When it comes to most things H is for Home, Fudge shows little or no interest in proceedings. However, the arrival of a box of tasty treats from Webbox, meant that he suddenly wanted to get involved!
We started by asking for his feedback on their premium fresh chicken with garden vegetables. He was too busy eating to talk, but we got the distinct impression that he approved. It’s made from 100% natural ingredients – easily digestible protein, vegetables, beneficial herbs, mineral rich seaweed and slow-release carbohydrate energy in the form of brown rice – a complete food that provides just about everything required for a well-balanced diet.
A sample of the little snacks followed. The flavour combinations are very exciting – for example, the healthy treat bars – chicken with pea & blueberries and chicken with duck & cranberry. Something a bit out of the ordinary for our canine cousins. Delicious was the verdict again!
We’ve held some of Fudge’s hamper back so he has something to enjoy on Christmas Day. He’s got a three bird roast turkey kibble, pork chipolatas and ‘pigs in blanket’ treats too. A glass of wine and he’ll be sorted!
It never ceases to amaze us the speed at which Fudge
can demolish a bowl of food. You’d think we starve him, but we can guarantee that’s far from the case. We always get the, “is there any more please?” look. Thanks to Webbox there’ll indeed be more to follow in the coming days![disclosure*]
I was never very good at science subjects at school; I couldn’t get my head around physics and chemistry especially. I enjoyed doing the practical experiments – adding one substance to another to make a solution – it’s very much like baking. However, reading in a text book that combining H2O with NaOH causes a reaction that results in Na+ and OH- ions and lots of heat, was Greek to me.
Fast-forward 30-something years and I’ll now always remember that particular little nugget of chemistry. H2O (water) and NaOH (caustic soda) are essential ingredients in soap making.
Add them to vegetable oil with a dash of essential oil, whisk it all up… and magic happens!
Pour the resulting custard-like liquid into your mould or moulds, allow it to cool slowly for 24 hours and you get your lovely bars or block of soap.
The Christmas melt & pour soap making kit that we’re giving away contains moulds in the shapes of a Christmas tree, gingerbread person, reindeer, Santa Claus and an angel. As this kit doesn’t include caustic soda, it’s suitable for use by children with adult supervision.
I really enjoyed making my own soap for the very first time. Having the kit with all the ingredients pre-portioned meant that it was really easy and I was confident embarking upon the strange chemistry & alchemy! I now have the courage to buy all the ingredients in larger quantities and try out other oils and fragrances.
Some of the bars of vanilla soap I’ve made have now been wrapped up in tissue paper and tied with string ready to be stocking fillers for friends & family.
The Soap Kitchen melt & pour soap-making kit
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The clocks go back at midnight on Sunday, heralding the start of daylight saving time and winter. Justin doesn’t mind it, but it’s not a time of year that I look forward to – the long nights get me down-in-the-dumps. I find it hard to wake up and get going in the morning. It used to be much more of a struggle back when I commuted every day – waking up in the dark, coming home in the dark and spending those few precious daylight hours cooped up indoors. Does your mood change when the clocks go back in the autumn?
Needlite ™ has recently sent us a pair of their daylight desk lamps to try out and review. They’re LED lights which emit a similar spectrum of light that you get from sunshine. They help alleviate negative mood changes and depression from the lack of natural light; and in so doing, can help improve work performance, productivity and creativity.
They’ve been set up, at the advised 45º angle, either side of a large table which we use for both office and craft activities – a simple, two-minute job. They’re sleek and minimalist – and look really great.
You can operate the lights manually by finger touch control – or alternatively, you have the option of downloading an app for your smartphone (another 2-minute job) and controlling them that way. You can alter the brightness/dimness and even give yourself a little daylight boost if necessary. You can also use the app to programme them to switch off at a particular time – a great way of letting you know that your working day is over!
I could feel the positive effects immediately – my mood lifting on the dark, drizzly day that we took these photos. Our work room faces almost east, therefore loses direct sunlight pretty early on in the day. With our new Needlite lamps, it will make it feel like it’s south facing!
I think they’re going to be a godsend this winter and they come highly recommended for fellow Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers.
We’ve never actually owned a lava lamp – so were very happy to receive one of the new, limited-edition versions produced by the original manufacturers Mathmos in collaboration with Liam Gallagher’s men’s fashion company, Pretty Green.
The Astro lava lamp is such a design classic – the idea of Edward Craven-Walker who founded the Mathmos company. The name ‘Mathmos’ actually comes from the French comic strip, Barbarella (later made into the cult classic film starring Jane Fonda). Mathmos is the bubble liquid force under the city – the choice of name becomes obvious when you see them in action. Introduced in 1963, it was an instant success, an icon of sixties and seventies interior décor. Their appeal has really stood the test of time. There have been all kinds of innovations and special editions, however the basic principal remains the same – and Mathmos is still going strong over 50 years later.
