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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, November 30, 2010

The allure of a cigarette


I quit smoking over 30 years ago when I first found out I was pregnant. It wasn't too much of a challenge for me because I had a life growing inside of me who needed protection. While I was willing to pollute my lungs, I simply wasn't willing to pollute hers. Maybe that is why I really struggle with moms and dads out there who continue to smoke. Are they not aware of the damage they are causing to their children's health? Are they not aware of the example they are setting for these precious little ones?

As soon as children start going to school, they start hearing about how bad smoking really is. Then they come home and see their parents engaging in this "bad" activity. How confusing is that?

New research shows that it is not only secondhand smoke that poses a danger, but third hand smoke as well. The nicotine that remains on your hands and clothing after you have been smoking transfers to your baby as you hold her. Yuck. Is that really what you want to do to your child?

And it is not just about parents who smoke. If you have children, you need to know the dangers of exposing them to smokers in general, whether it is a grandparent, caregiver, or family friend. If they will not refrain from smoking around your children, then you should refrain from visiting with them when your kids are with you. It may sound harsh, but it is necessary. And make sure any smokers wash their hands thoroughly before holding your little ones.

This is not just Green Grandma spouting off about a pet peeve! According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is "no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke." No-Smoke.org cites a report by American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation,© 2009 indicating that children of parents who smoke are more likely to suffer from the following:
  • low birth weight
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • cognitive impairment
  • behavioral problems
  • respiratory problems
  • asthma
  • repercussions in adult health, including metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and type II diabetes
Seriously, folks, is that cigarette really worth it? Look at the risks to your child's well being. Look into your child's face and tell me he or she isn't reason enough to quit.

Several years ago, I came across a list of supplements that, when taken, can help a smoker quit. I do not remember the source, but here is the list:
  • Vitamin A 25,000 IU
  • Zinc 50 mg for 6 weeks
  • tyrosine 1 gram in the morning and afternoon
  • choline (a high-potency B-complex supplement)
  • vitamin C
The last three items on the list all help fight off cravings. The following help lessen the discomfort of the withdrawal process:
  • gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA)
  • glutamine
Perhaps you or someone you know will find help by taking the above supplements. I am not saying it will be easy. But I am saying it will be worth it!

Wishing you well,

Hana

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 8

The countdown to Christmas has begun. What kind of feelings does that statement evoke in you? Joy? Stress? Panic?

For me, it is a combination of all three. Although this year, there will be less of the running around panic that has consumed me in years gone by? Why? Simply because my family and friends have all decided to cut back -- drastically -- when it comes to gifts. We haven't gone the route of grab bags yet, but we have all decided we already have too much stuff and we do not need to keep adding to the pile! We have also agreed that re-gifting is just fine...although there is that slight concern we will end up giving back a gift to the person who gave it to us in the first place! Consumable gifts are on the top of the list as favorites.

Look at that, I have completely gone off track. Sorry. Back to my original statement. The countdown to Christmas has begun.

In my house, that means a whole slew of new Hallmark movies! My husband and I are Hallmark junkies (more him than me, truthfully). Last night, CBS aired November Christmas, with an incredible cast of actors who sucked you into their lives before the first commercial break (which, by the way, didn't come until 20 minutes after the show began). Oh, and while we're on the subject of commercials, they packed this movie full of some of the most moving, smultzy Hallmark commercials there are. Where are the Kleenex?

Bill and I looked forward all week to sitting down and watching November Christmas on Sunday night. And that is exactly what we did. But it wasn't the only highlight of the day.

First, we headed to Emmanuel Christian Church for Sunday School and worship. Excellent start for the Sabbath, don't you think? Bill taught the junior and senior high kids while I sat in on the adult Sunday School class. It wasn't my week to teach and I wasn't up to singing with the worship band (which practices during SS). So I was able to participate in a class where my friend and fellow GG community member, Maggie Larter, was teaching on the book of Judges. No one teaches the way Maggie teaches! Her animated style, honesty and enthusiasm flavor every class, and hearing her speak about Deborah, the prophetess and judge, was delightful. Not to mention the other interesting characters in the 4th chapter! Pretty dramatic stuff, folks!

With our minister, Bob Hartman, in England performing in Carol, based on one of the books he has written, we were blessed to have an incredible guest speaker during the worship service. If you have never heard Jon Pritikin's testimony, let me tell you, you are missing something! I doubt there were many, if any, dry eyes in the sanctuary by the time he was done. What an amazing servant of God...serving in a most unusual way.

Since Bob's away, his wife, Sue, joined us for lunch. I cannot tell you how much I love our Sunday lunches out with family and friends. The lovely little Lady Laura was an absolute delight and little Lord Lincoln sat contently on his daddy's lap for most of the time we were there. Blessings.

Sandwiched between church, lunch and Hallmark, was the challenge of how to spend the Sabbath in an insanely busy time of year. Hmm. Well, I must confess I did do some grocery shopping. I was hungry for spaghetti and I didn't have any pasta in the house. Plus, I am leaving town again this week to go help my mom who just had a knee replacement. So again, the challenge taunted me with little effort. Voices in my head saying, "You should get this done. You should get that done." Shoulds. Coming from an unholy place of self-imposed obligations. I ignored them.

I had some financial questions I did discuss on the phone with an old friend who specializes in these types of things. My daughter, Jess, questioned me on how that fit into my Shabbat, and I answered her flippantly by saying, "The Sabbath thing is getting thrown out the window today." Slap. Conviction. So, while I did do the phone consult, and I did do some grocery shopping, I honored the Sabbath in the best way I could. No Christmas decorating, no cleaning or laundry, no emails or work. None.

And the day finished out with an uplifting, well-acted and directed movie that I watched with my very best friend. Restful. Peaceful. And, I have to admit, emotional. It was Hallmark, after all. How could it not be?!

Blessings to you as you wade through the busyness of the season. Remember to rest,

Hana

Friday, November 26, 2010

Taking a break

I hope all of my friends in the States had a very happy Thanksgiving. Since I need a couple of days to digest all of this good food, the blog is going to take a little nap. Feel free to peruse former posts (it's okay, you won't disturb anyone).

Enjoy your weekend -- Black Friday and all -- and I hope to "see" you again next week!

Hana

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth



My husband died a two-and-a-half months before Thanksgiving 1989. My youngest daughter was a mere five-years-old. Yet, somehow amid the trauma of it all, we managed to focus on God's Word and my sweet little girl memorized and quoted Psalm 100, in its entirety, as we sat around the table with friends on Thanksgiving day.

Even as we walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we were still able to praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.

PSALM 100

SHOUT joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us,
and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.


Wishing you and yours a blessed and very happy Thanksgiving!

Hana

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another winner!

Congratulations Mollie Bandy! You are the winner of the All-Natural Lotion Bar from Crimson & Clean Soap!

Please email me at greengrandma@comcast.net and I will put you in touch with Lindsay!

It's about being thankful

What is Thanksgiving all about?

Turkey?

Football?

A four- or five-day weekend?

Getting together with family?

Traditions?

How about thankfulness?

Somewhere along the way we lost the purpose of this day, I'm afraid. Seriously speaking, how many of you have taught your children about the true meaning of Thanksgiving? Have you ever even thought about it?

I challenge you to spend some time over the next couple of days sharing with your family what you are thankful for. Maybe even make a game of it, depending on the ages of your children. You could have everyone write down things they are thankful for on little slips of paper and then try to guess who wrote what. This will serve two purposes -- one, it will put the focus back on giving thanks and two, it will give you the opportunity to learn more about each other.

