Sunday, March 31, 2013

DIY deodorant

Since getting into plastic free living (in varying bouts of enthusiasm) I've found myself getting into aromatherapies. There is a whole world of info about aromatherapies and how to and not to use them. Its super interesting and I've had some amazing success. The most dramatic of which was putting a drop of tea tree oil on Quin's massive wart morning and night for three days then watching it gradually disappear over the next couple of weeks. I wish I had taken a before and after shot!

I've been making my own home made deodorant for a year or so now and I can testify that I do not smell bad. I smell like rose geranium and oranges. Very girly actually. And I'm not one of those lucky people who can get away without deodorant. I really can tell if I forget to use it! But this DIY product is as good as any I've purchased, and much more effective than other hippy solutions like the mineral crystals you wet and rub on your armpits. It does leave a slightly powdery residual on your arm pits and it might not be what you use when you wear your little back dress to the casino...but that's not really an issue for me. Its fine to use with singlets.

This, along with 15 minutes or so is all you need.

So here is the recipe:

1. Take equal parts of bi carb and cornflour - say 1/4 cup each
2. Add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil (you may need to microwave it to turn it to liquid - coconut oil melts at about 24 degrees)
3. Add your essential oils - I add about 10 drops each of two kinds of oils
4. Mix well
5. Pack in to a silicone mould and refrigerate

And this is the finished product. Just keep it in the fridge in a little bowl during summer because if its just left on the shelf when its warm it will be too soft to use due to the melting point of the coconut oil. Just rub it on your armpits and off you go!

I love being able to make gifts for people. It was my brother-in-laws birthday yesterday and he is a very blokey bloke -the blue singlet, camping, export beer drinking type. Lovable though, with many redeeming characters, not least of all, the good sense to marry my sister. Anyway  I made him his own deodorant with very masculine essential oils. He liked it and said he would test it out with one armpit using my deodorant and the other armpit with commercial crap. I look forward to the results.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Olive picking time

Olive season is here again and it seems a bit early this year. We plan to pick some olives in a few weeks for making oil with so I thought I'd do a quick pick for pickling. Our three trees are still too young to fruit so we go searching the burbs for unwanted gold. Last year we pickled a big bucket and it lasted about six months, so this year I picked twice the amount (we love olives!). Here's how we do it.

Olive basics (according to me): Small olives are best for oil (you get a much higher amount of oil per kilo), large ones for pickling (this is mainly due to ease of harvest I think, the best tasting pickled olives I've had are Olives de Nice and they're quite small). Green olives or ones just turning black are ready to pickle. Trees which are about two thirds black olives are best for oil pressing (but don't put in soft olives).

I loaded the bike up with buckets, step ladder and my harvest bag and set off to a new spot we've found (sorry, it's top secret can't say where). It's an area with lots of small trees on the verge which no-one seems to pick. Usually I would knock on the door and ask people but here there's no need here since they were planted by the developer and not the home owner.

I picked around 40kg in a couple of hours. When I got home I just filled the buckets with water and put a plate on top to stop them oxidising (very important since they will go off quickly if you don't do this).

For the next ten days I'll change the water daily to take out the bitterness. Then I'll pickle them in brine and wait 6-8 months. For more details of the recipe see this post. Once you pick your own olives it's hard to go back. I simply cannot buy pickled olives in the shops any more, it just seems crazy on so many levels (cost, food miles, taste). It's actually very easy once you learn. Last year I had planned to jar up all the olives from the big bucket into smaller glass jars. Then I thought bugger it that's a lot of work so I just left them in the bucket (it's food safe) under the kitchen table. When I wanted some olives I simply scooped some out with a slotted spoon and hey presto, they're ready to go. Here's the end result, plenty of olives to last the next 12-18 months for the whole family.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In case you missed us on Gardening Australia.

Here's a link to the show. We are on episode 2 in 2013, in the first segment (A Measured Approach). My mum in France said it worked for her, so hopefully it will work for all our overseas followers (Hi Nathan and Jess, Helen and Josh). It was really weird to see ourselves on TV, but I think it came out ok. Amy was even recognised by a total stranger the other day. Ah, fame at last! And it's kinda flattering to be called an inspiring young couple when I'm in my mid 40's.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pumpkin sex

Before you get worried about the goings on in Sustainaburbia land I'd just like to point out that this is not some depraved post on carnal activities involving vegetables like Roberto Benigni's character in Jim Jarmusch's Night on Earth movie (if you haven't seen it do, it's hilarious). No, it's about hand pollinating pumpkins. Our pumpkins are flowering late this year and as usual we are finding the need to visit them each morning to lend a hand in the pollination process. If you have plenty of bees and other pollinators around you may not need to do this, but if you find that your pumpkin fruit fizzle out after a few weeks then this could be due to a lack of pollinators. Planting lots of flowers will help attract pollinators. Anyway here's how we do pumpkin sex.

Firstly you need to know the difference between the sexes. The male flowers come first, are more numerous and have a long thin stork below the flower.

The females generally flower later to make sure there are many males available for mating with. Below the flower you'll see a voluptuous mini pumpkin fruit like this.

We rip off a good looking male and tear off the flower petals to expose the stamen, with pollen. The pollen is ready if it comes off the stamen easily in your finger.

The female will only be receptive to pollination for a day or so, so you need to keep an eye out for females flowers. The best time for sex is in the morning (as we all know), so get up nice and early to do this. The next step is just to push the stamen into the female flower's central area (the stigma).

The end result looks something like this.

Hopefully after a while you'll get a nice big pumpkin like this Jap.

You just can't have too much pumpkin stored for winter baking and soup, so get out there and do some pumpkin sex. I'm sure you'll enjoy it just like we do...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hilton harvest Twilight Fair

Well, we've been told that its really happened, our life long ambition of being on Gardening Australia has been fulfilled. Alas, we have not seen it yet because we were all at our community garden for the annual and fabulous Twilight Fair. We had a beautiful night of kids cardboard box castle making, cargo bike rides, singers, dancers, stilt walkers, fire twirlers and fantastic food. Our egos will have to wait for the repeat on ABC tomorrow! This is the only pic I have of the night so far... Yes it is of rubbish. This was our total waste from the night - four boxes of stuff. One recyclables, two compost and one chook food. Not bad eh? More pics to come.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gardening Australia this Saturday

We're on Gardening Australia this Saturday March 23. It's on ABC1 at 6.30pm and if you miss it (as we are for Hilton Harvest's Twilight Fair) then you can watch it online. I'll post a link next week.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rain at last!

It's been another one of those hot, dry, depressing Perth summers but at last the heavens opened this week. We had 18mm on Sunday night and 19mm today. Before that the only rainfall we'd had this year was 13mm in one day of January. People who don't live here probably can't understand why I say depressing for Perth's   summer weather. Most people associate sunny skies with being happy and grey skies with being sad, but you just have to live here a while to know how eight weeks of sunny weather with temps over 30C most days and not a drop of rain can get to you. Perth just had the hottest summer on record (until next year?), with averages of 31, 32 and 34C for December, January and February respectively. Gardening is almost impossible in these conditions with Perth's sandy soils, especially since the heat saps your energy for getting stuff done in the garden. So we've been hunkering down and praying for cool weather and rain. The grey skies and storms came today and we rejoiced.

The garden is soaking up the rain and my favourite thing to do on these days is watch the tank filling from inside the house. We now have over 6,000L in the tank, which I'll leave a week or so to settle before we turn it on.

Long live the rain...