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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January 9, 2016

Light deprivation, snow and ice storms, dangerous driving conditions, power outages, frozen pipes, the frenzy of winter holidays, overindulgence, weight gain: winter delivers a load of extra stress to those of us in the colder, darker regions. While we’re powerless to control most of these stress-inducing circumstances, we do have an abundance of choices for responding to stress and lessen its negative effects on our health and well-being. My favorite stress-busters don’t cost anything, require... more

January 7, 2016

What position do you find most comfortable for sleeping? Front, back, right side, left side?  Curled up, straight as a log, one leg over the other, splayed out across the entire bed?  One pillow? Two, three, none? Pillow between legs, under knees, under feet, under stomach? Head and chest elevated, or legs above head? A year ago, I suffered a life-altering concussion. Though I’ve mostly recovered, erratic sleep patterns remain one long-term consequence. I got to wondering if my sleeping... more

December 29, 2015

There’s nothing homelier—or, homier—than a steaming bowl of ordinary green/brown lentil soup. But, hey, looks aren’t everything. As a staple food, lentils seem to have everything but looks going for them. For starters, lentils (along with their close relatives beans, chickpeas, and dry peas called pulses)  have been called an “almost perfect food.” Low in fat and sodium, low-glycemic, gluten-free, and they’re an especially rich source of fiber, protein, folate, potassium, and antioxidant... more

December 25, 2015

Fire cider. The very name sounds like something you might want to try: half a dozen or more flavor-rich herbs and fruits, steeped for a few weeks in apple cider vinegar, then strained and bottled, perhaps with a bit of honey added to balance the acidity. This traditional winter tonic is renowned as a folk remedy to help ward off winter colds, flus, and other infirmities, or, as some prefer, to mix into salad dressings or festive grogs.  Although one company has trademarked the name Fire... more

December 19, 2015

Last summer we harvested a bumper crop of Anaheim-type chili peppers, many of which I roasted, peeled, and froze. Mmmm. Nothing gives winter comfort and joy better than a bowl of spicy chili or an aromatic pepper-laced vegetable soup simmered on the woodstove. Humans have been growing and eating hot peppers for at least 7,000 years, and for at least as long, indigenous healers have prescribed them in some form for pretty much everything that ails us, inside and out. Modern research has borne... more

December 5, 2015

It’s winter! In central New Hampshire where I live, snow from the first big storm of the season is falling and ice has covered the pond behind my house. I’ll get a lot of exercise today and tomorrow shoveling pathways, de-icing the driveway, and snowshoeing in the adjacent woods. Snow and ice also have many household uses. If you don’t have any just outside your kitchen door, use cubed or crushed ice from your freezer. Culinary uses Make maple sugar on snow. Growing up in Vermont in a family... more

November 8, 2015

Nothing speaks of fall and winter like the appearance of winter squashes and pumpkins in stores, farmers’ markets, and on our tables. It’s time to turn to the sweet, orange-fleshed hubbards, buttercups, butternuts, and acorns for comfort. Botanists also classify pumpkins among the winter squashes. Native to the New World, all varieties of squash and pumpkins belong to the genus Cucurbita within the large plant family Cucurbitacae. What is Winter Squash “Summer” squashes are varieties of... more

November 7, 2015

They arrive soon after you lie down to sleep: strange sensations creeping through your legs. People variously describe the sensations as tugging, pulling, tingling, stinging, throbbing, itching, or aching; others say it feels as if something is crawling or flowing inside their legs. The sensations produce a near-irresistible urge to get up and move around. This temporarily alleviates the problem, but it returns when you lie back down. It disrupts your sleep, and can disturb your sleeping ... more

November 4, 2015

From the moment we take that first breath, we keep breathing until we stop for good. But because breathing happens automatically, most of us rarely think about it, until we come down with a respiratory ailment or find ourselves puffing with exertion. Practice Breathing for Stress Relief Yet focused and deliberate attention to proper breathing is an ancient stress-relieving, health promoting technique. What’s more, it’s free, and doesn’t require equipment or professional help. Breathing... more

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


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