Aside from spiritual things, like grace, forgiveness and salvation, here's what I am thankful for this year:
  • my husband, Bill -- I cannot even begin to express how truly thankful I am for him
  • our daughters
  • our grandchildren
  • the freedom we have in this country (so far)
  • my parents
  • my church family
  • my career
  • my unbelievable friends
  • daily provisions
  • the Green Grandma community
Small list...big heart.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all,

Hana

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And the winner is...

...Karen McAnerin! Karen wins a reusable snack bag from Green Baby Clothing Company. Congratulations!!

Please send an email to info@greenbabyclothingcompany.com and let Jill know you are the winner in the Green Grandma giveaway.

Black Friday...a blessing or a curse?

Black Friday is just a few short days away. Are you ready? Well, here's my take on it...and, if I must say so myself...it is a unique viewpoint. One I felt worthy of a redux. Here's my post from last year's Black Friday:

I'm not one to rush out on Black Friday and battle the crowds for a deal. As a matter of fact, I purposefully hole up in my home on that day and avoid the malls. But I certainly don't bemoan the brave (or crazy) souls who choose to embrace the challenge of getting a good deal.

Then there are those who will complain that Christmas is too commercialized and either forsake Americanized traditions or will partake, but moan and groan about it continually. The emergence of sayings such as, "Jesus is the reason for the season," did little more than create more products to buy to advertise that very fact in your home. However, regardless of your spiritual leaning, Jesus IS the reason for the season, and no amount of commercialization can change that.

Yes, I know the day started off as a pagan holiday, but it's been transformed, shall we say, "reborn," and is, without a doubt, a day where Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Emmanuel...the day when God Himself chose to come and dwell with us.

But what about the commercialism? Hasn't that tainted a "holy" holiday?

Not in my opinion. I celebrate the commercialization. Why? For a variety of reasons.

As a Christian, I find it refreshing to hear carols wherever I go, whether I'm in the mall, a doctor's office, a workplace, a flower shop...at what other time of year do you hear the name of Christ proclaimed so unashamedly? I rejoice to hear The First Noel or O Holy Night when I'm grocery shopping or getting my hair cut. I see it as creative evangelism.

Another reason I'm all for the commercialization of Christmas is because, despite the fact that it may bring out the worst in people (particularly on Black Friday), it also brings out the best in them. There is no other time of year when people reach as deeply into their pockets and give. Whether it's giving of a present to a family member or friend, taking cookies to a neighbor, leaving a generous tip for a waiter, slipping a twenty dollar bill into a red kettle or writing a check to a charity, December's giving far exceeds any other month of the year.

Think for a moment what would happen if we eliminated Christmas as a national holiday...if we stopped the commercialization in its tracks. Within the next few years, how many of your favorite retail stores would close their doors? How many non-profits would cease to exist. How many homeless people would die without organizations like the Salvation Army offering shelter and a warm meal? It's rather scary when you think about it.

And what will happen to the Christmas story two or three generations from now? Would it cease to exist as well in the minds of the majority of Americans?

Would Christmas become a quiet holiday shared only by the faithful few who still believed the God who created the Universe would come to earth as a newborn babe? That seems like a far cry from the glory that surrounded that first Christmas as angels sang and announced the birth of a Savior and shepherds rushed to worship Emmanuel. And let's not forget the journey of the Magi -- seeking out their King and bearing gifts.

Singing. Rushing. Giving gifts. Christmas. I celebrate the birth of my Savior. And I celebrate the commercialization of His birthday. When you hear someone saying "Merry Christmas" as they leave a store or restaurant, it just might be me. It may not be politically correct, but let's face it folks...it's what it's all about.

Keeping it real,

Hana

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 8

Life is a bit upside down right now. Well, not completely, but it is a little out of whack.

I headed to my hometown on Friday with my daughter, Jess, and granddaughter, the lovely little Lady Laura. On Saturday, I presented a talk on Freelance Writing to the Lancaster Christian Writers, who, by the way, was a delightful group of people and a very receptive audience.

I stopped by my friend, Trudi's, shop in Lititz on the way home. If you are ever in the Lancaster County area, you really need to visit Heavenly Soaps and Scents. She also sells online, so feel free to visit her website...be warned, however -- her baby merchandise is the cutest ever!! And she stocks lots of goodies for adults as well.

I got back to my mom's in time to head back out to run some errands...quick trips to the celery farm and grocery store before I picked up my cousin, Kelly, who accompanied me on the two-hour drive to the Baltimore airport to pick up my sister, Tina. Then it was back to Manheim where I could finally relax. Phew. Are you tired yet?

Finally got to sleep around one a.m., dreamt about losing a rattle snake in the house and slept in late for the first time in a long time.

So that takes us to the Sabbath day. It was a bit more restful than Saturday, but missed the boat on my intentions for it.

Fortunately, I was able to work in a two-hour visit with my very best friend, Dawn. We have been best friends for 48 years now...isn't that grand?!

I also drove to the Lancaster train station and bid farewell to Jess and Laura as they boarded the west bound Amtrak for Laura's first ever train ride.

As I pulled up to my childhood home, my sister, Carolyn, was unloading her car out front. We were all here now. Three sisters and a mom who was preparing to get a new knee the next day (Monday).

Dinner, conversations, a bit of Internet browsing and early bed times wrapped it all up.

Was it restful. Not really. But like I said, things are a little out of whack right now. Today, I'll spend the day at the hospital with my sisters as my mom undergoes a two-to-three-hour surgery. It's going to be a bit tense and I just pray it all goes well.

So that's it. Maybe by next Sunday I'll be back on track. With the holidays upon us, I think I will find this Sabbath experiment a bit more challenging...after all, while it may be the most wonderful time of the year, it is also the most busy time of the year.

Sharing my Sabbath experiences with you,

Hana

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The 'Greener Grass' syndrome


Photo courtesy of Vera Kratochvil

How foolish it is to sucumb to the temptation of the greener grass.
Don't you know that winter always comes?
But fresh new grass emerges from the melting snow of spring,
thriving and growing in the light of the sun.
Embrace the faded browns of winter grass
and patiently wait for the spring thaw.
There is something unplumbed in the perennial.

©2010  HHC                      


Friday, November 19, 2010

Vinegar Friday

I want to start off today by sharing a tip someone posted on my Facebook page. With boot weather descending upon us, I wanted to pass this on right away:

To remove dirt and especially salt stains from Suede boots, shoes, etc.....75% white vinegar, 25% water, a towel, an old toothbrush. Dip the towel into solution, clean stains, let dry, brush with soft brush till nap is perfect.

Connie was using this process to clean up her daughter's Ugg boots and she said it really works! Thanks Connie!

Another reader contacted me and offered to share this informative article with all of you. Of course, I was happy to. Most likely, you will recognize a tip or two, but there is nothing wrong with an occasional reminder. Thank you to Jennifer Lynch of TopOnlineColleges.com!

40 Surprising Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar has been a highly utilized substance for thousands of years because of its remarkable versatility. It's said to have been invented by the Chinese Xia Dynasty around 2000 BC, eventually making its way west, as the Babylonians used it as a condiment and preservative and the Roman legionnaires drank it. Today, vinegar is used for everything from cleaning to sore throat relief. Peruse through this list of 40 surprising uses and see if it can solve any of your problems.

Vinegar as an Indoor Cleaning Agent

Vinegar is a cheap and non-toxic cleaner. It's acid-based, so it breaks down grease, and kills germs and bacteria — not unlike a lot of expensive cleaning products.

1.Rust Remover: Soak your metal tools and bolts in vinegar and wipe away the rust.

2.Sticker Remover: Make stickers and labels unstick by soaking them with vinegar.

