Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Autumn Equinox

The weather has definitely changed and Autumn is upon us in all its gorgeous finery.  Autumn is perhaps, the most luxuriant of seasons; appareled in sumptuous scarlet, crimson, burgundy, gold, orange, rusts and russets; dripping with the rubies, garnets and carnelians of berries and fruits.
A fantastic crop of hawthorn berries - the wildlife will be very grateful for this bounty.

Normally Autumn accessorises with crisp blue skies and scudding clouds, but as the season progresses it adds the veils and shawls of mists; a subtle counterpoint of pearlescent greys that soften and complement the autumnal riches.

The garden is full of spiders, the ones I most often come across are Araneus diadematus, or the European common garden spider; most of them are the various shades of brown, beige and fawn while a few are a more greys and white - both are beautiful and welcome pest controllers, as well as being one of my secret joys of Autumn - the perfect harbingers of the Autumn equinox.

We've also had this visitor - a beautiful Rosemary Leaf Beetle.
Apparently these beauties are migrants from Europe that have been moving into Britain but are mainly found in the south of the UK, so this one's a bit unusual in being so far north in Lancashire.  They like to nibble on the rosemary and lavender but I think they are lovely.

This weekend I spent making up laundry liquid, started steeping calendula petals in olive oil to make some calendula salve - it's great for healing cuts, bruises and burns.  I also managed to rustle up some rolls and a hearty chorizo and chickpea stew using yet more of our homegrown tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients from our store cupboard.  A fulfilling and productive weekend.

Laundry Liquid
1 cup soap - either flakes or grated
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax
 Add it to 1 ½ litres/quarts of water in a saucepan. 

Put the saucepan on the stove and heat the water and soap flakes. Once it’s completely dissolved stir in the other ingredients; once these are completely dissolved, remove it from the heat. 

Get a large container - a bucket or tub that holds at least 10 litres/quarts, and add the hot soapy mixture, then add in enough cold water to make it up to 10 litres and stir.

That's it! As it cools, the mixture will turn to gel. You can add fragrance at this point if you want to; I usually add tea tree and lime essential oils.
Gather some containers and pour it in. 

Please note: the gel gets quite thick, so make sure you use a wide mouthed container or leave enough room in the container to allow you to shake it well before you use it.

Add about ½ cup of this liquid to your machine for a good wash. It's also fine in a cold water wash.

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