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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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Save the Bees!


Have you heard about Colony Collapse Disorder? That's what scientists have dubbed the growing crisis as the U.S. honey bee population has continued to dwindle. As a matter of fact, some estimates are as high as a 30% decline per year since 2006. This is ugly, folks. Why?

Simply because bees play an important role in our food production. Without bees to pollinate our crops, the food supply will dwindle as well.

There are many theories as to why the bees are dying off. Some suggest it is because of cell phones and other wireless devices. However, there is increasing evidence that the reason is because of pesticides, particularly clothianidin, a chemical produced by Bayer CropScience in Germany. Oddly enough, this chemical is banned in Germany, joining France, Slovenia and Italy in the prohibition of its use.

Unfortunately, there has yet to be a major independent study as to the safety of this chemical. Even though the pesticide has been used on corn crops in the U.S. for the past eight years, it only received official approval from the EPA in 2010, based solely on a study conducted by, you guessed it, Bayer itself! Hmm. Is it possible that the Environmental Protection Agency is more concerned with protecting big corporations than the actual environment? Unthinkable!

The bottom line is that clothianidin is in the family of neonicotinoid pesticides that have been proven to be highly toxic to honey bees. If we're treating our crops with something that kills the bees, yet at the same time we're depending on the bees to do their work, there seems to be a conflict here. Plus, suppliers are selling seeds already treated with clothianidin.

What can we do? Well, once again, I am asking you to contact the EPA to tell them you are behind an immediate ban on the use of clothiandin until a full scientific review is completed that conclusively determines its impact on the population of these valuable insects. It's a simple online petition and it will take only a minute of your time. If we don't start being proactive in protecting the environment for future generations, we have become a sad, sad society.

Keeping you informed,

Hana

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review It Wednesday...Are you nuts?!

"Are you nuts?" was pretty much the response I got from my husband when he first heard about soap nuts. "You're going to wash clothes with these?" he asked as he held a few of them in his hands. "Do you want to explain to me how exactly they are going to get the clothing clean?"

Well, I didn't really have an explanation. And, quite honestly, I had my doubts. I mean they were, after all, just a bunch of nut shells.

So, with a bit of trepidation, I put 5 of them in the little cloth drawstring bag that accompanied them, and I tossed them into the water with a load of towels. I skipped my usual vinegar rinse, since the instructions said not to use fabric softener and vinegar is my fabric softener. And, of course, I did not add any detergent.

After the cycle ran, I was eager to check the results. The first thing that hit me as I pulled a towel from the washer was the amazing scent! Like my husband said, the towels smelled like they'd just come in from the clothesline. Amazingly clean smelling!

I tossed the towels in the dryer with my wool dryer balls, as it was not a hanging-on-the-line kind of a day, and let me tell you -- they came out looking and smelling clean. Plus, as an added bonus, they were super soft and fluffy as well. I must say that static was an issue as the curtains I'd added to the wash clung to the towels like a co-dependent girlfriend or boyfriend. But to be truthful, I haven't found anything that works on static so far.

Next, I did a load of throw rugs. Same pleasant results. Then it was time for my delicates, which I never put in the dryer. Even after drying on the line in the basement, they still had the same fresh, springlike scent. Amazing. I think I'm in love.


But what exactly am I in love with? Eco Nuts, Organic Laundry Soap in the form of dried fruit shells from the Sapindus mukorossi tree in Nepal, India and Indonesia. Sounds strange, I know, but you have to try these to believe it. Residents of India and China have been using these for centuries and finally, Europeans and Americans are finally catching on to the wonders of these magical little soap nuts!

Here's what the flyer in the package of sample Eco Nuts says about them:

"Eco Nuts contain saponin, a natural cleaner that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric and leaving dirt suspended in the water to be rinsed away."

It sounds like a wild sci-fi experiment to me!

The flyer continues:

"Eco Nuts are gentle on both clothes and skin, making them ideal for those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies and psoriasis. Because they are so mild and leave no residuals, they are perfect for baby clothes and cloth diapers. The antimicrobial properties of Eco Nuts also make them great for septic and grey water systems."

Did you read that ... perfect for baby clothes and cloth diapers? How many commercial detergents can truly boast that claim?

And here's the thing, these mighty soap nuts work well in any temperature water, which means all the cold water washing I do is just fine. And they can be used in both standard and high-efficiency washing machines.

Eco Nuts even work well as a multipurpose soap. You simply put 5 of the soap nuts in the little fabric bag you use for your wash loads and soak it in a cup of hot water for about five minutes. Add this mix to a bucket of water and you're good to go! From outdoor equipment to delicate jewelry to even Fido and Fluffy! Soap nuts are multi-purpose little cleaning machines!

There's something else to love about Eco Nuts -- the company uses absolutely NO PLASTIC! They only use aluminum bottles, recycled cardboard and paper scoops.

But my daughter is allergic to peanuts! Can I still use soap nuts?

Absolutely! Why? Because soap nuts aren't actually nuts at all. They are a berry fruit similar to the lychee. All Eco Nuts products are cruelty-free, paraben-free and vegan.

Why should you buy Eco Nuts over other soap nut brands? And it's not just because they sent me this sample to try for free! This is why:

Eco Nuts™ are wild-harvested, meaning they are gathered from wild trees grown without any kind of chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. The saponin actually tastes bad to insects so no pesticides are needed, and the trees naturally love poor uncultivated soil. They are organically grown by mother earth and certified USDA Organic by EcoCert at the source.

I'm hard-pressed to think that I would go back to liquid or powder detergent ever again. In just a few loads of laundry, I became an Eco Nuts convert. Give them a try. I'm pretty much betting you'll be joining me in the Eco Nuts fan club!
 
Click here for a list of retailers in the U.S., Japan, U.K. and Canada currently carrying Eco Nuts. Canadian friends can contact Jill at Green Baby Clothing Company and tell her Green Grandma sent you! Of course, she ships to the U.S. as well, so my friends in the States can place their orders with her as well.

If you truly want to reduce your environmental impact, Eco Nuts is just one more product that will help you do just that.

Keeping it green,

Hana

Click here for more information about the amazing world of soap nuts!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fresh as a spring breeze...or toxic as the local landfill?

Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil
I love the Glade commercials. And as an actress/voice over talent, I am truly envious of the woman who landed that gig! She has serious money rolling in!

What I don't love is this wonderful promotion of something so toxic and harmful to the health of the families who are lured into poisoning their homes for the sake of an 'Hawaiian Breeze!' Not to mention the absurdity of the plug-ins, which suck up electricity. Seriously?!

Air "fresheners," for the most part, do nothing to actually freshen the air. At best, they mask odors. At worst, they coat the inside of your nose with an oily film so you can no longer detect the offensive odor.

