Saturday, December 29, 2012

People's Choice Awards

Many bloggers host blog carivals each week on specific subjects. These carnivals are great for readers to discover new blogs and read about a variety of topics.  They are also a nice way for bloggers to connect with a broader audience and each other.

One such carnival is Mind, Body and Sole’s Wildcrafting Wednesday which I sometimes join.

This year, they’re doing a People’s Choice Awards. The 10 most popular posts from 2012 have been selected, and now the voting is on! The three most popular posts will be featured in January. And guess what? I was nominated!

You can see all the nominees below. Mine is the first listed, the Natural Vapor Rub.
Natural Vapor Rub for Coughs and Colds by Nearly Natural Nicole
Immune Boosting Tea by Modern Alternative Mama
Sloe Gin by Wildcraft Vita
Garlic:  From Plagues to Panacea by The Family Herbalist
Very Personal Herbal Remedies by The Woodwife’s Journal
Mullein for Colds and Flu by Joybilee Farm
Voting will take place on all four Wildcrafting Wednesday host sites: Joybilee FarmWoodwife’s JournalThe Self-Sufficient HomeAcre, and Mind Body and Sole.  Votes will be accepted from Wednesday, December 26 through Friday, January 4th, 2013 and the three winners with the most votes will be announced Monday, January 7th.  Each reader may vote once on each host site, so be sure to visit each site to cast your vote!

What Are Your Favorite Health And Wellness Topics?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Delicious Christmas Sugar Cookies made with Spelt Flour

My oldest son loves to eat and bake cookies and this year he talked me into baking Christmas cookies. They are a lot of work but so tasty and fun for the kids. My boys love to cut them out with cookie cutters and decorate with icing so I had plenty of "help."

I wanted to try something a little different so this year I used spelt flour instead of whole wheat. Spelt is an older wheat variety that is higher in protein and lower in gluten. I've been experimenting with it a lot lately and I like the flavor of spelt. These cookies turned out great and were very tasty.

Spelt Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup cane sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups spelt flour
1 tsp cream of tartar

Cream together the oil, butter and sugar. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla. Slowly add the cream of tarter and flour one cup at a time and be sure to fully incorporate the flour without over mixing. Cover the bowl and store in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper for easy cleanup. When the dough is chilled roll it out to about 1 cm thick and use cookie cutters to cut out a variety of shapes. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to cooling rack. Makes 4 dozen. When cookies are fully cooled it's time to decorate with icing!

Spelt Sugar Cookie Icing
4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional food coloring

And what did I do with all these cookies? I took a bunch to a Christmas party, we ate plenty at home and many more were gifts to the neighbors.

Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie?

This post is part of: Your Green Resource

Monday, December 10, 2012

Healing Honey Lemon Tea

I love natural ways to relieve cold symptoms and boost the immune system. I love to rub on my homemade natural vapor rub and I also like to drink hot, healing beverages when I'm sick.

I found this tea recipe a while ago and I've heard it's common to keep a jar of this mixture in the refrigerator in Asian countries. Despite containing no tea leaves & not really being tea it is very similar tasting to regular tea.
So what does it contain? Only three common ingredients (besides water) that you can find at most grocery stores.

LEMON is a source of vitamin C. It's full of antioxidants and it neutralizes the activity of free radicals.

GINGER has been regarded for centuries for its healing properties and ability to enhance the benefits of other herbs. It reduces the severity of cold symptoms, warms the lungs and stomach and acts as an expectorant. It reduces nasal congestion and sinus pain. Ginger is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It promotes healthy sweating that aids the body in detoxing and it promotes digestive health.

HONEY has both antiviral and antibacterial properties. It's soothing to sore throats and is an effective and natural cough suppressant. The sweetness of the honey balances the tart flavor of the lemon and the ginger's spice nicely.

Healing Honey Lemon Tea
1 lemon, sliced
2 ginger slices
1 cup or more of local, raw honey
1 12-16 oz glass jar

Cut one lemon into slices and place in a clean glass jar. Add the ginger slices and cover it all in honey. Place in the refrigerator for at least a week to marinate.
When ready to drink, boil 8 oz of water and add one tablespoon (or more) of honey lemon tea mix to the boiling water. Stir and enjoy. If you like it more tart add a lemon slice from your tea jar to your cup of tea.
The tea's hot steam and liquid help clear your head, the lemon clears mucus while giving you some vitamin C and the antiviral, antibacterial honey also soothes your throat.

