Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Pumpkin, sweet potato and lentil soup

what to do with leftover pumpkin

To appease my younger son and just mark the occasion, I carved a pumpkin yesterday. It is sitting now on the shelf in the entrance hall, surrounded by smaller pumpkins.

Have you been carving a pumpkin for tonight?
Rather than waste the scooped insides of the pumpkin, use them in cooking.

Whip up an easy soup with pumpkin and any other orange-coloured veg and fruit and pulses - sweet potato, butternut squash, lentils, orange, carrots. Use coconut oil, or flavoured olive oil, cream or coconut milk, there are so many different variations of the same basic soup. And again, vary spices - chilli, garlic, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, garam masala.

Pumpkins for carving available in the shops tend to be rather bland in taste, and need a pick up with a good seasoning. I don't mean those pretty turban squashes which are gorgeous to look at, and taste lovely, but not really suitable for carving faces.

easy soup with pumpkin

Pumpkin, sweet potato, butternut squash and lentil soup
1/2 big onion, finely chopped
2tbsp coconut oil with turmeric
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 carrot
a pinch of turmeric
a pinch of ground ginger
3tbsp red lentils
350g cubed sweet potato and butternut squash mix
350g pumpkin

Finely chop the onion and fry it with the coconut oil for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chilli, chopped carrot and spices, and fry for another 3-4 minutes.
In a big pan put the lentils with the fried onion, cubed sweet potato and butternut squash mix, carrot, pumpkin, season with salt, pour enough water to cover all the vegetables and bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 35+ minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.
Blitz it with a hand blender. If the soup consistency is too thick, add a bit of boiled water.
Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, soured cream or pour single cream.
For a vegan version - add whichever plant-based yogurt you fancy.

what to do with leftover pumpkin

what to do with leftover pumpkin

If the idea of the pumpkin soup doesn't appeal to you, Steve Smith, Head chef at Bohemia offers top tips for taking advantage of pumpkin season.

The arrival of autumn means one thing - pumpkins will be rolled out in their thousands to supermarkets isles across the country. If you've had enough of carving Halloween faces into the winter squash, why not take advantage of the gloriously low pumpkin prices and make use of that fibre-rich flesh?
Pick up a pumpkin that feels heavy for its size, with a smooth, firm skin and get cooking!

1. Pumpkin Pie
If we can thank Americans for introducing us to a dessert, it's Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin Pie makes a delectable autumn treat and is served best with a dollop of fresh cream on top. For optimum results, spend an extra hour in the kitchen, making your own crust - it will be worth it!

2. Pumpkin Pancakes
Ditch the usual pancakes in favour of the pumpkin variety. Simply puree a cup of pumpkin and mix together with buttermilk along with the usual ingredients to create a stack of perfectly fluffy pumpkin cakes.

3. Pumpkin Curry
Combine pumpkin with chick peas and coconut for a delicious dinner for the whole family.
Make this dish some time ahead of serving so that all the wonderful flavours can fully develop.

4. Pumpkin risotto
This resourceful take on risotto is a great dinner party dish. The pumpkin pieces add texture and substance to the popular rice dish, making it the ultimate autumn comfort food to enjoy on a cosy winter night.

5. Pumpkin loaf
This healthy snack is the perfect alternative to a carb-heavy loaf cake. For those with a sweet tooth, a thick layer of cream cheese icing will take your loaf from healthy to heavenly in minutes.

These tasty tips and recipe ideas come from the Head chef at Bohemia, which last September was awarded 5AA rosettes for the second year in a row. It now holds the record for being the first restaurant in the Channel Islands to receive this accolade.
Bohemia was also ranked the 14th best restaurant in the whole of the UK in the Good Food Guide 2019 and at number 57 in Square Meals Top 100 Best Restaurants 2018.

Kilgharah the dragon pumpkin

In the last couple of months, Eddie and I have been binge-watching 5 seasons of Merlin.
After the very last episode we were let bereft. I suggested we could watch it on a loop.
It was inevitable that our favourite dragon Kilgharah will appear on this year's carved pumpkin.

carved pumpkin ideas

carved pumpkin, Merlin's dragon

Halloween decor

Merlin's dragon

Are you carving a pumpkin for Halloween?

