Thursday, 31 December 2015

No puedo parar jugando

So, as per usual I've got distracted by stuff and keep tinkering with the design of the blog...
But hey, I found this cool pallete selector: Paletton.
Taking the background chopping board image:

I used the Gaussian blur in Photoshop:

And used it as the base and chose the tetrad option giving me these lovelies:

If you were witness to the first few designs, then the tealy (left) colour is not far off what we had to start with.
Now I've got it to this point, I'm really hoping It'll sate my need to keep playing with the design and just write down the stuff I have done!
We'll see...

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Proyectos para otro dia

So, I've got tons of things to post and ideas to try, but I'm just getting distracted by stuff and things, and dogs and life. So I'm going to collate a list of ideas here to return to...

Uses for orange/clementine peel:
10 uses:
Orange extract:

DIY soap without Sodium Hydroxide/Lye:

Potpourri: (resurrecting the 70s)

For another day...

And more to follow...

Monday, 28 December 2015

Reciclaje de candelas

Recycling candles

A backdated post, as I was playing with candles last Saturday, it took me so long to write the first post that I'm way behind...
So, there are loads of little dead bits of tea lights and candles around the place that I though I could recycle them into something that'd actually burn again.
Much internet research was done with many, many opinions, the thing I knew I had to suss out was the wick, melting wax would be easy, in theory.
The many ways for wick range from: buying them from the local craft store - not an option for me, plaiting cotton string or using sticks - either to be dipped in wax, or soaked in oil. Now to see what supplies I could find around the hacienda.
I was hoping for your classic ball of white string, I could imagine dipping it in wax and it soaking up nicely - nope, none around. I found some cotton sewing thread which I tripled up and twisted and twisted and twisted until it did that twist-back-on-itself thing (don't get blown away by the terminology), then dipped in wax. I'd also found a massive 'ball' of twine, I guess you could call it, soaked it in olive oil. And a thin stick from the kindling box, *that's got to work, she says to herself*, and also had soaking in the oil too. An experiment was imminent...
Oh, before experimentation, there's the other issue of these wicks - they need to stand in something. And oh for Pinterest: use the ring pulls of cans...genius!

So, firstly let's try just one...

  • Clean jam jar/former candle holder.
  • Tie sewing thread wick (as expecting this to be the one that will burn) to a ring pull, put in centre of jar and clip top with a peg resting it on the jar's lip,
  • Pour melted old wax directly into jar, some on the peg, quite a lot on the worktop, stop pouring, knock the peg into the wax, fish out without burning fingers.
  • Realise that you need a jug to do some more accurate pouring, find the only glass one (and useful one in the house), pour the hot wax into it.
  • Continue to pour the wax in to the jar, only a little on the peg and none on the worktop.
  • Down tools and admire the hot wonder you have created.
  • Move new hot candle some where to take a photo of it for your blog... (see below)
Candle 001 - drying
*beams with joy over the fact it actually resembles a candle*
So, what I learnt with this one was:
  • Pouring direct from a pan with no spout, results in covering the worktop in wax, but also a cold jug means the wax solidifies a bit too quickly to pour - next time: warm the jug?
  • Using old recycled wax has loads and loads of crud in it, it sinks to the bottom of the candle, what you can't see in the photo is the entire bottom is black and well, chunky  - next time: pick out the chunks / sieve?

Round two...

So excited with fashioning one, and with loads of bits and different wicks to try I cracked on with round two - this time three!
  • Three receptacles cleaned, more old wax added to old pan, this time big chunks picked out, jug in pan of water, warming.
  • Three different wicks: stick soaked in oil; twine soaked in oil; twisted sewing thread dipped in wax, stringy ones tied or smushed into ring-pulls, stick stuffed into old wick base, clipped with pegs to hold in place.
  • Pour hot wax, into warm jug, into candle receptacles, spill only a little on the worktop as using a jug is amazing, don't pour the remaining chunks and detritus into the candles but onto a paper towel to bin.
  • Repeating the last two bullets: down tools and admire, move to location for blog photoshoot.
Photoshoot with candles (left to right: 002, 003, 004), plus manufacturing tools.

