10 Things I Didn’t Know About Nitrogen Fertilizer

This is an awesome post about nitrogen and how it naturally occurs in soil. We plan on planting a lot of legumes this year, not because we eat a lot of them, but because they fix nitrogen in the soil. I am loving this explanation by Food Policy For Thought.

Food (Policy) For Thought

I recently read this brief history of the use of nitrogen fertilizer, and it was so interesting to learn more about this crucial agricultural input! In my agricultural economics classes, we often use nitrogen as an input for our examples, so it was good to beef up my knowledge about it. Maybe you will discover a couple of new-to-you facts as well?

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I love to hear success stories of people successfully treating conditions like Autism, ADD, ADHD, and other neurological dis-orders with proper diet and nutrition! Paleo and GAPS have both been so helpful to so many people with conditions like these. I am glad to have found this page and that she has taken the time to share her story.


Charlotte’s journey through Autism continues to teach our family powerful, life long lessons about how to manage our health. As we work to improve Charlotte’s overall health and reduce her stress, her Autism and sensory processing symptoms are minimized. She continues to emerge victorious from an internal battle of stressors and toxins that were working diligently to take her body down. 

I started this blog last year when I knew that I had this important story to tell. As I began to research our relatively common circumstances with such a relatively simple intervention, I expected to see many Autism and Paleo success stories. But to this day, ours stands as one in a lone few in the vast pages of a simple Google search.

When we began to treat Charlotte’s Autism with a Paleo diet, I searched for a community of sorts, a niche within the Paleo community that could give us a pat on the back, provide some science to back…

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Gluten free play-dough! How great is this?

Grandma's Fun Factory

What a fun day!  At the request of my daughter I found then made two gluten free playdough recipes that I found on the web to see which one, if any, are worth the bother.

Recipe 1: from the Celiac Disease Foundation


1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup salt

2 tsps cream of tarter

1 cup water

1 tsp. cooking oil

food coloring if desired



Mix ingredients in medium sized saucepan.  Cook and stir on low heat until it forms a ball.  Cool completely before storing it in a seal-able plastic bag.

I made the mistake of doing this on a day when the arthritis in my hands was acting up.  It hurt to stir the dough in the pan.  If you have a similar issue either wait for a less painful day or have someone (an older grand?) stir it for you.



This is where my hands started hurting.  It gets…

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Dandy Dandelions: A nourishing tonic

The next herb in my “Wellness Wednesday” series is Dandelion. I love this nourishing herb and its slightly bitter flavor. We drink it as a tea, but I love the spring when you can pick the young leaves and eat them in salad, or the flowers and add them to salad, or cook them as fritters! I have heard they also make an amazing jam. The roots are great glazed and sautéed or baked like you would with carrots. They have a slightly sweet, slightly bitter taste that is very pleasing to the palate. So please, when you see these amazing herbs popping up all over your yard, smile, harvest them and enjoy the nourishing effects of this wonderful herb.

The Dandelion plant is often thought of as a pesky weed, but when I started learning more about herbalism I was excited to have so many of these wonderful plants all over my benignly neglected, never sprayed or fertilized yard. My neighbors may have been less than pleased. The whole plant is edible, from the fresh spring leaves to the flowers and roots. There are great nutrients in the leaves and flowers as well, but we will focus on the root here.

Taraxacum officinale
If you would like a very in depth description of the plant check out this website

Dandelions are commonly used for bloating, GI discomfort, cleansing the gall bladder and liver, aching joints and skin conditions. It is high in  vitamins A, C, D, and B-complexes, as well as minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon.

In our home I used dandelion root to help cleanse my liver and gall bladder when I was having gall stones and attacks during my last pregnancy. I had major gallbladder attacks at least daily and the only thing that kept me from getting surgery during or right after my pregnancy was dandelion tea and fresh lemon juice. I would drink dandelion tea 2-3 times a day with half a lemon in every drink I had. I managed to put off surgery until 4 months  postpartum once my milk supply was well established.

Dandelion is an ingredient in my husband’s detox regimen that he is on to keep his liver clean and functioning. It is a gentle mild detox so he does not get side effects like he has from more intense cleanses.

