Herbal soap-mania

During September, I suffered from intensive soap-mania. After a summer break I felt hungry to create a couple of recipes. According to my last resolution I only worked with herbs and pure natural oils, no additional fragrance or coloring. At the first sight, the soaps might be considered boring and similar each to other. They are not models for a beautiful photo, but they still can please in the bath, especially if you are a natural type.

Working on my original recipes, I do only a small batch of each, so the recent mania didn’t overload my stock.

The shampoo bars became the first creation. I cannot imagine washing hair with the commercial products anymore, even though I did it for the most of my lifetime before. I love the natural character of my shampoo bars, as well as the flood of herbal effects that I put there myself.

Actually, I made three different recipes of shampoo bars. The first one, based on herbal powder from birch leaves and linden petals with a lot of hemp and olive oils, was enriched in the water phase by the root of burdock, other birch leaves and also aromatic myrtle leaves. Unfortunately, the lye required for saponification is a killer of gentle natural scents and you must have extremely developed senses to feel it in the finished soap. But the shampoo bars number 1 are almost ready to use.

The shampoo number two is based on herbal powder from wild thyme with pinch of Moroccan clay, traditionally used for hair care even without soap. Among range of natural oils I would like to mention adding of the neem oil which is extremely kind to hair and especially to skin of the skull. Back to herbs, I made distilled herbal water again, this time from decoction of wild thyme, horsetail, burdock and hops. This recipe could treat weak hair and problematic skin.

The third recipe of shampoo is based on chamomile and yarrow with pinch of handmade powder from oatmeal. The water phase is enriched by the same herbs plus hops. Among oils, I used a lot of almond oil and shea butter, so this shampoo is going to be calming and nourishing.

I also succeeded to make an excellent lavender soap. I went for almond and shea butter, coconut, castor and olive oils, honey and beeswax. This time I got the soap of velvet consistency, I almost wanted to eat it. I believe that honey and beeswax made an excellent job inside, cannot wait to test it.

Having a really nice honey, I repeated the trick with another recipe. I tried to use honey solo, without beeswax support. I wanted to combine it with cocoa butter but actually I was out of it. No way to wait for supply! So I took an old comfrey ointment made from castor oil and cocoa butter only (comfrey infused inside). And because I am crazy about writing the exact amount of ingredients every time, it was easy to calculate the soap even from the ointment. Also, I couldn’t think about herbs because comfrey was already there. I decided for chamomile in water phase perhaps because it fits with honey well. Again, I got a velvet soap, still waiting on the shelf.

Last, but definitely not the least was a Master of wilderness. This recipe isn’t boring! I used oak bark powder and crushed juniper berries for coconut oil infusion, and thyme, bay leaf and allspice for distilled decoction. The power of wilderness slightly won over the strength of lye, so the scent remained present. The truth is that I used also a few drops of my own juniper tincture just before finishing the soap.

You see? So much original recipes and herbal combinations, and the rules of soap-making process force me to wait about 6 weeks. Of course, I could fulfill this period of time by making other soaps, but it would be near to perpetual motion 😊 Nothing to say about tons of waiting soaps in my tiny space. So I have to spend my days differently. Fortunately, there is a beautiful Indian summer outside and walking is one of my favorite disciplines.

With love, Ivana

P.S. All my recipes are palm oil free, I work with coconut oil instead.

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Socks knitting addiction

As many of you have predicted, I am starting to suffer from a slight addiction of knitting socks. I watch myself robbing time from other activities (including writing and reading here) just to save it for knitting. Please tell me that the craziness will end as suddenly as it started!

The problem is that I am still discovering what to improve, so I have to knit more and more socks to apply it. And I like my knitting developments.

At the moment I am working on the first pair of socks for somebody else, so I put extra attention on it. Naturally, I wish to succeed but on the other hand I do not wish to create a geometric range of new socks requirements and support my knitting addiction.

I hope to keep my balance and cool head!
Ivana

Knitting socks, second attempt

Thanks to encouragement from Lydia and others I didn’t give up my attempts to knit socks. The second one had much better result. Even though I see some bugs, I am proud of it!

These socks I can wear in the shoes, I have already checked them for a walk. They are thin, but warm. I am very happy with them! And to be honest, I have started to work on my third attempt, hopefully much more perfect.

That is all for today, I just needed to share my joy! Ivana

Hunting mushrooms

I would say that people are divided into two basic groups: either they love eating mushrooms or they hate it, nothing between. I belong to the lovers!

In my country, gathering mushrooms is very popular. It is a kind of national hobby, which probably comes from the bad times when people were looking for food in forests, whether it was during various wars or like in my childhood during Soviet occupation. I already remembered a bit of that mushrooming in the restricted area in the Pine Tree.

But even today, when you can easily catch anything including mushrooms in supermarkets, the summer forests are crowded by mushroom hunters. They get up early in the morning to be first in the forest and pick up the best pieces in the largest amount. Even the main evening news deals with mushrooming in the season. It often looks like competition rather than fun.

Most population gathers mushrooms of the family Boletaceae, because they are easily recognizable and delicious to taste. Who has never tasted schnitzels from these mushrooms, has missed much!

However, there are many species of mushrooms. One of my high school teachers was a mycologist and used to gather mushrooms throughout the year, even in the snow and winter. Once he took the whole class into the forest and I remember how I brought colorful mixture of mushrooms back to home. Unfortunately, my traditional mother forced me to throw away all the beautifully colored species except of Boletaceae.

Since that, many years have passed. Even summer is gone and the main mushrooms season with it. But the sun was shinning and I wanted to bring some nice trophy from the walk. This time, it was strangely colored mushrooms. I double checked them on internet, cooked a tasty dinner, and so far I am alive! 😁

With love, Ivana