An efficient kitchen

microwaveWhen I moved house, the place didn’t come with an oven.  As you’re probably aware, ovens can cost a pretty penny, and I had a budget of, well, not a lot, so I looked into some alternatives.  There is only me, the Cub and our pets, and I had only ever switched the oven on in the last place once or twice for guests and so I made the decision not to buy a great big standard type of cooker.

I already had a convection oven, an electric steamer and a microwave oven but needed a hob. After ruling out camping gas type hobs as potentially quite dangerous and ceramic as slow and inefficient, I opted for a single induction hob. I can heavily recommend (electromagnetic) induction hobs, they are easy to clean and don’t get dangerously hot when cooking because the heat transfers directly to the pan.  They also boil water faster than gas.  Amazing stuff, particularly if you have small people in the house.  The convection oven cooks everything a normal oven does, but faster and I use it on high to grill things as well.

It’s a really cool set-up, energy efficient and clean and perfect for my little two person family.  But then my microwave broke, and being on a budget and my Grandma having passed away at around the same time, I inherited hers.  The previous one was quite big and had a grill inside that I never really used but a few years on and I’m thinking about upgrading again.  My current model is quite small and sometimes the popcorn gets stuck while it is spinning and burns – tragedy!  For some reason I can’t get custard to cook correctly either, so I’ve been having a look at alternatives.

I’m wondering if I should opt for a combination microwave again, for the odd times I do the baking thing, or stick to simplicity?

Anyway, here’s a few microwave facts for your amusement and information:

  • Microwaves ovens were discovered by accident by a guy called Percy Spencer, who was building magnetrons for radar sets and noticed that a chocolate bar had melted in his pocket.
  • He first patented the method of microwave cooking in 1946, and the first ever microwave oven was almost six foot tall and produced loads more radiation than the ones we use today.
  • Some people are scared of the word radiation, and indeed  but there is radiation all round us, with waves that are different lengths, from the shorter visible ones that are light to the longer waves that are radio.  Microwaves are just kind of high powered radio waves.
  • Microwaves cook food by firing these waves into food to agitate the water/fat/sugar content.  They cook uniformly, unlike conventional ovens that cook from the outside in.
  • The waves can’t escape because they are kept contained in a metal box that they just bounce off.

 

 

Discount Codes! For cosy beds.

Christmas is just around the corner (I may have already mentioned that) so maybe a nice new bed and mattress might be high on your Christmas list.  I’ve had a Tempur mattress topper and have upgraded to a whole memory foam mattress now, they really do give you the best night’s sleep.  Along with my Dreamland heated duvet and Soak and Sleep pillows, I reckon I’ve got the best bed in the world.

my cosy bed

If you fancy something Tempur, then click here (it’s an affiliate link) and I can also offer you the following discount codes to help you out a bit:

Voucher Code Description Discount
ADJUSTABLE14 Applies to adjustable beds or adjustable bed frames from the following ranges: Ardennes, Foxton, Ashby and Musica Order a single size Save £100 Order a double size Save £200 Order a king size Save £300 Order a super king size Save £400 Up to £400
HEADBOARD50 Match a single size Save 50% off the RRP, up to £124.50 Match a small double Save 50% off the RRP, up to £174.50 Match a double Save 50% off the RRP, up to £174.50 Match a king Save 50% off the RRP, up to £199.50 Match a super king Save 50% off the RRP, up to £224.50 Applies to divan and headboard matching size combinations when ordered from the following ranges: Ardennes divan – add a matching sized headboard from any of the following: Ardennes Plain, Ardennes Profiled, Ardennes Buttoned Headboard ranges. 50%
MULTISAVE10 How does it work? Applies to a single product: Multi Pillow £10 saving will be applied to each Multi Pillow purchased up to a maximum of 10 in a single transaction. £10 saving will be applied to each Multi Pillow purchased up to a maximum of 10 in a single transaction.
TOPPER10 How does it work? Applies to Toppers ordered from the following ranges: Topper 7, Topper Deluxe 3.5 10% discount will be applied to each item in the shopping cart 10% discount will be applied to each item in the shopping cart

In case you missed it the first time around, here are twenty things to do when the clocks go back.

Review: Lionheart Stationers

We’ve put the clocks back now and the winter is setting in.  It’s the perfect time for curling up on the sofa with your laptop and searching for the ideal Christmas cards and gifts.   I stumbled across Lionheart Stationers on twitter and was delighted to browse their completely unique collection of personalised and non-personalised stationery.

If you love hand drawn art, then these are the people to go to.  No Adobe designs here, the Lionheart team hand illustrate every design in their home studio.  It’s the personal touch that I adore about this company, they are a small (might mighty) team of artists that clearly adore the job that they do – you can feel the love put into every design.

