Apr 9, 2018

Two simple DIY home cleaning recipes I use [one step closer to being a hippy ;) ]

Who knew that making your own household cleaner was so simple you could do it with your eyes closed?! I recently decided to have a crack at making my own Spray-n-Wipe type cleaner. There really is no 'con' with this - only pros. It's probably easier to make this than it is to go out and buy another spray-n-wipe. It's also cheaper, smells way better, and is chemical free. Chances are you may even have the ingredients on hand right now. And you get to feel really smug that you're now environmentally conscious, a little more self-sufficient, chemical-free and all those good things. I'm sure I don't need to mention it being free from all the extra rubbish they put in chemical cleaners e.g. blue colouring and ingredients you can't pronounce. Not to mention the wasteful plastic packaging. 

1. All purpose household cleaner
I use this for:
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • All hard surfaces that need wiping
  • Mirrors (use a fine micro fibre cloth)
  • Windows (use a fine micro fibre cloth)
  • Floors

What you need:
  • 4 parts water (distilled if your water is not pure)
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 4-5 drops Tea Tree essential oil (antibacterial)
  • A few drops other essential oils of your choice, for scent (optional). I use lemon and lavender

DIY natural multi-purpose home cleanerDIY natural multi-purpose home cleaner

That's it! Mix them in a spray bottle for easy cleaning. 
The vinegar and tea tree oil give this antibacterial properties, and although the other oils are completely optional I have to say the fresh clean scent they make is addictive, without that cloying synthetic fragrance of other cleaners. 

I use a micro-fibre cloth for cleaning surfaces. A fine micro fibre cloth gives a perfect finish on glass. I have a bunch of different colours for different areas (everyday surfaces, bathroom surfaces, glass, etc) and throw them in the wash after use. I don't spend loads of money on fancy ones - these are from the supermarket.

DIY natural multi-purpose home cleaner

2. DIY Laundry powder
Once I got brave enough to give our own laundry powder a try, I was so glad I did. It was simple, it works, and it will last us a long time.
Easy DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz
My husband has sensitive skin and I had been trying to use Soap Nut Liquid (a natural soap alternative) but then I read people saying it was amazing even tho it made their clothes dingey over time. It made their clothes dingey? And they kept using it? Clearly some people are not as super fussy about perfect laundering as I am?!

So I decided to go the whole hog and make an actual laundry powder myself.
I actually went to Bin Inn for these ingredients and it was like a whole new world of natural alternatives. I was surprised to feel so excited about all the things they stock for make-your-own type products. (They are not paying me to share all this, but they should, because I'm so into them right now!)

What you need:

[If you want to make less (or more) than the 2.5 kg I made, the ratio is 2 parts borax: 2 parts washing soda; 1 part soap. Adjust the volume accordingly].

To make a whopping 2.5kg (approx) of washing powder, free from fragrances or fillers or any other rubbish, I used:

  • 4 cups borax (I got mine from Bin Inn, but you can get it from the supermarket or hardware places)
  • 4 cups washing soda
  • 1-2 bars of a natural soap. I used organic goat's milk soap from Bin Inn for $1.20.
  • A grater or food processor you don't mind getting soap in
  • (Optional: few drops essential oil for scent)

DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz


  1. Grate or food-processor the soap, and mix it in a large bowl with the washing soda and borax.
  2. Store as you usually would
  3. Use 2 Tbsp per load
DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz

Easy DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz

Easy DIY natural laundry powder detergent nz

That's it!

It's fun and educational for kids to help with this, although obviously you don't want them inhaling or eating the powder so be careful about that. Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) is a naturally occuring mineral but that doesn't make it safe for using beyond what it's meant for. I let my daughter stir this but not get it all over her hands. Just like I wouldn't let her play, breathe-in or ingest any other detergent or cleaner ingredient.

I enjoy knowing I made this and that it's virtually a waste-free product for our household. Also, it works just like any other laundry powder that you buy! Without fragrance, fillers, or wasteful packaging. Did you know that Bin Inn give you a 5% discount if you bring your own jars or containers?! (The packaging you see in the pictures above are my own fault for forgetting to bring containers with me.... but now I know for next time.)


Mar 24, 2018

Winter bucket list 2018

It's getting slowly chillier down in these parts as we head into Winter, and with daylight savings ending next weekend I've been starting to piece together my survival plan for the gloomy cold days ahead.

1. Make our living areas cosier with better lighting
We have overhead lighting and it's so bright and glarey. I'm halfway there as I found this unused lampstand at my parent's house and added a shade to it. 

2. More cushions/throw blankets
I made this 'Home' cushion the other week on a total whim (it started out as a way to practice very basic quilting) and it made me realise how cosy cushions and throws can make things look. We have ginormous blank couches and sometimes they make the whole room feels quite stark. (We also don't have a rug or coffee table, so that doesn't help, but they're not priorities in our budget and with little kids sometimes it's easier this way.). One day I'd like to get all our cushions etc sorted out and coordinated instead of the random mix we currently have.

