Thursday, November 18, 2010

stronger

My absence over the past months has been quite productive.  I have completed a botany course, been on a permaculture design course, made a whole group of new friends, read three new books, planted my own vegie patch, learnt to make bread and pretzels and a number of new dishes, enjoyed a number of huge lightening storms,  renovated a built-in wall cabinet, learnt how to take long-slow bath times,  found a new acceptance of self, learnt Tai Chi and found a new connection with the earth, catalogued all my seeds, reconciled with a sibling, forever lost a second sibling to permanent irreconcilable differences, planted/transplanted a myriad flowers in my garden, made some lovely beaded jewellery, found a property I want to purchase (with lots of land to practice permaculture), drew up the permaculture design plans for the new property, started a new pen and ink drawing I love, bathed, groomed and walked the pups a thousand times (never ending pre-occupation) and found a stronger more authentic, more forthright me in the process of all the above.

I'd say that was a few months well spent :)  I am feeling stronger than ever before and I am learning to like this emerging me although it is a more challenging me to live with.

I must say I have missed blogging everyday - I realise that I love documenting my time, it helps me process emotions and activities, which I may otherwise allow to drift off into oblivion, only to have come back and torment my subconscious in some obscure form I will never be able to later comprehend.  And so, I hope that I will make time every so often to come and write about my life here as it does me so much good to write out the words which fill my spaces.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

happy spring day - southern hemisphere!

It has been a huge whirlwind of a week.  Spring is upon us, August has been hot, dry and dusty and we cannot wait for the rains.  I find that people get cranky at this time of year; the weather, I think is to blame, after the first rains, everyone magically settles down.  All this dry weather does however allow us a small window of opportunity to sort out the winter garden.   The spring rains bring back the cold of winter for a while, but mostly, we are past the worst winter has to offer and appreciating the blossoms and sunshine.

I have been busy with spring garden jobs, mostly by instinct, as I have never done this before.  I have pruned just about everything; creating the shapes I want for bushes and hedges, chopping up trees like there is no tomorrow and pulling up tired biannual and harvesting the leaves from a shrub I cannot name, not even after applying my new botanical knowledge BOT101.




The shrub is woody, perennial, has grey leaves and smells like eucalyptus. (any ideas?)  I have never seen it flower, that may be due to my highly depleted sense of botanical observation until now, the BOT101 is taking care of that nicely.

This is an abandoned corner of the garden nobody ever sees, it is right next to the kitchen and so I have claimed it for a herb garden.  I have actually been working on it all winter as the soil was terribly depleted.
It is however looking quite plantable now.



I made lovely little seedling pots out of newspaper.  The idea came from a post by Urban Homestead S.A., I altered the idea slightly, and now am able to fill my pots with soil as they are made.  I simply cut the bottom off of my shampoo bottle (the sacrifices we make).  I fill the bottle with soil, wrap the newspaper around (it's about 30cm long/15cm wide),leaving at least half hanging off the edge, fold the 'hanging off' pieces over the cut-off opening of the bottle, overlapping them to form the base.  Then tip the bottle over and slide the pot off - and there you have it, ready made seedling pots which can be planted directly into the ground as the newspaper is biodegradable.  The seedlings don't suffer replant shock and shouldn't suffer climate change either, as I have them sitting happily in the sun, right where they will, be planted in about two weeks.  As a first time gardener, I must say I am very happy with the outcome.  Time will tell if I am actually doing anything right at all :)



Once I had used up all my newspaper and potting soil,
I counted up how many pots I had
........ 99!
What a lovely number!
(little tip - use a permanent marker for the labels - my labels are washing off ....blah! )






I have a lovely design layout for my garden which I created with my graphic software (ah! the fun I had).  I know exactly where each plant will live, and have researched the needs of each and located the best possible garden spot for each individual.  I am companion planting with flowers, so it should all look quite lovely, oh yes, all this work is to create a herb garden, I am studying herbology, so this is hands on study for me.

I am having a great time passionately throwing myself into the garden, perhaps that is a newbie thing ...  first love affair ... give her time, it will fade .... I hope not, I simply love the idea of encouraging life to bloom around me and hope that in the process I bloom too.




.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

splashing Raw

A picture says a thousand words 
.... I'll leave it at that!


 ....... and yes, it is RAW!  find the recipe here.




