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AD Britmums #ACEit Challenge or has she gone conkers?

Disclosure. This post is an entry for the #ACEit Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get ideas on how to wash whites, treat stains and laundry like a boss with tips from the ACE site!
This post mentions a product I received for free. All opinions are my own. This post is classed as an advert because of the requirement to include the #ACEit hashtag.

Britmums recently challenged bloggers to take part in the #ACEit Challenge for brighter whites when trying the new ACE Ultra for Whites. I was in two minds whether to take part in this challenge or not, especially since it is in a plastic bottle. Regular followers of my blog will know that I am trying to reduce plastic. Pity it isn’t a powder rather than a liquid, as the last ACE product I reviewed, ACE for Colours Powder came in a plastic-free fully recyclable carton.

ACE Ultra for Whites

However I have to admit that my whites have been starting to look rather off-white since I swapped regular detergent for more eco-friendly alternatives, like soap nuts or homemade from horse chestnuts (conkers). Don’t get me wrong, my laundry is clean, but not bright white. I know you can’t expect a natural product to give the same results that bleach does, so perhaps this would be the answer, an occasional helpful boost from ACE.

So I signed up and received a free 1L bottle of ACE Ultra for Whites.

#ACEit Challenge

Now onto the actual washing test. There were my eldest son’s school shirts complete with very bad underarm stains and greyish grimy collars, plus off-white socks and undies, along with a very grey floor cloth. Unfortunately only a very small load, as ACE Ultra for Whites should only be used on totally white items. Again from an eco point of view, I prefer to do a full load which would normally include cream coloured bedding and towels too plus clothes which are part white, part coloured.

#ACEit Challenge

The instructions on the bottle suggested 4 possible alternative methods of use as follows, (along with household cleaning instructions for your sinks, etc too) …

  1. Fill your CL bleach compartment with the product. (My washing machine doesn’t have a CL compartment.)
  2. Fill your fabric conditioner compartment with the product, if you’re not planning to use fabric conditioner.
  3. Pour product directly in during a pre-wash cycle.
  4. Soak by hand in 10L of water to 150ml of product, for 20-30 minutes before rinsing and washing as usual.

#ACEit Challenge

I decided to opt for method 4, but I have to say I didn’t see much difference after the 30 minutes, but I assumed that perhaps I had over-diluted it, as I had just guessed how much to fill the sink. I didn’t actually measure the 10 litres of water. Also there was no indication of what temperature the water should be, so I had opted for warm, which may have been wrong too.

#ACEit Challenge

Since I still needed to wash the clothes, I tried again, this time using method 2. A much better success. Everything did look bright white. However ACE didn’t work its full magic on the underarm stains. They were better but still yellowish. The most remarkable change was on the floor cloth. It actually was white again.

#ACEit Challenge

About ACE Ultra:

  • It’s specifically formulated to help brighten dull whites.
  • It’s gentle on delicate clothes.
  • It tackles germs and odours, including viruses. That means not only do your clothes smell cleaner, they actually are cleaner – something even more important in the current climate.
  • It’s concentrated, making it among the most affordable ways to keep white clothes looking bright!
  • It’s available in Morrison’s.
  • NOTE: ACE Ultra includes bleach.
  • ACE Ultra for Whites should only be used on totally white items.

So yes I can see some plus points from ACE Ultra, but I think on the whole, it is not the product for me. Instead can anyone point me in the direction of an eco-friendly answer for brighter whites please, if such a thing exists?

Horse Chestnuts for laundry

And for those of you still wondering, how on earth do I use conkers for my laundry, let me point you here to The Watercress Queen who I have to thank for this environmentally friendly idea. I tried this out last Autumn and I still have over 4 big jars left, so no need to collect any this season. Plus not only is it eco, but it is very cost effective too, saving all the money you would have spent on detergent. I made a couple of variations to the original method, one being I dried the pieces of conker spread out on trays in the airing cupboard for about a week. And secondly I only do two soaks rather than three. I can highly recommend you try this idea out, but if you do, please remember to plant some of the conkers you collect.

