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Hazards of being a Kiwi Superhero in Melbourne

Wander Woman


I am a Kiwi Superhero living in Melbourne. Over the past few years I have been aware of some odd hazards that I face frequently. I’m not going to go on and on about it – OK, maybe a little. The following is a quick list of everyday pitfalls that I navigate on an almost daily basis;

  • If I tell you that it will take 10 minutes for me to complete a task, and you start rolling on the floor repeating “Tun Munutes!” over and over, it will in fact take me 15 minutes. I am too polite to stop you enjoying yourself, and I am also probably too nice to charge you for your mocking time.
  • When I say that I am going to deal with your bins, I am not going to touch your hair, your bum or your delicious sweet pastries.
  • I’ve now got the hang of an appropriate response when asked to change your doona. Initially I was all sympathetic. “Doona” sounds a little like it might be an unfortunate facial condition. I might be a Kiwi Superhero that performs apparently miraculous feats of transformation, but that one was a little perplexing until I worked out that you were talking about your duvet.
  • I never do a swoop-by in thongs. Ever. EVER. And I never will. Wearing a g-string in my humble opinion, is just wrong. And if you’re bending over, crawling around and reaching up to high places all of the time, it’s incredibly impractical. Why do you keep on commenting on my thongs? I know that Kiwis are a little reserved and sometimes over-polite, but even taking that into account, it seems a little rude to guess that I’m wearing thongs.
  • What the hell is an “s-key”? And why would you need one when you go anywhere outdoors? And WHY would you want a key to be wiped down?!
  • Please bare in mind that this Kiwi Superhero is both polite, and a little reserved, and your patience with this question would be most appreciated. Why, why, WHY is the weather never right in Melbourne? It’s “too hot”, “too cold”, “too windy” or “too the same as yesterday”. It seems to this Kiwi Superhero that the weather is seasonally more pleasant than just about anywhere in New Zealand, and I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Why don’t you wear a raincoat if it’s raining? Why don’t you take off your suit jacket if it’s hot? The mere fact that you can use an umbrella in Melbourne without it turning inside out and breaking within 20 seconds is a bloody great bonus if you ask me. I have worked out that there is in fact a 2 degree range of “just right” temperature for the native Melburnian (which might be different for each individual Melburnian). It seems that the temperature and associated wind conditions were absolutely PERFECT sometime in 1983 – and you remember this day with a great deal of fondness. It is also important to point out that I am actually acclimatising to this cultural habit, and forgetting the 12 year drought that Melbourne suffered from before I arrived, now frown up at the sky when it is “raining”.
  • Of relevance to the point above, this Kiwi Superhero is obsessed with how full the Melbourne water dams are. Australia is internationally known to not have enough water, and to a Kiwi that is used to almost drowning in her raincoat while walking to the bus stop, the thought of not having enough water is BAD. What would we make our grog and coffee out of if we didn’t have water?! So my public service action for today is to show you this link to the Melbourne dam water levels. Please click on it and then check it obsessively every other day – I’d like to share the stress load. You might be interested to know that the levels were heading downwards towards 20% when I arrived. I am slowly “stressing” them towards more healthy flood levels. Help me to fight the good fight peoples.
  • Why do you try and explain directions to me on how to get to your house? Do you know how big (not bug) Melbourne is?? Do you also realise that the same road might in fact have 14 different names along the stretch of the ONE ROAD?! All I need is your address, suburb and maybe a postcode – my NavLady will work out the rest.
  • What is up with your parking signs?! It has taken me years to work out how to read them. I think. It usually goes something along the lines of “You may park here between 7.00am and 7.15am on alternate Tuesdays, but only if the moon is waning, and you are wearing purple underwear. If all of these conditions are not met, I will superglue a ticket to your windscreen which means that you owe me a bazillion dollars. Don’t even bother to explain your ignorance by putting on a Kiwi accent.”
  • You might be interested to learn that the population of Melbourne and the population of all of New Zealand is roughly the same. Consider this when I meet you and instinctively start to try and work out if we know someone in common – in New Zealand, we always do know someone in common. Forget six (not sex) degrees of separation – in New Zealand you’re damn lucky if you’re not related. It is ridiculous how often this applies when Kiwis meet each other overseas as well.
  • There is a secret mission in New Zealand that we are all raised with. It’s very secret in fact. As babies, recorded messages are piped into our bedrooms while we are sleeping, with the repeated message “go forth out into the world, and slowly, politely and reservedly, populate it. Eventually you will take over. Mwahahahahaha!”. I was once in a bar in London and saw a woman in there wearing my (New Zealand) company t-shirt. Of course I went bowling up and starting talking. I went to the same school as her cousin in Whakatane, and knew him quite well in fact. She had been into one of my stores and loved it so much that she “bought the t-shirt”. She introduced me to her 3 mates – who were all Kiwis. None of us were at all surprised by this incident.
  • NOTE: One hazard that I anticipated and avoided when I first arrived in Australia, was a mobile number full of 6s (sux’s) and 7s (seavuns). I spent ages with the young telecommunications salesperson going through my options, and reading her face as I repeated each one – the merest twinkle of an eye caused immediate discounting of said number. Consequently, I do not have to repeat myself 16 times when giving someone my mobile. My home number is an entirely different kettle of fish – which might be why after 2 years I still haven’t memorised what it is.

