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“Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Monday, 20 February 2017

Happy Moments

It was a lovely day today for several reasons, but two in particular stand out :)

1. We  got underfloor insulation !!! yeh !!! We live in a big OLD villa (137 years to be exact). In the winter (and early Spring & Autumn) if it wasn't for our wood burner we would freeze. Normally in the winter I stuff a cushion under my feet to stop the cold air coming up through the floor and making my legs ache....so hopefully this little extra insulation will help keep the drafts at bay.

and now the star moment...

2. Today our Coes Golden Drop Plum tree gave up its first and only plum. I think we planted it about 2 years ago... I've been keeping a careful eye on that plum and I actually picked the plum, rather than let it fall, because it felt softish and I didn't want the pesky birds to get in first!! Its a lovely shade of yellowy/green. I brought the tree to cross pollinate with the Greengage Plum and help it fruit better, but the Coes has been so slow itself that I've been skeptical we'd ever get a good harvest of greengages. Hopefully next year we'll be able to pick more fruit from both trees. So now I eagerly await the one plum ripening up a bit more over a couple of days and see what the flavours like  :) I have a recipe for Greengage and Vanilla Jam filed away somewhere...just the sound of it makes me lick my lips !!! Bye for now :)
Blessings to all ~ Linda


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Two-Berry Jam

Hi everyone,
    Its a busy time here at the Little Homestead, both our red plum trees are laden and dropping fruit daily. The greengage plums have finished, and only had a small yield again. I have a recipe for Greengage and Vanilla Jam which sounds so lovely (if I ever get enough fruit) !!
We're also having a wonderful harvest of tomatoes for the first time in quite a few years. I planted them in a different spot this year..down in the lower garden by the church shed next door.. The sheep are no longer in that paddock as the area has been landscaped and native plants put in. (I mush preferred listening to the sheep and going  down the back to visit them :) plus feed them anything that was about to go to seed..they loved it too !

Back to the tomatoes...(I do tend to go chasing rabbits in my mind)...Maybe the heat coming off that old shed, coupled with shelter has really improved the growing conditions? either way I've been able to make some Tomato Relish and today I made x 9 jars of Salsa. We've also had lots of summery meals where tomatoes have been just about the main feature :) pizza, lots of salad etc...wonderful !

