Last minute Christmas present idea: sorted

Need some inspiration for a last minute Christmas present? Lean closer, I’ve got something I to show you.

Need some inspiration for a last minute Christmas present? Lean closer, I’ve got something I to show you.



Shaken Cocktails is awesome and you should not only subscribe yourself but also consider subscribing for a friend for Christmas. Readers of this post get five pounds off their first month’s order with this link or, if you fancy purchasing and gifting more than one box, then make sure you check out the Shaken Gifts page.

Longer version:

The modern world is moving to subscription-based models for just about anything you can think of. From music and films from Spotify and Netflix respectively; to cars and coffee in the shape of Zipcar and Pact – monthly payments for things that you only need the right amount of is without doubt, an over-arching theme of this digital generation.

The latest addition to this revolution is that of the humble cocktail.

And those behind that solution? Shaken Cocktails.


Mastermind behind this, and all-round drinks/digital expert, Mark Jennings, tells me that Shaken Cocktails is a subscription service that, for just £24 per month, delivers… Hang on, let’s just check the website:

  • A different classic each month
    Each kit showcases a classic cocktail. Read about its history, its ingredients and what makes it great. Then we show you how to tweak the classic recipe, making a modern masterpiece.
  • Five drinks, and more
    The kit contains enough premium ingredients to make two classic cocktails, followed by two of a modern variation. Then there’s an extra slug of the strong stuff for you to try neat or on the rocks. That’s four cocktails and a shot, in every kit.
  • Beginner to Expert
    It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or a novice. Our instructions are clear and simple, but we don’t dumb things down – meaning our kits make great gifts for cocktail lovers or for absolute beginners.

So yeah, not bad at all right?

I broke open my first kit a week or so ago and here’s what you get inside:




That last image is the clincher for me; the whole premise of Shaken is that making cocktails at home can be a proper ball ache. You simply can’t buy the ingredients you need without spending over the odds for giant bottles of Campari or vodka or whisky or whatever. Shaken combats that by sending you what are ostensibly medicine bottles filled with the liquor that you’ll need to become a cocktail-making pro.

And they’re super cute to look at too.

On top of that the cocktails themselves are really easy to make. You might need a couple of additional extras like, I dunno, glasses to drink out of and maybe some ice for the mixing process but that’s about it.

Even I managed to get it right.


Hmmmmmmmmmm…. 🙂

Anyway, Shaken is awesome and you should sign up, either for you or for a loved one this Christmas. It’s commitment free (you can cancel at any time) and the team behind it really believe in this being the future of home cocktail making.

Did I mention that readers of this blog get five pounds of their first order by using this special Whatley sign up link? No? OK, well I have now.

Genesis Crafty

Somebody sent baked goods to the office. This is what happened next.

Somebody sent me baked goods.

Genesis Crafty

I say ‘somebody’, what I actually mean is ‘some awesome people working with the six brothers behind Genesis Crafty‘.

In the above box of treats were:

  • One packet of four cheese scones.
  • One packet of mini sultana scones.
  • One packet of six standard pancakes.
  • One packet of chocolate chip pancakes.

First up, said package arrived at the office. Meaning the team wanted in. Obviously, being the kind-hearted chap that I am, I shared the wealth… on the proviso they agreed to writing mini-reviews of every bite.

Foolishly, I only thought of this condition after we’d opened the first and most appealing packet, the chocolate chip pancakes (they didn’t last long).

Hmm. Chocolate.

(seriously, this was breakfast and they were gone in a flash)

However, once I’d realised how famished the team were (and how much they enjoyed the first round) we made a pact to not open any more until our 10:30 coffee break.


Chocolate Pancakes:
Toasting should be strongly advised. Dark chocolate chips were perfectly bitter-sweet, cutting through the comforting stodge of the pancake.’ – Will

Plain Pancakes:
‘Inferior to chocolate chip in every way. Would not eat again without toasting and adding maple syrup.’  – Will
‘Fluffy but with substance. Like an intellectual bunny rabbit.’ – Briony
‘They’re very slappable.’ – Anastasia

‘Satisfyingly cheesy, but a little dry. The food equivalent of the Graham Norton show. Without the glitter.’ – Briony

B & A inspecting...

(Briony and Anastasia are inspecting.. something in the ingredients, I think)

All in all the baked goods from Genesis Crafty were mostly super yummy. They weren’t eaten with the best of accompaniments nor were they warmed up (as we think the pancakes should’ve been) but they were still quite excellent.

If anyone else would like me or my team to review any baked goods in future then please, by all means, get in touch.

Genesis Crafty baked goods are available pretty much everywhere you’d expect them to be.

