Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Around here - Miracle Spray Recipe

I'm getting super organized with my DIY cleaning and have made some more laundry powder this morning which takes me less than one minute in the Thermomix to make.  I make it in batches and I made 4 batches so all up less than 10 minutes work and I have a large container of home made laundry powder.  You can get the laundry powder recipe from this blog post and if you don't have a Thermomix you could grate your soap or use a food processor.

On the back of the Lectric Washing Soda packet you will find the recipe for "Miracle Spray" which was featured on our A Current Affair TV show a while back.  This is an all purpose cleaner to cut through grease and grime in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry - or anywhere around the home.


  • 1.5 Litres of Water [1 cup of this needs to be boiled]
  • 300ml vinegar
  • 60ml dishwashing liquid
  • 25ml eucalyptus oil
  • 30gms [ie 3 dessertspoons washing soda]


  • Mix washing soda with 1 cup of boiling water to dissolve.
  • Add remainder of ingredients and pour into a 2 Litre bottle.
  • Decant into spray bottles as required.
NOTE - Do not use on aluminium.

Making your own cleaning products at home are super cheap and once you have the ingredients, super quick as well.  Additive Free Lifestyle have a DIY Made Easy self paced course that you can do with lots of information about harmful products that are in the supermarket cleaning products.  Lots of recipes and you have immediate access.  As soon as the girls released this course I bought it and refer to it all the time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Around here - No Knead Focaccia Bread Recipe

I found this recipe via Babymac Blog and Beth's teenage daughter was making this regularly.  It's called "Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia"  There seems a lot of steps in the post however in reality you mix the yeast and add your dry ingredients and then leave that in the fridge overnight.  Then you pop it on a tray and let it rise for 1.5-4 hours and then bake it on 230 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

I made it on Sunday night and took half next door to my neighbour and got a text the next day.

 "Thank you so much for the focaccia - we nearly finished it last night - Jess's words, I don't think Dad can top that!!"

Their daughter is in Grade 5 and their Dad is a chef so that message made me laugh and of course goes to show it's a great focaccia recipe.  He mows my front footpath every week and I'm so lucky to have such lovely neighbours so anytime I can do some baking and share it with them I do.

A few weeks ago it was raining and they rang me to see if I was home because he had made a big pot of chicken noodle soup so turned up on the doorstep with a container for me.  Just having that one beautiful family who looks out for you is priceless and it means so much to me.

The recipe calls for melted butter and garlic to be poured over the top after it's cooked however I opted for home grown rosemary and sea salt to go into the oven which is a favourite in our family.  There seems to be a lot of oil olive used in this recipe to pour into the bowl before you put your dough in and then into the tray you cook it in and then after it's baked.  I would probably only use half of it next time as there seemed to be a lot of oil.  


  • ·       2 and ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ·       2 teaspoons honey
  • ·       625gms bread flour
  • ·       1 Tablespoons Morton kosher salt
  • ·       6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for hands
  • ·       4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • ·       Flaky sea salt
  • ·       2-4 cloves of garlic and/or Rosemary Sprigs


Step 1

Whisk the dry yeast with honey and 2.5 cups of lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit it for 5 minutes.

Step 2

Add 625gms bread flour and salt and mix with spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry steaks remain.

Step 3

Pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. This puppy is going to rise! Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a silicone lid or plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size (it should look very bubbly and alive), at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. If you're in a rush, you can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours.

Step 4

Generously butter a 13x9" baking pan, for thicker focaccia that’s perfect for sandwiches, or an 18x13" rimmed baking sheet, for focaccia that's thinner, crispier, and great for snacking.

The butter may seem superfluous, but it’ll ensure that your focaccia doesn’t stick. Pour 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil into centre of pan. Keeping the dough in the bowl and using a fork in each hand, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into centre of bowl. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process. Do this 2 more times; you want to deflate dough while you form it into a rough ball.

Transfer dough to prepared pan. Pour any oil left in bowl over and turn dough to coat it in oil. Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot (like near a radiator or on top of the fridge or a preheating oven) until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.

Step 5

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 230 degrees. To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.) Lightly oil your hands. If using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch out dough to fill (you probably won't need to do this if using a baking pan).

Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, like you’re aggressively playing the piano, creating very deep depressions in the dough (reach your fingers all the way to the bottom of the pan). Drizzle with remaining 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt [Rosemary if you are using it]. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes.