This mixture will keep fine in your refrigerator for months and will be on hand for whenever a cold strikes.

This post is part of: Clever ChicksHomestead Barn HopFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysWildcrafting Wednesday

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time for a Green Tea Mask

I've been quite busy these last two weeks with my oldest turning 11, traveling for Thanksgiving and then coming home with 3 sick kids. As soon as the kids recovered from the flu it was my turn to be sick. This week I haven't gone anywhere besides dropping the kids at school and I'm sick of sickness.

I'm finally feeling better but I still don't have the energy to catch up on laundry or dishes.

You know what I do have the energy for? Sitting through a beauty treatment!
I've spent plenty of time thinking of what I wanted to do when I felt better and today I only feel strong enough to mix up a face mask, apply, enjoy and then wash off.

I love to use cosmetic clay in masks as it is so very good at removing impurities and dirt while also minimizing pores. I sure feel icky from being sick and want my pores clean.

You may also remember I love to drink green tea but this is the first beauty recipe I've used it in. Green tea tonifies and clarifies skin.

I've been adding the spice thyme to my beauty treatments lately as there is recent evidence that it is effective on acne. I've even made my own thyme tincture.

I adapated this recipe from the fabulous ebook: Crunchy Betty's Food On Your Face For Acne And Oily Skin (also on Kindle)

Green Tea Face Mask
1 Tablespoon green cosmetic clay
1 Tablespoon strong green tea
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

Combine the clay and thyme and slowly add in the tea until you have a thick mud, adding more tea as necessary. Spread the mask evenly over clean skin. Leave on 10 minutes or until completely dry.
Place a warm wet washcloth on your face for a minute then slowly wipe off and thourouly rinse. Pat dry and apply a facial moisturizer. Slight redness is normal and will disappear in about 30 minutes.

The other productive thing I realized I can do when I'm recovering from the flu and not yet 100% ? Write a blog post!

This post is part of: Your Green ResourceSimple Lives ThursdayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysClever Chicks

Thursday, November 15, 2012

And The Winner Is...

Stephanie of csbeckmann@ has won the Celebrating and Savoring a Simple Christmas ebook.
Congratulations and you'll receive an email about your prize.

Thanks to all the entries! If you'd like to purchase the book check it out on Amazon

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Simple Christmas ebook Giveaway

We all want a simpler, less hectic Christmas right? I sure would like to plan better and have less stress during the holidays. Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom is releasing a new ebook Celebrating and Savoring a Simple Christmas on Kindle this week and it's only $.99. 

I confess I haven't read it yet but I plan to this week. I love her blog Money Saving Mom, her book The Money Saving Mom's Budget and her ebook 21 Days to a More Discplined Life so I've got a feeling I'm going to enjoy this one too.

In this book you'll learn to:
  • Organize your Christmas list
  • Make and stick with a Christmas budget
  • Freezer cook for the holidays
  • Make memorable family activities
  • Simple and inexpensive homemade gifts
  • Get your home in order
  • Savor the meaning of the season
…and much more.

It's time for a give away and I'm so excited as this is the first time I've offered one on Nearly Natural Nicole. My readers have the chance to win 1 copy of Celebrating & Savoring a Simple Christmas. Simply enter this giveaway using the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Note: Some of the links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Plan 11/12-11/18

I came very close to not planning any meals this week and just playing it by ear. I've gotten so used to planning out my meals for the week that the thought of not doing it doesn't sit well with me and doesn't work. If I don't plan then I don't make a list for what to groceries to pick up and pretty soon we're descending into total chaos.
At least in the kitchen.

So for the sake of my family and my sanity here's what we're eating this week.

