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Category Archives: Natural Living

How does my garden grow?

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Awful, stunted tomatoes, one pepper, one okra (!), and pitiful yellow squash. 

Ah, but the zucchini.  I am eating it for breakfast (really, as we speak), lunch, dinner, and dessert. 

 Attack of the Squash People (by the incredible Marge Piercy)

              And thus the people every year
              in the valley of humid July
              did sacrifice themselves
              to the long green phallic god
              and eat and eat and eat.
              They’re coming, they’re on us,
              the long striped gourds, the silky
              babies, the hairy adolescents,
              the lumpy vast adults
              like the trunks of green elephants.
              Recite fifty zucchini recipes!
             Beg on the highway: please
             take my zucchini, I have a crippled
             mother at home with heartburn.
             Sneak out before dawn to drop
             them in other people’s gardens,
             in baby buggies at churchdoors.
             Shot, smuggling zucchini into
             mailboxes, a federal offense.
             You give and give
             too much, like summer days
             limp with heat, thunderstorms
             bursting their bags on our heads,
             as we salt and freeze and pickle
             for the too little to come.
(full text here)
My favorite way to eat them this year:  chop and cook big chunks in garlic, olive oil, salt, onion, and fresh basil.  Eat on whole wheat angel hair pasta with crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce.  Oh, how I wish my own tomatoes were thriving this year. 

Easter Traffic

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Two of my old posts always get loads of traffic around Easter:

Natural dyes for eggs


Cadbury Eggs

Update:  it looks like Cadbury Eggs in the US are still slave-made.  What can we do??  Global Exchange has some great ideas including a printable coloring page for children to mail to Hershey.  I’m considering throwing together a screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate to share in my community before Easter.  We’ll see if I can pull that off.  What will YOU do?

Buy Mindful and Buy Local

Today I wanted to highlight a local farm for beautiful gift ideas. 

Shoals Creek Farm

Lotions, soaps, sugar scrubs, and more.  I’ve also heard the goat’s milk is delicious.

Linda, the amazing mama who raises the goats and crafts these goat’s milk products, has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever encountered.

She made a diaper rash cream for Cedar’s bum.  It has been the only thing that has worked on her poor little bottom. 

I’ve also fallen in love with the natural vapor rub and the sugar scrub.  I hate using Vick’s vapor rub since it is petroleum based.  Yuck. 

I can’t wait to try some of Linda’s soaps next.  I’m going for Monkey Farts or Hot Apple Cider.    

You can buy the products online or find them locally at Rose Hill Plantation or Pickens Family Chiropractic. 

These would make excellent teacher or hostess gifts.  Or stocking stuffers!  Go check them out.

Free Class!

I’m teaching Cloth Diapering 101 at Natural Baby on Dec. 11 at 2pm.  The class will last about an hour.  We’ll look at lots of examples of cloth diapering choices and systems.  And, of course, I’ll talk about poop.  What would a cloth diaper class be without a thorough discussion of dealing with the poopies?

Join us!  No need to rsvp.  Little ones are welcome.  I encourage dads to attend. 

Email me if you have questions:  j_byers (at) bellsouth (dot) net.

Openings are Grand!

We’ve asked for one.  We’ve complained that our town didn’t have one.  We’ve ordered online and paid shipping fees.  We’ve driven to Spartanburg (and however much we love you, Mary, it is a long drive!).

Now it is here.  A natural parenting store.  In our town.  And it opens this week!

Come out of your hiding holes on Black Friday (or am I the only one who hides on Black Friday?) and visit Natural Baby between 10am and 6pm.  There will be giveaways!  And deals!  And lovely things to buy.  Things that are carefully crafted and sustainable.  Things that are fairly traded.  Things that are reusable (cloth diapers!).  Things that are locally made.

Come and see!

And while you’re visiting, tell Ady, the wonderful mama behind this project, how excited you are.  And give her your ideas for products to stock, free classes to offer, or ways to promote the store.

This is not simply another store.  It is an opportunity to impact parenting choices and support families in making mindful choices.  Ady wants the store to belong to the community–a place you can drop in to nurse a baby or let your toddler play while you catch your breath.  A place for gatherings like the monthly Babywearing group or LLL.  It is the new home of Upstate BirthNetwork.  Have I told you yet of this project?  Soon I will. 

I’ll be teaching a free Cloth Diapering 101 class on Dec. 11 at 2pm.  And the monthly Babywearing group will meet Dec. 9 at 6pm. 

Find Natural Baby via their website or on facebook.  And find it on Black Friday!

