Shark Friends

I have been supersizing lots of patterns lately by using fun and fluffy mega yarns.  In the spirit of Shark Week, and because we love the misunderstood fish so much, I couldn’t help but whip up a few shark friends for the kids.

This little, or should I say big, guy grew from ping pong ball size to softball size, simply by changing the yarn.  And the chenille yarn is so fluffy and soft, it makes him extra fun to snuggle!

 

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This fun hammer head shark turned out even bigger than I anticipated!  Noah claimed him right away.  Notice his shark themed pjs!  Hehe!  He is super cuddly and soft, and I think he will go nicely with his shark snuggle sack!

Get the pattern for the Hammerhead Shark by visiting Jillian over at Spin A Yarn Crochet or click HERE.

I hope you have had an awesome Shark Week!

Happy Yarn Mail July 2017 Review

*sigh*

Guys, this month’s box is a hot mess from start to finish.  So many issues, it’s kind of ridiculous.  Let’s jump right in so I can address them all with you.

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Shipping is never an issue with this box.  You are forced to pay big bucks for Priority Mail, (almost $10!), so when it does finally get shipped at the end of the month, it arrives at your door very quickly.

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The Happy Yarn Mail July project is a Summer Sweet-Sicle Pillow.  Included in this month’s box is the pattern, four balls of yarn, a packet of fiber stuffing, 2 safety eyes, and the water bottle is this month’s extra crochet related goody.

So right off the bat, let me tell you, the blue yarn included in this box is not the yarn pictured on the project booklet.  In the photo, the pillow is made with all pastel colors.  The blue included, while a slightly larger size than the other balls, just does not look quite as nice as the blue in the photos.  It is also a different texture than the other yarn balls included.  It feels rough and splits like crazy!  Yes, you can still make the project, (kind of, but I will get to that), but it looks quite different and is really false advertising.

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The water bottle is teeny tiny, guys!  Like definitely child sized.  It’s not worth the hassle of filling for an adult, it is comically small.  Unless you fill it with tequila to help numb your pain from paying so much for this box….  Yes, it has a cute decal on it.  Yes, it is a crochet related decal.  But, for this I pay $10 more than the yarn only box?  Ugh.  Major buyer’s remorse this month.  And we already received a cute tumbler a couple boxes ago and there was a mug a few boxes back.  How many drink vessels does one need?  Luckily I have an 11 year old crochet enthusiast that I can gift this to.

Okay, so let’s talk about the issue that every single box since the inception of this subscription has encountered.  Hard to access, or in this month’s case, non existent video tutorials.

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They no longer include a YouTube link, they send you directly to their website where you will be greeted with this message.  Yes, they still do super secret passwords, which they now include in the box, but if the link they tell you to go to to access it does not exist, that won’t do you much good now will it?

I will be honest, the video tutorials really aren’t much in the way of a tutorial.  When they actually exist, they are not a true video version of the pattern, but rather a short video with a tip for doing one or two parts of the pattern.  Regardless, I pay nearly $40 a month for this box, you bet your yarn stash I am going to watch that video.  If I can….

This is the 5th month of issues with the videos.  Enough is enough already.

It gets worse though, guys.

So this pattern.  It is majorly jacked.  Like, if you blindly follow it, assuming that for $40, surely they have the time to write and test a working pattern, you will be sorely mistaken this month.

This “pillow” is made in 3 pieces.  there are the two front and back panels, one side gusset, and the stick.  The panels come together fine, but you quickly realize that this “pillow” is super tiny and really, more of a cute little stuffy.

The gusset, or “side panel” is first of all super annoying and a weird way to put this item together.  But most importantly, the pattern for it is COMPLETELY WRONG.

I have been crocheting, creating mostly amigurumis and other small projects like this for as long as I have been stitching.  I know how the patterns work, I know how the pieces should look as it comes together, and I know when something is off.  I have done crochet testing for some of the big, well known crochet designers out there, so my eye is trained for spotting errors.

This project is not possible to complete as it is written.

I had to add almost 30 rows of pink to correctly finish this gusset.  What is helpful, is to have your panels in front of you, so you can measure your progress and get the right counts for your project.  But don’t trust this pattern because it is a hot mess.

Assembly is a sloppy nightmare as well.  All of the long, tangled strands of yarn to keep track of, it’s a strange way to suggest finishing this project.  Not to mention that most of the very similar FREE patterns like this do not have a side gusset, but rather stitch the two sides together in a prettier finish, like a finishing row of single crochet, etc.

The last issue with the pattern is the stick.  This is such an easy piece of the puzzle, it shouldn’t be an issue.  But it is.

In the written pattern, it has you do 8 rounds for the stick.  What I immediately noticed upon finishing the 8th round, is that it was tiny.  In fact, it was too small and looked wrong.  So I referred to the photo on the cover of the booklet.  The stick in the photo is definitely longer than 8 rounds.  In fact, if you count the rows, it looks to be about 12 rounds.  This makes a huge difference in the finished appearance of this project!