Here's the story -- most commercial air fresheners contain toxins that are related to a variety of symptoms, such as:
  • asthmatic episodes
  • confusion
  • coughing
  • dizziness
  • eye irritation
  • headaches (including migraines)
  • skin rashes
  • sore throats
Really? Yes, really. And here's the reason why -- most of the air fresheners you purchase at the store (after being duped by some rather clever advertising and seductive aromas) contain the following:
  • artificial fragrance (packed full of their own set of toxins)
  • camphor
  • ethanol
  • formaldehyde
  • phenol
Go ahead...head to your cupboard and grab a can, box or bottle. Read the label. Oh, but wait...there's a little FDA glitch here that excuses manufacturers from listing certain ingredients, such as phthalates, used in synthetic fragrances. That little loophole is packed full of potential problems for the naive consumer. If the word 'fragrance' is listed, chances are there are toxins hidden inside.

In a study of fourteen air fresheners done by the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), twelve had hormone-disrupting compounds in them. That's 85% folks! And don't forget those little cardboard things you hang in your cars -- they're simply not healthy!

My advice? Skip the air freshener aisle at the grocery store or your favorite bath and body shop. Open your windows and air out your house from time to time (nothing smells better, unless you live in farm country during fertilizing season). If you want to make your bedrooms smell amazing -- skip the "Springtime Fresh" air freshener and simply hang your sheets on the line. Nothing smells better than fresh air and sunshine infused sheets!

Add live plants to your decor. (Check out the post I did awhile back regarding which plants were best at eliminating toxins from the air.)

Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets and upolstery before vacuuming.

Kill odors by mix up your own air freshener with vinegar, baking soda and water.

Buy natural and organic air fresheners -- Leaf & Bud Naturals has an awesome line of natural spritzes that can be used on either your body or in the air. Fragrances include:
  • Vanilla
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Sandlewood
  • Jasmine
  • Cinnamon/Ylang Ylang
  • Tangerine/Grapefruit
  • Ginger Mint
  • Patchouli/Orange
So whether you're looking for something relaxing, refreshing, reviving, sensual, comforting or purifying, you'll have no trouble finding it at Leaf & Bud Naturals. It's as simple as that! And you'll be hard-pressed to find nicer folks to deal with.

Now you're armed with the knowledge needed to not fall victim to the advertisers' traps! After all, you're responsible for the health of your families. And I know you take that responsibility seriously.

Keeping it healthy,

Hana

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 25


Photo courtesy of Vera Kratochvil

What a fantastic weekend! I am starting the work week off feeling refreshed and content...although the panic of too much to do is starting to creep up and is threatening to rob me of these sweet emotions!

My husband and I actually went out to sing Karaoke on Friday night. It used to be a regular activity of ours, but we haven't done this since September, so it was a nice treat. I even got a standing ovation for my rendition of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," and Bill got some rousing hoots and applause for "Unchained Melody." It was a fun night and a nice crowd. Unfortunately, when we went out to my car, we discovered someone had tried to break in and the alarm, which must have been going off for a long time, wore the battery done. Nothing like waiting for roadside assistance at 2 a.m.!

After a day of cleaning on Saturday, we participated in Earth Hour in the evening. We set up a card table in front of the fireplace and dined by candlelight. All the electric items in our home were turned off and/or unplugged, with the exception of the refrigerator and the furnace (which we turned way down). While Earth Hour was only from 8:30-9:30, we didn't end up turning our lights back on until 11:50. After dinner, we played Bananagrams. The candles lit the table enough to be able to see the tiles. At 10:00, we did turn on the television and watched a movie, but that was the only electricity we used.

Green Grandpa suggested we do this weekly. I countered with the idea to make it a monthly thing and would like to challenge all of you in the GG community to join us in one hour electricity shutdown on the last Friday of every month. While Earth Hour was a specific designated hour worldwide, I understand special issues that can arise with putting children to bed, etc., so my proposal is to choose an hour between 6 and 11 p.m. Bill and I will be doing this faithfully and I encourage you to pledge to join us. Of course, circumstances might interfer at times, but I ask you to make a concerted effort. Let me know your thoughts on this.

On Sunday, I was blessed to be able to join in worship with my church family again. After missing the last two weeks, it was a special treat. And, of course, we had our weekly family lunch after church...one of the highlights of every week. Since it was the last Sunday of the month, it was Dominoes night with "Fred" and "Joyce." We shared a meal with them and then got competitive! I actually won this time. We also told Fred about the research regarding breast milk as a cure for cancer. After I blogged about Fred's cancer, one of the members of the GG community sent me a message and told me to look into this. From what I read, the news is promising on this front. Why haven't we heard more about it? Well, for one thing, there hasn't been a lot of research because ... pharmaceutical companies have nothing to gain. Sound cynical? Yeah. I am.

So today, Fred is researching this option. Perhaps this is exactly what we've been praying for.

The Sabbath Experiment continues to bless my life. I hope my journey is inspiring you toward a journey of your own.

Avoiding work on the Sabbath,

Hana

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Strength in beauty

Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength
that will endure as long as life lasts.

-- Rachel Carson      

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mommy, can I have a puppy?

Over a year ago, Becca Smith started following this blog. Last May, she guest blogged for me, sharing her wisdom as a single mom who prides herself in not being the cool mom on the block.

For many years, she worked as a veterinary technician, and has vast knowledge in the field of pets and their human companions. So I asked Becca to write another guest post for me about the whole issue of children and pets. When should you get your child a pet? What kind of pet should you get? These were questions I asked her to address and she graciously agreed to do so for today's blog.

Thank you, Becca...oh, and the snake picture is just for you : )


GG's cat Hadaash
 
How Old is Old Enough?



Parents often wonder, how old is old enough to get their child a pet?

As a previous veterinary technician with 15 years in small animal practice, I was often asked about this. Would it be when said child asks for one? When you see something you always wanted? When the impulse hits at a rescue event or when a family member can no longer keep a pet and asks your family to help?

All these times could be the time, but there are a few things to keep in mind about your child, their age and the type of pet you bring into your home before you do so. In my experience, you should not get a pet for a child under the age of three. Not only are children this young not able to provide care for the pet, but they often don't understand the difference between real and play. The stuffed bear they drag by one leg is cute but it won't make a kitten too happy and both could end up hurt and in need of medical care. Even if you already have family pets, toddlers and pets should always be supervised. Kids are kids and your pets are animals...no matter how sweet they are, it's best to always be cautious.

GG's Jardine parrot Morgan
Ages 3 to 6 is a good age to allow your children to assist with some pet care. They can help fill water bowls and let Fido out to play in a fenced yard. If you have a mellow pet you could encourage your child to sit with the pet and read to him while you sit nearby. Or, if the pet enjoys grooming, let your child brush him. At this age, you can introduce pets like goldfish, but remember, they usually don't live long and to lose a pet can be difficult for many small children. Birds, like finches, are noisy and active and kids may enjoy them, but again, they don't have long life spans and they need an adult to feed, water and care for the cages. (No freeing Tweety please!)

