miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
Since I have got myself a proper job, I can afford the odd little luxury. One of the pubs I used to work in was the local posties' pub of choice, so I have a fondness for posties and keeping them in work. Thus I started getting some subscription boxes. This is the fourth in an occasional series of me reviewing them. None of these are paid reviews, I haven't had special freebies, and I don't do sponsored content. WYSIWYG.


Today I am reviewing:

Spooky Box Club.


What do they offer?

A monthly box of goth tat interesting goodies and trinkets for people who are totally not goths at all. If you're in the UK the price is just shy of £25 when you factor in postage, which puts this definitely in the luxury category AFAIC. They do post worldwide, and have prices in US$ and things as well, but obvs the postage is more to non-UK places.


What do you actually get?

A purple box printed with bats and stars, full of stuff which fits that month's theme. Themes have included bats, ghosts, aliens, graveyards etc. There is always a posh lolly, and usually some form of bag with gothy decoration, and also normally some form of jewellery. Then a random assortment of other things which fit the theme; for instance this month's box is gardening-themed (appropriate for the month - here's a link to someone's instagram unboxing pic) so you get a (very sturdy) flower press, and a template for making seed packets so you can distribute your garden goodies to friends, among the other things. The bag this month is a six inch square hip bag which attaches to your belt, so you can carry things around while gardening (or perhaps in other circumstances) without wasting a hand.

There's normally ten to twelve items of varying sizes. They're all usually of excellent quality, whatever they are. There's normally a good variety of things too, it's not all notepads and greeting cards, although you do get some of those. I've not yet had a single item in any of my boxes (three so far) where I've looked at it and thought "well that's a bit Poundland", which seems to be something of an issue with this type of box. Particularly impressive so far have been the bats-and-carnivorous-plants tote bag, which is amazing quality, and the graveyard nail decals.


What's good about it?
  • The items you get are almost all custom made for Spooky Box Club, so they're not things you're going to run across in your local goth tat shop.
  • The items are always interesting and of good quality, and fit the theme well.
  • It comes from Bradford, so me buying it is supporting local business and ethical shopping and stuff.
  • The customer service is excellent; friendly and efficient.
  • The packaging: the box it comes in is both sturdy and pretty, and I have taken to using the boxes for general storage. You also get little theme-appropriate glittery confetti in each box (purple and black foil bats, or little translucent ghosts, for example) which I have taken to saving for crafting things.
  • Some of the proceeds from each box go to supporting a charity appropriate to the theme (for instance the bat box helps the bat conservation trust).

What's not so good about it?
  • It's probably a bit expensive, really, if I'm honest. I don't think Sarah is profiteering by any means, especially given the quality and amount of stuff you get, but having £25 a month to throw away on Nice But Not Essential Things is a luxury not everyone can afford.
  • the lead time, while understandable, might be a bit frustrating if you want goth tat NOW. You can solve this by getting one of the previous boxes from their shop, which also has many of the previous box contents available singly, but this is way more expensive than subscription price. If you're going to do that the bat box is the cheapest (and IMHO the coolest, but then I have always loved bats).
  • The website is a bit poo, and almost put me off making my first order. I'm glad it didn't.

How easy are they to contact if you need to change something or if something goes wrong?

Very easy, friendly and efficient.


Value for Money?

This is difficult. Objectively, £25 a month is a lot of stuff you don't actually need. However the quality of stuff you get is so good, I genuinely think it's worth it. YMMV.


Conclusions:

Get this box if:
  • You're totally not a goth at all, honest, even though all your friends keep accusing you of gothness. Yes, Mr Eldritch, I am thinking of you.
  • You want a little box of Nice Things, some of which will be unexpected and make you go "oooo that's cool" once a month.
  • You've got the disposable income to treat yourself in this way.
Don't get this box if:
  • You're not into bats or skulls or spiders.
  • You would be offended by the odd bit of Wiccan (or similar) content every so often - spell candles and such.
  • You need to keep your money for essentials - this is definitely in the treats category.

Marks out of ten: 8/10.

