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It’s “that” time of year again: Christmas! Hanukkah! Solstice! Secret Santa Gift Exchanges! It’s the time to stock up on gifts perfect for everyone on your list. All natural soap is ALWAYS the best choice, and a bar of Nude Soap fits perfectly in a stocking!

Holiday Sale from Nude Soap

To help you stretch your budget and have a treat for your own stocking after stuffing everyone else’s, i’m offering a free bar of soap* for every purchase of 5 or more bars. Order your Christmas purchase by Monday December 17th to be sure your gift arrives on time (U.S. orders only). Our stock up sale will continue through the month of December as supplies last.

A stimulating blend of Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Tea tree

A stimulating blend of Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Tea tree

We’re also excited to re-introduce one of our FAVORITE soap blends: Winter Wellness! The refreshing aromas of Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Peppermint are sure to invigorate you and help lessen the symptoms of the common cold. Winter Wellness is available on a limited basis during the Winter season only – so stock up now before it sells out!

Don’t delay! Head on over to www.GoNudeSoap.com today to place your order! All orders are packaged and shipped within 3 days and sent via USPS priority mail. Happy holidays everyone!

*Free bar will be randomly chosen from our inventory of 4 ounce body/hand bars. It’s like Santa really has a surprise for you! Please note our shop will be “open” for limited hours Christmas eve – New Years, so expect minor delays of any orders placed after the 23rd.

Hey y’all, i have exciting news. Nude Soap is hosting a giveaway!

We have several giveaways planned for this holiday season (but don’t let that stop you from stocking up now) starting with today’s giveaway JUST for newsletter subscribers! Entry to this giveaway is open to all, but you gotta read the newsletter to get the rules….

We send out a monthly newsletter, aptly titled “All Lathered Up.” Each month is a little different, but there’s always juicy info and often a special discount for subscribers. So what are you waiting for: subscribe to All Lathered Up today and read this month’s edition to enter the giveaway!

I thought i would write this Wednesday’s post on one of the ingredients in two of my popular soaps, shea butter. Shea butter is taken from the nuts of the shea-Karite tree which only bears nuts suitable for harvest after 15-30 years! They’re tropical trees found in Africa – just another marvelous species needing to be protected from deforestation! This website has gobs of information on shea butter, check it out as i’ll only touch on a few details.

Shea butter promotes quicker healing of small wounds, burns, cuts and scrapes.
Shea butter is an efficient natural makeup remover.
Shea butter is safe to use on babies, children and adults.
Shea butter helps prevent and soothe sunburns.
Shea butter is high in vitamins A and E.
Shea butter helps moisturize dry skin.
Shea butter soothes sore, overworked muscles.
Shea butter is recommended for conditioning animal’s coats.
Shea butter makes an excellent natural lip balm.
Shea butter helps restore elasticity of aging skin.
Texas natural supply

I have purchased both refined and unrefined shea butter for use in my soaps. The unrefined smells a little “nuttier” and the refined is a bit more consistent in color and texture. I prefer to use the unrefined to get the most vitamins and goodies out of it. Shea butter is very moisturizing and soothing on the skin, and can help reduce inflammation. It’s great on animals: i rub raw shea butter on my turtle’s shell and skin with marvelous results. Rub it on your belly if you’re pregnant to reduce stretch marks, or similarly on your hips and other ‘curves’ while you’re going through puberty. You can rub it into your hair for a wonderful conditioner, or just mix some in with your store bought conditioner to boost its moisturizing properties.  Shea butter can be used to sooth many skin maladies from sunburn to cracked heals or even diaper rash. People with nut allergies may want to avoid using shea butter, as it is derived from a nut.

Shea butter WILL lose some of its healing properties if kept stored for too long, so replace every 1-2 years and be sure you purchase yours from a reputable source of fresh ingredients.

photo sourced online somewhere ;)

My shea soap recipe includes only a small amount of shea butter, about the same amount as the castor and palm oils. It also includes coconut and olive oils – all oils that are moisturizing and soothing to the skin and combine to create a nice lather without drying the skin. I find my shea soaps to be the creamiest of my soaps.

