Friday, April 30, 2010

Naturopathic Medicine

The human body is an amazing thing. Mine has carried two healthy babies, ran countless miles,  endured yo-yo dieting, overindulgence in alcohol and other self inflicted abuses. I've been depressed, suffered chronic bronchitis and asthma, had cat scans, electrocardiograms and ultrasounds. But luckily, I'm generally a pretty healthy person. Whatever I've done to myself or whatever has been done to me has had no visible lasting effects. I believe the body has an inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. But, as of late, there have been a couple of issues that have interrupted my otherwise healthy life. 

Caution: The following may be TMI  (too much information) for you, but I think it's important to share in order to get the big picture. Don't worry. It's not that bad!

I have suffered chronic Urinary Tract Infections for almost 10 years. Every 3 to 5 months, I'm at the doctor's office peeing in a cup and begging for antibiotics to make it go away. After the first couple of years, I began to ask why was getting the infections in the first place. They told me that some women were just "prone to that sort of thing," told me to drink lots of water, gave me my prescription and sent me on my way.

Flash forward eight years and it's STILL happening. About two months ago I awoke to that horrible pain in my pelvis and the feeling that I was constantly on the verge of wetting myself. I got an appointment, peed in my cup and got the prescription. Since I get them so often, I was up to a seven day course of antibiotics. The day after finishing the course, I got those familiar feelings and was back for another round. Only after 14 DAYS of antibiotics did the infection abate. I wondered, if it take 14 days this time, how many days will it take next time? Am I building an immunity to the drugs?
 Needless to say, I was completely frustrated with the traditional process of diagnosis. NOT ONCE did someone try to figure out why I got infections so often. I would wait upwards of an hour to spend five minutes with a physician's assistant who would write out a prescription, pat my head and shove me out the door.

It was at this point that I started researching Naturopathic Medicine. For those of you who aren't familiar with this type of medicine, naturopathic doctors facilitate and augment the healing process by identifying the root cause of the problem you are experiencing. By not simply treating symptoms, they support your body's natural healing process. They educate you on how to continue making improvements in your diet and lifestyle to maximize your health and cure what ails you. As my doctor explained to me, symptoms are like puzzle pieces. You add them up and figure out what's really wrong. Symptoms aren't the problem; they are an expression of the problem.

Not to sound corny but this was the BEST medical experience of my life. I spent and hour and half with the doctor. Literally in her presence, talking to her. We sat in an office and went over, point by point, all my concerns. She took four pages (front and back) of notes and asked thoughtful, relevant questions. While the UTI's were my main concern, I had some other inconsequential things that had been bothering me for some time.  Headaches, fatigue, increased anxiety, acne, cracking at the corners of my mouth, flaky skin....would you ever guess all these "little things" add up to one big something? Neither did I. But apparently, overgrowth of yeast causes ALL of these things!

I know. You're thinking yeast, like "lady yeast," right? I thought so too. But yeast grows naturally in our gastrointestinal tracts and is usually benign. But years of antibiotic treatment killed off my good bacteria and let the yeast flourish in my system causing an imbalance.

Whoda thunk it? It makes a lot of sense to me.  She suggested I get on a heavy dose of probiotics to repopulate my body with "good" bacteria, a month long course of a pill containing high dose of garlic, cinnamon bark, calcium and magnesium to kill the yeast, and a powder that makes the wall of my bladder "slippery" so that any remaining bacteria will not be able to stick to the walls. Cranberry does the same thing, but this is like a power dose of cranberry. I also got a list of dietary restrictions that she suggested I follow as closely as possible for the next month before we reassess. No cheese (oh no!) no yeast (what about my English muffins?) no sugar (I think I'm going to faint) and no soda (that's it, I'm done!)

