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31 Days To Better Health & Wellness Challenge

I’d like to extend an invitation to all readers to sign up for the 31 Days To Better Health & Wellness Challenge through Modern Alternative Mama.  I’m a member of the challenge team and will be writing throughout the month of January on reaching attainable goals for this year’s theme “Becoming Beautiful”.  There is still time to sign up for the challenge and still get the early bird rate $47 (That’s $50 off).  All year round access is $97 dollars.

What do you get?

  • Webinar content
  • Access to goal-related forums
  • Print offs for planning and tracking your goals
  • Access to a supportive community of likeminded members
  • & more!

My challenge goals & posts will be nutritionally, health, spiritually and exercise based,  and I look forward to sharing with you in the new year.

Again, if you’d like to sign up, the information is available here.

Switching Gears for the New Year: Looking Back & Gluten Free in 2014

Switching Gears For The New Year -
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I talked a little earlier about making New Years resolutions.  This is different.  We’ve got a piece of good news and we’re really excited to share, but first, I’d like to talk about what 2013 has been for us.

January of this year marked our decision to eat REAL food.  That meant, for me, giving up Diet Pop.  My Coke Zero habit had to go.  This was something I struggled with for years, and had tried to stop for years.  If you want to read more about how I finally managed to do it, the link is here.

The earlier portion of the year marked a time of adapting back to a vegetarian diet (and then vegan).  We made the decision that the food we were eating was not healthy for us or the planet and deemed that we just couldn’t afford to continue to eat meat at the time.  Aubrey, reluctantly, signed off on our switch back to plant-based on the condition that we ate more beans and lentils and less soy-based protein.  This REALLY became the driver that encouraged us to cook and ENJOY our cooking more.  It also REALLY brought down our grocery bills.

August of this year marked our move from Charlottetown (the capital city of Prince Edward Island) to Summerside (a smaller town of 15000) for Aubrey’s school.  It also marked a time of constricting our budget as I became the breadwinner for the family.  It also started our slow re-integration of meat into our diet again.  Since we are a block away from our farmer’s market, we really believed that this was a more responsible way to consume meat.  The next step in our joint culinary adventure, if you will.

In October, I officially began writing again, documenting our growth as a family to incorporate natural foods & homesteading ideas into our lives in a small downtown one bedroom apartment.  We felt we’ve learnt a lot over the past year in how to cook and the ways we want to source our food,  and wanted to share.  We wished we’d had a resource like this earlier on in our lives and, “hey, maybe someone can get some use out of our learning”.

November 1st of this year, Aubrey & I were married.  It was a great time – a SMALL event – with close family and friends.  We were lucky to make it down to Halifax and even luckier that the courthouse found us on their list (our wedding almost didn’t happen had I not had the foresight to call ahead and double-check).

We’ve reached the new year (save a few days) in good health (excluding my trip to the hospital for a gastrointestinal bug gone rogue) and in good spirits.  We’ve also made a joint decision to change our diets – YET AGAIN – for the New Years.  We’ve actually started early.  For those of you following our facebook page, you already know we’ve gone gluten free.

We have really amazing news here, which is partially why I’ve been a bit more quiet online than usual. Aubrey & I have really jumped in to a gluten-free diet. It originated from my choice to try going gluten-free due to a diagnosis of celiac in my immediate family and my recent IBS-like stomach issues. Since then, a girlfriend gifted us the book “Wheat Belly” which, when I read it and found out about the blood-sugar link, prompted Aubrey to give the grain-free diet a try. Aubrey has struggled with reactive hypoglycemia for nearly two years and it has been quite debilitating at times with symptoms ranging from shakiness and brain fog to complete personality changes when his blood sugar gets “low”. He could not go longer than two hours without eating something. Today, only 5 days in to the wheat elimination, Aubrey has been only eating three meals a day (comfortably) without any adverse symptoms. This was something we NEVER DREAMED OF and has pretty much freed him from the ball-and-chain of always having some sort of snack on him. I’ve also been lucky to notice a normality to my stomach issues and feel more like a normal person again. Even the arthritis pain that I would notice daily has lessened in both severity and frequency. We will continue to navigate gluten-free foods and have accepted that this will be our path from now on, so please be advised that the recipes and foods we share will be wheat-free.

For us, this is great news.  Aubrey even admitted yesterday that things for him were even worse than he let on.  He’s been one week gluten free and is actually able to go from breakfast to lunch, or lunch to supper without snacking.  We’re less nervous to go out now and not have a snack on hand for him.  And even when he does start to feel a little bit off, it’s more or less the “hangry” that normal people get.

