June 2017 Hot Topic Mini Haul

Have you visited your local Hot Topic store lately?  Or better yet, check out their online store?  I have to tell you, I am really impressed with their super fun, eclectic collection of goodies!  And better yet, they carry an amazing amount of plus size cute clothing items as well!!

Yes, curvy girls and guys rejoice!  We too should be able to wear our fandoms and beloved characters on shirts and hoodies and other fun wearables, and it seems like the industry is finally starting to listen to our pleas!

I have ordered Disney and Totoro and Gudetama shirts in my size from Hot Topic, and have been very pleased with the quality and the fit!  The stores are completely filled to the brim with fun treasures my entire family enjoys, even the youngest kids.

Hot Topic can definitely be pricey, but luckily they are almost always running sales and promotions, so watch for those.

I snagged a few super cute Disney goodies during a recent sale, I thought I would share with you here.

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I have love all things Disney, honestly, but there is a special place in my heart for Stitch and the Disney Villains.  (My oldest daughter gasps with disbelief every time i root for the villains, hehe.) 

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Are you as obsessed with blind bags as my family is?  We can hardly leave a store without grabbing one or two or sometimes a handful of these mystery bags of awesome.  Everything from Tsum Tsums, to Funkos, to whatever other little treasure we happen to find.  This time it was the Disney Princess Figural Keychains, a series I have not gotten any of yet.  What is awesome about blind bags and our big family is, if you don’t get what you want, there is definitely someone here who will claim the prize for you.

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Blind bags are almost never on sale, so I was excited to grab a few on discount.  And since this is a new series for me, I was pretty excited to get any princess.  Which one is your favorite?

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I got Jasmine and Ariel!  Woo hoo!!  Very excited with these two!  They are pretty heavy and feel nice and sturdy.  I don’t know that I would use them as actual keychains, I think I would be worried about them getting messed up.  But they will definitely get displayed!

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Guys!!!!!!!  Oh my gosh!!!!!!!  Are you seeing these insanely gorgeous Beauty & The Beast slippers?!?!?!  I saw these and my jaw just dropped, they are soooo pretty!  I love the gorgeous stained glass art, and these are seriously comfy slippers!!!  It is way too hot to wear them now, believe me I tried, but I will be rocking these just as soon as the cooler weather hits!  So in love!

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I love Ursula.  I watched the Little Mermaid in theaters with my sister, mom and grandma when it first came out.  Something about the ocean and the mermaids and all of the magic……

When my cousin was pretty little, we used to babysit her quite a bit, especially in the summertime.  She was obsessed with this movie and insisted on playing The Little Mermaid in the swimming pool all summer long.  She was, of course, Ariel, and somehow, I was always Ursula.  Haha!  Maybe that is where my fondness of the sea witch came from, but either way, I totally dig this Ursula tumbler, with the pretty purple colors and it glows in the dark!

I’m always sipping water, why not do it in style?  And the Ursula Tsum Tsum is adorable as well!  I also snagged a Maleficent hair bow, complete with horns.  So fabulous!

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Besides the Stitch shirt, I also snagged a pretty eye shadow palette, a Stitch Tsum Tsum, a pretty Ohana wrap bracelet, and the super adorable stitch earrings that look like he is biting your ear lobes when you wear them.

Not bad for a mini Disney haul from an unexpected source, am I right?  We have gotten some cool Funko Pop figures from Hot Topic along with neat Batman and Joker goodies for the boys and Star Wars stuff for Abe.  They have a little bit of everything, definitely worth a look if you haven’t checked them out recently!

What do you like to snag from Hot Topic?

 

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Old Williamsburgh Candle from Dollar Tree: Caution!

In a recent trip to one of our local Dollar Tree stores, I came across a new candle that I had not seen there before.  It was shaped like the top portion of a wine glass, had a cork topper, and an intriguing scent, “Chardonnay Spritzer”.  I didn’t see any other varieties, but fell in love with the lovely aroma, so I went ahead and purchased one.

