Pro tip: the simplest way to clean chia seeds

When we heard chia was a superfood, high in omega 3 and  great for the brain, we jumped on the band wagon and put in my daughters oats every  morning. Combined with reflux and our “normal” regular periods of congestion resulting in bringing up the contents of her stomach, we had quite a lot of laundry to do where chia seeds were involved. Now if you have used chia seeds before you would know one of their wonderful properties is to swell up and expand, thinking whatever liquid it is in. Often I. Recipes they will have a step to personal chia before use. However when chia is combined with linen, it would take ages to rinse every little seed from it before putting it in the wash. If we missed a few, it wouldn’t wash out instead be spread to all other items of laundry. 
After a few years, we got better at dealing with the frequent vomits, we started using tissues more often because you can simply throw it out. We became expert vomit catchers, stationing empty bowls and cups within arms reach for quick deployment over the mouth. But this didn’t solve the issue of chia from the odd cough vomit in bed. Chia was starting to become the bane of my existence. Until one day I discovered a better way! 

Enter the humble dish washing brush! We never used these growing up washing the dishes and I knew some people do. I had received one with my food processor and found it was great to quickly get food scraps off the different parts of it before soaping it up with the sponge and rinsing. So one day I thought I would apply this to the chia and it worked! In a few seconds I was able to brush off all the chia seeds. Ready to wash. 

Life changing… I’m keen to hear any other tips/ hacks you have found. 

I hope by sharing this small  change in my life it might make it that little bit easier with the small things someone else’s life and make it just that little bit easier for us to focus on the bigger things in life. For super needs mums we need all the help we can get. 


Itchy Bites – essential oil blend

This summer has been particularly bad with flies and mozzies. We recently moved to a new house with floor boards that have little gaps so I’ve long given up trying to keep the place mozzie/ant/spider free (haven’t yet invested in pest control).

Needless to say, the kids have had a lot of mozzie/ant/spider bites this year. I also started using doTerra essential oils last year, so when one morning when I was sending my daughter off to school and she woke up with yet another swollen insect bite, I quickly mixed up some lavender, lemon, peppermint, thyme and melaleuca (tea tree) oil, applied some and sent it with her to school in her oil bag. That day she got another bite and her teacher put it on her. She said my daughter was complaining and when she put it on it worked straight away and the swelling went down. I made another version a little stronger with added Basil and Eucalyptus and gave my daughter’s teacher both versions to try. She reported the ‘stronger’ version worked best.

I also use this often on myself and find that it works straight away and brings down the swelling within an hour.

I usually make a ‘stock bottle’ so that I can blend once then dilute in a smaller 3ml roller ball bottle appropriately to age. This then means I always have the blend on hand to top up when needed.

Itchy Bite stock blend

30 x Fractionated Coconut oil
30 x Lavender
20 x Lemon
20 x Peppermint
6 x Tea Tree
6 x Thyme*
6 x Eucalyptus*
6 x Basil*

* Extra oils for a ‘stronger’ blend.

Total unit cost is $12.53 retail price ($9.40 wholesale)
To use dilute approx. 5-10 droops in a 10ml rollerball bottle. Depending on the dilution you choose you may get 3-6 samples out of this and possibly even more. It depends on your preference, a little does go a long way. I personally prefer it to be a little stronger because I only use a tiny amount at a time directly on the insect bite.

This means that the unit price can be anywhere from $2-6 per bottle, which makes it very affordable.


So how do I get my hands on this?

There are a few options…

You can buy the oils individually and blend this your own. I recommend doTerra essential oils because they are 100% pure and have been certified therapeutic grade.

If you are not yet a doTerra wellness advocate and this is the first time you have heard about doTerra, you can join online for $35 and order straight away. To buy this DIY kit with the enrollment kit costs $223.50 and it will be delivered to your door in a week or so. There are a few great value enrolment packages, which include the majority of these oils (oils not in the basic enrollment packages are in italic)

For more information head over to Joining my doterra team.

Note: Prices are based on 2016 doTerra price list. 

Information is only based on my opinion and experience and is not to be taken as medical advice. Please see your doctor if symptoms persist and also discuss your current situation with your doctor if you intend to use this alongside western medication.

Social Capital – Community Inclusion for people with a disability – Al Condeluci 

What does inclusion look like in the community? How do I help my daughter with CP to engage with others and be socially included if she can’t hold her head up and can’t talk? I know that exclusion from society is bad eg group homes, special programs etc but I couldn’t quite explain exactly why. On the other hand, specialised programs are great because it meets the person with a disability where they’re at, gives them and their families the support they need and we’ve been personally been enormously blessed by them. These were the questions that were buzzing around the back of my mind when I heard that Mamre had invited Al Condeluci to talk about inclusion.

