Retail therapy – or consumerism gone mad (a confession)

19 11 2011

I used to love stationery. Writing paper (Basildon Bond blue of course), notebooks, pencils and pens, fountain pens and ink (purple and indigo), file organisers, sticky tags, post-it notes. You name it, I hoarded it. At one stage when we moved house and my husband for some reason packed up the office. He decided that I still owned every piece of blank paper and every coloured pencil I had ever had from primary school onwards. It is quite possible that this is true. Why would you throw blank paper and perfectly functional pencils out?

On shopping expeditions and in spare time I could be found lurking in the David Jones stationery section – admiring the leather of the Filofaxes (my favourite was the faux ostrich-skin), flicking the rolodexes, test driving Mont Blanc fountain pens, flicking through the range of diaries and organisers with all their many options. Ahhh, bliss…..

However I have recently found a new passion. Possibly because my office is full to overflowing (I really need to get rid of those coloured pencils – I never use them), but also possibly because Masterchef has introduced me to a new category of desirable trinket.

The kitchen appliance.

Yes, I blame Masterchef. The first purchase was a little hand whisk which had a ball within a ball inside it. Gorgeous! And relatively cheap.

The, in rapid succession, some rubber heart shape moulds for cooking pancakes, a cast iron fondue set, some really fancy cake pans that turn out cakes like a giant rose or a castle (takes about three batched of cake mix per cake). And since my stovetop died and I bought a new induction one, new pans that actually work on the induction stove (those were a necessity). I have a Kenwood Chef mixer from the 1970s (it was my mother’s – apparently she has given up cooking) so although I lust after the gorgeous little mixers you can get these days, I know the Kenwood is unlikely to die anytime soon. It’s a heavy duty workhorse, that thing. Nonetheless, I do find myself lurking in the mixer section, admiring their smooth curves, glossy colours and variable beater options…. and I am avoiding buying a pasta maker because I know I will only make pasta once and then never again. See? Some commonsense prevails.

I do have a couple of impulse buys that have turned out to be surprisingly useful. The George Foreman grill – purchased only because I wanted the vegetable steamer and they were cheaper as a set. Turns out I never use the steamer but the grill is fabulous and gets used so often it lives on the counter top. The pancake maker – I thought it would be the same as a frying pan, but the flat pancake stone (and the particular recipe that comes with it) makes amazingly fail-proof crepes. The breadmaker that makes such yummy bread and makes the entire house smell so welcoming that I have to put it away before I overdose on carbs. The latest coffee-maker – after a couple of false starts I have found a coffee-maker that works quickly and makes a nice cuppa. By the jug was cheaper but I was never going to drink THAT much coffee (particualrly after it has stewed on the heater for a few hours). The slow cooker – gets used almost every weekend to make up a giant casserole to feed the family for the next few days (meat sauce with potato, meat sauce with pasta, meat sauce with rice, meat sauce under pastry to form a pie – you get the picture).

And the not so good? The juicer that makes such a huge sticky mess and then requires the entire appliance to be broken apart and washed, then reassembled. Who can be bothered? The fondue set – how often does one really have a fondue? (My cardiologist would like an answer to this question.) The hotdog maker. OK, so it drills a hole in the hotdog buns, and steams the popdog sausage – but really, I’d prefer a real sausage with taste. I’m never quite sure what I might be eating in the popdog (and yes, I know the same could be said for the sausage but at least a sausage appears to be recognisably meat).

Ah, first world problems….

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