Before you wondered what on earth has happened to this ‘Things I Discovered’ series, I thought I’d better get one together. This freelance writing lark is wonderful, but it doesn’t half wreck havoc with one’s blog, and so the thing that went out the window most noticeably last year was this series (it takes surprisingly long to put one of these together).
But those lovely little finds don’t go away, so I’ve decided to do a quarterly/seasonal one hoping that’s a tad more realistic. To make up for such a long time between drinks, I have a few treats in store for you….so, what you waiting for? Get discovering!
If yours is a household where the word ‘Minecraft’ lights up your children’s eyes but dulls yours, then this find is for you. You are going to so love me for this. Or rather her. Mine Mum is an Australian blogger who should be awarded a medal of some kind for writing this blog that is in my opinion THE go-to place for befuddled parents who don’t know their ‘mods’ from their ‘mobs’. Through articles and inventories, she explains how minecraft is great for your kids, and also not so great; how to handle the obsession with it; the difference between the 3 types (Pocket Edition, Play Station and Computer version) AND even answers your questions if you email her. A God-send! Find her @becoakley.
Family Games: Bananagrams
Many of you may already know of this canny, brilliant game that is a cross between scrabble and crosswords but is much quicker, and can be played anywhere. After too many people kept telling me how much my ‘wordy’ daughter would love this, it went on the Christmas list, and my very ‘wordy’ Mum promptly bought it for us. And we love it. It has become the game of choice this winter, the one we play in front of the fire on a cold Sunday evening, even knocking ‘Crazy Eights’ card game off its top perch.
Not only my 10 year old daughter, but my 8 year old son totally love it, and are scarily good at it – the girl has almost beaten my brilliant mum at it! Here’s is snap of one of the banagrams my son came up with – the rare one that doesn’t have a word relating to toilet humour!
Coming in a handy little Banana shaped cloth bag, its also ideal for taking with you when you go for a family meal out. Those ever-present colouring pens and paper are now looking a tad redundant….
Home: Non-rusting shower caddy by SimpleHuman
If, like me, you wonder if the word ‘non-rust’ and shower caddy are oxymorons, THIS is your answer. Ok, ok, its not cheap at £99.00, BUT it’s so comprehensive, practical and stylish, its likely to be the only caddy you’ll need to buy for your bathroom – at least for 5 years, if the clever designers at stylishly-named SimpleHuman are true to their word. Made of ‘corrosion-resistant materials’, it apparently waves goodbye to that pesky orange rust. I have high hopes, but as it comes with a 5 year warranty (yes, 5 years!) I’m happy to bank on that.
Your O/H is going to love it too as it requires NO DRILLING, and no useless suckers either (here is where reference to O/Hs stop 😉 ) as it works by a tension-spring system, standing between your bath or floor and ceiling. And you can place the 3 baskets anywhere you like. Here’s a shot of it in our not-quite-so-stylish bathroom:
It’s also got some really neat features like hangers for your flannels, holes for you to place your shampoo bottles upside down in when the contents gets low, and places to hang shavers or dry your swimming costume on (well, that’s what I do, not sure it was intended for that).
As you can tell, I’m more than a teeny bit happy with this. Does a little jig. (What has my life come to?)
PS I bought this from Lakeland, not directly from SimpleHuman as I was buying something from there anywhere (did I just admit that?!) but its the same price.
Kids Read: The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell
I bought this book for my daughter as her Christmas book based on the recommendation of Helen’s daughter over at Actually Mummy. She’s almost the same age as mine, and clearly has similar reading tastes (she adored Katherine Rundell’s The Rooftoppers which we reviewed here in May). My daughter totally treasured this book. It’s written by a young Norwegian woman, yet another frighteningly clever young thing like Rundell, whose imagination is clearly as wild and wonderful as the main character, for whom imagination is a key part of the storyline. I guess its in the ‘magical fantasy’ genre, although the quality of the writing and subject matter make it distinctive from anything else my daughter’s read. I only read a small part of it so I can’t do a through review, and my daughter didn’t jump at the chance to write it, so you can check out what Helens’ daughter said about it here. Echoes of Narnia and Lord of the Rings are strong.
Grown up Read: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
As this came out a few years ago, some of you may already be fans, but it’s such a gem I had to write about it in case you’ve not yet had the pleasure. The storyline sounds ridiculously ‘unlikely’ to those who’ve not read it (a retired Englishman who walks the length of England from south Devon to north Northumbria to save a long-lost colleague from terminal cancer). But start this novel, and you’ll not only find it hard to put down, but find it to be an endearingly real book that deals with some very real modern (and timeless) issues. The power and nature of ‘faith’, modern consumerism, Britishness, marital and father-son relationships, and the impact of child abandonment are all handled sensitively and deftly by Joyce. Ultimately its story of healing and re-discovery in the twilight years of life.
Health: Aluminium and Coffee – uh, uh
We love our coffee in this household. You know, the dark, strong type. We’ve always used a stove-top ristretto Italian thing that serves better coffee than the most expensive machines. The one we’ve used for the past 15 years (26 for my husband) is one he bought in Australia before he shifted over here to find an English rose (he found a gerbera instead….).
Anyway, its so old that for the past year or so the handle has been giving way, and after much persuasion I went out to get a new one. After turning his nose up at the hexagonal one I produced from the bag, the design snob my O/H did a bit of searching around on the net to find a more aesthetically pleasing one. In the process we discovered reviews that told us that aluminium and coffee don’t go. In fact, the acid in the coffee mixing with aluminium is harmful for your health. Although possible links with dementia isn’t dead proven, I’m not taking any more risks after 15 years of daily drinking from it (my brain is showing far too many signs of middle-age muddle as it is). We found it surprisingly hard to find one that was stainless steel and didn’t cost the earth, but we found this by Grunweg, which so far has proven just fine. We had to buy it from Amazon as we’d exhausted all other avenues…
Let me know if you’ve heard otherwise about this latest ‘will make you lose your mind earlier than normal’ thing. No doubt, I’m sure someone else has done research to refute it….
So, that’s all folks! I’m not doing a linky thing any more, but please leave me any comments or tell me about anything you’ve discovered lately that you love and make family life that bit easier and fun.