A long time ago, in a land far, far away I had a friend who hated chickens. She loathed them. Every time we’d go out to eat, she’d say to the waitress, “Don’t bring me anything with chicken. Chickens are disgusting, vile animals.”
And then she’d tell a story about her uncle, who was a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation – so, a factory farm) chicken “farmer,” and how when he was upset with her, he’d send her into the chicken “camps” and make her touch them. They would peck at her and squawk, and they were generally miserable poor things.
So, for a very long time, I believed chickens were disgusting, vile animals, based on her story. And no, no, no. That couldn’t be more of a misrepresentation! After spending some time around the squawkers over the last few years, I’ve come to adore the humble, slightly screwy chicken. If kept with love and respect, they aren’t much different than my cats.
Except I can’t eat anything that comes out of my cat.
The way they express their individual personalities is mesmerizing. I love chickens. I love pastured chickens.
And, most of all, I love the creamy, fluffy, bright yellow-orange yolked eggs they give us.
As I’ve mentioned, I spent some time recently at my friend Diana’s farm (Lil’ Bit Farms) and goofed around with her chickens and goats. All my eggs this summer are coming from Diana. From chickens that bawked while scurrying away from me. From chickens I touched. Chickens I know.
(P.S. I mention this, because I have a challenge for you at the end of this post.)
After Diana brought me eggs last week, my obsession with the difference between CAFO and pastured eggs peaked. So, I share with you some of the things I’ve learned, along with some unique ideas so that you can use ALL your eggs before they go bad!
Let’s talk. Bawk. Squawk.
12 Things You Should Know About (and Do With) Your Eggs
1. Pastured, free-range, vegetarian-fed, commercial eggs – what’s the difference?
This is probably the most elementary knowledge we’ll talk about here, but it’s important to get it out of the way first (if you already know, skip down to number 2).
Pastured chickens are chickens that are allowed to roam around, hunting and pecking through the ground for grass and bugs. They’ll often be fed supplemental feed, but often they won’t even want it, as they’ve gotten all the nutrition they need from eating the things chickens were designed to eat. Pastured eggs are definitely the gold standard of eggs, and it’s often hard to find them unless you know a person/farmer who keeps their own chickens.
Free-range eggs, which you’ve seen in the store, I’m sure, are from chickens who are allowed “some form of outdoor access.” This amount of outdoor access is nebulous, and just because your eggs say “free-range” doesn’t mean the chickens spend their lives running around a happy farm. To be sure, free range would be a better choice than commercial eggs, but just know that free range doesn’t mean all that much right now.
Vegetarian fed (or organic), which your free-range eggs will also often say on the carton, simply means that the chickens weren’t fed animal protein. Unfortunately, this means they also weren’t allowed to run around eating bugs. Again, vegetarian fed (or organic) is better than commercial eggs, as we at least know the hens weren’t fed scraps of dead chickens or other animals, but the chickens still weren’t happily hunting and pecking in the open air, as they crave doing.
Commercial eggs, or CAFO eggs, are the inexpensive eggs you’ll find in every supermarket. I’m sure you’ve seen these feeding/laying operations in “shock” videos. If you haven’t seen the way these poor chickens are inhumanely treated, I recommend watching Food, Inc.
2. Pastured Eggs have higher nutritional value than commercial eggs. Especially when it comes to vitamin D. We’re talking 4-6 times more vitamin D.
Most of this can be attributed to a pastured hen’s own access to ample sunlight and critters and grass that, in addition, has had access to ample sunlight.
Check out all the other nutritional benefits to pastured eggs, according to Mother Earth News.
3. One last thing about the difference between pastured and CAFO eggs: Pastured eggs come with the dark orangey-yellow yolks. CAFO eggs do not. Unless the commercial farmer cheats.
We’ve been buying pastured eggs (if you can’t access fresh pastured eggs, find Vital Farms eggs in your local natural supermarket, get them and see what I’m talking about) for several years now, so I’d forgotten what commercial yolks looked like. I remembered them being a light almost yellow-white color, from the olden days, but I wasn’t sure.
So I bought some to compare.
I was surprised, actually, at how bright yellow they were (still not as dark as the pastured eggs), until I learned that CAFO farmers will often, nowadays, supplement the chickens diet with something called canthaxanthin to simulate the gorgeous natural yolk color of pastured eggs. Canthaxanthin, by the way, is also the main ingredient in “sunless tanning pills.” Heh.
In a pastured egg, the gorgeous dark yellow-orange color represents the amount of beta-carotene, leafy greens, and protein the hens get in their diets.
In a commercial egg, the color likely represents the amount of coloring additives the CAFO worker put into the feed.
The greatest difference I found, by the way, between the pastured egg and the commercial egg came after beating them. The pastured egg was thick and creamy, and the commercial egg was watery and separated slightly within seconds after beating.
4. Eggs have a natural coating called a “bloom” that protects the eggs and keeps them fresh for a week or two. Commercial eggs are washed of the bloom and covered in mineral oil instead.
