Barganic Alerts: Yoga, green beauty, and organic baby items

I usually like to post my Barganic Alerts individually to highlight each and every one, but the green, crunchy bargains are piling up. I’m going to post a few all at once so be sure to give ‘em a good look. I think there’s something for just about everyone in this mix. I am not affiliated with, or responsible for these companies; just looking to pass along bargains.

Vegan Cuts is one of the many crunchy-friendly subscription box services featured in the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. They source and send quality, 100% cruelty-free cosmetic, skin care, and beauty products to their monthly subscribers. On occasion, Vegan Cuts curates limited edition themed boxes available for purchase individually.

Vegan Cuts Ltd. Edition Yoga Box

Due to the popularity of their recent yoga-themed box, Vegan Cuts has decided to offer a second limited edition box for yogis everywhere. The Yoga Box (pictured above) includes sixteen items for yoga enthusiasts to eat, wear, use, and enjoy. The box costs $39.00 (shipping is free) and features $139.00 worth of jewelry and accessories, yoga props, healthy snacks and tea, and aromatherapy products. See the link for the complete item listing and to order (yoga mat not included).

As an added bonus, Vegan Cuts is running promotion code OHSOPRETTY for $10 off orders of $50+ (through 8/28). I am not 100% sure if the code will stack with this deal, but it can’t hurt to try. Please let me know if you try the code and succeed.

Petit Vour Leaping Bunny Box

The next offer comes from another company featured on the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tends to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. They too are offering a limited edition, single-purchase box at the moment.

The Petit Vour Leaping Bunny Limited Edition Box is filled with a luxurious collection of five Leaping Bunny-certified, non-toxic, vegan cosmetic and skincare items. In addition, 10% of sales will be donated directly to Leaping Bunny.

The Petit Vour Leaping Bunny box costs $50.00 and includes shipping. The retail value of the items included is $142.00. Please see the link for item specifics and to order yours.

Bambino Land sale 50%  off with Blissmo code

Last in the group is another subscription box service featured in the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Blissmo offers a monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products.

For this Barganic Alert, Blissmo is partnering with Bambino Land for a limited time promotion. Bambino Land is a mom-owned product line of 100% certified organic baby clothes, swaddling blankets, crib sheets, gifts, and accessories. Through Friday, August 28th 10 pm PST, shoppers can use code BLISSMO for 50% off their entire Bambino Land purchase. Many items on the site are already marked down. When I added both sale and full-price items to my cart, the code deducted 50% from all items. This deal looks like a great opportunity to stock up on cute and cozy clothes, blankets, baby leggings and more made with organic materials.

Did you find something in the Barganic Alerts list that you can’t pass up?

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com, or follow Crunchy Parent on Twitter or Pinterest to get these alerts delivered straight to you via your favorite social media outlet.

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Mindfulness Box Subscription Unboxing and Review-August 2015

Mindfulness Box is a relatively new lifestyle subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace, and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29.00 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions.

Mindfulness Box kindly sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing which features my devoted Mindfulness Box sidekick Alina (who was apparently auditioning for a Mindfulness Box commercial at the end), take a look at the video unboxing below. Forgive that I was rushing a bit with this month’s video. As I mention in the video, the unboxing was three days before we are scheduled to move and I think I was being less present than I should have been; something that tends to happen when we are feeling overwhelmed and could probably most benefit from a moment of mindfulness. In viewing and editing the video, I wish that I had taken a few extra minutes to let Alina explore the items as we opened them, rather than rushing her along. I will take this to heart next month and follow her lead more. She so enjoys receiving this box in particular, and I am grateful to share in her excitement. However, if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with it’s bright, smiling symbol and “Present Moment. Beautiful Moment” message to set the tone to best appreciate the contents. The outer box was marked “fragile” to protect the contents. Everything arrived to me safe and intact.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 review: lollipops and tea