Go get some.






5 things on Friday #3

Five things of note from this past week. Not as exciting as I’d hoped (I’ve had a week off and, surprisingly, haven’t spend much of it online) but here we go –

1. Rubbish QR Codes.

I spotted this ridiculous QR code placement on the tube earlier this week (note: IT IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACK) and subsequently popped it up on Flickr without thinking about it. Jonathan Waddingham spotted it and, before we knew it, a whole new QRFail blog had been set up.

I love Twitter for this kind of stuff.
Good work, friends.

2. Troll Hunter!
I arrived home yesterday to discover that someone had sent me both the newly-released Blu-Ray of  Troll Hunter as well as a rather funky matching t-shirt. Which in turn meant that last night I finally got to watch a film that I’ve been busting to watch for AGES. You’ll be pleased to hear I was not disappointed and – freebies aside – I’d genuinely recommend seeking it out for its pure scandinavian bonkersness alone.

3. #CommsChat.
The engagement currency post from Jan 11th got a fair bit of pick up [Huzzah!] and as such, Communicate Magazine asked me to host their weekly Twitter chat with my blog post as the theme. Cracking stuff, with some really nice banter too. Worth a look.

4. The Marketing Academy
opened up nominations for their third year of scholars this past week and – having been a part of the successful first year of entrants – I honestly cannot recommend this enough.

If you know of a high-potential, rising star in the field of advertising, communications or marketing, why not nominate them today?

5. Beef Welly!
I love cooking. But last week I had guests over and one particular guest insisted on putting together a Beef Wellington with not only the best damn piece of beef I’ve ever laid eyes on (thank you Ginger Pig) but also the finest homemade meal finesse I ever did see.

It was my first and it was superb. Try it.

5 things on Friday

My mate, Marmite

How do you feel about Marmite?

Me, I love it. In fact I could eat it with a SPOON.
Obviously, some people hate it. I mean REALLY hate it.

But what if, just imagine, you’d gone through your whole life without ever trying it. Ever.

Well, one morning, out in the middle of Damaraland, that’s exactly what we discovered Manzoor had done.

Something which, of course, we had to rectify…

It wouldn’t be a NaVloPoMo post without tipping you off about someone else’s efforts…
So why not go give one of Benny Crime’s videos a whirl.

You’ll never feel the same again…


Chocolate Chilli: The Video

Following on from yesterday’s Chocolate Chilli post, I thought I’d share this video that I created using images that I took with my Nokia N82 (set to ‘sequence mode’).

So this is me making chilli and blogging the recipe at the same time.


And if you’re wondering what the hell ‘sequence mode’ is, don’t worry,
I’ve blogged that too 🙂

Doing things in ‘sequence’ – the hidden Nokia feature

Have a great Easter folks!

Chocolate Chilli? Yum!

Cooking, believe it or not, is a big passion of mine.
I’m surprised I don’t blog about it more often actually, maybe I should change that.
The fact of the matter is: I love it.

About a week ago I made this dark chocolate chilli con carne and tonight, I’m doing it again.
This time round, I’m going to share the recipe 🙂

So, you will need:

Main Ingredients

  • 900g of good quality braising beef
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red chillies
  • Olive oil (for frying)


  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of dried oregano

Cupboardy Stuff

  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 20g dark chocolate
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 2 x 400g red kidney beans
  • Beef/Vegetable Stock

So first get yourself large oven proof pan of some kind; I used a massive metal saucepan. It needs to be biggish with a tight-fitting lid. Got that? Good.
Next, preheat the oven to 150C/130C with a fan/300F/Gas 2.

Cut the beef into 1cm-2cm chunks. Peel and chop your onion and garlic; deseed and chop the chillies.
In the pan, brown off your beef on the hob in a little olive oil in batches of for 2-3minutes and put it to one side. Add a little more oil to the pan and then gently cook the onion, garlic and chillies for a few minutes, then stir in your chilli powder and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Remember your beef? You should do, you only put it down five minutes ago. Put that back in the pan and coat with the rest of your seasonings. Stir in both tins of chopped tomatoes and your two tablespoons of tomato purée and then heat through. At this point, we come to the part you’ve been waiting for:

Now stir in your chocolate :)

Season to taste; salt, pepper etc, put the lid on your pan and place in the oven for 1 hour. Yep. ONE HOUR.
Hungry yet? I know I am. Right, while that’s cooking nicely, rinse and drain your kidney beans. You need to stir these into your pan after the hour is up (adding stock if you think the consistency is too dry).
Whack it all back into the over for a further hour, yes – another hour – or until the beef is tender.

Once finished, serve on a bed of rice and enjoy!