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.

September 26, 2016

Is fidgeting your legs or body harmful or helpful to health?  We’ve all sat next to that guy whose constant knee-pumping rattles the floor and distracts everyone in the vicinity from their work. Or, there is the meeting participant who drums her fingers on the table, even when others attempt to speak. I myself have been guilty of neck-rolling during conversations, enjoying the pleasant sensations of relief that come from the creaking and crackling. Some of us fidget with gadgets, twirling... more

September 12, 2016

When you grow your own food, you are—by its very nature—eating with the seasons. Even if you don’t garden, use the seasons as your backdrop!  Eating foods in season just makes sense. Food is at its freshest, tastes the best, is most affordable, and has the most nutritious value. Growing what you eat When you actually grow what you eat, it’s a little different … My daughter Molly and her husband recently visited for a long weekend. On the day they arrived, I laid out my usual late-summer... more

August 30, 2016

Try these preventive health measures for salt, a historically important food that can act as a great natural remedy. Salt is inexpensive, but it has many uses for your frugal household. Salt of the earth, not worth its salt, take it with a grain of salt, salted away, salty language. Salt’s frequent appearance in figures of speech only hints at the importance of salt in human history. The human requirement for dietary salt and the relative difficulty of producing it built and destroyed empires,... more

August 27, 2016

Interested in a simpler, more natural way of living?  Be forewarned: We are not talking those homesteads featured in gorgeous full-color magazine spreads promoting the virtues of a simple life in the country.  The aim is to live within your means as sustainably as possible, and in the process, stay as healthy as possible in body, mind, and spirit. It’s closer to mimicking the Depression-era philosophy: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I’d also add, “Ad hoc, on the fly,... more

August 2, 2016

How healthy are cucumbers? Cucumbers are much more versatile than you might think, so here are tips for cooking with cucumbers, cucumber health benefits, and natural remedies with cucumbers. Close relatives of the squashes, melons, and gourds (the Cucurbitaceae), cucumbers originated in northern India around 4,000 years ago. After surges and dips in popularity, they have risen to become the fourth most-cultivated vegetable in the world. They come in an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes,... more

July 5, 2016

Apple cider vinegar might not sound appetizing on its own, but this super healthy food can be delicious in a switchel recipe. What Is Switchel? My mom grew up on a big Vermont dairy farm, and every summer, she’d tell us again about  how she and her sisters would haul endless gallons of something called switchel out to the men in the field during haying season. Mom’s recipe for the homemade beverage was simple: apple cider vinegar and maple syrup (both made on the farm), diluted with cold... more

June 27, 2016

After years of warning consumers not to eat eggs (or at least the yolks) because of their high cholesterol content, research has prompted the medical/nutrition establishment to bring the “incredible edible” back to the menu. One physician wrote, “Egg reduction or elimination [with a few possible exceptions, including allergies] must now join the list of urban myths from 20th-century medical care.” Yay! I’ve always eaten eggs liberally. Seems as if half the households in my town raise at least a... more

June 24, 2016

You’ll know if you accidentally run into a patch of stinging nettles. When you brush against them with bare skin, the delicate, needle-like hairs that cover their stems and leaves break off and inject you with irritating chemicals that feel like a host of wasp stings. But if you do suffer such encounter, count your lucky stars. Guard the spot carefully. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a plant of a thousand uses—nutritious food, medicine, tea herb, cheese-flavoring agent, beer, herbal fiber... more

June 23, 2016

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A humble, but amazing native North American shrub. Consider: Its bark, twigs, leaves and roots have been used for hundreds of years by native Americans to treat a host of ills. It’s one of only a handful of botanicals approved by the FDA as a drug, and its distilled extracts can still be found on most pharmacy shelves. Its extracts are used in many cosmetics and skin-care products, including aftershaves. It is under active investigation for treating diabetes... more

June 23, 2016

If you have a garden, I hope you grow the beautiful annual flower calendula. Calendula officinalis produces beautiful orange or yellow flowers from seed in midsummer until frost, attracting honeybees, bumblebees, and other pollen and nectar-seeking insects, as well as hummingbirds. Calendula self-sows readily in the garden if you allow a few flower heads to fall to the ground (or you can harvest and dry the mature flowers, save the seeds, and plant them where you want them next spring). Its... more

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