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.

January 11, 2015

Today, athletic clothing has come a long way. You can find affordable sports clothes that are lightweight, flexible, wicking, supportive, and comfortable. I wonder: why can't we have affordable everyday “fashion” clothing that performs as well? For example, look at what the sports designers have developed: Lightweight garments that contain built-in, supportive underwear. Fabrics that wick sweat away from the body, so we don’t have to suffer in wet, clammy tops, pants, or socks.... more

December 21, 2014

O snail Climb Mount Fuji But slowly, slowly! ― Kobayashi Issa I’d describe most of the meaningful changes in my life as as quantum changes, seemingly sudden transformations when I felt as if I’d fallen asleep in my old life and awoken into an entirely new one, seemingly without effort or even intention. After some period of adjustment, I’ve always welcomed these transformations. Intractable problems and impossible challenges faded away, while new, previously unforeseen possibilities swam... more

December 3, 2014

Ever had a blizzard or snowstorm disrupt holiday plans? How do you prepare and survive? A walloping Nor’easter was heading our way this past Thanksgiving holiday, forcing us to cancel plans to join my sister and her family in Vermont for the feast. Oh well. Not the first time it’s happened where we live up here in northern New England. 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. We went... more

November 17, 2014

It has been snowing, sleeting, and raining. A cruel wind punches through my fleece jacket, and the forecast warns of nighttime temperatures dipping into the low 20s. I fill the woodbox and light the fire in our living room woodstove. Ah! So cozy. I felt like washing down a plate of holiday cookies with a mug of hot cocoa smothered in whipped cream, sinking back into my recliner, and waking up in April. Whoa! Forget New Year’s resolutions. This is the time of year I aim to bolster my resolve to... more

October 4, 2014

It seems like a good idea: “antimicrobial” soap! There's also antimicrobial body wash, toothpaste, and household cleaning products that promise to kill all manner of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, a few of which cause human illnesses. Americans are exposed to 2.2 million pounds of antimicrobial agents in soaps and body washes each year. Yet there’s no scientific evidence that outside of healthcare settings antimicrobial products offer any more protection against disease than... more

September 15, 2014

Every so often, most of us go through a few days, weeks, or months when a raft of problems—simultaneously or following one on another in close sequence—emerges to trouble our lives. We’ve had one of those summers. Without droning through the entire litany, I’ll touch on the most significant: In mid-June, the water pump that had wheezed and heaved in the cellar for many decades pulling water up from a deep artesian well, finally gave up the ghost, necessitating an expensive earth-moving and... more

August 20, 2014

If, like me, you grow or receive more zucchini in August than you know what to do with, this post is for you. It’s also for you if you love garlic and if you’re ready to see basil as a green vegetable (i.e., best served in large amounts) than as a mere a seasoning ingredient. As soon as our last frost date has passed, I plant a long row of common basil in my vegetable garden, alongside the early salad crops—spinach, lettuces, carrots, beets, and mesclun salad mixes—I’ve already planted. Basil... more

July 29, 2014

Hurrah! It’s corn-on-the-cob season across the nation, and I grew a few rows of corn this year. Corn is great for eating but also has so many other uses including medicinal. Although some folks like to grill and even deep-fry (!)it, for me there’s nothing like plopping an armload of just-picked-and-husked corn into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and gobbling a few ears plain or with salt and butter. Corn is the only native American grain, cultivated by Central American natives for at... more

July 12, 2014

Mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies and horse flies, no see-ums. Poison ivy. Swimmer’s itch. Heat rash. Pollen allergies. Healing, peeling sunburns. These tormentors balance out the luscious scents, sounds, and sights of summer around here. Most of them have already visited me. Prevention As with most afflictions, prevention beats any amount of treatment or cure. The best prevention for insect bites: Cover up completely, leaving no exposed skin. You can buy a head-covering or a complete suit,... more

June 26, 2014

Herbal salves (a term often used interchangeably with ointments, creams, balms, and unguents; I've never found definitions that differentiate them clearly) have come down through the ages as the premier household first-aid for scrapes, burns, wounds, itches, stings, bruises, diaper rashes, and more. Often expensive to buy, they’re relatively cheap and easy to make. Early to midsummer is a great time of year to try your hand at it. Many healing herbs are in full leaf and have just begun to... more


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