Happy Halloween!

Monday, 29 October 2018

Spooky Halloween Cocktails

It's Halloween on Wednesday. Are you ready to party?

I will carve a pumpkin tomorrow, and might do some fun themed bakes for my boys, but otherwise we don't do much. We don't go trick or treating, as most of our neighbours are pensioners who would be chasing you with broomsticks if you dared knocking on their door for treats.

To get you in the festive mood, I have a few fabulous cocktail inspiration ideas for your delectation.

Quench a deadly thirst with a classic Dark and Stormy.
You will need 50ml Dark aged rum, 120ml Ginger beer, 5ml freshly squeezed lime juice and ice cubes.
I had a bottle of Supermalt Ginger beer, thanks to the latest Degustabox delivery, as well as a leaflet with three cocktail recipes. Dark and Stormy sounded like a great match for the season.
The rum I used in the cocktail is a spicy rum rather than dark, but it is still a tasty combination, albeit rather strong.

Royal Lancaster London is brewing some special magical potions this year in preparation for Halloween. If you dare, try Royal Lancaster London's cocktails specially created for this spooky season.
Following a mega £85 million renovation - or re-"vamp" - the hotel is thrilled to be serving these delicious and spooky cocktails.

Devil Daiquiri and Witch Margarita are priced at £15 and served in both Hyde Bar and Park Lounge Bar at the hotel. However, if you are not able to visit London at Halloween, you might want to recreate these colourful cocktails.

Devil Daiquiri
50g Bacardi rum
25ml lime juice
15ml orgeat syrup
5ml grenadine
4 blackberries

Devil Daiquiri : image credits - Royal Lancaster London

Witch Margarita
35ml Olmeca tequila
15ml Cointreau
25ml lime juice
3 blueberries
3 blackberries

Witch Margarita: image credits - Royal Lancaster London
And here are two more Halloween cocktail recipes created by Head Mixologist for Mothership Group, Chris McGovern.
Slayers Sour with blood orange was available at The Book Club for The Buffy The Vampire party.

Slayers Sour
2.5ml Grenadine for the rim
5ml Monin Ginger syrup
35 ml Lemon juice
15ml Grapefruit juice
15ml Solerno Blood Orange liqueur
35 ml Four Roses Whiskey
Method: Shake and strain
1. Dip the rim of the rocks glass in grenadine, leave there to drip down the glass whilst making cocktail.
2. Add all the ingredients to a Boston glass and shake.
3. Single strain over cubed ice in the rocks glass.

Image credits: MotherShip Team

Dr Frank N Further's Mai Poisen (which was available at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on the left for Rocky Horror Disco Halloween Party) is another smashing spooky cocktail

Mai Poisen (Tropical Mai Tai)
35ml Orange juice
35ml Pineapple juice
5ml Orgeat Syrup
10ml Blue Curacao
15ml Lime juice
MInt sprig
35ml Appleton's Estate Signature Blend Rum
15ml Cointreau

Method : build
1. Fill rocks glass fully with ice.
2. Add Mint Sprig
3. Add Rum & Cointreau, then serve with the medicine bottle filled with a mixture of the above ingredients.

Image credits: MotherShip Team

Be brave - try something new this Halloween!

Image credits: MotherShip Team

Sunday, 28 October 2018

October Winter Warmer Box from Degustabox

Chilly mornings and dark evenings... Yes, October is almost over, and we're eagerly awaiting Halloween and all the pre-Christmas hubbub.

Winter Warmer is the theme for the latest Degustabox

This food box arrives every month and is full of foodie surprises. This monthly food and drink subscription box is an excellent way to discover products which have only just appeared in the shops or those which might have been around for while, but you haven't had a chance to try them yet.
Thanks to Degustabox, I have found new favourites to add to our shopping list, including some products which I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise.