This is how you can harvest dandelion from your own yard, and this is how you make it into tea!

Really it is a wonderfully delicious herb that is easy to access, wild craft, and use every day, especially in the spring when they are so abundant! Just remember to get your dandelions from soil that has not been doused in herbicides, pesticides, or animal excrement.

Do you use dandelion in your families “medicine cabinet”? If so what for?

This blog shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday. 

Life happens. About birthing, parenting, and expectations.

I love listening to new parents planning the whole future with their children. Some say, “I will have many drugs at my birth and be happy with it, I will formula feed, will never co sleep, I will keep a set schedule, and I will do exactly what the doctor says when the doctor says it”. While others say “I will have an all natural birth in my living room, exclusively breast feed and never ever give my baby non human milk ever, baby wear, co sleep, not vaccinate, not circumcise, and take mommy and me yoga classes.”

I, being the natural living advocate I am, obviously lean to the latter extreme BUT the more I read the more I need to speak up about a few things.

You can not predict where life will take you, from the beginning of your labor, into your parenting adventure, you have very little control over what life throws at you. Accept that now and your life will be much easier. I am not saying do not be prepared. PLEASE by all means read as much as you can, learn what you can, educate your self to the point where your brains feel like they will explode from your head with knowledge and POWER! But I have to say, when that labor starts, when that baby is born, when you are so sleep deprived and exhausted because you have not had a full night sleep in 11 months, you might change your mind. You  might feel lost. You might feel like a failure. I assure you you are not a failure as a parent no matter what happens, because you my friend tried. There are people who don’t even do that.

As an example of what I am talking about: I had planned an all natural labor with my daughter using Hypnobirthing. We took the classes, did the exercises, and were convinced we would not have an epidural. I read many many books on child birth, not just hypnobirthing, and was convinced that I could do this with no medical intervention. I had constant braxton hicks contractions for about three weeks before going into labor, strong labor like contractions (call it what you like) for about a week before going into real labor, and then was in “real labor” for over 42 hours!

I know my body was gearing up, but am pretty sure my body needed some time to rest between all the practice and the actual long ass labor. I lost my mucous plug on Sunday and, this being my first time, went into the hospital because I thought my water broke. I was not prepared for the extremely large amount of goo that comes out of you when you loose your mucous plug. Its pretty gross. They said I was still about 1cm and sent me home, Monday I went to the doc for my normal appointment and was still not super dialated so we went home, that night I did not sleep well because the contractions were JUST strong enough that I could not sleep.

All day Tuesday I had contractions but not picking up in strength or consistency so I went to an acupuncturist to help pick things up. The Acupuncturist said that this would send me instantly into full labor and to be ready to go into the hospital. It picked things up a bit but my body still had to gear up, slowly, all day. That night I was still having contractions, they were getting stronger but not closer and I was TIRED. I needed SLEEP so I had Mike take me to labor and delivery to get some ambien so I could sleep. The doc insisted on checking me before giving me drugs (did I mention all I wanted was sleep?) and I was at 6 cm! Without much pain at all, just early labor I was at 6 cm! I was so excited I could have peed. He asked if I wanted an epidural and I said no. They respected that.

We went into the labor room and I hopped in the bath. Laboring in the bath was great. I was talking to my doula and we were laughing and joking when I was not breathing/moaning through the labor. I want to point out failure #1 I did not have a silent labor. In the hypnobirthing videos none of the woman made noise. Let me tell you moaning and making noise through the contractions helped a lot. So did talking and laughing. Failure #2 we did not do the hypnobirthing exercises. It wasn’t right for me at the time. Having a good time and laughing was much more effective for me. I labored in the tub, moaned, had cool washcloths coming on to my brow constantly (thanks to my wonderful doula) and only had to get out of the tub occasionally to get monitored. Getting out of the tub sucked and was very painful. I wish they would have allowed intermittent monitoring in the tub in the hospital. We figured that since I was at 6 cm I would be transitioning and done soon. I labored for hours and hours and was checked at least twice on the monitors and never progressed past 8 cm. It was terrible. I decided to get past the transition (that never came) I would try IV pain killers. They helped for about 15 minutes and then the pain was worse. I knew that might happen, the books told me so, but I needed something to take the edge off. My body was TRYING to transition but it was just too tired! We even snuck food during labor to try to help get me the energy I needed. We broke my bag of waters to try to get the contractions stronger, and all that did was make things hurt more. Remind me not to do that again.

