A fun day at work

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Recently, Canvas decided to do a Shark Tank initiative to gather ideas from across the company for what we can do to increase the trial subscriber volume. Everyone was invited to partner up and present an idea to five Sharks – a panel of decision-makers at Canvas. I was interested in participating, but didn’t really have any good ideas. One of my coworkers had reached out to me to partner up and just as we were about to get together, he found out that another guy one our team had already signed them up as a team. I kept an eye out, wondering who else I could team up with, but nothing really presented itself.

Today rolled around, with pitches scheduled throughout the afternoon. Right before lunch, a colleague who is a good friend started talking about it because she’d just learned about our Shark Tank (she didn’t get the emails). She needed someone to work with, so I offered to join her. After lunch, we met up with our coworker with the idea – he had to leave early and didn’t want to present anyway, so we took the idea and ran with it. He acted as our adviser and really helped make sure we had a ton of great information, so we were well-prepared. We took all that content and broke it into a bunch of slides, then started practicing. We even rehearsed walking in and greeting the Sharks. It was hilarious and so much fun!

I signed us up for the first time slot at 3:30 under our chosen team name: Double Trouble. After about an hour, we were pretty confident in our presentation. We had the entrance, presentation flow, and even synchronized moves all ready. We did a practice run in front of the idea man before he had to run and he loved it! Just as we were looking forward to going first, the Sharks came over to ask us to move to 4:10, the second slot. They had to postpone the start to 4. While it was sad we wouldn’t be first up, it did give us extra time to rehearse! I then booked a meeting room so we could practice clicking through the slides.

When it finally came time to pitch, we went through our presentation nearly flawlessly. Our high energy and funny moments really captured the Sharks and they had a great time with us. We certainly had the most memorable and entertaining presentation! The idea was a hit too, and we finished off on a fabulous note. I think the Sharks were not only impressed with how prepared we were (especially considering we’d only prepared for about an hour and a half), but how enthusiastic we were! I think some of them know us both to be more quiet, and not nearly as goofy as we turned out to be. Wins all around for team Double Trouble!!

We were still high from the rush of joy after that fun experience when we were told about the free food in the kitchen for a “Christmas in July” Happy Hour. Check out the awesome spread, including some super cool Australian dessert – pavlova – and an assortment of fruit as well as cocktail shrimp. We had a fabulous time enjoying the food before I decided to get back to work. I’d lost about half a day due to all this Shark Tank and Happy Hour fun, so it was time to get crackin’ again.

australian pavlova desserts, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and other fruit for office happy hour

Homemade and oh so delicious!!

watermelon, blueberries, cocktail shrimp, and tim tams spread out on table for office happy hour

Escape Monthly July: India Box Review

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Tempted as I was to get the bonus box with even more goodies from India, I didn’t want to spend any more money. I’m certainly pleased with this box, which felt pretty authentic and got the seal of approval from one of my Indian friends for products that she’d enjoy. If you sprang for the luxe box that was offered for India, do let me know when you review it! I’d love to see what else they found.

Escape Monthly is just under $40 per box (with code for 20% off your subscription – see end of post) and comes with a variety of food, home, skincare items themed around a city. Each box comes with a Moon Handbooks guide for that region. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a lovely recurring referral commission program.

escape monthly july india box products showing escape monthly july india box info card against blue and white chevron background escape monthly july india box info card opened with details of products included(click to enlarge and read full messaging)

This box even smelled of Indian influences. Must be the sandalwood.

Here’s what came in the box:

Moon Handbooks guide to Taj Mahal Delhi & Jaipur– I’ve never been to India, so when I get a chance, this will certainly be very useful. I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been super attracted to going there because of the heat I imagine in the region. I just see myself being beaten by the sun the whole time, trudging along. Is India really as hot as I think? I’ll have to see…

Saffron Road Korma simmer sauce – I got this brand before, but a different sauce flavor, so I’m looking forward to trying both. My info sheet talks about the Tikka Masala flavor, which I actually have. My box came with the korma instead, which is completely new to me. My friend tells me it’s fabulous though. This will be an easy way to cook some meat with tons of flavor!