Each time the box arrives, it's a total surprise. You get a good selection of foods and drinks.
If you haven't tried Degustabox subscription box yet and would like to have a go, I have a whopping £7 off discount from your first box (and you can unsubscribe any time) - just use a code 8EVI8 when you place an order.
What did we receive in the October Degustabox? Let's have a look.

Clipper is a well-known and much-loved brand of tea.
Clipper Fairtrade Everyday Tea (£2.89) is bright, bold and intense, delivering a quality cup of tea.
I rarely drink black tea unadorned - it has to be served with a slice of lemon and a teaspoon of sugar or honey for me. It's a great morning pick-me-up.
All Clipper products are made with pure, natural ingredients. This pack comes with a lovely Clipper Fairtrade tea towel.

best black tea

Another breakfast favourite - Shreddies - is now available in a new packaging as Original Shreddies Breakfast to Go (£1.99). The package includes a portion of Shreddies cereals and a carton of milk.
It's packed in a recyclable cup with a spoon, and comes at 249kcal per serving.
Whole grain, it's high in fibre. I'd prefer it to have less sugar, as there is 15.2g sugar per serving.
Very handy to take with you to work or train, if you haven't had a chance to eat your breakfast at home.

For those of us who are feeling peckish by mid-morning or mid-afternoon, a cereal bar is always a welcome snack.
Get Fruity Bar Moist Mixed Berry (£0.70) is an award winning cereal bar, made of real fruit and gluten free oats, baked with absolutely no artificial ingredients, no added cane sugar. It's vegan, gluten free and a good source of fibre.
Nutritional values: 130kcal, 3g fat and 12 g of sugar per bar.
*Special promotion in Morrisons £1.88 pack of four bars until 25 Otober - 15 November 2018.

If cereal bars are not your snack of choice, what about a KitKat Chunky Salted Caramel Fudge (£0.65). It's an indulgent, salty sweet KitKat. Unwrap, snap off a chunk and enjoy the delicious smooth milk chocolate and crispy wafer with a caramel fudge flavoured topping.
Great with a cup of coffee.
One of my lovely neighbours was telling me years ago that you must dip a KitKat in a cup of hot coffee for a few seconds to enjoy it. Personally I like it cold from the fridge, served with coffee.
How do you like your KitKat?

Spoon Granola Cherry Bomb is a tasty wholegrain oat granola with pumpkin seeds and a natural cherry hit, lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
It contains no refined sugar. High in fibre and wholegrains. Ingredients include toasted pats with ground almonds, pumpkin seeds, freeze dried cherries, honey, maple syrup and a dusting of ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
I buy Spoon Granola Apple quite often, but haven't tried Cherry Bomb before. I like to add granola topping to a dish of yogurt, or as a topping to apple crumble.

healthy granola

Santa Maria Latin American Kitchen Venezuelan Coconut and Lime Sauce (£1.89) will help you to cook an easy quick meal, which could be ready in 15 minutes. Just pour the sauce over cooked meat, fish or vegetables for a delicious Latin American-inspired meal.
Santa Maria sauces are vegan friendly and gluten free.
Venezuelan sauce has its roots in the Zulian region in the north of Venezuela, and includes coconut cream, lime juice and chillies
You should receive one of 2 flavours from the range.

vegan-friendly ready-made sauces

Ginger Beer by Supermalt (£1.19) is made using real ginger extract and a delicate hint of lemongrass to give it a truly refreshing taste with an energising fiery kick. Best served cold.
It is a great mixer for your favourite cocktail - from Moscow Mule to Dark and Stormy.

party drinks

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey & Lemonade (£2) is a refreshing mix of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and zesty lemonade. This ultimate summer cooler could be enjoyed all year round.
Serve with a lemon wedge and ice cubes.

Upbeat Drinks Spring Water Enriched with Protein and vitamins (1.59) provide enriched hydration for strength, energy and mental performance.
Zero sugar, low calorie and real fruit flavour.
There were two flavours in the box - Summer Lemon and Blueberry & Raspberry.

