Wednesday, 17 December 2014

It's not too late to add this lovely box of goodness to your Christmas list...

The yummy contents of the November/December SKNY box

When it comes to food box subscriptions, surely the first word that springs to mind is mundane, right? Whether it’s vegetables, nuts or random fine dining related herbs, we at Mumsnet Hackney are yet to have our heads turned by this whole new concept of obtaining food, that was until I met budding entrepreneur Gina Madu, mastermind of  SKNY box and fellow graduate of Google Campus business training for Mums. 

SKNY box from the outside

Firstly, relax, SKNY might be pronounced skinny but is an acronym for ‘Stronger, Knowledgable New You' which as a concept alone captured my interest (although I also liked their mantra of ‘we do not do skinny’ too). So what could possibly be delivered to your door that will create this strength and knowledge exactly? In summary the box is made up of 6 - 8 items which includes a range of snacks, food, drinks, a spice & recipe kit and a bespoke fitness plan. 

It’s one thing to meet a business brain who’s bubbly and disarmingly friendly but completely another to totally covet their business idea and this was all before I’d even received my SKNY box through the post. Now lets get down to what you really want to know, what’s inside the box?

  • A packet of Sweet Coconut and Vanilla Propercorn 
  • A sizeable tub of Natvia sweetener (200g)
  • Rosemary and Thyme Soffles Pitta Chips 
  • A pot of Kabuto Noodles
  • Beauty Candy – Strawberry candies with collagen
  • Nakd Cashew Cookie Bar 
  • Flavourmagic Harissa Spice sachet and recipe card
  • A Raw Booster sachet
  • Carton of Green Lemon Hampstead Iced Tea
  • A pack of Lemony Lover Oloves - that’s not a typo, just a nifty play on words.
  • 30 Day Plan Fat Buster Winter Workout

In the last year having suffered a mild gluten intolerance and completed Sarah Wilson’s 'I Quit Sugar' detox, I would describe myself as quite nutrition conscious and I feel quite well versed in swiftly deciphering most food ingredients labels and confirming a snack's suitability to be devoured or hastily abandoned. Generally the main reason I would avoid something like this would be because of the likelihood of receiving a barrage of foods that are labelled as ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’ but are instead packed full of sweeteners or fructose to generate flavour. However, I was very nicely surprised indeed. Virtually all of these items were things that I would happily feed my children (apart from the the collagen candies and the Iced tea of course) although the main USP was actually I didn't want to share this with anyone. 

I have already been converted to the calorie free natural sweetener Natvia and found it quite hard to find in health food shops so to receive a healthy sized tub was very gratifying indeed and I will most definitely be attempting the Tzatziki recipe flavoured with harissa spice - and not just because it's main ingredient is beetroot and therefore it will be pink. The verdict on sugar content? The Iced Tea came top of the list in terms of sugar levels and the Beauty Candies are full of sweetener but these items aside I would happily devour all of this in one sitting. 

The 30 Day Fat Buster Winter Workout leaflet gives you a training schedule detailing a daily activity which includes rest from exercise every 3 days. It then talks you through the weight training moves using pictures as well as description and two high intensity interval training routines. The instructions were clear and easy to follow (despite being written in very tiny print) and each move included moderations for beginners.  

So overall I was very impressed indeed. In fact I think I may have developed a minor crush this snack box and will now commence figuring out how I can shoehorn a SKNY box subscription onto my Christmas list. 

To receive an exclusive discount for Mumsnetters of 50% off your first SKNY box - click HERE 


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Who needs Black Friday when we have Shop Local Saturday.

Your comprehensive Christmas Gift Guide, with a distinctly local feel. 

That's right, at Mumsnet Hackney we are celebrating everything that is local and not just because we like shopping on our doorstep but also (and we are trying not to sound smug here) the local shops across Hackney really are worth shouting about. So, to mark this Saturday's Shop Local day, we would like to present you with our Stoke Newington Christmas Gift guide. We have walked the length and breadth of the High Street and Church Street in the name of finding some, in our view, frankly delightful gift ideas for all your family members. Don't worry, if you're not familiar with any of the shops mentioned here just click on their names to find out all their details. Enjoy!

We'll start with something for the notoriously hard-to-buy-for men in your life, be it Dads, Husbands, Uncles or Brothers...

We still can't believe we nabbed this for £15
So here's something that'll really score some serious brownie points. Of course, we know we are very spoiled to be able to get our hands on one of these from the Stoke Newington Book Shop - a signed copy of 'Six Poets from Hardy to Larkin: An anthology by Alan Bennett' at a bargain price of £15. These may well have already gone by the time you get there BUT if you do go along this Saturday you can get some book recommendations from local literary experts, as the organisers of the world famous Stoke Newington Literary Festival will be taking it over for the day- click here for more details.