I feel so empowered. Instead of being thrown a bottle of pills, I'm trying to naturally fix the imbalance in my body that is causing the symptoms. As I've said before, modern medicines have their place but I think this way of doing things is much simpler and much safer.  I'm so excited. I can't wait to see it start working. Not only was the doctor caring, attentive, genuinely concerned and committed, the solutions she provided were logical, tangible and completely doable. EVERYONE should have access to care like this.  With Dr. Freeze's help, I'm going to be the healthiest I can be. Naturally.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Purge

Have you ever watched the show Hoarders on A & E? Basically, the people in the show have collected so many things, amassed so much filth that their lives are falling apart. Their relationships with their families are strained.They accumulate mountains of "stuff" that  eventually leave them isolated and almost incapacitated in their own homes. It's disgusting really. After watching just a couple of episodes, I started looking around my own home in a panic, throwing things away and taking multiple trips to Goodwill.

I read an article about hoarding on the internet yesterday morning. Hubby must have been getting those married people vibes because he came home from work and proceeded to rip apart both the master bedroom closet and the guest closet. We need organize, he says. We need to simplify. This translates to "massive chaos and mess." As he made trips back and forth between the two closets like the busy bee he is, I got sucked in as well and started sorting and purging. I got rid of clothes, shoes, books, DVD's, jewelry and other random things that had been making friends with the dust bunnies. We started a pile in a corner of the guest room to house the "unwanteds" and it's growing quickly. I've been snagging things from all over the house to add to the mountain and it's threatening to take over the guest room. The only logical thing to do now is have a garage sale.

Ug. Garage sale. I've only had one, before we moved to Arizona from Virginia. Though I enjoyed getting rid of all that stuff and making around $400, I absolutely DO NOT want to price, display and sell the things that used to be mine. I'd almost rather donate them (which I will if they don't sell.) No matter how worthless the item, I get ticked off each time someone tries to haggle me down to a dime. Yes, this is the ugliest purse of all time. No I don't like it. But it was MINE and you'll pay what I ask!! Now gimme my 50 cents!

Why are we so reluctant to get rid of things that we no longer use? They are just things. They are not substitutes for people or relationships. Clutter tends to complicate....I want things to be simple. It's normal to be attached to things we inherited from our parents or grandparents, or to be attached to photographs or special items that we've bought. But the rest of it can go. I will say I'm better at purging than others. Other than being annoyed by hagglers, I generally have no problem ridding myself of the things I don't need. If I'm not using it, it's taking up my time, my space and my life. Get it gone. It's freeing. 

But, there are things that are hard for me to part with. My daughter's baby clothes for example. I'm not having any more children. I picked my favorite and  most sentimental outfits and had them made into a quilt for her. But I still have two HUGE bins of her clothes taking up space in my garage. I certainly don't need them. But for some reason, I really, really want them. I'm planning to sort and sell what I can, but I'm waiting until the last possible minute to part with them.

Take a deep breath Stephanie...they are just things.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jam and Chest Compressions

Mom is in town and after hitting an AWESOME sale at the farmer's market I had lots of blackberries just waiting to be made into jam. And who better to show me how to make jam than the jam queen herself? It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it might be but it takes quite a bit of time, and lots of organization. And stirring. Lots and lots of stirring. Mom was really patient and we ended up with more than year's supply of blackberry jam, coming in at about $1 a jar. A pretty good deal considering Smucker's Blackberry Jam rings up at around $4 a jar. And don't even get me started on the ingredient list. Here are the ingredients for their blackberry jam from the Smucker's website:


Here are the ingredients for the jam I made with my mom:

Why does jam need calcium chloride and food dyes? I think the color of smooshed blackberries is nice without any help from science. Anyway, here's a few things I learned about making jam:

1. You need to work out. Seriously. I've never stirred something so much in my life.

2. Consider protective eye wear and a sweatband. Boiling hot jam can rocket out of your bubbling pot at any time and WILL burn your eye. The sweat from standing over the boiling pot will then run into your injured eye and make things worse.

3. You'll want to invest in a long handled wooden spoon. Once you dump the sugar into your fruit, it foams up and you'll want to be as FAR away from the bubbles as possible to avoid being scalded with wicked hot jam.

4. After filling your jars, wiping your rims and screwing on the lids, don't touch the jars because they will burn your fingers. You just filled them with scorching hot fruit, remember?