This has been a brief summary of some of the hazards that this Kiwi Superhero has faced while in Melbourne. You may have other hazards that you, or a Kiwi that you know, has also faced. Feel free to leave a comment so that I can keep an eye out. It’s always good to know that I am a Kiwi Superhero, not stupid, and that others have faced similar hazards. If you liked this blog, please share it as widely as you are comfortable. You might also like to tickle my fancy by clicking on the “thumbs up” symbol below.

Take care my Good Citizens, fight the good fight, check the dam water levels regularly and use your power for good and not evil.

Kiwi Superhero

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Does your dishwasher have stinky breath?

I had a stinky dishwasher

It was an embarrassing problem for a Superhero. Every time I opened the door, a wave of foul stinky dishwasher grossness would pour out and make my eyes water. Even the Feline Avenger would look accusingly at it, sniff it suspiciously, and then recoil back in horror – tail all fluffed up and offended. Clearly it was a big stinky dishwasher problem!

I had tried a variety of “cures” over the past 12 months or so, and I’m afraid I had limited success. I put baking soda into the dispenser and put through a wash (with no dishes). That resulted in maybe a point 2 percentage improvement, So not discernable. I wiped down the inside of it from top to tail. I fastidiously checked the Rinse Aid levels. Then I tried it all over again. A couple of times.

Eventually I went into a state of stinky dishwasher crisis. I found myself at the supermarket looking assessingly at those “nice smelly dangly dishwasher” things that you hang in your stinky dishwasher. I luckily came to my senses. I knew that if I bought one of these, it would be akin to spraying around some air freshener at a fish mongers. And I always find the smell of those things quite offensive. Admittedly, not as offensive as my stinky dishwasher!

So I was galvanised into extreme actions. I was going to take that thing apart, bit by bit, until I found the cause of my stinky dishwasher, by golly! This is what I started off with… (I know it LOOKS innocent enough).Stinky Dishwasher

And so the dismantling began. Remember, this involved putting my head INSIDE my stinky dishwasher, while simultaneously pushing the Feline Avenger away with my foot or hip. Apparently the smell became unimportant when I showed some interest in that stinky dishwasher!

The first step is to fill your sink with steaming hot soapy water. And don’t forget to put on those attractive rubber gloves that you purchased for just such an occasion! Then remove the spinning water flicking thing. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. In my dishwasher, I gave it a gentle yet firm yank and it just popped out. Put it into the hot soapy water and give it a thorough scrub. Actually, in the interests of efficiency, do this with everything that you manage to successfully remove from your dishwasher. There is a silver tray at the bottom of my stinky dishwasher – and all I did to remove this was to turn the thing that looks a bit like a funnel. The whole thing just lifted out – almost as if it was designed for just this purpose! I also unscrewed the thing that you can see pictured on the left. I’m not a dishwasher technician, so I can’t give you one of those jargon names that you will immediately forget.Stinkier Dishwasher

This is where you might like to have some smelling salts handy. Good lord! If you thought you had an unbearably stinky dishwasher before, you might actually loose consciousness at this point.

Get that thing into the hot soapy water as soon as you come around, and scrub. Or let it soak in its own juices for a wee while and then scrub.

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the horror. When the silver tray thingy is removed, there is in fact a whole new world of pain revealed. Yep, you have to get back down there into stinky dishwasher hell, and soak out that foul reservoir of *I don’t know what!*, and wipe away the “film” that coats everything. You’ll want to do this quickly and efficiently. My dishwasher had no more pieces that I could obviously or easily remove, and so ended my dismantling adventure.

Right. That is the worst of things over! The next step is to put everything back the way you found it. In the reverse order. You probably don’t need to take photos of each step – it’s pretty easy. Then fill the (still slightly stinky) dishwasher dispenser with baking soda, and run it through a wash cycle – with no dishes.

After going through this process, I was very satisfied with the result. I had opened my previously stinky dishwasher with some trepidation when the wash cycle completed, and there was no immediately discernible smell. A few days later, and my dishwasher is still not offending me. However, a note to the wise: if you are like me, and only run your dishwasher every few days, the dishes and food gunk sitting inside waiting to be cleaned WILL start to smell. This is the natural decaying process. You can either run your dishwasher when it is not full, do your dishes by hand, or put up with a stinky dishwasher (less so after you have cleaned it hopefully).

Let me know how you felt about this blog by giving it the thumbs up or down below. If you have a better solution for fixing your stinky dishwasher, please share with the group and leave a comment!

