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Ancient Roots Winter 2017: Plant-Based Cordage

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For our winter Ancient Roots Gathering  we will learn about making and using plant-based cordage/rope.  Cordage has many uses in survival situations, including lashings, snares, nets, and more.  Some people use these skills in day to day life for making jewelry, household projects, and crafts.  Cordage can be made from a great variety of materials, from plants to animal sinew to clothing. For this workshop, you will have the option to scrape a yucca leaf which we will provide to make plant fiber cordage, or you can use the provided cotton to learn the basics.  Once you get the hang of it, it is easy and fun.

Please join us and come learn about making cordage.  This workshop will be held in two weeks, on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, at 2 PM.  We will meet at the main pavilions at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano, Texas.  This workshop is best for ages 6+ and all experience levels are welcome!

In this workshop, we will cover:

  • Elements of strong rope
  • Different types of common materials that work well for cordage.
  • Scraping yucca leaves to remove the fiber, and then make cordage directly from the plant (if you would like to try this, bring a knife if you have one)
  • Double-strand twisting for cordage. If you don’t want to scrape yucca leaves, you can still make this cordage with other material which we will provide. Children as young as six or seven can learn to twist, even if they are too young to scrape yucca leaves.
  • Time allowing, we will also cover some basic knots to get you started!

Please RSVP on the Facebook event page so we know how many people to plan for.

 

Ancient Roots Fall 2016 – FREE Wild Plant Walk

p1260990Wild Persimmons!

The Spring 2016 Wild plant walk with Ancient Roots was such a success, that I have decided to host another wild edible, medicinal and useful plant walk!  I had a great time sharing knowledge of wild plants and making connections with some great people.

There are so many plants surrounding you every day which are powerful healers, as well as foods packed with more nutrition than many of those found in supermarkets!  Amazingly enough, these powerful healing super-foods are free for the taking!  Come on out and learn how you can use these plants in your day-to-day life!

Please join us on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 10am at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano.  We will be covering a few of the plants we went over in the Spring Gathering and lots more that are ready to harvest in our area this Fall!

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Whether you made it out this Spring or not, this event is sure to bring something new to the table.  It will be a great opportunity to get kids and adults alike excited about nature and learning about plants.  This free activity makes a great complement to any homeschooling curriculum and is great basic knowledge to have on hand.  People of all skill levels are welcomed, and sharing of knowledge is encouraged.

Stay tuned for more fun events coming up in the coming months!

I hope to see you there, please like share and comment!

 

 

Big Chop After 11 Years Natural: Why I Cut My Locs

I am back from a long and amazing vacation, and I am looking forward to sharing with you some of the learning and growth I found.  I am excited about some great giveaways, gatherings, posts and new offerings I have been working on, and I’m looking forward to sharing!

With all this traveling and growth, from spending time in the bushes of Africa to having my first Reiki attunement, lots of positive energy for change was in the air.

A little background for those who have not read my natural hair journey post:  I went natural around 11 years ago, but I was scared to do the big chop.  I was scared to loose my length, the permed hair that I had grown to mid back.  I ended up deciding to just stop applying perms and let my hair grow out on it’s own.  Obviously this can be a messy and less than attractive process.  I kept my hair in cornrows, plaits (braids) or buns for the most part, and after I had about 4-6 inches of natural growth I had the dead, limp ends clipped off.  Goodbye to the perm.

p1170506Twist out

Over the next few years I wore my hair in all types of styles:  Wash and Go, cornrows, twists, plaits, bantu knots, you name it.  All with my own natural hair, no extensions.  I fell in love with my hair, a deep and appreciative love that grows with time.  I loved the versatility, I loved all the looks I could pull off and all the complements!  I took my time and cared for it ever so gently, and grew it down to my waist.  I loved it.  It was a lot of work, but I loved it.

p1170071LOVED my twists!

I always told myself that I would loc my hair when I had become too old or tired of styling it. For a long time, as I played with the idea of locs, I thought I’d loc it at a time when my hair was grey,  One day I saw the most beautiful set of locs, and it made my heart jump.  They called to me, and I answered.  Over time the desire to loc my hair intensified, to the point where my heart was telling me to DO IT NOW.  Or even yesterday!

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I wore my locs for around 3 years.  They were beautiful.  I loved them.  It was a process, but I loved them.  My waist length hair curled and compacted and loc’d into a divine set of locs that sat around my shoulders.  Over these three years they grew back to around my mid-back, mature and fabulous.

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OK, so to get real, there were a couple of things that I wasn’t completely in love with.  Like lint.  No matter that I was keeping my head covered in clean, silky materials when I slept and avoiding towels and other things that can deposit lint, there it was.  I would pick at it with a safety pin.  Ive heard you can just die it or color it with a black Sharpie, but still.  It was there.  Also, despite how well I washed my locs and how well I cleaned them, they never really felt squeaky, deeply clean.  Yes, they were clean, and yes, they smelled great.  But there just seemed to be something missing.

And then came the Reiki, and my sensitivity to energy went up, and I could feel my hair.  It felt energetically heavy.  So I began to think back to all that I have been through with this hair.  The dramas, the breakups, the growth.  I thought about how hair acts as antennae and picks up on the energies around us, sometimes holding on to them.  Despite all the positivity and love in my life currently, I began feeling like my hair was holding on to a lot of history, and I wanted to lighten the load.  I wanted a fresh start.

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I did not mind loosing all the length.  Since, as I mentioned, I never did a big chop post perm, I was curious about how my short hair would be.  How would it look, how would the curls be, and what would I look like.  What is maintenance like with a TWA (Teeny Weenie Afro) and how will it grow.  I felt like it was the right thing, like I would have no regrets.

20160806_153737No regrets, no turning back!

Honestly I had a slight fear about being without the long beautiful hair that had framed my face for over a decade.  How would I look with what is typically thought of as a more masculine style?  Do I have the face to pull it off, I wondered.

So at the end, I took scissors and started with one in the back-to see how it felt.  I felt invigorated.  I felt no remorse.  I was nervous traveling into the unknown, but I saw my destiny.  Using a crystal to treat the hair and help with cutting precision, I cut away the last 11 years of build up.

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It felt good, I had butterflies and adrenaline rushes.  I never looked back, but enjoyed looking forward at this new face that stared back at me in the mirror.  It’s taking some getting used to; as of this writing, it has been about a month.  I am enjoying learning the vastly different and unique textures of my hair and myself.

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Thank you for reading!  If you would like to see more pictures from my Loc Journey check out the Gallery. I appreciate all of you, please share the post and don’t forget to subscribe so that you never miss a thing!

 

 

Ancient Roots Summer 2016: Ancestral Potty Training 101

The Summer 2016 Ancient Roots Gathering promises to lead to interesting discussion as we talk about the specific methods our ancestors used to have babies diaper-free well under a year of age.

Our Ancient Roots Gathering will be held on July 10, 2016.  It is FREE and open to all.  Whether you are pregnant and looking for an eco-friendly way to handle baby waste, have a new baby in the family, or even if you are just curious, come on out and explore the possibilities! Your baby will be happier not having to sit in a dirty diaper, and you’ll be happier not having to change one.

I have used these techniques on my own child, have done extensive study, and have been learning the ancient techniques during my visit to Botswana.  The methods are virtually universal and have been used throughout the world, including Asia, Africa, and The Americas.  

To learn more about this, check out my post on Elimination Communication.

We will be meeting at 10am at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. Please RSVP on our Facebook event page. We look forward to seeing you with an open mind, something to take notes, and lots of questions.

Taking Time to Nourish My Roots

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Greetings, it is time for my annual trip off of the grid so to speak.  Vacation is an important part of my lifestyle, I use this as a time to delve deeper into my roots, and refresh mind body and spirit.  I will be taking plenty of time to work on bush-craft, and learn and grow.  My humble opinion is that vacation is as essential to life as the usual basics like food, water and sunshine.  In life it is ever easier to make excuses and put off vacation until that “perfect time”.  Sometimes you’ve gotta play the fool to break free from living to work.

Peace, love, and big thank you to all of my readers and subscribers, I will come back in early July with some interesting and fresh content.

For Those Who Missed: Spring 2016 Ancient Roots Gathering

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The first Ancient Roots Gathering was a great success.  Thank you so much to everyone who came out, ready with questions and great vibes!  It was a great group and I look forward to seeing some of you back at the Summer session of Ancient Roots!  It was a joy to see people of all ages learning and growing together, and today I will share some cliffs notes about some of the plants and topics we covered.

We talked about the ancient principal of Forest Bathing.  The basic idea is to really immerse yourself in nature whenever possible.  See the colors, smell the smells, hear the sounds, touch, taste and give thanks!  Our ancestors historically spent most of their lives outdoors, and among other things this was a contributing factor to their good health and lack of the diseases of civilization.  For those of us who live in cities and offices, it can take dedication to be close to nature.  Fortunately, the more often we can get out and Forest Bathe, the more we can reap such benefits as strengthened immune system functioning, reduced stress and blood pressure, increased energy levels and ability to focus, deeper intuition and sleep and an overall increase in happiness.

We also introduced people to the wild versions of two common domesticated veggies.  We talked about wild lettuce, and how this sometimes slightly bitter ancestor of modern domesticated lettuce, is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.  It also has a mildly sedating effect, and calm nerves, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness in people of all ages.  We also talked about one of my favorite wild foods, wild onion.  These wild varieties can be milder than the modern domesticated bulbs, but some pack a punch.  These are amazing to cook with, both raw in salads, and cooked as highly nutritious replacement for store bought onions.

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We had fun getting the kids involved during the walk, my daughter presented one of her favorite plants:  Oxalis.  Also known as Wood Sorrel, this plant has a distinct sour lemon like taste that makes it a great addition to salads, vinaigrettes, seasonings, or as an -aide type drink.  At the end we gave the kids a parting gift of an acorn cap, and showed them how to use them as a whistle!

In the first aid department, we helped people identify Poison Ivy, as well as talked about plants and techniques including Virginia Creeper that prevent and relieve symptoms of a Poison ivy rash.  We talked about Plantain which has been called Nature’s Band-aid, and how to use it as a “go to” plant for minor cuts, bites and burns.  Plantain, like so many other wild plants heal a host of common ailments like sore throat, ulcers, cough, cholesterol, diabetes, indigestion, and hemorrhoids.

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We also showed people the Wild Soap Tree which grows in the area.   This is comparable to Eco Nuts that are now very popular for laundry.  Effective and best of all FREE!

One thing we saw repeatedly is the vast number of medical conditions treated by the plants and “weeds” that surround us.  I encourage you to take the time to get to know the plants that grow in and near your home, in your favorite outdoor spot, or just outside you window at work.  Quite often we find, these UN-planted and UN-tended plants are in fact answers to our prayers for healing.  When we view “weeds” and nature as an ally, rather than an enemy to be poisoned and conquered, we find deep peace, healing and FREE MEDICINE AND FOOD!

Keep posted, the Summer 2016 Ancient Roots Gathering is sure to be great!  Make sure you follow me on Facebook to get updates on events, and please show some love by sharing this post!

Delicious Wild Food Recipes that the Whole Family Will Love!

Today I would like to share a couple of my favorite recipes, using foods that my family and I foraged.  These are all great introductory recipes for those who may be new to foraging or may not have much experience cooking delicious wild foods.  These are recipes for comfort foods that my family and I love, using wild ingredients.  Wild foods give the food extra nutritional value as well as a unique taste.

First I will talk about some of the ingredients and then I will follow with the recipes.

 

P1250919Red Oak Acorns

The first wild food ingredient I will talk about are acorns from a Red Oak tree.  I wrote a post on processing these, using the boiling method, which you can view here.  Since I used the boiling method, the resulting flour is best used when mixed equal parts with another whole grain flour such as whole wheat because the boiling removes much of the gluten from the acorns, and so on their own they do not hold together well in baked goods.  Acorn flour is high in vitamins and minerals and is a great staple to have on hand.

P1250994Burr Oak Acorns

Here are acorns from the Burr Oak tree, which is a type of White Oak.  Usually White Oaks are lower in tannins than red oaks.  Tannin or tannic acid is the substance in raw acorns that makes them unpalatable.  Because of the lower tannin content, I decided to use the cold soak method for these.  I will write a post in the near future detailing the process I used.  Like the Red Oak acorns, these acorns are also high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.  When you use the cold soak method, most of the gluten remains in the acorns; thus, the flour made this way works well in recipes where acorns are the main flour.

