natural living

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Note: Through Monday 9/23 you can find 36 books on such topics as fermentation, making fire, cooking and storing food without a refrigerator, keeping goats and chickens, food storage, gardening, and more in what I’m calling a Traditional Practices Bundle.

This is my fourth pregnancy and every single one has been different. Morning sickness has been a little easier with each one. The foods that I can keep down during the first trimester and the ones I crave through the rest have been a bit different every time.

But one thing I have consumed through all of these pregnancies that I greatly appreciate is this herbal tea for pregnancy.

You can never really say for sure what makes one birth easier than another, and certainly in the end God is sovereign over all. In general, though, I have found that drinking this tea all throughout pregnancy, getting plenty of walking and squatting-type exercise, and eating well helps me to get through the usual fatigue, soreness, and anemia that is all part of these blessed nine months and thereafter.

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The backbone of this tea is red raspberry leaf, a well-known helper to women, pregnant or not. It is purported to help prepare the body for a more effective labor, and supports a woman through all of her specific needs, pregnant or not. Like many herbs, it also contains a great deal of needed vitamins and minerals.

Along with red raspberry is nettle leaf. Nettles is known to be helpful for building the blood and helping with any water retention or swelling that can go along with pregnancy. Like red raspberry, it also contains a whole host of vitamins and minerals.

Another addition that many women make to these basic herbs is alfalfa leaf. Again, it has a great array of vitamins and minerals to help supplement the mother and baby. It has also been shown to help prepare a mama for nursing, if that is something she has struggled with in the past.

Along with these I have added a couple others that help with my own personal hormonal imbalance. One of these is spearmint. Any mint can be added to this tea to provide great flavor, but I specifically choose spearmint because it has been shown to lower androgens and is safe during pregnancy.

The other addition I make to this tea is red clover blossoms. This also specifically targets my own personal need for hormonal balance and preparation for supplying the babe with a good milk supply, which I am in need of.

Outside of the red raspberry leaf and nettle leaf, I don’t necessarily recommend that everyone use the same mix of herbs. If you have a need in one area or another it is best to find some herbs that will compliment that, otherwise sticking with just those two core herbs may be all you need.

And, of course, I don’t claim to be a doctor or an herbalist or a midwife or any type of specialist really. I’m just very grateful for these amazing plants that have given me energy, prepared me for a new arrival, and nourished me when I have needed it most.

What herbs do you lean on during these wonderful months?

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I’ve been getting quite a few questions lately about how we manage the heat off-grid, with no air conditioning. Um, is not very well and day-by-day a good enough answer?

I guess that’s the honest answer, but I’ll try to share more about that another day. I can share a slightly more elaborate answer to one of the keys to this not-so-little predicament – staying hydrated.

Of course, starting with good water is important, but I find that drinking too much water can be counter-productive to staying hydrated.

A lot of sweating goes on around here. Working in the garden, standing in our windowless kitchen, sitting down doing absolutely nothing… lots of sweating.

In order to avoid an electrolyte imbalance, induced by a lot of sweating coupled with flushing our bodies of minerals with too much plain water, we’re using a number of methods to stay hydrated.

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Salt

I personally have had a consistent problem keeping up with my sodium intake. I know that sounds crazy, but salt is necessary for our bodies functioning, and I personally tend to benefit from the intake of extra salt.

During the summer I often just take a dip out of the salt jar. When I feel a bit shaky, dizzy, or as though a headache is coming on it quite often balances me out.

We generally use this brand of salt. And wow, is it just me or is everything getting more expensive by the day?

Electrolyte Drink

One tasty option I’ve been making lately is this Naturally-Sweetened Electrolyte Drink. It combines the electrolyte power of citrus with a hefty pinch of salt and the fortifying power of a natural sugar.

Electrolyte Packets

 One of the quick-fixes we have used, when we don’t have a batch of the homemade electrolyte drink made up, are these Electrolyte Packets. They are from a company I trust, they don’t contain near the amount of sugar as the usual sports drink, and are handy to have around when we need them.

Lacto-Fermented Beverages

Finally, one my favorite solutions to the hydration dilemma – lacto-fermented beverages. In this article, Lacto-Fermented Beverages as Electrolyte Drinks, I discuss how these drinks are full of hydrating qualities, how to make them, and what you may already be drinking that could do the trick.

So, that is how we are staying hydrated in the heat. How do you do it?

I live and work with dirt, in one form or another, all day long. It is in the air that we breathe on this dry, dusty road. It is our cohort in food production and is often present under my fingernails long after I’ve come in from the garden this time of year. It is the very thing I battle daily at the kitchen sink, in the laundry tub, and on those little faces and hands I love to kiss and hold.

It is a very real part of a very real life in which you work with the land, sometimes as a happy little dance and other times as a very real struggle.

Which is why soap making is definitely on the top of my "must do" list. Of course I’m not doing it yet because of the thousand other things that seem more urgent and the fact that without our own pigs, lard is a precious commodity reserved for cooking.

So I am happy to use handmade soaps like those from Nourishing Days’ latest sponsor, Third Day Naturals.While many of the "soaps" you can buy commercially are a weird hodge-podge of chemicals, detergents, and petroleum products; this real soap is made simply with real ingredients like fat, lye, and essential oils.

I don’t wear makeup. I don’t buy cleansers. I don’t have a "beauty routine". But the basic daily routine of wash and moisturize (during the colder months) is made all the more lovely when that soap is handmade and has the lovely scent of many of my favorite plants.

Oh, and the lip balms – a product that I do actually use regularly- are lovely as well. And while I told my four-year-old "No, you can’t eat it." I kind of wanted to take a bite of the chocolate lip balm too.