Homemade Soap

Following on my previous post on soapmaking, here is a selection of some of the homemade soap that I’ve made.

How to Make Soap Homemade Soap

I usually make goats milk soap, because I LOVE goats milk soap. It’s moisturizing like you wouldn’t believe, hydrating, great for both skin and hair. Plus, it helps a great deal with certain skin problems like eczemas, rashes or sensitive skin.

But in this photo above is the only water soap that I’ve made. As you can see, unlike goats milk soap, water soaps can come out light in colour (depending on the oils used). Goats milk soap always comes out yellow, tan or brown because the sugars in the milk caramelize during the soapmaking process.

The ingredients of the soap pictured above are: olive oil pomace (I always use olive oil pomace, because it’s cheaper), coconut oil and a few drops of castor oil, lye, water and rosemary essential oil.

Soapmaking Handmade Soap

This is the very first homemade soap that I made in my latest soapmaking venture. I used to make homemade soap years ago, when I lived in Barcelona. But I hadn’t done that in years.

This soap is the one all my friends are crazy about, and is the one most in demand in my circle of friends and acquaintances. The ingredients are: olive oil pomace, coconut oil, castor oil, lye, goats milk and rosemary and mint essential oils.

Homemade Soap Charcoal Soap

This curious little soap was my attempt to make homemade charcoal soap using…… homemade activated charcoal!

Activated charcoal is supposed to have multiple benefits. It’s good for acne, helps to regulate oil production in your face, exfoliates…… Usually people buy activated charcoal. But it’s pretty pricey for an ingredient you’re only going to use just once in just one of your homemade soaps. So I thought I’d try making my own.

Activated charcoal is called activated when it comes from plant sources. Well, I figured, plant sources are fairly abundant. In fact, I happened to have a huge stalk full of thick leek leaves that were too old and thick to use as food. So I cut them into large chunks and stuck them into a glass baking pan in the oven. I baked them until they charred and turned to charcoal. Then I took them out (when they got cold, of course) and pounded them in a mortar into fine charcoal powder.

And that is what I dumped into the above soap. I added it to the soap after it was already cooked, using the hot process soapmaking process I detailed in my previous post.

Thus, the ingredients of the above soap are: olive oil pomace (I use a lot of olive oil because I live in Spain the land of olive oil), coconut oil, goats milk, lye, activated charcoal made from leek leaves and rosemary essential oil.

These are 2 soaps in moulds.

These 2 chunks are 2 samples of the homemade soap I’d originally made in Barcelona years ago. As you can see, they’ve darkened quite a bit over the years. But they are still in perfectly good shape and perfectly usable.

I’m not too sure what ingredients they have, because I made them years ago, but I do recall that they are goats milk soap.

Homemade Coconut Oil Soap

These peculiar lumps are some of my fave soaps, next to my signature olive oil soap (second picture above). I absolutely LOOOVEEE LOVE LOVE this homemade soap for my hair. They are THE most moisturizing, yet at the same time, they leave my hair clean and grease free, so I can go more days without washing my hair.

This is a pure coconut oil soap, so the ingredients are simple: coconut oil, lye, goats milk and rosemary essential oil. I add rosemary essential oil to every soap that I make to prevent the oils from going rancid.

Homemade Soap Olive Oil Soap

This is a chunk of my and my friends’ favourite homemade soap. It’s from the batch of olive oil soap. I kept this for my own use and gave the others, which had a more regular rectangular shape, away.

So now you have seen a sampling of some of the soaps I’VE made, how do you feel about making your own soaps? You can find step by step instructions on how to make soap in my previous post, Soapmaking.

And if you love relaxing with a good book at the end of your day, I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

Have you made some homemade soap of your own? Or maybe you’ve got some questions. Do leave me comments at the end, I LURRRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Soapmaking

Natural Skin and Hair Care Routine

Bentonite Clay for Hair

Caves of Nerja

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Soapmaking, How to Make Soap At Home

I decided to learn soapmaking, or how to make my very own handmade, homemade soap at home.

Soapmaking Handmade Soap

Ever since I went on a no-poo craze, I’ve been discovering all the nefarious effects of using chemical filled detergents. Chem-filled detergents are everywhere: in your shower gel, your shampoos, your liquid soap and liquid hand soap, in your laundry detergent, your dishwashing liquid, everywhere!

And chemical laden detergents are harsh, drying and irritating. They are produced through an artificial, unnatural process that you can’t exactly imitate in your kitchen, using harsh ingredients you wouldn’t exactly wish to stock up on in your kitchen.

And if you go to the store or supermarket and buy a bar of soap, you’re not doing much better. Because these commercially-made, factory-made bars of soap also contain a lot of detergents and chemicals.

At any rate, if you should choose to buy a bar of soap, at the very least, do your research and check out the ingredients list.

Here in Spain, soaps are not required to list their ingredients. But if you’re lucky enough that your supermarket soap actually does have a list, pay attention to make sure it doesn’t contain any sulfates in it, such as sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate.

These are the most common sulphates, but sulphur compounds come in many forms and guises. You might have also seen ammonium lauryl sulfate or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate listed on some bottles. These are also sulphates in disguise.

I won’t go into the details about why sulphate detergents are bad for you, as you can find more than enough information on the subject on the internet today. Mainly, what this post is about, is the healthy, natural, homemade alternative: soapmaking at home, that is, making your own soap!

Why Is Soapmaking Good For You?

Why is it so good to make your own soap?

Well, first of all, it’s fun!

Next, you can use your own handmade soap to replace all those expensive shower gels, shampoos, hand soaps, liquid soaps, dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents.

Finally, YOU are the one with FULL CONTROL over what substances you are spreading on your skin or hair. After all, skin breathes. What you slather onto your skin DOES make its way into your blood stream, at least to some extent (depending on the size of the molecules involved).

And, of course, as most people could probably attest to, what you use on your hair does affect what your hair looks like and how it acts. Right?

