10-Minute Daily Yoga

I’ve done yoga on and off over the years, but I have to admit, for me, I really just needed to do it on my own, not in a group where I would feel self-conscious. My need for a more meditative solitary practice inspired me to ask my friend, Paula Suter, if she would be willing to pass on to me her intuitive yoga knowledge. She has such a way about her, I wanted some of her calm and beauty for myself. This was her gift that she passed on to me. In the spirit of paying it forward, here’s her rudimentary 10-minute version for you to try yourself, modify for your needs, and then share with others. Enjoy.

FullSizeRender 54.jpg

We were in a beautiful place in Mexico surrounded by unpopulated hills and the sounds of the sea in the distance. Seeing these images and video just transports me there. I had only shot it for my own personal use, but Paula has graciously given me permission to share it with you all here. The images and video should simply speak for themselves (do pause the video to do your stretches, as we blasted through the poses quite quickly.)

FullSizeRender 45FullSizeRender 46FullSizeRender 47FullSizeRender 48FullSizeRender 49FullSizeRender 50FullSizeRender 51FullSizeRender 52FullSizeRender 53

My Whole30 Detox – First 15 Days

Most of my friends and family now know I’ve been on a month-long Whole30 detox adventure. It’s been incredibly enlightening. What is Whole30? It’s a new way of eating, where you eliminate all sugars (yes, wine too,) grains, dairy, and legumes. The reasoning is to reset your body to burn fat for energy rather than sugar and carbs. If we burn only sugar and carbs, we’ll crave more sugar and carbs and store that fat. But it’s also a diet that reduces systemic inflammation. I’m finding I was suffering, for the past 2 years from joint pain because they were inflamed due to the foods I was eating (or drinking.)

I also cut caffeine out. Just to be me and up the ante a bit.

I can tell you that at Day 16 here, my hip and knee issues are getting much better. My overall joint pain is generally gone. I’m sleeping close to soundly. I feel stronger and healthier. But, my headaches are persisting. You can’t have everything right? Yet, I’m only in the middle of the experiment, so I’ll let you know more when we round the corner at the end of the month.

Many people ask me what I’ve been eating if so much is restricted from my diet. The answer is: a ton! And I have zero interest in snacking between meals because my meals are quite robust. I’ve photographed and logged every meal, including my general status each day, so although this might be way TMI I’m going to share it here anyway:

Day 1

Status: woke up with headache, sore on right side hip. Felt energized all day (my usual vibe.) Hiked/ran 4 miles. Getting tired at 7:30 p.m.

Breakfast: Curried Frittata


Lunch: Baby spinach salad with tuna, my homemade sesame garlic ginger sauce, sautéed crimini mushrooms in ghee, naturally fermented pickle, 2 pieces dried mango

Dinner: Roasted potatoes in olive oil and splash of rice vinegar, artichoke and ghee, guacamole

Day 2

Status: Didn’t sleep well because of someone snoring. Sciatica above right glute is hurting a lot. Otherwise good energy, no hunger or cravings. End of day feeling really really bloated. I don’t like this feeling, all the grease and meat. It’s not good for the environment to eat so much meat. Not good for my gut. Am going to create my own Whole30 diet that still follows all compliant food but doesn’t eat so much meat.

Breakfast: Banana and blueberries with homemade almond butter (raw almonds, fleur de sel, coconut oil)


This isn’t a totally compliant meal as the nuts won’t provide me with enough protein.

(I was told in a forum that this meal isn’t really all that Whole30-compliant. The ingredients are, but I need more protein. What is a vegetarian to do? I eat eggs, but am not excited about changing my lifestyle to include a ton of animal meats (other than fish) in my diet, as I’m looking for something that’s sustainable for our family long-term. I’ve been advised to add 3-4 eggs to the meal. Not sure I can do this X3 every day. Nine eggs per day will be tough.)

Lunch: Chili but with egg instead of beef. Delicious.


Best thing about this chili is that there’s cacao in it.

Dinner: Chicken thighs with onion and olives, grilled eggplant, and  cauliflower carrot parsnip puree


Day 3

Status: Feel like merde. Food is really greasy and it’s getting me down. Last night’s chicken had a lot of grease in it. One thigh and I was really full. This is more meat than I’ve eaten in years, and, well, after dinner I felt really bloated and went to bed feeling generally rotten, like how you feel after eating rich food. I slept pretty well, but felt that headache coming on throughout the night. Now, it’s a full-fledged migraine because I had to make my son’s breakfast and lunch, take him to school, feed the chickens, start the fire (we only heat with wood), get my daughter off to the bus, and I still hadn’t eaten. Suffice it to say, that vice grip on my head was so aggressive I knew I was going to start vomiting (this is the way my body deals with extreme pain — I have a history of getting migraines.) So, I quickly ate a banana, two dates and about 3 tablespoons of homemade almond butter because, frankly, the thought of eating a couple of eggs was going to make me hurl. Fingers crossed the vice eases its grip on my head. Is this too much animal meat for a non-meat eater? I’m going to try to stick with the eggs-mostly approach, with some fish and the very occasional addition of chicken. But yesterday felt like way too much: more food and fats than I generally eat in a day, so maybe I need to moderate a bit?