Smooshing the Berries
Stirring, Stirring, Stirring

On a a completely unrelated subject, I attended a CPR training class today, compliments of my hubby's employer. CPR is a useful skill to have, especially when your son eats as many rocks as he does cookies. The class was informative (albeit loooooong) but I really learned a lot. Doing compressions is much more physically taxing than I ever imagined. I also learned how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator) and how to do the Heimlich maneuver on adults and children. Also, new CPR standards do not require any mouth to mouth breaths! It's called hands only CPR. Good news when your victim's mouth is covered with blood or snot or some other nasty bodily fluid. Those little plastic mouth protectors only protect you so much. And hey, less plastic medical wastes cluttering things up, right? Greener CPR! Imagine that...


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!!

Happy Earth Day everyone! According to the great and mighty Wikipedia, Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord (what were his parents thinking?) Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970.  Since then, Earth Day has become a global celebration of awareness.  I think it's wonderful to dedicate one day of the year to the planet we call home. But personally, I think every day should be Earth Day!

My week filled up fast so I didn't get to attend the celebration in downtown Phoenix like I'd hoped. But that's okay. I celebrated in my own way. I told my daughter about what Earth Day is, what it means, and let her make a watering can out of a recycled milk jug to help her grasp the concept of what recycling actually is. She is well trained as to which trash items go into the recycling bin, but I don't think she really understands what happens when things get recycled.  

As for me, I celebrated by placing a HUGE order with the good people at Seventh Generation and cleaning my house with green products I made myself. That's right. Not one store bought, chemical laden spray or scrub. Cleaning products were one of the first places I started making changes. Why buy organic produce if I'm just going to plop it down on a counter cleaned with chemicals?

Not to write off all store bought stuff. There are several reputable companies who make green cleaning products that work very well. I love Seventh Generation's Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner in Thyme and Lemongrass scent, and I use their Emerald Cyprus and Fir toilet bowl cleaner. Method also makes a great tub scrub aptly named Le Scrub. It uses finely milled marble to scrub the nasties away and it smells divine. That said, anything labeled "green" or "environmentally friendly" usually has an inflated price tag to go along with it. The two aforementioned companies are quite affordable compared to most but for many of my cleaning needs, I just make my own. Some things to have on hand for making your own cleaning products:
  • vinegar-cleans,'s wonderful!
  • baking soda-good for making scrubs
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • rubbing alcohol
  • borax
  • liquid castile soap
  • essential oils-makes things smell yummy and adds antiseptic properties to your concoctions.
  • spray bottles-recycled or dollar store buys  
Did you write it all down? Good. So now that your pantry is full of stuff, what do you do with it? Here are my FAVORITE recipes that I use in my home, and now, you can too! 
Lavender Disinfecting Spirits Spray (adapted from Renee Loux)

1/4 cup vodka ( Put the Grey Goose away. Use the cheap stuff!) 
1/2 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
1 cup water
15 drops lavender oil (or whatever you fancy) 

In a spray bottle, combine all the ingredients and swirl to mix. Don't shake or the active oxygen in the peroxide will go flat and lose it's action. Spray the surface and wipe with a clean cloth or towel. I spray EVERYTHING with this. Keeps indefinitely! 

Super Duper Window and Glass Cleaner
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
3 1/2 cups water

Mix all the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray on dirty windows, glass stovetops, ect...dry with a crumpled newspaper. 

Mopping Solution

1/3 cup white vinegar
2 gallons hot water
15 to 20 drops essential oils

Mix ingredients in a bucket and mop till your heart's content! 

Soft Scrub

1/4 cup borax
1/2 teaspoon liquid castile soap
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

In a small bowl, combine borax and liquid soap to make a smooth paste. Stir in the lemon juice and mix well. Put a small amount of paste on a clean, damp sponge, apply to sinks, countertops, tubs, ect..then rinse off and dry surface with a clean rag.

If you'll look to your right (------------> that way) you'll notice I've provided links to help you find the things you need to make your own products, as well as links to the products I've tried and like. 

