Top Ten Reader Favorites from 2015

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I still can’t believe the new year is here. I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace it! But I have my theme and I must move forward. Before we move on, I want to celebrate some of my reader favorites from this past year! This blog has grown quite a bit and I am always blown away at the positive response I get from my lovely readers. So, a big THANK YOU to you for joining me in this journey!

Here’s the count-down to Never Lacking Zeal’s reader favorites:

How to make garlic oil

10: How to Make Garlic Oil – With its high nutritive benefits, garlic is one of the best things you can have in your kitchen. This simple garlic oil is great to have on hand this time of year to boost your immune system and ward off infections.

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9: 5 Reasons You Need Epsom Salt in Your Life – Plus a recipe for a relaxing foot soak! Epsom salt has some really amazing health benefits. Read the list to find out more.

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8: The Benefits of Baltic Amber – Is Amber all it’s cracked up to be? Although Baltic amber is often just looked upon as a hookey hippie necklace, there are some proven benefits that can make positive changes in your body. I don’t think we could have made it through teething without it.

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7: DIY Sore Muscle Rub – Don’t forget to pack this in your gym bag. Sore Muscle Rub uses natural ingredients to help your body fight the inflammation caused by a tough work out. You can make your own Muscle Rub or buy some from my soap shop, Southern Vines Soap Company.

benefits of cedarwood eo

6: The Benefits of Cedarwood Essential Oil – If you’ve never smelled Cedarwood, you are missing out! One of my favorite essential oils to diffuse in my home and has quite a few benefits for the body too.

DIY Flea and Tick Repellent Dog Shampoo

5: DIY Dog Shampoo – Let’s not forget about our furry friends when it comes to switching to green household products. This shampoo will clean your pooch and help repel fleas and ticks. Make sure to whip up a batch before the Spring hits.

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4: DIY Liquid Shampoo – Although I’ve switched to using Herbal Shampoo Bars, you can’t go wrong with a wonderfully scented liquid shampoo. This combination of liquid castile soap, coconut milk, and essential oils will leave your hair nourished and smelling great.

DIY Static Stopper

3: DIY Static Stopper Spray – The dry season has recently hit at my house with the increased cold and use of the central heat. With it comes the static on my clothes and hair. And it drives me nuts! Thankfully, there’s no more craziness with this quick recipe.

DIY dry shampoo

2: DIY Dry Shampoo – I LOVE this recipe and so do my readers! So easy to make. And I use it almost every day (when I don’t shower).

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1: 12 Ways to Use Grapefruit Essential Oil – This quick list has gone viral on Pinterest! Grapefruit essential oil is a mom’s best friend. Go read it to find out why it’s so amazing.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. I love writing and I have some really amazing stuff for you this coming year. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to live a simple natural life.

What is your favorite post from this past year?


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30 Day Clean Eating Challenge Wrap Up

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You know how some things go to plan and others don’t?

Yeah. This past month was one of those that didn’t really go to plan.

I want to share a quick wrap up on our 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge. I’m not going to say we failed, but we didn’t succeed the way I envisioned it.

If you read in the beginning of June, we started a 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge. My goal was to get back on track with meal planning and cutting out the processed foods and added sugar. I wanted to get my energy back and hubby wanted to lose a few pounds.

Well, I DID succeed at getting our meal planning on track again. It is so much better getting to the store with a list in hand! During the week I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner and know that what I planned out is good and delicious.

With the meal planning comes the better food choices. I plan out delicious from scratch meals that are easy and full of nutrient dense foods. Creating the meal plan gives me the shopping list which helps me avoid the processed foods at the grocery store. When I wander the store without a list I come home with some really random items.

Hubby declared we were eating like “rich people”, which I will take as a compliment even though we spent the same or less than the previous months. It isn’t very difficult to cook real food on a budget. Be frugal with the meat and use lots of veggies seasoned with herbs and spices. It’s all about the spices people! Don’t skip over the seasoning!

We definitely succeeded in cutting some of the processed foods and eating more nutrient dense options. Simply by planning our meals and shopping with a list makes it so much easier for me to keep the junk out of the cart and pantry. If we don’t have the options of junk at home then I won’t be tempted to eat it!

