Posts tagged Review
It’s been a while since I last signed up to a (non-edible!) subscription box, and I’d been missing that buzz of getting a nice surprise through the post each month, so lately I’ve been on the lookout for a new one to trial. I was looking for something featuring collectible items rather than beauty products or anything like that, and I knew exactly where to turn for recommendations. One of my favourite bloggers, Chrissie of Plus10Kapow, regularly reviews popular subscription boxes, and after seeing her publish several positive reviews about Loot Crate, I decided to take the plunge and sign up for a one-off box, just to see whether I like it or not.
Loot Crate are a US-based company founded in 2012, who each month ‘ships a themed mystery box of the best geek, gaming, and pop culture gear to a subscriber base of over 100,000 Looters’. From what I’ve seen their boxes are always well thought out and beautifully curated to suit a theme – something that a lot of other subscription services just don’t quite manage to get the hang of. The box I signed up for was the August Villains 2 box, which is quite possibly one of the best themes for me as I do love myself a supervillain! Loot Crate released their first Villains box last year, and this one is the sequel to that.
I ordered my crate on 19th August, and after much impatient waiting it finally arrived on 1st September, which was a little later than most people’s, so it was incredibly difficult to avoid content spoilers online!
I was expecting to find six or seven items in the box, as this seems to be the norm according to the reviews I’ve seen, but this month there were only four (plus the usual magazine and badge). However, all four items are high-end and good quality, and according to Chrissie’s calculations are worth a whopping £65.04 if bought separately online!
So, here’s all the loot!
Captain America Hydra Pin Badge
Pins and badges are one of the many things that I collect, so it was nice to find one of such great quality in the box. This Hydra pin is very well made, and has a double pin on the back. I reckon this would look awesome on a simple black jacket.
DC Collectibles Wooden Joker
As a lifelong Batman fan this wooden Joker figure was my absolute favourite item in the crate. There’s just something so nostalgic about it as I remember having toys like this when I was younger, and the changeable faces and poseable arms make this figure even more fun. I can see myself collecting more of these in the future (I’ve got my eye on a Batman one I’ve seen), but this one is extra special as it’s a Loot Crate exclusive.
Carnage 16oz Mug
There were two villainous mug designs being sent out in this crate – Venom, and Carnage, which is the one I received. My fiancé is more of a Marvel fan than I am (I’m a DC girl), so he was especially pleased with this. The mug is a good size and makes a nice addition to our ever-expanding mug collection, although for some reason I can see it being used for make up brushes or pens rather than tea!
Los Pollos Hermanos Apron
I love Breaking Bad and I do a lot of cooking, so this apron was a great addition to the box. The quality of the apron is really high, and the colours are nice and vibrant (although you can’t tell in the picture… my camera dislikes yellow for some reason!). This is something that I’d probably buy myself, and the exact same apron is currently being sold on Amazon for over £14.
Badge and Magazine
Every Loot Crate includes a badge to match the monthly theme, and a magazine. This month’s badge feature’s Venom’s spiky smile, and I absolutely love the Joker art on the front of the magazine. When I first saw the magazine at the bottom of the box I thought it was a print, which really excited me as I’d definitely hang this on my wall. In fact, I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t. Perhaps something for Loot Crate to consider in the future?
So, after receiving my first Loot Crate I must say I’m impressed. Everything about it is fantastic – the premium items, the attention to detail, even the fun design inside the box. A monthly subscription to Loot Crate costs just under $30 (about £20), or you can sign up for 3 month, 6 month of yearly packages at a discounted rate. I had a $3 off discount code and ordered a monthly box, making this one $26.95 (a little over £18), with free delivery. For what you get, and the combined total worth of each item, the Villains 2 box was without a doubt worth the money. I’m definitely considering keeping my subscription open for longer!
Are you signed up to Loot Crate? What were your thoughts on the Villains 2 crate?
Rustics is a small subscription box company with a difference, as most of the items in the box are lovingly handcrafted using eco-friendly materials, by the very talented Nic. She also tries to source products locally where possible, and all boxes are packaged from her home studio.
Every box contains around seven to ten items, such as stationery, craft kits and gift items, with an approximate value of £30. The items inside the box are kept as a surprise, but Nic releases sneak peeks of the contents on her website and social media (you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
A limited number of boxes are launched at 8pm on the 1st of each month. The first box – a heart themed Love It Box – was launched in June, and I was lucky enough to receive one through my letter box (the boxes are the perfect size to fit through, so you don’t have to worry about missing a delivery!)
