Friday, 27 June 2014

How to make your own bread board and spoon butter!

My bread boards were in dire need of a bit of TLC. Occasionally I smoothed them over with a bit olive oil but it seemed to wash/wear off quickly... Some of my wooden spoon were getting a bit dried out as well and looking decidedly second hand so I decided to have a look on the net and see what oil I could use to bring them back to their former glory...

Of course, the net was full of wonderful ideas and recipe's. I found one that I thought would work for me. It was a recipe for spoon butter

Here's what I did...

Spoon butter, I quickly discovered, was easy to make and just what was needed. To make spoon butter you need a wide mouthed jar and some beeswax and some paraffin oil. My beeswax was in the third drawer down (goodness knows what else is hidden in this treasure drawer) and the paraffin came from Woolies for the princely sum of about $2.50. The wide mouthed jar came from my jar collection - just make sure it will hold about 250ml for this recipe. 
--Spoon Butter--
50gms of pure beeswax
200mls of paraffin oil
Jar that can hold about 250mls

Clean your jar and then pop it into a pot of simmering water with the beeswax cut up into small pieces. Gently melt the beeswax.

When the wax has melted, slowly add the paraffin oil. It will be colder than the beeswax and make the mixture go lumpy. Just continue to heat and stir gently until it all melts together again.

The mixture smells and looks just like honey at this stage!

Either leave it in the pot over night to set or if you can lift it from the pot (pop the lid back on first in case it tips) leave it on the bench over night to solidify.

And in the morning you get a jar of creamy spoon butter!

It smells beautiful!

Get out all your wooden bits and pieces

Dig out a scoop with your hands and slather all over your breadboard, wooden spoons and anything with a and unvarnished wooden handle.

Its not so easy to photograph but you can see the difference between the two breadboards - in colour anyway!

Before (left) and after (right) pictures... The difference under fluoro light isn't so great on the mass produced stuff but my hand made spoon came up just wonderfully. Leave the butter on your utensils overnight and then in the morning, wipe of any excess and buff with an old piece of cotton material.

I can highly recommend spoon butter for both your spoons and your breadboards!
For this project I used medicinal grade paraffin oil found in the "medicine" isle at the supermarket. Its sold as an "old fashioned" cure for constipation and can be taken orally. I figured that if you could drink the stuff then it would be ok to use on things that you cooked with.
The original spoon butter recipe that I found on 3191 miles apart blog used the paraffin oil, but of course after you find and make something you almost always find an tweak that you wished you had tried! Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks used Coconut oil for her spoon butter - a tweak I will try next time I make some. She says the coconut scent it impregnates the wood with, is divine. She is also against using by products of the petrochemical industry which paraffin oil is and coconut oil isn't!

Spoon butter would make a fabulous Christmas gift for the cooks that you know - but I noticed that my label became "oiled" quite quickly... Maybe a laminated tag with instructions would work better.

I also found that the spoon butter soaked into my hands and left them feeling really good. Maybe pop a few drops of your favourite essential oil in and use it as an intensive hand cream instead of using it as spoon butter...?

I'm quite keen to try this with the coconut oil now - I just need more wooden things to put it on!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for using natural products to extend the life of your utensils
Frugal-ness: 3/5 depending on what oils you have/use and wether you can find a bit of beeswax in your third drawer down!
Time cost: About 10 minutes to make, overnight to set and a minute or two to massage each utensil.
Skill level: If you can boil and egg - you'll be just fine!
Fun-ness: Its was really good fun to smooth the butter all over the spoons and left my hands smelling of honey!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Killing cockroaches with boric acid v borax!

We live in Queensland. We have cockroaches. Lots of cockroaches! Why the NSW rugby team is called the Cockroaches is a mystery to me - surely ours are not only bigger but more plentiful??? At any rate, I don't like living with them (and I'm quite sure they  are not so fond of me at the moment!!) and I have been going through the usual gauntlet of sprays, solutions and bombs to get rid of them...

But I'm not so keen on the chemical aspect of all this spraying and bombing. I hate the smell and can almost feel disease and cancer growing in me every time I spray. I'm OK with the resident cockies getting a lungful of chemicals and then keeling over but I feel its impolite (and probably illegal) if my guests and family members do the same thing!!!

We went through a faze of killing them by hand (and flyswatter and rolled up newspaper and underfoot) but its hard and frustrating work and it probably was only culling the dumb and slow ones - leaving the smart fast ones to breed!!!

