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

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016

About Goddess Provisions

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.

Goddess Provisions: March Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the March 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 Awakening” and focused on the crown chakra. Goddess Provisions included products to help awaken the goddess within each of us.

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions March 2016 unboxing review-house of good juju & nicobella organics

The box was jam packed with items to support this month’s theme. The first item that I snapped out of the box was a House Blessing/Cleansing Herb Kit http://www.houseofgoodjuju.com/shop/house-blessingcleansing-herb-kit from House of Good Juju (2 oz., $7.00). I found this tin of botanicals, resins, stones, and wood to be intriguing. At first I thought that perhaps it was to be burned like incense or smudging herbs. Looking more closely at the House of Good Juju description, the tin is to be used as part of a multi-step ritual to cleanse or bless a home or space. During the ritual, the contents of the skin are scattered and tossed around the space. This is a way of blessing a space that is new to me. It was an interesting discovery in the box.

I couldn’t help but grab the next item with excitement (as evidenced by my tearing it open before even remembering to take the photo of the complete box-oops!). The Nicobella Organics Omega Munch looked like a bag full of brownie chunks (2 oz., $5.95). In truth, the bag held delicious crunchy chunks of organic chocolate, walnuts, and flax seeds. The week that the Goddess Provisions box arrived, I had been logging a lot of hours at the hospital with an ill family member and the Omega Munch was the perfect snack to toss in my bag to have with me. It was rich, chocolaty, satisfying, and completely delicious. The Omega Munch is organic, gluten free, and as the name suggests, it is packed with Omega-3s.

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016 review chakra love, purple frog patches, your joyologist journal

The next item that I found in the box was a continuation of a new trend for Goddess Provisions. For the first several boxes, Goddess Provisions had included a small crystal in each box. These last two months, there seems to have been an evolution to incorporate crystals in the box in new ways. This month Goddess Provisions sent a beautiful necklace from Chakra Love.

Chakra Love necklace closeup

Chakra Love necklace closeup

I received a blue lapis stone necklace, representing the heart chakra (value $25.00). I could not find the exact necklace online, so it may have been exclusive to the box. Other necklaces from the Chakra Love line can be found here.

I loved the next discovery in the box, in large part because it was completely unlike anything that I have seen before. The Air Awakening air fresheners from Purple Frog Patches offer an easy alternative to chemicals (12 patches, $15.00). One of the founders of Purple Frog Patches was diagnosed with a rare cancer at age seventeen. The experience enhanced his appreciation for the role that environmental toxins play in our over health and well-being; motivating him to find an alternative to chemical air fresheners. As a rare cancer survivor myself, the desire to decrease the toxic burden on one’s body resonated strongly with me. I do not use any artificially fragranced air fresheners or candles in my home, yet I had never seen anything like the Purple Frog Patches before. These personal air fresheners come on a pad of 12 self-adhesive discs. To use, a circle is removed from the pad and bent to pop the aromatherapy capsule and release the essential oils into the air. The pads can then be stuck anywhere that needs some freshening. The Air Awakening patches blend peppermint and eucalyptus to give a bright, fresh scent to any area that needs a pick-me-up.

The final item in the box was a mini gratitude journal from Your Joyologist (value $10.00). The bright red color is a mood-boost on its own, but the “Gratitude is My Attitude” emblazoned on the front is a great reminder to reflect on life’s blessings. The lightweight journal is perfect for tucking into a pocket or purse. The simple, lined pages are ready for any thoughts that you my wish to explore or reflections that you want to hold onto.

Goddess Provisions: Overall Impression

Goddess Provisions March 2016 whole box

I am always excited to discover new products through subscription boxes, and this month’s Goddess Provisions box was packed with items that were new to me. The Nicobella Organics Omega Munch was undoubtedly the most delicious, but the house blessing kit and aromatherapy air freshening pads may be tied for the most novel products for March. The items in this month’s box have a total value of $62.95. I think that the value is great for the $33.00 purchase price. The curation stayed true to the self-awakening theme, with items to lift one’s spirit and environment.

What do you think of Goddess Provisions? Do you like the changes to the crystals in the box? If you want to get your hands on your very own Goddess Provisions 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.

As a reminder, there is still time to enter the Crunchy Parent MommyCon ticket giveaway. MommyCon is another great way to discover natural, crunchy products as well as to learn about natural parenting topics and to meet like-minded people.

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!

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Vitacost Haul Video: Gluten-Free food, supplements, natural home care & personal care items

*I purchased all of these items and receive no compensation from Vitacost for this post, although affiliate links may be included. What follows are my honest opinions*

If you read my post about Barganic Alerts you know that I am really passionate about making natural, green-living choices accessible to anyone who desires to make them. Throughout my evolution as a parent and as a person, one of my goals has been to seek out healthier foods, which for us includes prioritizing organic foods, avoiding GMOs, and respecting our gluten and dairy sensitivities. This can add a lot to our food cost bottom line, but it is well worth it to me; better health is priceless.

In addition to what we put in our bodies, I am also mindful of what we put into our home environment via cleaning and household products, and what we put on our bodies through cosmetic and personal care items. This week, research out of University of California-Berkeley demonstrated that by swapping out just a few personal care products for ones with safer ingredients, the chemical body burden of teen girls decreased significantly within a period of a few days. This powerful finding only serves to reinforce for me the importance of prioritizing healthy products for my family.

The desire to buy the best food, supplements, home, and personal care products that we can afford has moved me to research the resources available to us in our community and through the interwebs to stretch our dollars. There are a few online retailers that I have found who offer very competitive pricing on high-quality natural, organic, and food allergy-friendly food items. Vitacost is a retailer that I shop with often for supplements, personal and home care items, and nonperishable foods. Not only is the value very good, but they offer an extensive range of products that are not always available to me locally.

Recently I got an email from Vitacost promoting a 15% off any order of $100 or more. This was the motivation that I needed to place an order. I also went through ebates and earned an additional 4% off of my purchase. You can see the complete haul video above. A select few of the items that I ordered were excluded from the promotional offer, but I still found the Vitacost price to be better that what I could find elsewhere.

I encourage you to do your own research to see how pricing compares to what is available near you. To give a sense of the prices during this deal, I have provided a sample of my purchase prices below. The promotion is no longer active, but Vitacost frequently offers various deals. You can sign up for their emails to be alerted of sales.

Prices are before tax and do not reflect the additional rebate received through ebates. For ease of comparison, I have converted pricing for “bulk” items into price per ounce or per pound as appropriate.

Xlear Spry gum 600 count: $33.99
Herbatint Permanent Haircolour Gel: $6.79
Ancient Secrets Bath Salts-2 lbs.: $7.51
Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder-32 oz.: $6.54
Ener-G GF pretzels: $2.16/bag (8 oz.)
Kinnikinnick GF graham crackers $3.29/box (8 oz.)

