Living Naturally

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About this Blog

Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.

March 21, 2017

Looking for advice on a healthful eating plan? There are so many diets that it can set your head to spinning. It reminded me to get back to basics. Diet Confusion You have a lot of diet choices. To name a few: fruitarian, pescetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian,  omnivorian, macrobiotic, ketogenic, Mediterranean, low-FODMAP, Pritikin, Atkins, Zone, Paleo, South Beach. Low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, high-fat, high-protein, low-protein. Raw-food diet, fully-raw diet, blood-type... more

March 20, 2017

Are high heeled shoes good for you—or, harmful to your bodies? Why do people wear high heels, anyway? My daughter Molly came home from elementary school one day and announced they’d had a substitute teacher, because (let’s call her) “Miss Robertson was in the hospital with a kidney infection she got from wearing high heels.” It’s true, every time I’d seen Miss Robertson, she’d been wearing high heels. But had they caused a kidney infection? Maybe … but probably not. High Heels and Health... more

March 10, 2017

When it comes to spring-cleaning or any kind of housecleaning, I use six admirably versatile array of natural cleaning products: vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, salt, borax, wood ash. I started using these products many years ago, mostly because so many commercial cleaning products gave me headaches and irritated my eyes and nasal passages. The headaches stopped, the natural products worked well, and they’ve saved a lot of money over the years. Also, let me admit that I count myself among... more

March 6, 2017

My mother dosed her family with generous amounts of dandelion greens as soon as she discovered their bright leaves poking up through the thatch of the back lawn. One of nine children growing up during the Depression on a Vermont dairy farm, Mom regaled us with many stories of the wild-food foraging that supplemented the self-reliant family diet. Dandelions, the first fresh greens of spring, ranked high on her list of important foraged foods. I inherited my mother’s dandelion fork, a simple... more

March 5, 2017

Trouble getting up and out the door in the morning? Tired of waddling around in that extra 10 (or more) pounds you’ve added since Thanksgiving? Here’s an idea: Go racing! I’m talking about an ordinary footrace that you run—or, walk—with ordinary people, not world-class runners. You can find a local 5k run just about every weekend in your neck of the woods, sometimes during summer evenings after work, and often as part of holiday festivities or local celebrations. The running courses may wind... more

March 1, 2017

If you burn firewood, you have wood ashes. There are many surprising uses for those ashes around the garden and home. Each cord of firewood that you burn leaves you with 20 pounds of ashes or more, depending on your fuel source, heating appliance, and wood-burning skill. Safety First As with all aspects of wood heating, use vigilance and common sense in handling and managing your ashes. Store them in a covered metal container set on dirt or concrete a few feet in all directions from any... more

February 22, 2017

Eeow! Startled from a deep sleep, you suddenly come to with a shriek, as your calf, thigh, or maybe the arch of your foot contracts in violent pain. Emerging groggily from the edge of sleep or from a deep sleep, you struggle to straighten your leg, pull your toes forward, perhaps kneading the knotted muscles with your thumbs. After the spasms subside, you may get up and try to hobble around a bit to loosen up the painful area a little more. By now you’re completely awake, and you may not... more

February 15, 2017

I’ve baked my own whole-grain bread for more than 40 years (the kind food writers call “rustic”). I don’t think I’ve ever bought a loaf of bread. Yet store-bought white bread somehow occasionally puts in an appearance here, and I will say it serves a number of surprising household uses that don’t involve consuming it. Almost worth keeping a  loaf on hand in the freezer. Make a poultice. Soaking a piece of bread in hot milk is a renowned folk remedy for bringing an unripe boil or pimple to a... more

February 13, 2017

Trillions of bacteria live inside our body. There’s an entire ecosystem—or, microbiome—that we host! It turns out that these bacteria greatly influence our health—from obesity to allergies to our autoimmune system. What can we do to change our diet and lifestyle to improve our well-being? What is a microbiome? What does it do?  The microbiome is the genetic material of all our microbes—bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses - that live on and inside the human body. Microbes outnumber our... more

February 10, 2017

If you haven’t eaten cabbage in a while, we urge you to look again at this healthy, unsung hero of the vegetable world.  Before we had the little greenhouse that enables us to grow salad and cooking greens all winter, we grew between 50 and 100 green and red cabbages each year—and ate them all. I loved looking at them as they grew like giant flowers in the garden, then as they rested side by side in the root cellar. Last spring was the first time in 40-plus years of gardening that I didn’t... more

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