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Vacuum character types

Seven Vacuum Character Types

I do a lot of vacuuming. As such, I have a lot of time to ponder the meaning of life, and more specifically, why and how we vacuum. I have some unanswered questions, such as “why does there need to be two “u”s in the word “vacuum”?”.  I decided that perhaps others had questions too, so of course I turned to Facebook. I asked folk to tell me their weird and wonderful tales about vacuuming.

After extensive research, I have categorised and defined the following seven vacuuming character types. Like any scientific characterisation system, you may display symptoms of several of these.

Bionic Bicep

The “Make it Fun” Vacuumer

It is “Vacuum Day”, but the floor looks like it could probably go another few days before needing to be done. The Make it Fun Vacuumer will sprinkle rice on the floor. They justify this behaviour by noting with satisfaction that the floor now definitely needs to be vacuumed and that they will enjoy the sound explosion as they skip their way around the house. The Make if Fun Vacuumer may also have a special “Vacuuming Outfit”. [If this sounds like you, but you don’t have a special outfit, I recommend tying a teatowel around your neck and wearing your undies on the outside.]

The Obsessive Vacuumer

This adorable soul is likely to (a) look at the floor while vacuuming, and (b) want the floor to be absolutely spotless when finished. Any possible dust or smidge of crap should be gone. This person is likely to give any possible UFO (Unidentified Filth Object) at least 7 opportunities to be sucked into the vacuum cleaner before bending down, scratching at it with their fingernail, dropping it onto the ground, and again trying to suck it up. If you know an Obsessive Vacuumer, and are a little sadistic, you might like to chop up a sticker into teeny tiny pieces and then strategically place these on the carpet in difficult to get to, yet visible, locations. Then sit back and watch the show.

The Reluctant Vacuumer

You know this person. You might be this person. This is the person who waits until the UFOs on the floor are absolutely doing their head in before dragging out the vacuum cleaner. This person doesn’t need to sprinkle rice on the floor to make the experience a noise sensation – all sorts of random UFOs are going to be banging their way up the hosepipe.

This person is also likely to have a vacuum cleaner that constantly makes a high pitched “help me” noise while it is being operated. This is because the bag has needed to be changed for the last 6 months, and the noise and red flashing lights have been “overlooked” by the Reluctant Vacuumer. The greatest hopes of the Reluctant Vacuumer are that (a) someone else does the vacuuming this month, and (b) someone else empties the blasted bag.

The Look At Me Vacuumer

This is the person who chooses to do this particular household chore in order to underline definitively that they have DONE their share of the chores this week. They will vacuum around you and under you while you are trying to complete a delicately balanced task. They are also likely to utilise tricks to make sure that the task seems more complex and physical than it needs to be, like banging the vacuum against every doorframe in the house, and perhaps taking it to pieces in front of you while muttering about “the strange high pitched noise”. After reading this blog, they will seriously consider not only sprinkling rice around the house, but also possibly a few kidney beans for the pure drama.

The Song and Dance Vacuumer

This person most definitely has a special dance outfit that they use when vacuuming. They will always have music blasting while vacuuming. They will use the hosepipe as a microphone. There are two little known subspecies of the Song and Dance Vacuumer – the Smart Song and Dance Vacuumer (this subspecies will actually turn the vacuum cleaner off before using the hosepipe as a microphone) and the Hickey Song and Dance Vacuumer (this version sports the distinctive round hickey on their cheek after a hosepipe microphoning incident went badly wrong. They always swear that next time they will turn the vacuum cleaner off before singing into it, but this subspecies rarely jumps camp).

The Make it Sexy Vacuumer

This person watches a lot of movies. They know that any boring household chore can be made into foreplay. They get their vacuuming outfit from a lockable box underneath their bed. They utilise several characteristics of other vacuuming types – but with a completely different outcome in mind. They will vacuum (in their outfit) to music (probably Barry White). They are also likely to do anything to get your attention while they are doing this chore – even if you are completing a delicately balanced task. They will play dirty tactics if they have to. Or if they want to. Let’s face it. They want to. Give in, and make sure that you pull the vacuum cleaner cord out of the wall (especially if the Make it Sexy Vacuumer also has Hickey Song and Dance Vacuumer tendencies).

The No Fuss Vacuumer

This is the rare individual that quickly and efficiently zips around the house like a blur, making minimal fuss, doing a great job and putting the vacuum cleaner away where it’s actually supposed to live. This person, while appreciated, is likely to be misunderstood by 99.1% of the population. While their vacuum cleaning successes are widely acknowledged, folk don’t trust them, because clearly something is NQR (Not Quite Right).

If you enjoyed this blog, please give it the thumbs up below, and share the bejeesus out of it on Facebook, Pinterest, Google + etc by clicking on any and all of the handy social media icons that you find on this page. I’d also love to hear what type of vacuumer you are – and if there are further character types that need to be added to this.

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From the Feline Avenger

Xmas is about cats

Dear My Human (and friends),

I have hacked your account because you’ve got it all wrong. I am the Feline Avenger – stop calling me “Fizz”.

I know you get all stressy at this time of the year, because you only brush me twice a day. Unacceptable.