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I set it near my desk when we got home, and then got to work on a crochet project.  Not long after I sat down, I suddenly heard the sound of something falling.  I looked around and couldn’t see the source, so I kept working.

Soon later, I heard the sound again, only this time, I saw what was making the noise.  The newly purchased candle was falling apart!  Shards of glass were breaking free and falling off.  Nothing had touched this candle in any way, it just started self destructing, without even being lit!

I immediately decided I wouldn’t dream of taking the chance of burning this candle, no matter how lovely the scent.  I have no clue what caused this candle to break like this, but would use extreme caution if purchasing any.

The next time I went to the Dollar Tree, they still had some left, some of which were broken just like mine did.  Little shards of glass, littering the shelf.  I did not risk buying anymore.

I am unfamiliar with this candle company, and have never purchased any candles from them before.  The scent of this particular candle is amazing, it really drew me in.  It really does smell just like a chardonnay spritzer, tangy and refreshing.  What a bummer that the vessel was such a dud!

Have you ever heard of this candle company?  Has anyone else had this experience with the glass breaking?  I’m curious to know if this was a fluke, or maybe even damaged product that mistakenly got sent out for sale.

Happy Yarn Mail May 2017 Review

*UPDATE* 

Save your money, friends.  This box is a terrible value and the company is run very unprofessionally.  The patterns are not unique, and the extra gifts are junk, in this girl’s humble opinion.

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Hello, friends!

It’s time for another Happy Yarn Mail review!  Today, we have May’s box.  As a price reminder, this box costs $29.95 plus shipping, which for me ends up being about $40 per box.  What’s included for that price, is a unique crochet project, the yarn to complete the project, and a little extra crochet related goody.

There is a new feature with this box, where you can purchase add ons to the box for an additional fee.  Last month’s extra was a polymer clay crochet hook, and the extra for June was a yarn bowl, both decorated with the happy sprinkles we see on the box each month.  The items were super cute, but quite pricey, so they did not find their way into my cart.  (The hook was $33 and the yarn bowl was $40.) 

Another new feature with this subscription box, is a mini version of the box for $19.95.  This box features the unique pattern, the yarn needed to complete the project, and nothing else.  When I checked the shipping price for the mini box, it looks like it would cost me $26-$27 total, which is really the price I think the box should be with the extras included.

A quick note on shipping, the boxes get shipped at the end of the month.  So, while I purchased the May box on May 1st, it did not ship until the very end of the month.  What I like about the shipping, however, is that it is sent by 2 day Priority, so once it is shipped, you have that pretty box on your porch waiting for you before you know it!

So let’s see what was in May’s box!

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Upon opening the box, I was greeted with the prettiest collection of happy, sunny, summery yarn!  The pattern for this box is a Pink Lemonade Clutch, and these little balls of yarn just scream pink lemonade and summer!  There is also a skein of Lion Brand Fast Track yarn, something I have never used before and was very excited to try out!  I believe all the yarn is Lion Brand, though there are not any labels on any of the yarn.

My first reaction to the project and goodies was a definite squeal of excitement.  It is a project that my soon to be 12 year old daughter would just love to have, and it is something that I would not have thought of or chosen to do on my own.

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This cup though!  So stinkin’ cute!!!!  Pink and gold and just adorable.  I love it.  It says “Chain 1 Sip 1”, which as a crocheter, made me giggle.  This is sooooo much better than the plastic bag that was sent in April’s box!  It also came with some herbal tea and directions on how to make your own honey lemon iced tea, specifically for this tumbler.

I was so in love with this whole box, it really did make me happy.

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The project was super simple to follow, I feel confident that my daughter, a new crocheter, could easily make several of these for her friends with no problem.  The Fast Track yarn really does work up very quickly, and the fringe is the perfect accent to the finished project.  This clutch can easily be made in an afternoon.

