Thursday, 27 August 2015

Knitting: Shark test knit

Linda Dawkins asked me to Jon in a test knit for her latest pattern. As I love her patterns I was ever so pleased to be able to test it. The start date is 21 August and it has to be finished by 1 September. I managed to finish it by 31 August, so just in time.

Here is the link to the Ravelry page on which the pattern is:

Here are some pictures of my shark.

Spinning: Spindle

For years now I have found spinning yarn from wool very interesting. So a good year ago I did a course on Craftsy, which Drucilla Pettibone taught. I learned a lot and have since been trying my hand on spinning.
My first yarn was from Coopworth fibre. This is at the moment on the way to get twined, so I have no photos of it at present, but as soon as I get to the twining I will put it up.
My second yarn is presently being made from Jacob fibre.
Below you will find a photo. I am halfway through the fibre. I love doing this. It is a wonderful craft.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Crochet: Dutch blanket

After I finished making the Sophie blanket, I started making the Dutch blanket (Hollanddeken). This blanket was also made in a Crochet A Long (CAL).
I am on week 16 now. It is a total of 26 weeks. I have all the patterns already as I was a late starter, just like with Sophie.
The Dutch blanket is not on a website. It is published through a facebook group and only in Dutch as far as I am aware.
The patterns do not include Tunesian crochet, but as I like that better to crochet an image into a square I used that. This means that I am by height right, but in width I am not, so I will adapt them to fit with the rest of the squares.

Here are the photos of the 16 finished weeks.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Boron, Borax

My own experience:
For some time I have had joint pains, which were sometimes not too bad, sometimes very bad so that I had trouble walking or holding on to things. So I decided I needed to do something about that. But this was not easy. Most of the time one reads that this means calcium or whatever the common ideas are. Or just plain, that is part of growing older, live with it. Live with it is not something I like, I prefer to find out why something is happening and with that seeing whether there is a way to make it better, easier, or cure it altogether. Mostly things can be solved.

After a bit of a search I stumbled upon hearing about the element boron while watching a presentation by Sally Fallon Morell. This triggered my interest with regards to my joint pains. She explained she had been using boron and that this resulted in healthier joints and less pain.

So I decided I needed to seriously read up on that. I discussed it with knowledgeable people as well, as I wanted to know as much as I could about it.

I learned that boron can indeed help with joints and many other symptoms. I bought a supplement, called "Liquid Ionic Boron" for 20 Pounds for a bottle of 250 ml. This was quite a bit of money, so I wanted to find out whether there were cheaper options. 

There was a much cheaper option I learned. When using borax and mixing it with water, one get liquid ionic boron. Just like that. Borax is quite cheap.
This resulted in buying borax (sodium tetraborate hexahydrate or sodium borate) on E-bay for 3 Pounds per kilo. After some research I learned I would need 1 teaspoon per litre of water. That was an entirely different price tag, that all of a sudden became dirt cheap.

The research into which type of solution of borax to use for which issues was very interesting. After having used up the first bought batch I noticed that my joint pains were really seriously become much much less, so I continued after that by making my own borax solution. This continued giving me the same effect. So essentially I am joint pain free these days.

During a week away from home recently I forgot to take my supplement, by the end of the week I had more pain again. So it is very clear to me that my home made Boron supplement is saving me a lot of pain.

What I learned from researching Borax / Boron:

So what is Borax:

Borax (sodium tetraborate hexahydrate or sodium borate) is a naturally-occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen and water. Most commercially-produced borax is mined from deposits produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. It is found in large quantities in the Western United States, in Mediterranean countries, Kazakhstan, and the Tibet region of China. Turkey is one of the largest commercial producers of borates.

From our food we tend to get no more than 7mg of boron per day, which is mainly from plant foods. It seems that this is too little for most people. Which is mostly an issue for people living in areas where there is little to no boron in the soil.

