Handbag hacks

Hello friends!  Today I thought we’d talk handbag hacks.  I know you don’t want me to meticulously take out everything from my handbag and give a running commentary about each item. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Instead, I thought we’d talk about some of the criteria for selecting the ultimate handbag and also some handbag hacks to make your bag more organised and space efficient (and makes life easier – bonus).

The ultimate everyday handbag

My current everyday handbag is probably the best bag I have ever had. When I go handbag shopping I don’t care about the brand, as long as it satisfies all of my strict criteria:

  • good colour (neutral but not too “old lady”)
  • zip closure for main compartment
  • two outside pockets (one for phone, one for keys + trolley coin)
  • one zipped inside pocket + 2 small open pockets (this is rare)
  • sturdy handles (my bag is heavy!)
  • good size but not too big (or I’m tempted to put more in it)

The two outside pockets

When I hold my bag over my shoulder, the outside pocket on the side of the bag against my body is the one that holds my mobile phone. This is so that if the phone rings or gets a text message while I am out and about, I am likely to feel it vibrate and not miss a call if I don’t hear it ring. It is also very quick to grab my phone when it rings and I’m not fumbling around in my bag looking for it.

One zipped inside pocket

This pocket in a handbag is usually fairly small.  It is amazing what I can fit into this pocket! I always keep a pen, nail file and hairpins in there. The main item I squeeze into the internal zipped pocket, though, is this weird little purse thing from when my kids were little.  It’s just the right size for spare keys that I like to carry with me, but don’t want on my keyring all the time. And again, these little bits and pieces are so hard to find when you need them if they are left to float around inside the main bag compartment.

Internal zipped pocket

Contents of internal zipped pocket

And there’s these super-handy fold-up scissors too!

Fold-up scissors!

Two small open pockets

It is a gem of a handbag that gifts you with, not only a zipped inside pocket, but also two small open pockets on the other main internal wall off your handbag.  These pockets are gold. In one I put my “handbag holder” (this thing is one of the best inventions ever. It means your bag never has to sit on the dirty floor of a cafe).

Handbag holder

In the other little pocket I also keep my lipgloss – nice and handy.

Two internal handbag pockets

In the same open pocket I keep my hand sanitizer as well.  I always need this in a hurry (because if I am out to eat, I can’t wait 10 minutes to search my bag for it, I’m much too impatient for that).

The main compartment

The main compartment of my handbag needs to be able to fit this:

Handbag insert

This is a handbag insert I purchased and I’ve never looked back.  We all need one of these (I got mine from here – super cheap). I won’t list everything I can keep in it, but it just means that everything is easy to find and get to.  There’s a spot for my wipes (since having kids I still don’t leave home without them!), tissues, hand cream, emergency folded up shopping bag, etc.  It makes switching handbags over quick and easy if you need to. On top of this insert thing, I keep my purse so that it is easy for me to grab out of my handbag when I need it.

Purse in handbag

That’s it!  We’re done! Handbag tour with hacks over!

Closed handbag

So there you have my handbag hacks! What are some clever ways you use your handbag?

Trina xx

PS  You can read my previous post reviewing a Kate Hill bag over here.

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Those Dreaded Jobs

Today’s post is about those dreaded jobs.  You know the ones. They bug you every day and you ignore them.  Well, that’s what happens to me.  I notice lots of painful tasks that need to be done around the house and I think “Must do that one of these days”.

Well, there was a day during these last school holidays that I thought “I’m going to do that today”. I Treen cleaned three of those dreaded jobs in one day.  They didn’t take as long as I thought they would.  Now they are done!  There are still many more of those dreaded jobs on my mental list.  I will get around to those next time.

The first job I tackled was to clean the exhaust fan in our ensuite.  Every morning I look at it.  It’s so dusty and disgusting.

This job was the quickest dreaded job to tackle.  I simply put a small step ladded into the shower (I didn’t show this bit because it looked dangerous! – definitely approach with care!).  I was then able to twist the exhaust fan cover and it came off very easily.  Always close your mouth when you do this as some dust falls down (I’ve learnt this from experience!!).