Happy Cleaning!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Making Time

---The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you're the pilot. 
Michael Altshuler

I'm proud to announce that people are actually reading my blog. Even better, they are leaving comments! Yeah! I love all feedback, positive or not so keep it coming! I have, however, noticed a trend amongst my followers. It seems that what I am doing is inspiring to most but none of them seem to have the time to make a change.  I've gotten a lot of "Wow! I wish I had time to garden." or "I wish I had enough time to can veggies and hang clothes out on the line." Well my friends, I'll tell you do.  You do have time. I'm not sure what people think I do all day but I'm pretty busy. The difference is, these changes I'm making are things I want to do. If you want to garden or sew or can, you have the time. The question is, do you want to have the time?

Would it be quicker to throw the clothes in the dryer? Sure. Can't I just buy canned veggies at the store? Of course. If that's how you want to live, that's your decision.  If you want to spend your time working to pay those electric bills for your dryer, or take the time to go to the gas station, fill up the Hummer and go hunting and gathering for consumer goods, you go right on ahead. I may be exaggerating a bit but it's a bit frustrating that some of my readers think this poor bored housewife must be trying to entertain herself by taking the time to things the old fashioned way, the "simple" way. Simple doesn't mean easy. It's actually quite a lot of hard work and is infinitely rewarding. 

If you want to go green and get simple, then stop making excuses. Turn off the TV, stay away from the mall, and get it done. I'm not perfect and you're not either but don't assume I'm just filling my time. I'm trying to make this a lifestyle. I'm making time. What's really important to you? If you sit down and figure it out, you may see that there is indeed time to hang your panties out to dry.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Garden

I've mentioned our garden in a couple of previous posts and now I'd like the opportunity to share a little bit about it. When we moved in to this house last June, my husband stated quite clearly that he wanted at least half of our 10,000 square foot back yard to be garden space and a mini orchard. I smiled and nodded. My husband usually comes up with elaborate schemes, but rarely does he follow through. Besides,we live in the West Valley of the Phoenix Metro area. DESERT. Our backyard "soil" is caliche, a clay/concrete like mix where even weeds have a hard time taking hold. The temps here in the summer are upwards of 110 degrees every day and to water something enough to keep it alive would make our water bills atrocious, right?

Hubby assured me that we would could fix all of those problems and reminded me that gardening would make a positive impact on our environment, our health and our family. To tell you the truth, I really did want a garden but wasn't really in the mood to figure out how to go about it in this "garden challenged" area of the country. And so, the research began. Lots of books (I told you Amazon loves us!) 

To fix our soil issues, my husband constructed raised beds in which we mixed organic compost, steer manure and the native soil. This gave the plants good soil in which to grow and made it easer for us to do the hard work of gardening. He rigged up a drip line so we don't have to spend hours standing around with a hose. The system is more efficient than hand watering and can be set to automatically do the deed if we aren't around. The timer also allows us to water late at night or early in the morning while we're still asleep...perfect for our sweltering summers where watering during the daylight hours steals your water due to instant evaporation. We have yet to have a need for shade but the time is fast approaching. We drew out a contraption made of PVC pipe and shade cloth that we can erect to protect our more delicate plants during the summer. A trip to the hardware store is in short order...

Our garden has been one of the most wonderful experiences. We spend our weekends and evenings in the backyard, weeding, watering, tasting and playing. Our children helped plant almost everything and I love to see them pull a radish or carrot out of the ground and eat it. They don't even wipe off the dirt anymore. My daughter nearly annihilated my mint plant by sneaking leaves to chew while she dug in the dirt. Nothing is more rewarding than eating a huge green salad that you grew. Even better, watching your KIDS eat the salad because you grew it. My daughter is now in the habit of asking if we're having "store vegetables" or "garden vegetables." Love it!