So wouldn’t it make sense to use only the highest quality, purest, most natural, best ingredients on your hair?

So following, I’m going to describe the series of steps that I use to make my own soap at home.

Scared of Lye?

A lot of people are scared off from soapmaking because they are afraid of lye. Well, here in Spain, lye has been used for a long time as a drain cleaner. In this case, hot water is actually added TO the lye, which produces an explosive reaction. Since we get used to this explosive reaction, no one is scared by it anymore.

But in order to make soap, all you need to do is to quietly dissolve lye crystals VERY SLOWLY in water. When done in this order, no explosive reaction occurs.

So without any further ado, these are the basic steps I use to create MY VERY OWN HOMEMADE SOAP, using the hot process method in a crock pot.

You don’t need to use a crock pot. Before I had a crock pot, I used to use a double boiler. But for me, a crock pot is THE WORKS haha! It makes your soapmaking life 1000% easier.

I’ve also cooked soap in the oven, however, since some oils are hard to saponify and need more heat and I have a crock pot with a low setting only. I only use it for soapmaking, and have never used this crock pot for anything else.

I personally like to use the hot process method, where you cook your soap using heat. The other method, called the cold process method, is faster and simpler, but I rarely ever use it, as I personally don’t like it.

Why I Prefer Hot Process Soapmaking

The reasons I prefer the hot process soap method are the following:

  • shorter curing time, you can use a hot process soap immediately but I like to cure it for about 2 weeks. However, a cold process soap requires a minimum of 6 weeks’ curing time, and I’m just too impatient to wait that long haha!
  • you have no difficulty with essential oils or colorants reacting during the saponification process with hot process, because you add these ingredients AFTER the soap is already cooked and saponified
  • no alien brains hehe!
  • no other weird reactions either
  • you don’t have to worry about accidentally touching your raw soap and getting a soap or lye burn, because by the time the soap is cool enough to touch, all the lye has already reacted with the oils, and no lye remains to burn you

Some people prefer cold process soaps because they produce a smoother, more exquisite and refined looking cake, and it is a lot faster. But once again, like I said, you trade a faster soapmaking time for a longer curing time.

Steps for Making Soap

1.Measure out your oils.

You can choose from a huge variety of oils. Because exotic or harder-to-get oils can be expensive, and I live in Spain, I usually limit myself to the most basic oils: olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil.

I like to use olive oil pomace (in Spanish, aceite de oliva de orujo), because it’s both cheaper than the extra virgin variety, as well as having a higher percentage of unsaponifiables (molecules that don’t react with the lye and therefore remain as oils, which makes for a richer, creamier, more hydrating and moisturizing soap).

However, DO NOT EAT OLIVE POMACE OIL! It’s not meant for eating, and is produced using a chemical process that leaves behind some substances that not only taste bad, but might also be bad for your health if you eat them. (I’ve been trying to find out why you can’t eat them, but it’s okay to slather them on your skin, but I can’t seem to find any information related to that. I can only assume that your skin doesn’t absorb these unhealthy substances. Perhaps the molecules are too large.)

Some people do eat olive oil pomace, but nowadays it’s become very difficult to find it even here in Spain, because it’s been forbidden by the Spanish government for culinary use. You can still use it in soapmaking though.

Olive oil confers moisturization to your soap and makes for a very hydrating soap. It’s good for people with dry skin or dry hair.

Coconut oil is deeply cleansing, and produces absolutely THE RICHEST, CREAMIEST lather. It’s not particularly moisturizing, though. That’s why I like to combine olive oil and coconut oil in any soap that I make.

I like to add a few drops of castor oil as well. It makes for a soap that feels creamier and lathers up more easily. However, being slightly more expensive and harder to find, I don’t use it a lot.

So as I was saying, measure out your oils. You need to know how much oil you are using so you can calculate the amount of the remaining ingredients. I like to use this soapmaking lye calculator.

It might look quite complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to use. Simply follow the steps, which are outlined there.

The usual percentage of water in relation to oils is usually 38%. You might want to use a lower proportion of water if you want your soap to cure more quickly. Or a higher percentage if you are going to cook your soap (ie. use the hot process) and you plan on using high temperatures, which can make your water evaporate.

Most people superfat their soaps approximately 5-10%. If I make a pure coconut oil soap for skin or hair, I like to superfat it at 20%, however, because coconut oil is not particularly moisturizing, and this amount of superfat creates a more hydrating soap.

Superfatting is the amount of “extra” oil that you add to your recipe, which will not react with your lye and will therefore remain behind in your soap, in order to hydrate your skin.

If you wish to create a soap for cleaning your house or laundry, you want to leave the superfatting at 0%, because you don’t want to leave any oil behind on your bathroom sink or in your clean clothes.

2.Measure out your liquids.

Usually your liquid will be water. I like to use mineral water, although some people use distilled water and I imagine you could use tap water as well. But don’t take my word on it about the tap water, as I’ve never used it.

You can also use filtered water or boiled water, however. Once again, I have not tried this.

In fact, I very rarely use water at all. I LOVE LOVE LOVE goats milk soap, and I pretty much almost always use goats milk instead of water. I (and my friends also) find goats milk soap just SOOO much more moisturizing and soothing than water soap.

Goats milk soap is also great for a number of skin affectations, such as eczema.

3.Measure out your lye.

Use the amount proposed in the lye calculator I’ve linked to above.

I place my lye in a small porcelain bowl.

Here in Spain you can find lye at any supermarket or drugstore. However, I’ve read that it’s hard to get in the US. If you live in the US, I imagine you could try a hardware store (it’s sold as a drain unblocker), or simply order online.

4.Once all your ingredients are measured and set out in preparation, you can begin to actually create your soap.

I like to begin by pouring the oils in my crock pot and turning it on low. (If you prefer to make cold process soap, don’t turn on your crock pot.)

If I am using any solid oils, such as coconut oil in the winter or cocoa butter, they will melt in the crock pot.

