Healthy Snacks Delivered | June Nutribox Mini

30 June 2013

The Nutribox describes itself as, “a box of deliciously nutritious snacks all made with gluten free ingredients, with FREE delivery to your door monthly. Our healthy snack box is great if you want to eat more healthily or if you follow a particular diet or lifestyle and are looking for paleo snacks, vegan snacks, sports nutrition snacks, energy snacks or raw snacks.”

The Nutribox comes in three sizes; standard, mini and corporate. The standard size contains 16-20 snacks, the mini contains 8-10 snacks and the corporate size is for businesses that wish to supply healthy snack options to its employees. I was kindly sent the mini size and received 9 snacks in total.

Firstly, I was sent two packets of nuts from The Ludlow Nut Co. The Brazil Nut Mix contains sultanas, Brazil nuts and banana chips. The Nuts About Nuts mix contains pistachios, pecan halves and hazelnuts. I really enjoyed eating both and while not necessarily exciting, they are incredibly handy to have and a healthier alternative to chocolate. Both were 40g which works out to be worth 62p each.

I was kindly send two Nakd bars to try. The first was this Apple Crunch bar. It contains raw fruit, crunchy goodness and nuts. It's full of protein and is also gluten/dairy/wheat free which is great for anyone who is intolerant to these ingredients. It is 100% vegan and supports Animal Aid, an animal rights campaign. The bar contains dates, soya crunchies, cashews, raisins, apple and apple juice. While the apple was quite subtle in this, I enjoyed how soft yet crunchy the bar was due to the soya and tapioca starch. Nakd bars are around 75p each. The Apple Crunch bar has 108 calories.

The Cocoa Delight bar definitely had more flavour than the Apple Crunch and for this reason, I prefer it to the Apple Crunch. In this bar, there are dates, cashews, raisins and cocoa. While the other bar is not one of your five-a-day, this one is and has 135 calories.

I was also kindly sent a bar from Rude Health called The Beetroot. The bar doesn't really taste much of beetroot which could be a good thing if you don't like that sort of snack bar. But it didn't taste much of anything, just mush in a bar. It wasn't sickly to eat but I wouldn't purchase this myself with my own money. This bar is also dairy, gluten and wheat free and has 118 calories. Also vegan-friendly, this bar is worth 99p.

Next were two energy bars, the first was a Peanut Energy Ball by Bounce. Since these cater for those looking for quick protein and energy fixes, I gave it to my brother to review as he enjoys resistance training and energy bars/drinks. He said that it tasted artificial and not very pleasant to eat. However, he did state that not a lot of protein-focused nutritional snacks taste nice, with protein shakes being his main example. Sadly, my brother did not save the wrapper for me but as you can see from the photo, it is gluten free and 100% natural. I vaguely remember it having around 280 calories. This retails for around £1.79.

I decided to try the Raw Choc Crisp Energy Bomb by Pulsin purely because it was chocolate flavoured. This was quite tasty and contains chocolate, guarana and ginseng. It's vegetarian and gluten free. High in fibre, it has 187 calories and retails for £1.60.

This pecan brownie by Happy Kitchen was sadly the most disappointing of all the snacks I received. It comes adorably packaged, contains no gluten, dairy or eggs and only has 8 ingredients; fruit extracts, cacao mass, brown rice flour, coconut oil, pecan nuts, baking powder, sea salt and pecan flavour. It's also vegan-friendly, contains roughly 270 calories and worth around £1.40. This was very unpleasant to eat. The texture is soft and the smell is ok but the taste was what really put me off. It tastes of artificial chocolate and leaves the most plastic-y residue in your mouth that is hard to get rid of.

The Mulu Raw Chocolate was my favourite from the box. It's deliciously rich without being overly sweet. When I first opened it, I noticed just how thick the slab of chocolate was and instantly, I was put off as I assumed it would be sickly-sweet. When I bit into a chunk though, I noticed how softly it crumbled and how delicious it tasted. If you are a fan of rich chocolate and not so much sweet milk chocolate, this if definitely for you. It too is vegan-friendly and free from dairy, gluten and soya. The only ingredients are raw cacao butter, raw agave nectar, raw cacao powder, sunflower lecithin, ground vanilla and cacao solids. It retails for about £3.