Pure Indian Foods organic ghee – I’ve never heard of ghee before, but it smells so rich! Just like caramel or toffee. I don’t usually cook with butter, so I’ll have to find some recipes that call for it and try this fun product that’s apparently quite healthy for you.

Nemat International Amber & Sandalwood fragrances – This small tube of sandalwood packs a punch! It totally reminds me of Asia and even kind of makes me think of my grandmother. I love getting a whiff of that. The amber scent is so light that I can hardly smell a thing. They recommend meditating with it, which I totally need to try.

Banyan Botanicals Organic Healthy Hair Oil – Hmm, I’m totally reminded of food when I smell this oil. Kind of strange, but not a big deal! It’s a really nice oil that isn’t all greasy feeling and I’m hoping it not only makes my hair appear healthier, but promotes hair growth. I would like to try growing out my hair, but I always get impatient when it’s a couple inches past my shoulder because it gets dry.

Banyan Botanicals Peppermint soap – Ooo, this peppermint soap is the perfect thing to refresh and cool down your body with. I loved inhaling the minty scent and I know that it’ll tingle a little when I use it. I’m very sensitive to the cooling sensation of mint. Just what I like to think of on hot, muggy days.

Masala Pop Chai Masala popcorn – Whoa, what a unique taste. I like that this popcorn has a nice strong flavor yet it’s not too sweet. A popcorn made with tea? So cool. While I’m still not big into popcorn, this one is a lovely change from the usual kettle corn you might find.

Maya Kaimal Kashmiri Curry – Another great sauce to try! Now cooking can be as easy as chopping up some meat and veggies and pouring in this sauce. I like that it’s tomato-based and I’m very curious how the whole nutmeg flavor plays in. I totally have to saute some eggplant and try it with this. I’m inspired to get back to home-cooked meals more often.

Gouri Puja bindis – What gorgeous little bindis! I am coordinating with my coworker to come in with bindis together one of these days. They’re so fun and beautiful and the perfect bonus item in the box this month. Love it!

This was truly a box where I felt like I escaped to India and learned about the country. I’m into everything offered too! How do you like this India Escape Monthly box? If you want to sign up, try one of these codes (not sure which ones are still active): INDIAESCAPE or PARISESCAPE for 20% off the lifetime of your subscription or GIFTESCAPE for 25% off.

Next month in August, we’re going to Paris!!! I can’t wait for that, since I’ve had an unofficial love affair with France since middle school.

escape monthly july india box info card back with preview of next month's box theme of paris

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

Treatsie July 2014 review

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Now this is just the kind of candy mix I love! A little bit of caramels, a little bit of candy, and some chocolate. I was much more impressed by this month’s Treatsie box. I didn’t even notice until now, but I didn’t get an info card. Not sure if that’s just me or if they decided to stop including them?

Treatsie is $15 per box + $4.95 shipping and comes with artisan candy from 3-4 brands (I am grandfathered in for $15 for 2-3 brands and fewer items). That means about 6 or 7 different flavors of treats (or 4 or 5 for me). Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral link program to earn store credit. Use my referral link to get your first box FREE!

treatsie july 2014 box contents with seattle chocolates chocolate bars, shotwell candy co caramels, and raley's confectionary hard candy

Seattle Chocolates bars in Total Toffee and Dark Chocolate: Oooooo these made this box for me. I loved both flavors and will definitely keep a lookout for them in stores. The toffee had wonderful bits of crunchy toffee AND some fine grains of salt, which made for a really interesting texture. I’ve never had a bar like that before. The dark chocolate was smooth and very solid – a nice luxurious-feeling piece.

