Recycle your reed diffuser and a bonus recipe for getting rid of dog and small boy smells

I’m not extravagant, but I like some nice things. Nothing wrong with that. I like things that look pretty and smell nice. That’s OK. Except I also have two little boys which means I’m eaten out of house and home (disposable cash an issue), I can’t have nice things (everything is a light sabre or a shield and anything else is just collateral damage) and everything always smells like wet dog.

So I keep a reed diffuser in each toilet. Mine has a lovely citrus smell that makes you feel like you’re gambolling through country fields in the sunshine. The one in their toilet is just to try and override the smell of whatever that is.

The reed diffusers have long since bitten the dust and like all normal people, they have been sitting on the bathroom shelf gathering dust. Can’t afford to replace them because, you know, food. But hey, I think, surely you can make your own?

Like all things when you look into them, it’s way easier than you think. I gathered all the bits (see exhibit A below) and My Mate Jessie came round with Tim-Tams (not pictured…..) and we had a go at putting it together.

I’d also been trying to find an essential oil recipe for small boy bathrooms and nothing seemed to quite fit the bill until I found a lady who had a recipe for covering damp and well, unpleasant dog smells. Bingo, I think.

So first, for a diffuser, the bad dog/small child odour neutralising recipe is:

  • 1 drop melaleuca/tea tree
  • 1 drop cilantro
  • 1 drop lime
  • 2 drops lemon

In the reed diffuser, here’s the process and costs so you can see how much less recycling and making your own liquid is:

  • Bottle $0 because I used the old one. Although there are cheap candle making shops in Australia that sell bottles for this for a few dollars
  • 5 Bamboo reeds $1 – I bought a pack of about 15 from one of the candle making shops in Australia.
  • 1/4 cup carrier oil. I used fractured (liquid) coconut oil because it’s easily available at the local shops. It’s $13 for 500ml which is just over 8 portions so $1.62 for 1 reed diffuser.
  • 25-30 drops essential oil. I upscaled the odour recipe from above to 5 drops of tea tree, cilantro and lime and 10 drops of lemon. Based on a per drop cost, this came to under $2 for the essential oil for one reed diffuser.
  • 1-2 tablespoons perfumers alcohol, rubbing alcohol or vodka. I used rubbing alcohol which was $10 at the local chemist. As long as it’s 90-95% alcohol. The rubbing alcohol I got has 23 tablespoons in it so 43c for 1 reed diffuser

Considering it cost me $20 to buy the reed diffuser in the first place and likely easily that again for a new (half way decent) one, that brought the cost of recycled and homemade to under $4.75. Winning!!!

Here’s the steps:

  1. Add the carrier oil to the bottle and then add the essential oil
  2. Add the alcohol and keep stirring or swilling until incorporated.
  3. Add the sticks and after a few hours, flip them over
  4. Flip the sticks every week or so and when the scent is diminished, you add the essential oils mix again – not the whole thing, just the essential oils.

So this is a great one to do with a group of friends so you can share the oil and rubbing alcohol (and maybe a glass of actual alcohol…..?).

It’s also just good to get together and discover how to do things that we’ve become super used to outsourcing to the shops!

I used a by-product and it made my mate want to vomit

I love the idea of using “every bit of the animal”. If your not familiar with that term (and there’s no reason you should be) it came from The Olden Days when animals were killed by proper hunters. As The Olden Days turned into A Bit More Modern Days, people killed animals for trophies, or just for the hides and bits they could sell, and left the rest. It was the epitome of wastage.

I used to waste a lot. I still do, but I’m getting better. I look at my fridge and my cupboards now in terms of using “every bit of the animal” – ie using everything I have and trying not to throw anything away unless I have to.

Anyway SO, yesterday I shared a recipe for making cottage cheese (you can jump to it on this link if you want to read it 🙂 ). When I first made it, I noticed just how much whey drains off the curds. Whey is basically protein-y cheese water and from a recipe of 950ml of milk, you get about 700ml of whey. That felt like an awful lot of by-product that (by my logic) surely must have a use.

It does. And it’s a doozy. One thing I changed as part of this journey was chemical shampoos. I started using a natural hair soap after a tip-off from My Mate Kathryn. (If you’re interested, I got the Beauty & the Bees Shampoo Bar from Biome Stores. My hair journey into chemical and waste free-ness is a whole other story!).

If you’re chemical free in the hair department (or even if you’re not I guess), every so often, you wanna do a bit of a conditioning hair rinse. Apple cider vinegar is popular but it can be expensive.

Guess what???? My cheese water by-product makes an excellent hair conditioning rinse!!!! Apple cider vinegar – $heaps exxy. Cheese water – free!!!

My Mate Nissa thought it was a disgusting idea. I made her smell my hair to prove it doesn’t make it smell cheesey. My Mate Laura who is also chemical free bartered some cheese water for some essential oil and now she bugs me every other week for some more.

There are other uses for the whey, of course. It’s great to add to cooking soups and stews, you can add it to smoothies and shakes (because it’s protein water!), it’s great nourishment for plants (but make sure it’s diluted or it will hurt them), you can feed it to chooks and pigs with their feed and you can make ricotta with it (I am totally trying this next if My Mate Laura leaves with enough).

The massively valuable thing though, is that apart from a totally useful product, it is teaching me to always question what I can do with something that is apparently “waste”. This whole process of discovery is gradually training me to look at the world with better eyes.