Meal 1: 3 Tablespoons almond butter, 1 banana, 2 dates

Meal 2: Sautéed kale greens and 2 poached eggs, with carrot parsnip cauli puree.


Meal 3: Thai green curry with shrimp on cauli rice.

Status: Tonight was the premier of our film, and friends came over with champagne. Wasn’t tempted at all.

Day 4

Status: Remnants of yesterday’s headache, but not terrible. Have lots of energy. Feel pretty good, but also feel that I could use some more sleep. And, umm, in the department of “signs that one could be undergoing deflammation” (that’s my silly word for the opposite of inflammation) — my ring is falling off my finger. My hands look so much better. They were definitely looking on the sausage-y side of things, so this fast deflammation is a real surprise. I’m not chalking it up to weight loss, just loss of inflammation in my extremities.

Meal 1: Sautéed kale greens and 2 poached eggs, with carrot parsnip cauli puree, and a pickle.

Meal 2: Leftover chicken thighs,  cauli-carrot-parsnip puree, grilled eggplant

Meal 3: Chili (as above)

Day 5

Status: Feeling pretty good. Definitely tired in the morning when waking up to make Finn’s lunch and get him to school.

Meal 1: 2 Hard boiled eggs, 2 chicken sausages, small handful raw pistachio nuts, 2 dates, detox dandelion tea

Meal 2: This is some seriously yummy porridge!!


Oat-free nut based porridge with apples

Meal 3: Baked Salmon, Roasted veggies (potato, turnip, beets, sweet potato) and homemade ketchup. Daughter loves the ketchup so much, she’s eating it by the spoonful.

Day 6

Status: My hip & knee still ache deeply when I sleep. A pillow between legs helps. BUT, when I get up, I don’t have the aches and creeks and stiffness in my joints! And the knee feels good.

Meal 1: Nut “oatmeal” (see above) and 2 soft boiled eggs.

Meal 2: Awesome pesto with cauli rice and turkey bacon.


This vegan pesto is to die for.


Meal 3: Delicious shrimp scampi on zucchini noodles.


Status: I feel good. Have never cooked so much in my life, but I’m making the time for it and am learning so much. The alternatives to what I’m used to eating are still just as delicious and much more healthy. Zucchini noodles, yum. Cauliflower rice, yum. Homemade ketchup, yum. Vegan pesto, yum. Didn’t work out today but energy level is good.

Day 7

Status: Feel great!


Meal 1: Sweet potato avocado toast with fried eggs, green onion, tomato, onions, and cashews.


Meal 2: Spinach Ceasar (with my vegan faux Ceasar dressing), guacamole, smoked turkey slices, pickle.


Meal 3: Asian Stir fry with egg “tofu” (leftovers of cauli rice, mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper, garlic, ginger, onion. And coconut aminos for flavor. Really really good!


Day 8

Status: Feeling good. My back hurts from standing much of the day yesterday, cooking! Heart rate goes up after eating! Is my metabolism kickstarting?

Meal 1: Soft boiled eggs, raw red bell pepper, avocado, green olives, macadamia nuts.


Meal 2: Baked potato with carmelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and garlic, topped with cilantro and green onion on a bed of spinach with faux Ceasar dressing. Two chicken sausages.


Meal 3: Speck, chopped salad of jicama, romaine, onion, potato, cilantro, green onion and a little leftover potato.


Day 9

Status: Woke up a bit late for a 7:55 ferry. Not enough time to eat much. Long day, then until a 2:00 lunch, with only a slight hunger headache.

Meal 1: Soft boiled eggs, banana.

Meal 2: Tuna, sweet red pepper, radish, pickle, jicama, dates, homemade almond butter.

Meal 3: Dungeness crab, ghee, green beans, homemade mayo, clementine.


Day 10

Status: Slept well. Had the Natural Calm magnesium drink last night and I think it helped. But, woke up with a headache, so took meds.

Meal 1: Poached eggs on bed of sautéed kale and sautéed mushrooms with marjoram. Awesome!