I chose some wonderfully quirky Christmas cards to review, what do you think of my super-cute dragon? Isn’t he adorable?  Nobody else will be sending dragon cards, I bet, in my circles (or, have I just given the game away by reviewing them and making them less unique now?).

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They do a full selection of stationery from birth announcements to address labels, and can even create bespoke designs for you.  The prices are dead reasonable too, and for £4.55 you can get eight thank you cards.

thank you cardsAs well as making thoroughly great designs, they are also thoroughly nice people, and give 10% of their Christmas sales to Contact the Elderly.  Contact the elderly help to  tackle social isolation and loneliness by organising Sunday afternoon tea parties for over 75s who live alone.

And as a thank-you for reading this blog, you can use the code MUMMYLION to get yourself 25% off your order.

What are you waiting for?

Your perfect match – based on your toast habits

I have just been told that the way you eat your toast can reveal a whole lot about you.  Always up for a bit of self-reflection, I headed to the breakfast quiz provided by Robert’s Bakery and Duerr’s the Jam Makers.

After sharing my innermost toast and jam secrets, they determined that I was

toast

Well! And I fit nicely with people who conform (really?!) and those who are rebellious (naturally).  I am a bit angelic about food though, though not into all the latest fads and fancies, I do pay close attention to nutrients and exercise.

Go on then, share with me your results and see if we are a good match!!

Review: Minted.com

I’ve been looking around the web for new ways to send personalised and photo Christmas cards  and happened to discover minted.com, an online stationery emporium with myriad choice of cards, letters and even original and personalised artwork.

mintedI headed over to the Art Marketplace to browse for a gift and found oodles of original pictures.  I love this one, and the prices are quite reasonable too.

minted artThere I also stumbled upon some beautiful family artwork, full of contemporary design, and suitable for families of all sizes.

family artMoonpig led the way in personalised cards but I’ve become tired of them recently and was interested to have a look at what Minted offered in the way of Christmas cards.  I wasn’t disappointed, and quickly designed a beautiful and stylish card featuring my own furry pal Shadow.

chrismas cardThe blog is a great source of design inspiration.

blogAnd they host design competitions, with some very generous prizes.  I am tempted to enter the Valentine’s one.

design challengeThey are an American company but orders are shipped within ten days and then take 3-5 days to FexEx to England, for only £6.18 , or 1-3 days for priority postage.

Communication is an issue to consider with overseas companies but Minted have a very comprehensive set of contact options, from snail mail to live on-line chat.

contact

It’s a great site to shop on, with an abundance of choice for all your stationary, party-ware and artwork needs.  It’s quick and easy to personalise a design around a stylish and on trend set of templates that will impress everybody.

Only one small gripe is that it was not good to use on my mobile, and could definitely benefit from having a mobile-friendly version of the site, or an app, particularly because  many people like to upload photos directly from mobile to web these days.

It seems a bit expensive but it’s comparable and even cheaper in some instances than the equivalent over here.  Its a great website, pop over and have a look if you have an event planned or even want to wow your friends, family and clients at Christmas.  What do you think?  Shall I get the minted.com Christmas card with Shadow on?

Review: Love Sales

Who doesn’t love a sale? Quite apart from the satisfaction that comes form saving a good amount of money on a new purchase, many of us are having to watch our spending out of necessity these days.  I always shop around for the best deal, and receive Martin Lewis’s emails so that I am aware of current bargains and sales.
Love sales is a sale guide website that you customise to show you only the sales that you are interested in. Your account is really easy to set up, with a quick Facebook login, and then you get to choose which sales you want to be displayed on your home screen.
lovesalesscreen shotNext time you visit, you’ll be presented with a clearly laid out guide to all the stores that you have selected, if they have sales on.  You’ll also get email alerts of new sales that you can easily unsubscribe to if the temptation gets too much.
sales homepageYou can select either cheap (£), medium (££), or higher priced (£££) sales, or all three, select male or female, or even search specific stores.  If a sale takes your fancy just click on it to visit a page with a little more information and the link to the online shop itself.
boohoo saleI love how the store page opens in a new window/tab, so that I don’t have to click back to Love Sales to view another sale, and I can keep a few shops open at the same time.
love sales buttonBut that is not all!  You’re not simply restricted to the sales that you have chosen on the main Love Sales site, they have a button too.  All you do is drag it to your bookmarks toolbar and make Love Sales do the work of watching for a price drop for you.  I am currently lusting after some off-road Inov-8 running shoes, so I found them on SportsShoes.com, clicked the Love Sales button and I will get a notification when the price drops.
running shoes listI can view my sales boards from the Love Sales site and easily remove any items I’m not interested in any more.
In the past I’ve used Martin Lewis’s site to keep on top of my sales but this is easier on so many different levels, not least that it is so personalised and customisable.
I’ll be using it to look out for bargains in the run up to Christmas and beyond, it’s an incredible new and innovative way to make sure that you are always getting the best bargains.  It’s as easy to use on my mobile as on my laptop, though I don’t have a bookmarks toolbar on my mobile browser.  I’d love to see a Love Sales android app to complement it.  Maybe a Love Sales Firefox mobile add-on?
Don’t take my word for it though, go and test it out for yourself, I would love to hear how you got on.

