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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Cosmic Box Indie Subscription Unboxing and Review-August 2015

The Cosmic Box is a recently launched indie subscription service aimed at sending you a cosmically amazing care package for the soul. This lifestyle box is curated by a holistic nurse, and is designed for the free-spirited and eco-conscious. Each box includes a mix of 3-6 trial and full size products, or 1-2 luxury full size items. Every box is hand packed and sent with heaps of love. You will find items ranging from toxin free skin care, organic/gmo free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems and more. A portion of the sale from every box goes to support a charity, which varies from month-to-month. The August box sales supported the charity Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. The cause is one close to my heart. I personally have had challenges at some point with all three of my pregnancies. I suffered multiple hemorrhages in the days following my first birth, which required three separate blood transfusions and surgery to resolve. My very dear friend experienced severe complications after the birth of her second, which left her in the hospital fighting for her life for over seven months. I was very happy to know that a portion of my purchase was supporting this very worthy charity.

The August and September boxes are sold out, but orders are currently being taken for the October Box with a Supermoon/Harvest theme. 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. You can check out my other Cosmic Box reviews here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. Once again I am in transition trying to find the right place to film videos in the new house, so forgive the boring background and poor lighting. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged in a surprisingly small box, distinguished by a cute owl “The Cosmic Box” sticker. Everything arrived to me safe and intact. I liked how Cosmic Box protected the items during shipping by wrapping the smaller bits in tissue paper. That kept them from rattling around and was a nice eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap or other plastics.

The Cosmic Box Indie Subscription August 2015

As with my last box, there was a small enclosure card that gave a bit of information about the items in the box and about The Cosmic Box as well. The first tissue-wrapped bundle that I unwrapped was a small (approximately 1 oz.) piece of lepidolite crystal (TCB stated value $3.00). I was not previously familiar with lepidolite. Cosmic Box states that it is, “a stone of balance and calm. Great for aiding in times of transition.” It sounded perfect to me, as we are up to our ears in transition with the move to the new house and all of the kids starting new schools. I thought that the crystal was a very pretty pale lavender color with sparkles, and I can see it finding a home in one of the children’s rooms, on a nature table, or in our play room where rocks, shells, and crystals seem to make their was into all sorts of games and play.

The Cosmic Box Indie Subscription August 2015-Wild Honey Apothecary scrub and Phoenix Botanicals Faerie BalmIMG_0726

The next item revealed was one that had been released as a spoiler earlier in the month, and was an item I was very much looking forward to receiving. Kat, the woman behind The Cosmic Box has another company, Wild Honey Apothecary that makes small-batch, skincare and body items using wild harvested botanicals. It was a natural fit to feature some Wild Honey Apothecary products in The Cosmic Box from time to time and this month the Wild Honey Apothecary Honey Love Face Scrub made an appearance (2 oz. value $25.00). The 100% organic scrub enhances pure honey with Manuka honey powder, corn flour, and frankincense to gently exfoliate skin. I have been resisting the urge to eat it by the spoonful because it smells delicious. The directions said that it can be applied to a dry or damp face. I tried dry but found the honey too think to rub around easily. I added some water to my palms and that diluted the scrub a bit and made it glide around my face beautifully. I was surprised by how “scrubby” it was because the corn flour looked so finely ground and unassuming. My face felt very soft after using it, and after rinsing my face and patting dry, my serum (Andalou Naturals today), oil (La Bella Figura today), and moisturizer (Eminence Organics today) went on like silk. In addition to using it as a gentle scrub, I think that I might also try using it as a base to mix with powdered face masks that I have in my stash.

I loved the Phoenix Botanicals multi-use Faerie Balm that I unwrapped next (.5 oz., value $8.00). The balm combines oils, shea butter, and beeswax and enriches them with linden blossom, wild rose petals, and lavender essential oil. The balm was recommended for lips, cuticles, and even under eyes. I am sure that we will get a lot of use out of this, and I really like the subtle but sweet scent.

The Cosmic Box Indie Zen Subscription August 2015-Triple Goddess Tie Dyed Tote Bag

The last item in this month’s Cosmic Box was a beautiful tie dyed Triple Goddess cotton tote bag (18” square excluding handles; TCB stated value $12.00). My bag had a triple moon design with a Celtic border and was tie dyed in shades of turquoise, green, and purple. I love the colors of the bag and know that I will get a ton of use out of it. I mentioned in the video that the bag had a surprising scent. It reminded me of incense, and I think that I will try to wait to wash it for a while so that I can sniff it periodically.

