Tutorial: Needle Felted Wool Sachet or Ornament

Crunchy Parent Tutorial Needle Felted Sachets and Ornaments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poke around the shape in the cookie cutter.

Poke around the shape in the cookie cutter.

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

IMG_5282

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

IMG_5278

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

IMG_5279

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

IMG_5283

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

IMG_5284

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

IMG_5277

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

IMG_5285

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

Finished sachets

Finished sachets

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

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

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Halloween Fairy Talks: 50+ Ideas for Non-Edible Halloween Treats and Gifts

Photo credit: anathea / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: anathea / Foter / CC BY

As I mentioned earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to secure an exclusive interview with the Halloween Fairy. For those unfamiliar with her, the Halloween Fairy works in cooperation with volunteer children to collect candy on Halloween and deliver it to kids who were unable to participate in Trick or Treating. Volunteer children leave some or all of their candy for the Fairy on Halloween night. In the morning the kids can find what the Halloween Fairy has left them; often a mix of small gifts and different candies, better suited for the volunteer child.

With our combination of food allergies and sensitivities, as well as a penchant for preferring more natural candies than those typically offered on Halloween, our kids are perfect candidates for Halloween Fairy volunteers. We have been exchanging with the Halloween Fairy since Eva was in preschool. Recently, I wrote about some of the Halloween Fairy’s favorite resources for finding natural, GMO-free, food-allergy sensitive, and other “healthier” treats for her Halloween exchanges. I also wanted to take time to share some of the Halloween Fairy’s suggestions for non-edible treats that the she has left for our kids and for other children to discover after Halloween.

There are 50+ suggestions below that are often a good fit for a lot of kids. The Halloween Fairy tends to emphasize items that will help the children transition into fall and winter and to appreciate nature and the changes that they see around them at this time of year. She usually brings each child a few small gifts to enjoy. Some links have been provided as examples. They are not meant to be endorsements, and neither the Halloween Fairy nor I are affiliated with any of the vendors linked. In fact, the Halloween Fairy often crafts items herself when she can.


cheekycrows3 / Foter / CC BY-ND

1. Colored chalk
2. Colored pencils or Halloween-themed pencils
3. Crayons (a few new fall colors, perhaps)
4. Crayon roll or Stand
5. Coloring book
6. “Sticks” of modeling beeswax in fall shades (sometimes Waldorf school stores will sell individual sticks)
7. Watercolor paper and paints
8. Small tubs of natural craft “dough” (can be scented with essential oils if homemade)
9. Journal
10. Small vehicles such as die-cast or wood cars, trucks, or trains
11. Bracelet
12. Necklace
13. Barrettes
14. Playsilk or silk handkerchief in an autumn color
15. Wooden figure such as a squirrel or owl
16. Peg dolls, especially fun in “costumes” or other autumn themes
17. Autumn fairies or gnomes
18. Toy pumpkins: knitted, felted, or wood
19. Felting kit
20. Wool ball with an autumn theme (tutorial)
21. Playfood-knitted and wood examples
22. A little pocket friend (e.g., mouse, dragon baby, mole)
23. Silk streamer
24. Ribbon rings/hand kite
25. Jacob’s ladder
26. Wood brain teaser puzzles
27. Finger puppets
28. Bean bags
29. Kazoo
30. Whistle
31. Yo-yo
32. Wool acorns (tutorial)
33. Natural treasures (acorns, stones, pine cones, sea glass, pods, seeds, etc.)
34. Day pass to a children’s museum, zoo, arboretum, botanic garden, etc.
35. Ticket to a local children’s theater performance
36. Ticket to a movie
37. Age-appropriate book with an autumn or Halloween theme
38. Stickers, maybe Halloween or autumn-themed
39. Fancy bandages
40. Fun or fancy toothbrush
41. Non-toxic nail polish
42. All-natural lip balm
43. Travel size natural hand lotion
44. Travel size natural bath products in yummy fall scent
45. Cute knit wool hat
46. Adorable mittens or these
47. Scarf
48. Suncatcher
49. Dreamcatcher
50. Flower press or leaf press
51. Herbal tea (technically edible, but great for fall and certainly not candy)

The Halloween Fairy and I hope that these ideas will inspire a happier Halloween for your child should he or she choose to partner with the Halloween Fairy this year. Has the Halloween Fairy blessed your child with a special gift or treat that was especially appreciated?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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

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

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

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

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

*Rainbow playsilk not included

*Rainbow playsilk not included

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

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

*Rainbow playsilk still not included

*Rainbow playsilk still not included

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

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

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

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

*Playsilk not included, but you knew that.

*Playsilk not included, but you knew that.

