FallA Novemberish view.
Even though it is predicted to be in the 70's again next week, there is no doubt that summer is over. The garden is frost-blackened and blasted, waiting to be cleaned out and put to bed for the winter. The last of the brightly colored leaves will soon be gone, and already bare branches greet me through my office window.

We have lots to do outside yet, but in terms of food preparation and preservation, we are pretty much done - and it has been a fruitful year!

It was my first full-scale attempt to put away a good quantity of (mostly) home-grown food for the winter, and while it did involve a fair amount of work, the satisfaction is practically its own reward - although we have already been enjoying a few of the fruits of our labors.... :-)

I have 2 more food preservation tasks left, and then it will be time to rest for a few months - something I'm very much looking forward to after this busy first summer on the homestead!

Here's how things went, for our first season of partially self-sufficient living:

Paleo diet
In recent years, the so-called "Paleo" diet has been the hottest thing since, well, 10,000 years before sliced bread! But is it really all that it's cracked up to be? Before we can unravel the truth from the hype, we need to go back in time and look at what the Paleo diet really is.

Dr. Boyd Eaton pioneered many of the concepts of the modern Paleo diet movement, although Dr. Loren Cordain is commonly recognized as the "founder." Once a fringe way of eating that eschewed the mainstream, I think it's safe to say that the Paleo diet is now fully commercialized. Dozens of books have been written on the concept, and there are hundreds of processed foods being sold as "Paleo" in stores throughout the country.

With all the hype surrounding the concept these days, it can be easy to see the Paleo Diet as just another fad. But there is much more to it than that. Eating Paleo really doesn't have anything to do with chowing down on "Paleo food bars," and it also doesn't mean you'll eat bacon all day, or give up your shoes! Instead, living a Paleo lifestyle simply involves smart exercise, sleep and eating foods that are nutrient-dense.

Brain health
Brain diseases and disorders are one of the fastest growing health issues of the modern world. And while there are a lot of different factors that can affect your brain health, diet is one of the most important.

That's right, you really are what you eat - and your brain is paying for the sins you are committing when you eat a modern diet high in processed foods.

In fact, your brain is arguably influenced more (or at least more visibly) by your diet than any other organ. This can easily be seen by watching how a small child's behavior changes drastically after eating or drinking something packed full of sugar! But it's affecting you just as much as an adult.

If you listen to your body after you eat, you may notice that what you eat can affect your mood dramatically, and even change your entire day.
What you eat impacts the way you think, the way you feel, and the way your body and brain function. 

We talk a lot here about the impact of food on our health, but what about your brain health? How can you eat to improve your brain's health, rather than diminishing it? Is there an optimal way to eat that will both create a healthier brain, and maximize your brain power?

Try these 13 tips, and I can promise you, not only will your brain be healthier, but your whole outlook on life will improve! (And perhaps best of all, eating this way is highly enjoyable and satisfying!)

Geothermal well drillingThe drilling rig.
It was an exciting week on our little homestead, as the geothermal project we have been planning since before we bought the house was finally completed on Friday!

I've been promising an update for a while, so here is the scoop on our installation - though it's probably not as exciting for you. :-)   I did want to share our experience anyway, for those who may be considering a geothermal system for your own place. I did a LOT of research over the past year, and found some of the experiences that others had shared to be very helpful.

This is an old house - built in the 50's, and so it is a replacement for the old furnace - not a new build. This means the contractors had some fun challenges to deal with, like the 4' crawlspace the pipes had to be run through to get to the basement.  :-)
   But overall the project was actually pretty straightforward - the planning phase took the longest. The actual installation took about 2 weeks, and that was mostly because the company that drilled the wells couldn't fit us into their schedule right away.

Here's what happened (plus pictures!) - and our experience with the system so far (which has been about 48 hours). :-)

You probably know by now that refined sugars are one of the worst things you can consume. Along with processed trans-fats and artificial ingredients, sugar is one of the major killers that we consume on a regular basis, and has been linked to numerous diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

As more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of sugar, it's not surprising that more and more sugar "replacements" are being marketed, but are they really all that much better for you than real sugar?

We now know that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are possibly even worse for you than real sugar
, but what about the "natural" sugars you hear about everywhere these days?

Today I'm going to reveal the truth with a quick rundown of the top 6 natural sugars on the market right now, and how they compare.