This day…

…didn’t go quite as planned!

Blogtober Day 20:

I woke at 5.30am to a finger poking me in the shoulder asking me to get a bucket!  Never going to be a good scenario, right?

E. had woken up and gone downstairs, fed the dog (he is always a much earlier riser than me!), but then returned and lied down again, the room spinning round his head apparently.

He said it is the first time in his life he has had vertigo!

The end result was a trip to the ED, some Stemetil and me having a day’s carer’s leave from work.  So – in between fielding work emails from home while E. snored off the Stemetil upstairs, I actually managed to get the back broken of my last assignment – YAY!!!

The two things about this are:

  1. This will be a very short and boring post, and
  2.  I might get in to the Shed tomorrow – which could be a great day – hot, humid and thunderstorms forecast – my very favourite weather!

One little story though – two or three years ago,  a friend bought me a beautiful Lily type plant in a pot – when the flowers died, I put the pot out the back thinking that as it was a bulb, maybe one day it might flower again.  As you know, I am the world’s worst gardener – things have to want to grow!

The bulbs have pushed out leaves every year since, never flowers, but this year – check out the display it put on!!  Clearly the Lily and the Mulberry are taking it year and year about.img_5077.jpg

Anyway, that’s it for today – you will all be pleased to know that E. is feeling much better tonight, and should be fine tomorrow – random virus it seems.

I will try to find something interesting for tomorrow – and fingers crossed the assignment will be complete, and that will be my study basically finished!

Happy day / night to y’all!

Sarah x


Soooo tired, so just a quickie…

Blogtober Day 19:

Late night, early morning and work all day (again).  This is wearing thin, but it won’t last long, so all is good.  As my eyelids get rapidly heavier, I am typing this speedy post

I know I wax on about where I live, but I am going to do so again.  What a joy to witness the creative holding and support of special members of our community in enterprises such as these:

I have one of Brandon’s shredding boxes ready to fill (thinking to lighten the load in the Shed – no excuses for not chucking papers out, right?)

And I think I know where my next pair of socks will come from!

Completely unrelated – my achievement for the day was that I managed to link up a WebEx tutorial at work without having to call the I.T. guy!!  These tutorials have given me nightmares, but I feel SO accomplished now!  Fingers crossed for next week.

Another early morning tomorrow, so I am giving in to sleep now – hopefully I will find some soap news for tomorrow.  And find some photos!!  In the meantime, here are some that I snapped in India a few years ago.  India is a visual feast – delicious!


Blog on!   #blogtobersoapers2017

Sleepy Sarah x

Where are the mulberries?

Blogtober Day 18:

Happy Birthday to my youngest son!

We have a family traditional birthday cake for this birthday.  Twenty eight years ago, with only a few days left before my “due date”, but confident that baby would be about three weeks late (like two of my then three kids had been), we all went mulberry picking.

We picked loads of mulberries.  I had Anna’s best Mulberry Cake recipe, and after dinner, made the cake.  Shortly after placing it in the oven, I noticed that my belly kept firming up, but I had no “labour pains”.  We lived out of town, about a thirty minute drive from the hospital, so I phoned the nurse, who suggested that we head in – straight away.

Fortunately, we had friends living with us at the time, I never took that cake out of the oven (someone else did).  By the time the cake was cooked, we were at the hospital, and a couple of hours later, we had another beautiful baby – also fully cooked!

This has been a good enough reason to make that same recipe mulberry cake every year to celebrate his birthday.  And when we moved into this house just over five years ago, one of the first things we did was plant a mulberry tree.

The little tree has provided us with mulberries every year since – last year it was dripping kilo’s of the things.  This year, however, the weather has been odd.  I have been watching the tree.  After work today, I went out to pick the mulberries for the cake – but this is all there was:


Luckily, my son had pre-empted the shortage and bought some  back-up mulberries!  The cake was ready in time to take it out to dinner with us.


There is none of it left now.

If you’re interested – here is my 28-year old copy of the recipe:


It’s now just past midnight here – but I am blaming the NBN (ask an Australian about this one!!) – oh how I wish I still had the old internet connection!

Still going for #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x





The Opposite of Shedding

Blogtober Day 17 – Confession Day:

Ho hum – so now Blogtober is more than half way through, and I have “shed” the sum total of 2 old work shirts – and that wasn’t even from the Shed!

The oily blue dishes are still waiting to be washed.  There are boxes of rose petals gathering dust, along with pruned lavender that is either drying or going rotten, dried thinly peeled lemon peel, and a few twigs of dried nettles – remnants of a previous soap recipe.  I have a stock of interesting oils for products – like camellia oil, argan oil, watermelon seed oil, baobab and tamanu oils, and probably more.

Amongst all this are dusty cobwebs, dead leaves blown in from the garden and a thriving population of spiders – including some I don’t really want to meet – like the red-back and the white tail spiders.

I am going to stop there – it just gets worse.

When I first started the Soap Shed, I cleaned the Shed, rearranged the furniture and made a clean and clear working space, re-purposed loads of otherwise useless utensils to soap-making, and churned out soapy experiments every weekend.  Easy!