Tuesday, August 17, 2010

getting acquainted

RAW for one week and feeling SO good, I headed into the garden yesterday on a spontaneous mission to cut back some dead foliage and allow the new, which is already peeping up through the earth, to thrive.

I had no idea that five hours later, I would be gingerly avoiding all contact with clothing and human touch, as I succumbed to a vicious sun burn.  Who would have guessed the early spring sun could do such damage!  On the up side, my compost heap has quadrupled its size and the garden is looking a bit more aesthetically pleasing.  Today, I am paying for my irresponsible hard labour with sunstroke. 
I am not a happy fishy!



On a more positive note, the following pictures taken after Sunday's visit to the grocer (unfortunately none of my own produce as yet).  Most of the produce is not organic, so I have to wash each piece in a citronella wash I have which removes chemicals and waxes.  It is quite a job, but now the kitchen is stocked and all produce is safe for consumption
(as far as I can tell).

It made such a lovely display, I went photo mad:
(I will not bore you with all 103)


I love the vibrant colours and textures. 
My camera however did a poor job of capturing what my eye could see.


There is a whole world of discovery inside each fruit
that I just wish I could capture.


These baby spinach leaves are one of the staples for my green smoothie drinks.  I battle to eat them RAW as they are, but in a smoothie, mixed with bananas and some dates, they are wonderful.


I have never eaten fennel root before, it just looked too odd to try, I have always just walked past them in the isle, however Beloved was shopping with me and grabbed two of these knobbly old guys.  I must say, they are quite refreshing RAW and work well as cruditĂ©s with humus.


 As you can see, I am getting well acquainted with food .....

colour coding!

Isn't that fun! (tongue-in-cheek)

On a serious note though.  I am fostering a new relationship with food.  This may take some time to develop into something healthy and worth celebrating, but in the meantime, a bit of fun does not
hurt and goes a long way to keeping me sane on this insane journey of life :)



Saturday, August 14, 2010

raw! raw! raw!

I have to congratulate myself; I have eaten RAW this whole week!

clap! clap! clap! clap! clap!

I intend for this to be a two month RAW FOOD experiment.  I hope to find that my energy increases and that my girth decreases.  It is not as difficult as it sounds really.  Just eat plant matter that is RAW and you are on your way.  I juice vegetables and fruit to make lovely health drinks and I make lovely green smoothies.  I make large oversized salads and I use avocado in just about everything even to make chocolate mousse!  I have learnt to make a RAW cheesecake which is delightful and I have made my own trail snacks ... all with RAW foods and NO cooking at all.

Beloved is not too charmed by this change, especially as he is cooking most of his own food.  As I get used to this change I'll probably take back some of his food preparation as well.  I refuse to bring junk into the house, so he has to go out and purchase anything he wants that is not healthy.  I must however say that he is beginning to ask for a smoothie or salad when he sees me making them and I am delighted to oblige!  He has also perfected his carrot/apple/ginger drink made with the juicer and I am delighted to help him with all taste tests necessary.

As far as my rather unhealthy relationship with food is concerned, I have made a useful affirmations powerpoint which I meditate on daily and this has become very helpful in keeping me focused on all this RAW eating.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Food for thought

Sue, over at What Are You waiting For? inspired me to write this post today.

I have been wondering why it is that I opt for coffee and toast most mornings when my kitchen is stocked with wonderful fresh produce which I took a lot of time to resource.  I know the answer of course, it is TIME.  It takes time to prepare something healthy and I realise today that I resent that TIME.

I resent spending hours and hours focused on food.

I have had a love/hate relationship with food since I was put on my first restrictive diet at age 6.  For the next two decades FOOD became all I ever thought about; how to get food, how to sneak food, how to not be hungry, how to use food for comfort, how to spend my pocket money on food and not be found out, how to put water into the milk bottle after I had sneaked a glass, so that it didn't look less empty ... you get the idea.

FOOD and I have had a very unhealthy relationship.  I am impatient around food.  I want food to be readily available with no fuss and no time wasted.  I want food that is easy to eat, I don't like fussy food.  Most of the time I really don't know what I want to eat .... so I eat the easiest and quickest thing in the kitchen ..... toast.  I don't usually care about taste too much; it has to be passable of course, but if the toast is a bit burnt - well OK, who cares!  I'll put anything onto the toast that is quick and easy; jam, marmite, anchovette paste and  peanut butter are usually available and do just fine ... I'm not really fussy and I don't have a preferance one over the other.