It is a real pet peeve of mine to purchase a pattern as advertised in the photo, only to have the actual pattern not match the photo you based your purchase on!  It happens often!  And it sucks!  If the artist fixes something or does something differently to achieve the look in the photo they use to bait you to purchase the directions, the very least they could do is to make the pattern reflect those changes!  Otherwise they are setting you up to fail, and that, my friends, is bad business.

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Sorry for the dark photo, friends, it is a dark and stormy day here today!  But there is my finished project, completed with loads of editing to the written pattern.  I added the blush marks with some leftover pink yarn, just as a finishing touch for my preference.  You can see how much darker the blue yarn included this month is compared to the booklet photo.  It seems better suited for a bomb pop stuffy, than this pastel colored pattern.  And imagine the stick 4 rounds shorter, it would look silly and disproportionate to the entire project.

For $40 dollars, you are getting wrong colored yarn, a completely wrong pattern, and a tiny water bottle.  The video tutorial does not exist as of this moment, and the people who have asked or mentioned it on the Facebook Page have not been answered, though the people asking how to subscribe, aka give her money, are quickly answered with links to purchase.

Hmmmmm…….

Nope.  This stinks, friends.  Save your money.  Do not bother with this box, it is a hot mess.  Go on Pinterest and find some cute patterns, pay a crochet designer $5 or less for a tested pattern, use your coupons and buy pretty yarn in the colors and quality that you love.

This box is too expensive.  There are too many issues every month.  I have run out of supplies or had to adjust patterns, it’s just not worth the hassle.  I wanted to love this box because I am passionate about yarn and fiber arts, but this just is not a good deal or a good box.   I simply can not recommend it with good faith.

These boxes were sent out with substitution yarn.  That should have been addressed.  The video tutorial does not work.  That should have been addressed.  The pattern is all wrong.  That should have been addressed.  The silence is screaming run away, and I am definitely listening!

Meanwhile, enjoy one of many FREE patterns for a very similar design that is written correctly and does not include the messy gusset.

Click HERE to be taken to a FREE pattern, written by Sarah over at Repeat Crafter Me.  Hers is in patriotic colors, but could easily be absolutely any color you desire with any yarn you like.  You can also find loads of very similar patterns all over Pinterest.

 

 

Happy Shark Week!

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Are you huge fans of Shark Week like my family is?  We just love it, even if all the shows make the ocean a wee bit scary!  *cue Jaws theme*

I made this fun snuggle sack for Noah last summer, it was the perfect project for summer time, and it kept him warm all fall and winter.  It is made with Bernat Blanket yarn, so it is super plush and cuddly!

Every night when I tuck him in, I tell him to “Feed the shark!”  He giggles and then climbs right in.

You can find the pattern for the Shark Snuggle Sack from Yarnspirations by clicking HERE.

Enjoy Shark Week, and don’t feed the sharks!  Unless they are made with fluffy yarn!  😉

 

Happy Yarn Mail June 2017 Review

Another month has gone by, and that means it is time for a new Happy Yarn Mail review!  Let’s jump right in!

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As always, this box arrives looking absolutely adorable, with it’s colorful sprinkles and overall happy design.

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Upon opening the box, this is what you see.  The June Happy Yarn Mail project is a Patriotic Amigurumi Bear.  This box shipped at the very end of June, so it did arrive just in time to quickly whip this project up before the 4th of July, and he can easily stay out all month long for decoration, or even year round, just as a patriotic teddy bear.

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Included in the box this month is four skeins of yarn, (a larger one in brown, and three smaller skeins in red, white, and blue) the pattern for the bear, stuffing and safety eyes, and the two extras are the 8 count package of sparklers and the sunglasses.

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I modified the colors on the shirt just for personal preference, and added some cute star shaped buttons I had on hand.  If you were giving this to a small child, it would be best to embroider the star, as shown in the instructions, to avoid a choking hazard.  I also made a little red, white and blue sparkler for the teddy bear to hold, using some of the left over yarn.  I think it looks adorable!

This pattern was easy and quick to make.  There were some issues for me with the written instructions, but overall, if you have experience with amigurumi, your instinct will help you correct those issues.  Also, each month, there is a video link for tutorial purposes, however, that is slightly misleading.  Mostly, it shows you a tip or trick for one aspect of the project, it does not show you a full video tutorial, so if you were hoping for that, you will be disappointed.

Another issue with the video links, first they were difficult to decipher in the first few boxes, causing issues for people looking for the online help.  Then, with last month’s link, it required a super secret password that you had to ask for through direct message.  Frustrating.  This month, the password was included in the box.  They are working out the kinks, I get that.  But it seems like that is a big one to have so many issues with.

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I did not notice the writing on the sunglasses until a few days after opening the package, and while they are cute and better than the plain ones I thought were included…..I have to say, this month made me wish I had ordered the mini version of the box to save some money.

I have so many conflicting feeling on Happy Yarn Mail!  I feel obligated to support the project because it is crochet.  It’s yarn!  And a pattern!  And an extra little goody, delivered right to my door!

But it is greatly overpriced.

I also find myself needing to modify quite a few parts of the patterns.  I appreciate that they are including more yarn, because my first box did not even have enough to finish the project.  But the value is just not there for sustaining this subscription long term.