Updated: Full Video:

Here’s a “summary” (a little longer than intended) from my notes. Note: I only came half way through the session (the doorbell you hear half way through was me). 

The Good Life

When we look at what it means to have ‘the good life’ every person regardless of their ability, race, gender would say that it is to have a

  • job (means to earn an income and contribute to society),
  • a house /place to live/to call their own; and
  • relationships (friends and family).

When it comes to supporting people with a disability it’s easy to provide jobs and housing with funding and support. However, to assist them to make friends and be engaged in a community is more challenging.

Historically people with disability have been devalued by society with their disability seen as a punishment from God or less than human. This has improved over the years with

– charities – to care for them

– medical institutions – to fix them solely focusing on their medical needs.

– social institutionalisation – to watch over them and provide services that cater for their disability but not fully include them in society. This was in the form of group homes, supported apartments, special education, sheltered workshops, work enclaves, separate recreation and separated transportation.

These approaches have their merits in meeting people’s needs to a degree, what was missing from was community (beyond the paid agency/ support) – having friends, social opportunities, people who call and places to go.

“If you belong to no community and decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying in half over the next year.” – Robert Putnam

Having relationships reduces stress and improves the immune system to help ward off bacteria and viruses. This has shown to be true in real life examples such as the Roseto community, who were studied by medical professions to find out why everyone lived longer than the norm despite poor health, eating and exercise habits. They ruled out all the factors and only one they could conclude was that they all belonged to the same Italian community for generations. It was only when the younger generations started to move away for work that their lifespan came down to normal. In the same vein, Hispanic communities are also found to live longer despite harder jobs, lack of exercise. All of this could be traced back to being part of a strong tight-knit community.

Al Condeulci and Rachel Drew (Mamre) also shared their experiences on how this might be created, having just come back from a trip to New Zealand to visit an intentional community called Earth Song. This community of 32 likeminded families built a housing estate with sustainable living and community in mind. There is a community center where the families take it in turns to host a dinner twice a week. Cars are parked on the perimeter to promote walking.

On the flip side when there isn’t community the life expectancy is less and for a person with a disability, it is 15 years sooner. In UK doctors are treating loneliness as an illness. During hurricane Katrina a few thousand died, however, most was not from the direct consequences of the flood, it was because no one knew they were trapped, didn’t know to come and so no one found them.

So how do we help people build communities when there are challenges?

The Power of Social Capital

There are two ways of looking at change:

  1. Micro change – changing an individual’s circumstances – this is about changing the focus from deficits, labels, the differences,  to ‘fix the problem’ and instead focusing on what we might have similar with the person to start building bridges at the personal level.
  2. Macro – community – is made of rules and relationships. There are social norms in each community and rules of engagement. Macro change attempts to change social attitudes through formal ways (laws) or informal ways, through relationships. And how do we do this? By starting the conversation.

What was interesting was when community does not happen organically we create systems to generate a marginal reality. So for people with a disability when they cannot participate and engage in community, we create artificial community’s such as group homes, sheltered workshops, special programs all of which cater to their specific needs but the effect is that they are excluded from society.

The community model for macro change see the problem is not the person, but the assumptions. Instead of focusing on ‘what’s wrong’ with the person, it is about shifting the focus to similarities and shared interests. By doing so bridges can be built, friendships forged and builds social capital – essentially it means that there are people that care about the person with a disability who will be there for them when things go wrong, not because they are paid but because they genuinely care about them as a person. This is fundamental to all human beings we all need to love and be loved.

“One of the biggest flaws in our approach to life is the Western belief that competition creates strong and healthy systems. But competition among individuals is not hte dominant way life works. It is always cooperation that increases over time in a living system. Life becomes stronger through systems of collaboration and partnering, not through competition. ” – Margaret Wheatly

We discussed the exclusion that occurs when there is competition. There is only ever one winner and each time the competition is repeated, the winner is called to somehow ‘defend’ their title or else they are perceived to not be a winner. This ignores the fact they have already won and the reality is that they should always be considered a ‘winner’. There is only one winner and that makes everyone else give up and opt out. We don’t see the best out of everyone when there is competition, infact it often brings out the worst particularly when winning becomes the sole focus at all costs. Often we perpetuate this notion by focusing on ‘who is winning’ rather than how we are playing the game. When it comes to life it is apparent that how we play is much more important than who has ‘won’. However, when we work together we bring the best of what we have to offer and leverage each other’s strengths in synergy to create something greater than what could be achieved individually.

