wild foods feast, part 1: intro + dandelion!

i’ve been devoting a lot of time and energy lately to the natural motherhood series, and while i’m going to be continuing that as normal, i wanted to branch out and offer something that would appeal to the un-pregnant majority (a complete assumption) of my readership.  i was thinking about what i could add to my current series, which include the wheel of the year, natural motherhood, and herbal preparations, and my husband ingeniously suggested a series on wild edibles.  yum yum! Read the rest of this entry »

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natural motherhood, part 6: herbal baby care

i know that some of you out there love the super-informative posts, but i also know that there are a lot of folks who really love the project-y d.i.y. stuff—-this post is for both of you but will be a special treat to the latter.  (i’m right there with you, hands-on people!) for this entry, i wanted to take a good long look at all of the stuff we put on our babies (creams, ointments, lotions, oils, soaps, powders, balms…..oh my!) breaking everything down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.  a walk down any baby care aisle in the grocery store bombards us with all this crap (yes, most of it is crap), but because “that’s what you put on babies,” that’s what we all buy.  if you’re at all concerned about what goes into your baby, you should pay mind to what goes on her as well—pores, after all, are like little gateways to the bloodstream. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 5: breast care

i googled “natural breast care” tonight—just to see what would pop up.  to my great disappointment, seven of the nine links were for breast augmentation or “enhancement.”  i cringed and peeked through one eye as i changed it to an image search—while i was glad to see as many pictures of breast self-exams as  i did pictures of blown-out self-tanned porn-star racks, i was horrified by the wide selection of machines that apparently use intense and prolonged suction for the purpose of “growing” larger breasts for you.  oh, and there were the creams for larger breasts, the contorting bras (watch how your pulled-around back fat can be made into more side-boob!), and the scary mixes of unnamed “herbal supplements” just shipped in from china—and all this from searching natural breast care.  what’s wrong with us? Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: honeys, oxymels, and elixirs

a bee from an egyptian hieroglyph

i figured i would take a short break from the series that i’m doing on natural motherhood and crank back up on a couple of my other projects.   something that i’ve been meaning to add for a while is a basic herbal preparations entry for sweet medicine—for honeys, oxymels, and elixirs.  honey (the common denominator between all three of these preparations) is a mysterious substance.  in the archaeology of beekeeping, author eva crane posits, based on neolithic cave paintings in valencia, spain, that honey has been a food source for humans for at least 10,000 years.  since the beginning of written history, thousands of medicinal and culinary uses of honey have graced the tablets and pages of our past.  yes, dried bee puke has held our interest for quite some time!  it has been used to treat wounds, to aid in the mummification process, to preserve food and drink, to sweeten things, and, as every granny knows, to stop a cough dead in its tracks! Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 4: downstairs maintenance

whether you’re planning on getting pregnant, are already pregnant, or have just given birth, it is essential to do your research on “downstairs maintenance.”  odds are pretty much in favor of your having to deal with at least one of these issues, and (although we’ve gotten better about it) women tend not to have as many frank discussions as we should when it comes to our lady parts.  actually, this post branches out a little further than “lady parts”–the uterus and vagina are not the only bits of anatomy affected by pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  you’ve also got to talk about your bowels, your bladder, your vulva, and your rectum.  how many of you cringed when you read that last sentence? lol. see what i mean?  we don’t talk about this stuff enough. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 1: easing morning sickness

because many women today don’t track their menstrual cycles, and because some women have very irregular cycles, morning sickness can sometimes be the first sign of pregnancy.   this rather unwelcome herald of otherwise great news was a major focus of the pharmaceutical industry in its 1950s infancy.  anyone familiar with the drug thalidomide (sold as thalomid), given to women in the 1950s to assuage morning sickness, remembers that it was taken off the market a few years later after it was found to cause terrible birth defects.  most notably, “thalidomide babies” were born with phocomelia—they suffered from craniofacial deformities and were often born with missing or underformed arms and legs.  more than 10,000 cases of thalidomide-related phocomelia were reported, and an astounding 50% of these infants died. Read the rest of this entry »

safe and natural vitamin c serum

of all the products that we slather on ourselves day in and day out, those geared toward defying age, gravity, wrinklage, sundamage, and basically time in general are the ones that seem to be loaded with the most unidentifiable chemical ingredients.  have an age-defying cosmetic product?  turn it over and read the label.  does it contain propylparaben (a known endocrine disruptor and environmental pollutant)?  how about triethanolamine (a known respiratory and immune system toxicant that’s also damaging to the eyes and other sensory organs)?  and butylparaben (a neurotoxin that influences gene expression)?  or what about my particular favorite, “fragrance” (a common component that is not required by law to disclose its ingredients at all)? Read the rest of this entry »

a traditional wassail recipe…for the brave!

in my last post on the winter solstice, i mentioned a traditional drink called wassail that was passed out to peasants and serfs, and more modernly to carolers, around yule or christmas.   although the combination of ingredients is nothing shocking to a brit, we americans might be a bit taken aback by the idea of combining things like eggs, beer, and fortified wine.  those of you who are brave and who like to try new things might be interested in trying this recipe by one of my favorite cooks in the whole wide world, alton brown.  if the reviews on his website are any indication, you’ll either love this like a fat lady loves cake or you’ll hate it with a purple passion—but you never know ’til you try!! Read the rest of this entry »

make your own goat cheese!

in my attempt to revive antiquated kitchen skills, i’ve learned to make chicken stock, pickled veggies, jams and jellies, but one of my favorite d.i.y. things has been goat cheese.   i’m tempted to pick some up every time i go the store.  it just stares at me from the cold shelves of the “gourmet foods” section of the grocery store, all creamy and rolled in exotic herbs.  it says “buuuuy meeeee” (softly, and with the voice of mike rowe from “dirty jobs” lol). i pick it up, and i aaaaaalmost buy it—but then i look at the price—and i put it down.  let’s be honest.  it wouldn’t make it a day in my fridge—especially if there’s melba toast within reach.  i rarely buy it because i can’t justify the expense.  sorry mike. Read the rest of this entry »

herbal allies for college crunch time

eeek!

i was remarking to a friend at dinner tonight how odd (and completely wonderful) it is not to be writing 60-ish pages of final papers or preparing for final exams (for the first time in fooorrrrrr—eeeeeee-verrrrrrr).  i graduated with a master’s in english this past august, and for the three years leading up to that, november and april had always been times of anxiety, late nights, endless pots of coffee, sleeplessness, and eye-strain headaches.  i currently teach in the english department, but most of my friends are still in school there and are still having to deal with term papers and finals.  i feel their pain (even when i point and laugh >:D). Read the rest of this entry »

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