LIfe, Natural, Travel

Hangin’ Out

  
We are in Queenstown. The four of us – being lazy. Annoying each other and just hanging out. 

 Each of us is so different. We like eating different food. Like doing different things. Even our taste in music is different. 

And then, we still find a way to gather. 

Bike riding across 5 bridges from the picturesque Arrowtown in sweltering heat. And not being able to walk without groaning next day 🙂

  Walking around the beautiful paths. Talking. Eating. Sharing stories. Being quiet. Playing with our phones.    

   
And that will be a Christmas I will remember. And hold in my heart. 

Xx

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Social Agenda

Shopping, Farmers, Local, Artisans… crazy foolish people striving for a better world

To live with an open heart… like a child. Unfettered. Simply curious. Innocent. And compassionate.

Well that bit, maybe not always 🙂

We are a crazy bunch. Some of us that is.

As a HR Director, I was constantly tracking for what is out there…. tripping with excitement about some of the wonderful stuff people were experimenting with to help people live life large. Be in tune with what they value. And partner with leaders and teams to do stuff that will create the environment for people to do their best work.

I loved it. I was also restless. Wondering what else was out there.

I fell into making soap a year or so ago…. and I think I keep falling deeper because it allows me to be curious. It makes me think about what I buy, from whom and when.

So if I was to Get off the dance floor for a bit, and be an observer, what would I see?

I would see me getting a bit tired of large organisations like J&J, P&G, Unilever seduce us into buying stuff with the promise of whatever it is that was seductive.

I would look at the guy standing at his stall in my local markets. Like, I would slow down, and linger. Appreciate the work that went into getting up early in the morning loading the car and putting their soul into making their space look inviting. They are just plants. These are the ones though that even I cannot kill.

This I know to be true.

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I would watch myself spending a bit more time with stall holders; getting to know them. Just curious. How do you make this. What is it about and then get pulled into their world for just a bit… Like Lindy Lawler who makes these beautiful pieces and tells a beautiful story that I can never say the same way. All I know is that there is a sense of abundance that is celebrated through her work.

Jasmine

Sometimes though, I have to get a few things from a far away land. Ghana is where my Shea Butter comes from. Kwabena, who is the Managing Director of the company based in Adelaide, works with women’s co-operatives that work in the Zabzugu – Tatale district in Tamale located in the Northern part of Ghana. Traditionally it has been the women who go and pluck or gather the shea nuts. The women sometimes have to travel as far as 17 kilometres on foot and carry bags in excess of 40kgs on the heads whilst carrying their children on their backs.

Shea

It is the same story with Neem Oil, where my dear friend introduced me to Agrocel, an organisation that works with the farmers to get us beautiful cold pressed Neem.

So here I am. Grateful to be surrounded by many many people who love me. Doing stuff that I am not ashamed of saying that I am not an expert in the domain. That I am learning. Having fun. And maybe, bringing some abundance into a few moments when people read the stuff I write or buy something to pamper themselves or a dear one.

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Soaps, Social Agenda

Craftmanship – Creative Confident Explosive

I continue to be astounded by the craftsmanship that is so alive and thriving in this day and age… surrounded by appliances, machines and all things that automate our lives to make it easier and at the other end you find people painstakingly sewing a beautiful dress for a two year old…. or making a terrarium in a tiny glass jar that becomes a beautiful pendant.

My hubby is so eager and enthusiastic whenever I describe to him these little timber trays I have imagined I must have to present my soaps.

NOT.

So here, in Vadodara, I asked my Dad two days ago if there is a carpenter near by who would make me these trays. And I was really surprised when he said yes.

We walked down to this humble shop 300 meters down from our home.

I was looking around as we walked and noticed this broken clay pot on the road ….

Having grown up in India, I am very familiar with the clay pot that is in many households, even rich ones. It keeps the water cool and I think it is healthy too. The clay would act as a natural filter I imagine.

I notice it with fresh eyes now. Perfectly formed, impossibly thin. Some one has made millions of these possibly not pausing to recognise the talent he or she has…
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At the shop, we are describing what we want… we choose teak and I give the dimensions… Dad kept challenging them and insisted that we see some samples before commissioning 30 pieces. “Bring the soap here, so we can test it. ”

Clearly, my father has a lot of faith in my ability to measure 😉

Back home, I give the soap to Dad. He looks at it. He has his feet up on the sofa. After a while he says, “Yes, these dimensions will work”.

Ahem. It is a new found skill after all, so I guess the incredulous realisation that I can measure accurately is well founded!!!

I walked down to the shop later that afternoon to see the two prototypes Mr Smartie created for me. He was so excited to see me… “here they are”, grinning from ear to ear.

I loved them. I had my iPhone with me because I wanted some pics.
“Can I take a pic of you to share the story?”
“No” he says. “Why would you want that?” ”
Can I just take one of your hands while you are working on these?”
“No. You might cut off my hands then, like the people who worked on the Taj Mahal”.

I burst out laughing. “Do I look like Aurangzeb!!?” I retorted, laughing!