The Cosmic Box Indie Zen Subscription-August 2015 Box

I think that The Cosmic Box is a great option in the “zen lifestyle” genre. I really liked this box and found it well rounded. I appreciated that it included items for body and for home, and I enjoy the opportunity to try items from indie brands that are new discoveries for me. Once again, I like that The Cosmic Box gives a portion of the sale of each box to charity, but would love to see a little information about the chosen charity included in the box, maybe on the monthly enclosure card. I think that it is easy to forget the charity piece when unboxing if it is not mentioned, and it is such a nice part of the box’s concept. I also have had a hard time finding the month’s charity information on The Cosmic Box’s site by the time I receive my box. I think that it gets mentioned in the box description on the site at the time of ordering, but is often no longer on the site by the time that I receive and really dig into my box. I reached out to Kat via Twitter and she replied very quickly, but it would be nice to have the information just provided with the box each month.

The overall value of this month’s box was $48.00, which is a significant improvement over last month’s box and a great value for the $29.00 purchase price. I really liked everything included in the box, and like the balance of practical and useful items like the bag and the balm with more luxurious, feel-good items like the honey face scrub and the crystal. This box is a very good fit for my lifestyle. I have been using the bag and the balm since I opened the box, and I know that I will continue to use and enjoy the honey scrub as well. I very much appreciate The Cosmic Box’s charity involvement each month, and I really like the lesser-known brands and items included because it introduces me to new things.

I am intrigued by the September box, which is said to feature another Wild Honey Apothecary skincare product, as well as an item from ANFGB brand S.W. Basics. Have you tried out The Cosmic Box yet? What do you think about the increasing trend for energetically positive, zen, subscription boxes?

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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A Night for Green Beauty 2015: Recap and Review (Part 1)

A Night for Green Beauty 2015

If you have stopped by CrunchyParent.com or my CrunchyParent Twitter in recent weeks, you have probably heard me talking about A Night for Green Beauty. Ever since I first learned of the event that brings together top green beauty brands and fans from around the globe, I have been counting down the days until I could attend. I could not have been more thrilled that ANFGB picked a venue in local-to-me Chicago to host their third, and final year of A Night for Green Beauty.

A Night for Green Beauty

This year’s event boasted thirty-four amazing brands striving to raise the bar on glamour, quality, and luxury within the green beauty industry. In preparation for the event, I broke out my Ph.D. research skills and thoroughly vetted all of the brands who would be in attendance. I was universally impressed with each and every brand, and I have never been accused of being easily impressed. There was no greenwashing to be found; every brand had a story as well as a passion for wellness alongside the enhancement of beauty and the preservation of cellular health. Countless brands were rooted in herbalism, several were founded by physicians, and most of the companies had come into being in the last several years in response to a need for healthy skincare, cosmetic, or fragrance items in their own lives that was not being satisfied by what they were finding in the market. Looking more deeply into the individual product lines, the list of plant and mineral ingredients were amazing. I was incredibly eager to take advantage of opportunities to speak with the brand founders and representatives in an effort to learn more about the function of the various ingredients and to see, smell, and touch these gorgeous creations.

The ANFGB event ran from 6-10 pm. on a Thursday night. It was free and open to the public. I arrived at the Venue One, where ANFGB was being held, just moments before the doors opened. The ANFGB Twitter suggested that show attendees received goody bags from Integrity Botanicals. If that was the case, I missed out so I cannot confirm the bag or its contents, but I am sure that whatever they housed was amazing. The room for the event was spacious, yet still packed with other natural beauty enthusiasts. The area had two levels of vendor displays winding their way across the floor and along the walls, in addition to a separate boutique section where products exclusive to the event were being sold. The vendor display tables varied in their aesthetic, but all were beautiful. I personally found myself drawn to the tables that showcased captivating crystals or raw ingredients such as fruits, herbs, and butters. Something about seeing natural, raw ingredients pulls at my inner being and my curiosity about what goes into the products and makes them effective and special.

I did my best to spend time at every table and attempt to engage the brand creators or representatives in conversation about their products. Of course, I was not the only person vying for their attention and was thus unable to speak with every one. Likewise, although I tried to document the event in photos as much as possible, in some cases I simply could not get close enough to a crowded table to get a shot. On the other hand, there were occasions when I got so caught up in a discussion with a brand creator that I forgot to take a photo entirely. Please consider the following pictures and description to be a window into the event, but not a complete illustration of the utter fabulousness. I will try to hold back on a minute-by-minute description of how I spent the entire four hours there, although it will pain me to leave anything out. Rich reminds me on occasion that not everyone is as captivated by the minutia of green beauty as I am, but I am not entirely convinced that he is correct. Nevertheless, in the interest of writing a blog and not a book at this juncture, I will edit myself (sob), and also review the event in a two-part miniseries.

Among the many exciting opportunities at ANFGB, was the chance to see the upcoming product launches for the various lines. The first table that I visited at the event was Province Apothecary.