I heard you talking to your friend about Xmas, and how busy it is, and frankly, it’s really starting to annoy me. I am the King of this Household. I am the Lord of My Domain. Xmas is about cats, and I cannot believe that you have forgotten this. Let me remind you, in a fashion that you might understand – because all of my usual communication strategies seem to be falling on deaf ears. Dumb arse.

Listen to The Feline Avenger!

There are twelve days of Xmas. Let me sing you the song of my ancient people, before our traditions were appropriated by that German guy (Saint “Someone”, or Sinta “Something”…). I’d also like you to carefully follow the instructions that are cleverly hidden within…

On the first day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

A scratching post that’s very spark-ley

Feline Avenger Scratching Post

Feline Avenger’s Scratching Post, which every day gets a little balder…

On the second day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Two penthouses

Feline Avenger Penthouse

Feline Avenger’s Penthouse Lair, from which I survey my domain, and show everyone my bum.

On the third day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Three plant leaves

Feline Avenger's Munching Leaves

Feline Avenger’s Munching Leaves (My Human has given up trying to stop this)

On the fourth day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Four seedlings trying

Feline Avenger's Doomed Seedlings

Feline Avenger’s Doomed Seedlings

On the fifth day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Five wrigley toes

Feline Avenger LOVES Toes

Feline Avenger LOVES Toes (and stinky shoes). By the way, these are NOT My Human’s slippers…

On the sixth day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Six balls to chase

Feline Avenger LOVES to play Fetch. For hours.

Feline Avenger LOVES to play Fetch. For hours. (I’m a dog-like cat, it has to be said. There’s nothing wrong with a cat playing Fetch.)

On the seventh day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Seven bowls of cat food

Feline Avenger-sized Cat Bowl

Feline Avenger-sized Cat Bowl. Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

On the eighth day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Eight sunny beds

Feline Avenger Beanbag. Stop trying to sit in it. Get your own.

Feline Avenger Beanbag. Stop trying to sit in it. Get your own.

On the ninth day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Nine moths escaping

[NOTE: No photo because My Human is always laughing too hard to take a photo. Plus I am super fast.]

On the tenth day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Ten plastic beds (I know it’s a double-up. That is intentional. Every Feline Avenger needs far more than merely 12 beds!)

Feline Avenger Bed

It’s exhausting being a Feline Avenger. I need to sleep. A lot. Not that you can see me sleeping. I’m invisible.

On the eleventh day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Eleven illegal locations

Feline Avenger "illegal" location *snort*

Feline Avenger “illegal” location *snort*. It seems like EVERYWHERE is illegal, and I like it that way… I AM the Feline Avenger after all…

On the twelfth day of Xmas, my Human gave to me…

Twelve brushes stroking

Feline Avenger being brushed

I would like to make it very clear to My Human that this doesn’t happen nearly enough. You know I like. Now get your shite sorted out and spend more time at home doing this.

Eleven illegal locations

Ten plastic beds

Nine moths escaping

Eight sunny beds

Seven bowls of cat food

Six balls to chase

Five wrigley toes

Four seedlings trying

Three plant leaves

Two penthouses

And a scratching post that’s very spark-ley

The Feline Avenger relaxes

The Feline Avenger relaxes after a hard day of nefarious mischief (note to The Human – please supply me with a real cigarette, and not this fake crap!)


Now less singing, more brushing…

In Disdain, The Feline Avenger x

[NOTE FROM THE HUMAN: I don’t want to encourage his “delusions of grandeur”, but if you like this post, please click on the little thumbs up below. If you’ve got anything that you’d like to say to “The Feline Avenger”, leave your comments here and I will pass them on. Probably while I’m brushing him. Sigh.]



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Clean Grout the Eco Way

Need to clean grout?

Most of us do, at some stage, need to clean grout. Of course, the most sensible and easy method is to maintain your cleaning schedule so that grime and mould doesn’t build up. We all know that if we clean grout regularly, it’s a small, but regular job.

On the remote off-chance that you are not one of the 2% of the population that actually does this, you might have some interest in this blog. I clean grout regularly – both in my own lair, and at my Good Citizens (clients’) homes. Sometimes when a Superhero is first engaged, the grout is in a rather sad state – which makes a toxic solution tempting!

I was sent this recipe by a friend, and knowing that I had a large task coming up, I decided to clean grout using this environmental solution.

I had a mixed experience.

Interestingly, I found it to be time-consuming to make, quite a sticky solution, and one that left a baking soda film on the grout – which required another good Eco Spray and clean in order to leave a nice surface finish.

The initial instructions with the grout spray were:

  1. Spray on solution and let stand for 5 – 10 minutes.
  2. Use a scrubber/brush on the grout.
  3. Wipe away grout grime.

The easy way to clean grout!

