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).

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  • 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!

Queen Bee of Green Tea

It always seems that the DC area gets its worst storm of the season right when we think winter is over. Our “worst storm” turned out to be a lot more bark (large snowflakes & wind) than bite (zero accumulation). I’m not complaining at all though. It gave me good reason to stay inside and cozy in my pajamas all day. It also lead to the creation of two firsts: (1) a matcha green tea face mask and (2) a matcha green tea latte. For those of you not familiar, matcha is a Japanese finely-milled green tea.

Matcha Face Mask:

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 2 tsp rose water or good quality water (I used rose water)

How to:  Mix ingredients until you have a nice smooth paste. Apply to clean skin. Leave on for 10 minutes . Wash off gently with warm water. Pat (never rub!) skin dry. 

I noticed my skin was brighter and smoother right away. Such an antioxidant overload (in a good way) for your face! This mask is beneficial for all skin types.

Matcha Latte:

  • 12 – 16 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use Trader Joe’s) + a splash of organic whole milk (milk amount based on mug size)
  • 2 teaspoons of matcha powder (I got mine here)
  • honey to taste – I used 1 heaping teaspoon  (I’m currently using Trader Joe’s Organic Wild Collected Raw Honey, which has a very interesting nutty flavor)

How to:  Heat milk in a small pot on medium heat until nearly boiled. Add matcha and honey. Whisk vigorously until tea is frothy. 

I know I didn’t do this the 100% proper way (read here), but it turned out really great. Although, I think sifting the matcha first would have helped with not having left over matcha at bottom of the latte or maybe I just didn’t put enough elbow grease into the whisking :)

Healthy benefits: Matcha is believed to boost metabolism and  lower cholesterol levels when consumed on a regular basis. Matcha’s powerful punch can largely be attributed to the fact that the whole tea leaf is ingested. This means that it delivers a much higher potency of chlorophyll, catechinsand antioxidants.

Dry Hands?

What is it: (seed) Healthy Hand Cream

What it’s good for: Healing and protecting the driest of hands.

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Key natural ingredients: Rich and therapeutic seed oils including Grape Seed, Sunflower Seed, Jojoba Seed and Safflower Seed. This Seedology® is calming, protecting, anti-aging and extremely moisturizing.

Where to buy it:  At one of these (seed) retailers.

How much: $6.99 – $8

My favorite perk: The relaxing lavender scent, which instantly transports me to some of my favorite spa experiences. (The hand cream is also available in Invigorating Citrus and Fragrance-Free.)

The Story of Tea

As a lover of pretty much any and all teas, I really enjoyed coming across this infographic this morning and thought it was worth sharing!

Do you drink tea? If so, what’s your favorite?

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Food For Thought

Love this. It’s very similar to one of my all time favorites: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~Hippocrates.

Hope everyone has a happy long weekend :) Keep up the healthy eating so you can keep your immune system in tip top shape for this cold/flu season!

A.N.A. featured on WebMD

I recently had the opportunity to provide some of my favorite homemade, natural beauty recipes to WebMD. I’m really excited to have three of my recipes now featured on the site and I’m even more excited to see WebMD’s interest in the realm of natural beauty!

Here are a few recipes to try at home that will help you get 2013 started off on a naturally beautiful foot:

Soothing Oatmeal Face Mask

Purifying Lemon Ginger Foot Soak

Rejuvenating Coconut Oil Hair Mask

A belated Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s a very happy and healthy year for you. I want to thank you for being a reader of AllNaturalAnnie.com. This blog started out as an outlet for my love of holistic health and natural beauty back in 2008. While I’m still just as passionate about these topics, I know my posts have been a lot less frequent this past year. I truly appreciate everyone who continues to be a reader and I plan on having posts be a lot more frequent in 2013!

Product of the Week

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I wanted to start this week off by talking about a company I’ve always wondered about and finally tried. Farmaesthetics is a 100% natural line that uses certified organic herbs, flowers, oils and grains from American family farms to create their wide range of skincare products.

Farmaesthetics’ Midnight Honey Bath & Beauty Oil is my latest favorite product for moisturizing, especially now that the weather is colder and my skin is drier.  The best time to use this incredibly sweet and rich smelling oil is post-shower when you’re still a bit damp and pores are open so the oil is more easily absorbed by the skin.  With just 3 ingredients (sweet soy oil, honey absolute and vitamin E) the Midnight Honey Oil is just like the rest of the Farmesthetics line — a really simplistic yet well thought out and highly effective combination of ingredients from nature.

 

{Photo Credit: Farmaesthetics}

I can’t wait to visit Farmaesthetics’ flagship store in Newport, Rhode Island one of these days. It looks like such a lovely space and it’s in one of my favorite places.

You can see the store and learn more about the line in this 2 minute interview with the founder, Brenda Brock:

 

A Healthier Candle Option

If you’ve been looking to be healthier in all areas of your life, an important aspect to evaluate is what you use to scent your home.  The majority of room sprays, diffusers, plug-in fragrances and candles all use very unnatural, synthetic ingredients, a lot of which are known to be hazardous to your health. The quality of the air you breathe is so important so why not control it when you can and make some healthy choices!

I love scenting my home with candles so I’m always looking for a brand that uses high quality, natural ingredients to create amazing scents at an affordable price.  Blissoma does just that. All of their candles are soy based and scented with 100% pure botanical essential oils. They never use phthalates, colorants, or additives.

The variety of blends is some of the best I’ve seen yet. So far my favorites are CELEBRATE, a spicy and warming mix of wild orange, clove and bay, and LOVE, a combination of ylang ylang, sandalwood, and balsam. Every one of their candles comes with instant aromatherapy benefits upon lighting – another plus to using candles scented with pure essential oils!


