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The Return of The Great British Bake Off

Thursday, 25th August 2016

Oh my, our favourite reason to be smugly British has returned: The Great British Bake Off.

     
We’re only on episode one and already it’s a corker. #Jaffagate was trending on Twitter, the innuendos were flowing, the cake mix was separating and/or clumping, tears were running… and through it all there was evidence of what makes the Bake Off so wonderful; all the contestants were so pleased for everyone else. You can barely tell that GBBO is, in fact, a competition.

As we’re (nearly) all obsessed with the programme in the Qwerkity office, we thought we’d do a few Bake Off highlights for you each week. Beware, Qwerkiteers – here be spoilers.



Our favourites from last night’s episode are:

 

Candice

 

 

 

We have a sneaking suspicion that Candice will actually be very good. Nerves may have played a small part in her show stopper being slightly under baked. We did particularly enjoy her throwing her first attempt at the Genoese sponge across the tent like a Frisbee.
 

Best moment:
 

Mel: Where did you get orange juice from?!

Candice: An orange…


Prettiest bake:

The Show Stopper. Shame it was under baked.

 

 

Val


  AKA the Cake Whisperer (or Listener)


We’re curious as to how many people now want to adopt Val as their honorary grandmother? We think she may be the one to go next week, unless she really steps up her game.


Best moment:

Listening to her cakes to check if they’re cooked.


Prettiest bake:

 The drizzle. Less drizzle and more icing, but such pretty frosted flowers on top!

 

Our honorary Star Baker: Selasi. Such a cool customer! Not even a hint of panic, even when he forgot to add cinnamon to his drizzle cake. At the moment, he’s our one to watch.



Other highlights:
 

  • “Four Fruit Frosting”: try saying that five times after a glass or two of wine. We dare you.
  •  
  • “Make your drizz the shizz.”
  •  
  • Mary’s face when Paul dunked his Jaffa Cake in his cuppa.





Long live Bake Off! And remember:
  



Written By Laura-Anne

Afternoon Tea Week

Wednesday, 10th August 2016

Hey Qwerkiteers! Did you know that it’s Afternoon Tea Week? It’s the perfect excuse to stock up on scones, jam, and cucumber sandwiches. The only real question is whether you put the jam or cream on your scone first?




 Cake Stand




What is afternoon tea without a tiered display of your finest cakes? (You get extra brownie points if you bake them yourself. Get it? Brownie points? Never mind…) You can make this cake stand extra special by personalising it.




 

Personalised Heart Bowls




Continuing with a personalised theme, why not add these sweet heart shaped bowls to your tea table? The bowls are a lovely way to serve a variety of jams for your scones. The dishes come with a bamboo board on which you can have a message inscribed.

 

Birdsong Mugs




This beautiful set of four mugs is our latest offering from British artist, Madeleine Floyd. The bone china mugs feature some of our favourite birds, including the blue tit, bullfinch, blackbird and robin. They’ll add the perfect British accent to your afternoon tea.

Handmade Stoneware Jug



 



Whether you like cream or milk in your tea, no tea party table is complete without a sweet jug. Our handmade stoneware jugs come in small (200ml) or medium (500ml). There’s even a mug to match!   



    


For more afternoon tea ideas, have a look at our Tea Time Category.

 

Written By Laura-Anne

Our Office Favourites

Monday, 8th August 2016

Today we've quizzed our Buying Team about their favourite products!


Happy Monday, Qwerkiteers! For today’s hot seat, we asked the Buying Team to take a short break from their Christmas Selection meeting (we know – it seems ages away to us too!) to have a cup of tea and tell us all about their favourite products.

 

Jenny’s favouriteThe Hedgehog Igloo




“I just love it! It’s so sweet, plus you get to help out your local wildlife. Hedgehogs are great to have in your garden – they’re nature’s slug repellent. This little igloo gives hedgehogs a safe haven from predators, and they’re such fun to watch as they snuffle around your garden at twilight.”


Katy’s favouriteThe Table-Top Beech Easel




“This is my favourite, and I don’t even paint! I’d have it as a picture frame, or I’d rest a mirror on it and keep my makeup in the little drawer. It would make a lovely décor accent in any room. I might buy a half finished canvas and pass it off as my own!”


Chloe’s favourite The “Sunday Roast” Carving Board

“You can’t beat a good Sunday roast (even in the middle of a heatwave, I want my roast dinner) and just looking at this board makes my mouth water! It makes a gorgeous centrepiece for any Sunday table. It’s the first thing I’ve bought for my new kitchen.”