Ready to go into the fridge overnight - cover with cling wrap first.
Next day pop some olive oil in the tray and pop the dough on top and flip over once.

Here it has been proving uncovered on the bench for about an hour and a half so it spreads.

Now use your fingers and pretend you are playing the piano and poke holes by touching the bottom of the pan.  This is the description in the recipe which I found quite cute.

A close up pic of the surface.

Ready for the oven with rosemary and sea salt.

On a cooling stand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Around here - DIY Toilet Pods

I've wrote a recent blog post on making my DIY Dishwasher Powder and yesterday I made some Toilet Pods for cleaning the toilet.  I've only made them once before however I ran out of citric acid so I haven't made them for a while.  I'm getting back into some non toxic DIY cleaning products so I made a batch of these yesterday afternoon.

I get my supplies from Vitalia in Brisbane and they also ship around Australia.  Here is a starter kit however there are many more kits on line and you can also buy bottles, labels, ingredients etc. essential oils, recipe cards etc.  The recipe for the Toilet Pods is on their website however I've written it out here too.  The whole process took about 10 minutes to mix it up and push it into the tray and then I let it sit for 24 hours before popping them out of the tray.  It's super quick and easy to make and ready to use.



  • 1 x Cup of Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup of Citric Acid
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of unscented Castile Soap
  • 15 Drops of Tea Tree Essential Oils

  • Stir the baking soda and citric acid together until combined.
  • Slowly mix in the Castile soap and Tea Tree Oil, stirring constantly until the mixture resembles wet sand.
  • Pack the pod mixture into a mould and let it dry for 24 hours.
  • Once dry, remove the pods from the mould and store in an airtight container.


Drop one pod into the toilet bowl, wait until the pod stops bubbling and scrub.  If the pods don't have a big bubble reaction just leave for 10 minutes and come back and scrub the toilet and then flush.

Mixture resembles wet sand.

Place into an ice cube tray.  I got these from Vitalia as the bottom of the cube is soft and you can poke out each toilet pod vs a very hard ice cube from an ice cube tray.

One jar for the kids bathroom and one for my ensuite.

The recipe above made 21 toilet pods using the tray I got from Vitalia.

Clearly labeled using a chalk pen.

Here's what they look like.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Around here

Around here "the cost of living" is all doom and gloom and honestly it's really noticeable with prices of everything going up.  The last time I really noticed everything this bad was when it was the GFC [Global Financial Crisis] in 2008 & 2009 [started mid 2007].

Petrol -  Petrol was the one major thing I remember back in 2008 that it cost $60-$70 more to fill my Prado's dual petrol tanks.  We can all relate to the fuel costs at the moment all around the world.  In September our fuel will be going up by 22 cents as the Government halved the excise rates for a period of 6 months however for some reason it doesn't even feel as if we are getting a discount because as soon as this happened the price of fuel went up anyway.  So in the USA petrol is approximately $4.68 USD [$6.96 AUD] a gallon.  It's roughly 4 litres per gallon therefore in Australia 4 litres of petrol at $2.20 is $8.80 AUD so still way dearer than the USA.  

I have long been a fan of doing tasks on the same day and/or in the same area to save on fuel and time so if I know in two days time I'm going to a suburb near the bulk food store I'll save that shopping trip until I'm near there.  It just makes sense and why waste time and money if you know you can do that in a couple of days time if it's not urgent.  There

Electricity - The cost of electricity from 1st July, 2022 went up significantly and I've heard of an increase in 70% more unless you switch.  I've been happy with my electricity provider for many years after not being happy with one of the main players and I keep up to yearly reviews to make sure it's still a good deal.  My current supplier hasn't worked out the new rates until the 1st August so I'm still waiting to do my research.

With the cost of living going up for instance with electricity, it's not as if you are getting better electricity because you change providers.  Electricity is electricity, so I don't understand how it can cost different as the supply is exactly the same.  You don't get anything more for your money so why is the same thing cost more with one provider vs the other.  It's not as if you have one company's lines newer and fancier to your property.  It's all the same you don't get "extra" offered to you like say a streaming service where they might throw in a sport channel for free but the price per month is the same as their competitors.  It doesn't make sense and one company in Australia were actually telling all their customers to go to another company because all the rates were going up and they couldn't supply the electricity at a reasonable price.  What does that tell you!  Crazy.

