Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everybody out there. I hope the new year is good to you. This morning as we were driving to the dairy, (yes I know things are pretty rough when you have to get out of bed on new years day to milk somebody else's cows) we were greeted by an amazing cloud formation, and for a change I had the camera. Which in no way did justice to the early morning sun on this cloud. When the sun came up fully the clouds all disappeared and we are now getting a full summer blast with hot dry winds, which is good for the washing as long as there are no bush fires.

Now I just need to get my act into gear and take some photos of soap to post. Seeing that this blog is supposed to be about soap. I could make a mile long list of resolutions, but I think I will spend my time working on what I have in front of me. Which lately has been the renovations of our "Hut". This is a small cabin on our farm which we have been fixing up to make into a small shop. I need somewhere besides my kitchen to make and store soap, and we have always had a dream to have a farm shop where people can come and enjoy our little valley, and pick up some unique gifts and foods. The whole preparation has taken us heaps longer than we had planned as our budget has been so tight that almost everything has been recycled and done by us. It is so easy to think that we just need to buy this or that, but we had to keep coming back to what our original plan was, which is to have a rustic farm hut, and to use only what we had on hand. I am so proud of what we have achieved, although there is still a few finishing touches to do. I am hopeful that in the next couple of weeks we will be open for people to come and see. We have big plans but for now we are concentrating on soap. Hopefully I wont take too long in posting some pics, and more details.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

White Chocolate Truffles

I am just about to make these. They are our all time favourite christmas truffle recipe. I have lost the cookbook and I cant find them anywhere on line. Thankfully my girls put the recipe on the computer, but as this computer is about to be retired I thought I would put the recipe here, for safe keeping. And also to share because they are too good not to share.


200g White Chocolate
125g packet cream cheese
1 tbs Honey
1 tsp Vanilla essence
1/4 cup Roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup Coconut
1 cup Coconut, extra.

Melt chocolate over hot water; cool. Beat chocolate, softened cream cheese, honey and essence in a small bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Stir in peanuts and coconut. Cover, refrigerate several hours or until firm. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls, toss balls in extra coconut. Refrigerate until firm.

To make a tree centrepiece:
125g White chocolate, melted
3 honey ice cream cones
60g dark chocolate

Mark a 6 cm circle on a foil covered tray, spread with a little of the white chocolate. Stack cones together using a small amount of the white chocolate and secure to base. Completely cover cone with a thin layer of white chocolate. Starting at base of cone, place truffles around edge of cone, securing with a small amount of white chocolate. Continue in layers to form tree. Refrigerate until set. Melt dark chocolate over hot water, drizzle over tree. Refrigerate until required.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Yet again it has been ages since my last post. I have actually got some soap made, I did A Turkish Mocha, same as last time with a gradient colour, except I didn't leave any unscented soap out to top it off with and of course the fragrance coloured the soap, but it still looks great. I took a few bars to the last farmers market, just to fill out the table. I had a couple of bars of the last batch left so I thought I would be safe by having these fresh bars there. Not to be, the old bars sold and then most of the fresh ones did too I did tell the lady who bought them that she would have to let them sit for a few weeks and she was fine with that because they were for Christmas presents any way. I also made some soap with amber fragrant oil, I am not really sure what amber is supposed to smell like, but I love the fragrance in this soap. I coloured half of it with gold mica and left the other half plain, but the fragrance discoloured and seemed to engulf the mica, but the scraps of mix that I poured into individual molds came out a really nice gold colour.

But apart from that I have been keeping busy milking the cows and starting our garden. I have got our carrots, tomatoes, zucchinis, onions, beetroot and radishes all planted. I have been busy weeding the garlic, I am spending a bit of time worrying about the garlic as it has spent so much time water logged, and then the weeds came up. so I am hoping that we will at least get enough from the crop to keep us in garlic for the next year and have enough to plant again in the autumn. Still have to plant the potatoes, corn, eggplant, chilli, capsicum, beans and peas, and what ever else I see in the nursery that I feel like growing.

So in between all this there has not been much time for blogging, or taking photos. I can hear a collective sigh of relief from here. But I will be posting photos of the soaps soon. I know I have been hinting about our latest big project, but I am going to keep hinting. It is getting closer to completion. But with the garden needing to be in, and all the weeds growing in the paddocks our weed spraying business is getting busy, so project time is very limited. However we now have a dead line, so soon I will be doing a full post on it.
 I couldn't help my self, here is a sneak peek.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I can not believe how long it has been since I put up a blog post. It feels like forever. But we have been busy, not making soap, but busy any way. Spring is definitely here which means life gets more hectic than normal. But it is so nice to be outside in the beautiful sunshine, and to be hanging the washing outside instead of in my new drying room upstairs. There is just something about putting the washing out side and letting the sun hit it.
One of the highlights of the past couple of months was that a close family friend had a 5 week job in a small costal town about 4 1/2 hours from where we live. Because he knew he would get lonely being away from home for so long he asked us to come over each weekend. How could we refuse an offer like that. His apartment looked out over the bay, and it was whale season.
WARNING: This post contains heaps of photos. Which like the slide shows of old, probably are more interesting to me than you. But I have enjoyed looking through them again.
A whales tail. We saw this mother and calf on our first weekend, it was the only whale sighting in the whole month. We felt very special.