I love giving and receiving candles as gifts. What about you?

5 Natural Headache Helpers

Next time you have a headache and want to reach for pain killers, try out some of these natural remedies instead:

1. REMOVE ANY “HEADGEAR” – Take off your hat, headband, helmet, ponytail holder, goggles, glasses, or anything else you might have on your head. These items can cause external compression headaches and often the headache will go away shortly after removing the offending item. I find this to be true quite often when I have my hair up too tightly.

2.  TRY ACUPRESSURE – Apply pressure to the acupressure point in the webbing between your thumb and index finger to help ease the pain of a headache (*this is not an acupressure point that pregnant women should press*). Also, gently pressing the back of your neck with three fingers on each side can also help relieve muscle tension in your neck that might be causing the headache (it’s very common for neck tension to cause headaches). I also love using an acupressure mat as both a preventative and treatment tool for headaches

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3.  APPLY A COLD COMPRESS – to your forehead and/or the back of your neck. Any cold compress will be helpful, but if you add 3-5 drops of peppermint oil to a damp washcloth and put it in the freezer for a few minutes, you’ll get the benefits of the cold plus the relaxing and uplifting aromatherapy benefits of the peppermint. The scent of peppermint is well known for providing headache relief. Leave the compress on for about ten minutes while lying down. At $6-$8 per bottle, peppermint oil is a non expensive natural remedy to keep on hand.

{Aura Cacia Peppermint Essential Oil}

4.  DRINK SOME H20 – A very common cause of headaches is dehydration. Drink water throughout the day and make sure to go to bed well hydrated so you don’t wake up with a headache. Also, I have found it very helpful to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to start the day off in a good hydrated state.

5.  RELAX – We often hold a lot of tension in our jaws so unclench your jaw and relax your face… Now relax the rest of your body while you’re at it and take some nice deep breaths. Let the tension melt away.

Old & New Favorites

It’s been a really long time since I was this impressed with a face mask. Plenty of masks can work “well”, but I think a really awesome masks shows you its powers of improvement pretty much immediately.

Earth Science’s Papaya-Glycolic Gentle Skin Peel did just that.  I applied it to clean skin, waited until it dried (about 10 minutes), peeled it off and voilà – immediate improvement! As I washed away the remnants of the mask (it didn’t peel off perfectly) I saw that dead skin was also being washed away, my skin was brighter, pores seemed smaller and it didn’t dry out my face at all. I’m in love.  This peel really does what you would hope using natural yet truly effective ingredients and it’s super reasonable at about $14.

I really went all out last night because I also did my all time favorite mask – Aztec Indian Healing Clay. If you haven’t tried it before, you MUST. You simply must. You can find it at Whole Foods and it’s only around $6. You have to mix the clay with water (or apple cider vinegar), but there’s really very little effort involved.  It works like no other to draw out toxins and purify the skin. It’s also really healing for breakouts.  You can actually feel it tightening and pulsating on your face as it dries. I had a friend try it last night for the first time and she was really impressed. She keeps telling me how smooth her skin feels today.  I can’t say I’m surprised –  I really think this clay just might be the “world’s most powerful facial”.

Have you tried either of these? What’s your favorite face mask?

J’aime la France

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I was in France. It was such a perfect first trip. In exactly one week we were able to see three totally different places –  Evian, Aix-en-Provence, and Paris.

First up was Evian for one of my best friend’s wedding. We’ve been friends since we were five so of course I had to go to France to see her as a beautiful bride.

We flew into Geneva and took the ferry from Switzerland over to France (amazing how easy it is going country to country). The very first thing we did (before we even checked in) was have café on the dock of our hotel.

We looked out towards Switzerland as we soaked in the fact that we were finally in France. So breathtakingly beautiful.

Looking back at our hotel (Les Cygnes) from the dock — it was truly RIGHT on Lake Geneva.

The wedding location —Hotel Royal in Evian overlooking Lake Geneva…

…with the French Alps in the background.

Sunset over Lake Geneva.

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Next was Aix-en-Provence…

The city was founded in 123 BC.

Our first meal in Aix– a seriously legit Salad Niçoise.

Lots of lovely soap at the market :)

An incredibly relaxing afternoon at Thermes Sextius in Aix-en-Provence (a full review coming soon)

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And then there was Paris…

Beautiful buildings like this everywhere you look.

Loved seeing this — a store closed until August 25th for very good reason :)

So cool to finally see this iconic structure in person.

Our view as we picnicked in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Another beautiful spot in the Gardens.

Bumped into Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) & her husband, Jeffrey, right outside our hotel!

In tea-smelling heaven at MARIAGE FRERES in the Louvre.

The Eiffel Tower from another angle.. hard not to keep snapping pics.

I can’t wait to go back.

Product of the Week

This week’s pick comes from Belmondo, a skin care line that hand makes all of their products in small batches in British Columbia.  The first Belmondo product that caught my eye was their No-Rinse Face Cleanser aka The Rain.

I’ve experienced the amazing cleansing and rejuvenating effects of using apple cider vinegar as a toner so I was happy to see ACV as one of the cleanser’s main ingredients.  In case you’re concerned that you’ll smell like a salad, don’t worry – once you apply the liquid (with a cotton ball) and leave it on (remember – it’s NO RINSE), the slight essence of vinegar quickly dissipates. The inclusion of rose essence and lavender oil also gives this cleanser a nice, light floral scent.

I love how the ingredients of this cleanser are so simple yet effective and I really love how clean and soft my skin feels after I use it. I also think their packaging is awesome.

This cleanser is excellent for all skin types. Belmondo tests all their products on willing two-legged friends, never on animals. You can order it online or check out some of their retailers here: Where to Buy.

p.s. I promise that pictures from my first visit to France are coming soon! :)