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Archive for the ‘Natural Health’ Category

I have had made just about everything you can imagine at one point or another. But there are two things I have yet to add to that long list…

Beer and Kombucha

Seriously! You’d think I would have done this by now.

Well, let’s change that shall we?

Starting Kombucha Mother is really quite simple. You can purchase SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of  Bacteria and Yeast) at a number of health food suppliers, but why bother? Besides being more expensive – the average mother is around $20, this way will cost you about $3.50 – it’s easy and you get to say you made it yourself!

Here’s what you need – 

  • A bottle of Organic Raw Kombucha (right from the grocery store)
  • 1 cup of sweetened tea
  • A large glass jar ( a wide mouth mason jar is perfect)
  • A kitchen towel or cheesecloth
  • A rubber band

First, steep your tea – one tea bag in one cup of water. You can use any kind you like. For this batch I am using a black and orange pekoe blend. I will experiment with others next.

Sweeten your tea while it’s warm. For this you want to use regular sugar. One tablespoon. From all of my research, all other forms of natural sweeteners will cause the kombucha to be bitter. The sugar is only food for the bacteria.

Add the bottle of kombucha to the  room temperature tea and cover. You want the cover to be thin enough so it can breath, yet keep out any bugs and what ever might be floating around the kitchen. Place it on the counter or in a cupboard.

Now you wait.

That’s it! I told you it was easy. My kombucha mother has been brewing for a few days now. The temperature of your house will determine just how long it takes for the mother to be ready. A thin layer will begin to form on the surface. This is the SCOBY. You are looking  for a layer about 1/4 inch thick. When you have achieved this, you’re mother is ready and you are ready to make kombucha! It could take a week. It could take 3.

I will give you an update when mine is ready.

Happy Brewing!

Live Well!
~S 

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I’ve acquired many new readers here lately.

Thank you, New Readers!
And long standing loyal readers too!!! You are all so very much appreciated. Without you, I would be talking to myself. And I already do that enough!

So, in the spirit of welcoming those new, I am compiling a list of some of my (and apparently your) favorite posts of the past.

And a couple of my favorite random old photos too…

Dreaming of last years bounty
And new shed doors

Here goes….. 

Green Your Home – Bathroom Cleaner – Hands down. The. Best. Bathroom Cleaner. Ever. ….Still.

Lemon Honey Gargle – This is one of my most viewed, most searched for posts.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes – This is my most viewed recipe and I have found it on Pinterest more than I ever expected.

Bento…. What? – I love this stuff. I  have seen it work magical wonders.

Winter Sown Gardens – Because these things are great! And I love gardening.

Wild Fermentation – Because everyone should make their own sauerkraut. Or you could buy some from me.

Getting Your Mojo Back – Because we all need some serious inspiration now and then. Or a good swift kick in the ass.

Today I’m – Making Laundry Powder – This one is fairly recent, but a definite fave. It’s so easy, saves tons of money and rids our homes of more unneeded chemicals.

That’s Not Really Olive Oil – Because everyone should know.

A Day In The Life… – It’s sappy and wordy, but there is tremendous meaning behind my words. And a considerable amount of emotion. Lot’s of others seemed to like it too.

And hoping for good news today
Even if he does leave the window sills a mess

I write mostly about stuff I love, so there is no shortage to choose from. Now it’s your turn…

What has been your favorite post?

Live Well!
~S 

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I am fairly well versed in wild New England Edibles. I love to spend time, basket slung over my arm wandering the woods, fields and riverbanks of New Hampshire foraging for greens and berries and the like.

There is something inspiring, comforting and even exciting about making a meal from things found. Last year, while the Mister and Macala were fishing, I gathered berries. I made a lovely black raspberry crostada. Many Summer nights we enjoyed salads of wild greens found in my travels.

My thirty six years, though, have not been sufficient to leave me anywhere near an expert in such things.  Perhaps under other circumstances. Perhaps were we in a time when survival meant being so. Perhaps, no, certainly, then I would be schooled by a ten year old in the matter of wild edibles.

