Friday, May 17, 2013

Herbal colourants for soap making

With a view to colouring my next batch of soap, I did a bit of research into suitable colourants. Wanting to keep my soaps as natural as possible (apart from using commercially prepared lye!), I found this great tutorial.

So yesterday I made up 3 different colours - dark orange (from paprika), yellow/orange (from annatto seed), and purple (from alkanet root).

Measuring out the alkanet root - I had to grind this up into more of a powder form before adding it to the jar. It's very papery and light so I needed quite a bowlful to give me the 1oz measure.

I used olive oil as I didn't have enough sunflower oil to hand.

Then I processed my colourant oils in my Fowlers Vacola. First time of using this baby, which I picked up for a song at the local hospice shop. I see online they are over $200 Aus new!! Makes it so much easier having the tap to drain out the water afterwards! The only things I didn't have were a jar lifter (standard tongs are useless!) and a rack to keep the bottles apart during the water bath process, but I managed OK -at least nothing leaked or got dropped on the floor!

Now I have the 3 jars sitting on my windowsill to intensify the colour as much as possible before I try them out in my next batch of soap.

Does anyone else make their own herbal soap colourants and if so what do you use?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Diary of a Farmer's Wife 1796-1797

This marvelous book was gifted to me recently from a dear friend in England (thanks Mummy C!).

Inside note - 'Anne Hughes - her boke in wiche I write what I doe when I hav thee tyme, and beginnen wyth this daye, Feb ye 6 1796'

From the back cover - Passed down by her daughter and complied by Jeanne Preston, it is an extraordinary document written by a young woman who lives and breathes in its pages as she did then.

Domestic, endlessly busy and clever, but also loving and tender, Anne was the centre around which her husband and the farm revolved. Her diary is a faithful record of her day-to-day preoccupations - pig killing and cheese making, love affairs and scandals, feasts and food and the seasons passing. It is a unique and intimate glimpse into the very stuff of life as it was in the days before the Industrial Revolution.

A book that's right up my alley! A real treasure.