B + V Etsy Shop Now Open!

So happy to announce that my Etsy shop is now officially open: ShopBranchandVine. This has been a goal of mine for a while so I’m really excited to have my products available to you for purchase!

More to come soon, but the three products below are currently ready for you to enjoy:

Ultra Healing All Purpose Balm ($7) ~ an all purpose balm that is ultra healing for the driest of skin and an array of other common skin ailments. It contains some of nature’s best healers including beeswax, olive oil, and coconut oil.

B+V Balm 1PURCHASE HERE: Branch + Vine Ultra Healing Balm

A Winter’s Eve Aromatherapy Room + Body Spray ($11) ~ all the best scents of winter combined: balsam fir needle, cinnamon leaf, and clove brightened by tangerine and orange. Friends and family have been obsessed with this uplifting blend.

B+V Room Spray 5PURCHASE HERE: Branch + Vine Aromatherapy Room + Body Spray

Branch + Vine Botanical Perfume Oils ($29) are handmade in small batches with the intention of creating fragrances that not only smell good, but encourage good health and a positive state of being. I have spent over two years testing, researching, and pouring a ton of thought and love into these botanical perfume oils. I wanted to create scents that do not have negative health effects (like synthetic scents), but actually have positive effects on your health and mood.  I hope you’ll smell good + feel good when you wear them :) The scent currently available for purchase (Saint Remy de Provence) is one of many to come!

B+V bpo 3PURCHASE HERE: Branch + Vine Botanical Perfume Oil

Internal Bug Repellent

Now that the bugs are biting again, it’s a good idea to have a natural bug repellent on hand, but there are also 2 things you can add to your diet to hopefully prevent the bugs from biting:

  1. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar to your daily diet (buy a good quality one like BRAGG). You can add the ACV to a glass of hot or cold water (quick but not the tastiest option), to homemade salad dressings in place of other vinegars, or to homemade soups (I do this for almost every soup I make).
  2. GARLIC: Eat more garlic each day. The list of meals you can add cooked or raw garlic to goes on and on, but some of my favorites include sauteed vegetables, pasta dishes, and baked fish.

acv&garlicphoto credit: branchandvinebeauty.com

I actually made a delicious homemade salad dressing last night that includes both of these mosquito-deterrents. Simply combine the following, mix well, and enjoy it on your next salad:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Makes about 8 servings and will last in the fridge up to 4 days. You can add more or less of any of the ingredients depending on your taste buds. I always adjust it a few times before I get it just right.

Hope the bugs leave you alone this 4th of July weekend!

 

Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Coconut Almond Granola

I finally tried making granola last night and I’m happy to say that it turned out really legit! My favorite granola as a kid was from this restaurant called Peaches in Florida so I wanted to recreate that one, which meant it had to have cinnamon + raisins + coconut + almond. There are lot of different things you can add to a general granola base, but I HIGHLY recommend this combo – it’s just SO tasty.

granola

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea or kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup honey (or a little more if you like your granola on the sweeter side)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Mix oats, cinnamon & salt in a bowl.
  3. Combine honey, oil & vanilla extract in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until dried ingredients are thoroughly coated.
  5. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and then bake for an additional 10 minutes (or until granola looks golden brown).
  7. Let the granola cool for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (you will notice it starts to get harder).
  8. Add raisins, coconut & almonds.
  9. You just made granola! Now put it in an airtight container and it should be good for about 2 weeks.
  10. Enjoy! :)

 

Rejuvenate in Aix

I originally mentioned Thermes Sextius Spa in a post about a year and a half ago (time flies!) and have been meaning to do a review ever since.  Well here it is.

It was a hot August day and we had been walking around the incredible, alluring streets of Aix for hours when we stumbled upon Thermes Sextius. We couldn’t have asked for a better surprise. We debated spending the extra money, but really the price was quite reasonable at around 60 Euros per person for access to so many relaxing treatments for an entire day.  It was kind of like a European spa amusement park, but in the best way. Picture going from one rejuvenating treatment to the next minus any lines or crowds, repeating your favorites as many times as you like, and spending as many or as few minutes on each treatment. I spent about 3 hours rotating between the following: steam room, authentic Finnish sauna, tropical and marine rain showers, hot bath, cold bath, outdoor mineral spring pool, and lounging in the gardens. 3 words: heaven on earth.

The Thermes Sextius spring water, which is highly rich in minerals and trace elements, is used in all the hydrotherapy treatments. These medicinal waters promote overall healing of the body including circulation stimulation and tissue drainage.

Thermius-outside1

Thermius-outside

Thermius1   Thermes Sextius is built on the site of actual ancient Roman thermae. Traces of an ancient thermal pool are visible at the entrance.

Thermius2Entering the area for the outdoor mineral pool & gardens.

