Thieves

It’s aromatherapy week, how exciting!

I thought i’d share with you my very own thieves recipe. But first a little history lesson, indulge me because I find this fascinating.

The story goes that during the 15th century when the plague was endemic throughout Europe. The traid routes through Europe and Asia were closed to try and stop the spread of this awful disease. The wealthy merchants of the time had their livelihood ruined. Four such merchants turned to a life of crime stealing from wealthy plague victims to earn their fortune. Amazingly they never contracted the highly infectious plague and became legendary. The king of the time put out a ransom for their arrest. Upon their eventual arrest he offered them a deal, their secret for their lives.

Lucky for us they took that deal and shared the secret of the spices and herbs they had once traided and now used to protect them from the plauge. The recipe was shared and Dr’s at the time used it in the beaks of their plague masks to protect themselves against infection.

In 1997, Weber State University did a study that found the Thieves essential oil blend to have a 99.96% success rate at killing airborne bacteria.

Weather of not the story is true or just legend history and now science has proven the essential oils in thieves are truly antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral. They will stimulate the immune system benefit the circulation and respiratory systems. And help protect against disease.

Above is a traditional Thieves recipe. Since I have young children and some of these oils (most noteably eucalyptus) are not safe to use around children I researched alternative and created my own child safe thieves blend*. Which I find brilliantly effective and use (diluted) in the sick room via inhalation and as a ingredient in my homemade cleaning products (see previous posts)

You will need a small coloured glass bottle with a dropper lid or pipette to mix and store your thieves blend in. I used an old bach flower remedy bottle.

To make up my bottle which I have had almost a year now and I’ve used less than half of it you will need

  • 80 drops of clove essential oil
  • 70 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 40 drops of cinnamon essential oil
  • 30 drops of pine essential oil
  • 10 tea tree essential oil

*please do your own research about essential oils before you use them. This is a blend I have designed based on the ages of my own children and the particular circumstances in my own home. Please seek advice from a trained professional if you have any doubts.

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3 ingredient wood polish

I am really pleased with this wood polish I made. For surfaces other than wood I use the lemon enzyme cleaner I shared in the previous post but for wood this polish is really nourishing. The nicest part is that you can scent it however you like with essential oils of your choice, I use my own theives blend.

Like most of my cleaning products it’s wonderfully simple just 3 ingredients.

200ml Olive oil

200ml White vinegar

15 drops essential oil

Add to a glass spray bottle (I store all my cleaning products in glass because essential oils can degrade plastic) and shake gentle to mix.

To use spray on the surface you wish to clean, leave for a few seconds and polish with a soft cloth.

Natural cleaning

In 2018 we made the switch to more natural cosmetics and really felt happy about banishing some pretty nasty chemicals from our home. 2019 has seen us made the switch to natural cleaning products and the difference it has made is quite startling. The main benefit for me personally is in my skin, particularly on my hands. Usually by this point in the year my hands are extremly dry, cracked and painful. Since switching our cleaning products to natural alternatives they are soft, not irritated and not cracked. It’s so lovely!

My reason for switching to more natural products is two fold. The first is for environmental reasons. The second reason is for health. I am increasingly concerned about the ingredients used in cosmetics and cleaning products that have been linked to cancer and blamed for interfering with the endocrine system in humans and animals. We have all been healthier since we made the switch.

Today I thought i’d share the first thing I made, a multipurpose cleaner I use on the tub, tiles, sink, stove, pots and pans. It can be used to pre treat laundry stains and on carpet stains too. I am very pleased with it.

Multi-purpose cleaner

115 ml castile soap

105 grams bicarbonate of soda

5-10 drops of essential oils

Mix the ingredients to a smooth paste and store in a glass jar. Clean surfaces with the paste using a soft cloth (I like eco egg re-usable bamboo towels). For stain removal apply the paste and spray with hydrogen peroxide before laundering.

Depending on where I am using this cleaner I vary which essential oils I use. I like lemon for the kitchen for its fresh scent and antibacterial properties. For the bathrooms I use organic defence by Neal’s Yard Remedies. It’s a blend of lemongrass, niaouli and thyme and has antibacterial and anti-viral properties as well as supporting the bodies immune system and purifing the air. It has been specially blended with cleaning in mind.

DIY shower jellies

I have two daughters and they LOVE a certain shop full of multicoloured bath bombs, shower jellies and candy flavoured lotions – you know the one I mean.

I can see the appeal, I really can and there are MUCH worse cosmetics out there but there are still ingredients in their products that i’m not happy about my girls using. Ingredients that have been linked to fertility issues and cancer. In reading a lot of their ingredients lists it occured to me I could make these products quite easily at home and so without further waffle from me I give you DIY shower jellies.

Ingredients

240ml water

120ml Neal’s Yard Create hair and body wash (£6.50 for 250ml)

1 sachet Gelatine or Aggar if you prefer a vegan option

Essential oils of your choice (again I choose Neal’s Yard for their quality)

Food colouring (optional)

Silicone moulds/clean plastic container/jam jar

In a ban Marie begin to warm your water when it is just starting to bubble add the create wash and stir.

Add a few drops of your chosen essential oils (I recommend you do a little research about these super oils, their properties and dilution guides this book is extremely helpful).

Stir well and then add a tiny amount of food colouring – don’t use too much or you’ll colour yourself in the shower. The soap will cloud slightly this is normal.

Stir well whilst continuing to warm gently.

When your ingredients are well mixed and heated but not boiling remove from the heat, pour into a measuring jug and sprinkle in the gelatine (follow the instructions the pack).

Mix well and pour into your chosen moulds.

Allow to cool to room temperature and then put in fridge to fully set.

Turn out of the moulds and store in a jam jar or similar container. You may want to avoid keeping your jellies in a warm room such a the bathroom in case they melt before you want them to. Enjoy!