Reptiles are not good pets for children of this age, as children often have their hands on or near their mouths and they can pick up some nasty illnesses. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), recommends that the following households should not own reptiles if anyone in the home:

GG's daughter with her pet snake
• is immune suppressed
• has Sickle cell anemia
• or does not have a spleen

(I personally don't care for "exotic" pets, aka wild animals...I don't think we will ever domesticate snakes or spiders!)

Children ages 7 to 10 are about the right age to care for a small pet. If you have family pets, you can judge your child’s willingness and abilities to care for an animal. If you decide to allow another pet, keep in mind what you already have and whether or not they will tolerate another animal...older cats and dogs often do not like younger playmates for company.


GG's dog, Jake

Children should not feed dogs. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), children 5 - 9 are the most often bitten. This may be because they are about face height to many larger breeds or, in a dog's world, eye level. Dogs perceive direct, prolonged eye contact as a challenge, and over food...that is a recipe for trouble!

Children may enjoy hamsters or other rodents, small birds like finches and parakeets, and fish. A small aquarium or even a simple beta in a bowl will often meet the child’s need to have a pet. Rabbits can kick and scratch with the back legs, which makes them a bad choice for young kids. Additionally, if one jumps from the arms of a walking child, it can break its back. Rabbits bite too…hard.

Around 11 or 12 is the age when kids really can understand how much work and fulltime dedication is involved, and if they are up to the challenge of pet ownership’s low points -- like poop patrol, either in the yard, litter box or cage. If you allow your child to have a cat or dog of their own, remember the expense of vaccines and spaying or neutering. Shots are a yearly expense as are heartworm prevention and flea control. These are expenses you will have to cover or, at least help pay for. Your kids can feed, groom and exercise their pets. They can also train their dogs; however, most obedience classes expect an adult to participate for safety reasons. As I have large breeds, I don't let the kids walk them outside the yard...keep in mind neighborhood leash laws, poop patrol and the rules of dog parks are popping up everywhere and have to be adhered to. Just be sure that, no matter the age of the child or pet you add to the household, as the parent you are willing to assume care of the animal if your kids slack up.

Finally, seeing your kids and pets playing in the yard or cuddling up for movie time or just watching your child seek comfort from a pet after a bad day at school, reminds you that, overall, sharing our lives with pets is a good thing. A pet, regardless of who it "belongs" to, is really a family project. Everyone can benefit by simply following a few guidelines.


So, what do you think? How young is too young for kids to have pets? Are there any kinds of pets you wouldn't let your children have under any circumstances?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yogi Bear! You could win the DVD.



Don't forget to enter to win a copy of the Yogi Bear DVD. Super easy to enter -- just mention your favorite outdoor activity in a comment on the blog or on the GG Facebook page. That's it.

Deadline to enter: Midnight (EST) 3/25!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review It Wednesdays -- guest blogger's take on the GroVia Magic Stick

I received an email a couple of weeks ago from someone who wanted to review the GroVia Magic Stick for me. She had purchased one, loved it, and wanted to share the news. So, I am happy to have Samantha King, otherwise known as The Domestic Yogi, sharing her experiences with the GroVia Magic Stick.


Here is the shlick on the Stick: It is an organic diaper rash product that goes on clear and smells simply divine. You can use it with disposable or cloth diapers.

With great hesitation, I bought GroVia’s Magic Stick. I didn’t really want to buy it because I have been using my left over Weleda diaper cream from my first baby. As an earth mom concerned with only putting natural ingredients on my baby’s bum, I have tried Burt’s Bees diaper cream and then Weleda. Both are natural zinc-based creams that are a tad messy, but smell great and work pretty darn good. I prefer the Weleda, because it just seems more soothing and it contains calendula flower extract in it, which is known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

I have been cloth diapering my second baby for four months now. To use the left over Weleda cream, I’ve been using a disposable insert or bio-liner with my cloth diapers. But, my ‘problem’ is I am hooked on cloth diapering, and love not creating any extra paper waste.

So, being committed to cloth diapering, I surrendered and went into my local cloth diapering jaunt, The Green Nursery, where *gasp* they were sold out of their favorite cloth diaper-safe cream, the Magic Stick.

“It goes so fast,” the owner explained. “We can barely keep it in stock.”

Well, that really made me want to try it. Two weeks later, I managed to get my hands on one.

The Magic Stick is made by GroVia, a brand that I have come to love and trust. Not only are their cloth diapers well made, but the inserts are organic cotton. Their Magic Stick didn’t let me down. The ingredients are natural and organic. I like that it contains rosehip oil – a natural substance that contains trans-retinoic acids that helps regenerate damaged skin tissues. Rosehip oil also moisturizes and nourishes the skin and is said to be quite commonly seen in dermatologist and plastic surgeon offices.

The Magic Stick glides on clear, like those deodorant commercials. But what gets me the most is the smell. I am not sure what blend of essential oils they use, but every time I use it on my baby’s tush, I feel like (to be dramatic) we are sitting in the middle of a meadow in spring-time. Buh-bye pooey diaper, hello Magic Stick.

I broke out the Stick for the first time last weekend while traveling. My little girl broke out in a tiny rash, and so I tested it. Two hours later at the next diaper change, the rash was gone, and her bum seemed still moisturized.

It has only been a week since I started using it, but I keep looking for an excuse to use it because I just love that fragrance. Actually, my daughter’s bottom does get a little dried out from the homemade wipe solution I use, so I have been using the Stick to help moisturize. So far so good. No out of control rash. I can safely say, I know why the Stick is so hard to keep on the shop shelves!

You can follow Samantha's adventures raising two young children on her blog.


Disclaimer: GG does not necessarily subscribe to or agree with guest bloggers' viewpoints. But, as in all communities, believes differing opinions add color to the landscape.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hey Boo Boo...it's a Yogi Bear Giveaway!

Have you heard abut the newest family comedy, Yogi Bear, starring Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake? The DVD hit the shelves today.

Yogi Bear features everyone’s favorite talking bear Yogi (Dan Aykroyd) and his adorable sidekick Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake) as they raise havoc with their hair-brained schemes in Jellystone Park much to the chagrin of Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh). When Jellystone is threatened by a logging company Yogi teams up with a documentary filmmaker (Anna Farris) and must prove that he is indeed “Smarter than the average bear!”

The Sierra Club has partnered with Yogi Bear to present bear tips, facts, and information on how to help protect these wonderful creatures and The National Parks Conservation Association and Leave No Trace offer a downloadable adventure guide with environmental activities for kids, Bearry Story Starter, Five Ways to Love Our Parks, and more!

Best of all, you can win a copy of the Yogi Bear DVD! All you need to do is share your favorite outdoor/camping family activity in a comment here on the blog or on the GG Facebook page. Click on the link at the top of the page to view the preview for the movie.

Deadline for entering is midnight (EST) Friday, March 25th. Winner will be selected via Random.org.