Our daily “wheat-free” however is not choosing “gluten-free” hot dog buns over the alternatives (that said, we have tried them and Aubrey said he wanted to keep a pack in the freezer for our new Blue Goose chicken hot dogs (We NEVER get hot dogs so I was skeptical until I read the back. These hot dogs are from Sobey’s sustainable, hormone free meat selection with a GREAT ingredients list). We’re opting for brown rice, coconut flours & almond flours (on occaision) instead for our wheat alternatives.

As always, we will continue to pin our meal plans on our pinterest page however they will all be gluten-free in the interest of our health.  Feel free to follow our boards (we’re really good at following back!  I love seeing all the new things our fans share!) and cook what we’re cooking.

Since this will most likely be the last post of 2013, I would like to wish you the best from our family to yours for the new year and I’m looking forward to sharing 2014 with you.  Best in health and happiness!

The Patterson’s

De-Stress from Holidays with THESE Essential Oils

De-Stress from the Holidays with THESE Essential Oils: Fir, Marjoram & Roman Chamomile (
Photo Credit: stephend9 via Compfight cc text & overlay added by

‘Tis the season for stress.


I’ve actually been very lucky to get through this holiday season with a very minimal stress load, mostly due to my homemade gifting and Do-It-Yourself Christmas attitude. However, even we have a bit of stress from this week of gift giving and cooking and I have a few great ways using minimal impact on both the earth and your body: essential oils.

I’d like to focus on three in particular as I find they really resonate with me during these winter months (and work well together).

FirFir is that classic winter scent, which is why it’s my first scent of choice for this season.  If you still have people staying over, this is a great scent to put in a diffuser to keep the tensions down when you’re feeling your house getting smaller by the minute! A few drops can ground you during HIGH stress times (are your parents in town?) and act as a sedative (are you thinking about all the Christmas clean up to do?). It’s also great as a massage oil on sore, stressed muscles (make sure to dilute in an oil).

Marjoram: Marjoram is not as well known as a relaxing oil but equally important. Marjoram is a sedative (keeps those nerves at bay, like fir) but also as important, it’s great for digestive issues. We all know what it feels like when we’re stuffed to the brim or have eaten too much chocolate – especially when we’re not used to it.  Marjoram is a digestive tonic that has been used for years and helps from the time of ingestion to the point of elimination – it’s an all in one Christmas-itis cure.

Roman Chamomile: If you’re a chamomile tea drinker, you probably are already aware of the benefits this plant has to offer.  Chamomile, again, is a great sedative (do you see the theme here?) and is safe for use with children.  This is great when you’d like the house to calm down for an hour or two but would rather avoid the “television babysitter” solution. Roman Chamomile is also a great headache cure – those tension headaches can easily be soothed by a few drops diffused into the air.

So, how can you put these oils into use for you and your family during this hectic time of year?

(1) As mentioned above, if you have an oil diffuser (or a re-purposed wax melter), a few drops (2-3) in a tablespoon or two of water over a candle works wonders.  I’ve used this method therapeutically (especially with tea tree oil when one of us has a cold coming on) and also to rid the kitchen of the scent from a past meal (we had fish tacos the other day and the fish scent really wanted to hang on).  This tends to work in one room but can be beneficial if you’re trying to keep the atmosphere of , for example, your living room relaxed.

(2) Perfumes are a great way of keeping the relaxation available to you while not bothering or affecting others.  A dab of essential oil mixed in a base (jojoba or coconut, for example) on your wrist is often a perfect way of achieving relaxation on your person.  The warmth of your body helps bring out the scent and it can be a discreet way of keeping calm during a tense conversation between you and a partner during talks of who’s family you’re seeing on Boxing Day.  Another option is to put the essential oil (one or two drops is all that’s necessary) on a piece of kleenex and keep it in your blouse or pocket.

(3) For family members, especially children, who are having difficulty sleeping, a stuffed animal with the scent of a child-friendly oil like roman chamomile can do just the trick.  Try to avoid using this method on a toy they might put in their mouth or that you can’t get away from them later to give a quick wash to.

(4) If you’ve got a significant other, a not-too-creepy relative, or a child who doesn’t mind giving a back rub, this mixture (roman chamomile, marjoram & fir: 5 drops of each in 1/4 cup of jojoba oil) makes a wonderful de-stressing massage oil.  Plus, it calms the masseuse by default as the scent is used. Tricky, tricky!

(5) My favourite way to de-stress with essential oils is through a bath. Mix 1/4 cup of Epsom salts with 3-4 drops of essential oil and sprinkle liberally into your bath water.  I find this much keeps a bit on hand for a later bath (or one for someone else in need) and allows you to judge how much YOU need without having to mix up more. This method is paired very well with a glass of wine & a book.