September favourites

September is a funny month I like to keep telling myself it’s still summer for as long as possible (summer is my favourite season) but as the nights draw in and the mornings become chillier it becomes harder and harder to keep kidding myself. By the end of the month autumn has properly arrived and there is no denying it.

This September was a blur of frenzied activity. My daughters returned to school and one short week later their brother (my baby) joined them.

He and I made the most of this last week just the two of us and visited Wimpole hall and garden. My son adores gardening and has developed a real enthusiasm for walled gardens so that’s what we checked out first. I won’t lie my heart felt heavy at the prospect of sending him to school just 1 week later. It marks the end of an era for me of having a small person at home with me for over a decade. It’s been hard work, always busy, never a moment to myself but genuinely some of the best years of my life. I always feel like I’ve lost a limb when I send one of them off to school for the first time.

As the weather cools it always sends me into a frenzy of squirreling away winter provisions. This month I made Dumpsy Dearie jam a lovely jam made of Victoria plums, pears and apples that’s proven very popular over the years. We’ve been baking too and made our first batch of pumpkin spiced doghnuts and this trusty peanut butter cookie recipe that’s quick easy and gluten free.

  • 150g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180’C and line your trays with baking paper.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl to form a sticky dough.

Drop 1 tbsp of the mixture into your prepared baking trays and press down with the back of a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the trays and allow to cool on a wire baking rack.

Not the most elegant or pretty cookies in my repetorire but tasty, satisfying and very easy to make.

Next month I have plans to begin to make our own natural cleaning products in a bid to have less nasty chemicals in the house and reduce our plastic use too. I hope to be able to share some successes with you in October.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Doughnuts

Those of you who follow me on social media will know pumpkins have slightly taken over my life (and my kitchen) lately.  I do think pumpkins are the most magical vegetables and I enjoy collecting them in all shapes, colours and sizes throughout October.  Come November they need eating though and this year I had quite a collection, thanks to some kind neighbours who gave us a couple of whoppers! I’ve always been fascinated by the American “pumpkin patch” and infamous pumpkin pie, a favourite at Thanksgiving.  I confess that until this year I had never eaten it and hadn’t understood that pumpkin pie was a sweet, not savoury affair. Well now that we are better acquainted pumpkin pie and I are firm friends and I’ve been experimenting with this magical vegetable and pumpkin pie spice A LOT!  So without further ramblings from me I bring you my recipe for pumpkin spiced doughnuts.  Oh, and because I’m gluten intolerant these little nuggets of gorgeousness are gluten free too, yay!

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This recipe uses my own pumpkin spice mix, which I have devised from reading various recipes online and adapted to suit my own tastes. Mix all the spices together and store in a Tupperware or jam jar and add to all your pumpkin recipes. 4tsp ground cinnamon, 2tsp ground ginger, 2tsp ground nutmeg, 1tsp ground all spice, 1/2tsp ground cloves

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For the Pumpkin Doughnuts

  • 100g Doves Farm plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp of pumpkin spice mix (see above)
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g very soft butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4tbsp sour cream
  • 9 table spoon of pumpkin puree (either make your own or buy it canned)
For the coating
  • 50g sugar
  • 2tsp pumpkin spice mix
Measure all the dry ingredients and place in a large bowl.  Add the butter, eggs, sour cream and pumpkin puree & mix until you have a smooth batter.
Lightly butter your doughnut tin (ah yes should have mentioned this before you’ll need to make a small investment in a doughnut tin to make doughnuts, but trust me worth every penny.  I have this adorable mini doughnut tin  and this recipe makes 3 dozen mini doughnuts). Using a teaspoon place the mixture into the tin, fill about two thirds full. Avoid covering the little divet so you get a nice doughnut shape. Bake at 180’C for 10mins.
Whilst your pumpkin doughnuts are cooking put the sugar and spice mix for the coating onto a plate or shallow oven dish and mix to combine.
As soon as your doughnuts are cooked, remove them from the tin and toss them in the coating.  Serve immediately.

Rose Hip Syrup Recipe

Rose Hips are packed full of vitamin C and other amazing vital-mins.  Forget Baobab berries or what ever the latest trendy fruit is rose hips have been used for centuries to help ward off colds and flu during the winter.  Around this time of year I try to make a batch and frequently give a spoonful of it to each of the children (& myself) through autumn and winter.  I have found the years where I take the time to make it we have far fewer coughs, colds and illness over the winter.  Further more its delicious and can be added to cakes, drizzled over ice cream or just taken as is – hooray!

Rose Hip Syrup

Recipe

Makes approx. 2.5 litres

  • 3 litters of water
  • 1kg rose hips
  • 450g granulated white sugar
First you will need to clean and sterilize some jars or bottles although if you plan on keeping your syrup in the freezer you don’t need to sterilize the jars.
Boil 2 litres of water in a large pan.  Remove the stalks and any dead flower heads from the rose hips and mince them in a food processor.  Add the rose hips to the boiling water, return to the boil and then take off the heat.  Leave to infuse for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes strain the mixture through a jelly bag and set aside the juice.  Return the pulp to the pan with 1 litre of boiling water.  Bring back to the boil, leave for 15 minutes and the strain through a jelly bag again. The pulp can now be discarded.

Pour the juice you have collected into a clean pan (I find a preserving pan with measures up the side very useful for this next stage.  If your preserving pan doesn’t have measures pour 1 litre of water into your pan before you begin and take note of the water mark) reduce the liquid until you have 1 litre left in the pan.  Now add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.  Using a funnel pour your syrup into your jars or bottles and seal.  If you are storing in the freezer you may want to use Tupperware, freezer bags (in which case wait for your mixture to cool) or ice cube trays.