Good luck!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 24

Happy Spring! Wow...for me the winter seemed to fly by. What happened to February?

While I love the smells of spring and the sight of flowers emerging from the brown of winter, there is one thing I do not like about spring...the shift from boots, turtlenecks and layers to the a-bit-more-revealing wardrobe that accompanies warmer weather. I love winter clothes!! This transition time can be challenging.

For example, I traveled to Lancaster County for the weekend to speak at a writers' conference. Garbed in a turtleneck, vest, jeans and boots, I hit the road. By the time I arrived in Manheim, the temperature was 80 degrees! Seriously. How did that happen? My calves were actually sweating underneath my boots! Fortunately, for me, the next two days were cooler. As a matter of fact, I think it was in the 20s on Sunday morning. Crazy time of year!

Due to my being out of town, the Sabbath was a bit different again this week. I didn't work, but neither did I attend a worship service. It's not something the people I was with do, so I didn't either. After being sick last week, I'm looking forward to getting back in the habit of Sunday worship this coming week.

Not that there wasn't much to worship God for. The conference went well. I met some amazing people, my workshop went well, I gleaned some good tips and....finally put faces to some of you in the GG community. Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourselves! I enjoyed the lunch conversation I was engaged in with a group of ladies discussing green cleaning and the benefits of vinegar, etc. Oh yeah, I was in my element.

I was also blessed by the laughter of the day. It was truly an uplifting conference and I was honored to be part of it.

The conference was not the only highlight of my weekend. My daughter allowed me to take my 29-month-old granddaughter along with me. The lovely little Lady Laura and I had such a delightful time together. She was good for the entire 500 mile roundtrip, never once complaining, whining or being naughty. And guess what, I don't have a DVD player in my car! No, we actually spent the trip talking, singing and telling stories. Hmm. A child can travel without anything electronic. Who knew?

Laura also managed the entire trip without a single accident in her big girl pants. She told me when she needed to stop to go potty on the road and kept dry at night. Can you tell how proud I am of her? And of my daughter and her husband, who are doing an incredible job raising her?

Since I was staying with my 84-year-old mother who recently had a knee replaced, I knew I couldn't leave Laura alone with her all day while I was at the conference, so my sister came in from Binghamton, NY to watch her. They had such a fun time! My niece and her 11-month-old daughter arrived Saturday afternoon and everyone just enjoyed each other...especially the two little ones. When I got back to the house on Saturday, I found four generations gathered in my mother's bathroom, laughing at the antics of the little girls in the tub!

It was a wonderful weekend! Like I said, the Sabbath was a bit unusual, but I didn't work. I played with children, shared a meal with family members I rarely see and then headed back home on the (quite expensive) Pennsylvania turnpike and simply delighted in the wonder of my grandbaby.

Today, as I start off my week, I do it with utter gratefulness in my heart. Life, for me, doesn't get much better than this.

Wishing you a grateful spirit on this first week of spring,

Hana

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged...    Proverbs 17:6a

Friday, March 18, 2011

A ban on triclosan -- the EPA wants to know what YOU think!

If you knew a product had the capability of disrupting hormones, lowering sperm production and harming your immune system, would you still use it? Well, guess what? Chances are very good you used one or more products this morning that could do just that! Whether it was when you washed your hands, brushed your teeth, put on your deodorant, applied makeup, gave your toddler a toy, cleaned out the sink, slathered on some hand sanitizer, etc., etc., etc. Unless, of course, you live in a country that cares enough to ban triclosan. Triclosan (or triclocarban) Is a nasty chemical that is in so many everyday products, it is hard to get through a day without introducing it to your system!

Until April 8, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency is asking for comments regarding a triclosan ban. This is your chance to let your voice be heard! Let the U.S. Government know that you want this toxin banned before you, or your precious little ones, have to suffer the consequences. I'm asking you to join me in submitting your comments in support of a triclosan ban today!

Additionally, check out the Triclosan-Free Pledge where you can engage in your own anti-triclosan movement. By pledging to not buy personal care products and cosmetics that contain triclosan, the message is clear. Lots of companies, manufacturers and retailers are going to lose business. Unless they are willing to provide safe products for your family, you are shopping elsewhere.
Tips to Avoid Triclosan

What are your alternatives? Stick to companies that offer organic and natural solutions. Companies like Leaf & Bud Naturals, Earth Mama Angel Baby and Crimson and Clean Soap. Opt for distilled white vinegar in place of liquid fabric softener or fabric softener sheets. Switch to natural cleaning products. The list goes on and on, but it is something you have to commit to...for the safety of your family...and pets! Read labels!
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a handy list of tips on how to avoid triclosan.

But it is not just the smaller, independently owned companies that are providing safe alternatives. Many of the larger cosmetic and cleaning products companies are wising up and offering triclosan-free products. And this is very good news. But more can be done. That's why it is important for all of us to send our comments to the EPA. Let them know how you feel about this toxin. Remember, you only have until April 8 to get your opinions on the table!

Keeping you informed,

Hana

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Towanda! Before you knock down that wall...

My friend, Loraine, died of mesothelioma a few years ago. She was in her early 50s and it was a difficult time for many of us. Growing up in a town with an asbestos plant meant I had family members and family friends die of asbestosis. So for me, today's guest post is not about something foreign to me. Instead, it strikes a very personal cord inside of me.

 The post was written by Krista Peterson, a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida and an aspiring writer. She has a passion for the health and wellness of our environment and community which is why she discusses such issues in her writings. She enjoys spreading awareness of greener and healthier living through her articles. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, and do yoga. Feel free to email her to continue the discussion.

Is there asbestos or lead hiding in your home?


For those of us who love living green, natural is a good thing. If something is natural, it means that we can trust the products and what it’s intended to do for us. But not everything that’s natural is good for us. If you’re thinking of turning that house of yours green, be on the lookout for environmental toxins like lead and asbestos that may snatch your well-earned health right from under you and your family.

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in deposits in the earth. It has been used for construction purposes for centuries, mainly because of its fire-retardant qualities. Before the 1970’s many builders used asbestos in drywall, insulation, tile adhesive, and heating appliances. Now, asbestos is perfectly harmless if it remains intact and undisturbed, but if the mineral is sanded, cut, broken, dented, or burnt, it releases microscopic fibers into the air. If you, your children, or your pets inhale or ingest asbestos over a prolonged period of time, you’re at high risk for developing mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive lung and stomach cancer. Mesothelioma symptoms are latent for 20-50 years, and thus diagnosis is often delayed until the cancer has spread to other vital organs. If you or your loved ones are experiencing symptoms, it is important that you see a doctor and request a cancer screening. To avoid asbestos contamination, make sure that you have your home tested for asbestos before doing any major renovations. Due to the poor mesothelioma life expectancy rates, this is not an issue to take lightly. Being careful means being healthy.


