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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May 26, 2013

The world has burst into bloom. The forsythia and daffodils have faded, but azaleas, lilacs, flowering quince, cherry and apple trees (both wild and cultivated), the invasive but sweet-scented autumn olive, dandelion, lawn violets and many more have exploded with color and fragrance. 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,... more

May 19, 2013

Arriving for an out-of-town funeral a couple of weeks ago, I parked my car, stepped out to walk the short distance to the church. It felt as if I had something on the bottom of my shoe, and when I pull it off to look, I saw that the rubber sole was badly cracked and crumbling. I attempted a fix by ducking into the church basement and connecting with a man who supplied me with rolls of electrical tape and duct tape. But a yard of tape couldn't remedy the damage. The soles were too far gone. I... more

April 9, 2013

Most do-it-yourself bodycare articles seem to aim exclusively at women. But both men and women may have similar concerns about the products they use on their bodies, and like women, some men have taken to making their own. Lose the flowery scents, add a spicier one (or not), and the homemade products work well for men. When made from a few readily available ingredients, the homemade products are generally much less expensive, too. Repurpose or buy a few attractive glass bottles with caps or... more

March 27, 2013

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A humble, but amazing native North American shrub. Consider: Its bark, twigs, leaves and roots have been used for hundreds of years by native Americans to treat a host of ills. It’s one of only a handful of botanicals approved by the FDA as a drug, and its distilled extracts can still be found on most pharmacy shelves. Its extracts are used in many cosmetics and skin-care products, including aftershaves. It is under active investigation for... more

March 21, 2013

I live in a hardscrabble landscape, where the soil’s freeze-thaw cycles break up and thrust rocks deposited by the last glacier to the surface every spring. Highways and secondary roads bulge with “frost heaves,” boulders heaved up under the asphalt, which often create yawning crevasses in the pavement that will challenge bicyclists spinning by later. In my area of New Hampshire, the Granite State, you see evidence everywhere of the boulders our forefathers and their sturdy beasts dug up and... more

March 12, 2013

All natural! High-fiber! Multigrain! Only 2 grams of fat per serving! Contains real fruit! Food marketers have taken full advantage of Americans’ growing interest in the connection between good nutrition and good health. They pile on words chosen for their emotional appeal, to make the food seem healthy. But some of the most common food descriptors don’t carry any real meaning. Others falsely imply health benefits, or intentionally mislead consumers into believing a product is a healthy (or... more

February 22, 2013

Everybody needs a food garden. No matter how small your garden and meager your harvest, the fresh food you produce there will will be tasty and nutritious. It will connect you with the natural world. Okay, maybe you don’t have much or any outdoor space. It’s midwinter. Seed packets have yet to appear in local garden centers. Well, you could follow my earlier suggestion to grow baskets of winter greens under a shop light. But you could also start an indoor salad garden that would give you... more

February 13, 2013

I’ve found I can’t do much to prevent the rise of strong negative emotions—anger, panic, fear, anxiety, frustration, sadness, hopelessness, resentment. Besides, they’re often justifiable, especially in emotionally or physically toxic environments, and on those days when one calamity after another seems to strike. But ruminating on what caused the feelings or acting impulsively when I’m in the grip of a negative state does nothing to fix the situation and may send me on a downward spiral to a... more

January 22, 2013

A serious mid-January thaw turned our dirt driveway into the quagmire that usually doesn’t develop until late March or early April. The prospect of two (or more) mud seasons this year got me to thinking about…mud. Mud. Dirt and water. Such common stuff that it’s oozed its way into colloquial language: mud in your eye, mudslinging, stick-in-the-mud, clear as mud, muddy the waters, your name will be mud, happy as a pig in mud, splittin' the mud, dragging his name through the mud. For centuries,... more

January 14, 2013

Eating low(er) on the hog? Or maybe no hog at all? When I hear the common statement, “When  people can’t afford pork or beef, they move to chicken.” I always wonder, “But what about the folks who’ve already moved down from chicken to beans?” Well, many people have moved to eating more beans and lentils for reasons that may or may not include financial distress, including the health and environmental benefits of eating more plant foods, as well as ethical concerns over eating animals.   Who’s... more

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