Eggshells are porous and absorb the smells around them and the things on them, as well. Just something to consider.
In the meantime, if you get a pastured egg and it has a “bloom” on it, don’t wash it off UNTIL you’re ready to use it (and then rinse it well and wipe with a towel). Keeping the bloom on will help your eggs stay fresh in the fridge for two or so weeks.
(Refrigerating eggs, by the way, helps extend their shelf life. According to this site, if you keep an egg at room temperature for a day, it ages the same amount that an egg kept in the refrigerator for a week would.)
5. The color of your eggs doesn’t change the taste or nutritional content.
Green, white, brown, yellow, blue … it’s not the color of the egg that counts; it’s what’s inside.
These eggs in Diana’s hands came straight from the happy chicken!
6. You can tell if an egg is still good by carefully placing it in saltwater.
If you’re not sure how fresh your eggs are, or if they’ve been in your fridge for a few weeks and you’re wary about using them, try this quick experiment:
- Dissolve 2 Tbsp salt in 2 c. cold water.
- Place the egg in the water gently.
- If it sinks and stays down, it’s fresh. If it floats toward the bottom at an angle, it’s starting to age. If it floats, toss it out – it’s not terribly good anymore.
Why does this happen? Read the link above to learn!
Now For the Fun Stuff! Some Things You Can Do With Your Farm-Fresh Eggs!
If you’re not going to eat all your eggs, or if you want to use ALL parts of them, here are some great beauty and crafty ideas to make the most of your little round goodies.
7. The membrane of an egg makes a WONDERFUL under-eye mask.
Now, if this isn’t using all parts of an egg, I don’t know what is.
After you’ve cracked open your egg, if you carefully peel off the membrane that coats the insides, you can apply it right under your eyes (keep it OUT of your eyes, though) and let it dry.
Just pull off a piece that fits around the area in question, and gently smooth it on (make sure you’re not wearing makeup, by the way).
Let it dry and then gently wash it off. If you do this several times a week, you may even see results that last more than a day. AND it’s a great motivator to keep eating those nutritious eggs.
This is a great quickie eye mask to use while you’re cooking the eggs you just cracked open. Go, go multitasking natural beauty!
8. Suck out the gunk in your pores by making a pore-strip mask with egg whites and paper towels!
This is a super simple pore strip tip that’ll leave your face soft and clean.
Just soak strips of paper towel in egg whites you’ve whipped up (you can add a little water if the whites are very thick). Apply the paper towel strips all over your face, but especially on your nose, chin, and anywhere your pores tend to clog.
Let the strips dry and then peel them off. Rinse well with warm water and then splash with cold water.
9. Egg yolks make an amazing hair conditioning treatment.
The protein in egg yolks (added with their creamy consistency) will leave your hair stronger and shinier than ever.
Separate two or three eggs and use the whites for a pore mask (above). Whip the yolks and add in just a touch of heated, liquid coconut oil until you have a creamy mixture. (Some people use olive oil, but coconut oil leaves your hair smelling better and a little less like mayonnaise.)
Apply the mixture to damp hair and leave on for 10 minutes.
This is the important part: Rinse your hair very, very well with cool to tepid water (do NOT use hot water, or you’ll cook the eggs into your hair – yuck!). Then shampoo out the rest of the way, still using cool to tepid water.
You probably won’t even need to use conditioner! (In fact, I highly recommend not using conditioner, so you can bask in the natural conditioning and silkiness of your hair.)
10. Eggshells make a superbly pretty translucent powder for your face.
Read more about this here in this post on Crunchy Betty (where we solved the eggshell issue).
Of note, I’ve since learned that a mortar and pestle is an excellent investment for many different reasons, but one being that it grinds those eggshells into gorgeous powder in no time – much quicker and more efficiently than a spice grinder, even
11. Make tempera paint with egg yolks, just like the artistic masters of old!
This is a wonderful little summer experiment/craft you can do with your kids (or yourself)!
There are bazillions of tutorials all over the internet on how to do this, but my favorite one is right here: Read how to make egg tempera.
I love that tutorial, because it talks about how you can use charcoal (or activated charcoal) to make black paint, mustard to make yellow paint, and even cream of tartar to make white paint.
12. Don’t forget to compost your eggshells.
Eggshells are wonderful to use in your compost pile, but it’s best to break them up into tiny pieces before adding them. Eggshells take a while to decompose.
If you want to get the jump on the goodies of eggshells for your garden, I recommend making eggshell tea. It still takes a couple of weeks, but your garden will lusciously adore you for it. I used it a couple of years ago on my strawberries, and they loved it (until the deer came and ate them all and I was left with nothing to show for it – stinky deer).
How to make eggshell tea for your garden:
- Crunch up a bunch of cleaned, dried eggshells as much as possible (putting them in a bag and using a rolling pin works well).
- Add the eggshells to a large jug of water.
