Vegan Cuts Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: January 2016

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review January 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me on Pinterest and Twitter.

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La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: January 2016

Cunchy Parent La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review January 2016

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

Boxes cost $24.99 per month, which includes U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. You can see my other La Ritzy reviews here.

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

La Ritzy included an information card that provided a brief description and valuing information for all items in the box.

Crunchy Parent review La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription-January 2016 Mai Couture highlighting papier papers Zoe Organics cream

The first item that I went for was a beautiful book of Highlighter Papier from Mai Couture (full size, value $28.00). The highlighting papers are available in two shades. I received Crystal Cove, the lighter of the two. I am not sure if this was the same for all subscribers or if there was variation among boxes. The highlighting papers are easy to tear out and use as needed to give a fresh glow to the skin. I liked the brightening effect of the powder. As shown in the video, a little goes a long way. I imagine that I would use each sheet for several applications, tucking it back in the book between uses.

The next item in the box was one that I was delighted to see, a full size jar of Zoe Organics Cream (2oz., value $18.00). I had looked at some of the Zoe Organic product line at A Night for Green Beauty this past summer. The indie line focuses on natural, plant-based products to nurture families through pregnancy, new mommy-hood, and for babies. The line includes a handful of products with broad appeal for the whole family, with their cream being among them. The rich shea butter-based cream blends nourishing oils and herbs, using rosemary extract as a natural preservative. All of the ingredients in the cream are 100% organic. I was surprised by the richness of the cream. Designed for use with eczema, I think that this cream will be a perfect answer to wind-kissed cheeks and chapped hands this winter.

La Ritzy vegan subscription box unboxing & review January 2016 GlamNatural Otavea

For the third month running, La Ritzy featured a product from GlamNatural. They sent a full size tube of GlamNatural’s Lip Cream in “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (value $20.00). Although I generally like to explore new brands through subscription boxes, I appreciate that the GlamNatural products (face powder, mascara, and lip color) have all been so different. I think that lip products are particularly important to use in healthy, green versions since they live on your lips and inevitably get ingested to some degree. Thus, I am always on the lookout for great, green lip products. The GlamNaturals formula blends shea butter with plant-derived oils and waxes along with mineral pigments. I liked that the creamy color went on easily, and had some subtle shine and sparkle. I found that the shade was less bold on my lips than in the tube and was a very wearable berry.

The last item revealed was a product exclusive to La Ritzy subscribers. Otavea sent a deluxe sample size jar of their new Lemon formula sugar scrub (value $6.00). I was not familiar with the Otavea product line and from the information provided by La Ritzy and on the product packaging I was unsure if the scrub was intended for face or body. In my experience, face scrubs require smaller, more delicate granules than body scrubs to avoid harming delicate facial skin. When I looked on the Otavea website, they refer to all of their products as body scrubs but picture a woman with the scrub on her face, so I’m still a bit confused. I think that it would be best to err on the side of caution and reserve this scrub for use on body, hands, and feet.

La Ritzy January 2016 box

I liked this box from La Ritzy. I really appreciate that they are not only featuring great vegan products, but are also taking care to send non-toxic, green skincare and cosmetic items. The value of this month’s box is $72.00, which I think is really fantastic for the $24.99 box price. Three of the four items included were full-sized products, with the fourth being a deluxe sample. I think that La Ritzy is a strong option for people looking for cruelty-free, vegan products that tend to be organic and green as well.

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

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me on Pinterest and Twitter.

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

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes Luxe Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review January 2016

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service. The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn.

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

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

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

The box came with a big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label. I opened it to find an enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted (more on that in a moment), as well a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products.

This month’s expert selection comes from the brand Osmia Organics. I had the opportunity to talk a bit with the Osmia Organics founder, Dr. Sarah Villafranco at A Night for Green Beauty this past summer. A former ER physician with a passion for healthy skincare, Sarah began making soap before expanding her formulations and her company to include skincare and natural perfumes. Osmia Organics, whose name references the ability to detect scent, places great importance on the quality and function of the ingredients in their products. As mentioned in the video, Sarah’s article about emulsifiers and their environmental impact left a lasting impression; giving me a better appreciation for body oils and healthier emulsifying agents.