Soap Nuts for laundry

Before trying this, I had bought a large bag of soap nuts shells, which work on the same principle. However I am a bigger fan of using conkers because they are grown locally so have a minimal carbon footprint in comparison. Also subsequent to buying the soap nuts, I read that the export market has driven the price up so locals who have been using them for generations can no longer afford them, which is so wrong and needs addressing. I do also use the soap nuts in the dishwasher although I haven’t dared try conkers, since they are poisonous.

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An eco Christmas Gift Guide ad

Disclosure.  This post mentions products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.
This post is classed as an advert because I have been requested to include a specific URL

It is getting to that time of year to start thinking about Christmas presents, so I would like to share some of my gift guide ideas. Regular readers will know that I’ve tried to adopt a much more sustainable philosophy this year, so I’ve been keeping an eye out whenever I’ve been in the charity shops. I’ve got quite a few toys, games and books as stocking fillers for the boys. Some of them even look brand new. Of course I still plan to get them at least one thing that they each specifically request.

Sous Chef salt plate

However you can also get some nice new sustainable gifts and when I was browsing the cookware section of the Sous Chef website, I discovered some great finds, which they kindly sent me for free. First up is this fab Himalayan salt plate. It comes in two sizes and this is the smaller 21cm x 10 cm. Salt is naturally antibacterial, so there is no need to use soap to clean the plate. Just wipe with a damp cloth, and dry well before storing. You can heat the plate in the oven or chill it in the freezer, and it will season the food you are serving on it. Just imagine frying scallops on it or using it to serve your caramel ice cream. What a wow factor at the table!

Sous Chef grow your own sunflowers and kale

And for the gardener in your life, there is a great range of grow your own products. I chose these grow in the bag Towering Sunflowers and Gigantically Good Dinosaur Kale (cavolo nero). The instructions on the reverse indicate that you start the seeds off in the natural biodegradable jute bag, then transplant the whole thing outside to mature. See I’m also thinking about the bees with the sunflowers, as I had been contemplating making my own bee bombs.

Sous Chef grow your own sunflowers and kale

I’m planning to make some homemade foodie gifts for the extended family, so the final two items I chose from the cookware range are early Xmas gifts to myself to assist in that process. There is a large Cook’s Muslin Square 93cm x 100cm that I’m hoping to use to strain jellies and steam Christmas puddings. Two things I’ve never tried previously, but I can remember as a child watching my mum tie her jelly bag onto a kitchen drawer handle overnight when making crab apple jelly. You never know, I might even try making my own cheese with it. Muslin is a natural fabric which can be washed and reused time after time.

Sous Chef Cooks Muslin

And after any cooking, there is the cleaning afterwards, which is where this copper washing up sponge will come in very handy. It is made by Andrée Jardin, a traditional French family business where everything is produced in small batches, using artisanal techniques. The company’s motto is Simplicity, Quality, Sustainability.

Sous Chef copper sponge

Do take a look at the Sous Chef site here https://www.souschef.co.uk/collections/cookware. There are so many more fabulous items. I’ve got my eye on the dehydrator. It would be great to make my homemade fruit snacks and vegetable crisps, avoiding all the plastic packaging that they tend to be sold in. The trays are stainless steel, so no need to worry about toxins from plastic either.

My other big sustainable gift suggestion is to give someone a memory. I’m thinking of paying the entry fee for a swimming race for my partner, but it could be buying a membership of say Woodland Trust or adopting an endangered animal via WWF or tickets to an event. The list is endless.

I’d love to hear what you would like to give or receive for Christmas. I’m especially looking forward to hearing about sustainable ideas.

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Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge ad

Well I’ve certainly noticed the change in temperature over the last couple of weeks. It is definitely Autumnal feeling, although we’ve managed to avoid putting the heating on yet. Trying to wait until November. I even treated myself to a new secondhand pair of winter boots from the charity shop. I’ve been trying to be more sustainable this year, but this is the first time I’ve purchased secondhand footwear.

Luckily we have plenty of wardrobe space, so all the cosy jumpers and leggings, etc are easily accessible. I remember as a child, my mum used to use a suitcase as storage for summer or winter kids wardrobe according to the season, checking what still fitted us when she unpacked it again. However I have rearranged our hall cupboard and put all the sandals, crocs, flip-flops and sunhats back upstairs in the wardrobes and brought down our winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots.