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

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

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

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Barganic Alert: 10 Great Crunchy Giveaways


Newsbie Pix / Foter / CC BY

I can’t seem to wrap by head around all of the great crunchy giveaways that I’m seeing everywhere. If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me tweet about some of these giveaways, but the Twitter world moves so fast, it can be hard to tweet everything or to catch all of the tweets. I wanted to gather ten of the great crunchy giveaways that I’ve seen recently into one place for ease of entering. Good luck to everyone!

1. A Night For Green Beauty and Goodebox Giveaway: Win all five limited edition Goodboxes featuring skin care, body, and cosmetic items from the amazing ANFGB green beauty brands. Total Value: $1600+ Enter Until: Thursday August 6th

2. Wee Folk Art and A Child’s Dream Giveaway: Win a Wood Doll Making Collection – An exciting assortment of natural supplies for making wood finger puppets, peg dolls and fairies. Included in this giveaway: Holland 100% Wool Felt, DecoArt water-based acrylic paints and paintbrushes, Tacky Glue and plenty of wood doll bases. Total Value: unknown Enter Until: Monday August 3rd, 8am EST.

3. Cottonbabies Giveaway: Win a bumGenius Outing Wetbag and two solid-colored bumGenius cloth diapers of your choice. Total Value: approximately $63 Enter Until: Thursday August 6, midnight EST.

4. Mama Smith’s Fuzzibunz Giveaway: Win a FuzziBunz Sweet Beginnings Cloth Diaper. Winner can select a First Year (6-24lbs) diaper or a One Size Adjustable (10-40lbs). Total Value: approximately $25.00 Enter Until: Tuesday August 11th.

5. Sprinkles on Top and Simba and Mama Giveaway: Win a Simba & Mama Cloth Diaper of your choice. Total Value: $25.00 Enter Until: Tuesday August 11th.

6. Biokleen Prize Package: Win an assortment of Biokleen green cleaning products, gDiaper Sweet Bundle, and one Mama Box from Mama Boxes. (side note, squirting the awesome smelling Biokleen Bac-Out onto the dipes was always one of my favorite parts of washing our cloth diapers). Total Value: unknown Enter Until: August 31, 2015 at 12am EST.

7. My Lucite Dreams and Vickery Giveaway: Win three top-selling products from Vickery’s green beauty brands, Herbivore Botanicals, Lotus Love Beauty, and Farmaesthetics. Total Value: $120 Enter Until: Saturday August 8th

8. TLV Birdie and Graydon Giveaway Win a collection of four Graydon green and beautiful skincare items. Total Value: $120+ Enter Until: Saturday August 8th

9. The Little Foxes and Embody Beauty Giveaway: Win a selection of personally curated green, cruelty-free beauty products from Embody. Total Value: $150+ Enter Until: Wednesday August 5th

10. ConservaMom Tula Baby Carrier Giveaway: Win a Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier in the Incognito print. Total Value: $149 Enter Until: TODAY Saturday August 1st, 11:59pm EST

**Some of the above may be affiliate links. I’m not really sure, so I’m going with better safe than sorry on this one**

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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

Green Mountain Organics

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

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

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

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Barganic Alerts: What they are and why I strive to highlight affordable healthy living


PinkMoose / Foter / CC BY

You may have noticed that I post a lot of “Barganic Alerts” and that may have you wondering what they are and why I bother making such a fuss about them. Bargainic Alert is a term that I coined when I started writing this blog in its first iteration back in 2007, before the crash (read more about that here). I developed the term to clarify that I was pointing out a good or even great deal on an organic, eco-friendly, or otherwise crunchy product. The reason that it was, and continues to be especially important for me to broadcast these deals is because making healthy, green, crunchy choices often comes at a higher price point than more conventional ones. As a result, families may shy away from crunchy practices not because they are not interested, but because they get sticker shock, feel financially overwhelmed, and just conclude that crunchy options are too expensive to be available to them.

I really want people to have access to the choices that they wish to make, and that they believe are the best fit for their families. My children and I often have discussions about needing to allocate resources mindfully; to find a balance between time, talent, money, and desire. Everyone, no matter what their station in life will find at times that they want more than they have, or that their resources will allow. They then get to decide where they want to channel their time, talent, and money; and which desires are worth striving for, or living without.