Beauty Heroes surprised and delighted me by sending a box packed full of goodies this month. As with the November box, Beauty Heroes sent a pair of Superhero products (which always makes me think of the Wonder Twins because I’m over 40 and these are my reference points for such things). In addition, Beauty Heroes tucked in a helpful sidekick product, and a great accessory item a la Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.

Beauty Heroes January 2016-Osmia Organics face cream

This month’s box contained a full-size bottle of Osmia Organic’s Purely Simple Face Cream (1.7 oz., value $60.00). This aloe juice-based cream is lightweight and designed for those with normal or sensitive skin, in particular those who may have perioral dermatitis, a condition that has inspired many of Sarah’s gentle formulations.

My skin tends toward dryness, especially in the dry winter months so this may be too lightweight for me to use right now. I can see this cream being a good fit for my face during the more humid summer months when my skin needs less added moisture. It might also be a smart choice for Eva, whose almost-teenaged skin could benefit from a lightweight, gentle moisturizer in winter.

Beauty Heroes-Osmia Organics black clay soap and exclusive pre-launch nectar vital rose drops face serum

Partnered with the face cream was a full-size bar of Black Clay Facial Soap (2.25 oz., value $24.00). You can read more about the soap and how it compares to traditional African Black Soap here. Beauty Heroes also included a small soap saver (value $2.00), which is the perfect accessory to protect any bar soap from being softened and prematurely melted away by residual water.

The final treasure tucked into the box was the bonus sidekick item. This extra-special sidekick was an exclusive launch to Beauty Heroes members; a small dropper bottle of the yet-to-be-released Nectar Vital Rose Drops Face Serum (value $10.00). As the product has not yet been made available to the public, I was unable to find much information about the ingredients or the product online. I can say that it smells divine. There is the distinct scent of roses, but based on fragrance alone I would venture to guess that other florals and non-floral botanicals play a role as well. The serum is fairly light and easily absorbed, leaving a silky feeling on the skin. I often add several drops of facial serums or oils to my moisturizer step to enrich my moisturizer, which is precisely how Osmia Organics suggests using this precious product.

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes non-toxic organic green beauty subscription unboxing & review Osmia OrganicsJan 2016 – Version 3

I continue to be impressed with the quality of natural, green brands and products that Beauty Heroes brings to its members each month. There has been such exciting growth in the green beauty industry, especially among small companies driven by knowledgeable, passionate, creative individuals and teams. I so appreciate the extent to which Beauty Heroes researches their brand partners and curates great boxes month-to-month that over time build a high-quality and effective natural beauty collection. The value of this month’s box was an incredible $96.00.

Historically, Beauty Heroes has focused on products for skin, body, and hair. With the new year, Beauty Heroes has announced some new expansion plans to include cosmetic items as well. Beauty Heroes will aim to focus on universally-flattering shades to complement all of their members. I’m excited to see what these changes will bring in the months ahead. What do you think about adding cosmetics to the Beauty Heroes boxes? If you want to be sure to be among the first to see how Beauty Heroes will bring Luxe green beauty cosmetics to their members, be sure to sign up.

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

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Barganic Alert! 20% off Cosmic Box

Crunchy Parent Barganic Alert! 20% off Cosmic Box-subscription box sale, coupon code

February is right around the corner, and Cosmic Box wants to share the love. They are offering 20% off your first month when you sign up for a subscription using the code COSMICLOVE. There are a few more days to sign up for the February box (which is almost sold out). Once those are gone subscriptions will start with the March box. Cosmic Box has also announced that beginning with the February box, they will now be including goodies to balance your chakras.

If you would like to see my prior reviews to get a sense of what Cosmic Box includes in their spirit-enchancing, cosmically positive subscription, you can check those out here.

Are you going to take advantage of this deal?

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Goddess Provisions Spirit Enhancing Subscription Box Unboxing & Review: January 2016

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions subscription box unboxing & Review January 2016

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

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

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the January 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 “Calming Energy.”

