Times are a’changing at Quarteracre!

All the best laid plans! We had a 3 year plan for what we wanted to do here but they have just become 3 month plans as Roger quit his job today, he finishes at the end of next week. No, he didn’t get the job he went for but he sorely needed to because he has had well and truly enough of his present one. I could go into the ins-and-outs but no need or desire to.

So our three year plan was 1) Wendy wants to make her soaps and stuff and sell them – she is on plan for this. 2) Within 3 – 6 months have the property set up for private precious pup boarding – we can have 3 at a time but only want two. 3) We ideally would like to earn an income from funked up junk but never get time to actually settle to this – the plan was for Roger to go down to part-time work in a year or so to help achieve this and hopefully open a cottage shop in 3 years at our home. Well…….!

Roger will be unemployed next week and I will continue to work part time, he will advertise to get contact work locally, just part-time AND h-o-p-e-f-u-l-l-y between us we can earn enough to pay the bills 🙂 We have food and are pretty skilled at living on little! Roger is well known in the area for his ability to kill gorse which I hate because it’s spraying chemical all day but it’s needed here, it’s the right season and we are hoping he can get enough odd farm work to get us through. He could go out and look for full time work but we have decided maybe we should just back ourselves and have confidence our plans will work for us. I shall keep you posted! lol I know it seems crazy in today’s climate but at the end of the day we want to make our place work for us and be our own bosses…that’s what we want.

A website will be set up for us and off we go, into the wide open… and unknown!

This is what I have been doing recently and what our home is starting to look like 🙂

Dandelions, kowhai flowers picked for infusing and forget-me-nots for pressing for packaging

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There are always petals drying in the front window and jars of somethings sitting in the sunlight

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Pansies and forget- me- nots being pressed into a jeweelery making book but how pretty the picture turned out!

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A corner of the hall I just spied

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Trialing Lotion Bars made with beeswax and the Camelia petal infused oil

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Lemon and Poppy Seed Soap, Rose-hip soap and Rosemary, Lavender and Sweet Orange Shampoo Bars

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Mark 11 trial of Rose and Frankincense Moisturiser which is gorgeous 🙂 (Excuse photo quality)IMG_3983

So, within a month or so I hope to be up and running. I have so many ideas I am nearly popping with brilliance lol. But for a girl who actually just likes making these things quietly enjoying her own company and hates being “out there” this is a brave move, one which involves much courage and confidence and feels rather scary, So WISH ME LUCK PLEASE!!!! lol

I Finally Ventured into Soap Making

I have been wanting to try making soap for years but two things held me back. Firstly, working with lye – my first husband had a bad accident with caustic soda so I wasn’t keen to use it myself. Secondly, alot of the recipes I had read looked to be quite expensive, I didn’t want to spend alot of money to make something that may not turn out.

A couple of weeks ago one of my sisters gave me a bar of her homemade lavender soap and it’s such a treat to use! I adore nice soaps but rarely get them, just using commercial brands instead. Natural soaps are quite pricey, handmade ones even pricier. So…I decided to just get over myself and make some of my own. I read heaps on the net and found a couple of good recipes to start with. I also found some helpful tips from well experienced soap makers which took some of the complexity or possible issues out out of the process.

Good tips:

Mix the lye into the water on top of the stove with the range-hood going, the fumes go straight up that. Lye commands respect, it can be dangerous to use so do read and follow the safety precautions written by experienced soap makers first – but once you have done it the first time it’s no longer a biggy and is a simple process done wisely.

Keep vinegar on hand if you do happen to splash yourself, it’s alkaline and will neutralise the acid.

The lye and the oils just need to be cooled to body temperature and many people don’t test with a thermometer at all, just wing it – so that’s what I did (I don’t own a food thermometer)

You don’t have to stand over it mixing until it reaches trace. You can mix for a few minutes, go do something else then come back to it, mix a few more minutes…..until it reaches desired stage.

Covering in cling film lessens the chances of soda ash occurring.

Putting the soap into the freezer after cutting makes it easier to remove from mold if it’s a bit stuck.

Cutting the soap with a strand of fine wire (or guitar string) lessens the wastage found in using a knife. (I don’t have a fancy soap cutter, used a knife and yes, did lose some through crumbling)

Honey and Oat: My first effort turned out!! I used a recipe which was economical Lard and Olive Oil Soap. It cost around $12 (NZ) to make just under 2 kg (4 lb) and I added honey and ground oats, Roger gets eczema and needed a simple soap. Apparently this recipe has a nice lather and is gentle. Because it wasn’t perfumed I wanted to dress it up a bit and sprinkled dried calendula petals on it. Wrapped it in glad wrap and a towel and left it on the bench to show off to Roger 🙂 You can imagine my utter horror when I next went into the kitchen to find not only was the cat on the bench but was curled up on top of the towel wrapped (and still soft!) soap. I don’t know what movie that scream “Nnooooooooooooo!” came from but heard myself sound just like it. Unwrapped the soap to find it one great mess but managed to scoop most back in, the petals no longer on top!

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Footnote: This soap, despite the recipe saying it had good lathering properties did not lather well and probably because I did not follow a recipe when I threw in the ground oats and honey (too much of one or the other I suspect!) BUT it is super gentle, super moisturising and I have never used anything on my face that has left it so soft, probably more-so with the use of the oats. I also washed my hair with it to try that and rinsed off with cider vinegar – beautiful!! If I can get over the fact it contains lard I will use this lots!

Lavender: Yes folks, the fraidy cat is gone and Wendy is now hooked on soap making. This first one didn’t smell pretty enough so with new-found bravado I tried Lavender, this time using a vegetable, coconut and olive oil blend. This cost around $20 to make, for around 6lb, it smells divine and will be nice enough for moi and for gifts. The vegetable oil in this is similar to Crisco but Kremelta (coconut and soya oils). i found this recipe by our own wonderful Wendyl Nissen – Make Your Own soap. I added Lavender oil and dried buds. This is silky and creamy and not “earthy” like the fist one.

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This made two medium sized dishes which will be cut tomorrow and a better photo added here. Left now to cure for 4 – 6 weeks I look forward to trying them!

Footnote: Beautiful. Rich, creamy, gentle, lots of lather…smells divine. Not as moisturising as the Lard and Olive Oil one but still lovely. I wish I had researched the use of lavender buds first before I added them though, they go brown as it matures. I have since read they should be ground and will try this next time.