Living Naturally


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.

June 8, 2017

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of headlines about essential oils in connection to health. What are they, and why the big deal?  What Are Essential Oils? An essential oil is the liquid distilled from a plant that contains the phytochemicals that give the plant its characteristic aroma and flavor. They get their name because they represent the aromatic “essence“ of the plant they came from.   Age-Old Practice They may be trendy, but they’re not new. Chances are you or someone in your family... more

May 26, 2017

Oats are good for more than just breakfast. Read on to learn about the health benefits of oatmeal and oats, as well as what else they can do! Use Oats for Summer Relief The humble oat (Avena sativa) has a long history of medicinal uses use that continues to this day. Modern research suggests that oats or extracts of oats may reduces cholesterol, lower blood pressure, help prevent atherosclerosis, promote wound healing, and slow the proliferation of colon cancer cells. For at least 4,000 years,... more

May 20, 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

May 15, 2017

What are invasive plants? How do you keep invasive plants from spreading? Let’s dig in! Have you ever stopped along a country roadside and dug up a flowering plant near the edge of a drainage ditch, thinking it would make a lovely addition to your garden? Or made a fall wreath from a climbing vine with gorgeous orange berries, then later tossed the wreath into the bushes out behind the garage? Or maybe you’ve decided to let a piece of the lawn go wild to reduce mowing, or bought a piece of... more

May 15, 2017

Most of us are used to thinking of “exercise” as something to do in a gym, but we’re over looking common ways to get our hearts and lungs pumping, strengthen our muscles, and stretch everything out in the ordinary activities of everyday life. Ironically, a lot of these opportunities fall under the heading of tasks, often ones we dread or put off doing! Why should you care? Almost daily, some new study reveals another health benefit of regular exercise (e.g.,This Is Your Brain on Exercise.... more

May 7, 2017

At the end of each year or early into the new year, famous chefs, food critics, food writers, restaurant and supermarket associations, and others predict food trends for the coming year. I always enjoy these prognostications. Some simply repackage old ideas about food; others reflect contemporary ideas that have been bubbling up for years and have finally burst into the wider public eye. If you’re into great-tasting food, good health, and a healthy environment, you’ll probably find yourself... more

April 25, 2017

Fading blond? Mousy brown? Bring on the rhubarb! Here’s how to naturally lighten your hair using nothing but rhubarb and water. You’ve heard of champagne blond, strawberry blond, and honey blond. Since it’s rhubarb season here in New England, let me introduce the Rhubarb Blond. But first a bit of background. Rhubarb has a history of medicinal and cosmetic use that spans more than 3,000 years, and people didn’t even begin eating rhubarb stalks until the late 1700s. Rhubarb originated in Central... more

April 24, 2017

What do you know about the mint family, Lamiaceae, the sixth- or seventh-largest of the flowering plant families? There’s a lot to admire about the family of plants that provides most of our common culinary herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, summer and winter savories), many of our favorite tea herbs, and dozens (perhaps hundreds) of traditional medicinal herbs, not to mention many aromatics for use in flavorings, perfumes, and cosmetics. You’ll also find some of them... more

April 19, 2017

As with life, years of gardening experience yield knowledge—so remember that there’ll be mistakes and learning along the way! Here are three crops that have always been winners for me. The more you grow, the more you know. An old-time once shared this adage, after I’d recounted a series of crop failures in my early gardening days. Back then, I simply followed the directions on the backs of seed packets and queried other gardeners when things didn’t go as I’d hoped. The old gardener had given... more

April 10, 2017

Lack of motivation can be a pervasive and debilitating problem, but do not despair—there are ways to get yourself motivated! Read on for a few tips on improving self-motivation. Forever — is composed of Nows —Emily Dickinson Spring has arrived. The days stretch longer, you’ve (probably) put away the snow shovels, seen the first leaves unfurl, and the first crocus pop up. But what refuses to pop up? Your self-motivation. Your get-up-and-go. You have a lot to get up for: a stalled work... more


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