Looking out over the bay to the naval base and a wood chip exporter.

At the harbour the pelicans and seals were lazing about waiting for some treats from the fishing boats.


The wind was cold, but that didn't stop us inland folk wanting to get down and explore the rock pools.

Some of the inhabitants of the said rock pools. Those crab colours give me some inspiration for a soap.

Our kids were amazed when they learned how a star fish eats its food, now years later they can see for real that the science book was right.

Dan being king of the castle.

My wonderful husband trying to keep me warm in the icy wind.

Green Cape light house (Under repair). This light house sits on the eastern most point in Australia.
The houses were once used by the lighthouse keeper and staff. Today the lighthouse is fully automated.

After visiting the lighthouse we followed another road which took us down to the naval warf. There was a ship there so the warf was closed, but we managed to get some photos. Some sailors saw us and nobody came to confiscate our camera, so we assume that there wasn't anything too top secret. But just to be sure I'll only put this photo up.

A wallaby hiding in the bush.

This tower was built by Ben Boyd originally to be a lighthouse in 1847, but he wasn't allowed to use it as a lighthouse, not long after this his financial empire collapsed and the Davidson family who took it over used it as a whaling station instead, somebody would sit up top and watch for whales. It gave them the edge over their competion, because they saw the whales first. Needless to say the tower has not been used for a very long time.

We had a laugh at this poster, it makes the angelfish the same size as a great white shark.

To get to see the rock pools sometimes required some steep rock climbing, my shoes were not designed for rock climbing.

This wall is a monument to fisher men who have lost their lives off this part of the coast.

Back home, signs that spring is almost here, the parsley is huge, and the mandarins are ripening.


The garlic is growing nicely.
The chooks decided that they needed to eat the red cabbage more than we did. I was not happy.
One afternoon the kids said that they felt like burning something. So they did, one of the blessings of living on your own farm is that you can feed your inner pyromaniac from time to time. This is not only fun but it helps keep the summer bushfire risk down as all the dead dry fuel gets burned now, when the likely hood of fire danger is extremely low. Just to expand on this point, it rained that night. It is also good excercise, and now that our kids are young adults, we can just let them go. We did teach them fire safety since they were toddlers.

Mark and I saw the smoke that was going up, and decided that we didn't want the kids having all the fun, so I grabbed the camera and we went up the bush after them. I couldn't help taking heaps of photos of our little creek. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful it is.

Sarah with her poly pipe burner.

More smoke.

A burning blackberry bush.

Another shot of the creek.

Worn out kids heading home.

The first spring flowers. I love the brightness of the first jonquills and daffodils.

Happy Spring, or Autumn, or Fall. What ever it is where you are.
Hopefully next time I'll have photos and updated of our latest project, and some soap. I haven't been totally slack in the soap department, but I have only made some plain castile and goats milk, both unscented and uncoloured.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Love Presents

Have I ever said that before. Yes I am sure I have, but this time the presents were not of my buying. First we had a friend stay and she gave me a pair of gloves, I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but I wear them under my milking gloves on frosty mornings, and it keeps my fingers from freezing in the dairy when the temps are in the minus figures. Now for the fun presents.......

My mother in law has just returned from a fortnights holiday in Mauritius and she bought me back a package of vanilla beans, she also bought me a beautiful silk scarf, but I didn't get a photo of that. As much as I love it, my passion is in the kitchen, so the vanilla beans win hands down. 

The photo isn't great, but I am not unwrapping it till I buy some vodka or rum to steep them in.

Now for the exciting parcel that came in today's mail. Lu Ann from Isoapy was my soap swap partner in the recent series of soap challenges, which were run by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soap Works. These soaps look and smell amazing. Above and below is Goats milk, mangosteen and acai. I'm not sure what mangosteen and acai are supposed to smell like, but this soap smells so sweet and yummy. I can't wait to take it to the bath. I was very impressed and inspired by the packaging, and embarrassed that the soap I sent Lu Ann was so plain and not nicely packaged.

This one is Lu Ann's landscape soap she called summer escape, it is scented with a fragrance called summer fling. Just what I need right now a reminder of summer. It has been so cold here that the frost hasn't melted in some shady places, so the scent that is reminiscent of summer is really nice.