The Internet has a million suggestions on how to kill roaches -

Here's what I did...

First - we did the dishes EVERY night. And wiped the benches. And generally tried to keep our kitchen gleaming and clean. Cockies hate that! They love damp crumb laden kitchen benches and cupboards.

Then I got onto e-bay and bought 25gm Boric Acid for $5 and then went down to the supermarket and found 500gm Borax on the laundry shelves for $3.50. My research didn't give me a definitive answer as to wether they were the same thing or if they worked the same. So for a few extra dollars, I hedged my bets.

I have since spoken to a friend of mine who works with chemicals for a living and he said they both have Boron in them and that's whats going to kill my wee pests. Boric Acid seems to have a higher concentrate and is finer and so harder for the cockies to step around or even nibble around. He likened the Borax to finding gravel in your food - its easy to spit it out - and that's what the cockroaches will do when they find it in their dinner! However if they walk on Borax and it stick to them, they will "lick" it off.
Borax granules on the left and Boric Acid powder on the right.

I did a few things- again hedging my bets. I sprinkled the Borax in the corners of my cupboards, under the fridge, under the rubbish bin and into every crack and crevice I could find. I also put some under cabinets, under the bathroom sink and every hard to reach place I have chased a cockroach into over the last few years.

When the Boric Acid arrived in the mail. I cleaned up the Borax that was obvious and replaced it with the much finer Boric Acid. Cockroaches groom themselves (that's how they get that dark brown evil looking colour) and if they have fine particles of the Boric Acid on them, they will, just like a cat, lick it off, swallow it and die! Please don't leave this stuff ANYWHERE your children or animals can get to it. It is an ingestant and will make animals and people very sick if they get inside them. Cats are especially vunerable as they will lick any Borax or Boric Acid they get on them off and swallow it. It can kill them. It dries the coackroach out from what I can gather...

Next I made this bait. If the cockies are as smart as they seem to be and walk around my Borax and Boric Acid sprinkles, then I'm hoping to attract them with this mixture.

I put 1 tablespoon of sugar into a small container and mixed in 1 teaspoon of milk. Then I added 1 teaspoon of Boric Acid and mixed it all together.

This makes a paste that I then put onto bits of cut up takeaway container lid.

These I flicked under the fridge, filing cabinet, under some cupboards, behind the loo and anywhere I thought the children wouldn't see it or the cat wouldn't be able to get at it.

This isn't an instant cure. But of all the things I have tried, this has the least impact on my health, is cheap, and best of all seems to be working!!! Most mornings I am finding at least one dead cockie on the floor and this morning when I vacuumed, I unearthed another four that were underneath things I don't look under on a daily basis. I am starting to find them dead in the downstairs laundry and in the kids rooms where I haven't put any baits- just in case.

That tells me that they are getting into the baits and walking over the sprinkles and then running back to their hidey holes to  die. As these cockroaches have been poisoned, I don't give them to our chooks or throw them out into the garden. I don't want to kill any birds or whatever else feasts on dead cockroaches. I put them in the bin or the compost.

I'm pleased with the results but implore you to be very careful with both Borax and Boric Acid if you try it so that no one but them cockies gets hurt!! The instructions that came with the Boric Acid said to replace these baits every 3-4 weeks. I reckon I have seen more dead cockies in four weeks using these baits and the sprinkles than I have with commercial insect killers - Including the Bombs.

Apparently it will deal with ants as well... But that's another post!

June 2013 Update:
Its been a year or so since I wrote this post and it continues to be one of my more popular entries - obviously I'm not the only one with a cockroach problem wanting to resole it naturally!

After about 3 weeks of starting with the baits the cockroach population had dropped dramatically. I changed all the baits - just in case and kept changing them every month religiously for about 6 months and tracked the dates in my diary. And you know what? We simply don't have any cockroaches anymore! The only time I change the baits these days is when I actually see a cockroach which reminds me... But as I'm writing this, I am struggling to remember when that was....

The only real improvement I have made is to use milk bottle lids as sometimes the mixture is runny and runs off the cut up lid making it tricky to transport to the place I want to put it.

Update June 2014:
We have so few cockroaches now that we only remember to make new baits when we actually see a cockroach. I still have the original bag of boric acid as you only need a teaspoon full each time you make it up. I am amazed at how well this works for so little money!

We struggled with cockroaches for so long and now they are simply not an issue in our house! If you have a cockroach problem - try this - it worked for us!