Nic’s favouritesExit Spray, and the 15-in-1 Decorator’s Tool


Nic’s gone controversial; she’s torn between two products, so we decided to be nice and let her have both.

“I’ve just moved house, so I have decorating on the brain right now. Rather than go out and buy loads of different tools and then have to find storage for them, I’ve just got this. Job’s a good ’un! The Exit Spray is just brilliant – it really works! The sooner you apply it to a stain, the more effective it is.”





 To be fair, we do now have an office bottle of Exit Spray.  I, in particular, am very good at throwing food down my front…


 

Written By Laura-Anne

Treats For Toes

Tuesday, 2nd August 2016

It may be raining, but it’s still (technically anyway) summer, and with summer comes the pampering of little feet. So, Qwerkiteers, we’ve picked a few of our favourite treats for your little piggies. Off to market!



Repairing Socks


Let’s start with the basics: moisturising. These super soft socks are infused with a fruity fragranced serum (peach, green tea, vitamin E and natural fruit extracts) which leaves your feet feeling silky and divine! Just rub the serum on your feet, pop the socks on and wait for twenty minutes before removing them. We definitely recommend wearing the socks, putting your feet up and having a lovely cuppa. Blissful!

Massage Slipper


Even the extremely ticklish like a good foot massage, especially after a hard day’s work. This slipper comes in two designs: Hedgehog (adorable) or Basset Hound (sweet). Slide your feet in to the slipper and flip the switch for a toe-tingling massage.




 

Toe-tally Perfect Toes Pedicure Set


Now you’ve moisturised and had a lovely massage, it’s time to get those nails looking pretty. This sweet set comes with a nail buffer/file combination, cuticle trimmers, pumice, nail clippers and a hard skin shaver. Use the pumice to remove any dry skin from your feet and the buffer & file combo to get your nails all smooth and ready for some polish.



Nail Buddy


Never again worry about spilling your nail polish! The Nail Buddy holds any size of nail polish, and you can either grip it between your knees (handy for a manicure – pun unapologetically intended) or rest it on any hard surface to leave both of your hands free. You can even rest the Nail Buddy on its side to get the last drop of your favourite polish from the bottle.

Nail Art Kit


If you’re anything like the ladies in the Qwerkity office, you’ve been staring enviously at all the gorgeous nail designs that you just don’t know how to achieve. This Nail Art Kit is a great cheat for a professional looking pedicure! Available in either Plain or Glitter, each set contains ten nail varnish bottles with a standard brush applicator and a micro-tip pen for creating intricate designs. The only limit is your imagination!






Pssst! If you do get stuck for some design ideas, check out the Nail It! book – it’s on special offer! 


Written By Laura-Anne

Go Al Fresco!

Wednesday, 27th July 2016

Summer isn’t over yet, Qwerkiteers, and a little weather bird told us that the sunshine will be making a return this weekend. Time to dine al fresco!




Dig In Salad Servers


Dig In Salad Servers



These are a great gift for any keen gardener, particularly if they like to grow their own salad and veggies. Made from stainless steel with Acacia wood handles, these servers are perfect for digging deep in to the salad bowl. Whoever said salad couldn’t be fun?

 

Folding Seat Pad


Folding Seat Pad


New to Qwerkity this week, this comfortable, fold away cushion is ideal for a picnic! Featuring a lovely checked design on one side and 100% sheep’s wool on the other, this fluffy cushion insulates you from the cold and/or damp ground. Get cosy!

 

Folding Banquet Tables


Folding Banquet Table



If sitting on the ground isn’t your style, try one of these tables for your next garden party or barbeque. Available in two sizes the trestle table sits four (four feet) or six people (five feet). Each table is adjustable in height and folds in half for carrying and storage.

 

Picnic Stix


Picnic Stix


Never again experience the heartbreak of knocking your Pimms over! The Picnic Stix set comes with three sturdy stakes (one for a bottle, two for glasses). No more toppling tipples, even if you are tipsy!

 

Outdoor Fondue Set

Outdoor Fondue Set


Go retro with the Outdoor Fondue Set! It’s a brilliant alternative to a barbeque (just in case you ever could get tired of the ol’ BBQ) and quite the party piece for outdoor entertaining. The set comes with four fondue forks, and – best of all – all the parts are dishwasher safe.

 

Brazier BBQ


BBQ Brazier



Oh, BBQ – our love for you could never fade; and now we can barbeque until the sun goes down and keep warm long after! The Brazier doubles up as a fire pit as well as a barbeque so it’s great for al fresco entertaining. Your garden party can now keep going as long as you can!
 

Make sure you have some fun in the sun this weekend, Qwerkiteers!


