Guest Post: Tips for a Healthy and Happy Winter

While I’m in the process of moving, I’ve asked a few of my friends to play guest blogger. As I mentioned before, my friend Nuni and her family are very into healthy eating. Over time, they have also gotten more and more into natural remedies. Nuni will send me these boxes with dried herbs from her garden and medicinal tea to help with whatever my issue is at the time – usually stress.

As Nick and I head to the Pacific Northwest, we are preparing ourselves for the winter weather. All things considered, Seattle doesn’t get all that cold during the winter months, but compared to Arkansas it does. And of course with cold weather comes the season of colds. I thought it’d be fun for Nuni and her sister Amina to do a guest post with tips on staying healthy and happy this winter without overdosing on Nyquil. – Julia


Nuni & Amina

Nuni and Amina


As the cold months have come around again, so too has the flu season. Nothing bums us out more than being stuck in bed moaning while everyone else has all the fun. Plus, we believe that the key to looking good is feeling good! So we wanted to share some of our favorite ways to keep yourself in good health this season.

In our family we have always used home remedies among other medicines to treat ourselves. Recently our dad went even further and started making his own tinctures. There are many easy at-home remedies that can be used to help prevent and treat cold symptoms. Here are a few of our favorite tips using ingredients from your home or that can be found in your local health food store.

Oregano tea. Oregano is good for treating cough, congestion and easing sore throat. Add lemon if desired and sweeten with honey or agave.

Sage tea. Also good for cough and congestion.

Chamomile tea. A calming herb that promotes relaxation.

Oregano oil. Good for treating cold symptoms. You can get them in capsules from your local pharmacy or natural food store. It may have a nasty after-taste, but it does work wonders! My dad makes his own, so I always have it in the house; it isn’t that potent, so you can take it straight from the dropper.

Oregano collage

Apple Cider Vinegar. A spoonful of ACV will help relieve chest congestion. ACV is also good for any issue from the mouth to the bum: gas, constipation, upset stomach, etc. This is pretty much a must have in your fridge all year around.

Onion. Eating a few slices of raw onion will also help relieve chest congestion. My younger sister gets sick ALL THE TIME and this year we tried the raw onion and in minutes she was breathing better. (I am so never doing this! – J)

Garlic. Garlic is an antimicrobial that is helpful in treating ailments such as sore throats, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, sinus congestion and lung congestion. Mince garlic and swallow with a spoonful of honey. Or make garlic tea by steeping a few garlic cloves in boiling water. Sweeten with honey and add lemon if desired. To treat an ear infection, heat a little olive oil in a pan and add minced garlic. Cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Let the garlic oil cool and place a few drops in the ear and place cotton to keep the oil in.


Steam baths. Great for treating upper respiratory congestion. Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl or pot of boiling hot water. Cover head with towel and breathe in the steam. Sage, thyme or mint leaves, which may be among your spices, or any of these as essential oils will work well too.

Elderberry syrup is useful to ward off colds. I always keep a bottle around and take a few spoonfuls if I am feeling a cold coming on.

Vitamin C. Same with vitamin C. I will start taking it if the beginning symptoms of a cold or flu present. You can get a good source of vitamin C from foods like oranges, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, lemons, etc.

Ginger. This is also a good remedy for congestion, colds and chills. Boil sliced ginger with lemon in a pot to make a tea. Sweeten with honey of desired. (My Vietnamese mother swears by fresh ginger tea – J)

Lemon. Lemon water helps to fight off fever. A spoonful of honey and lemon juice helps relieve sore throat and ease coughing.


For fevers, especially with little ones, placing slices of lemons or onions on the bottom of your feet helps relieve a fever. Simply place slices on the soles of the feet and cover with heavy socks.  The Lemon Calf Wrap works in the same way but with a few extra steps.

Do you use natural remedies or are you an over-the-counter type?

