La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Box: Unboxing & Review February 2016

Crunchy Parent La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription unboxing & Review February 2016

La Ritzy is a monthly beauty subscription service that sends 4-5 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Although not specifically marketed as a green beauty box, the brands that La Ritzy sends have tended to be non-toxic, natural brands.

Boxes cost $24.99 per month, for the standard La Ritzy box, as reviewed here. La Ritzy also offers a LaMini Box featuring 2-3 items at a price of $14.99/month. Both subscription offerings include U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. You can see my other La Ritzy reviews here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing my February 2016 La Ritzy box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

New this month, La Ritzy has opted for eco-friendly “e-cards” to describe the products in their monthly box. They are no longer including enclosures in the boxes. I received an email announcing my monthly products several days prior to receiving my box.

La Ritzy February 2016 unboxing with Lovefresh natural deodorant and Lather cucumber cleansing milk

Due to a lack of willpower, I had looked at the La Ritzy email and previewed what I would be receiving this month. I was very excited to get my hands on the items. The first one that I plucked out of the box was a full size Lovefresh Natural Cream Deodorant Stick in Rose Absolute (3.6 oz. $24.00). As I mention in the video, I had first seen the Lovefresh deodorants at A Night for Green Beauty. The Lovefresh tables were so swarmed by admirers throughout the evening that I could not get close enough to take a close look. I was thrilled to get my own full size product to try. I love the rose absolute fragrance, which smells just like a bouquet of fresh cut roses. The twist-up stick applicator is easy to use, and I have been loving using the product. It is an effective deodorant and I find that it works well as a mild anti-perspirant too, likely due to the absorbing properties of the kaolin clay in the product. The formulation does include baking soda, which is not a problem for my skin. For those who do react to baking soda in their deodorants, Lovefresh offers baking soda-free formulations as well.

The next item that I explored was a new discovery to me, Lather Cucumber Milk Facial Cleanser (2 oz., $6.00). As with so many indie green beauty brands that are growing in popularity, Lather was created by a passionate individual whose appreciation for natural personal care products grew out of her own health challenges. Emilie Davidson Hoyt, the founder of Lather, suffered with debilitating migraines throughout her childhood. After experiencing relief from the scent of a lavender bath soap, Emilie merged her interests in aromatherapy and skincare along with her respect for the healing properties of nature to create Lather. The Cucumber Milk Facial Cleanser is designed for combination, dry, or mature skin types. Ingredients like aloe, oats, cucumber, and seaweed extract work together to gently nourish and tighten the skin, and to reduce free radical damage. I absolutely adore the fresh cucumber scent.

La Ritzy vegan subscription box February 2016 review with Palmetto Derma Antioxidant face mask and Doe Beauty Bora Bora Hair Pact

I was excited about the next item in the box because it was an item that I have used and really enjoyed in the past. La Ritzy included a full size jar of Palmetto Derma Rejuvenating Antioxidant Mask (1.75 oz., $64.00). I describe the mask texture as something between a souffle and a mud. It is a clay and aloe-based mask with a laundry list of botanical ingredients to provide antioxidants, detoxify, and brighten the skin. It is an “active” mask. Ingredients like lactic acid and cayenne let you feel it working on your skin. I personally do not mind the tingle of the mask, but a spot test is recommended to determine if the mask is appropriate for your skin. Supercharged plant ingredients like gotu kola, horsetail, and dandelion freshen the skin, and left my face feeling silky smooth and with a healthy glow.

The final treat this month was Doe Beauty’s Bora Bora Hair Pact (100 ml, $17.00). The hair pact is designed to be used as a deep conditioning pretreatment to tame frizz and boost softness and shine. The Doe Hair site does not list the ingredients in the hair pact. Since I always want to know what is in a product before I buy, I thought I’d list them for you:

Coconut Oil, Castor Seed Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Vitamin E, Guava Seed Oil, Lime Oil.

Each pact contains enough product for multiple uses, and I really liked the easy twist off cap. I was a bit concerned that the product might be difficult to dispense, but it came out much like toothpaste from a tube (albeit a different texture). It was easy to warm in my hands and apply through my dry hair, and I thought that it smelled like Key Lime cookies (that’s an official smell in my brain library of scent reference points). I let it sit for the requisite 30 minute minimum. Ten minutes in, I decided to make the most of my time by also applying the Palmetto Derma mask to my face.

Face and hair courtesy of Palmetto Derma Antioxidant Mask & Doe Hair Pact.

Face and hair courtesy of Palmetto Derma Antioxidant Mask & Doe Hair Pact.

After twenty more minutes, I popped in the shower and came out feeling like I had nourished both my hair and my face.

Post shower; fresh-face & happier hair

Post shower; fresh-face & happier hair

I’m not sure that I noticed a significant difference in my hair texture after using the hair pact, but my hair is quite thick and pretty coarse so it may need a few applications to show results. I intend to give the hair pact a couple more tries to see its effect over time. I’m glad that the pouch will last me for at least a couple more uses.

I really loved this box from La Ritzy. I think that it is my favorite one that I have received to date. I liked the curation of the box and the representation of items across haircare, skincare, and personal care. Face masks are one of my very favorite skincare items so I especially appreciated that La Ritzy spoiled subscribers with a luxurious mask, and I loved finally being able to try a Lovefresh deodorant for myself. Discovering two new-to-me green beauty brands was icing on the cake for me this month. I continue to appreciate that La Ritzy not only features vegan and cruelty-free products, but that they are also seeking out products with high-quality, plant-based ingredients, and an eye on minimizing exposure to toxins. The value of this month’s box is an amazing $111.00. Considering the $24.99 box price, this is a jaw-dropping value. Three of the four items included were full-sized products, with the fourth being a deluxe sample. I think that La Ritzy is a strong option for people looking for cruelty-free, vegan products that tend to be organic and green as well. If you want to see how this box compares to prior months, you can find those reviews here.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter! Before you go anywhere though, remember to subscribe here at CrunchyParent.com.

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Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: February 2016

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty Box Unboxing & Review February 2016

The Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is a monthly subscription service that sends 4-7 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Products are a mix of full and sample sizes. Items are paraben-free and are often organic and natural.

Boxes cost $22.95 per month, which includes U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing my February 2016 Vegan Cuts box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

Each month, Vegan Cuts includes an information card that provides photos, a brief description, and valuing information for all items in the box. The card also included the code FEBBEAUTY for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more at Vegan Cuts Beauty Shop. I think that Vegan Cuts (and their sister subscription company Goddess Provisions) have some of the best looking information cards that I’ve seen.