I did not do so well making sure Hubby had lunch every day. For some reason this is my biggest failing in wifely duties (it’s my duty in our home, it may be different for others!). I honestly forget or get up too late to make it before he leaves for work.

Our Little Man is a late sleeping baby and I usually sleep until he wakes up. It’s kinda nice, but I really want to work on getting up earlier so I can get my day started. It’s hard to be a morning person when you stay at home and are naturally wired to be a night person.

I did not do so well with removing added sugar either. It’s not that I sit at home making dessert all day, but a spoonful of sugar in my iced coffee or leftover dessert brought over by friends are difficult for me to resist. I really struggle with the sweets issue and want to get a handle on it, but can’t seem to at the moment. I know what to do, I’m just not doing it.

The main goal of getting on the meal planning wagon again has been met. The other things fall into place as I continue to plan and shop accordingly. The real food lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle. It’s not something you do just for a time or a season. It’s for life. I love how I feel when my diet consists highly of vegetables and quality meats.

I’m planning to continue to work on the lunch thing and getting up earlier. I’ve said that for months now, but it’s gotta happen. Little Man is finally sleeping through the night like a big boy so I have no excuse for sleeping in late! And then I can get Hubby’s lunch made.

And those are the things I struggle with and go through. If that’s the worst of my worries I think I have a pretty blessed life. I am so thankful for the options of good food readily available. I won’t ever forget to be grateful for that.

What were your successes in last month’s Real Food Journey?


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The Benefits of Cedarwood Essential Oil

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Have you ever opened a fresh bottle of Cedarwood Essential Oil and taken a good whiff?

You are missing out!

This is one of my top favorite essential oils because of the scent. It may be because I’m rather partial to the woods. The smell of this oil brings me right out into the forest, exploring the beautiful world around me.

Besides an amazing scent, Cedarwood Essential Oil has some fantastic benefits that date back to biblical times!

  • Supports healthy respiratory function and improves breathing
  • Promotes clear, healthy skin
  • Helps skin recover quickly from minor issues
  • Perfect for massage therapy to relax and soothe the body and mind

Cedarwood is derived straight from the wood of Cedar trees using steam distillation. These trees grow best in cold climates and can reach up to 100 feet!

My favorite way to use Cedarwood essential oil is to diffuse it in my home. The grounding scent promotes wellness and vitality. The homey wood smell is wonderful!

I also love the fact that Cedarwood essential oil will help keep bugs at bay. Add it to your favorite bug repellent blend or your dog’s shampoo. You can also put a few drops on doorframes or put it on cotton balls and place in drawers.

It can be added to salves or included in your facial care routine to brighten and tone the skin. I have not used it on my face yet, but I’m sure the experience would be relaxing.

I’m finding more and more uses for Cedarwood essential oil (and recently scented a batch of soap with it!). The benefits are wonderful and the scent is just what this forest loving girl needs.

How do you use Cedarwood Essential oil??


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30 Day Clean Eating Challenge

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It’s time to jump back on the wagon.

You may recall my Saving Time and Money in the Kitchen series leading up to the launch of my eBook Planning with Purpose. Well, I must confess something, I haven’t been planning and we are eating too much processed foods.

I know! I need to practice what I preach!

I did really well adhering to the principles on Real Food eating that I wrote about in that series and eBook, but then something happened. I don’t know how to explain it other than life. Life happened and I got lazy and was not focusing on feeding my family as well as I could.

The results? I’m tired, don’t feel as well as I could, grumpier than usual, and bored of food. And that’s me. I won’t analyze the hubby or the toddler, but all to say we could use a boost to get back on the Real Food wagon.

SO…hubby and I have declared a Clean Eating Challenge for the month of June. Not only to get back on the wagon with some good food choices, but we also have some goals to reach. June will be a good month for us and so it begins.

When I’m referring to Clean Eating, I’m not talking about a list of things we can’t eat. I don’t “diet” or count calories and never will. I believe it is unhealthy and counterproductive. It makes a lot more sense to get a list of all the amazing real food options that you CAN eat and stick to it.

Have you ever tried a Whole30? That is an AMAZING way to learn how your body reacts to certain food and to regain a handle on how food makes you feel. Since I’ve done a Whole30 before and learned what foods make me feel bad or that I don’t really like, I’m not going quite as strict.