It wasn’t even Aurangzeb.. I forget the history lesson 😉

Any way, no photos of the craftsman then.

I do have photos of the trays and of course I had to see how these looked with soaps in them.

I took those along to Mr Smartie so he could see what he has created….

“Ah, these are soaps?”
“Yes”
“And you make them?”
“Yes”
“How?”
“I take some milk, add lye, mix it all up with oils and voila!”
“And you send them overseas?”
“No, I make them overseas.”
“How much do they cost?”
“I will bring you one. I have one of these – pointing to the clay & loofah one.”
“Yes, that is the nicer one.”
“Bring two” This was a guy standing next to Mr Smartie.
“We will try them and see how they are” … unabashedly mimicking a good lather up with the soap!
Yes, Sir

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Skin care

Discovery

Yesterday we were scheduled to be at Palm Beach Markets. So all packed up we headed up at around 8 am driving through some rain. We arrived to find there were no stalls at where the market was meant to be. It was cancelled. And of course, I had a number I could have called at 7 am that would have told me just that 😉 Details. So we headed out to the Boathouse, our fave place and indulged our senses… it just has a sense of abundance with loads of flowers hanging out off baskets, vintage baskets and trunks and the most stunning timber pieces. A nice leisurely breakfast, a bunch of the most glorious tulips and roses and we headed back home to the rest of our long weekend. Image Last night I was looking at these tulips and wondering how they hold their own and find their own unique way to stand in the vase even after being cut. They are just gorgeous and I love how each stem takes its own path…. Image So where am I headed with this story? Sometimes you have to wander to get to where you want to be 🙂 A few days ago I finished my 2 kg pack of Raw Honey so needed to get some more. I found Ambrosia at our local farmer’s market and paid $13.50 for a kilo. Image   I also wanted some bee pollen, royal jelly and bee propolis to add these to my Shea Butter & Coconut Oil… create some magic, shall we? I headed down to GoVita where I found this same Ambrosia Organic Honey for $19.50. Right next to the Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen etc… And decided to look around a bit. The prices of Royal Jelly and the Bee Propolis vary from about $7 to about $27! And I found it strange that you can get Honey from the farmers but the the other stuff is “owned” by the pharmaceutical companies. Uh Oh! So we are back to where we began…. Coconut Oil is a miracle, so is Shea… and Honey. If it is raw, organic, it retains all its therapeutic benefits. So I am back here. Banaban   With the simple Coconut Oil, Shea Butter & Raw Honey. I will whip up a very indulgent, deeply nourishing, vitamin bursting goodness hair mask made with just these 🙂

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Skin care, Soaps

Artisans… passion, reality and what is in between :)

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Artisans are a wonderful community. Passionate and in love with life, the joys of creation. 

A little bit delusional too.

Like, we dream. And then there is the reality. 

O, I have created all this stuff. What shall I do with it? Is there a practical use for all this stuff? Like all these pieces of paper I am hoarding because something may get created from it?

Then, there is a flurry of stuff to get what you have created out of the door. 

Like, going to markets. Talking to other artisans. Being on FB!!!!!

I stumbled on making soaps a little more than a year ago, and then went to my first market about six months ago, because my hubby, Dad, Mum, sister, friends, cousins, trespassers could not possibly use all that I made. 

So I went to a market, which believe me is TOUGH. You wake up at about 3 am. That is if you have been able to stop all the activity in your head mocking up how your stall will look and how you will talk to your customers & visitors at your stall…. then by the time you finish, you are still on a high figuring out what you could change, what you would do differently, blah blah. O stop please, any time now!

So hubby dear (to save his own weekends) coaxed me to jump online. So I built my own website, started a Facebook page, found a gorgeous online directory and online communities who are so warm, welcoming and supportive of budding wanna be Artisans…

And hence started the online business…. works like a charm…. my Paypal on my phone goes “cha ching” and I race to the computer who has ordered what!! Simple pleasures!!!

Then, pack the goodies, print off a label on “Click & Send” and deposit it with the friendly girls at my local Post Office. 

Until now, it is going to become so much dearer…. hence this post… please support us by signing this petition, so Australia Post can continue to let us compete with the big guys… 

 

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Skin care, Soaps

Playful Goats, Milk, Soap

I am part of a truly wonderful community of soapers. They handcraft soap, research ingredients and generally have a lot of fun. Mostly this group is utterly supportive of each other.

I have now been making soaps for about a year. What initially started as a hobby has now become a passion. The caterpillar in me is totally out to play. And what I seem to chase the most is getting stuff to make soaps straight from where it is “born”.

And so, when I found Shelly, I had to go and see her goats and get fresh, raw goats milk and see what happens, really 🙂 I totally was not expecting a bunch of playful, naughty kids prancing about the land, wanting to follow their “mum” into the house and wanting to play.

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When they saw me, they wanted to suck my thumb, nibble on my tee, laces … whatever they could get their mouth on!!

This is Lacey. I was talking to Shelly and she started biting me. “You are biting me dear” I said to Lacey. She stopped and proceeded to try and get under my legs! OML. They are the most divine, beautiful, playful things I have ever seen!