Shotwell Candy Co. Old Fashioned Cocktail Caramels: I thought these tasted a little strange to me and no wonder, they’re made with whiskey. Since I don’t drink, I have no idea what whiskey tastes like and whether someone who likes drinking would enjoy this flavoring in their caramel candy. I guess I’ll take the leftover pieces to work and see what others think. It’s not to my liking though, much as I enjoy a nice caramel.

Raley’s Confectionary Treatsie Variety Mix hard candy: How freakin’ adorable that a special Treatsie mix was put together! This is a grab bag of assorted flavors, mostly fruit ones, but then there’s root beer too. The designs are just fantastic and I love the fun pieces. I’m quite impressed with their designs! I’ve got to say, this is the cutest candy I’ve ever seen.

I was excited about these products and for the most part they did not disappoint. What do you think of these candies? If you want to try Treatsie, sign up and get your first box free.

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

New furniture!

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I’m so excited about the newest additions to our home – a (real) TV stand and a dresser! Panda and I got a chance to put everything together today, so I feel super accomplished.

pieces of tv stand furniture before assembly

I came home from volunteering to find Panda starting to put together the TV stand.

box for tv stand

We got it on Brookstone’s website because we had a Groupon to use.

instructions for building tv stand and nearly finished product

The instructions were stapled on the right corner. Who does that??

new tv stand with tv and cable box set up

Yay, new TV stand all done! Now the other table that came with our sofas can actually be used as a table.

box for room essentials black 4-drawer dresser from target

Next up was the dresser we got at Target for like 40% off.

pieces of dresser in open box

This was sooo heavy we just let the pieces slide as we opened the box.

cat sitting on pieces for dresser yawning impatiently

Smokey was already impatient for her new playhouse, aka the drawers.

sides of drawer put together

Pushing together those drawer pieces.

pile of screws, dowels, cams, and other hardware for dresser

That’s a lot of screws and cams and whatnot.

cat sitting in newly built drawer for dresser

As soon as we had the drawers made, Smokey made sure to test them out.

cat sleeping in corner of drawer with face squished

Soon enough, she was passed out in another drawer. Must mean they passed QC!

adding drawers glides to side of dresser wall

Things got a little confusing when we started adding the drawer glides.

frame of dresser created and cat sitting on upside down drawer nearby

We were getting close and Smokey decided she needed to try the support of the drawer from the underside.

black 4-drawer dresser newly assembled but with one brown drawer

Alright, dresser! It wasn’t until we put the drawers in that I realized one of them didn’t quite match… looks like I’ll be calling for a replacement piece.

cat laying in open dresser drawer

We’ve designated one drawer for Smokey’s enjoyment and I finally get to move my underwear from a suitcase to a drawer!!

The crack in my back

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Have you ever felt the need to crack your back, but was unable to? I’ve been getting this a lot lately. I try and try and try to get my back to pop in that satisfying way, but the tension in my spine only increases. GAH! I twist and turn to no avail, contorting myself into all sorts of strange positions. It’s the most frustrating thing. I really need some better way of achieving joint nirvana. I think I get these issues because I’m so cold at the office, but I’m not really sure how to prevent it and/or how to cure it.

At least the past day or two I’ve been able to get the crack I want eventually (and I always seem to have to twist to my right). There’s that one trouble area on my spine that always needs a’crackin. Everywhere else is fine! I need to figure out how exactly to get that crack whenever I need it, because I feel like I’m about to snap my spine when I contort too hard and still can’t get the pop I’m aiming for. Any suggestions?

Back in the day I had a friend who could lift you to crack your back. I tried to train Panda to do that, but it’s not working, so perhaps that’s not the solution. Too bad I can’t poke it to crack it or something. The closest thing I’ve been able to do is get another part of my back to crack when I slowly come out of bridge pose. But that doesn’t help with the real tension which seems to be near where the kidneys are. Perhaps I just need to get massages more frequently. I always feel better after those!

Love With Food Happy Camper July 2014 review

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I was pretty pleased with the snacks from my first Love With Food box last month so I decided to continue my subscription. While I don’t really feel like the value is great, I really like discovering and sampling all these types of snacks. I even just upgraded to the 6-month plan that saves me $1 a month. Maybe I just need to go grocery shopping more. :-P There’s still 8+ more days for the Love With Food free trial box (just pay $2 for shipping) – try it out yourself!