And finally the product of the month - LIFT Instant Lemon Flavour Tea (£1.49), a classic lemon flavoured tea, which could be enjoyed either hot or cold. This tangy refreshing drink offers a unique taste experience.

This month Degustabox is running an Autumn giveaway - you have a chance to win a 6-month Degustabox subscription.
What you need to do:
1. Follow @degustabox_uk on Instagram
2. Leave a comment on the competition post letting them know why you'd love to receive a 6 month Degustabox subscription and tag 2 friends that you'd share your boxes with.
Competition closes on the 19th of November.
Simples!, as Alexander the Meerkat is used to say.

Disclosure: We receive a monthly Degustabox for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are our own.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Photo diary: week 43, project 365

October is coming to an end, with a mix of golden warm days and rather chilly mornings. This morning we woke up to a layer of frost on the slate roof. Yesterday there was a burst of fierce rain which hit ground with great force, then as if changing its mind, it got sunny again, with bright blue skies.
Last Sunday Eddie and I went to see Goosebumps 2. We loved the first film, and though Eddie though it was as good, I found the 2nd film a bit disappointing and not as creative.
We walked home through back lanes, looking at all the glorious golds and yellows.

I've been picking some of the hawthorn branches with berries for my "art installation" in the entrance room, and also added some other dried bits for an extra autumnal touch.

Tuesday was much anticipated by both Eddie and myself. Our local Waterstones arranged a Harry Potter-themed party, inviting everyone to come dressed up as their favourite characters.
We bought this Harry Potter costume earlier this autumn, and it was the right time to show it to the "world".
The party was lovely, with a Beast quest, where you had to find a dozen of fantastic beasts' images through the store and mark them off on the piece of paper.
There was a drawing competition, where you had to create your own fantastic beast, name it, tell where it lives and what it does.
To our total surprise, Eddie's monster won, and he was offered a choice of Hogwarts school badges. Obviously, he opted for Gryffindor.

Halloween costume ideas

On Wednesday I had a very nervy kind of day. My Mum was flying from Moscow to visit us. She was very poorly earlier this year, has been in hospital, and basically nearly died.
She cancelled her trip twice, and we were not sure if it was wise for her travel at all.
She arrived safely, thanks goodness.
To calm my nerves, I baked cookies and had one cup of tea after another. I looked at the small stash of books I bought recently, deciding which one to start. I've opted for Hallowdene as it feels like the right kind of book for pre-Halloween reading.

On Thursday Mum and I were catching up on everything, and I didn't take any photos, so the next two pictures are both from Friday.
Our Waterstones hosted another party on Friday, this time a pre-Halloween one. While the Harry Potter party was well-attended, for some reason the Halloween party was less popular. In fact, when we arrived, Eddie was the only child who attending.
This time he wanted to be Newt Scamander, to continue with the magic and wizards theme. I crafted a waistcoat from my husband's old corduroy trousers, and the dinner jacket is another one Eddie's Dad's old things.

They did another quest in the bookshop, and an arty project with paper plates.
Eddie did a Trump portrait as a pumpkin. And as they have a fab Trumpkin in the window, they also put Eddie's drawing on display.
Needless to say, my child is super thrilled.

Today we had a quick trip to the supermarket and passed by one of the travel agencies in town, where Eddie spotted a selection of Halloween cupcakes for some fundraising event. Of course, we had to pop in and buy a couple.

And No Birds Shall Sing by E.A.Clark #BlogTour

ghost stories set in Oxfordshire

It is never a good idea to read a ghost story at bedtime, because then you're guaranteed not to get much sleep.
I do love a good ghost story. I have a friend who enjoys supernatural stories as much as I do, and we often swap books.
And No Birds Shall Sing by E.A.Clark (published 24 October 2018) appealed to me as soon as I read the blurb that it was set in Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire has a rich tradition of ghost stories, haunted places and restless spirits.

Genre: Supernatural/Horror/Ghost story
Potential trigger warnings: themes of postnatal depression and attempted suicide after miscarriage; as well as infanticide and homicide.

