Too many kids, too little time!

Too many kids, too little time!

Before we were married, my husband used to joke with me that we were going to raise a football team – eleven babies. Little did I know that, while we wouldn’t quite make the numbers for a football team, we’d have no problem fielding our own hockey team – with three sets of twins, we suddenly had our hands very full!

Having a large family with kids at various stages in their development presents all kinds of challenges that are difficult to relate to for most people from smaller families. If you struggle getting one or two kids ready and off to school in the morning, how would you cope with six?

One of the first things that you need to do is to enlist the kids’ help with any task that they can safely do with little supervision. This means things like teaching them to wash and get dressed as early as possible. I have been amazed to see kids as old as eight who are still being dressed by their parents. There’s no way that could happen in our house. In fact, these days the kids will get themselves up on time, shower, get dressed, make and eat their own breakfasts, clean their teeth and get themselves off to school all by themselves. There are various ways to motivate them to do this, but the most effective that we have found is by using collective responsibility. As we need to encourage the older ones to be role models for the younger ones and to get them all to help each other out when necessary we’ll reward the whole group for the good behaviour of one child and also punish the whole group for the misdemeanour of one. This way the children police their own behaviour and only egg each other on to do things they know will bring rewards. Whereas a parent will usually have to break up a squabble between two children in most houses, in our house they are broken up quickly by their siblings.

Nevertheless, there are still very many household jobs which children can’t and shouldn’t do. As I mentioned earlier, they can make their own breakfast – usually cereal and fruit but occasionally a toasted waffle and a warm drink. They’re not quite old enough to be dealing with the oven or pan of boiling oil yet, however. In fact, I myself only tend to use the oven and the hobs on a Sunday when I cook up a traditional family dinner. During the week I save time by chopping vegetables and preparing meat and seasonings which will cook throughout the day in the slow cooker. Once your ingredients are in and you’ve switched it on – that’s pretty much dinner sorted. It’s still healthy and delicious, tender food, just prepared in a few minutes and cooked by itself throughout the day.

When it comes to washing, the children sort their own washing into two baskets – one for lights and one for coloureds. When the baskets are full I’ll put the washer on overnight (that’s when our water rates are cheaper). Of course, there is too much for just one load so the washer is usually on three or four nights a week. The kids will get a reward for hanging out the washing if they get to it before I do. Ironing takes quite some time but I don’t think my children are quite ready to do it for themselves, although this is definitely a skill I will teach them when they are ready. More rewards are available if the kids fold their own clothes and put them away.

I suppose when it comes to hobbies and extra-curricular activities, we are quite lucky that we have three sets of twins. It means that there are always at least two of our children taking part in any one activity, thus reducing any transport or conflicting schedule issues. Organisations like the cub scouts and brownies are great as they not only have their usual meetings and activities but they have their own sports teams and trips with transport covered. Our two oldest are looking forward to joining the Sea Cadets next year which will hopefully be great for building their skill sets, resilience, maturity and self-discipline.

Things like homework are done as a group at a set time. Invariably, the older two have more to do and find it more difficult. Things like this, plus the other responsibilities they have to shoulder make it important to that you show your appreciation for their efforts. This can be done with rewards but I think the best way is to reward responsibility with a degree of independence. For example, our eldest have more freedom than their siblings when it comes to choosing what they do with their free time.

It takes a lot of discipline at first but you really have to think of your parental responsibilities also including being a general manager of the household and the team. Look to responsibly delegate what you can in order to maximise the effective use of your available time. Your reward will be a close-knit and loving, large family.

Taste Tests

Taste Tests

There is no doubt that nowadays food and drinks have a lot of hidden sugar in them. If they don’t have sugar in them, they have to put something else in to take its place.

A lot of people do not know this and the lower calorie, lower fat variations of food and drink could be as bad for you as the higher sugar, additive laden versions.  Education is the key to knowing exactly what you should be ingesting and how to keep your body at maximum efficiency and optimum health.