We opted to receive the pink and orange colourway for our Astro lamp. The lovely warm glow filled the room from the moment of plug in. As the lamp heats, the contents come to life. Initially stalagmite-like shapes form – then the classic globules develop. These globules gently rise, split apart and fall back down. Then they do it all over again, with slight variations to the movements and shapes formed each time. Edward Craven-Walker likened it to a repeating life cycle.
The atmosphere and warmth that they give to a space is quite unique – and they’re mesmeric to watch of course. If you’re in the mood to relax, there’s a little 2 minute clip below – just long enough to fall under its spell! (P.S. If you hear heavy breathing in the background, that’s Fudge our dog, not Justin falling asleep whilst holding the camera).
When it comes to lava lamps, don’t be tempted by lesser imitations. The brand authenticity, quality of materials, colour intensity and lifespan are all important factors that make the classic Mathmos the only real choice. In fact replacement bottles, bulbs and bases mean that your Mathmos lava lamp should last a lifetime.
We’ve not written a book review in AGES and this one’s just a little bit different to our usual fare.
Home Sweet Home is a children’s book – recommended for ages 5+. However, even as adults, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it… and, as regular readers will know, we appreciate and collect iconic children’s books!
Published earlier this month (October 2017), it was written by Mia Cassany and beautifully illustrated by Paula Blumen.
Throughout the 40 pages, you’re shown around various interiors & exteriors from around the world – guided by the pets-in-residence.
There’s Eva the St Bernard in Iceland, Coco the cat in Brooklyn… there’s even a tortoise named Taiki who lives in Kyoto, Japan!
This book is a really fun way for kids (and grown-ups!) to find out about other parts of the world. It teaches facts such as San Francisco is very hilly, Giethoorn in the Netherlands is car-free and that houses in Ibiza are painted white to reflect the light and keep them cool.
It’s a book that warrants plenty of return visits.
It’s such a charming read…
…and the illustrations are full of lovely detail that reveal something new every time you flick through the pages.
This book is a fantastic Christmas or birthday present for any pet-loving, budding interior decorator!
Home Sweet Home is available from the publishers in UK/Europe & US/Canada and from Amazon, The Book Depository and Waterstones.
[Many thanks to Ellen at Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the review copy]
We’ve got a little twist for the post usually occupying the Cakes & Bakes slot on Thursdays. It’s a review for a new product coming to market shortly (available from early November 2017) that will make life in the kitchen easier. It’s the Simplissimo Chef by Scott; an all-in-one cook blender.
The lovely people at Scott sent us one to trial so we’ve been trying it out over the last few days. We started out by making a soup – well, the machine made the soup, to be honest! There’s a choice of automated programs or manual operation. We obviously couldn’t resist the automated option as an introduction to our new kitchen helper.
We decided on a cauliflower and blue cheese soup – placed vegetable stock, chopped cauliflower, potato and a clove of garlic to the jug – and selected the appropriate program for ‘smooth soup’. The Simplissimo then got on with it. It heated and stirred the soup quietly. About three quarters through the program we added the blue cheese, some seasoning and a little cream. (You can add whatever ingredients you like during the cooking process through a sealed opening ‘hatch’ in the lid).
After 30 minutes the hot soup was blended – and then kept warm for 15 minutes. The perfect amount of time to rustle up some sour dough croutons and serve. We hope it looks tempting – it really was very delicious soup!
Other favourite soups that will be perfect for this auto cook/blend function include leek & potato, nettle, pea & ham and mushroom. In addition to soup, it’s also perfect for sauces. Peppercorn sauce for a nice steak perhaps – or onion gravy for hearty sausage and mash. Dips and dressings too. And in addition to all that, it can steam food – and even cook vacuum packed dishes ‘sous vide’ in a temperature controlled water bath. Amazing!
After the hot dishes we thought we’d try a cold one. The blender has no problem chopping fruit and crushing ice so there’s endless smoothie options. We went for a blueberry & banana smoothie. Again delicious. Take a bow, Chef Simplissimo! The choice of flavour combinations is almost limitless – and then there’s all the potential for fabulous cocktails!
It’s very well built, solid & sturdy – and looks good on the counter top too. With all it’s potential uses there’s no need to hide it away. It even has an auto clean program, so no messing about with sharp blades. As you might have guessed, we’re very happy with our new little friend – and we’re certainly going to enjoy future dishes and further experimentation!