3.Stain Remover: Eliminate stains from carpet, fabric and upholstery.

4.Floor Cleaner: Linoleum, vinyl, ceramic tile and wood floors can sparkle with vinegar.

5.Window Cleaner: Mix vinegar with water and dish soap and give your windows a streak-free shine.

6.Wood Paneling Cleaner: Combine vinegar with olive oil and warm water to form an effective cleaner for wood panels.

7.Ant Killer: Fill a spray bottle and zap the tiny intruders. Apply along windowsills and doorways to keep them away.

8.Room Deodorizer: Get rid of lingering smells by leaving out a bowl of white distilled vinegar overnight.

9.Garbage Disposal Deodorizer: Pour a half cup down the drain and then run hot water. The smelly reminder of last week's dinner will be gone for good.

10.Pots and Pans Cleaner: Remove the remnants of old and burnt food with the use of vinegar.

11.Cup Ring Remover: Stains on cups and bowls can be eliminated with the aid of vinegar.

12.Blender and Jar Odor Eradicator: Wiping down or soaking jars with a white vinegar and water mixture can kill odors.

13.Countertop Cleaner: Mix with water, borax and tree oil and use as an all-purpose cleaner. Especially useful for countertops.

14.Microwave Cleaner: Combine with warm water and a little bit of dish soap. A great way to finally rid the microwave old food, grime and its putrid smell.

15.Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Vinegar can kill just as many germs as any brand name toilet bowl cleaner.

16.Washing Machine Hose Unclogger: Run the machine on regular cycle and add a cup of vinegar. Of course, make sure no clothes or towels are inside beforehand.

17.Clothes Brightener: Brighten your colors by adding one-third of a cup of white vinegar to your wash.

18.Showerhead Cleaner: By taking apart your showerhead and soaking it in vinegar, mineral buildup will be removed, resulting in a stronger stream.

Vinegar Outside of the Home

Maintain the beauty of your yard and home by using vinegar in these little-known ways.

19.Weed Killer: The acetic acid in white distilled vinegar kills weeds, and plants as well. Apply and reapply in areas away from your favorite plants.

20.Garden Lime Neutralizer: Apply in the applicable areas and pesky garden lime will be held in check.

21.Increaser of Soil Acidity: A mixture of vinegar and water can be applied to plants that benefit from soil acidity. Valuable iron is released into the soil.

22.Rabbit Repellent: Prevent rabbits from damaging your precious garden by placing cotton balls soaked with white distilled vinegar in strategic places.

23.Mildew Remover: A vinegar and water solution can remove mildew from flower pots.

Other Outdoor Uses for Vinegar

From camping to car care, vinegar can also enhance life away from home.

24.Propane Lantern Brightener: A lantern will burn longer and brighter after its wicks have been soaked in white vinegar.

25.Insect Repellent: When camping, spray the outside of your tent with vinegar to repel bugs.

26.Bumper Sticker Remover: Overcome bumper sticker regret by using a vinegar-soaked cloth. Preferable for stickers on windows and non-painted bumpers.

27.Auto Upholstery Cleaner: Combine four parts water and one part vinegar and blot dirty area.

28.Chrome Cleaner: White vinegar can both remove rust and polish chrome. Perfect for car collectors.

29.Windshield Frost Preventer: Mix three parts vinegar with one part water and spray onto your windshield to prevent frost buildup.

Vinegar as a Promoter of Health

Minor health problems can be relieved with the aid of vinegar.

30.Sunburn Pain Reliever: Apply to the affected area to reduce pain caused by damaged nerve-endings.

31.Itch Reliever: Dilute apple cider vinegar in water and wash the itchy spot.

32.Nail Fungus Fighter: Consistently soak nails in a bowl of white distilled vinegar or apply it with a brush until nail fungus disappears.

33.Post-Swimmer's Ear Remedy: Mix one drop of white vinegar mixed with one drop of alcohol to prevent bacterial growth.

34.Upset Stomach Calmer: An upset stomach can be settled with a water, vinegar and honey concoction.

35.Acid Reflux Reliever: Even though it's acetic, white vinegar can neutralize stomach acids while stimulating digestive juices.

36.Sore Throat Reliever: Kill bacteria by combining vinegar with honey. Take one table spoon six times per day.

37.Cough Reliever: A natural way to treat a cough. Just add apple cider vinegar to the four other ingredients mentioned.

38.Dandruff Remedy: Apple cider vinegar can make dandruff disappear after it's applied to the scalp.

39.Arthritis Remedy: Some claim that a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey cures arthritis.

40.Body Odor Fighter: Apple cider vinegar can be used instead of underarm deodorant. It reduces the skin's pH.


Keeping it green and healthy with vinegar,

Hana



Winners of the Green Salve!

Congratulations to Rachel W and Jennifer Cormier, winners of the Green Salve from Motherlove Herbal Company!!

Please send an email to Julie at MotherlovePR@motherlove.com and let her know you were the winners of the Green Grandma giveaway. Provide your name and address so she can get the Green Salve in the mail to you.

Congratulations again...and thank you for being part of the community!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

While I am on a roll...

...why not post another review? And another giveaway!!

Awhile ago, Lindsay Packard of Crimson & Clean Soap sent me a new product to test. Since it was a lotion bar to soften skin, I wanted to give it plenty of time before writing anything about it. After all, dry skin doesn't go away overnight.

The mom of two, Lindsay manages her farm of chickens and goats. Many of the products she sells are made using goat's milk from her own herd. Since they use holistic health care, there's no danger of any trace chemicals in the products. One thing that really impresses me about the company's products is their price. Whereas so many of the natural and organic products out there are too costly for many of us, that is not the case at Crimson & Clean Soap. Their gift baskets sell for as low as $20!

All-Natural Lotion Bar
But let me get back to the product review.

So, after some time, what is my opinion of the Crimson & Clean Soap's All-Natural Lotion Bar? Let me give you the pros, cons and a surprise.

Pros

This lotion bar is non-greasy. You know how sometimes you put lotion on and you actually have to grab a towel to wipe some of it off? Not with this one. And it works nicely to soften hands.

I tried it on my heels and elbows and it worked somewhat. But then again, my standards are high here, ever since I discovered the miracle softening properties of apple cider vinegar. A five-minute soak in ACV and warm water makes my heels feel as soft as my grandbaby's bottom. Really.

One of the best things about the lotion bar is that it is made from all natural ingredients: olive oil, shea butter and beeswax. And there is no water or alcohol to dry your skin. This bar is even safe enough to use on your lips. You can see an entire list of the ingredients they use in all of their products on their website.

I think that if I faithfully applied the Crimson & Clean Soap's All-Natural Lotion Bar, I would have had more success with softening my elbows...but that leads us to the...

Cons

Or should I say con singular? There was only one thing I did not particularly like about the lotion bar, and that was the shape. I found it a bit awkward to apply to my elbows. It just didn't slide over that boney surface all that easily. I had to rub a lot on my hands and then apply it to the elbows. That's just a minor little thing, though.

And this can be a pro or con -- if you are a fan of fragrance, you won't find much here. It has a slight scent of honey, but it is certainly nothing overwhelming. As a matter of fact, it is barely noticeable.

Surprises

Back in August, I foolishly tried running across a grassy hill in high heel sandals. Go ahead -- ask me how that worked for me. The answer is obvious. Not so well. I went down, hard. Oh, and did I mention I was in shorts? Not a pretty picture. Eventually, the scabs fell off my knees and I stopped looking like a kid who had fallen off her bike. But the dark red marks remained. Telltale signs of my own klutziness. However, one night after my bath, I decided to try the lotion bar on my knees. I was aiming for softness, but what I discovered was a fading of the discolored skin...a serious lightening! The more I rubbed, the lighter it got. Well, within reason of course. Since then, I have been using the lotion bar on my knees and the spots are shrinking and fading. I'm sold!