Vegan cuts beauty subscription February 2016 harvey prince parfum and 100% pure eyeshadow creamstick

The first item that I saw this month was a Harvey Prince Eau de Perfume mini roller in Madagascar Vanilla (8.8 ml, $23.00). Subscribers may have received this scent, or another variety of the Harvey Prince mini rollers. I have received Harvey Prince products from subscription boxes the past. Unfortunately, although I liked the scents that they offered, I tended to get headaches when I used them, which is my typical reaction to artificial fragrances.

In 2015, Harvey Prince re-branded themselves as Harvey Prince Organics. The “Organic” term technically holds no real meaning in the cosmetic industry unless paired with some sort of certification from an established agency. That said, in referencing the rebranding, the Harvey Prince website states,“We take great pride in using only the best essential oils and finest natural ingredients for each note in every scent, with no toxic chemicals still found in many commonly used perfumes.” and “…never compromise our belief that all beauty products should be cruelty free and organic.” Given that information, I am not sure if they have reformulated their products to remove synthetic fragrances. The ingredients still list parfum/fragrance as opposed to essential oils so I’m unclear about how that relates to the above statement about essential oils and finest natural ingredients.

Harvey Prince Eau de Parfum leaked in February Vegan Cuts Beauty Box

As you can see on the video and in the photos, the bottle that I received had leaked significantly during shipping. I reached out the Vegan Cuts through their website and completed a short form about having received a damaged item. Vegan Cuts responded promptly with an offer to send a full replacement box, which I received several days later. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with this level of customer service.

The next item in the box was one that had been released in the Vegan Cuts preview video for the month; a dual eye creamstick liner from 100% Pure (2.6g, $25.00). Vegan Cuts lists the value of this product as $18.00 on their card, but the product is $25.00 on the 100% Pure site for the same size and colors so I am deferring to that value. Subscribers received one of two color combinations of this dual-purpose product that can be used as an eye-liner or eye shadow. The formulation blends nourishing natural butters and waxes along with sea minerals, minerals, fruit powers, and tea to create these beautiful and natural shades. I typically use powdered mineral eye products, but look forward to trying out this creamstick. The colors are beautiful and very wearable, and I like the idea of a stick application. I often find that despite my steadiest hand, I inevitably drop a speck of mineral powder during application and end up with pigment on my face where it doesn’t belong. I suspect that I will quickly warm up to the ease of application offered in this product.

Vegan Cuts The Wonder Seed Facial Cream and Tara Smith hair serum

The next item to catch my eye was a deluxe sample-sized, pump bottle of Tara Smith Base Coat Serum emblazoned with a bright pink exotic bird (25 ml, $13.00). This serum is designed to smooth and add shine to hair; to control frizz without weighing hair down.

The product is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. The website states, “Every product is free from animal-derived ingredients, parabens, SLES, glycols, phthalates, PEGS, artificial coloring, and synthetic fragrances.” The linked product page as well as the bottle label also boasts botanical ingredients like starflower seed extract and Tegosoft CT coconut oil to smooth and hydrate hair, although I do not see these ingredients listed on the actual product. According to the bottle the ingredients are:

Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconal, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Borago (Borage) Seed Oil, Fragrance/Parfum, Linalool, Limonene

I’m guessed that the Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride must be the referenced Tegosoft CT coconut oil, but I had to Google to figure out that borage seed oil is code for starflower seed extract. I’m also surprised to see a second product in the box claiming to not use synthetic fragrance but sampling listing fragrance/parfum on the bottle. I know that I always assume that fragrance in an ingredient list means synthetic. I applaud these brands and their conscious movement to select natural ingredients, but I’d love to see it made clearer on the labels (e.g., natural fragrance, essential oil, etc.)

The final item in the box was a full size tube of The Wonder Seed’s Hemp Facial Cream, English Daisy (2.4 oz. $16.95). I had heard of this brand, built around hemp seed as their signature ingredient. I had been eager to try their products so I was excited to see this one included as a sneak peek item for the February box. The facial cream is absolutely packed with botanical ingredients. I couldn’t pick out just a handful of ingredients to highlight, so here they are in full:

Purified Water (Aqua), Virgin Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Organic Aloe Vera, English Daisy Essential Oil, Organic Green Tea Extract, Glycerin (Vegetable), Behenic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Ginseng Extract, Mandarin White Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sorbitan Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Soybean Oil, Vegetable Glyceryl Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Chamomile Extract, Borage Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (Coconut Oil Based), Retinyl Palmitate (Natural Plant Based), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Hyaluronic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Geranium Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Dextrin, Stearyl Alcohol (Natural Plant Based), Lauric Oil Extract, Wolf Berry Extract, Soluble Natural Plant Collagen, Potassium Sorbate (Natural Plant Based), Nutmeg Oil Extract, Sea Salt

The cream is also free from gluten, parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrances, and sulfates in addition to being vegan and cruelty free. I would say that the cream has a clean, almost soap-like scent. It is a lightweight cream that absorbs quickly, yet left my skin feeling noticeably softer and more moisturized. I can see this being a good formulation for me during the spring and summer months. I also might suggest that Rich give it a try. The scent is gender-neutral and I think it would provide a perfect amount of moisture for his skin. The tube is a very generous size at 2.4 oz., especially given the price. I imagine that it will last me a long time.

I was very pleased with this box by Vegan Cuts. I especially liked the well-rounded curation. The box included an item for haircare, skincare, cosmetics, and fragrance. Although I am still a little confused about the synthetic versus natural fragrances used in some of the products, all of the items focused attention on emphasizing more natural ingredients, which is already a step in the right direction. I also need to remind myself that Vegan Cuts is foremost a box for vegan and cruelty-free beauty items. Many of the items also contain natural ingredients, but that is not the primary focus of the box (just a frequent added bonus). Vegan Cuts’ sister company, Goddess Provisions offers a lifestyle box where the beauty items are cruelty-free, vegan, and natural, and I love that box too (see Goddess Provisions reviews here).

The overall value of this month’s box is The value of this month’s box is $77.95. I think that this is an amazing value for the $22.95 box price. I also appreciate that the items were all full size or generous deluxe-sample sizes that will allow me to get a good sense of product performance over an extended period of time. I think that the Wonder Seed cream is my favorite new discovery in the box so far. Did you find a new favorite in this month’s Vegan Cuts? If you would like to see my reviews of past Vegan Cuts Beauty Boxes, look here.

If you are curious to learn about the March Vegan Cuts box, they have released a sneak-peek video that reveals two fantastic spoiler items. Among other items, the box will include a travel size bottle of Dermorganic 8 way Thermal Spray (value $10.00) and a full size rollerball of Pacifica’s new fragrance, Tunisian Jasmine Lime (value $12.00). I love Pacifica rollerballs, and I have been looking forward to trying this new fragrance.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter!

