Saturday, 29 August 2015

Back to basics: the humble soap

We have recently started using soap again. This is no big deal to anyone who has always bought it. I find it hard to believe many people do still buy it though. I can't remember the last house I visited that didn't have liquid soap in either a plastic or ceramic dispenser.

Image Source

Clearly we have all been attracted to the ease of squirting liquid soap. It is definitely easier to store in a presentable way. 

Soap can get dirty, with hairs and dirt sticking to it.

Soap gets slippery and can easily be dropped, which can be annoying in the shower particularly. This is, of course, something that also frequently happens to plastic bottles, which often breaks the lid.

Our sink has a very shallow groove to put soap on. When the soap is dry it works well. As soon as the soap is wet and slippery it slides off into the sink. Sometimes I have to put it back 3 or 4 times.
So why am I sharing this apparently archaic decision to buy soap if it is so inferior to liquid soap?

There are a few reasons:

1. It has barely any packaging (none if you buy local artisan soap).
2. Turtle loves washing her hands with it, which has saved a whole lot of drama everyday.
3. It contains less chemicals because it is a simpler product.
4. It is cool to go retro and use older products that work- there is nothing wrong with soap. We've just been convinced by clever marketing that the other more expensive products work better. This leads me to one of the big benefits..
5. It is really cheap! You can get two bars for under half the price of a bottle of liquid hand soap.

Since I'm very happy with my first soap purchase in many, many years I'm determined to find a nice soap holder to put on my bathroom sink. I'll let you know when I find one.

When was the last time you used soap? Can you imagine welcoming it back into your home?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Homemade Raw Chocolate Treats

I often go through phases of checking the fridge at the end of the day looking for chocolate. I go through these craving days (or more accurately - weeks!) frequently enough that we usually have a block of fair trade dark chocolate sitting there so that I can have a few pieces to satisfy my craving.

Since I recently used all of our fair trade chocolate up making delicious chocolate peanut butter brownies this has not been the case.. I then forgot to get more at the shops. I was starting to get desperate and then it hit me. I could make raw chocolate!

A good friend gave me this recipe as part of a homemade raw chocolate gift box. It had the basic ingredients (coconut oil, coconut sugar and cacao) to make the chocolate base, along with a variety of extras (nuts, desiccated coconut, amaranth puffs, etc.) to add for texture and flavour. It was such a lovely gift (and I know she is subscribed so will read this - kisses to you! x)

It is so quick and easy to make I don't know why I forget to do it at times. It takes no longer than 10-15 minutes to get them into the fridge and then around half an hour for them to set.

Raw chocolate has high levels of antioxidants and magnesium from the superfood cacao powder. If you are wondering, yes cocoa is different from cacao. Cacao also has high amounts of calcium and iron, which are both important for good health. Since the cacao is not roasted or cooked all of these important ingredients are available for your body to use.

Are you getting the picture? Raw chocolate is a guilt-free food that will help to supply you with important nutrients and make you feel good by giving you your chocolate hit!

Raw Chocolate Recipe

Preparation time: 10-15 mins; Setting time: 30 mins. Total time = 40 minutes
Materials: Mini baking cups or a chocolate mould


1/2 cup (125ml) coconut oil, just melted*
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar

Plus your choice of extras to taste: e.g. slivered nuts, desiccated coconut, dried fruit, amaranth puffs.


1. Mix ingredients together.
2. Add your choice of extra ingredients to taste.
3. Pour into mini baking cups (small cupcake liners) and place in the fridge for 30 minutes until set**.

*Note: Coconut oil is liquid at room temperature in summer but at cooler temperatures solidifies. To melt place required amount in a bowl and sit it over a pot with warming water. Do not let the bowl touch the water. It will quickly melt. Take of heat as soon as it has melted and mix in the rest of the ingredients.

**Note: Remember these will melt out of the fridge if the weather is warm.

My bestie is trying to cut dairy out of her diet at the moment too so I shared this recipe with her at the same time I wrote this post. She was struggling to cut out chocolate, as I'm sure many of us would. She loves the raw chocolate and is set to start making some herself.

For our latest batches, at Mr Fix It's suggestion, I added dried goji berries and crushed almonds. When I made it with my bestie we also added some puffed amaranth for texture. They were all delicious. The goji berries gave a delicious chewy texture and the almonds are always a favourite of mine for their crunch.

Spice it up and mix it up however you like - enjoy! 