As I mentioned above, I had to give it another Eco Spray and wipe a second time. To be honest, with the additional step, this did work quite well. A fair bit of work to make up the spray, some annoying “down time” while waiting for the spray to sit (which can always be used to clean something else!), but not a toxic fume or chemical in sight. Fortunately I only tested this out on a small 1 x 1 metre area. I now had another 3 x 3 metre area to clean, and by this stage, I was a little fed up with the above process.

So I sprayed Eco Spray onto another 1 x 1 metre area, again used my brush to gently scrub the grout, and by golly, that grout grime came away immediately! Plus no need to reapply another spray to remove residue – Eco Spray doesn’t leave any. So a job that was going to take an hour or two, ended up taking me 30 minutes (including the initial test with the new grout recipe). It ended up being very clean grout.

Original Clean Grout Recipe

  1. 7 cups water
  2. 1/2 cup baking soda
  3. 1/3 cup lemon juice
  4. 1/4 cup vinegar

Put into a spray bottle.

Things to note: Baking soda will chemically react to both vinegar and lemon juice – so make sure that there is plenty of room for “bubbling up” when you put this all together. I would also recommend adding the water first… Less spectacular! If you do try this recipe, and your experience is different from mine, I would LOVE to hear from you. Can I have possibly gotten it all wrong?! If you use this spray, I would also love it if you would compare it to my own tried and tested (and beloved) Eco Spray. What did you find??

I wish I had taken pics of the before and after of the clean grout job that I did… Never mind – the next clean grout task will be photographed before and after, and added to this blog. In the meantime, here is a picture of General Grunge.

Clean grout and fight General Grunge

If you like this blog, please give it the thumbs up (by clicking on the very small thumb icon directly under this. It doesn’t really do anything of any great import, except to make me feel good. Which is actually very important :).

Until next time *swishes cape*




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Clean your oven

Clean your oven using Ammonia

Since I became a less “disguised” Superhero, friends have been sending me links to various cleaning recipes and – most of them environmentally friendly. Many are recipes about how you might easily clean your oven.

If you are like most people, you love a clean oven, but you hate to actually CLEAN your oven.

I am unlike most people, and my oven is not quite the disaster zone that many of us hide – but as you can see, there is definitely room for improvement. Those stubborn dark spots are baked on, and do NOT respond to my gentle solutions to date.

2013-10-21 17.54.28

I was given a recipe for an apparently amazing solution, that will easily allow you to clean your oven. It involves, primarily, ammonia. I’ve never used ammonia – at least not knowingly. So when I was given this recipe, the first thing I did was a Google search on the environmental and health impacts of ammonia. If you are a fastidious type that likes to check your references and facts, you will notice that the information on this site is a little alarming. When you dig a little deeper you will also notice that the available information is about more commercial or industrial amounts of ammonia. The main concern thing that you should have is ventilation. Make sure that your kitchen is able to get a good air flow when you are attempting this recipe. Safety first peoples. If you do this, with the small amount of ammonia involved, you should be absolutely fine. According to the research… Don’t even think about giving that stuff a good old sniff.

So I decided to sacrifice myself in the pursuit of further knowledge about “keeping home like a boss”. I am going to try this solution, and I’m going to tell you what I find. Plus, I suspect that my Grandmother would have told me not to be so precious – and that she had used ammonia herself without noticeable effect. We won’t mention the third nipple.

Stage one – Clean your Oven

  1. The first part of this is very easy. Sometime in the evening, put a pot of water on your stove to boil.
  2. At the same time, heat your oven to 60 degrees. This is warm, but by no means hot. Turn it off.
  3. Put 1 cup of ammonia in an oven-proof dish, and put it in your oven on the top rack. I used Cloudy Ammonia, which I purchased from Coles.
  4. When it has boiled, put the pot of water on the bottom shelf of your oven.
  5. Close the oven door, resist the temptation to sniff that ammonia, and leave the whole caboodle overnight to do its thing.

Remember what I said. Make sure your kitchen is well-ventilated. I do not want to have any recalcitrant nipples on my conscience.

Stage two – Clean your Oven

Drink a big glass of water, and go to bed. Have a good nights sleep. Hydration and rest are very important.

Stage three – Clean your Oven

When I awoke, I eagerly checked my oven. Again, don’t sniff when you open your oven…

This is what I found…

2013-10-22 07.14.46Yes – it was a strange phenomenon. The previously smooth dark baked on crap had all changed consistency – it looked like brown elephant skin. I took this as a good sign. So, onto the next activity, if you want to clean your oven…

  1. Add 4 cups of water and a couple of teaspoons of dishwashing liquid to the ammonia.
  2. Get rid of the pot of water.
  3. Put on a pair of gloves, grab a scrubber, and use the above solution to gently wipe away your oven grime. You will notice that it is very easy to get rid of that previously baked on grime.
  4. I filled my sink with warm water to rinse a cloth, which I used to wipe away my oven grime. It worked.

This is the result – before and after…

2013-10-22 08.14.222013-10-22 08.19.26










And the overall effect…

2013-10-22 08.21.42

I’m quite pleased with that. If you like it, perhaps you might like to clean YOUR oven.

