Halogen ovens and other cool halogen stuff

Halogen has sneaked into our vocabulary without anybody noticing and suddenly there’s a whole host of very cool halogen products about.

Well actually they’re a lot hotter than the competition. Halogen products contain halogens: a group of five highly reactive elements. And when one or more of these elements are exposed to certain things like inert gases, things get seriously heated. Meaning there’s some great halogen products out there to light the way.

Clifford James Halogen Oven

Halogen oven

Imagine a product that could roast a chicken in 20 minutes, grill your food golden brown, take up as much space as a blender and save energy too. The halogen oven is exactly that. The oven is a large Pyrex-type bowl with a lid housing an halogen element and fan. Inside a circular filament certain halogens are mixed with an inert gas to produce instant, intense heat. A brilliant innovation, which is revolutionizing the way we cook food.

Photo by Meghana Kulkarni

Halogen Vehicle

The halogen powered car hasn’t been invented yet (maybe one for the future), but there’s few things out there that use halogen lights to light up those dark nights. With increased night-vision and safety, halogen lights are the bright future for cyclists. Powered by a rechargeable battery or dynamo, a small halogen light the size of a Walnut Whip can produce serious light.

Photo by Alan

Halogen heater

If a halogen oven can roast a chicken in 20 minutes then it’s no surprise halogen heaters like it hot. As air passes through the heater’s oscillating system it is instantly heated and propelled in a broad arc around the room. Halogen heaters produce more heat quicker and distribute the hot air evenly around a room. They tend to be more expensive than other portable heaters, but they come with increased durability and safety features and are cost effective in the long run.

Photo by Thomas Mathie

Halogen torch
Everybody loves a torch, but make sure you have the brightest torch in the village and get yourself a halogen torch. Light up the whole forest, redirect air-traffic and lead all your friends into the darkest places in the world (if you can be bothered). Some of these are brighter than 10million candles. Wow!


Photo by F. A Fruitbasket

Halogen security spotlight

Everybody wants a halogen gadget, so make sure yours are well protected with the halogen security spotlights. If anything bigger than a mole moves past your cabbage patch, they’ll be bathed or melted by a light so bright they’ll think the sun has come up early. If you’re going to do it right, then do it halogen. It’s time to see the light.

Why a simple mobile phone is good for your health



These days mobile phones have more gadgets on them than a stealth bomber; they’ll tell you the time in Honolulu, the temperature in a mouse’s ear-hole and the name of Peter Andre’s aftershave. Not only that, some mobile phones can identify stars in the night sky, download enough media to keep you going for 50 years and vacuum your house (that one’s out soon).

Sorry dogs, but a mobile phone is man’s best friend. Or so they think. Actually gadget-heavy myPhones with all their apps and flaps and stuff are your enemy. Do you really need to know the time in a Russian submarine or check Facespace every two seconds? Do you really need to go through 16 menus just to make a phone call on your mobile PHONE? Of course not.

What you need is a simple mobile phone. And here’s why:

Photo by David Rader II

Avoid anger-management therapy
A simple mobile phone is exactly what it says on the tin: a simple to use mobile phone. Heaven. Some phones need a PHD in computer science to navigate around. The levels of concentration needed just find your mother’s phone number will leave you tearing your hair out in frustration. What’s more as the phone gets older it will become slower and develop a tendency of raising your anger levels that you will resort to throwing the nearest thing out of the window. Get a simple mobile phone and avoid throwing your children out of the window.


Photo by epSos .de

Avoid social exclusion
myPhones were invented to keep you busy in your spare time. A brave new world where you can play video games, speak to your friends on myFace and generally be connected. Yeah right. You’ll be so busy with phone-world that you’ll never see a soul. Get a simple mobile phone and you’ll have more friends.


Photo by nick p

Avoid depression
Ever spent a few hours on the Internet and felt quite down? Well if you have a myPhone, you can guarantee when you’re not on the Internet, you’ll be logged into your phone. Meaning, after 12 hours a day of being zoned into a machine, your energy and happiness will drain away and leave you feeling rather depressed. What’s more you won’t be able to call anybody as you can’t find their number on your myPhone. Get a simple mobile phone and reach out.

Photo by Lluís Andreu Oliver Obrador

Time. Lots more time!
Just think of all that free time you’ll have when you’re not messing about with useless information and apps that just fill up your brain with crap you don’t need.
Join a gym, write a book or have a baby or something. You could even just smoke a pipe all day. The options are endless when you have time and you have time with a simple mobile phone.



Photo by Greg Jordan

Look and feel young.
Looking at a small flashing screen for hours will frazzle your brain, strain your eyes and make you quite snappy and irritable. You’ll feel like a grumpy old pensioner and look like one too. Get a simple mobile phone and experience a relaxed state. Your eyes will sparkle, your brain will be fresh and responsive and you’ll feel all sprightly and fresh. Ahhhh …

From automatic potato peelers to mincers – our top 5 amazing kitchen wonders

The automatic potato peeler

With some kitchen gadgets it’s a case of, once you have ‘em, you simply can’t live without ‘em.