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And here is the one month old slipping on the pile of hay she clambered onto! This is what her mum says about her “Oh that’s Blue Brook Kalamitty! & yes she’s full of mischief but very affectionate  Her mum is the 2nd highest milk producing British Alpine in Australia at the moment – so not only gorgeous but hopefully will give me lots of beautiful creamy milk too”Image

So I got about 15 litres of this divine goats milk and brought it home. It is frozen, which is perfect for soaping because when you add lye to the milk, it heats up. This is what it looks like with the lye gently and slowly added to the frozen milk.

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It looks so creamy and intensely lick-able! You absolutely cannot!!

This beautiful creamy mix is then blended with virgin oils and raw shea butter, cocoa butter to make soap.

Yesterday I felt like it was a “roses” day so this was my soap with rose essential oil and rose buds on top.

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This morning, I wanted to make something warm, spicy & citrus-y. So I chose clove and orange essential oils.

 

So here is the soap… swirled with some cacao powder on top and then textured! Smells beautiful!

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If you would like some goat milk soap, you can get some on my website!

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Inspiration, LIfe, Natural, Soaps

Christmas

I made my last soap before Christmas today. Two actually.

Earlier this week, we were dropping off my son for cricket. He is 23. Why are we dropping him off you may ask? Well, he has just moved out of home into a very nice apartment in North Sydney, so he can sleep in and get to work on time… Apparently though, our life is still meant to revolve around him. “Like, you left your car in Copacabana? How silly!!” Says my daughter, who had to pick him up from Wahroonga Station because he was coming home on Saturday. “You know I have cricket on Sunday” says my son. The fact that he said to us that he won’t come home on the weekend because we were busy setting up our home in Copacabana is kinda irrelevant. Right?

So anyhow. I asked him “What are you getting me for Christmas?”.

“Nothing”. Says the wise one.
“Maybe you could get me a soap cutter”. Says die-hard (me)
“I am not fueling your hobby” Says the wise one.
“My hobby doesn’t need fueling babes. It is already on fire”. “Remember you got my goodies from Lush for nearly $100 4 years ago?. You will never need to do that again. ”

Silence. From the wise one.

“Will you come to Copa next week?” Says Dad.
“No.” Says the wise one.
“It is beautiful. Why don’t you come?”
“Was I not clear?” says the wise one.
So the conversation goes. Well, at least it is more than a grunt. I could see this laconic sense of humor when he was 1. I should have spanked him maybe? He may have turned out obedient, you reckon?

Anyway, the good part, as my daughter says, who has also befriend-ed all his friends… is that they bonded the previous night when we weren’t home.

So back to the soap.

I wanted to use essential oils that have staying power. So it was rosemary. And I wanted herbs. So the morning was grinding sage, rosemary and lavender… and topping these off with organic sunflower oil….. they will sit there infusing on my shelf next to the window for months.

The sage went into my first soap… Image

This has Goats Milk, Organic Oats, Mineral Water, saponified oils of organic coconut, extra virgin olive oil, virgin shea & cocoa butter, Organic Sage & Chamomile powder, Raw Honey, Organic Orange Pulp, Pure Lavender, Rosemary & Peppermint Essential Oils, Australian Pastel Pink Clay. It was hard to stop after doing the curves with a skewer. I did though!!

I like the orange peel contrasting against the pink clay and sage coloured soaps… and the plain soap in between is kinda nice.

I still had appetite for one more. After all, it will be at least two weeks until I can soap again.

So, I was thinking oranges again. I had bought some vanilla pods from our local markets in Thornleigh. These were infusing with some dried orange slices in sunflower oil. I wanted to get some vanilla – orange into a soap. I also wanted to use activated charcoal – am totally sold out of all my activated charcoal or black clay soaps. Rosemary for green and its smell and its benefits…

Goats Milk, Organic Oats, Mineral Water, saponified oils of organic coconut, extra virgin olive oil, macadamia, virgin cocoa butter, Organic Rosemary, Organic whole orange, Pure Orange & Rosemary Essential Oils, Activated Charcoal, Vanilla Bean went into this one.

So here are some pics… goats milk & lye nicely mixed… Image

The orange, oat milk & vanilla pod slush with orange and rosemary essential oils.. this smells beautiful… and I quite like the vanilla pods that you can see crushed up… there are a few bits in there as well…

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Rosemary with bits of orange stuck in it 🙂Image

The oils & cocoa butter combo

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The oils blended well with the goats milk lye solution…. in went the orange-oatmeal slush and then I blended some of the soap with the activated charcoal and some with the rosemary. Rosemary did not give as green a color as the sage did…

Poured it all into the mold in layers… drop swirl is my new best friend 😉

The top is the best part… the smell was so uplifting it is like swirling to the opera!!!

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So here is the top… the magic of activated charcoal…. Only, I dropped the towel on the top 😦

One part of it is smudged… am hoping the gel phase will forgive my towel for popping off my shoulder on to the beautiful swirl… pretty please!

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