My doc suggested pitocin and I hesitated because I really wanted a natural birth and damn it if I had gotten this far the baby HAD to come out eventually right? We discussed options and decided to do an internal contraction monitor to see if my contractions were strong enough to be effective. Long story short although they felt very strong, they were not strong enough, and I needed pitocin. At this point I decided to get the epidural. I was not pushed into it, I just knew I needed a brake. My body was exhausted and my mind was frazzled and the room was stressful and not the peaceful place I wanted my child born into. Pitocin and the epidural were failures #4 and 5.

After I got the epi we discussed starting on a very low dose of pitocin and not upping the dose unless I was not progressing and she asked me first. I still had control of my labor, and the doctor respected my decision. I did not get a nap even after the epi. They told me to try but I was just too excited for my baby to be coming soon. It still took hours before I was ready to push, but my doula and husband both got to eat and nap during that time so that was good. I talked to a very nice nursing student during that time who was watching me labor naturally because it was such an odd thing to see. I felt like I failed her too but she was sweet and stayed with me until the end of her shift.  Apparently she had never seen anyone even go that far into labor without drugs so I am glad I could at least give her that.

Finally after who knows how long (time really ceases to exist when you are in labor) I felt pressure to push. I was 10 cm but she had not descended yet. She wasn’t budging and I felt like pushing so I did. I pushed and pushed. I also pooped on the table. Yes ladies and gents, that happens, get over it. I pushed for about an hour and a half and the doc came in and said she was not coming down the birth canal and I might need a C-Section. I asked if the baby was under any distress and she said no so I decided to push some more, and push I did! I do want to note that I do not think I was ineffectively pushing because of the epi. I could feel what was going on because I let the drugs ware down a bit before the pushing, and as it continued to go on a long time my supportive husband did not let me hit the pain button again when I wanted. I could feel plenty when she was born. When I finally stubborned her into the birth canal after 2 1/2 hours she shot out! The doc was not ready to catch her so the nurse held her head in with two fingers, told me not to push, so the doc could gown up. I yelled many obscenities in that minute or two that it took the doc to get gowned and ready. Ellie came out two pushes later with the cord around her neck and they whisked her away to the table to suction her lungs because she had muconium. Failure #6. I very much wanted to hold her right away but was bleeding a lot and they had to take care of her. Mike was with her and they were fine. He was crying because he was so happy and I remember thinking I was broken for not crying. I was just happy she was fine. I was apparently bleeding profusely and they had to give me the rest of the pitocin to slow it.

It turns out a 9lb 6oz baby needs a little extra encouragement to leave the uterus some times. My beautiful daughter came out angry at her eviction and her first picture looks like she is about to punch out the nurse. I love her.

Mommy’s little heavy weight champion… Thankfully the swelling went down quickly. 

Notice how the new born hat does not fit that huge head.

Finally, once I was stitched and not in immediate danger of dying of blood loss they let me hold her and encouraged me to have skin to skin contact and try to nurse her. Breast feeding, although it is natural and is what my body is made to do, is not easy to start doing, especially when you have never done it before. She rooted right away but we struggled with latch and I was terrified that my huge boobs would suffocate and kill her. Seriously terrified. The cradle hold was not working for us at all. Failure #7

The point I am trying to get across is that although we may have the most detailed and strict plans things change, and we may not be able to get that birth we always dreamed of but damn it, the baby was born. She was born happy and healthy and we figured out nursing pretty quickly once I finally stopped trying to nurse her like an A or B cup, and learned to nurse her like the E cup I am. Foot ball hold, I might add, is amazing.

I felt guilty for failing at my birth plan. I failed to have the natural labor I wanted. My child was not brought into the world naturally and peacefully like I wanted and I felt so horrible. I am pretty sure this contributed to my postpartum depression.