Crunchy Parent unboxing & review Goddess Provisions vegan lifestyle subscription box January 2016

The box was quite heavy this month, and I was eager to discover why. The culprit was a beautiful glass bottle of Float Salt Bath by Being For Skin & Soul (8 oz, value $18.00). If you’ve visited CrunchyParent before, you’ve probably caught wind of the fact that I absolutely love soaking in a warm bath, so I was very excited to receive this item. Goddess Provisions sent each subscriber one of the three bath salt varieties available from Being For Skin & Soul. The Float version that I received combines French green clay with Dead Sea salt and cypress and peppermint essential oils. I have been putting in a lot of extra hours at the gym since the new year (resolutions for a stronger, healthier me). My sore muscles are going to very much appreciate this cooling and relaxing soak. It is on the agenda in the days ahead, and I can’t wait.

swatch Concrete Minerals vegan lip tint Bombshell-Goddess Provisions subscription january 2016

I was also happy to see a tube of Concrete Minerals Vegan Lip Tint in “Bombshell” (.15 oz, value $6.00). I tend to wear tinted lip balms or glosses in my day-to-day life, and I really liked the flattering Bombshell shade. The color is a bumped up nude tone that can be kept fairly sheer and subtle or layered for a bolder lip. I found the balm to be moisturizing and it has a great minty tingle to it. I loved that it was made with a bunch of organic ingredients in addition to being 100% vegan. I can see this being a purse staple for me.

Goddess Provisions January 2016 subscription unboxing review Crunchy Parent-Gaba Baba, The Goddess Line perfume

I was understandably distracted by the yummiest looking item in the box, a small bar of Gaba Baba chocolate from Yes Cacao (.88 oz., value $5.00). Yes Cacao purports that the bar is designed to, “unwind your subtle intensities” and help you breathe and relax with the aid of kava kava, Gaba, and blue lotus, among other organic and wild harvested ingredients. I found the bar to be a delicious rich chocolate with light spice notes. I was pleased to see that the bar is vegan, gluten free, 99% organic, raw, and otherwise delightful and delicious. I have been taking little squares now and again and trying to appreciate it mindfully rather than gobble it all up (challenging, but a worthy goal nevertheless).

The beautiful packaging of the next item caught my eye. The Parvati fragrance from The Goddess Line was held in a small box adorned with a beautiful rendering of an East Indian dancer (.3 oz., value $30.00). The roll on fragrance oil, that pays homage to the goddess of preservation and devotion, blends a host of moisturizing oils including coconut and sweet almond oil along with vanilla and amber scents to create a warm and grounded fragrance. I did my traditional ritual of thrusting my wrist into the faces of my loved ones, asking their opinion about the scent and everyone loved the sweet, warm fragrance.

The final item has become my anticipated Goddess Box unboxing finale; the tiny bag that always holds a small lovely crystal. This month, the little bag held a small tangerine quartz point (value $5.00). Goddess Provisions states that tangerine quartz brings in energy of understanding and acceptance of past events, aiding one in releasing old stories that no longer serve them. This seems like a poignant way to acknowledge the new start in the new year.

Goddess Provisions January 2016 box-complete unboxing & review. Vegan, spiritual, crystals, bath, green beauty, cosmetics, makeup, raw chocolate

I really loved this month’s box. Every single item is something that I will use and enjoy. Goddess Provisions always introduces me to new vegan, green brands and items. I really appreciate the curation of the boxes both within Goddess Provision’s stated mission, and through each box’s individual theme. The total value for this month’s box is $64.00, which I think is fantastic. I have been very impressed with all of the boxes that I have received from Goddess Provisions. It has quickly become a favorite subscription that matches my lifestyle and values very well. What do you think of Goddess Provisions so far? If you want to get your hands on your very own box sign up at Goddess Provisions.

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 deas, 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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Love Yourself First-Now: Teen Esteem Subscription Unboxing & Review-January 2016

CrunchyParent Love Yourself First-Now Jan 2016 unboxing & review

Love Yourself First-Now is a monthly subscription service targeted for young women ages 14 and up. LYF-Now was developed by a school psychologist/mother of two, and is aimed at promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of self through appreciating one’s self rather than looking to others for validation. 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 of your subscription purchase.

Love Yourself First-Now graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own. To see my previous LYF-Now reviews, look here.