5.I place the liquids (water and/or goats milk, or any other milk that you might prefer, such as coconut milk) in a stainless steel container. I thought I’d taken a photo of the container I use but apparently I hadn’t, since I can’t find any such photo. I just use a typical lidless stainless steel cup like the kind people use to pour hot milk into coffee, with a little spout.

I then place the stainless steel container in the sink, if possible inside a large pot of cold water. Make sure the cold water doesn’t get into the stainless steel cup, of course!

This is to keep the liquid as cold as possible while it is reacting with the lye. That’s not such a problem if you are using water. However, if you are using goats milk, goats milk cooks with the heat! And when it cooks, it turns brown. (I can’t remember why it does that, I think the sugars in it caramelize or something.)

So the cooler the goats milk remains, the less it browns.

6.I get all goggled up.

I am very careful and I’ve never ever ever had any accident using lye. Here’s hoping it stays this way haha.

However, I also live in a safe home without babies or toddlers or elderly folk with Alzheimers. My teenage sons know better than to get in the way when I’m soaping. If that is not your case, make sure all pets, babies, toddlers and violent angry persons are out of the way before you begin the next step.

Getting goggled up means I put on rubber gloves, long sleeves, closed toe shoes and goggles. I don’t use any special goggles, the ones I use are from the dollar store and are the kind kids use to swim in the swimming pool.

7.Add the lye crystals little by little to the water or goats milk using a plastic spoon.

The goats milk will turn yellow, then brown, so if you see this happening, it is normal. It will also smell like ammonia. Supposedly, the smell will go away once the soap is cooked. But I find occasionally a faint whiff still remains.

Stir GENTLY. This is to make sure all the lye dissolves.

And of course, don’t breathe in the fumes haha! Don’t worry, it smells so bad, you wouldn’t want to anyway.

Then wait until the cup is cold enough to handle before moving on to the next step.

8.Once the lye water/milk is cool enough to handle, I pour it GENTLY into the oil mixture. That is why it’s so useful to use a cup with a spout.

Soapmaking Crock Pot

9.Using a metal whisk, I start to gently stir the mix together.

How to Make Soap Whisking

No egg beating now hehe. The lye is still raw in there, which means it can BURN you if you touch it or it splatters out.

After I’ve mixed for a bit, I start with the stick blender. Stick blend for a few minutes, then turn off the blender and just stir with it for a few minutes. Then turn it on again.

How to Make Soap Stick Blender

I stir/blend until reaching trace.

Depending on the oils used, this can take from about 15 minutes to over an hour. So if it’s not happening yet, don’t despair. It WILL happen. You just happened to pick some rather slow oils haha.

How to Make Soap Trace

I can’t remember now, off the top of my head, which oils took longer to reach trace. But some do take longer than others, so if yours is taking a long time, not to worry.

Trace is when the mixture starts to stiffen up a bit, and to hold its shape when it drips off the blender.

You can reach light, medium or heavy trace. I like to reach medium trace, because it seems to take a little less time to cook after this.

Soapmaking Trace

If you were making cold process soap, at this point, you’d be finished. You would simply need to add any fragrances, essential oils, colorants or other additives and pour into moulds.

But since I’m making hot process soap, I would continue on to the next step.

10.At this point, having reached trace, I cover the crock pot and set it on low.

I’ve never had any problems with the soap cooking too hot and boiling over (what some people call a volcano). But I have a crock pot with a low setting. If your pot is hotter than mine, you might need to be on the lookout for volcanos.

A volcano is simply when soap boils over, explosively. You don’t want that to happen. You can prevent that by hovering near your crock pot and checking it frequently (every 5 minutes or so).

It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour for my soap to cook. How long it takes would depend on how hot your pot is, I imagine, as well as the recipe you used.

If it looks as if the oils and water have separated in your soap at some point, actually, I’ve been told that clear liquid that separates out is actually natural glycerine (which is a natural by-product of soapmaking) and not water. Simply give it a good stir to mix it back in again.

11.Once the soap has gelled completely, it’s cooked.

Gelling is a process whereby the soap starts to look more transparent (as opposed to looking more opaque, before it’s gelled).

Some people try the tongue zap test to see if the soap has cooked. You probably don’t want to do that. Soap tastes foul at the best of times! You probably also don’t want an electric shock on your tongue.

I simply make sure the soap has gelled completely. Give it a good stir using your wooden or plastic spoon or spatula, to make sure it looks transparent throughout. (It won’t actually look clear, it will still be coloured. Simply, it will have a transparent effect, similar to glycerine soap.)

12.Once it has gelled completely, I take the porcelain pot out of the heating shell and set it on the counter to cool down.

Like any pot that you’ve been cooking (food) in, it’s hot! So be careful.

If you are using a double boiler instead, or the oven, simply take it away from the heat source and leave it to cool somewhere, about 10-15 minutes.

You don’t want to make it too cold, or it will become hard and difficult to handle.

Some people add a bit of yoghurt at this point, to make it softer and easier to pour. I never remember to buy yoghurt before making soap, so I’ve never tried this. However, sometimes I do add a few drops of goats milk, and it does soften the soap and make it a bit runnier.

13.Once it’s cool, I like to add essential oils.

Because it’s goats milk soap, it’s already naturally brown, tan or dark yellow in colour, so I don’t usually interfere with the colour. If you have made a water soap, however, you might like to add colorants at this point.

I usually always add rosemary essential oil, to prevent the oils from going rancid.

Then I also add some essential oils for fragrance. I LOVE mint!

Mix in the oils and/or colorants and stir.

14.Pour into moulds.

Soapmaking Mold

Bang the mould down on the tabletop a few times (not too vigorously!) to get out the air bubbles.

15.Set into a cool, dry place to cure.

You can usually use the soap immediately after soapmaking, once it’s completely cold. But you will get better results if you cure it for a minimum of 2 weeks.

