Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

PeaceLovePaleo

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

Ingredients

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

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Directions

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.

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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.

 
Dandelion:
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. 

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

The end of the SNAP challange

In week three I stayed within the remainder of our budget, but barely. This left us with no money left for week four.

I am going to be honest, when I committed to this challange I was feeling good and productive and not at all like I was nearing the end of a pregnancy. I planned on cooking all our meals and making my gluten free flour mixes from scratch and all that fun stuff but quite honestly, this pregnancy is taking its toll.

I know this is possible. People eat on a lot less all the time. I personally have friends maintaining a fairly balanced, healthy diet (not gluten free but fresh whole foods at least).

If I had not spend so much money on boxed bread mixes, pre-made gluten free bread, and if my husband did not eat 2 loaves of sprouted wheat bread a week we would have saved a lot of money and probably been able to better meet our goal. I would like to try this challenge again in the spring when the CSA is in full swing. The CSA we joined costs an average of $22 a week for fresh picked seasonal, organic fruits and veggies right off the farm. Those baskets usually last us a good week and only need minimal supplementation from the farmers market.

I can not wait for the summer and farmers markets!

So please, keep on me and make sure I follow through and try this again. My lazy ways and big pregnant self just could not find the motivation to stick with it for the full month and I think that doing the challenge for a full month is the only way to go, this way you have the ability to buy items on sale when you see them and let the items last longer than the week, like the big pack of organic chicken I found at whole foods in week 1 for under $5.

Thanks so much for reading and please let me know if you accepted the challenge and how you did! Feel free to link your blogs!

What is in my “medicine” cabinet

It is cold and flu season. If you have children, are around children, work outside the home, or have any contact with society whatsoever I am sure you are aware of this. I am in a wonderful group of natural living mamma’s who all have kiddos the same age as my little one. We are all different levels of “Green and Crunchy” and have discussions almost daily about the green stuff we are doing in our lives. I love that we all have special things in our life that we focus on, I am big on herbs and healing.

Almost every day someone’s little one is sick and I (or one of the other more herbally inclined mamma’s) have recommendations about herbs that might help the kiddo/husband/mamma feel better, and the moms who do not use herbs on a regular basis never have the herbs I suggest on hand! I decided to make a list of my “natural” medicine cabinet. It seems like a lot but using just these herbs and oils we have drastically reduced our use of Tylenol/Ibuprofen and we don’t even keep stomach medicine, cold and flu medicine, teething gel, sleeping pills, store-bought lotions, diaper creams, shampoo, conditioner, you get the idea.

These are specific to my family. As you get used to using more herbs in your every day life, and find a good herbalist, you will find the perfect combination to have on hand in your home.

Here is my list of things I try not to go without in my home. This includes Herbs, Essential oils, and the extra stuff you need to turn these into medicine. I know the list seems daunting BUT with these few herbs you can take control of your family’s health and be your own family physician.

I will go more into detail with one herb or oil every week for “Wellness Wednesday” so keep an eye out every Wednesday for an update on the benefits of each of these herbs and oils for your family in detail!

Herbs:

Chamomile, CalendulaCatnipDandelion rootElder Berry, FennelLavender, Licorice, Marshmallow root, NettleOat straw, Peppermint, Red Clover, Red Raspberry Leaf, Rose Hips, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Yarrow

Essential oils:

Basil, Breathe oil, Digestzen, Frankincense, GeraniumGinger, Lavender,  Lemon, Melaleuca,  OnGuard oil, Peppermint.

Things that help make medicine:

Honey, Vegetable Glycerin, Vodka, Bees Wax, Olive oil, Almond oil, Baking Soda (aluminum free), Epsom Salt, Sea Salt, Vinegar (white and apple cider vinegar), Tea pot, Tea strainer/ball/french press

What is on your families “Must Have” natural wellness list? I would love to hear what is in your natural medicine cabinet and why! 