Do you have a favorite oil or conditioner to treat your skin?

Sunflowers: beautiful and unruly wildflowers of various heights, home to myriad beneficial insects, and fodder for sparrows and parrots alike. Every year i try and plant my favorite varieties of sunflowers, and every year my efforts are thwarted by the native flowers: multi branched yellow plants with small seed heads. That’s fine, but i really do miss these gorgeous autumn colored beauties i grew at my last house – or the hug mammoth sunflowers with heads big enough for human consumption. Nonetheless, the ones that grow are beautiful homes for millions of baby assassin bugs and snacks for the local sparrows and occasional monk parakeets that wander through my neighborhood. They do get unruly though, and this year are rittled with what i believe are saltmarsh caterpillars – nasty black worms that become nasty white fuzzy worms and eat up the leaves, or fall on me when i’m chopping down mature plants. Gross.

check it out!!!!  thick with them!
Millions of assassin bug babies!

My sunflowers grow along the sidewalk, so instead of letting them all go to seed i have to pull some out (or chop them down: those roots are hard to up end) to maintain at least a LITTLE pedestrian sanity. I toss the mature plants into the back for the chickens to peck at, and the seeds invariably spread about for next year’s crop: it just gets bigger and bigger every year!

tall sunflowers. volunteers.
The native flowers take over the field!

My husband used to have a dirty habit of chewing tobacco, which i am very proud to say he kicked and has been free and clear for over 4 years! But as most oral fixation type addictions go, it’s nice to have a replacement habit for distraction: his is sunflower seeds. I love it because it means there’s always a little ‘road snack’ in his car when we go for drives. I was never able to master the art of ‘insert seed, open seed with tongue, extract seed and swallow, spit out shell without spitting all the other seeds all over your lap.’ But i’ve finally done it!

Be sure and avoid highly flavored commercial sunflower seeds – MSG ALERT! Go for the all natural roasted seeds with salt. The ones in shell take a long time to consume so chances are you won’t overdo the fat. But seeds are seeds: high in fat and protein, so consider them a part of your daily caloric intake, not just a mindless snack. Sunflower seeds are super high in Vitamin E and B:

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol. By protecting these cellular and molecular components, vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications. -WHFoods

I use sunflower seeds in my pesto instead of pine nuts – a great healthier alternative with a yummy, nutty taste.  As always the World’s Healthiest Foods has some really great and enlightening information on sunflower seeds – they’re not just baseball watching snacks, they have some really wonderful health promoting attributes. That website is always worth reading to add to your knowledge base on the foods you eat.

Here is the caloric breakdown:

Again, sunflower seeds should be treated as a fat with protein – a great addition to the top of a salad, a much better alternative to easily face-stuffed chips for road trip snacks, and a wonderful addition to homemade veggie burgers, pesto,  meatloaf or granola bars. I tried to dry my own mammoth sunflower heads to roast, but the humidity of my garage got the best of me. My mother dries her on the plant by wrapping the head with gauzy tule fabric to keep the birds out. I prefer to just buy my seeds already roasted (laziness) and leave my homegrown seeds to the birds.

Do you grow seeds for personal snacking?

My garden in Austin was chock full of purslane, also known as portulaca or rock rose. It loved the Texas heat (i think it’s the only one) and will spread about with such tenacity it is commonly considered a weed. It also grows up here in Oregon, and in most regions of the country! It may be invasive – but it’s also  delicious and nutritious! I find that it pulls easily if the soil is damp, so i’m happy to let it run about the garden and fill the space previously held by wildflowers. The native purslane has cute little yellow flowers that leave little cups of seeds (thus the tenacious spreading) that i scatter here and there, and could apparently brew into a healthful herbal tea. You can propagate with those prolific seeds, or you can start cuttings or even transplant. This native purslane by the garden bunny was pulled from a pot where it was not wanted and stuck in the ground here. It’s catching on just fine. There are also plenty of not so native portulaca varieties for sale that have prettier flowers. They’re all technically edible, but i find the rugged native ones to be tastier, and the fancy flowery ones to be more visually appealing.