- Let the eggshell water sit in the sun for 2-3 weeks (or longer, if you have the time or if you’re doing this before planting).
- Strain out the eggshells and then water your plants with the remaining “tea.”
It’s best to keep this mixture away from populated areas, ’cause it starts to smell a little icky after a while.
Cat’s Don’t Lie About Farm Fresh Eggs!
When I was taking the photos of the eggs (which I placed in front of my door, for the best natural light), my naughty little cat, Ju-Ni came by.
Ju-Ni, by the way, survived her recent surgery for bowel obstruction quite nicely, and we learned that putting a cone on her head keeps her from doing ultra bad things. The cone is now placed in a visible area as a reminder to her to toe the line.
Curious about how she’d feel about the different eggs, I let her sniff them. She first went to the pastured egg. Then she turned to the commercial egg and sniffed.
After a second of sniffing the commercial egg, she went back to the pastured egg and went to town on it (until I laughed, and then she thought she was being naughty, so she ran away).
So there you have it. 1 out of 1 cats prefer pastured eggs to CAFO eggs. If that doesn’t convince you, what will?
YOUR CHALLENGE THIS SUMMER:
Find yourself pastured eggs.
Meet a farmer or a person who keeps backyard chickens.
If you only buy one dozen pastured eggs this summer, you will have completed the challenge.
Not sure where to start?
- VISIT YOUR LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET: This will be your best and easiest bet at getting your hands on pastured eggs. While you’re there, talk to the farmer about his or her chickens. Farmers love to talk about their chickens.
- FIND A LOCAL FARM: LocalHarvest.org is a great place to start in finding local farms who might have pastured eggs. Once you connect with the farmer, see if you can take a tour of his or her space. There’s nothing quite like goofing around with the chickens whose eggs you’ll be eating!
- VISIT CRAIGSLIST: Backyard chickens are becoming more and more popular all over the country, and many people who keep their own chickens have WAY too many eggs on their hands and are looking to offload some. I found several people on our local Craigslist selling a dozen eggs for $5 or less. Check yours out to see if there’s any local egg sellers in your area! Just search “eggs” in the for sale search box. You might be surprised!
- GET YOUR OWN CHICKENS! I know, this is a far stretch and not something to get into on a whim, but if you have the yard and the ability, imagine what it would be like to walk outside in the morning, grab some freshly laid eggs, and scramble ‘em right up. Ahhh. (Plus, feeding chickens is a great way to use up your food scraps.) Backyard Chickens is a GREAT site chock full of info, if that idea tingles your hiney.
Now you tell me: Do you have a source for pastured eggs already? Do you keep your own chickens?
Let’s squawk about hens. I’m not yolking around.
(I know, I’m terrible.)
Until about five days ago, if you’d have said “have some gardener’s salve,” I would have been all “Pssht, what do I need gardener’s salve for? For when I fall in the dirt after tripping on my shoelaces?” (Who am I kidding? I don’t have shoes with shoelaces. I just trip. On cracks or curbs or air. Mostly air.)
But, see, there’s really not much of a difference between “gardener’s salve” and, say, just about any other kind of salve out there. Put the word “healing” in front of it instead of “gardener’s,” and I’m all over it.
Nonetheless, because I received the initial recipe here from Diana at Lil’ Bit Farms and she called it her very favorite Gardener’s Salve, and because I actually made some because my hands were dry and cracked from working in my very own garden (otherwise known as the roofarm), we’re going to stick with the term “gardener’s salve.”
But you can think of this as an ultra-moisturizing, uber-healing salve of all sorts. So it’s great to use after you’ve been cleaning the bathrooms, working on the cars, baking a bunch of bread, or walking barefoot on the beach in Portugal with a blue umbrella’ed hurricane in one hand and the golden, glistening, muscled arm of Fausto in the other. Fausto is your summer fling.
You go, girl. Get yo’ groove back.
(Yes, it’s good for your hands and feet. Any part of your body that needs muito moisturizing. Muito means “much” in Portuguese. Ask Fausto. He’ll tell you.)
There are actually two recipes in this post: The original one from Diana, and my adapted frou-frou girly version that takes literally 10 minutes to make. Here. Whet your whistle on this photo, and then I’ll show you the roofarm right quick:
Pretty yummy looking, ain’t it? Fausto thinks so, too. He wants you to rub it on his cotovelo.
Cotovelo means “elbow” in Portuguese. I know you thought it meant something else, though, you dirty girl.
Look at the Roofarm!
So, okay, it’s not done yet. It’s not even halfway done yet.
But this is why my hands have resembled something like two-day-old bread dough that someone (probably me) left stuck to the counter. I never thought doing this would give me outdoor worker hands, but it turns out that potting soil doesn’t fool around when it comes to weathering your skin.
This is my Garden Tower. It slices and dices, it blends and purees.