The best way to ensure what is going into your drinks and food is to make your own.  A juicer is a great place to start and there is an amazing website called: will help you to get started.

My Job

My official title is a taste tester but I do not taste the food myself. I go out and test certain food and drink on the public.

How I usually do it is going into a town or city centre and give away free samples.  The food and drink is not marked up in anyway, I give the samples away to members of the public in return for some feedback in the way of carefully constructed questions. 

The Public

Getting the public to try the samples, no matter what they are, is really not a hard sell. We all love receiving something for nothing and we are always inundated with people wanting to try out our samples.

The samples can be anything, soft drinks and juices, candy, any type of food and it doesn’t stop there, I have tasted deodorants, toothpastes, it really could be anything.

The Challenge 

The challenge for this particular test was, can you tell the difference between low sugar and high sugar juices and soda and low fat and high fat puddings. Can you really tell the difference?  Testing the public without telling them the specifics was a perfect way to get real results.

The Testing 

The fun bit is the tests themselves.  I always really enjoy going out and speaking to the public and asking them to taste things when they don’t really know what it is is always fun.  A bit of humor and charm is always the way to go. 

The Results

The results are used in a variety of ways and extrapolated by experts. The findings can be used for marketing, helping companies to work out what consumers want.  The medical world, doctors and nutritionists usually use our findings for research papers ie: studies have shown that…and sometimes they the results are used to improve and enhance.  We do not judge, the company I work for is independent, we just carry out the tests.  What they are used for is up to our clients.


Over the course of the 10 years I have worked for the company on average, 70% of people cannot tell the difference between full fat and low fat and high sugar and low sugar.  I guess over the years our taste buds have become uneducated and sadly, this gives way to manufacturers trading on that ignorance and giving us things that taste good, but are not necessarily good for us.


It has never been my intention to vilify manufacturers because the ignorance is our own and it is our responsibility to educate ourselves.  We are so used to things tasting artificial products that we now cannot tell the difference between the real flavour of say, an orange and the manufactured flavour of orange. Manufacturers are there to sell a product, so the more educated they are about what we know, what we like etc. the better they can tailor those products to us and ultimately, the more they sell. I collect the findings, collate them and hand them to my boss who then reports up the chain.

I like meeting the public and I enjoy my job and I use the knowledge to educate my friends and family and in some small way help to change their worlds for the better.

Helping to Maintain Grandpa’s Farm

Helping to Maintain Grandpa’s Farm

There were thousands of things that had to be done each and every day after school. Many of these things were written down on a list and attached to the refrigerator with a magnet. I was one of the only grand kids that liked visiting our grandparents and I did so every day after school. I would get off the bus and go straight to their house, as they lived right next door to us in our old neighborhood.

Some days I would walk in the door to find that no one was in the house. Instead they were somewhere on the farm doing something that needed to be done. My grandmother would write up a list and have it pinned to the fridge for me to begin. It mainly consisted of things such as cleaning out an animal pen, or bringing in the eggs from the hen house. There were times where I had to do something challenging such as chop down tall grass by the rabbit pen or go into the woods to dump debris after a storm.

Maintaining the Outdoors

As I became older, I started doing things that were a little more difficult for someone who was only eleven or twelve. I began to drive the tractor around the farm and help feed and water the animals in all locations. My grandparents were very worried when I would go out of site or not be where they expected me to be. Because the farm was very large, they were worried that I would get lost or end up in the woods.

My grandmother would love for me to help in her flower beds because that was the only thing that we seemed to share or have in common. I loved the animals and anything that had to do with outside. She loved her pretty flowers and her house, which was always spotless. The yard looked just as good as the inside of the house and she made sure of that. She loved to decorate with lawn ornaments, especially butterfly related. She had a few gnomes and a small villa type place for dwarf statues that she had purchased at a recent yard sale.