Love With Food is $12 per box (or as discounted as $120 for an entire year, with an option in between) and comes with 8 or more snack products. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral program that earns you points towards products or boxes.

contents of july 2014 love with food box including eight snacks

I like the cute little themes they come up with I can certainly see these snacks coming in handy while out camping. I really enjoyed the ginnyminis butter crisp love cookies that were wonderfully crunchy and so much like butter cookies, but without the greasiness. Then Madyson’s marshmallow was such a cool, unique treat. I really enjoyed the handmade aspect and the chunks of chocolate chips were a perfect contrast to the soft marshmallow.

I appreciated having the ZOUQ Curry Crunch sweet and sour trail mix for when I was starving, but it was sweeter than I’d prefer so I couldn’t finish the bag. I certainly prefer it to normal trail mix though. The Mediterranean Snacks Lentil Crackers turned out to be less tasty than I hoped. Pretty good for a light snack and satisfyingly crunchy, but I like my crackers saltier. The Honey Stinger Kids’ Organic Chews were decent and I’m glad their red flavor is strawberry rather than cherry. I will actually eat all the flavors! They aren’t the sticky kind of chewy that I actually prefer, but that might be a good thing for you.

I was really looking forward to the Beanitos white cheddar puffs because it reminded me of Cheetos and I like white cheddar crackers, but it was kind of sour and dry. Maybe the bean base was just not to my liking. I’m not huge on beans to begin with. I’ve had Somersaults dutch cocoa in other boxes before and something about the flavor just doesn’t do it for me. I like how solid and crisp they are though. Finally, the 2 Degrees apple pecan bar is quite chunky and chewy, which is ok for me but I don’t really enjoy bars like that. I didn’t really get a pecan flavor from it, but it has a nice sweet fragrance from the apple.

While some of the snacks looked better than I ended up liking, I do like having snacks to sample. 6 more months, let’s do this! Which of these snacks do you want the most? Are any already favorites?

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box at the special offer price and wanted to share what I got!]

The Body Shop hauls

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Awhile back, Panda saw a Groupon for The Body Shop and he bought it for me to use. After visiting the store and purchasing some items, I decided to get the Groupon myself for another run. We paid $15 each for $30 worth of stuff. I now have a nice little collection of products from them, which I’m really enjoying. Let me share my two hauls!

the body shop tea tree oil cleansing wipes, bottle of tea tree oil, and vineyard peach body butter

Haul #1

The first time around, I was really focused on the tea tree oil products because of my incessant acne. Of course I also had to try one of their body butters! That’s what drew me to the store in the first place. The moment I smelled the Vineyard Peach, I knew I had to have it. It reminds me of white peaches from China, so fresh and juicy and lightly sweet. Have you ever seen those flat peaches? Between those and the peaches featured in the Journey to the West, that’s exactly what I think of here. Since they offer buy two get one free, I got either the Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes or Tea Tree Oil for free. I can’t quite remember the pricing, though the wipes were around $12 and the body butter was full price at $20 (I wonder if I should have gotten the 3 for $30 deal instead).

I’ve nearly used up the wipes and I’m probably halfway through the tea tree oil. I think they’ve definitely helped calm down my skin and I always feel so great after using them – like my acne is really being tackled. They have a slight tingling sensation upon application and smell medicinal. Meanwhile, I’m saving the body butter for when I’ve used up some more lotions, but I couldn’t resist trying out the bit that got on the lid and it feels fabulous. Just a little bit applied into my skin perfectly and left me with a whiff of peach.

the body shop mandarin & tangelo body, room, & linen spritz, special edition blueberry body butter, tea tree oil skin clearing lotion, and brazil nut body scrub

Haul #2

The second time, I was looking for more variety and actually was hoping to get more of the cleansing wipes, but they were all out. I opted for the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion instead. If I can’t wipe my face with it, why not apply it after cleansing? I originally got the Brazil Nut Cream Body Scrub and special edition Blueberry Body Butter as the other items, but since the body butter was on clearance for $10, it didn’t count towards my buy 2 get 1 free option. Sooo I browsed around and added the Mandarin & Tangelo Body, Room & Linen Spritz – turns out to be a most excellent choice!

