Garden in July

 

Gone are the tidy rows of vegetables, herbs, and flowers found in the June garden. The garden in July, well, the weeds are having a party. I spent four hours weeding just half the garden last weekend, but you would hardly know it today. And the back of the garden, it’s going wild back there. Even the tomatoes are growing like weeds.

Between extra hours at my job the past few weeks, and too many errands in the city, there hasn’t been enough time or energy for weeding. It’s a beautiful mess, is all I can say. Let me take you around. These photos were taken in the morning, just as the sun was coming over the mountain to the east of our property.

From the south end

From the south end – Pumpkin and Winter Squash!

 

Tired Kale, soon to be pulled

Tired Kale and Rainbow Chard, soon to be pulled

 

All Heal and Comfrey

All Heal and Comfrey

 

Herbs and Overgrown Catnip

Baby Rosemary and Overgrown Catnip

 

 

Mexican Sunflower - Pollinators and Hummingbirds love them

Mexican Sunflower – Pollinators and Hummingbirds love them

 

Elecampane - Roots are Great for Lingering Upper Respiratory Infections

Elecampane – Roots are Great Medicine for Lingering Upper Respiratory Infections

 

July Garden 7

 

Back of the Garden

Back of the Garden – See the Weeds! 

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes, Peppers, Dill, and Basil are all in there somewhere

 

The herb gardens are new this year.

Tulsi

Tulsi

 

Passionflower

Passionflower

 

Saint John's Wort

Saint John’s Wort

 

Blue Vervain

Blue Vervain

 

Enjoy the beauty, healing, and nutrition of the Hibiscus flower. Easy to grow, easy to use.

Hibiscus

 

And I’d like to show you my favorite trees, if you don’t mind…

 

Old Peach Tree

Old Peach Tree – No Peaches, but it does give shade

 

 

Sycamore

Sycamore

 

Magnolia

Magnolia – fondly known as “Maggie”

 

Sasafrass Trees

Sassafras Trees shading the hammock

 

Red Bud Tree

Red Bud Tree

 

Willow Tree

Willow Tree – one of three

 

I spent some time after these photos were taken and the weeds have been conquered – for now. The basil is flowering – and I made a final large batch of pesto for the freezer. The tomatoes are ripening slowly – I think they are too crowded and not happy at the north end of the garden. The beets were already harvested and pickled, and I am starting seeds for the fall vegetables.

For fall I will be adding:

  • carrots
  • beets
  • cabbage
  • turnips
  • and a fresh batch of kale and chard

I’m looking forward to the cooler temperatures of fall, and fewer weeds!

What’s growing where you are?

~ Michelle

 

Posted in Gardening, Simple Living | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Slowing Down and Living Joyfully

Sometimes I feel like I am on a treadmill and running through my life. Going to work all day, then coming home to take care of the cooking, cleaning, paying bills, doing laundry, and tending to my family’s needs. And worse, despite working really hard, I rarely enjoy any sense of accomplishment – in all the rushing around, I am barely able to keep my head above water. I end up feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and run-down, and find myself wondering, how can I find a way to slow down and live joyfully?

Simple Ways to Slow Down and Find Peace in a Hectic Day

Why I am sharing this with you? Because I suspect many of us feel this way sometimes (or all the time!). There has to be more to life than living for the weekends and vacations. How can we slow down and enjoy more peace and joy in our everyday lives?

There are a lot of reasons for us to learn to slow down, relax, and live with more peace and joy. When we are centered, calm, and joyful, we have so much more to offer our families, friends, and communities.

When our lives are frantic and stressful, our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health is compromised. The physical response and the long-term effects are devastating. Research links chronic stress to:

  • Poor digestion
  • Insomnia
  • Overeating
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

Of course, we can’t just drop all our responsibilities, but we can do a few things to make our life a little less crazy. I have fives simple strategies to suggest as a gentle reminder to slow down and live joyfully. Of course, you will find your own way, and take what works for you and ignore the rest.

Five small but powerful things you can do to feel better now:

  1. Slow down and focus on the Present
  2. Change your expectations
  3. Prioritize and learn to let go (without the guilt)
  4. Practice gratitude
  5. Take time for self-care

1. Slow Down and Focus on the Present Moment

How much of our time and energy is spent on fretting over the past or worrying over the future? How can we take pleasure in the daily tasks of living if we are focused on rushing ahead to the next thing?

Slowing down and paying attention to the present moment is a powerful way to bring more peace into our lives. Whatever the task at hand, pay close attention, using all your senses. Perhaps you are washing the dishes. Pay attention to the sensation of the warm water, soapy sponge, and the sounds of dishes clattering as you move through the process. Don’t rush, or become distracted, but focus and breathe. You might find a new sense of calm and ease. Try to hold onto this as you move through your day.

Five Simple Ways to Enjoy More Peace in a Hectic Life

2. Change Your Expectations

Are you trying to do it all? When I stopped to evaluate everything I was attempting to do (and put it all in writing), I realized how crazy my expectations were. There are only 24 hours in a day, or 168 hours in a week. Take away the time spent at a job with commuting, then subtract about 7 hours a night for sleep and that only leaves about 69 hours a week for everything else.