After a series of late miscarriages, Grace Clements is on the brink of an abyss as she attempts suicide. Later eager to escape her past and start anew and heal, she is trying to carve a new life in a location, where nobody knows them or is aware of their tragedies.

Her husband is a talented workman who has many skills needed to renovate an old house in the sleepy Oxfordshire countryside. His enthusiasm for the new family abode is catching.
Grace and especially her disabled daughter believe they would be happy in the remote cottage in what seems like an idyllic location.

The locals are welcoming albeit hesitant to share the stories surrounding the house. Trying to dig up history of the house, Grace learns some very disturbing facts about the past of their new family home.

Soon enough, Grace becomes aware of the menacing presence in the house.

A nearby neglected cemetery uncovers yet another tragic story - nine of the babies born in that house have all perished one by one.

To her shock and dismay, Grace finds herself pregnant. As her pregnancy progresses, so are the manifestations of the evil force in the house become more systematic.
Is the house haunted, or is Grace imagining it in her fragile mental state?

This is a kind of creepy and menacing ghost story that I love to read. A small village where everyone knows everybody's secrets, a remote house with a ghastly past.
The main characters are people to whom you can relate and sympathise.
There is a lot of dark and sad parts, both from Grace's life and the lives of the previous occupants of the haunted house.
The ghost is the evil incarnate in their past life and present existence

As in many ghost stories, the haunted house is one of the main characters. I've just binge-watched The haunting of Hill House on Netflix, with the similar dark themes of the house which has its own agenda, sinister motivations.
In the book the house - which is also a project of renovation - is praying on the main female protagonist's mind, drawing her into the abyss of fear and despair.

The house becomes the battlefield. The feeling of uneasiness and eerie occurrences become darker and darker, escalating into the Gothic horror as the story progresses.

best ghost stories set in Oxfordshire

E.A.Clark has written a deeply unsettling story.
This compulsively readable book will make a perfect pre-Halloween reading,

Many thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for sending me an e-copy of the book for the purposes of reviewing.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories

ghost stories; supernatural stories

Halloween is almost upon us, and most book shops and supermarkets' book aisles offer a variety of ghost, Gothic and supernatural stories. While I enjoy this genre throughout the year, I tend to buy a couple of new books in October to put me in the mood.
Early dark evenings and supernatural books are a perfect combination.

Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories is a collection, created by eight authors.

The premises of this series of ghost stories was inspired. Eight authors were offered a choice of the English heritage sites to create their story around.
As a concept for spinning new tales of horror, it works on many levels.

The stories differ in quality and length. Some of them feel like a sketch which hasn't been finished, but have a potential to develop into a longer story.

Sinister background and tragic past of the heritage sites provide rich grounds for creating unsettling stories.
They reflect the style of writing of each author, sometimes quite predictable. For example, Jeanette Winterson's characters are a gay couple to be wed in Pendennis Castle.
Even her ghosts are battling against the conventional values and pay with their lives for their sexual identity.
Kamila Shamsie's protagonist is an immigrant, escaping from a war-stricken zone. It's a haunting story, but you almost think, the authors played it safe, not stepping out of their comfort zone.

The book starts with Sarah Perry's sad and disturbing story - They flee from me that sometime did me seek - set at the Jacobean country house Audley End. The mysterious Jacobean wooden carved screen which is undergoing a restoration, is a possessed entity which brings doom to people who work with it.
It is not explained why the screen only affects random workmen and women but not the members of the family living in the manor.

Mr Lanyard's Last Case by Andrew Michael Hurley depicts the unimaginable cruelty inflicted during the Jacobite trials at Carlisle castle. The way the rebels were treated after the battle at Culloden is beyond despicable. You don't need a ghost to be terrified to the bones, reading about the atrocities against the prisoners.

Cold War Bunker by Mark Haddon is not a ghost story as such, it's more of a sci-fi/ nuclear holocaust fiction, portraying the obliteration of the human race. It is typical of the Cold War fiction, and probably reflects the threat of a new Cold war, and military and ideological rivalry which is unfolding currently.
As a sketch, this story was perhaps the strongest, and I would be interested in reading an extended version as a complete novel.

