Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pests in the home: Moths

By this time of year, most of us in the Northern hemisphere will have unpacked our winter blankets, scarves, hats and thick jumpers. Unfortunately that also happens to be the time you might discover your favourite jumper has partially been eaten by moths. I dread finding holes in my clothing or blankets. So what can we do to keep our clothing free of moths whithout resorting to the horrid smelling and potentially toxic moth balls?

It helps to know what attracts moths, and more importantly what deters moths because it is difficult to prevent moths from entering your home. So firstly, moths are attracted to natural fibres. By natural I mean wool, cotton, linen, silk etc. It's because they eat the food proteins within these, and especially love eating the food proteins in the form of hair and skin particles that we leave behind on fabric items. For that reason in order to prevent moths, never store worn or unwashed fabric items away in a dark dusty wardrobe, loft or basement. .

Luckily there are things you can do to deter moths from your wardrobes, and without resorting to pesticides. But anti-moth repellents will need to be replaced seasonally to ensure the smell is strong enough to deter the moths. Try the following natural products to protect your garments and home.

  • Cedar chips or cedar oil on in and absorbent cloth will deter moths. But it needs to be 'fragrant cedar' or also known as Juniper in some areas.

  • Lavender, Rosemary, vetiver and rose petals are all moth repellents (basically potpourri)

  • Dried lemon peels scat erred in a chest or tied a muslin cloth can be used.

But using deterrents alone will not suffice to completely protect your clothing.
If you discover moth holes in your garments (bless your soul, I grieve with you), you have to face the fact that you have moths in your wardrobe/storage area. All fabrics or garments withing that wardrobe/area will need to be washed and upholstery and carpeting will need vacuuming thoroughly (and the vacuum bag emptied immediately). Hard areas can be washed with warm soapy water and dried. Once the storage area has been thoroughly cleaned, only put back freshly washed/dry-cleaned items and then also add a moth repellent such as lemon peels. Larger items such as rugs and curtains can also be steam cleaned if you have a steam cleaner.

Regularly used clothes are not at a high risk of moth infestation because moths hate light and being disturbed. Their life cycle is about 21 days, so clothing used regularly should not be at risk. Therefor an alternative treatment for moth infested items is to hang your rugs or clothing outdoors for a day in the sun. Larvae are strongly repelled by light, and will fall from clothing when they cannot find protection. Freezing also kills moths. For items that cannot be hot washed, wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for a day.

It is tempting to store clothing within plastic bags to prevent moths from getting to items, but clothes and fabric items need to breathe, and storing them in plastic bags can cause mildew damage. However, you may wish to store items in a vacuumed bag where air has been removed. In this case make sure that all items are clean and dry, and expect them to be creased when you remove them from the pack.

If you decide to store clothing in a chest, make sure the chest shuts properly and has no holes where moths might get into.
I do hope none of you have to find those dreaded holes in your favourite jumpers. Remember that cashmere is particularly attractive to moths, so it's worth storing that expensive cashmere item or your favourite wool coat properly and safely... and remember to clean them before you do!

Hope you are having a great (and moth-free) day!


Friday, November 21, 2008

To bleach or not to bleach...

NOT my bathroom, thank goodness! If it was, the answer to this post wold be more straightforward - hose and bleach! But most of us don't have bathrooms like this, so let's talk about bleach in a calm and rational manner.

Just the other morning on the BBC Breakfast show, they were talking about the "hygiene hypothesis"... a term used to describe the clean and hygienic state of our homes leading to more allergies because children aren't exposed to enough microbes. Now I know that I have blogged about 'whitening whites' wherein I said that chlorine bleach is unnecessary, but what about around the rest of the house? Should we abandon bleach for good? Well on the same breakfast show, the had a hygiene specialist who brought along all sorts of cleaning products - many of them containing bleach, and she was saying that there really are only two areas of our homes where dangerous bacteria lurch and that we should be disinfecting these areas. She was of course talking of the bathroom and kitchen.