P1260029Lichen

Lichen is somewhat similar to mushrooms in flavor and nutrition.  There are over 20,000 types of lichen, and only two know to be poisonous, so they are a much safer introductory food than mushrooms for entry level foragers.  An easy rule of thumb to remember is AVOID yellow lichen.  It is simple to process it, but a bit time consuming.  I will make sure to do a post about the processing process, but basically, after you take it off the tree, you clean it of bark and debris, and then boil it in several changes of water.  Most people recommend using a pinch of hardwood ash or bicarbonate of soda during this process.  Ultimately you end up with a semi-gelatinous liquid which we freeze in ice cube trays, so we can use just as much as we need.  We find it a delicious, earthy and healthy addition to many foods, especially soups and stews.

images.duckduckgo.comWild Texas Pecans

These were gathered wild, on pristine land about an hour North West of Dallas.  While they are more readily available commercially, the wild versions as usual are more nutritious than the cultivated varieties.  These are great sources of fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

And now for the recipes:

P1260051Lichen Stew with Acorn Biscuits

LICHEN STEW

1lb of meat, cut into bite sized pieces

Bone, meat or vegetable broth to cover

2 TBSP or more of tallow or vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced

1 bulb of garlic, minced

2 stalks of celery, diced

2-4 TBSP prepared lichen

2lbs of veggies of your choice cut into uniformly sized pieces (potatoes, carrots, peas, etc…)

2 TBSP flour or cornstarch (optional to thicken)

sea salt, pepper, onion, and garlic powder to taste

Brown meat in oil in a skillet until seared, then pour in broth to cover. Mix in onion, garlic and celery and simmer for 1-2 hours or until meat is tender. Add veggies, lichen and seasonings and simmer until veggies are tender and cooked – time will vary depending on veggies. If desired, mix flour or cornstarch with cool water, and then add to the stew until thickened to your liking. Serve with acorn biscuits.

ACORN BISCUITS

1 cup organic whole wheat flour

1 cup acorn flour (we like the flavor of boiled red oak acorn flour, but cold processed acorn flour works, too)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

6 TBSP coconut oil

¾ cup nut milk, herbal infusion or water

Mix dry ingredients, then add oil and mix by hand until crumbly and uniform. Add liquid and mix until just mixed – do not over mix. Form 6-8 biscuits on a cookie sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Serve hot with stew or honey.

P1260569Acorn and Wild Pecan Brownies

ACORN AND WILD PECAN BROWNIES

3 oz semi sweet chocolate

1/3 cup butter

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

¾ cup cold processed acorn flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

½ cup wild harvested pecans

Melt together over hot water chocolate and butter. Beat in eggs and sugar. Sift together and stir in flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix in pecans. Spread in well-greased 8 inch square pan. Bake until top has a dull crust, and a slight imprint is left on top when touched lightly.

Hope you enjoy some of these recipes, let me know what you think in the comments!  There are so many great ways to use wild foods, what are some of your favorites?  Don’t forget to subscribe and get posts delivered to your inbox each week.  Please share the post if you enjoyed!

 

‘Tis The Season To Get NAKED in the Sun!

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Spring is upon us, and all this sun and warm weather means loads of natural Vitamins, free for the taking!  Let’s ditch the tan lines this summer, and improve our health at the same time.  Check out #NakedSunTime for inspirational pictures and articles, and take the No Tan Line Challange!

Nude sunbathing feels amazing, and is nothing new.  When you look at our ancestors, indigenous people [living in warm climates] before colonization are commonly wearing little more than a small strip of leather to cover their genitals.  Both sexes routinely have exposed chests, backs and legs.  There are many practical reasons for this, one of which being, it allows the body to absorb large quantities of Sun Vitamins (often called “Vitamin D”) on a daily basis.

When you soak up sun with your entire nude body, you maximize absorption of healing sunshine.  Since nudity is frowned upon in Post Colonial societies, an astounding amount of people in these “Developed” nations are suffering from a deficiency of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D deficiency manifests in different ways and contributes to many diseases.  It is essential for bone strength and health, immune system responses and the cellular processes of our bodies.

You have probably heard the myth that the sun “causes” cancer, this myth is another contributor to the high rates of Vitamin D deficiency.  This myth is rampant but is completely false.  According to Mercola.com, “…most [deadly] melanomas occur on the least sun-exposed areas.  This sun/cancer myth was created and brought forward by the sunscreen industry, dermatologists and the cancer industry.   Conventional sunscreen, as well as lotions, soaps, shampoos and other body care products contain chemicals known to cause cancer, yet these things are overlooked, and blame for skin cancer is instead placed on the sun. This is, of course, counter-intuitive because of the fact that the sun has shone upon humans for centuries, but skin cancer is a modern problem.

Certainly one should approach the sun with respect and build up to an optimum level of sun exposure.  Starting in the spring time, with increasingly longer stretches of sun exposure, is a great way to do this.  I personally apply raw Shea Butter to keep my skin from burning as well as spending time in the sun in moderation.  Work with your skin type and use common sense and intuition.  If you sense that it is time to come in, come in.  Darker skin which is richer in melanin is extremely resistant to sunburns, while pale skin tends to burn rather quickly.

To get more tips on wise interaction with the sun check out this great post!

Benefits of regular sunbathing go far beyond our physical bodies, and sun exposure is about so much more than “Vitamin D”.  Being in nature, in the sun, and bathing in it’s warm, golden glory exposes us to Spiritual Vitamins as well.  The sun has been both worshiped and revered throughout the centuries.  It warms, it gives life, it brings us the fire energy of creation.  Use naked sunbathing time as a time to meditate and fully absorb the healing fire energies.

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Ancient texts regarded the sun as the physical embodiment of a spiritual force: the spiritual sun, a divine fire that is the source of creation, spiritual light, and truth. In its journey through the sky, marked by solstices and equinoxes…we can find represented a profound teaching about the universal process of enlightenment. -TheSpiritualSun.com

Of course, in the city your own back yard or patio would be one of the safest places to spend nude time in the sun.  But sometimes you need to get creative; whether it is a secluded area in a state park, or a little patch of carpet inside the open sliding glass door of your [upper floor] apartment, where there is a will there is a way!

Please share your comments and thoughts below!  Also, make sure you subscribe so that you don’t miss a post, and share, share, share!

 

 

Lessons in Loving Nature from a 10 year old

Today I would like to share some nature-inspired poetry and photographs.  These were written and photographed by my 10-year-old, home-schooled daughter.  It is very important to me to instill a love and respect for nature in my kids.  I love spending time with my little ones in nature, and I find I learn so much from them.  We like to take weekly trips into the woods, and several lengthy camping trips each year.  If you would like to get your kids out into nature more, a great start would be to check out my FREE Wild Plant Walk.

 

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FLOWERS AND I

Flowers sway and move apart

So I may walk upon Mother Earth

Birds tweet and stretch their colorful wings in respect

I pick a fallen flower and make a blessing upon it

I love flowers

And flowers love me

Because I respect them

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MOTHER EARTH

Mother Earth Supports us

Mother Earth feeds us

Mother Earth takes care of us

Mother Earth feeds our friends

Mother Earth supports our water

Mother Earth makes the earth nice for us to live on

Mother Earth is nice

Please don’t litter Mother Earth…

Be nice to Mother Earth

Take mercy on Mother Earth

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RAINBOW FOREST

Plants are green

Bark is brown

Water is blue and green

Flowers have sweet fragrance

Animals are kind

They will not hurt you unless you hurt or scare them

I love water

You love water

So please be kind to water.

 

 

The 5 Most Amazing Natural Treats for Natural Hair

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I have been natural for over 10 years now and one thing that I have learned is that in transitioning, there is a lot of trial and error!  It is no harder working with natural African-textured hair than with straightened hair, but it is definitely different, and at times more time-intensive.  Over the years, I have used many different products on my hair, ranging from mainstream, chemical-laden products to all natural and organic ones.  There are as many different opinions on the perfect products as there are textures of natural hair!  If you are anything like me, at times you can begin to feel overwhelmed!

One thing to note about natural hair is that there is so much variety!  Hair texture is a fascinating topic for me, you can see extreme variation between siblings, as well as variation of texture within your own hair!  From hair that is tightly curled like fresh cotton reaching for the sun to the loose wavy curls that fall like waves, it’s ALL “good hair”!  That being said, different textures react differently to different grooming products.  This list is a combination of products my hair loves, and ones that I have found effective for other people.

 

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ALOE VERA

This is one of the best products I have found for all stages of the natural hair journey.  It is high in vitamins, minerals and enzymes that naturally balance scalp PH and promote hair growth.   I prefer to work with fresh aloe, which I grow and harvest sustainably.  It is a very easy-going plant, with so many healing properties that I would recommend lovingly growing your own.   You can also find the whole leafs of aloe in the refrigerated section of many stores, such as Whole Foods or other food stores (I would call ahead).

I scoop the clear pulp out with a spoon and blend it in a blender, then strain it through a fine mesh screen (this step is especially important for using it as a hair gel).  The resulting gel is very watery, which is fine for my purposes thus far. I have yet to experiment with thickeners, but may post about that at some point.

Aloe makes a great detangler, due to its slippery consistency, and it is also excellent for promoting hair growth.  You can saturate you hair with aloe gel, massaging it into your scalp, hair and ends as a great conditioner which softens and nourishes the hair and scalp.  I like to let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or while detangling before rinsing.  The freshly blended aloe can also be used as a gel for hairstyles and locs.  Though it is a bit runny, the hold is great, and it is easy to wash out, and thus will not build up in your hair.

Another great thing about aloe, is that it can be taken internally, and nourish your hair from the inside out.  Taken internally, among other things, aloe provides healing to the digestive track and detoxifies the blood.  I love to mix a good sized stalk into my smoothies; the fruit masks it’s bitter taste and keeps the kids begging for more!

 

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DELICIOUS DEEP CONDITIONERS

Natural hair loves delicious treats!  From bananas to avocados, coconut cream to honey, natural hair gobbles it up!  One of my favorite deep conditioners calls for coconut milk (fresh squeezed is best), a ripe banana, olive oil and honey.  It is simple, delicious, and highly nourishing for your hair.  I recommend using a secondary container to apply the conditioner to your hair so as not to contaminate your original batch – that way you can eat any extra, and nourish your roots from the inside out (and it’s SUPER tasty)!

Here is the simple recipe, it can easily be scaled up depending on the length and thickness of your hair.

1/4 cup of (fresh whenever possible) coconut cream or coconut milk

1 very ripe banana

1 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP raw honey

Place all ingredients into a blender and thoroughly puree (you don’t want chunks of banana mashed into your hair).  Apply to the hair, saturating it from the scalp to the ends, and cover with a shower cap or plastic bag for 1 hour or more.  Rinse thoroughly and enjoy your soft, moisturized and nourished hair!

 

HERBAL INFUSIONS

Herbal infusions are a great, easy way to get large amounts of nutrients into your body and hair.  When you infuse healing herbs, you are extracting more of the healing properties from them, creating a liquid super-food!  A great way to start would be to commit to making a weekly batch of infusion (if a daily commitment seems overwhelming).  I use the big glass sun tea jars, put in a generous portion of herbs – maybe around 2+ cups worth – then fill the rest of the container with boiling water.

Then all you do is cover your container and leave it to sit on the counter overnight!  Come morning, your infusion will be ready; simply strain, and it is ready to use.  I recommend taking some internally, as a natural vitamin and mineral supplement, which in turn will help with the growth and health of your hair.  Some of my favorite “go to” herbs for both internal and external use are Nettles, and Oat Straw. Feel free to add some honey or a pinch of salt according to your taste.  These herbs both have great healing and nourishing properties and are full of nutrients.

Pour enough of the infustion to give your hair a thorough rinse.  I like to soak my hair in the infusion, using a sink or bowl, so that the herbs can fully saturate and nourish all of my hair and scalp.  If that is not possible for you, you can use it as a rinse in the shower.  Use the herbal infusion as the last step after thoroughly cleaning your hair.  You can rinse it out if desired, but to get full effects, it is best to use it as a leave-in conditioner.