Upon opening this month’s box, Alina and I were both excited to see some edible treats tucked in amongst the larger items. Alina snapped up four Yummy Earth Organic lollipops, and immediately started thinking about friends and siblings with whom she could share the goodies (value: $0.50). Each of the flavors included (strawberry, blueberry, watermelon, and cherry) are packed with a full day’s dose of vitamin C. We have been long-time Yummy Earth fans because they are organic and non-GMO as well as being free of artificial colors, flavors, and many common allergens. They are also really delicious. I zoned in on two bags of Yogi Relaxed Mind tea, which blends a host of fantastic herbs and flowers to create a delicious cup of tea. I received this tea as a bonus in a previous Mindfulness box and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to have some more. This item was not listed on the description card included in the box, so it may have been a bonus this month as well.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 Essential oil and diffuser

Among the next discoveries in the box was a .5 oz. bottle of Aura Cacia sweet orange essential oil (listed value: $5.00, although Aura Cacia lists it at $4.15 on their website). The oil came packaged in a box that gave some recipes for using the oil to make a refreshing room mist or a brightening body wash. We love essential oils around here and use them all the time. That is why almost any time I unbox an essential oil, my children will recognize it as familiar; this video being no exception. Mindfulness box paired the essential oil with a gorgeous, two-piece, soapstone essential oil diffuser that had been hand-carved in India (value: $15.00). According to Mindfulness Box, soapstone provides for both movement and widening of one’s horizon and assisting one in “changing with the tides.” They go on to add that soapstone emits a calming energy, stimulating one to release old routines for new loving environments. I have to say that it sounds like the absolute perfect addition as we transition to our new home later this week.

The diffuser is meant to be used with an essential oil and water in the top bowl, and a tea light placed underneath to warm and disperse the oil throughout the air, while the light shines through the carvings. Mindfulness Box expanded on this interplay of scent and light by including the instructions for a guided Jyoti (light) Meditation. I have been bringing Alina with me to my Cancer Yoga class this summer and we always end class with a guided meditation. I think that the practice has been grounding and relaxing for us both. I look forward to using the meditation as suggested with the whole family to build a practice of meditation in our new home.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 review: Salve and amethyst crystal

The last two items in our Mindfulness Box this month included a .75 oz. tin of Sage, Lavender, and Orange Enlightening balm from Medicine of the People (value: $10.00). The all-purpose balm is made by Native Americans using herbs that are hand-foraged in their native soil, which used biodynamic farming practices. I find that as I have become more proficient and confident using herbs for healing, we have been using balms more and more. They come in so handy as a gentle, easy way to soothe and nourish troubled or damaged skin. This week alone we have been using the balm on scraped knees and dry, scaly elbows with great results.

The very last item unwrapped was a beautiful amethyst crystal cluster. Weighing over four ounces, Mindfulness box states a value of $10.00. I absolutely love this crystal. Mindfulness Box listed many wonderful qualities associated with amethyst. What resonated the most for me was, “Amethyst energy encourages the mind to be humble and to surrender to that which is greater than itself in order to gain a deeper understanding of how the powers of the Universe can direct and guide one’s life.” I am excited to add this crystal to my collection, which had been growing ever larger and more beautiful thanks to Mindfulness Box.

Mindfulness Box subscription box August 2015 unboxing & review

I really liked this Mindfulness Box a lot upon opening, and the more I sit with the individual items, the more I come to love and value everything that was included. Both girls spent time with me individually looking over the box and asking questions about the items (some of which started with, “May I have….”). It is clear that they are drawn to the items and curious about integrating the practices. As I look forward with tremendous gratitude to moving into our new house this week, I think about what I want to have in my home and what energy I want to create for my family within the space. So many of the objects and rhythms that I hope to integrate into the home have come to us through Mindfulness Box, which I think is pretty amazing for a subscription box.

The total value of this box according to the values listed on the card is $40.50, which I think is a good for the $29.00 box price. Looking at the individual items, I might have guessed a higher value myself. I think that Mindfulness Box is very well curated, and I really appreciate the high quality of the materials used to create the products in the box. I also like that Mindfulness Box includes such detailed and informative descriptions of the items as well as mindfulness activities that enhance my appreciation for what they choose to include in each box, and allow me to use them in a way that brings peace into my life.