In total, the contents of my box works out to be worth £11.52 with the box itself priced between £10.95-£12.95 which doesn't show much of an excess in worth, although the worth of the service in terms of convenience is entirely subjective. I was sent 9 products in total and tried 8 of them. Of those 8, I enjoyed 6. While this is a positive result, I would probably choose and continue with my Graze Nibblebox subscription over The Nutribox Mini as I favour savoury taste palettes over sweet and the Grazebox is much cheaper. This box would be ideal if you are a vegetarian, vegan or have specific nutritional intolerances. This box would also be great for those who are always on the go, have a protein-heavy diet and/or have a sweet-tooth.

The Nutribox team have kindly given me a code to pass on to my followers which entitles you to 35% off your first box. The code is TSOH35 but hurry, this code is only available to the first ten people! I think it's incredibly important to eat healthy and have a balanced diet. This doesn't necessarily mean no chocolate and no steaks. I just think people need to be more aware about what they're putting inside their bodies. It's been proven that a healthy diet leads to a happier mind and I truly think that what you eat has an impact on your mood. Not to mention any exercise that is done boosts happiness. Eat good, feel good! 

Destination Inspiration | June Birchbox

24 June 2013

June saw the new Birchbox brand re-design which is definitely a design I approve of. The box is a lot easier to open, the design is unisex and the drawstring bag is recycled and therefore softer and eco-friendly. It came with the usual magazine and product card, but also included a set of four postcards. While the theme wasn't clear this month, I adopted the title of the postcard set as the theme because the magazine seemed to include topics such as holiday essentials and festival must-haves. This month, there is no Lifestyle Extra but instead, a Birchbox pillow gift box with a different variation of another product.

The postcard locations represent the head offices of Birchbox; New York, Paris, London and Barcelona. The box celebrates and welcomes Birchbox's new HQs in Paris and Barcelona, and is themed around summer destinations. The magazine covers festival essentials, the exclusive Color Club for Birchbox Wanderlust collection inspired by their head office locations and an run-down of what to do in Manchester, which I enjoyed reading as Manchester is quite local to me and is where I studied. I couldn't agree more with Birchbox and would definitely recommend Teacup and Affleck's Palace.

Products In Box
S Beauty Protector - Protect & Detangle
S Coola - Classic Face SPF 30 Cucumber
F Model Co - Eye Define Eye Pencil
S Noble Isle - Bath & Shower Gel
S Color Club - Nail Lacquer
S Color Club - Nail Lacquer

At first, you will notice the lovely smell of your box and that is due to this spray by Beauty Protector and is the Protect & Detangle spray for your hair. It has a very sweet, almost marshmallow scent which I am currently addicted to. It is fairly well sized and comes in a plastic bottle with a rubbery exterior and a liquid pump. The problem I found with this product though was that it didn't spray straight away even after over 20 pumps (yes I pumped it that many times and nothing came out). It wasn't until I unscrewed it to pump before it worked. After many people complained to Birchbox, they created a very handy animated gif to help you get your spray working. 

I've yet to see the de-tangling effects of this spray but it does smell divine. The problem I'm finding with many of these Birchbox products though is that they are only available to buy through Birchbox, and while I understand why they're doing this - it also means there's a limited amount of information on the product itself on the internet and as Birchbox doesn't tend to include information such as ingredients lists and even volume sizes, this made calculating the box's worth very difficult which you will see later on.

Again, you can never go wrong with moisturiser and this is perfect for the current season. This is the Classic Sunscreen Moisturiser with SPF 30 in the cucumber scent by Coola. While it may not necessarily be beaming at the moment, we have had some intense sunshine and so it is always important to wear SPF, especially on your face. The sample size is great for the area it has been developed for and smells of cucumbers.