They had the best lawn mower for cutting their grass. It was a zero turn and would cover the entire yard in less than a few hours, including the backyard which was about two acres. Of course I was not allowed to use that until I was much older. At fifteen I was still pushing around an old gas hog of a lawn mower. I was allowed to use the weed eater, only because it was a cheap one and my grandfather had two or three others that he could use in case I was to mess one up. As a child, I would mess up a lot of things because I didn’t know exactly how it worked and was too proud to ask someone.

What I Learned

My grandparents taught me a lot, even if they said very little. They taught me how to care for the farm and for myself. They also taught me how to turn over a profit with selling at the local flea market, which they had done for nineteen years. I learned a lot from my parents, but the knowledge that I learned from my grandparents was to survive with a farm and to learn how to grow vegetables and other foods. This is valuable information and can come in handy in the future.

I am grown now with children, or little helpers, of my own. There are several things that I learned that I would love to pass down to my children, even if it’s just a small garden in the back yard. Teaching the kids how to farm and how to properly manage animals, especially those that produce eggs and milk, is very important. I feel confident that I can pass on the information that was shared with me to my children. Unfortunately my grandfather has passed before they could truly meet and get to know him, but my grandmother is still the sweet lady that I knew her to be years ago to the child version of me and she adores my children.

Everyday tips for living in a high-crime neighborhood

high-crime neighborhood

Nobody wants to live in a crime-ridden area. People often live there out of necessity – for ease of getting to work, low rent, proximity to family and so on. Some people live in neighborhoods that begin to go through tough times; perhaps a major factory closes and suddenly crime starts to increase. Others move into the area, perhaps hoping to get in at the start of gentrification, or simply because they can’t go anywhere else. Whatever the reasons, living in a high-crime area can be a stressful and risky experience and there are definitely things you need to take into consideration that you wouldn’t otherwise need to do elsewhere.

The first thing is to realize that the crime is being perpetrated by a minority of people. Most of your neighbors are just like you, law abiding individuals who are looking out for themselves and each other. That’s why it’s important to get to know your neighbors. They’ll want to know who is living next door to them. These are the guys who can clue you up on the neighborhood – people and areas to avoid, safety tips, what to look out for and how to act. Good neighbors look out for one another, watch each other’s property and so on. If you live on a particularly tough street, you might want to buddy up with your neighbor when walking around. Whatever you do, don’t walk around intoxicated.

High crime areas are usually poor areas and showing off any wealth you might have is asking to be targeted. You should carry a phone with its battery charged, but it should be out of sight. Dress down and wear baggy clothes that can conceal anything of value you might have in hidden pockets. By sticking to well-lit areas and avoiding gang hotspots, especially at night, you reduce the risk of walking into trouble. When driving, never drive with the window down and always leave a car-length gap either side of your car to avoid opportunistic carjackings. Be especially wary at red lights. If your area is associated with a particular gang, find out who their rivals are and don’t be seen wearing anything with that rival’s colors. Plenty of people have been shot for simply wearing the wrong color t-shirt or baseball cap.

If you like to exercise, do it at the gym or drive to a safer area if you like running in parks or at the beach. Running in a dangerous neighborhood can cause all kinds of confusion. Get yourself a good quality treadmill, something like this: It will help you keep fit and the comfort and quality of the machine will make up for the lack of fresh air.

At home, get a dog if possible. The more ferocious it sounds, the better. Dogs can be a nightmare for intruders, so 99% will move on and try to find an easier place to break into. Put up blinds so that nobody can see into your home and make sure the exterior is well-lit. Hoodlums don’t congregate in well-lit areas. If you own a gun, don’t advertise the fact. Some home invasions take place with the specific intention of stealing a firearm. As with anywhere, don’t reach for your gun unless you fully intend to use it. You may think you’re just sending a warning message, but another person will think you intend to fire and you could end up getting shot.

Secure your windows and doors. Deadbolts are the way to go as other types of locks are easy to kick in. A peephole is a good idea, a chain isn’t. Even better is a security camera with an intercom and an internal monitor to show you who is at the door.Doors and windows that are hidden from your neighbor’s view and the street are going to be the most likely places an intruder will try to enter. Block them off entirely if it’s feasible, but don’t compromise your emergency exit.

