Tag Archives: natural family living

Veggie Stir Fry With Brown Rice – A Nutritious, No Fuss, Natural Family Meal!

Quick and healthy don’t always go together – but more and more natural mammas and pappas are making it happen!

When it’s 5:00 and I still can’t figure out what’s for dinner, I used to reach for the frozen fish sticks or chicken nuggets – not anymore!  We’ve got a stash of go to quick, easy recipes the whole family enjoys.  One of our favorites, and probably one of the most healthy, is veggie stir fry with brown rice.

Stir fry is such a great natural family meal because it’s so versatile.  Got a garden bursting with _____ veggie – make a stir fry with it.  Joined a CSA – you can make a different stir fry each week with whatever they give you.  Cleaning out your fridge and have some lone veggies?  Use them up in a stir fry!

Of course like all other meals you could actually plan a specific type of stir fry, and you can add meat too.  Or give it a bit of oomph while keeping it vegetarian by adding some seasoned tofu or tempeh.

Best of all, if you have a large family like we do, stir fry is excellent because everyone can have what they want usually with minimal fuss.  Add some soy sauce, hot sauce, or other seasonings you like and you’ve got a meal any natural family will love; and that’s easy to prepare, even in a pinch!

The one thing is it does take about 20 – 30 min to cook the brown rice.  One of the ways around this issue though is to make a bunch of brown rice one night then store the extra in the refrigerator.  That way it’s ready and waiting for whatever veggies you want to ad, as well as for other meals too like bean and rice burritos, or as an awesome side dish.

veggie stir fry and riceYou can also make stir fry quicker and easier by cutting up the veggies in advance (a great idea for making salads easier too).  You might also consider keeping a bag of organic frozen mixed veggies on hand; which will cut your prep time down considerably.

Best of all though, everyone will enjoy this yummy family meal, and, you can even puree some for the baby if needed!  Plus, this meal is super affordable, a great way to use up left overs, it’s nutritious, and, we’ll just say it again, it’s EASY!

Fix up a stir fry tonight and see what we mean!  Most likely, it’ll become a staple on your weekly natural family menu too.

PS – we’re feeling lazy – and are wicked busy right now too (like always!!) – so we didn’t include a recipe.  While it’s pretty basic, if you feel like a recipe for stir fry will help let us know and we’ll add one right away!

Got Wood? Then Cordwood Masonry Might Be the Right Green Building Method for You!

Do you have a wooded property or easy access to cord wood?  If so, then you might want to check out the Cordwood Masonry Method for building a green home, office, spa, chicken coop – or whatever else you’re building!

It’s difficult to pinpoint who “invented” the cordwood style of building.  Also known as cordwood masonry, stackwood construction, and stackwall construction, this style of building has been found as far back as 1,000 years ago in portions of Greece and Syberia.

Cordwood is a very easy, affordable and, depending on where you live, very green method of building a structure.  It can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like, and the style offers a look of natural beauty all it’s own once complete.

This unique building style involves stacking pieces of cord wood, also known as fire wood, as you would bricks, using mortar in between them to seal up the holes and gaps around the logs.  Wherever you can manage to get your own logs, you can build a very eco friendly, natural home with the help of this green building technique.

cordwood home from the 1950s in oregon
Early 1900s Cordwood Masonry home in Oregon


For example, in the United States, Cordwood Masonry became popular in places like Wisconsin, Vermont, and Upstate New York during the Depression because these areas are heavily wooded.  Generally, you need to clear the trees for your home in these locations.  As a result, it becomes quite economical when you can use the same trees you’re cutting for your home site anyway as the building materials for your actual structure.

You do need some time to season your wood which requires planning and preparation, but, in many situations, time is far cheaper than materials costs.  You’ll also need to buy the ingredients for your mortar.

Speaking of which – Experts differ on the exact amounts and combinations of ingredients to use for cordwood mortar, but most recommend a mixture of sand, lime, portland cement, and soaked saw dust.  This is all mixed by hand and applied between each log.

cordwood house at night with recycled glass windows shining
Cordwood house in Del Norte, Colorado showing it’s colors at night via cordwoodmasonry.com


When done correctly these walls offer and exceptional R value and their thermal mass (or ability to absorb heat and slowly radiate it back to the surrounding space) is fantastic.  They also look really really cool inside and out!  Many even incorporate recycled glass bottles, stones, or unique wood ends to add even more style to their finished project.

Want to learn more about cordwood masonry?  There are many wonderful books and even classes you can go to in order to learn more about this building style.  Even novice builders can excel at building their own cordwoood building, but, they should complete a few practice projects first in order to hone their construction skills before delving into a large structure.  To help this along there are also places that facilitate building parties/classes in which participants help build a host’s home.  You get the benefit of experience and they get help with their home.

However you do it, if you have the right property and the right project, cordwood masonry is a green building style that will help you build an earth friendly, natural home or other structure easily.

cordwood peace sign

How Do You Stay Natural When Visiting With Your Not So Natural Family?

We just got back from a wonderful family vacation.  We spent the week with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents – 12 of us total – on a lake for the week.  It was a beautiful, natural setting where got to play in nature and just enjoy the company of family we don’t see but once, maybe twice a year if we’re lucky.

All of us had such a good time.  In fact,  we’re already planning for another week together next year, and really are hoping to make it a family tradition each year from here on out.

That said – my husband and  I are very different in our viewpoints about many things and our lifestyle in general when compared with the rest of the family.  Not that being “the black sheep” isn’t a fantastic position; adding color and dynamics to an otherwise very similar group of people.  It just isn’t always easy.

As a result, sometimes, I think I bend my personal beliefs to fit the situation and in the end, we end up putting some of our natural family values aside during the visit.  Of course I’m sure the rest of the family has to stretch to visit our side of the universe as well – but mostly it’s usually us compromising.

But how much is too much?

This trip has been one of the more balanced mostly because we each had our own house and we could keep more of our own routines in tact.  This helped us “get away from it all” more easily than when visiting at another family member’s home where it feels more acceptance is really required.

But at the end of the day is it really OK to save face for the visit so everyone gets along?  Or, is it better to be very clear and keep your natural lifestyle together just like you would at home?

And, whatever you do, what are your ways of coping with the friction that can occur when you spend so much time with people that you love very much, but who, at the same time, are so different than you it becomes easier to get along if you put some of your natural family philosophy aside?

You don’t pick your family after all!  There are bound to be differences.  It’s how you cope with them that matters….and I’m not always sure I go about it as naturally as I can – and I’m almost certain I’m not alone in this.

So, I’d just love to hear more about your tips, tricks, and thoughts on staying natural when visiting with your not so natural family (and friends).  I think it can help all of us navigate these sensitive spaces we can sometimes tread with people we love that don’t always share (or in our case even take seriously) our natural view on things.