December 4th, 2013
Imagine the scene. You’ve got a whole family of mouths to feed and a big sack of potatoes. All you have to do is peel the skin.
But horror of horror, your peeler doesn’t work. It’s blunt. And no matter how hard you try, that skin isn’t coming off!
So to avoid all that, let’s learn how to sharpen your peeler and see what to do with any other spuds that may be left over.
How to sharpen your potato peeler
If the aforementioned horror has happened, and your peeler is blunt, there are two main options.
1. Flip it over
As long as you haven’t been using both sides of the peeler, then this is the option for you. First remove the blade and find the blunt side, then simply flip the blade round, place back in the peeler and use the sharper edge.
2. Sharpen the blade
For an even simpler answer to blunt peelers, get a cheap pairing knife and run it across the top blade of the peeler; in both direction on both sides. The metal on metal action will have you peeling potatoes quickly in no time.
How to peel a potato without a peeler
What if you can’t find a peeler or you have broken yours? Well then there is another way to peel potatoes without any tools at all.
First, make a small incision around the circumference of the centre of the potato, then boil it till cooked right through. Remove the spud and place in ice water. Leave for 5 to 10 seconds.
Remove the potato from the ice water and with both hands, twist the skin ever so slightly then pull it. The skin will come off with ease.
How to peel without your hands
Some people have problems with dexterity and find peeling spuds a difficult task. But thankfully, there is help at hand.
With an electric potato peeler you can peel the skin off in minutes, without having to do any work at all.
Place a small amount of water into the bowl of the automatic potato peeler and then throw in the potatoes. The blade will then remove any skin, leaving you with naked spuds prepped and raring to go.
How to power a clock with a potato
If you have one potato left after peeling and cooking, then you may want to take a look at this trick. Because believe it or not, a potato can power a small clock.
You’ll need two potatoes, with a galvanized nail inserted into each one. Then put a short piece of copper wire into each potato, as far away from the nail as possible.
With an alligator clip, connect the positive terminal of the battery compartment to the copper wire in potato one. Then connect the negative terminal to the nail in potato two. To finish the circuit get a third alligator clip and connect the nail in potato one, to the copper wire in potato two.
As if by magic, you’ll have a functioning clock, powered only by a potato.
Whether you’ve peeled your potatoes, with a nice sharp blade, a little water based trick or a clever gadget, you are ready to cook. But just keep an eye on your potato clock to make sure they don’t burn!
December 2nd, 2013
If you haven’t heard about halogen ovens, then prepare to be blown away. Because one of these nifty gadgets can cook a chicken 40% quicker than a conventional oven, at the cost of around 8p!
Speedy, healthy and tasty
So if we’ve got your attention with this time saving purse protector, then you may want to know how to use it.
Here is how to cook a chicken in a 12 litre halogen oven.
For the chicken
2 white onions
2 medium sized carrots
2 medium sized parsnips
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp cooking oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 tbsp white flour
500ml chicken stock
A halogen oven can’t save you from tears
- A halogen oven drains away fat when cooking, but if you do want to catch it for a gravy (see below) then place silver foil at the bottom of the bowl.
- Place the onion, carrots, parsnips and garlic gloves on the bottom rack.
- Pre-heat the halogen oven to 200°C (400f) – which should take around 3 minutes.
- Glaze the chicken in oil and season to taste.
Ready for hot potatoes
- Place the chicken on top or around the veg, also sitting on the rack.
- Place lid on halogen oven and set timer for 35 minutes.
- When timer goes, remove chicken and check if it is cooked. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. If not, then return to the oven.
- If making a gravy, leave the chicken to rest and transfer the juices to a pan, with a small drop of flour. Put the pan on a low heat and mix the flour into a paste like consistency. Then add a some chicken stock, a bit at a time, until you have the right thickness. If needed, add gravy browning and seasoning.
- Serve and enjoy!