Winter wardrobe

But what’s with the idea behind the #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge? I was rather sceptical of the hashtag but signed up when Britmums challenged bloggers to take part, so I received two free boxes of ACE for Colours Powder. Apparently the brand-new ACE for Colours Powder reinvigorates clothes, using stain-removing powers and bringing coloured garments back to life. Plus, unlike other stain removers, it comes in a plastic-free fully recyclable carton. It was the latter point that sold it to me, as regular followers of my blog will know that I am trying to reduce plastic.

Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge

However I drew the line at testing it on my winter wardrobe, straight from the hangers. It is already clean, so that does not seem very environmentally friendly. Instead I waited until I’d actually worn some of my winter clothes.

Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge

There are various options on how to use all listed on the box, including pretreatment or soaking for stains. As this load of laundry was all standard, I just needed to add the detergent as usual, then add 2 tablespoons of the ACE For Colours powder to the main wash dispenser drawer. You would double the dosage for very dirty laundry like my boys’ school sports kits. But I’m not going to talk about that now, as I blogged about washing those last year here.

Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge

All looked clean and bright, hurrah. And of course now that it is getting colder, it is time to swap my cropped running leggings for full-length. So there will be plenty of mud splashes on those as well as on school sports kit. Definitely the best time of year to begin the #ACEWinterRefresh, but it will certainly be on-going all winter.

About ACE

  • ACE makes life easy with the never-ending school laundry pile by gently removing stains
  • ACE keeps garments bright, robust and clean meaning clothes last for longer
  • Keep those colours bright and fresh with ACE for Colours
  • Ace for Colours Powder comes in a fully recyclable Tetra pak
  • Use ACE in your daily wash to keep clothes looking fresher for longer
  • Call to action: Pick up the ACE product range including ACE for Colours powder at your nearest Morrison’s store or buy online on Amazon.

I’d love to hear about your washing tips or nightmares.

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge, sponsored by ACE for Colours Powder. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper and pick up the range at your nearest Morrison’s store or buy online on Amazon.
This post mentions a product I received for free. All opinions are my own. This post is classed as an advert because of the requirement to include the #ACEWinterRefresh hashtag.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge ad

So the boys are back at school and as usual the washing pile has grown exponentially. There is all the school uniform and sports kit. I just groan thinking about the sports kit. Why is there so much of it? There are different types of tops for each sport they play, so at least two get worn each week. The boys take it to school in trolley bags, as it would be too heavy to carry.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Luckily neither of the boys are that sporty, so tend to be in either the C or D team. This does generally tend to mean less matches against other schools than for the A or B teams. But even so, my washing machine always seems to be on. And of course, most of it can’t go in the tumble drier. I’m just glad it is still mostly sunny and mild, as once we head into November, I have just one word to say to you – mud!

Mud is the bane of my life when it comes to washing. Even if they haven’t slipped over and sports kit isn’t looking too bad, they need to take their muddy boots off before getting the bus home. And do they remember to put those in their boot bags? Sadly usually not. Instead the boots go loose into their trolley bags right on top of their school uniform. Oh dear!

This all adds to the washing nightmare. All I can say is thank goodness that the blazers are washable. The ones for their last school were dry-clean only. So I immediately signed up, when Britmums challenged bloggers to take part in the #ACEforSchool Challenge. I received a free bottle of ACE for Colours and a free ACE Stain Remover Spray to help tackle the stains.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

But even without the mud, I still needed to put these products to the test straightaway, on the dried-on lunch remnants on son2’s tie. A squirt of the spray in advance of washing, followed by a capful of the bottle in the washing drum did the trick on cleaning it up.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Next test will be when the school jumpers go back on after half-term. I know that there are several paint stains on one of them that defeated me week after week last winter. Why do schools use permanent paint these days rather than water paint like they did in my schooldays? Will Ace be up to the challenge?

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

About ACE

  • ACE keeps garments bright, robust and clean meaning clothes last for longer
  • Keep those colours bright and fresh with ACE for Colours
  • Tackle germs, grease and stubborn stains with ACE Stain Remover

I’d love to hear about your washing tips or nightmares.