But I press on! I am determined to learn more.

So what will be next? 

I’m spending some time with my favorite guide this lovely, warm Spring afternoon in the Shire to pick.

My feeling, pick something and learn as much as you can about it before moving on to anything else.

I wonder what it will be this Spring? 

I’ll let you know as soon as I choose.

Live Well!
~S

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Weight loss is on many minds most of the time, but with beach season.. and bathing suit season…. just around the corner it’s everywhere.

Here are my 3 favorite tips to remember when starting your weight loss adventure.

Eat Your Vegetables

So often I hear my clients say “I eat lots of vegetables. Tons.” Only to find their food journals show a very different situation. Often, vegetables are consumed at lunch and at dinner. And that’s it. But if you make sure you are eating at least one vegetable at each of your 5-6 meals, you can drastically change your health and your waistline. When building your meal or your snack start with vegetables. It should be the largest portion on your plate.

Bonus tip – Don’t forget the protein. Protein is essential for building muscle. And muscle burns fat! Be sure you are getting protein with each meal also.

Drink More Water

Again, people often think they are getting plenty of water, but the reality is that most people spend their lives dehydrated. Staying well hydrated is essential for proper body function. Keep water in your car, your bag, your desk, next to your bed and drink, drink, drink.

Bonus tip – Oolong tea has the ability to help boost metabolism and keep you well hydrated. It’s great warm or cold. Try adding a cup or so a day.

Sneak in Extra Exercise

You are going to the gym 4 – 5 days a week. You are eating healthy. You are drinking lots of water. You want to see bigger results. Perhaps you don’t have time to get to the gym as often as like. Try squeezing in bits of exercise through out your day. Do some squats while brushing your teeth. Take 3 minutes to do a few Burpee’s. Do some static lunges in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Find ways to work in some extra exercise and you will start seeing bigger results.

Bonus tip – I keep free weights under my coffee table. During those rare occasions I’m watching tv I can pull them out and do bicep curls, overhead extensions, shoulder presses… all from my couch.

A healthy body isn’t all about vanity. To live well, we must be well. 

Live Well!
~S 

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Yesterday I spent the day with a bunch of lovely ladies. It’s rare that I have such an opportunity. And I cherished every bit of it. I forget sometimes just how important spending quality times with friends can be. It’s easy to get wrapped up in work and family. Then all of a sudden you realize you haven’t even seen someone you adore in months.

There was  one particular friend yesterday I hadn’t spent any time with in years. Years. It’s sad. We were once together every day. She was an intricate and very important part of my life. The kind of friend who is always there for you. The kind of person who is simply honest and caring and kind. How do these things happen? Because we let them, really.

I am blessed to know so many beautiful people.

I was chatting with one lovely momma about sunscreen. With temps unseasonably warm, it’s about time we talk about it here too.

We know we have to protect our skin from the suns rays, but what we might not know is that many of those products sought to do so, are loaded with harmful toxins. That’s right. There are dangers in sunscreen. Organic Lifestyle Magazine did a tremendous amount of research on the subject. You can read about it here.

   “The shocking truth is the fact that both petrochemical sunscreens (avobenzone, methoxycinnamate, padimate-o and the like) and physical sunblocks (chemically-reacted synthetics titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are not natural and have been found to generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations. That’s right, they can cause skin cancer. Furthermore, sunscreen chemicals have been found to pass through the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen, which may disrupt the delicate balance of the body’s natural hormones.”
~Organic Lifestyle Magazine

Even more alarming, since the increase in the use of sunscreen, skin cancer rates have risen. Many reports show that sunscreen actually increases cancer risks. Interesting isn’t it? For hundreds of years there was no sunscreen and there were few cases of skin cancer. And people spent far more time in the sun than we do now. The Environmental Working Group reports that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective.