This is not a box I feel happy paying $40 for.  I’m sorry.  I love the idea of it, I enjoy the projects, I like the thought of crochet related goodies, but I don’t like feeling like I am overspending on a monthly novelty.  I would rather buy $40 of yarn at the local craft store!

I still say I would happily pay $25 total for the full box.  I have ordered July’s box, but I think it will be the last full size box I will order.  I will try the mini box, but I don’t think I will find the value there at all, without the little extras.

I feel like it is important to support the crochet designers out there, especially the ones creating projects that you enjoy making, but the best way to do that is to purchase some of their patterns and leave them good reviews to keep them motivated to keep creating content.

While I feel my intent is good, supporting this particular designer by purchasing this monthly box, I think my goodwill is getting squeezed out by the hefty price tag.

Just my opinion, friends.

 

 

Happy Yarn Mail May 2017 Review

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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!

 

Happy Yarn Mail April 2017 Review Update

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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.

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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!  🙂

 

Happy Yarn Mail April 2017 Review

I am a sucker for subscription boxes, and while there are several out there that cater to crafters and even yarn lovers, they are typically geared towards knitters and include patterns for projects I would never make.  Or they come with super expensive yarn that I would have trouble finding, never mind how impractical it would be for the projects I tend to make.

So when I heard about Happy Yarn Mail, and saw a preview of the first month’s box, I have to admit, I was pretty darn excited!  On the website, Happy Yarn Mail promises an exclusive crochet design each month, only for subscribers and designed especially for the box, all items needed to make the project minus the hook, an exclusive video tutorial for the pattern, and extra crochet freebies designed exclusively for subscribers.

The monthly box costs $29.95 plus shipping, which for me was almost $10, ouch.  I handed over my $40 and happily waited for my Happy Yarn Mail to arrive.

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How stinkin’ pretty is that box?  I mean…….so cute!!!  It definitely made me smile, and looked super cute, waiting for me on my doorstep.

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Inside was a pretty pop of hot pink tissue paper and a thank you note card.

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Once you lift the tissue paper, you are greeted with your project for the month!

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This month’s project is Crochet Hoop Art.  Included is one hoop, what looks like a full skein of Lion Brand yarn in an off white color, and then three tiny little hand rolled skeins of the colors needed to make the hydrangea flowers.  There were no labels on any of the yarn.  The extra gift this month is the little plastic notions bag, that comes with a tiny bottle of glue and a little sampling of fringe, I am guessing to wrap around the bag?

The instructions look to be well written, though I have not yet made the project.  I have never seen anything like this before, so it is definitely a unique idea!  And this pattern opens the door for so many other fun ideas you can make with the basic instructions given here.

My only problem with this box is the value.  For $40, I was underwhelmed.  Lets go over an estimated price list here.

*Lion Brand yarn is about $3.99 per skein.  The tiny mini skeins come nowhere near a full skein all added together, so I would value the amount of yarn in this box as $5.

*Embroidery hoops are really inexpensive unless you get into the higher end materials and finishes.  This is a basic, inexpensive model, so we’ll say it has a value rounded up to $3.

*Crochet Patterns are generally between $3-$5 on sites such as Etsy or Ravelry.  This is a pretty simple pattern, but it is printed in color for us, so let’s give it $4.

*Notions bag with glue and fringe.  This is a plastic material with a tiny amount of fringe and a tiny bottle of glue.  It’s cute, and nice to have everything you need to fancy up the little bag all ready for you.  At best, I would say we could value the whole set at $5.

With these values, it brings the total estimated value of the box to $17.  But we paid $30 for the box and an extra $10 for shipping.  Is this a good value at $40 per month?  I hate to say it, but I don’t think so.

I love the pretty box, I love the crochet theme, I love the projects I have seen so far, and I really love the whole idea.  But I think it needs to be priced better.  I would be happy paying $25 a month for this box, tops.  I know the estimated $17 value we gave it is definitely more than it cost to put it together because companies get things at discounts for buying in bulk.  And I realize this is a small business at the moment, put together by a blogger and crochet designer.

Also, the exclusive patterns that come in the box that aren’t available anywhere else?  March’s pattern is available for purchase through the owner’s Etsy shop.  For $4.99.  Umm…

Next month’s box has an add on item, a pretty crochet hook, that you can purchase in addition to the box or separately, in limited quantities.  The crafter behind the hooks has a horrible reputation online, of taking money and not delivering goods, so I would be wary of even purchasing the item.  I’m not sure if Happy Yarn Box already has the hooks in their possesion or not, but it sounds like it could be a nightmare.

I plan on trying a few more boxes to see if the value can be found, because like I said, I really do love everything about this box except for the high price tag!  Stay tuned for an update with the finished pattern and review on how it turned out, as well as a review for any other boxes I may purchase.

Check out Happy Yarn Mail for yourself by clicking HERE.

Did you get this box?  Or March’s box?  What did you think?

As I said, I paid for this box with my own money, and all opinions are honest and my own.  I have not been compensated in any way for this review.