 

Written By Laura-Anne

Festival Fever!

Friday, 22nd July 2016

Festival season is well under way, Qwerkiteers! We’ve picked out some of our best products to get you through your festivals in comfort and style.




Comfy Wedge


If you don’t fancy being right at the front of the stage, take the Comfy Wedge with you. Lean back, relax and just enjoy the music! The Comfy Wedge is completely waterproof, inflates in seconds and folds up to the size of a book, making it easy to carry with you.

 

Cooler Stool



It’s a chair and a cool bag! The cooler stool folds flat for easy storage and has integrated carry handles for portability. A spacious insulated cool bag beneath the seat is the perfect place to keep your beer or a picnic chilled.

 

Surf & Swim Shoe

If you’re camping at a festival and want to make use of the showers, these shoes are brilliant. Extremely light, with grip soles and small drainage holes, there’s no need to worry about picking up anything nasty when you use public showers.

 

Q-Zone Earplugs


We all know that festival campsites can be somewhat noisy! If you’d rather get some shut-eye than join the never ending party in the tent next door, then the Q-zone earplugs are for you. The earplugs come with two filters; one for ambient noise and one to block out snoring, resulting in both high and low frequency sounds being screened out. The warmth of the ear softens the earplug to fit, making them very comfortable to wear while sleeping.

 

Folding Insulated Mat

No one likes a soggy bottom! This compact folding mat is insulated and waterproof, and it’ll fit in your back pocket or handbag. No more cold or damp bottoms when sitting on grass!

 

Unisex Uriwell

As anyone who’s camped at a festival will tell you, sometimes the toilets are miles away from your tent. It’s not brilliant when it’s three o’clock in the morning and (in typical British fashion) raining heavily and/or freezing cold. Avoid getting caught short with the Uriwell. The size of a drinks can, the device can be used by men and women and expands when necessary. A tight lid ensures no spills. No muss, no fuss.


 

Written By Laura-Anne

It's Too Darn Hot!

Tuesday, 19th July 2016

Well, here in the Qwerkity office we’re making like the Wicked Witch of the West: we’re meeeeellltttiing. What a world, hey? So, to help out our fellow Qwerkiteers, we’ve thrown together a quick heatwave survival guide. Stay frosty, people!

Cooling Scarves


These are a God send! Made from super-fine cotton, these Cooling Scarves contain special crystals which, when soaked in water, expand and feel cold even on the hottest day. You can wear the scarves loosely around your neck, or even jazz up your outfit by wearing one on your wrist. The scarves come in a set of three, each in a pretty pastel design.

BPA-free Reusable Bottle

The key to surviving the hot weather is to stay hydrated. The BPA-free Reusable Bottle comes in two sizes (small or large), is dishwasher safe and perfectly portable. It’s ideal for a scorching hot day. Bottoms up!

Portable Rechargeable Fan


Does your office air conditioning leave a little to be desired? Keep yourself cool with the Portable Rechargeable Fan. It’s small and compact so it will fit nicely on your desk, and it will run for up to eight hours on a single charge. It’s not quite the same as being fanned with palm fronds, but it’ll do in a pinch!

UV Protection Umbrella


Stylish in stripes, this ultra-lightweight umbrella (beautifully modelled by Emma) has a silver-coated lining which blocks out 99% of the sun's harmful UV rays. Wonderfully compact, this brolly will fit easily in to your bag. For an umbrella that you can clip to a table or stand in the sand or grass, have a look at our Tri-brella.

Ice Stick



Cool your drink without diluting it with ice cubes. We love a good, chilled glass of white wine (or fruit juice!) and the Ice Stick works perfectly. Keep it in the freezer and then pop it in your glass whenever you want a refreshingly cool drink. Cheers!



Written By Laura-Anne

If In Doubt, Eat Cake.

Friday, 15th July 2016

This week we decided to test some of the recipes in Joanna Farrow’s Mug Cakes book. Obviously, this is all in the name of science. It’s nothing to do with the fact that we’re all cake fiends in this office…



We selected four cakes to trial from the 30+ recipes in this sweet little book (why yes, that is a sugar pun). We went for the Poppy Seed & Lemon Cake, Rich Chocolate Honeycomb Cake, Spicy Banana Bread and the Raspberry Cheesecake.
 

So, let’s dive in! To make any of these cakes you will need:
 

  • A mug – it must be microwave proof, otherwise your cake won’t bake.
  • Measuring spoons – they make life easier!
  • A fork or small whisk – we found that a fork made less mess when it came to mixing the cakes.
  • A spoon – for the eating!

 

Lemon & Poppy Seed


 

Difficulty: Easy Peasy
Fear Factor: This was the first one we made, so nerves were on edge.

Top Tip: Don’t turn your back when the cake is in the microwave – they rise faster than you think!

Amelia's Verdict: Delicious! The lemon curd makes this wonderfully squidgy. You can add more lemon curd as a topping, or cream. I went for the token healthy option: blueberries.
 


Rich Chocolate Honeycomb



Difficulty: Non-existent

Fear Factor: It’s chocolate cake – what could go wrong?

Top Tip: We used chocolate fudge icing so we didn’t have to worry about melting the chocolate.

Ben's Verdict: I think this one is my favourite. Lacking any Malteasers, we crumbled Oreo cookies over the cake and added a couple of strawberries. Not only does it look pretty, it tastes amazing!
 



 

Spicy Banana Bread



Difficulty: Simples.

Fear Factor: None, until we saw how quickly this one rises!

Top Tip: The recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon of ground mixed spice. We added a bit more for some extra punch.

Cam's Verdict: Heavenly! This was my favourite. We topped this with thick cream and maple syrup.
 

 

Raspberry Cheesecake



Difficulty: Smooth sailing.

Fear Factor: Cheesecake is stereotypically difficult to get right, so we were waiting for this one to sink or explode.

Top Tip: Microwave in short bursts. The book recommends no more than 45 seconds.

Laura-Anne's Verdict: Very sweet and rich. It would be nice as a small sweet bite after dinner; you could split this recipe between teacups for a pretty individual dessert.
 



 

In conclusion, we love this book! There’s a helpful tips section which includes information on choosing your mug and varying cooking times; some gorgeous photographs; and really simple instructions. This book is perfect for any baker, and would make a pretty addition to any bookshelf. Let them eat mug cakes!
 

 

 



 

Written By Laura-Anne

Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon

Friday, 8th July 2016

If you’re anything like us at Qwerkity, we love a good Sunday crafternoon. Sundays are for relaxing, and what better way to relax than to get making? Here are some brilliant crafty kits to keep you busy, rain or shine (although if the Weather Gods are listening, we prefer shine, please!). I’ll let you in on a little secret; you don’t have to be a child to enjoy any of these!

Super Naturals: Bird Colouring Book



Have you joined the colouring craze? If not, get involved! There’s something very calming and nostalgic about colouring books, and this one is a beauty. These gorgeous birdlife illustrations are intricate without being fussy, so you won’t end up feeling cross-eyed!

Sketch & Sniff Pencils



Get fruity with your drawings using these delightfully scented Sketch & Sniff Pencils! Add a new level to your drawings or colouring books with these unusual pencils. Presented in a classic tin, they are perfect for taking with you on your travels, down to the park, or even in your back garden! Includes Grape, Peach, Blueberry, Rose, Apple, Coconut, Pineapple, Orange, Watermelon, Chocolate and Vanilla.

Flower Fairies in a Tin



These are just so pretty! The combination of fantastic fabrics, wooden heads, pipe cleaners, embroidery threads and wings – plus fairy dust – is bound to keep your inner child happy. You can create ten little Flower Fairies and keep them in their pretty box, or place them artfully around your house.

 

Miniature Watercolour Tin



This Miniature Watercolour Tin is a must, whether you’re a fully-fledged Michelangelo or a budding Picasso. Inside is everything you need to paint whilst travelling, including 7 tubes of watercolour paints, 2 paintbrushes, palette, watercolour pad and water bottle.


 

Spiro Art in a Tin

Spiro Art in a Tin contains everything you need to make hundreds of different colourful spiral patterns. Inside the stylish box are cogs, gears, pins, pens, paper and full instructions. Great for holidays and travel, the set offers hours of fun for children, as well as grandparents who will remember Spiro Art from their childhood!





 



Written By Laura-Anne

COMPETITION

Wednesday, 6th July 2016

Qwerkity have teamed up with Hall of Names to offer you a chance to WIN the perfect anniversary or wedding gift!

Two households, both alike in dignity...

With wedding season in full swing, Qwerkity has teamed up with Hall of Names to offer the perfect wedding gift: the Double Surname Coat of Arms.

This beautiful and unusal gift is printed on parchment and is available in a dark wood effect or gilded frame.  There's even room for you to add a personalised message to make your gift extra special.


 To enter the competition, simply click here.


 
  The winner will be announced on Wednesday 13th June

Please note that delivery time on personalised items is 2-4 weeks.  The winner will be initially contacted via Qwerkity's Facebook page.

 

Written By Laura-Anne

 
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