If you have any comments or alternate solutions, I’d be very pleased to hear them. If you like this post, please give it the thumbs up (there’s a wee icon below). If you hate this post, give it the thumbs down.

I’m about to descend on a friend’s oven to try the eco-friendly solution that I have also been sent… My job here is done – but do you want to clean your oven? Perhaps you might want to engage your own Superhero in Disguise.

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Build your own Eco Clean Kit

Eco Clean Kit for less than $15?!

Are you concerned about budget constraints? Does the degradation of the environment make your hair turn grey? Perhaps your cleaning materials take your breath away, in a “my lungs are dying!” kinda way? Whatever has drawn you here, the following Eco Clean Kit is likely to resolve some or all of these concerns for you.

You are about to be amazed and full of wonder when you find out exactly how easily, and cost-effectively you can build your own Eco Clean Kit. Not only are you going to be strutting around like a swaggery eco warrior, but you are also going to be delighted by how most of these products work far better than cleaning products available in your local supermarket. Your Eco Clean Kit will see you right for years to come, and your cleaning product expenses will plummet.

Bonus for young players: the products in your Eco Clean Kit have a less intense, and less toxic smell than what you would generally buy from your local store.

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I have an almost unhealthy love of the cleaning properties of baking soda, white vinegar and a good microfibre cloth. With these humble accoutrements, you too can achieve superhuman feats of cleaning amazingness.

To build your Eco Clean Kit you will need:

  1. Standard bucket ($1 from Kmart).
  2. Shaker bottle ($5 from Kmart, or $3.95 from your local $2+ store).
  3. Microfibre cloth – I buy the 1kg pack from Bunnings ($9.99), because there is a huge variety, including the fabulous window cleaning one. You will need about 50 cents worth to accomplish a good household clean. Just wash and your 50 cent cloths can be used again and again.
  4. 2 x Spray Bottles – you can use empty spray bottles from your general household cleaners, as long as you thoroughly rinse them first. Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose!
  5. Window cleaner spray – I prefer this over methylated spirits because of the smell. Actually, my experience tells me that meths is more effective… Oh the eco warrior guilt! Anyhow, Aldi sell a good value window spray for $1.19. 1lt of methylated spirits costs $3.75 at Kmart, and you will make about a kazillion litres of glass cleaner with this. Up to you.
  6. White vinegar – You can buy 2lt from Coles for $1.09. This will last you for ages! Let’s say that you use about 25 cents worth to get stocked up.
  7. Baking Soda – Obviously I buy this in bulk. I buy 5kg for $30.25 from Melbourne Street Organics. Not only is this business a great one to support, but their baking soda is the cheapest in Melbourne that I have found. 5kg of baking soda would last the average household at least a couple of years – probably more like 3! Let us agree that for the purposes of creating a fully stocked and functional kit, that your Baking Soda would cost you $3. NOTE: If you know of a great and cost-effective baking soda supplier, please let me know in the comments section!

With just these basic ingredients in your Eco Clean Kit, you can clean your bathroom, kitchen (including oven and microwave), laundry and floors (including carpet AND lino/tiles/wood). You can also clean many of your kitchen equipment, such as your dishwasher and any burnt pots that you have. Blogs on this pending…

It turns out that you probably cannot deal with your Oven Tray of Shame with this kit, but it seems like a small sacrifice for the other miraculous benefits. I’m still working on that Oven Tray of Shame… Grrrr…

Now, let’s do some maths and add up all of those costs. One plus five plus *mumbles to self and gets out calculator*… Well, that comes to $10.94. What an absolute bargain! Let’s give it about a 30% room for error and round it up to $15 – you might not be the bargain hound that I am, and may prefer to buy your more flashy pants bucket etc.

Putting your Eco Clean Kit together

  1. In one of your spray bottles, make up your own Eco Spray. This can be used to clean almost any surface. It cleans the outside of a toilet like a boss. It’s also great at getting shower scum off tiles, and pretty much makes any surface clean and shiny.
  2. Fill up your shaker bottle with baking soda (and keep the sieve-like insert in there, as it breaks up any lumps that might form). Use this to clean your toilet bowl – just sprinkle it in and leave it for a few minutes before scrubbing. You can also sprinkle it around the carpet before you vacuum to freshen things up (leave for 15 minutes or more for best results). Put it into your stinky runners (thank goodness this works so well!), or sprinkle your pets’ bed and toys with it for a good old fashioned freshening. When mopping floors, simply shake less than a tablespoon into the water, instead of floor cleaner. You don’t need much, and it zips through floor scum.
  3. In your other spray bottle, make up your Oven Eco Spray (recipe and instructions pending!). When you HAVE the recipe, just spray your oven door and inside with this once every week or so – totally keeps on top of that yukky oven crap that builds up. Also works on modern ovens that you need to be careful with. If this spray is not cutting the mustard with your oven, sprinkle baking soda on the more stubborn bits, and spray gently with your eco spray. Leave for 30 minutes or more. It’s not as effective as commercial oven cleaners, but it’s a LOT less toxic.
  4. Assign one microfibre cloth as your “wet” cloth.
  5. Assign one microfibre cloth as your “dry” or polishing cloth.
  6. Use the window cleaning microfibre cloth ONLY for cleaning windows and mirrors.
  7. Put all of the above, plus your window cleaner spray, into your bucket.