Image courtesy of Kim Newberg

In addition to asbestos, lead, a mineral found in nature, is often hidden in older homes. Lead can be found in paint, water, soil, pipes, and children’s toys. Because children are much more likely to put toys and paint chips in their mouths, they are at the highest risk for lead poisoning. In adults, lead poising results in upset stomach, memory loss, muscle weakness, mood disorders, miscarriages, and lack of appetite. In children, however, ingesting lead may lead to behavioral and learning difficulties, memory loss, weight loss, vomiting, constipation, and anemia.


If you suspect lead poisoning, see your doctor for testing. If you’ve been exposed to low levels of lead, simply removing the toxicity from your home may restore your blood lead levels. If you or your children have been exposed to higher quantities, you may be recommended to undergo chelation or EDTA therapy and to take iron supplements to counter anemia. To avoid lead poisoning altogether, have a professional test your home. You should also have your children wash their hands before eating and after playing outdoors.


Though natural, asbestos and lead are toxins and are extremely detrimental to your health and the health of your family. Watching out for such toxins can save you a lot of stress later on.

If you’re renovating your home in efforts to make it greener, now is the perfect time to have professionals check for asbestos and lead. As our grandparents often tell us, “be careful and have fun.” Remember, the two go hand in hand!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review It Wednesday -- Messin' with Minerals

Well, I am happy to report that after posting my blog yesterday, I actually started feeling better. As a matter of fact, I felt well enough to run a few errands. Of course, before going out to face the world again, I had to fix myself up a bit. Having long, layered hair is perfect for hiding swollen cheeks. I just curled it toward my face and voila, I was a nicely disguished chipmunk!

After the hair was done, it was time to apply some much needed makeup. So I pulled out my makeup brushes and some little 2x2 zip-type baggies and went to work. I sorted through the sampling of bags until I found my Van Gogh Concealer. It worked pretty well at hiding the dark circles under my eyes. Unfortunately, I wasn't as successful at covering the telltale age spots that grace my aging countenance.

Next came the Avery Mineral Foundation. At first it appeared a bit too yellow as I brushed it on, but it blended nicely and I liked the final result (except for the blasted age spots, which still weren't perfectly disguised).

More steps followed, and, with the exception of eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss, all the products I applied to my face were samples from mae minerals™, graciously sent to me by Nancy Bowles McConnell.

After days of being sick, I played with the makeup more than I usually would. I added some Bronzed Kiss Bronzer, followed by some Glow Luminizer. According to the website, the luminizer helps to diminish dark areas and brighten the face after the foundation has been applied. Once again, no luck with those age spots. However, I must admit, I didn't look sick at all! My face glowed. Now you would think that after all those layers, my face would have had a heavily made up appearance. But the opposite is actually true. The mineral makeup is so light, it really does give your skin a radiant glow.


Of the samples Nancy sent to me, there were some I simply would not use. For instance, she sent me five bags of the MVP line (Mae Versatile Powder), in some rather bold colors. Peace MVP is a peacock blue that looks lovely on a peacock, or perhaps on a scarf tossed casually across the shoulder. But on an almost 54-year-old woman's eyes...I don't think so. Same goes for the Almost Peridot MVP. It's just not me. However, I did wear the Luck MVP before I got sick. It's a shiny army green and it is the month of St. Patrick's Day after all...you know, the luck o' the Irish and all.

In my package of samples was also a Fuzzy Navel MVP, which worked nicely as a peach blush, and a Satin Plum MVP, more suited for an evening out than a day of errands. Here's the thing about the MVPs -- they are so versatile, they can be used for practically anything. Eyes, cheeks, lips and nails! I actually had to ask Nancy about the last bit. She told me you just have to put some clear nail polish in a small dish or container and mix in some of the Mae Versatile Powder. Wow. That's different.

After hearing about this, I decided to give it a try. I grabbed some clear polish and poured a little bit onto a small plastic bag. Then I added some of the Satin Plum MVP and mixed it around with the nail polish brush. It mixed nicely and applied evenly and neatly. One coat was all I needed and it dried super fast! It's quite pretty, actually. I love the versatility of this product! To be able to create whatever color nail polish you want by simply mixing in a little bit of powder is ingenius! I can't believe I never heard of this before.

While I was fooling around with the nail polish, I decided to try it on my lips. I brushed clear gloss on and then added some of the Satin Plum MPV directly onto my lips. Nice. Smooth. Soft. Even. Love this. It reminds me of my childhood days when my cousin, Kelly, and I would mix makeups and perfumes and go door to door trying to sell our creations! Fun stuff.

Okay, back to earlier in the day when I was preparing to head out on some errands. My face was nicely made up, with the exception of my eyes. That's where the Espresso Eye Shadow comes in.  I really like eye shadow. It goes on smoothly and lasts throughout the day.

Yesterday wasn't the first time I had used the makeups. I received them in the mail five or six weeks ago. When I first started using them, I experienced a bit of itching a couple minutes after I applied the foundation. This happened for the first several days. I didn't think much about it, though, because the same thing happens when I started using Bare Minerals makeup a few years ago. The itching was mildly bothersome and stopped within thirty minutes or so.

The only thing really negative I have to say about this line of makeup has to do with the sampling kit I received. First of all, I don't like having makeup in little bags. I had to find lids to pour the foundation into in order to swirl the makeup brush in it. That was inconvenient. The concealer bag split down the side as I was putting the concealer brush in one day. I don't know what the alternative is. I just know that I don't like the bags.

The second thing I didn't like about the kit was that there were no instructions or explanation about what was what. I didn't know what a versatile powder or a luminizer was. What was I supposed to do with them? An info sheet would have made this a better experience.

But as for the makeup itself, I love it. And you don't have to deal with little bags unless you want samples. You can buy full size containers.

Unsure of which shades to buy? Nancy has a handy guide on the website. And if you are new to mineral powdered makeups, she provides a step-by-step application guide on her Facebook page.

You really need to visit the mae minerals™ website and check out the wide range of products available. I was stunned to see such a huge selection of hues in the MVP line.

The best part about this line of makeup is that it is 100% natural. There are no fillers and absolutely no Bismuth Oxychloride or carmine (crushed beetles). Interestingly enough, its the Bismuth Oxychloride in many of the other mineral makeups that is usually attributed to the itching. But neither mae minerals™, or Bare Minerals has it in their foundations. mae minerals™  makeup is safe and it will make you feel beautiful...in a green kind of way!



Now here's the fun part! Nancy has agreed to provide one lucky reader a 3-month supply of makeup! For this giveaway, you need to do three simple things.
  1. Like the mae minerals Facebook page
  2. Head over to Nancy's blog and become a follower
  3. Post a comment on the Green Grandma Facebook page, letting me know you've completed #1 and #2 (you must "like" GG as well)
Deadline 3/21 Midnight EST

Fair enough? I'll draw a winner via Random.org on Tuesday, March 22nd.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mumps...a continuation of the story

I touched a bit on this in yesterday's post, but thought I'd give it a bit more attention.

