Thursday, 9 October 2014

Lemon Vinegar

I came across a blog entry on about a household cleaner made from vinegar and LEMON peels. I decided to try it out and set about making my own.

When I introduced it to Lucky, who was our Cleaning Angel at that stage, she was very impressed. Not only did it do a proper job, but it also smelled amazing so I taught her how to make her own. Now that we have moved and changed provinces we’ve had to look for a new Cleaning Angel and so Cindy came along. Soon I had her convinced about the dangers of ammonia-based cleaners and that MY detergent was the best in the world!  *lol*

Citrus peels contain d-Limonene, an oil that has the ability to clean and dissolve dirt. When extracted into a solvent such as white vinegar which in itself is a brilliant substitute for store-bought cleaners, you have a powerhouse that can clean just about any surface. I am not going to elaborate on the uses of this mighty mix of cleaning agents but feel free to add some of your own experiences in the comments.

Adding essential oils to your end product is not necessary. However, I do add peppermint, cinnamon and citronella essential oils (10 drops each to a 500ml dilution of the citrus-vinegar solution and water). These essential oils are absolute monsters when it comes to deterring bugs around the house. Our new home in the Western Cape had ants in every room! Some rooms would have a line of black ants coming in through a hole in the window pane or sill and they would be marching in a line through the whole room, out the door and down the passage! Since Cindy started using this potent mix, the ants have just about disappeared. There was also evidence of rodents in some of the kitchen cupboards but I am sure the peppermint essential oil will make them think twice before they actually decide to move back in with us!

So this is what you need:
-          Peels of as many lemons, oranges, mandarins or any other citrus peels as you can fit into your glass bottle;
-          Distilled white vinegar;
-          Empty sterilised glass bottle (I use Nescafè and Jakobs instant coffee granule bottles);
-          Citrus juicer;
-          Strainer;
-          Sharp kitchen knife;
-          Peppermint essential oil;
-          Cinnamon essential oil;
-          Citronella essential oil (optional)

Start by extracting the juice from your fruit:
I am lucky enough to own a food processor with a citrus juice component. You will also note that in my pictures I used very old lemons. They had very little juice and their peels were already turning leathery. This is fine, since the d-Limonene is still inside the peels and the vinegar will dig in there to get it all out for you.

Next, cut the little empty citrus peel cups in smaller sections. Not too small though! You do not want the whole jar brimful with peels else there won’t be any space for the vinegar! Also, it is not necessary to fill the WHOLE jar with as many peels as you can. One sliced up peel from one large lemon or orange should be sufficient.

Top up your jar with the white vinegar. A word of warning, though! I once stumbled across synthetic white vinegar. Luckily I was wearing my funky spectacles and was able to spot the monsters before I loaded them onto my trolley! Check the label, and if it says anything like "Imitation" or something to that effect, lift your nose high up and walk on by.

Close the lid on the jar. You may wish to place a note on the jar marking the date it was bottled, or when it should be ready for use. Here you can see I put down the date when the solution will be ready for use.

Store in a cool, dark place where you will be able to reach for every other day to give it a bit of a shake. This ensures that the vinegar is cycled properly and distributes the d-Limonene throughout the solution.

After two weeks, remove the lid or cap of your jar. Strain the liquid through a kitchen sieve. At the time that the photos were taken (you can see I have not been able to get to all my bloggings responsabilities for quite some time!) I did not have any muslin through which I could strain my liquid. This is fine, but if you want a clearer liquid you may use a muslin cloth through which you can strain yours.

Leave the peels over the jug or bowl so that as much of the vinegar can run out. Add some of your own effort to it by squishing it out by hand (you’ll know why I used “squished” instead of “squeeze” when you do this at home).

BONUS: you may throw the used peels in your dustbins, thus deodorising the trash cans for as long as the peels are inside them.

How to use:
Dilute one part citrus vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. I am using our old Amway pistol grip sprayers because they last and last and last and last and last and last… as opposed to the ones we bought at Plasticland: their “last” is actually their LAST.
Add your essential oils to the mix, screw the sprayer top onto the bottle, shake shake shake shake and THERE YOU GO!

Fabbie, isn't it?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Rosy and Laverne Bath Salts

You should smell this one!! I platz for joy every time I stick my nose in the bottle to smell it. Roses and Lavender may not be [flower]bed mates when it comes to growing them – one prefers a slightly more arid environment while the other (rose, naturally) wants something a little more moist – their fragrances sure as mud go together.

So without much further ah-dodo, here’s what you do:

You will need: 
  • 1x 5l glass bottle (for a BIG lot of bath salts);
  • approximately 4 - 5 big, fresh, fragrant roses of any colour;
  • English lavender foliage (my lavender bush is not producing any flowers yet but you are welcome to add the flowers to this mix);
  • 2 - 3 kg Coarse Sea Salt (this can usually be found at Chinese supermarkets. WARNING: Do not substitute with dishwasher salts!)
  • 1x big ladle/spoon
  • 1x piece of linen to cover the bottle’s opening
  • Rubber band

Start off by thoroughly rinsing your herbs. I seriously advise using roses from your own garden, free from store-bought pesticides and chemicals. Also try and avoid roses that have any form of disease or insects on the petals.
Remove all the petals from the roses and press between two clean dish towels to remove excessive water. Spread the dish towel open and leave the petals uncovered to air dry further while you get busy with the lavender.