I took the cover to the laundry sink and simply rinsed it off with hot water. A soft cloth is handy to wipe away anything stubborn and to get into any tight spots.  It also makes me feel like I’m doing it properly!

Cleaning exhaust fan

The cover gets a wipe dry and simply put back into place above the shower.  I think this job took me about 3 minutes (including taking the photos for you) and has bugged me for about 6 months.  Must try to do it more regularly.

The second job on the list was to clean my makeup brushes.  Once again, I think about this every morning as I get ready for the day, but it seems like a big job.  It’s not though!  I only use 2 makeup brushes regularly.  One is for my mineral powder foundation, and the other one is for contouring and blush ( I know the makeup police won’t approve of me using one brush for two jobs, but….oh well).

To clean my makeup brushes, I follow the instructions from over here, which is to simply pour a small amount of olive oil and dish soap in a bowl.  Mix them together using your wet makeup brush and the brush will become clean.  I then rinse the brush in warm water until the water runs clear.  Leave to dry on a piece of paper towel for the day.  They feel so lovely when they are clean.  Another job I should do more often. Again, it only took a few minutes to do.

Clean makeup brushes

After all that, I took on the king of the most dreaded jobs:  cleaning the rangehood filters in the kitchen.  Uugghh!

They were greasy and clogged up a bit, so while I was on a roll with those dreaded jobs I decided this was a huge contender. I filled the kitchen sink with hot water, dish soap and a bit of bi carb soda. See a tutorial over here. My filters are very long and won’t fit in the sink properly so leaving them to soak doesn’t work unfortunately.  I just took a brush and a cloth and gave them a scrub.  They came up nice and clean (doesn’t show up very well in photos).  I dried them the best I could (left them to drain in the empty sink for a while). Then I put them back into place.  All done!  This job took the longest.  I spent about 30 minutes mucking around with this.

Clean the rangehood

So in under an hour I had completed 3 of those dreaded jobs. Wow! Put on the coffee machine now. Time to relax.

There are lots more jobs to do and these dreaded jobs will need to be done again (soon!), but for now I can concentrate on something else!

What dreaded jobs need to be Treen cleaned at your place?  Maybe today is the day to knock off a couple of them!

Trina xx

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Easy sundried tomato pasta

This recipe is my SUPER easy sundried tomato pasta that I pull out of my hat on a regular basis.  It’s perfect for impromtu guests or for lunch or dinner when I just can’t be bothered. It’s a little bit cheating but because I use this so often, I just had to share it with you!

I got this recipe idea from a very good friend of ours many years ago. I stood and watched her make this delicious meal in minutes while we chatted and she sipped her glass of wine.  Now this is my kind of recipe!! She shared the idea with me and now I’m sharing it with you. There are many variations to be made with this easy sundried tomato pasta recipe.  You can put your own spin on it and it could be a completely different meal each time.

Easy sundried tomato pasta

Easy sundried tomato pasta


  • Tub (200g) sundried tomato dip
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 80g sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Chopped cooked chicken
  • Assorted chopped cooked vegetables (eg carrot, broccoli, cauliflower)
  • 80g baby spinach leaves
  • 300g penne (or spiral) pasta
  • Grated parmesan to serve


  1. Cook pasta in boiling water as usual.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until soft, around 5 min.
  3. Add cooked chicken and cooked vegetables.
  4. Add sundried tomatoes and sundried tomato dip (the entire tub)
  5. Once combined and heated through, add baby spinach leaves to wilt.
  6. After pasta is cooked al dente, drain and add to the pan.
  7. Mix to combine and use reserved pasta water to contribute to the sauce if required.
  8. Serve with grated parmesan.

This is ideal to whip up after a busy day at work as it only takes the time for the pasta to cook to make the whole thing. The kids will love it and people will wonder what your secret is……it’s up to you whether you share it or not!

