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

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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

Castile Soap and Coconut Milk for Hair

I’d read about using castile soap and coconut milk for hair, and I wanted to give it a shot.

I’ve been on a no ‘poo craze for the past few weeks. Now three weeks since I last dropped a drop of conventional, commercial shampoo on my hair and counting.

I’d recently tried shikakai and bentonite clay for washing my hair, you can read about the results here: Shikakai and Bentonite Clay for Hair.

I was very happy with bentonite clay (not so much the shikakai, but you can read about why in the post) but, just as people who use ordinary shampoos have a grand variety of hundreds of shampoos to choose from, why couldn’t we no ‘poo-ers also enjoy that luxury? So I wanted to try out new methods.

I’d used natural, handmade shampoo bars before, but they are hard to get where I live and I have to order online from the US. Well, I’m sure natural, handmade soaps are available online from Europe as well, but I wasn’t going to go to the bother of thumping about all over the internet for them. (I know Lush have them, but some of them contain sodium lauryl sulfate which is a chemical we are definitely trying to avoid.)

I could occasionally find some at handicraft or medieval fairs, but those only come by about once a year and then what will you do to get natural handmade shampoo bars in between?

So I turned to castile soap and coconut milk.

Now, I might add that the famous Dr Bronners castile soap is NOT available here in Spain. Or at least not in my city. Perhaps if you live in Madrid you can find it, you can get anything in Madrid.

But I live several hours away from Madrid, so going shopping there is not an option for me.

However, I could easily get a hold of natural soap bars, castile soap bars. Local housewives here make them with olive oil and sell them to local drugstores for a very low price.

And Jabón Lagarto, another natural choice for those of us who live in Spain (although it’s made from beef tallow so vegetarians might want to avoid it), can be obtained for literally pennies (or, well, cents) at any bazaar or supermarket.

So I decided to melt Jabón Lagarto (but it could have worked just as well with the local handmade olive oil soaps—which, when you come right down to it, is indeed the original pure olive oil soap that gives its name to castile soap (Castile being a region in Spain)) in hot water.

I chose Jabón Lagarto because it is available in soap flakes, whereas if I were to use a bar of local handmade all-natural castile soap, I would have had to grate it by hand, since I don’t own a food processor.

I used a proportion of one cup of soap flakes to one cup of hot water. That turned out to be too much, since it’s a strong soap, and next time I will use only ½ a cup of soap flakes to 4 cups of liquid (taking into account that coconut milk is a liquid too).

When you use too much soap, the resulting liquid soap is not liquid! It’s solid. Hence the need for the right proportion of soap flakes. But if you use too much, just add more liquid.

I boiled 2 cups of water on the stove. Then I poured in the soap flakes and stirred and stirred and stirred. I took the water off the stove, but the soap didn’t melt and in the end I had to leave it simmering on the stove on low heat.

When all the soap had melted, I poured in a can of coconut milk. The can contained 2 cups of coconut milk, thus making a total of 4 cups of water and 1 cup of soap flakes. When it cooled down, it was solid, and I needed to pour in 3 more cups of water to get it to the consistency that I wanted. Hence, the correct proportion, at least for my soap, was ½ cup of soap to 4 cups of liquid.

The original mixture was a semi-transparent pale yellow liquid, sort of like thick apple juice. But with the addition of the coconut milk, when it dried it turned into a thick white liquidy thing.

I poured it into empty shampoo bottles that we happened to have lying around.

You can also add in a few drops of oil or essential oils for added benefits and fragrance. I’m too lazy to do that haha.

However, you can read up on a few of the natural, plant-based oils that I use in skin care in this post:

Last night I washed my hair—just my scalp, not the length—with a few drops of this natural liquid soap. And the results?

Hair Castile Soap Coconut Milk

I love my hair! It’s soft, bouncy, doesn’t feel or look in the least bit greasy and my curls are well defined.

Castile soap with coconut milk is definitely going to form a regular part of my natural, no ‘poo hair care arsenal.

And in addition, I’m now getting my kids to wash their skin and hair with the natural liquid soap that I made, so we get the additional benefit of weaning the whole family off of chemicals.

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 what about you? Have you tried the no ‘poo method yet? Are you also weaning your family off of chemicals? What results have you been getting? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Hair Castile Soap Coconut Milk

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

Henna

Bentonite

Thrillers by Moi

Anti-Vaccinations: Dying To Be Natural

Frankincense — Or How You Can Make Your House Smell Like Holy Week

Thought I’d digress a little from this recent spate of posts on natural hair care and going no ‘poo that I’ve been on lately, and chit-chat about something else for a minute.