So what do you think, are these prices a good value for your area? Do you have any healthy food and personal care resources to share?

If you are new to Vitacost, this link will save you $10 off of your first order.

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Haul Video: Vitacost Natural, Organic, Gluten-Free Food

*I purchased all of these items and receive no compensation from Vitacost for this post, although post may include affiliate links. What follows are my honest opinions*

If you read my post about Barganic Alerts you know that I am really passionate about making natural, green-living choices accessible to anyone who desires to make them. Throughout my evolution as a parent and as a person, one of my goals has been to seek out healthier foods, which for us includes prioritizing organic foods, avoiding GMOs, and respecting our gluten and dairy sensitivities. This can add a lot to our food cost bottom line, but it is well worth it to me; better health is priceless.

The desire to buy the best food that we can afford has moved me to research the resources available to us in our community and through the interwebs to stretch our dollars. There are a few online retailers that I have found who offer very competitive pricing on high-quality natural, organic, and food allergy-friendly food items. Vitacost is a retailer that I shop with often for supplements, personal and home care items, and nonperishable foods. Not only is the value very good, but they offer an extensive range of products that are not always available to me locally.

Recently I got an email from Vitacost promoting a 20% off all food and beverages sale. This was the motivation that I needed to place a big order. I also went through ebates and earned an additional 4% off of my purchase. You can see the complete haul video above.

There were a few items that I bought that were not included in the sale. Specifically, the raw, organic honey was actually part of a buy one, get one 50% off special, making it an even better deal. The Spry gum was not part of any additional sale beyond the regular Vitacost price, but we needed it and by piggybacking it onto this order, it shipped free.

In the video I talk about a few things that I wanted to link to to if you wished to learn more. First, I mentioned that I store my bulk grains in large food-grade plastic buckets with Gamma Seal lids. They provide an air-tight seal that keeps out moisture, critters, and prolongs freshness. They are a workout to get on the bucket at first, but after the initial set-up they are very easy to open and close. I love them.

I also mentioned a few recipes in the video that I make using some of the products that I ordered. These include my versatile gluten free flour mix, my favorite green smoothie, and my gluten free/dairy free banana bread with hemp seeds and chocolate chips.

I encourage you to do your own research to see how pricing compares to what is available near you. To give a sense of the prices during this deal, I have provided a sample of my purchase prices below. The promotion is no longer active, but Vitacost frequently offers various deals. You can sign up for their emails to be alerted of sales.

Prices are before tax and do not reflect the additional rebate received through ebates. For ease of comparison, I have converted pricing for “bulk” items into price per ounce or per pound as appropriate.

Lundberg Organic short grain brown rice $1.72/lb.
Arrowhead Mills organic brown rice flour: $1.52/lb.
Vitacost potato starch $1.60/lb.
Vitacost tapioca starch $1.60/lb.
Nutiva organic raw hemp seeds: $0.60/ounce
Glutino GF crackers: $2.74/box (4.4 oz.)
Ener-G GF pretzels: $2.39/bag (8 oz.)
Kinnikinnick GF graham crackers $3.29/box (8 oz.)

So what do you think, are these prices a good value for your area? If you want to give Vitacost a try, you can save $10 off your first purchase through this link. Do you have any healthy food resources to share?

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Recipe: Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Aebleskiver

Crunchy Parent Gluten Free Dairy Freen Pumpkin Spice Aebleskiver Recipe

I love autumn and all of warm, rustic colors and flavors. I am grasping to these last few days of fall before the winter solstice rolls around in the weeks ahead; folding a bit of autumn into our lives here and there as I can.

One of our family traditions in to make a big batch of gluten free pancakes from scratch every weekend. Rich generally wields the spatula for these breakfasts. On occasion the kids will ask me to break out the Aebleskiver pan and make various iterations of the Danish filled pancake balls. We love filling them with chocolate chips, homemade jam, or leaving them unfilled and dipping in cinnamon sugar or drizzling with syrup.

The November Raw Spice Bar envelope included a packet of fresh, custom blended pumpkin pie spice and a recipe for round pumpkin ricotta donuts. The recipe was not a good fit for our food sensitivity needs but something about the shape of the donut reminded me of aebleskivers. I happened to have some leftover canned pumpkin around from another recipe and thus, gluten free, dairy free pumpkin aebleskivers were born. They were delicious stuffed with a sprinkle of chocolate chips in the center, but the hands down favorite was a spoonful of pumpkin butter in the middle. If I’d had apple butter around at the time, that would have been my next experimental combo. They were perfect little bites of fall.

The fresh, flavorful spices from Raw Spice Bar were delicious in this recipe, but you can substitute in any Pumpkin Pie spice blend or your own combination of autumnal spices such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, and ginger. You will need an Aebleskiver pan to make this recipe. I highly recommend using a cast iron pan (I have nothing nice to say about Teflon or its toxic, non-stick, chemical friends). I found mine at a thrift store, but Amazon or kitchenware stores should have them as well. To turn the ableskivers, I often opt for using bamboo and wood skewers. I happened not to have any on hand so toothpicks worked out in a pinch.

 

Ingredients:

2 c. milk substitute

1 T. lemon juice

1 1/2 T. coconut oil, melted (plus additional for frying aebleskivers)

2/3 c. canned pumpkin puree

2 eggs

2 c. gluten free flour

1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 T. sugar

goodies for filling aebleskivers such as pumpkin butter or apple butter, chocolate chips, jam or preserves

Directions:

  1.  In a bowl mix together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. In a second bowl, blend together milk substitute, lemon juice, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, and egg until well mixed.
  3. Add liquids to dry ingredients and stir until evenly mixed. IMG_3840
  4. Warm up your aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Brush the inside cavities of the pan with coconut oil to coat.
  5. Fill cavities approximately 1/2 full with batter.
  6. Quickly top with a dollop of your chosen filling, trying to keep filling in the center.

    Pumpkin butter fills the center.

    Pumpkin butter fills the center. (Overfilled the batter on these a bit-oops).

  7. Add another small dollop of batter to the top, covering your filling.
  8. When bottom browned (approximately 1-2 minutes,) carefully flip the aebleskiver and cook the second side until done. pumpkin spice aebleskiver recipe gluten and dairy free
  9. Serve warm aebleskivers sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, or syrup and enjoy!
warm and gooey pumpkin butter center-yum!

warm and gooey pumpkin butter center-yum!

 

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Raw Spice Bar Global Culinary Subscription: November 2015 Unboxing & Review

Crunchy Parent Raw Spice Bar Global Spice Blend Subscription Unboxing & Review November 2015

Raw Spice Bar is a subscription service aimed at expanding culinary horizons with fresh, exotic spice blends and recipes mailed to your door every month.

