Tutorial: Needle Felted Wool Sachet or Ornament

Crunchy Parent Tutorial Needle Felted Sachets and Ornaments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poke around the shape in the cookie cutter.

Poke around the shape in the cookie cutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finished sachets

Finished sachets

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

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

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Barganic Alert: Holistic Black Friday Through Cyber Monday Deals Continue

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday. I had a great afternoon and evening with family and good friends. It was particularly special to see all of the little friends and cousins running around and playing together. It brings me great joy to start to make happy memories in our new home.

The deluge of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals is in full force. I will try to post deals that I think are significant and may be of interest for those looking to make healthier and more natural choices this holiday season and into the new year. Please share any deals that you may find in the comments.

Subscription Box Deals:

You all must know by now that I love crunchy-friendly subscription boxes, and I think that they make great gifts or gifts-to-self. The following subscriptions are all featured on my Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. You can find out more about each one there.

1. Beauty Heroes green beauty subscription is offering 10% off all gift subscriptions with the code CELEBRATE. Deal ends 11/30. See my Beauty Heroes reviews here.

2. La Ritzy vegan green beauty subscription service is offering 40% off your first box for any new subscription using the code BF40 . Deal ends 1/1/2016. I just received my first La Ritzy box this month (review to come) and have been enjoying the mix of skincare and cosmetic items included.

3. Love Goodly green lifestyle subscription box offering 20% off sitewide with code CYBERLOVE.

4. Yogi Surprise yoga lifestyle subscription box offering 25% off regular or jewelry subscriptions with code BLACKFRIDAY today only.

5. Causebox socially conscious lifestyle box offering 10% off subscriptions with code BLACKBOX valid 11/27 only through 11:59pm PST.

6. The Honest Company offering 50% off first subscription bundle with code BUNDLE50

7. Cuisine Cube is offering $10 off your first artisan, vegan, or gluten-free cube with code THANKSCUBE10.

8. Glowing Beets green beauty box is offering 50% off first box to new subscribers with code NEW50 and 30% off all shop purchases of $35+ with code GB30 through 11/30

9. Farm to People offering 20% off sitewide on their small-batch, non-GMO, humanely-raised food products with code blackfriday. Can be used on gift subscriptions (including gifts to self).

10. Healthy Surprise offering 20% off sitewide with code blackfriday25. Includes their gluten-free, GMO-free, and Paleo snack boxes.

Green Beauty:

1. Kahina Giving Beauty offering 20% off entire luxe skincare purchase with code KAHINA20 through 11/30.

2. 100% Pure is offering 40%-65% off on their Black Friday mystery bags. New customers may also qualify for $30 off $60 purchase through link provided. Ends today at 11:59pm PST.

3. W3ll People offering 20% off sitewide and free shipping on their green beauty cosmetic items. Deal runs through 11/30 at 11:59pm PST.

4. S. W. Basics green, natural skincare and body care items are all on sale up to 30% off today only. Use code VIP10 for an additional 10% off your purchase.

5. Birchbox is offering 25% off purchases with code BIGDEAL and 30% off for Aces members with code ACESONLY . Although Birchbox carries conventional beauty brands as well, they have great products from many green beauty brands including One Love Organics, Kahina Giving Beauty, Alima Pure, Inika, 21 Drops, and more.

6. Pharmaca is offering 30% off their health and wellness brands today only with code FRIDAY . Some exclusions apply, but includes great brands like Acure, Eminence Organic, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Motherlove, Pangea Organics, Suki, S. W. Basics, Zhena Gypsy Tea, Plan Toys, and Melissa & Doug.

Toys, Goodies, and Kid Things:

1. Natural Candy Store is offering candy specials on many holiday favorites. Some deals include 15% off gluten free, vegan, organic peppermint bark and 25% off organic English Toffee. As always, all candies are free of food dyes and artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, and they come highly recommended by the Halloween Fairy.

2. hanna Andersson offering all of their organic cotton longjohns (pajamas) for $20 through cyber weekend (regularly priced at $40-$46). All other items are an additional 15% off online and 25% off in stores.

