Barganic Alert: Starlight Stitches Closeout Sale

Starlight Stitches closeout sale

It is always sad to see a crunchy-friendly store transitioning out of business for whatever reason they choose to close their doors. Starlight Stitches has decided that the time has come for them to close up their New Mexico shop to focus attention more on their own handmade product line. They would like to pass along their inventory at a discount rather than hold onto it in storage. The selection is limited and going fast, but there are great deals to be had on Bummis cloth diaper covers, Waldorf dolls, Kathe Kruse toys, and amazing organic clothing “grab bags” grouped by size and gender, among other treasures. I personally snapped up some Kathe Kruse items and a girly grab bag for my new baby niece at a fraction of retail pricing. I was beyond delighted with the beautiful items that I received (pictured above). Act quickly though, inventory is moving fast.

Remember to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to be notified first when there is a new Barganic Alert announcing an organic or otherwise crunchy-friendly bargain. These deals tend to be time limited, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

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Happy Hedgehog Post Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-June 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, bonus craft, 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 Nepal for assistance after the earthquake. The June Happy Hedgehog Post envelope is sold out, but the July envelope is still available for purchase. You can read more about it here.

Envelopes cost $30 per month, (shipping included), less with multi-month subscriptions. The cost will be increasing to $31 per month starting with the July envelope. 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.

Happy Hedgehog Post subscription box June 2015

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.

Happy Hedgehog Post Subscription Box June 2015 bookmarks

The June envelope had an “flowers and animals of the forest” vibe to it. The first project included was a pair of 100% wool felt corner book marks; a hedgehog (love) and a fox (Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!). The envelope included the patterns, felt, sewing needle, and embroidery floss needed to complete the project. The instructional video also included the use of additional paper and a pen or pencil for tracing the pattern, scissors, fabric scissors, and straight pins that the recipient would need to provide. The project was appropriate for a beginning-to-intermediate crafter, and demonstrated some useful stitches in the context of making the project, such as French knots, blanket stitch, and other basic embroidery. I think that my girls will love using these, and are old enough (9 and 12) that they can probably make them with minimal assistance.

Happy Hedgehog Post June 2015 subscription box mobile

The second craft included was a sweet flower, butterfly, and bee mobile that used needle felting to make the bees, as well as wool felt to make the flowers and butterflies. Also included were the pre-drilled wood dowels and block to construct the mobile in addition to the necessary fishing line and eye screws for suspending all of the pieces. The instructions for this project were shown in two parts, one video illustrating the needle felting of the bees, and a second video showing the making of the butterflies and roses, and the overall construction of the mobile. The envelope included a felting needle, sewing needle, and the other raw materials (wool, thread, felt, etc.) for making the mobile and its components. The materials provided are enough to make four flowers, six butterflies, and approximately six bees for the mobile. The videos also instructed the crafter to use hot glue, wood glue, a foam pad for needle felting, straight pins, scissors, fabric scissors, and an iron (optional), all of which are not included. The project assumes a moderate level of crafting experience and supplies, and involves a level of fine motor coordination (and sharp objects) that might make the project better suited for adults and older children than for younger kids. Both Alina and Eva wanted to help with the needle felting and were able to do so with just a bit of help from me.

Alina needlefelting bees

Alina needlefelting bees

The mobile is really sweet and beautiful. I plan to make it for my new baby niece. I think that a crafter would be most successful with this project if she or he has some prior experience with needle felting as well as basic crafting abilities and the necessary additional supplies. The video suggests adding another element to the center of the mobile, which I think would make it look even lovelier; a wool or silk fairy or flower, a string of more elaborate felted butterflies, a felt or needlefelted bee hive, or other spring object would add character. In addition, the video did not provide instructions or safety suggestions for how, where, or where not to actually hang the mobile, so it would be up to the crafter to figure out those aspects of the project.

Happy Hedgehog Post subscription box June 2015 zine and puzzle

In addition to the two craft projects, the HHP envelope included a copy of their Zine which had seasonal poems, and a lovely short story about fairies and color meant to encourage child participation and movement entitled, The Old Woman in the White House. The Zine also had two recipes; Southern Caviar Dip and a coconut milk based Mango Ice Cream. Both recipes were free of gluten and dairy, and required basic kitchen equipment. The Zine closed with a bonus craft recipe for Erupting Ice Paint, which is going to be among the first craft projects that we make when we move into our new home next month.

The last item in the envelope was the bonus item. It was a small 4-piece unfinished wood puzzle from Motherly Designs in the shape of a butterfly. The unfinished wood leaves open a world of creative options for finishing. It can be colored with crayons or painted with water colors, wood burned, stained, polished, etc. I was initially concerned that the size of the puzzle pieces would make this unsafe for a young child to use, but the simplicity of the four pieces might make it a poor fit for an older child. After giving it some thought, I think that Asher (age 5) might enjoy using it. Figuring out where the pieces should go might be easy for him, but manipulating them into place could be a good fine motor activity. He might also really enjoy painting the puzzle and making it his own creation.

I am not always sure how I feel about boxes when I first open them because sometimes I cannot immediately envision how I will use the items, or the value that they will have to me. This envelope was a bit is difficult to initially assess because it is essentially materials, ideas, instruction, and inspiration. It is the promise of fun times, learning, and creating, not the finished products themselves. After working with the projects and going through the Zine with the kids, I am really pleased with this subscription. I was initially drawn to it because all of my craft materials have been in storage since the fall while we have been looking for, and waiting to move into our new home. I have missed working with my hands and crafting with the kids, and really liked the idea of ordering craft kits with the majority of the supplies that we would need. This month did not disappoint. The girls were both so excited to needlefelt the bees for the mobile and are looking forward to making the bookmarks in the days ahead. They asked about making the recipes this week, and we read through the poems together. I look forward to including Asher in the ice paint craft and reading him the movement story.

Projects coming along.

Projects coming along.