I hope these de-stressing methods find you in good health and happiness this holiday season.  Remember to breathe – the holiday season is a time to be savored and I hope you can still find a bit of time for YOU through all the craziness that is inevitable this week.

Natural Post-Workout ‘Shake

All Natural Post-Workout Shake -
Photo Credit: ericmcgregor via Compfight cc text added by

So, Aubrey and I have decided we’re going to actively try to start working out more.  We’d been through many fits and starts, exercise-wise and since a girlfriend of mine loaned us her P90X, we figured now is as good a time as any.  So today, we did plyometrics.

And died.

Now, before anyone goes and complains that, “hey, isn’t this blog about homesteading? You know, like natural stuff?”, I’d like to tell you that you’re right.  But it’s also about becoming a healthier person – and being fit can only help me to be a better homesteader. More able to work towards self-sufficiency and have the energy to put into gardening and preserving as well as the focus to write every day.

In order to do this, I’ve also decided to avoid the pre-made post workout/pre-workout stuff.  I used to guzzle that stuff down and feel freaky and shaky.  I felt like there must be a more natural way to recharge after a workout and give your body what it needs to refuel. So that’s why we came up with this delicious masterpiece.  The recipe is for two people (or one big shaker bottle):

Natural Workout ‘Shake

  • 1 banana (fast-release carbohydrate, recharge your body)
  • 1 cup almond milk or kefir (protein to rebuild – kefir is great too because of it’s probiotics)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, frozen (antioxidants)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (potassium & vitamin C) *
  • 3-4 ice cubes


  1. Put in a blender and blend at high speed (we have “smoothie” mode).  To preserve your blender, we go easy and work our way up from lower speeds.
  2. Drink quickly.  Similarly to juicing, when you break open a fruit from it’s natural packaging (skin), it’s enzymes break down.  To take full advantage of the ingredients you’re using, choose organic vegetables (preferably locally and seasonally grown – they’re fresher that way) and drink within 15 minutes of blending.  For your body to take advantage of the shake itself, drink within 1 hour of your workout.

* For orange juice, we use PC Oh Mega J – it has encapsulated fish oil, which in theory is great. It’s not something I rely on heavily as it does contain canola oil but the ingredient list is short and I recognize most of it.  Sometimes, you need to just choose the better of all the evils…

For those of you who are Orange Julius lovers, this will tickle your fancy.  I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. No sugar added. And of course it can be a start-of-your-day shake too, if drinking breakfast is appealing to you (I found working mornings, the blender was my best friend).

What do you use post-workout to recharge your body? Join the conversation on our facebook page.

Mastering The Stay-Cation: A Homesteader’s Guide To A Frugal Winter Break

Mastering The Staycation: A Homesteader's Guide to A Frugal Winter Break

Aubrey and I are doing something wild this year.

We aren’t going home for Christmas.

Mainly because we can’t really afford the bridge fare (did you know it costs $50 to leave the province of Prince Edward Island? Minimum?). But we figured this would be a great time to spend time together.  Since our wedding, it’s been a tough cycle of him going to school in the daytime and me heading to work in the afternoon-evening.  We never see each other unless he stays up late or I wake up early.  And usually, my days off are school days where he has the weekends off.

So we figured we’d take advantage of having four days off and embrace the “staycation”.

Urban Dictionary defines STAYCATION as the following: A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer.

So we’ve decided to do just that.  And we came up with a list of things that we’ll be doing that maybe you (and your special someone) can enjoy over the holiday season:

    1. Imagine Spring: We just received our copy of the Seed Catalogue from Vessey’s and we’re dreaming of what we’ll be growing.  So far, we’ve picked out some cool carrot varieties, beets, cabbage, beans, and cauliflower but I’m only a few pages in!  Vessey’s is a seed company based in Prince Edward Island (buy local!) & they also carry organic seeds.
    2. Baking Some Goodies: This is provided you’re not EXHAUSTED from baking for the holidays already.  We’re thinking gingerbread, macaroons and trying a loaf of gluten-free bread.
    3. Pretend Power Outage: How about a night of crank-radio CBC, candlelight & good conversation.  Wine is applicable here (Let’s face it, wine is applicable everywhere…).
    4. Dinner for Two: Wine, roast chicken and good music. I think we’re on to something here…
    5. Book Club: My not-so-secret-Santa gave me “Wheat Belly” & I think I’ll be diving into that one over the next few days.  Maybe the hubby and I can do the wine, bathtub, and book idea.  I know, TMI… Sorry for the mental image…
    6. Movie Night: A girlfriend of mine that I met at university and I were chatting and she recommended “Band of Brothers”. Popping some popcorn and watching a good movie (oh MAN! I almost forgot about the Garfield Christmas Special) is a great way to spend a cold night.
    7. On A One Horse Open Sleigh: We’ve got snow. We’ve got splash pants. We can figure out a sled… I’m sure I can find a sled somewhere.  Pair that with some delicious homemade hot cocoa or hot apple cider and it sounds like a fun afternoon.
    8. Get Organized: If you’ve got some good music (can I suggest this playlist from Songza?) and a hot cup of coffee, going through your bookshelf and getting together some bags to donate can be fun.  I know, I’m sick, aren’t I? Maybe you could even CLEAN your kitchen while you’re at it…  I’m getting tingles just thinking of it!
    9. Go Out To Dinner (Local): Try a restaurant nearby that you’ve yet to get to.  I think we’ve got one on our list that’s nearby (alright, 20 minutes, so sue me – I’m still staying near home).  Let someone else do the dishes!
    10. Channel Your Inner VonTrapp Family: I bought a ukelele a while back & I’ve been saying I wanted to play more.  Aubrey, the percussionist of the household, played drums for a few years.  I think we could be a travelling band if we got our acts together. Coming soon…
    11. Make Your Own Holiday Tradition: This really fits if your staycation is around the holidays.  Aubrey and I have gotten into the gingerbread house making.  Typically, this occurs after a few adult-beverages so our houses have never really turned out well.  But it’s always been fun.  Here’s a peek from last years:gingerbread
    12. Work It: A girlfriend of mine from work is sharing her P90X with us.  We’ve said we’re going to try it this break (we say a lot of things about exercise…) and are looking forward to giving it a go!  That’s just us.  Maybe a trip to the swimming pool for a few laps, or a game of indoor basketball at the community centre is a fun way for you to spend an afternoon.  Public hand-eye coordination has never been a strong point for me.
    13. Having Fun Isn’t Hard, When You’ve Got A Library Card: Head down to the library, pick up a few books or a movie.  Learn a new hobby through a community extension course together (I REALLY NEED TO LEARN HOW TO KNIT). The library is an extraordinarily inexpensive way to spend an afternoon (unless you have late fees).
    14. Tour The Town: We’re lucky to live on PEI – the biggest tourist destination in Canada. It’s also the smallest province in the country and takes around 5 hours (maximum) to drive tip to tip. Maybe we’ll do some travelling up west and into Tyne Valley.  I hear the western part of the Island is the most beautiful but I did love the North Shore (Cavendish area).
    15. Take A Hike: My favourite time to walk in Summerside is after the snow is fresh on the ground, the RCMP is telling people not to drive & it’s just quiet.  It’s beautiful to walk down by the water and hold hands.
    16. Gourmet Night: Cheese tasting, wine tasting, paired with some fresh fruit & fondue. Sometimes it’s just nice to treat ‘yo selves.
    17. Thrift Shoppin’: I don’t need a staycation to do some serious thrift shopping but sometimes it’s fun to take a leisurely tour around together.  When Aubrey and I take our time peaking through, we find some real gems.  Like our Fleetwood Mac Rumours Album (99 cents) or Aubrey’s LL Bean sweater that he LOVES.
    18. Go To A Local Sporting Event Together: Let’s face it.  I live in Canada and everywhere you look, there’s a hockey game being played.  Even if it’s midget hockey, it’s fun to watch.  Especially if you’ve got a family friend who’s kid is playing.  You look less creepy that way… Bring a blanket, coffee & treats!
    19. Try A Local Coffee House First Date (Couples): Try the first date all over again. Aubrey and I had an incredibly awkward first date.  I asked him out over BBM, he came over to my house and we sat about a foot away from each other and watched episodes of “Weeds”.  For a few hours. And then he went home.  Pretend it’s the first time and head down to the coffee shop together and get to know each other again.  Guaranteed, there is something you’ll learn that you didn’t know before.  Our local place is Samuel’s but Timmy’s will work the same way, especially if you want to give off a low-maintenance appeal.  I actually LOVE the Tim Hortons Gluten-Free Macaroons – only as a treat though. 
    20. Banana Pancakes: In the words of one of the great poets of our time, “make you banana pancakes, pretend like it’s the weekend now, and we could pretend it all the time”. A leisurely brunch of pancakes (we made blueberry and cinnamon brown rice pancakes) paired with fair trade coffee and some turkey bacon is all you really need.

