Inspiration, LIfe, Social Agenda

My Dad

My Dad is a romantic. Or he was one. Or so I thought. Now a days he is a wee bit disgruntled with the state of affairs in India.

Dad was a cop at a time when it was very corrupt. I say this in the past tense because I think it is getting better. The lesson that I hold dearest to my heart is when he took me into the home of a Muslim man in Khadia (the heart of the city in Ahmedabad, where riots got fuelled). He went to the heart of the matter. Got to know his constituents. And he was known for being able to stop communal violence.

He was also outspoken. And arrogant. Born to a rich family, his father who was a judge in Kapurthala sired him when he was 64 and died when Dad was very young. He became a cop because his mum wanted him to. I suppose he felt that he could choose. Though he never did!! He continued in the force and found creative outlets for his energy when he got sidelined for promotions.

Image

In the Reserve Police in Godhra and in Saijpur (Ahmedabad), he rallied the troops and got them involved in creative activities…. I remember the “mobile” fountain and police band that started getting commissioned for weddings. Outdoor theatre for the jawans, a co-operative society that would have people cooking delicious snacks for sale in the community.

He has touched many lives. He is retired now and has stopped coming to visit me in Australia because he claims he cannot travel anymore. Injuries from his days controlling violence …. that is the stuff that matters. But I still want my Dad 🙂

Today, he dispenses medicine to the women who come to our home to clean and cook. The woman who cleans the home for my parent’s neighbour is married to an abusive alcoholic. She came running up to mum to enlist her help. My mum was down in an instance chasing the hubby away.

I wonder why people in the neighbourhood reach out to my parents for help with tackling the difficult issues. I am grateful to them. And I am grateful to be part of this family that has defined who I am, how I view life and what I make of it. Most importantly, I have learnt to chase my dreams, however impossible. It is the cost of being arrogant. And also hungry and foolish 🙂

Advertisements
Standard
Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Soaps, Social Agenda

Awe, Inspiration, the weather and the sky….

There is something about the raw beauty of earth that pulls me. This picture is of Australia at it’s most magnificent…. if there is such a thing!

Image

My first encounter with awe was when I saw the Kanchenjunga – the second highest peak of the Himalayas. I must have been 9 or 10. And may be it was since then that I have always pondered about stuff. But not really cared about nature and its bounty. When I say that, I mean, I was the penultimate consumerist. Keratin treatments because I was never happy with my hair, peels because I was in anguish over my scars that I had from chronic acne for many many years… food, because I thought I would cook healthy meals but didn’t… shrinking clothes in the dryer because I could not be bothered hanging the clothes out, plastic bags because I never remembered to take my bags with me.

My sister is a greenie. It used be very annoying how she was always tuned in to nature, to waste, to be conscious about her foot print. We would laugh. Grateful that she did not install a tank in her beautiful Californian home to fill recycled vegetable oil to fuel her car.

And I am talking about a few years ago. So I am not entirely sure what happened. Something sure did. We installed solar panels in our home. I started putting my clothes out on the clothes line. I started following Crunchy Betty and almost entirely stopped buying serums, creams or lotions…. even hair masks, which I would be spending hundreds of dollars on without blinking an eyelid. I think it was the luxury of having worked for 25 years, having raised kids and paying off the mortgage. I felt like I deserved to buy whatever caught my fancy.

I started noticing poverty. I always did, but I started really noticing it. How some kids seemed really happy on the streets of India with rags on and peddling books that would give them some money but barely feed them, let alone give them the life they truly deserved. I looked at the woman washing herself on the streets of Vadodara, in a skirt, hunched over her boobs for privacy… because she could not afford to use the wash rooms down the street.

So I think it was random stuff that led me to watch a video of making goats milk by David Fisher. So I bought some lye, got some goats milk, froze it and made my first soap…. that was in February this year. It is fun, wildly creative, and I love the creative leeway I get exploring different stuff.