I cannot write about liquid chlorine bleach without going into the health risks. Chlorine bleach is not to be taken lightly, and you really should never use it without wearing gloves to protect your skin. It can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, chest pain, and vomiting, coughing, and excess fluid in the lungs. People most susceptible to these symptoms when exposed to chlorine bleach are the young, the elderly and anyone with health concerns such as respiratory problems. A colleague of mine once decided to spring clean his bathroom with bleach. The bathroom was just off the bedroom where he sleeps and he woke up the following morning after a night of nightmares, with a painful headaches and dizziness and as a result had to take the day off work he felt so ill.
So why would anyone even use chlorine bleach, or a product containing chlorine bleach? Well, bleach is a disinfectant, Chlorine bleach is effectively a pesticide since it kills of viruses (2). And truth be told, household bleach isn't all bad, it is a relatively weak solution of sodium hypochlorite. The trouble with household bleach is that it poses a risk due to carelessness and misuse and of course it's not great that so much of it is going down the drains into the water system because of the environmental impact it has (1).

So as with many things in life, I think it's best not to get radical. By all means, keep the bottle of bleach, but remember, it's your home you are cleaning, not a hospital. So don't over use the bleach. Remember that the best way to keep you and your family safe from bacteria is good old hand washing with warm water and soap!

But here are some safety tips if you decide to keep the bleach:

  • Always avoid direct skin contact with bleach, wear gloves for goodness sake!
  • Dilute as per the instructions and use the diluted solution immediately since diluted chlorine bleach loses its antibacterial properties after a couple of days.
  • Never, ever mix anything else with bleach, especially ammonia based products. That goes for toilet bowl cleaners, wash away all traces of other cleaners before adding bleach to the toilet bowl and don't even think about making your own concoction of vinegar and bleach -it's lethal!
  • Try to only use bleach around the toilet area and in your kitchen where necessary, and in the kitchen, make double sure you have properly rinsed off any traces of bleach with water.
  • Avoid using bleach in confined spaces. The oven is one example, this is a space that is hard to ventilate, you would be better off with some bicarbonate of soda for that job.
  • Don't buy scented bleach - on it's own it's nasty enough, it certainly doesn't need any extra chemicals to make it worse.
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS store bleach, or any products containing bleach well out of reach of children and pets!!!

Now, if I've scared you enough with the talk of respiratory problems and headaches and you would like to give bleach a miss, there are some alternatives, although perhaps not as powerful. But once again, some hand washing will do more to protect your family than that bottle of bleach.

  • White vinegar can help to keep surfaces clean and bacteria free.
  • Hot soapy water is the best way to kill off salmonella and e-coli, so if you're washing your dishes in hot soapy water you're already doing a good job of getting rid of them.
  • There are some non-chlorine bleach products out there such as from the Ecover range to use in and around the toilet bowl.
  • Scrubbing sinks, tubs, and counter tops with a paste of baking soda and water effectively removes dirt rings and some stains (3).
  • A steam cleaner effectively kills bacteria and is a wonderful device if you or any members of your family suffer from Asthma or allergies.
  • Bacteria and mould grow in moist conditions, so use a used towel in the bathroom to dry off any surfaces after a bath or shower, and you'll hardly ever need to disinfect your bathroom again.
I hope you've been informed by this post, and that you will all avoid reaching for the bottle of bleach every time you clean. I think with a bit of caution and careful dilution, using bleach once in a while is not such a bad thing. But consider using gentler products for everyday cleaning, and by that I mean avoid any general household cleaning products that may also contain chlorine bleach (so many of them do), it just isn't necessary and not worth the risk.

For some more facts on the uses of bleach:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Linen Cupboard to be Proud of...

Sorry for keeping you all waiting with this post. The secret is out, and yes, I am finally sharing with you the pride and joy of my home... my linen cupboard. It's what inspired me to start this blog because it's what got me interested in home keeping.

When we moved into our home, the linen cupboard was simply an old boiler cupboard but with no boiler or shelves. So Mr Laundrybasketcase kindly put up some shelves after I painted the inside. I packed all our linens onto the shelves and resolved that even when the rest of the house was being painted moved about and just utter chaos I would keep the linen cupboard organised, and for once I stuck to it. Even when my wardrobe looks like a jumble sale, the kitchen floor is un-mopped and has dog biscuit crumbs scattered about, and piles of ironing are stacked up, I like to open the door of the linen cupboard and see the stacks of pillowcases and neatly folded towels to remind me that I can do it and get back on top of things... so here it is...

My Linen Cupboard has a beautiful cut glass handle on the door, it makes it feel extra special (even if I did buy the handle quite cheap on eBay)...
And in my Linen Cupboard I keep... my vacuum cleaner,
... my favourite tea towels are stacked, ...

... such as this one...

... it also holds my favourite linen napkins (that I've never been brave enough to use)...