Menu Plan 11/12-11/18
Monday:  Leftovers
Tuesday: Baked Tilapia, rice, steamed green beans
Wednesday: Crockpot BBQ Brisket, baked potatoes, salad 
Thursday: Pasta with homemade marinara sauce, Artisan bread
Friday: Ground beef Tacos with pureed lentils mixed in
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Leftovers, Artisan bread

You can find more menus at Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie.
What's on your menu plan this week?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Soaked Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I first discovered chocolate whoopie pies at Corner Bakery a few years ago and I was immediately infatuated with the moist cake and sweet creamy center. I started thinking how I could make it a bit healthier with whole grain, real food ingredients. Recently I was making whole wheat pumpkin muffins and it came to me that I could make the muffins short and flat and use them in homemade whoopie pies. I like the soaked version of pumpkin muffins more for this recipe because they are healthier and incredibly moist and cake-like which works well for a whoopie pie.

Soaked Pumpkin Muffins
(adapted from the fabulous ebook: Healthy Snacks to Go)
Mix together:
3 1/3 cups  white whole wheat flour (I did a mix of 1 c barley flour and 2 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour)
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups water + 1/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
1 cup melted coconut oil or melted butter, allow it to cool a bit before adding to the mix
Cover the bowl and allow it to soak for 12-24 hours at room temperature.

When ready to bake preheat oven to 325 F, grease 4 muffin pans and mix in:
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix it all together and scoop 1 tablespoon of batter into each greased muffin cup. If using a mini muffin pan, scoop in a 1/2 tablespoon of batter. Bake for 45 minutes, they will be more moist than you're used to. Do not over bake. Allow to cool 5 minutes in the pan and then place the muffins on a cooling rack. While cooling prepare the frosting.
(If you'd rather make the regular non-soaked version of pumpkin muffins go here)

Filling: Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (try making your own)
1-2 tablespoons whole milk or cream

Cream the butter and sugar together on low speed using a mixer. Add in the vanilla and milk. Do not over beat. Spread the filling over the top of one cooled muffin and then put another muffin on top. You only need a little of the sweetness of the frosting to complement the pumpkin flavor. A little buttercream goes a long way. Store whoopie pies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Why Soaked Pumpkin Muffins?
I'm no expert on soaking my grains but it's something I've been experimenting with this year. I've read that soaking your grains increases nutrient content and makes whole grains more digestible. Soaking is both a mild fermentation process and a mimicking of the germination or sprouting process. It's only useful when the bran is present such as with whole grain flours. You can learn more here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Healthy Living eBook Bundle Sale

For 5 days only, 27 prominent Healthy Living authors have joined together to bundle 34 of their most popular eBooks, valued at just over $300, for the incredibly low price of $29. That's only $0.87 per book to gain inspiration, encouragement, and the practical resources you need for your own healthy lifestyle. Plus, receive $49 of additional FREE Bonuses, and be entered to win one of 3 great prizes.

I bought a similar bundle that was offered back in the spring and absolutely LOVED many of the books. My favorites were Crunchy Betty’s Food on Your Face for Acne and Oily Skin and Smart Sweets by Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship and both of those ebooks are part of this sale as well.

What's Included in the Sale?

When you purchase the Healthy Living eBook collection, you will get instant access to each of the 34 eBooks listed below.

PLUS $49 of FREE Bonuses

Each Healthy Living eBook Bundle comes with $49 of FREE Bonuses from several of our favorite healthy living companies. Offers include a variety package from Redmond Trading ($21 Value), a FREE 3-Month subscription to Plan to Eat ($15 Value), and a FREE Sourdough Starter or Traditional Buttermilk Starter from Cultures for Health ($13 Value).

PLUS get entered to win one of 3 Great Prizes

Each person who purchases a Healthy Living eBook bundle is automatically entered to win any one of the following 1 Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator, 1 Omega VRT350 Masticating Juicer, or a R1 Royal Berkey Water Filtration System (Click here for more details).
Click here to purchase your Healthy Living eBook collection (with FREE bonuses) today!

Please note: This collection is only available from 8 a.m. EST on October 29th to 8 a.m. EST on November 2nd. There will be no late sales offered.