My favorite ingredient is oatmeal. I used to buy Lush Angels on Bare Skin and decided to make my own with home ground oatmeal, clay, shea butter and coconut oil… it was amazing. And then I discovered that even Lush, who I worship, and thought was fresh, fresh, fresh…. had artificial fragrance and synthetic ingredients!

So back to soaps…. here is my fav way of doing this… I soak organic oatmeal in water and then blend it. That is your oat milk and it cost pennies relative to what you would buy in Coles or Woollies. Read about the benefits of oatmeal. I am personally quite taken by oat meal and I believe I have used it in every soap! My inspiration for soap comes from nature… lemons hanging off a tree or mandarins…

So here is how I made this particular soap – I was with a dear friend when I noticed the bright orange mandarins… I got some home and juiced them. Then I dried the peels and ground them.

Image

These are the ingredients that went into this baby: Oat and almond milk made with purified water, crushed orange peel, cinnamon and cloves, saponified oils of organic coconut, castor, sunflower, extra virgin olive oil, virgin shea butter, clove essential oil. I wanted the soap to be rustic… had seen something on pinterest that tickled my fancy. so decided I would “pour” the soap into a yoghurt bucket… (recycling in action!!). Essentially to make soap you mix the lye with water or in this instance with frozen oat and almond milks and then combine this solution with the blend of oils and butters.  I keep a stick blender and pans specially for my soap…. you stick blend the lye solution and fat until it starts looking like pudding… a little before that you add the botanicals…. in this instance, orange peel and essential oils; pour it into the mould, leave it for a couple of days and voila, you have soap!!

The lye solution reacts with the fat over a few hours, known as the saponification process, as a result of which soap and glycerin are produced. The soap is then cut and then left to “cure” for 4-6 weeks, which makes it milder, harder and just plain gorgeous!!

Then we are ready for “a wicked scrub” … which is what I have named my little baby hobby business 🙂

There are loads of tutorials and talented soap makers out there who post videos of beautiful techniques that make it look easy peasy. My fav is this lady who is drawing art with soap

My journey with soap is kinda chronicled on my facebook page… you can see how my recipes and technique has evolved over the past few months…

Am loving this journey and more than happy to connect with anyone who wants to watch or learn how to make soap! Specially if you want to gift it to someone special, there are so many pretty things to play with … like the one here…

Image

And ah, about the “weather and the sky” in the title of my story…. that is what I have learnt over several years of coaching, growing, leading… that your thoughts and feelings are like the weather; your mind is hardwired to protect you, so it’s job is to constantly talk to you about what can go wrong and your feelings tell you something that is terribly important to you is happening… they are like the weather, and you are the sky.

Standard
Inspiration, LIfe

Grace :)

What was I doing yesterday?

I sit here at my desk, looking out at this beautiful tree that happily sheds its leaves all over the courtyard as soon as I have finished raking. 

Image

On those pebbles is the mini batch of soap I made a couple of mornings ago. Peppermint EO. What is it about the smell that makes you feel so good?

And then I look at the other side… where my kids are “hangin'”  on the wall.

Image

 

And my mind goes still. Just bask in that for a bit… 

My hubby called me around noon yesterday and in quite a distracted way said he is organising dinner in the city. He didn’t know whether he would be able to come home to pick me up. He wanted a life line. So I said I would meet him in the city. 

Six pm he said. So I left home a little past 5 to catch the train from Wahroonga… thought I would be late, but was at the station a little before six. My hubby tried to push his luck … asked me to meet him at the Intercontinental. 

Excuse me? I said. 

So he said he will pick me up. Any ho. He was stuck in traffic the “other side of the bridge”, so I offered to walk up to Bridge Street. A minute or so later, I found myself on the street… 

Why do women have to wear stupid heels? In my linen red dress, I twisted my foot on the pavement and fell on the road, picked myself up and hobbled my way across the road and then stood there with my left foot raised. Very elegant, it was too. 