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Goddess Provisions Spirit-Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review: February 2016

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions Subscription Box Unboxing & Review February 2016

Goddess Provisions is a subscription service, created by the owners of Vegan Cuts. Goddess Provisions is a monthly lifestyle box for women. They send products to nourish your inner goddess and grow your spiritual practice. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full size items, spanning across the categorizes of aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and more. All items are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Boxes cost $33 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. For my other Goddess Provisions unboxing and reviews, starting with their very first box, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the February Goddess Provisions box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged, and everything was received intact. As always, I loved the bright and informative enclosure card. Goddess Provisions does an exceptional job of highlighting their featured brands and products, as well as weaving the theme into the box. This month’s theme was “Self Love” and focused on the heart chakra. Valentine’s Day can be a less-than-positive trigger for some. I thought the theme a great one for February and appreciated that the love was centered on one’s self.

Goddess Provisions February 2016 box Self Love-heart chakra

The box was packed full of colorful and intriguing goodies. The first item that I plucked out of the box was a heart chakra candle from In Light and Love Candles (6 oz., $12.00). I have received a different chakra candle from this line in the past from another subscription box service. I love the idea of writing one’s intention on a candle before lighting it; it brings substance to the ritual. I also think that the tiny piece of chalk that is included for writing an intention on the candle is adorable, and I appreciate that the chalk lets you erase and write new intentions as your mood and desires change. I think that the tin is just beautiful and makes the candle practical for travel as well. I personally find the fragrance of the candle to be a bit too strong for my preferences, but I know that many people love candles with a robust scent throw.

Chocolita Strawberry Passion bar close-up...Yum!

Chocolita Strawberry Passion bar close-up…Yum!

The next item was another one that I have received in some form in the past. Goddess Provisions sent a bar from Chocolita in their first ever box, and I was excited to see them once again. The raw, dark chocolate, Chocolate Strawberry Passion Bar (1.25 oz., $4.86) is enhanced with aphrodisiac herbs and strawberries to, “ignite your passion and open your heart.” I have been savoring the rich chocolate bar, and I really like the brightness that the strawberries lend to the flavor.

Goddess Provisions February 2016 unboxing & review

I was a bit taken aback when I saw a twist on a theme from Goddess Provisions. Historically, Goddess Provisions has included a precious bag with a small crystal in every box. This month, they sent a bag of three Self Love Stones from Energy Muse (value $15.00). I could not find this exact set online so I defer to GP’s stated value. The bag contains a single polished stone of rose quartz for unconditional love; rhodonite for compassion; and aventurine for opening the heart. I loved the beauty of the stones and the meaning behind them.

I think that my favorite discovery in this month’s box may have been the “grace” bracelet from Mudlove ($8.00). I love the minimal, earthy design of the stamped pottery bracelet. As someone with larger-than-average wrists I also really appreciate when bracelets are adjustable. After I took some time to explore Mudlove’s website I was even more impressed. The company began with a mission to provide clean, potable water to communities in Africa where this life-giving resource was scarce. For every item purchased, Mudlove makes a donation to Water for Good that provides for a week’s worth of clean water for one person. I was also blown away by the extensive selection of bracelet words and phrases that could be ordered in any of a rainbow of band colors. They also offer gorgeous pottery mugs (I have a pottery mug collection that adds beauty to my herbal tea drinking experience). Goddess Provisions included a coupon for 30% off a Mudlove purchase for subscribers. I think I’ll be grabbing some bracelets and a mug for me, as well as some bracelets for the girls to give to friends as gifts.

Mudlove bracelet

The beautiful colors of the Dive in Deck (value $20.00) are what first caught my eye when I noticed this item. This standard sized deck of cards pairs captivating pictures with provocative questions or thoughts designed to stimulate conversation or introspection. The deck consists of 33 cards with prompts such as, “How do you explore and expand the edges of your comfort zone?” and “When do you feel most empowered?” I love the intention of these cards to help people tune into and connect with what is important to them and to those around them. I had brought a comparable product more specifically geared to family on a trip with my mother and sister several years back. The prompts helped us start many meaningful conversations that gave us all a better appreciation for one another’s perspectives and experiences. I can think of many uses for these cards with my own kids, therapeutically, or otherwise. I had mentioned in the video that I would show close-up photos of some of the cards, but I decided not to open it; I think that it is the perfect item to have on-hand for a spur-of-the-moment gift to brighten someone’s day or to show appreciation.

Dive in Deck details

Dive in Deck details

I am really impressed with the curation and theme of this month’s box. Love is a significant focus during the month of February as partner and “Galentine’s Day” celebrations abound. I appreciated the thought that went into centering this box around love for self. I liked the balance of items, and think that a gift of chocolate, jewelry, a candle, crystals, and an interactive gift focused on introspection makes a wonderful package to receive. The value of this month’s box totals $60.00 and pays forward by providing someone in Central Africa with a week’s worth of fresh water. I think that is an incredible value. I continue to appreciate all of the boxes that I have received from Goddess Provisions. It has quickly become a favorite subscription that matches my lifestyle and values very well.

What do you think of Goddess Provisions? If you want to get your hands on your very own box sign up at Goddess Provisions. I’m also looking for some new boxes to review in the months ahead. If you have a request for a specific box or a type of box (e.g., kids, food, beauty) that you would like to see me review, please let me know.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes for other great crunchy-friendly subscription or gift ideas, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter!

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Tutorial: Needle Felted Wool Sachet or Ornament

Crunchy Parent Tutorial Needle Felted Sachets and Ornaments

I told you all that I was felt like I had come up a bit short in the crunchy department when it came to the kids school valentines this year. I thought that it might be nice to do a more natural Valentine’s Day-related craft with the kids on the actual holiday since we had the luxury of having Valentine’s Day fall on the weekend. Alina is especially drawn to doing handcrafts and Asher has become more excited by them over the past year. Eva was spending Valentine’s Day at a friend’s house so I pulled together a basket of wool batting and the younger kids and I needle felted some fragrant sachets together.

Alina, age 9, has been needle felting for a number of years, but this was Asher’s first time wielding a felting needle at not quite six years old. Felting needles are sharp and hurt if you end up getting poked. I supervised him closely on this project, and tried to teach him some of the basic needle felting safety rules. It is clear to see in the video that Asher was very proud of his developing skill and is excited about future felting projects. He did need help to complete this task, but he was able to participate in a lot of the work.

Alina was more independent in her craft, but she asked me to do most of the embellishing for her. As bad luck would have it, our whole family came down with the norovirus within hours of shooting this video, with Alina leading the pack. I think that she was starting to get worn out, which is why she handed the embellishment job over to me. Under different circumstances, I might have set the sachet aside for her to finish on another day, but she really wanted it to be part of the finished pictures for the tutorial.