This is the first Model Co product I've received and while very basic, it's good quality. It's precise but soft and easy to sharpen. This is the only full-size product in the box and came in Black 01. It is quite long-lasting too as I rubbed the swatch dry and wet, yet a stain remained. I can't imagine me needing a black pencil eyeliner for a while however, as I have still got two to get through. I probably wouldn't repurchase this at £10 as I believe the price to be a little steep.

Included in my box was this Bath & Shower Gel by Noble Isle in Willow Song. It is described as 'An unreservedly romantic fragrance, with floaty green florals and soothing extracts of willow and water lily.' It smells incredibly fresh and floral but not overpoweringly floral that it smells like your nan's soap. It comes in a 30ml sample size which I believe will last two uses.

I was very happy to see Color Club in my box this month as I had previously been eyeing up some of their polishes. As stated in the magazine, each person will have received two colours out of the four in the Wanderlust collection which is exclusive to Birchbox. For me, the first was London Calling, a lovely pea green colour that appears neon green in dim light due to contrast. So far, I've been very happy with the nail colours I've received through Birchbox as I am always sent colours I like but don't have in my current collection. The colour is very opaque on first application and only needs two coats for full coverage. The polish also smells very much like the Nails Inc polishes, with a slightly sweet scent to it.

Lastly, in my pillow gift box was another colour from the Wanderlust collection. I received Mod In Manhattan which is a creamy off-white colour. This is great for bringing out a tan and using for nail art. Again, very opaque and sweet smelling. Out of the two, I would say I prefer London Calling and out of the entire collection, I would've preferred Reign In Spain instead of Mod In Manhattan but beggars can't be choosers!

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle - This is a sample size but there is no information online disclosing the volume of the sample or the full sized product. Therefore, I cannot work out the value of the sample included.

Coola Classic Face SPF 30 Cucumber - Also a sample size at 7ml. The full size is 50ml and according to Birchbox is £26. This is more or less accurate, making the 7ml sample worth about £3.64.

Model Co Eye Define Eye Pencil - This is the only full sized product in the box at 1.2g. Birchbox's RRP is accurate at £14.

Noble Isle Bath & Shower Gel - Another sample at 30ml. The full size is 250ml and accurately valued at £20 by Birchbox making the sample worth £2.40.

Color Club Nail Lacquer x 2 - These polishes are both 7ml making them sample sized. The full size is 15ml and wrongly valued at £10 by Birchbox when they are in fact £5 for 15ml. This makes each sample worth £2.66 as opposed to £5.33.

In total, there were six products; five of which were sample sized and one of which, full sized. The products were mainly skincare and beauty items, all of which I will use. The box has been valued by Birchbox to be over £30.71 when in fact it is worth over £25.36. While this is one of the lowest valued boxes I've received so far, I am still happy with it.


Overall, I am happy with this box. All of the items, I will use and even though only one item was full-sized - I still believe this to be a good box. I would love to see more full size products however and would like to see a wider variety of items in my box and maybe less of the basics such as moisturisers, shower gels and eyeliners as I believe many people will have accumulated several of these and will not be in need of any more. I would've liked a Lifestyle Extra this month but appreciate that I received two Color Club polishes instead. Unfortunately, I don't feel the products fit the theme very much, if at all. I am very thankful to have received such products to try and enjoy, especially the hair protector and sunscreen as I believe it is important to look after the body I have been given.

*Not including value of Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle

How do you treat a criminal convicted of manslaughter?

19 June 2013

I was feeling pretty delighted after an eBay listing of mine that I expected to end for 99p, ended for over £20. But it wasn't long after this when I found myself with a moral dilemma. As I was so surprised that my listing ended at such a high value (for what it was), I wanted to include a personalised message with the item just to show that I had pulled out all the stops. But the further I dug for information on the buyer, the more I discovered about their tainted past.

After the buyer had paid, their address was revealed and there began my research. First, I headed to Facebook and then I headed to Google to search their address. It was then when I found out that the buyer had recently been released from jail after being convicted of manslaughter as a result of gross negligence.

