Apologies for the temporary silence. I am on holiday with my family. Normal service will be resumed at the end of July. Meanwhile happy Summer holidays to the Northern Hemisphere and Enjoy the Winter to the Southern :)
You would have to be fully certified hermit not to know at least a couple of lines of “that” song from Frozen. Personally, I think “Would you like to build a snowman” is considerably more poignant and reminds me of “Slipping through my fingers” by Abba. Moments promised and lost forever.
However, this is not a maudlin blog. I am not one for living in the past!
But as hoarders, isn’t that just what we do? I was introduced to Thich Nhat Hanh some ten years ago. Today, at last, the concept of mindfulness is becoming more commonplace. From The Miracle of Mindfulness I moved on to many other books (list of links at the bottom of this post) and I have benefited hugely. I have long ago lost any need to bear a grudge, to cry over spilt milk or to worry about what if. I have let go of past hurts and forgiven those who hurt me. The last was the hardest.
I have kept a diary on and off since I was about 6. At today’s date that is 44 years of diary keeping. The early stuff is sweet. The teen years are embarrassing. The early twenties are painful. We have a lovely big wood burning stove. I took my diaries, took out the childhood ones, those of my year living in the Transkei and offered the rest to the fire.
Why? Because they were, for the most part, a cathartic exercise of a young woman who was hurt and upset. The act of writing them was helpful at the time but by keeping them I was holding on to that pain. Every time I went into the study I knew they were there. Remember Eyeore and the black rain cloud
That was how it felt.
So I burned them. And that rain cloud disappeared.
How many personal rain clouds are you hoarding?
Some books I have found helpful
- Timeless Simplicity by John Lane
- Anam Cara by John O’Donohue
- Finding Sanctuary by Abbot Christopher Jamison
- Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- Being Home by Gunilla Brodde Norris
I have never been one to plan. I like to dive in head first and worry about the mess later. Sometimes it works, sometimes the mess is a little messier than I had anticipated and sometimes I just put my head under the covers and pretend it isn’t there. On the other hand there are opportunities and experiences that I would not have missed for the world that had been of a more cautious bent I would have missed.
Even my decluttering style is an all or nothing one. I empty whole cupboards at once and have never subscribed to the “one bit at a time”. Frankly I would have died of boredom and we would still be flailing under a mountain of clutter. But each to his own and in devising my workshops that is something I have had to take into account.
However it is the “how far do I want to go?” question that is currently taxing me. Don’t get me wrong, I like my luxury and full self-sufficiency would terrify me, it’s illegal to distill my own gin, my sewing and knitting skills do not meet my sartorial needs and whilst I am happy to (and have) killed and gutted my own meat and fish I do like variety in our diet and I really can’t see us keeping cows, I am never going to keep pigs again and unless the Boss gets off his backside fish would be off the menu too.
I have been following Deep Green Resistance on Facebook. Some, if not all, of their views are one step beyond for many people. Indeed some are for me. But many countries gained their independence through guerilla action. For some it has led to growth and relative prosperity – the United States, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, for some it has been a more circuitous and painful route, Indonesia, Burma, South East Asia, Ireland (north and south). I am not an historian nor a politician, my point is that if guerilla action was necessary to enable a country to prosper then perhaps it is for the entire planet to be saved and prosper.
We almost all eschew plastic carrier bags and recycle. Some of us reuse before we recycle and don’t shop in supermarkets. Some of us will only buy local. Some of us will only buy fairtrade. Some of us have tiny wardrobes and repair and upcycle every item of clothing. Some of us grow our own food. Some of us make our own cleaning and toiletries (but still have to buy the ingredients :) )
All of that is good and is better than nothing. But is it enough? Do we have to radically rethink HOW we live our lives in order for all of us to be able to live on this planet. If that is the case then how far are we prepared to go to make those changes happen?
I don’t have the answer, and as I type I am sitting in a comfortable house, with a glass of wine. I am going away on holiday next week. I am a hypocrite, I am not walking the walk. I want to. But I don’t know how far I am prepared to go and how far my family are prepared to come with me. Buying free range chicken and taking part in plastic free July is good, but it isn’t enough.
I tried really hard to find a picture to go with today’s post. But nothing really fitted.
One year on. Remember this?
Well now it looks like this.
In fact that is a mere fraction of what has gone. As I write I have six more bags to go to charity and the Singers have been dispatching some of the Boss’s clothes on Ebay. So what next? What have I learned?