The end product A Mothers Ramblings
So there you have it, a low cost, simple way to cook a chicken. And with the hectic Christmas calendar upon us, this clever gadget can take some of the hassle out of cooking, so you can worry about something else.
November 27th, 2013
These days there is a gadget for everything, but some are more useful than others. The laptop desk that attaches to your steering wheel is a certainly rather stupid idea, and the less said about the iPotty the better.
But there are plenty of gadgets that make life easier, and in the cold winter months that’s just what we want.
So to make the festive season go smoothly this year, here are our top winter gadgets. Enjoy!
Say no to chesty coughs this winter
In the months that end with ‘R’ the air is moist due to low temperatures. This can cause damp, which in turn can cause mould spores and dust mites, both are bad news for your health.
With a dehumidifier however that risk is diminished. It works by collecting moisture either via a fan, electric current on crystal and turning it into water. Simply dispose of the water, and job done.
Fire the fast way
Chopping wood is always a hard task, but especially in the depths of winter. No one wants to stand in the cold swinging a rather dangerous axe around! That is where a log splitter comes in handy.
Simply put, log splitters make better fires. This is because wood that has been split into smaller pieces burns better. The oxygen needed to keep a fire going has more access to the wood as there is a larger surface area, and this in turn means a brighter, warmer fire.
Instead of a sharp point being swung at speed, a hydraulic or foot operated log splitter works with a splitting wedge, meaning you don’t have to strain your back and you can split more wood than you could by hand.
Impromptu roast dinner anyone?
With winter bills rising, we’re all looking for ways to save money
, and a halogen oven will slash bills. Based on a 1300w 12 litre halogen oven
cooking a chicken in 40 minutes, you’ll only have to spend 9p on electricity!
You may be wondering how a chicken can cook in 40 minutes? Well, because of hi tech halogen bulb technology and a fan to ensure all of the bowl gets heat, a halogen oven is able to cook tasty food fast.
How do you like your spuds in the morning?
Stews, roast dinners and soups are the epitome of winter warming food – and potatoes are often an important part of the meal.
When shivering and in need of a winter warmer, like the traditional Welsh dish of cawl, peeling potatoes can be a time consuming task. And for those with joint problems, it can be painful too.
But an automatic potato peeler uses a rotating blade to quickly take the skin off your spuds. Meaning those with poor dexterity needn’t be in pain, those that get cold hands needn’t get numb fingers and those who have a huge Christmas dinner to make, can get on basting the turkey!
For hands that don’t ache, a fire that burns well and fully functioning lungs our gadgets will see you right. And if you do want to research halogen oven recipes online, avoid the steering wheel lap desk, the M1 is for driving after all.
November 25th, 2013
The cold snap is here, summoning months of runny noses, numb body parts and frosted car windows. Whilst some will shiver at the thought of being chilly, for many it’s simple an excuse to get the fire going.
Fire needs three things; oxygen, heat and fuel and by using wood with a larger surface area, the oxygen and heat have access to more fuel.
So how do you get this larger surface area? With a log splitter, and here is how to use them.
Simplicity be thy foot powered log splitter. They are simple work with, make quick work of logs and require very little labour.
First, get a level working area and place your logs near the log splitter. Then get a wheelbarrow or garden cart ready for easy transportation.
To start splitting, simply place a piece next to the splitting wedge and pump the lever. The hydraulic force – over a tonne – will cut through the wood with ease.
Just like the foot powered option, a hydraulic log splitter
needs a level area to work. But unlike a foot powered one, you don’t need to do anything other than load and unload logs.
Many hydraulic log splitters have handles, and if yours does then make sure you use them. It will make the machine more stable and stop you from endangering your hands!
To get chopping, place the wood next to the wedge, hold the handle and watch as wood is driven into two bits. Wearing goggles is also a good idea, as when the wedge hits a knot in the wood, splinters may fly.
Despite the invention of the log splitter, many still prefer the backbreaking work of preparing wood by hand. So if you are a glutton for punishment, here is some advice on how to chop your wood the old fashioned way.
