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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August 12, 2013

It ain’t easy bein’ green ~ Kermit the Frog, 1970 Green living, green goods, green buildings, green cars. What does it mean to be green, anyway? Faced with climate change, species extinction, poisoned air/soil/food/water, pharmaceutical drugs flushed into drinking water, mountains of solid and toxic wastes for disposal, the many people concerned about the negative effects of modern living on our common environment have adopted a broad, complex, and ever-evolving range of strategies to address... more

August 4, 2013

Whenever we eat at the other one’s house, my sister Patty (we call her Pad) and I invariably exclaim that the meal was better than anything we could have eaten anywhere in the world that day. We aren’t just being polite. We both love to cook, and we often joke about writing a family cookbook. We aim for dishes that are nutritious, cheap, uncomplicated, easy, and fast. We also like to have fun and stay creative in the kitchen. And, of course, we love to eat. But our methods are probably not... more

July 24, 2013

In my last post, I presented myself as something of a food maverick who doesn’t follow recipes, rarely measure ingredients, and almost never prepares a dish twice in the same way. All true. But please note that in the arena of food safety, I’m a stickler for the rules. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) get sick from something they’ve eaten; 128,000 of them end up in the hospital, and 3,000 die.... more

July 15, 2013

From the day she got her driver’s license until she graduated from college, my daughter Molly and I shared a car. Not much of a car, either, a vintage Dodge Shadow—fire-engine red with red hubcaps.  “Hideous! It’s so embarrassing, mom.” As a single mom on an exceptionally tight budget, I couldn’t afford to buy and insure a car for Molly, and most of the money she earned during the summer went into her college account. In those days, I had a full-time job in Concord, about 16 miles away. In the... more

July 11, 2013

Among the many benefits of living in a small town like mine: the sense of safety and psychological well-being that come from knowing the folks you can rely on in emergencies or when you need something done you can’t do yourself. I’m talking about more than that (important) “sense of community” connection, and more than just a list of emergency numbers. I mean the deep sense of security that comes from actually knowing as friends and neighbors the skilled tradespeople with earth-moving, brush-... more

July 2, 2013

Probably since humans began tending gardens, we’ve used them as metaphors. What happens in the garden—are, love, and nurture; pests and pestilences; drought and drowning; death and dying and rebirth; never-ending change, and despite our illusions of mastery, so very little of it actually under human control–mirrors what goes on in the other areas of our lives. My garden is surely a metaphor for the rest of my life. You’d never mistake it (or for that matter, my home) for one of those spreads... more

June 17, 2013

Last week I came across some Internet sites about herb-based first-aid kits. In addition to standard items such as scissors, bandages, and sterile gauze pads, most sites recommended packaged dried herbs for tea, a collection of essential oils, herbal creams and salves and a few alcohol tinctures. Serendipitously, although I’m a teetotaler, I was heading for town that day to buy a bottle of vodka to make a few tinctures to supplement my own first-aid supplies. Herbal tinctures are really easy... more

June 5, 2013

Ironically, the day I began writing this post, our local paper featured a front-page story titled, “The end of home ec.” It explained that home economics courses (now called “family and consumer sciences”) were on the verge of elimination due to changes in the state’s minimum education standards. Did you know our very word economy comes from two Greek words that mean household and stewardship? The field of inquiry, scholarship, and practice called “home economics” picked up a bad reputation as... more

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

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