Make sure you research any herbs you plan to take internally, especially in a concentrated infusion, to make sure there are no contraindications for you.  It is also important to research potential side effects of herbs. While they are much safer than chemical drugs, they are still powerful, and one should use them with respect.  Other great herbs to consider are Horsetail, Rosemary, Chamomile, Lavender, Comfrey, Parsley and Sage.

 

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RAW SHEA BUTTER

Shea butter is a natural butter from the nut of the Shea-Karite tree which grows in West Africa.  I have been using Shea butter as a natural sunscreen for years, and have never had a sunburn while using it!  I have also used it in my hair and my clients’ hair with great reviews, so it is little wonder that it has been dubbed “Mother Nature’s Conditioner”.  Shea butter has many healing uses for the skin and body and has been used in its native land for conditioning African-textured hair for centuries.

A great source for authentic African Shea butter in the Dallas area is The Pan African Connection.  You want to look for pure, unrefined, 100% Shea butter.  Beware of labels that use “Shea Butter” as a catch phrase; read the label to confirm that the ONLY ingredient is Shea butter.

Shea butter in its natural state is slightly solid, but melts easily between your fingers.  Start small when applying to hair to ensure all of the Shea butter is absorbed, and you are not left with any visible in your hair.  I like to apply to freshly washed and moisturized hair to seal in moisture, or use it on damp hair while styling.

If you prefer a lighter, more spreadable consistency of oil, you can blend it with your choice of natural oils, such as olive, jojoba or coconut, and still reap the healing benefits.

It is an excellent conditioner, and infuses your hair with essential vitamins.  It helps heal and prevent hair breakage by moisturizing and conditioning.  Just as it protects skin from sunburn, it protects the hair from becoming damaged from over exposure to the sun and to the cold dryness of winter.  It also heals and soothes the skin of the scalp from conditions such as dandruff and eczema, which makes it a great scalp oil.

Give it a shot, your hair will thank you!

 

ESSENTIAL OILS

Not only can you get creative and make some amazing smelling natural hair and body products for yourself with essential oils, these oils have some powerful healing properties!  It is hard to narrow it down, but some of my favorite for use in hair are:

Rosemary–  This powerful essential oil helps with hair growth by improving circulation to the scalp, dilating blood vessels and stimulating cell division, thus encouraging growth.

Lavender–  This ultra-soothing herb is one of the most popular essential oils for use on hair.  It promotes hair growth and helps prevent hair loss as well as soothing scalp conditions.  Since it has strong relaxing and anti-stress properties, it helps in combating stress-related hair loss as well.

Chamomile–  Another ultra-soothing oil, chamomile helps heal chemical damage to the scalp as well as the physical damage that can be caused by improper styling (which is why I do things differently ).  It also helps sooth dandruff and psoriasis of the scalp.

Peppermint–  You can feel this super-oil working as soon as you apply it.  That tingling means that the herb is stimulating blood flow to your roots, which leads them to receive increased nourishment.  It is a great oil for promoting hair growth and overall healthy hair!

Ylang-Ylang–  This is my most recent hair essential oil find.  It is great for overall hair health and luster, as well as healing the scalp.

I like to use essential oils in a simple, homemade, nourishing hair mist.  You can use this spray after washing your hair and to moisten it while styling or detangling.  Simply mix roughly 3 parts of water to 1 part carrier oil (such as olive, jojoba, coconut, etc…) and several drops of essential oils.  Shake well before each use of the spray.  I also use essential oils to enhance my Shea butter and other oils I use in hair care. If you’d like, you can add them to your shampoo or conditioners.  It is important to make sure you properly dilute these oils, as they are ultra concentrated.  A general rule of thumb is about 6-30 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil.

 

There are many other natural hair treats, but I wanted to share some of my favorites to make things a little easier on those who may still be transitioning to their natural textures.  What are some of the natural hair products you love?  Any from the post that you would love to try?  Please leave comments below and subscribe so that you never miss a post!

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Don’t Miss the first Ancient Roots Gathering, Earth Day 2016!

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I am excited to announce the first quarterly Ancient Roots Gathering!

I hope you will join us for a FREE Spring Wild Edible and Medicinal Plant Walk!  We will talk about many different plants that are in season in the Spring, and share information about their uses.  From natural Spring tonics that clean your blood, to nature’s band-aid, we will cover 15+ plants that are common in Texas and just might be growing in your front yard!

Learning to see “weeds” as food and medicine is a great first step towards sustainability and Eco-friendly living.  Virtually all of the common weeds we see so often offer some type of medicine or super-food qualities, so come on out and learn to safely utilize their healing gifts!

This meet-up is for all ages and skill levels!  We aim to bring something interesting to the table for both beginners and experienced nature lovers alike!  Please come ready to learn as well as share your knowledge!  This would be a great free course for Homeschoolers!

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We will meet at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve on Earth Day, April 22 2016!  Meetup time will be noon under the Pavilions.  I am pretty flexible for times going forward, so if you are interested, but can not make this time slot, please let me know and I will do my best to plan the second meetup accordingly.

Part of the hike will include unpaved trails and inclines, so it will be a moderate hike, and strollers are not recommended.  Check out my tutorial on a simple and comfortable alternative way to carry your baby with you!  I would suggest bringing comfortable shoes, water, sunscreen and lots of questions!  Since we will be hiking on dirt trails, if it rains, we may need to reschedule, so make sure you follow Do Your Natural Thing on Facebook to get updates.

Stay tuned for more info on the next Ancient Roots Gathering, and please let me know if you have any questions!

From Human Zoos to Animal Zoos: Rethinking Entertainment

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It often surprises me, how many people still go to zoos these days, even among conscious or non-mainstream groups of people. The modern colonized mindset easily forgets history’s transgressions.  Take a moment to learn, or refresh your memories on the appalling legacy of human zoos.

In the not so distant past, European invaders kidnapped Indigenous peoples to put them on display in zoos throughout Europe. The parallels between the kidnap and display of humans and modern zoos is very clear, and shocking when you think about it.  By definition, both acts can be defined as slavery.  According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, slavery is defined as:  1. The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household, and 2. A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force.

You take someone from their natural habitat, where they are happy, healthy, wild and free, and forcibly confine them.  You then make a massive profit by putting them on display to people who have been effectively trained to see nothing wrong with the situation.

I am a big proponent of teaching your kids the truth, I mean really educating them.  Raising them to be adults who see beyond the veil of deception so carefully put over the eyes of the masses with colonization.  So the idea of teaching our kids to view the zoo experience as normal and fun seems counter intuitive.  The idea of zoos is very foreign to me, and I remember even as a child, when I last went to a zoo on a school field trip, I could clearly feel the sadness of the imprisoned animals.  Here we are, kidnapping animals from the wild, and breeding them, keeping them confined – though they are innocent of any offense.

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NO ONE CAN BE HAPPY LIVING IN CAPTIVITY

Zoochosis is a term used to describe the obsessive, repetitive and otherwise unnatural behaviors which often develop in captive animals.  Behaviors such as pacing, head nodding, swaying, excessive grooming and self mutilation are just a few of the common symptoms.  These behaviors are non existent in wild animals and are caused by the sheer stress, immense mental suffering and unnatural lifestyles that these animals are subjected to.  As a result, some zoos drug the animals with anti-depressants and tranquilizers in an effort to “control” the problem.

These highly social animals have been ripped away from their families and put into an environment with severely limited ability to have any form of community.  Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to live your entire life in solitude, or with one (or a handful if you are lucky) other person.  Imagine that you have no access to anyone of your kind outside of your cage, ever.  Pretty depressing.

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NO CAGE CAN REPLICATE FREEDOM

Some argue that the zoo cages are set up to replicate the natural habitats of the animals enslaved in them.  No matter how sophisticated, throwing a few rocks and trees into the cage will never come close to replicating the natural environment of these animals.

Also, logistically it is not possible for zoos to provide adequately sized cages.  Elephants for example, in their natural environment walk up to 40 miles per day.  This daily exercise is essential to their health and well being, and without it elephants can develop arthritis, foot abscesses and other bone and joint disease.  According to an article in Psychology Today entitled Please Don’t Visit Zoos, the enclosure for elephants at the Dallas Zoo is so small that it is the equivalent of a human living an entire lifetime in a two car garage.

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THE MYTH OF CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION

Keeping animals enslaved, forcing them into a miserable, abbreviated life teaches our communities nothing of value.  How about if instead, we teach our children compassion for other creatures with whom we share this world.  Teach them about their own rights, and how animals also have the right to freedom, dignity and joy. Teach them that they should not spend money making unethical zoo owners rich, nor should they spend their time gawking at enslaved animals.

Despite media propaganda to the contrary, it is still common practice for animals to be stolen from the wild to be used for profit in zoos.  It is true that there are many breeding programs in place to maintain the population of captive animals.  Animals born into these breeding programs often die much younger than those who are born wild.  It is worth noting, however, that either way, animals who spend their lives in captivity have significantly shorter lifespans than their wild counterparts, largely because of the unnatural diseases inherent in captivity.

People love babies, and baby animals are no exception.  It is common practice to breed babies, and then sell them once they are no longer cute cuddly babies anymore.  Many of these animals end up in circuses and on trophy ranches, where they are “hunted” at close range and killed to supply a manly feeling and a trophy head for a rich man’s wall.

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WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?

First and foremost, stop funding the capture, breeding and enslavement of animals by not visiting zoos and aquariums.  The people have power in their pocket books, stop buying the tickets.  Spread the word, and maybe you will get through to others; teach your children.  If your kids are in the school system, don’t allow them to go on school-sponsored trips to the zoo; send the message to the school board that this is no way to educate our youth.

If a fraction of the money spent on building, maintaining and visiting zoos each year was instead used to fund protection and conservation methods for wild animals, we could certainly make a difference.  How about putting some money into the protection of wild habitats from the encroachment of corporate exploitation?

Obviously, we can’t all travel to see most of these animals in their natural habitats, but we can take lots of trips outdoors, and see the animals native to where we live.  We can also learn about and see animals in books and documentaries, for which they do not have to suffer a lifetime of misery.

 

 

Heaven in Your Mouth: The Wild Persimmon

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I had my first taste of wild Texas persimmons this past Fall, and honestly, it was love at first bite!  I was a bit hesitant at first because of their appearance – orange with brownish spots, very mushy with a fine layer of that white stuff you find on grapes.  This is one case where you will be doing yourself a grave disservice to judge this fruit by it’s cover!

 

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They bear some resemblance to their grocery store counterparts (above).  One of the easiest ways to identify them is by their distinct stem, orange color, and dark brown seeds which you can see below.  The wild variety are much smaller and less brightly colored than the supermarket variety, and their flavor is more delicate, subtle and divine.  To describe the flavor in an easily understandable way, I would say it is somewhat like a most delightful mix of peach, mango, and banana.

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Coyotes and other wildlife love these wild persimmons too, so you will often see these same seeds in animal scat as an indication of wild persimmon in the area.  Always be conscientious of the wildlife, and resist the urge to over-harvest!

Persimmons are a super food, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  As always, the wild varieties will be higher in all of these things, but the store-bought variety are still highly nutritious!  They are as versatile as they are delicious.  They can be eaten as it, dried, or cooked in pies, breads, puddings, salads and many other foods, limited only by your imagination!

Harvest is easy – when shaken, the trees drop the ready persimmons, which the kids loved helping to collect.  We probably managed to make it home with about half of our harvest – they were so delicious, we kept snacking on them!  These beauties were harvested growing from Texas clay near a small pond.  Many foraging books suggest to wait to harvest wild persimmons until after the first frost, but start checking on them earlier in mid to late fall, as the ones here matured well before the first frost.

S2060017These little hands have been very busy harvesting AND eating!

Once we got home with our harvest, we decided to preserve some of the persimmons for later use by freezing the pulp.  We removed the seeds by hand, and ended up with about 4-16oz jars of pulp to freeze.

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So far we have used one jar, this past week, to make a loaf of Persimmon Quick Bread.  It was moist and tasty, but I did not feel it properly showcased the unique and subtle flavors of wild persimmons.  It may have been a good way to introduce someone to a more “exotic” food, but I think for the next jar I will try a pudding or pie, to really let the flavor of the wild persimmon shine!

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What are your favorite uses for persimmons?  Any favorite spots to harvest in Texas?  Don’t forget to like Do Your Natural Thing on Facebook, Subscribe so you never miss a post and Share Share Share!