I really like this one; it seems to me definitely better value than the various boxes of geek tat, which always seem to contain things from franchises I don't like as well as ones I do. Your mileage may vary, OfC, but this definitely gets my seal of approval IF you have the disposable income for it.
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miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
There is a wealth of research out there backing up a bit of common knowledge: people do not trust politicians.

All politicians of every party and none will acknowledge that they try to present the facts in the best light to suit their position. They'll cherry-pick, they'll play down unflattering facts and big up flattering ones. They'll misdirect. Few, however, will admit to outright lies, despite the fact that some at least can be proven to be actively promulgating falsehoods.

This means that once a "truth" becomes common knowledge about a certain type of politician, it becomes very, very hard to shift. The tories, for instance, have a reputation for economic competence which is completely counter to the facts. Lib Dems are considered wooly, pie-in-the-sky and impractical, when in my experience we are almost manically obsessed with facts and evidence. And UKIP, certainly among their supporters, have the reputation for telling inconvenient truths that other politicians would prefer to stay hidden, when, in reality they... well, to put it kindly, they are the cherry-pickiest and most misdirecting of all of us.

In part this is one of those irregular verbs: I tell inconvenient truths, you twist the facts, he lies. In part it is that it is human nature to test facts against one's own experience and opinions and reject those that don't fit. And most humans also have the enviable ability to hold two (or more) completely contradictory "facts" to be true - one only has to look at the immigration debate. Lazy immigrants coming over here working all the hours God sends Stealing Our Jobs and lounging about on benefits that we taxpayers pay for.

What interests me is that when all politicians are held to be untrustworthy, which I think we can accept is the case, why do the electorate then decide to put the tiny amount of trust they have for politicians as a class into the ones that are most often found to be liars? I guess the question I am asking is: if all politicans are liars, why are some lies more seductive than others? Why do people want to believe the self-evident bullshit of a Donald Trump against the more finely crafted horseshit of a Hillary Clinton?

I don't have an answer for this, and if I did I suspect I'd be very rich indeed.
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miss_s_b: (Who: SixAppeal)
For a couple of years now I've done Pod Together, where someone writes a fic and someone else turns it into audio, and the resulting thing is put up for all to see. Here are my previous ones; as you can see, I tend to record other people's writing.

Anyway, having glanced through this year's sign-ups, we seem to have a glut of recorders and fewer writers this year, so I thought I'd publicise the sign-ups to see if anyone else might want to join in, especially as a writer? You can sign up on tumblr, dreamwidth or livejournal. I'm totally not doing this in the hopes that someone will write me some nice Six/Evelyn Fluff to record or anything, honest...
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So yesterday I noticed something odd on the tracking page for my parcel from Goulet Pens: the tracking page was claiming it had been delivered. It has definitely not been delivered. More than that, the tracking page was claiming it had been delivered at 7.07 am, which is an unheard of time for delivery drivers in Brighouse.

The thing is, trying to contact USPS about an international delivery, even to just find out who their UK delivery partner is so I can chase it up myself - I would assume Royal Mail, but I could be wrong? - is proving rather difficult.

Goulet themselves are being super helpful, as usual, but that doesn't really make much difference to finding out what has happened to my parcel. So this is me crowdsourcing ideas.

- Do you know who is USPS's UK delivery partner?
- what do you think I should do?

ETA: so a card came through the door saying I have a customs charge. Arse.
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miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Fangirling: Columbo)
Since I have got myself a proper job, I can afford the odd little luxury. One of the pubs I used to work in was the local posties' pub of choice, so I have a fondness for posties and keeping them in work. Thus I started getting some subscription boxes. This is the third in an occasional series of me reviewing them. None of these are paid reviews, I haven't had special freebies, and I don't do sponsored content. WYSIWYG.


Today I am reviewing:

tails.com dog food.


What do they offer?

Dog food tailored to your pooch.


What do you actually get?

A long survey to fill in about your dog - not just breed, but weight, exercise level, likes and dislikes, allergies, how many table scraps you feed them, etc. Then, once a month, a bag of dog food with your dog's name on it; a special customised scoop for portion control.