What I am most pleased with this month, is the amount of yarn included in the box!  If you will recall, I had a real problem just finishing the project for April with the included yarn.  There simply was not enough and I had to make adjustments to the project just to get it finished.  You can see in the blue basket next to my finished clutch, all of the leftover yarn I had.  No stress, and several little pretties to add to my stash, thank you very much!

I have spent a lot of time researching yarn boxes since April’s box, and have come to the conclusion that there simply is not anything that can  compare to Happy Yarn Mail.  They are all almost exclusively knitting boxes, and include patterns for things I have zero interest in making.  To be perfectly honest, the other boxes seem old lady oriented.  How many shawls and socks can one person knit before losing their will to live?

And besides that, this girl is too legit to knit.  hehehe

This box includes patterns for things very similar to what I would normally be hooking up.  I can easily see myself pinning all of these projects to my crochet board on Pinterest.  They are young and hip and fun.  And being a fellow creative person, I can tell you that these projects open doors in my head for so many other ideas, fun twists or new ways of using bits and pieces of these projects for completely different applications.

I still think the box is a little overpriced.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love and adore this box.  I just wish it cost less.  It would be great if they offered a discount for ordering several months at a time, like most all other subscription boxes do.  If this was offered with a nice discount, I would definitely order a 6 or 12 month subscription.

At the end of the day, I guess I look at it as a splurge.  A little gift to yourself once a month.  I have already ordered June’s box, after which I saw coupon codes released for $5 off the box.  Boo.  But I can’t wait to see what June’s box brings, and of course, I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you all.

Do you get any yarn subscription boxes?  Are there any hidden awesome crochet boxes I don’t know about?  If so, let me know!

 

Gamer Block April 2017 Review

Last year for Christmas, I bought Abe a 6 month subscription to one of our favorite old subscription boxes, Nerd Block.  It had been a while since we purchased any sub boxes, and after the fire last year, we found ourselves needing to replace a lot of our awesome, geeky, little goodies.

I have majorly slacked on reviews and postings, but will say he was pretty happy with the last several boxes he received.  A neat option for the Nerd Block subscription, is that you can switch to another one of their many boxes to try something new out for a month or two.  The first four boxes he kept as Classic Blocks, and for April he switched for the Gamer Block M for Mature box.  Next Month is his last box unless we choose to renew, and he has already switched that for a Sci Fi Block.

I thought it would be a good idea to have him take over and review the box for you guys, since I was not interested in this block at all.  Like, not even a little bit.  The print included in this month’s box majorly creeps me out, I have already requested that it not be displayed where I might accidentally see it for fear of the nightmares that would follow!

*heebie jeebies!*

Anyway, I will let Abe take over here and tell you what he thinks of this month’s box!  🙂

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Hello bloggers?… bloggies? ….readers.  As previously mentioned my name is Abe and I am the old man of the family.  Dad, husband, and full time taxi service are my occupation.  I also happen to have a another job where I do IT work for a large local corporation.  I have been cajoled into reviewing this box, I am not much of a writer so my sincerest apologies before you dive into the train wreck that is to follow.

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First off, unlike the Classic Block, they do not set a theme for the Gamer Block.  You can, however, can go to the Nerd Block website and they will tell you some of the brands and franchises that will be included in the block to help you decide if you want it or not. Before I switched I researched the next block and found out that it would include Blizzard and Fallout items.  It mentioned a few others that I am not a big fan of, but those two specifically were what sealed it for me.  I could just imagine the awesome Fallout or Blizzard shirt they would be including and had to give it a shot.

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Unfortunately, the shirt was a Tekken shirt which, while I do recognize the game, it is not a franchise or genre I am overly fond of.  Luckily the shirt is well made, the design doesn’t scream “Tekken”, and it fits well.  Overall, I would say the shirt was one of the few wins in the box, it is one of the few non black shirts they have sent me.

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While the print doesn’t give me the creeps, I will say that this is tied for the worst item in the box (more on the other later).  This is a screen from the classic game Metroid, a game I have never really played.  The quality of the print is sub-par in my opinion.  There have been many Metroid games, some even with amazing graphics and art.  It is kind of a cop out to use an old 8 or 16 bit screen cap as the “print”.  I suppose there may be some fans of this style, but it is not me.  This was quickly given away to one of the boys, and I am sure it will be forgotten and trashed at some point.