Native purslane above, store bought “pretty” purslane below

Purslane is one of my favorite edible weeds. It tastes a bit like cucumber, a bit like lettuce. I usually just snack on little leaves while out in the garden, but you can also add the leaves to fresh salads or stir fries or even smoothies as i did this morning – yum! Purslane has found itself on the tables of kings and other fancy mucky mucks in ancient Europe and Asia. The stems and flowers are also edible, but stick to the younger, happier looking specimens for raw eating. Purslane is not only tasty, but incredibly good for you. It’s super high in many vitamins and minerals including Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Folate. It’s also a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Check out this awesome web page dedicated to purslane. The most exciting piece of information i’ve found on purslane is that it contains MORE Omega-3s than many of those Omega rich fishes, and more than ANY other leafy green veggie! Rejoice, vegetarians: rejoice!

Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant we know of. The most common dietary source of Omega-3s are cold water fish like Salmon. Omega-3s aid the body in the production of compounds that effect blood pressure, clotting, the immune system, prevent inflammation, lower cholesterol (LDL), prevent certain cancers and control coronary spasms. In addition recent studies suggest that Omega- 3s may have positive effects on the brain and may aid in such conditions as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and migraines. Though very beneficial, there are few good dietary sources other than seafood for Omaga-3s. (Some oils, nuts, grains and other leafy vegetables do contain Omega-3s) – http://www.2bnthewild.com

Super awesome. I remember a visit with my mother a few years ago when my garden was new: she was pulling out the purslane and declaring it a “nasty weed!” It’s tap root is quite long – allowing it to thrive in even the worst and dryest soil (such as it is seen growing above) and occasionally taking over if not properly managed. I have since tried to convince her to see the benefits purslane could bring to her life: perhaps she will pay attention to some of these striking facts and add that ‘nasty weed’ to her dinner plate on occasion! I plan on planting more in the backyard as well and adding any specimens i do pull out to my chicken’s diet: the hens would love to eat this leafy green, and i’d love to eat their eggs with a higher omega content.

So: stave off cancer, increase your overall health, and put those ‘nasty’ weeds to work for you! Go out and forage some purslane today!

Agave nectar, local honey, corn syrup, molasses, sugar, brown sugar…. sweet and low. In my quest for eating naturally with the least negative impact on my body, i cut out “the pink stuff” and switched to more natural sweeteners. I love local honey, but do occasionally use Rapadura as well. I learned of it while reading Nourishing Traditions and planning the Lox recipe. The recipe called for Rapadura, a certain kind of cane sugar. As an fyi: it’s no longer called rapadura in the stores, the company (Rapunzel) changed the name to “organic whole cane sugar,” in case you’re looking for it.

Apparently, folks with low tolerance to sugar, like myself (headaches, highs, lows, depression, tooth ache, you name it) can handle rapadura more easily. It is also made in a more sustainable fashion. See their fancy little illustration:

Jo Whitton over at quirky cooking posted this nice little description recently.  Tastewise, i find it to taste a bit like molasses, but not as potent. Kind of a blend of ‘sugar in the raw’ and molasses: kind of “brown” tasting, not overly sweet. I mixed it with some regular sugar and cinnamon and it makes a great cinnamon toast blend. It has a very good taste combo with the salmon, i’ll be using it in my next grilled salmon marinade with soy sauce and garlic (you’ll have to wait for it to stop raining to get me out on the grill, haha). Also nice sprinkled on oatmeal. I don’t find it to be quite sweet enough to replace my (very dirty habit/addiction to) sweet-n-low, i’m trying agave nectar for that use. I might grow some stevia plant this year too – dry that and sprinkle into my tea: might work. I don’t like the idea of stevia powder as it must be processed an awful lot.