3. CP Toys is offering 20% off your entire purchase today only with code CPT15TF. Although they carry a range of toys from more natural to more conventional, some of my favorite items include Tree Blocks and child-size tools, perfect for little learning hands to gain skills.

4. Magic Cabin, a popular natural toy resource for Waldorf, Montessori, and open-ended natural toys is offering up to 50% off on a selection of items in their Black Friday collection. Click through the link to see the complete range of items included.

I hope that you find some great deals that allow you to uphold your values without blowing your budget.

**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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Barganic Alert! Wildcraft Cooperative Board Game for Kids on Sale through Saturday

Once each spring, LearningHerbs, the online herbal learning resource, opens up its Herb Fairies book series and learning program. The children and I signed up this past April and have been thoroughly enjoying reading the story of each month’s herb fairy. Asher in particular loves the books and I marvel at how well he remembers the names, stories, and herbal benefits associated with each herb fairy.

Asher's coloring sheet of Arc, the Burdock Fairy. We completed reading the story yesterday.

Asher’s coloring sheet of Arc, the Burdock Fairy. We completed reading the story yesterday.

The kids delight in being able to identify herbs growing wild all around us as we walk through our neighborhood, play in the back yard, or look around at their school. It has been such a nice way to instill an awareness, appreciation, and reverence for plant medicine that is abundant in our environment.

Wildcraft cooperative board game from LearningHerbs

Although the Herb Fairies program will not be available again until next spring, LearningHerbs is currently offering a limited time sale on Wildcraft, their Herbal Adventure cooperative board game for kids. Like the Herb Fairies books, the board game focuses on herbs and combines fun, cooperation, and education to teach children about herbs and their medicinal uses as well as ethical wildcrating, all while working together to achieve a goal (in this case, gathering huckleberries and returning to grandmother’s house before nightfall so that she can bake a pie).

Our family has always preferred cooperative games to competitive “winner” and “loser” games, especially for young children so this is a great fit for us. The artwork on the game looks beautiful and the game had great reviews on Amazon as well. I know that the kids will love playing it. I actually purchased it back in July when LearningHerbs was promoting a similar sale on the game. I have been keeping it tucked away for the fast-approaching holidays. I imagine that the kids will be excited to receive a game that will continue to expand their understanding and appreciation of herbs, and it will be nice for them to have a cooperative game to play during the break when we all have more time at home together.

The current promotion runs through Friday November 20th. The game price is reduced to $19.99 plus shipping and adds a bunch of fantastic bonuses to sweeten the deal, including a webinar with Aviva Romm, How to Make Rootbeer video (which Alina is super excited about), Herbal Roots Zine Kids Activity Magazine, Mentoring Kids & Nature Connection with Jon Young (mp3), and the Herb Fairies Activity Pack, and an e-book from herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt to support children’s health during cold & flu season

So, are you going to grab one? I can’t wait for ours to open ours and start playing.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. 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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Felted Wool Acorn Tutorial

Crunchy Parent felted wool acorn tutorial photo and video picture

I love working wool, especially as it moves into the cooler weather. There is just something so magical to me about taking the cottony fluff of wool and transforming it into sculpture or textile with water or a felting needle. The possibilities are literally endless, which may be why I never tire of working with the medium.

Now that I have identified my boxes of wool among the seemingly endless sea of moving boxes, I am set and ready to share some wool crafting with you. This project is a quick and simple one and the results are irresistible. Everyone just seems drawn to collect, handle, and admire the little acorns falling from the sky at this time of year, and this wool acorn project brings the acorns into the home in a new way, allowing them to find their place in play, on nature tables, or in home decor.

I demonstrate this project with either needle felting or wet felting applications, and will even give you a “cheat” that will let you skip the felting process altogether and still result in cute wooly acorns if you prefer. The materials needed for the project are varied depending on which method you choose, and having multiple methods to pick from makes it very easy to adapt this craft to the ages and skill levels of children who you might wish to include in the craft. Regardless of the method selected, you will need wool batting and acorn caps that have been separated from their acorns and thoroughly dried.

