Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fabulous Friends, Frugal Living, Fruit Trees and a Recipe for Foaming Hand Soap.

 As I type this glorious Winter's day, it is 23 degrees and the sun is shining. After two late nights in a row, all three kids are sleeping and Nath is in the backyard finishing up planting out leeks, onions, beetroot, silverbeet, spinach, cauliflower, garlic, carrots and beans. We have put two new rosemary bushes in the ground and transplanted a third one from where the goats will be to one of the new food-producing beds. Dispersed through the vegie beds are some Sweet Alice seedlings, which attract helpful predators and bees to the garden, helping with pollination and keeping pests in control. We have also planted some pyrethrum, which will repel garden pests, and I can dry the flower heads and steep them in alcohol to make a personal insect repellant. Very useful around here in Summer.

I enjoyed spending a birthday voucher at the garden shop!
My girls are such pretty gardeners!

The garden shed is getting an overhaul today as well, which is just as well because for the almost twelve months that we have been here, it has become a dumping ground for things we aren't really sure what to do with. Time to make some decisions! We will be building a potting bench and setting up the mini-greenhouse so that as soon as the frosts disappear, we can begin propagating seeds for spring planting. I'm collecting all of our toilet rolls in readiness - the seeds grow nicely in them with some potting mix and the toilet roll can be planted directly into the ground when the time comes.

The embarrassingly messy garden shed pre-clean.
We are nearly done, just the shelves to build.
Our growing array of deciduous fruit trees will be planted this week, and the front yard will begin to take shape as the orchard. We will be planting nasturtiums all around the base of the fruit trees to deter common pests and bring in beneficial insects (also, it just looks pretty!) We will plant all the citrus trees in Spring. I can't wait for the apple and pear trees to begin blossoming.

Nasturtium flowers.
 Yesterday, after spending the morning in the garden, I went to a lovely friend's house to help her prepare cupcakes for a kitchen tea while Nath helped her husband change his brake pads and discs. Afterwards, we shared a meal together. A few weekends ago, the same friends came and helped us for a whole day build our fence around the vegie beds and lay out some of the beds. I am loving building great friendships with people who have similar goals to live more simply and make do with what we have, sharing skills and resources and encouraging each other along the way. It doesn't matter if our reasons are to save money, improve our health, reduce chemical load or be gentler on the environment. It's a little like a train; if you are pulling one of those carriages, the others will come along, too. It's exciting to share ideas and learn from each other, no matter which of those values is our 'main motivator'.

Given that Nath only has nine working days left (yay!), I have ramped up the money-saving activities around here. Yesterday I made a lavender foaming hand wash and put some citrus peels in to steep in white vinegar, which after two weeks will become a citrus spray-and-wipe-style cleaner. I was so pleased with how the hand cleaner turned out, I wanted to share the 'recipe' with you.

Using recycled jars - not as pretty but definitely cheap!
In a small saucepan half filled with water, I grated some Velvet soap. I used a leftover piece from making laundry liquid, it probably would have been about a quarter of a bar. I stirred it over medium heat until the soap was dissolved, then strained the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and left it to cool.

When it's cooled down, this liquid solidifies into a jelly-like substance. To this I added a splash of lavender oil (available in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket) and about a cup of water. I poured it all into a blender and 'jooshed' it for a minute or so, until all blended.

I poured mine into a foaming dispenser I have from a previous shop-bought hand soap, and had enough left over for three more refills. You could use any pump dispenser but the foaming ones use less than regular pump ones. All up, it would have cost me only a few cents and feels lovely on my hands.

I hope you are all having a lovely, productive weekend, and if you have any more frugal, DIY tips, I would love to hear them!


  1. Ill have to try this!thanks for the recipe xx


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