The benefits of rapadura come from the very minimal processing of the sugar cane. Most other sugars are separated – white and molasses, then turned into various things and shoved back together. Rapadura is never separated and thus has greater nutritional value (2% Vitamin C, 11% Iron per teaspoon). I also like that they compost the cane stalks – a nice touch.

It’s still sugar. You still shouldn’t over do it. But at least it’s a ‘whole’ sugar and not some stripped down white stuff.

What’s your favorite sweetener?

Good old baking soda. I’ve always had a box open in the fridge, but never really given much thought or consideration to the versatile dust until a few years ago when i jettisoned most of the chemical base cleaners in my house.  Since investing more time on learning alternatives to chemicals and modern goops to clean my home and treat my fire ant stings, i’ve discovered some great uses for baking soda.  Here are some of the ways i’ve been using my baking soda in the last year:

  • Insect sting relief: When i get a fire ant or hornet bite, i score the bite with a sterilized razor blade and apply a poultice of baking soda on top. Sometimes i also add essential oils or mashed borage leaves when i have them. The baking soda helps suck the poison out and prevents the massive swelling i tend to get from those nasty bites.
  • Drain cleaner: Pour boiling water into your drain. Once drained, sprinkle some baking soda into a clogged drain and follow with some vinegar and cover it up. A little explosion will happen in the drain and force the nasties down. Follow with some more boiling hot water to help further dislodge things and repeat as neccessary. (It helps to scrape out the nasty hair first, if applicable)
  • Cleaning the garbage disposal: Same steps as above. Freshens the gunky smell and gets the grime off.
  • All purpose cleaner: The grittyness of baking soda works well to clean just about anything. Combine with Borax and you have a super hero team of scrubbing power.
  • Biscuits. Yum.
  • Add a scoop of baking soda or borax to a load of laundry for cleaner, softer clothes.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda or borax in the compost pail or trash basket in the kitchen to keep those funky smells less funky.

I love to use baking soda in my carpet powder concoctions. I use an old parmesan cheese canister to sprinkle my mixture of essential oils, baking soda and diatonaceous earth to freshen the carpet and kill any nasty critters crawling about the house via puppy feet.

As you probably know, i also make my own tooth powder that heavily features baking soda, along with salt, clay and essential oils.

Arm and Hammer has a neat little website feature that discloses all sorts of ‘secret uses’ for baking soda. Check it out. Some of their tips include:

  • Clean walls or furniture with a paste of baking soda – acts like that magic eraser
  • Adding baking soda to the rinse cycle specifically helps freshen up those sheets even more
  • All purpose deodorizer – that’s what that open box in the fridge is for (even though i still bake with that one, gross) and sprinkling it about in the form of a carpet freshener is great all over the place including on pet bedding or anywhere else.
  • Pamper that bod: add to shampoo to get your locks cleaner and shinier, soak your feet, scrub your body, relieve an acid stomach, add to a bath to neutralize the ph and get you cleaner/fresher, use as deoderant….
  • Clean off car batteries
  • Clean up oily spills
  • Bring it camping and use it for everything: washing hands, clothes, dishes, teeth, hair, fire extinguishing, EVERYTHING
  • You can safely clean just about ANYTHING with baking soda, right down to vegetables, the dog herself or baby’s favorite chew toy

Wow. That was intense. I never knew the true power of baking soda. I can’t wait to whip up my carpet freshener and use it EVERYWHERE on EVERYTHING, not just carpets. So put away those nasty chemicals and stock up on some baking soda. It’ll cure what ails ya, or your dirty floor, or toilet, or teeth, or hair, or dog, or…………

How do you use baking soda?

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