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A quick look around the high street stores shows bath bombs are around £2.50 for a nice one. That’s not very much at all is it? Especially if we use the thrifty tip of breaking it in half and using it in two baths. So we feel all smug for saving money… until we realise that just buying one bath bomb a week comes to £130 a year!!
Time to make our own…..
The two main ingredients are Bicarbonate of Soda and Citric Acid. Both of these ingredients are available in chemists (more expensive) or try your local international store, they usually sell them by the 1kg bag for just a couple of pounds.
On a basic level that’s it for the list of ingredients, but I like to play around with smells and colours. Adding dried flowers is also a lovely idea. I like to dry lavender flowers from my garden in the summer and use these along with a few drops of lavender essential oil. This makes a gorgeous bath bomb to ease aching muscles and send you off into peaceful dreams… once you get out of the bath of course!
250g Bicarbonate soda
125g Citric acid
Fragrance/essential oil (bath bombs are the only time I use fragrance oils as they are a wash away product)
Powder Colour (optional)
Rose water/witch hazel or plain water
Lovely things to decorate it!
So, to get started we need to mix our two main ingredients. I use a recipe of two parts bicarbonate soda to one part citric acid. You can go with a higher amount of bicarb if you wish however the bath bomb won’t be quite as fizzy. I mix the two powders in my old Magimix food processor (well you cant throw a Magimix away!)
Once the two powders are completely mixed you can add your colour. I only use powder colours as its easier to mix them in. Remember to use only a few grains of colour as the pigment is very strong. To make a pastel bomb I just coat the tip of a teaspoon with colour and mix it in.
Mix the colour in well and add a couple of squirts of fragrance oil, mixing as you go. After this, add the fragrance oil just one squirt at a time until you have the desired smell. I find I only need two or three squirts as anymore and the bath bomb gets too oily.
Now its time to add the rose water/witch hazel or plain water. Again add this one squirt at a time and mix well. What you are looking for is a hardly damp mixture that just holds together when squeezed in your hand. Think wet sand! (click on the pictures for larger views)
I like to use a mould but you can make pretty bath bombs just by shaping the mix in your hands. If using a mould, tightly pack the mix into one half and overfill it so the mix is spilling out. Do the same with the other half.
Now sandwich the halves together firmly. Do not twist the mould. Simply push together and wipe off any excess mix that is spilling out of the mould.
Leave the mould to set for about twenty minutes and then carefully peel off one half. I like to leave the other half of the mould on overnight so the bath bomb doesn’t sink at the bottom.
Decorating your bath bombs. Its lovely to experiment and personalise your bath bombs. Use dried flowers or leaves from your garden, just make sure they aren’t scratchy or irritant to the skin. You can also buy little tubs of glitter and jewels. These look beautiful and the children love to see them floating about in the bath and coating their skin, hey I like to see them floating about in the bath and coating my skin! Make sure to buy cosmetic grade glitters and not craft glitters. The lovely items can be placed into the mould before you pack it or simply added to the mixture. A single rose bud looks beautiful or add little jewels for a special occasion.
For a real treat I make moisturising bath bombs. These are made by grating shea or cocoa butter and mixing it well into the dried mixture. The butter melts into the warm water and moisturises your skin. If making bath bombs with oil remember to take extra care as the bath could become slippy. These creamy yellow bath bombs are made by adding a little bit of grated shea. You can melt the shea and use as an oil if you prefer.
A final note. Don’t get too carried away with your decoration. Yes a bright red bath bomb may look great for valentines day but its not so sexy when you have to spend three hours bleaching the bath and people keep asking you if you’ve been out in the sun!
My hubby is working on our house. We have had an en-suite and walk in wardrobe fitted. They are coming along great, however there was a casualty during the building works… it was my ironing board Some bricks fell on it and smashed the leg off.
Right then, perfect opportunity to get a new one. So I sat down with a cup of tea and my laptop and started surfing the net for the best ironing board I could find (hey hubby is paying for taking the life of my last one!)
So there I was, happily e-shopping when I happened upon a page of ironing presses. Now I thought these things were just for launderettes and the like so I was about to click away again when a headline caught my eye. “Do you wish you had more time to relax?” Hmmm I thought to myself, that would be nice. “Are you a busy person, always rushing around?” Yes I am… they were talking to me! I read the article, wanting to know more about this ‘relaxing time’ of which they spoke.
I got to the bit where they asked “would you like to cut your ironing time by half and have more time to yourself” And I knew then that I needed an ironing press. It showed a picture of a lady relaxing in a chair…. I wanted to relax in a chair! I am sure the lady was smoking a pipe, but the relaxing bit will do for me thanks!
So I was on a mission to get an ironing press that would change my life. I looked at the prices and gasped. I was looking at around £300 for a good one. It put me off slightly but then I had visions of the lady relaxing (in her smoking jacket) and off to ebay I went. I managed to get a press for around £45 so I was happy!
It arrived a couple of days later (don’t worry I’ve already left good feedback) and I set about realising my new stress free leisurely lifestyle. I carefully ironed a t-shirt. It only took two presses and it looked fab. I was hooked! I emptied the ironing basket in about half an hour but still hadn’t worn out the excitement I was feeling for my new toy. I checked the kids bedrooms looking for stray items that desperately needed an ironing makeover…. nothing.
Ok then, there was only one thing to do, the beds would have to be stripped. The heavy cotton sheets would be a real test for the new object of my affection. So an hour and a half later the washing was done and I’d partly tumbled dried the sheets. I set about folding the bedding into four layers… hey this ironing press is far too good to iron in single layers, its a quadruple miracle worker! It did the bedding beautifully and before the end of the day we all had beds that wouldn’t look out of place in a five star hotel. Not a crease in sight!
So, I know you all want to know if the adverts are right and I have loads of spare time? No not at all, but my clothes look like they’ve just come out of the packets and I can look at the freshly iron beds with a smile on my face and a sense of satisfaction in my belly… I’m sure some of you out there will understand
PS I’ve added this little link as it made me laugh…… and I’ve been practising all evening. This just may cut my folding time in half!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOHHQMQBd5s
Ok I’m posting another left over beef meal because the first one has been really popular – its one of the most searched recipes on my site!
So this dish is my take on a cottage pie but its a very ‘rich’ meal because of the dark chocolate and cream that I add. I use sweet potatoes as I love the sweetness but to keep costs down go half and half with white potatoes.
Leftover beef joint
Tin of tomatoes (I add this to help bulk it out a bit but it works fine without it)
Couple of squares of good dark chocolate
Two or three sweet potatoes and a couple of white potatoes
Few tablespoons of cream
Butter/milk for creaming potatoes
Steam the potatoes, remembering that sweet potatoes don’t take quite as long as white ones.
Fry the onions.
Whizz the beef around in the processor or chop it up with a knife. Don’t go overboard with the chopping as its nice to have chunks of meat in the dish. Add the beef and the tomatoes to the onions with a little stock or water. Heat it up but remember it doesn’t need to cook again. At this stage you could add other things such as a stock cube, bit of gravy mix etc. Add in the dark chocolate and let melt into the beef.
Mash the potatoes together. I find it easier to mash sweet potatoes with a potato ricer otherwise they can seem a bit stringy. Add the milk, butter and the cream.
Pop the mash onto the beef and cook in the oven for approx 30 mins.
You really don’t need to put in the chocolate and cream but it makes the dish so rich that it doesn’t seem like a leftovers meal at all!
I served it with Carrots batons finished off in the oven to concentrate the flavour and sprouts steamed until just cooked and then tossed into a hot cast iron pan with a bit of butter, it gives them more of a crunchy edge.
Sorry if the pictures are a bit messy, but its a week day meal for the family… I bet Gordon Ramsay would wipe the dish before showing it!
The tenth of February. I’ve been dreading this day for a long time as it would have been my darling daughter’s 21st birthday. Its our first birthday without her and I think the fact it was her 21st made it so much harder. She should have been just starting her adult life… but anyway i’ll tell you what we did instead.
I got up in the morning and lit a candle and wished her a happy birthday. I knew we couldnt stay at home all day as it would have been too hard. Our hospice nurse said that its better to plan to do something on the day so I packed up a flask and we set off for a day at the seaside.
We went to Mablethorpe. It was a gorgeous sunny day for the time of the year. We were surprised to find so many people there! Dogs are allowed on the beaches for another month or so and the good weather had enticed everyone out.
We took our dogs, Kara and Josh. Josh is just eleven months old and is still in that daft puppy stage. He can’t sit still for a minute. We got them on the beach and let them off the leads. It was full steam ahead everywhere, they were running at full pelt in all directions! We walked down to the sea but as you can see from this picture, the tide had left a huge puddle. Alex (my 16 year old son) only had his trainers on so mum had to come to the rescue!
Not bad to say he’s six foot. We were half way across and my legs were buckling and the water was coming in the top of my wellies when he had the cheek to say ‘hurry up mum, someone may see us’! I felt like dropping him head first…. bless him!
By this time it had all got too much for Josh and he was just bouncing. Literally bouncing around. He had visited every doggie family on the beach to say hi and then rushed back to us with a daft grin before spotting someone new coming down the steps and off he’d go again.
This is my favourite picture of them. Josh is the one with the ball. Its Kara’s expression that makes me smile though as I’m so pleased to see her enjoying herself. When my daughter passed away, my friend gave me Kara to help get me through the days. She does a fine job. She never leaves my side and she looks at me with such an admiration and love that I feel guilty if I go to the shop and leave her. The family have told me she just sits at the front door waiting for my car to pull up on the drive. I know dog owners will understand what I mean. I’ve never had a pet before and couldnt understand the concept of ‘mans best friend’ Now I see it every morning when I come down the stairs and Kara almost faints with excitement at seeing me again!
So with the light fading we packed up for home. We were exhausted but smiling at a day that should have been so different if life had been fair…
Firstly, sorry if I’ve not replied to emails but I went to London to see the queen. Not really, I went to see Martin Lewis!
We went down there for the filming of It Pays To Watch. We were lucky enough to get an invite after the crew came here to film me doing the homemade beauty stuff.
We had a fantastic day. The team were really friendly and ‘normal’ I’ve heard of some shows where the audience are herded about like cattle but this was a million miles away from our experience… we loved it!
Martin Lewis was as lovely and enthusiastic in real life as he is on the TV. My daughter thinks he is brilliant and she warned me that when they ask if anyone has any questions at the end that she was going to say ‘yes, Martin will you marry me’ I had a bit of a panic attack when the camera’s went to her but in the end she just asked a question about broadband internet…. phew!!
Have a look on the website http://www.itpaystowatch.co.uk/ for information on getting tickets for the show. Its definitely worth it for the experience. There’s a little video on there too with us on it. Can you spot us?
Ok this is my third entry about kefir but I am getting a number of people wanting more info on the subject. I’m also including a recipe I use to make kefir bread. (apologies to my friends on MSE as I’ve posted the picture on there too so they will be seeing it yet again lol)
Kefir is a living clump of bacteria and yeast (among other things) that live together happily in one white clump, commonly known as a kefir grain or grains. It is thought that the grains were a gift from Mohammed to the people of the Caucasus mountains and they must not share them with others or the grains would lose their ‘magical healing powers’
Here is a list of bacterias/yeasts found in Kefir. I have used the list from Doms (the kefir god) website.
L. casei – Homo-fermentative [responsible for 90% of lactate synthesis]
L. paracasei – Homo-fermentative
L. acidophilis – Homo-fermentative
L. hilgardi -Hetero-fermentative [responsible for 50% of lactate synthesis]
L. delbruechkii subsp. bulgaricus – Homo-fermentative
L. kefiranofaciens – Produce Kefiran, internaly within the matrix
L. kefyri – Synthesizes kefiran superficially [possibly controlls microflora]
L. desidiosus – Heterofermentative [ferments L-arabinose and gluconate]
L. brevis [Synthesizes polysaccharide]
L. casei subsp. rhamnosus
L. casei subsp. alactosus
L. helveticus subsp. lactis
L. delbruekii subsp. lactis
L. paracasei subsp. paracasei
Lc. lactis subsp. lactis [primarilly utilize lactose]
Lc. lactis subsp. biacetylactis
Lc. lactis subsp. creomoris
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. dextrancicum
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp cremoris
Strep. salivarius subsp. thermophilus [primarilly utilize lactose]
Strep. lactis subsp. diacetylactis [Synthesizes diacetyl]
Acetobacter aceti [synthesize acetic acid from ethonol in the pressence of oxygen]
Kluyv. marxianus subsp. marxianus
As you can see, there’s quite a lot more in there than your usual probiotic! I have heard people with ‘yeast’ type problems such as thrush being worried about trying kefir. From what I’ve read it can benefit these people because the yeasts in kefir will help bring back a good and healthy mix of yeasts in the body and balance out the system.
People who are intolerant of milk may also find it possible to drink kefir as the bacteria in the grains eat the lactose that is in the milk and turn it into a readily accepted and easily digested nourishing food for the gut.
Take a look at Doms page for everything you ever need to know about kefir…… http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html#welcome
Kefir bread recipe:
250g Freshly milled wheat(or the same amount of wholemeal flour if you don’t mill your own)
300g Strong white bread flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 small tsp salt
20ml butter or olive oil
200ml kefir milk
120ml water (I use potato water)
Hooray I’m back on the kefir. I managed to track down some grains so its cheers to good health again. I promise not to let these grains die but I did have a lot going on in my life before and they got put on the back burner of my life I’m afraid.
Anyway, once they arrived I gave them a little while in milk, just to get accustomed to their new home. I then rinsed them in water and left them for twenty four hours in plain water. I rinsed them again and set them off to their new life in organic milk.
The first few days always seem very slow as the grains acclimatise but after that they get on with the job of inoculating the milk for my breakfast.
The taste is very creamy, but with a sparkling edge to it. As I said before, its not my favourite drink but the taste isn’t so bad when you compare the benefits you can get from it. Kefir has far many more different strains of good bacteria in it than standard probiotic drinks. Plus it comes with the benefit of being free!
I cant stress enough how much these little grains seem to clear out the colon. They always seem to make me go to the toilet and they leave me with a ‘drained out’ feeling…. as though I’m completely empty. I feel lighter if you understand what I mean. Constipation has never been a problem for me but if it was, I would see kefir as a completely natural way to relieve it.
I also use kefir milk on my face as a face mask and in the bath as its very softening. Also it can be used in places where you would normally use yoghurt, such as in baking. I love kefir milk in my bread as it seems to help the yeast do its job and I get lovely high fluffy loaves.
Once you have your grains, you have a life times supply of kefir. Just look after it and store one of the baby grains in the freezer in case of emergency. As your kefir continues to grow and separate, give the babies to friends and before you know it everyone has a healthy gut! If all goes well with my new grains, then I shall have spare baby grains in a week or two. If anyone is interested in giving it a go then just send me a stamped addressed envelope (SAE) and I’ll pop some out for you… just leave a comment on here and I’ll get back to you.