Meal 2: Chicken tenders dredged in coconut flour and pinch of salt. Pan fry it in coconut oil. Place in a bowl on a bed of baby spinach with a great dressing for this dish: Coconut milk, olive oil and green thai curry paste, whisked together. Garnish with enoki mushrooms, sliced Italian plum tomatoes. Unbelievably good, altogether!


Meal 3: Pete is gone now, so I just made oven baked sweet potato fries with the kids and they loved them.  We also had sliced raw veggies: avocado, radish, celery and some macadamia nuts. I threw in some prosciutto to get some protein.


Day 11

Status: Sleeping soundly, except for the fact that my hip and knee ache at night. Get up to take ibuprofen. Taking Magnesium.

Meal 1: Sautéed kale and garlic with poached eggs and marjoram mushrooms.

Meal 2: Sweet potato fries (leftover), baby spinach and parsley with green thai dressing, coconut floured pan seared chicken tenders.


Meal 3: Poached salmon, fried green plantains with mango avocado salsa



poached salmon parsley pesto.jpg

Day 12

Status: The pain in my hip and knee at night (and day) is diminishing! I went on a load-bearing hike yesterday which was intensive, but didn’t hurt my knee. At night I didn’t wake from the pain as often, but my muscles are seizing up, which shows a lack of calcium. The magnesium binds to calcium and now that I’m not eating dairy I may not be getting enough calcium. Have been eating dark greens but still not quite enough?

Meal 1: Sautéed garlic kale with poached eggs on top. Sliced tomatoes.


Meal 2: Mango salsa with sliced turkey, deviled eggs (with homemade mayo), jicama.


Meal 3: Asparagus, avocado, basil salad and chicken apple sausages.

Asparagus salad with chix saus.jpg

Day 13

Meal 1: Scrambled eggs with my parsley pesto and baby spinach, all together in a salad.


Meal 2: The asparagus salad from Day 12 with prosciutto on top.


Meal 3: Baby zucchini, onion and marjoram sautéed into scrambled eggs. With sliced avocado on top. So good!


Day 14

Status: Small headache upon waking. What is causing these? My jaw feels like it was clenched as I slept. Otherwise, my body feels good. Not too much pain in my knee and hip as I slept, but I did take 600 mg of ibuprofen before bed.

Meal 1: Pumpkin custard  (a bit bland)


Meal 2: Sliced smoked turkey, roasted potatoes, baby spinach, green beans.


Meal 3: Coconut floured chicken sautéed in red palm oil. Morels and garlic sautéed in ghee, roasted veggies, and faux cesar salad.



Day 15

Status: Felt really energized most of the day (collected wood in the forest with Finn and went on a 3 mile walk to pick up Cleo at her friend’s house,) but feeling a little bit down. It’s hard to just cook all of this just for myself.

Meal 1: pumpkin custard (see above) with ghee sautéed nuts and raw homemade Lara bar bits for sweetener (dates, cacao, hazlenuts, almonds, sea salt whirred in the Vitamix.)

Meal 2: Roasted veggies, salad, smoked salmon lox.

Meal 3: Roasted red pepper zoodles and 2 chicken sausages.

FullSizeRender 37.jpg

So, there you have it! Fifteen days of Whole30 under my belt and the meals therein.

My Whole30 Detox Month – Day 10

I’m a Whole30 experimenter. If you haven’t heard of Whole30, you will, eventually. It’s a paleo regime aimed at detoxing your body and switching over your carb and sugar-burning engine to a fat burning one. I have to say, I was a little skeptical at first, especially since I’m doing this with likely less grease than most, but here I am on day 10 and it’s been an eye-opener.


My go-to breakfast: Poached eggs over garlic kale saute with ghee sauteed crimini mushrooms and marjoram. (Recipe in upcoming post!) ©Liesl Clark

Do Without. Let’s get the restrictions over with: Whole30 requires that you give up, for 30 days, all forms of sugar (except fruit), dairy, grains, and legumes (this last one kills me, because that’s been our major source of protein for years.) They also prohibit you from jumping on a scale. I figured that wasn’t going to be enough of a boot camp for me, so I threw caffeine onto the contraband pile. Day 3 was the biggest migraine I’ve had in years. My daughter’s grumpy face when I try to take her picture is how my head-in-a-vice-grip felt all day. Truth be told, Pete had to give me a dexamethasone, to prevent me from heading to the hospital for an i.v.


©Liesl Clark

The thing is, it’s all it’s cracked up to be. How do I feel day 10? Pretty damn great. I’m sleeping better than I have in years, my aches (which likely comes from inflammation) in my joints has disappeared, and a knee and hip injury that I’ve been dealing with for 2 years is feeling a bit better. I’m likely losing weight, but who knows? There’s a lot of fat in this diet, more than I’ve ever eaten on a daily basis, so I could be the only person to have ever gained weight on a Whole30 month-long experiment. But this isn’t necessarily about weight. I decided to do this to address my insomnia, pain in my right knee and hip, and my migraines.