A Slight Change of Outlook That Can Save Years of Pain

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I came across this perspective recently, and as I digested it, I realized that having this mindset 15 years ago would have saved me tons of energy and tears.  Honestly, to a certain extent, I could feel it in my heart, but sometimes when you are sailing in rocky water, its hard to heed that small voice.  Sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else.

I came across a copy of “Why People Don’t Heal, And How They Can”  by Caroline Myss and found this and plenty of other useful information on healing and moving forward.  I am going to share one portion that really spoke to me, and as we ride these waves in life, maybe it can help others as well.

Let’s consider the ideas of betrayal and growth.  I am sure a good majority of adults have experienced betrayal on some level.  I know that I have had my fair share, and have also had my fair share of dwelling, harboring resentment, obsessing, crying and otherwise having my energy drained by the circumstances.  But betrayal is the route by which one experiences growth, yet by nature we tend to be set in our ways, and enjoy a certain level of comfort, even in less than ideal situations.

“Rather than accepting that the day has come to confront your fear…most of us avoid the fear entirely until some experience forces us to look more closely at ourselves.  You may, for instance, resist leaving a marriage that has become counterproductive and spiritually damaging, only to find that you or your spouse will do something – like have an affair – that precipitates a divorce, regardless of your attempts to halt the process.”

Betrayal and growth are so intricately linked, but somehow in a trying moment in life, that is easy to forget.  At times we feel like everything is crumbling around us.  We may have been happily married for 30 years only to have our husband leave us for another woman.  Or we may have a family member that cleans out our bank account, or a best friend who turns against us.  These things happen, and it is often extremely difficult to process.

“As long as we think of them as betrayals, we take years to recover from them and we lose incalculable amounts of energy over them.”

Forgiveness in this perspective becomes much easier.

“The people who may seem…to be participating in an act of betrayal are, in truth, acting out an agreement you have already made with [The Great Spirit].  How, then, can you be angry at one of the [Great Spirit’s] messengers?  There is nothing for which you need to forgive them, for they have done nothing at all to harm you.

Often times in these rough patches, we are given progressively more intense signs that is time for change.  From my experiences, and the experiences of those around me I have seen Spirit will try gently to guide us with intuition and small signs.   I have seen that what may start as a light tap on the shoulder, or whisper in your heart that it is time to move on, when ignored can easily progress to an emergency room or therapist’s office.

“All the signals tell us that the time has come to let go and move on with our lives.  Those who heed the signals will be presented with their own challenges, but, more often than not, because we fear change, most of us remain in the old and familiar places, clinging to situations and relationships that have essentially ended.  You may, for example, experience a growing desire to leave your job, but even as this desire intensifies, you ignore it because you are unsure of where to go next.  You tell yourself that you would make the change if only you knew what lay ahead, if only you had something better lined up.  As the tension within you mounts, you fight your desire with more and more self-created rationalizations: “It’s not the right time,” you tell yourself, or “My job situation is bound to improve if I only give it another chance.”  But as the months pass, nothing changes except your mounting anger-not only about you job, but at yourself for not having the courage to do anything about it…in the case of leaving your job, the consequences are likely to manifest as illness (usually a chronic condition, such as constant headaches or an ulcer) or what you perceive as a betrayal, like getting fired from the job.”

Another major aspect of the growth and betrayal connection is the impact on your health.  When one continually stifles growth and change, it can be detrimental to their health.

“When you experience an apparent act of betrayal, look closely to see if it may not actually be a “Divine invitation” to let go of the old and discover the new.”

This perspective makes it easier to let go of the energy gobbling what if’s and why’s, and transform that energy into learning and growing.  I hope this message reaches others the way it did for me.  Let me know what you think!  Please share this post to inspire others, and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a post!

The Making of African Girl Dolls!

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I wanted to give my daughter a meaningful gift to show her how much I appreciate her warmth, generosity, and all around amazingness!  She has been wanting a baby doll for quite some time now, but a couple of things were holding me back.

The first is that every doll that I found was made in China.  I am working towards reducing dependence on goods that are made in sweatshops, and I feel that is an important lesson to teach my daughter as well.   I spent hours searching the internet for responsible doll companies, and companies who produce dolls in countries that are not notorious for sweatshop labor.  I hit many dead ends along the way, and after much research, including reaching out to other responsible toy companies (that do not offer dolls) I found nothing.

The second problem was that it seems like 99% of brown-skinned dolls of African decent have straight hair.  I am all about self love and embracing your natural hair, so that did not work for me.  The few dolls I found with natural hair were incredibly expensive.  We are talking like $50-$80 for a Barbie.  Just because she has natural hair.  That may work for some families, and you can find these barbies at companies like Natural Girls United.   They do have fabulous hair, and I realize now that it takes quite a bit of time to create natural hair looks on dolls.

One evening, after I singed my daughter’s Barbie’s straight hair in the fireplace, in a desperate attempt to create some kink, I decided to look into alternatives.  It turns out, you can create the look of natural hair at home, with some pipe-cleaners and boiling water!  I found a couple of tutorials online, and decided to give it a go.

So, to solve problem number 1, I scoured local thrift stores and Craigslist for dolls who were not directly purchased from a sweatshop.  I like to think of it as recycling.  It was surprisingly hard to find baby dolls of African decent in the Dallas area thrift stores, but I ended up finding two.  Two dolls with a lot of hair – I had my work cut out for me!

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Basically, you take a pipe cleaner and bend it in half, cutting it as needed.  For the baby doll, I cut the standard length ones in half, and for the second doll, since her hair is so long, I used the entire length, at some points adding to them.

You take a small section of hair (did I mention these dolls had a lot of hair?) and, starting as close to the scalp as possible, zig zag, or weave, the section in and out of the folded pipe cleaner.  It is very important that you spiral twist each section as you are working on it, and keep it tightly twisted as you zig zag.  The smaller the section, the kinkier the look you will achieve, so it is worth the extra effort.  It is a bit awkward at first, but becomes easier as you get down the rhythm.   Twist the two ends of the pipe cleaners together when you get to the end of that section of hair, and move on to the next section.

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Here they all, done at last and ready for their bubble bath!  I’m not going to lie, it took me several hours to do all the hair for both of these dolls, but it was a labor of love.  Also, both of these dolls had an abnormally ample amount of hair.  On many dolls, the hair thins out substantially towards the middle of the head, as you move away from the hairlines, but these two were pretty thick throughout.  A good beginner project would probably be a regular-sized Barbie.

Next, I boiled a big pot of water and poured it into a separate tub, so as not to get anything toxic from the doll hair in my pot.  Working quickly, I submerged all of the hair under water for a slow count of 10-15 seconds.  It was a bit harder to get all of the baby dolls hair under, since her head was bigger, so I had to use a spoon to poke it all under the water.  I left the curlers in overnight, until the hair was completely dry.

When you remove the pipe cleaners, you are left with funky, twisty, bouncy twists.  I liked the look on the doll with the longer hair.  It reminded me of my long twists, and it just felt fun, so I left her hair alone after removing the pipe cleaners.

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The baby doll’s hair showed a bit more scalp at the back once the pipe cleaners were removed, so I separated the curls on her.  Her hair did not turn out as curly as I expected, but it nicely mimicked the curl pattern of my daughter’s hair, so it worked out well.

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The final step was sewing some outfits for the dolls, using African-print cloth.  My daughter was overjoyed with these girls, and she is thrilled that they have hair like her, so in the end the project was very worthwhile!  From what I have found online, the curls should stay pretty well for quite some time, just be careful to avoid hot water!

I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it inspires some of you to give the children in your lives dolls that encourage positive self image!  Please leave comments below, share, and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a post!

 

How to Make an Effective Herbal Antibiotic Syrup for Kids

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This post is coming from an experience I had a few weeks back.  I would like to share my story with you, in hopes of helping others avoid pharmaceutical antibiotics, with their well documented side effects.  I must say however, this is not intended as medical advice, nor should you ever try any herbal remedy if you research or intuition does not agree.

So it all started one evening with a painful tooth in my two year old’s mouth.  This particular tooth was one of two that had been cracked in an accident months ago.  On the following afternoon I noticed a substantial swelling on his gums.  It was a round blister like bubble a bit smaller than an M&M.  The first thing I did was mix up a batch of baby safe herbal antibiotics.  My typical go to antibiotic is fresh garlic, but I knew that would not go over well for a two year old.

I researched each of the ingredients:

Honey:  Give thanks to the bees for this beautiful healing gift, possibly the tastiest antibiotic around!  It has been used alone and in combination with various herbs for thousands of years to cure a variety of ailments.  Honey is also highly effective in treating infection both internally and externally.  You may have heard that honey has no expiration date – that is because bacteria can not survive in it!  When properly stored, honey can last for centuries, if not more, imagine the potentials of this immortal super-food!  I have seen it heal a peptic ulcer first hand, as well as reoccurring cracks at the corners of the lips (also known as Angular Cheilitis).  All this adds up to it being the perfect base for a sweet and very kid friendly base for a healing herbal antibiotic!

Ginger:  This ancient root is an antibiotic powerhouse that has repeatedly been proven as or more effective than pharmaceutical antibiotics.  It is an amazing all around warming herb, used for a wide variety of ailments.  I used this regularly during pregnancy and on long road trips for car sickness.

Cinnamon:  This ancient medicinal spice is another herbal powerhouse.  It has historically been valued at it’s weight in gold.  It has both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.  Honey and cinnamon are often used together to strengthen white blood cells and cure a wide range of ailments from toothache to bladder infection.

Turmeric:  With its vibrant yellow-orange color, this is another powerful and ancient herb.  This is the spice that gives curry its yellow color and it is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory action that rivals that of it’s pharmaceutical counterparts.  It’s also used in various cultures to clear infection, both inside and outside the body.

Coconut Oil:  This is another total body healer.  It is a potent antibiotic, antiviral and anti-fungal as well as a super-food.  The addition of coconut oil also helps increase the absorption of the turmeric whose active components are fat soluble!

Cacao Powder(optional):  This super-food is added for the flavor and antioxidants.  It blends well with all the healing herbs and makes this a highly requested medicine!

The measurements were mainly intuitive for me, with the largest part being the honey base, followed by ginger, then cinnamon, and a small amount of turmeric so as not to throw off the taste.  When in doubt, follow your intuition, sometimes less is more.  I taste each batch before use, to make sure it tastes balanced, plus it is really delicious!

Dosage was periodic spoonfuls, at mealtime, nap-time, etc…  I gave more frequent initial doses until the infection died down.  I continued to give him the syrup for about two days after the infection cleared, so about 3 days total.

Within about an hours time the swelling in my son’s gums had started decreasing, and within a couple of hours the infection started to drain.  This worked well for us, it was a great pain-free, easy way of clearing the infection.  These are all powerful antibiotics, so make sure to have a source of good bacteria on the menu to help balance your gut, such as fermented foods, and other natural probiotics.

What are your favorite natural antibiotics?  Has anyone else tried this syrup?  I would love to hear from you, please feel free to comment below.  Also, I greatly appreciate new subscriptions, shares and likes!

Think You Can’t Afford to Live Organic?

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                                                      Free organic produce!  Read on to find out how!

 

Sometimes the thought of transitioning to an organic lifestyle is overwhelming, to say the least! As a single, bread-winning, homeschooling mom, I must say I have a lot on my plate, and yet I can offer living proof that it’s possible.  Though there may be some sacrifices and trade-offs along the way, these are minor to me when I factor in the health and spiritual benefits of an organic lifestyle.  It has been a journey to get where I am today; I would say my food, body and living products are at least 95% organic and wild. Today I would like to share some of my top tips and tricks for living organic on a budget.

Let me start by saying, I know that writing “organic” on a package does not automatically make it healthy, sustainable or even “organic”. Whenever possible, I seek out products that go beyond organic.  I look for products that are produced without any toxic pesticides or fertilizers, but other important factors are the ethics of the company, their sustainability practices and the humane treatment of the plants and animals which sustain us.  I also look at ingredients to avoid chemicals, including synthetic chemical vitamins and “natural” flavors.

Additionally, I do not consider organically farmed food to be the epitome of healthy living, but a step in the right direction.  Ultimately, for me, making the full transition to wild foods which have grown free of chemical pollution will bring me full circle.  However, I understand firsthand that in a modern city dwelling lifestyle, this is not easily accomplished.  I will write a post in the future going into depth on why a wild food diet is favorable to a conventional organic one.  For today’s purposes, I will focus on what is much more within reach for the average person. And now for the tips!