Envelopes cost $6 per month, which includes shipping. I was sent this envelope for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

A good friend of mine recently sent me the Raw Spice Bar link with a note that she was requesting that I review their subscription on Crunchy Parent soon. She has a “foodie” family and knows that I love to cook and enjoy good food from various cultures. As luck would have it, Raw Spice Bar reached out to me a short while later and offered to send me an envelope to review. I was all too pleased to say yes, and eagerly awaited my envelope. I opted not to do an unboxing video because I didn’t think that pulling spice packets out of an envelope would be especially compelling media. I went for lots of food photos instead.

Raw Spice Bar Unboxing & Review November 2015

The envelope was thin and unassuming, but sturdy. It was received in pristine condition.

When I opened the envelope, I saw that the November theme was Ethiopian food. I was thrilled. I have had a few absolutely delicious and memorable meals at Ethiopian restaurants in major cities. I loved eating the brightly flavored mounds of meats, vegetables, and legumes; using the spongy, flat injera bread as my utensil. That said, I have never tried preparing Ethiopian food at home. This was a perfect nudge and inspiration.

Raw Spice Bar November 2015 Ethiopian theme

Raw Spice Bar included a colorful pamphlet with recipes, photos, and information about Ethiopian cuisine. They highlighted Asante Mama, a farming business in Uganda that helps to elevate the financial circumstances of impoverished women, and who provided some of the peppers in this month’s blends. Raw Spice Bar also included three freshly-ground, custom spice blends for use in the recipes; Berbere, Mitmita, and Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Raw Spice Bar subscription ethopian spice blends and recipes

The recipes that Raw Spice Bar provided were Berbere Roasted Carrots with Fennel & Mint, Spicy Ethiopian Stewed Beef (Key Wat), and Ethiopian Pumpkin Spice Ricotta Donuts. I decided to prepare the first two for a family dinner and seek an alternative to the third, which would have been difficult to work around our food sensitivities.

It took me a couple of days to gather the ingredients for the meal, which included fresh mint, fennel, and stew meat; all of which I don’t always have on-hand but were not hard to acquire. I was looking forward to presenting my family with the dishes, and breaking out of our routine meals. I even went big time fancy and bought colorful heirloom organic carrots to use in the vegetable dish to match the ones in Raw Spice Bar’s beautiful photo.

I also decided that I wanted to make injera bread to eat with the meal as well. The spongy, tangy Ethiopian bread is made by fermenting teff flour; a perfect bread for gluten-free dining. It took me a few tries to find a store that carried teff flour, but I was able to track some down and make the bread too.

When food prep time rolled around, I began to notice a few curiosities in the information provided by Raw Spice Bar. They called for large quantities of the spice blends in the meat and vegetable dish, especially since these blends listed very hot peppers among their primary ingredients.

I do not have an very bold palate and the children fall in the same category. Rich appreciates spicy, but I suspected that even for him, a tablespoon or more of a hot pepper-based spice blend to a pound of meat would be too much. I took a taste of the two spicy blends and quickly determined that I would be cutting back on them a lot when making the dishes, and then adjusting the amount to taste as needed. In the end, I used about 1/8 to 1/4 of the spice suggested in the recipes.

In addition, the roasted carrots, fennel, and mint dish called for four fennel bulbs to one pound of carrots. I weighed out a single fennel bulb at one pound and thought that it would be excessive (and expensive) to include four pounds of fennel to a pound of carrots. This ratio of fennel to carrots would look very different than the picture of the dish provided by Raw Spice Bar. Moreover, even for our veggie-loving family, I couldn’t imagine us needing five pounds of roasted vegetables with our meal. I decided to stick with one fennel bulb. I also decided to double the recipe of the meat dish to feed us all because a pound of meat seemed inadequate.

One pound each of fennel and pretty carrots.

One pound each of fennel and pretty carrots.

Lastly, the Key Wat recipe recommended serving with injera bread, couscous, or butternut squash mash, all of which sounded great. They instructed the reader to go to RawSpiceBar’s monthly blog for recipes, but I did not find recipes for any of the suggestions there. I found an injera recipe on my own and used that instead.

In addition to the seemingly disproportionate quantities in the recipes, I also was a bit confused upon opening the spice packets. I had noted that the spice blends were all labeled .4 oz., but when I opened the envelopes they very obviously had different amounts in them.

These do not look like the same quantities to me.

These do not look like the same quantities to me.

I weighed the spices and after adjusting for the weight of the envelopes themselves, I discovered that there was actually .55 oz. of the Berbere blend, .2 oz. of the Mitmita, and .35 oz of the pumpkin pie spice. In total it averaged out to about .4 oz. per packet. The quantities also supported the recipes included, which called for greater quantities of the Berbere than of the ultra-spicy Mitmita, but it threw me at little, so I wanted to mention it.

Ethiopian Key Wat and injera bread smelling delicious.

Ethiopian Key Wat and injera bread smelling delicious.

I made the appropriate adjustments to the recipe quantities based upon my instinct, experience, and preferences. After those tweaks, I found the recipes to be easy to follow and relatively simple in their steps. The Key Wat essentially involved browning the beef and the aromatic ingredients and then adding tomatoes and stock and simmering a number of hours until tender.

Berbere spiced carrots and fennel ready to be roasted.

Berbere spiced carrots and fennel ready to be roasted.

The vegetables just needed some peeling, chopping, and tossing with olive oil and spices before being roasted in the oven and then tossed with chopped mint.

Berbere roasted vegetables tossed with fresh mint.

Berbere roasted vegetables tossed with fresh mint.

I was really excited to be cooking a new type of food, and loved seeing it all come together. The family was also intrigued by the tempting fragrances and unfamiliar foods. My children are relatively adventurous in their eating, but they were a bit dubious about what would happen if they were not fond of the food.

When the Key Wat, vegetables, and injera were ready, we all sat down to eat. Eva and I thought that the Key Wat and vegetables were delicious and we went back for seconds. Rich spiced his portions up a bit with added Berbere and Mitmita. He was blown away by the meal, and I think was in for thirds. Alina found everything a little too spicy. She ate a half serving of the meat and veggies and then made herself a sandwich. Asher eats about seven foods at this point so he had opted out of the meal and stuck with one of his standards. We negotiated over the leftover Key Wat the next day (Eva and I split it), and I claimed the leftover veggies.

The Pumpkin Pie Spice did not go neglected. The next morning, I modified our weekend gluten free/dairy free pancake breakfast to be gluten free/dairy free pumpkin aebleskiver breakfast. I added pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Spice to the batter and filled the aebleskivers with chocolate chips or pumpkin butter. They were a big hit (I’ll post the recipe soon). I also used the spice blend in a GF/CF chocolate chip pumpkin bread that we enjoyed for Thanksgiving.

Raw Spice Bar subscription ethopian spice blends and recipes

The spices from Raw Spice Bar were everything that they promised to be. They seemed very fresh and were extremely aromatic and flavorful. Every recipe that I made with them was delicious, once I made adjustments to spice quantities that seemed more consistent with our palates. I thought that the flavors in the foods were bright and lively; balanced, and layered. It was a great way to acquaint the kids with Ethiopian food and to introduce me to preparing it at home.

