, and my chronic dandruff has entirely disappeared!! *Dance of joy*

It is still a little bit flyaway, so I put some coconut oil on the ends (AMAZING stuff. Plus I swear it brings out the copper notes more) but obviously did not want to put oil on my scalp... But overall, it looks clean and healthy, shiny and smooth, and not at all like I haven't used shampoo for two weeks.

Another thing I've noticed. When I use shampoo, my hair becomes very slippy and tends to escape whatever bun or updo I have attempted. When I don't wash it at all, it stays like a rock. With baking soda, it stays almost as effectively as if I hadn't washed it at all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I'm so excited about baking soda

I know, it's truly sad, isn't it? But this totally made my day!

The pot on the left is the baking soda I have been buying - 400ml for €3,19. On the right is my official new source of baking soda, at €1,65 for 500ml. Am I happy? Oh I am so happy. And it's so silly, but it's a cheaper source of baking soda, which I use for everything from washing my hair to cleaning the kitchen to brushing my teeth. It was totally accidental - I was looking for castile soap to make some homemade bubble bath...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Serve the City: Spring Cleaning

On Saturday, I volunteered with Serve the City. Serve the City is a fantastic organisation which exists in several cities worldwide. It is a very basic concept - it links up people who want to volunteer with local charities who need the help. There's no need to make any kind of commitment, although they will also help you to sort out more regular volunteering if you want to. They organise several focus days throughout the year, which you can sign up or even just show up to, and volunteer your Saturday afternoon. Be prepared to get your hands dirty!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giving in to the fabric-y goodness...

I pottered along to my favourite fabric shop in Brussels today, in search of some scraps of silk - I very much want to try this tutorial for homemade silk flowers to decorate my hairstyles. They look unbelievably beautiful and deceptively simple. I thought I would try to get a small bit of silk to try, but wow - the smallest amount I could buy would still be €6! So I decided to save that project for when I ever make something out of silk, and then I can use the off-cuts.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday night sew-in

Handmade by Heidi
Last night, I curled up under my crocheted blanket with Pride and Prejudice playing, and spent some time working on my current procrastination *cough* project - 25 miniature embroidered stockings to form an advent calendar for my cousin.

I intended to make it for her birthday last November, and one for my other cousin by last Christmas. I slightly underestimated the amount of time each stocking would take, and I'm still on number 16 of the first set. I felt rather daunted by the work around January, and put the project on one side in favour of some cross-stitch, but it is now looking like next Christmas might come around before it's finished, so I've dusted it off. I will be so proud when it is finished!

Friday, May 18, 2012

No poo

I have wanted to go 'no poo' for over four years now. In that time I have experimented with many things - conditioner only, bars of shampoo, and baking soda. I even went three months using only water to wash my hair. I always cave and end up using shampoo. Usually someone else's.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I know it's not only me - I read several blogs about people doing much the same thing. Simple living, thriftiness, the new home front - call it what you want, it essentially comes down to trying to buy less and make more, to do things for yourself rather than paying someone else to do it for you.

It's easy to feel disheartened by the number of things not yet achieved. I look around and see the housework not done, see the things I still buy instead of making, things like bread and soap which are among the first things that you start making for yourself, as well as cleansers and make up and toothpaste, containing chemicals I would rather eliminate.


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