 

ALWAYS CHECK CLEARANCE!

I find many people have the misconception that the clearance sections are full of broken, spoiled or otherwise undesirable products.  This is not the case at all!  Sure, some stores are better than others, but overall clearance items are good quality at amazing prices!  Often times products make it to the clearance well before their expiration dates, simply because they are not selling fast enough, or are being discontinued.  Some of the best organic food and body bargains I have found are from major retailers like Kroger, Tom Thumb, Target, and Sprouts.  I make it part of my regular shopping routine to stop by the clearance section before I leave.  It is often hit or miss, but when you find something great for pennies, it makes it worthwhile!  I recently stumbled across a great score at Sprouts.  Organic, Fair Trade full size chocolate bars for only $1, and various organic super-food snacks for $1-2 each!  Everything I bought was months away from expiring, and a great inexpensive way to give healthy snacks (and occasional healthy treats) to my two little healthy eaters!

 

STOCK UP!

I will admit, sometimes I go overboard with this one. But it is definitely one of the best ways to afford organic on a budget.  If you come across something that is a staple in your home or kitchen, and it is at a deeply discounted sale price or on clearance, stock up!  You can save money both by buying multiple items, or simply by buying a larger-sized package of a specific item, as the price per ounce generally goes down as the package size increases.  I do this with things like organic oils, snacks, meat, spices and frozen goods.  It is also a great way of stocking up on household products, like dish soap, herbal medicines, body care products etc…  I will give an example:  I found several bottles of Seventh Generation dish soap on clearance for about $1 each.  Much cheaper or at least comparable to conventional highly toxic ones.  So I stocked up on about a year (*ahem* or two) supply.  If you consider the typical price of this soap to be about $4 per bottle, you have a 75% price cut!  If you do the math over the course of a year, assuming one bottle of dish soap per month, that means spending only $12 per year vs. $48.  While this extra $36 in the bank is not going to fund your next vacation, when combined with lots of similar savings, it adds up nicely!  And if you are not at a point to be thinking of a long term savings account, at least you are getting a product for a year which is much better for the earth and its inhabitants for the same price as the highly toxic alternatives.

 

EAT THE WHOLE ANIMAL!

My African roots run deep, and despite what anyone says, the most delicious part of an [red meat bearing] animal is its stomach and intestines!  It is especially important to find clean sources of meat; if not wild caught, at least grass-fed, humanely-raised and organic.  The modern diseases so commonly attributed to meat consumption are due not to eating meat (which kept our ancestors healthy and strong for virtually all recorded history) but to the deplorable methods used by modern meat “farmers”.  There are several local, humane, grass-fed and organic ranches here in Texas and throughout the states.  You can link up with them at farmers markets, through Edible Magazine or through online searches.  Often times their prices are competitive to or better than the “cleaner” meats you might find at a mass merchandiser.  In general, organs, heads (barbecoa anyone?) bones (for bone broth), fat (to render tallow) and other less mainstream parts are practically given away!  So not only are you getting extra nutrition in your diet, you are saving money and stretching your culinary experience all at the same time!

 

COOK FROM SCRATCH

This one takes up more time for sure, but if your primary priority is the health of your family and staying on budget, it is a great trade-off.  Virtually anything that comes from a restaurant or the ready made or freezer sections at the store can be made organically at home for a fraction of the price.  I have one friend who has challenged herself to recreate every restaurant food she loves, at home.  This makes it somewhat less of a sacrifice to eat out less, if you can have the same delicious foods, organic and relatively cheap!

 

WILL WORK FOR ORGANIC FOOD!

Volunteer!  Reach out to local Co-ops and farms who are often happy to have helping hands in exchange for fresh, local organic produce and foods!  Currently we volunteer for 2 hours per week for a local Co-op in exchange for a generous week’s supply of fresh, seasonal, local, organic and ever-changing produce!  The picture of the table overflowing with free organic produce at the beginning of the post is a typical week’s worth of free produce for our family.  It is definitely worth it to call around to find opportunities such as this, as we typically receive roughly $60 per week of fresh, free organic food.  We currently volunteer at Urban Acres Co-op, but there are many others to inquire with also.

 

LOOK FOR SALES

Often times you can find some great deals on organic food and body care items just by checking the weekly ads.  The weekly ads offer good leads on what and when to stock up on items.  Most stores seem to run sales on the same items, but at times the prices will be lower.  So once you get an idea of the lowest sale price you have seen, you can stock up.  For example right now Sprouts has organic coconut oil at an advertised sale price of $5.99 each.  From becoming familiar with this store over the years, I know that the price at least once a year will get down to $3.99 each, so I know to wait to stock up on coconut oil until then.  There are lots of coupon apps and websites, with more and more organic options as well.  And network and share sales with friends: It can be fun and pay off for all of you!

 

KNOW WHERE TO SHOP

I generally have go-to stores for specific items.  These are stores that after shopping around at multiple stores, I have found to have the best price for a given item.  For example, the cheapest cage-free, organic chicken I have found is at Trader Joe’s.  It is $1.99/lb for drumsticks, and $2.69/lb for the whole chicken.  So if I need chicken, I go to Trader Joe’s.   I typically have 3-4 different stores in my go-to rotation for any given item.  It may be a little more time-consuming, but you can get creative by combining trips, to save on gas and it works out great!

 

I hope that my tips offered some fresh ideas that might help someone out there down the road to organic living.  What did I miss, do you have any other tips to share?  If you enjoyed the post, please subscribe so that you never miss a post!  Also, sharing is caring, and I truly appreciate any and all post shares, comments, and likes!

The Past Is More Than A Memory: A Tribute to John Trudell

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I found out today that a great community activist, spoken word artist and truth spreader, John Trudell, has passed away.  John passed away December 8, 2015, at the age of 69.  As a Native to the land now called America, he spent the majority of his life as an outspoken political activist for the rights of Natives.  In his work, he touches on many things, such as politics, religion, war, the environment, technology, and the plight of indigenous peoples worldwide stemming from the invasion of Europeans.

I relate to his work on so many levels.  As I see it, the plight of the Natives here closely mirrors the story of Natives worldwide.  The genocide, pillage, injustice and disgrace brought by European “civilization” has left a devastating history for us all.

As a homeschooling mother, I find his work to be an enriching part of my children’s curriculum.  This is definitely not taught in the conventional school system, but I would love to see the people become empowered, rise up and truly educate their children!  Teach the kids the truth!  I respect him for speaking the truth and spreading the word to all he could reach.  It is widely suspected that his activism lead to the suspicious death of his pregnant wife,  their three children and his mother-in-law in a fire.  He was able to raise from the ashes like the great Phoenix and continue on to produce music, film, literature, and spoken word, in addition to carrying on his activism and continuing to spread the truth.

I love his spoken word, which is set against a background of Native flutes, drumming, chanting and music.  I am sharing here one my favorite pieces.  I have also included a link to the video below the text.

Look at us

At times they were kind,

They were polite in their sophistication.

Smiling but never too loudly,

Acting in civilized manner, an illusion of gentleness

Always fighting to get their way.

While the people see,

The people know,

The people wait,

The people say

The closing of your doors will never shut us out

The closing of your doors can only shut you in.

We know the predator,

We see them feed on us.

We are aware to starve the beast is our destiny.

The times they were kind, they were polite, but never honest.

We see your technological society devour you before your very eyes.

We hear your anguished cries,

Exalting greed through progress.

While you seek material advances,

The sound of flowers dying carry messages through the wind

Trying to tell you about balance and your safety.

But your minds are chained to your machines

And the strings dangling from your puppeteers hands.

Turning you, twisting you into forms and confusions

Beyond your control.

Your mind for a job,

Your mind for a TV,

Your mind for a hair dryer,

Your mind for consumption.

With your atom bombs,

Your material bombs,

Your drug bombs,

Your racial bombs,

Your class bombs,

Your sexist bombs,

Your ageist bombs

Devastating your natural shelters.

Making you homeless on earth.

Chasing you into illusions,

Pulling you,

Making you pretend you can run away from the ravishing of your spirit.

While the sound of flowers dying carry messages through the wind

Trying to tell you about balance and your safety.

Trying to isolate us in a dimension called loneliness.

Leading us into the trap –

Believe in their power – but not in ourselves.

Piling us with guilt, always taking the blame.

Greed chasing out the balance.

Trying to isolate us in a dimension called loneliness.

Economic deities seizing power.

Through illusions created, armies are justified.

Class systems are democracy.

God listens to war mongers prayers.

Tyranny is here.

Divide and conquer.

Trying to isolate us in a dimension called loneliness

Greed apparent

Insecurity the happiness companion.

Genocide conceived in sophistication

Techno-logic material civilization, irrationalization.

Replacing a way to live.

Trying to isolate us in a dimension called loneliness

To God: We hope you don’t mind,

But we would like to talk to you.

There are some things we need to straighten out.

Its about these Christians

They claim to be from your nation, but man you should see the things they do.

All the time blaming it on you.

Manifest destiny,

Genocide,

Maximized profits,

Sterilization,

Raping the earth,

Lying,

Taking more than they need, and all the forms of the greed.

We ask them why, they say it’s Gods will.

Damn, God, they make it so hard.

Remember Jesus? Will you send him back to them?

Tell them not to kill him, rather they should listen.

Stop abusing his name and yours.

We do not mean to be disrespectful, but you know how it is.

Our people had our own ways,

We never even heard of you until not long ago.

Your representatives spoke magnificent things of you,

Which we were willing to believe,

But from the way they acted, we know you and we were being deceived.

We do not mean you or your christian children any bad

But you all came to take all we had.

We have not seen you but we have heard so much.

It is time for you to decide what life is worth.

We already remember, but maybe you forgot.

Look at us,

Look at us, we are of earth and water.

Look at them, it is the same.

Look at us, we are suffering all these years,

Look at them, they are connected.

Look at us, we are in pain

Look at them, surprised at our anger.

Look at us, we are struggling to survive,

Look at them, expecting sorrow be benign.

Look at us, we are the ones called pagan,

Look at them, on their arrival.

Look at us, we are called subversive,

Look at them, descending from name callers.

Look at us, we wept sadly in the long dark

Look at them, hiding in techno-logic light.

Look at us, we buried the generations,

Look at them, inventing the body count.

Look at us, we are older than America,

Look at them, chasing a fountain of youth.

Look at us, we are embracing the earth,

Look at them, clutching today.

Look at us, we are living in the generations,

Look at them, existing in jobs and debt.

Look at us, we have escaped many times

Look at them, they cannot remember.

Look at us, we are healing

Look at them, their medicine is patented.

Look at us, we are trying

Look at them, what are they doing?

Look at us, we are children of earth

Look at them, who are they?

 

I highly recommend you listen to the recorded version, the music and tone is beautiful.  I will share one version I enjoy below, and he also has a nice selection of his other work on YouTube.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this post!  I will leave you with a final quote:  “Every human being is a raindrop. And when enough of the raindrops become clear and coherent, they then become the power of the storm.” -John Trudell

Please talk to me below, subscribe so you don’t miss a post and help spread the word!

I’m Not Saying You Stepped in Dog Poop, Vomit, or Even a Loogie…



I’m not saying you stepped in dog poop, or vomit, or even a loogie, BUT

Just in case…

Please remove your shoes before entering my home.


 

People in cultures worldwide remove shoes at the doors to their homes.  This practice is kept for many reasons, cultural, spiritual, and hygienic, among others, and has been around for centuries.

For the last 5 years, I have kept a shoe-free house.  For some people it is a strange, unnecessary or even rude custom.  How dare you suggest my shoes are too dirty for your children to roll around on!  Looking back, as we were growing up we wore shoes inside and did not think anything of it, but now I really could not imagine living that way!

Today I will share with you some of the top factors that led me to ban shoes from walking into my home.

TOXINS

I don’t want toxic things being tracked into my home.  Every day our shoes are bombarded with chemical poisons everywhere we walk, from the pesticides in the neighbors’ yards to the oil spills in parking lots.  In a world where it is pretty much impossible to avoid toxins completely – I mean they spray toxins into the air, drop them into the water, cook them into the food – I like to be able to feel at peace with the minimal levels of toxicity in my own home.