If you have a mail box or a bell, don’t put your name on it. If you must put your name on it, for whatever reason, try to get away with a slight alteration, a nickname, a spelling mistake or even a blatant lie (such as putting “Sgt.” before a civilian’s name).

Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around. If you have to, stick up for yourself. People pick up on weakness. If you get singled out as weak, you become a target for all the lowlifes in your area.

How to be popular (with real answers)

How to be popular (with real answers)

This is something that all but the most confident or most misanthropic people ask themselves (and occasionally others) at least once in their lives. It’s possibly what students in middle school and high school worry about more than anything else. Yet, when they pluck up the courage to ask a trusted adult for help, they are usually fobbed off with non-answers such as ‘just be yourself’ or ‘there’s a lot more to this life than being popular’. The fact is that the people giving these answers don’t know how to be popular. While it is true that there is so much more to life than being popular, there is no doubt that popularity is something we should strive for. The reason? Once people like you, you have contacts and a network of people who will do things for you, teach you, listen to you and get things done. This could mean the difference between meeting Mr or Mrs right or not, that elusive six-figure job offer, that lawyer who’ll take on your case ‘for old time’s sake’.

Before we look at what makes certain people popular, let’s just be clear about one thing: being popular and being feared are two completely different things. If you terrorize those around you, you may well have a following of people who seem to like you. However, as soon as you show weakness, they will do their best to shut you down so they don’t have to continue living in fear of you. This would never happen to a truly popular person, as their friends would be there to support them in their time of need.

So, let’s get down to it. In order to be popular, people have to see in you what they want to be themselves. If you’re a math genius and a wizard hacker, you’re likely to be popular with the nerds, if you’re someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies, you’ll be popular with those who have been bullied. If you’re a fashion queen, you’ll attract like-minded people. There are qualities, however, which unite all popular people:

Truly popular people are confident but not cocky. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and accept them. They also appreciate those of other people. Confident people are willing to take control and show leadership, but they are not dictators. Popular people listen to others and empathize with them. Outwardly they speak clearly and with authority. They take care of themselves physically. You don’t need to be an athlete for this, even using the treadmill every day (check out will have the effect of improving your body and releasing the endorphins which make you seem happier and more attractive to others.

Being good-looking is a massive bonus, but it won’t make you popular on its own. All you really need to do is to keep yourself and your clothes clean and fresh. Nobody has ever become popular by smelling bad and appearing unwashed. If you are concerned about your appearance, ask someone you trust for honest advice (and don’t let them tell you ‘you look perfect the way you are’). Teenagers, especially, could use guidance on everything from how to deal with acne, when to shave off your first mustache and what type of bra to wear.

People are also drawn towards kind people. If it’s no skin off your nose, do what you can to help those around you. Do something to help in the community and consider it paying for a favour you haven’t yet received. Another big one is honesty and trust. Although it is by no means the easiest path to take, people will respect you for it. Learn this early as an untrustworthy and dishonest person can quickly become very unpopular once their thread of lies and deceit unravels around them.

The last thing we should mention is determination. People are not attracted to quitters. If you throw a tantrum or sulk every time you don’t get what you want, people are going to learn to avoid you. Learn to be resilient, patient and focused and you will probably find yourself with disciples who look at you in awe.

How to survive at home alone with a leg injury

How to survive at home alone with a leg injury

Leg injuries can be far more incapacitating than most people imagine. Not only do you become slower and move more clumsily but tasks such as sitting down can become a logistical nightmare. You lose the use of at least one hand by having to use a crutch or to stabilise yourself. Add on top of that the very real danger of sustaining further serious injuries when negotiating stairs, slippery surfaces and taking a shower and you see that your leg injury is much more hazardous than you initially anticipated.