Eva, my almost teen helped me with the unboxing. She is always excited when the LYF-Now boxes arrive. Please enjoy the video unboxing, or if you prefer to skip directly to the product close-up photos and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with cute colorful trim and an LYFN sticker. Everything was received safely and mostly intact. One item had a small chip in it, as noted below.

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 “New Year, New You.” Because LYF-Now tends to include non-branded items, all values listed below are those provided by them on the card.

Love Yourself First-Now teen esteem subscription for girls

The first item that Eva grabbed was a small box with a beautiful turquoise damask print and a bright orange bow. It came as no surprise that she was eager to open this adorable gift box. Inside she found a cute turquoise and gold, vegan leather, wrap bracelet/watch (value: $20.00). The bracelet featured three different snap settings to accommodate wrists of different sizes. Eva loved the trendy look of the accessory and was anxious to wear it.

LYF-Now January 2016 watch bracelet

Eva was also intrigued by a little silver-toned, crown-themed photo holder (value: $5.00) that LYF-Now had paired with a cute card that encouraged girls to list and display three of their resolutions or goals for the new year. Our photo stand had a small chip in its clear plastic base (as mentioned in the video). This did not affect the stability or function of the stand.

LYF-Now January 2016 unboxing & review

The final two items focused on room decor. LYF-Now sent cute wall decal with the saying, “A dream is a wish your heart makes” (value: $8.00). Eva really liked this decal and asked immediately if she could put it up in her room. We’re holding off for the moment. We’re still in the process of deciding on wall colors for her new room, and I am not sure how well the decal holds its “stickiness” if we were to put it up now and then take it down to paint. Hopefully I’ll get to that painting before too long and we can add the decal to her cute “teen” room.

For the final bit of bedroom flair, LYF-Now included a blank pillow case that featured a plastic sleeve to hold a favorite photo or saying. Along with the pillow case, they sent a rainbow of permanent markers to use to decorate the pillow case with goals or dreams for the new year (value: $10.00) . I thought that this idea was a very cute one and would make a great craft for a New Year’s party for kids. I wish though that LYF-Now had included some additional crafting and washing instructions for the case. I’m worried that the markers may bleed or fade if washed incorrectly, and I’m not sure the best approach to wash given the plastic sleeve on the case. I also would have appreciated suggestions for where to purchase a pillow to fit the case. I imagine that a craft store might have accent pillow-sized inserts that may fit, but I can’t say for certain since I have not looked yet.

LYF-Now January 2016 unboxing

I thought that this box did a nice job of curating appealing teen-friendly items around the New Year’s theme, and encouraged girls to think about, and set goals for the year ahead. Eva was especially drawn to the cute watch and the wall decal in the box. As an adult, I sometimes find the quality of the items included less than top-notch, but I think that is fairly standard for kid-focused items. To some extent, the value is in the experience more than in the end-product, and cute, trendy fashion or decor items aren’t intended to be heirloom-quality pieces. The total value of the box according to LYF-Now is $43.00. I think that some of the individual item prices seemed a bit generous to me, but overall I think that the value of the box is still strong for the price, and Eva thought that the box was fun and cute.

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. 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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Love Yourself First-Now Teen Self-Esteem Subscription Unboxing & Review: December 2015

Crunchy Parent December 2015 Unboxing & Review Love Yourself First-Now

Love Yourself First Now is a subscription service targeted for young women ages 14 and up. LYF-Now was developed by a school psychologist/mother of two, and is aimed at promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of self through appreciating one’s self rather than looking to others for validation. 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 $29.00/month, shipping included. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions.

Love Yourself First-Now graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own. To see my previous LYF-Now reviews, look here.

We’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties around here as of late. WordPress is being very temperamental about uploading my photos. My hard drive is rapidly filling with video and has stopped uploading any more for now. I’m at a bit of a standstill. I wanted to get to unboxing and reviews in a timely fashion so that you could see all of the goodies. That’s a long way of saying that video is on hold at the moment and I’m going to cross my fingers that the photos will upload correctly. On with the show….Eva, my almost teen helped me with the unboxing as always. Her eyes light up when the LYF-Now box arrives.

The box came with cute colorful trim and an LYF-Now sticker. Everything was received safely and intact.