IT’S JUST GROSS!

I don’t want gross things being tracked into my home.  Thinking about a typical day, I walk across the courtyard and through remnants of dog excrement, walk to my car on a sidewalk that has housed vomit, hocked loogies, and other filth.  Maybe at my destination I walk into a public restroom and now I have human fecal matter stuck in my tread, maybe stuck to some wet toilet paper.  You really never know what will end up on your shoes, to be tracked across your floor.  Ewww!

FOR MY KIDS

I don’t want my kids putting the above items into their mouths.  My two-year-old still puts 9 out of 10 things that fall onto the floor into his mouth, and that would just not be cool.  Also, my kids spend a substantial amount of time flipping, rolling, crawling and playing on the floor; more so since we ditched the couch to move towards a “furniture free” lifestyle (but that will be another post).   As a mother, I try my best to minimize their contact with toxins and other nastiness. Plus I would rather not have a child who has been rolling around in filth crawl into bed with me at night.

CLEANING HOUSE

With all this nastiness in your carpet, combined with the general mud and muck that gets tracked in on a regular basis, it makes it virtually impossible to keep your floors clean.  Sure, you can vacuum, but that can only remove superficial dirt.  Or you could mop, which would make the floor clean until the next person tromped across in dirty shoes.  Floors also wear more quickly, especially those high traffic areas that get dark or scuffed from daily trampling with dirty shoes.

SANCTUARY

Take off your shoes, this is holy ground.  Just as many temples worldwide have signs with posted rules to remove your shoes before entering, please also have this respect for my sacred space.  This is where I am most authentic and free.  This is where I feel loved and nurtured.  This is where my family spends most of their time.  I regularly cleanse and protect my space energetically, so why not also protect it from all the grime, both physically and symbolically, of the outside world.

FOR THE LOVE OF FEET

Last but not least, for the health of our feet.  It has been proven that our feet need the freedom of walking barefoot.  That is a whole post in and of itself!  While I do use only “barefoot” type shoes outdoors, it is still not the same as letting your feet be completely natural and free.  Not only can confining feet to bad shoes have poor consequences for the feet themselves, the bone structure and function, but consider the ancient and powerful system of reflexology.  There are points on your feet which correlate and are linked with every organ of the body.  The more you stimulate these points, the more you are creating movement and vitality to these organs.  When your feet are locked into rigid cages (or worse yet, high heels), they are confined and under-stimulated.

At the end of the day it is a matter of respect.  This is the way I feel comfortable in my own home.  Of course, if someone has a legitimate medical reason for not removing their shoes, I kindly offer them “shoe covers”, but otherwise I fully expect visitors to respect the laws of the land.  If you are a newcomer to this way of thinking, I hope some of my points made sense to you, so the next time you are asked to remove your shoes, you can cheerfully oblige.

What are your thoughts, is it rude to ask people to remove their shoes at the door?  Do you have a shoe-free household?  If you enjoy the content, please subscribe and enjoy posts delivered to your in-box each week!  Also, sharing is caring, please share, comment and like on social media!

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Money May Not Grow on Trees, But Soap Does!

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Last month we went out and harvested about a year’s supply of soap.  Many people walk right by the soap nut tree growing wild here in Texas, and do not realize there are leaving money on the tree!  These trees are classified in the genus Sapindus and are commonly known as soap-berries or soap-nuts.  They are easily recognized in the early winter months, even when the trees have lost their leaves, by their attention-grabbing translucent yellow-orange color.

The soap nuts have been used for centuries by indigenous peoples.  They provide an all-purpose, non-toxic soap that can be used on anything from your hair to toilet bowls.  They can be boiled in water to extract the soap, which can then be used as a liquid soap.  They can also be powdered and made into a paste for cleaning and scrubbing.  My favorite way of using them so far is for laundry.

There has been a lot of buzz about soap nuts in recent years.  Several companies have come onto the market and are selling soap nuts as a natural alternative to laundry detergent.  Much of the conventional laundry detergent on the market is extremely toxic and bad for the body and environment.  It is also very expensive, especially the environmentally responsible brands.  By harvesting my own laundry soap, I save hundreds of dollars a year!  Even when purchased, soap nuts offer a substantial savings for you and for the earth for generations to come.

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The soap in these nuts goes a long way.  A handful of nuts will clean 5-10 loads of laundry, leaving it clean and smelling fresh.  Of course there will be no strong artificial tropical or floral scents with these, just a clean, pure smell.  There are also not a whole lot of suds when used in the washer.  I have tested these out on cleaning everything from cloth diapers to cloth menstrual pads, and they have yet to let me down.  Since these are natural, they are great for the sensitive skin of babies and those with allergies.

Harvest is simple, we gather as many as we will use, being careful to not over-harvest.  We boil them fresh for making liquid soap;  you may be surprised by just how sudsy these get while cooking.  I will do a whole post on the process of making these into liquid soap and the uses.  For laundry soap we lay them out on a flat surface to air dry.  After a week or so you can remove the seed easily (fresh they are pretty sticky).  We usually let them dry for a few weeks to avoid mold, but they still work great in the meantime!  Once dry, we store them in a basket in the laundry room, and are good to go!

I would love to hear from some of you who harvest your own nuts, or simply have given the store bought ones a try.  What are your experiences?  What are you favorite uses?  Please leave comments, like, subscribe and share if you enjoy the post!

Looks like a Technological TKO

…Think I better let it go…

So aside from my Teddy Pendergrass reference, this is a very timely post for me.  As I type my cell phone is sitting in a bag of rice in the kitchen.  My two year old decided it would be a good idea to throw it in the toilet.  Good times.  As I rushed into the bathroom and reached my hand into the toilet without a second thought, all kinds of things rushed through my head.

After a slew of expletives, and lamenting this disgusting predicament, I wondered if it would work again, I thought about the pictures and sound files that would be lost.  I thought about the contacts that would be lost and feelings hurt.  It made my heart a bit heavy.  Several times since, I have started to look for my phone to do X, Y or Z, only to remember it’s mini vacation in a bag of rice.

It has been a reminder to me of how powerful a presence cell phones and other technologies have in our lives.  I do strive to minimize time spent in front of the screen, but being self employed, it is a necessary tool of the trade.  To me this video is about finding balance in our relationship with technology.  It is near impossible to tell people in this society to stop using cellphones, social media etc… but seek balance.  Use it as a tool, but don’t let it make a tool out of you.  Live your life, laugh with and love real people.

I came across “Look Up” on my best guy friend’s blog.  It gave me goosebumps, brought tears to my eyes, and definitely made me rethink some things.  I had been planning on sharing this, and after this evening’s events, I figured tonight would be perfect.

Please watch with an open mind, and let me know what you think! If you have been enjoying my posts please subscribe so you don’t miss anything, and share with your friends!  I also love comments, so talk to me :)

 

Getting Back to the Breast

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This modern western culture has come a long way away from the breast.  Breasts have become more of a decoration than the highly revered, life sustaining miracle that they have always been!  Since time immemorial, our ancestors nourished and grew their babies from their breasts and had healthy, strong, well-formed generations to show for it!

Breast milk is truly healing, a pure liquid gold.  Not only does it grow healthy happy babies, it cures pinkeye, speeds healing of wounds and numerous other feats!  The act of suckling activates, tones and forms the babies growing facial features.  It also helps deepen the bond between mother and baby, tones the uterus after birth, and exponentially reduces the risk of breast cancer later in life.   One could write a book on the benefits of breastfeeding: study after study has shown that human breast milk is best for human babies, yet so many women these days are not providing it for their babies.

I realize that there are occasional issues that could physically prevent breast feeding, but one must be very cautious and do your own research so as not to confuse legitimate reasons with those which can be worked around.  If you cannot breast feed, my heart goes out to you, and I know it’s also sometimes a challenge to make it work when the mother has to work or a child is orphaned.  Thankfully for these babies, all is not lost; we have the option of shared nursing (with a friend or family member) or hiring a trusted wet nurse.  Also, more and more breast milk banks and milk sharing websites are coming onto the scene.  Though none of these is the perfect solution, they are definitely the best of the alternatives.  Obviously one must be very thorough in the screening process, but the benefits will be worthwhile.

You can never make in a lab what is created perfectly in your body.  Infant formula is a highly processed junk food which people feed their babies exclusively for months on end.  It is not a living and dynamically changing food.  Did you know that the chemical composition of your breast milk changes according to your baby’s needs?  So the milk that they receive is different at 3 weeks than it is at 3 months.  It is different during times of sickness and growth, as well as changing flavor and nutrients with every meal!

We started to move away from the beautiful and natural way of breast feeding  on a large scale less than 100 years ago, as commercial baby feeding formulas began to emerge.  While potentially beneficial in acute emergency situations, these were and are grossly inadequate for long term baby health.

Infant formula companies are happy to profit at the expense of our children’s health.  Formula is big business, since one is virtually dependent on the product daily for a good 5-6 months before solids are introduced, and even thereafter it still makes up a good portion of the baby’s diet.  Formula companies generally have very little scruples, and descend on women who have just given birth like hungry vultures.  All too often, new parents fall prey to the “gift sets” the formula companies put together and that the hospitals profit from pushing.  As soon as babies are born in most hospitals, they are offered formula, or the mother is falsely led to believe her milk supply is “insufficient”.  This unethical tampering with the nursing process early on leads to a much higher likelihood of nursing complications down the road, which in turn leads right back to the Formula company’s bank accounts.

One of the things I am most grateful for on my journey of motherhood is that I had children in an environment where breastfeeding was nourished and encouraged.  Since I first became pregnant over 10 years ago, I knew that my children would be grown from the breast.  At the birthing center, I was guided through my first few feedings, and I was given books on overcoming breastfeeding stumbling blocks.  My first weaned herself around 30 months, and at 28 months, my second is still growing tall and strong with the aid of breast milk.

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I feel we are at a point where we can bring back and normalize breast feeding.  We can save money and our children’s health at the same time.  This post is not meant to vilify those who have formula fed their babies.  Surely we, as mothers, raise our children with the best of intentions, and it is never too late to bring positive change.

What can we do?

First and foremost, and this can not be overstated:  let’s educate ourselves and our children.  We can no longer rely on doctors and pediatricians with vested interests or high dollar, unethical Formula advertising campaigns for our information.  Let’s learn the whys and the hows of breastfeeding, so that we do not fall victim to false information. Learn what legitimate reasons there may be for not physically being able to breastfeed, so that we do not let anyone falsely convince us that it will not work for us.

Let’s encourage those we love to give their babies the best possible start.  Let’s gently and lovingly share the information we learn along the way.  Lets provide positive and encouraging words, and give gifts of time and resources that show a community of support.

Mothers, let’s stay strong in those first few weeks when we as mothers are tired and our breasts are tender and sore.  We must keep an eye on the end result and remember that virtually no change and growth can happen with out at least slight discomfort or pain.

Let’s remember that one day our breasts will sag whether or not we breastfeed (and that there are more important things in life than perky breasts).

Let’s proudly show the world that it is normal for a baby to eat – even when they are in public.  We can no longer be ashamed and scared to feed our babies when children or other people’s husbands or fathers etc… are around.  Conversely, if you see a woman providing for her child in this way, try sending her a warm smile and good vibes!

Let’s ask for help when we need it, there are so many resources out there that offer free breastfeeding troubleshooting and support.

Let’s get this ball rolling and take a step towards enjoying healthy, strong and well-formed generations to come.  It’s not hopeless and we, the people, have the power!

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I welcome questions, comments and suggestions.  I would greatly appreciate it if you would subscribe, like and share this post if you enjoyed it!

 

 

 

Easy-to-Make Whole Food Daily Vitamins Kids Love!

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I am focusing on healing and nutrition more than ever at this point in my life.  I eat healthy overall, a good mix of organic produce from local farms and wild foods.  I also make concentrated healing herbal infusions every other day with organic herbs like alfalfa, nettles, oat straw and red raspberry leaf.  These are teas which are steeped overnight to fully release their minerals and other health-giving components.

Recently, I’ve been researching modern farming methods and the way even organic agriculture leaves a lot to be desired nutritionally.  When you grow acres of one single plant over and over in the same soil, the soil becomes depleted of nutrients.  You then end up with a fruit or vegetable that has been grown in soil that has nutritional deficiencies, so it makes sense that such a large portion of “modern” society has nutritional deficiencies.

