Tuesday, 6 July 2021

The Griffin's Nest

 Anybody who knows me knows how much I love snacks.  They also know I am allergic to nuts, which makes healthy snacking a problem.  Manufacturers of the healthier snack option tend to think that nuts have to be involved, so it is back to the crisps for me.  No nuts in a crisp!

But scrolling on Facebook recently I came across an advert for trail mix.  I used to eat a fair bit of this back in the days before I became allergic to nuts but for obvious reasons haven't had any for a long time.  I also had started to find it a bit boring, and rather like eating muesli or granola at more times of the day than just breakfast.  This looked different, more exciting with a wider range of ingredients.  A quick look at their site confirmed my initial thoughts that yes, this was a trail mix for the 21st century but oh dear,most of the mixes contained...nuts.  

Undaunted I messaged the staff at The Griffin's Nest and was told to my joy that they could tailor their mixes for individuals and substitute something else for those pesky nuts.  Yay!  A few days later and this was what arrived in my mailbox:

A sturdy reusable cardboard box filled with five paper bags, each containing four 45g packets of five different mixes.  Two Mixes of the Month, The Rocky Mountain Mallow Mix, the spicy Meanwood Valley Trail Mix and my own concoction "Choose Your Own Adventure" which I called Summer Special.  Here's a better look at the packets:

Let's open a packet.  How about Summer Special?  I ate one packet so there should be four packets instead of three:

Note the paper bags.  They do have plastic windows but these can easily be removed and the rest put in with the recycling.  There is also a useful resealer so you don't have to eat it all at once, although I couldn't resist doing this.  Turn the striped packet over and you will see a label showing exactly what is inside:

Not easy to see but you get the idea.  A list of ingredients with allergens in bold type, plus a short piece about the company.

Also inside the box is a printed list showing what each pack contains:

It's a bit small but you can just about see the mix type, price and my notes.

This packet contains a more interesting recipe than the usual trail mix.  There's puffed rice, chocolate honeycomb pieces, dates, sunflower seeds, sultantas and banana chips.  This is my own slightly more indulgent choice, a visit to the website will show you what the Griffin's Nest team have come up with.

  • Quality - Can't be faulted 10/10
  • Value For Money - I would say pretty good.  Not a bargain or overpriced 9/10
  • Delivery - I was informed that due to some items being out of stock the box would be a couple of days late.  As it was the time between placing the order and receiving it was fast 10/10
  • Versatility - I was able to tailor the mixes to suit me as well as concoct my own from a list of ingredients.  Very impressed. 10/10
  • Green - Most of it can be recycled.  A bit of plastic here and there but nothing major. 9/10
  • Customer Service - A chat function on their site plus messages and emails.  One of the best I've encountered. 10/10
  • The Whole Nine Yards - This company have certainly done that, and I'm told more mixes are in the pipeline as well as some savory ones.  10/10

That's a great score!  They will be hearing from me again...and again...

Wednesday, 10 February 2021


 I don't know who dreamed up the idea of subscription boxes, but one of the earliest must surely be the Graze box.  Most boxes are monthly but this comes every week, in a letterbox friendly card box containing four snacks.  Boxes vary in color, and sometimes you get one with a seasonal motif but here is a typical example:

Simple and effective.  The address is on the reverse and holding it closed are two plastic bands.  Cut through them and open up to reveal...

The wee booklet contains the ingredients of each box plus a tear-off strip with four vouchers to distribute to potential grazers.  Most of what you see is recyclable, from the box and booklet to the plastic trays which have a triangle with a 1 inside meaning it can go into kerbside recycling.  The only parts for landfill are the plastic bands and peel-off lids which isn't bad.

When I first joined you sometimes got a paper napkin with certain snacks or even a wooden spoon but those options are long gone.  Another older feature is that occasionally you received a card sheet with push-out shapes that made up into a figure such as a snowman, robin or bunny.  The idea was you posed it and took a photo to be entered into a Facebook competition.  I just displayed mine on my mantelpiece but it was a nice gesture.  I guess one that ultimately just made more waste to  be recycled, but there you go.

