Tag Archive: home gym


Today I made a relish from a recipe that was given to me in May, by a member of my extended family that I’d only just met. We were standing in a hall, at a reunion, when I tasted it and immediately wanted to know how to make it.

So last night I prepared the tomatoes (cherry tomatoes from our garden, they’re still coming) and onions, sprinkled salt over them and left them overnight in the fridge.

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Today, I added the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, cayenne and curry powder and let it simmer  until it was thick and tasted amazing.

When it was done, I poured it into jars I’d saved and sterilised. It’s the first relish I’ve made and it’s hugely satisfying for such a small thing 🙂

Tomato Relish

Then later, I made more soap. Oh yes, more soap! Because it’s fun and creative and great! This time a salt soap, made with coconut oil, rice bran oil, avocado oil, eucalyptus essential oil, activated charcoal and kaolin clay.

I read a lot about salt soaps before I chose the oils and how the salt affects the lathering properties and then I put my choices through a lye calculator, to make sure it would work well and be safe to use. When I finally had a recipe I was happy with, I made it and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. Of course, the proof will be in its use, which won’t come for another six weeks or so.

This is freshly cut, I couldn't wait. You can see the condensation on it, which I later wiped away.

This is freshly cut, I couldn’t wait. You can see the condensation on it, which I later wiped away. The black on top is Cyprus black salt. I ground it on at the end.

 

There was also a hearty ham and green split pea soup, cooked in the slow cooker but no photos of that. We ate it and were warm.

I found and bought an exercise bike in a second hand shop the other day. It was fifteen dollars and in really good condition, with a working digital display and everything. So in it went, to join the rest of the stuff in the home gym. This afternoon, after a lazy, chilled out day, Zac and I went downstairs to spend some time there. We weren’t there a long time but it was fun and he’s so determined on those machines. It’s inspiring.

 

One of each of the other soaps I've made.

One of each of the other soaps I’ve made.

Well we did it. The kids and I moved things around, created a space and organised the gym equipment in the garage into something approaching usability. We did this just before we rushed out the door to look for cheap, second hand, wooden picture frames that we could transform into paper making frames. Because I can’t just keep making soap constantly, much as I’d like to. Already I have a huge wire basket in my office, filled with Lemon Tea Soap and round cakes of Cinnamon Soap, coloured a reddish-pink with paprika oil. Then on the stove-top, large, rose-shaped cakes of Pure White Soap, sit on a wooden plate and next to them, the same soap but in a simpler, round shape. Stamped with my first acrylic stamp.

Tucked away in the laundry cupboard, I have the first and second soaps I made. The Peppermint and Eucalyptus and the Pure Oatmeal. 

So you see, if I make any more I’ll run completely out of space. Luckily there are only a couple of weeks to go before my first one is cured and ready to use. For other people to use. Because I’ve actually already started to use it and I completely love it. It makes my skin feel luxuriously soft and smooth and it lathers and bubbles so satisfyingly in the shower. The only change I’ve made in subsequent soap recipes, is to the proportions of oils, to reduce any ‘squeaky-clean’ sensation after I dry my skin. Altogether though, I’m completely hooked.

So. Paper making. I was looking at wrapping and packaging, with a view to Christmas gifts and things and I came across some eco-packaging, which I liked the look of. From there to DIY paper making was only a few clicks of the touchpad and I was fired with enthusiasm.

We stopped at an art shop, where Zac chose an air-drying clay set to play with and then at a couple of Op shops (charity shops) and bought some cheap wooden picture frames.

Later, we all sat on the tiled floor and, while the kids made clay figures and stories to match, Andy and I hammered and glued window mesh onto the backs of the frames. After I’d removed the glass and backings of course.

I used super glue and was careless…. I glued my finger and thumb together in the ‘OK’ position and then could not pry them apart. At first it was funny, oh how we laughed, but panic ensued when I truly couldn’t unstick them, not with methylated spirits or vinegar. Andy suggested hot water but I burnt my fingers and stopped quickly. Then he suggested cutting them and I decided not to listen to his advice anymore, though I did pick up the scissors….

In the midst of all of this and while we were still laughing, albeit with an edge of desperation in my case, Zac quietly went to the bathroom and filled the basin with warm water. He came and got me, and with much gentle and earnest reassurance, led me to it and instructed me to submerge my hand. I knew it wouldn’t work, hadn’t I already tried hot water?, but I was touched by his care, so I did it. Then he turned on the hot tap. “It’s going to be okay Mummy, just tell me when this gets too hot, alright?” I nodded, smiling at my beautiful, beautiful boy and then, lo and behold, it worked! He was so proud and I was relieved.

It was too late to make paper by the time we’d finished making the frames and having dinner but, before I came to bed tonight, I shredded some paper and put it in a bucket to soak and pulp overnight. I’m using white paper for this first experiment but after this, I’ll be recycling all sorts of paper. I can’t wait!

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It’s late at night and I’m lying in bed, writing this with the last of the day’s energy. There have been visitors and school holidays and I’ve been developing a soap recipe that I can love. Not to mention the research that went into making my own acrylic soap stamps. Oh the fun I’ve been having!

Immodestly my stamp is my name, with the Koru symbol just above it, signifying new life, growth, strength and peace.

Immodestly my stamp is my name, with the Koru symbol just above it, signifying new life, growth, strength and peace.

 

This is just the initial stamp. I’ve learned that I need to make the letters slightly larger and more clear. So, a project for the next few days.

We bought an elliptical exercise machine today, secondhand and in good condition. We’re setting up a home gym in the garage and we have, so far, a free weights bench, the elliptical trainer, the treadmill and a complicated looking weights machine with pulleys and things. I’m looking forward to using it all. I still have fond thoughts of reading while walking endlessly on the treadmill.

I haven’t been going to the gym in the last couple of weeks and I’m feeling the difference. Added to which, the cold and the newness of work have lulled me into thinking it’s totally reasonable to eat comfort foods.. So the home gym, and the beautiful salad I made to go with tonight’s fish, is a signal to myself that I haven’t forgotten my goals.

Last night I joined a freelance writing website and I’ve spent a couple of hours setting up a profile and taking proficiency tests in spelling and grammar. Now it’s time to actually bid for some work and although I’m a bit nervous, I’m also quite excited by the thought of it. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

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