Wednesday, April 30, 2014

We all need a respite sometimes

It's been a busy, and in some ways, difficult year so far. 
I know many of you have experienced illness and loss, just like I have. 
There have been scary times. Sad times. 
And under-the-gun stressful times.

That's not to say there haven't been bright spots along the way. 
In some ways, it's been an incredibly good year. 
But the bottom line is we all need an occasional break. 
I was blessed with one this past weekend and 
I wanted to share some of the beauty with you. 

I stayed at a farmhouse in Sandy Creek, PA for two nights. Even though there is room for at least 12 people in the house, I was there alone. 
I was presenting two workshops at the Writing Success XXIII conference in Stoneboro, PA on Saturday, and extended my stay for an additional night, which allowed me the opportunity for a peaceful Sunday morning to myself.

The farmhouse was built in 1886 and maintains much of its original charm, from the woodwork to the windows, 
stepping inside is like stepping into the past.

 Early Sunday morning, since I had nowhere to be, 
I stepped outside to explore.

I marveled at the vastness of the countryside,

and appreciated the history represented here on the farm.

Although there were lots of kitties, I was disappointed none of them let me get too close, preferring to scurry to their sanctuary 
through the hole in the barn door.

It made me think about how often I run to my own sanctuary 
to avoid situations, or people, I don't want to face.

Despite my efforts to lure the kitties to me, they fled. No amount of soft cajoling convinced them to trust me. Am I like that with God? Hmm.

Enjoying the warmth of the sun and the lack of a schedule, I headed down the long dirt lane for a morning walk. Before long, I was joined by the farm dog who seemed eager to lead me to places unknown. I followed her lead.

I thought of my usual Sunday morning routine, which involved Sunday School and church. On this day, however, my praise music was 
the bleating of sheep, 
the braying of donkeys, 
the mooing of cows, 
and the singing of birds.

 Look at all the sweet babies.

 The scenery was beautiful.
My mood was serene.

If you have the chance to experience the beauty of creation somewhere other than where you are accustomed to being, 
I highly recommend you take that opportunity. 

We aren't designed to be "on" all the time. 
There has to be some downtime.
I'm hoping you can find that for yourself. 

I can't tell you what it did for me, but perhaps through these photos, you can get a little glimpse of how God blessed me with exactly what I needed.

Appreciating the gift of nature,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Teleflora $75 GC Mother's Day Giveaway! $75 GC Mother's Day Giveaway


I'm facing my second Mother's Day without my mom. I'm really going to miss our annual drive east on the turnpike to meet her halfway between our home and hers. On and off for nearly 30 years, we would spend our Mother's Days in Bedford, Pennsylvania. Usually, we had outdoor plants to give to her. I'm already missing this tradition.

What about you? What are your Mother's Day traditions? Do the kids bring you breakfast in bed? Does your husband or adult children take you out for Sunday brunch? What about flowers? How many of you receive beautiful arrangements to honor the fabulous mom that you are? I know few women who don't appreciate an occasional floral delivery. If your mom's still with you, why not send her some Mother's Day flowers to make her feel appreciated and pampered -- exactly how she should feel! For all she's done for you, a Teleflora bouquet will express your gratitude perfectly. So, sons and daughters, give your mom flowers and be sure to add a box of chocolates if she has a sweet tooth. Mother's Day is the perfect time to tell her just how much you appreciate her and to show your gratitude and love.

You just might get lucky and win some flowers for mom. We're giving away a $75 gift card to so you can choose the best arrangement for the special woman in your life.

Prize: $75 GC

Dates: 4/26-5/7

Open to: US Residents 18+

Enter to win using the Giveaway Tools Widget below. 

Good luck!

Disclosure: Green Grandma did not receive compensation for this post and is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tips to Avoid Toxic Chemicals Before, During, and After Pregnancy

It's Friday's Instead of This, Use This. Today, I want to guide you to an excellent resource that will give you tips on how to replace toxins with safe and natural alternatives.

This fact sheet is courtesy of Women's Voices for the Earth and can be accessed by clicking here.

Here are some highlights:

* Make your own cleaning products

* Avoid synthetic fragrance

* Make over your personal care

* Go "BPA-Free"

* Turn down the heat on non-stick cookware

* Avoid exposure to paint

* Pass on pesticides

* Skip certain beauty services

* Minimize household dust

Here is their list of some chemicals of concern which have been detected in pregnant women's bodies and/or breastmilk:

* Bispenol-A: receipts, canned foods

* Flame retardants (PBDEs): furniture, electronics, foam-padded baby products

* Triclosan: antibacterial cleaners, antibacterial handsoap

* Benzophenones: sunscreens

* Pesticides: food, insect repellents, lawn chemicals

* Phthalates and synthetic musks: fragrance, cosmetics, air 
fresheners, scented cleaners

* PFOAs: non-stick cookware

* Parabens: personal care products

Learn more about avoiding these toxins by clicking here. Then you'll be better equipped for saying, "Instead of this, I'm using this."