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

Friday, 21 August 2015

Decluttering is Such a First World Problem

I have just started decluttering my clothes using the KonMari method. The first items I went through were my underwear, socks, t-shirts, shorts and skirts. I found it easy to decide what clothes "spark joy". I realised they are the ones that I actually want to wear. Choosing my wardrobe isn't something I usually spend a lot of time thinking about so it was a great opportunity to decide what I really like.

My blissfully tidy t-shirt drawer

Nevertheless, it was scary throwing out some of my "safe" go to clothes that I have been wearing for years. Such as my well-worn denim shorts that are just a little too short for the more "mature" me. Or the shorts that I bought to accommodate my baby fat after Turtle arrived. They were comfortable (and fitted me!) during that time but they are too big for me now. Normally I would have just kept them anyway.

Thus it is a relief to know that when the warm weather rolls around I won't just put them on (because they are there!) and feel somewhat uncomfortable about my image.

An added bonus to having enough space for the things I really want to wear is that I found a missing earring. It's from my favourite pair. I thought it was lost forever. I hadn't seen it since we got back from a trip to Adelaide at Christmas. It was caught up in a pair of socks.
My reunited earrings

I also found a brand new pair of stockings that had slipped behind my drawer because it was so full. Clearly decluttering was overdue!

I filled a plastic shopping bag with worn socks, bras and undies. This highlighted that I was down to about 7 functioning pairs of underwear. I used to dig through my drawer to find these few items before. Now they are neatly folded and I can see exactly how many I have. Half of what I've kept will also need to be thrown out soon.

Realising exactly how many pairs of underwear I had left, and their condition, helped to motivate me to go shopping and buy what I need. I am easily overwhelmed by the shops and I am likely to either leave with nothing or buy something I don't like that much to get out of there. So I generally avoid doing it.

In the month since I started going through my clothes I have already stocked up on new socks, underwear, long-sleeved tops and a jumper. I feel very clear about what I need and what will go with the things that I have kept. This is helping me to make careful decisions to ensure the things I buy will be much loved items in my wardrobe.

Whilst buying my new clothes I have realised that decluttering is a luxury for those of us lucky enough to have "too many" things. I'm pretty sure struggling single mums aren't able to create a new style by clearing out the things they are tired of. They need to wear everything they have to death.

I can relate to wearing things to death but not for the same reasons. I am a creature of habit and I am generally caught up with other things, rather than worrying about my clothes. While this is not such a bad thing I feel ready to rejuvenate my wardrobe and organise it at the same time. I deserve it. It will be so nice to have things that I really like and will get a lot of use out of... probably until they actually fall apart.

I'm also sure the millions of people across the world living in poverty would find the concept of decluttering to be an abstract dream. They most likely struggle to get their basic essentials for survival. A roof for shelter, food for hungry stomachs, and clean water to drink.

It is a sobering thought. As I clear out my unwanted things I will try to treat them with respect and pass on what I can to the less fortunate. It's the least I can do.

Do you find yourself in the cycle of buying and decluttering? Are you beginning to learn more about what items you want to have around you?

I'm joining With Some Grace and other beautiful bloggers today for Flog your Blog Friday

Friday, 14 August 2015

Asking Daycare to Use Cloth Nappies

The first two childcares I looked at weren't the best. The first one gave me an uncomfortable vibe, mainly because of the manager who showed me around. I feel terrible to admit it since I'm sure she is a lovely person but she gave me the creeps. I noticed that the educators seemed to be nervous around her too, which I didn't think would create a positive environment for Turtle. They said they were unable to use cloth nappies when I asked. They also required a $50 deposit just to put Turtle's name on a waiting list.

The second centre (which is across the street from the first one) gave a much better impression. The administrator showed me around and was lovely. The staff all seemed nice. The problem was, unfortunately, that the site had no natural light. The baby area particularly was dark and gloomy. I knew I wouldn't like being confined in such a dark space so how could I let my daughter go there? They said they were happy to use cloth nappies if that's what I would like. No deposit was required to go on a waiting list.

The third centre I visited (a couple of months after recovering from the first two) was so much better. The owners were professional and the educators were really lovely and confident when interacting with them. The space was well set up, with lots of natural light and great outdoor spaces overlooking a park. I didn't even ask if they did cloth nappies, I was so relieved to find a place that I really liked. There was no fee to go on their waiting list either.

Turtle has been going to centre number 3 one day a week since mid-March. There were quite a few times when I thought about broaching the topic of cloth nappies but I found it difficult to remember in the chaos of drop off or pick up time. Frankly, just settling her in was pretty intense even though she was pretty happy from the start. It took awhile to get used to someone other than Mr Fix It or I taking care of Turtle. Since the family are all in South Australia she was always with one of us.