Last week I noticed some considerable swelling in my face. At first, I thought I must be gaining weight again. Oh yuck! I hate when it starts to show in my face. So I started back on my air walker, determined to nip this weight gain in the bud. The next day, I noticed more swelling. By Wednesday, I knew something was wrong. I looked in the mirror and could not see my ears! Scary stuff.

So I did what most of us, who are addicted to our social media sites, do and I posted something on Facebook. I thought surely someone would offer a diagnosis. Of those someones, was my doctor's wife who finally suggested I be seen by a certain someone. Wise advice.

The next day, I was off to the doctor's office. He looked a little baffled. By appearance, it was the mumps. But I didn't have a fever and besides, "Where did you get the mumps?" was the question he posed to me. I guess this is an illness not often seen anymore. Although, to be fair to my FB buddies, it was suggested by more than a few.

Mumps. Imagine that. But, to be safe, he sent me for blood work for a variety of conditions and chest x-rays to see if any of my lymph nodes in my chest were swollen.

As of today, I don't have an actual diagnosis, so I'm working with the assumption that I have mumps. Of course, I turned to the handy-dandy Internet for answers. Sure sounds like mumps. Sure looks like mumps.

Here's what I found out. Mumps is not extremely problematic in and of itself. Unless you make a living using your voice, like I do. Then it can interfere with life a bit. Or unless you work outside of your home, like many of you do. You see, this is a highly contagious disease for people who are not immune, so isolation is a necessity. And mumps can produce some pretty serious complications. Like deafness. Not a good option for a voice over talent. Meningitis, encephalitis, mastitis and pancreatitis. Wow, that's a lot of itises!  And swelling of the testicles, which can lead to sterility. Whew, there's one I don't have to worry about. Oh wait, the female side of that...inflammation of the ovaries. Oh please no. I've had nearly a lifetime of painful ovarian cysts. I really don't want to experience a go round with more pain down there. The odds are good, though. Only one in ten women with mumps end up with infected ovaries. So far, so good.

Here's what I am experiencing: a headache...constant, unforgiving head pain; slight jaw pain, like you get when you clench your teeth for too long; vague dizziness -- I just can't stay on my feet for too long; eye pain, which makes reading or working on my computer for extended periods of time quite uncomfortable; general malaise. Oh, and let's not forget the lovely chipmunk look that's becoming fashionable in my office these days. The swelling is ridiculous...the parotid glands -- above the jaw, in front of the ears. I'm glad I have long layered hair so I can curl it forward to cover up the hideousness of it all. Not that anyone is seeing me other than my husband.

Why am I telling you all of this? To alert you to the dangers of a disease most people I've talked to thought was eradicated. With all the debate over whether or not to get your children immunized, I think it is important to look at both sides of the issue. There are some real dangers out there for children who are not immunized.

Now before some of you jump all over me about the dangers of the immunizations themselves, this post isn't taking a side either way. Like I said, do your research. All I can say is that I was with my 28-month-old granddaughter before I knew what I had and after finding out how dangerous mumps is (if that is indeed what I have), I was quite thankful she had been immunized against it. I was also with my 6-month-old grandson, but since he is breastfed, there is little to worry about there, as his natural immunities should protect him.

Mumps was a pretty scary disease before children started getting vaccinated. Most cases of meningitis were caused by mumps, and many times it resulted in deafness. As a matter of fact, before the vaccine, it was the most common cause of deafness. Boys who had mumps often developed orchitis, which, in addition to causing intense pain in the testicles, often resulted in sterility.

Unvaccinated pregnant women who are exposed to the mumps virus are in danger of losing their babies.

I am laying low, staying home, and hoping for the best. Mumps runs its course in 1 - 2 weeks. I'm ten days into it now and am looking for signs of improvement. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any as of yet. But tomorrow's another day, and barring any complications, I'll be bouncing back in no time.

Think I'll inhale a spritz or two of some Happy Mama Spray and go lie down.

Have a blessed day.

Hana

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 23

Bella, Vincent and Theo in (and outside of) my office
As I sit here on this sunny Monday afternoon, I can't seem to erase the images of the past three days. Images of a broken world, shattered, flooded, forever changed. As bodies wash up on the shores of Japan, it makes me stop and think about how truly fragile each life is.

I think about children washed away by a giant wave. I think about the vibrant, positive, seemingly healthy Dr. Richard Carlson (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff), who, at the age of 45, dropped dead of a heart attack on an airplane. I think about my late husband who headed out to work one night, with his characteristic spring in his step and optimism, not knowing about the deadly fire just a few short hours away. I think about death. I think about never-born babies. I think about today. About how many people will pass from this life to the next today. I think about my phone ringing in the pre-dawn hours of this Monday and how my first thought was about my mother.

Life. It is soooo fragile. Today might be your last. It might be mine. What are we doing with the time we have?

Yesterday was week 23 of my Sabbath Experiment. This week didn't involve church because I was home sick. What exactly is wrong with me? We're not sure yet, but it looks like mumps. That, in and of itself, is not so bad. I'm tired, achy, have a constant headache and an obscenely swollen face. It's the complications that concern me, which include meningitis, inflamed ovaries and deafness. Deafness would definitely not be good, since I make part of my living being a voice over talent.

While it would have been a good day to not work and celebrate rest, I must admit I was quite tired of resting. Good Doctor Dave ordered me to rest when I saw him last week. No work. He even offered a written excuse, but since I work for myself, I found that to be a bit unnecessary. I got home from his office and settled into mine, typing out apologies to clients who were expecting certain things from me that would now be undone. Deadlines would be missed and there wasn't much I could do about it.

So yesterday, while lounging in bed with my laptop and remote control, I chose to work, a little bit. But the work I was doing was actually so enjoyable, I didn't mind. I landed a gig on Saturday tweeting for a best-selling author. He's actually one of my favorites and, as it turns out, I have seven of his books on my shelves in my office. He just needs ten quotes from his books posted to Twitter each week. So I spent some time perusing the novels and gleaning the harvest of words meant to inspire and entertain. I couldn't help thinking, this is work?! So, while I was technically working, I was in bed resting the whole time and enjoying every minute. Rationalization? Maybe. But that's the way I spent part of my day. Good literature feeds the soul and I feel well fed. I love a good story.

Spent a little bit of time in the evening playing Bananagrams with my husband, a daily activity for us lately. How cool is it that I am married to a man who enjoys playing word games. He knows he can't beat me, but he wants to play nonetheless. I am one lucky woman!

So, here I am. Feeling rested after days of not doing much in the line of working. But let me tell you -- I'm looking forward to going back to 12 hour days followed by one day of rest. In the meantime, I think I'll head back to bed for awhile.

Enjoy your week.

Hana

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flashback Vinegar Friday! The wonders of balsamic

Welcome to Flashback Vinegar Friday! On occasion, I will be reviving a post from the previous year of Vinegar Fridays. This time it's all about balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

TGIVF!

