Christmas Gift Ideas – Window Shopping at the Science Museum

The Science Museum has several fabulous shops within it, and many things I wanted to buy. Seeing as how I’ve concentrated on almost everyone else in the family, and gift ideas for them, I thought I’d add my own little virtual wishlist of things. A lot of these I’d love but realistically there’s nowhere to keep them though, our kitchen is small.

However, small is good when it comes to a proper spice rack, such as this one, right? There’s only space for five so I’d need several of them… at £20 they’re not cheap but how cool would my kitchen look?

Test Tube Spice Rack

Obviously I’d need matching salt and pepper pots to go alongside it. Fortunately these exist and are only £12.  They are possibly not practical for a four year old though. They look much more stylish than my existing ones.

Salt & Pepper

Marinading is a scientific process apparently, so I’m all for this pipette brush – and the glass bottle looks pretty fab, and would sit perfectly alongside the previous two.  It’s like I’m meant to own them.

Marinade with Pipette Brush

This though, this is what I crave. This is what I need. I never realised I needed it until I saw it, and from that point I knew my kitchen would not be complete without it – a Salad Zinger. See, I like making salad dressing but it’s always boring – with a Salad Zinger you add all the ingredients, it chops up the fresh stuff at the bottom and makes a yummy dressing. It sounds so simple, my only question is whether it is dishwasher-friendly or not. At £25 it’s pricey, especially compared to the $25 you can get it for in the US, but I’m willing to take a risk. I also squirmed at the oil and fat being put into it on the picture. Seriously?

Salad ZingerAfter all this, I’d then quite like to sit and relax after eating, and what better way to do it than sitting around the table with a pretty flower in a pretty vase, right. Or just a vase like this. They look pretty sturdy, although I’d rather pick one up in person than buy one online I think… only £15 too!

Edison Medium Bulb


So there you go, if family are reading this, this is my kind of Christmas this year. I’m going for a minimal look. Everything here is available at the Science Museum in London and I had to stop myself from getting the credit card out to buy several of these at the weekend… ho ho ho!


I Bought an Ice Cream Maker

Lidl are currently selling one for £19.99 and after seeing the recipes from ScottishMum I rushed out and bought one. I’ve not had time to try it out yet but Shaun did, making the easiest recipe in the book, banana ice cream  and it’s delicious.

Actually, one thing I’ve found already with the ice cream maker, you need to think well ahead if you want some – the bowl to make it has to be chilled for 24 hours, and the mixture itself needs to be prepped four hours before you plan to eat it. Shaun said it was quite runny when it was finished (but was fine after some extra freezer time) so if you include that then I’d give it some extra time to be on the safe side again.

So over the coming weeks we’re going to try some ice cream recipes – which means we’re now in control of what goes into H’s ice cream and we have plenty of fresh fruit at home most of the time. I know we’ll definitely try out the strawberry recipe!

The ice cream makers are in store now – don’t leave it too long as it’s a good price.

My New Gadget – and I Love It – A Soup Maker

* I’ve written a follow up, six months on from buying this – it’s over here*

Greg who sits opposite me at work has an annoying habit of knowing exactly what kind of gadgets I like, suggesting them and then watching me buy one a week or so later, when I’ve managed to convince myself I need one.

This week it was a Morphy Richards Soup Maker.

Morphy Richards Soup Maker

Now, you’ve probably read the name and said exactly what I first said when greeted with this (what sounds) frankly ridiculous idea – a Soup Maker? I’ve got a pan, thanks.

But then I thought about it. The last time I made soup it was a disaster. I seem to remember blending all the vegetables and the bottom of my blender coming open so the liquid spilled out everywhere – I saved what I could, but there wasn’t much.

Which is where the Soup Maker comes in. I love the nights we decide to have soup as it’s so quick – we’ve been having lots of lovely spicy butternut squash soups that are on offer at Ocado – but this appealed. The idea of just prepping your veg (as I would do anyway), putting it into a container, adding water and spice and stock and leaving it for 20 minutes then serving just seemed a bit too easy – plus with what limited time we have it means I can spend a bit more with H – I’m never happy leaving a pan boiling on the cooker.

Prepping veg for the Soup Maker

All you do is prepare the vegetables, add them to the Soup Maker, add water, stock, seasoning and leave it, using whichever setting you want – you’ve a choice of Smooth, Chunky or Juice – oh yes, forgot to mention, you can make smoothies in there too.

Morphy Richards Soup Maker

Then of course there’s cleaning it afterwards, my least favourite job of anything. Actually, it’s easy. They’ve made it easy – and that is something I approve of, as washing up is boring (and the Soup Maker isn’t dishwasher-friendly) – and I’ve cleaned (and stopped using because the cleaning was so boring) so many juicers I’ve lost count.

So yes, we’ve used it twice since Thursday and made some delicious soups – you can make it up as you go along pretty much – the end result is something which tastes good, the vegetables are all cooked so they don’t lose any nutritional value – and it sits perfectly with WeightWatchers as I can now make 0 Points soups!

Morphy Richards Soup Maker

Tonight Shaun made a spicy vegetable soup, I’m going to share any recipes we make up on here (using the tag souptastically souper)- do you have a Soup Maker and have any good recipes to share?

You can buy the Soup Maker at Amazon and all good stores.

Spicy Vegetable Soup

You need – carrots – however many you fancy, peeled and diced. Butternut squash – peeled, diced and unseeded – just the one. One onion. One clove of garlic. Some curry powder. Stock cube (we use low salt ones). Ginger. Cumin – one spoonful. Curry powder – one spoonful. Chilli powder – one spoonful.