MCN packed and ready to use, complete with instruction sheet
I found Plastic Free July to be the perfect reason to finally broach the topic of cloth. I asked the senior educator if she would be happy to trial them for a day. She was completely happy to give them a go even though she had never used them before. I explained that they were modern cloth nappies, not the old terry towel kind, so much easier to use.

The next week Turtle had Hand, Foot and Mouth so our trial day got pushed back by a week. I spent the day before making sure I had enough nappies and boosters clean and dry. It's trickier when you can't use things straight from the line, which we sometimes need to do in winter.

The Cloth Nappy Kit for Childcare
I felt so organised when I went into childcare. I really wanted to make it easy for them so that the trial would be a success. I folded the nappies with the booster inserted and disposable liner in place. The I stacked 5 into a cloth bag (enough for the day) so that the educators could use them straight from the bag. I also packed a couple of additional pairs of pants in case of any problems (it's not unusual to have leaks at home). I took in one of our buckets with a lid for dirty nappies to go into. Then I wrote out a quick page of care instructions to help the educators use the nappies.

The instructions included information such as not to use nappy cream, what buttons to do the nappies up on (since they are one size or multi-fit) and how regularly to change Turtle (every 2-3hrs). The instructions were stuck up in the changing area when I dropped Turtle off. I also demonstrated how to change her nappy before I left.

When I picked up Turtle at the end of the day all had gone well. There had been one leak but otherwise no problems at all.

They are happy to keep using cloth now! I was really pleased that they were so open to trying it out.

Although it's a bit of extra work for me each week I am glad things are more consistent for Turtle at daycare and home now. She will be starting an extra day at the end of the month so it's great to have this worked out already.

I coincidentally came across a promotion by the Australian Cloth Nappy Association trying to encourage childcare centres to use cloth with Childcare Ambassador Packs. Unfortunately I found out about these just after I had done our trial day. If you are considering bringing it up at your daycare it could be a useful way to broach the topic.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Plastic Free July: Takeaway Coffee Cup

Hot drinks and babies tend not to mix well. Babies are unpredictable and you often need to make a quick getaway. It is, therefore, hard to order coffee and actually sit and enjoy it.

Since throwing away takeaway cups is wasteful I choose not to buy takeaway coffee either. I always plan to make one for myself when I get home but often that doesn't happen in the rush to eat lunch and get nap time happening.

Enter my new Keep Cup, which I bought as part of our efforts during Plastic Free July. I bought it sure of the realm of possibilities that would lay before me. I could see myself shopping whilst sipping on a warm (but not too hot) flat white. Turtle would be sitting calmly in the trolley, probably snacking on some crackers, as I stocked up on food for the house.

My first coffee experience didn't go exactly like that. Turtle had come down with a cold a couple of days earlier. I had dropped my elderly neighbours at a nearby medical appointment to save them having to walk to the train. We had half an hour to wait before seeing the doctor about Turtle's cold and an outbreak of blisters that had appeared on her bum and face the night before. My bets were on Hand, Foot and Mouth since it had been going around childcare recently.

I decided to use the window of time that we had to indulge in my first takeaway coffee experience. I carried Turtle into the shops. The coffee shop happily accepted my cup to use instead of theirs. I thought that was going to be the most difficult part of the experience.

Little did I know. Turtle got jealous the second she saw my coffee and demanded her own. She immediately went into full scale tantrum (which is unlike her!) and threw herself onto the ground in the middle of the shops. Since I had my coffee in hand I couldn't pick her up while she was writhing on the ground.

I had to rest the coffee on a nearby shop wall (with everyone in the coffee shop staring) and attend to her before carrying her and the coffee from the shops. Oh dear. Reality check... She did have Hand, Foot and Mouth and we had a few days of her being ratty while she got over it, poor love.

Last weekend Mr Fix It and I took our matching Keep Cups and Turtle to the beach. We stopped for coffee on the way and spent a lovely morning playing in the sand with Turtle, soaking up the beautiful Perth winter sunshine. It was much more in line with my idea of a relaxing takeaway experience.

I've also started using my Keep Cup on mornings when I think I might not get to finish my cuppa before I leave the house. If I haven't finished I can just pop the top on and head out. I'm really happy with my new purchase.

Are you a coffee fiend? Have you discovered the delights of having your own reusable cup yet?

Joining With Some Grace today for #FYBF. I hope you've fitted in a nice cuppa while reading this (hopefully not on the run!).