I remember the scrub was $20 or so and I think the lotion and spray were somewhere around $12-15? So far I’ve used the lotion, which is great for offering that healing feeling without the stickiness of the tea tree oil itself. I’ve also been spraying the spritz around and I love it! I’m so glad I had to choose another item, or else I might not have discovered it. I’m putting the body butter away for now since I have a ton of other items, but I really wanted blueberry because they’re my favorite fruit. I know, total sucker here. As for the scrub, I was really drawn to the unique Brazil nut ingredient. I think it’s kind of almond-y? Plus the scrub has small scrubby bits and large scrubby bits, which is super fun!

If you’re looking for a deal on The Body Shop stuff, they’re currently running their Christmas in July promotion: 40% sitewide and free shipping!

One rotten apple…

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She’s a poison coursing through my veins. Each interaction injects me with more venom, until I can hardly take it anymore. My mind fights the toxins but my body is weak… and all too easily I become consumed. This negativity must stop.

When I look at her (if I have to) I see ugliness. If I stare too long, the snaking tendrils of Medusa’s serpents take hold. Oh, but she’s a multi-faced chameleon. She’ll do what suits her best and get everything to her benefit. She’ll play you if she can. It’s a mirage though, and the moment you lose usefulness, she’ll throw you aside. Another carcass on the road.

Careful to avoid those eyes. Those dark, black, soulless eyes. If you don’t get lost in the abyss and turn to stone, you’ll become one of her kind. Who needs a vampire’s bite when you have piercing eyes of fury? Eyes that haunt me in my sleep, thrust me awake from their cruelty.

They say that one rotten apple ruins the bunch (and it’s true). Indeed, I can see the disease spreading. It’s not crippling, but the limping it causes is certainly not ideal. How much struggling can you handle before you break entirely? Make this rotting stop, before all is lost. Let’s cut out all the browning bits of apple and remind ourselves of the beauty of a fresh, ripe fruit. Don’t allow that one to ruin the bunch irreparably.

Ipsy July 2014: Sensationally Sunkissed review

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Ick, what a strange-looking Ipsy bag this month. I will try to give it to someone or use it to package off some items next time I do a trade. Product-wise it was also very meh for me this time. I’m debating whether I should just unsubscribe and redeem a free product that I don’t really want with the points I’ve earned or try to wait around for one I do like.

Ipsy is $10 per glam bag and comes with 5 or so beauty/skincare products. Bags are sent monthly with no option to skip. There’s usually a waitlist to get the subscription. They offer a referral program that earns you points towards free products.

ipsy july 2014 bag items with card including hang ten tanning oil, lavilin jojoba skin soother gel cream, benefit they're real mascara, elizabeth mott tints & sass lip & cheek stain in cherry, and bareminerals 5 in 1 cream eyeshadow in divine wine

Hang Ten Dark Tanning Oil – I have no idea how to use tanning oil, nor do I feel any need to try. If I want to tan, I just go outside for a bit. Otherwise, I’m perfectly happy with my skin tone, whatever shade it might be! This is definitely an item I’m not opening and putting up for trade.

Lavilin Jojoba Skin Soother Gel Cream – For something with gel in the name, I did not expect the consistency that was more like sunscreen. Looked like sunscreen, felt like sunscreen a bit, and is it just my imagination? Smelled like sunscreen too? It didn’t mention any SPF properties so I have no idea, but I guess I’ll use this up sort of as a normal lotion.