Eva raved about the Key Wat in particular, and made me promise to make it again. She also expressed a desire to try making some other Ethiopian dishes at home. Rich praised the meal so effusively, and so often that it was striking. He kept saying how delicious the food was, but also that he really appreciated having a whole spectrum of new flavors at our dinner table (and at breakfast).

I am not sure if the spice quantities that were suggested by Raw Spice Bar were reflective of authentic Ethiopian cuisine and we are just mild-palated, or if the recipes were aggressively spiced under any circumstances. I certainly didn’t mind adjusting the spice level down, and am excited that it means that I can make these dishes several more times with the quantities of spices that were provided.

As for my overall impression, my mother has worked in fields related to food advertising and marketing or specialty-food gifting since I was young. I have joined her in attending many food and gift-oriented trade shows around the country over the years. She also happens to be a fantastic cook. I have had the good fortune of tasting a lot of good food. I find that I often have high standards for food and for food-oriented subscriptions.

That said, Raw Spice Bar delighted me with what they had to offer. I think that for the open-minded eater and relatively experienced cook, this is a fantastic subscription. I was a little concerned about presenting my family with such exotic flavors. I was pleased that the girls tried both dishes, and Eva loved the food. Next time, I’ll cut back on the spice a bit for Alina and the rest of us will just add a pinch more at the table.

In addition to the high quality of the spices and the exotic blends that Raw Spice Bar provided, I really appreciated how they expanded our family dining horizons. I know that we will make these dishes again. They were truly so good, and absolutely packed with flavor. I am also inspired to try and to create additional Ethiopian recipes at home using the spices, and I love that sort of creative inspiration.

Have you received RawSpice Bar in the past? Who do you think would love this type of subscription as a gift?

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Holistic Cyber Monday Deals: Subscription Boxes, Green Beauty, and More

Photo credit: twicepix / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: twicepix / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Is your credit card crying yet? I must admit that I’m feeling a little exhausted by all of the shopping frenzy that seemed unavoidable these past few days, even though I’ve only been to the grocery store in that time. I do appreciate the opportunity to save money on purchases that we have been waiting to make. There are some great deals to be had on everything from appliances to winter outerwear. It’s also a good time to stretch your dollar and bring healthier products into your home or the homes of others at a more manageable price. I wanted to highlight a few more deals that end today.

Subscription Box Deals:

Once again, I love crunchy-friendly subscription boxes. I think that they make great gifts or gifts-to-self. Most of the following subscriptions are all featured on my Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. You can find out more about each one there. Some will be added to my Winter update very soon (keep an eye out for that).

1. Mindfulness Box is offering 20% off of everything in their online store and off of subscription purchases with the code GRATITUDE20. See reviews of past Mindfulness Boxes here.

2. Goddess Provisions is offering 15% off subscriptions for first time subscribers with code magic15. Subscriptions will renew at regular price. Expires on Dec 1. They also have stocked a few of their first two boxes in their shop if you missed out. See reviews of the past Goddess Provisions boxes here.

3. Vegan Cuts is offering up to 20% off their snack and beauty subscription boxes as well as bonus gifts through the link provided (no code needed).

4. Love with Food is offering 15% off all subscriptions as well as bonuses for multi-month subscription purchases (see link for details).

5. Send Me Gluten Free is offering 20% off a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription using coupon code CYBERMONDAY20.

6. Mystical Mojo Box is offering an array of Cyber Monday deals with the following codes: CMMEGA = 27% off Mega Mojo Boxes; CMMOJO = 22% off Mojo Boxes; CMCRYSTAL = 18% off Crystal Mojo Boxes; CMTAROT = 18% off Tarot Readings.

7. Yogi Surprise is offering 40% off your first jewelry box with code JEWELRY15.

Green Beauty Deals:

1. Devine Beauty Emporium (the sister site to PureBox) is having a Cyber Monday sale with the code DEVINE10. Buy $100, get $10 off. Buy $200, get $30 off. Buy $300, get $50 off.

2. Lauren Brooke Cosmétiques is offering 30% off all full-sized products today.

Bonus Deal:

Chico Bag is offering 40% off all orders $50 or more today using code CYBER2015 (excludes sale items).

For additional deals that may still be running through today, check out my earlier holistic Thanksgiving weekend deal posts here and here. If you have any crunchy bargains to share, please let me know in the comments.

**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**

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The Halloween Fairy Talks: 50+ Ideas for Non-Edible Halloween Treats and Gifts

Photo credit: anathea / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: anathea / Foter / CC BY

As I mentioned earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to secure an exclusive interview with the Halloween Fairy. For those unfamiliar with her, the Halloween Fairy works in cooperation with volunteer children to collect candy on Halloween and deliver it to kids who were unable to participate in Trick or Treating. Volunteer children leave some or all of their candy for the Fairy on Halloween night. In the morning the kids can find what the Halloween Fairy has left them; often a mix of small gifts and different candies, better suited for the volunteer child.

With our combination of food allergies and sensitivities, as well as a penchant for preferring more natural candies than those typically offered on Halloween, our kids are perfect candidates for Halloween Fairy volunteers. We have been exchanging with the Halloween Fairy since Eva was in preschool. Recently, I wrote about some of the Halloween Fairy’s favorite resources for finding natural, GMO-free, food-allergy sensitive, and other “healthier” treats for her Halloween exchanges. I also wanted to take time to share some of the Halloween Fairy’s suggestions for non-edible treats that the she has left for our kids and for other children to discover after Halloween.

There are 50+ suggestions below that are often a good fit for a lot of kids. The Halloween Fairy tends to emphasize items that will help the children transition into fall and winter and to appreciate nature and the changes that they see around them at this time of year. She usually brings each child a few small gifts to enjoy. Some links have been provided as examples. They are not meant to be endorsements, and neither the Halloween Fairy nor I are affiliated with any of the vendors linked. In fact, the Halloween Fairy often crafts items herself when she can.


cheekycrows3 / Foter / CC BY-ND

1. Colored chalk
2. Colored pencils or Halloween-themed pencils
3. Crayons (a few new fall colors, perhaps)
4. Crayon roll or Stand
5. Coloring book
6. “Sticks” of modeling beeswax in fall shades (sometimes Waldorf school stores will sell individual sticks)
7. Watercolor paper and paints
8. Small tubs of natural craft “dough” (can be scented with essential oils if homemade)
9. Journal
10. Small vehicles such as die-cast or wood cars, trucks, or trains
11. Bracelet
12. Necklace
13. Barrettes
14. Playsilk or silk handkerchief in an autumn color
15. Wooden figure such as a squirrel or owl
16. Peg dolls, especially fun in “costumes” or other autumn themes
17. Autumn fairies or gnomes
18. Toy pumpkins: knitted, felted, or wood
19. Felting kit
20. Wool ball with an autumn theme (tutorial)
21. Playfood-knitted and wood examples
22. A little pocket friend (e.g., mouse, dragon baby, mole)
23. Silk streamer
24. Ribbon rings/hand kite
25. Jacob’s ladder
26. Wood brain teaser puzzles
27. Finger puppets
28. Bean bags
29. Kazoo
30. Whistle
31. Yo-yo
32. Wool acorns (tutorial)
33. Natural treasures (acorns, stones, pine cones, sea glass, pods, seeds, etc.)
34. Day pass to a children’s museum, zoo, arboretum, botanic garden, etc.
35. Ticket to a local children’s theater performance
36. Ticket to a movie
37. Age-appropriate book with an autumn or Halloween theme
38. Stickers, maybe Halloween or autumn-themed
39. Fancy bandages
40. Fun or fancy toothbrush
41. Non-toxic nail polish
42. All-natural lip balm
43. Travel size natural hand lotion
44. Travel size natural bath products in yummy fall scent
45. Cute knit wool hat
46. Adorable mittens or these
47. Scarf
48. Suncatcher
49. Dreamcatcher
50. Flower press or leaf press
51. Herbal tea (technically edible, but great for fall and certainly not candy)

The Halloween Fairy and I hope that these ideas will inspire a happier Halloween for your child should he or she choose to partner with the Halloween Fairy this year. Has the Halloween Fairy blessed your child with a special gift or treat that was especially appreciated?

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The Halloween Fairy Spills the Beans: Resources for Natural Halloween Candies & Food Allergy Safe Treats

Crunchy Parent-Where to easily find treats for a natural, food allergy safe Halloween

As I recently mentioned, our children work in partnership with the Halloween Fairy every year. The kids go Trick-or-Treating and gather candy throughout the neighborhood. At the end of the evening they each get to keep any non-edible Halloween goodies as well as select 5-10 pieces of their Halloween loot to enjoy over the days ahead. They have to avoid their specific allergens, but we allow them to save candies even if they contain food dyes or artificial flavors, genetically modified sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc., which of course is in basically all conventional candy. I cringe a bit inside, but it’s about finding balance so that is the route that we take right now.

When the selections are complete, the kids gather up the remaining candy and leave it in their collection buckets for the Halloween Fairy. During the night, the fairy comes and takes the candy, to be distributed later to children who did not get to go Trick or Treating on Halloween. In exchange for the candies left, the Halloween Fairy always delights our kids with very special sweets and treats that are free of artificial dyes and flavors, and do not contain the allergens that each child avoids. She also gives them small gifts that are non-edible.

The children are always so excited to wake up in the morning on November 1st and see what treasures await them. The Halloween Fairy seems to know some really esoteric and amazing Halloween treats. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to interview the Halloween Fairy and she gave me the exclusive scoop as to where to find some of her favorite natural and food allergy-friendly Halloween treats. I went and toured some of the local spots myself, and am excited to share my finds with you. The Halloween Fairy even told me about some online resources for those who prefer to shop online.

We also talked about a lot of great non-edible gifts that she brings to delight children too. I will post a second interview recap in a couple of days with those ideas. For today, we’ll consider this a celebration of the edible abundance that is Halloween to many children, with gratitude that the Halloween Fairy makes that aspect healthier and safer for many children.

Just before we get to that, she asked me to mention that she takes care to consider our children’s food needs which include sensitivities and allergies of varying degrees to gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame depending on the child. What she brings my children may not meet the needs of your children in terms of ingredients or manufacturing purity. Always read labels and consider the needs of your child before adding it to your approved list for the Halloween Fairy. Now, on with the show….

Probably the most widely accessible natural candy resource that the Halloween Fairy mentioned is the local drugstore. On a recent trip to Walgreens, I spotted one of our longtime-favorites, natural candy brand YumEarth (formerly Yummy Earth). We fell in love with their products back when all they made were delicious lollipops. They have since expanded the line to include gummy candies, jelly beans, sour gummies, hard candies, and licorice. All of their candies are free from most common allergens, organic, and GMO-free. They do not use any artificial colors or flavors. Moreover, their flavors are a blend of the more unique (e.g., tangerine/mango, blueberry, pomegranate) and the classics (e.g., grape, cherry, strawberry). All are delicious. My local Walgreens carried a selection of their line that I know would be a happy find on Halloween morning.

YumEarth sighting at Walgreens.

YumEarth sighting at Walgreens.

If the drugstore selection leaves you wanting for more, the local Target store also carries YumEarth products. They are even 10% off in my Target Cartwheel app right now, and Target had some really cute Halloween-themed YE products. In addition, Target carries other natural candy options including Surf Sweets (see below).

Depending on the dietary needs of the children in your home, Target offers many choices. Our local Super Target carries Unreal chocolate products. The brand started as a response to the artificial ingredients found in common candies like M&Ms. They tweaked the concept, making their candies fair trade and free of GMOs and gluten. They also only use natural color in their candies, and leave out any artificial flavors. Their signature “chocolate drops” contain dairy, but a number of their candies, such as their dark chocolate peanut butter cups are both gluten and dairy free. Check their website for store locations. Not all Target stores carry their line.

Justin's organic peanut butter cups and nut butters at Target.

Justin’s organic peanut butter cups and nut butters at Target.

If nuts are okay for your child, Target also carries a selection of organic, GMO-free, products from Justin’s, including their dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and single-serve sized squeeze packs of sweet nut butters like maple or vanilla almond butter or chocolate hazelnut butter. Justin’s even makes snack packs of their nut butters with gluten free pretzels for dipping.

BarkThins at Target. Yum!

BarkThins at Target. Yum!

Another win for the chocolate lovers, Target has a selection of snacking chocolates from BarkThins. We absolutely adore their blueberry quinoa variety which does not contain any gluten, dairy, or nut ingredients. BarkThin’s products are also Fair Trade and free from GMOs.

Gluten free granola bars at Target. Some contain nuts, some do not.

Gluten free granola bars at Target. Some contain nuts, some do not.

Of course, not all sweet treats need to be candy to be enjoyed for Halloween. Target has a host of dye free and food allergy friendly granola bars and cookies, as well as dried organic fruits, and delicious toasted coconut chips free from GMOs.

Organic banana chips and coconut chips at Target. Puts some natural sweetness into Halloween.

Organic banana chips and coconut chips at Target. Puts some natural sweetness into Halloween.

Another favorite shopping destination for us, that the Halloween Fairy seems to favor as well is Trader Joe’s. There you can find a host of more natural sweet treat options. They do a very nice job of highlighting items that are vegan, as well as those that are gluten-free or free from gluten-containing ingredients.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are great for a more natural or food allergy safe  Halloween with only three ingredients.