Voila! Your Eco Clean Kit is finished! Now draw a smiley face on your bucket, and tie one more large microfibre cloth to each end of the bucket handles, akin to a cape. And now you have a Superhero Eco Clean Kit! By the way, I’m a Superhero – not a photographer… Please give this post a thumbs up (below if you like it). Any tips, comments or criticisms most gratefully received.

Eco Clean Kit

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Finding their Superpowers

Kids want to help

You may have read my previous blog about getting children involved around the house. Not in a sweatshop kinda way – more in a “being important and needed” way. Kids want to help.

My two intrepid Superheroes in Training are my current testing ground – Super Mum has agreed to allow me to write about my observations. Master 5 and Master 8 are excited to be Superheroes in Training, and since our initial discussion over dinner, have brought up the subject on many occasions, much to my surprise. My perhaps cynical view was that most kids would perhaps prefer to NOT be involved in household chores. How wrong was I?!

Well, let me share a recent experience with my little Superheroes in Training. They are exploring and talking and working out what their Superpowers are, and it’s a joy to watch.

Super Mum was getting some new carpet put down at her house, which included all of the bedrooms. She asked her Superhero in Disguise to come and help move stuff out of the rooms before the carpet went down (when the children were away), and then again to return possessions to the room once the carpet had been laid.

The kids had watched much of the carpet-laying activity during the day, and when I arrived, there was much excited chatter about the process and how fabulous the new carpet looked. There was crap all over the floor on both the old carpet and new carpet. Dust and staples and little tiny bits of foam adorned the entire house, but the tradies had returned the heavy furniture to its original position thank goodness!

As I was dragging out the vacuum cleaner, Master 8 asks if he can do the vacuuming. I have to admit to being a bit gobsmacked, and as such, didn’t respond as quickly as I perhaps should have. Before I can gather my thoughts and respond, he tells me that he’s a Superhero in Training, and how is he going to find what his Superpowers are if he doesn’t help and try things out?

This is logic that is hard to deny, and shortly afterwards he is slowly and painstakingly moving through the house sucking up all of the grime that was making the lovely carpet look not-quite-so lovely. It was a little painful to watch, because most adults would be able to complete the job in about a quarter of the time, but it was so worth it! Kids want to help.

In the meantime, Master 5 had vigorously agreed with his older brother about finding his Superpower, and was bringing his bedroom contents back up the stairs – one small box at a time. When I started helping him he objected strongly, declaring that he wanted to do it himself. Again, I was gobsmacked. That little fella made about 20 trips up and down those stairs, and sat in his room carefully returned things from whence they had come. Kids want to help.  Kids want to help

Over the next couple of hours I watched both Master 5 and Master 8 flexing their Superpower muscles. I also watched them proudly strutting around having done “grown up jobs”. And what a fun activity the whole project turned into. It’s amazing how a boring chore can become exciting when you change the context into Superhero-Speak!

The moral of the story? Well, I don’t really have one, and I dislike it when people tell me what to do, so I’m not going to do it to you! Kids want to help.

If you have a story about young ones finding their household Superpowers, I’d love to hear about it. If you like this blog, please give it the thumbs up below. If you dislike it, give me a thumbs down. It’s better out than in!

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Getting Children Involved

Kids want to help

Getting Children Involved

If you read the newspaper, watch the news, watch television of any description, are on the internet (presumably, if you are reading this) or speak to people, you will have noticed that there is a lot of chatter about generational differences. Getting children involved – what has that got to do with the price of fish? The discussion centres around the differences between youth, adults and more senior members of our society. Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and the sometimes referred to Gen Z (but that sounds too final to me).

The problems. The lack of respect. The entitlement attitudes. Who wants to work with who, and who is the best person to manage your social media presence. Who’s happy, and why? It sometimes seems a little like one-upmanship to me – *blows raspberry* “Nah nah nah nah! My generation is more [insert desirable quality] than yours!”.

Perhaps there should be a little more chatter about what we have in common? Perhaps there should be more discussion about how inter-generational differences can enhance our work environment and our social strata? Perhaps it doesn’t matter if young people can attend to 17 different electronic stimuli, and older people know how to make 12 different nutritional meals using vegemite? Perhaps the price of progress is that we don’t necessarily understand “difference”?

WARNING: Personal Statement following. I believe that one characteristic that all generations have in common, is the need to belong to community. The need to be needed. Being integral to one’s people gives everyone purpose and a sense of belonging. A sense of community starts with family – of whatever description – and this is where we all develop a drive or an aversion to being needed. Getting children involved could be one of the fundamental building blocks to this.

