Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ridiculously easy shampoo and conditioner (homemade)

A couple of weeks ago I came across this post on Nothing But An Apron about homemade shampoo and conditioner. Being a fan of chemical free products and things you can make yourself I gave it a go and was very impressed by the results.

What's in standard shampoo?

Shampoo and conditioner can be expensive depending which brand you favour, and if you take a minute to look at the ingredients you'll probably find a long list of unpronounceable chemicals. For example my L'Oreal shampoo contained "ppg-5-ceteth-20" and my conditioner contained "methylparaben" and "dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate" which comes from palm oil
In fact most of the ingredients that I looked up were only there to make the product look or smell better rather than actually clean your hair, and most them were either bad for people or the environment. 

Homemade shampoo and conditioner

The recipe posted on Nothing But An Apron contains only two ingredients plus water, and you may well already have them sat in your kitchen cupboards. Ready? Here they are:

Make your own shampoo by mixing a few teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda with water until it is a similar consistency to regular shampoo. Massage the mixture into your hair and scalp, it won't be foamy but don't worry. When you're ready rinse it thoroughly with clean water, making sure you've got it all out. Bicarb is a well known odour absorber, and massaging the grainy mixture into your hair and scalp will shift dead skin cells and improve dandruff if you're a sufferer.

The conditioner is simply a couple of tablespoons of vinegar added to a small jug (or some cups) of warm water. Pour over your hair then brush it through. Apple cider vinegar is the variety that was recommended although apparently it will work with any kind of vinegar. I do one last rinse after this with clean water again, but I'm not sure if it's necessary. Once your hair is dry you won't be able to smell any vinegar. 

That's it, cheap and cheerful. You'll probably need to experiment with the quantities depending on your hair length, mine is just brushing my shoulders. I don't know how this mixture works on permed or dyed hair so you'll have to let me know if you try it.  

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Miss you Mum

Today is the one year anniversary of my mother's death. She passed away last year in a Douglas Macmillan Hospice, from the evil disease known as cancer. Douglas Macmillan is a fantastic charity and I don't know what we would have done without them. Mum spent her last 11 days in their care and I was allowed to stay with her for the whole time. For more info, donations, or to find out how you can help here's their main site.

My mum was my best friend, we had the same sense of humour and could finish each other's sentences. We would spend hours at weekend just wandering around the town centre, window shopping and then scoffing a box of chocs together on the bus ride home. My mum was a huge influence on my life, she taught me that it was ok not to follow the crowd, and she made me who I am.

I just thought I'd share a few photos to mark the day, I can't believe it's been a year already.

On holiday somewhere in UK, that's baby me

 Mum and my first dog, Patch

With my first pair of rats, she wasn't keen on the idea at first, but grew to love them almost as much as I did.

On holiday in St.Ives, with my uncle Ron (also passed away in the Dougie Mac Hospice), and my Nan

Miss you Mum xxx

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Quorn Lasagne and Scotch Pancakes

No, not at the same time! I've been trying new recipes again. On sunday morning we woke up and realised there were no breakfast foods in the house, so I had a scout around in the cupboards and found a recipe for scotch pancakes on the side of a cream of tartar pot. I've bought them from supermarkets before but never made them myself so I decided to give it a go. Here's the recipe I used:

Scotch Pancakes (or drop scones)

  • 2 eggs
  • 275ml (1/2 pint) milk
  • 225g (8oz) self raising flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar

Beat the eggs and milk together, stir this mixture into the flour and sugar, add the cream of tartar and beat until you have a thick, lump free batter. Drop a generously sized tablespoon worth of mixture onto a greased or non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Turn when the surface is covered in bubbles and cook until golden. 

For my pancakes I used soya milk instead of cows milk, and I didn't notice any difference to the taste. I found that dropping the mixture from about 3 inches above the pan made nice round shaped pancakes, while pouring it made oval shapes. I just eat mine warm with butter, do you have any other toppings? 

(I was too wrapped up in the process to take any photos so I'll hold this space for next time I make some.)

Quorn Lasagne

Last night I finally got around to looking up a lasagne recipe for the pasta sheets I bought months ago. I'm not that keen on eating red meat so I usually substitute Quorn products instead. I used this recipe from their website. I made mine as close to the above link as I could with what was in the cupboards. Again I used soya milk rather than cows milk and noticed no difference to the taste. We got four tasty portions out of it, we ate two last night and I've frozen the rest.

Yum, yum, yum.


The other night I took an important step. I went through a first degree initiation. I'm a Wiccan, although if people ask I just tend to say Pagan as it seems to draw less questions. I've considered myself pagan since the age of 13 when I first started to learn about it, but it wasn't until January 09 that I finally found a local group and joined a training coven. After more than a year of study I am now considered a priestess and witch. I'm not so keen on the witch part at the moment, it's a word that I associate with cartoonish women on broomsticks, but you never know, I might get used to it someday.

I've had a google around expecting someone else to have already come up with a good description of wiccan initiation that I could quote but haven't been able to find anything. So I would attempt to describe an initiation (first degree anyway) as a little like a baptism, where you are brought in and made a part of a religion, and also an oath, where you swear to protect secrets and other members.

I first became interested in Wicca because I felt that I needed something to believe in, I needed a religion. I was raised loosely Christian but never really 'got it'. When I found a nature based religion with both a male and female deity, it just seemed like common sense. I enjoy marking and celebrating the passing of the seasons. I take responsibility for my own actions. I do not believe in the Christian heaven or hell, so I cannot be saved or damned. I think that right now I'm happy with who I am and where I'm going.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

More seeds and spuds

The weather has been great today, sunshine and blue skies. For the first half of the week I've been slowly slogging through a spring clean of each room, I was going to do the spare room today but I couldn't resist the chance to stand in the sunshine and get my hands mucky instead. I've spent a few (hopefully) productive hours planting some more broad beans, re-potting the surviving tomatoes, and starting off peas, sweetcorn, rocket, and potatoes. I've also re-potted the aloe vera plants that live indoors, hopefully that won't upset them, I have no luck with house plants. 

For some reason the tomatoes are struggling already, these are the only ones left now, so I've put them in the greenhouse to fend for themselves:

For most of the seeds I've used toilet roll inserts again as it easy to pot them up when the time comes. The rocket is in a windowsill type box outside, I've found that rocket grows best if it's given absolutely no love or attention, so I'm just going to ignore that and see what happens. 

At the moment I've got 3 pots with potatoes in them, I've also got a few old bins that just need drainage holes drilling and then they can be planted up too. I'm also experimenting with growing potatoes in the empty bags from last years compost. I've never tried doing it that way before but I've seen others doing it. 

Another experiment is one of the dog's empty food sacks, it's made of sturdy paper so I'm not sure how long it'll survive outside. There's always the danger of the dog dragging it away because it smells of food....


Speaking of naughty dogs, this is the sight we woke up to this morning:

We gave him a couple of old cushions on tuesday, they lasted a whole two days before he ate them. *sigh*