In order to conserve your newly created handmade soap as long as possible, always store it in a cool dry place when you’re not using it. Don’t keep it in the shower.

How to Make Soap Homemade Soap

In the next post, I’ll show you some pics of a few of the soaps that I’ve made recently.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

So, do you think you’ll try out this adventure and make a few soaps of your own? Feel free to tell me about YOUR soapmaking experiments. How did your soaps turn out? Do leave your comments below. I LURRRVEE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Harira Makin’

Well I did say I didn’t want to run a food blog or turn this blog into a food blog. But I AM a foodie: I LURRVEE to eat—preferably GOOD food, of course!

But I made some Moroccan harira tonight, and it was soooo good, I just couldn’t resist blabbing on about it a mite bit.

If you’ve never read this blog before, I will tell you that this is not a blog about Morocco and I do not live in Morocco. Having said that, perhaps one day I might expound a bit on the memories I have of the trips I made to Morocco, in the past…… when I was young and single and swingin’ and all that haha.

So, I’d gotten onto the internet looking for neat harira recipes. I remember when I was in Morocco I had harira practically every day. It was filling and extreeemely flavourful and tasty and zesty and spicy.

Since then I had tried so many times to find harira somewhere that matched the harira I had tasted in Morocco. But outside of Morocco, it never came out the same. Dunno why.

Every family and locality has its own versions of harira. But the basic ingredients tend to be the same. I wondered that people over there had so much time every day to cook up harira from scratch + make a tagine or couscous as well for the whole family. I wondered how they did it.

Someone explained that in Morocco, it seems that they sell powdered harira in marketplaces. And what most housewives do is every morning they go out to the marketplace and buy the version of powdered harira that they like. Or they can buy a large quantity and store it in airtight jars. Then all they have to do, when they want to serve it, is mix it with boiling water.

So I also started searching for powdered harira in Moroccan stores. Needless to say I always came up empty-handed.

In the end I turned to internet—that handy dandy universal encyclopaedia where you can find out about EVERYTHING under the sun—and dug up a few recipes and mixed and matched a bit.

So this is the harira I made. It’s a vegetarian one, because we just had a meat overload (well, a meat overload in my opinion anyway, although my carnivorous son could’ve eaten more!) with a dish with bacon and chorizo.

  • 1/2 jar cooked chickpeas (you can of course use dry, raw chickpeas and cook them up, I’m lazy)
  • about 1/3 of a small package of yellow split peas (called lentejas peladas here, or the kind of lentils they refer to when they say dhal in Indian cuisine) (you can get them at Mercadona, I use about a third of a package of the ones that they sell at Mercadona). I have now discovered the secret: this is the ingredient that imbues the harira with its mysterious, characteristic earthy flavour that I was never able to reproduce before!
  • olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • different spices: I like to use lots so the list would be quite long, but you can throw in whatever you like. Remember, the more the spicier! I use turmeric, cumin, coriander seeds, chilli, garlic salt, ginger, salt and pepper. And I also threw in a VERY generous portion of Moroccan harissa, a spice mix that is quite hot. And a large quantity of curry as well
  • different herbs: if you can get them fresh, so much the better. Chop them finely. I didn’t have any fresh herbs and I couldn’t be bothered to run over to Mercadona for herbs, so I just used dried herbs. I used thyme, parsley, basil and oregano.
  • bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • chicken stock or chicken broth
  • flour

1. So, I left the yellow lentils in water overnight, but they can cook just fine if you don’t do this. It’ll just take a little longer to cook them.

2. So then I started by cooking up the lentils. Until they were cooked, I couldn’t do anything else. Just cook them in water until they are like a puré. DON’T USE SALT, or they will get hard.

3. Once the lentils were cooked, I cut up the veggies. In a large soup pot I put in a bit of oil and all the spices. I toasted the spices, then threw in all the veggies except the tomatoes. Stirred the veggies around a bit until they were coated with spice.

4. Then I put in lots of water and boiled the whole thing. It doesn’t take too long, maybe 15 minutes. After that I threw in the tomatoes and chicken stock and gave it a simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

5. Finally tossed in the cooked chickpeas and cooked lentils. Another good long simmer, until the chickpeas were completely done (they don’t come quite completely cooked from the store).

6. At that point I wanted it thicker. I remember the broths I had in Morocco being thick and hearty, almost like thick cream rather than soup. So I took out a cup of soup and dissolved flour in it until the mixture was quite thick. (The recipe I was reading said it should be like a thick crêpe batter consistency, but I made it a lot thicker.)

You pour this thick batter thing VERY SLOWLY back into the soup, stirring all the time so it doesn’t stick to the bottom or form lumps.

7. When the flour is cooked, it’s done! Ta-da!

Serve into bowls. Harira makes a strong first dish if you don’t serve a lot. Or it is so filling you can just have it by itself.

I boiled some eggs and cut up the boiled eggs into each bowl. But it’s like gazpacho, you can throw in anything you like on top: fresh herbs like parsley or coriander, diced ham, pieces of bacon…… (Remember however that Moroccans don’t eat pork, so if you put in ham or bacon it might not be exactly very authentic haha!)

Boiled Eggs For Harira

I know you have seen eggs before, so no mystery in this photo! Just felt like throwing in a silly photo

We just had it with some ordinary crusty warm Spanish bread, but you can serve it with Moroccan bread if you’re lucky enough to have access to some. Moroccan bread is very tasty.

If you’re not into vegetarianism and you’re into meat, you can cook it with pieces of meat like pork (although as I said that wouldn’t be very authentic) or beef or lamb.

I used to love lamb. But I swore I would never touch lamb again after having babies. Remember that lambs are BABIES! They’re innocent little baby things that the only thing they have ever tasted in their lives is mother’s milk. And the only thing they have ever known is a mother’s love.

And the lamb you are eating never had the chance to run around in a field (okay I understand sheep don’t exactly do a lot of running but, well, say, to WALK ABOUT in a field, then) and enjoy life. And it was taken away from its mother, who like all mothers probably misses it a lot.

