Category Archives: Cleaning

Homemade laundry powder

Well there was no progress made on the master bedroom front over the weekend. But only because Andre and I got to spend an entire weekend playing tourists in our own city, while the kids had a fabulous time at their grandparents! We are all back together again and feeling refreshed and ready to hit the last half of the year running. We have a lot to pack in… we just don’t know what yet?!

So I started today by walking to kindy in the rain, and then a morning of chores, with the fire crackling and the washing machine humming.

I also finally got around to making my own washing powder!


Mum knew I wanted to make some, so she bought me all the ingredients from Wendyl Nissen’s shop a few weeks ago.

It’s so easy to make… here’s how:

  • Combine 1 cup of Soda Ash and 1 cup of Baking Soda in a food processor.
  • Mix 60mL of Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap and 20 drops (or 2mL) of essential oil (I used lavender) together.
  • With the processor running on low speed, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the powder until it is all combined.
  • Store the laundry powder in an airtight container. Use 1-2tbsp per load.

It smells amazing, and I can’t wait to try it out!

Happy Monday x



Homemade citrus cleaner

Happy Friday!

In honour of my biggest cleaning day of the week I thought I’d share a recipe for some home made cleaner which I’m using at the moment.

1108_8464 Since having kids in the house, I’ve become rather wary of chemical cleaning products and do my best to stick with natural products. It’s nice to not have to be overly concerned when Dad gives the kids a bath and you walk in to find they’ve mistaken the cloth you used to clean the bath earlier for a facecloth. True.

Having tried everything from Eco Store to home show purchases, I’ve been a little annoyed that products seem to be either ineffective or very expensive, or both!

I found that straight vinegar doesn’t work so well, and adding baking powder to make a paste is a bit of a nuisance. But enter citrus peel… and we have a winner!

1108_8465It’s so simple: fill a jar with orange peel, add vinegar to cover the peel, screw the lid on. And wait a week or few. Then pour the infused vinegar through a fine sieve into a jug, then into a spray bottle. Top up with water (Anywhere between 1:1 or 2:1 vingear:water ratio seems to work) and add a few drops of essential oil. (I use tea tree or eucalyptus for their antibacterial properties.)

Done! To save a little elbow grease, spray it on and wait a few minutes before wiping.

I’ve used this recipe for a couple of weeks now, and slowly the cringe areas of built up grime are disappearing. It’s not without some scrubbing, but surely a work out while cleaning beats eating cake while leaving nasty chemicals to do the dirty work? In the long run anyway!

A good declutter

I’ve just come across an interesting article on Apartment Therapy, that introduces a new (to me) concept in the ongoing process that is a clutter-free home.


It’s called an outbox – a defined space (out of the way of everyday living, like in a closet) to act as a halfway house for all those “things” that you’re not quite sure what to do about… and need a little time to consider a more permanent separation.

My current way of dealing with excess stuff is to sort as I go. I have a box for “give to friends”, another for “give to charity” and another for “list on Trade Me”. However, I recently had a minor panic attack after overhearing a conversation between my mother and aunty, at a family birthday, about a gorgeous handmade dress my aunty had made for me as a baby, and a lovingly knitted blanket my mum had made. Mum commented that she was pretty sure both had been handed on to me at the arrival of my own baby girl. Having just done a massive sort of all baby clothes and bedding I was rooted to the spot trawling through my picture memory again and again, trying to spot the precious hand-me-downs. Come Saturday morning I begged and pleaded with Andre to climb back into the roof space and have one more look to see if he’d left any vacuum bags up there after bringing them “all” down for me a few days before. There were tears of relief when I spotted the creamy lace of the dress and the ribbon on the blanket. They didn’t end up being dumped unceremoniously at the charity shop after somehow getting in the wrong box. Nightmare averted!

This outbox concept would deal with such situations, as it offers time to really make a decision on what goes where. No treasured items mistaken for rubbish.