LYF-Now enclosures December 2015

LYF-Now 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 “Gift of Giving.” When we reviewed the card following the unboxing, we thought that the box’s theme was well captured by the enclosed Nelson Mandela quote, “There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy without expecting anything in return.”

The first item at the top of the box was a smaller card listing ten ideas for ways to give to others. Ideas ranged from giving validation, joy, and support to others, to giving spare change and volunteer hours. I liked that the card focused on what a tween/teen child can give and do that makes a real difference for others. At times, requests for giving are outside of the domain of a child’s ability to give; unless a child is working giving canned goods, money, etc. is really encouraging parents or other adults to give. The suggestions on the card really focused on giving that a child can begin to do independently and take full ownership for, as well as develop life skills, e.g., “Ask someone in need what you can do for them.”

LYF-Now December 2015 unboxing & review ornament & earrings

Up next in the box was a small silver snowflake ornament in its own little gift box (value, $5.00). LYF-Now explained that snowflakes give beauty, softness, and freshness to the season and represent a uniqueness just as every girl is unique and special. We do not celebrate Christmas, and I especially appreciated the seasonal/secular nature of the ornament, as well as LYF-Now’s suggestion that it could be hung on a tree, a window, or used as a bookmark.

After admiring the snowflake we found another wrapped item, perfect for gifting. Eva pulled out a small gold organza bag that held two pairs of festive earrings (value: $12.00). The earrings came in both silver and gold and looked like holiday ornaments int heir own right. The card explained that the earrings were great for adding a little holiday sparkle to one’s wardrobe and that there was a pair to keep and a pair to gift to someone else. Once again, I appreciated that LYF-Now not only sent something fun and festive to keep, but gave the girl a gift that she could give. Eva does not have pierced ears so she will have the opportunity to give two gifts with these earrings.

LYF-Now Teen Esteem subscription unboxing & review December 2015

I loved the next item that we discovered; a heart-shaped glass “Gift of Giving Jar” (value, $5.00). The jar is designed to hold spare change that is then donated to a favorite cause. We have little jars like this around the house, and I think that it is a great way of reinforcing the idea that small kindnesses add up over time to make a powerful difference.

Always ones to notice yummy treats, our next find was a Goodness Knows Very Cranberry snack bar (value, bonus gift) LYF-Now tied the bar into the theme by including this bonus gift to subscribers and highlighting that goodness is a trait that drives giving to others. The bar included some ingredients that Eva is sensitive to, but she enjoyed being able to pass the gift along to Rich to serve as a sweet reminder of her when he needed a little snack at work.

LYF-Now Dec 2015 unboxing

The final item was a hit with Eva. She loved the faux leather clutch wallet (value, $20.00). The wallet was sturdy and roomy. She liked that it included a chain to convert it to a wristlet, although she wished that the color had been something more vibrant and youthful. LYF-Now tucked a small note into one of the inside pockets reminding girls to use their spare change to help others in need.

Love Yourself First-Now December 2015 Unboxing & Review

This may have been my favorite LYF-Now box to date. It can be difficult to balance the focus on receiving and giving during the holiday season, especially for children. I appreciated that the box focused on ways that children can give to others by doing things large and small; both of which make a difference. I thought that the items in the box were age-appropriate and represented a nice mix of accessories, snacks, and decor. The neutral color palette gave a serene, seasonal air to the box that I really liked. Most importantly, Eva loved the items included, although she would have preferred a more colorful clutch.

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. 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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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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La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Crunchy Parent La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review November 2015

La Ritzy is a monthly beauty subscription service that sends 4-5 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Although not specifically marketed as a green beauty box, the brands that La Ritzy sends have tended to be non-toxic, natural brands. La Ritzy recently ran a promotion offering one month free with a three month subscription. I knew that it was the right time for me to give this subscription a try.

Boxes cost $24.99 per month, which includes U.S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

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

La Ritzy had released spoilers showing what two of the items would be in the November box. I was excited to get my hands on the box and check out everything inside. The box came well-packaged, and everything was received intact.