Real Food Meals for the Whole Family

Have Your Fruits... and Veggies, Too! by Laura Coppinger @ Heavenly Homemakers ($5.95) Real {Fast} Food by Trina Holden @ Trina Holden ($6) 20 Minute Meals by Leigh Ann Dutton @ Intentional by Grace ($4.99) Real Food... Real Easy by various bloggers @ The Humbled Homemaker ($9.95)

Baking, Snacks and Desserts
Smart Sweets by Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship ($8.95) Healthy Snacks To Go by Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship ($8.95) Sourdough A to Z by Wardee Harmon @ GNOWFGLINS ($20)

Homemade "Everything" (Condiments, Pantry Basics, etc.)

Restocking the Pantry by Kresha Faber @ Nourishing Joy ($7.99) Easy. Homemade. by Mandi Ehman @ Life Your Way ($3.99)

Grain Free and Paleo/Primal Eating

Grain Free Meal Plan Cookbook by Cara Faus @ Health, Home & Happiness ($18) Toadally Primal Smoothies by Todd @ Primal Toad ($9.95) Simple Food {for spring} by Shannon @ Nourishing Days ($10) Simple Food {for winter} by Shannon @ Nourishing Days ($10) Well Fed (Paleo Recipes) by Melissa Joulwan @ The Clothes Make The Girl ($14.95)

Saving Money on Real Food

Real Food on a Real Budget by Stephanie Langford @ Keeper of the Home ($18.99) Plan It, Don't Panic by Stephanie Langford @ Keeper of the Home ($4.99) Don't Compost It, Cook It by April Patel @ An Apple a Day Wisdom ($2.99)

Skincare and Beauty

My Buttered Life (Baby edition) by Renee Harris @ Hard Lotion ($5) My Buttered Life (Gift edition) by Renee Harris @ Hard Lotion ($5) My Buttered Life (Summer edition) by Renee Harris @ Hard Lotion ($5) Simple Scrubs to Make and Give by Stacy Karen @ A Delightful Home ($3.99) Food on Your Face for Acne and Oily Skin by Leslie @ Crunchy Betty ($7.99) Holistic Mama's Guide to Homemade Skincare by Roxanne King @ The Holistic Mama ($19)

Homesteading, Gardening and Preserving

Your Custom Homestead by Jill Winger @ The Prairie Homestead ($4.99) Guide to Gardening and Preserving by Laura Coppinger @ Heavenly Homemakers ($7.95) Apartment Gardening by Jami Leigh @ Young Wife's Guide ($2.99)

Healthy Lifestyle

Simple Living by Lorilee Lippincott @ Loving Simple Living ($2.99) Herbal Nurturing by Michele Augur @ Frugal Granola ($8.95) Simple Natural Health by Nina Nelson @ Shalom Mama ($17) Healthy Homemaking by Stephanie Langford @ Keeper of the Home ($12.95) Music: An Essential Ingredient for Life by Resound School of Music ($6.99)

Pregnancy and Babies

Breast to Bib by Kate Tietje @ Modern Alternative Pregnancy ($8.95) Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods by Kate Tietje @ Modern Alternative Pregnancy ($8.95) Unbound Birth by Jenny Yarborough @ The Southern Institute ($4.99)

PLUS, You will receive FREE Bonuses from these awesome Healthy Living companies...

$21.00 of incredible natural products from "Earthpaste" "Real Salt" and "Redmond Clay" products for FREE.
  Your choice of a FREE sourdough starter, or a FREE traditional buttermilk starter from Cultures for Health ($12.99 value)
  Your choice of: a FREE 3-Month Subscription or 30% off a One Year Subscription. Plan to Eat is a simple online menu planner that organizes your recipes and creates your grocery list for you. ($15.00 value)


PLUS, You will also be entered to win one of the following 3 awesome prizes...

9-Tray Excalibur Dehydrator with Timer ($349.95 Value)
Omega Vert VRT350 Masticating Juicer ($379.99 Value)
Royal Berkey Water Filtration System from LPC Survival ($289.00 Value)    

This collection is only available from 8 a.m. EST on October 29th to 8 a.m. EST on November 2nd. There will be no late sales offered.

Haven't purchased an eBook Bundle, but still want to be entered into the drawing?  No problem.  You can enter here.

(Note: The link in this post is my referral link. Read my disclosure policy here.)


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