Did you know your diet can have a drastic affect on your reaction to the sun’s rays? Wholesome foods help our bodies immunity and ability to respond to toxins and other harmful invaders. Build your strength from the inside out. I will keep saying it, a healthy diet affects all aspects of our lives!

Ok, so now what? Even zinc oxide, used in most homemade recipes, is listed here as unsafe. This was my biggest dilemma in determining the safe route for my family. I have scoured reports and articles, books and magazines. I found that uncoated non-nano sized particles of zinc oxide are the safest form. These are found in diaper rash cream and calamine lotion.

And I have come to some delightful conclusions….

  • We need some sun! Many people are vitamin D deficient because they are so afraid of the sun. But it’s actually ok to get out and get a bit of sun.
  • There are a number of natural ingredients that do protect us from the sun
  • We don’t need to slather on all those toxins to be “safe”
  • The very best protection comes from hats and light clothing

Natural Protection From the Sun

  • Coconut oil – I love this stuff!! I use it for so many things. Check out For the Love of Coconut Oil (coming later this week). It’s also great for your skin AND has a natural SPF. This is my first choice for sunscreen. I just slather it on. It can be used alone or added to other ingredients.
  • Raspberry Seed Oil – This has the highest SPF of 30-50 and is very nourishing to the skin. It helps fight free radicals and is an antioxidant.
  • Sesame oil – has an SPF of 30
  • Carrot Seed oil – has an SPF of about 20
  • Lavender, myrrh, peppermint, chamomile and marjoram are excellent added protection and skin nourishment.
  • Green and Black tea – the tannin’s are great at absorbing UV rays, offer excellent protection and are great for the skin.

A Few Natural Sun Protection Recipes

  • 15 drops lavender oil, 2 drops chamomile oil and 2 drops marjoram oil, 1 tablespoon avocado oil.
  • 1 t coconut oil, 1 t raspberry seed oil, 10 drops lavender oil
  • 1 t coconut oil, 1 t carrot seed oil, 1 T Shea Butter

Get creative! You can mix and match with whatever ingredients you have or are readily available.

Homemade Sunscreen

1 ounce oil or oil blend (I prefer coconut and raspberry seed)
1 ounce beeswax
1 ounce butter blend (shea, mango, cocoa)
1 teaspoon vitamin e oil
0.30 ounce zinc oxide
30 drops essential oil (lavender, peppermint, carrot, myrrh, coconut extract for scent)
*Do not use citrus oils – they can cause burning 

Melt oils, butter and beeswax. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then add vitamin E oil, zinc oxide and essential oil.

*Be sure to wear a mask when handling zinc oxide and always use bowls and utensil that aren’t used for cooking. 

Stir until zinc oxide is dissolved. Pour into a used deodorant container or purchase a new one from your local herb store.

An Alternate Sunscreen Recipe

1/4 c oil (grape seed, coconut or blend)
1/2c water
5 tsps zinc oxide
3T aloe vera gel
1T beeswax
1/8 t vitamin E oil
10 drops grapefruit seed extract
*essential oils for scent

Heat oil and beeswax just to melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly, add vitamin E and essential oils.  Put in a bowl that won’t be used for food. Add zinc oxide. Now heat water and aloe vera gel. Add to bowl and mix well. This makes a lotion. It can be thinned or thickened by adding more or less beeswax.

SPF 20 as is. It can be increased by using raspberry seed oil or adding more zinc oxide.

If you aren’t into making your own sunscreen you can check how your brand fared here

Do you have a favorite sunscreen recipe?

Live Well!
~S 

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For those of you who remember The Migraine Chronicles – Take 1, I’d like to update you.

For those of you who don’t, go look. We’ll wait…

Back already?

Ok, here goes. I was super excited to share with you the fabulous news. Well, until last week that is. That’s right. I hadn’t had a single migraine since writing episode one! And since starting the supplements. I was taking magnesium and evening primrose daily. Every day. Or. Well. Almost every day.