The first thing that struck me when I opened the box was how nicely it was packaged. The box was sealed with monochrome heart washi tape, and the contents inside were carefully wrapped with tissue paper. The monochrome heart theme continued with the items inside, and there was far more crammed into that little box than I was expecting!
So what did I get? Well, inside was two handmade heart greetings cards, a hand printed cotton tote bag, a decopatch wooden heart craft kit, two mini wooden heart tags, a heart pencil, a handmade jasmine tea bag, a ‘You Are Something Special’ print, and some heart-shaped confetti.
Everything in the box is fantastic quality, and the theme is impressively consistent and carried off well. There’s nothing in the box that I don’t like, and it’s hard to pick a favourite item, but I must say I’m really looking forward to having a go at the decopatch kit when I have a free weekend!
There are three payment options for the boxes – a buy now single payment is £17, a monthly subscription is £15 a month, or a three-month single payment is £40 – and all come with free delivery. But however you choose to pay for your subscription, Nic will donate £1 from each box to a different charity each month.
I’m so impressed with Nic’s boxes as they’re so different from any I’ve seen before, and it’s obvious how much love and thought goes into every single item. If you want to bag one for yourself, check out the Rustics website.
On Saturday, Charles and I headed down to London to watch the annual Pride parade. We managed to get a front row spot on Oxford Street so we had a great view of the day’s events, and to top it off the weather was beautiful and sunny. This year Pride came one day after same-sex marriage was made legal in all 50 US states, which made the day feel extra special. The atmosphere was so positive and happy, and everyone looked like they were having a fantastic time celebrating. By the end of the afternoon I was covered in confetti and stickers, and had a huge smile on my face.
One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) leading one of the parade sections. The film Pride, which tells the story of how and why LGSM was formed, is one of my favourite films, so it was fantastic to see the group out in force, over thirty years later, especially considering the similarity between our current political climate, and that of the 1980’s.
Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos, and they’re not the best quality as I was using my phone, but here are a few of my favourites from the day.
We also went to see the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A, which was an amazing and overwhelming experience. I’m hoping to go again during July, and I also plan on reviewing the exhibition, so check back soon for that.
Did you go to Pride this year?
It might still be a bit chilly out some days, but it’s slowly but surely becoming more like summer, and what better way to enjoy the sun than with an ice cream sundae?
I’m not one for eating ice cream plain, I love it piled high with sweet, sticky toppings, and sundaes are a fun way to customise your pudding just the way you want it. I recently got hold of these cute little sundae glasses which are made to look like waffle cones, so to stick to the theme I wanted to share with you my easy but delicious waffle sundae!
Ingredients (Serves 2):
2 Belgian Chocolate Waffles
Carte Dor Vanilla Ice Cream
Askeys Toffee Sauce
This isn’t a recipe as such as it’s so simple to make. You just chop the waffle into bite size pieces (you can warm it through first for extra melty luxury), and then layer as much ice cream, waffle and toffee sauce as you like! Minimum effort, maximum deliciousness.
The sundae glasses are from Drinkstuff, and cost £9.99 for a set of four. They’re made of thick acrylic, which is supposed to keep the ice cream cooler for longer, and I can definitely vouch for the fact that my incredibly soft scoop Carte Dor didn’t melt before I finished my sundae. I quite like the fact that they’re made of plastic as they’re almost impossible to break, which is perfect for clumsy souls like myself, especially when eating outside on the patio! They’re the ideal size for a generous single serving, and you’ll be pleased to hear that you can even get your sundae spoon right to the bottom to dig out the last morsels of yum!
What are your perfect sundae toppings?
The March Degustabox, as usual, arrived promptly at the end of the month, and was stuffed full of exciting goodies. A lot of familiar brands cropped up this time, including Jordans, Lindt, Crabbie’s and Brioche Pasquier, but there were also a couple of new brands to try, namely BBQUE and Natvia. There was also a good balance of food and drink, and sweet and savoury, which is always nice.
The March box was great value for money, as usual, containing fourteen individual items, with a combined total value of over £24. Degustabox subscriptions cost an affordable £12.99 per month, which includes delivery, so you’re making a great saving every time.
Jordans Lighter Granola (RRP £3.69)
Granola is one of my favourite things to have for breakfast, and I’m quite fond of Jordans products, so this was a welcome addition to the box. This particular granola is strawberry and blueberry flavour, and has 30% less fat than standard granolas, which is great news for the health conscious among us. I’ve been eating this in the mornings with fruit yoghurt, and it is delicious. The dried fruit pieces are tasty and plentiful, and soften nicely once wet, without going mushy. The granola has a great crunch to it and is nice and sweet, but not overly so. This one gets a big thumbs up from me.