Thermius3

Thermius5

Thermes-gardens

During a week of nonstop traveling between Evian, Aix and Paris, these few hours were exactly what I needed half way through the trip to completely relax and rejuvenate. If you are ever in the South of France, I highly recommend visiting Aix-en-Provence and if you visit Aix then you must, must, must spend a few hours at this ancient healing oasis.

New Name + New Look!

I’m really excited to reveal a new name and new look to the blog today. AllNaturalAnnie.com is now officially BranchandVineBeauty.com!

Back in September 2008, I began my blog, All Natural Annie, as an outlet for my passion for holistic health and beauty. Since then I have done a few major things on my life to-do list, which includes getting married, becoming a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, and starting my own holistic beauty line.  The line is called Branch + Vine and hence the new name of the blog!

My blogging will be similar to what it has been in the past, but with more of a focus on holistic and slow beauty, which will still include lots of product reviews and more spa reviews. My line is still in the early stages, but I will have an Etsy page up very soon. My products will all be extremely pure using only ingredients found in nature. Every product will work to improve your health and beauty on a holistic level. I’m really looking forward to sharing my products with you as I continue to develop and grow Branch + Vine.

photo(2)

Whether you are new to my blog or a reader for years, thank you for your interest and support. What an amazing little world this whole blogging thing has become and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you again :) ~Annie

Perfect Hand Cream

The product: Geranium Shea Butter Hand Cream by The Soap & Paper Company.

What it’s good for: Your hands, of course. But it’s also great for dry elbows, feet, legs, etc.

Key natural ingredients: Shea Butter, Aloe, Coconut Oil, Cocoa Butter, Beewswax, Borage Oil, and Meadowfoam Oil.

The price tag: $18 (or possibly less – I found it for $4.99 at TJ Maxx!)

Where to buyOrder online (when it’s back in stock) or hope to find it in a discount store like I did. While the Geranium is out of stock, they also have so many other awesome scents to choose from.

My favorite perk: There is no room for improvement in the consistency of this hand cream. It is so rich, yet not greasy, and absorbs perfectly. I also love the strong geranium scent. I don’t normally like strong scents, but because they actually use essential oils, the scent is really natural and very calming (geranium is known for that). I highly recommend using it before bed so you can reap the aromatherapy benefits and maybe even fall asleep a bit easier.

Bean & Broccoli Soup

All Natural Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves (or more if you like) garlic chopped
  • half onion chopped
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen broccoli (I had frozen around so I used that and it turned out great)
  • 2 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans
  • 1 box (32 fl oz) of all natural chicken stock + 2 cups good quality water
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • a few dashes of hot sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • sea salt + black pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Pour olive oil into large pot on medium-high heat
  2. Add onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and saute until tender and translucent (about 5 minutes)
  3. Pour in chicken stock + water
  4. Add broccoli + beans
  5. Add apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, cayenne/red pepper flakes, additional salt + pepper to taste
  6. Let simmer for at least 1 hour
  7. Enjoy!

photo credit: AllNaturalAnnie.com

Healthy Redos: Medicine Cabinet

  • INSTEAD OF ANTACIDS: Try digestive enzymes. A cup of peppermint or ginger tea can also work wonders.  Personally, I love chewing on a tiny piece of fresh ginger.

{Yogi Ginger Tea}

  • INSTEAD OF IBUPROFEN: Bromelain (naturally found in pineapple) and curcumin (naturally found in turmeric) have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are most helpful for chronic conditions. If you need pain relief from an acute condition, like a sore throat or headache, white willow bark can help.

Bromelain

{Jarrow Formulas Bromelain}

  • INSTEAD OF SLEEPING PILLS: Try herbs like passionflower, valerian or lemon balm. Many people also have success with supplements like melatonin, tryptophan and 5-HTP.

VALERIAN

{Herb Pharm Valerien Liquid Herbal Extract}

  • INSTEAD OF COUGH MEDICINE: Try a teaspoon of honey before bed. Honey has been shown in studies to be as effective as the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. My favorite cough and cold remedy from my mom is mixing the juice of a large lemon with about 2 tablespoons of honey and a splash of hot water and sipping on it slowly. Works like a charm.

Hope these suggestsions help you end 2013 and start 2014 on a naturally healthier note! :)

Before & After Sun

I recently tried two perfect products for summer from a fabulous ayurvedic line called PRATIMA.  The founder, Dr. Pratima Raichur, an expert chemist, botanist and Ayurvedic physician, creates her magical skincare products using 100% herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, plants and minerals from the earth. And 100% is truly a 100%. When you read a PRATIMA ingredient label it is guaranteed to be really simple and pure. These are two PRATIMA products I’m loving right now:

  • Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF 30 — This sunscreen combines neem, shatavari (a species of asparagus) and rose with zinc oxide to protect against harmful UVA, UVB and UVC rays. I love that this sunscreen has neem because sunscreens can often clog the skin and lead to breakouts, but neem is known to combat acne.  In addition, some research has shown that neem may even have anti-cancer properties. Rose is anti-inflammatory and excellent for wrinkles. I found that I could use this as a daily moisturizer and sunscreen in one. My skin is sensitive and I had only positive results – no sunburn, no irritation, no breakouts!