And then just because she was so sweet, Lu Ann included this extra bar. It is unscented, officially, but it still smells like honey.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Monkey Farts and Chocolate Peppermint

Last weekend I some how managed to get in two batches of soap. I am still not sure how I did it, but I am not asking too many questions because it did actually happen. First up I had to do choc peppermint, because it is the favourite of so many and I have been out of it for ages. It uses locally grown and distilled peppermint oil, as well as the usual local olive oil. I really love using locally grown produce, it makes the whole job so much nicer. Coloured simply with cocoa, and a bit of dark chocolate. I have been wanting to put chocolate into soap for ages to see how it would go, so far so good.

Next up is the Monkey Farts, I incorporated banana and mango and yoghurt. I put Titanium Dioxide in to whiten it, but didn't have much left so I only lightened it a bit, then coloured it with red, yellow and blue ultra marines. I love the smell and can't wait to see how it is to use.

These soaps used up the last of my olive oil, so my great run of soap making has been temporarily halted.

The next farmers market is on the 14 July. I'll have a few new soaps. And I am hoping that the sun will be shining.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Jemba Rock" Avocado and Lime

At a few recent markets I have been getting to know Ivan and Robyn Hobbs of Jemba Rock B&B at Walwa. They have an olive grove, and avocado and lime trees. I love avocados and limes, so I always buy some. Robyn is always very generous and one day gave me a bag of kafir lime leaves and suggested that I put them in some soap. They smelt so delicious. Any way I put them in the freezer and forgot about them, until the last market. When she asked me if I had made any soap out of them yet. After seeing a few avocado soaps being made during the soap challenge I was inspired to put avocado into a soap too. So I did. I put the leaves and zest of 4 limes into the blender with my water and blended it till the leaves were blended up, this was the base of my lye solution. I then blended up the avocado with olive oil and used that as part of my total oils. I didn't add any fragrance for two reasons, one was that I wanted to see if any of the strong leaf and zest scent would come through, I had my doubts but it is only a small batch so I was willing to risk it. The second and probably the most persuasive reason was that I had no lime EO left, and I really didn't want to add another dimension to it by using a different EO.

The photos aren't the best, the day is overcast and so the colour hasn't photographed well.

The ice cubes ended up a bit lighter, although the photos aren't doing it justice. I think because they didn't gel.

This week I received a fragrant oil order, from big tree supplies. I hadn't ordered from them before, but will definitely be ordering there again, they have a huge range of FO's different from Aussie Soap Supplies which I still love. 

Normally I use essential oils, but there are a few FO's that I like, I have been out of chocolate for a while, so now I can restock choc peppermint, Vanilla is always a popular scent, and I wanted to try Amber, but I have been wanting to try Monkey Farts for ages, so that will be the soap I will be making today. It smells so yummy, I cant wait. Although I am not sure if I want to advertise it as Monkey Farts, maybe a name change is in order.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Great Cakes Soap Works Final Challenge

Soap using natual ingredients was the brief we had for this weeks challenge from Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soap works. OK.....What to do, I already use local olive oil, beef render that I make from our cattle, or neighbouring ones, natural clays or herb and spice infusions for colour, and essential oils. Well I thought here is my chance to try some other food additive that I have been wanting to try, maybe carrot puree, or banana like Amy did. It took me about 1/2 a second to dismiss those thoughts, after the last three batches of soap, (well two actually because the castile behaved exactly how castile behaves and is now a beautiful bar of soap), My next thought was go back to basics and a tried and true recipe that I am comfortable with. So as I have recently started a part time milking job for a neighbour I have a regular supply of fresh milk and I am nearly out of milk and honey soap. Sounds perfect, I mixed milk, honey and yoghurt with my lye, and then melted some bees wax with olive oil, after these were mixed and traced I added almond meal because I love the luxury gentle exfoliting it adds to the soap, and then I added an egg white, just because. I didn't add any fragrance because I love the gentle honey smell that comes through the soap when it has cured. So at the end of the day it wasn't a massively challenging recipe but I have lost my nerve a bit so it was challenging enough just to step back up and make soap again. And then it was a challenge for me to keep the milk, yoghurt and honey mix cool enough that it didn't burn, I have been able to do one and two of those but not all three as successfully as I just did, I have also never added any part of an egg before, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. But for now I am happy with how it set and cut up. And as the saying goes nothing succeeds like success, so now I am keen to get back soaping again

As always, thank you to Amy for putting in so much time and effort to creating these challenges, I have found these last 5 that I have been part of so much fun,and I have learnt so much from the other participants. Dont forget to check out the other great soaps here.