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Finally an item I can get excited about!  Blizzard has always been one of my favorite video game developers and I have been an avid fan and player of their products since the late 90s.  These little blind boxes can be found in stores and they are not cheap, so I was excited to get one.  The character is not important for this review (though it was Tyrande if you are curious), but it is well made and I was happy with the way it looked. One knock I would give to at least the character I got is that would not stand up on its own which makes displaying it difficult at best.

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This was probably the second best item in here for me (yes it is a sticker if that tells you anything about my overall feeling on the box).  I am a fan of Fallout and have played every game since the first.  I can always find a place for a nice, well made decal.

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Every Game M block comes with a free download for a specific game on Steam. This months download is the other item that is tied for the worst in the box, a 16 bit retro style game called Camp Sunshine.  I kind of like the way they package the download in a retro style video game box, but lets be honest, these will probably be thrown away by most people and doesn’t add any real value to the box.

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I have downloaded and played about an hour of the game.  My overall impression is it is a lazy attempt to ride the coattails of the wildly popular Five Nights at Freddies series and has nothing really new, innovative, or in my opinion, interesting to offer the horror game genre.  That one hour is probably all I will ever play of that game.  For reference I don’t switch games quickly and I am willing to pay up for a game that I really like.  This is not a game I would have ever bought for myself and my brief test run in it just affirmed that belief.

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I am not a Halo fan and have never even played a Halo game, however I am a huge book nerd and I will most likely read this all the way through. This book seems to be aimed more at the older teen audience which is fine.  I have many books aimed at that demographic.

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I am a little bummed I switched to this box for the month as there were really only 2 items in it that I really liked.  Overall I have been happy with my Nerd Block subscription, and I feel like I usually get a really good value for what they cost.  This box is definitely the exception, even if I thoroughly liked all of the items, I kind of feel like more should have been included to get the value to a point where this box would be “worth it”.  I also think they should just give you a 10$ steam gift certificate, (the supposed value of the game included) that way you can get a game you would for sure enjoy.

Breakdown of my estimated value:

T-Shirt: 10$

Print: 1$ (honestly I would probably give this 0$ I could print something out on my printer and enjoy it more)

Blizzard Blind Box: 10$ (this is what they are selling for right now retail)

Fallout Decal: 2$

Camp Sunshine: 10$ (I currently play FREE games that are 100% more fun than this)

Halo Paper Back: 10$

So this box had a total retail value of 42$ which in general seems kind of a low end value for what you get in most of these subscription boxes.  Most people consider a 15$ value above the price of a subscription box the low end of what you should expect. Even if I liked every item in the box this one just wouldn’t make the cut.

Until next time

Abe…

Well, there you have it!  An honest review for the intended “nerd” recipient.  I will say, Abe was majorly bummed by this box, which very rarely happens with his Nerd Block subscription.  As with all sub boxes, each month will vary greatly, and you will definitely have boxes that you love more than others.

Stay tuned for more reviews!

As a reminder, we were not paid or compensated in any way for this review, and we paid for this subscription with our own money.  All opinions are our own and honest, letting you know what you can expect from companies before investing your hard earned cash!

Happy Yarn Mail April 2017 Review Update

*UPDATE* 

Save your money, friends.  This box is a terrible value and the company is run very unprofessionally.  The patterns are not unique, and the extra gifts are junk, in this girl’s humble opinion.

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As promised, I have worked through the project in the April 2017 Happy Yarn Mail Box, and have some added notes for my original review.

April’s project is a Crochet Hoop Art Hydrangea.  The subscription box comes with written instructions, as well as a link to a YouTube video, which further explains the instructions.  The online video has had some issues with subscribers even accessing it, because of some confusing “is it lower case or upper case letters” in the url provided.  Perhaps the links should be directly emailed to the subscribers when their package is shipped?  I think that will save on a lot of frustration and confusion.