So, look at that. Twice this week I have posted reviews of products that had unexpected benefits. What fun!

Now, my stretch marks have found a permanent place on this body of mine after 30 years or so, but I would venture to guess that this little lotion bar just might do a number on newer stretch marks on some of you young moms out there. Just a thought.

At the incredibly reasonable price of just $5, the Crimson & Clean Soap's All-Natural Lotion Bar is well worth the purchase. The convenient push up tube with a screw-on lid makes it ultra convenient to tote with you in your purse to soften your hands (and/or lips) throughout the day.

Lindsay is generously providing a 15% off discount to the Green Grandma community! When ordering, just type in the code GREENgrandma to receive your discount.

And, to sweeten the pot, she has also thrown in a free All-Natural Lotion Bar to one lucky winner.

The drawing for this one will be at 8:00 Thanksgiving eve and all you have to do to enter is:
  • Be a follower of the blog, of course
  • Visit Crimson & Clean Soaps website
  • Post a comment here on the blog or on the GG Facebook page and tell me which gift basket you like best
Feel free to share the links and tweet about all the giveaways. It won't earn you any extra points, but you might earn some Brownie points with a friend or two if they win!

Keeping it green and sharing my thoughts on how to do it,

Hana

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adorable kids in eco-friendly duds -- a grandma's perspective

It was so much fun posting a review yesterday, I thought it would be fun to post another one today as well!

First of all, how many of you have discovered the wonderful Green Baby Clothing Company? Even if you don't plan on buying anything, you have to check out the amazing photography done by company founder, Jill Wirth. I love what it says on their About Us page:

Our company was born out of the belief that we should all do our part to help the future of our Planet. We offer eco-friendly items with that extra coolness factor!

Doesn't that sound like a company you want to buy from? If you are looking for a unique, well-crafted gift for a baby shower or simply for that special little one in your life, do not buy anything until you check out what GBCC has to offer.

After the birth of my grandson, Lincoln, in August, Jill sent an outfit for him. Just as a gift. Just because she is like that. Not wanting to neglect my granddaughter, Laura, she sent something for her as well. When you deal with GBCC, you are dealing with a generous and sweet entrepreneur who will give your order personalized attention.

Lincoln got a onesie and a pair of bamboo yoga pants.

Here are the details on the shirt, which has laundered well and is adorable:

•100% Organic Cotton
•Made in Fair Trade Facility
•Dyed with eco-friendly, low-impact dyes
•Quality stitching
•Enzyme washed for extra softness


The only problem with the shirt is it sized really small. Lincoln has a 0-6 month size on in this picture and he is not quite 2 months old here. The shirt fits nicely width-wise, but length-wise it just doesn't work for him. Lincoln weighed 7 lbs. 3 oz. and was 21" when he was born and in this picture he is about 11 lbs. and 23". So you can see he's not a huge baby, although lately he's really been packing on the pounds. At almost 3 months, he's already 15 lbs.! And all he's getting right now is Momma's milk, so I guess it's agreeing with him!

My daughter, Bethany, loves the bamboo yoga pants by Baby Bambu! And what's not to love. They are super, super soft -- I wish they came in my size!

The pull-on pants are made of 100% bamboo and, like I said, are incredibly soft. The contrasting stitching gives them an extra boost of style.

At 0-3 months, you can see that these fit just fine.

Bethany's opinion of the clothing Jill sent: Well, she would buy the bamboo yoga pants in a second. But she would skip the onesies, since the fit is just not quite right for her long-bodied little man.


Next, there's the lovely little Lady Laura's t-shirt. Adorable. See for yourself:



And yes, the message on the shirt fits her perfectly: Natural Beauty, even if a grandma has to say so! The t-shirt is a size 2 and Laura weighs in at about 24 lbs. here. As with the onesies, the quality is superb:

•100% Organic Cotton
•Made in Fair Trade Facility
•Dyed with eco-friendly, low-impact dyes
•Quality stitching
•Enzyme washed for extra softness

The bottom line when it comes to the Green Baby Clothing Company in my opinion: it rocks! This is one of the finest eco-friendly companies out there when it comes to unique, high quality clothing that is safe to let your children wear!

And I didn't even mention their hats! You have to visit their website to check out their hats. Here's just a preview:

I mean, how cute is that??

The other products you'll find on the GBCC website include:
  • cloth diapers
  • shoes
  • dresses 
  • blankets
  • eco-toys
  • ties
  • leg warmers
  • wraps
  • Amber teething necklaces (and amber jewelry for adults as well!)
  • and more!
Christmas is quickly approaching. Check out Green Baby Clothing Company before you hit the mall. You will be glad you did!

Oh, and I almost forgot, we have another giveaway!! Just to give a lucky GG community member a taste of this awesome company. This is a unique product I am sure you are going to love!

How about a reusable snack bag? The fact that you will save a ton of plastic bags is just one of the reasons why you will love this! The adorable fabric designs are the reason your kids will love it!! Jill has generously offered your choice of any of the designs available as the prize.

Does your little boy love cars? Is your little girl a princess? Who doesn't like the idea of a safari? Handmade in Canada, the 6" x 6" snack bags are BPA free PUL lined and are machine washable.












Again, I am not going to make you jump through hoops to win. Here's what you need to do:
  • Be a follower of the blog (not just a "liker" on Facebook)
  • Post a comment here or on the GG Facebook wall stating which product you'd most like to have from Green Baby Clothing Company. This means you will have to visit their site.
Of course, it would be kind of you to "like" them on Facebook as well. I guarantee you will love the adorable photos Jill posts!

Contest ends at midnight EST on Monday, November 22nd and winner will be chosen via Random.org. Good luck!

Keeping it green and fun,

Hana








Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A stinging neck, a review and a giveaway

"Hey, can you get any more of that Green Salve stuff?" my husband asked.

"You've been using the Green Salve from Motherlove?" I asked back. "What for?"

"It's the only thing I found that stops the stinging on my neck after shaving."

"Really? I thought it was supposed to be for mosquito bites and poison ivy."

"I don't care what it's supposed to be for. I only know that it works for what I'm using it for."

Hmm. Who knew? Julie Hennings, of Motherlove, sent the Green Salve to me so I could try it and review it this past summer. However, I never ended up with poison or itchy bug bites, so I never used it. Well, now I can honestly review it, although I still don't know how it works to relieve itchiness! What it does do, is relieve the discomfort that my husband goes through when he shaves with his electric razor. Bill says it is the best stuff ever. That is quite an endorsement...from a man who didn't even know he was doing a review!

My assumption is that if Green Salve works that well on razor burn, it would work equally well on mosquito bites and rashes from poison ivy, sumac, etc. Going back through the correspondence between Julie and me, I find, to my embarrassment, she did give me a broader purpose of the salve early on. This is what she wrote about it:

In celebration of summer and bug bites, poison ivy and bee stings, I'd like to offer you a sample of Green Salve to review on your site. Green Salve also soothes irritated skin and eases the discomforts of eczema. With certified organic ingredients including comfrey, calendula, and marshmallow root, the salve may just find a permanent home in your medicine cabinet.

Alrighty then, I must have neglected to read the part about irritated skin. Sorry, Julie!

Motherlove is an amazing company, offering safe products to pregnant and breastfeeding women and their families. The company has been a leader in the holistic body care industry since 1990, being dedicated to providing "only the finest, purest products, and using certified organic ingredients designed to nurture, soothe and heal women on their all-important journey of nurturing life."