We’ve rounded up our all time top 5 kitchen gadgets that are a must-have for any modern kitchen.

1.) The toaster. What, after all, would we do without toasted bread? It just goes with everything – whack some jam on it, or baked beans, or Marmite, or just simply spread some butter on and enjoy.

2.) The Kettle. Hot water in seconds, brilliant. The world’s economy would grind to a halt if tea and coffee took more than minutes to make. Thank you kettles for keeping our bellies warm and our minds alert.

3.) The automatic potato peeler. Cooking is fun. Peeling potatoes isn’t. Why spend hours doing the tedious bit when you can bung all your potatoes in the automatic potato peeler, flip a switch and watch in wonder as the skins disappear? You’ll find one of these in every professional kitchen, so why not have one in yours – it’s something you’ll never regret.

4.) The mincer. It’s great- you buy your own beef, making sure you get a really good cut, put it through the meat mincer and you’ve got excellent quality mincemeat – just like that. It’s so much better than the stuff you buy in the supermarket – or even from your local butcher. Trust me, once you’ve tried it you’ll be hooked.

5.) The bread maker. If you could bottle the smell of freshly baked bread then you’d be a millionaire, but in the meantime there’s simply no substitute for the real thing. A bread maker is therefore the ideal gadget. Just stick in your ingredients, hit a switch to say exactly what type of bread you would like and… voila! Freshly baked bread on demand.

Dolls house blogs we love

Dolls houses are definitely not just for children. Whether you’re putting together a dolls house for your grandchildren or you’ve got your very own dolls house to play with, there is plenty of inspiration and ideas out there on the web. We’ve found some great dolls house and miniatures blogs to get you started…

Making Dolls House Miniatures

Making Dolls House Miniatures is the ultimate guide to dolls house DIY. Some wonderful ideas, from building model fireplaces to creating miniature sepia photographs of your dolls and creating beautiful doll-sized photo frames. There’s even instructions on how to build a mini artists pallet! A great blog for inspiration.

The Magic Bean

Colleen is a cloth doll designer and teacher, and here she shares her tips and ideas on how to make dolls, ornaments and other great things to go into your dolls house – or even on a shelf in your own home. Bright and colourful, with fun updates and a ‘Freebie Friday’ givaway once a week.


The Dolls House Dolls Blog

Mary Williams has been making dolls for about 10 years, and here she exhibits her latest works. There are some fantastic photographs of the dolls (all so life like!) as well as advice on how she made the dolls and the scenes they represent. I particularly liked the drunken maid doll! Well worth a look.

Dolls and Daydreams

Dolls and Daydreams is a fantastical creative blog. Here Sarah shows us how to make all manner of dolls and dolls houses, with some other interesting things to try along the way. One of my favourites was a ‘eco dollshouse’, with step by step instructions on how to make and decorate it. Truly stunning!

Janet Granger’s Blog

Janet embroiders beautiful and tiny decorative ornaments for dolls houses. Whether it’s a minute ‘Home Sweet Home’ sign on the wall, or a tiny Christmas stocking, nothing is beyond Janet’s capabilities. Here we get cheerful updates from Janet, as well as pictures of her latest works.

On being a mini mum

It’s not easy being a mini mum! Here Janice blogs about her favourite hobby – collecting miniatures and dolls houses (and finishing bargain dolls houses on eBay!). Quirky, fun and with some great hints and tips, Janice is sure to keep any enthusiast busy with her great ideas.


Tiny Treasures

Here Debbie collects everything miniature, from tiny little ‘welcome’ doormats to beautful tiny birdcages. Debbie herself has been making dolls-house miniatures since 1989, so she’s got plenty of experience to pass on! A good read.


The Mini Food Blog

The mini food blog is exactly that – a blog all about beatifully miniature food for dolls houses. Tiny (but looking absolutely delicious) roast turkeys, venison chops and miniature fruit bowls. Create your own miniature food with their step-by-step photo guides. Stunning!

Madshobbithole’s Blog

You really can’t help but be impressed by Maddie’s realistic miniature Hobbit Hole – exactly like the one in Lord of the Rings! Here Maddie blogs about her progress, with amazing pictures of the ‘Hobbit Hole’ and a step-by-step guide as to how she made it. Simply amazing!