In the case of my family, Rich and I both worked and put ourselves through graduate and professional school in the earlier years of our marriage and family, leaving us with very little disposable income. In addition, we have always been a single income family. My employment was a condition of my graduate studies, and thus did not pay for much more than the cost of tuition compensation or the expense of daycare to allow me to be there to complete my degree once Eva was born. As with most single income families, my being home with the kids comes with a tradeoff; there is less money in the bank account. Three years ago, when Rich was laid off from his job, we were suddenly a zero income family (save unemployment) with no idea of how long it would be before new employment would be found. Moreover, we were still reeling from the medical expenses of my cancer treatment on the heels of a high risk pregnancy and delivery. We were scrutinizing every expenditure that we made, and trying our hardest to make every purchasing choice a wise one. I say this not to elicit sympathy; we are fine and grateful, and Rich is happily employed once again. My point however, is that there are ways to be crunchy and live frugally at the same time; that living a more natural, attachment-friendly lifestyle can and should be available to those who want it, regardless of wealth. Hence, me shouting from the hilltops when I have a Barganic Alert to share.

The first crunchy bargain that I can remember finding was at a children’s resale event. I did not even have any children yet (I’m always one to plan ahead,) still I could not resist this sweet little soft doll with knotted hands and a gentle face. Not being familiar with Waldorf Education at the time either, I did not know that I was face-to-face with a Waldorf blanket doll, or that the $1 price tag was a steal, but he came home with me nevertheless. About a year later when I was newly pregnant with Eva, a visit to a children’s resale store introduced me to a gorgeous Maya Wrap sling for $10 that I went on to use to wear all three of my children.

Ready to rock the 4th of July in the Maya Wrap

Ready to rock the 4th of July in the Maya Wrap

I continued to keep my eyes out for crunchy bargains as I prepared for Eva’s birth. I knew that I wanted to use cloth diapers, but was overwhelmed by the cost. I poured over diaper sites looking for deals so that I could amass a usable system (daycare would use pocket dipes for her but they weren’t going to be bikini twisting any prefolds). I built up my stash with a dozen precious Kissaluvs size 0s and larger sizes that I got on sale for being second quality, Fuzzibunz seconds where the print was sewn inside out, hemp prefolds that were stitched in slightly the wrong dimensions, and ProRaps diaper cover seconds that had mildly wonky stitching. Everything was new, adorable, and still worked just fine, they were just a little less pretty to the trained eye.

Years later, I stocked the play kitchen with small dishes and wooden bowls found at the thrift store, bought a deeply discounted Moby Wrap in a style being discontinued on Amazon, and snapped up organic cotton sheet sets and blankets for the whole family when a company had a closeout sale (the latter was a Barganic Alert from years ago). I looked for ways to support health and beauty for my family and in our home that resonated with an attachment parenting lifestyle, yet still worked within our minimal budget. I participated in many mama swaps where crunchy goods, crafts, or talents were traded. I have organized and joined co-ops and CSAs. I have filled my gardens and pantry by participating in seed, plant, and food swaps. I treasure every crunchy bargain that I have ever gotten. I see it as the Universe and I being in partnership toward providing my family the crunchy lifestyle that I think fits us. It is my absolute commitment. I honestly believe that where there is a will, there is a way.

Now all of this is not to say that I don’t buy crunchy products at full retail as well. I absolutely do, and I believe that it is important to support companies whose products we value with our dollars when we can. In addition, I try to “pay it forward” when I get a good deal by sharing it with others, but also by advertising the product (and crunchy choices in general). I cannot tell you the number of people who have stopped me over the years and asked me about that $10 Maya Wrap sling or that sale Moby as I wore my babies in them; who chatted with me about cloth diapers after seeing me pull one from the diaper bag and demystify the idea of cloth. I know that there have been many slings, wraps, and cloth diapers purchased by families who saw me using mine, and who let me tell them all about, and show them how to use them.

As I said before, we all have to allocate out time, talents, and money. For some, I hope that Barganic Alerts will make you aware of a great company or resource that was previously unfamiliar to you, whether you take advantage of the deal or not. For others, it may allow you to provide a crunchy treasure for your family that might otherwise have been beyond your reach. If you all lived nearby I’d tell you when organic stone fruit or berries were on sale at the grocery store too, and we could all make jam together. I’d send out an alert when my friends were putting together a group order for raw, organic, local honey. We could start a really great co-op. Since we don’t all share the same neighborhood, broadcasting Barganic Alerts to my online crunchy community is the best that I can do for now.

Barganic Alerts are generally precious and limited. Some are first come, first served. Others may be for a brief period of time. I think that they are usually pretty fantastic, and I often take advantage of them for myself and my family. If you want to make sure that you do not miss out on a Barganic Alert, I encourage you to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com so that you can be emailed directly whenever I post a new alert. If you tend to spend more time on Twitter or Pinterest, you can subscribe to me there too as Crunchy_Parent and I will do my best to tweet and pin the Barganic Alerts as well so that you are sure to see them.

If you see a great bargain on a crunchy product or service that you think is worth sharing, please let us all know. Comment here, send a tweet, or email me directly at crunchyparent@sbcglobal.net.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
1 2