I really look forward to receiving Mindfulness Box each month (and as Alina states, it is her favorite box so far). I think that the subscription remains very true to their mission to provide simple reminders to live more deeply in the moment. In this day and age when there are so many commitments and distractions vying for our attention, I appreciate receiving a box focused on helping me take time to be present to what is important to me in my life and to be mindful of how I want to spend my time, create my environment, and care for myself and my family.

For reviews of prior Mindfulness Boxes, look here. 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 my extensive list here. It has been newly updated and expanded. 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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My Great Big Herbal Adventure-Day Two

Arizona plants, mountains, and sky

You can read more about how a stay-at-home crunchy mom from Illinois came to find herself on a great big herbal adventure in Arizona and my first day here. Now that you’re here, let’s move onto the story of day #2.

Our classroom for the day

Our classroom for the day

Day number two my friend and I grabbed a quick breakfast at the motel and headed back to the hot springs reserve for what was to be essential oil day. It was amazing. Michael, our teacher, set up three steam distillation stills and talked us through the process of assembling, using, cleaning, and storing an essential oil still.

Still assembly-many bits & pieces

Still assembly-many bits & pieces

Michael had collected a host of medicinal plants in his home state of New Mexico just prior to driving in for the class, and fresh yerba mansa was dug from the stand adjascent to the classroom that morning. The boxes of plants had been perfuming the classroom as he spoke, and now they were ready for their big moment.

Watching, learning, and processing osha root

Watching, learning, and processing osha root

As a group we chopped up osha root, juniper, yerba mansa root and leaves, elephant tree, and white sage.

Processing yerba mansa to make whole plant essential oil

Processing yerba mansa to make whole plant essential oil

We then split into groups and got to work setting up our stills, packing the flasks with plant material, and watching the steam and cold water work together to extract and collect the essential oils from the plants.

Osha root in the bioflask

Osha root in the bioflask

Me attempting to use my hand as a level as we prepare for juniper essential oil

Me attempting to use my hand as a level as we prepare for juniper essential oil

For hours, we sat in our classroom while the oils were extracting, inhaling the scent of these amazing desert plants. We spent that time discussing the properties of the plants that we were working with, as well as learning about safe, responsible use of essential oils to support healing.

Juniper, yerba mansa, and osha filling the air with their powerful scent

Juniper, yerba mansa, and osha filling the air with their powerful scent

We were encouraged to drink plenty of water and use milk thistle seed glycerite to support our liver as we were inhaling, rubbing on, and otherwise absorbing so much of these powerful aromatics hour after hour. We also took an extended break mid-day to eat some lunch, soak in the hot springs, hike, and responsibly gather plants from around the reserve area.

Gathering chaparral, fresh air, and sunshine during the lunch break

Gathering chaparral, fresh air, and sunshine during the lunch break

After lunch, we returned to the classroom to watch the essential oils be separated from the residual water from the distillation process (hydrosol).

Dark band of yerba mansa essential oil collecting in the separator. Can you see it?

Dark band of yerba mansa essential oil collecting in the separator. Can you see it?

We then got to see a demonstration from a former student of Michael’s who had been invited to show us her process of making a medicinal herbal lotion using the yerba mansa essential oil and hydrosol that we had just made. We all received precious small jars of the lotion as well as jars of osha hydrosol. We were all also given 8 oz. glass jars to pack with the remaining plant material of our choosing and organic alcohol so that we could begin to create tinctures that we could bring back home.

Pinon pine & organic alcohol: the humble beginnings of a tincture before the alchemy sets in.

Pinon pine & organic alcohol: the humble beginnings of a tincture before the alchemy sets in.

Our final DIY project of the day was a healing oil that we were able to custom create using Michael’s proprietary oil blend and the osha, yerba mansa, elephant tree and white sage essential oils that we had created earlier. It was a wonderful way to watch, make, and blend a variety of herbal products that we could begin to put to use as soon as we returned home.

Sampling of the end products of "Essential Oil Day"

Sampling of the end products of “Essential Oil Day”

The evening wound down with collective pizza making in the brick oven on-site and long soaks in the hot springs.

Pizza making: when no rolling pin appears, grab a beer.

