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MEG Medicine Pantry: Nasal Irrigation


When it comes to nasal irrigation, I am an evangelist. If you’re unfamiliar with the term or the process, nasal irrigation is exactly what it sounds like: removing mucous, dirt, and debris from the nose and sinus cavity using a salt water solution.

Before you say it, no. It’s not like drowning. It’s also not like waterboarding yourself. When done the right way, nasal irrigation is quick, easy, and most important, pain-free. If you’re not convinced, maybe you haven’t had sinus problems that were bad enough yet, but I sure have.

Nasal irrigation can help to relief allergy symptoms, lessen the impact of sinusitis, and help clear the buildup of mucous caused by cold and flu virus. It’s been a total lifesaver for me for years, especially during allergy season, but literally all year long.

The Device

I have used the same old school ceramic Neti Pot (the one in the photo above) for nasal irrigation for more than 20 years, but there are other devices that will accomplish the same result. Plastic versions are less expensive, but I choose to avoid buying plastic when I can help it. There are also battery-operated devices that I have tried and simply wasn’t a fan. If you’re interested in seeking those out, just do a web search for “nasal irrigation devices”.

The Solution

You can purchase ready-made solutions for nasal irrigation, or small packets that you mix with water, but neither are worth the expense, in my opinion. My neti pot solution is simple and quick, using things you’ve probably already got in the kitchen.

  1. Boil 2 cups (1 pint) of filtered water.
  2. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sea salt + 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda until dissolved.
  3. Allow solution to cool until warm to the touch before use.

The Method

My method for nasal irrigation is pretty standard.

  1. I start by filling my neti pot with half of the prepared solution, checking again to make sure the solution is neither too warm or too cold.
  2. I then lean forward so that my head is over the sink and tilt my head to one side. Most folks get by with about a 45° tilt, but I go a bit more, so that one nostril is almost directly over the other.
  3. I insert the tip of the neti pot into the uppermost nostril and slowly pour the solution until it begins to come out the lower nostril.
    NOTE: Keep your mouth open, and breathe through your mouth during this process.
    Continue to pour the solution until the pot is empty, then blow your nose to evacuate the remaining liquid, along with built up mucous, dirt, and debris.
  4. Refill the neti pot with the remaining solution and repeat the process on the other side.

FINAL NOTE: When you are familiarizing yourself with this process, it is completely normal to occasionally have some solution go into your throat. Don’t freak out, just spit it out and try again, leaning your head a bit more forward and down.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.


This week in the garden


The back garden is slowly but surely yielding itself to the future shape I have envisioned for it. I am digging the walking paths, some in the form of modified on-contour swales, by hand. It is backbreaking, time-intensive work, but the process is as important as the end result (‘the journey is the destination’).

Every time I sink my shovel into the soil or plant a seed, it is a meditation. One reason I am such a slow gardener is that my thoughts are shared between the work I’m doing and what the work is doing for me. I often recite The Five Remembrances (or Recollections) as a way to be fully present and aware of how invasive my work is on the countless species who also call this particular piece of earth their home.

The Five Remembrances
as translated by Thich Nhat Hanh

1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

2. I am of the nature to have ill-health. There is no way to escape having ill-health.

3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love is of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.


MEG Medicine Pantry: Elderberry for Cold & Flu Symptoms


Let’s talk about the Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), aka  Elder, Common Elder, American Elder,  and European Elder. It’s been used medicinally throughout history for a variety of ailments, and studies are showing that there is good reason. Elderberries are high in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as iron and potassium. They are also a good source of inflammation-fighting quercetin.

The 2017-2018 flu season has caught many folks off guard. It’s the most widespread outbreak of the flu virus in more than a decade. Did you know that several studies across the globe have proved that elderberry syrup can be effective in treating and lessening the symptoms of influenza viruses? It’s true.

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MEG Medicine Pantry: Winter Tonic

winter tonic

Winter is here, ushering most of us into the miserable throes of cold and flu season. Whether or not you get an annual flu shot, chances are that at some point between October and February, you’re going to wake up with a sore, scratchy throat or that telltale cough and sinus drainage that signals the onset of misery. When those mornings come, I’m well-prepared with a home remedy that works as well to prevent the symptoms as it does to treat them.

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Happy New Year: 2018 is Alive!

My inner VirgOCD is pretty chuffed that this new year starts with a full moon on a Monday. fermented foods 1-1-18

In my mind that’s a pretty auspicious collection of coincidences that tells me to get off my butt and start some new habits, because as we know, it’s always easiest to start something new at the beginning of a week, month, or year. When all three happen at the same time? JACKPOT!

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Crazy About Onions

My Earth Garden / Crazy About Onions

A few days ago, I received a beautiful delivery from a local farm – 200 sweet onion starts! Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

This year, onions will be the only crop I am really intensively growing over the cold months, while I work hard to finish doing some major clearing and laying out paths and new beds in time for spring and summer.

