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She was my first follower.

About a year and a half ago, my cousin and I were chatting at a family party. I told her I needed an outlet besides work and parenting and was planning to start this blog. She loved the idea! She was so supportive.

Of course I wanted her opinion. She worked at a farm stand when she was a teenager. When I thought about farm stands, I often thought about her.

As soon as I published my very first post, I texted her.

She was living out on the West Coast then. Within an hour, my first little blue WordPress notice popped up on my phone. “meaghan.elizabeth.burns is now following you!”

On her birthday, she posted this comment:

The love of family. I thought about that comment many times in those early days. It was just so encouraging. I hope you all have someone cheering you on in your life and your smallest accomplishments, like I had Meggers.

She was my first follower. And now she is gone.

I’m staring at her comment today because it is so kind, so positive, so thoughtful. It keeps her alive a little bit. I am not going to write about her death. If you can handle reading something very heartbreaking, you can search for the news.

Meaghan Burns of South Deerfield, Massachusetts: born August 25, 1995 – died May 4, 2019

Today, I want to remember her bright, shining 23 years of living. I want to memorialize the little, everyday moments we had with her.

Like the time she went on her phone and followed her cousin’s blog.

Like when she took time on her last birthday to write a comment. It meant a lot then. But now, oh my God. It takes the breath out of me. I love her so much.

My aunt, uncle and her little sister wrote a touching obituary for her. Here’s a link.

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What’s one choice you made to live more natural lifestyle

What’s one choice you made to live a more natural lifestyle? Just one little change. Every night when you go to bed you face two choices: Option 1) beat yourself up for not making healthier choices or Option 2) give yourself credit for the healthy choices you have made.

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Please choose Option 2. Share some of the healthy choices you’ve already made. I know you can think of at least one. Maybe someone else reading this will be inspired, or will realize that he or she has made a similar choice and finally give him or herself credit for it.

Like what kind of healthy choices?

Ok, I can help you brainstorm.

Think about your meals. Made any changes in the things you eat or how you cook them? Do you grow anything yourself or buy locally?

How about the things you drink? More water. Water with lemon. Less sugar. Less alcohol. Any of those things would count.

What about your skincare or haircare routine? There’s a lot of chemicals in that cheap, store-bought stuff. I don’t expect you to go broke buying the luxury natural skincare, but maybe you found something with less chemicals in it that worked for you. Here are some handcrafted soaps I found for under $10 a bar.

Are you using any natural cleaners around the house these days? For most of my life, I didn’t realize how easy it would be to just make cleaners myself or to use more natural cleaning products, like biodegradable dishcloths.

Exercise? Me neither. Actually, since gardening season is over in New England, you’re probably doing better on this one than I am. But, I said we won’t beat ourselves up today! I’m going to at least stretch and do some yoga poses when I finish typing this and get off the couch.

Here’s a good one. More actively thinking about your breathing. Getting that air flowing through the body. Speaking of air…

Good old outdoors

Remember when someone used to tell you to go outside and play? If you are still doing that, you are living a more natural lifestyle. Gardening. Taking a walk. Putting your feet in the ocean.

You know for me, if I had to pick one thing I do to live a more natural lifestyle, it’d be gardening. Oh, but you might say, I just told you the gardening season is over where I live. Yes, the outdoor gardening season is, but I keep the party going inside all winter.

My natural lifestyle choice is having fresh herbs growing in my kitchen. I use them when I cook at least a few times each week.

Speaking of indoor natural living choices, having some fresh flowers or remembering to water a potted plant would totally count as making good natural living choices. It just gets you in touch with nature a little bit more. Every bit counts.

Maybe it’s just your mindset

Healthier living doesn’t have to always be physical.

Maybe just reading this post and reframing the way you think about your choices is a more natural approach. It means you’re shaking off some social sterotype or negative mindset that comes from living in a highly commercialized culture.

Hey, maybe you found yourself here, reading this post, because you just needed to hear me remind you not to beat yourself up. You probably did something this week that made you 1% healthier. If you did that every week, you’d be 52% healthier at the end of the year.

Actually, that’s not true. It’s better than that. The finance student in me needs to be true to who I am and tell you that with compounding, you’d be more like 67% healthier at the end of the year with a 1% gain every week. But, forget the finance blabbler. Since 67% is better than 52%, it’s fabulous news!