“It’s not differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do.”

We discussed different ways that might isolate people from engaging in the community and found that it’s not simply other people’s attitudes and judgments they have made about a person, but also the person’s on ideas or personality.

For example, those on the autism spectrum often want to engage in social interactions, however, they don’t know how or can’t bring themselves to because they feel they may violate the social norms or have to be someone they’re not in order to fit in. It essentially boils down to the fact that we all want to socialise with whom we want to socialise with, when, where and how often we want it. We all want the choice to opt in or out and so shouldn’t people with a disability be given that same opportunity?

We first need to get past differences by

  1. Regularity
  2. More similarity

We then talked about different examples in the media where we have seen this done successfully – some examples were:

  • Big Bang Theory – practical guide to making friends
  • Community – ahbed – protrayed as eccentric but normal
  • Speechless – quest to live a ‘normal’ teenage life despite having a carer to assist with communication.

Building community

Firstly a person needs to identify what community they want to be part of, visit with regularity, then find a way to contribute to the community. This can be done by:

  • Look to (or help others) find their common passions (similarities)
  • Look for places (communities) where these common passions are celebrated and try to visit with regularity.
  • Find out what is important in how this community behaves (rituals, patterns)
  • Look for (or become the Gatekeeper) to other community members.

So what is the role of the paid support worker? How can people with more severe disabilities hope to make friends and maintain them?


Gatekeepers are simply people that have the power to allow or prevent people from accessing and/or engaging in the community. So there can be good and bad gatekeepers. When used well, paid funded support workers can be used as a conduit for building social capital. This doesn’t mean getting a certain number of likes on facebook (someone mentioned that this was an actual goal on someone’s plan and used as an example of how the concept of social capital is easily misunderstood). Discussing the place of social media, I discovered it can be good to help strengthen new relationships – keep regular contact, provide information to find similarities, provide topics of conversation to help build bridges in person. However, it is not to be used as a replacement or an indicator of social capital.

Where to from here?

Let’s start the conversation. This is the best way to effect real social change, with one conversation at a time. There is a lot of new ideas to think through and I would be interested to hear more about how others have applied this in real life before. Here’s some further information that I will also be reading. Keen to also hear your thoughts of what you found helpful.


Disclaimer: this is a summary of my view of the workshop given and represents my view of what was said. The full session of the Mamre session is now available on YouTube:


Recipe: quick one pot spaghetti bolognaise

Spaghetti bolognaise is the first dish my mum taught me to make from scratch when I first moved out of home, so it’s one of the few dishes that I can do without a recipe and know how to adjust. Normally it’s on the stove but with the addition of two expensive appliances in my kitchen this year, and with two hungry kids needing some dinner I thought I’d try my hand in some shortcuts “just to see” if it was faster. Normally I would cut the veggies by hand but I’ve found my 3 year old is very good a picking them out of her food, so I thought I would try blending the veggies this time.


2 carrots

2 zucchinis

1 capsicum

1 onion

4 knobs of garlic (I actually didn’t have this but it would have added a LOT more flavour)

2 cans of tomatoes

1 can of tomato paste

2 Tbsp virgin cold pressed coconut oil (or your preferred cooking oil)

500g beef mince

500g penne pasta (or any other type of pasta)

1 Tbsp oregano

1 Tbsp basil

1 Tbsp parsley

1 Tbsp of sugar




Vitamix – or any blender/food processor

Instant pot/pressure cooker

Wooden spatula


  • Wash and cut ends off veggies and pop them straight into the Vitamix
  • Add 2 cans of organic tomatoes, 1 can of organic tomato paste
  • Blend on speed 1 for 10 seconds using the tamper, turn up to speed 3 and pulse to desired consistency. [optional: add a little more water and then turn up to speed 10 for 6 min and use it to heat up the sauce]
  • Salt and pepper the mince
  • Turn on the pressure cooker to the stir fry setting and add the coconut oil before it heats up
  • Stir fry the mince for 5-10min or until mostly browned.
  • Add the blended sauce and stir through
  • Add herbs of your choice – I used oregano, basil and parsley. Note: the quantities are approximate, you can adjust this to taste.
  • Fill the Vitamix jug half way with water (approx 4 cups) and pour it in the used tomato tins swirl then pour it back in the jug. Pour the resulting tomato juice into the pressure cooker pot.
  • Add 500g pasta and stir, ensuring the sauce covers the pasta.
  • Put the lid on the pressure cooker and set to high pressure for 13 min for al dente (for a lower glycaemic index) or 15min for softer pasta.