If we all chose to never eat lamb again, people who slaughter lambs for food would have to stop doing it.

Now, I realize that a beef cow or a chicken is also an animal, who used to run around. But I dunno, grown cows and chickens don’t really speak to me as lambs do, I guess. I don’t like beef at all, but it’s because I really hate the taste and feel of the meat, not because I really care anything about the cow, hehe.

Oh well, end of rant. Like I said, if you’re not a vegetarian and you’re into meat, you can also cook harira with pieces of meat.

Okay so this photo is really clunky and graceless. But we don’t have a soup tureen and if we did, I probably wouldn’t use it anyways: just another heavy dish I would have to wash up afterwards! I always spoon the food directly out of the pot and into the serving bowls, so here is ze pot of our homemade harira:

Harira Moroccan

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Pies

I love pies. And they are so easy to make, too!

I remember as a child trying to struggle my way through pastry crust made from scratch. Fighting to get the butter through the flour without the whole thing clumping up all the time. Fighting to roll the whole thingamajig out without having it stick to half the objects in the house.

Well, one day I was visiting with my friend in France, and her mother showed me HOW FAST AND EASY it really is to make a fruit pie:

SHE USED READY-MADE PIE PASTRY!

Yeah. Why should us busy working mothers struggle at home for hours making a pie crust from scratch, when it’s so easy (and cheap) to buy one already made from the store?

I mean, goodness knows we already work hard enough as it is. What with our jobs, and the kids, and the housework, and the shopping, and our blogs…… Oh, well maybe not everyone has a blog to worry about.

So I armed myself with ready-made, store-bought pie pastry on the one hand, and a basket of cherries on the other. And it was as easy as 1-2-3!

1.I rolled the pie crust out into the pie dish. Stuck a few holes in the bottom with a fork to let out steam.

2.I washed and pitted the cherries (don’t eat the pits! they’re poisonous!), cut them in half and dumped them into the pie crust. Scattered a few spoonfuls of sugar over the whole thing. I’m not one to ever measure anything out so let’s just say, put in enough sugar to lightly cover all the cherries.

3.Pop into the oven. I also never pay much attention to what temperature I put the oven at, but usually around 180º Celsius. I turned on just the flame at the bottom of the oven for about 30 minutes, then around 20 minutes with both top and bottom flames on.

Oh, well I guess I forgot there is a fourth step:

4.EAT IT!

Pie Cherry Fruit

The pie turned out SO DIVINE that the very next week I ventured to make one with a tray of red fruits from the supermarket. I made it the same way I’d done with the cherry pie.

Super cinch!

Enjoy!

Oh and while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

The Blueberry Fiend

Pizza Makin’

The Orange Trees

Thrillers by Moi

Currywurst

A friend spent his summer holidays in Germany, and he was telling me that Currywürst is all the rage right now over there.

It’s street food, most especially associated with Berlin, and every street stand owner has his own secret recipe for how to make the Currywürst sauce.

But basically, the sauce is made with tomatoes and curry.

I made my own version of Currywürst.

I fried onions with paprika, chilli powder, ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper and a good handful of curry powder.

I threw in a dash of white wine. I’d read that people usually use vinegar. However, I didn’t have vinegar. So I used white wine.

Loaded in quite a few spoonfuls of sugar too. Honey would’ve been ideal, I suppose, but I don’t like honey. So I put in unhealthy refined white sugar. (After all, with all that wine, vinegar and tomato, I’d bet you anything that without some sort of sweetener the whole thing would turn out sour as a lemon.)

Supposedly they put in Worcestershire sauce too, but of course I didn’t have that either.

(And please don’t ask me the amounts of everything haha, I just throw things in by eye.)

I fried up some chips (French fries), fried up a few German sausages (Bratwurst) and cut them into pieces.

Then I smothered the whole thing with my special homemade Currywürst sauce.

And here you have the result.

Currywurst

Okay, admittedly perhaps I went a bit overboard in the amounts. Certainly my son, who is notorious for having 4 stomachs, wasn’t even able to finish the whole plate.

But it was still delish.

Yum!

Okay so now here I’ll even make a (hopefully passable) attempt to present things like a conventional recipe should be presented. Enjoy!

Currywürst Sauce

Oil for frying
1 onion
1 can of ketchup, tomato sauce or tomato puré
Paprika, chilli powder, ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper to taste and a good handful of curry powder
Sugar or honey
White wine or white wine vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Fried chips (French fries)
2 Bratwurst sausages per person

Sauté the onion in oil. Add all the spices, salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato sauce.

Let simmer on low heat. Stir in the sugar.

Pour in a dash of wine or vinegar. Pour in a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Let simmer on low heat until the tomatoes are cooked and the wine has evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Fry the Bratwurst lightly in oil in a frying pan, or roast on a grill. Cut into pieces. Fry the chips in deep oil. Place on a plate with the sausages on one side and the chips on the other. Pour Currywürst sauce over both.

Sprinkle a spoonful of curry powder lightly over top of the sauce to serve.

This is street food in Berlin, so people don’t usually eat it with anything else. In fact, it’s customary to see people simply standing about with the Currywürst on a plastic plate and eating it with a plastic fork as they chat.

Oh and while we’re at it, not to sound like a super sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

The Blueberry Fiend

Fried Aubergines Lite

Pizza Makin’

Thrillers by Moi

Rant About How Tough It Is to Make New Friends

I’ve always had a lot more difficulties making friends here in southern Spain than in Barcelona or Madrid. Everyone thinks it must be easy to make friends here because southern Spaniards appear very friendly and open. But that is only superficial appearance. In fact my impression is that southern Spaniards are much more closed minded (in general and also when it comes to making friends) than people from Madrid or Barcelona. Or maybe it’s just cultural differences, but I’m from a place where you don’t make friends the same way people do here.