This being our first year, we planted everything we wanted and hoped for the best. To our great suprise and delight, things are going pretty well. Some things are doing better than others and we'll take that into consideration for the next round of plantings. Here are some pics so you can see for yourself:

  Fuzzy Baby Apricots
   Yellow Crookneck Squash Blossom


     Whole Lotta Lemons

      Pretty Purple Flower Whose Name I Don't Know

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hang Me Out to Dry

I know I talk about laundry a lot but it's something that everyone has to do. It takes up everyone's time and if there are better, greener, simpler ways to do it, I'm all for it! For the past month, I have hung out every load of laundry on my makeshift clothesline. If I ran out of space, I either draped the remaining items over kitchen chairs and barstools, or simply waited until there was space to hang them up. I have not used my dryer at all. Not only is hanging your laundry domestically satisfying (I coined that phrase myself!) it's good for the planet and good for your wallet.  Your wallet? Yes my friends. You may think that not running your dryer for a month wouldn't make a significant difference in your electric bill. But....BEHOLD!  This months electric bill!!

The underlined number is what I paid last month. The circled number is what I owe this month. I have not changed anything other than not using my dryer. That's $28.24 in monthly savings! Put that in your pipe and smoke it! And since I live in the desert, I can hang my clothes out year round bringing my yearly savings to $338.88. If that's not incentive enough to hang out your laundry, I don't know what is! But just in case you needed a little prodding, here are the top 10 reasons to line dry your clothes, courtesy of the book Simple Country Wisdom.

1. Conserving energy saves you money!! 

2. Your clothes will last longer. Dryer lint is actually teeny bits of your clothes.

3.Nothing will ever shrink again.

4. Clothes that hang dry don't develop static cling so dryer sheets are no longer necessary.

5. Line dried items are much easier to fold than that tangled mass that comes out of the dryer.

6. It's good for your body. The bending, stretching and lifting it takes to get laundry on the line is a good way to get some exercise without realizing it.

7. Sunlight has a gentle bleaching effect. Nothing gets whites whiter than the sun.

8.Line drying cools you down. On a hot day, hanging damp laundry is cooling and refreshing.

9.Some complain that clotheslines lower property value. There won't be any property if we destroy the earth!

10. Have you ever slept on sun dried sheets? PURE HEAVEN.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Sew Long!

I needed a clothespin bag. Despite my evil HOA's bylaw that disallows the use of clotheslines in my neighborhood, my hubby rigged up a nylon cord between our porch and the children's swing set. We're rebels, I know. It's not quite long enough to hold extra large loads but I haven't used my dryer in almost a month. The clothes dry fast, smell sweet and my jeans don't shrink up so I can avoid the "wiggle and stretch" dance to get them on. No one likes the wiggle and stretch dance. 

There is something quite satisfying about taking the time to hang out your clothes. I love looking out the window to see my towels flapping in the wind. Plus, I get 10 to 15 minutes of alone time whenever I go out to the clothesline. It's a win win, for me and the environment!

Anyhoo, since I now hang my clothes on a clothes line, I needed a clothespin bag to keep all my pins in one place and to provide easy access while I was out hanging. I did a little internet search which yielded several promising results. I found gaggles of cute, handmade bags. The problem was, most of them were upwards of $10 and then with shipping, I was looking at $20 for a little bag to put clothespins in. I think not. 

On to plan B.....make my own. Another internet search provided me with hundreds of patterns and ideas. The problem was, they ALL required sewing. I cannot sew. Not even a little. I can't replace a button, repair a hem. Sewing machines freak me out and I've always been terrified of the needle, convinced it's going to go right through my thumb. I know how practical it would be to learn basic sewing skills but haven't really needed or wanted to....until now. I found this idea:

Cool, right? And green too! My son has loads of outgrown button down shirts. What better way to give one of them a new life? All I had to do was turn it inside out and hand stitch the bottom closed. How hard could it be? An hour and a whole lot of profanities later and mine turned out looking like this:

Oy. Note the abysmal stitching. Good thing the seams are on the inside. From far away, it doesn't look half bad. I hope my stitches hold because I didn't have the slightest idea  how to tie off the thread. I've certainly got a lot to learn. Luckily, my friend Rachel has a sewing machine and a little free time so she's offered to tutor me in this most domestic of abilities. I can almost feel the needle crashing through my thumb...I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yes I CAN!

