Friday, July 22, 2016

#goodnessrules #kindnesswins

Mornings draw me outside with coffee and sleep-groggy thoughts. Birdsongs and squirrel chatter comfort me. I turn off the fountain and feed the pond fish, eager for their morning meal. They accept me with mushy hair and a naked face – something I hope my neighbors don’t see. As I settle onto my brightly colored settee, Theo, my one-eared, half-blind cat jumps up beside me. I move my book out of his way as he head thumps me. His purr reverberates against the other outside sounds. So far, this morning, there are no barking dogs, roofing nails being pounded in, or the assault of motorized lawn equipment. It is a peaceful morning. Still, I can’t quite shake a depression that has wrapped its spindly fingers around my heart. 

My morning spot
Lately, my blood pressure has been way too high. I need these moments of peace to calm my inner turmoil. This has been a truly terrible year and my heart/soul/mind is not dealing well with it. Too many people I’ve known have died. There are too many widows/widowers who need comfort, yet I find myself retreating, unable to reach out. It’s not that I don’t care. I do. It’s just that I’m empty and can’t seem to muster much to give.

This week, there was more bad news. A neighbor’s sister has cancer. A woman my husband helps fell and broke her hip. I’m afraid to call for an update on an uncle who’s not doing well. I don’t want to process any more bad news.
Then there’s the political upheaval (let’s not even go there) and the pressing news stories that one can’t/shouldn’t avoid. Ignorance doesn’t help. But knowledge bears little benefit. Yes, I care about black lives. And blue lives. And unborn lives, for that matter. But the news reports don’t change the way I treat people. I try to be kind; sometimes more to strangers than to those closest to me. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was out to breakfast with one of my daughters. She ended up anonymously paying for a police officer’s meal. In light of all the reports of bad behavior from the police, I questioned her on it. Her reply? “Maybe it will make him deal with someone more kindly today.” My eyes tear up just thinking about it. 

#goodnessrules #kindnesswins

I’m trying to use Facebook as a means to spread kindness and goodness. I realize that FB is adding to my depression lately simply because people are being so darned mean to each other. The hatefulness expressed there (mostly because of differing political views) is dark and ugly. So, to counteract it, I’m trying my best to shed light. 

Won’t you join me? Maybe we could start a movement to turn social media into a life-affirming vehicle where it’s clear that, while violence against anyone is not acceptable and not to be ignored, life is still to be celebrated. Your life. My life. Your neighbor’s life. The lives of those who have a different color skin or who wear a uniform or whose faith is different than ours. 

But take it beyond social media. Be kind . . . to that bejeweled woman in the checkout line buying her food with food stamps while using cash for cigarettes . . . to that impatient business man in line at the bank . . . to that mom with the noisy kids at the next booth in the restaurant . . . Be kind. Be kind. For I truly believe kindness is the only way we’re going to turn things around in these dismal days of discord and dissension. 

#goodnessrules #kindnesswins

Let’s do it, folks. Let’s create more smiles than sneers.

I love you all,


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

TaZa! Shatterproof, safe, and classy!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

If you've been following this blog for very long, you know I'm all about reusables. My husband and I have next to no trash each week, as we use limited amounts of disposable products. While I do have paper towels on hand, they are used sparingly and it takes us months to go through a single roll. 

When it comes to parties, you won't see us using disposable anything. We have plenty of metal plates and bowls for outside use (we even take them with us to picnics -- I know, we're weirdos), lots of non-plastic flatware, and plenty of glasses for water, tea, and wine. But now, we have something better than our old breakable wine glasses that are always at risk for shattering out on the brick patio. We have TaZa unbreakable 16 oz. wine glasses. Check these out:

TaZa 100% Tritan shatterproof drinkware has the stylish look of stemless wine glasses, yet the only thing you have to clean up when you drop one is the spilled liquid. No splinted glass everywhere! AND... they're so much classier than those red, blue, or yellow Solo cups everyone's so fond of, not to mention much more eco-friendly. This drinkware doesn't end up in the recycling bin or trash can. Just put them on the top rack of your dishwasher** and you're good to go for that next glass of wine!

**I discovered that the drinkware comes out of my dishwasher with a smeared, cloudy look. But that was easily resolved by rinsing them in vinegar (of course!). Now I simply wash them by hand and they look good as new each and every time I use them. And my experience is bond to be different than yours. It might be the eco-friendly dishwashing detergent I use. Or it might be my dishwasher.

After the company sent me a couple of sets to review, I decided to use the TaZa drinkware for cocktails at a recent patio party. The ladies loved them!

 I love what it says on the website:

"TaZa is committed to preserving the beauty of our Earth by reducing single-use plastics. Can we really justify using a plastic cup for a total of 30 minutes only to have it remain as trash on earth for 500 years? As a society, we need to be smarter than that."

Indeed, we do. And I know the members of the GG community agree. We are smarter than that. Sometimes it's just about the little changes we can make. Little changes that can make a huge difference!

Not a wine drinker? No problem. The TaZa shatterproof drinkware is perfect for any type of cold beverage for both adults and children. A step up from traditional plastic cups for kids, TaZa drinkware is BPA-free and EA-free. And now isn't that good news? 