Pizza making: when no rolling pin appears, grab a beer.

Pizza oven firing away at sunset

Pizza oven firing away at sunset

Students grab a restorative soak in the large hot springs pool before nightfall

Students grab a restorative soak in the large hot springs pool before nightfall

After emerging restored and relaxed from the hot springs pool, we made our way back to our casita. That night our sleep was intermittently interrupted by the sound of wild animals howling outside our window, and mice scurrying around our mattresses (Well, it may have just been one mouse. We named him Cattywampus). We awoke ready for another day of herbal field study.

I will continue with day three of my herbal adventure in Part 3.

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My Great Big Herbal Adventure-Part 1

Arizona Herbalism Trip-yerba mansa stand at the hot springs

Back in April I wrote about going on a big trip out to Arizona for an herbal learning experience with clinical herbalist Michael Cottingham of Voyage Botanica (a bit more about Michael here). Michael was a student of the late, renown herbalist Michael Moore. He is continuing the tradition of herbalism through online courses as well as destination herbal intensives on topics such as essential oil crafting and native medicinal plants of the southwest. Right now, Michael and many of my former classmates from Arizona are enjoying another long learning weekend in New Mexico. I wish that I could be out there with them, deepening my understanding and appreciation of plant medicine. Since I cannot, I thought that I would write a bit about my Arizona trip so that I could savor and share all of the memories.

Before launching into that I should say that this trip was a big, thrilling deal for me. Years ago I would have not felt the freedom to leave my family and spend time away by myself, learning about a topic of interest to me. I feel extremely fortunate to have taken this trip. I learned so much and was inspired in many areas of my life. It also gave me an extremely rare change to unplug as a mom and reconnect with myself as an individual, which then allowed me to return home better than I left. I realize that a lot of people reading this blog may not have the time, freedom, or resources to go off on such a trip today. I hope that it at least plants a seed of an idea that maybe someday you can take a similar adventure, or maybe today you can think of a little something attainable that might allow you to recharge or feed the creative fire within you.

I have a delightful mama friend who I first met when our oldest daughters were attending a parent-child class together at a Waldorf school. We discovered that we had a lot in common, not the least being attachment parenting tendencies, as well as an enjoyment of cooking, crafting, healthy living, and a general overall drive to learn how to do new things. That connection has remained strong over the years, and we often find that we will encourage new interests in one another. She might mention a topic of interest in passing and then move on to something else only to find that I rediscover it down the line and renew the interest for her or vice versa. Through this relationship we have been partners in crime in many adventures that we might not have had the courage or follow through to pursue on our own. She had first introduced me to Michael Cottingham and then I later mentioned hearing about this trip. We both let it rest for a while as a bit of a pipe dream. Some time later, she brought it up to me again. Somehow through travel miles, and car rentals, supportive spouses, and a sense of adventure, we found ourselves heading halfway across the country to Arizona to learn more about herbalism and medicinal plants.

Sun-dappled yerba mansa leaves

Sun-dappled yerba mansa leaves

When we finally made our way to the private hot springs reserve area that would be the home for the class, we began with the group sitting in a large stand of yerba mansa, learning about the plant and its uses as an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory herb. It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by the plant, and to reach out and feel the leaves, nibble the plant, and smell the fragrance all around us. If you have an interest in learning more about this magical plant, you can hear a sampling of the type of teaching that we received from Michael in this video:

One of the many hot spring pools throughout the property

One of the many hot spring pools throughout the property

After several hours developing a relationship with yerba mansa, we toured some of the rest of the reserve area, viewing the hot spring pools, and being taught about various plants as we walked by them. Michael shared a bit of information about mindful wildcrafting; taking care not to gather plants when too tired or distracted. He emphasized the importance of being present when harvesting, and use good guides to help identify plants and to become aware of “lookalikes” that may potentially be harmful.

Mesquite reaching upward

Mesquite reaching upward

Desert Plantain

Desert Plantain

Chaparral (aka larrea or creosote)

Chaparral (aka larrea or creosote)

We saw numerous plants native to the desert region including mesquite, desert wolfberry (similar to goji berries), tamarisk, desert plantain, and chaparral. You can read herbalist Sevensong’s insightful monograph on chaparral here. Michael guided us through the medicinal uses of each plant, encouraging us to touch, taste, and smell as appropriate.