Not really, but it does grow up to 50 plants in a small space (on my roof) AND it acts as a direct-to-garden vermicomposter. You just shove your scraps in the middle tube, and the worms you add will tunnel through ‘em and distribute rich composty wormpoop all through the tower.
Here’s the backside (this picture is from only a day after planting, and the lettuce, I’m happy to report, has perked up considerably):
I’ve only been able to work with it for four days now, and it doesn’t have worms yet, but so far so good. I’m going to hold off recommending the investment until I see how things do throughout the summer (and especially after the worms come home to stay). But if you’re interested in urban gardening, you might want to start doing some research into it for next year.
(The Garden Tower people have no idea who I am, so just FYI this isn’t an advertisement or anything. Just a PSA for anyone interested.)
So, if you have a garden and find yourself with gardener’s skin, if you walk around barefoot during the summer, or if you have issues with constantly dry cotovelos, here’s the recipe to remember.
Gardener’s Salve, Lil’ Bit Farms Version
This is Diana’s version, exactly as she gave it to me (I haven’t changed a single ingredient, scout’s honor):
Diana: Here’s one of my favorite recipes. It’s a quick and easy beeswax salve. I originally used this as an udder balm for my goats, but I’ve had several people tell me how well it has worked for their skin. I love it on my driest parts, like feet and elbows. In fact, slather this goodness on your feet, throw on some toasty socks and go to bed. You’ll wake up with nearly sandal-ready tootsies! I make this with olive oil infused with calendula and no scent. It absorbs really quickly and the beeswax makes the moisturizing effects last!
1 pint jar
1/2 c. coconut oil
1 c. olive oil (may infuse with your choice of herbs)
1/2 c. beeswax (add more in warm weather)
Melt carefully in pint jar, either in double boiler or microwave on 30 sec bursts.
Stir with a fork as it cools.
(Leslie’s note: I LOVE that you can melt this directly in the jar in the double boiler. Just make sure you’re super careful not to accidentally get any water in it (this could lead to mold or bacterial growth.)
Frou-Frou Girly Not-Just-For-Gardeners Salve
One thing I forgot to mention?
This also makes an EXCELLENT cuticle treatment.
For my version, I skipped any thought of infusing oils with herbs, because I didn’t have any time to wait. Instead, I made Diana’s version and then added some essential oils. For whatever reason, I was seriously craving the combination of lavender and vanilla.
So that’s what this recipe reflects. Lavender and vanilla. However, you can use any essential oil combination you’d like – I’d just suggest skipping any citrus essential oils. They’ll make your skin a bit photosensitive (if you’re just going right back out in the sun) and they tend to be more drying than moisturizing, anyway.
For my version, I also halved the recipe (which filled the container you see in the first and last photos in this post, which is a LOT of salve in itself).
Here’s what you need:
Extra-virgin olive oil (though you could use any type of oil you’d like – EVOO is a bit fragrant itself, so if you don’t like the smell of olive oil, use sweet almond or apricot kernel or something that doesn’t have much of a scent).
Cold-pressed coconut oil.
Lavender and vanilla essential oils (or your choice of essential oils).
This is just a bonus photo of beeswax, because I think it’s pretty.
Melt your beeswax, coconut oil, and olive oil in double boiler (or makeshift double boiler, as pictured).
I always like to melt my beeswax first, before adding the other oils, just so I’m sure I don’t “overheat” the remaining oils. I think this is just a habit I got into after working with shea butter so much (which tends to get grainy if you overheat it). You don’t have to do it this way. Unless you want to be like me.
Once your oils and beeswax are melted, drop in your essential oils (I used about 30 drops lavender essential oil and 20 drops vanilla essential oil, which yielded a nice light scent).
As you can see in the photo above, pure vanilla essential oil is pretty dramatic. It leaves little dark brown-reddish specks in your finish product (unless you don’t stir it enough as it’s hardening, and then it just leaves dark brown-reddish specks at the bottom of your product).
(It’s also pretty pricey. I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, but you can find a blended version, with jojoba, from Aura Cacia if you’re looking in the grocery store.)
Combine everything very well with a spoon.
Pick a spoon, any spoon.
Pour it into your chosen container carefully.
If you think I’m kidding about carefully, I’m not.
If you’ve never worked with beeswax before, please note that it can be pretty tiresome to clean up. It DOES clean up, and clean up completely.
I’m just sayin’. Watch what you’re doing so you don’t make a mess.
Unless you don’t want to watch what you’re doing. Because you want to be like me.
After you get it into your container, you just do … nothing. Nothing at all for 2-3 hours while it hardens.
If you want it to harden faster? Just slip it into the fridge for 20 minutes.
Here’s the printable recipe:
- 1/4 c. coconut oil
- 1/4 c. beeswax
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 30 drops lavender essential oil
- 20 drops vanilla essential oil
In a makeshift double boiler, melt the beeswax and oils. Remove from heat. Drop in the essential oils and mix well. Pour into your chosen glass container and allow to harden before using. This should last up to 12 months (or longer, if kept in a cool, dark place).