Well, here it is again. How do these Fridays keep sneaking up on me so quickly?

Nearly every Friday for months now, I have praised the properties of vinegar, mostly distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Today I want to sing the praises of a different kind -- balsamic vinegar. Why? Because it has amazing health benefits.

Balsamic vinegar boasts high levels of antioxidant polyphenols, which are believed by many to help prevent, or at least delay, some types of cancer. They also lessen the risk of heart disease by blocking the oxidation LDL (bad cholesterol) and boost bone mineral density. According to Okhee Han, assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State, there is a potential downside, however. Based on her research, she has some concern about polyphenols' affecting iron absorption. "People at high risk of developing iron deficiency -- such as pregnant women and young children," she warns, "should be aware of what polyphenols they are consuming." While I am quite enthusiastic about the benefits of balsamic vinegar, I also want you to be aware of these findings.

With that said, let me continue on with the benefits of balsamic vinegar. It is
  • fat-free
  • high in potassium
  • extremely flavorful
While you might be used to reaching for the ranch dressing for your salads, you might be pleasantly surprised at just how much you enjoy the healthier alternative of balsamic vinegar and olive oil!

Balsamic vinegar has a rich history. Our seventeenth century ancestors used it as a tonic for a variety of conditions. They also gargled with it and purified the air with it in hopes of warding off the plague.
Let's look at the nutrition facts. These numbers are based on 3.5 ounces of balsamic vinegar:
  • Calcium: 12 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 30 grams
  • Phosphorous: 20 milligrams
  • Potassium: 70 milligrams
  • Sodium: 20 milligrams
  • Sugars: 30 grams
This is some healthy stuff! Even Richard Simmons is a huge fan, which has to say something!

Wow...I just flashed back over two decades to days of leotards, tights, permed hair and Sweating to the Oldies! Hard to believe I used to lead a group of women who combined working out to the Richard Simmons' video with Bible Study. But it was a lot of fun!

But here comes another warning -- you have to check out what kind of balsamic vinegar you're buying. Stick to the organic version -- yeah, the more expensive one. Why? Because the cheaper non-organic vinegar has unnecessary stuff added to it, like carmelized sugar (for coloring).

Where can you buy it? Stores like Whole Foods carry it. You can also check the organic departments of your local grocery stores or head to a natural foods market. It might take a little bit of shopping around, but in the end, I am confident you will appreciate the tip!

Keeping it healthy with vinegar,

Hana

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A good month to be green


With St. Patrick's Day just a week away, it seemed like a good time to toss about the word GREEN. Even though he's not Irish, my husband loves St. Patrick's Day. And no one can do tacky better than him on March 17th! Me? Not so much. I never understood how a day set aside to honor a saint could have been denegrated into what it is now known for -- green beer...and lots of it! It is just one more excuse, it seems, for people to get rip-roaring drunk. What a shame. It is supposed to be a day of spiritual renewal and a day set aside to pray for missionaries. Instead, it seems to simply be a precursor of a massive hangover.

My negativity over the holiday will not deter my husband, however. He will go to work donned in green -- hat, tie, "Kiss me, I'm Irish" buttons, flashing shamrocks, etc. I just shake my head in wonder. On no other day does his inner child come out to play more evidently than on the 17th of March. On St. Patrick's Day, he can truly be called Green Grandpa!

Now don't get me wrong -- I actually enjoy some things about St. Patrick's Day. Like the food. Guinness beef stew is amazing. And I'm a huge fan of Irish stew. I love Irish music and have friends in a couple of different Celtic bands. I even took step dancing lessons about a decade ago.

But, of course, my favorite part is the color green. As the Emerald Isle, parts of Ireland are simply breathtaking. My youngest daughter spent her 16th birthday in Ireland (a dream come true for her). She shares her dad's love of all things Irish...well, most.

This past weekend, I did the decor transformation in the house from Valentine's red and white to St. Patrick's green and white. It looks quite lovely, actually. As we get closer to the day, I'll bite my tongue as more and more green items appear throughout the house. A shamrock-covered bear here. A leprechaun figurine there. Slowly, but surely, these trinkets will start to emerge from my husband's room in the basement for temporary residence amidst the more 'dignified' decor pieces. It makes him happy. Why? I have no idea. Like I said, it has something to do with his inner-wannabe-Irish child.

From the shiny shamrock confetti sprinkled across the dining room table to the collection of TY Beanie Babies donned in green, our home will have an emerald glow about it. The home of Green Grandma and Green Grandpa.

What about you? What are your St. Patty's Day traditions? Will you add green food coloring to your foods and beverages? Do you go out to a public celebration? Perhaps somewhere where you can show off your own step dancing skills?

I'm looking for ideas to help make my husband's St. Patrick's Day celebration even better. Do you have any Irish green tips to share? If so, either post a comment here or on Facebook, or email me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Keeping it green, as in the color,

Hana

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review It Wednesday -- If only it worked on stinkbugs!

Awhile back I mentioned ditching my deodorant and switching to plain old distilled white vinegar. It worked so well for both my husband and me, I couldn't see us ever going back to a commercial roll-on or solid or, god forbid, aerosol spray!

Then someone in the GG community alerted me to the wonders of baking soda as a deodorant. Wonderful. I had choices. Baking soda was a nice, albeit messy, alternative after shaving, as the vinegar had a tendency to burn a bit. Plus, even though we were free of body odor, we did tend to smell a bit like salad dressing when we started to sweat! Still, anything was better than slathering our armpits with toxic chemicals. Have you ever read the ingredient list on your deodorant? Scary, scary stuff!!

One evening, while perusing the shelves at Right by Nature, one of Pittsburgh's real treasures, we picked up a light purple container and started reading the label.

All Natural Protection
CRYSTAL
Body Deodorant Stick
Hypoallergenic
Fragrance & Paraben Free

Boldly printed across the domed cap beside the pink breast cancer ribbon: NO Aluminum Chlorohydrate

Hmmm. Turning the container around, I continued reading:

Natural Deodorant Protection. Crystal Body Deodorant is made of 100% Natural Mineral Salts which eliminate odor by leaving an invisible protective barrier against odor-causing bacteria. It is fragrance free, non-sticky, non-staining, leaves no white residue and can be used by bothe Men and Women.

I looked at the price and hesitated. Then I kept reading:

Crystal Body Deodorant can last up to a year of daily use.

I didn't need a calculator to figure out that, in the long run, this deodorant was a heck of a lot cheaper than the deodorants we used to use. Granted, it was costlier than the vinegar, but still...
  • Safe for the Environment
  • Endorsed by Cancer Treatment Centers
It just kept getting better.

Ingredients: Natural Mineral Salts, Ammonimum Alum

That's it. No fragrance. No dyes. Nothing unpronounceable. Cool. We put it in our basket.