After looking back on it 18 months later, on the brink of having #2 I have to say the birth went exactly as it should have. It would have gone much differently had I not gotten the medical intervention. I was educated enough and well informed enough to make the right decisions for the birth and I probably would not change anything about it. I could have chosen not to go with an OB and gone with a midwife instead, but with the health issues I had during my pregnancy I don’t think that would have gone well either.

This time I am handling things differently. I know I can still get into they hypnobirthing mindset like I did last time without the exercises. I am practicing my breathing, and listening to the positive birthing affirmations I got from the class last time. I have a midwife group that I love and am very excited to work with. They respect my decisions to use herbs and essential oils as a part of my labor and delivery to help manage issues that might arise like they did last time. I even made up a word document for them and Mike to refer to if any problems should arise. I plan on having this baby naturally, without any medication, but accept the fact that if I need it it is there and if I need it it is not the worst thing I can do.

I know now that although I have everything planed and prepared things may not, and probably will not, go as planed so I mentally have no plans. Just outlines of what I would like to happen. This is helping me be much more calm and mentally prepared for this birth than the last.

I am ready, mentally, for this baby. I know that labor will go the way it needs to. I hope you know that as well. I hope you are well informed and able to make good decisions in the moment. I hope you have a practitioner who supports your decisions and needs.

And all those failures during labor, did that make me a bad parent? No. They were just missed expectations percieved as failures. Some of my other parenting failures were some of the best decisions we have ever made.

We said we would not bed share. We never really even considered it an option. Ellie was going to sleep in her basinette for a few months and then her crib in her nursery. It turns out Ellie would not sleep anywhere but near mommy for the first few months of life and mommy was so exhausted that we decided to bed share. I am pretty sure I got more sleep than the average breast feeding mamma who’s child does not sleep in bed with them. Boob, sleep, roll over, boob, sleep. It was amazing. Co-sleeping is not right for everyone and be sure to do it SAFELY but I have to say that was a big failure turned into a win. This time we have an arms reach co-sleeper ready for #2 but if that doesn’t work, we will get the little co-sleeping snuggle nest thing for baby to be sure he is safe again.

Parenting is an ongoing learning experience. I think we all have the best intentions but as we go along this journey we see we may have been wrong about decision A, or may reconsider something we may not have though possible before.

So, dear new parent, please educate your self as much as you can, but if your plan does not work out do not feel bad, or feel guilt, or think you are a failure. You are doing your best and we have no control of the outside circumstances of life. What you can control is how you react to them. I am here to support and encourage as much as I can!

What is your advice for new or soon to be parents?

Catnip: Kitty crack, kiddo calmer

Catnip: Nepeta cataria

Catnip is an herb in the mint family commonly used to make cats twitchy and insane. Every time I have had a bag of catnip in my herb stash not properly stored in an airtight container, my cats have completely annihilated it and gone on a crazy kitty catnip binge that rivaled WWI. Cats have receptors for the chemical nepetalactone that enhance emotion that people do not have, which is why we do not roll around in piles of the stuff making a mess all across the house. Fair warning, cats will destroy the live plants as well, so protecting your plant if your home is around cats may be something to consider when growing it.

Catnip is commonly used with humans to treat colic, headache, toothache, colds, and spasms. It is a calming nervous tonic and USUALLY will help a person fall asleep. Some people might have an opposite effect so if you are trying it as a calming agent, try it the first time during the day to see if it calms you so you are not accidentally up all night.

It is effective for treating anxiety, insomnia, and nervousness, and is also great for easing migraine headaches, stomach complaints, and also reduces swelling associated with arthritis, hemorrhoids, and soft tissue injuries.

An oil infusion of catnip is useful in baths and good for massages for children suffering from measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, colic, fevers, hives, insomnia and hyperactivity.

It is one of the best herbs you can find to use with children because of its gentle calming nature.

I add catnip to my daughter’s chamomile tea when she is teething. The combination helps alleviate pain and calm her so she can sleep. It also adds a slight minty flavor which is pleasant. I keep a sippy cup with the tea in her crib at night for when she wakes up. I also add it to a teething glycerite I make for her, and add it to my husband’s sleepy time tea.

You can see why this wonderful, gentle herb has made it into my “medicine cabinet“. How do you use Catnip in your home?

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday, and Simple Living Wednesday.

OW! Safe, natural, and effective pain relief while pregnant.

Pregnancy is an amazing, wonderful, life changing journey that has its wonderful ups and not so wonderful downs. For some there are more downs than up. For those of us with chronic pain issues, pregnancy can pose a serious problem to our pain management routines.

I have two bulged disks in my back from working in a hospital. I have gone to physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractors, acupuncturists, yoga, you name it. About three years after the injury I was finally able to manage the pain without drugs most of the time, only taking Ibuprofen occasionally for inflammation or pain.

Unfortunately for my back I got pregnant which made things flare up again. During my first pregnancy I mostly suffered through the pain, popping Tylenol like it was no ones business, and got massages at least once a week. As the pregnancy progressed and I got bigger (much much bigger), my back pain actually eased up. According to my wonderful massage therapist I had in Spokane, I have a deep curve in my lower back (she used the real term for this which escapes me at the moment), and as I got bigger the curve straightened out. Woo hoo!

This pregnancy is so much different! I had been doing hatha yoga for about 2 months prior to getting pregnant which helped manage the aches/pains/sore muscles early in the pregnancy. My body was much stronger going into things this time so the pain issues did not start until about 20 weeks. I stopped doing hatha around 12 weeks pregnant because the forward bends and twists were just too much for me and baby.

When my pain issues surfaced this time I really had no idea what to do. There is no tea I have found to help with pain that is safe to drink during pregnancy. Tylenol was not cutting it, and all the nice anti-inflammatory drugs are a no go. To top it off Colorado insurance laws suck, so although my insurance will pay for massage, no massage clinics around accept our insurance! This means I have to pay out of pocket and hope to be reimbursed. That sucks.

On my search for something to help the pain I went to my Apothecary and bought a brilliant oil called “Sore Muscle Oil” which is amazing and works well during massages to really loosen up the muscles that are bugging you. The oil is a bit pricey so I modified it a bit and started making my own back pain oil, this time with a little more kick. Recipe to follow in another post. The other problem with the oil is you really need a back rub to get it to sink in. It is not an instant topical relief.

Since I started using doTERRA oils to help supplement my natural health care journey, I did some research to see what oils were good to use for pain and inflammation. doTERRA has oil blends that are specifically designed for pain and inflammation but they have peppermint in them, which is not recommended for use when you are still breast feeding, which I am, and will be again shortly. So on the search I went and I found Frankincense.

Frankincense is known best as a holy oil from the middle east, but did you ever consider why it was such a cherished commodity? If you don’t have time to watch that big long video let me just say that this oil has a variety of uses, from anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, anticancer, antidepressant, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antitomor, immune stimulant, and sedative. It is pretty awesome stuff with many many uses.

We have been using Frankincense to help with the pain in my  husbands foot from gout so I figured what the heck, and rubbed it on my back on a particularly angry spot. I probably used about 3 drops. The pain I was having was gone in about 30 seconds and stayed away for about 6 hours. It was amazing. I now apply it every night before I go to bed topically to relieve pain, and prevent night time pain I might have, and have recently been taking it internally*, 3 drops, twice a day to help reduce inflammation and swelling, and to help fight this terrible cold we have been having.

It helps reduce my pain and inflammation drastically, and has helped me sleep better because my hip pain from side sleeping every night has been terrible.

The prenatal yoga and chiropractor were really helping me manage the pain, but the frankincense is what is reducing the inflammation and keeping the pain away. I would recommend all three if you are combating pain, especially while pregnant as there are no scary side effects to the oil. I have also heard great things about acupuncture for pain management while pregnant but have not had the chance to use it during pregnancy.

What do you do to naturally manage your pain during pregnancy?

* do not take any essential oils internally that are not approved for oral use as a dietary supplement. doTERRA Frankincense is Approved by the FDA for use as a Food Additive and Flavoring Agent. Always use caution when using essential oils and be sure anything you use is 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils and is labeled for therapeutic use (not aromatic)

For more information on doTERRA oils feel free to contact me or check them out here. There are more affordable ways to get the oils than the retail price so be sure to ask for more information.