Keeping it green and healthy,


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Heart Rate Monitors -- Yea or nay?

This is a sponsored post. I received compensation and/or product in exchange for this pre-written post.

Image by George Hodan

What is the Purpose of a Heart Rate Monitor?

The desire to improve health via a fitness routine is a popular choice for many, and subsequently there is a lot of talk about heart rate monitors, and how monitoring your heart rate is a great way to tweak and improve your exercise regiment. But what is a heart rate monitor, exactly, and how does having one and using it to keep tabs on your heart rate improve a workout?

First, understand what your heart does: it pumps oxygenated blood throughout your body. Your muscles and organs need oxygen in order to function and perform. Without sufficient oxygen, your muscles and organs will suffer, as well as cause you pain. Since you are using your muscles more vigorously during exercise, your heart must work harder to deliver oxygenated blood to them. Thus, by monitoring your heart rate, you'll be able to see if your heart is working hard or not. If it isn't, then you need to work harder in order to work your muscles harder. The more oxygen your muscles burn through during exercise, the better your workout will be.

Of course, it's possible to work too hard during a workout, and overtax both your muscles as well as your heart. It's for this reason especially that a heart rate monitor is such a good idea. With the guidance of a health instructor or your doctor, determine what your optimal heart rate during exercise is, and what your maximum heart rate should be. Then, wear a heart rate monitor while exercising, and you'll have up-to-the-second updates on what your heart rate is.

You can purchase heart rate monitors in varying styles at any sporting goods store, or visit or any other health website that sells heart monitors to see what's available online. Both in stores and online you'll be able to see a generous selection of heart rate monitors, and you're sure to find at least one or two that fit your budget. Be sure to check over the features of the heart rate monitors you're considering, as some offer features like recording your heart rate, having a long-lasting battery, or being waterproof. Pick the heart rate monitor that fits your exercise routine best, and wear it whenever you exercise.

Now, let's get up and get moving!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Congratulations to Moon Area HS -- Leading the way through aluminum can recycling

Since we're talking about ways to help the earth this week, I wanted to take the time to applaud some local students who are making a difference. Throughout the 2013-1014 school year, students from Moon Area High School (Moon Twp., PA), accepted the Alcoa Aluminum Can Recycling Challenge and came out on top as winners. This is the first year for the recycling competition, which is facilitated by the Pennsylvania Resources Council. 

A total of 30,657 beverage cans were collected during the five-month challenge, with Moon Area HS leading the way, despite the tough competition from the participating schools. In addition to Moon Area HS, there were four other schools that took up the challenge: Donegal Elementary School, Jeffery Primary School, Keystone Oaks Middle School, and Level Green Elementary School. 

"This competition was a great way for our science/environmental club to engage a large group of students and expand our recycling program here at Moon High School," said Andrea Schriver, a teacher at Moon. "In the last month of the competition, we challenged the entire school to contribute through their science classrooms, and everyone came through in a big way!"

Each of the schools involved in the challenge received recycling containers and signage. There were also classroom education and assembly programs. Through these programs, PRC was able to teach thousands of students in first through twelfth grades about resource conservation. "The goal is to encourage these schools to continue to recycle the aluminum cans long after the competition ends and to sustain their positive impact on the environment," explained PRC Regional Director, Justin Stockdale.

As excited as I am for the schools who participated and the lessons learned by the students, I must say I am surprised and disappointed that only five schools accepted this challenge. Here's hoping that next year will see a significant increase in numbers for a program that not only helps the environment, but helps develop a greener mentality in all who participate.

If you're in the Western PA area and want your school to get involved, contact Sarah Shea at the Pennsylvania Resources Council by phone: 412-488-7490 ext. 236 or by email:

Caring for the earth right alongside the rest of you,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fifteen simple changes we all can make starting today!

This is a sponsored post. I received compensation and/or product in exchange for this post. However, all opinions are my own and were not influenced by what I received.

Happy Earth Day 2014!

I started my day by heading to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh where my granddaughter was being seen in the Emergency Room. She had a 105.6 fever and it was a bit scary. Fortunately, she was released a few hours later, with a much lower temperature and a diagnosis of an unknown virus.

Needless to say, this threw off my plans for the day, which included writing this post before noon. Ahh well. The best laid plans of mice and men...

This year, I've teamed up with the good folks at Conserving Now to offer you some good information about greener living and to give away an Omnisax bag (winner's choice) to one lucky reader.