I highly recommend making the cottage cheese and then exploring some of your own uses. Don’t ask me for any. My Mate Laura seems to have dibs on m’cheese water for all eternity.

Sometimes Old-School is still the best

I started de-cluttering recently. Filing things in the bin is very therapeutic. One of the things I got rid of was a bunch of old Women’s Weekly cookbooks – my cook book shelf was a raggedy old mess and I could never find anything. Besides, everything is online now.

Obviously I kept my Nigellas, my Jamie Olivers, my Ottolenghis and so on, but all the old recipe mags and pages I’d ripped out, all gone. It was very cleansing. But how now to organise the bits and bobs I pick up from My Mates and broader community? How to record when I went googling for how to do or make something I have a hunch could be made cheaper at home?

Old-School journaling. I have a nice crisp new notebook (never was a shopping trip for a $4 item so exciting), and, because I am me, a special writing pen for when I am thinking thoughts of great import. Serious thinky-thinky brain moments n’that.

Now I have somewhere to put My Mate Jessie’s recipe for homemade hand wash, and My Mate Laura’s recipe for homemade spray and wipe, and My Mate Kathryn’s granola recipe.

This is where I can add recipes I see on TV or see online and add notes where I’ve changed ingredients. This is where I can add whatever recipe for hummus or cheese or pesto I have settled on as the best after trialling a few.

It makes my life changes organised but it also makes them real. They aren’t old ideas ripped out of magazines. They aren’t a million bookmarks in google. They aren’t that thing I saw somewhere but now can’t remember where to find it. And it’s not that annoying phone call to a friend to ask “What was that thing you told me for the thing?”

It’s my work in progress. It’s a diary of discovery. It’s a gold mine of tried and tested ideas.

Writing things down makes them real and permanent. I don’t know about you, but when I write things in my own hand, I tend to process them better, think about it, cogitate, mull, imagine (until my hand hurts, obviously). There’s commitment when you write things down. There’s momentum. It makes solid the values and hopes that you have for how you want to do life.

And you get to buy a pretty notebook.

The diet hack that’s so simple it’s brilliant

There are a million fad diets out there. I should know. I’ve probably tried most of them. Keto, high protein, low carb, no carb, clean eating, fasting, shakes, gym junky, meal deliveries – you name it, I’ve tried it.

In the end, I just decided to eat less and better. Crazy, I know. No fads. Just eating less. And healthier. Like a psychopath.

Well, like a hippy. For cost and for health, whole grains, pulses and legumes with fresh fruit and veg was my diet decision #1. Hippy food is delicious, especially if you experiment with herbs and spices. Carbs has become a bit of a dirty word but brown rice, barley, buckwheat, quinoa and burghal wheat went back on the menu, with a bumped up amount of fruit and veg.

Diet decision #2 was cutting out as much processed food as possible. That was mostly for cost but it had the side benefit of making much healthier food. Cutting out processed stuff makes room for all those extra fruits and veggies too.

Diet decision #3 was eating by 7pm at the latest, that way, my body is basically resting for 12 hours before it starts eating again at breakfast. Also, eating earlier means I tend to have more activity between meal and sleep, rather than eating late and going straight to bed.

These combined are working for me. My weight goes up and down and down and up but I am also just healthier and learning better habits. BUT the diet decision #4 was my favourite:

Eat on a smaller plate.

This seems ridiculously easy. It seems ridiculous. Logic would say if you have a smaller plate, you’ll eat less. It’s not necessarily the case. There are studies that show both. I can only tell you my experience. When I tried to eat less on my normal dinner plate, I felt short changed and tended to want more afterwards.

When I ate from my side plate, it similarly felt skimpy so I piled it up more.

Time for a new plate. In the picture, the side plate is 19cm across. The dinner plate is 28cm. Mummy’s Special Plate is 22cm. Using it tricks my brain. I’m not being short changed, I have a full plate of food and so my brain says I’m full. Obviously it doesn’t happen all the time, but as a general rule, I’m not foraging in the fridge late at night.

Dieting is hard and it’s a long journey. I, personally, have a loooong way to go. But as I explore my life changes to be healthier and be less reliant on stuff, these are the kinds of little changes that are do-able.

Eating less. Using less. Wasting less. Spending less.

Simplify.

The weirdest and best life hack I’ve ever tried

My son loves Fruit Ninja. Secretly so do I, but we don’t need to talk about that. My son has this thing he likes to do – when he levels up, they show fun fruit facts. He reads them to me and I pretend to listen and we’re both happy.

But the other day he read one that stuck out – apparently you can shine leather shoes with banana skins. Seriously?

It turns out this is a real thing. The skins contain potassium which (Google tells me) is a key ingredient in shoe polish.

So the other night I spent about 2 hours searching for something to watch on Netflix. You know those nights when you spend all your TV watching time just searching for something, and then give up anyway? Well, as I’m about to de-clutter the living room of all the kids left-over detritus from the day, I see the banana skin. I see the school shoes. Banana skin. School shoes. I’ve gotta give this a go. And besides, I’ve got no more episodes of “The Good Place” to watch, so I may as well.

Well, holey moley. If it didn’t work like a charm. I gave it a good swabbing and then cleaned off the banana residue with a clean cloth. Here’s the before and after.

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There’s no filter on this or anything so you can really see the difference.

Apparently you can do other things with banana skins – like polish wood furniture, and give your house plant leaves a sprucing up.

Ah, bananas. Is there anything you can’t do? Who knew they were so clever?

People’ll be eating them next.