A hot tip for many who are ‘freshly injured’ is to enlist some help in avoiding use of the stairs. If you can survive without using them, this might be a good idea at first. Convert the sofa into a bed, move clothes and other items downstairs. It might be more convenient to wash standing up by the sink, than trying to climb into the shower.

If use of the stairs is unavoidable, try fitting hand grips in the stairwell by means of which you can push yourself up the steps and use them to support yourself on the way down whilst moving your leg as little as possible. Make sure you always have a mobile phone within arm’s reach. Carry it with you whenever possible in case you need help.

Your toilet arrangements will depend on how bad your injury is. If you’re using a bedpan, you’ll definitely need assistance. If you’re mobile to some extent but can’t bend your knee, support yourself by placing your hands on the wall or a secure fixture and allow yourself to fall onto the toilet seat. You can use the same technique to sit yourself down on a plastic seat in a shower cubicle, but remember to always be extremely careful when doing so.

Consume calcium-rich foods to promote bone healing when you are on your way to recovery. Don’t allow your nutritional intake to suffer. If you can’t get to the shops, see if you can use an online delivery service. If you can’t support yourself in the kitchen, don’t cook. Order something to be delivered until you can be confident using dangerous kitchen appliances.

Studies have shown that consumption of red meat actually encourages loss of calcium, so replace this with fish or fatty white meats. The same applies to coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Just have a frothy hot milk instead.

If you are promoted to use of a wheelchair, there are of course many home alterations you can have carried out in order to accommodate its use. If you expect to be wheelchair-bound for a long time, you might want to look into these. Even if you’re only expecting to have to use the wheelchair for a month or so, you would benefit from the use of a gripping tool – basically a long stick with a grip at one end which opens and closes, allowing the users to pick items up without risking falling out of the wheelchair. Be careful if you use this to take heavy items from high-up cupboards.

Once you are able to walk again, avoid strenuous exercise, especially running on hard surfaces. You’ll need time and exercise to help you rebuild the strength in your leg. Listen to your doctor’s advice. Many people benefit from the use of an elliptical trainer like this one at Indoor Ellipticals, which allows them to perform low-impact exercise to build up the strength and resistance in their legs. The circular exercising motion is much easier on the joints than a treadmill or many exercise bikes.

Once you are able to leave the house, be particularly careful to avoid slipping on kerbs or surface irregularities. Avoid running and if you feel any discomfort, stop immediately and find another way. If you are using crutches, be aware that there are many ignorant people who will expect you to make way for them. Don’t put yourself in danger as a result. If a dispute arises, most people and law enforcement will support an injured or disabled person’s right of way over an able bodied person.

Just as others will be patient with you, be patient with yourself and you will come back from your injury even stronger.

The Growing Trends of Technology in the Classroom

Trends of Technology in the Classroom

There’s probably no better realm in which to actively utilize the current trends in technological advancement than the classroom. Education has increasingly embraced the tools available to us in this digital age, with many school boards and departments recognizing their popularity and potential as learning mechanisms. You can’t argue with the numbers, half of children between the ages of 5 and 8 are already familiar with how to use mobile devices, 77% of parents feel that tablets stimulate learning and creativity in their child, Apple has fully embraced the demand for learning geared towards kids, as 72% of their top-selling apps in Itunes  are those built for pre-schoolers and elementary school students. With the trends headed in this direction, educators and administrators are learning how to incorporate technology into the learning process with a particular focus on mobile devices, video, and remote connectivity which is bringing the classroom, well, out of the classroom.  These methods are getting children more engaged in their school work, presenting it in a format that is already familiar to them while also helping to develop their minds in cognitive, emotional, sensory, and communicative ways. These have become essential elements of the educational process from elementary all the way up to high school, and both are playing an increasingly vital role in how classwork and homework gets done by offering a world of teaching options to enhance the learning process as a whole.