Car Insurance - This year car insurance has gone up by an increase of 50% on last years premium which is crazy.  I have made no claims during the year and they advised me it's due to supply and demand, increase in the cost of parts, Covid, floods etc. everything is more expensive and hard to get.  I was on the phone to them last week for 35 minutes to see if they could do me a better price or match another company and the answer was no.  I'm not the first to hear of this as I've been a big fan of ringing up and getting a better deal to stay but it appears these days it's very tough and they wouldn't even match the price and even reduce it by $50.

Mobile Phone Plan - I have just come off contract with my mobile phone and I'm always a few years behind in the models so it's affordable.  There is no way I'm paying $1,200-$2,000 for a phone.  I was with Optus for over 25 years and every year for the past 10 years I've checked each year to see if the deal I was on was the best one for me.  My phone is paid off now so I opted for a $120 a year 120GB Sim Card with Kogan which has saved me $360 for the year.  You can keep your same mobile number, order the Sim Card online and when it arrives in the mail go through the steps to change it over.  My advice before you change providers is to back up your phone and jot down a few important mobile numbers of your family and friends.  Years ago we all had an address book with people's phone numbers in them however now they are in our phone and I don't even know my own family's mobiles because I just dial them from my contact list.  So backup your phone, write down some important numbers and switch.  They do all the cancelling with your previous provider.  I understand if you live rurally in Australia this wouldn't be a great option as I think it's with Vodaphone however my IT techie nephew has used them for years so if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me and saving $360 is worth it.

Groceries - I have been lucky enough to pick up some "markdown" meats from the supermarket to use that day or freeze for the next couple of weeks.  Even saving $2 on a packet of meat makes a difference because after 5 packets if you have saved $10 which can be used for another meal.  It may seem small however it seems that lots of general things at the supermarket have gone up apart from fruit and veggies so even 20 to 50 cents on every item all adds up.  I made a beautiful lasagne with the beef mince and added carrots and zucchini for extra veggies too. 

Cleaning Products - I have written a blog post on what I'm doing by making my own cheaper, non-toxic cleaning products.  I do still use detergent to wash up items in the sink and I have always bought Morning Fresh when it's half price at Woolworths.  So a 400ml bottle is normally $5.00 and I always buy it at around $2.50 and usually but 2 or 3 bottles.  I saw an add for $1.00 a bottle at a chemist which is not near me however it was near to where I was going today so I made the effort to go there and purchase 10 bottles at $1.00 a bottle so at full price 10 bottles would be $50.00 and at half price would be $25.00 and I got 10 bottles for $10.00.  There was nothing on the sign saying there was a limit because I checked [didn't check the catalogue however if there was a limit it should clearly be displayed on the sign too].  When I got to the counter the lady told me it was maximum of 3 bottles per person.  I explained I had driven over there especially for these items so she kindly put them through 4 dockets [3 bottles at a time and the final 1 bottle].  Their cash register was obviously set up for the discount however I was grateful she did that for me saving me $40 off the normal price.  I won't need to be buying it even at half price at the supermarket.

Garden - I've planted some lettuce, bok choy, corriander, spring onions, chilies so far and need to weed another garden bed.  I also need to start raise some seeds a few things to save some money at the supermarket particularly with herbs that can be $3-$4 and don't last in the fridge.  It's better to pick fresh from the garden when needed and it makes me feel great when I have some veggies on the go in the garden.  Top priority given also the price of vegetables at the moment.

Wendy from My Abundant Life has heaps of tips and tricks on keeping the cost of living down.  I first saw her on A Current Affair [Australian TV Show] years ago and was very intrigued and I can tell you she is very very thrifty.  She also posted this blog post about "not being poor".  They have saved cash to put in a brand new kitchen, they go on an annual holiday and they eat really well.  It's all about making your dollar work for you and also often you may find people on huge salaries live pay day to pay day because life style creep comes in when they get a pay rise.  At the end of the day if you have $3000 a month or $7,000 a month you can still only allocate that money to things that you value.  Another blog post "The Frugal Life is it Worth it"

Clothes - Op shopping is very on trend and whilst saving money in your pocket you are helping out charities which in turn helps the really needy.  My daughter bought 5 items the other day for $13.50 and was very happy.  She has a part time job and is an amazing saver but loves buying op shop clothes.  I bought a red dress last Christmas for $6 and in summer wear it all the time and feel great.  My son also goes op-shopping with his friends as well and he bought a really nice pair of pants/trousers for $8.  Spending your money wisely and saving where you can is a great way to go about it.