JuiceBurst Juices (RRP £1.25 each)
These JuiceBurst juices are a quick and easy way of getting one of your five a day. I received two flavours in my box – cranberry, and mango and lime from the Skinny range, which contains fewer calories but all the goodness. Mango is one of my favourite juice flavours, so naturally the mango and lime was my favourite. It was sweet, but this was balanced nicely by the citrus tang of the lime.
BBQUE Original Bavarian Barbecue Sauce (RRP £3.99)
BBQUE Original Bavarian Barbecue Sauces come in four flavours – grill and beechwood, honey and mustard, chilli and horseradish, and original, which is the flavour I received. I eat a lot of barbecue sauce so this sauce had a lot to live up to, but it actually ranks quite highly! It’s runnier than I usually like, which meant it didn’t make a very good topping for my vegetarian chicken New Yorker, but the flavours of cranberries, beer, honey and apples are delicious. I also really like the bold packaging and branding, although I did have to Google Translate all the German text before eating it, to check whether it was vegetarian! (It is).
Lindt Lindor Assorted Mini Eggs (RRP £2.00 each)
I never get bored of finding Lindt products in my Degustabox, and these were the perfect little treat for Easter. Each bag contains a generous amount of foil wrapped chocolate mini eggs, in three different flavours – milk, dark and white. Each egg is like a miniature Lindor truffle, and boasts the creamy chocolate and smooth filling that we all know and love. The gold wrapped, white chocolate ones are my favourite. Very luxurious, and great to share (if you really want to!)
Maynards Sour Patch Kids (RRP £1.00) and Bassetts Jelly Babies Berry Mix (RRP £1.48)
Unfortunately neither of these bags of sweets are vegetarian, so I’ll be passing them on to someone else. It’s a shame really because I love sour sweets, berry flavours, and I was always a fan of Jelly Babies when I wasn’t veggie. I just hope Maynards and Bassetts decide to add some similar vegetarian-friendly offerings to their ranges soon!
Crabbie’s Alcoholic Fruits (RRP £1.50 each)
I really like Crabbie’s drinks, and these alcoholic Fruits were the only product in the box that I’d tried before. Unlike most of Crabbie’s products, these flavours contain no ginger, but are made with real fruit juice, which give them a thirst-quenchingly fresh flavour. I received two different flavours – raspberry & rhubarb, and black cherry, but they also have a zesty lemon flavour in the range.
Kents Kitchen Posh Noodles (RRP £1.75)
I had high hopes for these Kents Kitchen Posh Noodles, but they were quite disappointing, and not a patch on the Kabuto Noodles that appeared in the January Box. The noodles were plentiful and had a great texture, but the positive points stop there. The Szechuan flavouring was intense, but not in a spicy way. The flavour actually made my mouth hurt and my tongue feel sore, almost like I was having an allergic reaction, which was incredibly unpleasant. The noodles were also lacking any vegetables or soy pieces, which made them pretty boring after a while.
Natvia Sweetener (RRP £2.00)
Natvia is a 100% naturally sourced alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, which is derived from stevia. Stevia seems to be the ‘in thing’ at the minute, so I was keen to try these sweeteners out. One of these in coffee is the equivalent of one teaspoon of sugar, and to be honest it’s hard to tell the difference in terms of taste, which can only be a good thing! And even better is the fact that Natvia contains zero calories. I think I’ll be using these in baking next to see how they compare to my usual caster sugar.
Brioche Pasquier Baked Bread Bites (RRP 50p each)
Before now, I’d only ever tried Brioche Pasquier’s sweet breakfast products, so it was nice to try something from their savoury range. The box contained two of these little bags of bacon flavoured baked bread bites, which will be launching in shops soon. Despite being a vegetarian, bacon happens to be one of my favourite crisp flavours, and I really enjoyed the smoky taste of these. They also had a lovely crunch to them. The bites are healthier than your average crisp, containing less saturated fat, no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, and less than 90 calories. They’re also quite versatile, and work well as a snack, but also as a crouton-type topping for soup.
PS. You can check out the rest of my Degustabox reviews here.
*This Degustabox was sent to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
A few weeks ago the Highcross in Leicester ran a two-day Spring Beauty Fix event, so I headed down on the Saturday to see what was going on.