Chemical fertilisers inhibit the extraction of boron from the soil by the plants, therefore conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are very low in boron. 
Organically grown are fruits and vegetables can be very high in boron when they have been grown on boron rich soil.

What does Borax do for health:

I was amazed when I learned what research has shown that boron can do to keep people healthy. Below the list follows, I have referenced the research at the bottom for you to check for yourself. As with anything, do not believe me just like that, check for yourself.

  1. It is anti-microbial and anti-viral: It is toxic to insects, bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasites.
  2. It is a fungicide: It is effective again fungi and moulds, internally and externally (1, 2)
  3. It is a toxin remover: It chelates and protects from heavy metals (3)
  4. It helps with mental capabilities: It improves memory, short and long term, attention span, perception and hand-eye coordination (4, 5)
  5. It reduces and controls inflammation (5, 6)
  6. It balances fluoride: It protects against accumulating fluoride in the body, it removes fluoride from the body, it is an effective anti-dote against fluoride poisoning. (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
  7. It balances the hormones: It stabilises estrogen, it stimulates the production of hormones. It helps with insulin use and blood glucose control, triglyceride use and production of reactive oxygen. This study (4) has shown that with adequate boron blood serum triglyceride levels are significantly lower. And with adequate boron estrogen therapy is possibly not necessary (13, 6). It is helps with low libido for both men and women as boron stimulates of DHT and testosterone and normalises oestrogen (5, 6)
  8. It is good for the immune system: It enhances the immune system (4)
  9. It is good for wound healing (5)
  10. It stabilises several mineral levels: It stabilises calcium, magnesium and copper levels and inhibits calcification (4). Adequate boron levels normalise calcium levels, which prevents bone weakness and abnormal calcium deposits. (4, 13, 5). Adequate boron levels prevents the accumulation of in-organic copper in the bones and prevents loss of bone (4, 13)
This is quite a list of good effects that adequate levels of boron can have on health. I was quite amazed when discovering this all.

What can you use boron / borax for: 
Boron can be used as prevention, or as treatment, depending on your needs.

You can use boron for the following ailments: rheumatoid arthritis (5, 17), gout, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and other bone, joint and connective tissue diseases, spondylitis, swollen gums and loose teeth (5, 17, 4,13), arterial diseases, hypertension and blood lipid disorders (4, 5), obesity, cancer (18, 5, 19), UTI (1) and other infections. It has been used for many problems. (14, 15, 16, 4, 13, 17, 6). 

How do you use boron / borax:
Make sure you buy medical grade borax as this has no unwanted additives. In Europe you'll have to get it online (E-bay) as it is basically banned, because of it being toxic. But the toxicity level is LD50 (Lethal Dose 50), which very close to table salt which also got LD50. Borax is 2.66g/kg in rats and table salt is 3.75g/kg in rats (20), yet nobody is bothered by table salt, we can buy it in every supermarket, so why not borax? Material safety data sheets of salt and borax (21).

Take some water, however much you think you will need, and saturate it completely with borax powder. You keep adding the powder until it stops taking it up. This will require quite a bit of shaking and stirring to get it done. You may also need to give it time. When I dissolve the borax I start the day before, as it seems to really take time to dissolve.
You can use this solution on affected skin. 

A study has shown that humans need a minimum dosage of 0.5 to 1 mg per day to function properly (4). That said it seems that an ongoing maintenance dosage to prevent illness is more likely to be 3 to 6 mg. A treatment dosage is to be around 10 mg or more per day.

How to mix it:
Take 1 teaspoon of borax, dissolve this in 1 litre of water. 
As a maintenance dosage use 2 teaspoons per day of this solution, this gives you about 6mg per day.
For bone, muscle and hormone problems go up to about 9mg per day, this will be 3 teaspoons per day.
For infections such a fungal and for removing fluoride from the body use about 100ml of the solution per day.

When you are considering taking up a boron protocol, do keep in mind that you should have an idea on whether or not you may have other deficiencies. Boron works synergistically with magnesium, but magnesium needs vitamin D3 to work well.