I would say that a second felting needle would have been a greatly appreciated addition. There were plenty of supplies to allow both girls to work on the needle felting project together, but with one needle they had to take turns, which led to some frustration. Felting needles are inexpensive, but not easy to come by. They are also prone to breaking, especially with less experienced cafters. Adding a spare needle to the kit would have boosted the value to me. Along the same lines, it might have been a nice addition for the Zine to include some resource suggestions for where to buy a foam felting mat or extra felting needles if needed, and some online resources for basic needle felting instructions if one was completely new to the craft. That said, I think that this subscription could be a good one for new crafters. It offers the majority of supplies and instruction needed to get started on a new skill. I also think that the subscription is wonderful for more experienced crafters and Waldorf, homeschooling, or other families drawn to natural crafts and activities. Even with the skills and know-how, so many of us get caught up in our day-to-day lives and forget to engage in handwork or movement activities, or celebrate the change of seasons. This subscription reminds us to bring these into our lives through small projects and rhythms. The projects can also serve as a springboard, and be enhanced and embellished by more experienced crafters.

It is almost impossible to place a dollar value on the box. All of the items were original creations, exclusive to this subscription. The materials were high quality, and primarily all-natural. To provide some reference, I was able to find this mobile kit (value $10.30) which is comparable to the dowel, cube, and eye hooks portion of the mobile. I also found this (completed) wool felt corner bookmark (value $12.00).

I am pleased with this subscription, and have really enjoyed working on the crafts with the kids. It has made me all the more excited to be reunited with my craft supplies next month when we move, and the girls are chomping at the bit to do more needle felting. I have been challenged in finding a craft-oriented subscription for children that uses natural materials, and this one really fits the bill. I also appreciate that the crafts and activities will take a while to complete and can be worked on by us across many days as we reflect upon the season, rather than being breezed through quickly and then forgotten. Our experience in Waldorf education, and the associated appreciation for handwork was a great fit for this subscription, but I think that it would be equally appreciated by any family who enjoys nature, crafting, and hands-on activities. The July envelope looks like it will have three crafts, including a wet felting project. Are you going to grab 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.

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Mindfulness Box Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-July 2015

8please excuse images that may look wonky on some devices-we're working to fix it.

*please excuse images that may look wonky on some devices-we’re working to fix it.

Mindfulness Box is a recently launched subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

Mindfulness Box July 2015

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing which features my sweet middle child this month, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged as always and the outer box was marked “fragile” to protect the contents. Everything arrived to me safe and intact. The first thing that I noticed upon opening the box was how wonderful it all smelled. I tend to be very sensitive to artificial fragrances, which can trigger migraines for me, so it is really nice to take a delicious inhale of natural scents and know that I won’t feel ill afterward.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 enclosures

Like last month, this month’s box featured a single enclosure card describing the box contents, listing retail values, and providing suggestions for use, as well as some additional reflections and meditations. There was also a second card this month which appeared to be advertising a yoga-based crowdfunding campaign.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 soap and RAOK cards

A trend that I have noted is for Mindfulness Box to include an exclusive Mindfulness Box branded paper product in their boxes. This month there was a small packet of five note squares with a positive, affirming saying on each one. MB suggested that these cards be used to promote random acts of kindness for others, highlighting the idea that all of our actions and energy are connected. Alina also thought that they would be nice to frame or display in one’s own space to use as positive self-affirmations. Smart girl, that one. Since these cards are exclusive to this box, there is no stated value. Next we discovered that one of the reasons that the box smelled so great was due to this awild soapbar Sea Scrub soap (value $6.50) The organic soap combines sea salt, clay, and kelp along with pumice and a mix of floral, citrus, and spice essential oils, all topped with Himalayan pink salt. It smelled so fantastic, and I cannot wait to use it.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 candle, keychain, wish papers

The next good-smelling treasure was an Aloha Bay Chakra Energy Votive in Abundance paired with a glass votive holder (value $5.00). The candle is made with eco-friendly palm wax and scented with essential oils. Alina loved the fragrance and said that it reminded her of the way that her former Waldorf school smelled, which if you’ve ever visited a Waldorf school is high praise.

Alina was also excited by the Flying Wish Paper Kit (value $11.00) which instructs the user to write their wish on the wish paper, roll it up, and ignite it. The paper burns down to almost nothing and then flies up into the air, lifting the wish with it. After watching the video on the Flying Wish Paper website, I think that this would be a cool activity to do with the kids that would punctuate the idea that putting intention out into the Universe can be a meaningful action. That said, I think that I would want to do this activity outdoors on a non-windy day, and with close adult supervision, i.e. lighting one child’s at a time.

The last item in the box was an Agate Geode with Quartz Crystal Keychain (value: $10.00). According to Mindfulness Box, the crystal helps soothe, calm, heal inner tension and create a sense of personal security; adding that agates have long been associated with strength, courage, longevity, love, healing, gardening and protection. I personally can never have enough keychains to help me find my keys amongst all of the treasures that live in my giant Mommy Bag, and this one is such a unique and pretty one.

I continue to look forward to receiving Mindfulness Box each month. The mission of the box to provide simple reminders to live more deeply in the moment is always reflected in the products chosen. I am impressed by the curation, and tend to find the items useful and beautiful in my home and in my life. It is par for the course with subscription boxes that some items will be hits and others will be misses for each individual, but I have been very happy with the number of hits for me in the Mindfulness Box boxes.

The total value of this month’s box is $32.50, not including the small “Random Acts of Kindness” notes, which I am not sure how to value. This is close to the cost of the box, and not a high price-to-value ratio as far as most lifestyle subscription boxes go. I do think that the curation, item uniqueness and quality, and meditative suggestions add value, but I would like to see the actual item value increase as this subscription continues to establish itself. Additionally, this month Mindfulness Box launched a new Mindfulness Box for kids ages 3-12 years aimed at teaching mindfulness to children. I am curious to learn more about this box in the months ahead as well. What did you think about the July Mindfulness Box?

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. It has been newly updated and expanded. 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, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Summer Update: Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes

For those looking for subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other awesomeness

For those looking for subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other awesomeness

**I wanted to update my original Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Box List to add new or “new-to-me” boxes that have come into my consciousness since then and to delete those subscriptions that are no longer available. I have bolded all of the listings that are new to this update for ease in finding them.**

As I mentioned briefly in this post I have been making conscious attempts to make self-care a higher priority in the last several years. Parenting can be all-consuming, at least it has been for me many times, and I tended to seriously neglect myself. My cancer diagnosis was a wake up call that I absolutely needed to take better care of myself mentally and physically if I wanted to be able to continue to be a good parent to my children. I also wanted to feel better about myself and how I presented myself to the world. Realistically, I still was not going to have oodles of “me” time, and being able to get away from home to do things alone is even more challenging.