I don't like curry, I don't like the taste of BBQ sauce, I don't like apples and I don't like potatoes.  Everything else is OK.  However, ask me 'what do you want to eat?' and I am lost.  I stress over what to cook at night; Beloved LOVES FOOD and it needs to be good food or he will not eat it.  He has a well refined idea of his personal likes and dislikes and I orientate my own food around these.  Beloved spent a good many years in Europe eating fine foods and will not settle for second best.  Quality is important to him.  I like quality too, however, I don;t like the TIME taken for quality.

When I am in the mood, I scour the net for good recipes he will enjoy.  But if he is not around a bowl of cornflakes for dinner will do.  I am quite determined to ensure that he eats healthily, I want to eat healthily too, the desire is there, but the follow through is most definitely lacking .... WTF?! 

OK, so I think it is about TIME and perhaps about some other deep seated psychology I just have no handles on yet.

Whatever the reason the following is clear:
  • Make peace with the idea that food takes time
  • Set sufficient time aside to prepare food for each meal
  • Connect with food on a spiritual level
  • Love myself and nourish myself
AFFIRMATION:
  1. food is good
  2. Slow is good
  3. It is my right and duty to nourish my body with food
  4. Food is plentiful and always readily available to me
  5. I delight in the purchase and preparation of food which nourishes my body and soul.  
  6. Time spent on food preparation prepares me for a healthy and happy future.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

spiritual seeding

As I await spring and prepare my soil for warmer weather, I collect my thoughts as I collect seeds of all kinds.  It is a restful and contemplative activity, my mind slows and hands work steadily to free seed from their host.  I compose myself and feel a deep connection to all who have come before me and all who will come after me.  They too will touch the seeds from this plant and this tiny seed I gently free from its hold will grow tall and strong and sustain generations to come.


Collecting seed is an act of gratitude, an act of praise and an act of deep spiritual connection to the earth.




This week I collect: (clockwise from top left), delicious organic gogi berries soaking so that I can harvest the seeds tomorrow, sweet papaya seed, lovely peppery-rocket seed, lemon seed, green pepper seed and coriander seed.

 I have two avocado pips germinating in the window.  The largest has sent down a root two inches long during the past six weeks and a crack has appeared all the way to the top of the seed - soon it will send up a shoot. 

The smaller pip was placed on the windowsill today, this came from the smoothest avocado I have tasted in a long time.  I haven't been able to identify the varieties yet and when I went to look them up ...wow!  there are over 500 varieties and I am not wading through them.  I'll speak to my local grower to find out which I have, next time I am there.

harvesting seed and preparing for drying is slow work.  This is an activity which for the most part will not be rushed.  The papaya so far has been the most time consuming of all.  I dried out trays of seeds a few weeks ago which all stuck to the drying paper and eventually had to be discarded.  It is strange to think that in the past I would not have given a second thought to throwing out seed.  Now that I understand their value, I would not consider it.

I discovered that to dry papaya seed, one has to remove the gelatinous covering; this is not as easy as it sounds.  The covering is easily broken, like popping bubble wrap, but the coating is attached at one end and small pieces left behind still attached are not easily noticed until a day later when they begin to ferment and create a nasty brown gooey stain.  It took three days of washing and drying each seed individually before I had completely eliminated all the goo.  The results are tiny, spiky jet-black seeds which have dried beautifully.


This is my first attempt at seeding plants and drying seeds and I really enjoy the activity.  It has been a spiritual awakening of sorts for which I am most grateful.  I look forward to the day when I see the full cycle and I am ready to harvest seed from my own plants again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

week one chemical free observations

I am tracking my petrochemical free life - so this blog is simply a reminder of where I am at, for later use.

I am washing my face with castor and olive oil at night and with water in the morning.  looking good, feeling good!

I changed from the bee-wax cream to simple grape seed oil as a moisturiser - and VOILĂ€! My skin is responding pleasingly, texture improved, hydration increased and blemishes diminishing.

The bicarb shampoo is OK (I think), however the conditioner probably needs some changing as my hair is dull and limp and looks greasy, although it is not. I am going to make another conditioner, with ginger, honey and orange tea, and with less vinegar - 100ml to a litre - and no essential oils as I think it is the oils that are causing the trouble.

The toothpaste experimentation has oxidised, so I am back to plain old BS and I feel it is much better this way.

The coffee machine exploded last night, so that takes care of my caffeine addiction in a hurry and I am interested to see if this makes a difference to the appearance of my skin.

Poor old coffee machine.  You will be missed!  RIP

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eughhhh! Disturbing results!

Today I am feeling gross!  Horrible!  Really disgusting!

My hair was washed again this morning with bicarbs and vinegar and although it feels OK, it is full of static and looks oily.  My skin washed with the olive and castor oils is nice and clean, and the moisturising bee-wax product, feels good on my skin, however my skin is quite red (not sunburn red - more like paraffin imbiber red) and it feels really thick and rough (again, paraffin imbiber thick and rough).  I am trying to go make-up free for a while, especially during this transition time, but to be honest with you, I look like a serious alcoholic street-dweller, and although I have nothing against such people, life can be hard on us all, well, it is just not a good look for me at this point in my life!


I am determined to make this transition though and so I am trying to decide whether or not keep up with the products for at least a week to see if my body starts settling down - I don't want to just switch products (or should I say ingredients) too quickly, I have to give it a good going  .... don't I!

I have not had the luxury of hiding at home either.  I have had to go out.  I am just swallowing my pride, putting on a bright smile and trying not to sweat it too much.

Oh dear!  This is disturbing!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Down to Earth Gratitude

I must just add how incredible it is to be on this journey with so many other woman.  It is quite overwhelming to find so many woman on the same  'Down to Earth' journey.  So many have gone before me and I feel irrevocably linked to each one of you in a kind of sorority of woman who are soberly living naturally and are dedicated to gracefully supporting one another and ultimately changing the course of history.

Culinary Bathroom

My shower this morning became a culinary playground of bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, olive and castor oils and bee wax!  I had to laugh in the shower as the bicarbs drifted into my mouth and the vinegar stung my eyes .... ouwwwwweeeeeee!  The oil facial cleanser seemed to stick onto my skin, promising to NEVER come off and the Essential Oils in the conditioner predicted a disastrous outcome - however, despite the strangeness of kitchen products in the bathroom, and a seeming playground of culinary ingredients all with strange feel and smells for a shower, I am delighted by the results thus far!

This morning I made up a bottle of bicarbonate shampoo and vinegar conditioner as suggested by Jen at DarkPurpleMoon, to replace my Petrochemical Nightmare hair products.  My hair felt great after the bicarbs which washed out really easily, and even though I thought I might be in for a second shower, petrochemical this time, to rectify the experimental conditioner and oil cleanser, surprise, surprise, my skin feels great and my hair dried just fine.  I'll have to see how it lasts during the day.

I used bicarb for toothpast - interesting experience, but my teeth are feeling great!  And I used rock-salt stick for deoderant.

I replaced my cleanser with olive and castor oils and am amazed at how clean my skin feels.  For moisturiser, I am using a bee-wax product I found which suggested use as a lip balm, but works well all over; allowing blemishes to surface easily and be discarded of secretly without a hint of their unwanted presence, just moments before .... WOW!  I am impressed!

The only thing I don't have yet is body soap.  I have Rhonda's recipe and can't wait to try it.  I have been collecting the needed ingredients and equipment and almost have everything - but even then, it will be weeks of maturing before use ... so I am off to look for some alternatives at an organic shop across town.  I well expect to pay R50.00 a bar, but until I can make my own, I will just have to pay for alternatives.

I am relieved, for now, to have found some workable alternatives.  Time will tell how long it all lasts and how well they continue to work, but I am really getting into the idea of all natural , all organic - give me one more day of these great results and the petrochemical stuff is going into the bin - FOREVER!

May this be my first NO-POO day, forever more!



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cosmetic chemical nightmare

I have not felt this angry in a long time!

I started on a new cosmetic range at the beginning of this year,  it was a big decision as it is quite expensive, and like most promising cosmetics here, imported.  I hoped that it would bring me the relief my skin needs from blemishes and poor skin tone.  It advertises itself as organic, which thrilled me, and at a cursery glance of the contents, I was satisfied that it was indeed organic - so many oils and natural things, how could it not be good?

Well, the last few months have been a BIG learning curve for me with the discovery of petrochemicals in ALL my products.  The first big discovery was Sodium Lauryl Sulfate; a skin irritant which breaks down protein, is toxic to the body and it mimics the activity of oestrogen in the body playing havoc with the body's natural hormone balance.  SLS is used for lathering.  I found SLS in my shampoo and conditioner, in my very expensive imported face-wash and lotions, in my body wash, in herbal hand wash, in solid soap blocks and even in my toothpaste!

This really put me in a quandary as I refused to use the petrochemical products, but had no alternatives to replace them as yet.  I scoured the net for days and found home made alternatives for shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste.  I am trying these, but I'm not really satisfied with the results. 

Parabens were next.  These deadly compounds enter the skin, can be found in the blood stream moments after application of cosmetics and make-up and have been found in cancer tissues of breast cancer patients.  I found these in some of my make-up ranges, I believe they are used as preservatives.
 
Aluminium compounds were next, so out went my deodorants and I purchased a 'salt rock' stick alternative which works amazingly.



Dioxane is a neuro-toxin and has a number of other toxicities for humans.  It is also found in most cosmetics and is used to create suds.

There are lists of the petrochemicals called the dirty thirty.  A list of 30 harmful chemical compounds used in cosmetics and toiletries.  I am just astounded!  I can't believe that I have been using products containing such harmful compounds and now I need alternatives in a hurry!

I have researched all the local 'organic' ranges and only found one range that is passable, and all they do is soap.  I am still using my cleansers, but every time I do, I cringe and imagine all the harmful toxins doing their dirty work ...... aaaahhhhh!

If I can't find alternatives, I have to make them; this is my all consuming goal now.  I have to make what I need.  I need recipes, suggestions, ideas and guidance.  And I need them in a hurry!

Help please!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Basil

I've been thinking about doing something about my rather overgrown basil bush.  Well, inspiration (more like energy which has been missing in action) struck this morning and without thinking I went outside and stripped the bush of all its dried flowers and some not at all dry ones.   The pups came out to see what was up, but kept their distance and seemed rather perplexed - not sure why.




We are approaching the last half of winter now, and I have been meaning to do some cutting back and 'whatever' type of business I am supposed to do at this time of year - I don't know what that is really - but I know I should be doing something. 

(They look as confused as I do)

And so, I stripped all the branches of their flowers, discovering a hidden lemon on our lemon tree which must have escaped the pup's attention, as they are always delighted to find bright-yellow, accessible balls growing on trees, and will unceremoniously pluck them and leave them lying about.  I realised early on that they will win the fight for the lemons and seeing we only had three this year, decided to not sweat it at all.


I also discovered some ripening tomatoes among the basil that had survived the winter thus far and had a happy moment wondering at the happy coincidence of basil and tomato growing together when they are such a delightful culinary pair.  I must add that I did not plant tomatoes in my garden - they simply appeared.


The reason I wanted the basil stripped in the first place was at the thought of creating 'basil water' for cosmetic use.  I have been doing a lot of reading and researching of late as I want to make my own cosmetics, shampoos etc and the thought of 'basil water' as a base just sounds delightful.  I have also discovered how to make a home still and can't wait to get started making my own fragrant waters.


Unfortunately, our stove and oven blew up recently and replacement is not going to happen in a hurry.  So, now I have the basil flowers all ready, but no way of heating the still.  With this in mind I began to wonder if I should seed the flowers instead - that is when I went online to find out about harvesting seeds and found that I had actually done the right thing in waiting for the flowers to dry out ... but alas!  I find no seeds.


DH walked into the kitchen and upon seeing the basil all spread out drying, had a stupefying 'Gunja'  wishful moment - called up from somewhere in his distant, delinquent past .... uh..hum .... moving on quickly.

So, I guess I will dry out the seedless flowers and keep them in safety for a time when I am able to heat my homemade still and then I will Blog about them again.


In the mean time, the house smells delightfully of basil (and for some reason - rose water), and I will extend myself the luxury of a handful of fragrant flowers in my bath tonight as compensation for a job half done, I am terribly impatient when I have things I want done and I can't get my head around having to leave this off for another distant date.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Bloggy Intent

I am in transition; moving from one state of being to another. I am presently lost to myself, overwhelmed by inactivity and indecision.   I must move towards greater authenticity in action word and deed.

I look forward to the day that I wake up and know that I am authentically me - I yearn for it, my heart is tired and heavy and wants to reach the freedom of simply being; of allowing myself to simply be and being comfortable enough with me to allow others to see me too.



I have been on this journey for some time now and would love to meet other bloggers who can support, encourage and inspire me; I have seen you and I have been reading you and I love your creative, confident and nurturing souls, now it is my turn to start documenting my journey here alongside you.



I look forward to sharing your lives and sharing mine with you too.
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