Our basic guidelines of food we will eat this month are quality meats, veggies, fruits, and fats. Think about it. There are a ton of foods that fit in those categories! We will include rice occasionally and some dairy. (Which are off limits in a whole30 or strict paleo diet.)

The main thing we want to focus on is cutting processed food and refined sugar. Not that big of a list!

In order for us to be successful in this I need to make a plan. I have to be ahead of the game on this one for sure. The challenge is not so much breakfast and dinner, but lunch for the hubby. He’s on the road and packing a lunch is hard since he’s not going to eat a salad everyday! (I wouldn’t want to either.)

And so, I’m telling you all this now to keep me accountable to stick with it! Hubby wants to shed a few pounds and I want to feel better and tighten up before I turn 30. (I’m not ready for that!) Choosing to eat strictly clean for a month will give us a kick start in the right direction.

From experience I can tell you that once you get on the Real Food wagon, you’ll want to stay on it. The energy, good sleep, brighter skin, clear mind, and overall wellbeing are totally worth it. Your tastes change in thirty days of clean eating and you really begin to just want to good food.

I challenge you to stop right now and just make it happen! Make your meal plan and eat the good stuff. There’s really no reason not to. Life still goes on at the same pace, why not feel better in the midst of it? I know I’m ready.

So, who’s in? Are you ready to get back on the wagon??

 


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How to Make Garlic Oil

how to make garlic oil revisedGarlic is one of THE BEST real food ingredients that you can use to boost the immune system.

It has high antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties to it that will strengthen your immune response and help your body fight bugs. (I wrote more about it a while back on Wellness Wednesday.)

If you have a little one, feeding them raw or honey infused garlic is not the easiest thing! It’s very strong in flavor and not very easy to swallow by itself. A good alternative for use for children (and adults!) is to make Garlic Oil.

Garlic oil won’t be quite as strong in its benefits but it will help nonetheless! It is especially helpful for potential ear infections.

This past week our little man came down with his first bug. It was not fun. He ran a very high fever and indicated a sore throat by his behavior. I didn’t want it to develop into an ear infection and promptly made some garlic oil.

Although little man was very clingy while he was sick, he did lay down and sleep a lot which allowed me to make him some garlic oil! I applied it to his neck and ears to absorb into his skin and help fight the infection in his throat and prevent any issues with his ears.

How to Make Garlic Oil

Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Slice or smash the garlic and let sit for a few moments. (This allows the allicin to react with the air, increasing the strength of its infection fighting properties.)
  2. Warm the olive oil up in a pan to warm but not hot. Add the garlic and let heat for about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cover. Let sit over night. You can use some after a couple of hours if needed, but the longer it sits the more garlic will be absorbed into the oil.
  4. To use: apply oil around ears or topically near potential infection or inflammation.
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Don’t worry about the garlic scent being too strong. The scent is rather mild and not irritating at all. It is also not near as strong as essential oils or certain herbal tinctures and should not interfere with the use of homeopathic medicines.

Garlic oil is also useful for other things besides infection and inflammation. You could use garlic oil as a drizzle on salad or bread. Use it on your pet’s collar to help repel ticks, or even in your door frames to prevent pests.

Have you made some Garlic Oil? What do you use it for?

Note: I am not a medical doctor. Please read my full disclaimer here. Consult your medical practitioner if you have an illness.


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Wellness Wednesday #17 – Basil

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Basil is one of the most common herbs in cooking and backyard herb gardens. But this little green leaf from the mint family goes far beyond usefulness in the kitchen!

Used in teas, poultices, salves, and wound dressings, Basil has many benefits for a variety of health issues. It has been used for many centuries by old cultures in India, Asia, and parts of Europe. Even now more research is showing the benefits of using Basil medicinally.

The properties of basil include anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. There are several components in Basil that give it these amazing health benefits.

Basil is also excellent for balancing blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. With good balance you reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Along with the wonderful properties of Basil, it is also an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of manganese, copper, and vitamin C.

Including a lot of basil in your diet is an excellent way to increase your benefit from this amazing herb. Pesto is one of the best and most delicious forms for eating basil! Sprinkling dried basil on a variety of dishes is also a great way to eat it.

What is your favorite way to use Basil?

Sources: 1, 2, 3


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