Moreover, skin, haircare, and cosmetic, and body care products simply had to be no- or low-toxin for me to use them. I would rather go without than slather myself with ingredients that might make it harder to stay healthy, but I really didn’t know where to begin. My skincare products had distilled down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil and they just weren’t cutting it. So, I decided that one aspect of my self-care plan would be to join some monthly subscription services. Just in case you’re unfamiliar, subscription services send out a “mystery” package (usually monthly) of products in sample or full sizes for you to try that fit within a certain theme such as eco-freindly beauty and skincare products, or gluten free snacks. I figured that by joining a service, I would get a special package (or more) each month just for me with products to encourage me to pamper myself. It would also help me discover new natural, organic, or otherwise eco-friendly products that had already been screened and curated by companies with values like my own. Once I got my boxes, I could have some R&R time with a new face mask after the kids went to bed at night, or if I had an occasion when I might want to wear lipstick, I might actually own one that I felt good about using. I have been receiving subscription boxes for over a year now, and I must say that it has been great!

I personally found it overwhelming at first to select a couple of subscriptions to try. There are countless services available, with many different target markets and missions. There are new services being introduced and old ones phasing out all of the time. I thought that I would try to save you some of the trouble that I went through. I have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of subscription services currently available that may appeal to people of the crunchy mindset, wherever they may be along the crunchy continuum or whichever aspect of crunchiness is important to them. I have tried to include beauty and lifestyle boxes that might be organic, or vegan; that might be eco-friendly, GMO-free, or support charities. Food boxes might be gluten, nut, and/or dairy free. They may feature organic or non-GMO products, or provide pre-packaged produce all ready to juice for your next cleanse or to boost a new health practice. I’ve listed herbal boxes, essential oil boxes, fair trade boxes, and eco-friendly boxes for the expecting or new mama. Boxes for children likely feature organic products, high-quality wooden toys, and are battery-free. There is even a toy rental subscription service included. Some of the subscription services are large and well-established. Others are small, limited, indie subscriptions or may be just starting out. In any case, I hope that you will find what you are looking for.

For the sake of brevity I have included shipping information assuming shipping in the United States. Many of these companies may send boxes elsewhere for an additional cost. Please see individual sites for information. I cannot speak to the specifics of any individual subscription, nor am I recommending any of these services over any other. In truth, I have received just a small percentage of these boxes personally, but I wanted to provide a resource. If you have any personal experiences that you wish to share, or if you know of any subscriptions that you think should be added to this list, please mention it in the comments.

To see my crunchy subscription box video unboxing and photo reviews, look here:

Beauty/Lifestyle

BabeBoxx $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discount on multi-month subscriptions. Focused on skincare, cosmetic, and grooming items, BabeBoxx goes for the products that are, all-natural, organic, hand-made, and free from the harmful toxins and chemicals. Their goal is to guide you through a unique and exciting journey to natural beauty! This recently-launched indie subscription partners with artisans to bring the newest products to their subscribers.

Bare Bliss Box in every box get 4-6 “healthier” sample-sized skincare and makeup products that will nourish your body and enhance your life, with occasional bonus lifestyle items. BBB screens products for ingredients such as artificial fragrances and dyes, parabens, SLS, and other potentially harmful chemicals. They also emphasize products that are cruelty-free and organic. $19.99/month (free shipping) Discounts with multi-month subscriptions.

Blissmo Box $19.95/month plus shipping, free shipping with multi-month subscriptions. Value of $20-$40+ per box. A monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products. Full & trial-size. Allows choice among three themed box offerings each month (usually a food, beauty/personal care, and seasonal themes). Also allows for skipping a month if none of the themes seem to be a good fit.

BuddhiBox $30.95/month. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Box contains 4-6 full size items to enhance your yoga practice and lifestyle. BuddhiBox is committed to supporting non-profits. Most of the items featured are organic and vegetarian, and a brief questionnaire also allows the purchaser to indicate a preference for vegan items if desired. Each month BuddhiBox picks a charity and donate proceeds from the sale of the boxes to them. They also offer a smaller sampler box for $11.95/month, and a jewelry box for $49.95/quarter.

Calmbox $35.00/month includes shipping. This newly launched monthly subscription box will send you 4-8 mindfully chosen items to help with unwinding and calm: candles, natural minerals and crystals, aromatic herbs, inspiring books, music, tea, motivational cards, physical aids, and more. A new “calm” theme such as zen, meditation, or mindfulness will be reflected in each month’s box.

Causebox Ships quarterly. $49.95 per shipment and includes shipping. You will receive at least $150 worth of full-size products for women from Sevenly’s favorite socially conscious brands. Each box also includes a new, exclusive Sevenly product. For every box sold, Sevenly gives $7 to one of 7 partner charities. Additionally, the box features products from companies that are committed to doing good all over the world. Some give one-for-one, some give meals, some medical aid, others give money to help various causes.

Conscious Box $40.00/month including shipping for the newly launched “Premium” version. Conscious Box had historically offered smaller boxes along the themes of classic, vegan, or gluten free. Boxes typically included small sample sizes of mostly food and supplement items with 1-2 full sized products. In their new re-branding, all boxes will be vegan and gluten free and contain more full-size and luxury items including stylish home items, delicious snacks, and lush beauty products hand-selected from brands who care about the planet. Conscious Box promises that every box will be valued at a minimum of $60.

Eco Salon This quarterly box is not a subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. There are generally pretty limited numbers of boxes available (around 50). Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Goodebox $21/month, including free shipping. Discounts offered for multi-month subscriptions. Goodebox is a trial and discovery service providing expertly curated, trial-sized healthy beauty and personal care products, along with samples of natural & organic health and wellness products. Each Goodebox includes a pre-screened selection representing what Goodebox thinks are among the best healthy beauty products available.

Hemp Box/Hemp Box for Men $19.99/month includes free shipping. Hemp Box features 5 health, beauty and nutritional products each month that contain hemp.