Whole30 meals: So, what do Whole30 peeps eat, you ask? Protein (eggs, fish, meat of all kinds), veggies, nuts and fruits. There’s no snacking. So, at each meal you can eat as much as you want. After a few days, you lose the desire to snack as the meals are very satisfying, high in fat. Coconut in every form is used as much as possible. Avocados, too.


Prosciutto with oven baked sweet potato fries (amazingly delicious at Nomnom Paleo), slices of avocado, radish and celery and a few macadamia nuts. ©Liesl Clark

But here’s the thing: It ain’t really paleo. Full disclosure here, I haven’t actually bought the book (part of my ethic of buying no commercial propaganda when trying out a lifestyle change. Luckily, everything you need is available online. If it seems to resonate with me as a generally worth-while change in my world-view, I’ll buy the book!) So, I don’t know the extent of their paleo claims. But, if you watch my friend, Tina’s TED talk, you’ll come to learn that Paleolithic peoples didn’t really eat as much meat as these paleo diets propose.


Meat and potato gut bomb? Well, it was good. Baked potato on a bed of baby spinach with caramelized onions and mushrooms with chicken apple sausages. ©Liesl Clark

In our nearly 10 years of archaeological climbing expeditions in Nepal, we recover the bones of ancient people out of high cliff caves and then the teeth go to Tina’s lab where she not only extracts DNA from them so we can learn much about the people’s origins and genetic makeup, but she also studies their dental calculus (the plaque) and determines much about their diet.


Tina Warinner is able to discern so much about ancient diets from studying the dental calculus (plaque) of early people. This is a human skull recovered from the caves of Mebrak, Nepal, dating back 2,300 years. ©Liesl Clark

Tina has looked closely at the dental plaque of early peoples and she can state as fact that meat was not a huge part of most paleo diets. It would have been a big protein source on occasion for humans who had access to meat, but nuts, berries, and wild vegetative matter, fruit, and especially legumes primarily made up their diet.

Maybe a Tad Too Much Meat: I’m fascinated by what is involved in taking dairy and grains and sugar out of my diet. So far, my sense is that the elimination of all sugars is probably the best thing I’ve done in years. (And, I think removing the caffeine has been great for me, too.) But as a mostly vegetarian, I’m struggling with the meat equation in this diet, because I know any meat Paleolithic peoples would’ve eaten was extremely lean. Today’s market meat is bred for fat. (Eat local chicken in Nepal and it tastes like wild pheasant.) I know what a toll meat production takes on our environment, and I also believe that plant-based diets are the most healthy diets we can have. I look forward to introducing beans and lentils back into my diet as my main source of protein while being restrictive on the wheat, especially GMO grains and flours.


Curried Egg Frittata from My Heart Beets ©Liesl Clark

These are the debates going on in my head, knowing what the archaeological and sustainability communities have to say about “paleo” diets. I’m a forager at heart and my sense is that if we eat what’s abundant around us, growing in the very ecosystem and climate where we live, than those are the organic foods that are going to be best for us. But, for now, I’m letting eggs and mostly white meat enter my digestive tract to see if the protein and high fats can help me with my lack of wheat, sugar, and dairy. So far, it is. I have no hunger between meals. And the physical changes are mostly for the better.



Homemade almond butter (recipe coming soon!) sliced bananas and blueberries. 

Over the course of this month, I’ll be posting my thoughts on this diet, my own experience, and some of my own recipes that I’ve cobbled and know will be staples on our simplefoods menu in the future.

Have you tried Whole30? How was your experience and have you incorporated much of what you’ve learned about your body’s reaction to dairy, wheat, sugar and legumes into your everyday life?

A Trip To The Dentist And The Plastics Therein

Our Trip To The Dentist and the Plastics Therein. Photo © Liesl Clark

“Please don’t have him eat candy for a day.”

What? I was standing in a dentist’s office, and these were the first words out of the dental assistant’s mouth after my child had some ‘routine’ protective sealant put on his molars. No candy for a day? How about a month or 6? We don’t do candy all that regularly, so to hear her put the limit at 24 hours felt like a license, to my child, for everyday candy in the house, perhaps even a piece or 2 every 4-6 hours. Thank goodness that happy gas was still in effect, for he had a look of mirth on his face while he questioned me about it.