Acorn caps gathered from outside and colorful wool roving and batting

Acorn caps gathered from outside and colorful wool roving and batting

If you opt to wet felt your wool acorns you will also need:

hot water
soap (dish soap or liquid castile are easiest to work with)
bowl (optional; a sink works fine too)
towel
craft glue or hot glue and a hot glue gun

Bring on the wet felting!

Bring on the wet felting!

If you prefer to needle felt your wool acorns you will need:

felting needle
felting pad
craft glue or hot glue and a hot glue gun

Felting needles and foam pad

Felting needles and foam pad



If you wish to skip the felting but still make cute wool acorns you will need:

purchased wool balls/beads
craft glue or hot glue and a hot glue gun

The supplies can be gathered from many retail sources online and through craft sites such as Etsy or ebay. You may also be lucky enough to have fiber shops or a Waldorf school local to you who may carry supplies. I purchased my felting needles and some of my colored batting through Peace Fleece. I also love shopping at Esther’s Place Fiber Arts Studio, which was my local fiber shop prior to our move, and where I stopped in for a visit this past weekend. The studio is run by a lovely crunchy family. For those who are not local to them, they do sell products online and through Etsy as well. I have even noticed that chain-store craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabric carry a limited selection of needle felting tools, kits, and supplies, wool batting, and roving as well if you wish to go that route. If you would prefer to avoid the felting step and limit your supplies to the third list, you can purchase pre-made wool balls/beads on Amazon or search at sites like Etsy or ebay.

Take a look at the video for the needle felting and wet felting instructions.

For a close up view, you can see the process of rolling up the roving or batting into the small ball here:

Roll and rotate

Roll and rotate

Almost done rolling and ready to needle felt or wet felt the ball.

Almost done rolling and ready to needle felt or wet felt the ball.

In addition, one of the nice aspects of needle felting versus wet felting is the ability to have a bit more control over the process. When I needle felt the acorns I tend to make more varied shapes. Not only do I do round “ball” acorns, but I make more oblong or pointed shapes as well. I tend to draw inspiration from the acorns that I remove from the caps and mirror their shapes in my work.

Needle felted pointed acorn

Needle felted pointed acorn

Although not shown in the video, once you wool balls are ready (and thoroughly dry if you opted for wet felting), mix and match them with your acorn caps. As mentioned in the video, if you have a bumpy or otherwise less attractive spot on your wool ball, try positioning that part within the cap. Once you have found the right acorn-to-cap match and positioning, secure the balls to the caps with a bit of hot glue or with craft glue. If you use craft glue, set them aside to dry as directed on the glue bottle. If you have used hot glue, there is no need to wait.

Felted wool acorns-tutorial

When your acorns are all set, you can use them on a nature table or within a play room. They mix well with fairies, gnomes, and woodland creatures in play, or into a play kitchen as ingredients (no need to overthink, once children see them, their imaginations will know what to do with them). For those whose children appreciate tactile sensory experiences, the warm, soft feeling of the wool contrasted with he hard, textured acorn cap can be engaging. A bowl or bin filled with the acorns could make a wonderful seasonally-themed sensory area for exploration and play.

The acorns can also be used to add some fall beauty to your own home. You can pile them into bowls, clear vases, or other vessels to decorate a table or mantel. They also incorporate beautifully into a fall-themed vignette (which as far as I can tell is a nature table that people don’t want their children to touch). In addition, you can thread fishing wire, embroidery thread, thin ribbons, or other material through the wool body of the acorn and turn them into jewelry, garlands, and more.

This simple craft can be the foundation and inspiration for wonderful fall crafts that bring the beauty of nature into the home in a new way. I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial and look forward to sharing more wool crafting with you. What are some of your favorite autumn crafts? What objects in nature inspire you at this time of year?

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Happy Hedgehog Post Waldorf Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-August 2015

Happy Hedgehog Post is an indie subscription service featuring products for children and families to enhance their home, crafts, and nature tables. With a distinct focus on the handmade, seasonal, and natural, this subscription may be a good option for families who are familiar with, and appreciate a Waldorf schooling and play approach. Each month will include materials and instructions for one or more craft projects, a Zine featuring season-specific stories, recipes, and more, and a special gift often appropriate for play or to beautify a nature table. In addition, each month, HHP donates 10% of the purchase price of every subscription envelope to support a different charity of their choosing. This month, funds went to Foodlink to help fight hunger in America. The August Happy Hedgehog Post envelope is sold out, but the September envelope is still available for purchase.