3. Plan a trip away
Fiji would be great... but realistically we'll be staying closer to home this year. Something for when we're at least halfway through winter should make that second half not drag quite so much.

4. Make these peppermint marshmallows and hot chocolates again.

Husband requested it!

5. Family Night
A couple of times now we've had a Friday night family night where we do something together, beyond what we normally do. The first time, I managed to convince everyone to make donuts with me (based off a recipe from the Farmer Boy book in the Little House series I read as a kid) and it was so different for us to cook all together (minus Josh who was in bed asleep). Ella was really excited by it which made me chuffed. We often do outdoorsy things together ('family adventures') but doing an actual activity together is pretty new for us. Another time we took a soccer ball to a field we've never been to before and kicked in around in the howling gale, getting absolutely freezing with all our noses running. It was memorable tho.
Other ideas we had for this were: a scavenger hunt; a board games night; doing a fun science experiment; making something together; etc.

6. I was going to write embrace the slow-cooker but in all honestly I'm still tired of slow-cooking from last winter! Or am I just tired of all cooking? Hmmmmm...........

7. Make a quilt + other projects
I'm trying to get started on making:
- a quilt for Ella's room (the planning is hard!)
- a rag doll for Ella (I'm up to embroidering the eyes and it's looking so creepy with my novice embroidery skills)
- a wooden bear name sign for Josh's room (it's cut out, I just need to stain it and paint the name on) 
- maybe a top for me? Something long sleeved in a pretty fabric, but a basic cut.



Mar 19, 2018

Ella-isms Vol 2

Life is crazy these days but I thought I'd take a minute to record some of the things my 3-yr old says!
She is so much fun and getting more chatty by the minute. She's recently started making her own bed (un-asked) rinsing her dishes and loading the dishwasher (un-asked!) and asking "can I be your helper?" whenever I am doing some kind of chores. I'm making the most of the novelty before she gets over it. She is also super into her stuffed toys and doll, and is constantly lining them all up to play 'kindy teacher' (she sits on a chair in front of them and calls them up one by one to be sung happy birthday to) or else making birthday parties with her pretend food.

Without further ado. Some pearlers from the little miss:

"I need to go poopoo because I ate too much muffin. Yeah. It went fast down to my butt."

In a decor shop: "EUCH. Mum.... this shop is too yucky."

On her way back from the toilet: "Do you know the cupcakes and the crackers came out of my butt right now?"

Playing doctors with me: "I'm just gonna take your blood pressure and get all the blood out of your heart. Don't move ok? You need to stay there until I'm finished with you."

When Calum was late getting back to the car after our walk up a hill: "Is daddy pooing on the grass?"

"I am a princess. Where are my angel wings and my crown?"

"Oh no, I think the teddies are getting a little bit margerated. They have a little bit of fire up on their head, and a sick coming out their mouf.  I know just what to do with margeraters. You can't give them biscuits - that just makes them more margerated. They can eat ONLY medicine ALL day. That will make them just right better. They need a long story because they will be a-margerated. They can't eat sugar or flour or...or....pavalova! And veggies makes the margerated only more sick."
(Mystery revealed when she later said "Don't take Pooh Bear daddy! He's got a margerain!" And we realised "margerated" = someone with a migraine)

"I heard Joshy waking up and it was HORRIBLE."

"Mummy, can you please hold Joshy forever?" when he was crawling around grabbing her toys.

When I gave her a tiny speckled chocolate egg: "Mum, this is the specialist day dat I ever seen!"

Singing "You are my precious dolly and I don't want anyone to breeeeak ya... coz you are my precious dolly of the woooorld"


Feb 7, 2018

The fastest ways to mental health + happiness (imho)

I'll precede this blog post by saying I'm not talking about clinical depression or severe mental illness, but there are times when we start to feel really discontented with our lives and just annoyed/jealous/resentful/depressed in general. Particularly as mothers/parents. So I wanted to share this post of the things that have helped me immensely get to a more healthy mental state and just reboot some areas of my life (hello creativity).

1. Delete Instagram off your phone

Go on, I dare you, and I promise you'll be shocked at how little you miss. Your thumb will absently try to scroll through that addictive little app about 50 times per day but eventually it will remember that there's nothing there and your clear, independent brain will feel so good.

If you need IG for your business, I'd suggest scheduling a time each day (or 2 times, of 5 mins each) to jump on and upload your own photos without idly browsing through everyone else's. If you need to comment on other people's photos to build your brand/following, challenge yourself to do it within 5 mins and be very intentional about it. E.G you could say I need to upload 1 quality photo per day and comment/like 10 others. Then I turn the app off, or even UNINSTALL it (not as crazy as it sounds - it's like 2 taps of your thumb to get it back) until my next posting window. And uninstall on weekends so you don't automatically open instagram every time you sit on the toilet and I KNOW that's not just me.