Here downtown there are people on the street selling huge vats of frankincense at little stands. It’s quite cheap. I bought a packet, and this is the amount it came out to:

Frankincense Natural Incense

No, it didn’t come in this plastic tub. The tub is from an ice-cream shop. It just happened to be the right size to hold our frankincense in.

Holy Week with all its processions is a major event here in southern Spain. I’ve written a few posts on that subject, and you can see them here: Holy Week in Malaga.

If you’ve ever been on a Holy Week procession, you might have noticed that they carry silver incense burners that smell—absolutely divine!

In addition, incense has the property of being able to clear negative energy from the space around it. One of the reasons why churches and other holy places have always used it to purify the temples.

Now, you can enjoy that sacred fragrance every day of the year in your own home by burning your own frankincense. This is how we do it. (But of course, this method will work for any natural incense stones or powder that you might have.)

The ideal way is to possess your very own decorative incense burner, preferably with lots of artwork engraved all around. I was too impatient to try this out to run out and stalk souvenir shops, so I just grabbed an old heat-resistant glass candle holder.

I filled the candle holder with sand. Now, living right next to the sea, you would think I would have a ready-made source of sand whenever I want—and I do. But I was too impatient to go down to the beach to get some. So I just used the kitty litter.

No, not the sand from inside his litter, of course. Phew! Nope, I grabbed some clean, unused sand from the bag.

(In case you are wondering what the owner of our kitty litter looks like, here’s a mug of him.)

Black Kitty Cat

I’d previously bought incense charcoal from a health food store, so I took one chunk and held it with a pair of metal tweezers, of the sort you’d use for barbecues.

If you don’t have one, I imagine you could use any metal cooking utensil. But we happened to be lucky enough to possess a pair of tweezers.

I held the chunk of charcoal with the tweezers and lit a match (ie. my son lit a match) and held the match underneath the charcoal. It’s best to use natural charcoal, and not the ones with toxic chemical additives to help it ignite faster. But I couldn’t find any natural ones and I used what I was able to get.

You can tell if your charcoal has chemicals if it sizzles and crackles. Lately, I have been on a mission to reduce the chemicals we use in our natural skin and hair care routine to a minimum. But using all natural charcoal hasn’t quite made it into our litany yet.

It only took a few seconds for the charcoal to ignite. Then I took the match away (put it out, of course, so you won’t burn anything!) and just held onto the charcoal with the tweezers for a while.

The first time I tried it, I don’t know why, the charcoal smoked a lot. The next time, I laid it gently down on the sand and it didn’t smoke.

I blew on it to make it burn faster. You have to wait until the entire thing is red hot. It will be an ashy grey all around. That’s when you know it is ready.

With a small teaspoon I pushed it around in the sand a bit so it was half buried (don’t bury it completely or it will go out). Then I sprinkled the frankincense on the sand all around it. It will be hot, so use the spoon.

If you sprinkle the frankincense directly on it, it will burn too quickly and smoke a lot. Sprinkling the incense close to, but not touching, the coal makes it last longer.

And that’s it.

Frankincense Natural Incense

And of course, although it should be obvious but I ought to say it anyway, do take the utmost care to make sure the whole incense contraption (burner, spoon, tweezers, matches etc.) is out of the reach of babies, small children, pets, violent people and anyone else who shouldn’t touch it. It’s hot, after all!

And after you’ve put it out, or it’s all burnt up, do wait a long time for it to cool down before touching it and putting it away, or it can and will burn you!

Waiting till the next day, for example, is good.

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? Have you ever tried natural incense? Or wondered how they used frankincense during the Holy Week processions? Don’t hesitate to share. As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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

Going No ‘Poo

The Sounds of Holy Week

Preparing for Holy Week

Thrillers by Moi

Bentonite Clay for Hair

I’d been trying a few no ‘poo methods, and bentonite clay was my latest.

As I explained in this post, Going No ‘Poo, I’ve recently been on, as you can gather, a no ‘poo craze.

In previous posts, I’ve described a few of the other methods I’d tried, and clay was up next.

I’ve already been hennaing and oiling my hair for ages. But I was still using regular shampoo and conditioner.