Mobile devices have gained an almost unprecedented popularity in today’s society and these tiny pocket-sized computers have taken their place as vital components of daily life. For better or worse is up for debate, but there’s no arguing over the ease and portability that mobile devices have afforded us in performing a variety of important tasks for business and leisure. As a result of their acceptance, grade school children are now carrying around smart-phones and tablets, the latter being used by 50% of students across all class grades.

The tablet is second only to the laptop for school use and many school systems around the country offer access to tablets for use in the classroom. Tablets provide students with all forms of media in the palm of their hand and while that may pose the threat of distraction, it also affords students the ability to conduct more comprehensive research into their school subjects in much the same manner as reaching over to the bookshelf for an encyclopedia or textbook. With a tablet, the student has ingress to a near limitless supply of references and resources instead of just one or two books in the classroom. Though the use of tablets in classrooms requires discipline in order to make sure the device is fulfilling its intended purpose, the benefits far outweigh the possible obstacles to including mobile technology in the school curriculum.

It’s not just the conventional classrooms either. There’s been a growing resurgence of the old “shop” class in high schools around the country but with a new twist. In keeping with the advancements of technology in the real world, schools are introducing the latest products to deliver a high-tech education. Students now have the ability to use wonderful items like 3-D printers and more advanced versions of typical tools with unique features such as this miter saw at These traditional workhorses now feature higher capacities for power and laser sighting, among other attributes that make them perfect for the classroom that favors innovation and forward-thinking technological trends.

High-speed internet connectivity has also had a profound impact on our everyday lives and routines, while also proving to be yet another invaluable tool for educational purposes. A large majority of us rely on high-speed internet for pretty much everything online these days. Gamers know it’s the only way in which to play games with other gamers, streaming Netflix is almost useless without it, and even surfing the web or conducting any type of business via online portals makes it all so much easier to accomplish. It also allows for multiple users to connect their many devices along the same modem or network while avoiding any slow loading of their preferred content. 3G and 4G speeds make the use of mobile devices quicker and easier to navigate while presenting anything to a class via online sources through high-speed connections allows for media to be viewed without any glitches. Outside of the classroom, students with faster connections are able to finish their homework quicker and with better accuracy so when they are back in class they have the tools they need to succeed by handing in complete homework that earns higher grades. Internet connectivity also provides teachers with the access to online learning resources and educational social networking platforms, like Schoolify which can play a strong role in class curriculum.

These are just some of the many technological advances that are available to schools across the country to offer today’s student a learning experience that keeps pace with the methods by which they interact with one another. There is simply no reason for a child to figuratively “go back in time” when they enter their school. With all of the techno-gadgets that they enjoy at home and outside of the classroom, school systems have no excuse but to try and incorporate these technologies as well. The results are simple, students are more engaged, more open to learning, and enjoy the process far more than if they are shackled to the old-school ways of receiving an education.

Top 5 – Stand Mixers

Stand Mixers

If you are in the market for a stand mixer, chances are you will do some research on the internet.  You will need to use a site you can trust for this. I have always found the best way to guarantee this, is to look at reviews and use your common sense, don’t rush into it, take your time and always make sure if you buy online you use a site that has a secure payment page, always look for a padlock on the top right of the page, next to the web address, if there isn’t a padlock or the padlock isn’t locked, do not use it.

In order to help you with your choice, here is a top 5 of the best stand mixers on the market today.

Number 1 

Premium Brand – Oster 250 Watt Hand/Stand Mixer (Black and Grey)

  • 6 speed settings
  • Power boost switch for turbo speed
  • Convenient one touch beater eject lever
  • Detachable head from the stand
  • Durable full size beaters and dough hooks
  • 5 year warranty

This stand mixer costs a little more but is totally worth it. It mixes well, has a power boost with a turbo speed and the bowl is easily removable as the head tilts. This is a reliable and powerful machine, suitable for someone who would use a mixer regularly.