It is often suggested in Waldorf circles that it is best for young children (especially prior to age seven) to avoid work on needle felting human or animal figures. There can be something disturbing about repeatedly jabbing a needle into something that looks like a person or animal. This project is a great one for new felters, young and old, because it works mostly in two dimensions and in a confined area. The cookie cutter creates structure for the project, and the whole thing comes together quickly.

For the project you will need:
wool roving or batting (colored or natural)
felting needle
felting pad
cookie cutter(s) in desired shape(s)
optional embellishments such as wool yarn, prefelt scraps, curly wool locks, etc.

The supplies can be gathered from many retail sources online and through craft sites such as etsy.com or ebay.com. You may also be lucky enough to have fiber shops or a Waldorf school local to you who may carry supplies. I purchased my felting needles and some of my colored batting through Peace Fleece. I also love shopping at Esther’s Place Fiber Arts Studio, which was my local fiber shop prior to our move. For those who are not local to them, they do sell products online and through Etsy as well.

I have even noticed that chain-store craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabric carry a limited selection of needle felting tools, kits, and supplies, wool batting, and roving as well if you wish to go that route. If you are a fan of one-stop, click and receive shopping, Amazon has a large selection of wool fiber for felting in endless colors as well as felting needles and multi-needle felting tools and accessories.

As I also mention in the video, I have purchased upholstery foam from Joann Fabrics to use as a felting pad. It is cut and sold by desired length and if you plan ahead, you can bring one of the ubiquitous 40% off Joanne coupons with you to increase your savings.

The video will give you a good overview of how the project comes together, but I wanted to give a closer look at some of the steps.

I showed several types of cookie cutters in the video. Admittedly, a cutter that is open at the top without any bar or handle is easiest to use for this project, but I showed my process using a less open cutter here. In all cases, you want to begin by stacking several thin layers of wool in the cutter, alternating the direction in which you place the wool (horizontally and vertically). Try your best to keep the wool inside the cookie cutter. It’s okay if some of the wool climbs up the edges a bit; it will get felted down in the process. Because I was working with a more involved design shape here, and with a low-profile cutter with a bar, my wool extended outside the cookie cutter (oops). Not a big deal, it will get fixed later; felting is a very forgiving process.

Poke around the shape in the cookie cutter.

Poke around the shape in the cookie cutter.

1. Poke around the inside of the cookie cutter, forming the shape of the cutter. I rotated the flower cutter here to get better access to my work area. Once again, don’t worry too much about the wool that may have extend outside of the cutter. We’ll fix it in a moment.

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2. Lifting up the cookie cutter, you can see the flower shape roughed out on the foam mat. The loose wool that is extending beyond the felted petals can now be folded in and felted to the flower without the cookie cutter getting in the way. For open cutters like Asher and Alina used in the video, there won’t be much overhang, so they pretty much skipped this step. Once I moved the cookie cutter out of the way, I could also felt down that pouffy center section.

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3. The flower shape is clear now, but some of the curves lack definition.

IMG_5279

4. Carefully using the needle parallel to the foam mat, you can work to define the shape.

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5. Add your fragrant filler (dried flower petals, aromatic herbs, etc.). Repeat steps 1-4 to create a second shape using the same color wool or a contrasting color if you prefer.

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6. Make a sandwich using your two wool layers and your aromatics. Note that you can see some thinner spots on my top flower here. That’s not a problem, more wool can be added as needed throughout the process. Felt around the edges of the “sandwich” to join the front and back securely. Take care felting around the center of the piece to avoid hitting the aromatics in the center. Hard ones like the star anise that I used could cause your needle to break if jabbed too forcefully.

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Once your front and back pieces have been fairly well joined together, you may find it easier to stand your sachet on its side to firmly felt all around the perimeter. I demonstrate that here with Alina’s pink sachet. Of course, you would want to use two hands when doing this, but taking photos calls for some one-handed maneuvers.

IMG_5285

7. Add your embellishments. I used different-colored wool here to create the flower design. On Asher’s and Alina’s sachets, they both chose to make a second smaller object using a mini cookie cutter, and we also used wool and wool yarn to create designs. Wool yarn can be felted to the sachet with the needle just as you would do with the wool fiber.

Finished sachets

Finished sachets

The project can be easily modified to make holiday ornaments, seasonal window hangings, felted play food, pins, hair clips, and more. If the sachet loses its scent over time or just needs a punch of fragrance, you can add a couple of drops of essential oil to the back of the sachet. If you do this, you may wish to take care about where you place the sachet to avoid transfer of the essential oil to clothing or surfaces.

I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial and look forward to sharing more wool and natural crafting with you. What are some of your felting crafts to do with children? What natural crafting tutorials would you like to see?

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MommyCon 2016 the Conference for Forward-Thinking Parents with a Natural Flair Coming to Chicago! (+ Discount)

MommyCon 2016 conference schedule for naturally-minded parents

As some of you know, I began this blog almost nine years ago. Eva was in preschool at a lovely, nature-based, Waldorf school. Alina was a barely a toddler, spending most of her time snuggled up to me nursing away in a wrap or sling. The blog was my way of processing my parenting journey and connecting with other parents on similar paths. It motivated me to learn more, try new things, and share ideas and thoughts with others.

One of the big things that I did that first year as a natural family blogger was to seek out festivals, expos, and conferences oriented toward “crunchy” families. I was fortunate that it happened to be the 50th anniversary of La Leche League International that year, and they were having a big weekend-long conference in Chicago that summer to celebrate. Rich and I signed up to attend. Eva stayed with my parents and my little nursling Alina came along with us to enjoy the experience.

It has been many years since I attended that first big conference, but I still remember it as a real rallying point for me. The Waldorf school was a small, like-minded community where we found connection, but the conference felt like we were part of a larger movement. Everywhere I looked there were parents with babies, toddlers, and young children in carriers of all shapes and sizes, many of which I oogled and envied (the carriers I mean, although the children were cute too). Babies looked adorable in their little leg warmers and soft-soled shoes, which were still “fringe” choices at the time. We parents smiled with appreciation at the amber teething necklaces and plump, cloth-diapered bottoms all around us. It felt warm and familiar; as though all of the people behind the usernames in the natural parenting forums had leapt forth from the screens and materialized right before me.

Alina crawls around the conference room floor while mommy learns about medication and breastfeeding.

Alina crawls around the conference room floor while mommy learns about medication and breastfeeding.

The sessions that we attended at the conference spoke of topics that resonated strongly with us and our hunger for guidance and validation on our parenting path; gentle child birth, creating a natural family living community, informed health choices, parenting spirited children, breastfeeding with confidence in the face of challenges, co-sleeping, and more. I learned so much about the decisions ahead of me and processed a great deal about the milestones that had already passed; some of which had turned out differently than I had hoped.

