16 May 2011

Useful Gadgets

Q. Why do I browse through useful gadget catalogues?
A. In the hope that a useful gadget can be found.

Admittedly some of the things are old ideas tarted up, and some are expensive improvements, which is great, but a lot of the newer inventions (newer?) are simply a waste of time and money. Most useful gadgets only replace a cheaper method of achieving the same result. I was brought up in the age of improvisation, often proving that the age old adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ is perfectly true.

Take the bra strap, for example. Most women have problems with the slipping strap; it’s all to do with poor posture or badly fitting bras or one boob being larger than the other. If you measure the straps of a bra you’ll find they’re both the same length, therefore you must be ever so slightly malformed. I’m not saying which applies to me but years ago I found the answer in micropore tape. A small narrow strip placed crossways on the strap and pressed directly onto the skin achieved miraculous results at little cost. It’s wonderfully light and unseen under the lowest neckline. In the useful gadget brochure there’s a roll of sticky tape that costs the earth. A couple of years ago I saw some of this in our local store and decided to try it. Mistake! To start with, being double sided tape, it was very fiddly and it wasn’t long before the skin on my shoulders developed a hideous itchy rash. Lesson learned!

How about hooks attached to kitchen drawers that allow you to hang plastic bags, open ready for us to deposit our rubbish. Excuse me? Do I really want my rubbish in full sight?

There are magic stones at £7 a throw alleged to keep your grill pan in pristine condition. What’s wrong with good old long-lasting wire wool at a fraction of the price?

How about the staple free stapler that doesn’t secure papers. Yes, I fell for that one.

I’m curious about the comfortable hat designed to cover hair rollers and ensure a comfortable sleep! Fortunately I don’t use rollers in my hair so I don’t need such a luxury.

I read with interest the description of the handle that resembles the handle of a grill pan. It is purported to grip any size hot and full casserole dish so you can chuck out your oven gloves or pot holders. Is there anyone out there who can honestly say they remove a hot and probably heavy dish with one hand? Don’t you need two hands to steady the dish on its outward journey from the oven? Would you trust a single handle on a hot dish full of beef stew, or lamb for that matter. Oh, I forgot to mention the design of this handle; it has a gripper which you have to keep pressed whilst drawing out the hot dish, otherwise the whole lot will go crashing to the floor. If you’re tempted, my advice is don’t chuck away the pot holder … you might need it when you’ve successfully withdrawn the casserole and are about to plate-up, unless of course you can do everything one handed.

Have you come across a sugar dispenser designed to release one teaspoon of sugar at a time. According to the blurb in the useful gadget catalogue this prevents you adding too much or too little to your coffee! What if you only want half a teaspoonful?

Then there’s the musical kitten mug… no not me. I’m talking about a beaker that meows like a cat and is said to ‘gently wake you and give your breakfast more flavour.’

Where can I put my sauce covered spoon? On a spoon rest, of course! That’s sensible but I’m wondering how I managed to cope all these years by just using a pretty saucer. I guess the idea behind this is merely to pretty up the kitchen.

Suction baskets? I’ve yet to find one that actually stays put. Of course, you may know different.

A cat that is unobtrusive and useful? Sounds good! In actual fact it’s a door peg in the shape of a black cat that hangs from the top of a door, on which you can hang your garments or towel. Unobtrusive?

My best find in a useful gadget catalogue was the Essential Kitchen Item, an all-in-one easy grip opener with lots of tricks up its sleeve. With it I can remove freshness seals, pull lids off flip-top tins, open all sized bottles, plastic and metal screw-on container lids, and open pouches. This I had to have. It took exactly six weeks to arrive and the cost of many telephone calls. The parcel, when it came, also included a free gift … a battery operated digital alarm clock with various attributes like showing date and temperature. It can be hung on the wall, which is good because the figures are huge. Unfortunately there are two problems (a) it doesn’t work even on fully charged or new batteries and (b) I don’t want it.

Any ideas?


  1. a good gadget...i think it is the james bond in me...have this think called a gilhouie which is ald as dirt but opens any jar, can etc...its rather like a wrench for the thing ever...

  2. HYSTERICAL post, Valerie!

    "Then there’s the musical kitten mug… no not me."


    This post reminded me of an old I Love Lucy episode where she could not resist buying household gadgets. In it, she purchased something called the Handy-Dandy Kitchen Slicer and it didn't work. Ricky was furious because she wasted a whole $3.95 - HA!

    I'm not one for buying gadgets myself, however the Essential Kitchen Item, an all-in-one easy grip opener with lots of tricks up its sleeve sounds awesome! I have the worst time opening glass jar lids, so I think this item would be one I would try!

    Have a great day, you kitten, you! :)

  3. Hilarious! Most of those gadgets aren't worth the money spent on adertising them I've found.

  4. Excellent post, Valerie. I have to say though, the sugar dispenser has come in very handy in our house. Whereas Paul once used to end up with half a bag of sugar on his wheetabix in the morning, he now knows that turning the sugar shaker upside down twice gives him the right amount and life has become just that little bit easier (and healthier) :-)

  5. Great post Val !
    You could have a second career
    as a reviewer.
    Your humor is infectious....still smiling!,

  6. Great post Valerie, had me chuckling all the way through. I used to buy a lot of those clever gadjets years ago, but now I find I am reverting back to the good old standbys.

  7. haahaaa :) gadgets are good but unfortunately as you (hilarious post Val) put it not always reliable.


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