Audrey approves of the oil coated twine wick, candle cooling outside.
Round two lessons:
  • Warm jugs work well for keeping pouring temperature and allowing scud to settle at the bottom - next time: definitely use.
  • I couldn't find a knackered sieve to use, and as I'd already taken the only useful jug out of action, I couldn't do it - however using the jug did help in reducing the crud.
The next part of the experiment was the lighting test. I just needed to wait until they'd properly cooled - and oh my god, it took forever! I was like an impatient child, kept poking them, picking them up, moving them. What I did slowly see happen was that the wax was shrinking in the centre in a concave fashion, I assumed this was due to the cold jars cooling the wax at different speeds - I did recall reading about warming them before, but didn't discover why or what the point was, I suspect it was to lessen the shrinkage.

So, it was lighting time, finally!!
(top to bottom): 002 twine in oil; 003 stick in oil; 004 thread in wax; 001 thread in wax.

The lighting experiment - some more successful than others
I'm not sure how well the photo portrays the results, but:
  • 002 twine in oil - once lit, was amazing and I think would work well for outdoor candles as the wick is so thick - maybe with citronella or another the like.
  • 003 stick in oil - did not light. Maybe not soaked for long enough or wrong type of wood (?)
  • 004 & 001 thread in wax - lit, not the brightest flame, but from the one I concocted by hand I was pleased it lit.
So as 003 did not light and not wanting to waste stuff, I thought, as I still had some twine soaking and it was the most burny, I would bodge it and stab the twine, using a skewer I'd appropriated for candleing, into the candle and see what happened - bootiful it was, bright and burning. Four candles (not Fork Handles)!

Over the next couple of days we lit the candles over dinner, and lunch and breakfast, where each time I tried to not keep poking and playing with them. 004 & 001 burnt slowly and almost drowned in wax, the occasional saving was needed, after this happened a few times, I took the same brutal approach to 003 and stabbed a length of twine in them both - roaring they were, in comparison.
001, the first and with the dirtiest wax, the melted part turned a chocolate brown, not the foggiest why. And that's about where we're at.

A week and a bit have passed, I will be playing with wax again, especially as that jug is still out of use and cluttering up the side, I think Señor Spoon has accepted it as part of the kitchen furniture, oops. Next candle action plan: twine in oil, big candles, citronella or other oily bug deterrent.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Hice un gif

As our friends are away for Christmas, and we know they'll be missing their pooches, I decided we should make a gif of them with a Christmas message. I was harder than expected to get them together and interested in the camera...we managed to get 2 stills - Jane was having none of it, Leila half interested and Wolfie, quite excited.

My first attempt at a gif, I may add. In the quest to find a tutorial I came across loads which were pretty crap, but this one...this one actually worked, with clear instructions and images. Thank you lovelies at Gimme Some Oven.

Es víspera de Navidad

It's Christmas Eve and the first time I've actually felt Christmassy. Spain in winter has so far been like late summer or early autumn, today however it's super, super chilly and pretty foggy! The dogs have insisted on being indoors, the cats incessant as ever and I think we can confidently say it's going to be in indoor day for us too.
So, I've got a list of things we've done in the last couple of week I've been meaning to post, but first things first...
In this Christmassy mood that's struck me, I have fashioned our Christmas tree! Every year we fashion a tree from found and natural things this year we have the luxury of pine trees and oranges on the land! I couldn't help myself from bringing a few decorations from home (stocking, handmade wooden and card decorations that we've been given over the years). I did also bring some tiny fairy lights, but they are up already, adorning a felt snowflake garland.

More presents than tree!
Wonders what you can do with 3 branches of pine, some string, an orange and some cloves.
Merry Chrimbola!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Bienvenido, me explico...