But what I want to know is this: Why is a dental office for children the purveyor of so much cheap plastic crap? This trip to the dentist was truly enlightening for us all — and has served to alter our trust in dental-care in general. I can give you 4 reasons why:

1) That little bin with the plastic junk in it, meant as “prizes” for even showing up at the dentist, was an early highlight. My kids both chose the same toy so they wouldn’t be jealous over the other’s better choice. Their choice x 2!?  A squeezable caterpillar that off-gases more toxic fumes than a PVC shower curtain.

2) Both children complained at how sick they felt from the sweetness of the stuff the dentist used to clean their teeth.

3) Quite disturbing for me was the amount of plastic we left with, each child carrying a little plastic bag filled with free stuff (see the photo above.) Here’s the short list of their freebies x 2:

— A new sample-size tube of Colgate toothpaste.

— A single-use plastic applicator flosser packaged in a plastic bag.

— A new plastic toothbrush complete with plastic packaging.

— A plastic baggy filled with those cool pink pills that show you how well you’re brushing, or not.

— A bigger plastic bag to hold all the plastic crap held in smaller plastic bags.

— A carton of dental floss (okay this one’s an acceptable freebie in my book as there are no plastic-free alternatives that I know of, yet.)

Well, the kids’ teeth got high marks for cavity-prevention from the dentist, yet I didn’t dare tell the dentist we use bamboo toothbrushes and make our own toothpaste mostly in an effort to reduce our plastic footprint. How is a family to keep up their standards of low-impact sustainable dental care after a visit like that? And we have to do this every 6 months?

On the drive home, as we sniffed our new PVC caterpillar toys now flung in the back of the car, I started wondering if my child truly needed those protective molar sealants in the first place? The molars looked good on the X-rays. “It’s optional, but we highly recommend it,” were the words of encouragement from our dental professional.

4) I looked up the sealant as soon as we got home to see what it was made of and, surprise of all surprises, it’s a plastic resin akin to those found in baby bottles, complete with the same endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and pthalates. What have we done?! 

Now that I’m well-versed in the the debate over whether dental sealants are safe for kids, I’m kicking myself for not having had a clue. I, the mom who has spent the past 6 years divesting our home and bodies from plastics, opted to seal them into my child’s mouth. Anyone know if sealants can be unsealed without the use of toxic chemicals? Likely not.

33 Eggshell Reuses

33 Eggselent uses for your eggshells. Photo © Liesl Clark

In the heart of the summer, our chickens lay a dozen eggs for us a day. For a family of 4 with 14 hens, we go through a lot of eggs. Here are a few reuses for those hardy shells.

1) Garden Fertilizer/Compost: Throw your shells in your compost or yard waste bin if your municipal recyclers allow kitchen scraps in there. Try to crumble them as they’ll decompose more easily if you do. They add calcium and other minerals to your garden soil. I use a stone mortar and pestle by the composter to crush them. Some people even put them in the blender.

2) Worm Food: Our worm bin worms love egg shells. Truly. I find their eggs inside eggshell clusters.

3) Garden Pest Deterrent: Crush and spread them around your favorite plants. Some slugs, snails and cutworms just don’t like them so they won’t “cross the line.”

4) Pot Drainage: Crumble them up and add them to the bottom of potted plants that need drainage. Tomatoes and eggplants will love the added calcium to deter end rot.

5) Chicken Egg Hardener: If your chickens are laying eggs with soft shells feed them some…..eggshells. I know that sounds gross, but it helps give them a dose of calcium and the girls love it. Be sure to crush the shells. Chickens go on the shape of things for foraging so if they get used to eating egg-shaped goodies they’ll start eating their (gasp) own eggs.

6) Eggshell Candles: Yes! They’re beautiful and easy to make.

7) Homemade Space Geodes: These are really cool to make with the kids and they even glow in the dark.

8) Spring Flower Vase: These look quite beautiful with hyacinths held in an egg cup. I only have one chicken that lays white eggs, but seeing these makes me want to save all those white shells.

9) Organic Seedling Starter Pots: Just plant your seeds inside the shell (with potting soil too, of course you dummy), put the shell inside your cardboard egg carton, fill all the other egg carton cups up and you can plant the whole thing in your garden.

10) Egg Shell Succulent Planters: Make a lovely mini succulent garden using your egg shells and the carton, too.

11) Sidewalk Chalk: Big sticks of sidewalk chalk are easy to make and you can use a toilet paper tube roll as your mold and just peel it off.

12) Science Eggsperiments: Here are 10 cool science-y experiments for your child to try with eggs. Fun!

13) Calcium Supplement: Skip the pills and simply bake your shells at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Let them cool and grind them to a fine powder. Add your supplement (a teaspoon or less) to your favorite smoothie or juice once a day.