What next? Well there is still a huge amount to go. The Boss is slowly working through his wardrobe and I will have to work at his pace. The study still has far too much in it and there are a few black holes around the house to which we have been turning a blind eye. The videos and CDs are a case in point. But as the house has emptied we have begun to turn our attention towards the garden. I have plans to turn our garden into a mainly physic garden where all the plants are either medicinal, edible or have other practical uses. Meanwhile the Boss has finally got on top of the meadow and is planning the wild flower border around it. Currently it’s mainly vetch, poppies and cornflowers, but give him time.
What have I learned? How long do you want me to go on?
Don’t give up Like learning to play a musical instrument it is hard at first. You can see other people knocking off a snazzy sounding concerto whilst you are still struggling to coordinate your left and right hand sufficiently to get three notes out in the correct order. But everybody has to start at the beginning. Everybody has to practice, practice, practice before they are a master of the art. Decluttering is no different.
It does become easier. Trust me, you will come to a point when you are instinctively picking up things that you don’t want or need and putting them in the charity bag or recycling.
Let go of guilt. Just because it was a gift or a family heirloom does not mean that you have to keep it. Offer the latter to somebody else in the family to caretake if it will cause a ruction. So you bought a dress and have never worn it but keep it because you feel you must. Don’t. Let it go. Sell it on eBay BNWT!
Space is beautiful. The things you love can shine when they are bordered by space, space in itself is something to love and cherish.
Don’t clutter it up the space. My entire summer wardrobe fits in less space than my shirts used to take up. My bookshelves contain books I want to read. I know every shoe I possess, I no longer open a shoe box and look at the contents with surprise.
As I decluttered my belongings I decluttered my mind. Now I can’t promise that this is true for everyone or that the two were actually connected. I suffer from acute and severe depression, the kind where all is well and suddenly for no apparent reason the lights are all turned off. I made an active decision after a particularly nasty attack that I was going to think differently. Thus it is quite possible that my mind declutter is down to that. Either way. This year I have gone from unsure what to do with my life stay at home mum to published author with a second book in the works; professional tarot reader; workshop facilitator and have plans for a small handmade toiletry collection. As I decluttered I became more focused. The things I focussed on were not those that I had expected but I am loving life and have big plans for the future.
Not everyone likes it. A bit like losing weight and discovering that not all your friends are as keen on the new you. I have been told all sorts of reasons why “they” can’t do it; why “they” could never let go of books (heaven forbid!) and so forth. Maybe they really can’t or maybe they are jealous. Whatever the reason it has nothing to do with me so I shall continue my path.
I have discovered my own style. As I have let go of things that I didn’t like, need or want I have discovered a style that is mine and I like it.
I have made some amazing friends and some incredible business contacts. I have discovered crossovers and potential joint projects with people I probably would never have met had I not started, and gone public with this journey.
I have more time. I can’t explain this one, I still live in the same house, I still have the same family. Perhaps it is more that I am more mindful of my time, I don’t fritter it away. As I am only keeping things I cherish I am learning to cherish my time as well.
And finally, I did it because I wanted to. You have to want to.
Caraway, peony and chamomile.
One of the rosewater donors
Part of tonight’s supper.
Happy Solstice. A few snapshots of my garden this morning and the next batch of herbs growing on my windowsills to celebrate the middle of summer. Tonight we will celebrate with a meal eaten outside, the table decorated with flowers from our garden and the hedgerows. However you plan to spend today, enjoy the outside, celebrate the seasons and give thanks for the bounty the earth gives up despite the fact we treat her so badly.
But as you can see this post is meant to be about moisturiser. So back on track.
I made rosewater the other day because I was running low on moisturiser and rosewater is one of the components. So I was marginally miffed when I assembled the ingredients for moisturiser and discovered I was out of shea butter. It didn’t matter too much as I have plenty of cacao butter, but whilst that does have a deliciously chocolate smell there is no point using rosewater as the water element as the delicate smell would be wiped out.
This recipe is a mixture of ones I have found in books and latterly on the internet. They are all variations on a theme so if you fancy giving this a go, make a few very small batches until you arrive at something you like and suits your skin.
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons wheatgerm oil
- 2 tablespoons beeswax
- 2 tablespoons cacao (or shea) butter
- 25 ml water *
- 0.5 teaspoon honey**
- Essential oil
- Aloe vera gel
- Vitamin E
- Rosehip oil
* I usually use rosewater but you can use plain water or aloe vera. I have very sensitive skin and get urticaria at the drop of a hat and am a complete fan of oatmeal scrubs. So this time I used cooled oatmeal water (I chuck a handful of raw oats in a pan of water bring to the boil and then leave to cool and strain) and added a couple of tablespoons of aloe vera gel to bring it up to 25ml.