2. Stop thinking about looking perfect.
This is an extension of #1. We live in a world that has a real side and a heavy virtual side, and the virtual side is 100% represented by either photos or videos. Which we know in our brains is not real life, but we have visual memories so when we see people looking perfect showing their "day in the life" professionally photographed perfection and it looks nnnnoooooothing like our own day in the life, it still grates, and we don't realise that we are feeling annoyed with our own ugly imperfect messy surroundings because we are subconsciously comparing everything we see and do with a fake 'perfect' version of it.

People have to create attractive content to earn their place on the internet. I do it, everyone who wants to use their blog or social media as a platform to build a brand on (whether now or in the future) does it. It's ok to do it. But when you feel stink about yourself, it's time to stop looking at everyone else's content and give your brain a few weeks to adjust to not thinking "will this make a good instagram picture?" every time you are recording a memory.

I am so stoked with this photo above, it's from a fun day this week and gives me all the happy vibes. But it wouldn't be deemed professional enough to make lifestyle-blogger or instagrammer content.

3. On that note, stop reading those blogs you've read for years.
Including this one if it comes to that!
I started reading blogs years ago before I started my own. I've been so inspired by other people on the internet: recipes, craft ideas, home decor, health tips... yada yada. But when I really sat back and assessed the situation, I read blogs daily because I feel like a slave to it. I develop a weird sense of caring for these people I've never met. I feel like we are friends because they write so well and share their life on the internet.... but the truth is they don't know me or care about me, and you know what, I'm not obligated to read their blog every day if it's taking up precious time or making me feel dissatisfied with my life.

I've 'met' a lot of bloggers online who I would definitely look up if I was in their part of the world, and hope to connect in person. That would be fun. But if you are missing out on your own real life because you are reading someone else's only-the-good-bits life, something's not right.

4. You don't have to be inspired all the time.
Truth: Pinterest saps my creativity dry. 
Looking at other people's fitness story photos makes me jealous after a momentary "I could do that!" excitement that fades quickly in the reality of exercise and strict diets.
Seeing a beautiful house I want so badly but can't have makes me feel discontented with my home.
I could go on.

Point is, "inspiration" is an over-used word in our generation and you actually don't need to be inspired most of the time. If you give your brain a one-week break from all "inspiration" I promise you will start to feel refreshed and begin feeling inspired all on your own. 

5. Journal sometimes.
But only when you feel like it, or the guilt defeats the purpose.
When you need to get your feelings out, you can do it into your journal instead of onto the internet or into another person's ears. These could be negative or positive feelings. I don't mean it's bad to talk to people - at all! - but it's ok to share things with yourself instead of with the world. In fact, it's better sometimes. I find writing prayers and thoughts out is awesome.

6. Well duh, but, nature.
When I'm in a funk my husband tells me to go outside (ok it happened once) and I feel so much better. Even when it's cold or windy there's something great that happens when you enter a different environment and your brain resets. 
Nature is hardly ever stressful, even in bad weather (I can only think of natural-disaster situations where nature would cause genuine stress) and we're humans. You know, animals. Sometimes I think we need to remember that we don't belong at desks in front of screens, and maybe 95% of our problems would be solved if society could get back being a little more primitive and working with our hands on things that would aid our physical survival (a little foraging, anyone?). 

7. There is beauty in work
Working with my husband this year on things like marketing for our business was never on my radar as something I would enjoy doing. But these days I spend good chunks of time hanging out in our office designing and typing away and you know what, it's oh-so-satisfying. I thought being a housewife and stay-at-home mum/blogger would satisfy all my desires but I'm learning that using my brain for other tasks is SO healthy for me. I feel at least 50 times better about life in general. It's not that I didn't have enough to do before (au contraire!) but that I didn't have something completely different to use my brain on. I remember thinking "I could housewife more. I could meal plan and make soap from scratch. I could do more mum's groups, more coffee catchups, more playdates... but it would be more of the same. A bit of both worlds is feeling really healthy for me at the moment.

8. It's OK to need order.
As long as you can let it go sometimes.
Everything I read says that the key to happiness in your home environment as a mother, is to lower your standards and embrace the mess. Which sounds great except when mess and chaos makes you legitimately depressed or anxious. It's ok to recognise that you need to keep things in order and then structure your routine so that you can make it happen.
And it's ok to flop waaaaaaay off that band wagon and laugh at the slob you have apparently become. (Though we all know it's your kids, not you.)

9. Invite your friends round and then don't clean anything
It's liberating, and they will thank you.

10. Sometimes, have a bath and then go to bed early and read your book with a cup of tea.
You will feel so, so guilty. You will feel like your husband is thinking you are lazy, like your friends are all doing dishes until midnight, like you should at least be pressing buttons on your phone or watching TV or acting busy. This is the time to ask yourself: what do I normally do at this time? And I can almost guarantee the answer is NOTHING important. Nothing you can't miss. If you're not looking at Instagram (see #1) and you've hopefully given up facebook, your brain is free to do something that is actually more productive than all of that. Read something! My fave is historical fiction because I learn so much through people-interest stories but that's my choice. Go to bed as soon as the kids are in bed and the dishes are done and you will feel like you're living the dream.

What have I missed?