So, I’m Thinking PERFECT Father’s Day Gift
When I made this a couple of days ago, I kept thinking about how absolutely, grade-A perfect this would be as a Father’s Day gift. Men are notorious for dry hands, because they work so hard with them – gardening, fixing cars, doing yardwork, eating steak, and holding video game controllers.
My father, in particular, loves his (watery) lotion a lot – and boy does he need it. I’m hoping to show him the benefits (and MUCH more marked effectiveness) of handmade healing salve instead. I started a version of oils infusing with herbs (comfrey and calendula, to be exact) a few days ago, and I’ve worked out a manly scent that I know he’ll absolutely love.
So be ready.
Because we’re not done talking about salves.
In a few days, I’ll give you the recipe (and I think I’m going to have a little bit extra, which I may put up in the Etsy Natural Market store).
In the meantime, I’m curious …
What do YOU think the best “man scent” for a salve would be?
(You might want to give this some thought. Fausto would really appreciate this as a gift, too.)
(Oh! P.S. Thank you for the recipe and inspiration, Diana from Lil’ Bit Farms! We’re not done talking about you yet – in the next post, we’ll get up close and personal with your eggs.)
Procrastination is a little like candle wax, when you think about it.
One day, you’re sitting on the couch and something you need to take care of comes to mind. You think, “I’ll do it tomorrow” and the fuse on the candle is lit.
The longer you put off your thing, the more the need to do it melts into your brain. And then there’s another thing, and another thing, and another thing – and all the things gloop together in a very immovable blob. Sooner or later, you have procrastination melted all in and around your gray matter, seeping and hardening between the synapses, melding you ever more firmly to the floor. Or the couch. Or the bed.
You look again at the first thing you put off – perhaps it’s setting an appointment, or calling a friend, or cleaning the bathroom – and it seems huge and fixed. Impossible to take care of. A monumental stain that, just yesterday, was nothing but a tiny drip you could have wiped up immediately. But now it has an entire day’s worth of other things you put off all piled on top of it.
So you stare at the thing for a while, and you hate it. You hide it under the rug and try to find another working solution, but the original mess is still there.
And exactly like real candle wax melted and hardened into your carpet, all you need is a little heat, a little pressure, and willingness to get rid of it forever.
So while we’re not going to tackle your procrastination tendencies (we can do that tomorrow or something), maybe learning how frickin’ amazingly easy it is to get candle wax out of the carpet will inspire you to apply a little heat and pressure to the other things you’ve been putting off. (You know, things like getting that candle wax out of the carpet.)
Remove Candle Wax From Your Carpet, Forever, In SECONDS
Last week, after hauling all of our furniture out of our old place, I discovered that blob (above) of candle wax sealed into the carpet.
(By “discovered,” I mean “remembered,” because I totally procrastinated and forgot about it.)
Visions of our deposit flushing down the toilet flashed through my brain, until I remembered that the internet is full of answers to all the unsolvable problems of the universe. And it turns out, this solution isn’t anything new – it’s plastered all over the place. But because I hadn’t heard of it before now, I thought perhaps some of you might benefit from this magical (and seriously INSTANT) solution that takes care of the problem forever and ever.
And let me tell you something, sisters and brothers, if taking care of everything in your life could be this much fun, we wouldn’t even understand what the word procrastination means.
So How Do You Get Candle Wax Out of the Carpet?
Here’s what you need (and, yes, this is EVERYTHING YOU NEED):
An iron and a paper bag (you could also use a paper towel, I’m sure).
You also need hardened candle wax that’s melted into your carpet. However, I don’t suggest acquiring that unless you absolutely have to. And by “have to,” I mean, “accidentally made happen.” For as exciting as this cleaning job is, don’t purposely melt things into your carpet. Unless you want to. Who am I to judge?
The first thing I did was: I kind of picked at the candle wax and broke it up a bit with my fingernails. This isn’t a necessary step. I just did it. And then I vacuumed up the little pieces, until I had a spot that looked like this:
Next, you want to heat up your iron to a very low setting (I set mine on 3) and make sure it’s only hot enough to melt the wax, and not the synthetic fibers of your carpet (if your carpet has synthetic fibers).
This is also a great time to rip the bag into large-ish pieces until you only have one layer of paper.
Place the single-layer of paper bag over the spot o’ wax – making sure you’re not ironing in any ink from the bag onto the carpet.
Apply slight pressure over the wax areas – and you’ll immediately notice little spots of wax transferring from the carpet to the paper bag.
Don’t hold your iron over it for too long. Just little pushes and moves of the bag around the wax works really well.
I got the tingles watching these little spots of wax show up on the backside of the bag. It was magic. I had to take this show on the road.
Continue lightly pressing down and moving the iron and paper around the wax area until you no longer see spots showing up. You may need to use several pieces of paper bag to get it all out. I also kind of smushed the carpet down in places to get to the areas where the wax was nearly touching the floor.