Kamila Shamsie's Foreboding tells a sad story of Khalid who starts working as a security guard at Kenilworth castle. He doesn't believe in ghosts, thinking that when you've lived through  wars you don't need to invent stories to scare you. The ghost he encounters is not from the castle's past, but someone very close to him.

Never Departed More by Stuart Evers is a tale of a troubled American actress who stays in a British castle, trying to immerse herself, while rehearsing her role of Ophelia. While wandering around the castle grounds, she encounters a handsome stranger in an airman's uniform. Is she slowly descending into madness, or is the veil between two worlds being lifted?

The Wall by Kate Clanchy takes us to the old Housesteads Roman fort nearby Hadrian's Wall. You can guess the identity of the ghost from the very beginning. It's a story of a family, coping with the loss of their loved one, a tale of rediscovery of one's strength and love of life.

As Strong As Death by Jeanette Winterson is set at Pendennis Castle. Tamara and Jamie plan to be wed in a few days' time. Their wedding party includes some rather colourful guests, and I don't mean their old uncle Alec. It's a story of love, life, death, identity and acceptance, with a glimmer of hope and consolation.

Mrs Charbury at Eltham by Max Potter has a malevolent ghost, stalking a young woman since childhood. The narrative jumps in time, from the present to the 1930s and back. An old woman explores the Eltham palace, and remembers how cruel she was to her younger sister and dismissive of her fears.
Is she truly encountering a supernatural apparition, or is it her guilty consciousness and memories of her indifference to her sister which make her see things?

For me Sarah Perry's story was the most unsettling, because it is so totally bleak, and indiscriminately unfair. I appreciate, the supernatural might have no logic, but this one seemed to be particularly nasty in picking its victims.

There is also a fascinating essay by Andrew Martin - Within These Walls: How the castles, abbeys and houses of England inspired the ghost story. It talks about how the Gothic literature got its name - "from its association with medieval "Gothic" buildings and ruins, from the monasteries and castles with their underground passages, brooding battlements and crumbling staircases".

You will enjoy A Gazetter of English Heritage Hauntings at the end of the book. It includes short history data of many historical sites. It is not a comprehensive guide, as many sites are not included, but enjoyable nevertheless. I suggest reading a short note on Elham as it makes you understand the story much better.

This book will make a great stocking filler for any history buff or ghost story fan.

P.S. I bought it in Waterstone'w where it's currently on buy one, get one half price promotion.

best ghost stories

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Photo diary: week 42, project 365

We reached mid-autumn with a mix of grey rainy and sunny days. Earlier this week I had to put the heating on in the mornings, while today was a very warm day, with blue sky and beautiful palette of yellow, red and ochre of the leaves.
We're on mid-term break, and it was much needed after a stressful first half term and trying to settle in.
My comedian Eddie decided to wear several of my hats as well as goggles. MadHatter Eddie.

On Monday Sasha was staying at his residential place overnight, and Eddie and I went to the cinema at 5pm to watch Johnny English 3. It had bad reviews, but don't be put off by them, it was actually funnier than I expected.
It's not a sophisticated film, but then you wouldn't expect that of Johnny English anyway.

I've been reading online about the ladybirds that there is an influx of them at the moment. Apparently they have STDs, now that's something I never knew. This could be a totally innocent ladybird.

On Wednesday I visited the Polish deli and couldn't resist buying a big slice of soured cream jelly cake.
My boys enjoyed this wobbly cake.

I've been waiting for Matt Haig's latest book The truth pixie, and being pestering our local Waterstone's, asking every day if it's out yet. I pre-ordered it and bought my copy, then was pretty peeved with myself, as it was at half price on amazon.

Eddie's school had an Inset day on Friday, while Sasha's didn't. Once Sasha left in his school transport, Eddie and I went into town to have breakfast at Bill's. We haven't been there before.
The pancakes with berries ans syrup were lovely. And I got a huge pot of tea.