What's good about it?
  • The food is absolutely tailored to your dog - my two both get v different kibbles in their packs. And it's not tailored to the breed, it's tailored to the dog, which is why the survey you have to fill in is so comprehensive.
  • Quality of the product. Roxy's itchy skin issues (we think caused by wheat in other dog foods) and Spike's digestive problems both completely cleared up within a week of starting on this stuff.
  • Value for money: it's not cheap but it works out cheaper than something like Royal Canin or James Wellbeloved.
  • The customisability of it: if your dog is not enjoying a flavour or gets bored, tails will reformulate for your next package. If your bag is lasting longer than expected, you can delay deliveries; if you're running out you can speed them up. Most of this can be done with a couple of clicks in your account on the website, but they're still easy to contact if you want to talk to a human.

What's not so good about it?
  • The only thing I can think of is if maybe your dog doesn't like dry food?

How easy are they to contact if you need to change something?

Very easy, friendly and efficient.


Value for Money?

Very good, I'd say, for such good quality food and great customer service.


Conclusions:

Get this box if:
  • You have a dog who eats dry food. Simple as that. I wouldn't feed my two anything else now.
Don't get this box if:
  • You haven't got a dog;
  • your dog won't eat dry food.

Marks out of ten: 10/10.
I've got a refer-a-friend code if you want to try it for two weeks for free: type JENNIW2X in when prompted when you sign up. Genuinely would recommend this service to any dog owner.
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Forgot to post this at tea time: Truth! Freedom! Justice! Reasonably priced love! And several hard boiled eggs 

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miss_s_b: DreamSheep/Matrix icon (DreamSheep: Matrix)
For various reasons, a lot of my friends have issues with going to the doctor. In the comments to one of [personal profile] hollymath's recent entries, the idea came up that T-shirts could be useful.
"Yes, I know I'm fat. Telling me something I already know does nothing for my current problem."
"Of course my blood pressure just spiked, you're stressing me out!"
"Being trans has no bearing on microbes attacking me."
"Yes I have anxiety and depression. This did not break my bone!"
Any further suggestions?
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I'm a third generation fountain pen geek, my mum and her dad both did calligraphy with Osmiroid pens, so I can't really say when I first got into fountain pens because I can't ever remember NOT being into fountain pens. I wasn't allowed to have my own till I was 8 or 9 and could demonstrate to my mum that I could use it properly, though, and it was a BIG thing graduating from pencil to a Proper Pen. The first one that was actually mine was (I suspect like most brits) a Parker Vector. When I got to grammar school they insisted on us having fountain pens so I had a bit of a head start over my classmates. Mine had Beano comic characters on (Dennis & Gnasher) and I was GUTTED when someone at school trod on it and broke it. I still have a soft spot for the shape and feel of a parker vector and have several in my collection. This started off as a comment to a USian person and I don't know if you even get parker vectors that side of the Atlantic but they are (or seem to be) our equivalent of the Preppy. They're a lovely simple clean shape and a nice size for my tiny hands - most of the posh pens these days are too big for me.

Kids these days aren't made to use fountain pens at school the way I was (my daughter goes to the same school I went to and only knows about fountain pens because of me). As a liberal I kind of approve of kids using whatever writing implements they like... as a fountain pen geek I think it's a bit of a shame that most kids won't even try one. They make such a difference to both the legibility and the speed of my handwriting; because I'm not pushing into the paper (as with a ballpoint) but skating over the top of it, I can write for lots longer and lots more usefully with a fountain pen. This comes in extremely handy on candidate assessment days for the Lib Dems when I basically have to write down what someone is saying verbatim for a whole day.