Herbal Bliss $25/month including free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions (e.g. an annual subscription drops to $18/month) Herbal Bliss contains an exclusively curated assortment of high quality herbal delights. Five items will be included each month, representing the categories of well-being, culinary, aromatherapy, blissful body, and “spotlight.” All suppliers are small-batch producers.

holBox $30/month. includes shipping. holBox is a subscription service for women who desire to live a holistic lifestyle. It is intended to serve as a starting point for women transitioning into a holistic lifestyle. Each box contains 5-7 different sample products, and will include products that you can use for the body, hair, mind and in the household.

Klover Box $25/month free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Klover Box features natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Klover Box aims to provide opportunities to try affordable eco-friendly products, handpicked by their health conscious curators to allow the buyer to incorporate better products into every aspect of life. Each box features 4-7 sample and full sized products.

Level Naturals Three tiers of boxes ranging from The Good Box at $14.95/month to The Good(est) Box at $49.95/month (prices do not include shipping). Level is a vegan, gluten and cruelty free, all natural company. Certified by Peta and Leaping Bunny, 100% made in the USA. All boxes feature selections from Level Natural’s own bath/body products and candle lines.

Mindfulness Box $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. A monthly subscription box service promoting wellness and reflection by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the “present moment.” Boxes contain 4-5 items each month intended to promote mindfulness, meditation, and reflection. Offerings include holistic and homeopathic mineral/essential oil based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals evoking positive energy and MUCH more! To see my Mindfulnesss Box reviews, look here.

Organic Authority Goodie Box Organic Authority is a sister company to Eco Salon (see above) with a similar approach. They are not a regular subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. Numbers are quite limited. Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Petit Vour $15/month includes shipping. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tend to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. Petit Vour delivers 4-5 fresh beauty miniatures right to your doorstep each month. The samples are generously sized (and sometimes full-sized!)

Prospurly $49.95/month includes shipping. Often run coupon codes for 10% off per month for the life of the subscription. Boxes feature 6-8 luxurious products each month that are artisinal and often organic. Items may be useful for home, beauty or personal care; food, beverages, and more.

Sapphire Soul Balance Box Sapphire Soul offers 5 different box configurations ranging from “Crystal Pack” of 1 or more crystals at a price of $9/month to “Large Lotus Balance Box” at $52/month which features a crystal, essential oil, a piece of handmade crystal healing jewelry, and one or more additional products (soaps, candles, and aromatherapy products tend to be featured frequently). Overall the box highlights holistic products to nurture mind, body, and soul; striving to increase balance and positive energy. Prices do not include shipping.

Teens Turning Green Conscious Collection Not an auto-billing subscription, but a first come, first served single purchase box available in limited quantities, and sometimes comes in both “male” and “female” versions. Cost is $75/box plus $20 shipping. The box includes Approximately 20 deluxe and full size items per collection. Each box highlights thoughtfully curated, ethically-produced products across many lifestyle categories. Product selections are based on health of ingredients, environmental impact, efficacy, and verified standards like USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade, and data from the Environmental Working Group. Proceeds from the box benefit the Teens Turning Green non-profit organization.

The Cosmic Box Cost is $29/month including shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Items for this indie box are chosen for being crafted with spirit, eco-consious, and cosmically good. Boxes include items from various artisans and also feature products from Wild Honey Apothecary, the sister company of The Cosmic Box. Boxes feature a mix of 3-6 trial size or full size goods and include everything from toxin-free skin care, organic/gmo-free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems, jewelry, and more. A portion of the proceeds from each month’s boxes go to a charity, which varies from month to month. For my reviews of The Cosmic box, look here.

The Simple Soap Cost is $19.99/month for a three bar box or $14.99/month for a two bar option. Shipping included free. The Simple Soap is a family-owned indie subscription box service that sends out their own organic, handmade bars of soap. Their soaps are scented with essential oils and plant materials, and do not contain artificial perfumes or other additives. According to The Simple Soap, a single bar of soap will usually be enough for one person for an entire month.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month included shipping. Modest discount for multi-month subs. Vegan cuts features 100% cruelty-free brands, many of which are also natural and organic. Each box contains 4-7 full and sample-sized products to try, ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.

With Love from Angela $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each month’s box will deliver 4-5 carefully selected, all natural bath and skin care products and presents such as candles or accessories. Boxes will include a combination of WLFA’s own branded products as well as items from other brands that they deem to be terrific. They focus on products that are all natural and 100% quality.

Yogi Surprise $35.96/month with free shipping. Each box features 6-8 full-size products designed to nourish and support your well being, vitality and growth. Items include pure, natural, and handcrafted goodies that are vegetarian, cruelty, and GMO free.

Yuzen $33/quarter includes shipping. Yuzen strives to include only the very best eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul. Each beautiful box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies.

Food

Cuisine Cube $34.99/month includes shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each monthly box features at least five exciting full-sized gluten-free breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert items. Cuisine Cube tries to introduce lesser-known artisanal brands. Some products are certified gluten free, others use only gluten-free ingredients but are not certified gluten free. Many products are certified organic and CC strives to avoid GMOs and artificial ingredients.

Emma’s Organics monthly (or bi-weekly) box subscription. You receive 2 large 8oz bags of granola a month $22.95 + $5.00 shipping or 4 large 8 oz bags every other week $44.95 + $10.00 shipping. The granola is 100% organic, non GMO, gluten free and dairy free. PLUS it is 100% SPROUTED!

Farmivore products Three box sizes range from $25.95-$69.95, which includes shipping. Farmivore sends boxes filled with all that you need to make blended or juiced drinks using only organic, GMO-free, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Subscriber can select delivery frequency and either all-green juice boxes or “mixed” boxes with green, red, and orange juices featured. Produce will be sent bagged with recipes to create each of the juices featured in that shipment, and each box makes between 4-16 servings of juice depending on box size. Currently Farmivore ships to eight states in the Northeast.

Farm To People Tasting Box Two tiers of subscriptions (Casual Foodie-$29.95/month and Food Critic: $49.95/month both of which include shipping). Boxes include 2-3 or 5-8 full size products respectively. Items included will be unique, humanely made food items that are locally produced in small batches. All foods are GMO free. FTP also advertise that they are happy to accommodate any serious food allergies or dietary restrictions if you email them directly. Each box centers around a theme. Past themes have included Oktoberfest, Heat Things Up, Turkey Day, among others.