... stacks of freshly laundered pillowcases that smell of lavender...
... and amazingly the door also holds my ironing board and iron...
... and here are the shelves. Starting from the top are my table linens, below that are the pillowcases and fitted sheets, and below that are the duvet covers and large towels. Then there are the small towels, cleaning cloths and tea towels, and on the bottom shelf is the basket that holds torches and chargers, cleaning products and water for the iron.
On the floor is where I keep my house keepers box with spare cleaning accessories (such as old toothbrushes and rags), as well as a magazine rack which I use for all my cleaning spray bottles.
I know some people have seen my Linen Cupboard and probably thought I'm a bit obsessive about it. But considering the rest of my home isn't a haven of cleanliness and organisation (Although I dream everyday that it is) it's nice to have one place that I always feel in control of.

For my next post I'll be sharing with you how to fold fitted sheets so that they too can stack neatly. If you would like to see how I fold my towels, take a look my post about it here. You can use that method for everything else in your cupboard too - that is how I fold my pillowcases, tea towels and duvet covers too. Here are some more tips for a fresh and tidy Linen Cupboard...

  • If you hang towels and sheets up well, there shouldn't be a need to iron them. Similarly taking them out of the tumble dryer as soon as they are dry means you can just fold them neatly and by the time you use them they look no different from sheets that have been ironed and folded.
  • Iron pillowcases that haven't dried tidily. My pillowcases always seem to need ironing, but they are so quick to iron I don't mind. I love folding them and stacking them. I love it even more if they smell lovely, which brings me onto my next tip...
  • Use a lightly scented spray bottle of water to help with ironing. I use a couple of drops of lavender oil (or try patchouli, rose oil or even lemongrass) in a half full spray bottle. Don't keep the water and oil in the bottle for longer than a few days since essential oils do go off after a while.
  • If you really don't want to fold towels as I've suggested, fold them in half (length ways) and roll them so that they can be stacked with the raw edges facing away.
  • If you have extra space in your linen cupboard, add hooks to the back of the door or sides of the wall to hang a laundry bag for dirty tea towels and s forth. I have a bag for all the extra bits and bobs that comes with my vacuum cleaner and steamer.
  • Use cedar wood (you can buy small bits from hardware stores normally) in your linen cupboard to deter moths.
So there you have it. My linen cupboard! I hope you enjoyed looking at it, and I hope it inspires you to have a beautiful linen cupboard too. I feel it is important because that's where all those important things that give us comfort lives... our sheets, towels and tablecloths. All things we should be able to enjoy. I don't keep my linen cupboard in order because I want to show off, but because it makes me smile (even if the rest of the house doesn't always).

What bit of your home makes you smile?

Have a lovely Sunday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Before and after wardrobe photos

Here are the missing pictures from the last post...

This is what our wardrobes looked like when we moved in - not the best use of space.

This is the photo you'll have seen in the previous post of my wardrobe after we fitted and moved shelves about.

And below is the photo of my husband's wardrobe after we re-organised it. Instead of using a rod and hangers for Mr Laundrybasketcase's trousers, I bought some long prongs that are meant to be used on a slatwall in a shop. I got the idea after seeing the IKEA trouser hanger system, but theirs was too big for our wardrobe. It is so much easier to use this system than hangers.

I use to think that our wardrobes would be tidier if only we had more space. But it doesn't work that way. The truth is the more space there is, the more we would find to fill it up. So the best we can do is to keep our wardrobes organised and clutter free by not having more than can fill the space. Easier said than done... I know.

But for now I better get working on my next post! It's a secret one!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

An organised wardrobe

I've actually not done a substantial home keeping post in a while, so I owe you all a good one... I hope you enjoy this one. As I mentioned in my previous post, my mum is coming to visit in December, and I need to get our house tidy, clean and beautiful before her arrival. One of my weaknesses (yes I have many) is my wardrobe. I have the best intentions to keep it tidy, but a love for shopping combined with an indecisive mind at 7:00 in the morning means it somehow looks more like a teenagers wardrobe than the wardrobe of someone who has a home keeping blog. Yikes.

However, it has gotten better over the years, and as I've learnt, an organisation system needs an up-keep. I learnt some great tips from the little book "The organized life" by Stephanie Denton that I applied to my wardrobe when we moved in, and I'm going to share with you some of my top tips on how to organise your wardrobe so that it's easier to keep it tidy and share some before and after photos with you.