Fangirling on Day 1 of the LLLI Conference in 2007. That's Peggy O'Mara and a starstruck me.

Fangirling on Day 1 of the LLLI Conference in 2007. That’s Peggy O’Mara and a starstruck me.

Rich and I walked with wide eyes and broad smiles down the aisles in the exhibitor’s area. All of the beautiful products that I had spent hours admiring online were right in front of me where I could touch them and ask questions about them. I was shown how to use the Moby wrap that I wore on the second day of the conference to back-carry Alina with ease (a maneuver that I had lacked the confidence to try previously). I admired adorable cloth diapers in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. I looked at beautiful nursing jewelry. I felt in my element in a way that was so rare and so needed at the time.

Happy toddler being back carried in my Moby Wrap-I learned something new!

Happy toddler being back carried in my Moby Wrap-I learned something new!

I am at a different point in my parenting journey now. My first baby turns thirteen next week. My littlest one is almost six. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, and potty learning are all in my rear view mirror. I still continue to be a crunchy parent whose thoughts are often occupied with how to parent mindfully; what is healthy for my family, and where is my supportive tribe. The specific questions evolve, but the driving philosophy remains the same.

When I resurrected my blog a year ago it reignited a spark and a drive to learn more, to try new things, and to share more along my natural parenting journey and my journey as a naturally-minded person. That is why I was so excited to learn about the opportunity to attend the MommyCon Conference, an annual gathering across the nation that brings together, “forward thinking parents with a natural flair.” This, without question, is my tribe. I was so excited by the prospect of what MommyCon had to offer through their conferences that I went through the process to become a member of the MommyCon Media Team, to help other like-minded parents learn about and experience MommyCon.

MommyCon has already kicked off their 2016 schedule with their conference in Atlanta. In just two weeks they will be headed to Chicago. I am so excited that I will be there to connect with other naturally-minded parents, and parents-to-be. The schedule of speakers and list of vendors has been announced. I am already trying to decide how to choose between the amazing sessions topics which range from postpartum care, cloth diapering, treating childhood illness, positive body image, babywearing, creating intimacy among partners, and all things in between.

As a mom of (relatively) older children, I greatly appreciate that MommyCon has remembered that parenting mindfully extends beyond those first few years. The 2016 theme is “Growing Together” and can be seen in the range of topics being presented. MommyCon had the wisdom to clearly indicate which topics are best suited for parenting children in their first year, second year, toddlerhood and beyond; as well as topics focused on moms and those that are great for dads. The schedule layout makes it easy to find topics in your area(s) of greatest interest.

I think that one of the most challenging lessons for me to learn as a naturally-minded, child-focused parent was the importance of self-care (I’m still working on it). I am especially heartened to see the emphasis that MommyCon has placed on this topic and I hope that every mom in attendance makes time to fit in at least one session that focuses on her needs as well.

Of course, as much as I want to learn new things and meet other parents, I cannot wait to check out the exhibitors and see the great products and concepts that they bring to the show. MommyCon has lined up almost 100 exhibitors to help families feed, wear, clothe, diaper, celebrate, and care for their children and for themselves in a natural, mindful way.

MommyCon has also set up rooms to focus on areas of special interests; the Babywearing Lounge showcases over 40 different popular baby carriers that attendees can see, try on, and receive input about from certified BabyWearing Studies instructors. The Cloth Diaper Resource Center demystifies cloth diapering allowing attendees to see the many different types of cloth diapers available and learn about how to choose the ones to best meet their child’s needs and their budget. Experts are on-hand to discuss issues such as cloth diapering, car seat safety, promoting positive sleep habits, and more. MommyCon even offers stocked diaper changing stations, a feeding lounge, and play stations to meet the needs of even the tiniest conference attendees. Of course I saved the best for last, all attendees receive a gift bag from event sponsors and the event will end with over $10,000 in giveaways.

Tickets for the Chicago conference on March 5th had sold out but 400 more tickets were just added and are going fast. The code CRUNCHY16 will take $5.00 off the price of each ticket. If you have young ones who might want to have their own fun while you learn, the Chicago conference is also offering a Littles Make + Play Camp for children ages three and up. Kids can engage in supervised art and craft fun and creative play during individual sessions or for the whole day.

For those who make not be located close to the Chicago conference location, MommyCon will be hosting many other conferences across the country throughout the year in addition to more specifically focused conferences highlighting babywearing and infant feeding. The code CRUNCHY16 will reduce ticket prices by $5.00 for all locations.

I am counting the days until the Chicago event on Saturday March 5th. Can I look forward to meeting you there?

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Our Gluten Free Chinese New Year Hot Pot Celebration

Crunchy Parent Gluten Free Hot Pot for Chinese New Year

This past week seems to have been a holiday extravaganza. People all around have been celebrating the Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras, and preparing for Valentine’s Day. Throw in the Superbowl (a holiday to some, I suppose) and it’s really been quite a festive week.

I’d mentioned the other day that our family had a fun hot pot dinner last weekend to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. The meal tradition was introduced to us by some close friends several years ago. It was a great way to bring families together, learn about another culture and their traditions, and have some fun (and some delicious food). It also works to our advantage that the hot pot meal is very easily adapted for gluten free eating, since it consists primarily of broth, vegetables, proteins, and rice.

According the Wikipedia the hot pot meal has been around in some form for over 1000 years. For those unfamiliar, hot pot is like an East Asian version of fondue; dishes of raw meats, seafood, noodles, and vegetables await cooking in a communal pot. When enjoying hot pot, the foods are cooked in a boiling broth and fondue forks are replaced with small metal baskets like these. The cooked food is often enjoyed with a bowl of rice and any of a number of dipping sauces. The added beauty of hot pot is that the broth can be a mild or spicy soup base whose flavor is further enhanced by the ingredients as they cook in the broth. At the end of the meal when our bellies are all stuffed full, we add many of the remaining ingredients to the pot to make a rich and hearty soup to enjoy as leftovers in the days ahead.

In past years, we have had hot pot as a large feast with one or two other families, each bringing a portion of the meal components. Since moving, this was my first year doing the dinner on my own. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed taking it all on alone. As a result, I chose to focus my efforts on the broth, raw ingredients, and dessert. I opted to purchase prepared sauces and appetizers. I got lucky. Our local grocery store must have been celebrating the Lunar New Year as well because they had the whole range of San-J gluten-free, non-GMO Asian cooking sauces on sale as well as gluten free dumplings and egg rolls by Feel Good Foods that were also dairy-free, non-gmo, and contained no msg. Experience has taught us that the meal is far more enjoyable if the children have some prepared foods to eat while they wait for their other foods to start cooking in the hot pot, so these egg rolls and dumplings were perfect.

Before we could think of doing any cooking though, I had to purchase a pot. I mention this here because it was a bit of a task to find a pot that I felt comfortable using. Many electric skillets or hot pots (also referred to as Shabu Shabu pots) have a non-stick coating on the inside. For a multitude of health reasons, I do not use non-stick cookware. I am also dubious about ceramic-coated cookware as well after hearing discouraging information about its safety across manufacturers.

I wanted to buy a stainless steel pot that was going to be large and deep enough to work for a hot pot application and be affordable. After spending the better part of a day researching my options, I purchased this pot. It came with a non-stick grill insert, but I won’t be using that, and the pot part is all stainless steel. I worried that it would be too small to use for a group larger than our family, but I reasoned that if it worked well and we wanted to invite others to join us in future years, I could purchase a second pot if need be.

I spent the days leading up to our meal gathering ingredients from local grocery stores, and then Rich made a quick stop at a large Asian specialty grocer to get the remaining ingredients. We had a range of vegetables including scallions, spinach, bok choi, broccoli, carrots, and various mushrooms. I also purchased organic firm tofu, mung bean “glass” noodles, sticky rice cakes, thinly sliced pork belly, small crabs, calamari, and added some thinly sliced boneless chicken breasts and beef sirloin. In addition, we had bowls of minced cilantro, garlic, and ginger to toss into the pot or to spice up our rice bowls as desired.

Children anxiously await the start of the hot pot meal.

Children anxiously await the start of the hot pot meal.

The kids were so excited for the meal to begin. We got the pot going and I added the broth that I had made from simmering homemade chicken bone broth with fresh ginger, garlic, bay leaf, and some star anise. Each child was given a bowl of brown rice and a small dish for dipping sauces. They also were given two cooking baskets a piece.

Broth in and pot on as we prepare to feast.

Broth in and pot on as we prepare to feast.

We had a lot of fun cooking our foods, trying out the different flavors from the sauces and fishing escaped bits of food out of the pot.

The rice bowls begin to fill with the cooked food.

The rice bowls begin to fill with the cooked food.

The chicken dumplings and vegetable egg rolls that we tried received raves, and the Asian barbecue sauce from San-J earned the highest overall votes as the favorite condiment. All things considered, I still wish that I had time to make some steamed Asian meatballs and some sauces of my own, but there will be other years to do that.

Green vegetables for close family ties; noodles and sticky rice cakes for prosperity and longevity.

Green vegetables for close family ties; noodles and sticky rice cakes for prosperity and longevity.

During our meal we talked about the symbolism of the various foods that we were enjoying. We discussed the tradition of the Chinese New Year Celebration and how it has evolved over time. We talked about the Year of the Monkey and the concept of a Zodiac year versus a Zodiac month. The topics prompted a lot of family conversation and cultural appreciation.

All full. Time to make the soup!

All full. Time to make the soup!

We ended the meal by scooping portions of the remaining ingredients into the pot to make soup for the next day.

Red bean butter mochi cake about to be devoured.

Red bean butter mochi cake about to be devoured.

Finally, we wrapped up the evening with delicious, sticky slices of a gluten and dairy-free version of a red bean mochi butter cake. I will share that recipe in a post to follow soon. Alina has already requested it as her birthday cake this year.

Although we very much missed sharing the celebration with friends as we had done in year’s past, I was glad to broaden the kids’ horizons and create some fun family memories around a happy kitchen table. The leftover soup warmed our bellies throughout the week, and as I write this a week later, I do it with a smile on my face.

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Our Not-So-Crunchy Valentines

Crunchy Parent Valentines

So here’s the deal. I wasn’t going to post about making the kids’ classroom valentines this year. The reason, if I’m being completely honest is because they aren’t really crunchy. They’re crafty, but they involve plastic and are devoid of wool or watercolors. They are anything but natural. I feel mildly guilty about this and I wasn’t entirely proud of sharing that bit here, where the focus is the crunchiness of my parenting. The omission nagged at me though, and I felt like I was being disingenuous. I don’t want to project an image of myself that is fake, holier-than-thou, or unattainable. Of course, I don’t Periscope when I’m at my wit’s end and losing it here in the Crunchy Casa, but I can be honest about the valentines at the very least.

Remember back when I said that family life and needs and resources are always changing and sometimes choices that I make or things that I do may seem uber-crunchy, and sometimes they may seem crunchy-light? Well, valentines this year were crunchy-light at best.

I have reasons for this. I have learned that I have limits, and that I am best served by acknowledging and respecting them. I have also spent some time recently reflecting on my own memories from childhood; the moments that felt the best and the experiences that I most strive to replicate with my kids. What I’ve come to realize is that the specific events and outcomes were not important, it was the feeling of joy and fun and care that I associated with each memory. Doing something that felt special was awesome; being pushed too hard to adhere to a specific imposed standard was not. In approaching Valentine’s Day this year I was striving for the former.

Valentine’s Day is being celebrated in the kids’ classrooms tomorrow since the holiday falls over the weekend this year. I knew that I would be flying solo all week because Rich had to be out of town for work. I steel myself for his work travel. My admiration and empathy for single parents and military families grows with every trip. I knew that adding extensive craft projects to the week would be too much for me to take on if I hoped to remain a pleasant person. I wanted the valentines to be mostly done before he left town on the Monday morning red eye.

I suppose that I could have moved the valentine deadline up and still craft something masterful, but last weekend we were celebrating Chinese New Year with a family hot pot meal, we had a special occasion to attend for family friends, and then there was the Superbowl. We also have a big cancer charity event next week and I’m working on planning Eva’s birthday in two weeks. I wanted each event to be a fun experience without homemade valentines feeling like an obligation hanging over our heads. My goal was for the valentines to be fun and manageable. I hoped that the kids would be excited about making them, and that the valentines would reflect each individual child and who they are right now.

I talked with the kids to get an idea about what was important to them. Asher super did not care. Alina is at a school where for the very first time she is allowed to give out candy with her valentines, and her Priority #1 was to give out a valentine that had candy attached to it. Eva wasn’t sure what the kids might be doing for valentines, but she wanted to give out something that was “a thing” and not just a paper card. With these guidelines, I turned to Pinterest. The girls and I looked over the scads of pins together. I took the liberty of finding an idea for Asher that I thought that he would like. He loves space so I took a space-themed valentine and riffed on the idea a bit.

Asher's space valentines

Asher’s space valentines

Alina’s teacher (bless her) had requested that the students make personal valentines for their peers; having every child write at least two lines of genuine compliments for every other child in the class. I knew that I wanted Alina to focus her time on this aspect of the valentines, so I steered her away from anything too time-consuming in the crafty department. Alina also tends to think big and then get overwhelmed by the reality of her vision, which is a meltdown in the making. In the end, she settled on letting me do a photo valentine of her. Her favorite part about it (beside the candy of course) is that she was still wearing her pajama bottoms when we took the picture. I bet in 10 years she’ll look back at those valentines and laugh about wearing her pajama bottoms, which is much better than seeing them and rehashing a bitter memory of her mom nagging her for a week to finish gluing on doilies or sign her name on every card.