First, get a maul – which looks like an axe, but has a wider head – this forces the wood apart instead of cutting through it. Make sure you have plenty of space, then find a large piece of wood to use a big chopping board.
Then comes the fun and/or hard part, depending your fitness levels! Rest the piece of wood you want to split on the chopping surface and drive the maul down into it. Look for grains of wood and aim for these lines, it will be easier to split this way.
There are many ways to save on rising energy bills and a warming fire is one of the best. And unless you like the manliness of hand splitting wood, save yourself the hassle and use a log splitter instead. After all, if you’ve already got a runny nose, a sore back is the last thing you need.
November 20th, 2013
Rising energy bills are a hot topic right now in the UK — if only the same could be said for much of the shivering population struggling to pay them.
Winters seem to be getting colder — nice one global warming — so it’s time to get savvy to lower your energy costs. Here are your top ten tips!
1. Change providers
There is an ongoing price war happening between the energy providers, which is good news as it means they will be offering reduced prices to attract new customers. Keep an eye on any deals you could benefit from if you switch to another company (and read the small print). And don’t be afraid to keep on switching and chasing the discounts.
2. Wear more clothes indoors
We’re talking thermals, jumpers, hats all wrapped up in a wooly blanket.
Source: OMG Images
An easy one really, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t wear enough clothes when indoors. If you’re relaxing on the sofa and not moving, then you’re not generating heat, so wrap up a little.
You don’t need to wear a fur coat, but bring out the woolies and make sure that you’re preventing your body heat from escaping.
3. Improve insulation
Make your own heavy duty curtains to keep the cold at bay
Source: House to Home
Would you keep pouring water in a jug if it had a leak? No. So why throw away money heating a house with bad insulation? It’s madness. Locate and destroy any draughts by insulating them in whatever way you can afford.
Windows and doors are the chief suspects so if you can’t afford to buy new ones, then insulate them better. Any cracks can be fixed with draught excluder sealant, invest in a good pair of thick thermal curtains which can improve energy efficiency by as much as 25% and use draft excluders for the bottoms of doors.
4. Move and keep active
You can’t be cold whilst doing crunches!
Source: Fit Sugar
Movement equals energy and energy equals heat. Move and your body will generate it’s own heat and also get everything firing up and flowing — a bit like starting up the boiler.
Buy a fitness video and take up home aerobics, get into a bit of festive DIY or increase your quota of rumpy pumpy sessions — guaranteed to provide enough heat for two.
5. Wood fuelled heating
Plan ahead and take into account the savings over a few winters. With that in mind, invest in a wood burner or get your fireplace and chimney back in working order.
And avoid all the axe work on Christmas morning with your very own hydraulic log splitter, which will get through the big stuff quicker than it takes the youngsters to open their presents.
6. Meal preparation
Is there anything more appealing during winter? Answer: no
Source: Windy Beach
Eat. Your body needs food to generate heat, so don’t skimp on meals and make sure you’re well fed. Stuff like jacket potatoes, soups and comforting dishes like cottage pie are reasonably cheap and will warm you up too.
And save money by preparing stuff in the microwave (which is far more energy efficient than a gas cooker). Or how about throwing a foil-wrapped potato in your new wood burner?
7. Choose your room
When the freeze kicks in and the heating needs to be on — then it’s time to get tactical. Ideally you want to be using a south-facing room as your winter hideout as it will trap some of the heat from the sun, which can go a long way to keeping the room warm all day if it’s insulated well.
If you don’t have a south-facing room, then choose the smallest room, as it will be much easier to insulate and keep warm and put some foil behind the radiators to reflect the heat back into the room. And you don’t need the heating on in all the rooms — just your living space and sleeping abode will do the trick, so turn some of those radiators off and save money.