Envelopes cost $31.00 per month, (shipping included), less with multi-month subscriptions. In addition, if you want to purchase a second envelope for a sibling, a Sibling Envelope can be added to your purchase for $18. Sibling Envelopes include a second dose of all supplies necessary to complete the month’s crafts. They do not include the monthly Zine and bonus gift. I purchased this envelope and I was not compensated in any way for my review. You can check out my other Happy Hedgehog Post reviews here.

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

The August envelope had an Michaelmas theme. For those who are unfamiliar with the holiday often celebrated in Waldorf schools, you can learn more about Michaelmas, with some suggestions for versus and activities consistent with Waldorf education and homeschooling here. In brief, Michaelmas tells the story of brave St. George taming a dragon who was terrorizing a town. St. George musters his courage to triumph over the dragon, just as children must summon their inner courage at times of challenge. Likewise, as Michaelmas falls near the autumn equinox, there is often a focus on light and dark; looking inward for light during times of darkness.

*Rainbow playsilk not included

*Rainbow playsilk not included

The box included the Happy Hedgehog Post August Zine which contained a number of seasonal poems and verses, a short story called The Brave Boy, and two recipes; one for an Irish Michaelmas pie filled with seasonal blackberries, and the second for Dragon Bread, a traditional food eaten in celebration of Michaelmas. Waldorf education is aligned with some spiritual beliefs which can be incorporated to a greater or lesser degree into the children’s consciousness depending on the approach of a given program. Some of the poems and verses in this month’s HHP Zine did tend to have a religious and spiritual overtone, so it is worth considering how this might fit with your personal beliefs and with your family.

The box also included a beautiful small nested cave, perfect for hiding small dragon figures or other toys or natural objects. The cave was handmade out of reclaimed barn wood by From Jennifer as a custom item for this month’s HHP box.

*Rainbow playsilk still not included

*Rainbow playsilk still not included

The first craft project included was a wool dragon. This item had been teased before the envelope’s release and I was excited for it, although I think that I was expecting a more traditional, Waldorf-style, three-dimensional dragon. The pattern had more of a cute “stuffie” feel, reinforced by the tropical aqua and mango colors of the wool provided. I think that the kids will still like the dragon, and Asher may be especially enamored with it, but I would say that it is more of a cute dragon than a fierce one that would require courage to tame. HHP included the pattern for the dragon as well as 100% wool felt, wool batting to stuff the dragon, embroidery thread, and a needle. The tutorial was posted as a three part video series of over an hour’s worth of video instruction, and can be seen on the Happy Hedgehog Post YouTube channel.

*Rainbow playsilk from my own collection. Not included. My children would miss it.

*Rainbow playsilk from my own collection. Not included. My children would miss it.

Despite my confusion in the video, HHP did include a second craft; a wool felt treasure pouch. I think that this project is just perfect for autumn. My children (and their mother) have a tendency to collect treasures from nature in all seasons, but fall is an especially tempting time to gather objects that tumble to the ground from the trees. The kids always seem to have pockets filled with goodies that they collect. A treasure pouch would make clear that the items contained were special and not to be forgotten (in some pants pocket that mom might absentmindedly toss in the wash). The 100% wool felt pouch comes together quickly through techniques like the blanket stitch, finger knitting for the strap, and sewing on the lovely wood button. I think that this would be a very nice project for one of the girls to make. Asher is really the perfect age and size for this type of pouch, so I may suggest that one of the girls consider crafting it as a gift to him. HHP included the pre-cut 100% wool felt, wool yarn, wood burned wood button, embroidery thread, and needle for the project. The instructions were available as a fifteen minute video.

*Playsilk not included, but you knew that.

*Playsilk not included, but you knew that.