In a previous blog post, I already told you about the fantastic classroom kits Conserving Now had available to help teachers guide their students to greener living. Today's post honors Earth Day by giving you fifteen great tips from Conserving Now that can help you live greener lives, too.

Fifteen Simple Changes We Can All Make -- Starting Now!

  1. Start carrying a reusable bag whenever you are shopping.
  2. Bring a travel mug to your favorite coffee shop.
  3. Walk to the park.
  4. Start using rechargeable batteries.
  5. As old light bulbs burn out, start buying and using LED light bulbs.
  6. Switch to homemade or store-bought natural cleaners. (Check out my book Vinegar Fridays for tips and recipes for cleaning with vinegar.)
  7. Stop using paper plates.
  8. Buy a bunch of tea towels and ban paper towels from your home.
  9. Build a backyard compost bin.
  10. Install a water-saving shower head.
  11. Invest in cloth napkins and stop buying paper ones!
  12. Turn your thermostat down at night or when you're at work (during the cold weather).
  13. If you're not doing it already, start recycling!
  14. Carpool with coworkers or friends who work close to your office.
  15. Donate your old cell phone to a charity.
Simple, right? There's no reason why you can't do every one of these, or nearly one of them. Will it make a difference? Absolutely.

So why not start off with reusable bags? I personally love my Omnisax bags (formerly Envirosax bags). I have a whole bunch of them and I've given many away as gifts. They are durable and slip easily into your purse so you can always have one or two available. They hold a ton. Well, not really a ton, but they can hold up to 44 pounds, which seems like a ton when you're lugging the goods very far! And, since the Omnisax bags are machine washable, they are perfect for taking to the grocery store for meat or produce. No cross-contamination going on here. Just toss the bag into the wash when you get home.

Entering is easy and is for residents of the U.S. who are 18 and older. The contest runs through April 30 12:00 a.m. ET. Entries will be verified. Winner has 48 hours to respond to email. If there is no response, an alternate winner will be chosen. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 21, 2014

Conquer Spring Allergies with Hyland's

Disclaimer: I am a Hyland's Homeopathy Ambassador and receive various products and gift cards from Hyland's and promotional partners at no cost to me. All views and opinions expressed on this blog post and corresponding social network mentions are my own and are not to be interpreted as medical advice.

Allergies. Yuck. It just gets old after awhile, doesn't it? You're going along with your day and suddenly, BAM! it hits you. Watery eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat. Sometimes it's manageable and other times it really knocks you for a loop and it's off to bed you go. Ever have that happen? 

Fortunately for me, I just open my cupboard and pull out my Hyland's basket of goodies quickly.Then I determine what I need and I take it at the first sign of a sniffle. This time of year, I'll be reaching for the Hyland's Seasonal Allergy Relief, knowing it will give me just that -- 
R E L I E F! If I feel a headache coming on with some sinus pressure, I opt for the Hyland's DEFEND Sinus. Either way, I know I'll be covered and can get on with the more important things in my life.
I always have some of the kids' formula on hand as well, in case one of the grandkids starts sneezing. I really don't understand why anyone would opt for the conventional OTC meds when there is a natural homeopathic formula available.

This week, Hyland's is giving away some free allergy products on their Facebook page. They want you to know that you, too can conquer spring allergies with Hyland's. Just take the quiz to enter to win!

Here are the questions:

1. True or False. You will outgrow your allergies.

2. Which symptoms develop faster, allergy or cold symptoms?

3. How can you tell the difference between allergy or cold symptoms?


Not sure of the answers? Head over to the Hyland's FB page by clicking here and discover what you need to know about allergies. Keep in mind, Hyland's will not be offering medical advice. They won't try to diagnose exact symptoms. All they're doing is offering some practical and helpful information that just might take you down a flower-strewn path without so much as a gentle achoo!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rewriting Eulogies

Image by Junior Libby

Death. Funerals. Reflection.
The Cross.
Anger. Sadness. Confusion.

At some point in our lives, we all have to deal with the death of someone we love. Often, it seems unfair. At times, grace prevails and our loved one slips away quietly. We can accept their death. But there is a sense of loss, a feeling that things will never be the same. We reach out for a touch that’s no longer there.

While it is the life of a person that touches our hearts, it is the death of Jesus that transforms us. If we meditate on where we’d be without the cross, we can’t help but realize how hopeless our lives would be. Because of His death, our hopelessness turns to hopefulness, our sorrow becomes joy, our darkness light. Death has lost its victory because power lies in Resurrection.

Eulogies expound on our virtues. They recall good times, strength of character, gentleness of heart. We laugh, we cry, we remember. The Gospels are a powerful eulogy of Christ’s life. 