Well, to tell the truth, I’d tried natural shampoo bars for a while, but although I was quite pleased with the results, they were fairly hard for me to get a hold of, as they are (surprise! surprise!) not sold in physical shops here in Spain (or at least not in my city, which might surprise no one since I don’t live in a major, large city).

So I started doing research on the internet into no ‘poo methods. Of course, in addition to bentonite clay, one of the first suggestions I encountered was baking soda and apple cider vinegar. The classical no ‘poo panacea.

However, I’d tried that once for about three weeks and my hair ended up a dry, tangled, straw-like, birds-nest mess. (Nope, no oily transitioning period for me, just dry dry dry!) So I gave that up.

(I’ve since read that often curly hair just doesn’t agree with baking soda. Of course, that is not the case with everyone, but it clearly does not agree with me.)

Looking into the internet a bit more, I discovered posts which explain that baking soda does indeed have a tendency to dry your hair out due to its extreme alkalinity. Now, our skin and scalp are naturally acidic, so extreme alkalinity is, needless to say, absolutely no good for us and just the opposite of what nature intended for us.

I figure, baking soda would probably still work for people with oily scalps and hair, but my hair is naturally thick, coarse, wiry and dry as a whistle (or perhaps a thistle hehe). So it only stood to reason that it wouldn’t work for me.

Then, I read about bentonite clay and rhassoul (pronounced grrrassoul, like a growl deep in your throat). (Just showing off that I once studied Arabic for a few days haha.)

I couldn’t find any place to get a hold of rhassoul (or ghassoul as some spell it) here in my city, but I wandered into my friendly neighbourhood health food store, where I usually buy my henna, and lo and behold! was I ever in luck! They just happened to carry a huge, transparent plastic sack full of bentonite clay.

Needless to say, I immediately made off with it.

Bentonite Clay Hair

(Okay it just turns out to be the same colour as the wall behind it but not much I can do about that, our walls are all this same colour!)

Since I’d just hennaed my hair a few days ago, and henna can be drying (although I didn’t find that to be the case with me), I decided to oil my hair. But since I was going no ‘poo, I needed something strong enough, but that would still be natural, to get out all the oil.

Would bentonite clay do the trick?

Well, I tried it. After all, mud (because, when you come right down to it, that is just what clay is: mud) is famous for getting off all the oil from a place. It just sucks it right up.

Bentonite clay also sucks up all the toxins, lousy chemicals, toxic heavy metals, dirt and filth in your hair, so it serves not only for shampooing your hair but also for deep cleansing it.

That is why sometimes people on a detox regime will take bentonite clay internally (that is, they swallow it). I haven’t tried that yet, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. After all, I’m sure one of the main factors contributing to the development of cancer is all the toxins we are surrounded by and eat.

So, I stuck several spoonfuls of clay into a plastic bowl (use more or less depending on how much hair you have) and mixed it purely with apple cider vinegar.

Don’t use a metal bowl or metal utensils, since I’ve just mentioned that this clay sucks up anything metallic, such as heavy metals, and you don’t want it getting activated by your bowl. You want it to get activated by the metals in your hair.

I made a paste a bit thicker than yoghurt, because I don’t like it to drip. I let it sit a few minutes and took it with me into the shower.

I wet my hair. Then covered it with the muddy bentonite clay mixture from root to tips and let it sit five minutes. Be sure not to let it dry out, so it will be easier to wash out afterwards.

It was the same as what I do when I henna my hair, but much faster and easier, because I didn’t have to worry about drips or staining my skin/the bathtub/the shower curtains etc.

After that, I just rinsed it out thoroughly with warm water. And that was it!

I didn’t even need to condition or detangle, since my hair came out naturally untangled. Just a bit of finger-combing was all that I needed.

Now, I do have to add, my hair is usually the ultimate self-tangling, birds-nest Medusa locks that twist around by themselves like snakes and tangle themselves up all by themselves. But with the bentonite clay, as with the shikakai, it didn’t tangle at all!

So, did it work to get the oil out? Well, see for yourselves:

Hair Bentonite Clay Henna

I am definitely incorporating bentonite clay and rhassoul (when I can get a hold of some) into my regular hair-care routine.

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.

Well, what about you? Have you tried clay, rhassoul, baking soda or any other no ‘poo methods? Do tell tell! As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

Hair Bentonite Clay Henna

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

Shikakai: My Recent Experiment

Going No ‘Poo

All Natural Skincare

Thrillers by Moi