For further reading you can look here ( This was quite an interesting site to read about why it is so difficult to purchase borax in Europe and other areas.


  1. Francesco De Seta1, Martin Schmidt, Bao Vu, Michael Essmann, Bryan Larsen. Antifungal mechanisms supporting boric acid therapy of Candida vaginitis. J. Antimicrob. Chemother. (2009) 63 (2):325-336. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkn486.
  2. Iavazzo C, Gkegkes ID, Zarkada IM, Falagas ME. Boric acid for recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: the clinical evidence.J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Aug;20(8):1245-55. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2708. Epub 2011 Jul 20.
  3. Turkez H., Geyikoglu F., Tatar A., Keles M.S., Kaplan I. The effects of some boron compounds against heavy metal toxicity in human blood. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2012 Jan;64(1-2):93-101. Epub 2010 Jul 20. Article
  4. Forrest H. Nielsen. Evidence for the Nutritional Essentiality of Boron. The Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine. 9:215-229 (1996).
  5. Benderdour M, Bui-Van T, Dicko A, Belleville F. In vivo and in vitro effects of boron and boronated compounds. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 1998 Mar;12(1):2-7.
  6. Naghii MR, Mofid M, Asgari AR, Hedayati M, Daneshpour MS. Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2011 Jan;25(1):54-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2010.10.001. Epub 2010 Dec 3.
  7. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Reggabi M, Alamir B, Benali S, Azzouz M, Khelfat K. Boron as a preventive antidote in acute and subacute fluoride intoxication in rabbits: its action on fluoride and calcium-phosphorus metabolism. Fluoride 13:129-138 (1980).
  8. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Reggabi M, Benali S, Azzouz M, Khelfat K, Tabet Aoul M. Boron as an antidote in acute fluoride intoxication in rabbits: its action on the fluoride and calcium-phosphorus metabolism. Fluoride 13:30-38 (1980).
  9. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Azzouz M, Khelfat K, Hamrour M, Alamir B, Benali S, Reggabi M. Boron as antidote to fluoride: effect on bones and claws in subacute intoxication of rabbits. Fluoride 14:21-29 (1981).
  10. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Reggabi M, Benali S, Hamrour HM, Azzouz M, Khalfat K, Tabet Aoul M, Nauer J. Action of boron upon fluorosis: An experimental study. Fluoride 15:75-78 (1982).
  11. Franke J, Runge H, Bech R, Wiedner W, Kramer W, Kochmann W, Hennig A, Ludke H, Seffner W, Teubner W, Franke M, Moritz W, Barthold L, Geinitz D. Boron as an antidote to fluorosis? Part I. Studies on the skeletal system. Fluoride 18: 187-197 (1985).
  12. LY Zhou, ZD Wei, SZ Ldu. Effect of Borax in Treatment of Skeletal Fluorosis. International Society for Fluoride Research, 20(3):104-108. 1987.
  13. Forrest H. Nielsen, Loanne M. Mullen, Sandra K. Gallagher. Effect of Boron Depletion and Repletion on Blood Indicators of Calcium Status in Humans Fed a Magnesium-low Diet. The Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine. 3:45-54 (1990).
  14. Newnham, Rex. Away with Arthritis. 2nd edition printed 1993.
  15. Mary Duncan. Boron phenols and health : clues to the mysteries of ADD - Alzheimer's - Asthma. Carabooda, W.A. : Alkimos Australia, 1995.
  16. Newnham R. E. Essentiality of boron for healthy bones and joints. Environ Health Perspect. 1994;102 Suppl 7:83-85.
  17. Z Bentwich, Robert Bingham, Mark Hegsted, Herbert Hunt, Prof Jeffries, Jack Loneragan, Loughman, O.O. Myers, Ploquin, Hans Neiper, Rex E. Newnham, et al. Boron and Arthritis. Arthritis Trust of America. 1994.
  18. Hall, Iris et al. Ongoing research on boranes and other borax compounds, Division of medical chemistry, University of North Carolina.
  19. Hasan Turkez, Fatime Geyikoglu. Boric acid: a potential chemoprotective agent against aflatoxin b1 toxicity in human blood. Cytotechnology. Apr 2010; 62(2): 157-165. Published online Apr 30, 2010. doi: 10.1007/s10616-010-9272-2.
  20. Borax - toxicity, ecological toxicity and regulatory information. Retrieved 17 February 2012. Article
  21. Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS for borax. retrieved January 2014, date of issue May 2008. retrieved January 2014, revised 18 February 2005.
  22. S. Meacham, S. Karakas, A. Wallace, F. Altun. Boron in Human Health: Evidence for Dietary Recommendations and Public Policies. The Open Mineral Processing Journal, 2010, 3, 36-53.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Difficulty: easy
Time: Oven 1 hour, slow cooker 4 to 7 hours
Serves: 6
Yield: 6 pieces 
Traditional/GAPS/SCD legal, Primal
  • Oven or slow cooker
  • Pan
  • large oven safe bowl in case the oven is used