As I mentioned in my last HHP unboxing and review, I think that Happy Hedgehog Post can be a difficult subscription for assessing value. I believe that the perceived value will vary greatly depending on the priorities and experience of the crafter. Happy Hedgehog Post stays very true to their mission of providing craft projects using natural materials and with a seasonal and Waldorf-based feel, in addition to writings, recipes, and a bonus item in keeping with that same spirit. The craft projects and videos are accessible to the beginning crafter and can be tailored to inspire creative expansion by more experienced crafters who may have their own additional supplies on-hand. For instance I might choose to embroider acorns, leaves, toadstools, root children, or other seasonal images onto the treasure pouch. HHP is a great window into Waldorf education for those less familiar, and a wonderful way to bring handcrafting with natural materials, seasonal appreciation, and familial rituals and rhythms deeper into daily home life. Individuals very familiar with Waldorf or who have themselves gained a great deal of experience with handcrafting may find that they use the themes and projects as a gentle reminder to fold verses, celebrations, and their talents in their own home even more, or as a springboard for more advanced craft projects.

I really appreciate what a unique subscription service Happy Hedgehog Post provides. There are other crafting subscriptions on the market with a “green” theme, but I am not aware of any who can compare to the commitment to natural materials that HHP embodies. I also like the online video tutorials that demonstrate the crafts, and the opportunity to learn basic crafting techniques that can be applied to many projects in the future. Families who appreciate nature and celebrating the seasons will likely enjoy what HHP has to offer and people looking to bring or enhance a Waldorf education experience in their children’s lives will be hard pressed to find anything else like Happy Hedgehog Post’s subscription. The September envelope looks like it will be all about pumpkins, with three pumpkin-themed craft projects included in addition to the Zine and surprise gift. Are you thinking about getting one?

You can find the Happy Hedgehog Post subscription as well as many other subscriptions for home, baby, beauty, lifestyle, food, and more in the revised and expanded Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. You can also check out the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel for more crunchy subscription box unboxing and reviews, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com.

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Barganic Alert: Green Mountain Organics 25% off woolens through July 31st

Green Mountain Organics

When the children were attending a Waldorf school, outdoor time was a very big part of the curriculum. Over and over we heard repeated, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” The phrase underscored the idea that the school children needed to be well-suited for fun outside regardless of what Mother Nature had thrown their way. It quickly became important for us to source out wool or silk long johns, balaclavas, and other clothing to keep the kids warm throughout the cold Midwest winters. Our children continue to be nature-lovers, and we never want inadequate clothing to prevent them from enjoying time exploring and playing outside in all seasons.

Although cold, snowy days are still (hopefully) months away, sometimes it can really pay to plan ahead. Green Mountain Organics is rewarding their “forward-thinking” customers with a great sale on organic silk and wool underwear, outerwear, and diaper gear. With sizes for babies to adults, Green Mountain Organics is ready to provide that needed extra layer to keep everyone warm indoors or out this winter. Through July 31st they are offering 25% off their organic cotton, wool, silk, and wool and silk blend clothes in baby, child, and adult sizes from brands like Lanacare, Hocosa and Ruskovilla. Discount pricing is already reflected online, and prices will adjust back to full retail on August 1st.

I know that when that first cold snap hits, I always feel better knowing that I have the woolens on hand and ready to go so that we can have fun outside. What are some of your favorite winter activities to do outdoors with your kids?

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure 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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Barganic Alert: Sarah’s Silks Seconds Grab Bags

Sarah's Silks

I’m getting a definite “Christmas in July” vibe this week as I keep seeing sales and deals. You may be familiar with Sarah’s Silks, a company known for wonderful dyed playsilks and silk products to inspire creative and open ended play. Their playsilks, canopies, dress up clothes, baby blankets, and more are very popular amongst the Waldorf set and those drawn to simple playthings made from natural materials.

Right now Sarah’s Silks is offering a variety of grab bags of seconds quality merchandise at a discount. Items may have sewing or dying errors. Colors and contents are somewhat random, although you can choose from among Baby Blanket, Dress Up Fairy, Dress Up Knight, and Playsilk themed grab bags and special requests can be noted although may not necessarily be honored. All bags are priced at $45. See the link for descriptions of the bag contents. Are you going to pick up one or more?