First came the shock and then came the denial. But after the address proved to be almost an 100% match bar the property name (which could have easily been changed) and considering the size of the settlement which I believe to be a hamlet (smaller than a village), I was almost certain that the winning bidder of my listing was that of the convicted criminal. It wasn't until I worked out their birth date from their eBay username when I realised that it coincided with all the online reports of their age or their relative age, according to the dates the articles were written.

Then came the anger. The incident itself caused the deaths of two Fire & Rescue service members. Although it was not premeditated, it was still manslaughter. At first, I didn't want to send the item and I started coming up with excuses to use in order to cancel the transaction. I also didn't want to give the buyer a sense of gratification that they could use eBay like a normal person when they have killed two innocent people. At one point, I said to myself that I really needed the money but that struck a cord within myself as this was precisely what the buyer had thought as reasoning for gross negligence.

When I had calmed down, I began the bargaining stage and asked myself the question "They have killed, but are they killers?" After doing intensive research, I discovered that there were many flaws in the prosecution from the use of poorly trained servicemen to bribes. There is even a website dedicated to the release of said convict. However, I always take the internet with a pinch of salt. Not everything online is reliable, if at all. Even largescale media outlets are untrustworthy.

From this, I reminded myself that I didn't know the full story of the incident and never will. More importantly, it is not mine to magistrate or get involved with. In the end of the day, all I was doing was selling goods on an online marketplace. eBay is a place to buy and sell, it is not a court room. It is unbiased, as am I. If I hadn't decided to include a personalised message, I would not have known about the buyer's past. If all our actions were determined by our history and background, we would live in a very unproductive and solemn world. Since the deaths were not premeditated but caused by ignorance (which each and every one of us is guilty of), I can only assume that they too are suffering from their actions as well as the families grieving their losses. They have already been judged by society, punished and will have to live the rest of their life knowing that they were responsible for the deaths of two innocent people. Surely that's enough? For me to then deny something so trivial such as an eBay item, would be heartless.

Obviously, if the conviction was different or if it was a family member or friend of mine who'd lost their lives, I may think differently - albeit biased. But I think that the lesson here is not to take sides, and to think logically and fairly. We shouldn't judge people or situations as if they were ours when they are not. Yes, some criminals are cold-blooded monsters but some are just normal people who have to live the rest of their lives haunted by huge mistakes. I'm not defending this person as their ignorance lead to the deaths of two people and numerous injuries and much like I've said, I don't know the full story but it's safe to say that these sort of things could easily happen to anyone who turns a blind eye to things like safety. Cutting corners and saving time/money is something we all do, big companies do it and so do the little guys. It's the type of lifestyle we all have become accustomed to, so to put those who have been reckless as opposed to blood-thirsty in a Criminal/Non-Criminal categorical position would be unfair.

The judicial system itself is a difficult realm to police and I'm sure there are other factors I haven't considered but I am no expert on the subject. I'm just a normal person, and I too can be ignorant sometimes.

An Insight Into Sustainable Fashion | Hay Festival 2013

10 June 2013

Working closely with Oxfam, I was lucky enough to be sent down to Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wyre, a Literature and Arts festival in Wales, for two days to act as the resident Style Spotter and to attend some sustainable fashion talks with model Lily Cole and Alannah Weston. I also spotted one of the many comedians at the festival Dara O'Briain, in between talks.

Hay Festivals take place all over the world with two festivals taking place in Hay-on-Wyre, Wales a year; a spring-summer festival and a Winter Weekend festival. I was welcomed with beaming May sunshine and soaring temperatures when I arrived, but was also blessed with the ambience of a music festival from the wet mud caused by rainfall earlier on in the week. Luckily, I had packed my wellies which I had previously considered leaving at home!

I attended the Hay Festival on the 30th and 31st May and stayed in a beautiful French-meets-British-Victoriana style home. The talks I attended were the Lily Cole and WWF Amazon Adventure and Alannah Weston talks to Dylan Jones Business Breakfast which lasted about an hour each. All talks are extremely affordable at an average of £6 each. The Amazon Adventure explored the world of fashion sustainability in the Amazon where Lily learns about extracting rubber from trees (yes, I know - I thought all rubber was artificially made too) and the Business Breakfast delved into the world of Selfridges, covering the TV series Mr Selfridge and the future of Selfridges.