When I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I use whole wheat bread (hopefully I'll soon be able to make my own,) organic crunchy peanut butter and my mother's homemade jam. Ah, jam. Mom's is better than anything I could buy and I know EXACTLY what's in it. I guarantee there won't be any high fructose corn syrup or icky preservatives. Fruit and sugar. Sweet and simple.

My Mom canned a lot when I was growing up. Jams and jellies were her forte, but she canned veggies too on occasion. I always associated canning with peeling, pitting, chopping and sweating and as soon as I was done with my job I hightailed out of the kitchen, thereby missing how to actually do the canning. Looking back, I realize I should have hung around. Our garden will soon be abundantly overflowing and since we've worked so hard to grow it, we want to preserve the fruit of our labors (no pun intended). We'll freeze some, we'll dry some, but eventually we're going to have to can some.

So....we bought books. That's what my husband and I do. If we want to learn about something, we buy lots and lots of books. Amazon looooves us.

We read them. We got confused. Low acidity, high acidity, pressure canning, open bath canning, headspace, hot pack, cold pack, raw pack....what? Overwhelmed, I knew it was important to learn how to can properly so I didn't inadvertently poison my family with tainted food. But, I figured I'd just put it off until the freezer was full and the dehydrator pooped out from working overtime.

No such luck. At our local natural food store we discovered that asparagus was on sale for a $1 a pound. My husband began loading the cart, insisting the only way we were going to learn to can was to do it, and that we needed a little practice before we actually had pounds of vegetables waiting to be preserved. I was of course terrified, but my hubby assured me if our Mom's could do it, so could we. 

We found a recipe for pickled asparagus on the internet and set to work. There was still a significant amount of confusion as to whether we needed to pressure can or use an open water canner. We decided to go with the latter. The recipe said to process the asparagus for 10 minutes but upon inspection, we realized the jars weren't sealed yet so we left them in for 12. The jars made weird squealing sounds when we took them out of the water (my husband said it was the asparagus crying) but everything looked good. And now, I have five jars of canned asparagus pickling in my pantry. I know exactly what's in it, I know how it was made and that, my friends, makes me very, very happy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Poultry Project

Growing up, my family had a small flock of chickens. We had several hens and one evil rooster. It was my job to gather eggs and feed the chickens each morning. It wouldn't have been too terrible a chore if not for that damn rooster. Lucifer incarnate. As I approached the coop he would flap his wings and scratch the ground like a little feathered bull waiting to charge. Clucking and crowing and watching me with those little black eyes. I would force open the door swinging my egg basket, yelling and kicking while that stupid bird pecked my toes and tried to poke out my eyes with his spurs. He was horrible.

I tried to explain to my mother how wicked a bird he was. My mother said to stop whining and just get the eggs. I begged her to gather eggs for me, telling tales of my valiant escapes from the rooster's feathery clutches and showing her my wounds where I had been pecked and spurred. Rolling her eyes, my mother grabbed the egg basket in one hand, my arm in the other and marched down the hill to the chicken coop. She unlatched the gate, stepped inside.....and two weeks later, that rooster was in the pressure cooker.

I hope never to have to deal with a rooster again. But I cannot deny the versatility and usefulness of having your own chickens. Farm fresh eggs every day, right in your backyard. How cool is that? Unfortunately, my HOA does not allow me to have my own chickens. However, my friend Anna, who lives about a half a mile away can have chickens. And lucky for me, she wants to have chickens! Anna and her family have graciously agreed to let me keep chickens at their house. I will pitch in for feed (we both agree organic is best) and clean the coop a couple of times a week. In exchange, I get fresh eggs, chicken manure for our compost bin, and a chance to share my "rural heritage" with my kids. I am so very excited!!