This blog is featured on A Delightful Home‘s Your Green Resource, and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, and Wildcrafting Wednesday.

SNAP Challenge Week 2

Week two and my body gives out on me. I am super pregnant and have a 17month old daughter who keeps me on my feet constantly. My husband has been recovering from pneumonia and I now have some sort of a bug. My back is constantly out and my whole body hurts. YAY pregnancy and having bulged disks and life. So I honestly did not track our every meal, really I did not track any meals.

Mike and Ellie and I scrounged off of what we had around the  house mostly.

We ate a lot of the groceries we bout last week. The chicken and carrots from whole foods. Potatoes and cheese from costco, and odds and ends from the pantry. We spent a little less than $6 on 24 organic eggs at costco. I am not sure the exact amount because we bought my daughter some stuff while we were there.

We spent $154.62 at Sprouts. I was going to scan the receipt so you could see what we bought, but I can not find the damn thing any where! I know it has to be here somewhere and I have put off posting this for two days so when I find it I will post it. I bought meat and veggies mostly, but I did get kombucha (I need to start making my own), yogurt (also need to start making my own), pirates booty (total spur of the moment bad purchase), and lunch meat for Mike’s lunch because I have not been cooking enough for left overs.

That puts our monthly total at the end of Week 2 at $384.22 which leaves us a grand total of $116.78 for the rest of the month.

Lets all say it together *crap* Ok well good news we still have a lot of meat in the freezer, I have gluten free bread mix still un made, and if I am really good and buy only veggies on sale we might make it. We can do this. Wow I wish the CSA was producing stuff right now. It would help a lot.

Got scum? Natural bathroom cleaning tips.

As you can tell from my recent post whining about my achy pregnant body I loves me a good bath soak. I HATE the filmy blegh that is left in the tub after I bathe from the oils, or after the child takes numerous baths. I also am not a big cleaner. I just don’t like to clean. The chemicals I used to use always made me cough and gag and I always felt sick afterward. I also never trusted the cleaners enough to take a bath right after using them.

After focusing on detoxifying my life as much as possible I came up with a replacement for the “normal” bath scrub I was using. It rhymes with A-hacks. I found this bath tub scrub to be safe, effective, cheap, easy to use and NON TOXIC. Plus you can bathe right afterward without feeling like you are getting cancer from the tub its self.

The recipe is really difficult… are you ready for it?

Salt (natural sea salt of course) and baking soda. I add Melaleuca essential oil to the mix too for the anti-bacterial/viral/fungal properties. It adds a nice smell too.

The combination of baking soda and salt scours the tub well and easily removes any film or build up.

Mix salt and baking soda in a 1:1 ratio and add 8 drops melaleuca essential oil per cup of mixture. Sprinkle liberally in tub, scrub-a-dub-dub and your tub is nice and shiny and clean. You can also jump right in and take a nice hot bath as a reward for your sparkly clean tub.

I use a combination of salt, Melaleuca essential oil, and lemon juice for moldy spots. Just make a paste with the ingredients, apply to the moldy areas, and scrub clean. I let the solution set for maybe a minute (I am impatient) and it usually scrubs right off with no issues.

I have a friend who has used fresh lemon on her tile grout in the shower as a cleanser, she just scrubbed it with the lemon meat and she said it came out sparkling white.

You can also make a salt and lemon juice paste and use it to buff the metal of the faucets in your house.

So many great cleaning tips in such a little blog! How do you naturally clean your bathroom?

This blog posted on the  Frugally Sustainable Blog hop

SNAP Challenge Week 1

My day to day accounting of food is below. I would like to mention a few observation and a change to the plan here though, before we get into the nitty gritty detail of it all. Mike has been sick most of the week and has not been eating much. I do not put his daily intake in here because he does not usually eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch as Ellie and I do but his groceries are included in the plan. I keep finding random food stuffs that we are using in our menu that are not included in these grocery bills. Seeds, fruit, nuts and rice I buy in bulk and do not believe to be enough of a cost to make a huge difference, and they are pantry items that live for months at a time in the pantry, so I am not including the cost in the budget. Meat, cheese, and other larger cost items are being added to the weekly end total to be as fair as possible.