Amazing. Like the wax never even existed. Good as new. Fresh and fancy.
(A little like your mind will be when you take care of the other things you’ve been putting off, right?)
Play the game with me!
Can you see it? Well, can you?
After I was done, I dragged Skip into the room and made him point to the area where it was. He couldn’t do it! And when we walked in with the leasing agent during the final walk through, I held my breath until she said, “Wow! Everything looks just absolutely perfect, Leslie.” (Also, she said that about the bathrooms which, by the way, I cleaned entirely with vinegar and water, but that’s another story.)
SUCCESS – and a slightly silly feeling for putting off cleaning that mess up for such a long time.
So, You See, A Little Heat and a Little Pressure …
… and there’s no job too procrastinated that your capable self can’t take care of.
So today, I challenge you to take a warm iron and a paper bag to just one – just one – thing in your life that you’ve been putting off for a while. See if you can’t find that magical moment when the wax of worry transfers to the paper bag of doing (you like my metaphors, don’t you?).
Even, and especially, if it’s getting candle wax out of your carpet.
Go be awesome.
The very first entry in Crunchy Betty’s Food On Your Face category was written on May 9, 2010. It was called “Five Good Reasons To Put Food On Your Face.”
At the time, I was fumbling around in the world of blogs. I was dipping my proverbial toes in the metaphorical pineapple juice, often for the first time right before I blogged it. Some of you were there with me then. A few of you remember the first header Crunchy Betty ever had.
I can’t believe you’re still with me …
(Yes, that is it. It was a photo I took of a woman’s mannequin head from an antique store in Kansas City. It was weird. I was weird. I am weird. Time to come clean about it.)
I’ve changed a lot in the last three years. My beliefs have changed. My reasons for doing things have changed.
This hasn’t always been easy for me, and I know it hasn’t ever been easy for those of you who read the blog. But you’re still here (or you’re here for the first time, and that’s awesome, too).
On August 1, 2010, I asked all 20 of my readers what they thought a Crunchy Betty was.
After I share with you some of my thoughts on what Crunchy Betty is now, where it’s been and where it’s going, I’m going to ask you similar questions. Your answers – your answers will become PART of what I share tomorrow in Boston.
In the original post, in which we talked about the defining aspects of being a “Crunchy Betty,” I said this:
Here are my thoughts – my original and evolving ones – on what constitutes a Crunchy Betty. I know, I know. It was my concept to begin with, but you people amaze me every day, and your input means as much to me as my own flitting ideas.
This has remained true throughout this whole 3-year journey. I am not what makes Crunchy Betty “Crunchy Betty” – you are. The way you experiment bravely. The way you charge ahead with embracing what’s natural and true, over what’s manufactured and synthetic – even in the face of potential questioning looks (or groans from your husbands). The way you take ideas – not just from me but from a thousand different sources – and run with them and find what works for you.
In truth, without any of your willingness and wonder, I’d just be some crazy lady sitting around with her face in a bowl full of fruit.
So, please, share at the end of this post. I’ll give you a specific question or two, but please feel free to say whatever it is that’s on your mind. Your input counts (more than mine does).
Where Crunchy Betty Was
As children, everything is an experiment. The way we walk and talk, how we learn to relate to other kids … even the act of smashing pebbles with a hammer becomes a brave and mighty treasure hunt.
When I was 5, I would mix together different shampoos and conditioners, singing and splashing, imagining I was creating a hair dye and suddenly I’d be blonde, or permed, or bald. I was convinced that the right combination of Suave and V05 would produce shocking results. It never did.
Then, at the age of 6, I told my mother I was going to start baking bread. And that’s what I did. Several loaves, all by myself, for no rhyme or reason. There’s a simple power in shaping a loaf, bringing it to life with your own bare hands. And my little fingers felt that power.
Of course, as we age, we lose that sense of wonderment of our own personal power – we forget the magic in experimenting with what we can do for ourselves. Jobs and bills and television and life get in the way. Experimenting becomes luxury, and then it becomes occasional whimsy, and then it just seems like a waste of time – especially when you can just run down to the store and buy whatever you need before the commercials are over.
When I started Crunchy Betty, it was with that whimsy – that magic of experimentation – in mind. When I began Crunchy Betty, it wasn’t about anything other than chatting about life and trying natural recipes and remedies.
Eventually, as more people hopped on board, I realized that this “crunchiness” wasn’t just whimsy – it could be a way of life. Most nights were spent falling asleep on a pile of books, while researching and reading about herbalism, aromatherapy, historical remedies, and conscious living. Most days were spent mixing together concoctions and smearing them everywhere – or eating them occasionally.
Many of us went no ‘poo, and tried the oil cleansing method. Or we challenged ourselves to smear honey on our faces and loved every second of it. Some of you fell in love with the Mocha Frappuccino Facial Mask, while others preferred fresh fruit facials or hot oil hair treatments. I wrote a book based on everything I’d tried and found success in when it comes to acne and breakouts. We cleaned our houses using ingredients from our cabinets and learned a few tricks with essential oils.