We’ll be doing a few of these in the upcoming days (we’ve already checked a few off our list).  I’d love to know how you spend your winter break with your family.

Are any of you staying home for the holidays? Share with me in the comments below or on our facebook page.

Blueberry Cinnamon Brown Rice Pancakes (Gluten Free)

Blueberry Cinnamon Brown Rice Pancakes (Gluten Free)
Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc orientation and text added by

I miss pancakes since I’ve given up gluten.  Since Aubrey has officially jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon in attempts to control the blood-sugar roller coaster of his hypoglycemia, we needed to find something to make us both happy.  We had brown rice flour, we had blueberries and we had some cinnamon. And we had lots of time.

Blueberry Cinnamon Brown Rice Pancakes (Gluten Free)

Makes 15-20 pancakes/ serves 2 to 3 people (I have a hungry husband…)

  • 1 cup of brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup milk kefir
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, free-range
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted


  1. Add all ingredients to bowl and stir until all mixed together to a thicker consistency.
  2. Heat griddle to medium and spray with cooking oil or melted butter (crispier). Scoop out mixture with ice cream scoop so size is uniform.
  3. Wait to flip until mixture on edges of pancake begin to look cooked through.
  4. Serve with molasses, maple syrup or butter.  Pancakes can be frozen if you have extras.  You probably won’t have extras. They’re too good.

Four NECESSARY Food Storage Tips For Beginners

Four Necessary Food Storage Tips For Beginners via Compfight cc with text added by

I live with a boy scout. My husband was awarded the Chief Scout Award in 2006.  He lights our fires, takes me camping and can tie any rope you can think of.  He’s also the guy you want to have around when the power goes out.

Even though we never lost power in S’Side last night, Aubrey was ready.  He took over my kitchen table with all of his readiness…


He also loves Stpehen King & what would a power outage be without a horror story…

Aubrey’s preparedness yesterday made me think and realize that in many ways, we aren’t truly prepared.

Canada’s emergency preparedness FAQ‘s really only suggest options, at best, for 72-hours to a week of food storage. In reality, situations can last much longer than this.  Aubrey can distinctly remember being in Halifax, NS for Hurricane Juan in 2003. They went without power for a week and were VERY lucky to be downhill from the water treatment centre so they did still have access to water.

Barrington St, Halifax, NS – 2003 post Hurricane Juan

What I’ve truly been considering is that emergency and disaster is not always necessarily in the form of a hurricane, or a snowstorm.  In fact, increasingly disaster is becoming more personal. The loss of a job, medical emergency, retraction/decrease in pension or government benefits are drastic situations that affect the economic stability of families much more often than a tornado hitting your home does.

In fact, we experienced the situation of an unexpected week off of work when I was admitted to hospital.

There is also the possibility of a situation like Swine ’09 or Avian Flu becoming a problem. Quarantine only works when people stay in their homes – and how can we all stay in our homes if we don’t have food and have to travel to the grocery store?

This said, how do you really plan for that? How can anyone keep enough food on hand that in the case of an emergency and make it work?

These are my four tips to beginner food storage:

Seasonal Eating: We’re finding that beginning our journey to REAL food storage in the winter months is not that ideal. It’s hard to accumulate a lot of great produce in snow drifts. We buy as much as possible locally from the farmer’s market, secondly from the local/organic of the Superstore, and when that fails – conventional produce.  We’re working on our gardening plan next year and preservation choices.  I’ve learned much about pickling through books available at the library (even at such a small scale one like ours) and dehydrating options online.  I have a book that’s next on my list about cold storage. What we grow or acquire at peak season for cheap, we’ll preserve.  Otherwise, we’ll aim for a lot of root veg (parsnips, carrots, potato, etc.) to fill the void.

