By Linda Parker
I’m getting enthusiastic about Halloween and Christmas already …
I’ve been trying out a new piece of kitchen kit over the last few days, and it’s something that I wasn’t sure there was a call for, to be honest. But having suffered various knife-related injuries over the years, I’m happy to report that the Scoopsaw by Chef’n really does the job it’s supposed to. I’ve carved and sawed my way through several butternut squash (in the early-September absence of pumpkins) and it definitely makes it easier and less dangerous job. The scoop section, although it seems to be a pretty standard-looking ‘spoon’, is sturdy enough to make short work of scooping seeds and pith. Can’t wait to get carving and soup-making in pumpkin season!
There’s a new paring knife that is in my ‘favourites’ slot in the kitchen drawer too … it’s the Colori ® Titanium Paring Knife by Kuhn Rikon. Mine has a gorgeous Rose Gold blade, which is ice-hardened Japanese steel with a titanium coating for protection and strength. It is RAZOR sharp, I’m making batches of plum vodka and gin at the moment, and it’s perfect for piercing and slicing very ripe plums in half and popping out the stone. I’m trying two methods, one with whole plums and pierced skins and one with halved, stoned plums. When it’s time for transferring to bottles, which will be in three months’ time, so just in time for Christmas, I think I’ll try the Charles Viancin silicone bottle stoppers – look at the range here. The Poppy design trivets/potholders are also very effective – non-slip and really useful.
In the interest of health and fitness, moving into the new house prompted a clean sweep of cupboards and shopping habits. I’ve been trying out a Jawbone health and fitness tracker, and currently I’m racking up over 10,000 steps per day, which is around 35 miles per week. The thing is, that’s very time-consuming, so I walk everywhere and do the shopping at the same time. And as a result, grocery bills have gone down dramatically. I only buy exactly what we need, (and what can be carried in two bags) and no longer have a fridge-freezer and larder stuffed to overflowing. Look at the Jawbone UP2 here, it has really spurred me on to do more walking, be more careful with my sleep patterns, and generally be more mindful regarding movement and exercise. The wristband buzzes if it doesn’t detect movement within a certain period (mine is set at 15 minutes), indicating its time for a walk around, even if it’s just around the kitchen or garden. The other thing I highly recommend is a standing desk, it’s far better than slouching on a chair and encourages better posture (and I have far less back pain than I used to …)
Interiors-wise, the new paint colours by Earthborn include some very sombre greys, which are perfectly useable and suited to the trend for dark, feature wall colours. The Earthborn range now includes Eco Chic, which is a Claypaint designed for furniture – great news for up-cyclers. Eco Chic is free from acrylic binders, plastics, oils, and is practically VOC-free. Shown here, wall in Kissing Gate, Canvas (against wall) in Eyebright and Hidey-Hole. Table in Hidey-Hole. See the whole range here.
Back to the prospect of Halloween, and I think a spot of spooky retail therapy may be in order… I rather like the selection of Skull candlesticks available at HomeSense at TK Maxx and Sainsbury’s. From left; White Skull candlestick, £16.99, HomeSense; Haunted House tea light holder, £10, Sainsbury’s; Black Skull candlestick, £12.99, HomeSense.
This rattan pumpkin would be great for a front doorstep display, add some twinkly lights for and a couple of real pumpkins too. Wicker pumpkin, £8, Sainsbury’s. If you’re having a Halloween party, perhaps the prize for the best fancy dress could be a Halloween Gift box biscuit card, £20, from The Biscuiteers. For a very weird and wonderful look, add the Raven in Glass Cloche, £12, also from Sainsbury’s.
And finally, the Kings Wood mural from Mineheart might be stretching a Halloween theme a little bit too far, but it’s a beautiful, soothing image and could be just the right element of texture and colour in a brand new white kitchen. Other designs from Mineheart include wallpapers that mimic Vintage Bookshelves, Panelling, Industrial Drawers and Wrought Metal Gates. Well worth a look, see the range here.
PS: The Amazon Dash button seems like a good idea in principle, but won’t it just mean even more delivery vans and lorries on the roads? The temptation to have multiple deliveries will be difficult to resist … Remember last Christmas’s non-delivered parcels due to a vast increase in the numbers of people buying on-line and expecting pre-Xmas delivery.