Made with only three ingredients, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are great for a more natural or food allergy safe Halloween.

I am a huge fan of the Trader Joe’s three-ingredient, dark chocolate honey mints. They are a much purer, healthier, and creamier version of York Peppermint Patties. Other family favorites include TJ’s vanilla meringues, gluten free ginger snaps, and naturally colored and flavored fruit jellies, among so many other great options.

Trader Joe's natural Fruit Jellies.

Trader Joe’s natural Fruit Jellies.

It came as no surprise to me that the Halloween Fairy mentioned Whole Foods as a great place to find Halloween treats that could be enjoyed by children with differing food needs. On a recent trip to Whole Foods, Alina and I quickly stumbled upon an entire food-allergy friendly, dye-free Halloween display with brands like YumEarth, Justin’s, Annie’s Homegrown, Surf Sweets, and TruJoy.

Whole Foods Halloween display of natural and food-allergy safe candy treats.

Whole Foods Halloween display of natural and food-allergy safe candy treats.

Alina was especially captivated by a bag of Surf Sweets gummy spiders and Truejoy’s organic fruit chews, which are comparable to Starbursts. The aisles of Whole Foods were packed with myriad candy, non-candy sweets, and less sweet options that would be very well-received by my kids come November 1st morning.

Food Allergy safe chocolate candies at Fresh Thyme market.

Food Allergy safe chocolate candies at Fresh Thyme market.

My talk with the Halloween Fairy even inspired me to check out my local specialty grocer, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. They are a small healthy, fresh, grocery chain in the Midwest. Fresh Thyme had wonderful food allergy-friendly chocolate candy options; a host of raw, organic, vegan, and gluten free macaroons and granolas, and even raw, sprouted cookies. I also saw micro-brewed, natural, sodas that would be a huge treat for my girls; some of which were even stevia sweetened to temper the sugar rush that is Halloween.

All natural and stevia-sweetened sodas.

All natural and stevia-sweetened sodas.

If you follow me on Twitter you know that I even walked out with my own bag of Hail Merry macaroons that were somewhat alarming in their deliciousness. I am sure that other smaller grocery chains that cater to a “healthier” demographic would have similar offerings. You may want to direct the Halloween Fairy to them if she is less familiar with the smaller markets in your neighborhood.

Delicious Hail Merry macaroons offer another natural, gluten-free, vegan treat option from the Halloween Fairy.

Delicious Hail Merry macaroons offer another natural, gluten-free, vegan treat option from the Halloween Fairy.

The Halloween Fairy is as busy as the rest of us this time of year, if not busier. Sometimes online ordering can simplify or ease the process of getting all of the goodies that will be “just right” for the children that she will be visiting. She shared with me that one of her very favorite online resources is Natural Candy Store. Everything that they sell is free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and dyes; as well as being free of preservatives and hydrogenated oils. They also have an amazing special diets search option that allows the buyer to select the exact allergens that they need to avoid, as well as the level of stringency for each ingredient (e.g., “no milk ingredients” vs. “strict milk free”).

I recognized many of our favorites from the Halloween Fairy at this site, including some absolutely delicious stand-ins for Snickers, Butterfinger, Milky Way, or Three Muskateers bars. I cannot express how special it is for my children to receive those “real” candy bars once a year. They look forward to it so much, and always hope that the Halloween Fairy remembers these favorites.

Other candies that the kids often see but don’t get to enjoy due to allergies included versions that they could eat of candies such as taffy, Tootsie Rolls, and candy corn. I also loved these fun Halloween lollipops. They reminded me of a year that the Halloween Fairy got especially ambitious. She ordered lollipop molds in Halloween shapes and made her own lollipops for my kids-oh Halloween Fairy, bless your heart.

Actually, the Halloween Fairy has surprised the children with many successful homemade goodies over the years. This can be a great option to ensure that she knows exactly what ingredients were used and to save money versus purchasing all of her specialty treats. She has left small bags of popcorn or vegan caramel corn, vegan pumpkin seed brittle, maple candy, crisped rice marshmallow treats, and homemade marshmallows. We really think that the Halloween Fairy rocks.

Of course, some years the Halloween Fairy likes to let her Amazon Prime account do the heavy lifting for her. She can order and have everything delivered right to her door in a snap. Sunkist Fruit Gems are a great Amazon option because they seem almost impossible to find in stores. Perhaps it’s because they are gluten free, colored and flavored naturally, and are made in a peanut free factory. They also have a satisfying gummy texture that doesn’t make the crowns on my teeth twitch, so that’s a win. YumEarth and Surf Sweets can also be found on Amazon. For the gum chewers, Amazon carries Spry, Glee, and Pur, all of which are free of artificial flavors and dyes, and are sweetened with xylitol.

With so many options, the Halloween Fairy could easily shower your child or children with Halloween abundance to rival that of any conventional candy-eating kid. Of course, not every family is looking to place so much emphasis on the candy that surrounds the holiday. As mentioned earlier, the Halloween Fairy also talked with me about some of her favorite non-edible gift ideas. She mentioned many of the things that she has left for my kids and many others over the years that have been well-received, and have helped to carry on the memory of Halloween longer than an overindulged-Halloween-induced stomachache might ever last. In fact, they are so delightful that you may just decide to go candy-free for Halloween altogether.

I will be recapping the non-edible suggestions from the second part of our interview in the days ahead. Please be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com so that you don’t miss out on this, and other exclusive magical interviews. Happy (almost) Halloween!

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The Halloween Fairy: Bringing Balance and Food Allergy Safety to Our Holiday

Photo credit: tinyfroglet / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: tinyfroglet / Foter / CC BY

I have very fond memories of Halloween from my childhood. There was just something so exciting about going around the neighborhood dressed up as a magical character of some sort. I loved seeing all of the other costumed children running through the streets, excited to receive delightful treats at every house. I remember my sister’s utter despair one year when she could not come with us because she had chicken pox on Halloween. I carried a sign and collected candy on her behalf so that she would not be left out of all of the fun (and since she had caught the chicken pox from me, it seemed to be the least that I could do).

My siblings and I would end each Halloween night sorting through our bags of goodies and counting up the pennies that we had collected in our UNICEF boxes. After enjoying a few sweet treats, and participating in some intense candy-trade negotiations, our bags of candy were stored on top of the refrigerator where we could not easily reach them. A piece or two of candy would be dispensed to us each day to enjoy, unless of course we pulled a kitchen chair over to the fridge when our parents weren’t looking. Then it was all “Lord of the Flies” as we stuffed candy into our mouths and pockets. Eventually, the favorites from our bags were all gone (mom and dad may have helped, but I have no official confirmation of this). The less desired candies languished at the bottom of the bag, growing stale. Ultimately they were abandoned and thrown in the trash.