Local Eating: I could write forever on the pros of local eating. Not only does the money you spend stay in the local economy, the process of bringing the food from farm to table is much less fuel-intensive.  In terms of food storage, when I talk about locally eating, I’m talking about as close as you can get to your table (gardening). From there, branching out to your farmers market.  It’s cheaper for you and what grows in your climate is more likely to store well in your climate. Your body is also able to function better when you serve it foods grown in your climate – don’t discount the fact that you are but an individual on Earth.  Everything is linked together – eating foods like pineapple (a cooling food) in the dead of a Nova Scotia winter when you’re already cold doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Dried Goods & Preservation: I’m sure, immediately, you might be put off by this idea. Who can live on jerky for months on end? I actually shuddered at the thought. NO. What I’m referring to are dishes made from stored beans, lentils, rice, grain (if you’re not GF) or dehydrated fruits, veggies and maybe the occasional bit of jerky.  People who already live on a more whole-foods oriented plant based diet will have very little issue acclimating to this kind of food storage.  Provided your food is stored in an air tight container, many of these food items save for months to years at a time, depending on the item.  At any restaurant supply store, you’ll be able to find great container solutions for these items.  Aubrey and I eat a lot of rice (despite being SCD, my body handles brown basmati well – as far as I can tell), bean dishes and we have a lot of local flour on hand as well.  In retrospect, I would have purchased a grinder and bought the wheat pre-processed for longer storage, but hindsight is 20-20 and now we have some great, local Speerville Flour on hand.  As for dehydrated fruit and veg, we recently bought our dehydrator and haven’t yet gotten as much use as we’d like out of it (we bought it after harvest season, after all.  It’ll be a great yogurt maker until we start growing).  We plan to do a lot of dried apples, soup mixes, dried herbs, tomatoes, etc. The dehydrator we purchased comes with a handy book that gives you all the tips and tricks for preserving your food for the long-haul when you can’t eat everything that comes out of the ground.  Jerky too…

Pickling and canning are great ways to keep vegetables and fruits preserved for long periods of time. There are infinitely better resources on the above things available both online & at your library than myself, just a beginner.

Lacto-fermentation is a method that utilizes salt, water, vegetables and a temperate environment for controlled rotting. There are resources, again, available on this that are more reliable than I am. The BIG benefit of lacto-fermentation is the growth of probiotics in your preserves. These organisms are essential in keeping the balance of bad bacteria to good bacteria in your gut.

A Knowledge of Cooking with REAL Ingredients: This means that in order for food storage to actually work, you need to know how to cook more than turning the oven on and popping in a frozen dinner.  Using spices, soaking beans, kneading dough, using the “broil” option on your oven… Turning your oven on to begin with…

I know this stuff should sound basic and obvious, but last time we were down seeing some friends, one of them was bragging about his latest culinary masterpiece: Gourmet Kraft Dinner…

…He added paprika…

This is why we can’t have nice things.  Because we don’t know how to cook.

I could tell you specifically what to store, specifically what we’re storing, and that would be well and good.  But my family may eat differently than your family. Maybe you like bread but I can’t eat gluten.  Maybe your daughter hates the taste of chickpeas, but we eat them 3 times a week. Maybe we both love kidney beans but you can’t source them dried where you live so you choose cans.  What information I shared above (Store Seasonally, Store Locally, Dry and Preserve Your Own, and Learn To Cook) are pieces of advice that relate to all interested in food storage, from beginner to advanced.

If you do want to know what we make a priority, follow the blog, facebook page or pinterest for recipes that we use that involve our food storage ingredients.  The point of food storage is to store what you use and use what you store, replenishing your stores so when an emergency does happen, you are ready.

10 000 Steps: Walk For Health

Photo Credit: Peter Blanchard via Compfight cc  text added by
Photo Credit: Peter Blanchard via Compfight cc text added by

I work a VERY active job.

No, it’s not this blog.  It’s mentally active, for sure, but I’m talking my “9-5”. Which is actually an evening shift, but details details…

My job in healthcare involves walking, bending, standing, sometimes dancing.  I never really know.  I’m a lucky one – I’ve found that in the course of a single shift (8 hours), I walk a total of 6-10 km.  For those of you US readers, it is the equivalent of 3 to 6 miles. I get a decent amount of cardio in an average day. It worked out to be, on average, around or more than 10 000 steps a day, exactly what I was aiming for.

Why did I want to reach 10 000 steps?

Dr. Yoshiro Hatano in Japan minted the concept that if people walked 10 000 steps a day, it would contribute to a less sedentary and therefore healthier and fitter nation.  This makes absolute sense if you consider the fact that a little over 1000 steps (according to the length of step) equals one kilometer & ~2000 steps equals 1 mile.  The purpose is to get active.  To reach 10 000 steps is approximately 30 minutes of vigorous walking.

Doctors suggest every adult get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

At least.

So that means that when the average American walks approximately 5000 steps a day, the goal is not being met. (source)

According to the same article, single people took more steps than married than widowed.  Also, as expected, those who took more steps had lower obesity rates.

Go figure!

I’m inferring that this step count is relative to most westernized countries, including Canada (where I’m located).

Now, I am not suggesting that everyone get a job in nursing care and that this is the only way to up your step count.

I’m, also, in no way inferring that getting 10 000 steps a day is the only way to reduce your likelihood of obesity.