There’s one more thing

One of the most natural choices human beings can make is to connect with other people. We are meant to share ideas, to teach and to learn. We are at our best when we are supporting each other and our communities.

Thank you for supporting this natural living online community. And, thank you for leaving a super quick comment with even one word or one little idea about a healthy choice you’ve made. You’re great. And, you should know how much I appreciate you!

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What makes us buy so many things we can make easily?

Healing calendula herb infused olive oil in a mason jar

One of my professors told me that when he was a little kid in Pakistan, his mother would grab the olive oil out of the pantry, rub it on his dry skin and send him off to play.

That makes complete sense. Olive oil works well on dry skin, even the cheapest olive oil. Actually, cheap oil would be better because the scent is weaker and won’t leave you smelling like a pressed olive. What does a teaspoon of cheap olive oil cost? So little I can’t do the math in my head. You probably already have it in your pantry, too.

Olive oil as a body lotion:
1) works great
2) convenient
3) inexpensive

And yet, like me, you probably also have a bunch of store-bought moisturizers scattered around your house, car and office. If you’re anything like me, you might pull out your winter coat this year and find hand cream you put in the pocket a year ago. I have so many hand creams, I lose them.

I do buy lots of natural skincare products…and pay through the nose for them. When my kids were born, I spent $20 on a bottle of all-natural baby lotion. It was a pretty big bottle but still. After every bath, I would take a couple of squirts of some insanely expensive tangerine and calendula baby lotion and give the kids a little baby massage before bedtime.

In case it sounded like I was exaggerating about the price…

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Lovely stuff, but really pricey.

Here’s a jar of calendula-infused olive oil I made myself for about a penny. All it took was time because I grew the calendula flowers in my organic garden, but at least I know what’s in the oil.

Healing calendula herb infused olive oil in a mason jar

US consumer spending

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest measure of economic activity. In 2017, real GDP in the US increased by 2.2%; of that, 1.7% came from growth in consumer spending (source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis). In other words, people in the US buy a ton of stuff. Buying all that stuff, even if we don’t need it or just because the ad looked good, is like espresso to our economy.

Two main reasons we buy stuff we should make:
1) We didn’t realize we could
2) The ad looked good.

1) We didn’t realize we could

Until someone stumbles across a blog like mine or gets a friend like me to open up to them, it probably won’t occur to him or her to look around the kitchen or garden or farm stand before going to the convenience store. Plus, you know where the convenience store is. Until a few months ago, you probably didn’t know where this blog was.

Most people would be really confused to get a Secret Santa gift basket labeled, “Experience Spa-like Pampering”, and it’s a bottle of olive oil, a bag of cheap sugar and some vanilla. Are you going to bake me? How is this a spa experience?

Then, you read the Directions, “mix thoroughly and shower together”. Now, that’s really confusing. That’s like stunned-into-silence confusing. (Unless you spend a lot of time on Pintrest, in which case, you immediately envisioned a clear glass jar tied with twine and a little cardboard tag that read “DIY Sugar Scrub”.)

In just a few short generations, modern cultures forgot the uses for common herbs and oils. I did, too. It’s been 20 years of part-time study to learn the stuff I write about in this blog, and I will continue learning as long as I’m able.

What’s worse? We use some really gross stuff because we don’t know much about it. None of this was not covered in eighth grade science. You really don’t want to rub synthetic hormone disruptors on your bare hands. Oh but you have, me too. There are usually several of them in inexpensive lotions to extend the shelf-life (many are banned or restricted in the EU) so you can, I don’t know…find a hand cream in your coat pocket a year later, and it still looks the same.

2) The ad looked good

And here’s why we forgot about all this useful stuff. Marketing.

Most of the time, I think marketing is amazing and powerful. Who am I kidding? Without marketing, there would be zero eyeballs on this blog.

It can get out of hand though. Like anything, as a project explodes and makes big time money (i.e. economic profit), more people are attracted to it. The more competition there is, the more humans will feel pressure to compete, including stretching the truth and cutting costs.

There are only two ways to be successful as a business:
1) differentiate your product
2) compete on cost

I’m going to lump, “someone told me it was amazing” into this category. The ad got them to buy it; therefore, indirectly the ad got you to buy it, too.