When I realized how limited my “free time” was, I knew I had to adjust my expectations. Which leads me to strategy three.

3. Prioritize and Let Go

As we all know, there are obligations and responsibilities we cannot abandon (well, we probably could, but not as responsible adults.) But at least some of the stress and madness in our lives can be adjusted if we stop to consider our choices.

There are many things that are really important to me, and probably to you too. But the most important to me are family and health – both physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Changing my expectations and realizing the preciousness of my free time helps me to decide my priorities. Deciding what matters most helps me to let go of many of the smaller things that were sucking up my time and energy, and causing unnecessary stress. I was able to let go of some things without the guilt because I knew I was saving my time and energy for what really matters most in my life. We can let go of the negative belief that we need more to be happy. We can choose to live with less and enjoy voluntary simplicity.

4. Practice Gratitude

Feeling grateful when you are overwhelmed and stressed can be a difficult challenge. But don’t underestimate the power of taking just a few minutes to find gratitude. During a three-year period I lost both my parents and my marriage, and yet I used the power of gratitude to pull myself through my days. Some days I was simply thankful for the clear blue sky and the love of my young children. The more you practice gratitude, the easier it is to feel a deep sense of peace and fullness in life.

5.     Self-Care

Staying mindful and present, adjusting my expectations, considering my priorities, and finding gratitude, all help me to remember to take care of myself. If I neglect my needs, whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual, I cannot function at my best, and everything that matters most to me suffers. I cannot be mindful, present, and joyful with my family if I am suffering from my own neglect.

Self-care doesn’t require a big time commitment. It can be as simple as asking for a little support when needed. A gentle reminder to my spouse and children to pick up the house, or to give me a few minutes alone after I return from work to recoup from a hectic day.

Small things, if done regularly, can make a big difference.

  • Perhaps sitting quietly with a warm cup of tea for a few minutes.
  • A hot bath with lavender oil.
  • A few minutes of gentle stretching or yoga.
  • A short walk in nature.
  • Prayer

Taking time to care for ourselves

We often get caught up in the “all or nothing” mentality, and think that we need to do a lot of something to get a benefit, but in reality, it’s the small things done regularly that can make the biggest difference without taking too much time or adding more stress to our already full days.

Think of the small actions you would do to offer comfort to a loved one. Can you do this for yourself?

These are the thing I am doing to stay healthy, happy, and productive. While they seem simple and obvious, it can be hard to think clearly when caught up in the hectic pace of our full lives. I hope this is a gentle reminder for you.

Questions for you to consider –

Are you mindful of the present moment as you move through your day?
Do your expectations need adjusting?
What matters most to you? Are your daily choices supporting this?
What are some of the small ways you can take care of yourself?

 In peace and comfort,
Michelle

For more on slowing down and enjoying life:

Seeking Joyful Simplicity – Simple Living and Making Conscious Choices

Seeking Joyful Simplicity – Four Herbs for Managing Stress and Overwhelm

Seeking Joyful Simplicity – Living With Less and Simple Living

Seeking Joyful Simplicity – Slowing Down

Zen Habits http://zenhabits.net/the-10-essential-rules-for-slowing-down-and-enjoying-life-more/

Especially for working moms: https://www.pgeveryday.com/health-wellbeing/stress-relief/article/7-top-tips-for-handling-stress-as-a-working-mom

Self-Care Habits from the Tiny Buddha blog: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/45-simple-self-care-practices-for-a-healthy-mind-body-and-soul/

 

Posted in Living With Less, Mindfulness, Simple Living | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Health Benefits of Turmeric

 

10 Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric has a long history of use in the ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems, and today there are thousands of peer-reviewed research articles demonstrating the health benefits of turmeric.

Have you enjoyed the flavor of turmeric? Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking and gives curry its rich flavor and yellow color. But even if you don’t eat Indian foods, you probably have consumed turmeric – it’s often used in mustard for the bright yellow color, and is found in other popular foods as well.

Turmeric is related to ginger and is grown in tropical areas of southern Asia. After harvesting, the roots are boiled and dried, then ground into a fine powder. The flavor is mild, and a little goes a long way when added to dishes for flavor and color.

But turmeric is much more than just a culinary spice, and the current research indicates turmeric is as effective, if not more potent than many prescription medications. 

Turmeric Health Benefits

Research shows the health benefits of consuming turmeric and its primary compound curcumin. Studies show turmeric’s benefits for the following:

  1. Powerful anti-inflammatory
  2. Anti-depressant
  3. Pain Reliever
  4. Improves insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Anti-cancer and cancer treatment
  6. Arthritis
  7. Indigestion
  8. Alzheimer’s disease
  9. Antibacterial and antiviral
  10. Strong antioxidant

Food as Medicine

Combining my background in nutritional sciences with my education and experiences with herbal medicines, I truly believe our best medicines are found in traditional foods. We are able to benefit from culinary traditions from around the world, and many of our common foods have long histories of use as food and medicine. I wrote about the strong powerful health benefits of raw honey, sage, ginger, and garlic, and the more I look at the research and history of turmeric, the more convinced I am that we can all benefit from adding this beautiful and healing food to our diets and our lives.