I decided to get there early so I could appreciate the event before the centre got really busy, and already there was a buzz around what the Beauty Fix had to offer. There were several displays featuring this season’s fashion trends, with a colour consultant on hand to advise on the best colours to suit your style throughout Spring. I had a quick browse of the rails and spotted a cute dress covered in polka dots, which happens to be my favourite print for clothing, so I’m hoping to see more dotty items in the shops soon!
Another stand which caught my eye was the Beauty Amnesty, which invited shoppers to discard five unwanted items of make-up, in exchange for a £10 gift card to be spent on beauty items that day. A great deal considering several brands were offering discounts, and brands such as Nails Inc, Urban Decay and Hotel Chocolat were all giving beauty advice during the event!
There were also many offers to be had on the day in stores, and several freebies up for grabs. Rituals and Decleor were offering complimentary skincare consultations, and Rituals, YSL and Clinique also had free samples and items to give away.
Whilst at the event I also managed to do a bit of shopping, and whilst browsing Debenhams’ beauty offerings I spotted Ghost’s Eclipse fragrance, which I decided to treat myself to. Ghost perfumes are my all-time favourites, and Eclipse’s light floral and fruity notes will be perfect for the coming warm months. I also headed over to H&M as I wanted a new dress, and managed to get a lovely grey number, as well as some cute mouse slippers.
Overall it was a fun day, and I’m looking forward to the next event that Highcross puts on, as they’re always enjoyable.
Working full-time all week means I get very little time to have a relaxed day. Even at weekends lie ins are rare, so when I do get the chance to catch up on sleep and wake up slow, breakfast in bed always makes the morning that little bit more special.
No breakfast in bed is complete without a mug of strong tea, and a couple of slices of hot toast, with either peanut butter, marmite or lemon curd. For me, great toast is thickly sliced, lightly browned, but still soft and fluffy on the inside. Roberts Bakery bread is ideal for toast like this. Just call me a toast connoisseur!
Of course, it doesn’t have to stop there. I’m also partial to a hard-boiled egg, warm pain au chocolat and croissants, fresh orange juice or pancakes and waffles with maple syrup, but ultimately it always comes back to tea and toast. Perfect.
The most recent Degustabox has a healthy theme, and features a mix of food and drink items to help keep your New Year diet on track. As is sometimes the way with Degustabox, they did an alcohol box and an alcohol-free box, containing either a bottle of Magners Light, or a carton of Simplee Aloe.
Each box contains twelve individual items, with a total value of over £21. Degustabox costs £12.99 each month, so this box saves you more than £7.
Alfa One Rice Oil (RRP £2.00)
Alfa One Rice Bran Oil is ‘nutritionally well balanced and high in natural antioxidants’, and has been shown to reduce cholesterol absorption, which for me is a big positive. The taste is practically the same as the vegetable oil I normally use, as is the calorie content, but its an all round healthier oil. I’ve been using this a lot lately, and I actually like it a lot more.
Koko Dairy Free Coconut Milk (RRP £1.39)
I like to use non-dairy milks whenever possible, so I was pleased to find this in the box. Koko is made from freshly pressed coconut milk, and contains about half the calories of cows milk. It also has 0% cholesterol, and is 100% allergen free. I’m really impressed with the quality of this milk – it’s slightly more watery than cow’s milk, but it makes an excellent alternative. In tea or on cereal you can hardly tell the difference, and it makes Ready Brek really smooth and creamy! I’d definitely repurchase this and will be keeping an eye out for it during my next weekly shop.
Kabuto Miso Ramen Noodles (RRP £2.00)
This Kabuto Noodle pot was included in celebration of Chinese New Year, and combines authentic Asian flavours with high quality ingredients. I originally thought this was just a ‘posh Pot Noodle’, but it provides more of a meal than a Pot Noodle ever could. For one the pot is larger, and I was surprised to find it packed (almost) to the brim with thin noodles. After adding boiling water, leaving to ‘cook’ for a few minutes and then stirring, you end up with a substantial noodle dish in a broth of miso, soy and vegetables. The whole thing is delicious, and the vegetable chunks, though small, are abundant. I’m not sure I’d pay £2.00 for one of these, but they’re definitely yummy!
Sukrin Bread Mix (RRP £5.00)
My fiancé and I both take a packed lunch to work every day, so this Sukrin Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed Bread Mix will certainly come in handy! I’m yet to make anything with the mix, but its vegetarian, and completely free from gluten, egg, sugar, wheat, yeast, and soya. It’s also really easy to make, as you only need to add water and bake it in the tray provided. I’ve not tried many gluten-free breads, so I’m intrigued to see how this turns out, especially as it retails for £5.00, which seems quite a lot for a bread mix!