Frugal and Natural Baby Care

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Natural and organic baby products can be expensive!  Here are a few ways to save some money.  Please add your tips and recipes!

Baby Wipes

Using cloth baby wipes can save as much as 800.00.  Still, the initial purchase can be pricey for a bum wipe.  If you don’t have the funds, you can cut up old t-shirts or flannel blankets.  For Norah, I bought the 1.00 “bag o rags” from Goodwill.  It was a huge lot of t-shirts already cut into rectangles.  I washed them on hot a few times to make sure they wouldn’t bleed on the dipes.  Good to go.  They weren’t pretty but hey, they were for wiping butts.

Baby Wipe Solution

You can simply wet your cloth wipes in water.  There are many solutions that are easy to make and smell yummers.  I like to use a few drops of lavender essential oil, a few drops of almond oil, water, and a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s castille soap.  There are lots of additional great ideas here.  I keep my solution in a spray bottle (one for the diaper bag and one for the changing station).

Cradle Cap

When your babe gets the scalp funk, use some olive oil to loosen it.  Use a fingernail or a toothbrush to gently exfoliate the area. 

Shampoo or Baby Wash

A tiny bit of castille soap goes a long way.  I often find Dr. Bronner’s on Amazon for a great price with free shipping.  A 32 oz bottle retails for 14.99 and lasts a long time.  One important point:  this soap is not “tear-free” so keep it out of baby’s eyes.  And pick a mild kind like the baby unscented or lavendar.  The peppermint might be a bit strong for baby bums. 

Baby Oil

I prefer baby oil to lotion.  My favorite is calendula.  Calendula flowers are so healing.  To make this oil, heat 8 oz of oil (I like almond but you can use other vegetable oils) and 1 oz of calendula flowers on low heat or in a crockpot for several hours.  Strain and cool.  You also can make a simple oil by adding a few drops of essential oil to a quality veggie oil.  Try lavendar, orange, rose, chamomile or a combination.

Oatmeal/Milk Bath

Grind oatmeal in food processor or coffee grinder.  Mix with dry milk.  Pour in the bath.  You can also add some epsom salt for a calming bath.  My friend, Ellen, gave me a variation that was ground oatmeal with lavender from her garden.

Diaper Pail Deodorizer

Simply put 10 drops of orange, lemon, peppermint, or lavender essential oil on a cotton round and attach to your diaper pail.  I love the diaper pail liners that have a built in pocket for such a deo-disk.  Mine doesn’t. 

Diaper Rash Treatment

Coconut oil is fantastic!  Combine coconut oil with nakey time and say bye-bye to diaper rash.  Or use the calendula oil you made earlier.

Bug Repellent

Lemon Balm grows in my herb garden and anywhere else it escapes to.  I grab a leaf and rub it on arms/legs.  You can also make a spritzer by boiling the leaves.   

Tummy-ache and Gas Medicine

Fennel tea.  Fennel is inexpensive.  I grind mine just a bit in the coffee grinder and make the tea in a french press.  Let it cool.  You can give with a medicine dropper, make into popsicles, add to a bottle, or for older babies, put in a sippy.  You can also combine with chamomile or catnip for a sleepy tea.  When Norah has a tummy-ache, I add peppermint.

Certainly with all of the above concoctions, be smart.  Try out a tiny bit on your baby’s skin first to make sure there are no allergic reactions. 

The item I don’t try to make frugally or find inexpensive alternatives is sunscreen.  I’m still a big fan of Jason’s Mineral Sunbrellas.  You can find a fantastic cheat sheet from safemama on sunscreens here.

What do you have to add?

Such incredible yumminess

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I tried this raw chocolate mousse at Earth Fare.  The gRAWnola guy was doing a “cooking” demo although, of course, there is no cooking required and he let me scrape the bowl.  This recipe is beyond yum.

  • 3/4 cup dates soaked until very soft with pits removed
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup agave

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.

The recipe card I picked up doesn’t credit anybody so apologies to the raw chef I’m not crediting.

Tomorrow’s Blessingway

Don’t forget tomorrow’s Blessingway at Earth Fare.  I’m so excited to hear Marion Heinert speak about Elimination Communication.  Just a tantalizing excerpt from her presentation:

EC is not toilet training, it is engaging in communication and becoming in tune with the baby by responding to a basic need. Diaper free has a much broader meaning than just going diaperless. It means freedom from an exclusive reliance on diapers following an easy rhythm that everyone can establish with baby. Have you noticed that many newborns will pee when their diapers are being taken off? This is mostly because they don’t want to wet themselves! By ignoring a baby’s elimination signal we are asking the baby to tune out a natural instinct. With EC the baby learns to trust, that you will respond to his/her needs (a vital part of Attachment Parenting). The baby maintains the bodily awareness he/she was born with and over time can make associations between cues and elimination.