Number 2

Long Warranty – Phillips HR1565/50 Hand Mixer (White)

  • Stand mixer, cord storage clip
  • Dough hooks
  • Turbo function
  • 400 W power
  • 10 year warranty
  • 3 L rotating bowl

Phillips stand by their brand (as usual) and provide a 10 year warranty with this mixer. It has everything you would expect from a mid range machine. It has a medium sized bowl; this may be a problem if you have a large family. The motor is quite powerful and the attachments mix well, this machine is a good all rounder.

Number 3 

Sturdy – Panasonic MK-GB1 3 Litre, 200 Watt Stand Mixer

  • 3 litre rotating bowl/detachable as hand mixer
  • 5 speed selection
  • 200 watt motor/hands free mixing
  • Egg beater and dough hook
  • 1 Year warranty

The Panasonic is a sturdy machine. The bowl is made of reinforced plastic and the machine fixes to your kitchen counter top, so it doesn’t move around when you mix. It comes with 8 attachments and has a one year warranty that will give you piece of mind if anything goes wrong.

Number 4

 Powerful – Sage by Heston, 250 Watt 6 Speed Stand Mixer (White/Grey)

  • 8 speed settings
  • Power boost switch for turbo speed
  • Convenient one touch beater eject lever
  • Detachable head from the stand
  • Durable full size beaters and dough hooks

This machine was designed by the world famous chef, Heston Blumenthal. It is beautifully designed and looks great. It has 8 speed settings, so would suit most mixing needs. It is powerful and large, so would suit a larger sized family. 

Number 5 

Budget – Hamilton Beach 63326 6 Speed, Stand Mixer by Hamilton Beach

  • 6 speed
  • Detachable head
  • 13 attachments

This is the cheapest of the top 5. It has 13 attachments; this machine is not for heavy use but would be more suited to once or twice per week. It is powerful enough to mix most things and has six speeds.  It has a 2.5 litre capacity bowl, so would be suitable for a family of 2, 3 at a push.


There is a size, attachment, powerful, large, small machine out there to suit every need and every budget. Just ensure before you buy, you work out what your requirements are and go to a trusted, safe website.

Safety Concerns When Using a Toaster Oven

Toaster Oven

When using a toaster oven, most people never encounter any problems. An important thing to keep in mind is that a toaster oven is essentially a small oven, and it will get hot!

The fact that your toaster oven is an electrical appliance means that you need to be careful of electrocution and burns. Always use a modern appliance, click here to see the best toaster in 2016.

Therefore, it is important to touch on some basic safety measures that should be taken whilst using a toaster oven to protect yourself, others, and your home.

Instruction Manual

You would think that reading the instruction manual is common sense, but many of us don’t want to be bothered and feel that we are smart enough to figure things out on our own. This may be true, and most toaster ovens are pretty straight forward and easy to figure out, but please remember, instruction manuals can provide a wealth of information and are usually very helpful in learning how to use the toaster oven in a safe and practical way.

You should always read the instruction manual for any new appliance you purchase. This will not only ensure that you are taking proper precautions, but also ensure you get the most out of your toaster oven.

Leave Some Room 

The lower end models that have less insulation have a tendency to get hot, therefore it is very important you leave enough room around the toaster oven, a general rule of thumb is to leave about 8 inches around the appliance, but refer to the manual for the manufacturer recommendations. This will allow for adequate air circulation and also help prevent any possible wall discoloration.

A simple way to avoid fires or accidents is to ensure you place the toaster oven away from flammable materials such as drapes, curtains or fabrics. You should also place the toaster oven on a solid and stable surface, not on a table cloth.  You should also make sure that all food particles and are clear from the area, and that the oven is clean and ready for use.

Plug & Cord Safety 

To protect yourself from electric shock, do not immerse the toaster oven, power cord or plug, in any kind of liquid.  Also, it is advisable to buy a toaster oven that comes with a 3 prong plug that has a grounding wire.  In the event of an electrical short circuit, grounding will reduce the risk of electrical shock.

Caution When Handling 

You may think this sounds obvious, but any cooking appliance generates heat. Therefore, caution must be taken when placing/removing food or handling the oven. The interior and exterior will become hot during and after cooking, so be sure to be careful when handling. Always allow the appliance to completely cool before moving or storing.