So, here are the rules:

1. Anything can go in the Outbox
2. The Outbox is allowed to get messy
3. Everything must stay in the Outbox for at least one week
4. After that time you have several choices
a. Take anything back out
b. Leave anything you are undecided about for one more week
c. Dispose of the rest by moving to the garbage, recycling bin, or giveaway pile


Currently we have a complete room that is acting as an outbox. It’s the “green bedroom” – so called because of it’s bright green wallpapered walls. And because we don’t know what else to call it yet… it’s currently suffering from personality disorder – part spare bedroom, part storage room, part project room. I may as well just go ahead and call it “Outbox”. And hope that one day I’ll get to the bottom of the pile!

By the way, here’s the AT take on an outbox space:

Day 4: Set Up a One-Room Outbox

Hmmm… really? Nothing? Not one thing in the whole house is up for trial by outbox to decide it’s fate? Because surely those gumboots are keepers – noone in their right mind would consider not keeping sunshine yellow gumboots (ahem… wellingtons).

How’s your outbox looking?!


Aaaaghh! It’s Friday!

Sorry about that. Just wanted to let you know this still works. Even on the BIG ones.

And our bedroom is restored to order after a half hour search and kill mission after I spotted Mr Cockroach scaling the wardrobe door while relaxing in bed the other night.

Note: I do clean my house. Our area is just known for these nasty things. And ants. Apparently it’s also known for giant dust balls.

Turning over a clean leaf

My sister-in-law keeps pinning cleaning schedules on her Pinterest boards… it’s been making me feel guilty. Guilty… guilty… guilty… inspired! I thought I’d give it a go and implement one into my daily routine. The main reason being that Fridays aren’t lighting me up quite like they used to. Now that my littlest one is on the move I’m back to cramming in all my housework into that precious naptime window or vacuuming around kids and toys. Not happy with either.

The best thing would be to ignore it altogether (this and this made me smile) but this also made me smile – “Laundry today, or naked tomorrow.”. So, housework must go on… I like clothes (and a clean house).

So here’s my take on the daily cleaning schedule, designed to take under an hour a day, freeing up my Friday a little for some precious me time.

The happy housewife illustration is from a mid-century Sunlight soap ad, found here. I thought she might be nice to have in my laundry. Just a shame she can’t come to life like a cleaning fairy and whip around the house while I’m asleep – she looks like she’d be so good at it, and enjoy it too!

Today is day 3 of following the schedule… can I keep at it for more than a week?

Father’s weekend in the man cave

Father’s Day rolled around this year with a few hints that tools were required (aren’t they always?!). Actually I should rephrase because he doesn’t do hints. When pressed I got “I think I need a spanner set.”

What he got instead was a sweet handmade card that is the spitting image of our newly painted (yes, yes, more on that later I promise) garage and a promise from Mama and the kids that we would dedicate two whole days to help find a spanner set.

Some…. where….. in…… here:

A spanner? In there? Hardly likely… and he wants a whole set?! Before I go any further I need to say two things: No attempt has been made to sort this garage since things were thrown in on moving day, and with all going on inside the house the garage has born the brunt of hurried returning of tools and bits and pieces. Secondly, my poor husband can’t stand up in this garage… being 6’4″ has it’s advantages – a low roof is not one of them.

Now, arrow 1 points to the chest freezer where I have a few meals stored for “one of those days”. For some time I have not been able to get to any meals on “one of those days” which is just the last straw and makes it “ONE OF THOSE DAYS!!!” Arrow 2 points to the “tool drawer” which hung out in the house for quite some time and quickly became the dumping ground for anything that I or Andre couldn’t immediately find a place for ie. everything! Arrow 3 marks the spot where one or two motorbikes are usually parked but weren’t for this photo – I just have to point that out so you know I really, really couldn’t get to the freezer and there was a very valid reason for sending Andre back out for takeaways as soon as he got home.