8. Invest in a super quilt
So toasty you won’t want to get out of bed in the mornings
Source: Style at Home
Ask a granny to knit you a toasty blanket or invest in a super winter-spec quilt, which can be picked up cheap enough. And use it! Have it with you on the sofa and then snuggle up in bed. It may be frosty in your room, but under that quilt it’s summertime.
9. Energy efficient products
Using energy-saving light bulbs will save you money in the long term as will opting for the more economical white goods like washing machines and freezers.
And upgrading an uneconomical boiler is also an excellent investment that could save up to £300 per year. The initial outlay for more efficient products is likely to be costly, but if you were to work out the total costs over a few years, then savings would be made.
10. Spend more time around friend’s houses
Bit of a cheeky one, but hey, what are friends for? Pop around their houses and hang out in their sub tropical lounges (for as long as you can manage without appearing to be unofficially couch-surfing).
November 19th, 2013
Many things are taken for granted today. We drink water without thinking about where it comes from, surf the internet without knowing how it works and wear cotton without knowing how it’s grown.
But there is one thing we don’t even know we take for granted – the humble shoelace.
For many, laces are an annoying inconvenience that flap around willy nilly and cause embarrassing tripping incidents. But with proper lacing and tying, the humble shoe lace needn’t be such an irritation. Here’s how.
Why is it important to lace them correctly?
Shabby laces, shabby shoes
Shoes that aren’t properly laced will move when you walk. This in turn will lead to rubbing, which could cause horrible blisters and soreness.
Aside from blister nastiness, you also need to consider style. By not lacing your shoes correctly, the style of the shoe is compromised and can result in a scruffy look. Not good.
Incorrectly tied laces are one thing, but laces that come undone are another. Tying your shoes incorrectly will cause your laces to come undone, which impacts both style and comfort.
What shoes need lacing
Everyone loves a good lace
Strictly speaking, any shoe that has laces needs to be done up properly. But for some shoes, correct lacing is more important than others.
For instance, an unlaced pair of mens leather shoes in an Oxford style will look sillier than a pair of casual trainers not being laced.
How to lace your shoes
are often displayed in the “gentleman’s” style
, and won’t tighten as much as the criss cross or over under methods, which will bring the two leather tabs together.
Start by putting the two lace ends, or aglets, into the bottom two eyelets. Then pull the laces so that they are level on each side, and weave them in and out of the rest of the eyelets.
Once you have laced your shoes, you need to tie them. If the first knot is with left under right, then next one must be left over right – making an interlocking combination.
You’ll know if you have laced them properly as the tabs will be pulled together and straight. To check if they are tied correctly, make sure the laces sit horizontally across the shoe. If they sit in any other way, they’ll come undone.
Everyone loves a bit of velcro
Many people struggle with laces because of joint problems, bad backs or a fundamental lack of patience. Others avoid laces as they simply don’t like them!
Chelsea boots and slip on loafers are a stylish alternative to laced shoes. Both styles can be worn with many items, making them a versatile addition to your wardrobe.
Velcro shoes are the easiest option for those with joint problems as the shoe can be loosened when putting them on, and tightened easily afterwards.
So how to tie up all this information? Well make sure you interlock your knots, check for criss cross weaving and don’t take laces for granted! And if you fancy getting creative, then why not try some other lacing styles?
November 11th, 2013
Bad weather, last minute Christmas shopping and escalating heating bills are some of winter’s main annoyances.
But whilst we can’t control gas prices, we can give advice on what to wear when it’s chucking it down and freezing cold.
So swot up on which mens trousers to wear this winter, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
Trust us, they’re thermal
Staying warm is a certainty with thermal trousers. Some options even have a windproof fleece lining, while others feature a lining designed to capture warm air.
Staying warm needn’t mean your trouser choice has to change either. Mens thermal trousers are available in many styles including jeans, suit trousers and chinos.
For some, thermal trousers can be too warm. But for lovers of the outdoors, particularly walkers, they are a winter staple.