La Ritzy November vegan green beauty subscription-GlamNatural and Jacq's Organics

La Ritzy included an information card that provided a brief description and valuing information for all items in the box. The first item that caught my eye had been spoiled in the sneak peek. It was a full size of GlamNatural’s Finishing Powder (value $30.00). The natural, super-fine powder is designed to be applied atop one’s makeup to set their look and give lasting wear to cosmetics. I must admit that I tend to neglect this step and then start wish later that I hadn’t. I was glad to be sent this little reminder to take an extra moment to finish off my face in the morning to get more bang for my buck when I do my face.

The next item in the box was a big surprise to me. I was so excited to see the Jacq’s Organics Green Smoothie Scrub and Mask (1 oz., value $17.50). This item has been in other subscription boxes recently but none that I had received and I was coveting it mightily. The mask blends clarifying and detoxifying charcoal, clays, and sea kelp with almond meal for scrubbing and mints, rosemary, geranium and other essential oils to stimulate and cool the skin.

The dry powder is designed to be blended with your liquid(s) of choice, which can be anything from water to honey, yogurt, a hydrating hydrosol, or other nourishing selection. I love dry masks for exactly this reason; they can be catered to your preference and the shelf-stability is prolonged with the absence of liquid, which also eliminates the need for preservatives. I opted for water to try the mask in its purest form. Although I was expecting a green mask based on the name, the charcoal gave it a deep gray/black appearance. I made a relatively thin mix with the water and painted it onto my face with a mask brush (an old, clean foundation brush works well for this step too). Once dried, I rinsed as directed, scrubbing my skin with my hands to get the most out of the almond meal as I rinsed. My skin looked clear, bright, and refreshed after using the mask. I am interested to see how my skin responds to repeated use over time.

La Ritzy vegan beauty box Palmetto Derma and Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques

The next box reveal was the second item from the sneak peek. I was very much looking forward to receiving the full sized Palmetto Derma Collagen Booster & Restoration Serum (value $48.00). The serum is packed with anti-oxidants and hydrating ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid. I was surprised by how light and completely odorless the serum was and yet my skin was noticeably more hydrated immediately after I applied. I think that this product will be an excellent addition to my skincare routine this winter layered beneath my skin oil and moisturizers. For those with combination oily skin, I think that the serum would hydrate and nourish the skin without adding oil or shine. As a tip to those who missed out on the box and want to give the product a try, or who received the box and want to stock up on more Palmetto Derma items, the site is offering 30%-50% off all of their items sitewide throughout the cyber weekend shopping extravaganza.

The last item in the box was a full size Pressed Cheek Colour from Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques (value $14.00). I have been using Lauren Brooke products as a natural cosmetic option for about a year and have been very pleased with their ingredients and formulations. I have not tried the cheek colors yet so I look forward to trying this one out. The Sweet Sixteen shade that I received looks like it will be easy to wear and complement many skin tones. Once again, if you are looking to take advantage of sales this weekend, Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques will be offering 30% off of all of their full-sized products for Cyber Monday.

La Ritzy November 2015 vegan natural cosmetic and skincare subscription box unboxing review

I was very pleased with my first La Ritzy box. I liked the mix of skincare and cosmetic items. I am sometimes wary of cosmetic items in boxes because it can be so difficult to appeal to a wide range of skin tones and color preferences. I thought that the cosmetic items included in the box were useful and flattering for most skin tones. Although La Ritzy markets themselves as a vegan beauty box and not necessarily a green beauty box, all items included were from great green beauty brands and were chock-full of organic, natural, and plant-based ingredients. The overall value for the box was $109.50, which is an exceptional value for the box price. I am looking forward to the December box. La Ritzy has already released a spoiler saying that the box will include a vegan, 7-free polish from Trust Fund Beauty.

I continue to delight in the growth of the green beauty industry and its integration into the subscription box world. Two years ago, when I first began to look into subscription boxes there were only a handful of vegan and green options available. In the last quarterly update to my comprehensive list of crunchy-friendly subscription boxes, there were over twenty boxes geared toward green beauty and cruelty-free beauty enthusiasts. I think that this growth speaks volumes about growing consumer awareness and demand for healthier, safer, more conscious beauty and personal care products. It’s exciting to see.

What do you think about La Ritzy? Are you a fan of their vegan cosmetic and skincare hybrid approach? Are you curious to see what will accompany the Trust Fund Beauty polish in the December box? I know that I am.

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!

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