Today we wandered from shop to shop, looking at Christmas gifts. I usually buy Christmas jumpers for Eddie and myself, but we didn't see any that we liked. My last year's jumper is still quite all right, though I have been wearing it a lot, including taking it to Cornwall in August.
I had a 20% off voucher for M&S, and we bought a Star Wars bathrobe, as his old Spiderman one is way too short for him now.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

#ACEforSchool Challenge

"I'm never letting you do my laundry. Again."
"I didn't know the red towel was in there, " Prophet protested.
"You did it on purpose to get out of doing laundry."
"Maybe. But it worked."
S.E.Jakes, Daylight Again

This amusing little quote made me chuckle, as I remember dying all our whites pink, when a rogue red sock sneaked into the washing machine. We were just newly married then, and though I didn't do it on purpose, I couldn't stop laughing, looking at my husband's pink undies. He forgave me, well, he had to, otherwise it would have been his task.
We do split home tasks and chores, and washing is one of mine. I haven't done that mistake again, though I might have shrank a few woolen jumpers to the doll's size but that's a different story.
Washing is an everyday occurrence in our household.

When I read about some super organised parents doing their laundry once a week, I'm left in awe and amazement as to how they manage. I load my washing machine every single day.
Having a child with special needs who doesn't care about the state of his clothes and wipes his hands on his school jumper and trousers every time he eats something, does not make my life easier. There is no point in trying to explain to him that he must stop doing it. He would listen, but do it again. And again. And again.
It also doesn't help that the schools use poster paints or glue which are a total pain to get rid of. In fact, we have many ruined white shirts and school jumpers.

Let's just say, stains are unavoidable when you have children in school. It's just a matter of accepting the inevitable and organising the daily routine - as soon as my boys come home from school, they have to change their clothes.
I inspect the stains and treat them before loading into the washing machine.

The evening is my ironing time, now often accompanied by my younger son's reading. Being a victim audience, I have no say in the reading material though, so it's mostly The diary of the wimpy kid no. 10,000 or Horrid Henry, or some other impish character.

And that seems to be my lot in life - to send them off to school in clean ironed uniforms - only to see them returning home all dishevelled, with dried leaves in hair, and a rainbow of stains on clothes, from mud to poster paint, from glue to tuna pate. And don't even mention the PE clothes...

Recently BritMums appealed to blogging parents to take part in an #ACEforSchool Challenge.
We received ACE for Colours and ACE Stain Remover Spray to tackle the stains and keep clothes bright and clean.
I'm always up to any challenge which will make my life easier.

ACE is no stranger in our house. I do often buy one ACE product or another.

ACE for Colours promises to remove stains, clean hygienically and eliminate odours. A new formula has a higher power to remove stains from food, grease, body soils, drinks, vegetable oils, cosmetics, trapped dirt and outdoors.
You can use it either straight in the washing machine, pouring it directly into the drum, or as a pre-treatment on tougher stains.
It definitely keeps the colour of clothes bright.
It also works well as a household cleaning product - just dilute a capful to 5 litres of water.

ACE Stain Remover Spray has  been specially formulated to include an active oxygen which helps to remove dirt and difficult stains gently without ruining the fabric.

ACE works well on many types of stains, but there are some kinds of stains which I find very tricky to get rid of, whichever stain remover I use (and I think I tried all the known brands) - it's poster paints (black paint on white shirts anyone?) and blood.
My elder son is prone to nose bleeds in the night, and unfortunately these stains are tough to eliminate. You need to scrub them with soap under the cold water, or use a bit of white vinegar.

Poster paints... a bane of my life. The water-based ones are OK, they are not impossible to get rid of, but some of the poster paints they use at school stay on clothes after several washings, pre-treated or not, they just fade, but are still pretty much visible.

It's obviously not just the school uniforms that get stains. Just yesterday we went to see Johnny English 3. We laughed so hard, that some of the psychedelic-coloured ice cream ended up on somebody's top. I managed to get rid of the stain, thanks to ACE.

Overall, top marks to ACE for helping to make parents' lives easier.

This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper. or to buy head to your local Tesco's, Morrison's, Waitrose or Sainsbury's.