I did some research and found an easy and tasty way of getting concentrated herbs, vitamins and minerals into my daily regimen.  I prefer receiving nutrients in their whole food form, so that all of the components of the plant can work together as nature intended.  This recipe is very simple, and you can pack it full of super-foods.  I enjoy eating them and both of my kids literally beg for them because they are so tasty!

Here is the basic recipe:

4 cups nut butter – which you can mix and match, so tahini, almond, peanut, walnut butters etc… would all be great options

2 cups honey

approx. 12 0z finely powdered mixed herbs/whole food powders (see below for herbal suggestions)

nuts and dried fruits as desired

cacao or carob powder

optional:  chia seeds, shredded coconut to coat balls

Blend together everything except the cacao powder, which you will blend in gradually until the resulting mixture is firm enough to handle with your hands and form into balls.  Shape into 1inch round balls.  We rolled most of ours in cocoa powder, but if desired roll the balls in chia seeds or shredded coconut.  We store these in the refrigerator to extend shelf life and make approximately a one month supply (for a family of 4) at a time.  We take one ball per day in the morning or afternoon.

 

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It is surprising how much the honey and nut butter cover the taste of the herbs.  While you still can taste them and feel an herbal texture, it is not unpleasant.

Some of the herbs we used are alfalfa, nettles, oat straw, red raspberry leaf, maca root, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, kelp, cayenne pepper, rose hips, cardamom, caraway seeds, anise seeds, and thyme.  These were all specifically chosen for both high vitamin and mineral content and multiple other healing benefits.   I also focused on herbs I have found to be safe and beneficial for all ages.

To these we added some of our homemade superfood trail-mix – sesame seeds, sprouted sunflower seeds, cashews, dried peaches, goji berries, golden berries, mulberries, pumpkin seeds, dried apples and dried mangoes, which were all pulsed in a coffee grinder to be a course consistency.

I encourage you to do your own research on what herbs might be beneficial to you and your family.  The combinations are endless!  Other general herbs that would be great would be horsetail, red clover buds, plantain, rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, and other culinary herbs, superfood powders, powdered wheat grass or other green powders.  Research each herb you use to make sure there are no contraindications applicable to you.

We used mostly herbs we had on hand, and these do not have to be prohibitively expensive.  Many dried herbs can be found in bulk for cheap.  We also found many ingredients on clearance or on sale.  You can also find premixed herbal blends online rather than buying ingredients separately.  Wild foods make excellent additions to these and can be found for free!

Mix-in options are limited only by your imagination; any type of nut or dried fruits or many dried veggies are great!

These are a great tasting, whole food alternative to pills.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions below, and if you found this article useful, please share, and subscribe!

 

 

 

Welcome to The Fabulous World of Curb Shopping

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My favorite pair of socks – found brand new, in package :)

I first discovered curb shopping a couple of years back, and each month my love for it grows!  There are so many reasons to love it because I get tons of cool stuff, it’s a fun pastime, I’m helping the environment and I’m making extra cash!

Curb Shopping is a term used for taking advantage of the piles of stuff people leave out on their curbs for “Bulky Item Pickup” once a month.  It is cliche, but I have learned how true the old saying is – one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)mans treasure!

Unlike some people I have seen, when I curb shop I don’t dig much (unless I see what I’m after or found something promising).  I try to keep things clean and don’t dig through garbage.  Many of the goodies can be easily seen from your car.

Many times people put things out just because they do not have the time or energy to donate or sell them themselves.  It is not uncommon to find notes on items left at the curb indicating that electrical items are still working or that something needs a new home.  You can find anything from furniture to electronics, your favorite pair of socks to expensive name brand clothes with tags still on!

Some of the things I keep, some I Freecycle or donate, and some I pick up to resell (thanks Craigslist).  Sometimes we make a game of it and make up a wishlist of what we need or want before we set out.  The fun part is lots of times we get what we asked for.  Some of my favorite wishlist items were a like-new hammock, fabric to make hammocks (when I changed my mind about the one I’d found), a bike trailer, crystals, bamboo, houseplants, a brand new planner with a theme I love, and so much more!

I like the fact that I am helping keep useful stuff out of the landfill.  If something is perfectly good – unstained clothes, like-new decorations and dishes, etc. – and I have the space in my car, I’ll pick them up to post on Freecycle or donate to the thrift store.  It is great that they will be put to use before they go to the landfill to rot!

Selling stuff I find at Curb Mart is surprisingly profitable!  I have picked things up, posted them and literally made hundreds of dollars from something that is more of a hobby.  Some things I have personally found have brought in $50-$200 and up!  The majority of things probably fall into the $20-$70 range, which adds up fast if you have a good month.

 

Some of my Top Finds (all in good or like-new condition):

  • Organic cotton mattress and crib:  This came with an organic wool cover and all the hardware (and a note that indicated this fact)
  • Bicycle trailer:  The covered kind that you can put two small kids in, the guy who was getting rid of it said they bought it new and had only used it about 2-3 times
  • PlayStation with about 12 like-new games
  • Flat screen TV
  • Bikes for adults and children
  • Skis
  • Wood changing table
  • 2 matching high quality bar stools – hardwood and leather
  • Strollers
  • Nice assortment of petrified wood and other crystals
  • Tons of beautiful tropical foliage
  • Lots of nice entertainment tables
  • Many boxes of books
  • A huge box of unused homeschooling workbooks in the grades I needed
  • Hammock
  • Highchair
  • Gift cards with nice balances
  • Decorations and unused candles
  • 5 foot totem pole
  • Bassinet

 

Anyone else have curb shopping experiences to share?  What are some of your favorite finds from Curb Mart?  Interested?  Give it a try and let me know what you find!  I look forward to questions and comments, and if you enjoyed the post please share and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on any future posts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tip of The Iceberg – My Natural Hair Journey

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So a lot of people have asked me about my natural hair journey, and I think it is so important to share our stories and journeys.  The beautiful thing about sharing experiences is you never know when you might say just the thing someone else needs to hear, and I just love that feeling!

As a child, my mom did her best, but I would cry excessively when my mom braided my hair, so finally, she chopped it off.  Not a cute little afro or anything, just chopped it off down to about a half inch.  Ouch.

Examples of attractive natural hair styles were few and far between back then, so around middle school, I turned to the perm.  It took quite a while to beg and plead my way into getting one.  I finally talked my mom into a “kiddie perm”.

Boy, there was nothing gentle about that perm.  I remember it like it was yesterday, the burning, the scabs.  I would bear the burn as long as I could, figuring this would make it work better, sometimes I would make it all the way to the minimum suggested time.  I remember once, a little bit of the kiddie perm splashed onto the wall near the sink.  We waited to wash it off until we had finished with my perm, and by the time we wiped it off the wall it had completely dissolved the paint and left an indentation in the wall.  Strong stuff.

The perm was doing the same thing to my scalp, it was just better concealed under my hair.  I never failed to have a head full of scabs after ever perm.  Every six weeks.  It even got to a point that I started to enjoy picking at the scabs.  The perm was literally eating the skin off of my scalp, and what was left was the flat, limp, lifeless hair I had hoped for.

My hair still grew pretty long, despite this.  It was somewhere down around my shoulder blades when I started toying with the idea of going natural.  I committed to myself that once I grew out my permed hair to waist length, I would chop it off and give the natural thing a try.  I went along with this idea in mind for quite a while.

It was around this time in my life that my mind was expanding rapidly, and I was beginning to [re]gain consciousness.  I was learning about true history, spirituality and healthy living.  The logical progression of this was that a perm no longer made sense.  But mentally, it was hard to let go. Around this time, I became pregnant with my first child and I learned about how the perm chemicals could affect the baby growing in my womb.  This made sense to me, as I had learned that the skin absorbs whatever is put on it, and allows it to enter the bloodstream – like in the case of drugs that are applied to the skin, and absorbed into the bloodstream.  This was the final straw for me, so I stopped perming.

I did not do an official big chop.  I was not ready to loose my length, so I stayed in my comfort zone.  In hindsight for me, this made the transition much easier.  I see the beauty in a big chop however, and think that is ultra fabulous too.

I would just wear my hair braided, basically using my dead limp ends as extensions.  Gradually, my thin, dead, limp permed ends broke off and were replaced by lush, textured, full natural hair.  What a gift!  I loved seeing the curls come in, and how effortless it was.  Yes, it was different, and yes it took longer to style and care for, but it was so worth it.

I never considered going back.  After a couple (or few) years natural, I had the last scraggly straight ends clipped off my hair, and I was officially a natural for life!

Going natural for me was the opening I needed to really start exploring what lay beneath the roots.  Now I am right around 11 years and still going strong.  Going natural for me is not just about fabulous hairstyles, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s a statement that says, I love me, and I love my ancestors.  My hair is powerful, alive and made perfectly for me.  I refuse to harm myself in order to live up to Eurocentric beauty ideals.

I am in love with my hair, and natural hair in general.  I love the look, the feel, the versatility.  I love helping people who are just coming into awareness learn about the possibilities of letting their hair do its natural thing.

Please comment, like and subscribe, I really appreciate it!

 

Whispers from the Woods: Reaching Ko Godimo

The temperature is dropping along with all the red, orange and golden leaves.  Fall is all around us, and I am fully enjoying this years harvests.  For today’s post I would like to share a poem I wrote last year around this time.  I was in a major period of change and growth at the time, and found inspiration in nature.

Let me start with a little bit of background information that will help you understand fully the poem.  Back home in Botswana, traditionally The Great Spirit is Modimo, and our ancestors, and other deities prevalent in daily life are known as Badimo.  Modimo and Badimo are thought to reside someplace in the sky world, or ko godimo.

 

I am like a tree.

I am ancient.

I am strong and proud.

I reach ko godimo.

When winter comes, she releases her leaves;

She doesn’t hold on.

She sets them free to the winds of change.

No fear. no holding on.

No looking back, no wishing she could keep them.

Leaves fall to the ground

Not death, fertility.

That fall brings new beginnings.

You never see the tree searching for lost leaves;

Wondering what could have been.

Because she knows-

Spring’s coming!

So I take my time and build my strength,

live in my roots, taking slow deep breaths.

Winter’s cold and can cover her in ice.

Some limbs may break,

But she remains, strong.

Strong memories of that spring glow.

All new leaves, new fruits.

Mama earth – always there, giving strength.

Embracing winter; embracing change.

I am shedding my leaves-

They kept me shaded, and helped me give life-

For their season.

Now, I release them-

It’s their time to go.

Life is a cycle-

After winter MUST come spring.

Winter is not an end, but a beginning.

I release my leaves to the winds of change.

Winds of change.

Leaves they come and go-

I remain.

Strong.

Ancient.

Proud.

Reaching ko godimo.

This Super-food is NOT Just For the Squirrels

It’s harvest time here in Dallas, and I’m excited!

20151028_134357

It amazes me though, with Oak trees being so common, how few people eat acorns (or even know that they are edible)!  Acorns are as widespread and abundant as they are nutritious and healing.  I can (and soon will) write a whole post on WHY Acorns as well as other common edibles are not only not eaten, but basically looked down upon.  There is so much info out there on the topic of Acorns it could easily be a whole chapter or even a book, but for this post, I will focus primarily on my first harvest of the season.

 

P1250918I was very pleased with the harvest!

Acorns have been a dietary staple for indigenous people for thousands of years, and for good reason!  First and foremost, properly prepared acorns are DELICIOUS!  They have a hearty, earthy quality that works well in so many recipes!  They are also a super-food – a highly nutritious food, long revered for its healing and strength giving properties.  They contain healthy doses of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and minerals, and can fit into most any diet plan.

In general raw acorns are not edible to humans without first leaching out the tannins.  Tannins are a bitter, astringent substance found in raw acorns, which makes it next to impossible to eat them.  There is quite a variation in the quantity of tannins throughout different species of oak.  White Oaks tend to have the least tannins which means they are generally faster and easier to process.  Red Oaks tend to have more tannins, but are still well worth the effort as they are just as tasty and nutritious as white oak acorns once they have been prepared.

P1250919So, now to find some acorns!

The most important thing is to find a clean, chemical free source for your acorns.  The most ideal situation is to be able to gather in a wild, untouched natural area.  If that is not an option for you, there are dozens of Oak trees in most neighborhoods; if they are in a yard, make sure that yard is not treated with toxins like pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.  Also, make sure you get permission before gathering, though I have found this part to be pretty easy, as it seems a good majority of people view Acorns as a nuisance rather than a valuable commodity.

There are tons of free or cheap resources out there for detailed processing instructions.  One book that I found helpful is Nature’s Garden:  A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer.  It has a very in depth section on Acorn harvest, processing and use.  It (and lots of others like it) is available for free at the library, or it can be easily found for purchase online.

 

20151028_134137Gathering is easy and fun!  Get the kids involved!

As you gather, you will learn to look for tell tale signs to gauge the quality of the harvest.  Fresh acorns should be beautiful and healthy looking.  Avoid dull, discolored, or cracked acorns as well as those with holes of any size.

Once you have a good portion of acorns, you have two choices.  You can process them fresh, or dry them in shells to process at a later time.  Acorns can stay fresh for months if stored in a dry place, in shell, and away from any potential pests.

To open the acorn, I generally use a large flat rock and another large rock to strike it with.  You can also use a hand held nut cracker – I find it works well to make a couple of perpendicular cracks, especially with fresh acorns.

P1250925Fresh cracked Acorn

P1250929Whole shelled Acorns

Once open, visually inspect for any signs of worms, and then set aside as you work through the pile.  Shelling is probably the hardest part, but stay strong, put on some music, invite over a couple of friends, and enjoy yourself.

 

Message_1446084782729Ahhhhhh, all done!

Once you have all of your acorns shelled, its time for leaching out the tannins.  There are two main ways to go about this, both with their own strengths and drawbacks.  I have yet to try the cold water leaching, since thus far I have been working with Red Oak, and so chose the faster boiling method.  In traditional preparation, cold water leaching involved hanging acorns in a bag in a clean, flowing stream, and the water would gradually wash away the tannins.  I will cover more cold water options at a later date, when I have the chance to try them out for myself.  For now, I will focus on the boiling method.

Whole acorns take longer than those that are coarsely broken into smaller chunks.  Cover your acorn meats with plenty of fresh water and bring to a boil.  I usually shoot to have the pot about 1/2 to 2/3 full of acorn meat and then fill the rest of the pot with water.  Boil until water becomes dark from tannins, roughly 30 minutes.  At this point you can decide to save some of the tannin water from the first few boils – it makes a great laundry detergent and it is good for a host of skin issues like rashes and poison ivy.  It is also great for tanning hides, but more on this at a later time.

 

P1250934The water is turning dark and bubbly

Thoroughly drain the acorns, and then repeat the process over and over and over… until the water stops looking thick with tannins, and when tasted the acorns are no longer the least bit bitter or astringent.  This may take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days depending on the type of acorn and how often you change the water (so don’t give up!).  They will turn a rich shade of chocolate brown, and have an earthy and distinct taste.  The consistency is a bit mealy when freshly cooked, but this wont be an issue once they are completely processed.

Once your Acorns are ready, the next step is to dry them.  In clear warm weather, this can be done in the sun (cover with mesh or netting to deter bugs and animals), otherwise a warm oven on the lowest heat setting with door cracked, stirring occasionally, or in a food dehydrator works great.  You will want to dry them until they are completely dry and brittle.

 

P1250939We put the bigger pieces in the dehydrator

P1250935The bits can go into the oven

Once dry, they can be ground, with either a stone mortar and pestle, or a coffee or grain grinder, or stored as is.  I have tried both ways, storing the Acorn pieces whole and grinding as needed, and storing the ground flour.  Both ways work well for me, but having ready made flour is more convenient.  I also generally store my acorn flour in the freezer in between uses, just to extend shelf life.

Acorn flour can then be used in a huge variety of recipes, from breakfast mush to acorn burgers;  Acorn breads to Acorn cookies.  I’ll be sure to post more recipes and suggestions over the coming months!

Do you eat acorns?  What are some of your favorite Acorn recipes?  Tips, comments and questions are gratefully received, talk to me!

 

Learn The Simple Way Our Ancestors Carried Their Babies

DSC_7399-ZF-8665-50431-1-001-014[1]Photo courtesy of Unique Photos www.unique-photos.com

This method is definitely in my top three “cant live without” mom tricks!  I learned to tie my babies on my back while home in Botswana, and used it on my first daughter and currently with my son.  The babies love it, and mamas quite possibly love it more.  It is sometimes the ONLY way to get work done and keep the baby happy and wrapped up tight near mama.  Its a great method to use when you want to do housework,  take a walk, get the baby to take a nap, or keep baby in line at the store.

Baby wearing is a whole post in and of itself, but some of the benefits of this particular style over some of the others I have seen and/or tried are

  • It’s Free – If you have a good sturdy woven piece of cotton, a towel, or any other good sturdy material without stretch, you have a baby carrier!
  • It’s Convenient – See above.  Also, when you are out and about you can often improvise on materials to use.  It is also easy to throw a piece of cloth in your bag on the way out the door, and I like to keep a spare in the car.
  • It’s Comfortable – Hands down the most comfortable method I have tried and the healthiest and most natural for the body.  The weight of the baby is evenly distributed across your chest and back, unlike many modern methods which put unnatural pressure on your shoulders.  It is so comfortable that sometimes you even forget the baby is back there!  I can’t count the number of times I have been searching for the baby, only to remember he is on my back!
  • It’s Natural – Our ancestors have been carrying their babies on their backs this way for thousands of years.
  • It’s Safe – See above.  It has stood the test of time, if babies were falling out of them like hotcakes, word would have gotten around!  But seriously, practice around the house when your baby is calm until you get the tension and fit right.  Keep your hands under baby until you are comfortable.  Once you get it right, you can feel the slightest slip and re-adjust as necessary.  Start slowly, but you will come to find the baby is incredibly secure, snug and happy back there!
  • Its Cute – OK, maybe not the number one reason to pick this style of baby carrying, but…  I have a lot of fun coordinating my fabric to my clothes, and you get tons of complements!

I have tried only two other baby wearing options,  a padded one shoulder sling and an UN-padded one shoulder sling (Maya Wrap).  For newborn babies up to about 3 months, I like the Maya Wrap for it’s ease of use, and your ability to keep an eye on your new tiny one.  My babies both slept like rocks in their Maya Wraps in those first couple of months, and it helped me out a lot too!  As they grew and got heavier though, the weight on my shoulder began to be very noticeable and I felt like my posture was being pulled in unnatural ways.  Also, having such weight hanging off your front half causes undue pressure and pain to your back.

Luckily, it is around the time that they become uncomfortable in the Maya Wrap, that they are around the right size to put onto your back.  I did not feel comfortable putting mine on my back when they were newborns, primarily because I want to be able to see them, and adjust them as needed easily without assistance.   As a side note, I have known many African women that say it is not uncommon or unsafe for newborns to use this back carry method.

I get stopped by curious people a lot when I am out and about carrying my baby on my back with this method, so I decided to make a video tutorial to help.

With all that being said, please view the video tutorial.  I truly appreciate any comments, likes and shares!  Also, If you have not done so already, please subscribe so that new posts can be emailed to you, and you won’t miss a thing.  I have lots of great posts planned that are sure to be interesting, helpful, and get you thinking outside the box!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

Welcome, and thank you for visiting!

 

For me, “Do Your Natural Thing” is a way of life, so In my blog I will talk about many interconnected aspects of a natural lifestyle.  In my research, I reach for my roots, looking at practices of indigenous societies worldwide.  I then implement as much as I can logistically into my life, striving to be the living proof.  From herbal remedies to baby care, to living organic on a budget and primitive skills and much more.  My hope is that I will introduce some fresh [ancient] ideas to many of you, and look forward to hearing feedback about how some of the ideas and practices fit into your lifestyles!  I would also love to find like minded people out there that could teach me a thing or two!

My interests are far and wide, so I am sure to post something that catches eyes and keeps things fresh!

I got the motivation to start this blog on my epic two month summer vacation road trip this year.  We went from Texas to Washington, back down the West Coast and back and I am excited to share stories of the cliff jumping, cave crawling, hammock camping, rabbit eating, and so many other adventures we had along the way!

My posts will take the form of short essays, pictures, videos, poetry, ancient indigenous proverbs and more.  I truly appreciate you taking your time to read, and look forward to any comments, questions and/or suggestions, so please don’t be shy!

If any of this sounds interesting, please subscribe now so you won’t miss a post!

What If I told you your baby does not need diapers?

elimation

You might say I’m crazy, or that I must not have babies of my own if I said that babies do not need diapers, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.  In indigenous societies, there was less of a reliance on diapering babies as a means of infant care.  Does that mean that before diapers came about, our ancestors were wallowing in baby poop?  Nope, it means that they were as in touch with their babies as they were with their own bodies and the earth.

The natural way is in stark contrast to the modern western concept that potty training is something only to be attempted when the child is “ready,” which is usually around 2-4 years old.  This potty training paradigm is thanks largely to clever marketing and media from the major diaper companies.  In the interest of profits, these mega corps are lobbying for extended diaper use for older and older children.  They often make outlandish and unsubstantiated claims, like it is “harmful” to your child to be taught to use the potty before they show “signs of readiness”.

This quote from Wikipedia illustrates this attitude:  “Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, however, believes that toilet training is the child’s choice and has encouraged this view in various commercials for Pampers Size 7, a diaper for older children.  Brazelton warns that enforced toilet training can cause serious long-term problems, and that it is the child’s decision when to stop wearing diapers, not the parents’.”  Basically, they want you to wait until your child takes off his or her diaper, and brings it to you, demanding to use the toilet.

The alternative to modern diapering is nothing magical or elusive; one only needs to reach for their roots.  Stories abound of babies being fully potty trained by 6-9 months, in this country and countless others.  The most common modern terms for this knowing, this communicating and reading your babies’ needs are “elimination communication”, “natural infant hygiene” or “infant potty training”.

Believe it or not, babies have the ability to both signal their potty needs AND eliminate on command virtually from birth.  Trust me, I was skeptical too at first.  I learned about this while pregnant with my second child, and it just made too much sense to me for me not to at least try.  I started from birth, and kept him naked (it was summer and his skin was still so sensitive and new that this made sense to me) on waterproof pads.  Each time he went potty, I made a pssssss sound so that he could associate his need to potty with the sound.  At two weeks, I kid you not, I thought, “what the heck, let me just give this a shot”, and I held him over the little ceramic vase I was using as his mini Potty. I said pssssss, and lo and behold, he peed!  Of course, at first I thought it was just a coincidence, but this seeming coincidence made me more intrigued, and I continued in this way until I was completely convinced.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming he was potty trained at two weeks, but what I can say with confidence is he was clearly aware of and able to control his bodily functions.  There were lots of accidents in those early days, and a few even into the later days, and many times I considered giving up.  It is a major time commitment, watching and signaling and learning the body language of your little one.  But I just could not allow myself, knowing what I knew, and seeing what I’d seen along the way, to allow my little one to have to sit in his own filth.  He needed my help.

I had to get creative sometimes, as a single mom and sole breadwinner, to make this a priority, but I am grateful that I was able to make it work.  I do realize how blessed I was to have flexibility and a support system which enabled this to fall into place for me.  For those mothers that have to go back to work full time, sooner than later, this could mean involving the other parent or caregivers, or just practicing part-time.

I can count on one hand the number of times that my little one has had poop accidents since he was around 8-9months (and most of those times, it was because his signals and/or timing were missed).  Pee accidents took longer to completely end;  to be honest, it took much longer for those to end than I would have hoped, or than it did with my daughter, who was completely potty trained more closely to the traditional way at around 14 months.  I had to remind myself often of all the diapers I hadn’t had to wash, and give thanks for all the poopy messes I had avoided having to clean out of all those baby folds.  If I had it to do all over again, without a doubt I would.

If your interest is piqued, I encourage you to search those terms online, and peruse some blogs and forums, there is lots of great info out there on the topic.  Mothering.com has some great forums on this topic, and one book I found especially helpful is Infant Potty Training by Laurie Boucke.  It has practical information on hows, and whens and whys, but it also has cross cultural testimonials and perspectives on this practice.

I will also have more posts coming out about specific how-to, challenges I faced, and more.  Please don’t forget to subscribe if you have not already done so, so that you don’t miss a thing!