To save myself time, and because I didn’t have an in-ground bed ready to plant a root crop, I decided to repurpose an old greenhouse that was in disrepair, and turn it into a raised bed.

My Earth Garden / Crazy About Onions

While the baby onions get their footing, I’m using a couple of old window panes to keep them warm when the temperatures get particularly cold at night.

My Earth Garden // Onions

To protect the onions from our overabundance of frisky squirrels and neighborhood feral cats, I made a cover using poultry wire that will easily keep the dig-happy wildlife at bay.

My Earth Garden // Onions

Onions are one of the easiest crops to grow, especially in the cold months here in the south. If you give them aerated, loose, healthy soil that’s free of stones and debris, they’ll pretty much take care of themselves.

When I got the bed planted, I had plenty left over to tuck a few here-and-there throughout the garden, and I saved the smallest of them to plant in a self-watering container to keep indoors, ensuring that we’ll have fresh onion greens all winter long.


Second Chances

Early this morning, a neighbor put out a message that they had some house plants that were in desperate need of a savior. Some people pick up every stray animal they see, I pick up plants. What can I say, I believe in second chances.

My Earth Garden: Golden Pothos

I call them Golden Pothos, but they’re known by several names, including Devil’s Ivy. Whatever they are to you, these two Epipremnum aureum plants had been exposed to several nights of sub-freezing temperatures, but I could tell there was life in them, so I got to work. I hadn’t been at it long when I discovered that one of these plants had been a safe harbor to a family of winged creatures at some point.

My Earth Garden: Bird's Nest

I can’t explain it, but when I saw the nest, I wanted to save these plants even more. Plants are living stories, and I knew that these still had tales to tell. Much of them was too damaged by the cold to save, but I cut away all of the dead and dying parts, cleared out the leaf debris (and the nest), and got them ready to be nestled in the office for the winter.

My Earth Garden: Golden Pothos

I also salvaged a few stems (pictured above on the right) to root so that I can start another plant from these two.


Make Your Own Seed Tape

Seed TapeSeed tape is the OCD gardener’s dream. Not only does it nearly eliminate wasted seeds and thinning, it is an easy way to make sure that your rows are evenly spaced for a more neat and orderly appearance.

If you’re not the obsessive type, seed tape means you don’t have to fumble with those tiny seeds like carrots and radishes. Instead, you just lay out the tape where you want it, cover it with soil, water, and wait.

The problem with seed tape – at least my problem with seed tape – is that it is  expensive. A 15-foot strip of carrot seed tape, for example, will cost you around $5 for something you could easily do with a packet of inexpensive seed, and supplies you already have on hand. I briefly discussed how to make your own seed tape in my book I GARDEN: Urban Style, but I wanted to do a quick explainer here about how it’s done.

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This Week in the Garden: 1st Week of Spring 2016

Today is the first full day of Spring 2016, so this will be a week of final preparations for the growing season. Here’s what will be happening in the garden:

My Earth Garden - Potting Shed sketchNew Potting Shed
Later this week my new potting shed will be installed, so I am taking advantage of the cooler temperatures today to finish prepping the site for the builders. The area where the shed will sit has been invaded by English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Periwinkle (Vinca minor) for several years, so eradicating them isn’t a quick task, as many of you probably know. Once the ground has been cleared of vines, I will pin down a layer of 6 mil black plastic to ensure that I won’t have to deal with them coming back underneath the building later.

My Earth Garden - Solar Panel KitSolar Power
After construction, I will install a solar panel kit on the roof of the potting shed to provide for my minor power needs. Because of this, I am also cutting away part of a row of privet that runs the length of the property line. Eventually the entire row will be removed and replaced with a privacy fence. With that privet removed, the panels will receive a respectable amount of sun daily. I will write in more detail about the solar kit and the installation process in the future.

My Earth Garden - GuttersRainwater Collection
Gutters will be added to the potting shed to collect rainwater for use in the garden. I will do this myself in order to share the step-by-step process of installing gutters and connecting them to a rainwater harvesting system.

Even a small area of sloped rooftop can provide a substantial amount of water.

My Earth Garden - SeedlingsBuy Spring Vegetable Starts
I am very happy to have a local friend who owns a small business dedicated to encouraging people to grow their own food and flowers.  This week I will ‘buy local’ and get many of my spring and summer edible starts from my friend Nathan Strange of Strange and Co. It is still just a bit too early to put plants out, so these babies will live in the micro greenhouse for a few weeks while they mature. Not to worry, I will still direct sow edibles from seed this year, but due to space constraints I was unable to start indoor plants.

What are you doing in the garden this week?


The DIY free clothes folding tool that saved my sanity

folded tshirt

I am not a fan of folding clothes. That’s why I end up digging through a basket full of clean laundry to find socks before I take on the task of folding the last 4 loads that have accumulated. It isn’t laziness, it’s just not a chore I particularly find pleasure in. Until now.

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