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.

June 5, 2014

Many years ago, I invested a big chunk of my tax refund on a 20-quart stainless steel stockpot at a gourmet cooking shop. For the first couple of years, I used it mostly for stewing tomatoes in preparation for canning tomato sauce. I still use it that way every August and September. But the stockpot has become one of my most used and useful household tools. I think everyone should own one. (I now own two.) Buy the largest, heaviest one you can afford. Here’s why: Cook for a crowd. A big... more

May 12, 2014

What do you know about the mint family, the Lamiaceae, the sixth- or seventh-largest of the flowering plant families? There’s a lot to admire about the family of plants that provides most of our common culinary herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, summer and winter savories), many of our favorite tea herbs, and dozens (perhaps hundreds) of traditional medicinal herbs, not to mention many aromatics for use in flavorings, perfumes, and cosmetics. You’ll also find some of... more

April 28, 2014

My new favorite exercise tool: trekking poles. I’ve mentioned them briefly before, specifically in the context of winter exercise. I use them for snowshoeing to improve traction and balance, help me navigate up, down, and across steep hills, as well as over fallen logs. They also come in handy for fording unfrozen seeps and for pushing brush and branches out of the way. I got my poles many years ago as a gift—lightweight aluminium and telescoping (adjustable), with a bouncy, spring-loaded... more

April 14, 2014

I’d always considered daytime napping a slothful time-waster.  I also remember reading popular articles that pronounced daytime napping would reduce the quality of nighttime sleep. A friend gave me a ratty recliner for recuperation after my knee-replacement surgery. It doesn’t match the decor, takes up way too much space, but man, is it comfy. I found it a perfect place to nod off. Is napping a no-no? It turns out that napping is actually good for your health. Good-quality sleep: essential for... more

April 8, 2014

Everybody’s seen the articles suggesting that eating a lot of vegetables—the more the better—can improve general health, reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, stabilize mood, and sharpen mental powers. But eating more and more vegetables (and fruits) places increasing strains on the family food budget, so perhaps your mind turns to growing your own. You’ll find plenty of magazine, newspaper, and website articles suggesting you’ll save big bucks with a vegetable garden. You begin dreaming…... more

March 24, 2014

I live on a secondary road, and of necessity my daily walks often take me along the road. Someday I’ll catalogue the items of trash I’ve found on the roadside over the decades, a book-length exercise for sure. But for now: A battered left-hand rawhide glove protruding from a mound of dirty snow. The lid from a flimsy plastic deli container that once held olives. An antique metal vegetable peeler. A pair of black tights with runs in them. I’ve written about multipurpose living and my fondness... more

March 12, 2014

The new equipment at my local gym sure looks good. Rows of sleek, ergonomic cable machines, a matching set of free-weight stands and platforms, and a bunch of cool new aerobic machines: bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, stair climbers—even one that mimics skate-skiing—many of them with programmable screens that let you select and pretend to cruise along through workout environment. I've had a membership there for 30 years. I love the place, with its warm, welcoming environment that attracts... more

February 19, 2014

I’ve made homemade pizza nearly every Saturday night for many years. What’s more, I’ve (unscientifically) calculated that the process of making my scrumptious pizzas actually consumes more calories than they deliver. So, you probably want the recipe, right?   It all starts in late September. Collect fall leaves and pine needles to replenish supply of garden mulch; store large stacks of cardboard hauled home from town dump (to keep weeds down under the electric woodchuck fence).   ... more

January 30, 2014

Shortly after returning a long showshoe hike in the woods near my house a few days ago, an online news headline caught my attention: Noise is No. 1 quality-of-life complaint in NYC. The caption under a photo accompanying the article read, “In 2013, the city’s 311 hotline got more than 260,000 calls about excessive noise, up 30 percent in two years.” I flashed back 20 years or so to a public hearing in my small town over a proposal to install a small sawmill on a road about half a mile from any... more

January 15, 2014

Public health officials tell us the “portion size” in American meals is way out of whack. It's out of whack with our metabolic needs, that plate size, bowl size, cup size, muffin size, restaurant serving size, and movie-popcorn-bucket size have expanded dramatically in recent decades, and along with that, the size of our hips and tummies. Some experts suggest shrinking the size of our plates and bowls, or eating healthier meals from a large plate and calorie-dense, less healthy choices on... more


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