Adventures in Natural Building: Strawbale Studio

Walking into Deanne Bednar’s Strawbale Studio in Oxford, Michigan is like walking into the future…or maybe the past.  Either way, it is at the same time homelike as it is ethereal and dreamy.  It is a wonderful, welcoming space in which to find oneself.

Here, you are immediately immersed in a more nature-based state of living: jars of herbs, kombucha, and kefir line the counters, whittling projects lie about the room, and natural trinkets like spiraling wood, herb bundles, and dried flowers can be found in every corner and adorning the walls.

What is more unique to those unfamiliar with natural building techniques are the wonderful Earthen plasters that soften edges, relax the eyes, and bring the outdoors into the home.  Continue reading

An Avian Visitor + Wormville Update

Nearly every day for the past week, I will suddenly hear raucous alarm calls coming from the flock of sparrows that hang out in the backyard.

It appears that we have attracted a regular visitor who showed up on two separate occasions today. An adorable, killing machine – a Cooper’s hawk. Continue reading

Embracing Winter While Finding the Spirit of Spring

I hear a lot of people bemoan winter weather, but I try to avoid complaining about it.  Winter is just another season, the wheel of the year will turn again just as quickly as it always does.

I find it better to embrace the gifts of winter.   I allow myself to sleep a bit more knowing that in the days before electricity people were certainly getting a lot more dreaming in this time of year.  Why did we decide that we always have to go, go, go?  The colder, darker days also allow me to find joy in the ample time to read, sew, journal, and dream of plans for the future.  This extra inward-focused time will quickly pass when spring comes! Continue reading

Tips for a Greener Valentine’s Day

To be honest, I haven’t liked Valentine’s day much since middle school.  It was all fun and games with our shoe boxes and egalitarian distribution of Care Bears cards in elementary school, but then came the carnation sale.  Rather than a friendly gesture to celebrate a holiday, the carnation sale was really more of a contest between the three prettiest girls to see who would receive the most flowers.

While most of us sent one or two flowers to friends these girls were walking around with their 47 carnations leaving the rest of us awkward 12-year-olds with bruised egos.  The remainder of us “normal” girls sat at our desks, heads lifted eagerly each time one of the carnation messengers entered the room with the goods.  Nope, it’s for her yet again. Great.

And then when I was 13, my boyfriend gave me a box of chocolates (which really isn’t my favorite thing anyway) wrapped in paper made up of 2 inch scraps of all the letters and cards I had written to him.  I spent a lot of time on those notes – why in the world would he cut them into pieces as a gift??

Despite my less-than-perfect relationship with middle school Valentine’s days, the holiday continues on, and now I’m more concerned by the amount of waste and needless spending that the holiday promotes.  Why can’t we just be kind and giving to our loved ones on a regular basis?

However, I had an interesting request from a lovely reader recently asking what would make a good Valentine’s Day gift for someone who is interested in sustainability and reducing their consumption. Really, it’s a great question that more people should be discussing!

Here are my recommendations. Continue reading

Sprout It Out

The weather remains snowy and cold, but there are fresh things growing indoors!

Sprouts are a wonderful way to introduce a fresh, healthy food to your winter diet.  And certainly, if you are aiming to eat a low-carbon diet that incorporates lots of local foods, sprouts are an ideal way to continue eating fresh through the winter months.

They’re also really good for you! The most common types of sprouting seeds (mixes of radish, alfalfa, clover, broccoli, legumes) are rich in nutrition containing:

  • Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K
  • Minerals such as phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and calcium
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Folate
  • Protein
  • Antioxidants
  • Chlorophyll Continue reading

Be Well Tea for Cold & Flu

It seems that colds and flu are really starting to affect people this winter.  I’m hearing stories left and right about people who are ill.

The first step to prevent illness is always to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and to avoid unnecessary stress.  And even if you are exposed to germs or are living the busy go-go-go life, you can often still prevent illness by enhancing your white blood cell count with echinacea, or by using the healing and preventative power of honey and onions.

Unfortunately, there is still a risk that we or our loved ones will come down with a full-fledged illness.

On the bright side, there are many herbal remedies that have been passed down for centuries to help us get better more quickly.

One is this “Be Well” tea that helps to aid in relaxation, hydration, and in producing a mild perspiration that can assist in reducing a fever.  Continue reading

The First Days of this New Year

On New Year’s Eve we went cross-country skiing (on snow that clumped a little too easily…). Continue reading

A Solstice Snow

Today has been a day for celebration!  Continue reading

Midwinter is Near

The sunset reveals that the Winter Solstice (Midwinter, Yule) draws near. Continue reading