Obviously I’m assuming you’re only reading this for sport. You know, how you buy something and then check out the sale price 2 months later to torture yourself? Well given I think you are far more organised than me, I reckon your Christmas shopping is done. Hey, I reckon it’s not just done, but it’s wrapped and maybe the freezer is stocked with homemade mince pies and treats. So you’re probably only reading this to taunt yourself and see if there’s anything here you wish you’d bought instead of the already wrapped stuff in the spare wardrobe/under the bed/in the garage. I’m hoping for your sake there’s nothing that takes your fancy. Then again, if it does, you could buy it just for yourself. Go on, it’s Christmas.
So I was going to put this into some kind of ‘ideas for the man/woman/small toddler/difficult grandmother in your life’ type affair but decided that I really hate that kind of gift guide. It always assumes over 50s like gardening stuff and teens like small robot dogs. Instead I am giving my haphazard, non-prescriptive gift guide. There’s a heavy emphasis on kitchen paraphernalia but really, if you didn’t expect that, well, I’m questioning your commitment to the relationship. Here we go…
This 12 hole pan is amazing. I’ve had it for about 5 years (I think) and it’s still completely non stick despite heavy use. It leaves the most gorgeous, professional looking grooves on your mince pies/jam tarts/mini Bakewells and it conducts heat so efficiently your bake time is reduced by about a quarter. I love it. It’s expensive but I would use it EVERYTIME over a non ‘lined’ pan, plus it’s Nordicware and with that brand you know you’re buying quality. It’s £37.02 and you can buy it here.
Above, this funny thing is not a frying pan without sides. Oh no, it’s what’s called a ‘cake lifter‘ (stop sniggering). I first used it on the Bake Off and it, along with a cake thermometer tester thing, were the only two things each contestant were given to take away with them at the end of the show. (Along with a cheque for £100 towards ingredients for practising with, I feel I should mention that too). Anyway, it’s incredibly useful not just for lifting cakes and moving them from one place to another without risking them splitting in the middle, but it’s also great at moving baked pastry tarts whether sweet or savoury. It’s sturdy and useful and stores on its side next to all your baking trays. You can get one here for £8.92.
I really struggled with which charm necklace to include here. I bought my mother in law (who despite my best efforts is internet resistant, which does have a silver lining here as I can expose what she is getting for Christmas with no fear of her finding out) a silver necklace with a bell charm and a ‘J’ as her name is Mrs J Bell, of course. This tickled me no end. Anyway, there are SO many great necklaces on the site and all priced at around £30 – 50 for the silver versions. They have gold too. I love them. You can peruse them here.
This book has informed a lot of my parenting. I read it whilst pregnant with son number 1 and my, it made me sit up straight and make notes. I loved it. It explains why and how birth order changes you, how you can change your own script if you’re not happy with it and has lots of pleasing examples (including some celeb ones) to make it all a bit more palatable than your usual self help. Everyone I mention this to as a recommendation either exclaims that they love it already or reads it and well, loves it. You can buy it here for £9.98.
These gloves are amazing. They are meant for use on barbecues but can of course be used inside with a normal boring cooker too. So liberating not to have a cloth oven glove pinned together with a piece of fabric. Love them. You can get them here for £10.77. They go in the dishwasher too. Imagine! Witchcraft.
I know what you’re thinking. You think this is a recommendation for a young lad. You’re wrong. If you think the tie/whisky/novelty shower gel/jumper is going to disappoint the significant adult male in your life can I give you this little anecdote? The happiest I have EVER seen my husband (I think including when I gave birth but let’s gloss over that), was when, one birthday, I booked us into a restaurant with rooms and produced some technic Lego and a bottle of very chilled champagne. He made his Lego; I read the paper. We were happy reader, happy I tell you. Seriously, grown men need toys and Technic Lego is tricky enough to take some time and deem its assembly an adult pursuit. You can buy this one here for under £30. There are loads of good sets though. As with most things, the bigger the better.
One of my pals uses this stuff. She looks about 10 years younger than she is, AND she has a new small baby to look after and she has a job and she has loads of other kids. I don’t think I need to say anything else. Other than you can buy it here for a whopping £46.
If you don’t live near to London and are not visiting pre Xmas then you can order chocolate delights from Paul A Young through this website, yes you do have to order a big box of treats for £49 but really, if you can afford it, you won’t regret it. Paul A Young chocolate is amazing. He’s also a really nice guy. I met him once a food show and he was polite and kind and gave me 10 minutes of his time. We’re not friends or anything, though there is a lot of that in this business: ‘oh yes Paul Hollywood and I are practically blood brothers’ usually means he once nodded at that person and got their name wrong. Back to the chocolate. If you can get to one of his shops then ask the staff for advice. They are most knowledgable. I promise you will love Paul’s chocolates. His Soho shop is always on my list when I visit London.
This dress above is VERY forgiving. I am a size 14 and here I am wearing it (with control tights I hasten to add). Anyway, a fair few people wanted to know where it’s from and how much. Reader, it’s from Primark and was a massive £10. Buy it here.
I had a chat recently with a friend about having bad teeth. She has great teeth of course but she was saying they have had a battering after two pregnancies back to back. I found myself nodding furiously and explaining how my teeth have always needed a lot of TLC. They look alright, but are weak. So I chew a LOT of gum (saliva being nature’s protection against tooth decay – yep I can bore on for England about dental health) and use this toothbrush (we just upgraded). It’s currently just over £55 down from £140 which is such a bargain. I love my electric toothbrush. On the odd time I am away from home and have to leave it for my husband I really notice the difference using a manual one. You don’t know you need one until you invest. (Plus my teeth have had no issues since I started using an electric brush – it’s been 6 years now).
I am always cold so I wear my snowboots for about 8 months of the year. I honestly don’t care that it makes me look a bit of a loon, I like having toasty feet. My current ones have fallen apart (literally) and so I have asked the big man (Father Christmas) for some new ones. These are the ones I covet. Mainly that they have a slightly Chelsea style fur ring, have a farmer like Wellington base and are green in between. And green is my favourite colour. They’re expensive but cost per wear they are not so bad, especially if you wear them for 8 months of the year like I do. I also love their name; Joan of Arctic. I reckon I could conquer the world wearing a boot with a name like that. £119.99 from here.
Of course Adele’s new album is on everyone’s list. £10 here.
Oh come on, you didn’t seriously think I could leave this out? It’s MY book, so really, I ought to think it’s good. If I don’t then we’re in trouble. It’s just under £10 for 100 recipes which isn’t bad going really. And it’s very pretty and ‘timeless’ without a photo of my mug on the front. You can buy it here. I also have my Iceland book out ‘The Power of Frozen’ which is just £2.99 for 45 recipes, in store and on their website here. It isn’t just recipes for frozen food, I know the title might make it sound that way. Every recipe that does use frozen ingredients has alternative instructions for using chilled.
These tins are ace. They fit 8 little brownies in nicely, or lots of little biscuits for eating with cheese. I reckon a festive tin (for just £1.80) from Iced Jems filled with homemade goodies would make pretty much anyone excitable.
Right, that’s it for now. If I have time I will try and do some more this week.
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