Good luck - let me know how you went! - K xx

Score card:
: 3/5 Its still chemicals that we are spreading around our house...
Frugal-ness: 5/5 Super cheap and this stuff lasts for a long time. I reckon I will get at least a year of cockroach killing out of my $8.50 (or maybe 3 or 4 at the rate I'm going through it! - June 2013)
Time cost: 5 minutes to make up the bait and distribute it and another 10 to sprinkle the Borax and Boric Acid in hard to reach places. Plus another 10 minute to vacuum up what might be walked on by the cat.
Skill level: Easy - just need to be careful you don't inhale or ingest this stuff.
Fun -ness: Not much fun killing things, but I have to admit to a bit of a thrill each time I see a dead cockroach these days...

Monday, 2 June 2014

Slow Living Essentials - Monthly 9 Link-Up May 2014

I have been following Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a couple of years now! And in 2012 she started a monthly round up to record on our blog, how we have "slowed down" under nine categories - I have been doing this since she started it at the beginning and really get a lot out of it. 

Here is what I have been up to!

Click on the link to go to the link up and visit other linked up blogs!

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 link up - Grab my button!
NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. 

A picnic with some of our students at a look out in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Its cheaper and much better for us all if I bring a picnic rather than we eat at the over priced tourist cafes! 
PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. 

I have been given jams and marmalades by people who have been making them or have bought them as gifts for us recently. So, without any effort on my part,  we have a bit of a stockpile of things to go on toast and scones at the moment!

REDUCECut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. 

Had a bit of a clothes clean out for Winter... (what winter? Its still up around 25 degrees everyday at the moment!) and made ourselves some new rags and cleaning clothes. The rest went to charity.

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade products. 

I am running out of new green things to add here... I'm sure I've mentioned it all now!
GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month?

Just eggs... The Husband and I have been discussing the vege garden lately so maybe next month I will have something to report!

First egg of the season for Dusk - one of my Barnevelders!

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. 

Still taking photos - these are from a recent weekend at Echo Valley Farm stay at Springbrook Mountain but have entered the Ekka in a couple of home craft categories and so will need to spend some time making them in the next month or so!

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.

Whilst driving home from a weekend in Springbrook - we saw some wild deer grazing by the side of the road! Since we had no idea (pun intended!) that there were wild deer so close to the Gold Coast we certainly discovered something that afternoon! Isn't he beautiful?
Other than discovering wild deer, I have discovered my next uni exam is too close for my liking and that I prefer to read Jamie and Gwyneth than my textbooks!
ENHANCE: Community: The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

This month involved a lot of students! We did a couple of trips into the bush and explored some of the scenic attractions around Brisbane! Its so much fun showing overseas guests some of the pretty places we have around here.

 ENJOYLife! Embrace moments with family and friends!

This was a very rough month for us. Our beloved rescue dog Sue, had some sort of "neurological event" and died in a 36 hour period. We had only had her for a year and she was full of energy (as Red Kelpies are) and wonderful part of our lives. She was of course slightly neurotic from 12 years of being tied up in a back yard but that just added to her charm. When we dragged her inside during a storm she didn't know what was the lesser of two evils; The Thunder that obviously eats dogs or the ceiling that was bound to cave in on her at any moment.... She loved her walks and going in the car - no matter where we were going, it was the funnest fun you could have! Still missing her every day...
IMPROVEChange or create a habit, work on an aspect of mind, body or soul that needs a wee tweak.

 This one is my addition to the 9. I have been setting myself wee challenges that improve my life over the month. I have gone carless one day a week, stopped buying anything but petrol from a petrol station, paid out my credit card, and tried to exercise more.
Last month I wanted to catch up with some friends I haven't seen for a long time! I have at least four friend that I'm well overdue to spend some time with. But with our dog getting sick and dying, we weren't in the mood to socialise - so other than ringing a friend to pick me up when I lost my car keys and having an impromptu coffee with her and banging into another one at the supermarket. I didn't meet this months challenge at all.... So I shall try again this month.
I find these bitsy blog challenges to be really motivating. Because I know I have to report back here, I tend to stay honest and it stays in my consciousness - or is it because I write it down... Either way its a good way to make some changes for me!

As always I enjoy popping over to see what other slow livers are up to. Sometimes I can't get past the security things (You know, put in the letters or numbers thingos)  but even if you cant see my comment, know I have been and enjoyed!

Thanks for the opportunity to share again Christine!!! Have a great month everyone! - Kxx
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