Whether you have an antique armoire with not much space or a walk in wardrobe (I wish!), wardrobes should be organised according to your lifestyle. Clothes should be divided by category to make it easy to spot what you have to wear. But let's start with the basics, some things shouldn't be folded in drawers, and others are best not to hang, here are a list of some basics and where they should ideally live:

  • Shirts, blouses, suits, coats, dresses that aren't too heavy and skirts should always be hung on hangers.
  • Jeans and trousers can be hung up, but if they are bulky and you are short on space, they can be folded neatly and stacked on shelves. Smart trousers should be hung up though.
  • Jumpers and heavy knitwear must never be hung up because they can stretch, so always fold them.
  • Heavy beaded dresses or long dresses made from jersey should also not be hung up because the weight of them could stretch out the shoulder areas.
  • T-shirts should be folded and stacked.
If you are in doubt, take some hints from clothing shops ans see what items the stack and what items they hang up. It's also a good idea to get some tips on how clothes shops organise garments.

Next, you need to take a look at your lifestyle, do you have clothes that you only wear to work, and then separate clothing for the weekend? If so, you want to have separate areas for these items of clothing. For instance you might want half a hanging rod to work wear and the other for weekend wear and the same goes for shelving or drawers. If however like me, your work wear and weekend clothing are mixed and matched, then it's best to organise it differently. For me I have found organising my hanging rail by colour works best to co-ordinate my outfits, but if your wardrobe consists very much of the same colours, you might want to sort your hanging rod by items instead. To do this you can start on one side with camisoles, then short sleeved, moving on to long sleeve and then jackets and coats at the other end.

Shelves and drawers again are best designated to specific items. Have one shelf for t-shirts, another for jumpers and so on. And don't be shy to mark shelves. It sounds a bit silly, but when a shelf is marked t-shirts, you'll think twice before plonking your jeans on it.

Think about changing your wardrobe according to seasons. Since I only have one wardrobe for the majority of my clothes, I have shelves designated to jumpers in the winter and t-shirts in the summer. Similarly, one of my drawers are for vests and tights in the winter, but in the summer that is where my shorts and outdoor clothing live. The out of season clothes live in a suitcase in the loft until I need them. Switching clothes around seasonally also gives me a chance to throw out anything I didn't wear the previous season and tidying the lot up again.

This is what my wardrobe looked like when we moved into our house. It had a low shelf at the top, with one long rod and that was it. I needed allot more space than this to organise my clothes!

Anyway, this is my wardrobe now from the outside. These are our brand new wooden doors, before these we had flat chipboard doors.

I also chose these pretty glass knobs, just making the wardrobe pretty from the outside makes me want to keep the inside pretty too!

And below is the inside... Okay, so I did have a big tidy before I took this photo, and I need to dust off my label maker to out some labels on the shelves. But As you can see, I have two short rods. The top rod is used for, well tops. The bottom rod is for skirts and smart trousers. All long items such as dresses and long coats live in my husband's wardrobe (I'll be adding a photo of that on Monday too). All empty hangers go on the right ... it's a new habit I've started and makes a big difference to keeping the wardrobe tidy. So no more empty hangers between the clothed hangers.

The top shelf is for jeans, below that are my casual trousers, then it's my long sleeve tops, under that is my thin jumpers and the bottom shelf holds my bulky jumpers.
Above my top rail is a high up shelf where I keep items that aren't needed often - it's an awkward space, and wouldn't work for items I used often.

I'm really bad at keeping my shoes organised, so I bought these shoe boxes that open at the front from Argos (in the UK), and they've worked great. My boots live on the bottom right hand side, and I keep their shape by putting rolled up magazines or newspapers into them. That was an Anthea Turner tip!

Here are photos of my favourite shoes stored neatly in their boxes. Sometimes I double up inside the boxes with two pairs of summer shoes and so on... but my heeled shoes get a box of their own.
My everyday beaded jewellery hang on these hooks that are on the side of my wardrobe. They are just cheap hooks from the hardware store. I've colour co-ordinate these too so that I can quickly spot what I want to wear. Howver, I wouldn't use thsi system for more expensive items, as they can get damaged from hanging.