Here are the four snacks, this time all savory but usually a mix of sweet and savory.  How do you know what you are getting?  It is fairly random but you have quite a bit of control.  Just go to the site and you will find headings for different types of snack.  There are savories, cookies, cakes, dips, "a touch of chocolate", seeds etc.  You get the chance to rate love, like or bin with (on some items) the option of ticking a box for Send Soon.  This means that you want the item as soon as possible.  Love means you will get the item a lot, like sometimes and bin never.  Be warned that if you can't eat nuts you might get them rather often and all the food comes from a kitchen that must be awash with them.

This bos was a good one as it had four of my "loved" Send Soon items.

Chilli Bean Crunch - chilli broad beans and wild rice sticks

Lightly Spicy - carrot crisps, wild rice sticks, jumbo chilli corn and black beans

Spicy Sriracha Crunch - salted corn, sriracha coated pea and corn hoops - salted

Smoky Barbecue Crunch - BBQ flavoured peas, corn chips & chilli corn

The Graze ethos is to replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones, such as the type they sell.  Everything is high quality, and the only reason I "bin" anything is if it is not to my personal taste rather than it isn't up to standard.  What I subscribe to is their Variety Box and it costs £3.79 a week.  There are other options to fit in with diets, a gift option if you want to send a box as a present, a shop where you can buy more of your favorites and plenty of information about health benefits of the items in the boxes.

Graze has branches in Ireland and the Netherlands as well as the UK and I get excited every Tuesday (you can have your box delivered other days if you wish) when I hear the thump of the box landing on my mat.

  • Quality - Can't be faulted 10/10
  • Value For Money - I would say pretty good.  Not a bargain or overpriced 9/10
  • Delivery - You get the odd hiccup when the box is a day or so late but nothing serious.  You don't have to sign for it (hooray!) and it is delivered by your postperson 9/10
  • Versatility - Allergies are warned about and it really is unsuitable for anybody with a serious nut allergy but it does not claim otherwise.  You can opt out of anything not for you, buy a box as a gift and more of your favorites 8/10
  • Green - Most of it can be recycled.  9/10
  • Customer Service - A Facebook prescence but not big posters.  Whenever I have contacted them I have been dealt with courteously and helpfully.  Website average to use. 8/10
  • The Whole Nine Yards - As mentioned you got more of this a few years ago than you do now.  Plain and simple is how I would describe it and nothing wrong with that.  I haven't used their gift service so am unsure how the boxes look but a bit fancier would be worthwhile. 6/10

So, would I recommend it?  Yes I would.  I would like a few tweaks such as more new snacks more often, a chance to suggest new ones via their Facebook page and more seasonal specials.  Currently this is limited to their mince pie flapjacks but some sort of Easter biscuit would be nice, or maybe their Tom Yum Yum rice crackers for Chinese New Year.  Long discontinued, they are still my #1 Graze snack and the best rice crackers I ever tasted.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Spring Borders

It is a bit late in the year to be thinking about Spring, but more than one of these colorful borders is suitable for summer too.  Print them out and add them to your cards and scrapbook projects, or use them in other papercrafts.  How about napkin rings, borders on party crowns or even print them onto inkjet fabric for some wearable art?  Find them here

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Bow Box

I'll kick off this new feature with a craft themed box, Bow Box from Eliza Henri Craft Supply.  Bow making is in right now and there are quite a few sites out there selling supplies for it and this is one of the best.  If you are new to bows and aren't sure what to get why not opt for a bow box?  Each one contains fabrics including one full-sized sheet, either a template, bow holder or large embroidered item, smaller sheets of felt, glitter, printed fabric etc and other items all on a theme.  I bought the March one which was Queen Bee and here is what the postman slipped through my letterbox:
Says it all, doesn't it?!  An attractive and fairly sturdy card box that will fit through a standard letterbox and is delivered with the mail.  I didn't have to sign for it and my address is on the other side.

