Interactive Birth Plan

When I became pregnant with our daughter Emma I knew exactly how I wanted things. I wanted to give birth naturally at home with a midwife. Due to various reasons such as stress and back labor I just couldn’t open up and ended up having a cesarean at the hospital. Despite this I am still an advocate of natural childbirth and plan to try for it with our next child. After the whole experience with the first birth though I realized I needed to be flexible. Sometimes things happen that we can’t control. A birthplan is a good way to help us aim toward the birth we’re wanting and to be aware of what our options are. We just have to keep it in perspective and not beat ourselves up about it if it doesn’t happen the way we think. The ultimate goal of birth is a healthy baby and healthy mom.

This Interactive birth plan by Childbirth.org offers a quick way to decide how you want things and gets your preferences written out for your healthcare provider. All you have to do is print! 

Drug-Free Lawn

image I’ve been wanting to follow an organic program with our yard for awhile now but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. So I checked out our local library and found “The Organice Lawn Care Manual” by Paul Tukey. This book is exactly what I needed. It covers everything you could want to know about caring for your lawn the GREEN way. If you currently use a strict regimen of chemicals on your lawn it shows you how to get your lawn off drugs and ease it into a sustainable ecosystem.

Here are some of the areas it covers:
Soil components
Types of grasses
How to start a lawn from scratch
How to renovate an existing lawn
Maintenance list month by month
Lawn ammendments
Composting
Economical ways to add nutrients
Watering
Mowing
Weeds & insect pests

With readable charts and informative pictures this book keeps your interest and is easy enough for any homeowner to understand. I now have a plan in place for renovating our own yard and tending to it’s specific needs. It’s a joy to know we can have a lush green lawn without compromising the health of our families or the environment.

Report Card on Eggs

image Shopping for eggs can be downright confusing these days. Labels like, “All-natural” give the illusion of health yet often mean nothing. Here is a brief summary of which eggs are best:

Best:  Raise your own chickens. I would absolutely love to do this but I don’t live in an area where it’s possible.

Next Best:  Eggs from a local farmer or friend - raised with plenty of access to the outdoors in a small group. The more freedom a chicken has to live it’s natural lifestyle the healthier it will be for you and for them.

Store Best (not a common label):  “Pasture Raised” - Chickens are allowed to run in a large area outside. They may still be higher in omega-3 fatty acids

Store Best (more readily available):  “Certified Organic” - This is the only label that is regulated. Free of antibiotics, pesticides and animal byproducts. Birds do not live in cages and can roam freely.

Other labels that don’t mean much and aren’t regulated:
“Natural” - Basically doesn’t mean anything. It’s just marketing.
“Cage Free” - Just means they aren’t in cages. They may still be kept in close quarters without any outside access.
“Free Range” - Means they have access to the outdoors but may not use it.
“Hormone Free” - Hormones aren’t allowed anyway.
“Antibiotic Free” - This standard isn’t regulated so it is hard to verify.

The majority of this information is based off of this Culinate article by Kelly Myers.

Here the Humane Society shows how chickens are treated under the various methods of chicken farming.

This fascinating article highlights a sustainable farm in New Mexico. Toward the end of the article the author lists questions you can ask your local egg grower. It also shows how chickens are basically as smart as dogs. 

Gardening Together

In the herb garden Not only do I love to garden but I love to garden with Emma! Everything seems new through her observant and curious eyes. Gardening together is a great way for us to both get out in the fresh air and sunshine. One of her favorite garden activities is harvesting the chamomile flowers to be dried for tea. In this picture taken last summer she’s holding bunches of chamomile and parsley.

image It’s nice that she can also help out with drying herbs. Here she’s placing clippings of oregano into the dehydrator to dry. Some herbs I dry the old-fashioned way upside down. But for herbs like Chamomile the dehydrator seems to work best.

Margarine

For many choosing margarine over butter is the obvious choice. After all, margarine is cheaper, “healthier” and tastes alright. That’s the way I saw it for years. The truth is though, you get what you pay for.

The makers of margarine claim it helps to prevent high cholesterol. This is a misunderstanding of fats. Fats have been downright attacked for awhile now to the point that people actually believe fat is harmful to their health. This is partially true in that certain fats are harmful. The margarine manufacturers work hard to get people to believe margarine is better for them because that idea makes them lots of money! They aren’t interested in the health of the public. Margarine is a waste product marketed as a health food. Brilliant!

I no longer buy margarine and haven’t missed it a bit. Now we use butter, olive oil and unrefined coconut oil. As an added bonus I found a source for local butter that comes from hormone free cows. It doesn’t cost much more than cheaper butter and it tastes fantastic!
You can see how margarine is made here. Check it out; you’ll be surprised!
For more information about the history of butter and margarine take a look at this article by Karl Loren.

An excellent resource on the various types of fats and their health effects can be found at the Weston A. Price Foundation.

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