What I AM suggesting is that the following, in balance, will make you happy and healthy:

Being conscious of your eating (WHOLE foods, REAL ingredients); making an attempt to get, at minimum, 30 minutes of exercise a day (mixture of strength training and cardi0); reducing stress (meditation, yoga, centering practices, grounding); and some sense of spirituality (awareness of yourself and what you’re connected to: be it an organized religion, the Earth itself, or a giant flying spaghetti monster); avoidance of chemical products in day-to-day life (unnecessary medical intervention, natural beauty product use and herbal supplementation); and encouraging happiness practices in your every day life.

My one piece of advice to all readers is this: take your steps to earthly fulfillment in small increments.  Baby steps, if you will.

The one immediate thing I will recommend is the following: wear a pedometer. The majority of you will probably have this option available to you already.  Do you have an iPod or smartphone? Chances are you have access to a fitness app that will track your steps.  Clip in to the waist pocket of your pants and take a quick account of what kind of mileage you track each day.

Don’t be discouraged.  Realistically, today, having the day off, I might have managed a thousand steps so far from the computer to the bathroom to the kitchen and back again.

You need to know where you’re starting from before you can goal set and get better.  Maybe this is one of your new years resolutions?  Maybe this is one of those goals you can make for the Becoming Beautiful Challenge this year?

How Can I Get 10 000 Steps A Day? I work a desk job!

Like I mentioned above, I am truly one of the lucky ones.  In my current work, I feel both physically and spiritually fulfilled  (I think I’m banking some serious positive karma in my work life, I’ll tell ya).

For those of you who are stuck behind a desk, there are a few things you can do to reach that 10 000 steps:

  • Set A Goal: 10 000 steps is a very easy goal to achieve.  Taking thirty minutes out of your day means removing one episode of junky reality TV off your evening routine and putting it towards something beneficial.  You don’t have to start that big either!  If you want to work your way up to it, do as you please.  Make it a CHALLENGE though – you don’t want to be able to achieve it right away. That said, if you’re already walking 10000 steps a day, maybe incorporate one of the other ideas for healthy living (weight training anyone?) into your day.  But set that goal!
  • Take your breaks: Am I the only person that believes that if you’re not being paid for thirty minutes of your time that’s slated as a “break”, that you should be on BREAK? I was guilty of working through my break period for a long time.  I had the mentality that making a name for myself and getting ahead meant putting my time in and being productive 100% of the time!  Point of the matter is, you CAN NOT be efficient if you don’t have downtime.  I learned, especially through the times I was life guarding, that a break for your eyes and your brain, makes you a more efficient worker.  In the case of life guarding, it meant I was more likely to save a life because my brain was refreshed.  Your boss (or, at minimum, most governments) requires that workers get a break period when you’re working.  Use that break to go for a walk. You don’t need to run a marathon.  You can even eat when you’re walking.  (Don’t BS me, I know you eat when you drive, you CAN eat while you walk.)  Get some steps in.
  • Budget Your Time: I totally understand you.  If I could have another hour a day, I would take it in a heartbeat.  Point of the matter is, you have 24 hours.  You personally know how many hours of sleep you thrive on.  Break it down.  I am at a point where I don’t have young children to worry about so I can take my full 7 and 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep.  I budget that first.  That leaves me 16 more hours to budget into the 9 hours associated with work and travel to and from, work on my blog and secondary business, exercise and husband-time.  It might not be fun, but I’ve had to schedule my day to make it as productive as possible.  I have a personal schedule for work-days & days off. I have time in each to incorporate exercise into my plans but that’s only because I’ve planned it in there. Of course you’ll never be able to stick to your schedule perfectly (life happens!) but you CAN set a goal and aim to achieve it every day.  You’ll be more likely to get those steps in if you plan for them.
  • Join A Community: I don’t care if it’s a gym, or you and your girlfriend go for drinks each week on Fridays at the bar that is a kilometer and a half away from your house and you walk there.  Make a commitment to a group or a person and stick to it. You’re more likely to achieve that goal IF someone is counting on you. That said;
  • GO PUBLIC: Put your goal on Facebook.  Tell your friends and family that your goal this year is to walk 10000 steps a day.  Like in community, you’re more likely to achieve your goal if people are expecting you to.  This goes for weight loss too.
  • Break It Up: You don’t have to walk 10000 steps all at once.  You have 24 hours.  I don’t care if you SLEEP WALK half of them!  Get them in there.  Take a 10 minute walk here, a five minute walk there, etc.
  • Take Your Family With You:  Do you have small kids? They could take a few steps with you.  Go for a hike! Run around the park (don’t just sit on the bench and watch!).  Have a dance party?  If you’re a Mom and actively play with your kids, 10 000 steps won’t be too difficult to reach at all! 😉
  • Reward Yourself:  AND PLEASE – Don’t reward yourself with food.  Give yourself gifts of experience – take a pottery class, buy a treat at the Farmer’s Market, get a new essential oil for your collection.  It’s like kindergarten – a gold star every once and a while can be all the encouragement you need.