Also someone mentioned last week that feeding us on the cost for a family of four is unfair and cushy. I can see her point. I will do my best to stay within the maximum budget for a family of 3 for the month, which, according to the math done last week, is $501.

This week the adjustment to eating more frugally was very hard for me. I have been having I MUST EAT NOW PREGGO NOM NOM moments that have most definitely gotten in the way. Thankfully my cravings have not been too bad so I can eat an apple or pear with some peanut butter and be fine. It is when I am out and about that I have a problem. Also, Mike won an award at work and got a gift card to Outback, which meant we splurged. As I explain on the day I believe anyone on the SNAP program would have also used the gift card and not waited until the end of the month to prove a point. We deducted our out of pocket cost for the dinner ($12) but not the cost of the gift card as that did not come out of our pocket.

Grand totals for the week:

107.50 Sprouts
19.56 Lunch at Chipolte 
12.00 Outback (tax and tip)
6.95 Big Lots
 17.32 at Whole Foods
30.64 at Costco
2.95 Target
26.68 Extra food lying around the house
——
223.60 Weekly total spent

Day 1: February 1st

I was not able to get out of the house to the grocery until later in the day so did not get a lot of grocery shopping done, although we did get to Sprouts and hit their double sales and stocked up on some expensive things we might not have been able to afford otherwise. We did splurge a bit on non necessities which will probably bite us in the ass later. I did buy some supplements too for $20 (they were super reduced price) and will subtract that amount from my food total. We spent $127.50 at sprouts, $107.50 was on food.

For breakfast we had (GF) oatmeal with yogurt, blue berries, sun flower seeds and honey. Ellie’s snack was frozen blue berries (a godsend for a teething toddler by the way) and a piece of cheese. For lunch we had “pizza” with GF bread toast as the “crust”, spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese we had left over from last week, and mushrooms and buffalo sausage left over from last week. This particular type of GF bread was not palatable to me as bread but made great pizza crust because it did not get all soggy. Do I get bonus points for using food I would have otherwise fed to the dog? Snack was a pear. For dinner we had left overs. I know I said we were not going to use old food but we just didn’t eat it all on time. Don’t worry we are pretty close to done now.

Day 2: February 2nd

This morning we had oatmeal, yogurt, sunflower seeds, and frozen black berries. I have to say pregnancy has kicked my ass today and I have been dizzy with a killer head ache. I had to leave the house though, with child and husband in tow, to pick up some necessities that we could not live without.  When we left I felt sick and nauseous and not hungry at all. When we were out and about I WAS STARVING and HAD TO EAT or pass out. So I fell off the wagon. We ate lunch at Chipolte and spent $19.56 on lunch for the three of us. We splurged and got drinks. I need to stop splurging since it is only day 2. Obviously I am a bad food budgeter, or maybe doing this during the last 9 weeks of pregnancy was not the best idea.

My husband won an award at work today for meeting the company pillar of “urgency” over almost 500 candidates! For this he got a $50 gift certificate to Outback Steak House. This is free bonus money we didn’t count on so I am un-abashed to say that we got steak for dinner. We went over and spent $ 12 of our food budget. I would say it was well worth the delicious steakey goodness. I also vow to get back on the band wagon but it WAS free food and anyone else in that situation, I think, would have indulged too.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a big snow day. I was hoping to go out and get some eggs and potatoes today at the grocery store but the migraine from hell and the teething child of doom prevented this. Should be fun.

Day 3: February 3rd

This morning we had some tasty GF Banana, apple oat muffins from a recipe I modified to fit our diet and needs. We also had some yogurt with blue berries and seeds.  

