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.

February 15, 2017

I’ve baked my own whole-grain bread for more than 40 years (the kind food writers call “rustic”). I don’t think I’ve ever bought a loaf of bread. Yet store-bought white bread somehow occasionally puts in an appearance here, and I will say it serves a number of surprising household uses that don’t involve consuming it. Almost worth keeping a  loaf on hand in the freezer. Make a poultice. Soaking a piece of bread in hot milk is a renowned folk remedy for bringing an unripe boil or pimple to a... more

February 13, 2017

Trillions of bacteria live inside our body. There’s an entire ecosystem—or, microbiome—that we host! It turns out that these bacteria greatly influence our health—from obesity to allergies to our autoimmune system. What can we do to change our diet and lifestyle to improve our well-being? What is a microbiome? What does it do?  The microbiome is the genetic material of all our microbes—bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses - that live on and inside the human body. Microbes outnumber our... more

January 30, 2017

You leak a little or a lot, or you go so often it’s begun affecting your quality of life. You wonder if you suffer from the “overactive bladder” you’ve been hearing about so much about these days. Just what is overactive bladder (nicknamed OAB), anyway? First, while it can be embarrassing, even alarming, overactive bladder is not a disease. It is a condition, marked by an unexpected urge to urinate, sometimes accompanied by an involuntary loss of urine. Overactive bladder is common,... more

January 22, 2017

But did you know that the flowers of hundreds of common wild and cultivated plants are edible? Yes, there are many flowers that you can eat! 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, chamomile and jasmine tea. But did you know that the flowers of hundreds of common wild and cultivated plants are edible? Dressing up your... more

January 14, 2017

How do you start working out? How do you get back in shape? How do you stick to it? These are common questions! Here are some tips to help you start exercising again, even if you do not have a gym membership. Let’s start with this thought: If your doctor gave you a prescription that she said would improve your mood, improve energy, keep you mentally sharp, help you manage weight, reduce your risk of disease and injury, improve your sex life, extend your life span, and cost little to nothing,... more

January 10, 2017

The Japanese poetic form called haiku seems perfectly tailored as a discipline for someone who writes about “natural living.” In its classical form, a haiku requires 1. a natural or seasonal reference; 2. three lines of text—the first and third lines containing five syllables, the middle line containing seven; 3. two concrete, sensory images separated by a pivotal phrase or word that links them, often in some surprising way. The requirement for a seasonal reference draws attention to what’s... more

January 7, 2017

Ever had a blizzard or snowstorm cause power outages or emergency conditions? How do you prepare and survive? Up here in northern New England, we have had our fair share of walloping Nor’easters. Last year, blizzard conditions rolled into town one night, and we’d accumulated 10 inches of wet, heavy snow, and lost power within hours. When we lose power, our two wood stoves—one of them a modern cookstove with an oven—keep us warm and well-fed, and prevent our pipes from freezing. Before the ... more

December 14, 2016

How can we avoid colds and flu naturally? Both—along with pneumonia, strep, chicken pox, and norovirus infections (“stomach flu”)— rise dramatically during the winter months. We even suffer more (and more damaging) heart attacks and strokes during winter. Why do we fall prey to these infections and cardiovascular events more often in winter, anyway? It turns out that the answers are complex, elusive, and still evolving. For a long time, experts told us that we catch more colds and flu in winter... more

December 12, 2016

Ever heard of “slow walking”? It may sound too good to be true, but simply walking slowly and consciously is good for your health. You’ve probably heard about Slow Food, Slow Money, and maybe even Slow Design. They’re part of a growing Slow Movement, which involves downshifting to invite more meaning, connection, awareness, and wellbeing into our lives. It can apply to any activity. This ancient form of meditation and centering differs from walking for exercise (for weight loss or... more

November 15, 2016

You know the canned beans liquid that most people just dump down the drain? It turns out that the leftover “juice” is the perfect egg replacer called “aquafaba.” When I heard about aquafaba, I was filled with such disbelief that I had to get up and make some right away! Here’s how: Ingredients Use the liquid from a can of beans or the liquid left after you cook dried beans. Any bean will do, but most folks find that using the juice from low-sodium white beans or chickpeas is best.... more

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