There are plenty of ways to get that 10000 steps in!

How Many Steps Do You Walk A Day?  Share on our Facebook Page!

Give A Gift With A Conscience This Year

Photo Credit: allerleirau via Compfight cc edited with text and image editing by
Photo Credit: allerleirau via Compfight cc edited with text and image editing by

We’ve reached the last few days before Christmas.  It’s the mad-rush to the check-out line and furious gift-wrapping so we can get those mounds and mounds of presents under the Christmas tree.

For most of us.

At the Naturally Living in the Maritimes homestead, we’ve decided against hectic stores in favour of a more relaxed holiday season.

What does that mean?

Well, out of one part economic necessity and another part ecological responsibility, A and I have decided that we won’t be doing materialistic Christmas this year. To all of our gift recipients this year, the presents will be homemade.  Be it baked goods, natural beauty products, or the gift of service, they’ll all be receiving something from us, with love.

I’ll give you a moment to take it in.  I know, “those hippies and their anti-consumerism counter culture…”

But think about it a minute.  When you give a gift, what is the purpose?

In my opinion, it’s to show your appreciation for them being in your life and it’s an expression of your love for them.  You take the time and put the effort in to give someone something they would like.

Does it have to be purchased to be something they would like?

I can think of something everyone likes in my circle of family and friends that doesn’t require me to take a trip to town.  I think the fact that I put the TIME into it makes it even more valuable.  That whole period of time it takes me to choose the gift, mix the ingredients, bake the cookies and make a card is done in service to them: loving the quiet (or if you have kids, the bustle) of your home, loving working with the ingredients, loving the smell or quaint beauty of what you’re creating.  Compare that to the hours you spend in line at THE MALL: hating your surroundings, hating the time it’s taking, hating the cashier who has no idea how to work the register.

Are you making a gift from a place of love or buying a gift from a place of hate?

Like I’d mentioned above, we are going HOMEMADE this year for two reasons:

  1. Economic Necessity
  2. Ecological Responsibility

Economically, we are a young couple living on one almost full-time income slightly above minimum wage. We are lucky enough to make ends meet, but spending $300 in a month on presents is just not something that’s feasible. I’m not the only one in this scenario, I know.  At the risk of being all “hard-times-in-the-Maritimes”-ey, the economy just hasn’t picked up, especially for youth.  Especially on the Island.  Sorry, y’all, I just can’t afford your iPods, gamepads & giftcards.

Ecologically, Christmas is a nightmare. Think of all the packages, boxes and bags. Really, consider how much you throw out in that garbage collection day, the week after Christmas.  Even if you’re using recycled paper, it’s still an immense load that the Earth has to account for. Why not bake a batch of Christmas brownies and put them on a plate that your neighbours can return to you next week (probably washed too, if they’re nice!).

I’m obviously not saying that you shouldn’t give gifts. I’m saying that, ideally, you should be trying to make your gifts.  There’s a pyramid of gift-giving that I adhere to and I’d love to share it with you.



The Pyramid of Gift Giving

Ideally, you should start at the bottom and work your way up.  Starting with gifts of time.


– Gift Certificate for a “Day with Mom/Dad”

– Gift Certificate for a “Movie Date”

– Gift Certificate for a “Back Massage”

The second scale of gift would be homemade gifts


– christmas baking

– homemade soups in jars

– sewn or knit gifts

homemade soaps, or body products

Following that, gifts of experience are ideal.  These would be your “learning gifts”.


– a trip to the zoo

– swimming lessons

– a golf membership

– cooking classes

Fourth on the pyramid, gifts purchased locally or from artisans online.



– Farmer’s Market

– Craft Fair

– A Friend’s business/ Downtown Boutiques

Only now do we reach corporate gifts.

Presents with a conscience are always an option.  This list is valuable for birthday gifts or, for some of you whom gift at Easter, other times of the year or just because.  Be aware of WHY you give gifts – and what message you can share if you put aside your time to give the right gift, not one that’s just picked up off the grey shelves of a big box store.  So put the keys down, put your PJs back on and get started making presents for your loved ones this year.  There is still time!

Wrap up a keeper.  A gift made with love is sure to make an impact this holiday season.


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