Since Anna has never had chickens and it's been ages since I've had my own, we decided to start small with two chickens apiece, four total. We have two Ameraucanas (which will lay green eggs!) and two Barred Rock hens. I took the family to meet our new chicks yesterday. The kiddos are pretty excited, even though they don't quite understand why our chickens have to stay at Anna's, or why it will take twenty weeks before they start laying. Either way, my daughter christened our two chicks Olivia and Minnie. Welcome to the family Olivia and Minnie. May you live long and lay often.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tonopah Rob

In our continuing efforts to eat better and eat organic, I have searched high and low for a local farmer's market. The few I attended were heavy on the crafts, light on the veggies. What's a girl to do? Well, if you live in the West Valley of Arizona, you go to Tonopah Rob's!

Rob has about five acres out in the desert west of Phoenix. My family and I toured his farm today and brought home a bag full of yumminess. Fennel, turnips, pink and orange cauliflower, swiss chard, turnips....all grown locally, all grown naturally. Rob calls himself a "natural" farmer. He uses no soaps, sprays, pesticides or insecticides, even even if the USDA allows them for use on commercial organic crops.  He uses bugs, birds, lizards and snakes to protect his crops. Nothing has been dipped, bleached, power sprayed or waxed. They pull it out of the ground, rinse it and sell it off. It's a beautiful thing.

In addition to fruits and veggies, Rob also sells fresh organic eggs. He has quite the poultry flock from which my kids learned two very important lessons.
  • Lesson One: Giant turkey (pictured below) may sound cool but if you gobble back in his face he WILL chase you. 
  • Lesson Two: Chickens are cute but sticking your fingers through the chicken wire will result in pecked fingers. 

After bandaging the wounds my children acquired while learning said lessons, my husband and I picked Rob's brain as best we could for garden knowledge. He's a busy guy but between garden tours and shooting the breeze with his regulars, he was kind enough to indulge some of our questions. It turns out we're watering everything way too much, our tomatoes probably need more calcium, and if we plant crops from the nightshade family around our citrus trees we can kiss our aphid problem goodbye. I admire Rob and what's he's done. Not only is he providing us with nutritious natural food, but he is building a community and teaching those who listen about a simpler and more sustainable way to live. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Put Some Garlic in Your Ear

My son is brute. No really, he is. He's one big manly boy, always covered in boogers and dirt, always destroying something. He's the sweetest thing, affectionate, curious and NEVER still. So when my little man was was pulling his hair, rubbing his eyes and crying inconsolably for for more than two hours I knew something was wrong. I made a quick call to the pediatrician and luckily, they had one more appointment and lo and behold, my son had his first ear infection. Some Amoxicillan and some Motrin and my little boy was right as rain the next day.

We're lucky to live in a society where access to basic health care isn't all that difficult to obtain. Something hurts, we make a call, take a pill and that's that. Pretty neat, huh? However, I feel that our dependency (mine included) on instant medical gratification has encouraged both patients and doctors to want just that. A quick fix. Got a cold? Here's a pill. Feeling sad? Here's a pill. Got a wart? Let's cut it off. Something has been lost in the whole doctor/patient relationship. Patients are treated but often don't know why they got sick in the first place.

Don't get me wrong. I believe modern medicine is an absolute necessity. I am so glad that there was a medicine that I could give my son to make him feel better. But what if I couldn't have gotten him in to the doctor? What if there comes a time when I can't afford to take him? Or, due to some economic or socioeconomic disaster, modern medicine is not easily accessed or worse, completely unavailable?

I have been doing a lot of research about naturopathic doctors, homeopathic treatments and herbal healing. Basic knowledge of herbs, nutrition and essential oils can help you treat common ailments at home. And if they don't completely remedy the situation, they will make you feel a whole lot better until you can get to the doctor. Garlic oil for instance, will help an earache. Unfortunately, I didn't have any and though a garlic clove would work too, I didn't think shoving a clove of garlic in a 19 month old's ear was very practical.

Here's a cool graphic I found to get you started thinking about your own medicine chest. Along with your regular over the counter meds, I would consider doing some research and finding out which herbs and oils may help your family.