Red Flowers for Friendships in a Field

I made a ton of friends when I lived in Madrid, unfortunately I didn’t keep in touch with most of them when I left. Those were the days before email and Facebook, and people’s phone numbers (landlines, because those were also the days before mobile phones) change and they move. But I’m still really good friends with some friends from Barcelona. I found it easier to make friends in Barcelona than here in southern Spain.

Once someone who had lived in France, who said she’d lived in France for many years (she was American), said that in France people have 3 groups of friends: childhood friends, usually from the same elementary school they went to, high school friends and university friends. Once people got out of university, they lost interest in making friends and if you wanted to be their friend, they didn’t. I find here in southern Spain it’s very similar.

Most people here have lived here all their lives and they only hang out with people they’ve known all their lives and grown up with. They are very friendly, they’ll chat with you for a long time. But then after that they are not interested in taking the relationship any further. They don’t want to hang out with you, they want to hang out with the kids who went to grade 2 with them. They don’t want to go to the bar with you, they want to go to the bar with their circle of friends from university.

Some people are very open and not in the least bit shy, like my friend Maria*. And even she can’t make new friends. All her friends are people she’s known in elementary and high school. Which is a major problem for her, because in high school she hung out with the drug addict crowd, and most of them are still on drugs today. She is not on drugs but you know what it’s like to have a friendship with someone who is on drugs: violent behaviour, unreliability (they say they’ll meet her tomorrow at 11 and they don’t show), you can’t count on them (they say they’ll introduce her to someone who is looking for a receptionist and then they forget and the person hires someone else) and worst of all they pressure her to take drugs again.

She’s tried over and over again to get away from them, because she knows they are no good for her and she knows they only use her. As in, let’s go out tonight. But then they only wanted to go out with her to try and get her to take drugs. But when she really needs someone, for example she needs someone to pick her son up from school, all of a sudden they are not available.

She can’t live in Marbella, her hometown, because every time she is in Marbella all her old druggie friends drop by and try to turn her house into a drug den. So she keeps moving away. But then she can’t find a job anywhere else, or she has a family emergency and needs to return to her family in Marbella, and she just can’t get away. But when she does move away, she can’t make any new friends. And she’s the least shy person I know. I mean, she could sell air conditioners to an Inuit person.

Marbella Street With Flowers

In Barcelona, there are a lot of outsiders, it’s a big city, new people are constantly going there for different reasons. For work, or to go to the university or to study something else (not university). Or for personal reasons. So there are tons of people who didn’t grow up in Barcelona and don’t have a circle of childhood friends there, so there are tons of clubs there to meet people. So it’s easy to meet people and make friends in Barcelona.

But here in Malaga there are hardly any clubs. I asked someone once, let’s say you want to make a hiking club, or a sewing club, how do you do it here? And they told me, you ask your childhood friends if they know someone or if they know someone who knows someone who likes to go hiking, and you go hiking together. In Barcelona, you join a hiking club. Here, you ask your childhood friends if they want to go hiking with you. That’s just the way it works here.

Which really sucks for those of us who didn’t spend our childhood here!!!

I met a lot of people in Barcelona by going to meetings of things that I was interested in, or even just with classified ads. That’s how I met my great friend Pippi* and my friend Morche* and my former friend Enid* (we fought because she became a radical vegetarian and stopped having any contact with people who were not vegetarian).

But I just can’t seem to meet anyone this way here in Malaga. In fact I couldn’t meet anyone in Almeria either, things work there the same way as here, as Almeria is also southern Spain.

I met my friend Jessica* at a secretarial course we took together once. During the course many of us hung out together but once the course ended most just simply kept making excuses for not meeting up again, and finally they just simply stopped having contact with other people from the course. Only Jessica continues to be my friend. I met a few people at a hotel entertainers’ course too, but I’ve changed a great deal since taking that course and we just drifted apart due to having very different interests.

Also people who have never worked before are hard to make friends with, which was the majority of the people at the hotel entertainers’ course. It’s just impossible to get on with people who have never worked before. My friend Lucinda*, from the course, who had never worked before, told me things like, why are you so worried about being able to pay the water/electricity/phone bill? It’s only a few cents, right? And if you can’t pay them, just go back and live with your mami and daddy like I do, or get them to pay your bills for you.

Lucinda is over 30, has never had a job and has lived with her mother all her life. Now, I’m in favour of kids living with their parents, I want my kids to live with me. But I still also want them to work. And to know what life is like and that you have to pay the bills and that mami and daddy aren’t always going to bail you out. Or at least not at age 30.

And I’m just finding it a bit hard to jive with someone who at the age of thirty-something has never paid a bill in her life or had to run to get to work on time. I dunno, somehow I just can’t.

Oh by the way Lucinda is not disabled in any way, neither physically nor mentally.

Another example: one year I subscribed to the blog of a makeup blogger, and I also joined her Facebook group. So I chatted on the group for a while, and commented on her blog for a while. But then one day she organized what was supposedly an open party at her house (she lives in Malaga) and on her Facebook she said, Hey girls come on come join the fun, come to my party! Bring some drinks and your bikini cos we’re all gonna jump into my pool. Leave a comment below if you want to come. So of course I commented too and said I’d like to go. She answered my comment (on Facebook) and said, I’m sorry Serena but this party is only for my personal friends, that is, followers of my blog who are also my personal friends, I thought it was clear and understood. I wanted to say, well if it was only for your personal friends why did you announce it on your open, public Facebook group that I’m a member of?

So you see, here people make a very clear distinction between FRIENDS (ie. people they have known all their lives and probably went to the nursery with) and friends with tiny little letters (ie. people they’ve chatted to online or maybe even met in person, but meeting someone in person and having a good time with them doesn’t make you their friend).