 

Autumn’s best bit

The absolute best bit about Autumn is the leaves.  Not only are they a chance to discuss nature and science with my favourite person, they are a beauty to behold.  The smells, the colours, the opportunities for art, exercise and fun all come along with the changing of the season.  The day that I took this picture we were at the park and had been kicking about under the trees, throwing handfuls of leaves at each other and trying to catch them as the wind blew through the branches.  We had collected leaves of different shapes and colours so that we could make a leaf decoration for the sitting room.  It started  to rain but we didn’t care, and only headed home when it began to get dark.  I made the heart for the Cub and he loved it so much that he sat in the middle of it, meditating.  Not for long enough for me to get a picture, unfortunately.

leaf circleThis is a competition entry for tinyurl.com/autumnsbestbit

Aldi Swap and Save

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My very first home made infographic shows the amazing savings that you could get by switching to Aldi beauty products.  All of the have been tried and tested by yours truly and confirmed as a really great swap. I tried the body moisturiser (the dark blue one for dry skin) on my very dry and sensitivity-prone body skin. I usually use a prescribed emollient for my body and have never found a shop-bought brand that lasts all day but Aldi Body Moisturiser does.

I don’t like Elnett hairspray, the smell doesn’t agree with me, so I gave this one to my Mum, who currently uses Elnett.  She was astounded at the price difference because the effects are exactly the same.

The Kick Start Raspberry and Original Source raspberry shower gels smell identical to my nose, and the clarifying Hair Culture shampoo removes any residues that might make my blonde hair dull.

I’ve been using the Carino herbals shine shampoo and it does indeed increase my hair shine.

It’s a no-brainer really – head to Aldi!

#MorningWin

I’ve been putting off writing this post because I am so positive that one day soon we will make a breakthrough and get a #MorningWin.   But it hasn’t happened.  Cub started school this year and mornings have become a battle ground. He gets up fine, all his school things are ready, all he has to do is get dressed and eat breakfast.  You’d think that would be easy right?  He’s a bright kid and knows the score, he has to get up and into school, and I’ve even got the school involved in encouraging him to get there on time.

I’ve tried the a-z of motherly tips and tricks: Asking, Bribery, Cajoling, Discussion, Encouragement, Fun, Gritting teeth, Helping, Involvement, Joking, Kindness, Love, Moaning, Nagging, Organisation, Patience, Quietly getting ready and leaving him to his own devices, Rewards, Shouting, Trust, Understanding, but I have still to achieve Victory, a Win and a Zealous Yayyy.  Maybe I should replace the negative words with positive ones but when he is still in his pyjamas at 8.45 and that is the time he is supposed to be there I am feeling a bit frustrated.  At this time I am  standing outside the front door and have been for five minutes, bike ready, and he is still messing about avoiding the inevitable.

I even tweeted @1xtra yesterday and THEY asked him to get to school on time, on the radio, and STILL we were there by the skin of our teeth.

Me, dejected

Me, dejected

Belvita kindly sent me some breakfast biscuits to try and ease the pain of mornings (maybe they should have sent  me some Irish coffee instead).

New belVita Breakfast Crunchy offers a fruity, extra nutty or chocolaty option as part of your breakfast experience, adding yet more variety on those busy mornings when there are a million things to juggle, and breakfast is bottom of the pile! They are generously packed with delicious ingredients to make a bigger and crunchier belVita Breakfast biscuit, for when you want a bit of extra oomph from your breakfast! They are the only breakfast biscuits proven to slowly release carbohydrates over four hours as part of a balanced breakfast**.

I wasn’t that keen on them, I prefer the softer milk and cereal versions of the biscuits, but the cub liked the chocolate and the hazelnut varieties.  He doesn’t really like to eat until later in the day (another issue, obviously, on school mornings)so being able to shove a biscuit in his hand as I frantically peddle to school is kind of handy.   You do kind of assume that the biscuits themselves will be an adequate breakfast though but the ** bit states that you also need to add a fruit, some dairy and a drink.  So I suppose it’s a bit like eating dry cereal (which strangely the cub does like).

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK

I am now heading over to the linky to see if I can pick up some tips and tricks for getting to school on time.  PLEASE let me know if you have any!  I love my son to bits and I hate starting the day in this way.