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Showing posts from July, 2010

Shaving soap

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I made shaving sope for the first time quite some time ago.  I was really excited by shaving soaps when I first read about them.   The way I understood it, shaving soap is basically soap with the addition of some clay.  The clay improves the slip.  Slip, apparently, has to do with the way the blade glides over the skin.  So I made shaving soap and started to use it.  It was nice enough, but I have to admit that I use all my soaps as shaving soaps and I don't really notice much of a difference between them.  Even the salt soap works really well!  So I've been thinking that I should reformulate my shaving soap and see if I can come up with something fantastic.

One of the reasons is that I went into a barber's shop just before last Christmas to buy an old fashioned razor for my son in law.  The barber specializes in quality shaves and sells all the paraphernalia.  He showed me his collection of old shaving things and we chatted quite a bit and I told him that I had made shav…

Honeysuckle honey - For sore throats

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Honeysuckle  has the most wonderful fragrance and it's such a shame that there is no way to make an essential oil from it.  I have 3 different varieties of it growing in my garden, Lonicera periclymenum Serotina, a yellow early flowering one, L. periclymenum Belgica, a pink and later flowering and Lonicaera caprifolium a yellow that flowers in between the others.  But I absolutely love all their scent and I frequently cut off branches with flowers to put into bouquets to bring the scent into the house.

Honeysuckle had been used as a medicinal plants, both in Europe and China for centuries as a remedy for fever, inflammation and infection.  The Chinese variety L. japonica is more likely to be used medicinally than the European varieties which are not as potent and apparently Honeysuckle isn't much used in modern Western herbalism.  But all the plants contains salicylic acid which is basically what is in aspirin so it can be used for pain and it has some benefits for irritated …

Pink shampoo bar - Yellow dock for itchy and flaky scalp

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I really like the colour that Yellow Dock - Rumex crispus gives to soaps and I liked the dark raspberry colour of the soap that I recently made.  However I knew that I would want to use a bit less in another soap to see what type of light pink I would get.  I don't really use Yellow Dock, it doesn't grow here, but rather a local plant that is closely related to it, commonly called Njóli here,  but Northern Dock in English.

The benefits of the root of this plant has been known for centuries and it just seemed logical to me to make a soap that might carry some of the benefits.  As Yellow Dock (and Njóli) are known to be very good for skin troubles like eczema, psoriasis and itchy skin I thought it could make a great shampoo bar for people with dry scalp AND it would look pretty as a pink bar.  Since I wanted to get as many of the benefits of the herb as possible, I decided to use the infused oil at trace.  There is always some discussion going on about weather the benefits of …

Rose jelly - Pure pink summer perfection

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Roses are wonderful plants.  There are so many varieties that everyone can find somthing to like.  My favorites are primarily roses that smell nice.  I somehow find it incredulous that people actually grow roses that have no scent!  If I had to choose a colour I would probably go for pink, but I also love very pale, white and beige.  I intensely dislike the long stemmed red roses that are supposed to be so romantic.  Overbred and sterile.  But that's me.

Rugosa roses grow very well here up north.  They are tough as old boots and produce an abundance of flowers and smell very nice.  Hansa rose is a hybrid Rugosa that produces large fucshia pink flowers that have a strong scent.  The hips are bright orange and I did gather quite many last fall to make rose hip jelly and sirup.  This plant is very common and grows in many public spaces.  I have a favorite spot where I go to gather roses in full bloom, before the petals start to fall down.

I have infused olive oil by letting petals …

Lilac drink - Syringa saft

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I have been an avid gardener for many years.  Gardening in Iceland is a challenge and many plants that I read about in foreign gardening books have a hard time growing here.  I use Latin names a lot because I read mostly English and Scandinavian books about gardening and common names can be so different between countries.  Up here in the north we have a short summer and the result is that many plants that are known as spring flowering in other countries, flower during summer here.  I think Syringa is one of those.  It is in flower in my garden right now and I just love the scent of it.