Too freaky for the potato peeler

Some things are just too weird to be sacrificed to the potato peeler, blender or oven. Just take a look at these weird veg (and see how many you can identify)…

Some sort of bizzare alien planet?
Photo by Jitze Couperus
No idea!
Photo by Cindy Funk
Weird sea creatures?
Photo by Glen
A gigantic monster centipede?
Photo by Mark
Vegetable maracas!
Photo by Ian
Loved up veg
Photo by Zep 10
Photo by Roger H. Goun
Alien cucumbers
Photo by Tony Hisgett
Definately another life form
Photo by Till Westermayer
Freaky tadpole
Photo by Anne-Lise Heinrichs
Butt tomato!
Photo by Dmitry Fedoseev
Super cool dude veg
Photo by Myrrien

How many could you name?  Post your answers in the comment box and check back next week to see if you were right!

Log splitters and other revolutionary garden gadgets


Spending time in the garden is something that many of us enjoy – whether it’s using those green fingers to their full potential or simply sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the surroundings.

And for every avid gardener there are some garden gadgets that have simply revolutionised the gardening process, taking away the hard work and allowing you to spend more time doing the things you enjoy. So we’ve put together our top five revolutionary garden gadgets – how many do you own?

The Log Splitter

The Log Splitter

What would we do without log splitters in the winter months? For those (including myself) that are far too clumsy to be wielding an axe, the log splitter makes for an ideal alternative. After all, what could possibly be more cosy than an open fire during these cold winter months?


The Lawnmower

The Lawnmower

Enough said really – I mean, how on earth could we live without it? A well kept lawn is a joy for any garden enthusiast, and short of spending hours with a pair of scissors, there’s simply nothing that could replace the humble lawn mower. The new, cordless mowers are a particularly good idea.

Motion Sensor Lighting

Motion sensor lighting

Practical and safe, these simply have to feature in our best gadget list. They’re ideal if you want a brighter light whilst you’re moving around outside, and they put off those potential trespassers by putting them well and truly in the spotlight (as well as catching out the odd cat…). You can also get solar powered lights, so they don’t rack up your electricity bill. Perfect!



The oldest and most basic of garden gadgets – but what would we do without them? Certainly during the summer months, the BBQ rarely gets a moment to itself, whether you’re entertaining or just cooking for the family. Definitely a top garden gadget!



The Garden Vacuum

The Garden Vacuum

Why spend hours sweeping up those autumn leafs when you can suck them up in an instant? Just like an indoor vacuum, it suck up any small bits of debry in your garden. Then comes the cunning bit – it shreds what it pick up, making it dead easy to dispose of. How did we cope before?

Traditional craft blogs we love


Traditional crafts form part of our cultural heritage and keeping them alive is both educational and great fun. We’ve put together a list of blogs made by people who practice traditional crafts such as pottery, wood-turning and glass staining so you can learn more about what they do and perhaps be inspired to start a new hobby yourself.


Hampshire Wood Turners Association Blog

The Hampshire Wood Turners post galleries of their amazing work, from ornaments and bowls to curios and chess pieces. Posts also present and review woodturning demonstrations by masters in their field for the benefit of all to progress in the woodturning craft.

Woodturning Blog

Follow Andy as he blogs about his work as a professional woodturner and pick up some tips from his musings on his own work and ideas. Andy posts about how his ideas evolve and shows you the steps along the way to making art pieces for his small Cobweb Crafts shop.






The Traditional Crafts Blog

This is the blog of the Heritage Crafts Association in the UK. Here you can learn about the living heritage of basketry, pottery and metal work as well as countless other old methods kept alive by die-hard crafters with a sense of history and copious skill.







A Devonshire Pottery

From Stockleigh English in Devon, Doug Fitch blogs about the goings on at Hollyford Pottery. See his clay birthday cake, all the pottery’s creations in photos and take a look at his jugs covering the modesties of the local ladies in their annual fundraising calendar.


Little Wren Pottery

Little Wren Pottery is Victoria Baker who blogs here about her hand-thrown stoneware pottery. Learn how to deal with cracks and chips in pottery and find out what ‘crazing’ and ‘crawling’ are. You can also find out what Victoria has been making with photos of her wares posted as she finishes them.






My stained glass adventures

David Gomm documents the pleasures and pitfalls of sandblasting, designing curved glass and finding suitable nudes for a sauna project. Posts are monthly updates on his work and thoughts with photos and links to beautiful examples of exquisite stained glass.


Blacksmithing Blog

James Price combines ancient metalworking techniques with modern technology as a blacksmith in West Sussex. He traces the development of his projects on his blog as well as exhibitions, special events and the unveiling of special commissions.





Beautiful wood blog

Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement as well as a background in boat building, Marcus Sly blogs here about his woodwork creations. He also blogs about his thoughts and ideas on use of space, detail and keeping heritage crafts alive.


Robin Wood

RobinRobin Wood’s blog will help you discover the best tools for woodcarving and whittling, show you how to carve a spoon and suggests some excellent heritage craft Christmas gift ideas. Robin is  a wood turner who is passionate about all heritage crafts and campaigns to help preserve and promote them.