What made this an even sweeter deal that night was when my name was called over the loudspeaker as a winner of a gift certificate to the store. Nice.

Then came the real test. For the past 6 months now, Bill and I have been using nothing but Crystal Body Deodorant and we love it. With both of us using it every day, you would assume we'd be nearing the end of the crystal, since it was to last about a year for one person. But we're nowhere near the end of the line for this one. It just seems to last and last and last. As does its protection. Not once, during the time we've been using it, have we noticed any body odor. None.

There are some downsides, however. For one thing, this is a deodorant, not an anti-perspirant. So we still do sweat. Of course, we did the same when we were using the distilled white vinegar and the baking soda...and quite often with the Mitchum, now that I think about it. But you have to wonder something about that -- is preventing perspiring actually good for us anyway? I mean, really. Our bodies were created to sweat. I'm thinking it is not a good idea to apply something to our underarms to prevent that, although, quite honestly, I have not researched the matter.

Then there is the matter of messiness. You have to wet the crystal before applying. Wetting leads to dripping. I just keep a washcloth handy to catch the excess. If you are one who showers every morning, you can simply keep the crystal in the shower and apply it before stepping out of the stall.

Since this is mineral salt, it will start to dissolve with time. Have you ever felt dissolving salt? It's messy as well, so I recommend finding a lid to place the deodorant stick container in to collect the residue.

For us, the cons are so minor compared to the pros for this product. Stink-free and chemical-free. What more could we ask for? Well, maybe a natural product that would make the world stinkbug-free, but so far that is an undiscovered treasure.

But don't let the last two cons about the mineral salt stick deter you, because I was just on the Crystal website and guess what...the deodorant comes in roll-on, spray and 100% biodegradable wipes! And the price really isn't so bad after all. So check it out. Or head over to their Facebook page and find out what others are saying about this safe alternative to the toxic products you may be using.

Keeping it green on Review It Wednesday,

Hana

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Have you heard about Heiny Helpers?

I am happy to feature this post from guest blogger, Caela Simmons Wood of First United Church of Bloomington, Indiana. Heiny Helpers have plenty of heinys (or is it heinies?); what they need is plenty of help. Here is what Caela has to say about this amazing ministry:


If you're reading this, chances are good that you already know how awesome cloth diapers are. Cloth diapering just one baby can keep about 7,000 "disposable" diapers out of the landfill (I put that in quotes because they don't decompose for at least 500 years!) And it's so much easier on your wallet! Most families who cloth diaper find they can save about $2,000 per child!

But there is a great irony in the world of cloth diapering. The parents who could benefit the most from the financial savings associated with cloth diapering are oftentimes the very parents who can't get together enough cash to begin the process. Sure, saving $2,000 sounds amazing. But when you start looking into the options and find that you probably need at least $200 to get a decent set of diapers together, it starts to look easier to just keep buying disposables one pack at a time.

A few months ago, three mamas at my church got together and decided we wanted to help families experiencing low income, break into the world of cloth diapering. We met a few times to brainstorm and, before we knew it, we had birthed a new organization: Heiny Helpers (yeah, we think our name is pretty cute, too. Thanks!).

The mission of Heiny Helpers is to provide cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to families with low income in Bloomington, Indiana. We do have dreams of someday moving outside our Midwestern college town -- but, for now, we've got to stay local. We are partnering with two local establishments that sell cloth diapers -- The Green Nursery and Bloomington Area Birth Services -- to purchase new diapers. We are also soliciting donations of used diapers far and wide.

In our first few weeks of operation, we have already discovered that we're tapping into a much-needed service. We have already put 10 babies in cloth and we've received requests for cloth from Michigan and Georgia. Unfortunately, we aren't set up to help those folks yet.

If this is something that sounds good to you, we could really use your help. Right now, we're living off a generous start-up grant, but those funds will soon be depleted. We are in need of cash donations and also welcome donations of new or gently used diapers. Please check our website for more details on what we can use and our contact information for shipping.

Also, if you are a blogger or have any other media connections and would like to help us spread the word about Heiny Helpers, we'd love to be in partnership with you. Please email us and follow our shenanigans on our Facebook page.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 22


Happy Monday! I truly hope you had an enjoyable and restful weekend. I certainly did.

Remember how I asked you to hold me accountable for getting back on track with my day of rest this past week? Well, I'm sorry to say not one of you so much as sent me a FB message or email encouraging me to do just that. And I had to wonder why. Perhaps it was because some of you felt a bit hypocritical reminding me about the Sabbath, when you planned on working for seven straight days yourself. But guess what? You are missing the point. This is my Sabbath Experiment, not yours. And I'm not here to judge you about it. After all, Paul issues this exhortation in the book of Colossians:

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. (Col. 2:16)

What you do on your sabbath is up to you. But I know, for me, I need that seventh day to rest. And I have not been faithful to honor that over the past few weeks. Until yesterday. Keep in mind, I wanted to be held accountable. I needed that.

So, even though I didn't get any actual 'reminders' to honor my pledge to rest on the Sabbath, I still felt accountable since I told you all I would be.

And let me tell you...it was wonderful! Of course, for me, resting on the Sabbath does not mean lounging around in bed, drinking coffee, reading the paper, etc. I know that is how many people spend their Sunday mornings after a stressful and busy week. But for me it means starting the day worshipping the Creator with my church family. Sunday School involved a lesson from Judges about Abimelech (wow, he was rotten!). Then my husband and I enjoyed the song service while holding our grandbabies in our arms (is anything better than that??). Bob's sermon was on one of the most well known passages in Acts (chapter 16) about Paul and Silas in prison. We spent time in prayer focusing on the things that imprison us (alcohol, pornography, finances, relationships, etc.). I thought about my work and how "imprisoned" I was, simply by thinking I had to be on top of things every day of every week of every month...I guess it is often like that when you work from home. You never quite leave the office. At least not until you learn how to intentionally do so. Ahh...the Sabbath Experiment.

Lunch with the kids and grandkids was followed by an absolutely wonderful day of doing nothing in particular with my best friend in the world -- my husband. We played Bananagrams, watched Hush, a movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange. Lange delivered a brilliant performance as a demented and obsessed mother. Slightly disturbing film, but well done. More games. Dinner. More TV in front of the fire. Ended the night by soaking in a hot bath. Ahh...the Sabbath Experiment. It was a lovely day.

So, here is my challenge to you: Pick a day, any day, and spend it deliberately enjoying the company of someone you love. If you are married, set aside an entire day to focus on your spouse. I have been so busy lately that I really was missing my time with Bill. Now I feel refreshed and we feel reconnected. That's so important in a marriage. If you stay unconnected for too long, the rope holding you together can start unraveling. Do not let that happen! Solid families are not created by accident...it takes effort. It takes time. Time well spent.

The Sabbath Experiment is the best thing I have done for myself. Fortunately, I'm not the only one to benefit from it.

Keeping it restful on the Sabbath,

Hana

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