I guess implied in the question was "why do you stay into fountain pens?" There is a lot less need for manual writing these days than there used to be, and certainly if I was writing an article it would be composed entirely electronically. But there's something very ephemeral about stuff written on the Internet, despite its longevity and ease of access and searchable qualities. Whereas paper and ink are so tactile and solid... I guess I feel that if you're GOING to write something manually these days you might as well make it as pretty as you can, and as nice an experience for yourself as you can. And choosing a pen, and a nib, and an ink that works for you in that moment? Creates more fun and more memories than grabbing a biro ever could.
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miss_s_b: (Who: Six (Gorgeous))
Since I have got myself a proper job, I can afford the odd little luxury. One of the pubs I used to work in was the local posties' pub of choice, so I have a fondness for posties and keeping them in work. Thus I started getting some subscription boxes. This is the second in an occasional series of me reviewing them. None of these are paid reviews, I haven't had freebies, and I don't do sponsored content. WYSIWYG.


Today I am reviewing:

Cheese Posties.


What do they offer?

The ingredients and instructions for a gourmet cheese toastie, once a week, to your home or office (I rec office if you go for this one - every office has a toaster, right?).


What do you actually get?

A box slim enough to fit through the letterbox, containing two slices of bread, some cheese, some butter, and various other fillings depending on the theme. There are quite a lot of different themes; I've so far not had the same sandwich twice. Some are sweet and some are savoury; you can choose whether to receive just sweet or just savoury or both when you sign up. You can also notify them of any allergies, food requirements, or particular dislikes you have. IME they are good at responding to such things.


What's good about it?
  • Tasty tasty toasties, with well-thought-out flavour combinations. I've not had a bad one yet. Even the one with sauerkraut in, which just sounds weird, was nice. The spicy one was even actually spicy.
  • Ingredient quality. There's no Kraft-Cheese-Slices-Are-Calci-yummy here. You get named actual cheeses and artisan sauces and jams.
  • Value for money: it is roughly the same price as a sandwich from a sandwich shop. Yes, you have to put a little work in yourself, but you don't have to leave the office.
  • The little teflon bag you put the toastie in is a FAB thing, a great technological solution to a problem I didn't realise I had. Anyone with a toaster can make a toastie in this without setting fire to the house/office!
  • The packaging; every ingredient comes in it's own little packet so that there's no melding in transit. Anything which might leak or ooze is always double wrapped. It's clearly very carefully thought out.
  • The quirky, punning tone of the website and emails. Yes, I know some of you hate this kind of thing, but I rather like it.

What's not so good about it?
  • The number one problem is: not enough butter. You get one of those little plastic things with a foil lid you get for buttering your toast in hotels. Also the butter is often too cold to spread. I have solved both of the butter problems by using my own butter for the first couple of months; then when I run out of my own butter I can get a couple of the sachet things out the night before my postie is due, and they will be perfect spreading temp when it arrives, and because there's two I will have enough. But if I were running the place I'd put two little-foil-and-plastic-containers-of-butter in, not one.
  • The little teflon bag that you cook the toastie in is a VERY snug fit; this means you can't really use a fishslice or anything, and you really have no other option than to use your hands to get the buttered-on-the-outside bread into the bag. If you turn it over half way through to ensure even browning, you have to do this twice. I am ok with washing my hands twice per toastie, but I know many people won't be.
  • A small niggle, but it's always the same bread. With such variety in fillings, I sort of expected a little variety in bread too. A nice brown or granary would go really well with some of the filling combinations.

How easy are they to contact if you need to change something?

Email: very quick and friendly responses.
Social media: no response at all.


Value for Money?

Pretty good, I'd say, especially given the quality of ingredients.


Conclusions:

Get this box if:
  • You like cheese toasties;
  • You want a once-a-week surprise warm meal;
  • you work in an office where the only kitchen equipment is a kettle, a microwave, and a toaster, and you want something hot but are sick of microwave ready meals.
Don't get this box if:
  • You can't cope with buttery hands;
  • you want to have a zero-effort lunch.

Marks out of ten: 8/10.
If the butter problem was solved by the company instead of me, and there was more than one style of bread, and the teflon bags were a little less snug to enable fishslice manipulation of the toastie, they'd be perfect. As it is, I'm certainly not going to stop getting them any time soon. The quality of ingredients and fun of getting a new flavour every week certainly makes up for the slight downsides.

About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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Please note that any and all opinions expressed in this blog are subject to random change at whim my own, and not necessarily representative of my party, or any of the constituent parts thereof (except myself, obviously).

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