Dye studio diary

Queenie operates a dye studio in Suffolk and documents all her wares and tips for working with wool here on her blog, the Dye Studio Diary. Not only are there tips and advice on dyeing fabrics but also photos of clothing made by the Queen of wool herself.

5 wacky uses for a log splitter


If you thought log splitters were just for, well, splitting logs then you were wrong. Read on to find out what else you could do with one…

Mad Scientist

Mad scientists could use one, in an attempt to split the atom…

Nuclear fission has some pretty cool uses.  It can power your house, for instance, or blow up a neighbouring country.  And it could all start with a swift blow from the log splitter.


Hairdressers could use one – there’s nothing better for splitting hairs…

Actually, it’s pretty multi-purpose for hairdressers really.  They could use it to get a really straight edge to your fringe.  Or they could use it to split hairs about their latest girly drama.  See, you didn’t realise a log splitter was so adaptable, did you?


Boy bands could use one, next time they plan to split…

It would save all that bickering about who said what, who gets what, who was the worst singer (when we all know they’re just as bad as each other).  Instead it’d be a nice clean cut, straight down the middle.  Job done.



Chefs could use one to make the perfect banana split…

After all, making a perfect banana split is no easy task.  You have to get the perfect bananas, cherries, ice cream, chocolate sauce.  Use the log splitter and… taa daa! … the perfect banana split.


Divorcees could use one, when it came to splitting assets…

Houses, cars, mortgage agreements.  Who gets the children.  Who disowns the rabbit.  All this can be solved with a swift blow from the log splitter, negating expensive legal costs and saving on time and heartache.





You could just use one for splitting wood!

But then that would be boring, wouldn’t it?



Slipper Vs Shoe


Over centuries the protective, paternal shoe and the comforting, maternal slipper have defined their roles along humanity’s great walk.

What would we have done without our sturdy, waterproof shoe friend in the wet and snow of winter? Or truly relaxed our souls and feet without our furry slipper servants? Quite simply some things are best done in the smartness and practicality of shoes and others in the warmth and relaxed nature of slippers.

Photo by Joe Adams Photography

Though hold on a minute … as the world and our habits change, new opportunities are constantly being created for slipper and shoe: opportunities for battles. That’s right there’s a battle being waged between slipper and shoe. Each has their stronghold of things clearly better to do whilst wearing either slippers or shoes: things that cannot be challenged for fear of ridicule. But new activities, owned neither by slipper nor shoe, are popping up daily.

The following examples have been scored accordingly using the S.T.U.F.F scale (Scoring The Use For Footwear). When you’re familiar with the obvious activities to do in slippers or shoes, read on and enter the volatile grounds of the Great War of Slipper Vs Shoe. There is just one rule: don’t underestimate the power of the slipper.

Photo by Caro Wallis

The Job Interview

The job interview belongs to the shiny black shoe. If you’re in any doubt about this then try wearing your animal slippers next time you get to the interview stage.

Shoe 5 Slipper 0



Photo by Yanyin

When You’re a Kid

Kids hate shoes, but love slippers, especially the ones with their favourite characters face’s on the front. Kids and slippers go together like bread and butter, except if the shoe has wheels on it.

Shoe 1 Slipper 5



Photo by Sophie and Cie

The First Date

Unless you’ve fallen in love with a clown, going out on a first date in your slippers suggests that you haven’t made much of an effort and probably prefer being indoors. Shoes win this one hands err, feet down.

Shoe 5 Slipper 0


Photo by David

Lazy Days

The alarm clock takes a day off, the dressing gown puts in overtime and you adjust your mood to chill-axed, dude. Shoes aren’t allowed within twenty miles of lazy days. Thank goodness for slippers.

Shoe 0 Slipper 5


Photo by Giannis Kiratsous

In the Office

For so long the territory of the shoe, the fight for today’s 21st-century office, with all its stress-balls, Apple Macs and feng shui is intensifying. That’s right, nestled under those minimalist workstations and shuffling along polished wooden floors the slipper uprising has started. It’s a matter of time before the majority realize that slippers make sense in the office.

Shoe 4 Slipper 3



Photo by Joel D'Souza


This one’s a bit controversial as the law states the driver of a vehicle must be wearing suitable footwear. But it’s unclear what the best footwear is for driving; the warmth and comfort of the slipper or the sturdy sole (ideal for keeping the accelerator still) of the shoe.

Shoe 3 Slipper 3


Going on Holiday

You don’t have to dress-up when you’re off on your hols. Oh no! If you’re lounging about an airport for five hours and then sitting on an aeroplane for another five hours, slippers are your best option. The shoe has held this one for quite some time and apart from airport queues standing on your feet, or looking good for a business trip, the shoe’s powers are weakening.

Shoes 4 Slippers 5