Green Blender $49/week shipping included. Each box brings you pre-portioned and individually wrapped ingredients to make 10 servings of blended smoothie drinks (2 servings each or five different recipes). Boxes include fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and whatever else you need to make a week’s worth of smoothies (you just provide the blender and the water). Produce is organic, local, and seasonal whenever possible. Currently Green Blender delivery area covers approximately a dozen states throughout the Northeast.

Healthy Surprise Offer three subscription options: Classic Box, Big Box, and Paleo Box. Boxes range from 15-21 full size snacks and are priced from $49-$74 depending on subscription option. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted. All items are gluten, soy, corn, wheat, and GMO free. Paleo box also does not contain any refined sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes, but may contain some items with honey, eggs, or high quality meat or fish. Classic Box and Big Box are 100% vegan.

Love with Food Offers three subscription options (Tasting Box, Deluxe Box, and Gluten Free Box) ranging in price from $12-$29/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed to help you discover new organic or all-natural snacks. Boxes feature between 8-20 snack items depending on subscription type. Snacks are either organic or all-natural, GMO-free, gluten-free or free of artificial junk. All snacks in the Gluten-Free box are guaranteed to be gluten free. For every box sold, Love with Food donates a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry.

My non-GMO box $14.99/box. Currently only offering boxes as single purchases, not as a re-billing subscription service. My Non-GMO Box contains an assortment of Non-GMO Project verified products from top-quality manufacturers. The first box, launched January, 2015 included 6 single-serving non-GMO snacks.

Num-Nums Munch Box Offer Single Box ($21.99/month) or Double Box ($43.50/month) plush shipping. Each box available as either Gluten Free, Dairy Free, or Nut Free, although most snacks are selected to be top 8 allergen-free (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) so the entire family can enjoy them. Single box contains 10 to 12 single-serving snacks, and double box includes 20-24 single-serving snacks. The assortment of snack items includes snack bars, chips, sweets, cookies and more. Although snacks are free of identified allergens, they may be manufactured in factories that process other ingredients.

Send Me Gluten Free $30/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each box will include 8-12 gluten free products and will include at least 1 full-sized item. Product selection will include food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support a gluten free lifestyle.

Tasterie $25.00/month, includes shipping. Four box varieties (Gluten Allergy, Gluten and Dairy Allergy, Nut Allergy, and Top 8 Allergy). Each box includes 4-8 full and single-serving sized allergy-free foods. Nut allergy and Top 8 allergy foods are all confirmed to have been made in a nut-free facility.

Trade As One $99/quarter 12-15 hand-picked, ethically sourced pantry products. Each box is seasonally themed and includes a broad range of items from everyday staples to fun discovery items. We also help you unpack the meaning of the items in your box with stories from producers, tasty recipes, and product highlights.

Urth Box Offer multiple sizes from Mini (4-5 products) to Large (20-24 products), which range in price from $9-$49/month, including shipping. Each box includes food and beverage items focused health. All boxes are offered in one of four varieties: Classic, Vegan, Gluten Free, or Diet. In addition to snacks, boxes may include “extras” from categories such as supplements, personal hygiene, hair and skin care, gourmet and more. Products will be full sized, although this may include single-serving items.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month includes free shipping. Each box contains 7-10 full and sample sized vegan food and beverage items. Most products are also gluten free.

Yumvelope $21/month. Shipping free with multi-month subscriptions. Yumvelope highlights 100% natural, small-batch, artisanal food items from throughout the United States. Each shipment includes a minimum of six full-sized items, which may include snacks, drinks, desserts, and chocolates.

Health/Wellness

Natural Herbal Living Herb box + magazine PDF $48/month ($44/month recurring) Mini Herb box + magazine PDF $24/month ($22/month recurring) Will include ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine including, but not limited to, the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, bees wax, vinegar, honey, and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. This also includes a generous amount of the “herb of the month” to experiment with above and beyond the recipes included in the herb box. The value of the contents of the box will range between $50-60 in addition to the magazine PDF ($4 value). All of the ingredients will be responsibly sourced and organic whenever possible. If the herbs are not certified organic they will be ethically wildcrafted. No box will ever include gluten, nuts, corn, or dairy.

Becca Organics Oil of the Month Four Levels of subscriptions ranging from $27/month to $197/month (shipping included). Designed to help build up your essential oil collection and support health and well-being. Level One includes one bottle of essential oil up through Level Four which provides 8 bottles of essential oils, a room misting spray, an AromaStix roll-on product, and 5 empty mister bottles for creating your own mists. All essential oils are organic and wild harvested and non-GMO.

Essential Oil Wizardry Three levels of membership $20/month gets 1 blend; $49/month 3 items including an essential oil and a tincture; $87/month for 5 items including EO, tincture, and, massage oil plus a 10% off coupon. (Shipping included). Limited to just over 100 members.

Kings Road Apothecary $53.50/month plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions include free shipping. Kings Road Apothecary in an indie sub sending handcrafted, small-batch, herbal-based products that often are seasonal in nature. Boxes are themed (e.g., pinon, lymphatic support, seaweed, salt & water, etc.) and include four full-sized products in each shipment. Items may include an herbal tincture, tea, body scrub, facial mask or cream, massage oil, and more. Due to the sustainable wildcrafting of the box ingredients only approximately 50 boxes are available each month. This is not a re-billing subscription. Boxes are available as single purchases or can be pre-purchased as a multi-month subscription. To see my Kings Road Apothecary reviews look here.

Pregnancy/New Baby/Mom/Home

21 Bundles $39.99/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Started by a woman who has served as a pre and post-natal yoga instructor, post-partum doula, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor and nanny, 21 Bundles sends all natural, toxin free products to delight new mom or mom-to-be. Boxes tailored for whatever stage of pregnancy or of baby’s first year and will include 5-8 full size items, with a total retail value of anywhere from $50-$80.

