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.

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October 30, 2015

“After the ecstasy, the laundry.”  I’d say that famous zen saying also holds for agony. Yes, the laundry always awaits. Ecstasy or agony, laundry is a metaphor for everything about daily living that demands attention, and so also becomes part of a spiritual practice. In this case, it meant turning my attention to making new batches of homemade laundry detergent and oxygen bleach, both of them cheap, easy, effective, and non-toxic to humans and the environment. Homemade detergent Ten minutes of... more

October 20, 2015

Ever had a canker sore? These small white lesions can appear anywhere inside the mouth, including the gums, tongue, and inside of the lips.  They can make eating and drinking mighty uncomfortable for a week or more.  What are Canker Sores? Canker sores are whitish, red-bordered, slightly-cratered sores inside the mouth. Medical science knows that these commonly occurring sores by the somewhat frightening names, aphthous stomatitis, or aphthous ulcers. Women are more susceptible to canker... more

October 14, 2015

Among only a few native North American fruits cultivated commercially in the modern era, cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) stand out as a culinary star of the holiday feasting season. But their season doesn’t last long. Harvested from late September through October, the fresh fruit is only available through Christmas. I like to pick up several bags of fresh berries, pop them into appropriate containers and freeze them to use all winter. Only about 15 percent of the crop is marketed as fresh... more

October 13, 2015

Celery. Almost every refrigerator holds a sleeve of it. Raw, it’s a grab-and-go food, with a satisfying crunch and a handy groove for holding anything spreadable. Cooked, it imparts a delicate flavor to salads, soups, and stir-fries. And it has only 11 calories per cup. Yet it is most often described as bland, boring, watery. Nonetheless, celery qualifies as a high-powered health food. Although it isn’t strong in conventional nutrients, it does contain dozens of phytonutrients. Celery’s Health... more

October 11, 2015

I’ve blogged about apples before, but it’s time for an update since it’s apple harvest season. Find local apples at pick-your-own operations, farmstands, farmers’ markets, and even supermarkets. I love most any apple variety, but I’m especially looking forward to the McCouns (my favorite for eating fresh), and the Baldwin and Northern Spy varieties that come later in October (best for longer storage). Apples’ Health Benefits Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Research keeps accumulating... more

October 6, 2015

Do you get cold sores on your mouth or body? Wondering what causes cold sores and how to get rid of them? Read on. What are Cold Sores, Exactly? First of all, you are not alone. Cold sores are VERY common. In late October, the World Health Organization published research estimating that two-thirds of people around the globe—3.7 billion of us—are infected with something called “herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV–1).”   In other words:  If you’ve got a cold sore, you have HSV-1, but the rest... more

September 30, 2015

I’ll admit to a lifelong coffee addiction. I drink it strong, black, and unsweetened. We buy ours from our local food co-op—fair-trade, organic French Roast—and grind it fresh for every pot. I will say also that coffee contradicts many of my values. I stay far away from other addictive substances. I certainly don’t grow it myself and my consumption doesn’t support local agriculture. And yet, drinking lots of coffee—as much as 3-5 or more cups per day—has been associated with numerous health... more

September 19, 2015

The humble beet, steamed, boiled, roasted, pickled, borscht’ed—but especially served raw—has emerged as a nutrient-dense food considered especially beneficial for health. If you’ve never considered beets for breakfast, snacks, or potluck food, these facts may spark your imagination: Research has demonstrated that eating beets, especially raw, or drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, and improve both exercise performance and blood flow to the brain—probably because of the high... more

September 17, 2015

There's a famous New Yorker cartoon from the early 1990’s (click on image to enlarge) about recycling. It shows a long stream of people trudging up the many switchbacks of a flaming ramp to deposit items in an endless string of boxes labeled tea bags, wadded up masking tape, broken ball point pens, not blue paper, etc. The cartoon is captioned Recycling in Hell. That’s how I feel about most artsy-crafty projects that “repurpose” household discards. While I love seeing those chandeliers from... more

July 17, 2015

Scientists have determined that each of us has a unique “odor-print,” as distinctive as our fingerprints! Nope, this odor-print isn’t altered by your recent garlic-laden meal or by perfumes, aftershaves, or deodorants.  Your individual odor-print is created by different amounts of 120 chemical compounds. When there is disease, your body produces different odors, some of which dogs can identify! Some day, understanding these odors may help us diagnose diseases earlier and more accurately. Below... more

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