The reality is, a lot of the excitement of Halloween for many children is the sheer kid-anarchy of it all; you wear fantasy clothes outside, approach unknown houses, and come away from the night with as much candy as you can carry. It’s madness, I tell you. The feeling of abundance and wildly increased access to candy are often part of the magic of the holiday. In truth, it’s more than children need to make special Halloween memories. Having a large enough haul to be eating candy bars every day for weeks on end seems like an unnecessarily long, sugar-fueled, holiday celebration.

Like many parents, when I had children I looked forward to sharing experiences with them that would create memories like the fond ones from my childhood. When I had my first baby, Halloween took on a refreshed sense of fun. I loved dressing Eva up for her first Halloween, creating a costume from clothes and objects from around the house like we used to do as kids (she was a basketball player). Candy was unnecessary, and I wouldn’t have fed it to her anyway. For her first few Halloweens, candy and going Trick-or-Treating really played little part in the holiday for us; it was about the pumpkin patch, carving Jack-o-Lanterns, roasting pumpkin seeds, and dressing up. Eva also really enjoyed greeting other children who came to the door, and handing out candy to them. It was like an endless play date of generosity.

Somewhere around Eva’s third Halloween, the idea of going Trick-or-Treating with a friend from the Waldorf school was presented and planned. One day in the parent-child class at school, the adults were doing handwork and chatting about autumn festivities while the children played. The teacher overheard our Halloween discussion and asked us if our homes had ever been visited by the Halloween Fairy. This was a new idea to me, so I was all ears. The teacher went on to explain that the Halloween Fairy provides a service for children who have not been able to go Trick-or-Treating for some reason or other, perhaps because their sister gave them a communicable illness. She visits homes on the night of Halloween, gathering candy that has been left for these children by generous Trick-or-Treaters. In exchange for the candy, she leaves a gift or gifts for the children who shared with her.

I thought that this was brilliant! Eva could participate in Trick-or-Treating, but we would not be negotiating candy distribution and consumption all through winter. The practice would also reinforce the idea of “enough” versus excess, quality over quantity; in addition to the concept of sharing good fortune with others. We talked with Eva about the Halloween Fairy, and left the fairy a note to let her know that we were happy to share with her that year.


sdixclifford / Foter / CC BY

That year and every year since, we have had a new ritual for our post Trick-or-Treating rounds. The kids dump, sort, and marvel over their candy stash. They then select 5-10 pieces of candy to keep and enjoy. The rest of the candy we leave out in the children’s collection buckets for the Halloween Fairy. In the morning, the kids are thrilled to find what has been left for them, and the trading and negotiations among siblings commences, just as it did when I was a kid.

Over the years we have been fortunate enough to have been visited by the Halloween Fairy many times. She even followed us to another state when we had an event on Halloween and our kids were the ones who could not go Trick-or-Treating. There was far less protesting and panic when they remembered that the Halloween Fairy wouldn’t leave them out of the holiday. Other children would collect and share on their behalf, just as they had done in past years. Likewise, if Trick-or-Treating is ever cut short by bad weather, scheduling challenges, tired siblings, or whatnot, there is less pressure to make it to a certain number of houses to get “enough” candy. The kids know that whether they collect ten pieces of candy or one hundred, they will have the same amount of candy to enjoy by the next morning.

The Halloween Fairy respects the choices that we make to generally avoid ingredients like artificial flavors and food dyes. She has always left the children with fun, but healthier candies and snacks. When we discovered that the children had various food allergies and sensitivities, the Halloween Fairy adjusted her gifts to include candies that were safe for our kids and all of their dietary needs. They were beyond thrilled to get special treats that they looked forward to every year (I’m talking to you gluten free, vegan, non-GMO Milky Way bar). Long before The Teal Pumpkin Project and Halloween food allergy awareness was “a thing”, it made receiving Trick-or-Treating candy on Halloween that they could not eat less frustrating. They knew that the Halloween Fairy would bring that candy to another child who could eat it, and they would get allergy-safe candies in exchange.

I have been pleased to see that each year the Halloween Fairy has left the children a combination of sweets and candy alternatives such as small gifts. I’m excited that the children get to experience a part of the magical abundance of the holiday. I like to think however that when moderation is the norm, this occasional abundance is more memorable, and doesn’t require an “anything goes” quality to feel really special. They can relate to peers who are telling captivating stories about their Trick-o-Treating spoils and snacking on their booty, but they are not in an endless sugar coma for the month of November, or ingesting foods that make them feel sick. They also have lasting, useful items that help them remember the fun of Halloween and the magic of the Halloween Fairy long after all of the candy wrappers have been thrown away.

I am excited to announce that I was able to secure an exclusive interview with the Halloween Fairy. She shared her secret resources for the best places to find healthier and food allergy-friendly treats and snacks, as well as ideas for non-edible Halloween treats.

I hope that if the Halloween Fairy sounds like a good match for your family, she will find her way to your home this year. How do you balance abundance with healthy moderation in your home for Halloween?

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Love Yourself First Now Teen Esteem Subscription Unboxing & Review-October 2015

Crunchy Parent Love Yourself First Now october subscription unboxing & review

Love Yourself First Now is a new subscription service targeted for young women ages 14 and up. LYFN is aimed at promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of self through self-appreciation rather than looking to others for validation. LYFN was developed by a mother of two and school psychologist. Each month’s box features a theme and includes 4-6 functional products like jewelry, makeup, accessories, and inspiration to LOVE YOURSELF FIRST-now. Boxes cost $29/month, shipping included. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Use code CRUNCHY for 10% off your LYF-Now purchase.

Love Yourself First-Now graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own.

Given that this is a subscription box aimed at girls in their younger teen years, I invited my own in-house, almost-teen to join me for the unboxing. Eva was very excited to hear that there was a subscription box just for girls around her age. She loved LYFN’s mission to increase self-esteem by encouraging girls to pump themselves up. She was more than happy to join me in seeing what LYFN had in store for this month. You can watch us unbox and discover, or if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with cute trim and an LYFN sticker. I think that Eva liked the presentation, and she was excited to dig in.

LYF-Now October unboxing & review teen tween self-esteem box

LYFN included an enclosure card describing the box contents as well as providing valuing information and some usage suggestions. We set the card aside during the unboxing so that we could enjoy opening it all on our own, but did reference it to learn that this month’s theme is “Fall into You.”

The first item that Eva picked up was a paper scroll tied with festive purple tulle. When Eva unrolled the scroll, we saw a brightly-colored activity page featuring an image of a mirror and questions to guide the girl through an exercise focusing on her accomplishments, skills, and features about which she feels proud. As a mom (and as a psychologist), I appreciated that the activity also encouraged the child to seek adult help if she got stumped filling in the responses.