Andrea Schroeder Candle of the Month Club $120 for a 3-month membership. Includes shipping. Each month’s box includes a full size 10.5 oz. Andrea Schroder candle, a travel size candle, a signature notecard, and a special hand selected gift from Andrea Schroder. Candles are made from a blend of coconut, natural, and palm wax. They are non-toxic and free of toxins, artificial dyes, or colorants. Candles are scented with essential oils stabilized with a blend of natural oils. Candles and ingredients are not tested on animals.

Austin Lloyd $49.99/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 3-5 premium toys and at least one book catered to your child’s developmental level and gender (or gender neutral), focused on children ages birth to 3 years. All items are non-toxic and BPA-free. These are unique, high end toys that are not typically sold at large retail chains and come from brands like Haba, Plan Toys, Melissa & Doug, and Manhattan Toys among others. They are designed to be engaging and targeted at improving fine motor, cognitive, and social skills. No battery operated toys included.

Ecocentric Mom $24/shipment, shipping included. Ships every other month. Available in three box types (Pregnancy Box, Mom Box, Mom & Baby Box). Each box included 5-9 hand selected products that are gentle on your body and the earth. Items are natural, sustainable, organic, and ethical. Boxes feature a mix of large sample sizes and full size products. Items range from skincare, wellness, snacks, and more in the Mom Box to diapers, skin cream, and organic first food in the Mom & Baby box, to skincare, makeup, spa products, and more in the Pregnancy Box.

Homegrown Collective $39/month plus shipping. Price reduced and shipping free for multi-month subscriptions. Receive a seasonally appropriate, professionally curated box of products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Examples of past boxes include Home Remedies and Cure Alls, Kombucha, Detox in a Box, and The Beauty of Coconut. Boxes include instructions and all supplies needed to create one or more awesome DIY products with each box (may need to provide some basic supplies). Also teaches you how to become more self-sufficient/sustainable.

The Honest Company Offers several monthly themed bundles: Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers & Wipes ($79.95/month), Essentials-items for home and body care ($35.95/month), Honest Health & Wellness-food based and quality supplements (($35.95/month), and Organic Infant Formula + dha ($119.95/bundle; buyer sets frequency). With the exception of the formula bundle, bundles are fully customized buy the buyer within each theme and specified quantity of items (for example, any 5 items/Essentials bundle; any 2 items/Health & Wellness bundle.

Children

Happy Hedgehog Post Cost $30/month for a la carte purchases, less with multi-month subscriptions. See site for options to Canada. In addition, HedgehogPost offers a Sibling Envelope add-on for $18 with extra materials to make multiples of the primary crafts featured if you have multiple children or if you just want more. A monthly indie envelope subscription featuring products for children and families to enhance their home, crafts, and nature tables. With a distinct focus on the handmade 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, bonus craft, and more, and a special gift often appropriate for play or to beautify a nature table. 10% of the purchase price of every box goes to support a different charity each month. For my Happy Hedgehog Post unboxings and reviews, look here

Little PNuts Annual subscription required, no month-to month or single box option. $60/quarterly shipment if annual fee of $240 is paid up front. Shipping is included. Can also opt for $25/month payments for 12 months ($300 total), but will still only receive 4 quarterly boxes. Filled with engaging Eco Friendly & Organic Toys designed to encourage creative play and discovery (3-5 toys/shipment). Choose from three programs : Infant 0-12 Months, Toddler 1-3 Years or Preschool 3-6 Years. Partner with many trusted brands such as Haba, Kathe Kruse, Green Toys, Tegu and more.

Mindfulness Box Kids $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Intended for children ages 3-12 years. This monthly box is aimed at teaching mindfulness to children, while promoting peace in themselves and the world around them. Each month is thoughtfully curated with hands-on activities, literature, meditations, a healthy snack and so much more to nurture your child’s heart and mind.

SparkBox Toys One Sparkbox every 4 weeks $34.99/month; 1 Sparkbox every 8 weeks $19.99/month. Two month minimum for membership. Designed for children ages 0-4 years, Sparkbox is all about the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This toy rental subscription sends 4 age-appropriate, gently used toys to your child to enjoy for 4-8 weeks. When the fun is done, just sent the box back for more toys. Shipping both ways is included in the subscription price. Sparkbox will curate your box based on child’s age, but they allow members to review, edit, and fully customize their box if they desire. Toys are screened to be high-quality, unique, award-winners. Some may be plastic and/or require batteries (included), others are made from natural materials. SparkBox uses only eco and child-friendly sterilization solutions to clean their toys between shipments. All toys go through a 5-step cleaning process that includes surface cleaning, sterilization, disinfecting, inspection and vacuum sealing.

SwiggyDiggyDo $39.95/month. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed for children ages 6 months to four years, however currently box contents will only vary relative to clothing size so some items may be to hand down/gift or grow into depending on your child’s age. SDD seeks to find the best, eco-friendly products that are free of BPA, lead, bromine, phthalates and a bunch of other weird chemicals that companies decide to put into toys, clothing and basically everything else. You will get a custom designed, limited edition shirt for your kid. Along with the shirt, your box might include toys, crafts/activities, books, clothing, feeding items and more.

Whimsy Box $35 plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted and include free shipping. In addition, they offer a Sibling Add-On option for $20 which includes the box contents minus the book if you wish to have duplicates for the sibling or if you already own the featured book and would like the additional items to enhance the story. Each month’s package features a book appropriate for children approximately ages preschool through age 8 years as well as several artisan and often handmade items related to the book’s theme to extend the story into the child’s play, as well as a few additional small extras such as stickers, organic treats, and post cards. Past items have included play silks, face masks, wooden figures, musical instruments and more, and often are made from natural materials. To see my Whimsy Kids reviews, look here.

Fair Trade/Handmade

Craftly Just launched and still in beta phase. $19.99/month plus shipping. A lifestyle subscription box for either men or women that features high quality products and handcrafted goods from independent artists, small businesses, and mid-to-large scale brands. Every month, subscribers receive a surprise box of 3-5 samples, full-sized items, and exclusive offers for home, beauty, grooming, tech, fashion, stationary, food, fitness, and more.

Fair Ivy $30/month. Currently monthly and multi-month subscriptions are full but you can request to be added to the wait list. Fair Ivy sends a handmade and hand wrapped gift each month. All items are created by individual US artists, with each month representing a single artist’s creations. Each gift you receive is vegan-friendly, and contains an information card with details of the artist’s process, background, or inspiration, so you can understand the time and care put into each hand-wrapped item. Past selections have included a single jewelry item, a purse or clutch, set of stationary, or selection of bath products.