There were undeniable successes, and occasional failures. We laughed a lot, and then we cried. And then we kind of rolled our eyes. And then we laughed again.
Those were the good old days.
But I got off track, personally. What began as fun turned into a crusade in my head (even though I may not have always expressed it). I imagined we had enemies – like corporations and governments and naysayers.
I took a huge bite of the poison apple – the rancid fruit called fear. I began thinking traumatic thoughts about how, if everyone didn’t change, things like global warming or pollution or cancer would kill us all. This was an important lesson: Because once you start going down the track of fear, you run yourself off the rails of peace.
What started as fun had turned into an agenda, a dogmatic belief system, a reason to create separation and enemies.
Those thoughts? That’s where my personal hypocrisy lived. Everywhere I turned, I couldn’t get away from the opposites, the kinks, the imperfections in everything we were doing. I’d read the occasional comments or emails complaining that something wasn’t working (even the single complaint, in a sea of successes, would send me into the depths of feeling like a failure). Everything came with a price, even though I was killing myself to find the sweet spots where we’d be free and clear and the world would be roses and kittens forever and ever.
I forgot we lived in a world of imperfection. A world of duality. A world where everything comes with the same price you put on it. If you’re rigid and unforgiving, the price will always be astronomical. I forgot that nothing is perfect – not modern medicine or herbal medicine, not natural beauty products or synthetic beauty products … not life. And because nothing is perfect, it’s all pretty gosh-darned amazing.
And then I came full circle.
What Crunchy Betty Is Now
From this day forward, I want to steer Crunchy Betty back on the course which it was originally designed to take. Now, though, I understand why I wanted it to be what I wanted it to be. I feel the tingle of the original loooove.
Burn this thought into your memory, because this is my truest, deepest intention.
Crunchy Betty is about experiencing the wonder that comes with personal discovery. The power you feel when you create what you need with your own two hands. It’s about journeying back to the intricate simplicity of nature (our nature and nature’s nature), as to become more grounded in our daily lives and more attuned to the amazing gifts that are around us at all times. The magic in herbs, in oils, in fruits and veggies, in the air and water, and even occasionally in things that others might consider “bad.”
It’s about sharing and learning – together. We support and nourish each other, because we know that by doing so, we support and nourish ourselves. And we learn – always, we learn, and I learn along with the rest of you at all times.
(And occasionally, it’s just about me. Because, let’s face it, I’m hilarious.)
It’s about having fun. Having a blast experimenting with nature. And if you’re not having fun when you’re experimenting, why do it at all?
You’ll notice it’s not about fear. It’s not about changing the world, or saving the world, or taking down the evil corporations, or warning others about poisons and cancer and wrinkles and angry birds. Those things (probably not the angry birds part, but who knows) will change themselves as we all become more grounded, full of awareness of the beauty around us, and recognize the peace we already have available within ourselves.
Those things – I promise – will take care of themselves without us adding fuel to the fire.
And these are a lot of words, so let me tell you where I envision our journey going, in concrete terms, in the future:
- There will be more and new homemade beauty, household cleaning, and home remedy recipes (as well as learning more about herbs and foods and essential oils). You will have fun. Or you will not. (You will have fun. The end.)
- There will be occasional posts where we talk about our own special brand of personal growth, the things we learn in taking personal responsibility, and how the world changes as we change the way we look at it
- How do you feel about the Crunchy Betty videos? (I’m prepared to do more, but only iff’n you want them.)
- We’ll start talking a little more often about products and things you might want to buy if you don’t feel like making them
- I will ask you many more questions and your feedback will forever be encouraged, so you will talk – to me and to each other (hey – this ain’t no free ride)
- Sometimes I will tell you stories, and you will laugh
- There will be another book (or perhaps four or five more books)
- You will be patient with me, as you always are, because I’m totally going to screw up sometimes (this I can promise you)
The truth is, as Crunchy Betty has grown into a readership of nearly 35,000 people, I’ve freaked out a bit. When you start realizing that you’re talking to a group that’s nearly 9 times the population of the town you grew up in, it starts to scare the holy living dingleberries out of you. So I’m going to stop thinking in terms of numbers, and start remembering that I’m talking to friends.
Because, in the end, that’s all I’ve ever wanted Crunchy Betty to be.
A whole bunch of friends, sitting around sipping wine and laughing about the food on our faces.
Now It’s Your Turn to Talk – Let Me Have It
It’s amazing how, when I sat down to write this whole post, it wasn’t going to be directed at you – the reader, the friend. It was just going to be a general story.
This, to me, speaks enormously of how important your participation and input is here (and if you actually read this far, I swear on everything that’s holy I have a gold star to send to you).
When I share the general gist of this post tomorrow, the most important part is going to be what you have to say here. So, please, don’t hold back.