14) Pet Calcium Supplement: Do the same as above but just add the powder to their food.

15) Egg Shell Mosaics: You can make beautiful mosaics with Easter egg shells or from ones you dye just for this project.

16) Drain Cleaner: Occasionally send a few crushed-up egg shells down the drain. They can help keep it unclogged by their abrasive action.

17) Egg Shell Decor: Getting in the Easter spirit? Try this idea of hanging your egg shells from a tree as a pretty accent.

18) Instant Bandaid: This one’s my favorite. Technically, you’re using the inner membrane of the shell. Tear a bandaid-size piece of it from your egg shell and place it over your ow-ie. By overlapping the 2 ends together, they stick and will stop the bleeding, too. Love it.

19) Vanilla Custard Pots: Serve up your vanilla custard in natural egg shells.

20) Egg Shell Frame: Make a cool modpodge picture frame with egg shells.

21) Christmas Ornaments: If you blow your eggs out you can turn the shells into pretty ornaments.

22) Abrasive Cleaner: Crush them to a coarse texture and use them to scrub down your pots.

23) De-Bitter Your Coffee: If your coffee is too bitter, add finely crushed egg shell powder to your coffee filter and your joe will taste smoother and sweeter.

24) Bird Food: Add some crushed shells to your bird seed mix. The birds need calcium, too.

25) Garbage Disposal Drain Cleaner: Feed some to your garbage disposal. They are an eggsellent cleaner and sharpener for it.

26) Soup Stock Booster: Add egg shells to your soup stock when boiling it. The nutrients can’t hurt.

27) Garden Walkway Addition: I add crushed shells to a garden path made of white gravel and sea shells. The egg shells just blend right in and hopefully deter the slugs, feed the birds, amend the soil, etc, etc. I guess I like walking on egg shells.

28) Stain Remover: According to Apartment Therapy crushed egg shells can help remove stains in your sink, on your tea pot and from other kitchen or household items.

29) Laundry Whitener: Some say that if you toss some shells in a mesh bag in your laundry, the gray tint to your whites will disappear.

30) Sensory Play: Egg shells make great sensory play items for your toddler.

31) Eggshell Toothpaste: That just about says it all — follow the directions in the link. My daughter and I are going to make some this weekend.

32) Cute Halloween Ghost Decoration: They hang like wind chimes but look like little ghosts on the breeze.

33) Try the Walking on Eggs Experiment: Want to make eggs into eggshells fast? Try this! No, seriously, this experiment conducted by a 6-year-old is a pictorial essay worth checking out.

Now that you’ve reused your egg shells so nicely, what to do with those egg cartons?!


Because I was 15, spending a summer abroad to learn French, and I didn’t know who to talk to when you’d come to my bedside and grope me in the night. #WhyWomenDontReport

Like so many women, I don’t have adequate words to share in the spaces between these highlighted occurrences. They’re just a few among others buried in my subconscious, ingrained in the tactile memory of my cells every time someone touches me, even in moments of tenderness.

Because I was one of your guests, and I thought we were all enjoying a night swim in the Mediterranean. Yet the darkness hid your assault in broad moonlight. #WhyWomenDontReport

I’d posit that women are robbed of their own pleasure, for years, when their bodies become the unwitting object of another’s unwanted, yet continued, advances.

Because my  job was to film you, but you’d kiss me on the mouth every morning and “slept” for hours in the car with your head in my “lap” while my boss looked on and smiled. #WhyWomenDontReport

When sexual predators are in positions of power, there’s a feeling of communal embarrassment that goes along with the knowledge that everyone saw what they did. Why report, if all are in the know anyhow and were unwilling to help stop the impropriety?

Because I never saw your stranger’s face hidden in your jacket as you jerked off while I sat by the river, writing in my journal. I ran home terrified you were following me. #WhyWomenDontReport

Every woman knows the terror of sensing they’re being followed by a stranger. And when it is someone who half-hides half-naked, it’s even more frightening since boundaries have lost all meaning.

Because I was your girlfriend and there was no safe space between virgin and whore in your mind. #WhyWomenDontReport

I hope, for my daughter and son, that they’ll both find representations of strong smart funny and admirable women front-and-center in their books, magazines, ipads, and laptops. I had no female role models in literature or on TV and neither did the boys and men I grew up with.

Because I was traveling alone, and didn’t speak the language there. #WhyWomenDontReport

A culture that prides itself on complimenting women is one thing, but grabbing onto our bodies to bring us in close and cop a kiss or a feel, without knowing us, is another. When it happens in public for all to see and validate, a woman feels humiliated and powerless.

