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Lockdown needn’t always be boring!

Hesketh Emporium

There is a song that keeps playing in my head; you may remember it from singing it to your children….

ūüéľ Chick chick chick chick chicken lay a little egg for me,

chick chick chick chick chicken I want one for my tea,

I haven’t had one since Easter and now it’s half past three,

oh, chick chick chick chicken lay a little egg for me.

The reason for the musical roundabout in my brain is because I am beyond excited because finally after 15 years we have some chickens!

Hubby is the busiest and hardest working person I know, and understandably didn’t want yet another thing to occupy his time. So we agreed to wait for a while; then the coronavirus happened followed by a lockdown and a lot of people clearly panic buying just anything and everything including eggs. So after six shopping trips and one online delivery…

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It has been a few weeks since this event, but it was a fabulous time of praise at The Edge Arena in Wigan and Today’s Community Church.
Our new Arena was amazing and we are so blessed to have this new facility to share with our community.
Well done everyone who gave so generously from our church community to make this a reality.

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Part 3….

Next, we move onto wax processing for lotions and potions.  I love to make handcrafted soap and lotions.  I make rather a lot of it and we go through a lot of it as well.  Between the three of us we must have the smoothest skin in Lancashire!  To make lotion you need beeswax but before I can use the wax from our lovely beehive it needs to be processed.

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There are many ways to process wax and I am keen to give a few of them a try so that I can form a well-rounded opinion of my favourite. ¬†Here are a few methods I have tried so far…

  1. For very small-scale I tend to put it into a tall tin and pour boiling water over the top and let it stay hot, without boiling, on the stove for a few minutes.  It is then left overnight during which time the solid particles drop to the bottom of the water and the wax floats to the top creating a disc of wax.  In the morning when it is cool the wax disc shrinks slightly and allow it to be lifted out of the tin.  I scrape off any debris that has clung to the underside of the wax disk, check for purity and if necessary repeat the process again.
  2. Take a large muslin bag and place the wax in the bag which is suspended across a very large bucket.  Inside the bucket you will place a few inches of water.  Insert the nozzle from a steam generator (ours is a Polti, but a wallpaper stripper would do just as well) into a hole in the top of the bucket.  The steam will build up inside the bucket and melt the wax which will form a large disc on the surface of the water and leave the debris from the comb inside the muslin bag.
  3. A homemade trial wax solar still.  We took a plastic crate, lined it with foil, a baking pan with a little water in it to catch the melting wax and propped up an aluminium turkey cooking tray with a little door cut out on side so that it overhangs the receiving bowl.  The aluminium tray is angled so that the melting wax flows down through the hole cut out the end and into the water below.  Two pieces of window glass from our house restoration served as the lid of the solar still and it was placed in the sunshine.

Success or not?

Method 1 is a very low tech, easy and very successful method to use for very small volumes and I use it all the time if I get a small piece of comb that I need to process and don’t want to wait for a large batch.

Method 2 worked really well, but should be done outdoors preferably and is a much better solution for very large quantities of wax because this gave us a really nice clean wax at the end.  The debris left over was easily disposed of in the garden and in fact you can use this compressed into little balls as excellent fire lighters for the BBQ.

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Method 3 – well, we had 1 really lovely day here in Lancashire which created enough heat in the box to melt the wax. ¬†It did take most of the day so this isn’t a method if you are in a hurry! ¬†Unfortunately we added more wax to the still but the sun then disappeared for weeks on end and I was left stuck with half a batch only partially processed and it being a rather messy process, I have just left it hoping that one of these days Lancashire might actually get some decent summer. ¬†This process will not work properly unless the temperature is at least 20 Celsius, so I am not sure I will bother creating a more permanent solar still because the English weather is just not predictable enough.

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I will continue to use method 1 and expand my experimentation with method 2 using a few modifications that I know will make it even easier.  In addition, I will work on another method using my fruit juicing pot when I have built up enough new wax stores next year.

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In the end, I have enough lovely clean wax to begin many new lotions, lip balms, soaps and other lovely goodies for the family.

Shaving soap for hubby…..

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Castile soap and goats milk soap….

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Shoe polish….

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Cooking soap using the hot process method in a slow cooker…..

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A glorious teatree, lavender and peppermint soap…..

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All things considered, it may take a little time and effort but I would definitely not like to be without the beeswax for all the lovely things I can make from it.

 

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How I salvaged a broken vintage ice bucket….

Swiss army wife...

It took me months to find an ice bucket I loved and could also afford.  There were some amazing ones that I really, really would have loved, but as they were designer vintage they were a bit too rich for my blood; like this one….

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and this one…..

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Being on a very tight budget, I managed to find one I really liked but was within easier financial reach, so I got this one….

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I think it was a very nice compromise because it is vintage, beautiful and insulated ‚Äď I cannot see the point of an ice bucket that isn‚Äôt insulated because surely the ice would melt in no time?

I was SO happy when it arrived beautifully packaged by the seller ‚Äď seriously, she couldn‚Äôt have done any more to secure the parcel, but it was in vain because when we picked it up it made an ominous‚Ķ

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The story of my adventure from a wheelchair operator to a digger operator!

Bundu bashing and other wheelchair adventures...

I have just spent a very happy three day bank holiday weekend like this….

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Who knew that I would find a new skill as a digger operator! What a sight it must have been seeing a woman get out if a digger and transfer to a wheelchair; now that would have been worth a picture!
The building site that is our ‚Äėgarden‚Äô needed some extensive work in order to allow me access in my wheelchair and although the house needs our full-time attention we decided that me getting into the garden this summer was a priority because I need to care for the 15 espalier fruit trees I was given for my fiftieth birthday the year before last.
The trees have so far survived in pots but it was time to get them into the ground but before this could happen we had to clear the ground of old foundations…

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Every single one of us should be thinking about the impact of cheap clothing on labourers across the globe. Most of us buy these items without even realising that we are adding to this problem but once you have heard the message you can no longer plead ignorance.
Why don’t we rather spend a little more on fewer items? Buy better quality that lasts longer. Make something yourself – see just how long it takes so that you value the labour put into making that pair of jeans you wear, that favourite dress you go partying in.
Please take 9 minutes out of your busy day to learn and understand why people are out there protesting on our behalf to make lives better.
What if this was your daughter, or mother – how much effort would you put into fixing this?

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Ooh la la….

New French doors….

Bundu bashing and other wheelchair adventures...

…it’s so French! Can anyone tell me why these are called French Doors? Well, whatever the answer it took a big leap for me to add any doors, French or otherwise, into our large open plan living space. The thing that clinched it was the amount of heat that leached out of the Assembly room (our lounge) even when the wood burning stove was belting out heat at 10kw. That equates to a LOT of wood every evening it was lit and it seemed the right thing to do. I was fortunate to find two sets of matching interior Georgian-style French doors and a single door online; that was £80 for 5 doors which is a bargain in door terms.

The first set have now been installed in the large opening to the kitchen. The two smaller arches have been framed, boarded and plastered and the other large opening was…

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Butterfly bonanza…..

According to the news reports I have heard recently, butterflies are in decline and many species are in serious trouble Рor so they say; here at Hesketh House it seems that may be an exaggeration because every day I have to get rid of a few dozen.  Since I have been sitting on my bed in the last hour or so I have had to evict 8 butterflies of 3 different species!  Seriously, this is mad.  Some of the time I just leave them to find their own way out through the opposite window but occasionally they are a little more reluctant to leave and I have to step in when their fluttering starts to annoy me; until I noticed the different species, I did wonder if it was the same stupid individual that kept going out the window and straight back in the other side of the house; but that is obviously not true because they are completely different colours.  

When we first moved into the house just over two years ago, we had hundreds of butterflies hatch in one of the bedrooms because the house had been boarded up for over a year and they must have got in and laid eggs in the roof or floorboards. ¬†Does anyone know if they are like salmon; always returning to their spawning grounds each year? ¬†That may explain why we have dozens in the house every day ūüôā ¬†

It is a rather pretty problem to have don’t you think?

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Being VERY new to gardening I have had to be advised on the types of fruit trees for my orchard; and in some instances just picked some that I really liked and that I know hubby will love – like the figs.

Here is what we will be planting, first into pots and then later in the year if the ground is ready we will move them into their proper location….

2 x Pinova apples

2 x Sunset apples

2 x Conference pears

1 x Victoria plum

1 x Stella plum

1 x Brown Turkey fig

1 x Madeleine des deux saisons fig (fruits twice a year)

1 x Avalon peach and Honey Kist Nectarine (this one has me confused because I thought I was getting two trees but it seems that this one has two varieties on the same tree – wow!)

1 x Sunburst Giesla 5 cherry

So all together that gives me a lovely semicentennial orchard of 12 trees but 13 types of fruit.

I am so excited because they are going to be gorgeous up against the long bare walls and make it look less like the Hesketh junkyard! I do need to keep reminding myself that this is a LONG term project and the trees will take quite a number of years to reach the full height of the wall but if I start to get fruit in the next two years it will make all the effort worthwhile.

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