Living Naturally

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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.

April 25, 2017

Fading blond? Mousy brown? Bring on the rhubarb! Here’s how to naturally lighten your hair using nothing but rhubarb and water. You’ve heard of champagne blond, strawberry blond, and honey blond. Since it’s rhubarb season here in New England, let me introduce the Rhubarb Blond. But first a bit of background. Rhubarb has a history of medicinal and cosmetic use that spans more than 3,000 years, and people didn’t even begin eating rhubarb stalks until the late 1700s. Rhubarb originated in Central... more

April 24, 2017

What do you know about the mint family, 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 them... more

April 19, 2017

As with life, years of gardening experience yields knowledge—so remember they’ll be mistakes and learning along the way! Here are three crops that have always been winners for me. The more you grow, the more you know. An old-time once shares this adage, after I’d recounted a series of crop failures in my early gardening days. Back then, I simply followed the directions on the backs of seed packets and queried other gardeners when things didn’t go as I’d hoped. The old gardener had given me a... more

April 10, 2017

Lack of motivation can be a pervasive and debilitating problem, but do not despair—there are ways to get yourself motivated! Read on for a few tips on improving self-motivation. Forever — is composed of Nows —Emily Dickinson Spring has arrived. The days stretch longer, you’ve (probably) put away the snow shovels, seen the first leaves unfurl, and the first crocus pop up. But what refuses to pop up? Your self-motivation. Your get-up-and-go. You have a lot to get up for: a stalled work... more

April 2, 2017

If you burn firewood, you have wood ashes. There are many surprising uses for those ashes around the garden and home. Each cord of firewood that you burn leaves you with 20 pounds of ashes or more, depending on your fuel source, heating appliance, and wood-burning skill. Safety First As with all aspects of wood heating, use vigilance and common sense in handling and managing your ashes. Store them in a covered metal container set on dirt or concrete a few feet in all directions from any... more

March 28, 2017

Fire Cider boosts your health with herbs stewed in apple-cider vinegar. Fire Cider. The very name sounds like something you might want to try: half a dozen or more flavor-rich herbs and fruits, steeped for a few weeks in apple cider vinegar, then strained and bottled, perhaps with a bit of honey added to balance the acidity. This traditional winter and early spring tonic is renowned as a folk remedy to help ward off winter colds, flus, and other infirmities, or, as some prefer, to mix into... more

March 21, 2017

I love rocks! Do you? Just like the early Americans, I put them to good use, too. In my state of New Hampshire, the Granite State, you see evidence everywhere of the boulders our forefathers and their sturdy beasts dug up and hauled away to make room for pastures and row crops. It’s 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... more

March 18, 2017

Looking for advice on a healthful eating plan? There are so many diets that it can set your head to spinning. It reminded me to get back to basics. Diet Confusion You have a lot of diet choices. To name a few: fruitarian, pescetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian,  omnivorian, macrobiotic, ketogenic, Mediterranean, low-FODMAP, Pritikin, Atkins, Zone, Paleo, South Beach. Low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, high-fat, high-protein, low-protein. Raw-food diet, fully-raw diet, blood-type... more

March 15, 2017

Are high heeled shoes good for you—or, harmful to your bodies? Why do people wear high heels, anyway? My daughter Molly came home from elementary school one day and announced they’d had a substitute teacher, because (let’s call her) “Miss Robertson was in the hospital with a kidney infection she got from wearing high heels.” It’s true, every time I’d seen Miss Robertson, she’d been wearing high heels. But had they caused a kidney infection? Maybe … but probably not. High Heels and Health... more

March 10, 2017

When it comes to spring-cleaning or any kind of housecleaning, I use six admirably versatile array of natural cleaning products: vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, salt, borax, wood ash. I started using these products many years ago, mostly because so many commercial cleaning products gave me headaches and irritated my eyes and nasal passages. The headaches stopped, the natural products worked well, and they’ve saved a lot of money over the years. Also, let me admit that I count myself among... more

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