Because after you yelled lewd comments out your truck window for all to hear as I was jogging, you crashed into the parked car ahead of you and I still felt shame. #WhyWomenDontReport

Maybe karma has a way of working things out in small but poetic ways.













20 Nettle Uses: A Forest Superfood

There’s likely no other wild plant that marks the beginning of spring growth than the wild nettle, urtica. Urtica is a forest superfood, full of vitamins and health benefits that can alleviate allergies, dry scalps and skin, and a long list of diseases that I’ll simply link you to here since Mother Earth News has it covered.

We all know that nettles come with an unpleasant sting if you brush up against the leaves. But with some care, a.k.a gloves and tongs, you can harvest wild nettles, steam them (this removes the sting in about 6 seconds), and have the foundation for one of the most nutritious greens you’ll ever have in your kitchen. Go forth and harvest these stingers, dry them or steam them up, puree them, bake them, or just put them in jars in your freezer for future use in the recipes I’ve collected below.

JPEG image-B6107D265C7F-1

1) Drying Nettles and the Basics: For starters, I want to link you to this great article on how to safely forage for nettles and also dry and store them. I’m a big believer in using all the naturally-edible natively-growing greens around you, rather than going to the store and buying greens grown elsewhere.

2) Nettle Beer: From what I’ve read, this is more like a wine. Easy to make, and quite tasty.

3) Nettle Chips: Move over kale! It’s time for us to embrace stinging nettle chips. These. Are. To. Die. For. (And I promise, you won’t die, you’ll just want more.)

IMG_8048 2

4) Stinging Nettle Fritters: These look incredibly delicious. I don’t have to say much more.

5) Stinging Nettle Mayonnaise: Want to add a bit of zing to your mayo? This is a recipe worth trying.


6) Fermented Nettle Kimchi: We’re big kimchi makers and eaters. I just can’t wait to try this recipe this weekend. It’s right up our alley.

7) Black Strap Nettle Syrup: This ought to cure what ails you, yet another recipe that I know will come in handy for my family as we grow ever-closer to living off our land.

8) Wild Nettle Mini-Cakes With Strawberry Lemon Icing: If the name of this recipe doesn’t have your mouth watering, just check out the photos from this beautiful blog.

9) Nettle Recipes For Hair, Skin, & Nails: If you’re looking for a deep infusion of green to help bring you back into balance while providing nutrients for your hair, skin, and nails? This article is for you.


10) Portable Allergy Tonic: Have troubles with seasonal allergies? This tonic promises relief.

11) Nettle Vinegar: This one caught my attention because we make all our own vinegars. Adding nettles makes a lot of sense, given their health benefits.

IMG_8054 2

12) Nettle and Lemon Cake with Blackberries and Lemon Icing: If you’re planning a birthday party for a child, this might be a great way to sneak in some greens! The lemon icing adds just the right zing to match the nettle color.

13) Wild Onion and Nettle Soup: We make this every spring and freeze as much as we can. This soup is just about as close as you’ll ever come to “drinking spring.”


14) Fermented Nettle Tea: If you’re into all things fermented, why not nettles? Kombucha, move over!

15) Lentil and Nettle Curry: Seeing as Nepal is covered with nettles in spring, this dhal curry with nettles didn’t surprise me.


16) Pizza with Garlic Cream and Nettles: OMG, you guys! This is so delectable, you have to try it. Just replace your hankering for basil with nettles here and you’ll want to repeat this recipe every week. I now freeze our excess-harvested nettles so we can have this all year round.

17) Nettle Crisps: Ok, so these are the same as the nettle chips, but it doesn’t hurt to try a slightly different recipe.

18) Nettlekopita: My friend, Rebecca, who is an amazing cook, makes this every spring and so I know it’s delicious. I just need to get over my sense that it’s time-consuming to make, because it doesn’t look like it from this recipe. My husband is Greek and I’d love to try this out on him.


19) Wild Nettle Beer: I couldn’t resist linking you to another great recipe for a nettle home brew. This one was so well thought-out, I think a novice could make it.

20) Nettle Wine: I’m calling this one wine because, reportedly, it tastes more like wine. I love this article as it really spells things out clearly.

On a final note, I wanted to link you to a fascinating article, now that you’ve immersed yourself in mouth-watering nettlemania. It appears nettles have been used for millennia. Around 800 BC, nettles were used to make a silk-like fabric. Like flax, nettles were employed for their strong fibers for use in cloth-making. What uses have you come up with for this underdog wild stinging plant? We’re in awe of its properties and many uses, and excited to learn more about this superfood’s talents. Share what you know, and we’ll add it to the list.