But our Shed is a repository.  Because it is a big shed, whenever anyone moves or needs a temporary home for something – our Shed is the harbourer of  other people’s “things”.  And then there is the simple fact that we combined two houses when we moved in here, and… – well, let’s face it – most of the crap is ours!!!

So – the soap-making corner has contracted.  Empty shelving and empty cupboards are filling the body of the Shed and piles of stuff that could be in the cupboards or on the shelves sit in boxes on the floor.

Although  nothing else has changed, except the junk crowding in, I feel that it acts like an anchor, impeding my creativity.  This is why I need to clear the space.

Coming from a family with a (serious) hoarding history, I find the impact of this “stuff” interesting.  The more stuff is there, the less I feel like tackling it because the task is going to take so much time and energy.  Even though I know how good I will feel when it is cleared.

For most of this month, I have two jobs, and study and granny duty – all up taking most of my waking hours.  But I am going to try to finish my last Uni assignment (for the whole course – YAY!!!) early enough to leave a few days of Blogtober free to at least make a start.

No pictures today, just contemplation.  Thanks for keeping me on my game, Blogtober!

Blog on, soapers – I will return to the soapy fold soon.  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x



Hump Day

Blogtober Day 16:

It’s all downhill from here, right?

And can anyone ever get enough of this photo?…

Posted for “Hump Day” –  the source of this pic seems difficult to find, but massive thanks to that person!  This pic brightens me up every time I look at it.

Happy Blogtober Hump Day, Soapers!  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x

Sunday Morning Blue

Blogtober 15:

This was the view looking west across the Indian Ocean this morning.

I spent 3 hours having a slow breakfast with old friends staring out at the blue.


And that is enough for today!

Except that – I think the CP soap in the Shed is changing colour (also slowly).

Blogging on – #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x

Blue and Rhythms

Blogtober Day 14:

One batch of CP has made me realise how easy HP soaping is!

I’d forgotten about the waiting.

With HP, saponification is forced by heat, so the soap’s pH is within the usable range as soon as made.  CP, on the other hand…


Still quite caustic today.  Note to self – wear gloves.

I cut the little soaps – not very exciting, but apparently one of the colours I used may change colour with pH, like a built in indicator!  We’ll see how that pans out over the next few weeks.


And then there’s the mess.

Next note to self – maybe go easy on the indigo!!

Indigo and oil everywhere!!  The more I tried to wash it off, the more it smeared everywhere.  In the end it got too hard.  I will have another go at cleaning up tomorrow (the advantages of a Shed).

I had an excuse to close the Shed door and leave today – granny duty!

We went to the river playground and then to a little local one day music festival. #fremantlefolkfestival2017

The weather is slowly warming enough to enjoy the evenings outside, so we all venture out again to our local haunts.  There are craft stalls, food trucks, kids creative play and circus skills, fairies & face-painting, and farm animals to meet.  And music and dancing.

We are so lucky!

Scraping in for the 14th!  Blog on  #blogtobersoapers

Sarah x

Blooming impatience!

Some days your ship comes in!  And then it sails away…

Today the sun came out to play for half the day (but for the past couple of hours the sky has been grey, and thunder is rumbling – storms, gusty winds and hail coming our way).  But warming up to 31 degrees (C) today = JOY!!!

And – I had a whole afternoon to myself!!!  My favourite thing to do is to simply hang out at home.  I love where I live – it’s simple and comfy, and that’s how I like it.

The nasturtiums are leering in the back window – we made nasturtium pesto the other day from this blog (although we used pine nuts instead of hazelnuts, because that’s what we had) – it was delish!


And the one rose bush that we have has gone hyperactive!  As fast as I can harvest and dry the old petals there is a new rash of flowers out!  I think I will be making lots of Rose Soap soon…


So – I am in two minds about sharing this, but – of course I will!!  You learn from your “not so flash” efforts, right?

I tried the cold process / add colour soap.

I had a great plan in my head.  Had even got my “natural colours” soaking in oil since this morning (madder root, alkanet, indigo).  Er, and discovered that indigo does in fact colour your skin (have one blue-stained finger) – might have to re-think how much goes into the soap.

I made a small batch (500gm) recipe (created on in case I screwed it up.  I added beeswax to the mix, did a water discount (all the things supposed to reduce soda ash) – used olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil (well, half that and half apricot kernel oil because I ran out halfway, sigh!) – and castor oil.  I added a little meadowfoam oil to the lavender and orange EOs, (because that is supposed to help “hold” the orange scent, which can disappear easily).  I added a little pale ale (because the beer soap was nice) and some sodium lactate (to make the soap harder).

Being impatient (and the warm weather) probably meant that I mixed the oils and lye together slightly warmer than I should have for CP, but they were less than 110(F).  With the water discount and the beeswax (which solidifies at a quite high temp) – the soap went to “puree” texture quite quickly – interfering with the fantastic floral patterning idea I had in my head.  I ended up blobbing the colours in (sort of in layers) and they all mixed together in an unintended fashion as I stirred with my satay stick to make the soap to an even depth in the “mould” (aka plastic container lined with a teatowel).