Fair Treasure $35/month. Discounted for multi-month subs) FT hunts for the most amazing designs in home décor, jewelry, and other accessories, personally curating these finds for each month’s treasure boxes. Sometimes they even work collaboratively with artisan groups to develop and design unique products just for their boxes. Each box will contain at least $30 in retail value of ethically sourced treasures. Typically, your treasure box will contain 2-3 items. They will also include information on the people and communities who made your treasures and are benefiting from your purchase.

Fair Trade Friday $35/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. monthly membership club that delivers a box of 3-4 high quality items to your door by the first Friday of the month. The items in the box are often jewelry and accessory items, are fairly traded, and provide employment to women all over the world. 100% of the proceeds from each box goes to the empowerment of impoverished women.

GlobeIn Basket $35/month, shipping free. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 4-6 artisan-made products from around the world (a “globe in a box”) packaged in a Mexican palm leaf basket, as well as a story about the crafters whom you have supported with your purchase. In addition, GlobeIn just launched a new mini box called the Benefit Basket for $19.99/month, which will feature two lifestyle products per month.

MakrBox $29/month MakrBox features handcrafted artisan goods from the Pacific Northwest. Each month subscribers receive 2-3 curated artisan made kitchen or home goods.

Whew, I hope that everyone can find something in the listing above that would be perfect to add a little crunchy delight to their mailbox or to gift to someone else. If you know of a sub box that I missed that you think belongs in the list, please mention it in the comments.

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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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TBT: Wet Felted Wool Ball Tutorial with Needle Felting Option (video)

Wet and Needle Felted Wool Balls

I am keeping my fingers crossed that in time we will be able to recover some of the more frequently searched for and referenced posts from the CrunchyParent.com blog in its first version before we lost all of the content from the site (more about that here). It is amazing to me, and very gratifying, that even through I had stopped posting new content to the blog almost seven years ago and it had disappeared from the interwebs completely for five years, people still find their way to the site through old links from other blogs. It seems inhospitable to have nothing to greet them about their topic of interest other than an error message. Fortunately I was at times a contentious blogger, saving my posts as actual files rather than typing the content directly into my hosting site. We’ve saved the hard drive from the computer that I used at the time, so there is still the possibility of finding some or many of my old posts and revisiting them here.

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I’m going to attempt to capture the essence of a video tutorial post that I had made in 2008, back when I posted to the blog anonymously and used pseudonyms for the children and didn’t show my face in videos (I’ve since gotten over all of that). The first video in the two-part tutorial series shows a very accessible way to craft a wet-felted wool ball using nothing more than your hands, wool batting, dish soap, and water (which means that you probably have at least three of the required ingredients already!). These wool balls can be made in any size needed and are great for gentle indoor play for children of all ages (including babies provided that they have direct supervision to ensure that they don’t gum off any loose wool and choke on a hairball). The balls can also be used as cat toys and as wool dryer balls to cut down on drying time and eliminate the need for artificial fabric softeners.

Part Two of the series shows you that by adding a dry felting needle and some imagination to your supply list, the sky is the limit for the complexity and types of designs that you can create. The picture above shows some of the balls that I made years ago, and that my children and their friends have played with for hours and hours.

For those looking for supplies, I have always been happy with the felting needles and colored wool batting that I have purchased from Peace Fleece. I especially like their batting bundles because they give me great color variety and it would take me a long time to go through a full pound of a single-colored wool. For the natural colored wool batting used for the core of the ball, my go-to supplier has historically been West Earl Woolen Mill (their website is as bare bones as one can get, but call them for pricing and ordering information). As mentioned in the video, this type of undyed wool is incredibly useful in natural crafting for needle felting and wet felting, constructing Waldorf style dolls, stuffing soft toys, and more. Of course ebay, Etsy, and Amazon can all be great resources for wool batting, roving, and other felting supplies. I have even noticed that my local 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 prefer to shop locally or just can’t wait for craft supplies to arrive by mail. In addition, you may be lucky enough to have a local fiber, craft, or Waldorf School store nearby that might stock the necessary materials or supplies. As an additional tip, I personally find it easier to wet felt with somewhat coarser wool batting versus finer wool roving, but your experience may differ.

If you try out the process and have any questions, please post in the comments. I’d also love to learn about any wet felting tips or resources that you have to share as well as pictures of your finished projects. Please remember to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and to the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel for more craft tutorials, cooking demos, “crunchy” subscription unboxings, and lots more.

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On Birthdays, the Rainbow Bridge, and Feelings of Inadequacy

Preparing to cross the Rainbow Bridge

Preparing to cross the Rainbow Bridge

As spring begins to threaten the mounds of snow in our neck of the Midwest, so starts birthday season in our household. All three kids turn another year older between the end of February and the beginning on May (and I do too).

When the girls were young they attended Waldorf parent-child and early childhood programs (known as kindergartens in Waldorf schools). It was in that context that I was introduced to the idea of celebrating the anniversary of a child’s birth with a fairytale hybrid version of their birth story. In the Waldorf tradition this is referred to as the Rainbow Bridge story. I have heard many iterations of this story; it’s length and complexity varying to some degree based on the age of the child and the preferences and characteristics of the story teller, but with the key themes remaining the same. As I think back, I have heard at least five different early childhood teachers tell a version of the Rainbow Bridge story to one of my children. Traditionally, the teacher sits in front of the group of classroom children with a small table on which sits a photo of the birthday child and fragrant beeswax candles to mark off the years of his or her life. A long silk in rainbow colors stretches out a path across the floor, at the end of which sits the child’s parents. Siblings are often present as well if they should happen to be available to join in for the story telling. The child is usually dressed in a special angelic outfit and listens to the telling of his or her story, which culminates with the child running across the Rainbow Bridge and into their parents’ arms, signifying the moment of their welcome to Earth and to their family.

six years

six years

This year is different. This past fall we sold the home where Rich and I had moved just months after we married. The home where all of our children were brought to when they were born. The home located within close proximity to the Waldorf school where I first felt a true sense of belonging and community when I was searching for connection to a like-minded group of parents, having felt like a misfit or a novelty at times amongst the parents in park district kiddie classes.