Sometimes young teens can become so overwhelmed by what they see as their personal shortcomings that they have difficulty identifying their own strengths. I really liked that the activity had a built-in “phone a friend” option to give a girl help if she got stuck, rather than leave her feeling incomplete. I think that this exercise could be a great independent or supported activity that would leave the child feeling good about herself and her abilities. When Alina saw this activity, she too wanted to participate. I made her a copy and both girls spent some time working on their sheets independently. I was able to help remind them of various skills and triumphs when they forgot how amazing they truly are, which I imagine is the primary purpose of the exercise.

The next treat that Eva saw was a pair of gold-toned, dangly earrings in a delicate leaf design. They were displayed on a “leaf” card printed with the phrase, “You are as beautiful and unique as a fall leaf.” Eva loved the earrings and the message. I think that they are a great length for the age-group; something to noticeably accessorize an outfit and look cute, but not outrageous or too heavy.

The box enclosure card did not give any information about the content of the metal, and the earrings did not come with any original packaging, so I do not know if they would work for those with sensitive ears. Likewise, I could not really find them online for valuing purposes. LYFN listed their value at $12.00. I would say that the quality appeared relatively comparable to earrings from Claire’s Boutique or similar. Unfortunately, none of us have pierced ears so this item was a miss for us, but I am sure that we will easily find a girl who will love them.

LYFN october subscription box infinity scarf, nail polish, mirror

Eva was eager to get to the next item in the box; a cute, lightweight infinity scarf in a colorful mixed print. The colors reminded me more of spring than of autumn, but in the same vein I think that the colors are probably more appropriate and useful for this age group than dark, autumnal colors would have been.

Scarves are such a popular fashion accessory for girls and women of all ages. Eva has been asking for scarves for years to add personality to her outfits. She was excited to have this one to add to her collection. I expect that she will wear it often. Once again, there were no identifying tags or labels on the scarf that I could find to help assess value, but LYFN listed a value of $15.00, which seems in line with what appear to be comparable scarves at stores like Justice or Aeropostale.

Eva was also a big fan of her next find, which was a bottle of Nabi Gel Nail Polish (value $3.00). The polish was in a very appealing “baby teal” color that went well with the colors in the scarf. I liked the idea of a polish for this age group. I know that a lot of tweens and teens like painting their nails to let their personal style and creative expression extend to their fingertips. That said, if you think that this crunchy parent is dogmatic about green beauty for her own health and well-being, there is no room for compromise when it comes to my children. I ceased wearing nail polish completely when I read this research that was published when I was in my first trimester with Eva’s pregnancy. In short, it linked exposure to some of the chemicals in traditional nail polish during pregnancy to fertility problems in male offspring later in life. I didn’t wear nail polish for about ten years, at which point I warmed up to the greener, healthier options now available.

I could not find any information about Nabi’s ingredients online, and the print on the bottle was way too small for these old eyes to read. Since Nabi does not market themselves as a green brand, I assume that the ingredients in their gel polish are among those that I would not be comfortable having the girls use. The polish represented a small percentage of the box’s value, so I really didn’t mind it being a miss for us, although Eva would have liked to have been able to use it.

The next item was a hit; a blinged-out compact mirror packaged in a pink, organza drawstring bag. Eva appreciated the presentation of the mirror. I think that it felt special and sophisticated to her. The mirror was a cute tie-in to the activity sheet. I really responded well to the message that when a girl looks at herself in a mirror, she should practice asking herself what she likes about what she sees rather than what she wishes was different. The enclosure card did not mention the mirror. Michelle of LYFN reached out to me to share the mirror’s intended function relative to the box, and that it has a value of $3.00.

LYF now subscription unboxing & review October Tea light owl candle holder and candy tin

It did not take Eva long to notice a cute heart-shaped tin that was filled with tiny chocolates (listed value: $1.50). I thought that the colors of the candies were very appealing for this age group. As a family we’ve always tried to communicate a healthy relationship with food to the kids, which for us includes enjoying sweet treats in moderation. We were happy to see a little something sweet included in the box. These particular chocolates contain dairy, so they weren’t something that we could eat, but we know that they will sweeten someone else’s day.

The last item in the box was a hit. Eva liked unwrapping the individually boxed item to reveal an adorable owl tea light holder in an ivory metal. The enclosure card explained that owls have integrity and an air of mystery and difference about them. LYFN encouraged girls to let the candle shine bright when they soared like owls this month. I think that Eva will enjoy using the candle holder as a decorative item in her room, and I hope that it can serve as a symbolic reminder to her that she is unique and special. I think that I might remove the candle portion before adding it to her room. I’m not sure that she’s ready to take responsibility for a lit candle in her room just yet. LYFN listed a value for this item of $3.00.

love yourself first now subscription box to build self-esteem in teen and tween girls October 2015 review

I like the concept of Love Yourself First-Now a great deal. The idea of a lifestyle box for girls that caters to their interests while also enchancing their self-esteem during a vulnerable time in their growth and development is admirable. I am not the target demographic of the box, and I don’t have a lot of 14+ year-old girls in my life at this time, so I can only use Eva’s 12 year-old reaction as a guide to evaluate the appeal of the box for girls.

She loved the box from start to finish. She thought that the presentation was cute and colorful and made the box feel like a special gift just for her. Eva mentioned that she would have preferred that LYFN have included a more universally-accessible jewelry item such as an ear cuff, toe ring, necklace, or cartilage ring as opposed to pierced earrings, but she also knows that most girls her age have pierced ears even though she herself does not.

If Eva had the keys to the castle, she would have been thrilled to use every item in the box. In reality, some of the box contents were not consistent with the way that we are raising the kids to care for their bodies. It is really important that they love themselves in healthy ways, which for us includes an emphasis on non-toxic beauty and personal care items, and food that doesn’t make their GI systems freak out. LYFN doesn’t market themselves as a green beauty or food allergy-friendly box, so I only mention this with respect to the goodness of fit for us in those areas, and not with the expectation that they should be catering to those needs. For what they strive to be; a box to help young teens feel good about who they are, I think that they did a great job. This spirit was woven through the box and punctuated by the affirmation activity. The seasonal fall theme was perfect, and the box had a nice mix of lifestyle items. I think that the quality of the items included is on par for products marketed to this age group.

The total box value using LYFN’s stated prices is $37.50, plus the activity sheet whose value could not be quantified. I think that this is a solid value relative to the box price. I would assert that the curation and presentation of the items also enhance the overall box value. Moreover, I think that weaving reminders into a teen girl’s every day that she is special and has many admirable strengths and qualities is priceless.

I don’t feel entirely qualified to comment on the fit of this box for girls who are in their mid to late teens. It was very attractive to Eva as a 12 year-old, and even 9 year-old Alina was interested in most of the items included. I found myself wondering if the 14 year-old mark might be closer to the upper limit of the box as opposed to the target starting age, but I may be off base. I hope that the parents of older girls will chime in. Do you think that this would be a good box for your daughter? What do you think about the overall LYFN concept and execution?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find them on my ULTIMATE list, newly updated for fall. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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