Now for the unboxing!
That looks nice.  I love the way the contents are packed in their own tissue paper with a seal.  Not ojnly does it look good but it also helps stop the items moving around in transit.  The writing says that you can enter your creations in their monthly contest on Instagram or Facebook.  Now let's see what is inside:
Looking good!  To itemize:

  • A4 yellow fabric with black lace overlay
  • A5 yellow wool felt, bee printed white fabric, pale yellow, gunmetal and gold with black lines glitter fabric
  • Queen Bee bow topper (or crown)
  • Clay figure
  • Honey Bow template 
  • Slip of paper explaining the contents
These are the fabrics and yes, they certainly are on trend as yellow is the color of 2020.  Bow fabric varies a lot in thickness and quality and these all get my vote as being some of the best quality I have seen with a really sturdy, firm thickness and texture.  The glitter does not shed and both the lace and patterned bee fabric are securely bonded to the backing.  The felt is not the kind you buy in most craft shops that you can "shoot peas through" as my mother used to say but 100% wool.  Anything you make with these beauties will last and it doesn't have to be bows; I reckon any of this will do just fine for a new sunglasses case or wee coin purse.
The Honey Bow template comes in its own packet (the "baggie" type with a clip top would be easier to use than this which has glue on the back).  Itis made of wipe clean plastic and the small photo shows you what it should look like with a simple instruction as to what goes where.  It is easy to make up and looks good. 
I could have either had the crown or the topper and I got the latter.  I suspect most people did, the crown being a more premium item that only the luckiest person receives and sadly this was not me.  It is part of a new range so can be bought separately if you want one.  The topper is the same excellent quality as the rest of the items being stitched onto glitter fabric backed with felt.  Just cut around leaving a small margin of about 1/8" and you have a lovely topper that looks like this:
Next comes a surprise in a pretty bag labelled Treats Inside...
The bag is paper so can easily be added to your recycling and inside is:
A wee polymer clay topper!  It is  beautifully handmade and measures 1 3/4" x 1 1/8".  As a lover of all things kawaii I think she will be made into a lapel pin for my jacket.  She was packed inside a small plastic packet so every effort has been made to ensure that even more fragile items arrive intact.

I can see why this is the #1 craft subscription box in the UK.  The website tells you all about the boxes (without spoling the surprise) and explains how all the items are not currently available but brand new items and all on trend.  There are discounts for people who want to sign up for 6 month or yearly subscriptions (6% and 12% off) or you can just order a single box.  Join the customer group on Facebook and enter the competition and you might win back the price of your box.  Shop on the site and get Glitter Points as you spend to use on purchases and check out the wide range of items on the rest of the site including Fiver Friday where you can get a bundle of fabrics for just £5 every Friday. 

It is a pretty user friendly website complete with blog, items grouped under what they are as well as themes.  The site gets updated regularly with new stock which taps into current trends and changes with the seasons.  It is certainly one of the best sites if you want to make bows.

Quality: No complaints here, everything of the best 10/10

Value For Money: £10 charge plus postage is about what I would expect.  Not a huge bargain but not overpriced either 8/10

Delivery: Worldwide and delivered with your other mail, no signature and it fits through the letterbox.  Apparently they usualy require a signature but I got lucky!  Sturdy and well packed 9/10

Versatility: Not an issue here altough I have a wool allergy and wanted the crown!  The boxes sell out fast and aren't customizable but this category is not really applicable.

Green: Card box, paper bag, leaflet and tissue paper can all be recycled.  The rest is for wearing and is not biodegradable or made from anything that helps the planet.  Maybe one day...8/10

Customer Service: This company has a lively presence on Facebook and is easy to contact.  I haven't needed to about the box but have posted about other things on their page and had replies. 9/10

The Whole Nine Yards: Such a prettily packed box filled with carefully chosen items.  I reckon they deserve 8/10

So pretty impressed overall.  Would I buy again?  Yes!

