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.
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.
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.

Update 4th November 2016: Cheese Posties have significantly changed their offering since I posted this; they are now a fair bit more expensive, they are also somewhat more responsive on social media. IMHO £5.49 per postie is less viable than £3.99 as an office lunch alternative; YMMV.


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.
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Books)
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 first in an occasional series of me reviewing them. None of these are paid reviews, I haven't even had freebies, I don't do sponsored content. WYSIWYG.


Today I am reviewing

Prudence and The Crow.


What do they offer?

Vintage books, once a month, for a set period or on a rolling monthly subscription.


What do you actually get?

When you pay for your subscription, you get a questionnaire, with free size text boxes. Fill it in as comprehensively as you can; this will be the basis by which the mysterious Prudence (or maybe the even more mysterious Crow) will choose your vintage book. They try to find you something that is 1, interesting 2, relevant to your tastes and 3, not one you've already got. The more information you can give them, the better. When I got my questionnaire I went on twitter and said something like "hah! They've not limited the box sizes! THE FOOLS! *fills in ridiculous amounts of information*" and almost immediately got the reply that no, they LIKE getting lots of info because it helps them to choose.

In the actual box you get a vintage book, a personalised bookmark, usually a little bag or sleeve for the book, some sweets, some herbal teabags and maybe some postcards or a bookplate. Sometimes a vintage cigarette card or an old coin. Maybe a badge. All of the little bits of vintage emphemera you get are usually relevant either to the book or your stated tastes. The instagram hashtag #patcbox will give you some idea of the contents of people's boxes, and also show you that each one is definitely different. There's none of this "buy in bulk and make five hundred of the same box" with P&tC


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

Some of the less salubrious subs boxes are very unresponsive to customers. I'm delighted to report that P&tC are not like that at all. Their social media presence is actually social, not just broadcasting adverts like some, and they are great to chat to on instagram and (especially) twitter. They're very responsive to emails with customer service questions too, especially when you're setting up a gift sub (I liked them so much I got my mum a sub for her birthday).


Value for Money?

Genuinely depends on what you value. The cash value of the box contents is not usually up there with the price of the subscription; what you're paying for here is the service. The infinite and very personal care and hard work that they put into selecting a vintage book that is just for you is really evident, and they are genuinely joyous when you report back that you liked their selection.


Overall marks

Get this box if:
  • you enjoy reading;
  • you want a lovely and genuinely surprising box every month, which is none-the-less exactly right for your tastes (assuming you filled in the survey sufficiently);
  • you find little bits of vintage emphemera interesting.
Don't get this box if:
  • you're one of those people who expects the trade-off for a surprise to be huge cash value;
  • you want a pristine, perfect, brand new book;
  • you find little bits of vintage emphemera annoying.
Marks out of ten: 10/10. Genuinely couldn't be happier, and I do a little squeak of excitement whenever I get the notification email that my box is on the way.

About This Blog

picture of Jennie Rigg

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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