What will be said at the end of your life? Will your children remember your steady faith? Your kind words? Your servant heart? Will your time have been more valuable than your “toys”? Will your compassion be remembered long after you’re gone, your gentle spirit transcending memories of harsh words spoken? Christ’s gift came at a cost. A cost of nails and a crown of thorns. Embrace Him. Let Him rewrite your eulogy.

Life. Celebration. Reflection.
The Empty Tomb.
Peace. Contentment. Certainty.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Honoring the Earth -- how my family is making a difference

Welcome to the April 2014 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Honor the Earth.  

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and Crunchy Farm Baby through the Green Moms Network. This month, our members are talking about how they honor the Earth year round. Stop by all of the posts to get ideas on how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. 

How does my family honor the earth?

I pondered the question for awhile and kept coming up with an alternate question: 

How does my family not honor the earth?

Grandson rocking the cloth right away!

* Cloth diapering. When it comes to living earth-friendly lives, it's not like we're perfect or anything. Far from it. But I'm proud to say we're doing our part, starting with what we put on our babies' bums. I'm delighted my daughters decided to cloth diaper my grandbabies right from the start. They're honoring the earth by not dumping countless disposal diapers into the landfill.

Jess breastfeeding at a Pittsburgh Pirate game

* Breastfeeding is another way we've honored not only our babies, but the earth as well. After all, there is no production impact on the environment when it comes to breastfeeding. It was my only choice when I had babies, and it was/is their own choice as well. 

Of course, it goes beyond what we do for our babies. Some of the changes we've made are doable for everyone who is reading this.

* Reusable bags. There is no reason . . . NONE . . . for you to continue using plastic bags at the store. The choices in reusable bags are vast, and include many that fold up or roll up and slip easily into a purse or pocket so they are readily and always available.

But I need plastic bags at home for things like cat litter and trash, etc.

I hear you. We use plastic bags for those purposes as well. But we just get them from others who, for one reason or another, continue to acquire vast amounts of plastic bags every week. They gladly give some to us, just to get them out of their own homes. I'm sure you can find others who will accommodate you as well.

I admit it took me awhile to get into the habit of always having reusable bags with me, but habits are like that. They take time to develop. This is a habit that is well worth it.

* Forsaking disposable products. Other than toilet paper, for the most part, our home is free of products like napkins and paper plates. We do have a roll of paper towels stashed under our sink, which is only used for the occasional massive amounts of puke one of our cats manages to deposit on the floor for us. Other than that, we use, and reuse, rags. There's no reason to waste paper towels to clean up average messes and spills. None.

Same with paper/plastic plates. We have a set of splattered metal dishes which is perfect for dining out on the patio. Why would we use something that would just be thrown away after one meal? It makes no sense.

Paper napkins are also a ridiculous waste. I don't even even use them for parties or showers. For the last couple baby showers, my daughters made cute napkins out of receiving blankets we picked up at garage sales for next to nothing, or out of soft fabric they bought. After the showers, the napkins became cloth wipes for the babies delicate behinds. Perfect. 

I must confess, between the homemade ones, inherited ones, gifted ones, and ones I bought, I probably have close to 100 cloth napkins. That keeps us covered when it comes to wiping our hands during a meal . . . even when we're feeding a crowd. 

* Reusable bottles and cups. As much as possible, I do not use Styrofoam or paper cups or plastic bottles. Of course, sometimes I must, but I try to remember to carry my own cups or bottles with me to functions so I don't contribute to the ongoing landfill crisis that is growing with every Starbucks cup that is tossed in the trash.

What's not to love about Earth Mama Angel Baby?

* Personal care products. We're all doing our part here by reducing the amount of toxic personal care products we use. From conventional shampoos to colognes to hair dyes to body lotions, we try to make the best choices possible for both our health and the environment. It takes some research, but it's so worth the effort.

* Household products. Again, it's about choices, and we try our best to keep harmful chemicals out of our kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
* Lawn and garden.  I look out my window and see the lush green lawns starting to appear in my neighborhood and I'm struck with a bit of envy. But only for a moment, as I realize the environmental cost of that lushness. We opt to keep products like RoundUp off our properties and cringe as we see it being applied to yards so close to ours. 

We choose plants for our gardens free of neonicotinoids. The last thing I want to do is to be responsible for the killing off of even more bees. This is important folks, and I implore you to not buy plants from Lowe's or Home Depot until they agree to stop using this toxic pesticide. Ask your local gardening centers if their plants are free of it. It's that important.

Obviously, I've given you quite of lot of ways to Honor the Earth. I believe in leading by example, so these are things I am doing . . . except the breastfeeding part. I will say I'm not currently engaging in that!

I'd love to hear that you've committed to one or more of these suggestions. What changes are you willing to make to celebrate Earth Day 2014?

Visit Happy Mothering and Crunchy Farm Baby to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival! Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

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