Infinity symbol near the hillside

Infinity symbol near the hillside

Jewelry at the Source Well

Jewelry at the Source Well

Precious rocks at the gated garden

Precious rocks at the gated garden

It was clear that the private reserve area has been cared for by many over the years. Although the buildings on the property were rustic, they were sufficient to meet all of our needs. All throughout the property were beautiful natural gifts, formations, and symbols large and small that showed reverence for, and resonance with the beauty all around.

In addition to teaching us to recognize and utilize the various plants, Michael also took care to speak with us about ethical wildcrafting, developing relationships with private land owners who might allow one to harvest medicinal plants from their land in areas where wildcrafting is not allowed, and ways to give thanks to the plants and to the Earth for the gift of plant medicine.

The long first day of travel, walking, and learning began to wind down. Many of the students who had come by car had pitched tents to camp on the grounds. Since we had come by plane and rental car (and I do not own a tent or camping gear) we had intended to stay in a motel in a small town 20-30 minutes away, but when we had arrived we learned that there were rustic casitas on site that we were welcome to use for our stay.

Our casita for the stay

Our casita for the stay

We took a quick look at the casitas and realized that unfortunately we did not have what we needed to immediately take advantage of the offer. The casitas had only bare mattresses on the concrete floor and a string of Christmas lights and a small table lamp (on the floor) for illumination. They also has a series of nails sticking out of the wood beams along the wall and ceiling to allow us to hang up our clothes as needed to keep them away from the vermin (I mean, the four-or-more-legged casita keepers).

We decided that we really would much prefer to stay on-site for the remaining nights, even if that meant roughing it more than we had originally planned for. We wanted to be able to enjoy the hot spings, gather and process plant material, and build relationships with our classmates without the pressure of transporting back-and-forth to town to sleep. We decided to take the first evening to gather supplies and prepare. After a restorative soak in the hot springs, we drove out to town and headed for the biggest super store. We bought food, water, and sleeping bags. We then hit the clearance rack for the warmest nightgowns, lounge pants, small blankets, and scarves that we could find since the casita was not climate-controlled, and the temperature in the desert at night was shockingly cold. Once we had all of our spoils in the car, we went out for a quick bite to eat (quick because we were so exhausted from the day that by the time the food arrived at the table, we just packed it to go). We then made our way to our motel where we crashed hard in preparation for an early start the next day.

I will continue with day two of my herbal adventure in Part 2.

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Doing Yoga With My Face: My Search for Greener Glamour (and a review of Jeffree Star Cosmetics)

I was at my Cancer Yoga class this morning. We were working on a balancing pose, and I was challenging myself with a more advanced version of the pose than I have been able to do before. Balancing is not my strength, especially after losing one of my quadriceps muscles to cancer. It is something that I have to work on consciously. As I was focusing on my breath and on the pose, aware of every wobble, I was actively reminding myself what we are often taught in yoga. This is my yoga practice. This is my practice to follow at my pace. The teacher or the person next to me are focusing on their practice; this is mine, and I am to focus on me. I may be at a different place in my practice from them today, or from myself last week or next week. This is my practice. This is my practice. I was grateful to be able to do more with the pose today than I had before. It is where I was today. It was not important how I compared to someone else, or even to other versions of myself.

I am practicing in my motherhood as well. The balance poses are the hardest for me there too. I have so often been completely consumed with my desire to meet the needs of my children to the highest degree and at the most advanced level, that I have been totally unable to find my balance at times. When the children were younger and nursing, waking at all hours, or needing to be sung to sleep, it was nearly impossible not to have my life revolve almost entirely around their needs. There was an extreme imbalance of self-care and child-care. I am not suggesting that is the way that it must be or should be; that is where I was in my practice at that time. I was at the bottom of my own list. Sleep was the most luxuriant indulgence that I could imagine when I could get it. Nutritious food (or any food sometimes) was the next. Focus on flattering clothing, cute shoes, or pretty makeup was beyond my scope. There was a considerable shift after I had cancer. Balancing became something that I needed to work on consciously in my yoga practice and in my “mommy practice” too. I am consciously striving to advance in my balancing in all aspects of my life. I want to acknowledge where I am today, each day, and focus on my practice as a mother, and as a woman too. I try not to compare myself to anyone else.