Boxing Clever

One new trend that is getting more and more widespread and popular is the subscription box.  Many sites now have this feature where you sign up to receive a box of goodies every week or month.  I've subscribed to Graze for several years and this was one of the first but now you can sign up and receive boxes of just about anything!  We are living in a mail order world and who doesn't love the idea that a box of surprise items is going to land on your mat regularly?  From now on I am going to be featuring reviews of some of these boxes including some one-off options.  Each box will be graded thus:

  • Quality - No good me telling you how much I love/loathe something as this is down to personal        taste.    It is more important to rate the items according to their quality
  • Value For Money - Is it worth the price and cost of postage?
  • Delivery - Choice of courier, cost, time it takes to arrive
  • Versatility - Do they cater for allergies, offer gift options, trial box and delivery instructions?
  • Green - Is the packaging recyclable?  Does the company have policies regarding this?
  • Customer Service - User friendly website, presence on Facebook/Twitter, are the people easy to get hold of?
  • The Whole Nine Yards - Little extras like pretty packaging, handwritten note, free gift etc

Flamingo Fantasy

Its over two years since my last post, during which I have had a bereavement and a change of circumstances.  I hope to be fully back here now and filling the blog with more posts on all aspects of how to be green, crafty and more.  Nobody in the UK can say that we haven't had a phenomenal spring and summer with very warm weather even in March, something which is very rare.  It is still June but I keep thinking that we have had the summer already; hopefully we have much more of it to come.  Flamingos are very in right now so here is a card that features them:
How is this card green?  Because it consists of just a sheet of card and if you omit the optional paper tole pieces as I have here no glue or foam squares are required.  I used to use a lot of the latter but they are not biodegradable.  Now I am more into finding ways of making cards 3D without them, like this one.  It folds obligingly flat (Operation Pancake again) and fits into the envelope supplied with the kit and will only cost you letter rate.  

Also included with the kit are several banners saying Happy Birthday, Happy Retirement and Bon Voyage plus three blanks, three gift tags, four envelope seals and a sheet of patterned paper for whatever you like.  Print it onto a thin paper and cut a 6" x 6" square from it and make an origami model to enclose with your card.  There are some simple instructions too and the whole can be bought here

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Apple Blossom Time

It might almost be apple blossom time and there is blossom on some trees but it is also pretty cold here in Devon.  Alexa told me that it was only 47ยบ which is low for the end of April.  The sun might not be shining but indoors it is always crafting time and here is my latest kit to put you in the mood for some better weather:

This comes with a full complement of items to make it up into a four layered paper tole creations plus a matching envelope, tag, seals and other items.  You can buy it here

I made it up like this but you don't have to.  Here are two other options to get you started.  First up is this:

To make this you need this kit plus a blank white 5" x 7" card and some lime green card or paper.

I) Cut a 2" x 7" wide piece of lime card and stick it to the right side of the card.  On top mat a piece of the patterned paper 1¼" x 7" and attach a suitable label at the top.

II) On the left side cut out three lime squares each 2" x 2".  On top mat slightly smaller cutouts from the relevant patterned squares.

III) On top of the middle square attach a cutout piece of blossom.  You could use foam squares to raise it up or just leave it flat for a card you can mail.

It won't fit the envelope but you could always make your own.

Or you could make a card like this:

For this you need a white card blank 5" x 5" and the lime card again.  You would have some left over if you made the earlier one and I just like the color!

I) Print out another envelope and cut off the back part, then attach it to the card front.  Then cut out a 4½" square and cut out a 3¼" square from the center.  Attach as shown.

II) Cut out a 4¼" square of the patterned paper and cut out a square 3½" from the center.  Mat on top of the lime shape.

III)  Cut out four envelope seals and place at the corners.  In the center attach the blossom second layer without the shaped frame.  Place a greeting at the top.

This card will fit the envelope!