  • 1 kg beef mince or 500 gr pork mince and 500 gr beef mince
  • butter, lard, tallow, beef drippings
  • courgette
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • garlic
  • passata
  • grated cheese
  • salt, peper, oregano

Things to do ahead:
  • 1 day ahead thaw meat

  • Preheat the oven on 180C/350F, fan assisted on 160C, gas 4 when using the oven
  • Clean and slice the courgette
  • Cube the onions and set aside
  • Slice the mushrooms and set aside
  • Brown the beef in a pan in some butter, lard, tallow or beef drippings, add onions, mushrooms and garlic to the pan and fry with the meat until soft
  • Add the passata and let it cook for a bit.
  • Add salt, pepper and oregano to taste, keeping in mind that there will be courgette used in stead of the traditional lasagna sheets, which means that the sauce may need a bit more salt and pepper
  • Spoon some of the sauce into the bowl or slow cooker crock, top with a layer of sliced courgette, again a layer of sauce, topped with a layer of courgette, until the sauce and the courgette are all done, finishing with a layer of sauce.
  • Top with grated cheese.
  • When using the oven put the bowl in the oven for about 35 to 45 minutes, keep an eye on it by the time you reach the 35 minutes mark.
  • When using the slow cooker, put it in for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
  • Buon apetito!

Possible substitutions:
1. butter - coconut, tallow, lard, beef drippings
2. cheese - omit or use a bechamel sauce

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Crochet: The Sophie Blanket

Several months ago I ran into a Crochet-A-Long (CAL) which was about making a blanket, designed by Dedri.
Here you find the page where it all starts:
I fell in love with it. Despite the fact that I hadn't done any crochet in at least 20 years and couldn't even remember how most stitches were done, I decided I was going to make it.
I was a very late starter, but that didn't feel like that would be a problem, as I read I wasn't the only one starting late.
I love the way it turned out.
Below you find a few pictures of my blanket.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Today I would like to tell you a little about Yarrow. It is a lovely plant that you can find in many places. We find it in various places in our local woods.
This is what Yarrow looks like:

The latin name of Yarrow is "Achillea millefolium". The second part of the name "millefolium" has "mille" in there, which is thousand and "folium" which is leaves. You can see the little feather-shaped leaves, which looks like there are a thousand of little leaves on each leaf.

Yarrow is native to the temperate regions of the nothern hemisphere. You can find it all over Asia, Europe and North America. The common names of Yarrow include wound-wort and thousand-leaf.
Mind the word "wort" in wound-wort. This word used to be used for any type of useful plant, basically meaning "useful". There are may more plants that have wort in them. They have all proven their use over the centuries.

In the Greek mythology it is written that Achilles rubbed himself with the tincture of Yarrow to make himself resistant to arrows. Unfortunately he did not use it on his heels. Therefore leaving his heels vulnerable, which cost him his life in the end.