Finn Crisp Original Crispbread (RRP £1.20)
Finn Crisp Original Crispbreads appeared in the May 2014 Degustabox, and my thoughts on them haven’t changed! They taste nice, the crispy texture is really pleasant, and you get a lot in the box for the price. They’re also low in calories, so are great for a healthy afternoon snack if you’re feeling peckish. Check out my full review here.
Simplee Aloe Drink (£1.79)
I’m actually still building up the courage to try this drink, as to be honest aloe vera doesn’t exactly sound very appetising! I’ve heard good things about Simplee Aloe however, and the aloe is mixed with grape juice and a splash of lemon, which probably makes for quite a refreshing drink.
Magners Light Orchard Berries
I only really drink cider when it’s flavoured with other ingredients, so the orchard berries in this are right up my street, and sound perfect for spring/summer. I also like the fact that this contains fewer calories than your average bottle of Magners, which makes it that little bit more guilt-free!
Little Miracles Tea Drink (£1.49 each)
Little Miracles teas are organic, and contain a mix of tea, ginseng, acai, fruit juice, and agave for sweetness. My favourite of these is the white tea with cherry. The bitterness of the tea is balanced with the fruity sweetness of the cherry, making for a refreshingly pleasant drink. The 330ml bottles are also the perfect size to throw in your bag when out and about.
Mornflake Top Porridge Pots (£1.19 each)
After loving the Mornflake Superfast pots that came in the April Degustabox, I was really excited to try these Mornflake Top Porridge Pots. However, I was left feeling slightly disappointed. There were two pots in the box – one with Tate & Lyle’s golden syrup, and one with Nutella – and you can eat them plain, simply by adding boiling water, or with the topping added. The porridge itself was a little bit tasteless, and though the toppings added extra flavour and sweetness, I’d still rather have a bowl of Ready Brek. Don’t get me wrong, I do like them and they are filling, and I get that these are great for an ‘on the go’ breakfast, but they just don’t have the yum factor that the Superfast pots had.
Haywards Piccalilli (£1.89)
Ah, Haywards Piccalilli. One of those foods that always reminds me of Christmas. Piccalilli is definitely an acquired taste, and luckily it’s one that I’ve acquired. Haywards is packed full of chunky vegetables, such as cauliflower and gherkin, in a bright yellow mustard sauce. I’ve been eating this with cheese in sandwiches, and it’s delicious – full of robust flavour, tangy but not too vinegary. It goes really well with a strong cheddar.
Clipper Green Tea
The Healthy Box also contained a little gift from Clipper, in the form of a box of ten Green Tea with Lemon tea bags. Clipper make an excellent cuppa, and the combination of green tea and lemon is incredibly thirst-quenching. A nice little alternative to your usual tea or coffee, when you want a hot drink but don’t fancy something strong and milky.
PS. You can check out the rest of my Degustabox reviews here.
*This Degustabox was sent to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.*
I’d been hoping for Krispy Kreme to come to Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre ever since it was redeveloped in 2008, and I know this was a wish shared by many. And now, after years of waiting, thanks to popular demand, Leicester finally has its first kiosk! The kiosk, which is located on the ground floor of Highcross outside Tiger, launched on 14th February, with 170 people waiting in line before it even opened. Unfortunately I was unable to make it down on opening day, but I made a visit last weekend to grab myself some much coveted doughnuts!
I got there just before the kiosk opened at 10:30am, and there was already a queue forming. The kiosk is bigger than I was expecting, with a full-size cabinet full of sweet treats, hot and cold drinks available, and a fairly large seating area. I was also impressed by the staff that I met, who were all friendly and efficient.
At any one time, Krispy Kreme has around fifteen different varieties to choose from, and you can buy them singly or in threes, or you can choose one of their boxes – original glazed dozen, assorted dozen, or choose your own dozen. I got the assorted dozen, which featured twelve of Krispy Kreme’s best sellers, including my two all-time favourites – Strawberries and Kreme, and Chocolate Dreamcake.
I also spotted Krispy Kreme’s two latest limited edition offerings in the cabinet, both of which I will be going back for. The Lotus Caramelised Biscoff doughnut is filled with biscuit spread-infused Kreme, and is topped with biscuit spread icing, biscuit crumb and white chocolate shavings. The Reese’s Peanut Butter doughnut is filled with, you guessed it, Reese’s peanut butter! It’s then finished off with chocolate icing, hazelnuts, and Reese’s peanut butter drops.
Krispy Kreme is very much a welcome addition to Leicester, and I’m looking forward to visiting again soon!