Eva’s class has a lot of students who benefit from fidgets to occupy their busy hands. We decided on a “slime” valentine that the kids could squish and play with at school or at home. As I write this, all three of my kids are playing “bakery” with the extra slime at the kitchen table. If their enthusiasm is any indication, I have a feeling that this valentine will be a hit with the kids at school.

Eva's valentines complete with pink glitter slime

Eva’s valentines complete with pink glitter slime

Just in case you are in a last-minute panic and searching for something for your kids, I’m including the links and resources that I used here.

For Asher’s space-themed valentine, I used this great idea. The astronauts mentioned in that link were no longer available through Amazon so I ordered cute glow in the dark aliens instead. I also used a red Sharpie to draw on hearts because that seemed faster and easier than painting them on as mentioned in the original tutorial. I printed the template out onto card stock and then glued some silver glitter around the moon. All design, color, and embellishment choices were made by Asher. I might have made some different ones, but he had a clear vision of what space should look like, so who was I to impose my ideas? Asher eagerly wrote his name on the back of each valentine. He has been talking about the party at school all week.

For Alina’s lollipop photo valentine, I searched for “lollipop valentine” on Pinterest and found a bunch for inspiration. I snapped a few quick pictures of Alina striking a pose against a plain wall in the house.

Raw photo for valentine

Raw photo for valentine

After selecting the one best-suited for the project, I  used the free photo editing software at Picmonkey to create the card. I’ve been using Picmonkey for a while so I knew my way around, but the site is fairly straightforward and they have a lot of video tutorials to help you achieve the look that you want.

Valentine after Picmonkey magic.

Valentine after Picmonkey magic.

Alina gave her opinion about the colors and design and came up with what she wanted the card to say. I then had the pictures printed up at the Walgreen’s one-hour photo (I used code FORTYOFF40 for 40% off and went through ebates for another 4% back). In an hour I had her photo cards for under $8.00. We planned to attach the Yummy Earth organic lollipops, but the wrappers were so large that they covered up her face. I had a bag of mini tootsie pops leftover from Halloween and they were a perfect size. Mind you, Alina can’t eat them due to her food sensitivities, but she isn’t giving a valentine to herself, so we’re okay there. We printed out Alina’s personal messages and taped them to the back of each photo.

When I went to pick up Alina’s pictures at Walgreen’s, I saw the exact heart-shaped containers that I had been looking for to use with Eva’s slime valentines. Walgreen’s had the containers on clearance. Each set of eight cost me 50 cents. I had all of the other supplies on-hand to make the slime and as mentioned, the kids have been having a blast playing with the excess all week. I printed out the little message on card stock and traced around it with a heart-shaped template that I created to match the back of the containers. I taped them on to the back of the containers with a little loop of tape.

IMG_5209

I have a few aliens left to tie onto cards tonight, and I’ll also be making some killer gluten-free, dairy-free brownies for the kids to have at school during their parties tomorrow. I’m not stressed though. I won’t be up until 3:00a.m. trying to embroider heart sachets or needle felt valentine gnomes. In all it is much less crunchy than prior years have been, but I’m okay with that. Making crunchier choices most of the time lets me consciously choose to be un-crunchy on occasion.

Crunchier valentines of yore: wet on wet watercolor with a resist.

Crunchier valentines of yore: wet on wet watercolor with a resist.

I try to remind myself that this parenting thing is a marathon and not a sprint. When the kids reflect back to their childhood memories, they may only remember the year that we made beautiful wet-on-wet watercolor valentines using a resist technique, or they may have forgotten everything except the time that we took PJ-pics and played with slime. I just hope that the memories that stick with them the most are happy ones.

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Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: February 2016

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes February 2016 Unboxing & Review

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service. The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn. Beginning with this month’s box, Beauty Heroes will be featuring the best in luxe green beauty cosmetic items in addition to their previous concentration on non-toxic skincare, hair, and body care items. This box is available for purchase through February 20th and while supplies last.

Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. In addition, all Beauty Heroes members receive 15% off of any purchase from the Beauty Heroes online clean beauty shop.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. This simply means that if you join Beauty Heroes through my links, I may receive a small compensation, which allows be to put more dollars back into the blog. All opinions are my own. To see my other Beauty Heroes unboxings and reviews, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with a big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label. I opened it to find pink tissue nveloping this month’s products as well as a sparkly pink Beauty Heroes mask. Beauty Heroes also sent a detailed enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted (more on that in a moment), as well a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products.

This month’s expert selection comes from the brand Beautycounter. Beautycounter is on a mission to make safer products for healthier people. Motivated by the discovery that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer, Beautycounter strives to reduce individual toxin exposure through safer skincare and cosmetics (and as one woman who has received a cancer diagnosis, I am certainly grateful for their efforts). Beautycounter maintains a list of over 1500 ingredients that they will not allow in their products. Focused on using organic and plant-based ingredients in combination with safer synthetic ingredients, Beautycounter has created a range of luxurious green beauty products that you can feel good about using.

Beauty Heroes February 2016 Beautycounter body oil

Beauty Heroes made good on their promise to add green cosmetic items to their boxes in 2016. In addition to the decadent Superhero product they added a sidekick with some colorful flair.

This month’s box was awash in pink, reminding me that February is all about love and tenderness. The box contained a beautiful full-size glass bottle of Beautycounter’s Rose Neroli Body Oil (2.7 oz., value $73.00). The formulation is a lightweight blend of nourishing oils including marula, argan, meadowfoam, rosehip, and grapeseed oils. Bitter orange flowers and rose otto lend a delicate floral scent that sets the perfect tone for February.

Beauty Heroes Beautycounter lip sheer

Beauty Heroes must have known that once my skin was was all hydrated and I was smelling softly of flowers, I would want a kiss of color on my lips. Like a good superhero, Beautycounter’s Lip Sheer came to the rescue. Outfitted in a beautiful golden case, the full-sized lip sheer in the Petal shade lends the lightest blush of soft pink to the lips (value $30.00). The hydrating lippie is scented with real vanilla and has a rating of 1 (low hazard) on the EWG Skin Deep Database. I am especially particular about green lip products, as these are the most frequently ingested simply by their use on the lips.

Beauty Heroes February 2016 unboxing & review

I must admit that as a green skincare enthusiast, I was a bit concerned what I heard that Beauty Heroes was going to be changing up their subscription to include cosmetic items. I loved that this month’s Superhero product was a luxurious item to pamper my skin from top to toe and I still received a flattering non-toxic cosmetic item in addition. The Beautycounter products feel and smell luxurious and are packaged beautifully. Using them feels special.