Like with most things, I start out all gung-ho. Staying on tract. Doing everything right. Sticking to the plan. And then it starts to go south. But I had done quite well this time. I was determined to figure this thing out. And I guess by forgetting to take the magnesium and evening primrose I did just that.

All of sudden, there they were. I mean I literally blinked my eyes and they appeared. Vision spots. It was like a movie playing in slow motion. Nnnoooooo! And I was stumbling through the house, racing for the herb cabinet. Racing for the magnesium. And the ibuprofen.

It was terrible. Full bore sickness, pain, horror. Ok, ok, I’m feeling a bit dramatic today. But it was bad. Made worse by the realization that I did this to myself. I hadn’t taken either magnesium or evening primrose is two weeks. Sigh.

I really think it’s the magnesium doing the trick on the migraines, but the evening primrose has absolutely been helping with hormones and the other crazies I won’t go into detail over.

Did you know this was evening primrose?

Yup, you’ve probably seen it growing wild on the side of the road.

It works wonders for women’s health. It’s also great for inflammation. Especially for rheumatoid arthritis. Which is why it probably helps with the migraines. It also is used to treat eczema.

So, needless to say, I am back on track. Taking these supplements daily. Or, as often as I can remember.

Have you had any luck with either of these supplements?

Live Well!
~S 

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You find it decorating your plate at your favorite restaurant. It’s tossed into salads and sauces. But did you know that parsley is so good for you it could help you fight Cancer?

It’s true.

Parsley is more than a fresh, flavorful seasoning. It has been sought after for centuries for its medicinal qualities. Cherished by ancient Romans, mentioned by Pliny, in Greek Mythology and even by Hippocrates. Parsley has been an integral part of both culinary and medicinal culture and revered in both. And you thought it was just a decorative addition to your dinner plate.

Some Parsley Folklore –

  • It was believed in medieval times that it grew in the garden only if the man or woman of the house was honest.
  • When chewed, it would keep away the devil.
  • Worn to ward off intoxication.
  • At Roman weddings wreaths were given to protect against evil spirits.
  • Used as a protection against poisons.

Here are a number of health benefits of Parsley –

  • Cancer fighting properties – contains flavonoids that helps protect cells against harmful oxidation and phytochemicals affect cell division allowing for the correction of DNA mistakes. Considered most effective on treating and preventing Leukemia, Lung cancer, Colon cancer, Pancreas cancer, Ovarian cancer, Prostate cancer and Breast cancer
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Mercury Detox – mix with mint and help rid the body of Mercury
  • Good source of vitamin K for healthy bones, tissue and blood clotting
  • Vitamin A for healthy vision and immune response
  • Vitamin C for healing and healthy skin
  • Provides folic acid, vitamin b complex, for red blood cell production
  • Potassium for healthy blood pressure
  • Iron for preventing anemia
  • A natural diuretic that helps soothe the urinary tract and prevent kidney stones

Used to treat –

  • Kidney and urination problems
  • Water retention
  • Menstruation
  • Menopause
  • Clear toxins in liver and kidneys
  • Calm nervous system

Some interesting uses for Parsley –

  • Medieval revelers placed it on their tables and on themselves to absorb odors
  • Made into wreaths and hung on tombs and used for burial ceremonies
  • Used in protection amulets and placed around the home for protection

Parley is quite easy to grow in both your Kitchen Garden and on a sunny window sill. I have had great success with my parsley seeding itself in my herb garden. You can start yours from seed, inside 6-8 weeks before last frost or directly sown after the danger of the last frost, or purchase fully grown plants. Place them in a sunny location. Water deeply at least once a week and do not allow to dry out completely. Cutting herbs encourages fuller growth so be sure to use your parsley often. Snip the stalks close to the ground, starting with the outside. Parsley grows from the center. In the Fall, allow the plants to go to seed and harvest for next years crop.

What is your favorite recipe including parsley?

Live Well!
~S

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