Around here - DIY Dishwashing Powder

I have been making my own laundry powder for over 10 years now and on the odd occasion I have attempted to make dishwashing tablets for the dishwasher as they are very expensive.  These days most tablets have plastic around them which is supposed to dissolve and sometimes half of the tablet and plastic ends up sitting in the compartment after the wash.

I have given another recipe a go and started making dishwashing powder which is working perfectly.  There is nothing left in the compartment and the dishes are clean so I'm really happy with this particular recipe.  I have opted however to use the Finish Blue Rinse Aid still at the moment as it was half price at the supermarket so I bought a couple of bottles for $5 each instead of $10 each.  Once I run out I'll see what I can use in place of that.  Other dishwashing powder recipes I've tried out weren't successful however this one is great.   Here is a slightly different recipe but similar on the Lectric Washing Soda website.


  • 2 x Cups of Bi-Carb Soda
  • 2 x Cups Washing Soda
  • 1 x Cup Citric Acid
  • 1 x Cup Salt
  • Essential Oils [ie lemon]

  • Combine all ingredients in an airtight container.
  • Mix well until incorporated.
  • Use 1-2 teaspoons per load.

You know how much I love the Additive Free Lifestyle sisters and their courses.  This is their DIY Made Easy Course which you can have life time access for $49 and can get you started on lots of recipes and how to make lots of non-toxic home made cleaners.  If you have ever wanted to try to make better choices for your home I can highly recommend this self paced course.  It's not a heavy course so you can start and finish it in a few hours and then print out the recipes and get going.

If you are in Australia I can highly recommend getting your supplies for spray bottles and ingredients or DIY kits from Vitalia in Brisbane.  The online service is great because I order from them and my delivery comes in a couple of days.  They ship all over Australia and have everything you need to get started.  They have some good blog posts as well so check them out.  As an example here is a starter kit however there are lots of different ones depending on what supplies you need or buy individual items as you go.

As an example of how easy these DIY products are to make you can check out this blog post on Vitalia.

Apart from being better for your health, the cost of making these items once you have your spray bottles etc. is very minimal compared to buying supermarket floor cleaner, glass cleaner, all purpose spray, toilet spray, shower power, jiff, toilet gels, the list goes on.  It is so much easier than you think and you can make half of these things in less than 5 mins each.  Would love to hear if you try the dishwashing powder recipe and how you go.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Around here

Around here it's the 2nd week of the Queensland School holidays and the rain is back again.  NSW looks terrible again and some places are flooding for the 4th time this year and it's only 6 months in.  Such difficult times and so disheartening for everyone concerned.

Last week I did my photo project called "Week in the Life" for 2022.  This is the brain child of Ali Edwards, Scrapbooker in the USA and once a year for 7 days you document your life.  Daily activities, food you eat, books you read, places you go anything you want to document in your life.  I first joined in this project in 2008 and have done it every year since with exception of last year when the kids being teenagers don't like having their photos taken anymore so I gave up the thought last year.  In 2022 Ali did her WITL the week of Monday 20th June however my kids weren't with me that week and since they are both on holidays from University and School I sent them a text and said be prepared to get in photos next week as it's Week in the Life.  Whilst grumpy about it I did manage to get them in some photos and I know in 10-20 years time they will love looking back on what was happening during a week in 2022.

Here is a post from Week in the Life in 2014 (8 years ago) so both kids were in primary school and life was very different.  This project is so special because it's documenting history in our lives.  This is a blog post from Week in the Life 2015.  I remember in 2018 WITL Sienna wanted me to go to the shops on Saturday night to get ice cream for waffles and I needed tissues so off we went.   Here's a few photos from the week.

Morning Coffee

Winter slippers

Sienna works at a beautiful cafe and brought this home at the end of the day.

Washing drying in the sun.

Finally had my hair cut and coloured after missing my appointment due to Covid.

Yeh, finally planted some bok choy and corriander in the garden.

Whenever I do hard boiled eggs I put a smiley face on them and put
them in the fridge so I know these are not normal eggs.

Brisbane city across the river.

Me at South Brisbane after driving around for 30 minutes finding a carpark after
 the 3 main carparks underneath GOMO and the Museum are closed.

GOMA - Gallery of Modern Art foyer.

Some portraits on a park bench before we headed to the carpark.

My 16 going on 21 year old and forever my muse.