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 6, 2017

Trouble getting up and out the door in the morning? Hoping to lose some weight, as we shed layers of clothes for warmer weather? Run (or walk) in a local footrace! I’m not talking about a race with world-class runners. Make your goal this season an ordinary 5k walk or run with ordinary people—of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels.   Everyone is an athlete. The only difference is that some of us are in training, and some are not. –George A. Sheehan   Find a Low-Key 5k Run or Walk... 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

January 30, 2017

You leak a little or a lot, or you go so often it’s begun affecting your quality of life. You wonder if you suffer from the “overactive bladder” you’ve been hearing about so much about these days. Just what is overactive bladder (nicknamed OAB), anyway? First, while it can be embarrassing, even alarming, overactive bladder is not a disease. It is a condition, marked by an unexpected urge to urinate, sometimes accompanied by an involuntary loss of urine. Overactive bladder is common,... more

January 22, 2017

But did you know that the flowers of hundreds of common wild and cultivated plants are edible? Yes, there are many flowers that you can eat! For centuries, humans have foraged or cultivated flowers and flower buds for food, drink, and medicine. Think broccoli, cauliflower, and artichoke, stuffed or stir-fried squash blossoms dill-flower spiked pickles, chamomile and jasmine tea. But did you know that the flowers of hundreds of common wild and cultivated plants are edible? Dressing up your... more

January 14, 2017

How do you start working out? How do you get back in shape? How do you stick to it? These are common questions! Here are some tips to help you start exercising again, even if you do not have a gym membership. Let’s start with this thought: If your doctor gave you a prescription that she said would improve your mood, improve energy, keep you mentally sharp, help you manage weight, reduce your risk of disease and injury, improve your sex life, extend your life span, and cost little to nothing,... more

January 7, 2017

Ever had a blizzard or snowstorm cause power outages or emergency conditions? How do you prepare and survive? Up here in northern New England, we have had our fair share of walloping Nor’easters. Last year, blizzard conditions rolled into town one night, and we’d accumulated 10 inches of wet, heavy snow, and lost power within hours. When we lose power, our two wood stoves—one of them a modern cookstove with an oven—keep us warm and well-fed, and prevent our pipes from freezing. Before the ... more

January 2, 2017

The Japanese poetic form called haiku seems perfectly tailored as a discipline for someone who writes about “natural living.” In its classical form, a haiku requires 1. a natural or seasonal reference; 2. three lines of text—the first and third lines containing five syllables, the middle line containing seven; 3. two concrete, sensory images separated by a pivotal phrase or word that links them, often in some surprising way. The requirement for a seasonal reference draws attention to what’s... more

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