Seriously, what's not to love about TaZa drinkware? I love it. And I'm confident you will, too. 

Learn more about this product and the other innovative products they offer at

Monday, July 18, 2016

The delicate balance of kids and technology

Today, I'm thrilled to once again feature guest blogger, Lisa Lawmaster Hess.

As an avid consumer of technology and the parent of an eighteen-year-old, I can hardly remember a time when technology wasn't ubiquitous in our house. In fact, we’re so used to wireless everything that when we went to the beach a few summers ago and ended up in a condo without wireless access, we resolved never to rent that unit again. Since my husband's idea of relaxation in the evening is to watch movies, it wasn't a vacation for him without his favorite way to wind down.

But he’s an adult, capable of making both tech-centric and tech-free choices. What about our kids? When do we give them access to technology? And what technology do we give them access to?

As babies, our kids need hands-on toys -- and not hands-on in the sense of pushing a button to watch something light up on a screen. Exploring the real world and interacting with real people is an essential part of their development. Human interaction teaches infants and toddlers not just the building blocks of language, but also the nuances of communication.

Then, as toddlers, kids need to move around -- it's how they become steady on their feet, how they learn depth perception, how they develop their ability to navigate the world around them. They aren't meant to spend hours strapped into shopping carts playing with car keys and iPhones. While a little of this may be necessary so Mom doesn't lose her mind in the grocery store, a steady diet of it isn’t in the best interest of their development. Johnny may cry when Mommy takes her cell phone back and puts it in her purse, but if Mommy interacts with him, those tears will dry quickly.

Somewhere between infancy and middle school, however, things get more complicated. The line begins to blur as devices and apps become an integral part of kids' social communication and their education as well. At school, they're exposed to devices on a regular basis; tablets and iPads may even be standard issue. While this is becoming more and more commonplace, it’s not universally seen as an advantage; in some districts, parents have complained that kids are required to spend too much time on these devices.

Are they right? Or are they stunting their children's educational development?

I believe they're right. While I don't think schools should be tech free, I'm a proponent of everything -- including technology -- in moderation. Devices are tools and, as such, should operate in our service, not vice versa. When we become too dependent on technology, we lose something in the process. There's research to support the idea that when we take notes by hand, for example, we process more, we remember more, and we learn more. Just like those babies in front of the television, kids (and adults) in front of any screen become passive absorbers of information, rather than active interpreters of the world around them.

So, what technology do we give our kids, and when? As with so much else, it depends on the child and the family, but seeking balance is key. Our eyes, our brains and our bodies need a balance between electronics and the real world. A cell phone for emergencies? Great. A cell phone as a substitute for actual social interaction? Not so great. A laptop for school project? Fantastic. A laptop as an entertainment center that allows a child to stream endless hours of YouTube instead of spending time with friends and family? Not so fantastic.

Like my husband, my daughter unwinds by watching videos. Many of hers are on YouTube, which she now watches alone in her bedroom. But she's eighteen, and this chosen method of relaxation is counterbalanced by time at school, at work, and with friends and family. Dinners at our house are device-free, and if devices are part of her time with friends, they're used collectively, rather than individually -- all of them watching -- and discussing -- the same show or video. Commenting. Chatting. Laughing. 


And therein lies the key. Are our kids interacting with devices, or are they interacting with people?

And if it’s always the former, how will they learn the latter?


Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a retired school counselor and adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Casting the First Stone, Chasing a Second Chance, Diverse Divorce, and Acting Assertively. She has published numerous columns and articles and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dr. Oz has me fuming... again!

I rarely watch Dr. Oz on TV. But it happened to come on yesterday and naturally the talk of apple cider vinegar piqued my interest. Seriously, Dr. Oz. Didn't anyone correct you the last time you touted the health benefits of ACV while using filtered apple cider vinegar?? I tried to tell you. But no, you didn't listen and now you're at it again.

The show focused on 101 uses for ACV. Great. Except it wasn't. First of all, I went on the website to read these 101 tips (they only had time for a few on the show) and discovered at least one duplicate. They have ACV listed as a fabric softener in tips #25 and #30. Doesn't anyone proof the website or check facts? I'm shaking my head here.

Second, I searched for the tips involving taking ACV internally to make sure they promoted the use of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Nope. They did not. So all these people who are going to follow his advice and down filtered ACV are not going to experience the health benefits that only come from using vinegar with the mother (you know, that slimy stuff in the bottom of unfiltered ACV). What a joke. Plus, I noticed a tip for whitening teeth by rubbing apple cider vinegar on them. Ummm... no. That's a quick way to destroy your enamel. Shaking my head some more.

There was one more thing that really irked me. You can use distilled white vinegar in place of more expensive apple cider vinegar for most of the tips! Like fabric softener, for instance. I keep wishing I could place my faith in the good doctor, but once again, he proved to me it wouldn't be a good idea to do so. 

Dr. Oz, I think you need a staff who really takes their fact checking seriously. Until that happens, you'll continue to look like a fool. A rich fool, but a fool nonetheless.

Want some real apple cider vinegar tips? Check out my book, VINEGAR FRIDAYS on sale for only $6.99!

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