8 Uses For Garlic Skins

Garlic Skins Have Some Use Beyond the Compost Bin

In my ongoing fascination with the things I typically throw away, even in the compost pile, I thought I’d look up some of the most interesting ways to reuse garlic skins. Some, I already do, but there are a few new uses in this list I thought you might want to try.

Don’t toss those papery white skins!

1) Save them in your freezer and use for your vegetable or chicken stock. I also throw them in my slow-cooked beans to add more flavor.

2) Compost them.

3) Keep the skins on your garlic when you roast it and the protective skin layer keeps your garlic soft on the inside.

4) Eat it! According to the Daily Mail, the skin on fruits and veggies shouldn’t be discarded. As for garlic: “Peeling garlic cloves removes the ­phenylpropanoid antioxidants which help fight the ageing ­process and protect the heart.”

5) Make a paper rose out of your garlic skins.

6) Turns out garlic skin is a major antioxidant. Plan on seeing it in all sorts of health products in the near future.

7) Add them to your handmade paper recipe. They add a lovely texture.

8) Dye your hair with them using a natural ayurvedic technique.

DIY Tooth Powder (Plastic-Free Toothpaste)

When you’re trying to go plastic-free, toothpaste is a crux issue for most people. But crux no more! We have a plastic-free toothpaste/tooth powder recipe that’ll keep you happy and make you wonder why we all strayed from this basic recipe years ago in the first place.

Plastic-Free Tooth Powder is Easy to Make. Photo © Liesl Clark

I remember the days of tooth powder. It came in a family-size metal bottle with a top on it that you could shake over your toothbrush and the powder would come out. Pretty basic. But this stuff was great and I wonder why we’ve replaced it with paste in a plastic tube?

My family has used variations of this recipe for the past 4 years, on-again and off-again, and we’re always happy when we get back to using it. The baking soda cleans my teeth better than any other toothpaste out there.

And it takes less than 3 minutes to put it together:

2 tablespoons Baking Soda

2 pipette stoppers-ful of liquid stevia (liquid stevia comes in glass jars with stoppers)

1/4 teaspoon organic peppermint flavor (It’s a combination of sunflower oil and peppermint oil)

1/8 teaspoon organic mint extract

Mix your ingredients together in a small bowl or small mason jar.

The next step is perhaps the toughest: Finding the right container to hold and apply your tooth powder with. I found a pretty vanilla extract bottle with a small lid that works perfectly. We just shake it over our toothbrushes over the sink and if any powder falls into the sink it’s an added bonus for cleaning the sink! Baking soda has many uses. Cleaning your teeth AND your sink are just 2 of them.

My vanilla jar with a pretty paper label. The kids love it and our sink stays extra clean! Photo © Liesl Clark

So, why not give it a try? You’ll love the clean feel of this toothpaste/powder. It’s truly somewhere half-way in between a paste and a powder and feels great!

And to the question of toothbrushes:

A Bamboo Toothbrush With Plastic-Free Toothpaste is How We Roll at Chez Trash Backwards. Photo © Liesl Clark

Toothbrushes wash up on our beaches much too often, presumably because of the sewage that oft seeps into Puget Sound and the Pacific. Imagine that, some people flush their old toothbrushes down the toilet.

Going plastic-free in the bathroom is a great way to reduce our overall impact. Our post on toothbrushes can help you find ones that have less plastic and we’ve also found some helpful reuses for your old brushes so they can be utilized for special jobs around the house.

A Wood-Foraging Workout


© Liesl Clark

It occurred to me, last winter, when high winds blew down so many trees, that I could help clear the trails, rather than just hike them. The added benefit was wood.


Blown-down wood on a Pacific Northwest Trail © Liesl Clark

Rather than carrying a backpack filled with random items to give me added weight for a pre-expedition workout, I realized the resource I could gather on my hikes was right at my feet. My friend, Yangin Sherpa, walks 5 miles a day to collect wood where she lives. Why couldn’t I?


We heat our home with wood and our property provides most of what we need. But I realized that every day, during the storm season, I was picking up and throwing aside big chunks of wood that had come down the day before onto the trails we hike on our hill.


Huge Trees Come Down, Blocking Our Trails, All Winter Long © Liesl Clark

I bring an empty pack after a windstorm and load it with large chunks blocking the trail that I would otherwise throw aside. There’s so much wood out there, areas where blow-downs outnumber the trees standing. I figure a small payment for my clearing of the trails are the few pieces I can gather to add weight to my gait, to give greater resistance to my uphill climb so I can prepare for the high passes and cliffside traverses we do each summer in the Himalaya.


Payment for My Pains © Liesl Clark

I find joy in knowing what it feels like to walk 5 miles for a bundle of wood that will keep my family warm for one more day.


What are your simple pleasures?