If Bear Grylls wears them, so should youFlickr
Green fingered folk know that a garden still needs attention in the winter. Waterproof trousers
allow you to tend to your garden in the colder months, so preparing for the spring can be done without soggy legs.
Any type of trouser can be worn underneath waterproofs, but ideally wear a pair that have a high cotton or wool content. Trousers made with man made fabrics won’t breathe as well, making you hot and sweaty.
So bright, you can save on your lighting
Corduroy is made with a high concentration of cotton yarn stitched onto a backer. Due to this extra fabric, cord trousers are a hardwearing option that can cope with the winter.
The dullness of winter can often get people down, in fact some poor folk get SAD. But with mens cord trousers, there are bright myriad shades available. Plum, claret or vibrant emerald will stop the dark days from being dull.
As well as being colourful and hard wearing, cord trousers are highly breathable because of their high cotton content.
Just like cord, moleskin trousers are hard-wearing, breathable and come in an array of colours.
Unlike cord however, they do not have the signature ridges, but instead a brush like texture akin to suede. And don’t worry, moleskin fabric is made without harming any cute soil dwelling critters.
Moleskin is so durable and hard-wearing, that the West German Army used it for their uniforms for over thirty years. And if it was good enough for marching through the Cold War then it is good enough for winter.
Whatever trousers you choose for the winter, just remember that cotton is breathable and waterproof trousers let you wear almost anything! But if you’re still worried about the heating bill, then add thermal trousers to your last minute shopping list.
November 7th, 2013
A few days ago Lady Gaga was spotted using a bizarre brolly fashioned after a giant conch shell.
Never one to blend into the crowd, onlookers were shell-shocked (sorry) at Gaga’s odd choice of rain protection. But we wondered, is that as weird as it gets?
After ogling our collection of downright bizarre and often impractical brollies, you’ll have a new found respect for your stock standard windproof umbrella.
Let the madness commence…
Sure, you might look like a displaced astronaut, but this hands free brolly is definitely functional
Source: Camissa Bicycles
Rover had his human trained very well
Um, it’d be perfect for long midnight walks in unlit areas?
Surely a contender for the world’s largest brolly?
Source: 1 Funny
Well that’s one way to get to work half dry
Use as a makeshift paddling pool when you return home
Meet the internet umbrella, complete with built-in camera, a motion sensor, GPS, and a digital compass
Source: Lost at E minor
Moving it’s tail in the direction of the wind, this one avoids the dreaded inside effect you get with most brollies
Source: The Cool List
Constantly conscious of getting in peoples way? This contracting ‘polite’ umbrella is perfect for you
Source: 2 Modern
November 5th, 2013
Already, the pungent odour of burning wood, dense clouds of smoke and sound of crackling fire fills the air. Yes, many people have already jumped the gunpowder, but tonight is the night for real bonfire action.
But whilst a fire may create a comforting glow in your garden, for many the task of lighting a fire leaves them hot headed.
Fear not though, because with this guide you’ll soon be the boss of the bonfire. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain.
Don’t let this be your garden
There aren’t any laws against having a fire, there are some rules to follow
Whilst there may be a temptation to get rid of household waste, doing so creates pollution, so it is best avoided.
You should also watch the wind direction and location of your bonfire, as smoke can be a serious obstruction to road users. If you live next to a busy road it might be best to skip the bonfire making.
Failure to follow these rules, could not only make you an annoying, unsafe neighbour but also result in a £5000 fine!
Not annoying neighbours and authorities is one thing, but staying safe is another. As a safety precaution ensure you have water to hand, either a bucket or hose will work. You should also keep the fire away from flammable structures, such as fences.
It is also a good idea to surround your fire with a circle of stones, which creates a clear boundary for children and helps stop the fire from spreading.
The foundation of any decent bonfire starts with tinder. Small amounts of bark, whittled bamboo or dried leaves make great natural tinder. Newspaper is the best synthetic tinder, but should be used sparingly. Too much newspaper and you will cut off the oxygen needed for a fire.