I like getting children involved. They’re fun. They follow you around asking a million questions. They want to learn. They want your attention. They ask “why?” so many times that you are eventually compelled to actually think about why you do something a certain way.

The other day I was talking to my two little Superheroes in Training, sons of Super Mum. Master 5 and Master 8. They are fascinated by this blogging business, and because I have business cards and a website, they are convinced that I am going to become famous and “be on TV”. Master 5 asks if he can be a Superhero as well. “Of course!” I respond, “you are already – we just need to work out what your Super Powers are. At the moment you’re a Superhero in Training”. This was the start of our discussion about getting children involved.

Master 8 (mostly interested in the fame part): “Will you blog about us?”

“Yes”.Getting Children Involved

Master 8: “We can be the Superhero in Training Captains!”

I take this statement as implicit permission to repeat things that they say, objections that they express and insightful observations that they make.

And so a blogging category is born.

What are some ways that we can find out the Super Powers of our little Superheroes in Training? Getting children involved – is it really important? How can we involve them in our day-to-day minutiae so that they know they are needed? How do we find the balance between creating a virtue sweatshop in our home and doing everything for our little ones? What do they WANT to do, and what should they be PAID to do? What are they capable of doing, and at what ages? Do we need to buy a bigger First Aid kit and a fire extinguisher? Did we really walk through the snow for 2 hours every morning delivering a pail of milk before school when we were their age?!

These are all questions that will be explored in Superheroes in Training. Although I do recommend that you DO buy a bigger First Aid kit.

As a first suggestion, the mere act of discussing the concept of Superheroes in Training resulted in a lively discussion around the dining table. There was much enthusiasm around pointing out the chores that the boys currently do. Getting children involved should begin with a discussion.

“You could talk about stacking the dishwasher!”

“What about tidying the playroom?”

“I’m always helping you in the garden aren’t I Mama?”

“Does this mean that we will get paid?” (“No”, was the answer to this by the way…).

Is this a blog category that interests you? Do you have children? Do you know children? Are you old-school or are you more laissez faire? I would encourage vigorous debate, so feel free to comment at will. And if you are so inclined, please give this post a thumbs up or thumbs down (below).

Also, please check out the new Unsung Superhero Award here and share it with your networks. We can’t reward these Unsung Superheroes if we don’t find out about them! All stories welcome! In addition, if you’d like to follow the Business Challenge, CLICK HERE and read about the trials and tribulations of starting Superhero in Disguise.

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Polish Silver

No Fuss Method: Polish Silver

Sometimes eco is king. Usually in fact. Do you want to know how to polish silver the easy, eco-friendly way? Read on, because the chances are that you have everything you need, right there in your pantry cupboard. No need to hunt down expensive pastes and polishes at the supermarket. No need to go and finish that chemistry degree. No need in fact to go to much trouble at all. Just a no fuss way to polish silver.

It all boils down to one magic ingredient.

And yes, I’ve been banging on about this magic ingredient in several of my previous posts.

Baking Soda.

There, I said it. You can polish your silver, in next to no time, with baking soda.

And of course there’s a catch. No, actually, there is no catch. It will literally take you a few minutes to polish silver, and you don’t even need a polishing cloth.

I have been polishing silver now for… erm… quite a few years (the less said about that last part the better). In the early years it always involved sitting down with Super Gran, getting out the Silver Polish and the rags, and rubbing that paste stuff in until my eyes watered and my fingers cramped. Surprisingly, Super Gran did not give me this secret, easy, eco-friendly and cheap method… This little baby is the result of hours of research, lots of reading, and the sacrificial experimentation of a loved-one’s silver. So here it is. Do this:

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Fill a deep pan with water. The pan needs to be large enough to house your biggest silver piece – or at least half of it.
  2. Heat the water until it starts to simmer, and then add 1 tablespoon (1TB) of baking soda.
  3. Throw a loosely crumpled piece of aluminium foil into the water.
  4. Immerse your silver piece into the water (with tongs probably – safety first!), for about 30 to 45 seconds. You will notice that the silver starts to shine, and the aluminium foil starts to go black.
  5. As soon as your silver is nice and shiny, rinse it in some soapy water, and dry immediately.
  6. You can continue using your baking soda water to polish your silver – just replace the foil as it blackens. What it is doing is attracting all of that yukky oxidation from your silver and taking it for itself. Which is exceedingly nifty in this instance.


And there you have it. I really did stretch those steps out in order to make the step-by-step last, but you can see how short this method is. It is also a ridiculously cheap, eco-friendly and easy way to make your silver shine. Polishing your silver will no longer seem like an awful task that you put off as long as possible! Polish silver with joy.

Go on! Get that blackened silver out of your cupboard and give this method a crack. You know you want to. Then let me know how you go. If you have any questions for your resident Superhero in Disguise, please just ASK.

Do you have a better way to polish silver that does not involve store-bought or expensive products? Would you like to share with the group? Please leave a comment and let me know if it’s easier and more effective than this method.

Polish Silver Easily

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