This month’s perfectly-pink box had a total value of $103.00. I continue to be delighted by the service that Beauty Heroes offers; allowing me to experience luxurious green beauty items every day at a substantially reduced price. As a full-time, at-home mom it is a special teat to be able to take time to care for myself. Using decadent products on my skin and face that smell, feel, and look beautiful take routine self-care to a level that feels like pampering. That can go a long way not just for my outside appearance, but for my psyche as well.

Once again, if you are interested in this month’s box it is still available for purchase through February 20th as long as supplies last. Subscription purchases made after February 20th will begin with the March box.

What do you think about Beauty Heroes’ first box featuring cosmetics?

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to Crunchy Parent and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel!

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Barganic Alert: Goodbeing Limited Edition box + 2 month subscription bonus!

Goodbeing Share the Lov ltd. ed. box + bonus

If there was ever a time to act fast, this is it. Today only, Goodbeing (formerly Goodebox) is offering an amazing bonus along with the purchase of their limited edition “Share the Love” box ($95 for $255 in luxury green beauty products).

All customers who purchase the limited edition box will also receive a two month gift membership of the Goodbeing subscription box. They can send the membership to someone else, or keep it for themselves. For more details about what to expect from a Goodbeing subscription box, see my Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes (look under their former name, Goodebox).

The limited edition box features products from Osmia Organics, One Love Organics, Lilikoi Living, AILA Cosmetics, LOQI, and jewelry from Me to We. See link for complete product details and to purchase.

There is no coupon necessary to take advantage of this bonus offer, but it is only valid today until 3pm PST, so don’t delay.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted** or follow me on Twitter Twitter or my Pinterest Barganic Alert board.

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Vegan Cuts Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: January 2016

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review January 2016

The Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is a monthly subscription service that sends 4-7 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Products are a mix of full and sample sizes. Items are paraben free and are often organic and natural.

Boxes cost $19.95 per month, which includes U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing my January 2016 Vegan Cuts box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

Each month, Vegan Cuts includes an information card that provides photos, a brief description, and valuing information for all items in the box. The card also included the code JANBEAUTY for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more at Vegan Cuts Beauty Shop. I think that Vegan Cuts (and their sister subscription company Goddess Provisions) have some of the best looking information cards out there.

Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription unboxing & review Jojoba Company & Aubrey Organics

The first item that I saw this month was a deluxe sample-sized pump bottle of Aubrey Organics Revitalizing Therapy Moisturizer (1 oz., value $13.00). The formulation is designed to nourish dry skin and target fine lines and wrinkles. I think that anything made for dry skin is perfect for the winter months around here. The moisturizer includes a host of nourishing herbal ingredients including aloe juice, rosehip seed oil, kelp, arnica, elderflower, and hops. I found that the moisturizer was rich but absorbed into my skin within a minute or so. It had a fairly strong scent that reminded me of almonds, but it dissipated quickly. I think that it would work well for me for daytime. For less dry complexions this might work well for nighttime.

The next items in the box were a pair of products from The Jojoba Company: a sample tube of their Gentle Cleansing Balm, and a small vial of their 100% Natural Ultimate Jojoba Youth Potion (total value: $6.00). The Jojoba Company is new to me, and I was happy to be introduced to this Australian company and their beautiful natural products.

The Gentle Cleansing Balm is a non-foaming cleanser designed for sensitive and dry skin. It is bursting with jojoba and other plant-based ingredients to hydrate and nourish. In addition it contains Alpha Hydroxy Acids from papaya and melon to brighten the skin.

The Youth Potion is a beautiful blend of oils including jojoba, argan, boabab, meadow foam seed, and more. It has an absolutely gorgeous delicate floral scent that I suspect is from the linden blossom oil in the ingredients list. The potion is designed to be used like a face oil, in conjunction with or in place of a serum, and followed by a moisturizer. It went on like silk and was light and quickly absorbed. I was really quite captivated by it.

Vegan Cuts Beauty unboxing January 2016 Earthlabs Vegan Mascara, Wabi-Sabi Botanicals cleansing grains, Lashea body scrub

My next discovery was a 1 oz. glass jar of Sagga Charcoal and Rose Cleansing Grains from Wabi-Sabi Botanicals (value $8.00). The versatile powder cleanser is designed for acne-prone skin. It can be mixed with water or other base and used to gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin. It can also be left to dry on the skin as a facial mask and then gently rinsed. The charcoal and clay will help to absorb oils and toxins, while the gluten-free oats and rose petals will soothe and brighten. I was expecting a gray product due to the inclusion of charcoal, but the powder is oatmeal-colored and mildly scented. I love powder facial care products because they tend to have greater shelf-stability and they allow for customization through the use of different bases such as honey, water, floral hydrofoils, or yogurt. I know that I will get a lot of use out of this one, and may encourage Eva to give it a try on her adolescent skin as well.

I couldn’t get over the cuteness of the wee sample jar of Lashea Butter Whips Essential Body Scrub (value $1.50). The creamy body scrub blends sugar and soy seeds along with a host of moisturizing butters and oils to gently exfoliate and enrich the skin. Although Lashea does not specify which essential oils are contained in there blend that scents the product, it had a a fresh citrus scent. I think the rich texture and the bright citrus fragrance would make this a great winter pick-me-up for the skin.

The final item in the box was Vegan Lash Mascara by Earthlab Cosmetics (full size, value $25.00). Like many other natural mascaras that I have tried, this aloe-based formulation is not heavy and can be layered to give the lashes a more dramatically-enhanced look, or used conservatively for a more natural effect.

Vegan Cots Beauty Box review January 2016 Crunchy Parent non-toxic

I was impressed with this box by Vegan Cuts. I liked that the curation seemed to be focused around a multi-step skincare regimen with the addition of a cosmetic and a body care product as well. I though that the overall emphasis on hydration and moisturizing was seasonally-appropriate, but I also appreciated that Vegan Cuts included products that could work for other skin types as well. I can see myself using the Wabi-Sabi Botanicals product as an occasional detoxifying face mask on my dryer skin, whereas Eva may use it more regularly as a balancing cleanser on her more temperamental adolescent skin. The value of this month’s box is $53.50, which I think is really fantastic for the $19.95 box price, especially given that the products are all vegan and natural as well.

If you are curious to learn about the February Vegan Cuts box, they have released a sneak-peek video that reveals two fantastic spoiler items. Among other items, the box will include 100% Pure Eye Creamsticks in one of two color combinations (value $18.00), and The Wonder Seed Facial Cream (value $16.95). The first 500 new subscribers will also receive a bonus bottle of this daring purple Raga Varnish polish (value $12.50).

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

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