    Serves approx. 8 people

    Total preparation time: 10-15min

    Cooking time: 13min

    Total time from fridge to plate: 25-30min


    The verdict

    I stopped the cooker after 13 min and let the steam out and the pasta turned out to be al dente. However, if you prefer a softer pasta, you can try it for 15-20min instead.

    For my first attempt I left out the sugar, so it was a little sour.

    Was it faster? Possibly.

    Was it easier? Definitely.

    Would I do it again? Definitely.

     What are your super quick go to recipes? If you have any great time-saving tips in the kitchen then I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below.

Life hack: labels for charging station

I’ve been through a few different version of charging stations after seeing pretty boxes that hide a plethora of cables and power boards exposing only the cables you need. 

While it looks nice on pintrist, in reality we simply plug in what we need when we need it. My husband likes to unplug things that are not being used so after a few days the cables get mixed up. We also have   a few iPhones in the house so often times I’ve plugged in my phone expecting it to charge only to find in the morning that I’ve plugged it into the wrong charger! 

So here’s the latest version of my “charging station”:

  • Power board is easily accessible at desk level. No more running over cables on the floor. 
  • All the cables are labelled on both ends so you can easily match up the right plug with the right charger. I’ve even had to use colour and letters for duplicate cables types. 
  • 3M cable holders help hold the cables that are not being used and all the excess cabling is hidden under the desk 

Simple but it works. I’ve had this set up for a few months now and so far so good. 

Life hack – pre measure medicines

Being a special needs mum, one of the challenges when it comes to travelling with my daughter, who has epilepsy, is working out how to bring medication and keeping it cool.

When you are on multiple medications to be taken at certain times of the day it helps to have everything pre-prepared. We usually bring it in a coolerbag but it is a lot to bring if you have to bring a large bottle of medicine as well as food and drink.

In order to reduce weight and time we started pre-measuring our daughters liquid medication when we were on holidays.

Each time we need to make up get milk medicine we simply squirt some in the bottle carefully so it doesn’t get dirty. Then we can reuse the same syringe to draw up a new dose. Usually I will wash the syringe once a week which also reduces the time to wash the syringe.

We liked this so much that we kept it going when we got home. So now we always have a stash of pre-measured medication and it makes it easier to make up her milk with medicine. It also means that we always have a little medicine pack on standby that we can bring with us for the day and gives us a little more flexibility to decide to stay out for dinner if we want to instead of rushing home in order to give her nightly medication.


Now firstly there is a minor risk of contamination which, if you wanted to try this you need to weigh up. Also this only works for us because my husband and I are the caregivers and we have a shared understanding of which is what. However for those with carers that are not 24/7 this life hack is not recommended as there is a risk the wrong medication or dose might be given. This is also why you should always bring pharmacy labelled medicines with you when travelling.

We’re happy with this and it works for our family.

What are other time saving ways do you use in your family?

Mango Chia Pod

Mangos always reminds me of summer. We get them in abundance here in sunny Queensland and it’s synonymous with Christmas. 

We buy chia in bulk as it’s one of the main components in my daughters breakfast. I have been trying to eat more nutritionally and was inspired seeing the chia pods back in Aldi. So decided to make my own again. Over Christmas we were given a lot of mangos that we’re quite ripe so it’s a great way to make use of them. 

What a refreshing treat for a hot day! 

Here’s my recipe which is vegan and completely dairy, milk, egg free. 

I’ve also started making my own nut milks with our vitamix so have used my own homemade cashew nut milk. Feel free to substitute with any other milk. For a creamier variation you could also add in a few spoons on yoghurt. 

I use recycled baby food jars that hold appprox 150ml. 

I’ve made 4 here so that I can have enough for snacks throughout the week. 

Mango cashew milk chia pod


2 Tbsp chia seeds

100ml cashew nut milk

4-6 bite sized pieces of freshly cut mango


Add chia seeds to a 150ml jar. Add cashew nut milk and stir until all the seeds are evenly distributed. Add in mango pieces and ensure they are covered. Put on the lids and store in the fridge. 

In a few hours the chia seeds will absorb the liquid and thicken it up to be more like a pudding. If you find it’s not thickening up you may need to add more chia. If you prefer to use a bigger jar add more chia just try to keep the ratios roughly the same. 

This should be fine to consume within 3-4 days. But as always use your common sense and if it smells or if in doubt throw it out. 

Feel free to change up the flavours with different variations such as stewed Apple and cinnamon. Vanilla and cinnamon. 

What are your favourite chia pod flavours?