The 500gm mix (usually I do more like 900-1000gm)  meant that the soap was shallow!  So there will be minimal ability to see a fancy pattern, as the soap slices will be small.  As per my original plan to reduce the chances of a gel circle, I put the soap in the freezer for a while.

A few minutes later, I noticed that I had completely forgotten to add one of the colours!!  So – out of the freezer it came, and the final colour added to the top.  The soap bears no resemblance to the plan in my head this morning.  It is sitting out in the Shed, and I will cut it tomorrow – mini soap slices!

Anyway – confession over, here ’tis (it’s only about 1.5cm deep)…


Tomorrow is a new day.  New soap, right?

Soap on, blog on #blogtobersoapers

Sarah x


Treading water

Blogtober Day 12:

Thanks for all your well wishes – I hope to have passed this morning’s test!  Only one more 3000 word poster and my 18 months of study will be over!

After the test, and subsequent lecture, I had to do my across-town dash to the next workplace for the afternoon, and by 6pm I was again on the bus home.  You will understand how much energy I have left tonight!  So it’s random pictures again…

I am a “visual” person, and almost see things in frames.  Here is the floor of a little cafe in Brisbane taken as I waited for my lunch a few months ago.  It reminded me of an Escher artwork!  Quite disorientating standing there:


And this is my gravity-defying lemon!  I keep waiting for the stem to bend under the weight of the lemon, but it is still standing upright, pointing to the sky!


My friend L. gives me the rose heads when she prunes her little white roses, which smell almost like apples.  I infuse the white rose petals in water for my rose soap, and amazingly this is the resultant colour!


And finally, living close to the west coast of Oz, there are a million visual delights looking out across the Indian Ocean.  Here is one of them:


Every day brings me closer to the next batch of soap…

Only half a day of work tomorrow and this arduous week will be done.  Thanks for all your side-line cheering, and tolerance of my grim determination to see this #blogtobersoapers through!

Blog on soapers!

Sarah x

A little shed

Blogtober Day 11:

I love a work uniform.  Saves the need to think in the morning.  But when I left my job last year,  I was left with uniform shirts in the cupboard that are not even good for the op-shop (they have an embroidered logo).

Besides the lecture to the Medical students, working at another day job, and having a Uni test this week, I have been visiting students on their clinical placements.  Imagine how happy I was to find someone at one site still wearing the old uniform!  Today’s little shedding is 2 uniform shirts, off to a new home tomorrow.  Last vestiges of that old job – gone!

The recycling bins for clothing are few and far between now – and sadly, those that still exist have usually been trashed, which is why there are none around any more.  I have been driving round with a suitcase full of old clothes headed for the op-shop in my car for about a month (possibly more) – part of my “shedding crap” plan!  So I was overjoyed to find a welcoming new home for my uniform shirts.

I have 3 weeks left of my study, and actually have a test tomorrow morning which I should be studying for, so this will be brief.  As well as the “little shedding” of my shirts,  I have plans for the weekend – soaping (!) (really).

I have been seeing posts online where soapers are lining  moulds with fabric, which serves a twofold purpose. (1) Enables the soap to be easily removed from the mould, and (2) gives the edge of the soap an interesting “woven / fabric” texture.

Fancy methods of coloured soap are still dancing round enticing me, so I plan to do that this weekend too.  This will mean revisiting the cold process that is generally not my friend – I get partial gels (I think due to temperature in the Shed) and soda ash – possibly due to imbalance of ingredients.  So – fabric lined mould with cold process coloured soap coming up this weekend!  Further details (like various oils and colours, etc) still to be decided.

My plan is to put the soap in the freezer to set, and hopefully avoid the gel, and spritz the top with alcohol, which apparently stops the soda ash.

Meantime, the “Frog in a Blender” has settled, maybe I will rename it “Irish Moss”.   The fragrance is acceptably lemongrass / mint, but the texture is a little slimy I think – maybe over enthusiastic with the cucumber pulp!  Check out the big bubble!


And finally for today – someone else who left his old life – shedding some clothes, and presumably gaining some wings!


This guy was crawling on the green wheelie bin, so I rescued him and gave him a selection of leaves – none of which he ate!  Finally I googled him (  and discovered that he ONLY likes eucalyptus leaves.  He quite literally was a hungry caterpillar by the time I filled his container with gum leaves – and he ate for days, and got fat.  Then he sat still for a while, with some very fine strands of silk-like stuff, but not really a cocoon, and then he disappeared!  There was little holes in the container, so my hope is that he escaped.   I thought you might like to meet him, because he is SO spectacular!!

Tomorrow night, I will be exhausted, but at least with some measure of “pressure off”, and perhaps I will post something more cohesive than old uniforms, slimy soap, and caterpillars!

Until then, Blog on,  #blogtobersoapers

Sarah x