** Honey and glycerin are both humectants so help the skin retain moisture. Either will do. Don’t use too much or your moisturiser will become unpleasantly sticky.
It really couldn’t be easier. Put all the oils, beeswax and cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and melt together gently, then you need to incorporate the water. Unlike the balms and salves I make for medical purposes I want this to be lighter so I want to make an emulsion. If you have ever made mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce it is much the same. I have a hand held blender (the stick variety) and this works perfectly. Let the oil cool a little and then gradually add the water drop by drop and mixing furiously after each drop. Once it has started to emulsify you can add more water each time and I will confess to having once just chucked the whole lot in at once to no great ill effect.
Now you can add your optional extras. I didn’t add any essential oil as I had used cacao butter and that will mask the EO (or certainly make it smell a little weird). Which oil you use is up to you. I love geranium and rose so tend to use those.
I use Rosehip oil as a serum on my skin every day (and have just found a recipe to make my own so watch this space in the autumn). It is a fantastic anti-oxidant so I always add it to my moisturiser as well. I add about 20 drops. To be honest I don’t know if it makes much difference at this dilution but I still add it. Vitamin E is a another anti-oxidant.
Pour into clean (I sterilise my jars as I would if making preserves). Leave to cool and put in the fridge. I keep mine in the fridge. Nobody has eaten them yet :) They will keep in the fridge for about as long as you can keep milk say 7-10 days maximum.
A WORD ABOUT PRESERVATIVES
If you are not going to keep your moisturiser in the fridge and you want to keep if for more than 10 days or so you MUST add a preservative. Unlike balms which are pure oil and fats this moisturiser contains water and are thus at risk of microbial growth. Thus far I have not made a lotion with preservative, however, much reading of learned (and not so learned) papers on the internet leads me towards pheonip or germall plus. The choice as to whether you use a preservative is yours. I prefer to err on the side of caution if I am going to keep a lotion out of the fridge.
As for the rosewater. I mixed it up 2/3 rosewater 1/3 witchazel. I have used this as my toner since I was in my early teens. You can vary the ratio, witchazel is an astringent and good for oily teenage skins. At my age I suffer less from acne and so up the rosewater to the witchazel.
In my aim to get back down to basics and exclude plastics and unecessary chemicals from our lives I have begun to expand my repertoire of homemade toiletries and cleaning products. I have used rosewater and witchazel as a toner since I was a little girl and I recently discovered the best make up remover EVER. Olive oil and witchazel, I have never seen anything remove so much grime and make up. I was about to order some more rosewater in order to replenish my moisturiser when I looked out at the garden, heavy with roses and wondered if I could make my own.
Reader I did :)
I collected about 4-6 pints of rose petals and placed them in my huge soup pan. I then placed a brick in the middle.
I placed a metal bowl on the brick and covered the petals and just over the top of the brick with water.
Then I placed my wok over the top and brought the water to a rolling boil. Once it was boiling I reduced the heat to let it simmer and placed handfuls of ice in the wok.
Ta da my home made still. As the water evaporated it hit the icey cold wok, condensed and then dripped into the bowl on the brick. I emptied the bowl regularly and let it keep simmering for about 30 minutes. Much longer and I reckoned the product would become too weak.
Unfortunately this is not a scratch and sniff blog, but I can assure you this smells divine. My first 3/4 pint of rosewater made with my own rose petals. Now I can replenish my moisturiser.
Back in the garden the greenery is doing greenery types of things. Essentially it’s growing. The Boss goes out with a frown and starts to remove the greenery which is growing where he has plans for other greenery. I run behind him and rescue his victims.
Then when he has had enough of killing off the greenery I want to keep he goes for a kip and I go and pinch (sorry forage) for more greenery in the fields and woods.
So far I have collected:
From the garden I garnered:
- Apple mint
- Raspberry leaves
- English Mace
- Celery leaves
A particularly lovely and refreshing tea is nettle and mint. At this time of year you can use the fresh leaves (don’t forget your gloves!). But I’m stocking up for the winter months. You can dry leaves and flowers in a cool (50 centigrade maximum) oven, bottom of the aga or with a dehydrator. Alternatively if you want to be completely carbon neutral tie them in bunches and hang in a warm airy room. If you are drying flowers like elderflower which may drop off then place a paper bag around the bunch, but make sure to make several holes in the paper to ensure airflow. Our aga is off for the summer and I like the speed and convenience of the dehydrator. I dry a lot of plants and it is the easiest way to bulk dry without turning on the oven.
Plenty more to forage and garner but I have had enough for today and am going to settle down with a banana, strawberry, applemint smoothie thinned down with the whey from the cheese.