Make sure all the vegetables are diced and weigh around 700g, put them into the Soup Maker, add water up to the full line (if you’re doing three or four bowls of soup), put it on the ‘blend’ setting, and 22 minutes later it’s ready.

If your soup is a bit too spicy, add some milk, cream or yoghurt to spice it down a bit (this worked for H).


Shaun's Spicy Vegetable Soup

(n.b. I know the soup looks boring, but it tastes pretty good)

Review – USB Cup Warmer and Instant Heat Pad

Okay, it sounds a bit daft, but I’ll let you in on a secret. Actually, it’s no secret, I moan about it (quietly) all the time – I have the coldest desk in the office at work* – and I’ve been feeling it a lot lately. Short of wearing a slanket at my desk (I don’t own one yet, I’m working on that) there aren’t many ways to beat the chills. Usually by mid-afternoon the room and I are a good temperature, though in the mornings you can guarantee I’ll feel the chills.

I’ll often make a hot drink to keep my hands warm – and more often than not I’ll forget it’s there and end up with some freezing coffee at the bottom. It’s annoying, especially when I’ve drunk it without realising.

USB cup warmerSo the opportunity arose via Fuel My Blog to review the USB cup warmer and the Funky Instant Heat Pads from Paramount Zone, I applied and I got lucky; so I put it to the test… and found it works! However, my regular cup is a little bit too wide for it – though there’s no shortage of cups and mugs at work, so I did find one that fit. It plugged into the USB port in the side of my keyboard (which in turn is plugged into my MacBook Pro), and worked perfectly. There’s a little light in the front so you know it’s on, and it doesn’t boil your cuppa, just keeps it nice and warm.

USB Cup Warmer from Paramount Zone

I was also sent a mini hot water bottle-a-like which you can leave to soak in some boiling water for ten minutes, then get up to 30 minutes of warmth – it’s great! Not too hot and warm enough to tuck into my handwarmers and still be able to type. The first time you use it you just click the element, once you have you can no longer use that method, though it is reusable so you can do it the way I originally described – so yet another thing to help keep me toasty.

Hand Warmer from Paramount Zone

So yes, what may seem like the kind of gadgets you’d think you don’t need, are actually really useful for me – if you’re in a similar situation I’d recommend trying it out – especially if you’re like me and your cuppa often goes cold – I had no idea they exist.

Both of these are great stocking fillers for Christmas – and are suggested on the site as presents for your boyfriend or men in general – but being female and someone who feels the cold (and who is now thinking this could be excellent for an afternoon at the football), they’re pretty good unisex presents, especially if you’re not too girly like me and spend most of your working day at your desk sipping hot drinks (which go cold).

Both are available from Paramount Zonethe USB cup warmer is £4.99, and the Instant Heat Pads are £2.99.

* to be fair, work did offer to put a radiator in our part of the room, so I’m not in any way criticising.

Smencils – a Review

Smencils are a new kind of pencil from Learning Resources. They’re made from 100% recycled newspaper, and they smell. (see, smelly pencil – smencil!)


Incidentally, by smell I don’t mean of pencils – these ones are fruity, based around Robinsons Fruit Shoots drinks – the flavours being Orange, Tropical, Apple, Summer Fruits and Blackcurrant & Apple.

Now, H loves pencils. She’s only just three, so actually using them is another matter – I think we’re maybe a year too soon for them, as they’d be perfect for school. Each smencil comes in its own tube to help keep the smell fresh – I’ve read it could be anything from months to years, depending on how well looked after they are, so this is where I hope they’ll keep their scent for the next year, so she can take them to school where they’ll get a lot of use… having said that she does use them to draw with and identify each smell – and she gets them right too.

You can buy Smencils in store or online now!

Learning Resources have a Facebook competition on the go at the moment too.

We were sent the Smencils for the purpose of review – all opinions are our own.

Deluxe LED Fogless Mirror – Review

We rent our home so we’re really limited with what we can do, especially fastening things on walls, and so on.

When the opportunity came up to review this mirror, it hadn’t hit me how perfect this would be for us – it was only sitting on the train and having a moment of horror – our bathroom steams up horribly (and the landlady wont install a fan) – had I left a line around my chin where my face pack had been?!

Deluxe LED Fogless Mirror by ToiletTreeThis is a 7.30am train kind of thought where you’re still half asleep, and I only remembered I’d had that thought by 10am and commented to my workmates. “You need one of those mist-free mirrors!” quipped one, and she was right too.

It arrived, and it’s small – it almost looks like a computer monitor! It fixes to the wall using silicone sealer which is easy to remove (ideal for renters like us), and the best bit, it’s really easy to use. All you do is put hot water down the back of the mirror, and voila! One mist-free mirror. There’s also two light settings which are handy for those areas you can’t quite see.

There’s a small shelf which fits razors – and underneath a small squeegee slides in which can be used to keep the screen mist free.

If my husband shaved, then he’d get good use from this, so at the moment it’s mainly me – but oh my, it’s made the things I do in the shower much easier to do – AND I’ll never have that face pack moment again!

I was initially worried about how secure it would be attached to the wall, but actually it’s stayed well put – we’re both really impressed with it.

You can buy the ToiletTree Deluxe LED Fogless Mirror on Amazon for £22.95 (at the moment!)

I received one to review from ToiletTree, and all opinions are my own.