As a gardener I love flowers and most of all flowers that have a scent. So when I got interested in vegetable I got really, really, really interested in edible flowers.  Isn't it wonderful that not only can you look at flowers and smell them,  you can eat a lot of them too.

So I have been surfing the internet and scouring bookshelves for information on edible flowers.  I eat a lot of my plants alr…

Raspberry pink soap - Yellow Dock

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We had a weed clearing day at the allotment the other day.  The target was "Njóli" a tall perennial weed that was growing in the periphery of the area in great quantities.  As I was pulling out the weeds which another woman had dug up with a shovel, I said to her:  "I just know I'm going to find a great use for this stuff as soon as we've hauled it all to the dump".  Well, guess what!

A few day later I was surfing the Internet and saw a chat thread that talked about colouring soap with the root of Yellow Dock.  Oh, another exotic plant, I thought, but I Googled it anyway, clicked "images" and... saw: Njóli!  I had to laugh.  See, this is why I hate to throw things out!  You just always find uses for stuff when you've given up on it.

Anyway, I put on my Wellies and headed down to the allotment armed with a shovel to find the few remaining plants.  I found quite a few and dug them up.  I cut the roots off and headed home.  Once there, I washed …

Labels - Recession style

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I am extravagant in many ways.  There is some really very expensive stuff that I like a lot and sometime buy for myself and as gifts.  Generally I would not at all consider myself a cheapskate, but I still have a very thrifty side to me.  I think that comes from my German grandmother.  She was a beautiful woman and she loved pretty things which is why I put her photo in the most pretty frame I could find.  But my grandmother was known to be thrifty and although a generous woman, there were some things she didn't like to pay too much for.

I don't think that the recession is what has caused me to be even more thrify.  I rather have a feeling that it was the overwhelming abundance of the upswing.  It just got to be a little bit too much.  I, at least, noticed this trend towards homemade and homegrown everywhere around me (i.e. on the Internet) quite some time before the recession hit.

But anyway, I have been experimenting with drying herbs and drying them and making oil infusion…

Local herbs - Chamomile substitute - Matricaria maritima, Sea Mayweed

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I have a tendency to look towards warmer countries and bitch and moan about the abundance of plants that grow on other peoples doorsteps.  Just look at Lavender and Rosemary and Thyme.  They grow like weeds in some countries and I'm jealous.  These can all be grown here, but only in the summer and even then, they are not likely to thrive.  Too wet and too cold.  (I have to say I agree.)

I have been interested in gardening for a long time and have mostly liked flowering plants, for their scent and beauty.  Part of the thrill of gardening is the challenge of growing delicate and difficult plants.  When that goes well, success is sweet.  But when one is growing plants to use them, either to eat or to use them in creams or soaps, then everything changes.  The most important thing becomes not to find something exotic, but to find varieties that grow well in this climate.  I now have a small allotment garden and along with the vegetables I grow a few medically beneficial plants.  I inh…

Rebatching again.

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I'm rebatching my Sea Buckthorn soap.  It has been sitting on the curing rack for a while and it is still too soft.  It's a lovely yellow colour though!  So I want to keep that.  I also have these white soaps that I made to be whipped soaps from hard fats only.  I originally piped them into muffin forms and they were supposed to be very light and fluffy and float on water, but these would make pretty good dwarf bread (this is for Terry Pratchet fans only).  So I thought the two together would average out to a great soap.

I have grated 400 grams of the yellow soap and 200 grams of the white, mixed that in a pot and added about 4 tablespoons of yoghurt and the same of cream.  I stirred it a bit and put it in the oven with a lid on and turned the oven to 95C / 200F.  I stir it every now and again and it is looking good.  Still haven't decided if I'm going to whip it and make muffin soaps or just pour it into a mold.

Now I have nothing to do but wait and I thought that thi…