Cedar peed on the toilet a few times when she was a few weeks old but I got side-tracked by other issues and EC fell by the wayside.  It is never too late, though, and I am looking forward to Marion’s encouragement and wisdom. 

We’re also going to hear Kathleen’s positive Greenville Memorial birth story.  I happened to be present for Kathleen’s birth.  Come hear how she intimidated all the nurses to stand against the wall and let her do her birthy thing. 

See you tomorrow at 2pm in Earth Fare’s community room.  Also, the folks at Earth Fare tell me there is a big event there tomorrow with bluegrass and loads of vendors so you might want to schedule some time to enjoy the festivities and freebies. 

Dads are always welcome at Blessingways as are older children.  Expect a little (or alot) of noise and chaos.  This is not a formal group!

ETA:  Just after typing this post, I was inspired to put Cedar on the toilet when she woke from her nap.  I used the same cue I tried when she was a newborn.  She went almost immediately.  Yes, I’m totally motivated!

Amber Teething Necklaces

So what is the deal with those necklaces all the babies are wearing these days?

They are baltic amber teething necklaces.  And no, they are not meant for tots to gnaw on.  The necklace isn’t a teething toy. 

Amber contains succinic acid which is an analgesic and purported healing agent.  As the amber rubs against the baby’s warm skin, it releases oil rich with succinic acid.  Used more commonly in Europe, this homeopathic remedy is non-invasive and, well, stylish. 

Does it work?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t hurt.  And the necklaces are sweet.  Teething bites and frankly, I’ll try anything.  Except orajel.  I tried that with Norah and managed to get her in her eye.  Bad mama moment. 

When looking for a safe amber necklace for your baby, select one that is knotted between each bead.  If the necklace should break, the bead won’t be an immediate choking hazard.  It is recommended that the necklace be removed when children sleep.  If children are chewing on the beads, the necklace should be removed as the amber may chip.

I have purchased several products from Inspired by Finn and have been very pleased with their quick shipping, frequent discounts, and quality.  Plus, it is a work-at-home-mama outfit.  Pick up a pair of babylegs while you’re there.   No, I didn’t receive anything to promote her store!

Morning Glory

I’m so happy to announce an exciting new class beginning in February taught by Ashley–the same crafty mama I blogged about in December

Morning Glory Parent-Tot Group
For children ages 1-3 1/2 with a parent, grandparent or caregiver.

A parent-tot group is a nurturing environment where adults attend with their child for play, mealtime and conversation with others on early childhood topics. The small group, limited to 7 families, fosters community and offers a space of support for families. We can further our bonds with our children while cultivating community with others. It is a time to retreat from the busyness of the world and focus our minds on ourselves, our children, and our small group in a warm, lovely environment.

Join us for 2 1/4 hours on Tuesday mornings in our “classroom” – a cozy little guest house on a gorgeous private property in North Greenville’s Green Valley subdivision. Together we will:

~ explore Nature’s beauty as we discover magic hidden around every turn on our group nature walk

~ engage in both outdoor and indoor play with toys made of natural materials

~ learn interactive games, songs, verses and rhymes that reflect the changing seasons; you can take these home and immediately bring into your family life

~ cook and share a nutritious group snack using whole grains, fruits and veggies (organic when available), and herbal teas – all snacks provided

~ work on an adult craft to share with your child (handmade toys are the best gift for a young one-when made by a loved one it’s even better!)

~ experience puppet shows with beautiful, lovingly created all natural puppets

~ spark conversations on parenting and early childhood topics

~ learn the importance of rhythm and purposeful work as a method of guidance, worthy of imitation by our young children

Adults are asked to actively participate in all aspects of the group to provide a healthy model for learning through imitation by the children. Adults will have opportunities to observe, as well as engage in, their child’s play while contemplating their developmental needs. Snack and craft time conversations will focus on early childhood topics previously decided upon by the group. Families have the opportunity to take home photocopies of related articles and all of the songs/rhymes/verses/games for further reading and reference.

The session includes:
Adult Orientation on Saturday, February 6th 9:30-11am
six group classes on Tuesday mornings beginning February 9th – March 23rd 9:15-11:30am
the possibility of one more adult only class later in the session
all snacks and craft materials
handouts for adult reference

$125 for one adult with a child
Additional children/adults in the same family may attend.  A discounted fee is offered. 

Please contact Ashley for more information or to register at waldorfmama[at]gmail[dot]com.