I've bottled a lot of plums - x 18 1 litre jars and x 9 smaller jars..so we'll have plenty of plums to decorate the porridge all winter  long :) The next fruit to be ready in the garden are the apple and pear trees..followed closely by Feijoa's. So they'll be no rest in the canning department for this girl.
~~~
now a little bit about the jam. I wanted to write a little post about Frozen Berry Jam and share the recipe, because its got to be the quickest easiest jam in the world to make. I wish I'd known about it sooner + its delicious !!!. and as I had some Raspberries and Boysenberries in the freezer and only half a jar of  jam left in the house, I knew it was time to get busy and churn some out. Good quality jam is quite costly these days..anywhere up to $5.00 !! for an average size jar...so its definitely worth while making it yourself.

Recipe
Frozen Berry Jam

1 kilogram frozen berries (raspberries/boysenberries)
5 Cups sugar - about 1 kilogram
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon butter

Place the frozen berries and sugar in a larg-ish, deep pan or jam pan. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, stirring to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved, then add the butter. Boil fast on a medium heat unti the mixture starts to thicken - about 15 -18 minutes. Add lemon juice, boil 2 more minutes. To tell when the jam is ready, simply pour a teaspoon or two into a small dish. I then place it in the freezer for a minute or so. Then remove it and a skin will probably form when it is pushed with the edge of a teaspoon - now your jam is ready. Its most important not to overcook this sort of jam. It will set up firmer over a couple of days. Pour into hot steralized jars and seal.

I added in a some lemon juice  to add a little extra pectin..one recipe recommended that. Look at the size of that lemon - wow our tree's doing great this year !

pouring the jam - the hot messy part.....and oh my.. the kitchen smelt divine :)

The finished product all dressed up & ready to share 3

After I finished up with the jam I did a little bit of baking - 'Peanut Crunch', with a twist. I made 1.5 x the normal recipe, but left the sugar just the regular amount and I thought the finished product needed a little something more, so I added a butterscotch icing :) now its morphed into Butterscotch Crunch Slice. Yum...well at least that's what my husband and son thought :) Its also a great recipe because its easy to change it up and make different variations eg. add some cocoa powder and a chocolate icing, and there you have chocolate slice etc etc...the possibilities are endless. I think I originally got this recipe from my friend Paula ??? 


   Paula's Peanut Crunch :)
(Original Recipe + Icing)
                                                                           
In a saucepan melt  - 2 dessertspons golden syrup and 150grams butter. Remove from heat and add 2 teaspoons vanilla essence.

In a bowl mix: 
1 Cup self raising flour
3/4 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw peanuts - smash them up a little
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup cornflakes

Add the butter mixture to the dry and mix well. Bake at 170 C for around 30 minutes, or until golden.
Optional Icing: (this goes on the slice as soon as it comes out of the oven) 1.5 Tablespoons golden syrup, 50g butter, 1.5 cups icing sugar. Melt butter and syrup together. beat in the icing sugar, and put back on the heat a little until the sugar melts some and the mixture just gets easier to spread. Remove from the heat and spread over the hot base. Cool and cut into slices/squares. Enjoy with a cuppa :)


Other things: as I meditate over this past week, and dealing with pain in my back, I'm so very thankful to have a husband who is so caring to me and helpful in the home, especially at the moment..what a blessing :)  This scripture also comforts me..


Blessings to all who stop by ~ Linda
(me in the garden a couple of years back)


me October 2016 with our newest grand daughter Poppy Mae - such a sweet wee girl


* and to close, a pretty rose bud from our garden *


~ ~ ~


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

St John's Wort & Lavender Honey Soap

Hi everyone,
At the moment I am recovering from hurting my back (again). It's been about a year since I hurt it this bad, so I'd forgotten how awful it is. The up-side is I'm personally testing out a Pain Salve I made (with Arnica & St John's wort infused oils - plus essential oils of Wintergreen, Clove, Fir, Peppermint, Basil, and a few others.  I find St John's Wort to be a fascinating herb !! When the flowers are squeezed a tiny bit of reddish oil oozes out. This red oil is the power house, its the most potent part of the plant. 



 I took some photos last year  when I made a St John's Wort balm to share in a post and never got round to it. The pictures tell their own story of what I normally do when making a balm (if I infuse the oils myself). Often I purchase infused oils when I intend to sell the balms on the website.

gathering flowers and leaves...placing them in the jar (chopped up a bit), then covering with oil.


The oil after 1 month infusing..note the reddish hue

When making balms etc,  I generally refer to my trusty herbal books eg: Rosemary Gladstar for more concrete information and guidelines for usage. The great thing is that anyone can make these if they have enough interest and desire to make their own natural remedies. 

For anyone interested I wrote this little bit of info:

Infusing St John;s Wort in Olive Oil
Leaves can also be infused, but generally the more flowers the better. A lot of people use dried plant material, but I get better results from fresh. I generally gather dry flowers/leaves on a warm day, then let the plants wilt a bit (up to one day) on a tray to further 'dry them out' and remove any excess moisture.
 I then pack them (not tightly)  into a jar, leaving about an inch head space from the top of the jar or plant material, depending how much there is. Then I cover with pure olive oil - extra virgin (organic if I have it). I cover the jar with either muslin or a  paper towel and a rubber band. This allows for the mixture to breathe when heat builds up in the oil from the sun (I read this somewhere). I find if it's covered with a lid, moisture can build up on the lid & you don't want moisture !!. The pictures show when I used to use a regular lid.  Then I sit it on a sunny window sill - this is a solar infusion. Each day I remove the cover, and gently stir with a clean teaspoon. I then replace the cover and wait up up to 4 weeks (usually), 6 weeks in coller weather, until all the goodness of the plant has been absorbed into the oil. Usually you will see the oil has changed colour - darkened etc. Then I strain it and make it into a balm.

This is the pain balm I made:


I'm enjoying using it for my back  as its very soothing. I purchased the infused oils in this 
particular balm. 

SOAP MAKING NEWS:

Here's a pic of  some honey/lavender soap I made about a week ago. The smell is very beautiful and I love the soft pale amber colour. Next to goats milk soap I think this is my new favorite soap !!





Thats all for now - Blessings and peace - Linda




Monday, 6 February 2017

Hello again..

It's been 4 years since I posted to this blog. Below is a picture of what has mostly been consuming me for those years: 'soap making'. I fell for it hard..and its a passion I still love. I also make herbal balms, candles, lotion, creams etc and sell them on my website. This year I had a desire to be blogging again..why? I don't really know. Perhaps it was because I got very sick around November 2016..attacked with many virus's, a bout of vertigo that lasted for weeks, where I couldn't work and honestly I think I simply got 'burn out'. I started asking myself - How much can one woman do? I was working a little bit part-time at our local childrens daycare centre, running/making everything for this small soap business, trying to cook, clean, garden, homestead, spend time with my husband, family,/children/grandchildren etc...arrgghhhh..stop life, I need to get off !!! I don't know that I was doing any of the those things very well, but hey I was giving it my all..every ounce of my all. I initially started the soap business to raise some extra money to help with household costs. What I've found is, it's a huge juggling act....that I enjoy most of the time. One of my faults is I start too many new things...I expand and expand, without asking, can I sustain this? So gradually a lot of the things I enjoyed like baking homemade bread, making Ginger Ale, Sewing, tending the flower gardens..all went by the wayside. I simply couldn't do everything..the garden got overgrown and weedy...we buy bread..I don't sew...and I became less frugal with the grocery expenditure too, because I was so busy I needed more 'convenience food'..just the very word makes me shudder..convenience..eee
So 2107 is about finding my 'balance' and 'Joy' in the simple life again. I hate waste and excess..its not the way I choose to live.
So having said all that, I hope to get back into sharing again on here- about life, what I'm cooking, growing, making etc..slowing down a tad and enjoying life more.
Blessings to anyone who stops by and reads this and understands.
 ~ Linda

                              


This was my 'little forest' soap...fir/woodsy scent. The colour is indigo root infusion :)

His Heart

On Sunday afternoon hubby and I drove into the city to get a few things at the supermarket and to go to the library. We had some time to...