Of course, there are more reasons to love Motherlove. As stated on their About Us page on their website:

As a major supporter of organic farming and sustainable practices, Motherlove strives to do not only what's best for mothers and babies, but what's best for the environment as well. All our office supplies and packaging is made from recycled materials (as is all company literature), we manufacture using wind credits, and of course, none of our products are ever tested on animals and are completely cruelty free.

What's not to love?! They also support the social environment with their Nurturing Life Foundation, promoting breastfeeding and supporting mothers-in-need nationwide. Over 10% of all company profits is donated to organizations that truly help nurture life, such as The Maternal Wellness Center, Realities for Children and The Mountain Park Environmental Center.

After reading all about the Motherlove company, I finally emailed Julie and let her know about my husband's discovery and promised her the long overdue review. And do you know what she did? She offered two jars of Motherlove Green Salve to the Green Grandma community! Want to win one?

Oh no, what hoops do we have to jump through for this contest? I can hear what you're saying, and I couldn't help rolling my eyes along with you. Some blog contests are so complicated! Not this one.

I will select a winner from my blog followers via Random.org.

Here's what I need from you:

1. Be a follower of the blog.
2. Post a comment here on the blog or on the GG Facebook page saying that you'd like to try the Green Salve. That way I won't be awarding it to someone who doesn't really want to try it.

Those are the requirements. But I would like to also ask a favor of you. Please visit the website for Motherlove and see what other great products they offer. And check out their Facebook page as well. Better yet, like their FB page and post a comment that Green Grandma sent you. Will it earn you more entries? Nope. It would just be nice. Feel free to tweet about the contest as well. Contest ends at midnight EST on Thursday, November 18th. This is a quick one, folks!

That's it. I'm sold on Green Salve. Two lucky winners will soon be sold as well!

Keeping it green with salve,

Hana

Monday, November 15, 2010

America Recycles Day November 15, 2010

Yes, I know, this post is supposed to sum up week 7 of my Sabbath Experiment. But let me tell you, today the subject of recycling is much more important.

As it turns out, Mondays are the day our recycling is picked up in our neighborhood, so I can honestly say we are taking part in America Recycles Day with a very full recycling bin sitting at the edge of our driveway ready for pickup. And I must admit, that feels really good.

Starting in 1997, November 15th is set aside as America Recycles Day -- the only nationally recognized day of its kind. Why ARD? To let people know about recycling; to educate them. To involve community leaders, who may otherwise be lax in their attitude toward recycling. To encourage fuller recycling bins and emptier trash cans.

Recycling matters. That's all there is to it, folks. It matters.

According to Waste Management World, "In 2008, the energy saved by recycling aluminum, plastic PET, glass containers, newsprint and corrugated packaging was equivalent to the amount of gasoline used in nearly 11 million passenger cars in one year; nearly eight percent of electricity generated by fossil fuels in the U.S. in one year; the amount of electricity consumed by over 17 million Americans in one year."

It matters.

I like this comment by Rob Wallace, vice president of Keep America Beautiful, Inc.:

"The whole intent of Recycles Day is to draw attention to recycling as a behavior and as an act, but also as a movement, as something that people are doing and can feel good about."
 
Is your community participating in Amercia Recycles Day? If so, I would love for you to leave a comment telling us about it.
 

Also, I would appreciate it if you would sign the pledge to recycle.
 
The third thing I would ask you to do is to thank one or more of the sponsors of this year's America Recycles Day and support them in their effort to make a difference for the world our children and grandchildren are going to inherit from us.
 
If you have a Disney Store in a mall close to you, drop off a t-shirt today and they will give you a store discount. The t-shirt will be recycled and made into paper. How cool is that?
 
 
 
 

This is an important date in the calendar year. Recognize it. Use it as an excuse to share your own thoughts on living a greener life with with your friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors. Maybe by this time next year, you will be seeing more and more overflowing recycling bins on your street on trash day, instead of filled-to-the-brim trash cans. And let me tell you...that would matter!

Keeping it green through recycling,

Hana

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Photo courtesy of Maureen Profeta
The same forces that hurt widows and orphans, minorities and women, children and the elderly also hurt the songbirds and trout, the ferns and old-growth forests: greed, impatience, selfishness, arrogance, hurry, anger, competition, irreverence -- plus a theology that cares for souls but neglects bodies, that focuses on eternity in heaven but abandons history on earth. When greed and consumerism are exposed, when arrogance and irreverence are unplugged, when hurry and selfishness are named and repented of, when the sacred-secular rift in our thinking is healed, the world and all it contains (widows, orphans, trees, soil) are revalued and made sacred again.

-- Brian McLaren    
Why I Am Green    

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vinegar Fridays

TGIVF!

Another week has flown by. Did anyone use any of the tips from last week to spruce up their kitchens? Are you ready for some more ideas on how to use distilled white vinegar to disinfect and clean your home? Good. Because I am ready to share some with you.

This week we are turning our attention to the walls in our houses. If you haven't cleaned them lately, perhaps now is the time, before we start decking the halls! 

With the summer humidity behind us, remnants of it may remain in the form of mildew on our walls, particularly in the basement. But it is relatively easy to get rid of. Grab your distilled white vinegar (which you are probably buying by the gallon now) and pour it, undiluted onto a cloth or sponge. Simply wipe the mildew away. This is also a good way to deodorize the walls and clean the residue away left behind by smokers in the home.

To clean woodwork, dilute a cup of vinegar in a gallon of warm water with a cup of baking soda mixed in. Dampen a soft cloth with the natural cleaning solution and wipe.


Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil
 Revive the luster of wood paneling by wiping with a damp, but not wet, cloth. The solution? 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 cups warm water.

Now this one is for the more ambitious ones among us. If you are planning on getting the wallpaper off your walls, make the job a bit easier by saturating the surface with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and hot water. Hint: the application is a bit easier when you use a paint roller.

How about crayon on the walls? It is always such a pleasant surprise when you discover your little one has exercised his artistic license on the wall of your dining room! But once again, vinegar comes to the rescue. Apply undiluted distilled white vinegar to the wax scribblings and then erase them by scrubbing with an old toothbrush sprinkled with baking soda. Voila! Artwork gone, paint unmarred.

Enjoy getting your walls in shape for the upcoming holidays! For those of us in Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas, it is going to be more like spring cleaning this weekend, as we enjoy temps in the 60s and plenty of sunshine.

Keeping it green with vinegar,

Hana

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What kind of freedom were they fighting for?

Happy Veteran's Day!

To all of you who served or stayed behind as your son, daughter, husband, wife, mother or father served in our armed forces...THANK YOU! I am eternally grateful for your sacrifice.

To those of you who lost a loved one as they selflessly served our country, you have my deepest sympathy and respect. I can only hope you have been covered by God's abundant grace and mercy as you walked the lonely path of grief.

My father, Harold V. Haatainen and my step-father, Daniel W. Wagner, both served in WWII and for that, I am grateful.

On May 1, 1945, the USS Terror was hit by a kamikaze, resulting in 171 casualties: 41 dead, 7 missing and 123 wounded. Dan was among the wounded, earning him a Purple Heart.

But what exactly were they fighting for? What type of freedom is worth dying for?

Somehow, I doubt many were risking their lives so Americans could have the freedom to publish and sell garbage like the ebook I just discovered being offered for download by Amazon.com. The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct, written by Philip R. Greaves II, is a filthy self-published guide offering advice to pedophiles. Since it contains no illustrations, it is not classified as child pornography, therefore, it is not considered illegal. Really?! Since when is any type of sexual relationship with a child legal? But in publishing a guide for pedophiles, there is an unspoken, but very LOUD, endorsement of this type of activity. And no matter how you look at it, "loving" a child in this way has to be classified as child abuse. Period.

Unfortunately, this is not the only book of this type being sold on Amazon.com. There are also the controversial books, Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers and Could They All Have Been Wrong by David Riegel, more garbage condoning sex with children with arguments that sexual relationships between men and boys are perfectly natural and simply another expression of acceptable sexuality.

Interestingly enough, just three years ago, Amazon.com pulled a video game from their listings. RapeLay was just a bit too graphic for Amazon's tastes, I suppose. I mean after all, it is just not right to sell a video game where the main character rapes a mother and her daughters, now is it? Media and public outcry provoked a response from Amazon and the game is no longer available on their site.

So here is what I propose. Let us start a public outcry that garners some media attention and demand that these two books be pulled from the site as well. I am calling for a boycott of Amazon, who, until yesterday, advertised here on the blog. Close your accounts with Amazon, email them, email your family and friends, share this post, get your contacts on your social media sites buzzing and let's put an end to this nonsense.

Of course, I am not asking you to do this for me. I am asking you do this out of respect for those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. After all, freedom comes with responsibility, and books encouraging the sexual abuse of children are nothing but irresponsible.

Now, before you start spouting off at me about First Amendment Rights, save your breath. There is nothing you could say to convince me that this type of garbage was what our forefathers had in mind when they penned the Constitution.

So, as you honor our veterans, both alive and dead, spend some time thinking about why they serve(d). It is about freedom, my friends. But somehow, Amazon.com is missing the boat, or in this case, the warship.

Thanking God for our veterans,

Hana

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wear it, don't chew it!

Have you heard the buzz about Baltic amber teething necklaces? To tell you the truth, when I first heard about them, I thought they were something teething babies were supposed to munch on. I was wrong.

Teething necklaces are to be worn, not chewed. As a matter of fact, you should never allow your child to put the amber in his mouth. So how do they relieve the discomfort of those little molars poking through? It is all about the Baltic amber, with its abundance of Succinic Acid, known for its pain relieving properties.

So who came up with this new trend? Well, actually, there's nothing new about it. For centuries, Baltic amber has been used to treat a variety of disorders. While it looks like a colored stone, it is actually fossilized tree resin. When placed directly against the warmth of the skin, the oils are released, providing healing and relief to common ailments.

My daughter just ordered matching necklaces for her son and herself, much to the chagrin of her husband, who was not too keen on Lincoln sporting a beaded necklace! But when those teeth start coming in and the baby is not overly bothered by them, he might change his tune.

Here's the thing with the teething necklaces -- they must be worn directly against the skin in order to reap the therapeutic benefits. The more hours they are worn, the more pain relief they will provide. So it is best to keep them on your baby or toddler as much as possible. Of course, you do not want to put him or her to bed wearing the necklace, so make sure you take it off before laying your little one down in the crib. If you really want to keep the benefit going, simply wrap the necklace around your child's ankle a couple of times and cover it up with a sock when you put him to bed. You also want to remove the necklace before bathing your child.

The bottom line is the analgesic properties of Baltic amber work to ease the pain of teething, which I think is such a cool thing. No need for medication with all its possible side effects. What could be better than that?

While amber is found in many places, researchers have found that the Baltic amber contains the most Succinic Acid, so it naturally provides the most benefits.

I like the look of the darker amber, but for the best pain relief, you want to choose the lightest colors. If your baby drools a bit too much on the necklace, simply clean it with warm water and a cloth, avoiding any kinds of soaps, detergents or oils. You don't want the amber to end up coated with some type of residue, after all.

When I first learned about the teething necklaces a few months ago, I immediately ordered one for Laura, and I have to admit, she looks adorable in it! I bought it from Green Baby Clothing Company, a wonderful Canadian company that sells the most adorable children's clothing that is guaranteed to be safe for your children to wear.

This is one of the wonderful teething necklaces available on the GBCC site.
So, before you reach for the Orajel, why not hop over to the GBCC website and check out their Baltic amber teething necklaces. Stylish, affordable and effective...what more could you want? Well, maybe one for yourself. In that case, check out Inspired by Finn. They carry children's and adult's necklaces, bracelets and more. Well worth a look. You can also click on the Adult link on the GBCC site for a variety of sizes for amber necklaces for the grown ups, too!

If you visit either of these sites and decide to make a purchase, let them know Green Grandma sent you.

Keeping it green and healthy,

Hana

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Green wheels

Feeling a bit greener today...yesterday I picked up my 2010 Honda Insight EX...the hybrid car the ETA (Environmental Transport Association) named the #1 Green Car of the Year. But, as many of you probably know, buying or leasing a car takes up some serious hours out of your day. Thus, I am behind on my blog.

So, with that said, I must get on with working my "real" job and I will just catch you all tomorrow.

Feeling green behind the wheel,

Hana

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 7

I have to admit it, I'm not feeling rested this beautiful Monday morning. Not that I worked yesterday...but I also didn't rest. Let me tell you, this isn't working out quite the way I wanted it to. The only thing I seem to be sticking to is not getting on my computer and working on my actual job. But I didn't really do any work around the house, either. So, like I said in a previous post, it is not just about not working, it is about resting and that is something I simply did not do yesterday.

Started the day at church. Bill taught the Jr. and Sr. High kids, along with one adult who wandered into class and stayed, and I practiced with the worship band. That was followed by the actual worship service. The kids and grandkids joined us for lunch and then hung out at the house for awhile. By 4:30 everyone was gone and Bill and I headed over to the hospital to visit Lois, a friend who has been in a coma for two weeks now following surgery for a brain aneurysm. If you are on the GG Facebook page, this is the friend I have been asking you to pray for.

Bill and I stood by Lois's side with her daughter and we prayed for her, just like we did at church...just like we do in the car, and in bed and at work. Like we do when we sit down to a meal. Like we do...well...all the time, basically. Over the weekend, a new aneurysm appeared. More bleeding. More concern. Same God. And we believe He's going to heal her. If you would like to follow Lois's journey, the family set up a webpage with Caring Bridge. Feel free to visit.

We left the hospital and drove around the area a bit, looking for a place to eat. We ended up in Shadyside at Doc's Place, a pleasant enough restaurant/bar where we sat close to a man who so closely resembled Hugh Laurie (House) that for awhile we weren't sure that it wasn't him. He had the same scruffy beard and dressed like House. The giveaway to us that it wasn't really Laurie, was when the man got up and walked past us limping!! For those of you who watch the show HOUSE, you will know that the character Laurie plays uses a cane and has a distinctive limp, but the actor himself does not. This look-alike was just milking his resemblance to the hilt!! He probably loves watching people like us turning to look at him, talking softly to each other, turning to look again! Have you ever run across someone like that?

By the time we got home, it was late and we were beat. It was a long day. I resisted the urge to check my email, staying true to that aspect of my Sabbath experiment. And to be fair to myself, I didn't really do anything against my own Sabbath "bylaws." Worship service, visiting the sick, not even preparing my own meals...I guess I can't say it was a "fail." I just wish I wasn't so darned tired this morning!

Have you started your own Sabbath experiment? How's that going for you? Maybe next week I'll get to actually rest a bit.

Giving you a glimpse into my Sundays,

Hana

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Home is the bottom line of life,
the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions
are hammered out --
the single most influential force
in our earthly existence.
No price tag can adequately reflect its value.

-- Charles Swindoll                                 
Home: Where Life Makes Up Its Mind

Friday, November 5, 2010

Opera Company of Philadelphia "Hallelujah!" Random Act of Culture

Vinegar Fridays

TGIVF!

What a week! The elections were exciting to watch...at least in Pennsylvania where neck-in-neck results were coming in; 50/50 ties keeping us on the edge of our seats waiting for someone to pull ahead.

On the blog, we have dealt with some pretty heavy topics. I hope you liked the tips from Rosemary yesterday...tips on perfect gifts from child caregivers to working moms. Now before you SAHMs jump on me...I know all moms are working moms, but you know what I mean. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you don't need gifts from child caregivers, do you? So "working outside of the home" was implied here.

I thought I would end the week with some good ol' vinegar tips. I, myself, am loving so many of things I have learned about vinegar. How about you? Today, let's stick to distilled white vinegar in the kitchen.
  • Can opener. I hope none of you reading this is actually still using electricity to open a can, which I find totally unnecessary, unless you have a condition, such as arthritis, which makes it difficult to open cans otherwise. I, personally, have a wall mounted can opener, just like my mother's, that works wonderfully! But it does get goopy, just like the handheld openers do. All you need to do to clean the goop off the wheel of your can opener, simply wet an old toothbrush with vinegar and scrub away. You will find your opener operating smoothly in no time.
  • Lunch box. Have you ever opened a lunch box, only to be assaulted by some nasty odors? It happens to the best of us. Food is left behind in the box over the weekend and it is stinky when opened! Super Vinegar to the rescue! This is so cool, your kids might start leaving leftovers in their lunch boxes on purpose! Simply soak a piece of bread in DSV, put it in the box and let it do its magic overnight. This is a good thing to do with some stale bread you are not going to eat anyway.
  • Aluminum pot. Do you cook in aluminum pots? I know there was an Alzheimer's scare awhile back that linked this insidious disease with aluminum, so people started tossing out their aluminum cookware. But the claims were later refuted. So, if you still use aluminum, you know how the pots can eventually end up with dark stains in them. Just put a cup of water and a cup of vinegar in the pot and boil for a few minutes. This should take care of the stains.
  • Microwave. Cleaning the inside of the microwave couldn't be easier! Even if you have baked on, splattered food inside, all you have to do is put a microwave-safe bowl in the center of the oven with 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Cook on high for :90 and then let sit for a few minutes. Do not remove right away! The liquid will be scalding hot! After it has cooled down a bit, just remove the bowl and wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth. Here's a tip for what to do with the hot liquid -- you can deodorize your drain by pouring in a cup of baking soda and washing it down with the hot liquid. Waste not, want not!
  • Refrigerator. Have you ever had company and they open the refrigerator to retrieve a drink or place a dessert they brought on one of the shelves and suddenly, as if seeing it for the first time, you realize how dirty the inside is? Avoid the embarrassment by regularly wiping down the shelves with a 50/50 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. This will not only keep your fridge sparkling, but it will disinfect it as well. Sure beats spraying the shelves with a commercial chemically-laden cleaner full of toxins!! And then there is that sticky grime problem on the top of the refrigerator. Ick. This will require some full-strength DWV! Dilution is certainly not the answer for this one! Pour some on and scrub away. Do not expect the grime to just dissolve away, however. This one requires some old-fashioned elbow grease.
  • Oven door. Again, we are talking full-strength here. Open the door and pour undiluted distilled white vinegar on the glass. Let it set for 15 minutes or so and then wipe with a sponge. If you haven't cleaned your oven door in awhile, you will be amazed that you can actually see inside of it when you flip on the light...I was!
  • Counter tops. This is easy. Just wipe them down with a rag saturated with undiluted vinegar. They will be clean and disinfected!
  • Sink. If your sink needs a good scouring, do not reach for the Comet! Simply add a little bit of DWV to a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid dish soap and scrub away!
  • Chrome. Make your fixtures shiny with a homemade paste made by adding 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar. Cheap, simple...and non-toxic!!
  • Cloudy glassware. Don't you hate drinking from cloudy glasses? Yuck. You can make them sparkle again by simply wrapping them (inside and out) with a cloth saturated in undiluted vinegar. Let them sit overnight and rinse them with hot water in the morning.
  • Plastic containers. If your plastic containers (BPA-free, I hope) are stained, just wipe them out with some distilled white vinegar on a dishcloth. It should take care of the problem. This also works at getting any bad smells out of the containers.
Well, that's it for this week. I hope you will find some of these tips helpful as you tackle your weekend cleaning chores. Have a good one!

Keeping it green with vinegar,

Hana

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nana Time

Today I would like to share some grandmotherly tips from a woman in my writers' group. Guest blogger, Rosemary McLaughlin, is a retired English teacher and writer who addresses the issue of homemade gifts, just in time for holiday gift-giving! Thanks for sharing, Rosemary!

I have always been fascinated by the pioneer custom of making all your own gifts. Unfortunately, I have very little talent to create handspun fabrics, pickle my own piccalilli, or paint portraits. I do have an imagination, however, which is the same imagination God gave all mothers.

My mother was able to entertain my brothers and me with a ball made out of all the socks that weren’t worth a darn—literally. Imagine, a ball we were allowed to throw in the house! It was a great little handmade gift that was all about recycling before it became the “it” thing.

After I retired and began watching my granddaughter, I wanted to make a special gift for my daughter who was missing some precious moments with her two-year old. I made her a little photo gift book with pictures of all the things we did in a day. There were the usual pictures of our little Lizzie sleeping, eating and watching Sesame Street. I added pictures of story time at the library—complete with librarian. Also included were The Eagle’s Nest at our local grocery store and the childcare worker who watched Lizzie while I shopped. Some of the most precious pictures included Lizzie with me at morning Mass and Lizzie playing our favorite game “Name that Vegetable.” I still laugh when I think of Lizzie holding an acorn squash and a green pepper and looking very quizzical. I used my computer to make up captions and print up some clip art to go along with the pictures. I called the book “Nana Time.” My daughter could not have been more touched.

Another gift that she enjoyed, but not quite as much as “Nana Time,” was a freezer full of frozen dinners. Let’s face it, what working woman would not love homecooked meals waiting for her after work? See, we don’t have to knit or paint after all to please the ones we love with gifts from the heart.

Rosemary

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"It's for the best," and other stupid things you shouldn't say out loud

Following yesterday's post about baby Gabriel, I thought it would be appropriate to follow up by addressing the sensitive subject of what not to say to someone who has experienced the loss of a child...either by miscarriage or stillbirth, because, let's face it -- people say stupid things.

A couple who has just experienced the devastating loss of their child does not need to hear your philosophy on it. They don't need to hear that it (the death of their baby) is for the best. They don't want to hear that this is God's will. No matter how profound your thoughts may be, please, please, keep them to yourselves. The grieving parents simply need your presence, a gentle understanding touch, someone to cry with, someone to listen.

My daughter found out very early when she was pregnant with her second child. When she miscarried, some people said things that not only hurt her, but actually made her angry.

"Well, you shouldn't have taken that pregnancy test so early. Then you wouldn't have even known you were pregnant."

Somehow, they missed the point. She did know she was pregnant. She wanted this baby. She was already falling in love and then, suddenly, without warning, this little life was no more.

"I know how you feel," someone said to her. "When I decided to end my pregnancy, I felt the same way."

What?? How could she possibly think that was the same?