The main part of the project uses the mostly full skein of off white yarn.  I had plenty of this yarn to spare, even though I found myself needing to add an extra row to the project to make it fit correctly in the embroidery hoop.  I think I could easily make at least one more background with the leftover off white yarn.

The reason I had to add an extra row is because I am a very tight crocheter.  I think it must be from all of the amigurumis that I like to make, but I just think projects look cleaner and nicer with a tight tension, and bonus, that means I use less yarn.  For loose crocheters, you should still have plenty of yarn to finish at least one background.

I found that the written instructions left out some details that a beginner could be confused by.  I know I would have.  The video tutorial mentions the missing bits, but for people who may be crocheting on the go or who don’t have access to the video, it could be frustrating if you don’t naturally know how it should have been worded.

Attaching the background to the hoop is pretty simple, and is demonstrated in the video for those unable to imagine it.

Now, on to the flowers!

This is where I got extremely frustrated.  First of all, the hook size recommended for the flowers is not given in mm size.  Most of my hooks do not have the letters on them, so I am used to grabbing the hook by the recommended mm size.  The way this pattern is written, I ended up grabbing a hook that was far too big, wondering why it would be written this way and finishing the first flower before realizing I misread the hook size.

Frogged!

The hook size is mentioned more clearly in the video, so that is helpful.

Now, remember when I mentioned that I am a very tight crocheter?  This should have been super helpful when making the flowers, since such tiny amounts of yarn were given.  We were supposed to have enough yarn to make 2 white flowers, 2 dark blue flowers, and 11-12 light blue flowers.  In the video, it is even mentioned how she gave you extra light blue yarn to make as many extra little flowers as you like.

Let me tell you, it was a real struggle just getting the promised amount of flowers made!!  On the white flowers, it was so close, I was worried if I would have enough tail left to sew it to the project!  The dark blue left me the tinest bit longer of a tail on my second flower, and the light blue did not even have enough for me to finish the 11th flower.  I had to finish it with three petals instead of four, even though I made sure to leave very short tails for sewing, knowing that there was just not enough yarn.

That is such a huge bummer!  How stressful, worrying if you will have enough yarn to finish a project you paid so much for!

I also wish that the instruction booklet would mention the brand and exact color names of the included yarns, so that it is easy to buy more, in this case, just to finish the project!

In the video, when the flowers are attached, there is no sewing done at all, the tails are just fished through the project and tied together in knots on the back.  I found that for myself, it was easier to control the project if I did light sewing to each flower as I attached it, just tacking it into place.  I finished off tying the very short tails together as was done in the video tutorial.

When I did my box overview, I was confused by the trim and glue, thinking it was meant for the little plastic notions bag, since they were inside of it.  It is not mentioned at all in the instruction booklet, but the trim is for the outside ring of the hoop on your finished project.

Attaching the trim was simple, and the glue was a good, tacky quality that held the trim in place as I went around the hoop adding the finishing touch.  I wish there was about an inch more of the trim, just because I think it would have looked a little nicer if it had went completely around the hoop, but it is a cute detail that is a perfect finish to this cute project.

I absolutely love how the project turned out, and I have to admit that this is a very unique and fun new way to use and display crochet.  I am sad that the amount of yarn was off for the flowers, when it would have been easy and inexpensive enough to add a few more yards to the boxes, guaranteeing success for everyone.

I bought two more hoops, slightly smaller, to make two additional colors of flowers with yarn I already had.  I had plenty of the off white yarn from the box to do the two extra projects.  I purchased additional mini pom pom trim from Walmart.  I love how these look on my wall above my yarn collection!

This box is definitely overpriced, especially when the exclusive patterns show up for sale soon after the boxes are shipped out.  I still plan on testing a few more boxes to see if the value is improved and if the kinks are worked out, since this is a brand new box.

Stay tuned for May’s box and pattern review!  Happy crafting, friends!  🙂