Anyway, there are loads of photos so I’ll let them speak for themselves for a bit:

Ugh! Because this was a serious operation, Andre took a couple of days off work so we had ourselves a four day weekend to get this chaos into order. Being Auckland, rain was guaranteed at least four times in those four days so we put the tent up to store everything in the meantime. This is how it looked by coffee time on the first morning:

Some time after lunch everything was out (including Miss E) and in various piles designated for the rubbish truck or Trade Me or for keeps (this is where we put Miss E).

And we got to cleaning in preparation for a repaint (looks like someone had tried to clean their paintbrush on the walls previously…??).

I have no progress shots of the painting because it was all hands on paint brush to get it done before dinner. I was pretty delighted to get so far in one day – never thought we’d be painting until day two!

Day two was another big one which involved splitting all the scrap timber into kindling for next winter:

And starting the slow process of moving everything back into it’s rightful place. Because this is my kind of job I was so engrossed I also missed pictures of this process, but am delighted to be able to present some “finished” pictures after a solid three days of getting well acquainted with our man cave and all that is in it (and no longer in it).

Sooo much better don’t you agree? Thanks to removing an old blind off the window, freshening up the walls and painting the lower beams white (hmm… varying shades of leftover white or not so white) and putting everything “away” the garage looks bigger, lighter and there is space to work at the work bench at the back, or even work on bigger projects without having to hang from the ceiling beams. The bench just to the left of the motorbike holds all the “for sale” things, so if you squint and picture that free from clutter it just gets better! I didn’t wait for that to be gone before I took after pictures because… well, I just couldn’t wait.

I’m pretty proud of this corner:

It’s my gardening station. I no longer have to fight with the ladder for possession of the rake. Dare I give you a close up look for my tool rack? Oops, you can see where I took a wee shortcut and didn’t paint the underside, but I can assure you only small children or squatting photographers see this view.

Down below are these old nail boxes which have faithfully followed our every move since Andre claimed them from his Dad’s (or Opa’s?) garage when he moved out. They look so smart lined up together and they’re doing a great job storing the smaller gardening tools and gloves, seeds etc.

Further back in the garage are these shelves (repurposed from the kids room, which now has a new manrobe) which hold the only new purchase for this makeover: 8 storage crates from Mitre 10 at around $9 each. We’ll call them the Father’s Day present (I think we found the spanners!).

They hold painting supplies, plumbing bits and electrical things, as well as some other odds and ends. Based on the above view I have imposed a “no more paint” rule. Surely there is enough paint, sealer and filler to allow for whatever project we dream up next?

Once I had “my” gardening corner and these shelves set up I pretty much left Andre to get to know his man cave on his own. I am absolutely delighted at the transformation and am no longer afraid to venture in for a piece of sandpaper, but it’s Andre’s place to hang out, not mine. Besides, my usefulness had expired by then anyway – I was just getting in the way and putting things in the wrong place, which was definitely not the idea. I snuck back in one morning last week to get some more photos.

Long may it last!

Tidying up on Topsy-Turvy Thursday

Today is topsy-turvy Thursday at Master W’s kindy. Sadly he is home with a cold, so his topsy-turvy outfit has been spinning around here all day.

He helped me give our white vinyl sofa a going over with my magic whitewash sponge – it was seriously in need of it. It’s one of those things that you can live quite happily with until one day you look a little more closely and it’s “didn’t we order white vinyl?”

You can see the difference on this seat cushion – the right half has been cleaned, left of the arrow… not clean:

And on the other end of the sofa is some evidence of our topsy-turvy day:

Our house is littered with red and yellow dot stickers. They were meant to be littering kindy. I had the grand idea of covering him in dot stickers, head to toe. I’ll be picking them up for days!

You can see them flying off him here:

Is anyone else getting to a job that gets ignored for 99 days out of 100, or having a topsy-turvy Thursday?