Remember to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to be notified first when there is a new Barganic alert. These deals tend to go fast.

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Barganic Alert: LearningHerbs Sale on Wildcraft Cooperative Board Game for Kids

Our family signed up for the LearningHerbs Herb Fairies book series for kids earlier this spring and Alina and Asher in particular have been captivated by the stories about the herb fairies. They have loved learning about the herbs that grow wild all around us and how to recognize them. Asher has taken to pointing out herbs that he spies in the grass on the way to school or while playing outside. The kids have been more open to using herbs to treat their injuries and ailments since learning more about the healing properties of various herbs and remembering how the herbs helped the characters in the stories.

Wildcraft cooperative board game from LearningHerbs

I received an email from LearningHerbs today promoting a limited time sale on Wildcraft, their Herbal Adventure cooperative board game for kids. Like the Herb Fairies books, the board game focuses on herbs and combines fun, cooperation, and education to teach children about herbs and their medicinal uses as well as ethical wildcrating, all while working together to achieve a goal (in this case, gathering huckleberries and returning to grandmother’s house before nightfall so that she can bake a pie). Our family has always preferred cooperative games to competitive “winner” and “loser” games, especially for young children so this is a great fit for us. The artwork on the game looks beautiful and the game had great reviews on Amazon as well. I know that the kids will love playing it, and I will be tucking it away until holiday time. By then we will have read our way through most of the Herb Fairies series and I imagine that the kids will be excited to receive a game that will continue to expand their understanding and appreciation of herbs.

The current promotion runs through Thursday July 9th. The game price is reduced to $19.99 plus shipping and adds a bunch of fantastic bonuses to sweeten the deal, including the Outdoor Kids webinar with Aviva Romm, How to Make Rootbeer video (which Alina is super excited about), Herbal Roots Zine Kids Activity Magazine, Mentoring Kids & Nature Connection with Jon Young (mp3), and the Herb Fairies Activity Pack, with Book One and activity materials.

So, are you going to grab one? I can’t wait for ours to arrive.

Remember to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to always receive Barganic Alert notices. They tend to be time limited and you don’t want to miss out!

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Whimsy Kids Subscription Box Update

After reading my recent review of the Whimsy Kids subscription box, owner Hannah contacted me with some news about the Whimsy Kids site and plans for the future. First, Hanna wanted to clarify that sometimes the box will feature a softcover book rather than a hardcover book as I mentioned in the review. She added that in these cases, the supplementary items in the box will have a higher value to compensate for the book’s lower cost. Hannah also said that she has been having so much fun with the Whimsy Box subscription service that she will be taking steps in the near future to shift the focus of her store to the Whimsy Box subscription service exclusively. I am sure that this move will allow her to give even more attention to her family and to the wonderful box curation. I am excited to see what is in store in the months ahead.

It is always fun to hear new developments on the subscription box front. If you want to check out the Crunchy Parent list of crunchy-friendly subscription boxes, you can find a host of naturally-oriented, eco-friendly, and otherwise crunchy subscription boxes in the categories of food, home, lifestyle, baby, pregnancy, fair trade, handmade, and more.

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Whimsy Kids “Whimsy Box” Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-May 2015

Whimsy Kids is a lovely website offering a range of children’s products that appeal to families embracing a more natural lifestyle. They feature items such as cloth diapers, open ended toys made from natural materials, low-to-no toxin personal care items, and more. About six months ago, Whimsy Kids launched their “Whimsy Box” subscription service. Not to be confused with the now defunct “WhimseyBox” subscription, this unique endeavor pairs a hand-selected hardcover children’s book with a carefully curated mix of 4-5 toys, treats, and other special items to complement the story and stimulate continued play and awareness inspired by the book. Items are often exclusive to the Whimsy Box, and many are handmade by artisans based on inspirations from the monthly book. Book selections appear to be geared primarily toward young children, ages approximately four to eight years.