The festival has a range of talks from Philosophy to Fashion and entry is free. There is an eclectic mix of shops, charities, restaurants, bars, outdoor activities, famous figures and book signings. It's great for all ages, all minds (I'm not a literature/arts buff) and is a refreshing change from music festivals, not to mention a hell of a lot cheaper. It exercises and inspires the mind and would make a great day out for as little as £0. [Also, the bar men were incredibly hot...and they read!]

Separate vintage store owners Kelli and Jo come together for Hay Festival and run Hay Does Vintage which sells vintage clothing, accessories and homeware. I had my eye on a vintage typewriter and a leather suitcase which I was torn about buying. Find Kelli at Vintage Tramp and Jo at Hay Does Vintage.

Tips and Notes
If possible, bring your own food as it can be pricey
Bring wellies
Take a bus from the bus station across from Hereford train station to get to Hay-on-Wyre (I got the X99 which is not signposted on the bus but it is a First bus. NB - This bus is expensive!)
There is a shuttle from Hay-on-Wyre to the festival that's £1 and is valid for the entire day
Visit Hay-on-Wyre village itself
Bargain hunt; some books in the bookshop can be expensive so take a look in the Oxfam bookshop first. Also, some items in the Hay Festival shop are available in the National Trust shop. I picked up the Farmers Lip Balm for 50p cheaper in the National Trust shop than the Hay Festival shop at £4.50.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Oxfam for covering travel and food expenses for this event and for giving me this opportunity. My visit was truly inspirational, invigorating and I would definitely visit again.

DIY Watermelon Shorts

7 June 2013

Just like the peek-a-boo shorts, these watermelon shorts derived from a private DIY seller - Tres She and can fetch up to $102 AUD on eBay! Rather than part with such a huge amount of money, I decided to replicate these shorts for a fraction of the cost and now you can too!

Step 1: Prepare your pink dye; follow instructions exactly as they are outlined on the back of your dye. The salt added helps the dye adhere to the material.

Step 2: Ensure waistband is in line and level, in order to create an even line of dye. Making sure there are no splash-backs, slowly lower your shorts into the dye, leaving a designated amount free of dye. Use one hand to hold the clean section and the other to submerge the pink section; never switch hands. Splash-backs onto the clean section will be camoflaged by the green dye, but will still be visible (I plan on re-dying the green section a deeper green to hide my mistakes!)

Step 3: Repeat with green dye.

Step 4: Rinse both colours until the water runs clear, but do this so the water runs off the shorts so the colours don't mix (so rinse the pink section the right way up and the green section upside-down).

Step 5: Squeeze out the water from the shorts and hang up to dry. Alternatively, suspend the shorts on a trouser hanger in a bucket to dry. Although most of the excess dye has been rinsed out, leaving the shorts over a bathtub or radiator may still cause staining.

Step 6: Once dry, use a thin paintbrush and black acrylic paint to paint the watermelon seeds. It is best to do this roughly, then use a toothpick to paint thinner and cleaner lines. Do this on the front and back.

Step 7: Leave to dry and you're done!

The original shorts I have seen fetch up to $102 AUD which roughly translates to £60. I replicated this design for just £10; £5 was spent on the two dyes and another £5 was spent on the shorts. These Dylon dyes are around £3.64 RRP but are cheaper on eBay. The shorts need to be of a denim material if you want the frayed hem effect. I would suggest a white pair as it is a lot more straight forward to dye. Any other colour and you would have to add in a bleaching process. Check out the Oxfam online shop for a selection of denim shorts.

On the theme of fruit, it is important to eat as much fruit and vegetables a day. Watermelons are 97% water so not only are they delicious and healthy, but they will quench your thirst too. Watermelons have vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, with a high level of potassium for muscles and nerves. At only 40 calories per diced cup, fruit keeps our weight in check and boosts immunity. Research also suggests that eating fruit and veg makes you calmer, more energetic and happier! I hope you have enjoyed this DIY and if you have any DIY suggestions, just leave them below.

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