Pot of sundried tomato pasta

Hot Tip:

This recipe freezes really well.  I recently made this for dinner and padded it out with heaps of veggies and chicken.  This made lots of leftovers which I was then able to freeze and use again the following week when only two of us were here for dinner. You could freeze the whole meal once made and take it camping or give it to a friend in need or just use as a reserve  meal for when you need a break from cooking.

Another hot tip for you: you can leave out the chicken to make it vegetarian, or you could replace the cooked chicken with tinned tuna or cooked roast turkey or beef. Could be a good one for leftovers from Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Let me know if you make something similar.  Do you use a different flavour dip? I think an olive dip would also be amazing in this recipe.

Trina xx

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Crocheted baby blanket

My brother and his wife recently had their first baby so I wanted to give them a crocheted baby blanket when the baby was born.  We didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl, so the blanket needed to be neutral colours.

Crocheted baby blanket gift

When I started my search for the perfects pattern for the crocheted baby blanket, I had a very strict criteria. I wanted a pattern that worked in a cirular fashion (like Granny Squares), instead of row by row because I wasn’t sure exactly how big to make it (and I hate counting stitches!). The other factor to consider was that I wanted an interesting stitch, not too boring, yet not too difficult for me.  This shell pattern seemed perfect.

Shell crocheted baby blanket

The great thing about this shell crocheted baby blanket pattern is that whenever you decide that this will be the final round, you can change the colour of the yarn and you automatically make a scalloped edge as you crochet the final round.  It’s pretty clever! Saves learning an edging stitch and because it’s just more shells, it matches in beautifully with the rest of the blanket.

To learn how to make this beautiful crocheted baby blanket, I watched this Youtube clip.  While watching this, I paused it and quickly noted down the stiches so that I could get a feel for the pattern of stitches and be quickly reminded whenever I picked it up to crochet more. Basically, there are two basic rounds: a framework round, followed by a shell round.  Both of these rounds are repeated alternately and the blanket quickly gets bigger and bigger. The final round is a shell round.

Hot Tip:

You can keep going and make a huge blanket for your bed or for the couch.  This doesn’t have to be a baby blanket necessarily.  You can make it as big as you like.

Note: I made the little flower separately and sewed it on once the baby was born and we were told that we had a little neice!  I would have left the flower off if the baby had been a boy. Here is how to make the flower.

Crocheted flower

If you give this pattern a go, let me know!  I’d love to see your end product.

Trina xx

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Pork patties with apples & sweet potato mash

When I saw this “Pork patties with apples & sweet potato mash” recipe in Woolworths “fresh” magazine and over here, I knew I just had to try it.  The picture made it look absolutely delicious.

Pork patties with apples & sweet potato mash

My only hesitation was the “pork” bit.  I love bacon but I’m not too keen on pork.  The smell of it cooking doesn’t appeal to me and I don’t like the taste either.  I contemplated making these rissoles out of plain beef mince instead, but I didn’t think the apples would go as well with the beef.  Pork and apples are friends, I know that much.

When I went shopping for the ingredients, I came across a compromise. I found beef & pork mince in a pack so I bought that.  It turned out that this was a great decision.  When the mince was cooking, I couldn’t smell the yucky pork smell, yet it went beautifully with the apples.

The addition of bacon in the patties makes them so delicious.  I added a tablespoon of dried parsley into the meat pattie mixture for added flavour.  Any herbs would go well in them really.

Another change I made to the recipe was that I used baby spinach leaves instead of sage leaves.  Yes, I know that they are not the same! I didn’t have sage and thought that the spinach wilted in with the apples as they finished cooking would add some green vegetables to the dish without affecting the taste. This worked really well.

This recipe is going on the “make it again!” list around here.  It would be a great one for visitors because the end product looked a lot like the picture in the magazine and on the website, don’t you think?

Anyway, make sure you click here and get the recipe.  Make it for your family.  It’s so good!

Trina xx

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