Small sticks and twigs, known as kindling should also be added. As long as the kindling is dry and no larger than 30cm, it will help kick start the fire and keep it burning
If you want your bonfire to last, you’ll also need bigger pieces of wood to keep the fire burning. Whilst kindling is good for getting the fire started, it soon turns to ash, so you need something more substantial to keep the fire alight.
With a hydraulic log splitter you can get the larger pieces prepared without breaking your back, and produce the odd bit of kindling too.
There are several different structures of bonfire, such as the lean-to, the log cabin, the pyramid and the aptly named random pile (you may want to avoid that one).
But it is the teepee that creates the best looking fire. Make a tripod with three larger pieces of wood and put tinder and kindling underneath. Once lit, either place wood on the side, or in the middle on top of the kindling.
Note that a teepee fire can be structurally unstable as the logs in the “tripod” can burn at different rates. With a log splitter though, you can easily gauge the size of the wood you’re using.
A match made in fire
If your tinder, kindling and construction is correct, you can light a fire with just one match. To get started light the tinder and then gently blow at the base of the flame. Don’t blow too hard as this will extinguish the fire before it’s started.
Slowly add more wood, but not too much as this can stop oxygen fueling the fire. Dampness, green wood or poor tinder may hinder the “one match” theory. So if this is the case, place firelighters around the base of the fire. Do not use aerosol, petrol or other highly flammable liquids as this can be extremely dangerous.
For many homeowners a back garden bonfire is a yearly event. The crackle, aroma and dense smokey fog combine to create a warm glow in our cheeks and the air. And with a log splitter, some wood and a bit of know how, the crackle and spark of warming bonfire can be had with great success.
October 28th, 2013
In a recent survey, participants were shown a man in red trousers and were asked to say the first thing that came to mind.
The results highlighted their controversial status and raised the question: should a mean ever wear red trousers.
But with cool hipsters and society’s “elite” championing the questionable hue, we wonder if there a case to be made for red trousers?
Why shouldn’t you wear red trousers?
Oh baby you look like a moron!
Source: Posh 24
Because the survey said so! 46% of those questioned in the YouGov survey, didn’t like red men’s trousers. 120 people said “red” on seeing a picture, which doesn’t show a lot. But the third most used word was “idiot” (44) and “prat” (27) wasn’t far behind.
But if it’s your fear of being labelled posh that stops you donning your red trousers, fear no more! Whilst you might [italics]think[italics] people associate red trousers with posh folk playing golf, you’re wrong. Posh was only the 35th most submitted word
What is certain, however, is many find red too bright for the world of muted menswear.Lisa Armstrong, fashion editor of the Daily Telegraph says, “It’s very hard to wear them and not look like a giant chilli pepper.”
Why should you wear red trousers?
Hipsters are often the source of experimental fashion trends, so for them, red trousers are just a stylish staple. But what about the rest of us?
You’re never too old to have fun with fashion, so we think everyone should try the red trouser trend. It’s a refreshingly bold change from the usual grey, black and navy menswear offerings and will help spice up your winter wardrobe. But if red is too bold for you, go for orange instead – a surefire hit for AW13.
If you needed further proof that red trousers can be fashionable, then look at this Pinterest board.
Red trousers you can wear
The soft casual red trouser look
Chinos are the number one option for red trouser wearers, and are surprisingly versatile. For a day in the country, wear with a tweed jacket and a checked shirt. And if people see that as “elite” then remind them that the survey proved red trousers aren’t just for posh people.
Slim fit red chinos work with a t-shirt for general casual wear. But for those that don’t like slim fitting clothes, wear straight leg chinos, with a casual tucked in shirt.
Red trousers are undoubtedly divisive. Like Marmite you either love them or hate them. Hipsters love them, 46% of the UK hate them. But if you ask us, red trousers look great, as long as you’re name isn’t Justin Bieber.