I dunno maybe it’s that way everywhere, I’m not like that though. For me, you are my friend if I have met you a few times and we got on great. I don’t need to have known you for 30 years to admit you into my circle of friends. You don’t have to save my life to prove your loyalty and honesty to me before I will admit you into my circle of friends. But other people don’t agree with me. And I’ll admit there aren’t too many people in my life whom I’ve known for 30 years or whose life I have saved haha.

I always think it’s so hard for me to make friends cos I’m so shy, I’m too shy to just come right out with someone I just met and just say, hey I really enjoyed chatting with you, you wanna meet up again for coffee sometime?

But Maria is the least shy person I know and she can’t make new friends either, only her old druggie ones. (Although I admit she would probably not be pleased with me referring to her old lifelong friends as “druggies”.)

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Got any suggestions as to how a shy, wall violet like me might make new friends? Please leave me a comment. As you know I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

*not their real names

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Best Friends

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

Thrillers by Moi

Natural Skin and Hair Care Routine

This is my current natural skin and hair care routine.

I’ve written many posts on natural skin and hair care, and in this post I’d simply like to sum up what I myself do personally, what works for me and how I do it.

First off, I haven’t used a conventional store-bought cream on my face for over 13 years now.

But I am not all covered with wrinkles. Nope. On the contrary, people always think I am younger than my years, and I’ve got a few anecdotes to prove that. But more on that later.

Nope. Ever since I acquired a book on All Natural Skin and Hair Care the Ayurvedic Way (which unfortunately got lost in one of the 50,000 moves we’ve made), I’ve never picked up a jar of Ponds, Olay (well, except sunscreen, of course) or, G-d forbid, the one million dollar La Mer, again. (Not that I had ever tried out La Mer, I might add, fortunately for my pocketbook.)

My natural skin and hair care routine these days is the following:

I use oil to remove my makeup.

Now, I do have to add that I do use chemical, store-bought makeup. I do own and use all-natural mineral makeup as well as natural lead-free kohl, and I love it. But, you know, you get bored and you want to shake things up and try out new things, right? And much as I love, love, love kohl, the sultry, smoky, smudgy look really isn’t too work appropriate.

Well, as I was saying, getting back to my natural skin and hair care routine, I remove my makeup with just oil and some tissues to wipe the oil off. Then I rub my face a few times with a very hot, wet washcloth.

Later, I do my face in the shower. I shower at night, so it’s the perfect time to remove every last spot of makeup and go to bed with a fresh, clean face.

Once I hop in the shower, I rub oil all over my face again, then wash it off using all natural handmade soap. I have a whole bunch of them, which I alternate. And I’m always on the lookout for more every time I go to handicraft and medieval fairs, so I never run out.

But if I ever did run out, I could always resort to the all-natural handmade olive oil soaps—the original castile soap—which is made by local housewives here and sold in local drugstores.

Very, very occasionally I will put on a turmeric masque or exfoliate my skin with sugar. I do that once in a blue moon, though, because I’m lazy.

After I get out of the shower, I do NOT slather chem-filled creams all over my face. Instead, I use OIL.

I’ve written a short little guide on several oils that you can use on your face, depending on your skin type and/or problems. Oils are the main part of my own natural skin and hair care routine, and you can easily incorporate them into yours.

I, personally, like to use a variety of oils, alternating between them. Once upon a time, I used to create my own facial cream by combining these same oils + vitamin E (wheat germ) oil, aloe vera gel and a few drops of sandalwood essential oil, for the fragrance. But one day I said to myself: what the ****. Isn’t it easier to just slather on the pure oils?

So that’s what I’ve been doing every day ever since. Now, every night, I choose between extra virgin olive oil (easy to acquire here in Spain, the land of olive oil), coconut oil (not as easy to get here, but I can always find it at the pharmacy), sweet almond oil and rosehip seed oil, depending on the mood and what my plans are for the next day.

I know that there are others available, but they either don’t go with my skin type, or are hard/impossible to find here in Spain, which like many European countries has not yet discovered the modern, new-fangled, natural, going-back-to-the-land trend yet.

(Nope, it’s still chemicals all the way for Spaniards. If you ask a Spaniard about natural skin and hair care they will think of The Body Shop. Or even Mercadona.)

I find that olive oil is the greasiest, so if I’m off to an early start the next morning, I usually won’t use it, since I’m not a fan of leaving home with an oily face haha. But I once met a man who used it every day as part of his own natural skin and hair routine, and claimed he was 62 years old and he didn’t look a day over 40, not a single wrinkle. So if we can trust him about his age, well, something’s gotta be up, right?

I find almond oil the most soothing. However, rosehip seed oil gives me the MOST INCREDIBLE GLOW and makes my face look about 30 years younger (so now you know I am at least over 30).

I only use coconut oil in the summer when I have an oily face because, paradoxically for an oil, it actually dries your skin a bit since, more than making your face oily, coconut oil tends to regulate oil production. Which could mean, it makes your face dry haha.

In the morning, I actually don’t wash my face. Okay, so that makes me sound like a pig haha. But really, my face isn’t really all that dirty in the morning. I mean, what could I have possibly done to make it dirty, anyway? Rub it all over my pillow? Well, usually my pillow’s fairly clean too, so not very likely to get my face dirty from that.

(It’s a little less clean now since my cat’s discovered that he loves to curl up on it, but you probably don’t have that problem with your pillows.)

(This is my cat, not that it’s very relevant to this post haha.)

Black Kitty Cat

Nope, in the mornings, usually most of the oil has absorbed, leaving me with a bright, healthy-looking, moisturized, glowy but not oily face. In the case that it should be oily even so—which sometimes happens when I’ve used olive oil the night before—I simply wash my face with hot water and a washcloth and problem solved.

I don’t even—blasphemy and heresy!—use face cream during the day. And my face doesn’t look awful. On the contrary, my skin has never been better.

Just as an anecdote (and cos I love to show off hehe), one day last year I was walking down the street with my son, and we passed a group of his schoolmates. They all started whistling and jeering at him (but in a good, fun-loving way): “Whoo-hoo, Ermenegildo*! Hey, look, Ermenegildo’s got a girlfriend. Who’s your girlfriend, Ermenegildo?”