Greetings the Internet *imagines addressing the ether*, I'm Lady Spoon. I'm quite fond of a chap called Señor Spoon, we hang out together in the cutlery draw, among other places, and make, craft, play, write and draw stuff and things.
We're kind of, at least hoping to be, embarking on a quest of co-habitation, self-sufficiency and go-your-own-way in life (to name some hyphenated things and a song [feel free to listen at the same time as reading]).
In the world beyond the cutlery draw, we are searching for an alternative way to live our life together, one thing I think we've always had in common, a life which isn't the default we are constantly faced with, certainly in a city within the UK.
Our journey began with a Workaway last September, in the very place I am currently sat, house-sitting no less! We decided to go on holiday, but completely put off by the idea of a package holibob, and not into splashing the cash, we discovered Workaway - an awesome website offering, you may have guessed it, working holidays. This website links hosts and volunteers from all around the world, it's wicked, similar to WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), with more than just organic farms. So in September 2014 we embarked on our first Workaway to Extremadura, Spain, where we helped out a fantastic couple on their finca in the middle of nowhere, it was glorious, and exactly what we had in mind for our break. While we were volunteering, many discussions were had about how and why, plus what they do to survive; financially, linguistically and ecologically. It was apparent that it was where we could see ourselves in 15 years time.
And so, following this experience we started, albeit slowly, on our journey to now. Returning to the UK, full of desire for living in Spain with a little finca in the sticks, living off the land, being as eco-friendly and low impact as we can. The first thing we struck upon was an allotment, and one with no waiting list to boot! A local, society run allotment, with free plots! So, by mid October we had our own half plot, and a shed, and I had applied to the CELTA course to pursue teaching English. Christmas came and the only thing we asked for was seeds - to attempt to grow on our new allotment. January, I started the CELTA course, part-time, and continued to work at the printers. Also keen to learn all we could on our quest, we started to look for our next Workaway and, naturally, looked up our previous hosts for any news from the hacienda, their we saw a very early plea for some housesitting over Christmas and New Year, ceasing the opportunities when they arise, we voiced our interest and with an overwhelming reply of 'yes, yes, yes please' we commenced the count down.
We continued to battle the unknowns of a new allotment, and me to studying hard, I proudly earnt myself a Pass B in May, by the end of June I started a shiny new job teaching English at a summer school, while also agreeing to a spot of design work (my previous job was as a graphic designer) for the school at the same time, win, win! The changing of career seemed to be worth it as my contract was extended, then extended some more.
Before the summer we were in discussions with a farmer to move to into a caravan - live cheaply, save money etc. After confirming we should hand in our notices on our respective rented rooms, it, obviously, all fell through and we had to source some emergency accommodation for the end of July, we got really lucky with a lovely lady called Diane with some very similar ethics and outlook on life, and who we discovered we'd previously met. However, in such situations, the room was only available for a few weeks, so as soon as we'd moved we were in the search for our next place, by this time we knew we couldn't afford to rent a place of our own, especially as we were due to be away, by this time 2 months - our house-sit, extending to fit in a bit of Lisbon, another bit of volunteering and a bit of a look around south Spain.
So, following the end of summer school, Señor Spoon and I moved house again - the day before I headed to Austria to teach for three weeks, I came home knackered, to a house I'd spend just one night in, in a little village a few miles from the city. For three months we lived village life - cycling or bussing it to the city, the only shop with irregular hours - not depending on a 10 minute walk to Tesco, taking a torch every where we went, and most importantly remembering to take everything you needed for the day out with you when you left, otherwise rendering the day useless! So we learnt a few valuable things about living in the sticks. My return was with no work lined up - the perils of seasonal work, but Señor Spoon was still working and since moving in together, our outgoings, were massively reduced. I picked up a spot of design from the school I'd worked for over the summer, and some cover teaching, plus a bit of design work from the printers. It was autumn we were winding every thing up ready for Spain.
So, the very end of November, Señor Spoon left his job as a chef in a vegetarian café and we said our many goodbyes and Merry Christmases, early December we packed up our room, collected all our belongings we'd stored at various friends' houses and shifted it all to my parents' for storage. We flew to Lisbon for 2 nights, got the bus over to our friends' and here we are...
We are currently on day 15 in Spain and day 9 of housesitting. As we have charge of this lush hacienda, and enough spare time to have naps and wallow in our unemployment, the idea has occurred that Señor Spoon and I should start a blog about our adventures, discoveries, projects...and mishaps - I'm certainly hoping it'll be a nice place to document and share the random stuff we do.
So, here's to stuff and things...

Bougainvillea - still flowering in December!