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Family Fever

Disclosure. 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.
This post mentions products I received for free. All opinions are my own. This post is classed as an advert because of the requirement to include the #AceforSchool hashtag.

Preserving Photographic Memories ad

So the end of summer is now upon us. We’ve been away on two holidays to Spain and Edinburgh, plus had plenty of fun days out.

Throughout it all, I’ve been snapping happy memories with my phone. I always upload my pictures to my computer, but what happens after? A few get shared on Facebook or Instagram. Some get chosen to be made into Christmas cards or fridge magnets to be sent to other family members. And of course, I have my own selection on my fridge, along with our photo table mats and mugs. I even used to have a fab photo phone case, but haven’t got around to ordering a new one since it wore out.

What about the rest of the images that did not make the cut? Will these photographic memories never get the chance to see the light of day again, languishing on the hard drive or a USB stick? You might have a lovely picture of little Johnny at school sports day, but you couldn’t share it on Facebook for relatives to see because there are other kids in the picture, what with all the privacy rules.

So I was delighted to be contacted by Nixplay, who offered me the opportunity to review one of their digital photo frames for free. This could be just the answer.

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

Nixplay sent me one of their Seed frames and it arrived in just 4 days. I was pleased to see that it comes in a sturdy box, and that it is available in a choice of 4 colours and 4 sizes.

I received the 8 inch blue frame. It comes with an attached USB cable, a remote control and a two-part power plug that allows the user to switch between UK 3-pin or European 2-pin.

However once I started the set-up process, the frame kept switching off at inconvenient moments. In the end, I put the USB cable into a different plug which worked perfectly, so the plug must have been faulty. Luckily I encountered no such issues with the frame itself. The instructions were simple to follow, with the main points being to give it access to my Wi-Fi and to set up a Nixplay account to link my frame to.

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

I’ve only tested it with a few photos so far, most of which were downloaded from my computer. I also tried downloading one directly from my phone using the Nixplay app. I soon realised it was better to keep portrait and landscape photos in separate playlists, so as to fill the entire frame. The frame is easily turned between portrait and landscape as it only uses the cable for balance, no additional back support required.

Aside from the infrared sensor between the frame and the remote, the frame also has a motion sensor that enables it to switch off when nobody is in the room. You can set the time-lag on this, as well as the time periods. I set it off between 23:00 and 07:00 hrs. I couldn’t see any details on the instructions regarding the type of battery in the remote or how to replace that when necessary.

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

The best part is the frame’s scope. A single playlist can contain up to 1000 photos. You can link multiple frames to the one account, so you could buy frames for other family members like your grandparents. Think of the benefit of a frame like this if someone were away from home for a long period, like when one of my sons was an in-patient at the hospital back in 2013 after his leukaemia diagnosis. Everything can be managed remotely, so all they have to do is watch. It’s great for keeping them up to date with the children’s progress, especially when they don’t tend to see them very often.

I could even use it for long-term projects like scanning my old pre-digital photos before the colours deteriorate further and loading those into playlists. It would be nice to show the boys some of the countries we visited on holiday before they were born.

Also, when I was a child, my Dad took all his photos on slides, but he has now gotten rid of his projector and large screen, which we used for viewing his images. So another long-term project could be to send those slides somewhere to be converted into a digital format and saved onto a memory stick. I can then upload these into playlists, which I can display on my Nixplay frame. There are lots of photographic memories that my parents would like to see again. We’ve even got some old family photos from the 1800s – just imagine watching those on a Nixplay frame!

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

The Nixplay 8 inch Seed Frame currently retails at £129.99 / $139.99. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, a 1-year warranty and free shipping. A great way to view your memories, in my opinion, as well as a fabulous gift idea!

Now I just have to work out what other functionalities it has. I’ll try uploading videos onto my frame next. I’ve even heard that you can ask Alexa to manage your frame, too Wow!

You may see more details about Nixplay on their website. The Nixplay digital photo frame range is available to purchase from their online shop or from Amazon.

I’d love to hear what you do with your favourite photographs.

There is a version of this post on the Nixplay blog here.

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.
This post is classed as an advert because my content has been checked by Nixplay.