After a few minutes I decided I shall sit on the “very clean” (not) stairs… and there I was, sitting for a good 20 minutes. Unable to get up. Unable to walk, until my hubby arrived panting… he knew by then I was nursing a sprained foot, feeling very sorry for myself.

It was good to be airlifted, hobbling, and at some point during the night, wearing my hubbys socks over the now bandaged foot to make my way to the wash room. The ice pack the waiter at the Rockpool gave me worked…. 

So here I am this morning, hobbling to find my way around my home. Wondering when can I walk normally again. And my heart goes out to all the people I see everyday in this world… the differently abled…. the guy who walked past, who was twisting to move forward, the guy on the wheelchair with one leg, the little girl on the street back in India… I hope there is hope. I hope there is hope. I hope there is a life for all of us that is more equal, more forgiving, more joyous. 

And thank you from my heart to all those who helped, or watched, or wondered yesterday as I limped my way through dinner and after.. and the kind people who walked past me not noticing my hubbys black socks on my feet with a red dress 🙂

Standard
Inspiration, Skin care, Soaps

For my kid sis…

My kid sister is a green guru. Hi there, if you are reading this!

We love each other dearly, but my mum would not know this 🙂

Like, it is a strange kind of love, one that may not be apparent to the naked eye.

So, the green guru, aka my sister, has recently started following my blog. Hence, this one is for you, sis. 

I was really really really surprised when the soap you picked for yourself was the rose geranium block. It is very pretty, undoubtedly. You are the practical one, though. What will you do with the rose petals and buds that will keep falling off?

And how will you possibly lather yourself with this block? It weighs a little over 400 gms and is 90 cms * 90 cms. And you are gettting this for Christmas.

For any soap makers out there, the orangey colour is zeolite pink clay.. which is always a shade of rusty pink in my soap… how on earth is it orange? The brown is from organic cacao… that looks nice, I reckon. I like the pattern… love the smell… there is something about rose geranium..

Image

 

 

Imageb

Standard
Inspiration, Skin care, Soaps

Soaping Challenge… is this aboriginal art !!

So I love making soap. I started in February this year and don’t completely understand why. I love it. I think it is the explorer in me. Or perhaps the creative mad hatter.

When I read about Amy’s challenge, I thought, this should be fun. Squeeze soap out of a bottle into beautiful, flowing patterns.Ha!

In my head, I was drawing little flowers, fluidly, like our friend, Michelle Holtzclaw. or the chrissie trees a la Nancy.

So I decided to make use my signature blend (it has virgin shea and cocoa butter with the usual coconut, olive, sunflower and castor oils) in my usual batch size. So quite an expensive experiment in my art skills!!

For colour I wanted something dramatic, so used activated charcoal and turmeric… thought that could be nice orang-ish flowers with black centres (what are they called again?)… I didn’t have the squeezy bottles so bought two squeezy ketchup bottles and washed them out thoroughly to use for my soap. I also decided to be clever and “calculated” out a smaller portion of soap to make first. Talk about getting complicated.

Well, the beautiful flowers were ahem. I wasted more than I used.. Here is what the art is like… Image

I reckon I could pass this off as a child attempting to do some aboriginal art… I can keep gazing at it…just as I would at my child’s art and say it is a beautiful thing.. look at those patterns my lovely one… they are awesome!!

And of course the child would believe me.

It smells divine though… lemongrass, and I hold this soap more tenderly than any other 🙂 And I do think it is growing on me. Actually, I think it has grown on me. I will love it even if no one else does.

And then I wanted some swirls and texture on the top end..that I am very happy with … Image

And when I present these at the markets I am going to… this is perhaps how I shall display them…

Image

I think I can give up on my dreams for art that anyone would buy, or I would put up in my house.

Soap though.. yes, most definitely. I shall keep making those!

It does smell so beautiful; I have discovered that CP is kinder to Lemongrass EO, and also rosewood and rose geranium… is that true?

Standard