I received my July Birchbox in the mail recently. I imagine that I may not be the Birchbox target demographic. I find that the some of the products that they send are not a good fit for me and my green beauty preferences, but I have also discovered some great crunchy-friendly brands through them that keep me holding on to my subscription. I generally put some of the samples to the side and focus in on the healthier, greener choices that arrive. This month, Birchbox’s theme was “Go Bold.” They emphasized the point by including a bold, saturated, liquid lipstick in every box. The color that Birchbox selected for me was a bright, no-nonsense RED. This lipstick would have had no place on my face when I was a sleep-deprived new mother and it was all that I could do to make sure that the diapers were washed, the breast pump parts were cleaned, and the food was packed for the next day of work and daycare. It would have had no place on my face when I was a not-so-new mother and I was juggling the needs of a baby, a preschooler, and a second grader while trying to keep my eyes open as the toll of daily radiation treatments washed over me in a wave of exhaustion. This was not a “mommy” lipstick, certainly not a natural, crunchy mama lipstick, right? Natural, crunchy mamas are not bold. They are muted, and subtle, and Earthy. Then I remembered, this is my practice. It is about where I am, not the woman next to me. Not my perceived definition of what I am supposed to be. This is my practice, and I may be in a different place today then I was before; a different place than I will be the next week.

I had a moment of uncharacteristic impulsivity. I swear that the entire score from Kinky Boots started playing in my head and I grabbed for that red lipstick without even so much as glancing at the ingredients. This completely unprecedented move resulted in a bold, confident pout that had me looking for Mr. DeMille and mugging for my closeup. I felt glamorous in a way that tipped the scales drastically. This was not your mommy’s lipstick. I wore it out for a night on the town (well, I went and saw a movie with a friend, but that’s kind of a big deal for me these days).

The next day I sobered up from my lipstick euphoria, and took time to research the ingredients. I couldn’t help but notice both methylparaben and propylparaben. For those who are less familiar, parabens (methyl, ethyl, butyl, and propylparaben) are used as preservatives in cosmetics. There is increasing evidence to suggest that parabens can disrupt the endocrine system and may be linked to cancer. I avoid products that contain parabens. The lipstick was destined to be a one-hit-wonder for me. Now that I knew better, I was going to have to do better.

So with bold, glamorous dreams to motivate me, I went off in search of a liquid lipstick that would mirror the matte finish, bold saturation, staying power, and above all, gorgeous red shade of the Birchbox lipstick, but with greener, friendlier ingredients. It was no an easy quest, I tell you, but it led me to Jeffree Star Cosmetics, an indie brand with a cult following so strong that there are purchasing limits on each lipstick shade. (*Warning, Jeffree Star is bold in more than just lip color, you may wish to wait to view the website away from children or work as it is on the daring side.)

Jeffree Star Liquid Lipstick Ingredients

Although not marketed as a green beauty brand in the traditional sense, the gorgeous liquid-to-matte lip colors are free of parabens and gluten, and are vegan and 100% cruelty free. Enough to make me take notice. A definite step in the green beauty direction. I ran the other ingredients through the EWG skin-deep database, and they all looked pretty good; not perfect for a hard-core, crunchy-greenie, but pretty good overall. I scanned the colors to assess what might be the best match to the bold Birchbox red, and I settled on Redrum, described by Jeffree Star as, “the perfect red.”

Jeffree Star Redrum Velour Liquid Lipstick

When my lipstick arrived, I began my much anticipated side-by-side comparison. I could not believe how spot-on the color was. The shade and saturation of the two liquid lipsticks were almost identical. It seemed that I had found my perfect “greener red.”

Jeffree Star Redrum on the top. Birchbox bold red shade on the bottom.