In my husband's wardrobe we use this clever hanger for his ties. I also have one which I use for head scarves and narrow belts. It's a great invention! This one is from Lakeland, but I can't seem to find it on their website anymore, IKEA do something similar that I've listed at the bottom of the post.My undies are stored in drawers and separated by drawer dividers I picked up from IKEA. But I didn't think anyone wanted to see pictures of my under garments and socks, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Well, those are the photos of my wardrobe. If you ever need to re-arrange the hanging space in your wardrobe, a rod will need to be positioned 12-14 inches from the back of the closet. Below are some guidelines for the space you will need between rods if you would like to install one above another (taken from 'The organized Life")
Shirts and tops - 28 inches(71 cm)
Women's suits - 29 inches ( 74 cm)

Men's suits - 38 inches (1 meter)
Trousers folded over a hanger - 20 inches (51 cm)

It's one thing to organise your wardrobe, but to keep it tidy is much harder. The idea is to organise your wardrobe in such a way that makes it easy to work with. You don't want an overstuffed wardrobe because that means whenever you take something out, something else is bound to fall off a hanger or a shelf, so root out any clothes you've not worn in 6 months or that no longer flatters you. Here are some other tips:

  • Try and use good quality hangers that are all the same - they'll hang better and make your wardrobe look visually less cluttered. Wire hangers don't hold clothes very well and can snag clothes as you take them out. Ideally hangers should have swivel tops to make it easier getting your hangers facing the same way.
  • Hang all empty hangers in one place - believe me, this makes a difference!
  • Use clothes bags to protect expensive items from moths, dirt and dust.
  • Shoes can be stored in shoe cubbys (as mine are) if you have the floor space, alternatively use a hanging multipocket organiser, or shoe organisers that can store under the bed.
  • Rotate clothes seasonally, and throw away any garments you have too many of, that no longer fit (unless you're pregnant or have been recently), or that you've not worn in the past six months.
  • Before you go shopping give your wardrobe a once over to make sure you don't buy anything you already have. How many black jumpers does a person need?
  • Throw socks and tights out as soon as holes start appearing.
  • If a storage system in your wardrobe doesn't work and you find you aren't using it as you intended, change it! I find many organising systems have to go through a bit of trial and error, so don't spend a fortune on re-designing your wardrobe if you aren't 100% sure it will work.
Below are some great wardrobe organisers I have found. Do you have any secrets on how to keep a wardrobe organised?

Here is a belt and scarf organiser from IKEA

And a drawer organiser, prefect for separating underwear and socks, also from IKEA.Link
Another drawer organiser system. These can be cut to size, and are from Lakeland.

Argos does this over door shoe organiser. This can also be used for underwear and socks if you lack drawer space.
Clear shoe storage from Argos. You had better keep your shoes clean though!If you have a wardrobe to be proud of, please email me the photos and I will post them right here!
Have a lovely Saturday night and I'll post those other photos on Monday!
Hope to see you back here soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

So Halloween is over, and we're into November, and we all know what's ahead of us... Christmas.

I love paper snowflakes, and even more so when made from fine tissue paper. This fabulous photo is from a great blog I just found called Genine's Art Blog.

Loathe it or love it Christmas is time consuming, and it's best to prepare early. I've set up a little to-do list to start preparing for Christmas, so that Christmas can go smoothly without the stress, and we can just enjoy it. I hope you find some of these points useful - so add those that are relevant to you to your to do list, and hopefully you too can simply enjoy Christmas when it comes around. Even if you're not a big fan of Christmas, it's such a good time of year to sit back, take a look at the people around us and enjoy them in the moment. So start early and enjoy the anticipation without the stress. And in order to do so, here are a few things you might want to start with...