My son looked at them and asked: “Who are you talking about?”

They pointed at me!

Well, he burst out laughing and told them: “That’s not my girlfriend! That’s my mother!”

Well, to continue with the anecdotes (even though they are totally irrelevant to this post, but I love to show off and they do at least give you an idea of what my skin is like as a result of following this natural skin and hair care routine for the past 13 years).

My son has decided to change high schools this year. So that, of course, led me to run around the city scouting out different high schools for him. Yes I know, he could do it. But does the youth of today ever do anything nowadays if you’ve got a mami to do these things for you?

So I entered into a high school to find out about the programmes that they offered, and the lady at the desk asked me: “Yes, are you interested in attending this school next year?”

Now, I nearly did a double take. I mean, this was a high school, not a university. And I haven’t stepped foot in a high school since…… well, let’s say people the age of my son hadn’t even been born yet the last time I attended a high school haha.

And one last anecdote, which I love love love. One day, I opened the door to—surprise surprise—a sleazy salesman. But unlike other sleazy salesmen, he didn’t plunge right into his boring spiel right off.

Instead, he stared me over, then blubbered out: “Young lady, would your mami or daddy happen to be in the house? I’d like to talk to them, if you don’t mind.”

I kid you not. This actually happened to me. And not such a long time ago, so it’s not like I’m telling you about something that happened in the twentieth century haha.

Well, I nearly leapt onto this salesman and hugged him. But I didn’t do that. I slammed the door in his face instead. Not because I was upset with him nor even because he was a salesman, but because I was so flabbergasted I didn’t know what else to do. A minute later, I wished I’d hugged him instead, though.

So, if you should just happen to be the salesman in whose face I slammed the door, or if you happen to be a salesman and someone (who apparently looked like a teenaged girl) once slammed the door in your face, please know that I’m sorry, and it had nothing to do with you as a person.

On the contrary, I’d love to hug you.

But back to this blog post on my all natural skin and hair care routine.

As I was saying, I don’t use face creams or day creams, not even during the day. Usually, the oils that I’ve dumped on my face the night before are more than enough to keep my skin wildly gorgeous.

Chemical-filled, store-bought creams have no place in a natural skin and hair care routine, or at least not in mine. And that includes the creams that you wear to face the world every day.

However, sun protection is a major issue in our life, and I don’t believe in skimping on sun protection.

Having said this, I know that chemical sunscreens are also a major source of cancer. I have a vague idea that there are studies out there that sort of prove it, although I can’t actually give you the references at this moment, because these are just the little tidbits of information you go along picking up as you go through life or browse around on the internet on a lazy day.

But we all know (or at least suspect) that chemicals are toxic and do at the very least often contribute to the development of cancer. So it only makes sense to avoid them in every way possible. And that includes in your sun cream.

I’ve never as yet found any brand of sunscreen which is 100% natural and also satisfies me and also works. I think the ones I liked best in the past were all the ones by L’Oréal, because they use Mexoryl, which is a broad spectrum sunscreen and when I used it, I didn’t tan at all. And it didn’t leave me all greasy.

But although Mexoryl has been shown in studies to be innocuous, the medium it’s in, which is, after all, a chemical-laden cream, is not so innocuous. Such creams certainly don’t fit in with the natural skin and hair care lifestyle. Hence I’d like to avoid them if possible.

I recently found a couple of brands of sunscreen which are made of all natural ingredients and which I can get in Spain (ie. I don’t have to order them from the US, which is both pricey in terms of shipping as well as taking a long time to arrive). As you might expect, since Spain hasn’t exactly jumped on the natural skin and hair care bandwagon yet, I do have to order them online.

These brands are Badger and DeVita. I just ordered Badger yesterday and I’ll let you know how I feel about it in a future post. (I ordered it from iHerb which carried it at the lowest price plus—the shipping was free!!)

Well, as I was saying, in my natural skin and hair care routine, I don’t use face creams other than sunscreen. However, I do use makeup, as I’ve described above.

Incidentally, aloe vera gel has an SPF of about 6, I believe it was (I read about it in some article on the internet but of course I didn’t take note of the source). Shea butter has an SPF of about 4-6 and coconut oil has an SPF of about 2. I’ve read some sites that say 4, but if you only use coconut oil you do tan, so obviously it isn’t keeping all the sun’s rays out of your skin.

Nonetheless, if you wish to continue with your natural skin and hair care routine all the way, you might wish to consider these for sun protection if you are only going to be outside for a few minutes. For example, walking from your car to your office, or running to the neighbourhood grocery store.

At any rate, it’s important to get your 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure on your skin every day in order for your skin to produce vitamin D, which is necessary to protect yourself from cancer. But on the other hand, if we go out all day, we’re in the sun for way more than 20 minutes. So then we need sun protection.

How I wash our clothes also came under bombardment when I jumped on the natural skin and hair care bandwagon. After all, you wear clothes every day, and they touch your skin every day.

I’ve now also switched over to using natural soap flakes to wash all our clothes.

I’d already been doing that for years, but other people were all swearing by their respective laundry detergents and I wanted to give them a try. Well, not only are conventional laundry powders and liquids expensive, they don’t even work as well as soap. At least not on our super dirty, male-dominated laundry.

So it’s back to soap flakes for me. Our clothes come out clean and spot-free, even when they’re very dirty. And it’s cheap, too. Well, cheaper than laundry detergent, at any rate.

Plus it’s all natural.

I’ve also started on a new no ‘poo routine. Which you’d only expect, seeing as I’m writing about natural skin AND hair care. You can read all about what I’ve been doing so far, here: Going No ‘Poo.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Do you have an all-natural skin and hair care routine you’d like to share? Don’t be shy, tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

*not his real name

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

All Natural Skincare

Bentonite Clay for Hair

Going No ‘Poo

Thrillers by Moi