Shared on The Morris Tribe’s Blog Carnival.

Wellness Wednesday: Calendula

Calendula officinalis – Also known as marigold or pot marigold.

Calendula’s bright flowers range in color from yellow to a bright orange. It has widely spaced toothy leaves and grows to a height of about 18 inches. Be sure not to confuse this bushy, aromatic annual with African or French Marigold.

It is a readily self seeding annual. Plant in direct sun with well drained soil with moderate water. Pick flower heads daily to encourage more growth. Calendula will repel eelworm in the garden and is a good companion plant for beans, lettuce, potatoes, roses and tomatoes.

Calendula is a great soothing herb for the skin. I use it in a lot of my salves, oil and skin care recipes to sooth and calm skin redness, rash, and irritation. It is good to treat cuts, burns, lacerations, bruises, diaper rash, sprains and inflammation. It promotes rapid healing and helps minimize scarring.

Calendula is great in a poultice for sore nipples, ulcers, sprains and varicose veins.

It is also a very good lymphatic herb that helps thin and drain lymph that sometimes gets clogged and congested.  My husband had very thick lymph around his neck and ears that was causing ear issues and with massage, and Calendula tea, his lymph drainage improved and so did his ear problems. It also boosts immunity by increasing lymphatic drainage. Note that Calendula tea will make you pee a lot, and this is a good thing. Just be sure to drink plenty of water with it to help aid the body in the clearing of toxins from the body.

I hope you can see why this wonderful and beautiful herb is always at hand in my herbal “Medicine Cabinet“.

How do you use Calendula?


Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

Insecure Writers Support Group – March

I am sick. My family is sick. We all have some nasty sinus cold bug thing that sucks the will to live out of you. My 18 month old daughter is sitting on my lap as I type trying to “help” me write, turn off my computer, or throw a fit because I wont let her press the power button on my lap top. I have tried every hippie dippie cure I have and although they help relieve the symptoms temporarily , they definitely do not last as long or relieve the pain as well as good ole fashion drugs do. If I was not pregnant and bfing I might very well say F-it all and go get the other stuff but ALAS my body is not my own. That is probably a good thing, my body has enough toxins to filter as it is.

So this my friends is why I have not written much in the last few days. I try to write a blog every day and post every other day so I have some stashed away in my little hidey hole ready for when Mr. Bubba Thor (no he has no real name yet) makes his appearance. I also try to make an effort to work on my e-books a few hours a week. They seem so discombobulated though and unfocused that I may just start all over again. I am trying at the moment to write a quick “How I ended up here” blurb about my self but it is such a long story I am not sure what to include and what to leave out. Maybe once I get the whole story out I can have someone more objective than me read over it.

Anyway, my issues this month stem around being sick and lazy and pregnant. Any tips on writing with a sick family, a dysfunctional brain, and no focus would be greatly appreciated.

How do you focus when life is not showing you the love you need?

This blog shared on Alex J. Cavanaugh’s blog Insecure Writers Support Group.  Check it out!

In honor of National Downs Syndrome Awareness Day March 21

This may not fit neatly into “Natural Living” but it definitely fits into the “Mamma” category.

A friend of mine made a movie about her daughters Ellie and Laurel. I have to say she has a good choice of names. Ellie has Downs Syndrome and their family has been through so much in the last 19 months. She is a precious girl and has a great story to tell.

I would love to share this movie with you in honor of National Downs Syndrome Awareness Day on March 21st to raise awareness of people with Downs, and the lives they can lead. To consider the words we use before saying something offensive, and to love others for who they are.

The girls’ mom said: “Someone asked me “Why are you pushing so hard for people to see Ellie’s movie?”
If watching it makes one person stop using the “R” word…
If it encourages one person to learn more about Ds…
If it brings hope to one set of expectant parents who just found out that their baby has Ds…
If it stops one baby with Ds from being aborted, as so many of them are…
Then Ellie’s movie will have changed the world.
That is why I want people to watch it, to love it, to share it.”

So please, take the time to watch Ellie’s move and show some love.

Ellie’s Movie