Gimme Five! Advent calendars

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Selection of 5 advent calendars

Advent starts on Sunday so you only have a couple of days left to get your hands on your advent calendars! They’ve been around since the 19th century and are traditionally used to celebrate the run up to, and prepare for, Christmas Day.

It wasn’t always about scoffing a chocolate a day – although I wholeheartedly agree with that undertaking – the 24 compartments once held a different bible verse, prayer or poem. How about filling them with something different and unique – handmade sweets, a daily artwork, ‘activity’ coupons or individual figures to slowly make up a nativity set? I like the idea of filling each of mine with an advent candle – or little scented tea lights like these from IKEA.

  1. Reusable fabric advent calendar – Christmas tree: £40.76, Etsy
  2. The Advent Calendar – Truffles for Two: £26, Hotel Chocolat
  3. Wooden LED lit advent calendar by The Forest & Co: £29.50, Notonthehighstreet
  4. Wooden Houses advent calendar: £40, John Lewis
  5. Susanne Kaufmann 2015 advent calendar – £99, Liberty

Gimme Five: Yoghurt makers

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selection of 5 yoghurt makers

We both remember having yoghurt makers at home when we were children. We also remember them being used a couple of times and then languishing in their boxes at the back of the cupboard, never to be seen again. I recall home made yoghurt as being ghastly – little more than sour milk!

We eat quite a lot of yoghurt in this household. It usually forms part of breakfast, and sometimes dessert. Fudge has a couple of spoons in the morning too as it seems very good for his digestion in terms of reducing gas (we won’t dwell on details, but a good tip for dog owners that one). Our tastes have become a bit more refined since our childhood days. We like a bit of creamy richness, not too sweet & not too sour – blueberry, figs, strawberry and vanilla are favourite flavourings.

If you make your own, you can enjoy it plain & natural or squeeze over some runny honey, pop in fresh fruit, add it to cereal and even cook with it. I sometimes use it in my bread dough and Justin adds a few dollops to curries.

Yoghurt and yoghurt makers have come a long way since the 70s. We have a couple of favourites. The robustness of the Cuisineart and the flexibility it gives of making just one small jar at a time or up to six 125 ml pots + two 250 ml pots – as well as it doubling up as a cheese maker – makes it a real contender. The favourite though, is the cute Me & Yo; of course this was going to be the winner with it being bright orange and all!

  1. Cuisinart YM400E yoghurt and cheese maker: £69.85, Amazon
  2. Klarstein 1 litre Me & Yo: £22.90, eBay
  3. Steba yoghurt maker: £47.99, Wayfair
  4. EasiYo mini yoghurt maker: £7.49, Lakeland
  5. Vonshef digital yoghurt maker: £49.99, Domu

Gimme Five! Wireless speakers

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Selection of five wireless speakers

Christmas must be approaching – some definite present hints have been heard recently! Justin’s mentioned wireless speakers 3 times in the last week. Not exactly shoe-horning it into any random subject, but the moment music or bands are mentioned, up the subject pops.

It would be great actually, to have a premium music streaming service like Spotify working in conjunction with wireless speakers dotted around the house. No more wires or CD cases cluttering up rooms. We’ll keep hold of our vinyl collection, but we’d love to move into the 21st century with a wireless system too. Perhaps his dreams will come true – here are some favourite wireless speakers for various budgets that we’ve identified as possible buys.

  1. Minx Air 200 wireless music system with Airplay, Bluetooth & internet radio (black): £299.95, Amazon
  2. Bose SoundTouch 10 wireless multi-room speaker: £169.95, PC World
  3. Sonos PLAY:1: £169, Sonos
  4. LG Music Flow P7 portable Bluetooth speaker with leather carrying case, oak: £149.95, John Lewis
  5. Spotify multiroom speaker: £129.99, Philips

Gimme Five! 2015 Christmas ads

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Christmas has officially begun – John Lewis has released it’s latest Christmas ad!

As expected, it’s a tear jerker. It was produced in conjunction with Age UK and features a lonely old man on the moon and a little girl spying him through a telescope from earth… a story accompanied by a beautiful rendition of Oasis’ Half the World Away performed by Aurora.

We’ve made a playlist of our 5 favourite new 2015 Christmas ads… enjoy!

Gimme Five! Magazine files

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selection of magazine files

We’re finally getting around to sorting out our home office. Boxes have been unpacked, bits of shop stock assigned to the correct storage area… and the printer has actually been moved off the floor and placed on a desk after 8 years!

We accumulate TONS of paperwork annually which we need to keep for at least 5 years for tax purposes. Recently, it’s been stored in random sweet and biscuit tins but it don’t look great. Utilitarian, yet beautiful, magazine files would look so much better! Each would be given an attractive label, marked with the tax year of its contents, lined up neatly (chronologically of course) and placed along a top shelf out of the way.

  1. Simple style brown kraft magazine file: £4.19, WH Smith
  2. Calculator magazine file: £7, Paperchase
  3. GARNER orange magazine file: £8, Habitat
  4. McGregor magazine holder: £25, Urban Outfitters
  5. KNUFF magazine file set of 2, plywood: £7, IKEA

Gimme Five! Radiators

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Selection of 5 radiators

Sometimes product design really bugs me. There are certain things that you just think not enough effort has been put into designing them. Most camper vans fall into this category; we’ve been researching what’s on offer over the last couple of years whilst we’ve been saving for one – and there are certainly a lot of great big, ugly, white boxes on wheels to be found!

For many years, computers were the same – until the gloriously fun, boiled sweet-coloured Apple iMac G3.

There’s a similar problem with the vast majority of modern radiators; great big, ugly, white boxes that you attach to the wall. They occupy so much space in every room of the house – they should be made to be more attractive.

I’d love to replace all the ones in our house with original, reconditioned Victorian or Edwardian cast iron ones. We have 11 radiators in our house, so we’d have to upgrade them one by one… cash flow dependant!

You can, if you scour the ‘net, find brand new ones that are better looking and more stylish than the norm. Here are a few that we found – both new and true vintage – that we’d love to put to work keeping us warm in the chilly months ahead.

  1. Various cast iron radiators: from £11, eBay
  2. iBathUK | 600 x 1200 mm anthracite column designer radiator horizontal double oval panel: £169.99, Amazon
  3. Duett vertical tube horizontal designer radiator (anthracite): from £287.99, Agadon Designer Radiators
  4. Victorian ‘Slim’ cast iron radiators: from £130, Trade Radiators
  5. Sterling Edessa – traditional black 2-column horizontal designer radiator 400mm x 1055mm: £179.99 BestHeating

Gimme Five! Dish drainers

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Selection of 5 dish drainers

Dish drainers aren’t the sexiest of items, but every kitchen needs one. Ours has just given up the ghost after 10 years solid service. It deserves a medal – we don’t have a dishwasher and we do a lot of cooking that generates mountains of washing up.

Not to mention its moonlighting shifts as paintbrush rack, allotment vegetable washing zone and cloth dryer. We’ve been browsing the ‘net for a replacement – here are five of our favourites that form our current shortlist.

  1. DECKER stainless steel single level dish drainer: £21, Habitat
  2. Extend™ expandable dish rack with draining plug: £50, Joseph Joseph
  3. 2-tier dish and cutlery drainer, stainless steel: £35, John Lewis
  4. Drainer by Jocca: £48.99, Wayfair
  5. ORDNING dish drainer: £12, IKEA