Jeffree Star Redrum on the top. Birchbox bold red shade on the bottom.

Much like the Birchbox contender, The Jeffree Star lipstick went on easily and took just a little practice to achieve a neat line. In about a minute it had dried down from the shiny liquid to a stay-put matte. The Jeffree Star formula was ever so slightly more tacky to the touch and left a whisper of a mark on my water glass, but stayed bold and beautiful for hours. Most importantly, I loved how the color looked on my lips. Without a doubt, this was me being bold.

Trying on Jeffree Star Cosmetics Redrum Liquid Lipstick

I found that with both lipsticks removal was an adventure in color, and I looked strikingly like the Joker in The Dark Night, but it was only temporary. A cleansing oil followed up by a foaming cleanser removed all traces of the color.

I will continue to be on the lookout for ever greener options, but I was thrilled to be able to find Jeffree Star Cosmetics to scratch my newly sparked liquid lipstick itch. I was impressed by the staying power of the lipstick and the rich, saturated colors. I am pleased to see that even brands who do not market themselves as “green beauty” are being mindful about avoiding parabens, gluten, and other unnecessary ingredients in their products. I am glad to have a healthier choice that I can feel good about when I am in the mood to reach for that more advanced “Glamour Mama” pose in my life practice. After all, it’s all about balance.

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The Cosmic Box Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-July 2015 (relaxation)

The Cosmic Box July 2015 Box

The Cosmic Box is a recently launched indie subscription service aimed at sending you a cosmically amazing care package for the soul. This lifestyle box is curated by a holistic nurse, and is designed for the free-spirited and eco-conscious. Each box includes a mix of 3-6 trial and full size products, or 1-2 luxury full size items. Every box is hand packed and sent with heaps of love. You will find items ranging from toxin free skin care, organic/gmo free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems and more. A portion of the sale from every box goes to support a charity, which varies from month-to-month. The July box sales supported the charity Wild Aid, whose mission is to end illegal wildlife trading.

Boxes cost $29 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Right now, first time subscribers can use the code FIRSTBOX to receive 20% off of their first month’s subscription.

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 which features my sweet middle child this month, 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 in a small box, distinguished by a cute owl “The Cosmic Box” sticker. Everything arrived to me safe and intact. The July box featured a relaxation theme.
As you can see in the video, one of the first things that I noticed upon opening the box was how wonderful it all smelled. I am very sensitive and responsive to scents. I love subscribing to crunchy-friendly subscription boxes, knowing that the great smells will be all-natural and not headache-inducing for me. I always enjoy taking that first sniff of every box. This one was really fantastic, and did trigger a relaxed and happy vibe. The box smelled like sassafras, lemon grass, and other such deliciousness.
The Cosmic Box July 2015 Free GWP

I had only recently discovered The Cosmic Box, but when I stumbled across them they were advertising a promotion for a free pair of handcrafted earrings with a new subscription. I could not pass it up, and was thrilled when I opened the box and found these beautiful copper lotus petal earrings from Bright Star & Buffalo (value $25.00). They are delicate, nature-themed, and completely my style. This promotion is no longer available and this free gift with purchase was not included in all of the July boxes. What was included in all of the July boxes was an information card describing the box contents and letting you know where you can follow The Cosmic Box on social media.

The Cosmic Box July 2015 sweetgrass and tea

Among the first items that I saw in the box was a long braid of what appeared to be dried grass, but smelled far better than any grass I’ve even encountered. It turns out that it was a 12” braid of Washington grown sweetgrass, something that I had never seen before. According to The Cosmic Box’s website, sweetgrass has been enjoyed historically for it’s calming, clearing and spiritual properties. They describe the scent as sweet, warm, and vanilla-like, although I personally thought that it smelled sweet and mildly woodsy with a hint of licorice. The Cosmic Box recommend using the sweetgrass for smudging, or for just resting in a bowl. I did try lighting the sweetgrass, but did not find the smoke to be as fragrant or pleasant as the dried grass itself. That said, after seeing this Organic Authority article that The Cosmic Box mentioned on their site, I realize that I did not follow the proper sweetgrass smudging instructions. I may have burned a part of the braid that was too dry to provide a fragrant smoke. I will need to try again. I do not know the exact value of the sweetgrass included in the box, but I found this source, suggesting an approximate retail value of $1.30 for a single braid.