  1. First off, set up a Christmas budget , decide what you can and can't afford, and how you'll pay for it. Don't forget things like food, wrapping paper, fuel if you'll be driving long distance and those bags of wood you might be buying for the open fire. Oh, and include the Christmas tree if you'll be wanting to buy one. Christmas will seem allot less fun if you're faced with a massive credit card bill in January.
  2. Write down gifts for everyone on your Christmas list. Keep things simple, and look out for Internet sales. Edible gifts are always good, and don't cause clutter for others. Last year my sister in-law made us Christmas hampers warning us in advance not to buy a Christmas pudding. It was great not having to worry about the pudding, and getting such a useful box of Christmassy goodies was such a caring gesture.
  3. De-clutter before the holidays - this is a great time of year to donate to charities. Get the kids to help collect their old toys that are still in good condition and take them to a local children's home. Stuffed toys without loose bits and old blankets would be greatly appreciated by your local animal shelter.
  4. If you're into Christmas decorating around the house, decide on your colour scheme now (I'm going for simple red & white again this year) - that way if you see Christmas decorations, you wont end up buying every colour under the sun. I think simple paper cutouts work great. Get the kids to start cutting out paper snowflakes for garlands and stick some up in the windows.
  5. Check and update your address book ASAP so that you when you get around to writing your Christmas cards you won't have to phone everyone up last minute to get their addresses... again!
  6. Look through magazines and cookbooks to see what you are planning for Christmas dinner - those turkeys do sell out fast, so you might want to pre-order by the end of November. If you're not hosting Christmas (count your blessings here) organise to take something along for your host to ease the pressure off them, but don't surprise your hosts with an unexpected pudding when they've slaved away trying to get a pudding made in time, pre-arrange it.
  7. Start collecting Christmas music to set the atmosphere. I found that playing Christmas music in the background makes it feel so much more like Christmas. Visit charity shops, they are bound to have some Christmas cd's or look out for CD sets on ebay.
  8. Try and plan for a morning or evening before Christmas to do something charitable - perhaps serving soup at a soup kitchen, taking a dog for a walk at the local animal shelter, or why not take the kids to visit an old age home with some biscuits. Christmas will feel all the better if we take the time to appreciate what we have, and to give to those in need. So go on, get into the spirit of it!
Some inspiration to get crafty...
Recycle old Christmas cards into colourful baubles - this great example is from Junk mail Gems blog
Here's a tutorial on how to make paper snowflakes for those of you who have forgotten, this great diagram is taken from kinderart:

This year I have my mum, also known a
s Mamma Lalla to those of you who follow her blog, arriving in the UK on the 26th of December. It's very exciting for me to have my mum come and visit so close to Christmas, but we also call her 'the inspector' because my mum can spot an untidily made bed in a second. She'll be inspecting to see how clean the house is too - hopefully she wont be donning a pair of white gloves to check for dust. But I'll definitely have to get the house very tidy and clean... even my wardrobe! Eek, that's one place I'm not great at keeping in order.

So watch this space for a post on organising your wardrobe, because that's what I'll be doing next!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

'I Love You Pie' - Fall into Winter Recipe Roundup

I was meant to do this ages ago! Sorry Ivy!
Ivy from the Ivy's Little Cakes blog asked her blog readers to submit a Fall/winter recipe in October. So I'm a bit late with this as today is November, but I hope you all enjoy this recipe anyway. It's not really called "I love you pie", but I just made it like that because I think pies are such loving meals to make. This one is a Chicken and Coconut Milk Pie taken from Sophie's Conran's Pies book. It was easy, and delicious, and Mr Laundrybasketcase did think it was sweet that I put the loving gesture on top. Sorry I didn't take any photos of the inside of the pie.

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken breasts cubed
salt & pepper
1 medium onion
1 large leek
+/- 200g broccoli
300 g puff pastry ( I used ready rolled frozen)

for the bechamel sauce
50g butter
2 tbsp plain flour
600ml organic coconut milk (about 1 1/2 tins worth)

Preheat the oven to 220 C. Heat the oil in a pan, then brown the chicken cubes. Season with salt and add the onions to the pan, frying until soft.

Meanwhile slice up the leeks and broccoli (removing the broccoli stems) and add them to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.

Make the bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a pan. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes. Gradually add the coconut milk, stirring and cooking until it has thickened. Season with salt & pepper.

Now pour the coconut bechamal sauce over the chicken and stir gently. Pour the mixture into a pie dish. Brush the rim of the pie dish with water, roll out the puff pastry and cover the pie dish with it, trimming away the excess sides. Decorate the pie top as you wish with shapes or words, and remember to cut a whole somewhere to let the steam escape (my hole was cut in the middle of the heart shape. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes and serve with rice.

Don't forget to check Ivy's blog for the other recipes from the roundup. Mmmm, winter food is so delicious.

Spooky House

I promised to post some photos of our Halloween house - and here they are.

This is my pumpkin house that I carved.

We put a black bin liner curtain by the front door.
In the background you can see my bat silhouettes that I cut out and stuck on the windows.
And these are our other pumpkins. Mr Laundrybasketcase did two on the left, mine is the other jack 'o lantern.And this is Mr Laundrybasketcase before he put his mask on ... just kidding.

And here's the silly pair of us.
We had quite a few trick or treaters - one older lot even asked for 'sweets or money' ... how cheeky! But the rest were all lovely, and Mr Laundrybasketcase managed to frighten a few with his mask. He got really into character by going outside and walking down the path with his axe dragging behind him.

Enjoy the weekend!

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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