Benefit they’re Real! beyond mascara – Mascaras must be super popular since we keep getting them. I better start applying daily if I want to ever get close to using up my supply. These bristles looked scary because they are so pokey, but application was just fine and they help my lashes pop well, without giving my raccoon eyes. I’ll keep using this for sure!

Elizabeth Mott Tints & Sass fabulous lip & cheek stain in cherry – I don’t plan on staining my cheeks anytime soon, but the lip staining aspect of this intrigued me. I’ve been getting bolder with my choice of lip color, so I’ll play around with this one too. The application was less staining that I thought, thankfully – I was afraid it’d super stain my lips the instant anything touched them! But it took a little rubbing to get a nice shade on and I like the look and feel of it.

bareMinerals 5 in 1 BB advanced performance cream eyeshadow in Divine Wine – This is pretty boring to me. I don’t like to use eye products, so what’s the point of putting something on that is basically nude? If I’m going to that trouble, might as well be something fun and interesting. I guess it’s supposed to be like sunscreen for the eyes? I don’t know, I’m not really into it. I’ll try trading but if it doesn’t go I might consider trying it.

Not impressed at all this month and if it weren’t for the points I accumulated, I’d be unsubscribing right now (see how rewards programs lock people in?). I’ll get these up in my eDivv shop eventually so I can trade for stuff I’d actually appreciate.

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this bag and wanted to share what I got!]

Beauty Box 5 July 2014 review

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I’ve been testing out this box for a few months and overall I’ve liked it enough to keep it, so I’m thinking of using it to replace my Ipsy subscription. Lately it’s been up and down with Ipsy, so I want to use up my bonus points to redeem a free item and then cancel it.

Beauty Box 5 is $12 per box (or as discounted as $99 for an entire year, with an option in between) and comes with 5 cosmetic products. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. You also have the option of buying it as a gift your box to a friend. They offer a referral program that earns you points towards products or boxes.

july 2014 beauty box 5 contents beauty box 5 july 2014 information card beauty box 5 july product cards

Revlon Bold Lacquer mascara: We just got a mascara in last month’s box so I’ve got plenty of this product and will probably save this for use a little later. Perhaps I should apply mascara daily, since my stash is growing far faster than I can keep up with using. I pretty much use mascara a few times a year and that’s it. Part of the problem is that some of them wear down and give me raccoon eyes. We’ll see how this one does.

HASK Argan Oil hair treatment: I’m going to treat myself to this along with a bath sometime in the near future. I don’t have many hair masks, so this is a great product to try, especially since my hair dries out pretty easily. I don’t have the silkiest hair, but it does a decent job of staying conditioned. Am I supposed to use a hair mask frequently to maintain that sort of shine? Will this really last for two weeks of shine? We shall see…

Body Drench Candy Licious lip balm in Red Licorice: I love these smaller tubes of lip balm – they’re adorable! The flavor is spot on and tastes very much like licorice. I’m not a huge fan of that flavor, but I’m fine with a little bit of it on my lips so I’ll definitely be using this up. The bright red tint is a fun color that adds a pop without being in your face.

Anna Naturals Glowing Mama scrub: First of all, this smells luscious. Kind of reminds me of my favorite facial exfoliating product, derma e’s microdermabrasion. It also feels so wonderful as I’m scrubbing it – my fingers glide around and the granules are rough enough to feel satisfying but not too large. I love it. I’m glad it wasn’t the sort of oatmeal-y or almond-y scent I thought it would have; it’s more refreshing than that!

Starlooks lip liner in : I don’t use lip liner, so this is going in my trade pile. I have some other Starlooks items, which I like, particularly a glitter eyeliner that I use sort of like a light eyeshadow. I put a little on the corners of my eyes and smudge it in to brighten them and give a fun glittery effect.

The variety of items made for a very useful set of complementing items. I’ve got my eyes, lips, hair, and skin covered here! I won’t use all the items, but nearly all of them will get opened eventually. The “defining moments” theme was pretty vague so just about any products would have worked for it. What’s your favorite item in this box?

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

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