Also discovered in the box was a deluxe sample size tin of six pyramid-shaped, compostable tea bags by indie brand Flying Bird Botanicals. The Peaceful Spirit tea is mixed by hand; blending organic and wild crafted herbs such as lemon balm, rosemary, and gotu kola, which is then packaged in a recyclable tin (value, $9.00) The Cosmic Box also included a code for 10% off purchases at Flying Bird Botanicals.

The Cosmic Box July 2015 serum and candle

The next item in the box was Blissoma’s Stress Relief Serum (full size, value $10.99). Packaged in a glass roll-on vial, this blend is perfect to pop in my purse to have on-hand when I need a bit of calm. According to Blissoma, the serum blends three forms of chamomile with peppermint, lavender, and ginger to help cool and calm. It is recommended to ease muscle tension and headaches. I grabbed for it when I was feeling a headache coming on the other day and applied it to my temples and at the base of my head. After rubbing it in a bit, I found the cooling sensation and the uplifting fragrance helpful. As an aside, one of the three forms of chamomile used in the serum is chamomile CO2. If you watched my recent Kings Road Apothecary unboxing, you know that I spied coconut CO2 in the ingredients there. According to the Blissoma site, the CO2 extract is the most true, concentrated, and clean essence of a plant. It seems to be the latest, greatest plant ingredient that is just popping up everywhere.

The final treasure that I again smelled before I saw, was a small tea light candle (approx. .5 oz.; value $2.50) by indie brand House of Good Juju. Handcrafted during the New Moon, the Aura Cleansing candle blends soy wax with dried herbs, crystals, and essential oils. It is designed to help balance and cleanse your aura to allow for better flow of positive energy. This candle was beautiful and smelled divine. I personally recognized the lemongrass scent as a standout as it is one of my favorite scents. I said in the video that I was going to wait to burn the candle until after our move next month but I just couldn’t. I lit the candle while writing this review and enjoyed the scent greatly. I will look forward to using this in our new home when I feel a need for balancing or to prepare for yoga or meditation. Interestingly, this same Aura Cleansing tea light from House of Good Juju was also included as a bonus item in the current BuddhiBox Jewelry subscription box. It is unusual for two identical items to overlap in subscription boxes at the same time, so I thought that was noteworthy, although certainly not a big deal. The Cosmic Box also included a code for 10% off purchases at House of Good Juju.

The Cosmic Box appears to be another option among the growing trend of subscription boxes focused on positive energy, natural healing, and zen. I thought that the box was well curated and represented the relaxation theme, in addition to The Cosmic Box’s overall mission. I like that The Cosmic Box gives a portion of the sale of each box to charity, and would love to see a little information about the chosen charity included in the box. I think that it can be easy to forget the charity piece when unboxing if it is not mentioned, and it is such a nice part of the box’s concept.

The overall value of this month’s box, excluding my free promotional gift was approximately $23.79, which is lower than I’d like to see for the $29.00 purchase price. The free gift promotion more than doubled the value of the box, however so I do feel like I got very good value in that respect. Despite the less-than-impressive dollar value, I really liked everything included in the box and thought that it was a good fit for my lifestyle. I have already put many of the items to use and discovered new brands that I probably would not have found otherwise. Not only is The Cosmic Box an indie subscription box option, but they appear to go out of their way to promote other indie businesses. As with making conscious choices to support small business, indie subscription boxes mean that you are often supporting an individual or family-owned business. The Cosmic Box seems to strive to go a step beyond by paying the small business concept forward to other indie brands and to promote charities as well. I think that this adds “cosmic” value to the purchase. I am curious to learn more about this box in the months ahead. What did you think about the July Cosmic Box?

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, and be sure to subscribe!

**Note, item value for the House of Good Juju candle was provided to CrunchyParent.com by Kat, founder of The Cosmic Box, for the purpose of reporting in this review**

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