The uses of Yarrow:

For wounds, rashes, etc., to aid healing, you can use a poultice of Yarrow. You take the fresh herb, grind it, put it on a sterile cotton cloth and put that on the wound. You can keep it warm, by putting a layer of wool over it if you like. 
For wounds Yarrow can be combined with Comfrey in the poultice.
Yarrow stops bleeding.

You use 3 fresh yarrow leaves and some flowers for better flavour, or use 1 teaspoon of dried yarrow. Add 225 ml boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes. For flavour you can use some additional honey or lemon juice. Drink while warm.
For digestive help, against menstrual cramps and colds you can use Yarrow in a tea. For digestive aid, mind can be added if you like. Some people do not like the flavour of mint. 
Yarrow loosens phlegm.

You make the tincture by using a small sterile jar, to which you add fresh Yarrow leaves and flowers. To this you add alcohol, vodka or something similarly strong. Make sure there is little air in the jar. Shake it regularly. Add more vodka as needed. Keep the jar as full as possible so that it doesn't oxidise. Let it steep for 6 weeks in a dark place. After that use a cheese cloth to strain the flowers and leaves out.
You can use 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of the tincture, two to five times a day, for treatment of upper respiratory infection, heavy menstrual bleeding, cramps, or inflammation.
You should start slow, by taking it three times per day and increase or decrease as needed

Skin wash
When you have an oily complexing a wash with Yarrow tea can be beneficial. You use a cup of yarrow flowers and add that to 500 ml boiling water. Let it cool down and use it a tonic for your skin.
This wash can also be used for small scrapes, cuts and irritations.

You make the oil by using a small sterile jar, to which you add Yarrow leaves and flowers. It's best to pick the Yarrow a day or 2 before you make the oil, so that it can wilt a little. Put it in the jar, press down and add extra virgin olive oil. Add more oil as is needed to make sure the jar remains as full as possible.
Keep this in a very light place, preferably a sunny place, for about 6 weeks.
After that use a cheese cloth to strain the flowers and leaves out.
You now have a lovely massage oil. Keep it in a cool place.

To make a salve you use the oil and beeswax. You melt the beeswax on the hob and add the oil. For a small jar a teaspoon of beeswax is enough to make the salve. Experiment a little to get the consistency you like.
Pour the warm salve into sterile jars.
The salve can be helpful with skin irritation and small wounds and scratches.

This is just a bit of basics on Yarrow. There is much more to this wonderful plant.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Goulash, Hungarian

Difficulty: easy
Serves: 6-8


For the goulash:
2 tablespoons butter or lard
2 onions
6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup tomato paste, organic
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Sea salt, to taste
2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
2 kg stewing beef
1/3 fish sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder, organic
2 bay leaves
For the rice:
Sea salt
Filtered water
500 grams brown rice, soaked for at least 12 hours.
1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche, organic
Black pepper, freshly ground



1. The night before, soak the rice in a large pan in acidic water.
2. In the morning, bring the rice to a boil and after 20 minutes of cooking, put it in the haybox and leave it there until dinner to get thoroughly cooked.
cook it as per the instructions on the packaging. This will get it done faster, but the rice is less nutritious. You may consider using white rice instead of brown when you do not have the time to soak the rice overnight.

1. In a large pan, heat the butter or lard over medium heat.
2. Peel and finely dice the onions and garlic cloves. Add to the pan along with the paprika, tomato paste, caraway seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
3. Cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, which will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Cut the beef into large cubes. Set them aside.
5. Stir in the chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits.
6. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker.
7. Add the meat to the slow cooker along with the fish sauce, cornstarch/arrowroot powder and bay leaves and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low until the meat is tender, 4 to 5 hours.
8. Remove the bay leaves from the crock pot. Stir one cup of the stewing liquid into the sour cream to temper, then stir the sour cream mixture into the stew.
12. Season the stew to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
13. Serve the stew over the rice with extra sour cream and sauerkraut on top.