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 house
Image source: Anneka
Take a look inside these doll house blogs
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’ giveaway 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 dolls house’, 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 beautiful 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 beautifully 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!

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

arts and crafts
Source: Yulia elf_inc Tropina
Essential craft tools

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

chopping wood
Source: LeonidKos
Multi purpose tool!

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 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

Clifford James Slippers
Clifford James Slippers

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Model train blogs we love

model railway
Image source: Peteri
Model railway enthusiasts

Creating a great model railway is a huge creative endeavour that requires great skill and planning. True enthusiasts spend hours building and detailing all aspects of the railway’s layout, from weathering locomotives to forming rolling hills.

We’ve created a list of blogs, written by model railway lovers, that follow their creative pursuit to reproduce the railway world in miniature.

Rhyd Ddu

This blog describes the planning, woodwork and track laying as well as the wiring, scenery, and rolling stock of one man’s recreation of Rhyd Ddu in miniature. A very detailed and thorough record of model railway creation useful to all levels of enthusiast.

The Model Railways of Chris Nevard

Fantastic photos of extremely detailed scenes with advice on creating the perfect layout. See how just a few key changes like swapping high vis jackets for murky blue overalls on model workers and weathering panels on carriages can shift the era of industrial layouts to give you more breadth of design.

Cairns Road Works – Model railway detailing and repainting by Andi Walshaw

Excellent tips and photos on how to weather engines for an authentic look. Posts cover advice on repainting and detailing your model railway from a seasoned model railway artist.


Reviews of model railway shows and exhibitions as well as progress reports on the author’s own model railway projects. There are also posts on the day to day life of a railway modeller including trips to real railways and even reviews of stand up comics.

Model trains today

Top tips on how to improve your model railway, find deals and discounts on modelling gear and stay up to date on new releases of trains and layout parts. Also check out the 7 Model Train Mistakes to avoid and sign up for the newsletter to stay on top of model railway news and events.

A Model Railway – Life in Miniature

David Smith shares videos of his work and the operation of his railways as well as photos of real life steam train sightings. There are also several useful posts on how to make your own DIY 4mm model people.

Model Railways Blog

A relatively recent addition to the model railway blogosphere, this blog mixes advice on planning, building and running your own model railway with posts on real railway memories and modelling nostalgia.

Model train sets blog

This blog has lots of videos, reviews and tutorials for the model railway enthusiast. The blog also gives posts on how to build layouts and create scenery as well as sections on model railway FAQs.

Rushby’s Railways

Learn the ins and outs of batch-building, find out a few tricks of the trade for photographing your trains and follow Neil on his train-faring travels through his model railway blog.

Albion Yard

This is the blog of the planning, building and operation of the model layout Albion Yard, which has featured in Hornby Magazine and Model Railway Journal. There is also a gallery section with great close-ups of the model buildings and trains.

Did you know…? The history of the Moccasin slipper

slip on moccasin
Clifford James Moccasins

Moccasin slipper are hugely popular across the globe, but not many people know about their unique history within Native American culture.

The Native Americans were unbelievably good at recycling and reducing waste. Skilled hunters, they would utilise every possible part of their catch – using the meat for food and the animal skins for clothing. The tough hide, which was too inflexible to make into clothing, would be used to make strong, durable Moccasin slippers.

Moccasins were often beautifully decorated in accordance to tribal customs, using bead-work and fringing to make them original and unique. They were often hand painted as well, depicting scenes from nature in a variety of bright colours. The work of the Native Americans was intricate and distinctive. They were, in essence, the original ‘haute couture’ leather shoes.

Over the hundreds of years that Moccasins have been made the basic, original design has remained the same. They are generally still made out of leather, as they were originally, but the advance in dyes has meant that you can now buy them in a range of bright colours. Another, popular alteration has been to add a fur lining, making Moccasins ideal slippers for the winter months. In addition,

One of the reasons that Moccasins have remained so popular for so long is their ability to mold to the foot, meaning they are warm and snug. Their flat soles and soft leather make them unbelievably comfortable. They simply get better over time, as the leather softens and mold to your foot. A moccasin often ends up being a friend for life.

It is hard to believe that something could have remained so popular for so long, but it is a fact that Moccasins are just as popular today as they have ever been. Perhaps it is all those years of use that has resulted in a slipper that is so comfortable, practical, warm and stylish. Either way, the humble Moccasin is the perfect addition to anyone’s wardrobe.

The World’s Snuggliest Slippers

Source: Gladskikh Tatiana
Cosy slippers

Never underestimate the power of your slippers, once said a wise man (who was wearing slippers).

And he was dead right. Slipper-wearers all over the world are feeling the benefits of owning cosy slippers. There’s not a more snugger feeling than squeezing your pinkies into two furry burrows and forgetting about the winter’s night outside. From Argentinean sheepskin to Peruvian llama wool, when it comes to warm feet, slipper-wearers the world over sure take snuggleism seriously. Yes, that’s ‘snuggleism’ (it’s in the Slipper Dictionary).

Or maybe your slippers aren’t that snug? Never mind, the path to snuggleism awaits you … so before your pinkies freeze and drop off, take note of some ancient slipper wisdom. Read on, and be enlightened by the world of slipper luxury.

Peruvian Alpaca/Llama Slippers
It’s extremely cold up in the Andes, but the llama and its furry cousin (the alpaca) are just fine with their thick coats. So the Peruvians keep warm too with handmade alpaca fur slippers. Soft, fluffy and luxurious, these little feet toasters are made from 100% alpaca fur and make everyday feel like summer in footworld.

Sheep’s Wool Slippers
From the snow-capped horizons of New Zealand and Argentina to the frosty winter mornings of England, sheep have been lending their woolly locks to shivering folk for centuries. Thick, soft and extremely warm, sheep’s wool slippers are just the job and perfect for dealing with the British cold snaps.

Himalayan Cat Slippers
We’re going even higher for the next stop on the magical mystery slipper tour. On the roof of the world up in Nepal, feet have to be extra snug, so slippers are made from a range of things including straw and animal furs such as yak, cat and rabbit.

Alaskan Eskimo Slippers
And when it comes to keeping seriously warm, nobody does it quite like the Eskimos. From Siberia to Alaska the freezing far north is home to the royalty of slipper-wearing. Made from durable moose-hides and lined with fur from Arctic rabbit or beaver, Eskimo slippers put the snug into snuggleism.

Though be warned, this kind of warmth isn’t for the rookie snug-seeker. In fact it’s a little too much for our relatively roasting winter shores, so make sure you choose wisely when seeking snug slippers.