Once you’ve used it, if there’s no immediate and obvious negative reaction. You assume it’s fine to keep using. It’s not your fault, you have no way of knowing what’s in that stuff. I’ve done the same thing so many times

How does this relate to farmstand culture?

My hope with this blog is to fill you in on all of these simple, quick tricks I’ve learned to make natural living easier. It is exactly what I do for free for all of my friends.

DIY dry shampoo for brown or auburn hair
DIY dry shampoo for blonde hair
Natural skin and hair care

As you keep up with this blog, you will find more uses and benefits for oils, spices and herbs you probably already have in your pantry or…the ones you can find at the end of your neighbor’s driveway available at a quaint, rustic farm stand.

Anyway, it’s Cyber Monday. Go have a guilt-free blast spending within your means.

Here’s a quick link back to a marketing machine, in case you wanted to see those principles of effective marketing in action.  The only thing I’ve done differently here, is highlighted their handcrafted marketplace, which features small batch crafters:

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What does a farm stand lover write about during the winter?

White and orange pumpkins on an old New England stone wall

Since one of you just asked me this question, I assume other people are wondering. What will a Connecticut-based, farm stand blogger write about in the winter? It’s a little cold for farm stands. Yeah, I hear you.

The story is: I’ve got a few ideas brewing, but I’m more interested in what you want to see!

Email me at or comment down below. Let me know…

Are you most interested in:

  • easy, cheap natural skin and body care you can make with stuff that’s already in your house?
  • interviews with real people who run farm stands?
  • unsponsored, IMO (in my opinion) handmade product reviews?
  • my 230 year old New England farmhouse?
  • following the developments in my brand new kitchen herb garden?
  • creating a farmhouse kitchen inspired by Early American design?
  • vintage and antique shop finds?
  • recipes?
  • winter farm stands (you know this is on the agenda either way, of course)?
  • farm-stand home decor? It’s not farmhouse style (farmhouse is just so covered these days)
  • bestseller lists of handcrafted, garden or skincare products?
  • kid stuff? I have two of them. It’s going pretty well.
  • generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity? I didn’t think so. I’m so wasting my time on a doctorate in finance. I get bored just saying that stuff.

What did I miss?

Do you have a problem related to healthy eating, skincare, motivation, inspiration, decoration?

Comment all winter long. I’ll see it!  I’ll respond to you.

While you wait, can I interest you in forgotten herbs or natural skincare tips?
How about a few farm-fresh recipes?



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When it finally dawned on me

One day it dawned on me.

Looking at the food in my fridge, the eye cream on my nightstand, my modern life was coming full circle. I was striving to eat and live like my great-grandmother did 100 years ago on a farm.

color cook cooking delicious
Photo by Pixabay on

All natural. Farm fresh. Organic. Composted. Home-grown. Local.

The realization reframed the way I approached feeding our family, planting a garden, and choosing my skincare. For me, it sparked a step toward rediscovering farm stand culture.

Farmstand culture is all about the way communities were for millennia. Up until we radically changed and commercialized our approach to daily life, over the past 100 years, neighbors shared their garden surplus, and families ate fresh, homegrown food.

I’m not advocating for a total return to the past. Not really. Frankly, I am pretty happy with modern food supply chains and dental care, especially the dental care.

woman wearing eyeglasses
Photo by Tarzine Jackson on

Of course, it’s not all or nothing here. Embracing some of the best ways of the past doesn’t mean that we should throw away all of the ways of the present. We should choose the best approach, which is probably a blend.

Think about your own approach to living. Have you, too, found that your approach to daily life is a little more about fresh food and clean ingredients?

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Revealed! The stand that inspired me.

farm stand with a money slot cash only

Down the street and around the corner there’s a small, homemade farm stand. I’m sure most of my neighbors don’t think much about it.

The little stand is painted dark red with a blue umbrella. It has a brilliant little slot you can slip cash into on the days when there is even something there for you to buy. It’s not a new stand. It’s been there for years and years. They don’t stock it very often any more.