  • The Cucumber Aqua Gel — This the perfect after-sun soother with two of nature’s most cooling and calming ingreients – aloe and cucumber. I really love this gel for anytime of year. I use it as a nighttime treatment to soothe my sensitive skin and reduce any puffiness under my eyes. The scent is light and fresh (mainly cucumber-ish). Store in the refrigerator for even more of a cooling effect!

Hope you’re enjoying your summer so far!

Happy 4th of July!

Talk about a gorgeous piece of America — here are a few pics of my 1st trip to Montana and Wyoming last week.

Wow, just wow. I can’t wait to go back.

Gallatin National Forest, Bozeman, Montana

Hyalite Creek Trail, Gallatin National Forest

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Excelsior Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

Bradley Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Hope everyone has a great Independence Day!

Sweet Potato Breakfast Smoothie

I recently saw Tracy Anderson on the Dr. Oz show and she was talking about this delicious-sounding smoothie recipe that Gwyneth Paltrow helped her to create. With a couple of small tweaks and no microwave involved, I’m happy to say that this smoothie turned out to be the most decadent yet healthy smoothie I have tasted to date.

Photo Credit: AllNaturalAnnie.com

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

  • 2 peeled sweet potatoes boiled or baked
  • 2 cups organic whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 packet/scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Garden of Life’s Vanilla Chai Protein Powder. I’m not a big proponent of protein powders in general, but this one is a raw, vegan, organic protein made from over a dozen sprouted seeds and grains – so it’s actually real food and very high quality)
  • handful of walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric

It turned out like a pudding! I really liked it that way, but if you don’t want it as thick, simply add more milk. This smoothie is loaded with vitamin A, protein, and healthy fat. It also has the added bonuses of being anti-inflammatory (turmeric) and blood sugar stabilizing (cinnamon). I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Alegna Soap

What is it: Classic bar soaps that are handmade in small batches. Alegna bar soaps are available in four naturally fragrant scents: Peppermint, Lavender Lemongrass, Lavender and Honey Oatmeal.

What it’s good for: Unlike a lot of conventional bar soaps, Alegna’s are nourishing, not drying, and a great choice for sensitive skin.

Photo Credit: Alegna Soap

Key natural ingredients: Organic olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter, and essential oils. Some of the soaps also have added botanicals like calendula and lavender.

Where to buy itOrder Online

How much: $6

My favorite perk: Angela, the founder and creator of Alegna Soap, is a New York State licensed Medical Technologist turned bath and beauty product maker. I love when a lady (or man) turns a passionate hobby into a beautiful business idea. Angela’s products are clearly a labor of love and you sense that every time you use them!

Best Natural Men’s Products

I have been meaning to this post for a LONG time — some of my favorite beautifying products for the male sector. As I created this list, I intentionally kept price points down and quality and performance high. Here are some of my favorite picks in the following categories:

(1) DEODORANT

{Every Man Jack Deodorant in Citrus - around $6}

Cotton extract and witch hazel absorb wetness while the fresh scents of mandarin orange and lemon last all day.

(2) SHAVING CREAM

{Aubrey Men’s Stock City Rhythms Shave Cream – around $7}

This shave cream has organic avocado oil and wheat germ oil for a really smooth shave. Cedarwood, sandalwood and bergamot combine for a woodsy and refreshing scent. Camphor, menthol and organic eucalyptus add to the fresh scent and also provide an actual cooling affect on skin.

(3) AFTER SHAVE

{Herban Cowboy Dusk Soothing Carrot and Cucumber After Shave Balm – around $6.99}

This is actually my go-to product for razor burn. Relief is pretty much instantaneous.  The scent is sweet and earthy.

(4) SHAMPOO

{Avalon Organics Thickening Shampoo – around $10.99}

Is there anyone on the planet that doesn’t want stronger, healthier hair? This shampoo has the perfect ingredients (biotin, saw palmetto, wheat protein and vitamin E) for a healthy scalp and thicker locks.

(5) HAIR POMADE

{Brooklyn Grooming Vegan Fort Greene Hair Pomade – $26}

With a pure and simple mixture of shea butter and a few ultra nourishing oils, a small dab of this pomade goes a long way to style and moisturize hair. The mixture of rosemary, bergamot and lavender oils smell delightful and are also very nourishing to the scalp.

(6) CHAPSTICK

{Desert Essence Lip Rescue Ultra Hydrating - around $2.49}

This lip balm contains rosemary, gingko biloba and rich African shea butter for a trusted remedy for the driest of lips. The taste and scent is reminiscent of creamsicle in a good, not overpowering way.

