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.

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

January 13, 2014

Looking for an alternative to those lofty New Year’s resolutions you always abandon long before Valentine’s Day rolls around? Try self-trickery. It often works for me. Here’s the dilemma: I know I need to change (something). I’m also aware I don’t want to do the work that seems to be required, or I would have changed already. Escaping an established habit or routine feels uncomfortable, and I’m likely to slip back into the comfortable, well-worn grooves of habit. The kind of trickery I’m... more

January 9, 2014

There’s a lot to love about a good old-fashioned blizzard. But first, let me dispense with the caveats: There’s a lot to love, if you don’t have to travel by car or plane, you have a safe, secure home with emergency provisions for water, heat, light, food, and means of communicating with the rest of the world in case of a power outage.  We’re in the final hours of the appropriately named storm, Hercules, which dropped more than a foot of snow in a 24-hour period, during which the temperature... more

December 11, 2013

It’s a frigid December day here in New Hampshire, so I have both woodstoves going, the kitchen cookstove and the one that sits on a brick hearth in the living room. Despite the work and, yes, the mess (sawdust, ashes, smoke), I love heating with wood. There’s nothing as comforting as the radiant heat it provides. And there’s no other artifact I can think of that’s quite as multifunctional. Let’s start with the exercise. There’s no getting around the reality that if you heat with cordwood, you’... more

December 11, 2013

I have five pieces of cast-iron cookware: two frying pans, a flat skillet, a biscuit pan, and a popover pan. I love looking at them and cooking with them. What’s not to love? The price was right (two handed down from my mom, two from the “free mall” at the town dump, and one from a thrift store). All five pieces were old, well-used, and relatively well-seasoned—black with a rich patina—when I got them. The seasoning self-maintains itself with regular use of the cookware. They bear the heft and... more

December 2, 2013

Have you considered trying an over-the-counter (OTC) herbal remedy to treat a medical condition, or to prevent illness? If so, do your research and proceed with caution. I’m a lover of plants and a big believer in their healing properties. In the words of one research biologist, “plants are the master chemists.” Every plant manufactures thousands of phytochemicals, many of them for self-protection against disease organisms, ultraviolet radiation, and other forms of environmental adversity.... more


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