One night this week, they set out three recycled egg cartons and pushed up the umbrella. I had to stop and buy one. Not because I needed eggs, truthfully, I had two dozen at home. I stopped because this was the stand that started it all for me, and I had yet to actually visit it.

farm stand sign

I drive by this stand almost every day. Over the years, I started thinking about where the people behind the stand got the plans to design and build a custom farm stand with a money slot. What inspired them? Was it an abundance of produce or a desire to connect to their neighbors?

Why would anyone have a farm stand anymore? There are grocery stores and farmers’ markets in every town. There are very few, if any, neighborhoods left that need a farm stand to offer fresh eggs, produce or goats.

Yeah, goats. I’ll explain in a minute.

One night, I was driving home past this stand and the idea hit me. It’s only very recently that we stopped having a need for local farm stands. It’s sad, if you think about it. We don’t need our neighbors to share their saved seeds or host a “First Peas” party. We can go to the store and buy peas anytime. Just buy your seeds from Amazon. Done. Easy.

Maybe there is still some need for farm stands. Maybe it’s actually reemerging. It’s very personal to get to know the people who grow your food or make your skincare products. They will tell you what made them choose a certain variety or process. They’re not squeezing profits out of their operation. Some motivations are purer than profits.

goats for sale

Or maybe they just have too many goats. Occasionally, when there is an abundance of goats, they write “Goats for sale” on the little sign next to this farm stand. They don’t actually, technically sell goats at the farm stand. There’s never been goat milk or soaps available at this stand, but I’ve always thought the little goats for sale sign was adorable. It also highlights the variety of goods you can buy from your neighbors. We might think it’s a little funny to procure goats from a neighbor, but we might be the first generation in history to think that way.

I don’t know if I myself will ever have the flexibility in my schedule to open a farm stand. Writing for Farmstand Culture might be as close as I come. I’d be ok with that outcome. The name, the original series and the inspiration behind this site all began with a little red farm stand that captured my day dreams.

farm stand with goat sign

There aren’t enough items available at this stand to list the Top 5! But there were at these other farmstand5 hot spots.

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Flying over Hurricane Florence inspired me to write something out of the ordinary

It’s no run-of-the-mill view from a plane window. Today I flew through and then over the remnants of Hurricane Florence 9/14/18 – 9/18/18.

I felt awe looking out at the clouds making their final assault on the East Coast of the US. Just south of here, dozens of people lost their lives in this hurricane.

Now I am looking at what’s left of it.

You can see the clouds reaching up to the sun rise. They looking like arms stretching out into the sky, the way arms must have stretched out from under the flood waters.

I felt humbled. It was moving to look out over that powerful storm. And still, it was over. I was watching the raging power dissipate. The storm grew weaker by the hour. Soon it would be silent.

There’s no traffic in flooded streets. As powerful as they are, hurricanes bring plenty of silence. 

I’ve always lived on the East Coast. I’ve experienced hurricanes. We lost a 120 year old tall pine during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The storm was so loud and fierce we didn’t even hear the massive tree hit the ground. It shocked us to see it when the sun came up, as if the tree fell and didn’t make a sound.

As a child in Florida, my cousin and I ran outside during the eye of a storm. Of course, our parents were horrified. It’s so quiet inside of the eye. People describe it as eerie silence. I thought it was peaceful, amazingly abruptly calm.

air adj

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Do you meditate? Not exactly

My hair stylist once asked me, “You’re always so calm and have such a good outlook on things. Do you meditate?”

Ah, I don’t. I just aspire to, like a lot of other things. Add it to the list. It’s is not to say that I don’t have other hobbies that might offer similar benefits.

I responded, “I don’t, but I pray…and I visit my garden almost every morning.”


It’s true. I wake up thinking about the garden.

And my husband. Husband first, then the garden.

When the weather cooperates, I wait for my kids to get up and ask them if they want to go to the garden with me. The kids and I really look forward to our mornings together in that peaceful, sweet-smelling space.

I brew myself tea while the little ones search for their boots.


We look for new sprouts. We assess damage from storms and critters. We push stakes back into the ground and fix the nets on the berry bushes.

I handle most of the weeding myself.

Not everyone views pulling weeds as a calming activity. Most people view weeding as back-breaking work that seems manageable one day but gets out of control fast.

Most people have a point.

Weeding is all of those things. I just chose to reframe it. Instead of being overwhelmed by the chore, over the years I learned to redefine weeding for myself.

Weeding is winning.