Turmeric Recipes

Here is a fun article with six great turmeric recipes including a smoothie, cough suppressant, curried meatballs, and more.

And my favorite warming Indian Dahl recipe with turmeric. Turmeric tea hot or iced is a simple and traditional way to to enjoy the flavor, color, and health benefits of turmeric.

Or how about a salad dressing using honey, avocado, and lemon combined with turmeric.

There are so many benefits to adding turmeric to our diet, and it is a very versatile spice, I’m sure you can find creative ways to make turmeric a part of your day.

Turmeric – How Much Should You Take?

In addition to the health benefits of turmeric as a food, many are turning to turmeric supplements. Turmeric and its primary compound curcumin are available in capsules and tablets. How much should you take for a health benefit? Are there precautions with using turmeric?

I have found sources that recommend turmeric extracts in capsule or tablet form be taken in doses of 1200 – 1800 mg daily. But do your research, and be aware there are side-effects and precautions associated with high doses of turmeric.

Precautions

Although turmeric is a food and generally safe to consume in modest amounts, consuming too much turmeric either as a food or a supplement can have consequences. “Natural” doesn’t always mean “Safe”, especially for those taking prescription medications. Turmeric does interact with some prescription medications, and you should talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you are considering using high doses of turmeric.

High Doses of Turmeric Have Sometimes Resulted In:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased Risk of Bleeding
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Uterine Contractions in Pregnant Women
  • Increased Menstrual Flow
  • Overactive Gall Bladder Contractions
  • Increased Liver Function Tests

The safest way to enjoy the health benefits of turmeric is to use it as it has always been used – in modest amounts as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet including plenty of whole foods, vegetables, and fruits. Enjoy exploring the recipes and get creative!

In good health,
~ Michelle

 

References:

  • Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in treatment of Major Depressive Disorder PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433
  • Taylor RA, et al. Curcumin for inflammatory bowel disease: a review of human studies. Altern Med Rev 2011; 16(2): 152-6.
  • http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingredientid=662
  • http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/turmeric-benefits.html
  • http://stemcellres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/scrt500
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2699615?dopt=Abstract
  • http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

 

 

Posted in Complemetary Health, Healing Herbs, Simple Living | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Drying Herbs In a Dehydrator

As I learn and experience more and more the benefits of herbal medicine for myself and my family, I am bringing the herbs into my gardens. As I learn to grow the beautiful herbs and welcome the healthy weeds, I need a way to preserve them for the winter months. Last year, after much consideration and research, I bought my first dehydrator. With a little practice, I am enjoying the processing of drying herbs to use at home.

I am thrilled to combine my love of herbs with my love of writing, and I am excited to be a contributing writer for the Herbal Academy. Last year I enrolled in their Intermediate Herbalist Course and it has been a beautiful way for me to review and bring together my three years of hands-on learning. The Herbal Academy Courses are wonderfully in-depth, down-to-earth, and full of practical ideas for bringing herbal medicine into your life. Although their courses are online, there are plenty of recipes and activities to keep you busy, as well as a supportive online community of learning herbalists. And their course materials are absolutely stunning. If you are a visual person as I am, you will love their courses.

In addition to their courses, they have a blog full of insightful information, unique recipes, and inspiring stories. Today I would like to share an article I wrote on How to Dry Herbs with a Dehydrator.

 

How To Dry Fresh Herbs Using A Dehydrator

 

~ Michelle

Some of the content on this site may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. I only include affiliates that I personally use and trust. I would never compromise my values, or your trust. Thank you. ~ Michelle

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Creamy Good For You Chocolate Dessert

I know, another guilt free chocolate dessert. But this one really is good for you, and you will never know it is made with all natural, all healthy ingredients.

 

Creamy Guilt-Free Dessert

 

Creamy, smooth, and rich. Words to describe this delicious, healthy, raw and vegan chocolate dessert. Filled with healthy fats, nutrient-rich proteins from cashews and pecans, high in fiber, and rich in antioxidants from the cacao, you can enjoy your dessert guilt-free!

It is very rich, and I tend to go a little lighter on the cacao, but you can experiment with what works best for your tastes.

RECIPE:

Crust

1 rounded cup pecans
4 dates
1/2 cup cacao powder (or cocoa)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions for crust:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. The crust should slightly stick together.

  2. Press evenly into a glass pie plate. Set aside.

Filling

2 cups cashews, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes (I typically soak mine overnight)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup cacao powder (or cocoa)

Directions:

  1. After soaking cashews, rinse and drain well.

  2. Place cashews, honey, vanilla, and water in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until creamy.

  3. Add cacao powder and coconut oil. Blend until creamy. (You will have to stop periodically and scrape down the sides.)

  4. Once the filling is silky and creamy, pour into the pan over the crust. Place in the freezer to set for a few hours and enjoy!

Every time I share this dessert with family and friends, it’s a big hit. And I love the all- natural ingredients.

Remember to pin it for later!

~ Michelle

Posted in Cooking with Coconut OIl, Family Meals, Simple Food | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments