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Unacceptable Levels

Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law. Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Marathon tragedy -- one year later

On the one-year anniversary of that tragic day in Boston, I am once again reflecting on what happened. At the time, no one knew how many lives would be touched by the acts of evil... nor by the acts of heroism, kindness, and goodness. As with all tragedies, the best in people emerges in unexpected ways. For that, I am grateful. But it doesn't take away the sting of the venom permeating what started off as a beautiful day. Here is a reposting from last year; my reflections on a tragedy that affected all of us.

It started off as a beautiful day. And then, something went terribly wrong. 

Boston skyline by Bill Walker
From 3:00 on yesterday, I found myself unable to focus. I had to continue working on taxes so I could send in what was owed with my extension. But my mind and heart were with the people of Boston.

I am not a runner. My knees would never survive the stress. 

I've never attended a marathon. No one close to me has ever participated in one.

I've never been at the scene of a tragedy of this magnitude. I'm thankful for that.

But I do know grief. I know what it's like to have a loved one ravaged by a sudden explosion.

I do know what it's like to feel hatred in my heart for evil. I viewed the negligence on the part of Neville Chemical Company, where my husband was killed, as evil.

I do know what it's like to have my life turned upside down in an instant. Being widowed at 32 is not something one ever recovers from fully.

I couldn't pull myself away from yesterday's images. And I couldn't help remembering what it was like seeing the man I loved, my very best friend, laying in a hospital bed in the burn unit of West Penn Hospital, slowly fading away. He had third degree burns on 98% of his body and I can still recall the smell of his blood as it oozed off the sheets into puddles on the floor. I remember his face, void of a nose, lips and ears. I remember. I remember.

Yesterday, the memories resurfaced from their private rooms in my mind where I keep them tucked away. And I thought of all the others who were experiencing the same resurgence of memories. The folks in NYC, in DC, and in Shanksville, PA. The first responders, parents and teachers in Newtown. The people of Oklahoma City. The list goes on and on in this brotherhood and sisterhood of those of us who fight the devastation of memories of the unthinkable. The unthinkable that happened to us and to those we loved.

Today, I send my prayers to all of you... those with new wounds, and those with old ones. Those whose scars were opened up and bleeding again. In my heart, I am embracing each of you.

It started off as a beautiful day. And then something went terribly wrong.

Friday, April 11, 2014

On hiatus

Due to a recent death in the family, followed by my own illness, I will be taking a short break from the blog. I hope you'll hang around and still be here when I return!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Safe, eco-friendly, and EASY egg dye

Disclaimer: In accordance to the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, it is my responsibility to let you know the following is a sponsored post. I received product and/or compensation for this review. However, all opinions are my own.

My granddaughter was excited about trying these
With Easter less than two weeks away, many parents are examining their options for dying eggs with their children. Sure, there are safe, natural ways to do this, which many blogs and Pinterest boards are featuring. But they involve gathering various food sources and making your own dye. While that's great for some, it's not practical for many overworked moms and dads who simply do not have the time. 

But really, why is it even important to avoid the artificial egg dyes on the market? After all, we all used them growing up and we're okay, right? 

Well, according to an article in the NY Times

The federal government has been cracking down on artificial food dyes for more than a century in part because some early ones were not only toxic but were also sometimes used to mask filth or rot. In 1950, many children became ill after eating Halloween candy containing Orange No. 1 dye, and the F.D.A. banned it after more rigorous testing suggested that it was toxic. In 1976, the agency banned Red No. 2 because it was suspected to be carcinogenic. It was then replaced by Red No. 40.

Many of the artificial colorings used today were approved by the F.D.A. in 1931, including Blue No. 1, Yellow No. 5 and Red No. 3. Artificial dyes were developed -- just as aspiring was -- from coal tar, but are now made from petroleum products."

Interestingly enough, stores like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's, refuse to carry foods that contain artificial coloring.

For those of you who care not only about the health of your children, but also about the environment, it's important to note that the so-called "natural dye" currently used for red in most naturally dyed products, including lipstick, Cherry Coke,  some natural egg dyes, etc., is actually from the blood of the cochineal bug (carmine). Ecologically, these bugs are farmed and crushed in irresponsible manners, worthy of some attention.

Okay, now you know about some of the whys for opting for safer dying methods, and you can find out many ways for the hows. But I have really good news for you, and that is that there is an easy alternative, which I've tried, and so have my grown daughters. We really like these dyes.

Jessica's results

What are they?

The Natural Egg Dye Kit from Natural Earth Paint. It's perfect for creating beautiful eggs while protecting your kids from the toxins in many dyes.

For just $8.95, you can get 4 dye packs for creating beautiful egg displays in time for Easter. And with the code "eggdye14" you can even receive FREE SHIPPING! Of course, you have to move quickly on this. I recommend ordering TODAY!

The dyes are made from fruit, herbs, and vegetables, not synthetic crap or carmine. 

My husband and I tried two of the dyes and then experimented with mixing the colors a bit. Here are our results:

Don't you like the little duck that just appeared on the light green egg? 

My daughter, Bethany, dyed the eggs with her 3 YO. He seems happy with them.

She used all of the colors.

Bethany's results

You can do other things to the eggs for variety, such as adding a fern, leaf, flower, doily, or some other object and securing it to the egg with a nylon stocking held tightly in place with a rubber band. After soaking the egg in the dye (which is made by adding the powder to water), you simply remove the stocking and get results like these:

You can also use a white crayon to draw designs on the eggs prior to dying them.

While we loved the safe-for-kids-and-the-environment factor, there was one thing we, especially the little ones, weren't especially keen on -- the soaking time. With children, there is a patience-factor and these eggs take 10-20 minutes soaking time. So, when dying the eggs, just make sure you have another activity planned with the kiddos while they await the results.

The Natural Earth Paints company also has a set of wooden eggs that can be painted with their wonderful natural earth paints. You can seal the paints with a natural varnish made by combining 4 parts olive oil to 1 part melted beeswax. Rub it on with a rag and let it set for 1-2 hours. Rub the excess off and display! Through 4/14/14, get 20% off the wooden eggs set with the coupon code "eggs20".

Here's what you could win!

Here's the extra special good news -- one of you is going to receive a set of the wooden eggs, along with the paints and the egg dyes! All you have to do is enter below on the Rafflecopter. But hurry! This is a flash giveaway and it ends at 11:59 p.m. ET tomorrow (4/9)! There's even an easy entry everyone can click on. Of course, if you want more chances to win, do some liking and following! Winner will be announced on 4/10 and will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner will be chosen. U.S. only. 18+ years old.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 4, 2014

Vinegar Friday -- the benefits of bone broth


Here it is, the first Friday of a new month already. That means it's Vinegar Friday! Today, we're talking food, but it's about a whole lot more than tastiness.

A few months ago, someone posted someone on Facebook about bone broth. I don't remember who it was, but the post piqued my curiosity. After all, "bone broth" sounds a little bit creepy.

After reading about it, however, and doing my own research, I thought it was certainly worth a try. I'd been suffering with a flare up of my fibromyalgia since September when I was extremely ill with a kidney infection. This past winter didn't help with all the fluctuations in barometric pressure we were experiencing here in Pittsburgh. Everything in me hurt. Literally. At times, I found myself unable to walk up the stairs at the end of the night. That was scary for me. My husband and I started discussing the possibility of installing a chair lift. Not something I ever wanted to consider. As it was, I simply avoided steps as much as I could. It was just too painful.

I read that bone broth could ease my fibro symptoms, and hey, I was ready to try nearly anything, as long as it wasn't a pharmaceutical drug that would just cause other symptoms. 

I bought an organic chicken and made my first batch of the magic potion. The first day, I drank four mugfuls. Then I drank another one or two every day for a week. By the end of the week, I was pain-free. I kid you not! I had zero pain. None. 

Hmmm. Could it be? I continued to make the broth, using only organic chickens, as the last thing I wanted was antibiotics and other nasty stuff infusing my new favorite.thing.ever. And the pain-free days, and nights, continued. I was a new woman!

Then I had to go away for a conference and was gone for five days. I wondered what five bone-broth-free days would feel like. Unfortunately, I found out. On the fourth day, I started up the steps at my friend's house and stopped dead. The pain was back and climbing the steps took a real effort. That was enough to convince me that bone broth is the miracle I had been praying for.

But what does all this have to do with vinegar? Simple. The key to making bone broth that is effective at treating the symptoms of fibro is apple cider vinegar. Just one to two tablespoons per batch is all it takes. What the vinegar does is leach the minerals from the bones. Minerals like
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • silicon
  • sulfur
  • other trace minerals
Additionally, the cartilage and tendons in the chicken bones contain other beneficial elements, like glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates. Do any of you buy any of these as supplements? By drinking bone broth, you'll be blessing your body with all of this naturally, without paying the high cost of supplements. That's one of the things I love about making my own bone broth.
There is a downside, however. While you're cooking your broth, you'll be tortured by the smell of it -- I find I'm hungry all day when it's cooking because it smells soooo good.

I just learned that there is more benefit if you add the vinegar to cold water and let the bones soak for about an hour before turning on the heat. This will soften the bones and pull more of the minerals and gelatin from the bones. Adding chicken feet or knuckles will add even more benefit, so ask your local butcher if he has any to spare.

Of course, I use unfiltered organic raw vinegar in my broth. After it's cooked, it lasts for five days in the fridge or for months in the freezer. You can boil it for a second time after four or five days and it will keep for another five days in the refrigerator. Mine never lasts that long.

I not only drink it, but I also use it to cook rice and vegetables. I haven't made soup with it yet, but certainly plan on doing so. I just enjoy drinking it so much, I haven't doctored it up much.

So now, I hope you're wanting the recipe. Click here for directions on how I make my bone broth.

For more on the healing benefits of bone broth, please check out the chart on Dr. Mercola's website by clicking here.

Is bone broth already part of your diet? If so, what benefits are you gleaning from it? I'd love to read about your experience in the comments below.

Keeping it tasty and healthy with vinegar,

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The above information is based on my experience and not on any medical data. There has been some concern about exposure to lead while drinking organic bone broth. Please click here for more information about that if you are concerned.

Green Grandma's Chicken Bone Broth

2 - 3 lbs. organic chicken bones (with feet or beak added, if possible)
12 - 16 cups filtered water
Chopped vegetables -- onion, carrot, celery hearts/stalks/leaves
1 garlic clove
2 tsp. sage
2 tsp. oregano
1 TBSP pink Himalayan salt
1 - 2 TBSP organic unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar

With the exception of the apple cider vinegar, add or subtract the above according to taste preferences.

Put cooked chicken bones in stock pot and cover with cold water. Add apple cider vinegar. Let bones soak for one hour so the ACV can pull the nutrients out of the bones.

Heat on high until the broth is gently boiling. Turn heat down and simmer the broth for 24 hours. 

Do not skim the top layer off the broth. Simply stir it back in, as this contains many of the beneficial minerals.

Alternative -- make the broth in a crock pot following the above instructions.

Strain the broth into a large bowl. Put bones and vegetables aside. Pour into glass containers to store in refrigerator or freezer. I do not recommend plastic containers as the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the broth.

Repeat above process with the used ingredients and less water. This will make a nice lighter broth for cooking rice and vegetables. While not as effective as the first round, the second round of cooking will still yield benefits.


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