Province Apothecary

Province Apothecary

I was intrigued by many of the beautiful skincare, fragrance, and wellness items in their line, but my attention was quickly grabbed by their Full Brow Serum. I have been on the lookout as of late for natural eyebrow enhancement products. Eyebrows have been having a moment in recent years, yet I have been struggling to find eyebrow enhancement products that are not mineral-oil based or otherwise less than green. Julie, of Province Apothecary, told me that the brow serum is their newest, yet-to-be-released product. She added that the rosemary and coffee in the serum stimulate blood flow and enhance eyebrow growth and fullness over time. Other serum ingredients of note included burdock root, cedarwood, bay, and horsetail (a hot ingredient seen throughout the show,) along with additional natural ingredients in a blend of oils such as castor seed, argan, pomegranate, and broccoli. Providence Apothecary handed out samples of various products to show guests, and happily that included me. Look forward to reviews to come.

As I moved throughout the room, I made my way to Mun. Their streamlined skincare line features a single serum and toner, both of which are inspired by prickly pear, a plant that has fully captured my heart and held my attention since my recent travels out to the Sonoran Desert. It is another powerful plant ingredient that appeared in multiple product lines at the show.

Mun new release

Mun’s new release

Mun was giving a sneak peek of their next products scheduled for release. The first was a kit stocked with a trio of travel-sizes of their products, specifically the No.1 Aknari Brightening Youth serum; the No.11 Anarose Rejuvenating Rose toner; and No.0 Argon Pure Argan Oil, a new product that is currently exclusive to the travel kit. The second item that Mun debuted at the show the No. 7 Ayour Body Toning Serum, a silky soft serum with an intoxicating cucumber scent (if you are as in love with cucumber as I am). There was not a list of ingredients on-hand at the event, but Mun reached out to me to confirm that the delicious aroma was due to the inclusion of 100% pure cucumber seed oil from Chile.

Meow Meow Tweet-woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

Meow Meow Tweet’s woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

I had wonderful conversations with the women behind the brands Meow Meow Tweet, Mahalo Skin Care, and Stark. I expect that if we lived closer, we could all spend a lot of time together chatting about plants and skincare. I think that we would have a lot of fun.

Mahalo Skin Care's signature bamboo packaging

Mahalo Skin Care’s signature bamboo packaging

All three brands craft their small-batch, ingredients-driven products by hand, and house them in distinctly different yet equally striking packaging. I received product samples, or already own products from all three lines, so I will save more extensive descriptions of each brand for individual product review posts in the interest of the aforementioned blog vs. book goal.

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

As I rounded out the first floor of the show area, I lingered for a while at the Strange Invisible Perfumes table. I had been reading about their scents, which are crafted with the highest standards for botanical perfumes that I have seen to date.

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

They use only certified organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and hydro-distilled plant essences, which they hand blend and age for at least six months in a base of custom-distilled esprit de Cognac. I was curious to learn about hydro-distillation, having only been familiar with steam distillation methods for essential oil extraction. I was treated to a photo illustration of the hydro distillation process, which reminded me a bit of dehydration methods for raw foodists; a gentle heating with a low temperature threshold that preserves even the most delicate plant chemistry and aromatic profile. I was captivated by the four scents in the line that I smelled at the show (the line encompasses twenty-six distinct fragrance blends in total). Each perfume was a complex synergy of fragrances that somehow still allowed the individual components to shine through. Although all blended with flowers as a key note, the cognac base kept the perfumes very adult in personality; none were cloyingly sweet. Likewise, despite containing many familiar scents such as rose, gardenia, and vanilla, the fragrances are enhanced with more esoteric botanicals and blended to create incredibly distinct personalities that left a lasting impression. I regret not being able to take time to more fully explore a scent for me to bring home, but with all that there was to see at the show, I got swept away and never made it back to the Strange Invisible table for a more in-depth look before the show ended.

This handful of brands gives a sense of some of the variety and quality available on display at this year’s A Night For Green Beauty event. It was evident throughout the show that green beauty has come a very long way in the past 5-10 years. It seems to me that the green beauty industry is on the precipice of something very special; a true leap into luxury beauty with powerful plant-based ingredients that deliver incredible results without harming the user or the world around us. The understanding of herbal tradition and the range and quality of plant ingredients included suggested not just a vision for skincare and cosmetics that would not harm, but products that truly nourish the body. It was exciting to experience. If you haven’t gotten enough of A Night for Green Beauty (and how could you have?) I have Part 2 of my ANFGB 2015 miniseries still to come (you can now read it here). It will feature more of the incredible brands and more of the remarkably talented and passionate people behind the brands.

What did you think of A Night for Green Beauty 2015 and the brands represented? Did they live up to, or even exceed your expectations?

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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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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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