- What one (or two) things about going “crunchy” (or natural) has changed your life for the better? (This doesn’t have to have anything to do with Crunchy Betty, btw.)
- What have you learned on Crunchy Betty that you’ll never forget?
And bonus question: What’s your favorite thing about Crunchy Betty? (This is really only for me. I want to know what you love, so I can do more of it.)
Thank you, my crunchistas (and cruncheros). You …
Quick. Think fast. What does Priceline, partially digested foam rubber, a goat’s beard, 8001 boxes, sore knees, and an industrial-size bottle of vinegar have in common?
They all …
That is what they all have in common. Me, over the last week and a half.
You know how some blogs do Wordless Wednesday? Well, here’s my Thoughtless Thursday, because frankly, my dears, if there’s a brain left in my head after the last week and a half, I don’t know about it.
In the last 10 days, I have:
- Spent the afternoon at a farm (this was luxury)
- Packed an entire household
- Planned a trip to Boston (leaving tomorrow)
- Taken a cat in for emergency surgery (poor conehead)
- Moved an entire household
- Unpacked 50 of the 8001 boxes
- Given 30-odd doses of antibiotics and painkillers to a cat who’d rather see her medication on the walls and floors (most of the time she gets her way)
- Spent 10 hours (not an exaggeration) cleaning the old place, much of that on my knees and using a large bottle of vinegar
- Eaten a LOT of cold pizza
- Spent hours with my new friend Bruce, the contractor who’s fixing the leak we found, necessitating a huge hole dripping water from our ceiling
- Set up the new workspace for the Crunchy Betty’s Natural Market (okay, that’s only about halfway done, and it has to be finished by tomorrow)
- Slept (who am I kidding?)
Now I just have to:
- Write a presentation for Boston
- Pack for Boston
- Go to Boston
- Rock it in Boston
- Come home, save my poor seedlings from certain death, and create a utopian rooftop garden
I can do this.
In fact, later today I’ll be writing the presentation for Boston, which should include why Crunchy Betty exists, why I exist, where we’re all going, and how we’re going to take over the world. If my thoughts are coherent, I will post an excerpt of this presentation tomorrow morning. It seems like something you might want to know.
Here, though, for your viewing pleasure, are a few pictures that capture the essence of the last 10 days of my life:
This is a chicken in the dirt. Fairly obvious.
Later, that same chicken tried to eat my soul.
Goats are weird.
The previous photos were taken at my dear friend Diana’s farm (Lil’ Bit Farms), and I’ll share more about that trip soon. She’s graciously shared her favorite salve recipe, and I’ll be making some and posting the results of that next week (fingers crossed!).
That was Ju-Ni playing in the 8001 boxes before they were packed.
And before she found some errant foam rubber and decided it was food.
This is what a cat looks like after eating foam rubber. She has a 5-inch incision in her stomach now. Poor girl.
(She still looks like this. I’m calling her Co-Ni now instead of Ju-Ni. Get it? Co-Ni? Cone? Coney? Hahahahaha. I’m hilarious.)
This is the “before” picture of my new pantry. It’s a mess. Soon, I will channel my inner Martha and turn this into an oasis of foodstuffs (and I’ll share more before and after pictures).
If anyone has Inner Martha’s phone number, could you pass it along? I seem to have lost it over the last, oh, 38 years. I have the feeling this is going to be a very long distance telephone call.
30-ish of the 8001 boxes.
For a minute, I considered keeping it all as a postmodern industrial box and newspaper interior design theme.
Skip wasn’t pleased. So, he did this:
It’s all still a work in progress, but we’re getting there.
Um, I Mean “Thoughtful Thursday”
Lest you think I was complaining above about all I’ve done and all I have yet to do, I was.
For a second.
And then I was all, “But wait! There’s more!”
See, the truth is, in every single thing I listed above, I have about a thousand things to be grateful for in there. For instance:
- My cat, though a little Frankensteiny, is alive and well
- The old apartment was sparkling and perfect when I handed over the keys yesterday
- We snagged the.most.amazing townhome that I can’t wait to get messy with crunchy experiments and rooftop gardens
- No one died or committed first degree murder in the process of moving
- I held a baby goat (which you will see in a later blog post)
- We may not have an internet connection yet, but we have power, light, and water and also air (sometimes it’s hard to remember whether internet or air is more important)
- I’m GOING TO BOSTON TOMORROW TO SIT IN A ROOM WITH REID TRACY AND CHERYL RICHARDSON
- You. YOU. YOU, my dear friends. I am grateful for you and your willingness to look at my random photos.
And that is my Thoughtful Thursday.
By the way, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen most of these pictures. Sorry for the repeat. (If you don’t, you should, because that’s where I’m going to chronicle my trip to Boston.)
See you tomorrow morning with Deep Thoughts About Crunchy Betty (which will need some audience participation, btw!). And then later … in Boston!
Ready ………. break! (Go team!)