Here are some other things that are often said...and shouldn't be!
  • At least you have your other child(ren). Sorry, but that doesn't make the loss of this one hurt any less. Maybe it should, but it simply doesn't. Children can't be replaced.
  • Maybe God doesn't want you to be a mother. Excuse me? Were you talking to me...because I'm pretty sure we won't be talking ever again.
  • Oh my gosh. What did you do? I mean, do you think you did something wrong? Oh my gosh. I think my mistake was talking to you in the first place.
  • Well, he's in heaven now. Your own little angel. I don't want him in heaven. I want him here in my arms. And he's not an angel. Read up on your theology.
  • You're young. You can have more children. I wanted this child.
  • Don't cry. You know this is for the best. Umm...best for whom?
  • There was probably something wrong with baby. Be grateful you don't have to raise a handicapped child or something. Grateful? Wow, that wasn't an emotion I had even considered.
  • Look at the bright side -- now you can go out partying again. Sorry...think I'll pass.
  • Don't be so sad. C'mon, that's not like you. Nothing will ever be "like me" again. Part of my heart is gone.
If you find yourself in one of those awkward, uncomfortable situations where you just don't know what to say, simply offer a genuine, "I'm sorry," and leave it at that. Add a gentle touch. Look the couple in the eyes, making sure compassion is showing in yours.

Pregnancy loss happens. It happens more often than you know. Chances are quite high that there is someone close by right now who has suffered this kind of loss. Just because it is somewhat common (one out of every three pregnancies), that doesn't make it any less devastating to the couples it happens to. Even if they seem okay, chances are, they're not. And chances are your offering a flippant observation will do little more than inflict more pain, regardless of your intention.

To Gabriel's parents, and to Brandon's, and to the parents of countless others whose names I do not know, I offer you my sincere sympathy. May God heal your broken hearts.

Hana

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Angel Gabriel

My friend and fellow-blogger, Jen Meyercheck, asked me to share this story with you. She posted it on her wonderful blog, imanimama, last week. Be prepared to be touched by the story of an earthly angel who is now cradled in the arms of heavenly ones. Here is her story:

This has been a tough week. There’s no way to sugar-coat it for you.

Photo courtesy of Anna Cervova
A dear friend, who was 38 weeks pregnant with a healthy, lively baby boy, learned that her son had passed away just days before he was to be born. Gabriel Eric was born still on Tuesday, October 26 at 2:14 p.m. He weighed 7 lbs, 9 oz and was between 22-24 inches long. I had the awesome privilege of being able to see him in the hours following his birth, and had the enormous honor of kissing his angelic face to say “see you soon”.

As much as I could say about how life-changing this whole experience has been (and will continue to be), and as much as I could say about Mike and Kristen, Gabriel’s parents, and the incredible glory of God they have shown through their mourning, I could never sum it up better than the eulogy written by my friend Kat, who put pen to paper following his death and allowed God to whisper to her the words He wanted to say.
Please share this story. It is truly one of inspiration in the face of unspeakable tragedy and sorrow.

My name is Kat, and I’m one of Gabriel’s “aunties.” There is so much that I could say, but I really felt led to talk about one thing, and that is to tell you about Gabriel’s life.

Gabriel Eric Wirth was a real person who lived for 38 weeks on this Earth and was called home by Jesus on October 26. I was privileged to get a chance to see Gabriel and hold him after he was born. Let me tell you, he is a beautiful child. We’re not talking about the kind of fake “aww, he’s cute!” that you say but on the inside you are thinking otherwise. Gabriel is the real deal, an absolutely darling little boy. The spitting image of his mother (sorry Mike!) Kristen told me he was so pink when he was born, and his beautiful blue eyes were even open for a while. He looked so sweet wrapped up in beautiful blue blankets, with a tiny blue cap on his head and little blue booties on his feet. Kristen and Mike are so proud of him, and they should be for good reason.

As any mother who has carried a child can tell you, that child’s personality is apparent long before the child is born. God knew Gabriel intimately, too, of course. Psalm 139: 13-15:
 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Gabriel made his mother, Kristen, so happy during her pregnancy. She was just glowing, even towards the end. Gabriel was a good, strong, active baby. A typical rambuncious little boy. Mike had not been able to hear Gabriel’s strong heartbeat at any of Kristen’s appointments, because of his work schedule. A few weeks before his birth, one of Kristen’s tests came back abnormal and the hospital called in the middle of the night and insisted that they rush in to be checked out. Mike told me he grumbled about it at the time, but he now realizes that God certainly arranged this so he could hear the beautiful, strong sound of his son’s heartbeat one time.

Gabriel especially loved it when Kristen would eat spicy ethnic food, like Indian, Japanese and Mexican! That would really get him kicking! Even in the womb he had a bent for all things multi-cultural and international. Perhaps this means he would have been either an overseas missionary (or a multinational mogul!).

But even without ever taking a breath, Gabriel is a missionary. Every single person who has heard Gabriel’s story and Kristen and Mike’s testimony has had two reactions. First, they say “my life will never be the same.” Then they are drawn before God. Some have come before God for healing from this intense grief. Some come before God just to intercede for this family and pray for God’s spirit to be upon them. Some (like myself, I will not lie), have come before God really, really angry. Some of us have been in God’s face about this, pounding on His chest and screaming “How can you let this happen?” Begging to know why, why, WHY? Using words we are not supposed to say in church. That’s ok, He can handle it. Some, even Gabriel’s amazing parents, have come before God singing his praise in spite of the pain. And some, perhaps some who don’t know Jesus as Lord, are wondering, “what will happen to me when I die?”

Gabriel is a missionary already, for sure. Without ever even seeing the light of one sunrise, Gabriel has made more of an impact in his short life than most of us will in 100 years.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this. Gabriel is of course named for one of God’s most trusted messengers. Gabriel’s middle name, Eric, is after his uncle. Mike’s brother Eric died at age 3, before Mike was born. We have no doubt that those two precious boys are already well acquainted.

Gabriel Eric is such a beautiful, meaningful name. Please don’t be afraid to say it and to share his story. The world needs to hear about him.

I’d like to close by reading a letter that I wrote to Gabriel.

Dear sweet, sweet baby boy,

We have no doubt at all where you are right now, but I just wanted to tell you how much we miss you and ache for you. Your big sister Hannah will struggle to understand why she can’t hold her much-anticipated baby brother. Your grandparents long to hold you and rock you and sing to you, and spoil you rotten. Your aunties at church were so looking forward to oohing and aahing over you, buying you cute little outfits and watching you smile and grow.

And your parents, Gabriel. You have some amazing parents. I have never known the true meaning of “the joy of the Lord” until I met your mother, Gabriel. She is just sunshine. Even through the crushing physical and emotional pain and the tears, she is still pure sunshine. And so incredibly brave and strong. She gave you a beautiful birth, Gabriel, fitting of the angel that you are. I am so sad that you won’t get to grow up with that kind of a mother here on this earth. If only all mothers were like yours, Gabriel, the world wouldn’t have any problems.

And your dad, Gabriel. He is the rock of your family. What an amazing father. He told me two things the day you were born. First of all, he said that he wanted a viewing at your service because this is his SON, not some abstract concept. He wants people to see you because you are beautiful, and he’s proud of you. He also said that in every picture taken that day, he is smiling because he’s proud of his boy and he wants everyone to see that and remember that he was so happy to be his dad. Wow. That is a father.

I was talking to your grandma Denise about the way time is in heaven. Of course we don’t know exactly what it’s like, but I’m taking my cues from Psalm 90 verse 4:

For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.

Time seems to be going so slowly here, and we feel like we will be trapped in grief and sorrow forever. But for you, sweet Gabriel, maybe it will feel like only a split second. You’ll turn around and…”Grandma!” For you it will seem as though she’s been there right behind you all along.

We can’t wait to see you again, Gabriel. Until then our hearts are heavy, but we know right where you are. We love you, precious boy. See you soon.

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