Pinch a tip of a sprig of lavender in one hand. Take your other hand and pinch the stem between thumb and forefinger just below the fingers of the other hand. Slide your fingers down the stem, removing the leaves from the stem. Again, dry the leaves the same way as the rose petals.

If you are adding lavender flowers, you may use exactly the same method to remove the small flowers from their stems.
Place your glass bottle inside another bowl or dish. This is just to prevent spillage. Boy, do I hate spillage! And my boyfriend hates the MESS! By placing your bottle inside another bowl you will catch anything that might slip off the outside of the bottle, without letting it go to waste!
Now start to scoop a couple of spoonfuls of salt into the bottle. Aim for a layer of around 2 – 3 cm. Then add a layer of rose petals and some lavender leaves. Cover the layer of petals with another layer of around 2 – 3cm salts.
Repeat the process until you reach the top of the bottle.

Cover the opening of the bottle with a piece of linen and a rubber band.

IMPORTANT NOTE: do not put the lid on the bottle! You need to allow the moisture to evaporate, while the salts draw out the essential oils and fragrance into the salt crystals. Covering the bottle with its lid will cause the mixture to grow mouldy and iffy and smell acrid and horrid… not good!

Leave this mixture in a cool, dark cupboard away from too much traffic for around 2 weeks. Pour it all out into a dish big enough to mix it through thoroughly. Scoop back into the bottle and, if necessary add some more salts. You may leave the mix for another two weeks in the same dark place, or you may start using it right away but adding a handful or two to hot bathwater.

Enjoy, and remember to switch off the phone, the beeper, the husband, the neighbours and every distraction available to mankind!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Gogga Sakkies (Bug Bags)

My boyfriend has been driving me UP. A. WALL. Chasing mozzies at night, banging on the ceiling trying to kill them and leaving the nauseating bloody corpses clinging to our walls.

It was time for me to take action!

Personally I do not feel comfortable killing anything. Yeah, I do sometimes either by accident or out of frustration but in general I am convinced that we are not allowed to take the life from another living being without their permission. For that matter I am vegetarian.

So I decided to make Bug Bags for our cupboards. Somehow the mozzies have grown fond of Elford’s mess in his section of the cupboard and no matter how many times I tell him to tidy it up, he just ignores my please and carries on just dumping his clothes wherever there is space. The other day I stuck my hand in there and a SWARM of mozzies came rushing out! They really do love my boyfriend, don’t they? And when the tackle him he ends up with huge red lovebites. They’re such a romantic bunch, my boyfriend and his mozzies!

Here’s what I used:

-    I gathered some insect repelling herbs gathered from around our garden. Remember to say thank you to the Elementals and Fey for gifting you with these herbs:


1.    Pennyroyal: Mentha Pulegium
2.    Kaki bos: tagetes minuta
3.    English lavender: Lavandula angustifolia (foliage only since mine refuses to flower)
4.    French Lavender: L. stoechas
5.    Wild Garlic: Tulbachia violancea
6.    Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue'

-    Any natural cloth such as cotton as well as scissors to cut it to size if necessary. I cut up an old white tablecloth that was stained beyond repair. Pictured here is the cloth, scissors as well as some needles and yarn. Don't know WHAT I was thinking. Reelly!

-    Rubber bands

-    Mixing bowl (a BIG salad bowl should do the trick, depending on how much herbs you manage to gather).

Here’s what I did:
-    Once you have all your herbs, grab your scissors or garden shears and snip the leaves into smaller bits. Do this into the mixing bowl.

-    Mix everything thoroughly.

-    Cut the material into approximately 20cm X 20cm pieces. As you can see, I was not contending for good marks or anything; I was just snipping happily and merrilly along giving no thought to any straight lines. THIS IS NOT A SCIENCE, PEOPLE!

-    Being only a systematic person whenever I choose to, I started slacking here: I would cut a piece of material, fill it with the mix, tie it up and move onto the next piece. You may wish to finish cutting the material, fill ALL the pieces at once then tie them off with a rubber band... it really does not matter how you do it.

-    Somewhere inbetween I got hungry so I had some tea and rusks. You should too!

-    At one stage I tried to roll the ‘erbs and weeds into big, mother bongs and tied them up thusly:

But I didn’t like it because it packed the ‘erbs too tightly and you really want to allow for airspace so that the aromas can filter through the bag.

Now, if this is too much effort you can always fallback to using organza gift bags. They are equally effective and much quicker to stuff with your herbs, and can even be given as part of a gift.

There you go! Now place each one in a strategic spot. I placed one in Elford’s cupboard, one in mine, one amongst the shoes, another on the open shelves where I stack our toiletries in the walk-in closet... anywhere and everywhere you see a mozzie, cockroach or fishmoth. You can even take a piece of string and tie it to the rack where you hang your clothes! 

So if you have any comments or suggestions, would like to share your experiences or have anything else to say, I would LOVE to hear from you.