For a snack we had cheese and a pear. I then had a preggo binge of Pop chips. Don’t judge. They were on sale and I wanted salty crunchies. For lunch we had bun-less hamburgers with cheese, avocado, tomato, and yes, more pop chips. The tomatoes I got from Sprouts were on sale but VERY disappointing. They were “vine ripened” but had no real flavor and a very un ripe, mealy texture. Needless to say they were on the plate, but not eaten.

Dinner was Coffee Pot Roast with sauteed asparagus and mushrooms. All in all a pretty well rounded day.

We went to big lots and got 2 cans of coconut milk and 1 bag of Bobs Red Mill GF brownie mix for $6.95.

Day 4: February 4th

This morning we had a modified apple crisp for breakfast (1 1/2 apple, gf oats, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, butter, honey mixed and baked) with yogurt and tea. For lunch Mike and Ellie had cheese crisps, Ellie had hers with avocado and salsa. I had sauteed asparagus and mushrooms with whole mozzarella cheese on top (not the store bought grated stuff). For dinner we had pot roast soup which did not turn out as well as I had hoped since the pot roast was cooked in coffee the day before, the stock from the pot roast was too much coffee not enough beef. It was ok and good to use the left overs but if I were to make it again it would be with regular pot roast, not the coffee pot roast.

I still need to go to the grocery store but I did go to ross and get a cake pan for $5 so that I can properly make a GF chocolate cake for recipe club on Monday.

The Mozerella cheese was left over, big pack of 2 from costco for about $7.

Day 5: February 5th

This morning we were desperate for groceries. In a pinch we had yogurt, old granola from the back of the cupboard, and blueberries. We went to a friends house for a play date and had GF blueberry muffins and GF sausage (thank you friend for that), then went to Costco to get eggs, sprouted wheat bread (for Mike and Ellie), potatoes, and sharp cheddar cheese for a grand total of $30 and some change. We had to make a run to urgent care, which took 2 hours. Ellie and I went to Whole Foods to see if anything was on sale and scored a great price on chicken. I am very excited for this. I see chicken being a big staple for the next week. Because of the long urgent care visit we had baked potatoes with left over pot roast soup for dinner when we got home. I think the rest of that soup may be going in the garbage though. It still is not that great. I hate to waste it though.

Spent $17.32 at Whole Foods on 5lbs chicken legs/thighs, chocolate truffles, carrots, and dark chocolate chips (bulk) for recipe club.

Spent $30.64 at Costco for Organic Eggs, Tillamock Sharp Cheddar Cheese, sprouted wheat bread, and fingerling potatoes.

Day 6: February 6th

For breakfast we had sauteed asparagus and mushrooms, eggs, and pork loin. Ellie got a pear too. She didn’t eat most of her breakfast so the dog got a nice snack.

I had to run by Target and pick up some medicine, and also picked up milk for Mike for $2.95 (hormone and antibiotic free). Lunch we had deconstructed sushi  (sesame seaweed, rice, avocado, smoked salmon, some laughing cow cheese I found in the back of the fridge and braggs liquid aminos). For dinner we had bun-less cheese burgers (mommy was feeling pregnant/lazy) with avocado, sauteed mushrooms, and spicy baked potato “fries”. We are almost out of ketchup and I am excited to make some fermented ketchup from a recipe I found!

The seaweed paper we had laying around the house. It was about $3.50 (ish) a pack so we will add that to the grocery cost. The salmon was also left over. The package was $11.25 and we will add that as well. The pork was $4.93

Day 7: February 7th

For breakfast I had 3 eggs and some cheese and coffee with coconut milk and honey. Ellie had a bowl of yogurt, granola, dried fruit, and nuts. For lunch we had improved deconstructed sushi (sesame seaweed, rice, avocado, smoked salmon, sauteed asparagus, braggs liquid aminos and a package of spicy mustard we got from the Chinese delivery place last time). It was actually pretty delicious. For dinner we had Chicken, sauteed carrots, and roasted potatoes.