Boxes cost $35 per month plus $5 shipping when introduced for pre-purchasing and for a few months thereafter. Prices increase after that time to more closely reflect the value of the items included. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted and include free shipping. In addition, Whimsy Kids offers a Sibling Box option for $20 shipping included, which features the supplementary items without the hardcover book. This is a great option if you have multiple children who may be interested in sharing the story, but not in sharing the special items, or if you already own the book being featured.

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

Star Stuff book-May Whimsy Kids

This month’s Whimsy Kids box featured the Book Star Stuff (value $17.99) which explores Carl Sagan and his boyhood curiosities about space that later led to a lifelong career as an astronomer. As soon as I saw the preview for the May box, I knew that this would be an excellent selection for us to try. Asher has been very interested in space, the solar system, and life beyond Earth as of late. I thought that he would be excited about a book featuring a boy with many of the same questions and curiosities. In addition, because the book was previewed, and we are currently living in transition with my parents while we look for a new house, I was able to request the book from our local library and take advantage of the Sibling box option during this time when we have to be especially mindful of the things that we can keep at our home, given our current space limitations. I was very grateful to be able to have the book at the ready when the rest of the items arrived, and I will look forward to adding the story to our home library when we move into our next house. The typical box includes your own beautiful copy of Star Stuff to keep and enjoy. Amazon lists this book as being intended for children ages 4-8 years, although I believe that it could be enjoyed by children a bit older and younger than the stated range as well.

Whimsy Kids May 2015 box

To complement the book, the package included a colorful nebulous post card, a cute solar system sticker, and a Yummy Earth Organics lollipop as a sweet treat. The sticker and lollipop were quickly put to good use. We’ve been longtime Yummy Earth Organics fans, I even interviewed one of the owners years ago as part of this blog’s 1.0 version. We love that their products are free of nuts, corn, soy, gluten, dairy, and artificial colors or flavors. The post card would make a beautiful addition to a nature table or any space or sky-themed decor. Of course you could always use it to drop someone a note from your next space adventure.

True colors were a bit more muted than picture shows

True colors were a bit more muted than picture shows

Also in the box was an absolutely beautiful, 21” square playsilk. The silk had been hand painted by Whimsy Kid’s owner herself to evoke the dark starry sky that inspired Carl Sagan’s curiosities about space. It is accentuated by what appear to be batiked twinkling stars. At first I was not sure of the fabric content of the scarf, as reflected in the unboxing because it feels less “silky” than I am used to. Hannah from Whimsy Kids confirmed that it is 100% Habotai silk, which is the material most commonly used for Waldorf-style playsilks.

Whimsy Kids constellation disc-May 2015

The final treasure in the box was a unique wood constellation disc made by From Jennifer. The disc features five constellations highlighted by drilled holes and connected and labeled by wood burning. When a single light flashlight shines through the holes of a complete constellation, the lit up “starry” image is projected onto a wall or ceiling. This disc was a custom creation for this Whimsy Box, although similar “constellation coins” are often available at the FromJennifer Etsy shop.

Whimsy Kids complete May 2015 "Whimsy Box"

This box was a hit for us. Asher and Alina were both interested in listening to me read the story and they loved shining a light through the constellation disc and wondering about the stars, the sky, and life beyond Earth. I am confident that the playsilk will make a great backdrop for space-themed play and be used in many varied ways by the kids.

It is difficult to place a dollar value on the box. The book itself lists for $17.99 but the other “big ticket” items in the box were custom, handmade items, and thus are difficult to value. I think that the curation is exceptional, and I feel as though my money was well spent on this special star-themed box. I personally think that Whimsy Kids boxes would make excellent gifts for young children, especially those whose families gravitate toward toys made from natural materials, that are handmade, and that inspire open-ended play. Having a story to read and items to extend the story themes into a child’s own play and exploration is a unique idea for a subscription box. I am excited to see what other stories and items will be featured in future Whimsy Boxes. The May Whimsy Box is still available for purchase if you want to grab one for yourself or for someone else.

I will soon be updating my list of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes to add the Whimsy Kids Box and other recent and unique crunchy subscription box finds. Be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to be notified when the updated list is posted. Until then, the list should give you many great options for kids, home, baby, food, and more.

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