Love List

In this space I will only write about blogs and products that I truly love.


Branch Basics

I first became aware of Branch Basics in 2014. and began ordering in February 2015. It is a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, gluten-free, tree nut- and peanut-free plant- and mineral-based, non-GMO from corn nor corn/maize DNA detectable cleaning product that works! It is has no harmful preservatives, stabilizers, brighteners, chelators, or surfactants. I love their concentrate but my oldest daughter loves it even more. She has struggled with sensitivity to her hands from every soap she has ever tried. Once we discovered Branch Basics she never looked back. It is  is formulated especially to avoid irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and respiratory tract.


Reykjavik, Iceland, 2015


We use the Branch Basics concentrate for hand & body washing, cleaning the bathrooms, and laundry. We add essential oils to it for cleaning and unscented for washing. We waited patiently throughout the reformulation – patiently, because we seemed to have enough of a supply squirreled away that we could be patient. The fact that the Branch Basics team was willing to look deeply into their product and communicated openly with their customers throughout the entire process reinforced that this is a company deeply committed to safety, versatility, and effectiveness.

My travel size Branch Basics goes every where with me. My daughter keeps one with her in her backpack so that she can use it in place of the soap in her school. The farthest it has traveled with me so far was the ATP show in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2015. So, glad I had it there.


If you are interested in more information, visit https://branchbasics.com/

If you are ready to order, use this link to get $10 off of all products:
http://branchbasics.refr.cc/karensteele


Wood and Oils

I am just loving my Wood and Oil roller these days. Wood and Oils is a Etsy shop owned by Casi Truesdelle and her husband. Her love of essential oils drives the shop. Last year I purchased her Facial Roller for myself and gifted one to my oldest daughter.


Facial rolling has been around for centuries, most notably in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. Facial rolling tools such as jade and rose quartz are used to massage one’s face and neck. This process assists with lymphatic drainage and the general circulation of the skin, increasing blood flow and helping to bring oxygen to the surface.

For me this is a morning process. I roll my homemade facial serum – a combination of essential oils and witch hazel – on my face and then roll my face and neck with my facial roller. It is not only relaxing and soothing but my skin feels brighter and less puffy afterwards.

Facial Serum:
2 parts Lavender
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Tea Tree
1 part Copaiba
Fill the rest of the roller with witch hazel.

Wood and Oil can be found:
On Etsy:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodAndOils

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/woodandoils/



Mississippi Vegan

Mississippi Vegan, Timothy Pakron, is at the top of my love list. And, not just because of our mutual connection to Jackson, MS. have followed Timothy Pakron for several years, since his days in NYC and I find him delightful, his photography gorgeous, and his recipes AMAZING! Family favorites include: Happy Crab Cakes, Macaroni and Cheese, Apple Peanut Butter Caramel Bars.

Right now, I am loving his new cookbook, Mississippi Vegan: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Boy’s Heart.

image from mississippivegan.com

I have awaited this cookbook with tremendous anticipation. I was not disappointed. In fact, it is even better than I had hoped. Timothy Pakron has taken the recipes that I have grown up with and veganized them. I have made many of them already and they are delightful! The Classic Gumbo is homey and comforting like cooking with your grandma! The Shiitake Bacon is fun and versatile. Cheese Straws – oh, how I have missed them. They are such a ubiquitous holiday snack but I never managed to find the focused time and attention to veganize the recipe and now I don’t have to because he has done it for me. No one has even noticed that they are not the traditional cheese straws we were raised on. 

As always the photography is stunning, the stories bring up memories of times long past, and the recipes are attainable for all levels of cooks. The connection to home-place and the role food places in one’s life narrative comes through so strong.

Explore his blog mississippivegan.com, check out his cookbook, find a recipe, and try it. Let me know your thoughts on it.