(7) FOOT SPRAY

{HoS by Branch + Vine Cleansing Calm Foot Spray – $9.00}

I created this foot spray for House of Steep‘s line. It actually discourages and decreases foot odor. It also relaxes sore and tired feet with a mix of therapeutic essential oils.

I have to admit that part of my judging criteria is whether or not I find myself stealing these products from my husband… I can testify that these all get stolen regularly. I had him weigh in as I created this list and he concurs with my picks. Thank you Dylan for always being my guinea pig :)

You can find all (or at least most) at your local Whole Foods or your local health food store. This list could go on and on so just let me know if you would like any other recommendations!

Free People Eco Line Launch

It’s not often that I talk about clothing, but I’ve always been a fan of Free People and now their latest line, Maheya, sounds so interesting and is beautiful as usual!

Basic Info:

  • Line launches on Earth Day (Today!)
  • Maheya means “from the Earth”
  • Pieces are colored with natural dyes derived from medicinal herbs that contribute to the conservation of nature and even provide benefits for the wearer’s skin, acting as antioxidants.
  • Natural materials used include marigold flowers, rhubarb, lilac, natural indigo, pomegranate skin, and annatto seeds
  • Natural fabrications of silk and cotton
  • Free People’s Maheya line will debut with seven pieces, each epitomizing the effortless style of the Free People brand
  • Each piece comes with a seed paper hangtag printed on 100% recycled paper that when planted, will grow into wildflowers (love that!)
A few peaks at the new line…

 

 

 

Hope everyone had a chance to appreciate and enjoy nature today!  
Happy Earth Day :)

Smile to Relieve Pain

When you’re in pain – physically or mentally – there is something very simple you can do to help yourself and you can do it anywhere at anytime – SMILE!  Why is this helpful? Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin.  Endorphins are the body’s natural form of pain relief while serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter that can positively affect your mood.

I know it might sound too simple or too easy, but usually the easiest and simplest remedies are some of the best.  So don’t forget to smile more :)


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”― Leo F. Buscaglia

Where is Spring?!

After saying “Happy Spring” last week and posting pictures of flowering trees, it was quite shocking to step outside this morning and see the beautiful, fully-in-bloom trees covered with snow! It was a pretty sight to see, but I’m REALLY ready for warm, sunny weather. My friend and fellow blogger, Lauren, was telling me that the St. Louis area also got some unexpected snow.  It really seems like winter has been especially long this year and now I know it’s not just in our heads!

How’s the weather by you?

Goodbye to Puffy Eyes

I recently discovered Odacité, a skincare line that not only uses high quality organic ingredients, but their products are also freshly made and dated! Pretty awesome. Also awesome – Monika Peters, Odacité esthetician and skin coach, was kind enough to provide me with some very easy and natural ways to address a very common problem – puffy eyes. She told me that puffiness under the eyes appears for a number of reasons including lack of sleep, a high salt diet, hormone fluctuation, inflammation, fatigue, dehydration, and/or genetics.

Monika’s DIY Tips:

  • Organic green, white or rooibos tea reduce puffiness and rejuvenate the eyes by refreshing them. I like to freeze green tea water to make ice cubes. Keep these ice cubes on the eyes in a cotton cloth for 20 minutes.
  • Potato and cucumber juice also work wonders. Apply with a cotton ball around the eyes. If you can’t juice them: lie down, close your eyes, and apply cold cucumber or potato slices to your lids. Leave on for ten minutes and remove. Wash the area with cold water. This soothes tired eyes instantly, and helps boost blood circulation in the under-eye area.
  • If you practice yoga, inverted asana postures are helpful (like the one below).

{via}

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday. We can’t stress this enough. If you do not drink at least eight glasses of water everyday, you are not providing your body with as much water as it requires for flushing out toxins. Do not wait until you are thirsty before drinking, by the time your body cries “I’m thirsty,” you are already severely dehydrated.
  • Avoid beverages that contain caffeine.
  • Avoid smoking and second hand smoke.
  • Gently tap your skin where puffy, as this can encourage fluid build up to release and drain more easily.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, as these can cause your body to retain more fluid. (So give up those diet drinks stat!!)
  • Be sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night – too little sleep will lead to dark circles and puffiness.

Thank you for the wonderful tips, Monika! Odacité review coming soon.

Try out some of these tips this weekend and rejuvenate that delicate eye area! Happy Friday :)

Happy Monday

When I was in San Diego last month (can’t believe that was over a month ago already), the weather wasn’t as warm as I hoped for the first couple of days.. Then, on the third day, the sun was finally full blast and I found a nice place to sit out of the wind, looked up at the sky, and saw this. It doesn’t get much better than a sunny sky smiling back at you :)

Hope your week is off to a great start!