An easy way to avoid burns is to ensure you always wear oven mitts. It is recommended that these should be worn even when changing settings or touching the dials.

Lots of the food we buy today comes in a huge amount of packaging. Be sure that you have removed all flammable materials, like cardboard and plastic, before you place the item in the oven. If using ceramic or glass pans or dishes, make sure they are oven safe to avoid cracking.

If you are using dishes that have a lid, always ensure that it is in a safe working order. Some dishes can create an incredible amount of pressure and this can increase the risk of spillage and cracking.

Never insert metal utensils into the oven, not only can you damage the heating elements, you are putting yourself at risk of an electric shock.


The most obvious thing before cleaning is to ensure the machine is off and the plug is out of the socket.

Only use soft cleaning cloths. Metal scourers can leave small metal deposits, and they also scratch the surface. Clean the oven on a regular basis, ensuring all food deposits and crumbs are removed.

Disney Mickey Mouse Waffle Maker

Disney Mickey Mouse Waffle Maker

My 7-year-old son is a real Disney fan.  As a family we have all been to Disneyland in Florida and Euro Disney.  My son is absolutely obsessed with Mickey Mouse. His bedroom is covered in Mickey merchandise.  Wallpaper, curtains, duvet cover and soft toys.  You name it, he has got it and he is always looking for more.

I wanted to buy him something for doing so well at school, he came top in his math set that term and I was really struggling for gift ideas.

I searched the internet for weeks to find something suitable and wanted to get something that my son didn’t have already. I came across some Mickey Mouse flip waffle maker reviews online.  As present ideas go, this isn’t the first thing that came to mind. I was looking for maybe a Disney computer game or t-shirt but when looking at the positive reviews and the fact that Mickey Mouse’s face is inside the machine and out, I knew my son would love it.

I ordered it on the internet and when I opened the box to look through and check everything was in order, I was pleasantly surprised. The external casing is beautiful; it has a print of Mickey Mouse’s face on it. For a machine that is most likely mass produced, it is really well made. It has solid controls and although compact, the machine is a lot heavier and more solid than I thought it would be. The plates look sturdy and it certainly should last for a while as it looks reasonably durable.

Machine Specification

It makes one large Mickey Mouse face waffle at a time and has 800 watts of power. Quite powerful for a small, domestic machine. It has a red electric signal to tell you the waffle cooking is complete and you can use it with any waffle or pancake batter.

It has an internal Mickey Mouse design and a non-stick cooking surface. It has various heat settings, a cord that easily wraps around the machine neatly and rubber feet so it doesn’t slide whilst on the surface of wherever you are using it.

Lots of Fun! 

It is small and compact, cleans well and as the plates don’t heat up to a dangerous heat, I let my son, under close supervision, use the machine. The waffle maker makes waffles in the image of Mickey Mouse and they do actually look like Mickey too, not just a blob.

My son loves making waffles and covers his with sprinkles, banana, honey, chocolate and various other toppings.  Sometimes altogether and sometimes one at a time. He really loves the machine, and what is great, is we have a really nice family time together when we make the various waffle deserts. 


My family and I have now become waffle experts.  Trying to mix things up a little, my husband, son and I have little competitions to see who can make the best waffles and pancakes. We add various spices to our batter.  Sometimes we add a little sugar to the waffle to crisp them up and we are becoming quite inventive with some of our batter recipes, toppings and overall waffle creations. As this machine has a consistent heat and has a light to indicate when the waffles are ready, it makes really well cooked waffles and pancakes that are absolutely delicious.


Seeing your family having so much fun making Mickey shaped waffles and pancakes would make this a worthy investment alone. I have to admit because of the lower price range, I thought it would be of a cheap standard but that is simply not the case. This machine is solid, easy to clean and makes really great food.  I really have been pleasantly surprised and if anything happens to it, I will definitely invest in another. Happy waffle making!