The reasons for the move were many. Too much in our life had shifted; our family had grown and our house had not, our school programming, its administration, and its financial health no longer resembled what it once had when we had started there, and our own finances had been put to the test through multiple medical challenges, extended unemployment, and other unexpected hiccups. We wanted to move closer to family and social support, but this also meant saying a final goodbye to formal Waldorf education for any of our children. I don’t regret the decision, it was overdue to be honest. We were in need of shaking off the bad juju that had seemed to have settled into our life and to make a fresh start.

Things are still up in the air in many aspects of our new chapter, and at times we cannot resist pining away for the old and familiar. That is where I found myself on a recent morning as I drove home from Asher’s birthday celebration at his new preschool class. He had donned a special paper birthday crown in pink, his favorite color. I had come and read a story to the class and had brought some gluten free pretzels to share. The children sang him the Happy Birthday song. It was a nice celebration and he had felt special. As I drove the car though it was nagging at me that this was a very different experience from what I had come to expect for my young children’s school birthdays. What struck me most was that he hadn’t heard his Rainbow Bridge story. He hadn’t run across a path on the floor marked out by a rainbow playsilk and jumped into my arms to celebrate the moment when I first held him; the moment when he was born into our family. I was missing it hard. I started to think about some way that I could recreate the experience for him, casually testing the waters by chatting with him in the backseat as we drove, “Hey Buddy, when your sisters were your age they were told a story about being born to celebrate their birthdays. What do you think about that idea?” After an unexpected discussion about what a birthday might possibly have to do with being born (I forget sometimes that the concept is not intuitive to young children), he seemed intrigued.

We got home and I immediately tried to conjure up some way to recreate the ethereal and magical Waldorf Rainbow Bridge experience, but every thought that I had was instantly met with the reality of our current situation; we do not yet have our own house. We are living with my parents at the moment while we try desperately to find a home for our family, a task that is proving to be a difficult one within the constraints of our family size and budget combined with the much higher home values in our new suburb relative to our old one. In the meantime, all of the play silks, the dress up clothes, the play arch, the toys, the birthday crowns, the beeswax candles, everything lives far away in storage. We live tucked in the spaces available with our necessities stored in bins and boxes. The mommy guilt hit and threatened to take over.

I had a thought, one of Rich’s white t-shirts could stand in for the angelic robe that the children often wore, and maybe I could find a belt or sash or something. For a fleeting moment I considered the plastic fireman’s hat that he had received on a school field trip as a suitable crown substitute. Asher however, was not impressed with my ingenuity.

not feeling it

not feeling it

He didn’t want to wear the shirt or the hat. He didn’t care that his sisters had worn robes or wings or crowns like little birthday angels. His enthusiasm was waning. The moment was slipping away. I stopped. It didn’t need to look like the vision that I had in my head. His birth story was his own unique moment to celebrate. It didn’t need to be anything more than that. I sat down on the couch and pulled him onto my lap and began his Rainbow Bridge story as best as I could remember hearing one be told….

Some time ago up high in the clouds, a little angel laughed and danced and played. The little angel loved to pretend that he was a rescuer, helping out with any troubles way up in the sky. The little angel liked to bounce on the fluffy clouds and look down onto the Earth below. The little angel watched the fish swim in the seas and the birds sing in the skies. One day the little angel peered down to Earth and saw other children as they laughed and played together. Two little girls caught the angel’s attention as the little angel watched them run through the grass, picking flowers together and balancing carefully as they walked across fallen trees in the forest. The little angel heard a woman’s voice call out, “Eva, Alina….” (“That’s my sisters! But where is me?” “Hold on Buddy, we’re not there yet.”)

The little angel turned to some of the bigger angels and said, “I want to go there, to join those girls on Earth,” but the big angels said that it was not yet time. The little angel returned to his play, forgetting about the Earth down below. One day while running through the clouds, the little angel tripped and fell, nearly slipping down through the clouds, but the big angels helped him up and watched over him closely through the autumn, the winter, and into the spring. One day the clouds parted and the little angel could peek below once more. He saw his two girls cuddled up in bed close to a woman with a big, round belly. A man sat nearby reading the girls a story. The little angel asked again, “Can I go to them now?” and the big angels said that it was time. They hugged the little angel close, kissed his cheeks, and sent him down through the clouds across a bridge of rainbows to join his new family. His mother and father held him and gave to him his first ever gift, his name Asher Miles, which means lucky, blessed, and happy because they felt so lucky and blessed to have him come to complete their family, and because they wished for him a happy life.

In his first year Asher grew and discovered so much about the world. He said his first words, and crawled, stood up all on his own, and laughed at his silly sisters.

In Asher’s second year he learned to walk and climb, always curious to see how things worked. He loved to sit on Daddy’s lap when he would make work calls, and even set up his own “office” in the play arch, taking phone calls and working hard on his play computer.

In Asher’s third year he started parent-child class and explored the woods and the classroom. He loved to dig in the sand and see his sisters at school. He flew on an airplane for the first time, visiting his Gram and Gramps in Arizona.

In Asher’s fourth year he learned to ride a tricycle and had so much fun riding around outside. He began a new adventure, moving with his family to a new home, and starting at a new school. Asher made many friends.

Now Asher begins his fifth year, which we know will be filled with more growing, and learning, and discoveries. We love you very much sweet boy, and we are so lucky, blessed, and happy that you chose our family. Happy birthday, my sweet angel.

I knew that the story was not as refined or magical as the ones that his sisters had been told, but it was a moment for me to soak up my son’s five years and consider who he is and who he has grown to be as a part of our family. I am glad that I didn’t get completely stopped by the disconnect between how I wanted things to be and the reality of how things are at the moment. We will never again have the opportunity to celebrate Asher’s five circles around the sun, and I am glad that I took the time to reflect along with him.

If you are interested in other, more classic, examples of the telling of the Rainbow Bridge birthday story in the Waldorf school tradition, here are a few:

The Rainbow Bridge
Waldorf birthday story
Waldorf inspired birthday traditions
Teddy’s birthday story

How has the Rainbow Bridge story been used to celebrate the children in your life? What other birthday traditions are special to your family?

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