Butchery courses start from £75, aprons are included!
Going with the theme of the gift of knowledge, how about giving someone in your the opportunity to hone their Christmas lunch carving skills, or simply learn how to make sausages? Get yourself along to the award winning Meat N16 Butcher and Delicatessen , not just for the Christmas bird/beef/both but also comprehensive range of Butchery Courses - Meat the Steak/Bird/Sausage or Lamb.

Shaving soap costs £9.75 and brush £32.75

When it comes to the minefield that is male grooming, this is surely one of the most luxurious items you could treat your man to. This Raktval Shaving Soap contains only natural ingredients: including almond oil; patchouli; cedarwood and fennel. It's also is paraben free and is found in gift and lifestyle shop Search and Rescue.

For the ladies in your life...

Scarf retails at £60 and hat is £40
Knitwear at Christmas, are we really that cliched? Well, when it comes in the form of designer knitwear by Antwerp brand Morrison - found in your local fashion boutique Hub - yes we certainly are! Produced in Scotland, this Howlin' hat and scarf comes in a gorgeous neutral rich grey with a flash of mustard is already on our Christmas list.

Available in a range of colours at £9 p/100g

Keeping with the theme of wool, this gift could be given to any knitting enthusiast in your life, regardless of gender. We just couldn't resist including this beautiful, top quality wool, available from knitting mecca 'Knit with Attitude'. This will also do wonders for your carbon footprint as the brilliantly named 'Wool and the Gang' is produced just up the road in Dalston.

Beautiful hand made jug, £50

Of course, for the non-knitters of this world, how about a beautiful wheel thrown, reduction fired earthenware jug from your local fashion boutique Hub made by British ceramicist Kate Hill.

Earrings start at £12 and broaches are £2

If you're looking for something unashamedly feminine, then look no further than gift shop Of Cabbages and Kings, who stock a fantastic range of jewellery by local designer, Wolf and Moon. We are already addicted to this simply gorgeous geometric, mirrored selection of broaches and earrings. Also, as part of a special Shop Local promotion, if you spend £20 in store on Saturday you will receive a free tote bag which will be upgraded to a canvas tote should you spend more than £50.

Top is £18 and leggings are £22
As we have hands on experience of being pregnant at Christmas we're pretty sure this maternity pyjama set from baby shop JoJo Maman Bebe will go down a storm with the pregnant lady in your life.

Something for the kids...

Having already typecast ladies as being knitting enthusiasts we have had a strong word with ourselves and as a result have a rather lovely selection of non-gender specific toys that instead, hopefully more usefully, are categorised by age. Starting with baby...

Prices range from £21 to £30 depending on size

Actually, we say baby but these simply gorgeous lace up knitted boots by Padraig Cottage come in sizes up to the age of 4. These are world famous on Church Street and are found in baby and maternity wear shop and hypnobirthing venue Born.

These retail at £18

For the 3 and Ups - how about something Made in Dads Shed? No not literally, but a brand of beautiful wooden toy cars stocked by Search and Rescue. These solid wood cars are handmade with old fashioned wood working techniques, using dowls instead of screws and are coated in water-based paint.

Available for a fee of £15

Allow your little one to really make their mark with this cuddly toy that you can decorate. Better still - when you get bored you can just put it in the washing machine and start again. Suitable for ages 3 to 5, this ingenious toy is found in Route 73 Kids.

Possibly also one for your husband, these cost £30.
According to local skating expert and shop proprietor Tom - of Toms Skate Shop - it is possible to start skateboarding at around the age of 4 and this Rocket 29" Skate board is the beginners board of choice. Tom stocks the full range of these in various colours and designs. They also come with high quality, urethane wheels as standard. 

A little something extra for parents...

Purchase these online for £19.99
Having only recently raved about this product in our last review it wouldn't seem right not to include this ingenious Scooterslingz bag, produced by local designer Penny Othen. To read our very complimentary review please click HERE and to buy yourself one click HERE

And finally we couldn't do a Stokey Gift guide without including these little beauties that surely are the most 'local' of gifts you can buy...

Bag yourself one of these for £5.

Show your love for all things Stokey with this vibrant funky tote bag from Early Bird Designs - please note 'I heart Hackney' is also available. Whilst you're there also check out their fantastic range of Christmas cards and wrapping.

Get yourself to The Ark to grab one of these.

These Big Tomato cream ware mugs are found in many a gift shop, however what makes these ones sold by veritable Aladdin's cave of a gift shop The Ark so special? These have a bespoke local twist including 'Stokey girl', 'Stokey Dad' and our favourite 'Stokey bloke'. At £10.50 each you won't be stoney broke (sorry!)

Of course, this is just a tiny snapshot of the amazing array of local shops in Stoke Newington however, we really hope that when it comes to Christmas gifts this guide has given you a little local inspiration.