Have a happy and healthy winter!
Amina & Nuni

Guest Post: Holidays are Better with Buddies

While I’m in the process of moving, I’ve asked a few of my friends to play guest blogger. My friend Mollie Palmer moved to Helena around the same time I did. She is Director of Together for Hope Arkansas, a faith-based organization that focuses on youth development and literacy in the Arkansas Delta. She spends her days collaborating with local and outside churches and organizations to reduce rural poverty and inspire hope. I know, I know… It’s been awesome to see how she’s mentored so many kids in the area – many of whom are now adults.

For most of her time in Helena, Mollie has lived at the Beechwood Apartments, Helena’s own “Melrose Place.” The apartments are always full of a rotating group of young professionals, and over the last few years it has developed into its own micro-community. Beechwood has also become the center point for a good chunk of our social events, most of which revolve around eating lots of food and drinking lots of wine/beer. Here’s Mollie’s take on our community and the joy of celebrating the holidays with friends.  



Mollie Palmer


I grew up in the suburbs of Little Rock and am a lifelong Arkansan. Until I moved to Helena, most of my friends were from Arkansas, or if they were real outsiders, from Missouri or Tennessee.

But something has happened in this small town on the Mississippi River that has made it home for folks from all over the place. I’ve had friends in Helena from Seattle, Northern California, Minnesota, Utah, Colorado, Connecticut, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Indiana. Most of us are away from our families by at least a couple hours drive, if not a long flight.

We’ve all converged on Helena and are working to see our home be the best version of itself – teaching, mentoring teenagers, sharing the best parts of our community and inviting people from all over to join us. We love Helena. We love its beauty, its history, and its people. We love Helena even when it’s hard. We love the sense of community we’ve found here, the life that we get to share together of working and moving in the same direction.


Our holiday celebrations together are more than just a fun chance to gather. They’re our way of making family happen in our adopted hometown. And the food – oh, the food! Helena has limited restaurant options, so we spend time in our own kitchens, perfecting our favorite dishes. My friends are excellent cooks. Any given night in Helena we may gather over Thai or Indian or homemade pizza, but the food at our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings is special. We bring our mothers’ and grandmothers’ recipes and traditions to the table to share with our Helena family. Shannon’s family puts homemade noodles in their gravy. Stacy bakes fabulously, which is no surprise given the cupcake wars her family hosted a few years ago. No one can smoke meat of any kind better than Bernie.

For Thanksgiving this year, we had a giant potluck – bigger than last year’s! Roast turkey, pork loin and chutney, homemade bread, homemade mac and cheese, roasted green tomatoes and okra, salads, pie… Bounty. One big table, one big room, full of friends. (One big post-meal belly ache – J)


Since a big group of us all live in the same apartment complex, this year for Christmas we decided to pull together a progressive Christmas party – bacon wrapped dates at Kathleen’s, crostinis with herbed ricotta and fruit at Abby’s, turkey tacos with cranberry salsa that Julia helped me prepare, and chocolate mocha mousse and strawberry shortcakes at Stacy and Laura’s.

We’re not all celebrating for the same reasons. Some of us are celebrating a baby born 2,000 years ago. Others are celebrating a day’s worth of oil, providing light for eight whole days. Some are celebrating the spirit of giving and generosity, joy and hope.

Whatever the reason, our family of friends celebrating together is an irreplaceable part of our season now.

For our Christmas progressive dinner, Julia and I roasted a turkey breast with limes, oranges, garlic, cumin and chili powder, and roasted sweet potatoes with those spices and more! Everyone’s favorite addition to the turkey tacos was this cranberry salsa from (I ate this by the spoonful – J). It was a great taco topper, but would be great on its own as well. And it was so easy!

(source: Simply Recipes)


Cranberry Salsa (from Simply Recipes)
1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 an apple, peeled and cored
Chopped serrano or jalapeno chili to taste (I used two small jalapenos, the seeds of only one)
4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp chopped peeled ginger
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp of lime or lemon juice
Dash of salt

Put the cranberries, apple, chile, sugar, ginger, cilantro, and lime or lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until coarsely shredded, about 10 short pulses. Let sit 15 minutes for the cranberries to macerate, and you’re done.

Happy holidays!
Mollie P.

%d bloggers like this: