Thursday, July 31, 2014

Onward in the battle... we do it for the children

Image by Petr Kratochvil
Trying to live a toxin-free life here in the US is not easy. Toxic chemical pollution is a major issue here, with companies dumping toxins into the environment at alarming rates. From plastics to detergents, paints to pesticides, medications to cosmetics... the manufacturing industries are striving to make life better for us, yet are poisoning us at the same time.

Dioxins, pesticides, flame retardants, and perfluorochemicals are just a few of the biggest offenders. While the government does its part to regulate the disposal of these toxins, let's face facts -- money talks and it often talks louder than common sense and safety. That's why we have to be informed and aware, and we have to make our voices heard. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure a safe future for our children.

For me, it's burdensome to continually be the bearer of bad news. Some days, I'd just like to bury my head in the sand and stop this influx of information being sent my way. But then I think about those beautiful grandbabies of mine and I realize ignorance is not bliss. Not when it means risking their health and their future. 

So I'll keep at it. I'll keep learning and sharing and hoping and praying. I only hope that you will feel the need to participate in this movement toward a better future with less toxins. 

Marching onward,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blogger Event

BMS TBX-260 Giveaway.jpg

What’s Your Ride BTS Ride Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media

Grand Prize: BMS TBX EFI Touring Scooter

Event dates: 8/4 - 9/4

Giveaway is open to Continental US Residents. 



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reducing your rubbish: 8 ways to cut back on your trash

Image by Maita Ru
Yesterday was garbage day in our neighborhood. I must say I'm pleased at the little amount of trash my husband and I throw out each week. Our garbage men know how easy it will be to pick up our can each week, versus our recycling container, which tends to be pretty full. Between recycling, donating, and composting, we just don't have much trash.

What about you? Have you been trying to find ways to cut back on your contribution to the landfills? Here are tips you might find helpful:

1.  This probably goes without saying, but carry reusable bags with you wherever you go. I have some that fold up or roll up nicely and slip into my purse. It's rare that I don't have 2 or 3 with me at any given time. Then there is the countless assortment in my trunk. It's worth the investment to be stocked up. 

2.  Skip the small plastic bags at the grocery store when you buy produce. Most produce can be placed loose in your cart or basket. Why bother putting two onions in a bag? Green beans? Well that's different. But you could get buy some reusable produce bags and avoid having even more plastic bags heading for the dump.

3.  Take up darning. Darning? Yes, darning. Who here simply throws away socks and other clothing when they tear? In the old days, people just didn't waste things like that. They fixed them; whether we're talking socks or appliances. Throwing things away was always a last resort. Now, admittedly, I don't darn. I rarely sew. But as I challenge you, I'm challenging me as well. NEW is not always better. And generally, it's not the green way to go.

4.  Opt for non-packaged food. Buy things in bulk or shop for fresh meat and produce, thus avoiding the styrofoam or plastic packaging. If you must buy something pre-packaged, stick to recyclable plastic and toss the container into the recycling bin. 

5.  Shop for quality items that won't wear out so quickly. Yes, you can find bargains at Walmart, but ask yourself how long they're likely to last. Paying more upfront can save you more in the long run. And it will prevent more waste in the landfill.

6.  Use things until they wear out. For us, that means we're still watching TV on big ol' 27" tube televisions. They still work, so why replace them? And do you seriously need a new cell phone?

7.  Find your local recycling centers that will take all the recyclables your refuse company won't. Nearly all paper and cardboard is recyclable. So why are you throwing it out? There is next to no reason whatsoever for you to be tossing your plastics and aluminum cans in the trash, right? 

8.  Stop using, or seriously limit the use of, disposable products! This includes:
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • napkins
  • paper towels
  • feminine products
  • Keurig (and similar) one-cup beverages
  • paper plates
  • plastic cups
  • plastic flatware
  • tissues
  • makeup remover cloths 
These are just some suggestions to help you live a more earth-friendly life by reducing your contribution to the growing landfill problem. Of course, I don't expect you'll do everything on the list. I'm guilty of violating some of these "rules" myself. But if we all do our part, believe me, it will make a difference. 
So did I miss anything? Let me know what suggestions you have for reducing your rubbish. That's the thing I love about community... we can all learn from each other.

Keeping it green on trash day,

Monday, July 28, 2014

Even grandmas lose it sometimes

"Grandma, you don't need to teach me anything else. I can learn everything I need from ABCmouse."

After spending 3 days with my 5-year-old granddaughter visiting a friend in Northern PA, this is not what I needed to hear. While Laura didn't mean to upset me, that's exactly what she did. I hate to admit it, but I freaked out on her a bit. 

"Fine," I said, "learn everything you want from your stupid computer. You won't hear anything else from me. And you won't be going anywhere else with me, either." I shouted some additional choice words.

That's when the tears began. Hers... and mine. She sat in her car seat wailing while I drove along with tears running down my face. I'd had enough.

Did you ever feel that way with your own kids or grandkids? Like you'd had enough? Being with a talkative 5 YO for 3 days can really fray one's nerves. At least it frayed mine. The thing is I love my granddaughter. I watched her for 3 - 4 days a week for the first year of her life when my daughter had to go back to work (for benefits). Taking care of that precious little one was such an honor for me and we bonded more than we would have had I not babysat her from the start. Of course, like with my own children, there were challenges. You know, the fussy days when there is nothing I could do to appease her. The days when she fought naps. Teething issues. Colic. Yikes! It was just plain difficult at times. 

But then there were the delightful days. The days when everything seemed right with the world. The days when she'd hug me tightly and look at me with adoration. Yeah, those days are the ones I remember.

During that year, I spent an awful lot of time reading to Laura and teaching her countless things -- from sign language to knowing her right and left to colors, shapes, and perspectives. It was a magical time for me that I will never forget. Like I said, it was an honor.

After her mommy quit her job and was able to stay home with her full time, I continued to spend quite a bit of time with this precious little one. And I still taught her at every opportunity.

Over the last year or so, I haven't seen Laura as much as in past years. She went to pre-school. She moved further away. And she discovered an affection for electronics. She stopped showing much of an interest in the things I could teach her. 

So, when she actually verbalized this disinterest on Saturday, it felt like a knife going through my heart. I no longer felt useful in her life. She was suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) at the age when she didn't need my instruction. Aren't they usually teenagers when this phase hits??

It's odd how much this affected me. As I type this, tears are running freely down my cheeks. I didn't think it was possible, but my beloved Laura really hurt me. And when it happened, I snapped. 

Have you ever been there? If not, let me fill you in on a secret: no one can hurt you as much as your own children or grandchildren. The greatest pain I've felt in life was caused by my own daughters. Of course, this little altercation between Laura and me isn't really that big of a deal. My head knows that. But my heart was reminded of pain I hadn't felt in a long time and I'm having a little bit of an issue shaking it. 

As we drove toward home accompanied only by our occasional sniffs, Laura said, "I'm sorry." 

"What did you say?" I asked.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For saying what I said."

I thanked her for apologizing, but let her know I was still hurt. I explained how I never had grandparents or aunts that did things with me and that she was so lucky she did. And I have to admit, I am envious of her. I never felt loved from my relatives the way she is. Never. And I felt like she'd basically spit in my face. 

The rest of the ride was kind of quiet, although she did sing the soundtrack to Frozen three times. Without the CD, I should add. We stopped for lunch and later, ice cream. Things seemed okay. Then I dropped her off at home and as I was leaving, she said an indifferent goodbye and didn't even bother to hug me. Another knife to my heart. 

Ahh... the price of loving too much. 

Sharing my heart,


Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's not too late


As frightening as it is, it is not too late. GMOs have taken over our major food crops in the past 15 years, but we can eliminate them in the next ten years from our food, feed, fuel, and fiber supply chains -- with marketplace pressure and regulatory changes.

~Alisa Gravitz
President/CEO Green America

Old Time Candy Company Giveaway

Old Time Candy Giveaway
Every once in awhile, isn't it fun to go back to the ways things used to be? Remember when candy was a special treat and no one worried about the ingredients? Aspartame and high fructose corn syrup certainly weren't issues when I was a kid. I miss those days. That's why I'm happy to be part of this giveaway.  

The adventure began in July, 1999 when the founders of Old Time Candy Company walked into a large candy store in Cleveland, Ohio that specializes in old time candy. They had no idea that many of their old time favorites still existed. It was the candy they ate as kids... Necco Wafers, Candy Buttons on paper tape, Wax Lips, Candy Cigarettes. Amazing!

They went on-line in early 2000 with their first candy assortment and began to grow. In 2003 they moved into a larger facility and expanded at the beginning of 2004. They moved into a much larger facility in August of 2006 where they are located today. 2013 began their 13th year in the candy business.

Prize: Winner's Choice of Candy by Decades 
4 lb. box from here

Dates: 7/26-8/9
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, July 25, 2014

IOTUT: The 6 Ingredients Most Likely to be Genetically Modified

On this week's Instead of This Use This, we're talking GMOs.

Trying to avoid GMOs, but not sure which ingredients to look out for? Well, since the US is keeping us in the dark with their Monsanto-in-the-back-pocket labeling laws, or lack thereof, I thought I'd help you out. Here's a list of the worst offenders:

Public Domain Image by Amedee Masclef

1.  95% -- Sugar Beets. Check the ingredients. If non-organic foods list sugar, but it is not specified as "pure cane sugar," most likely, this is sugar made from GM sugar beets.

2.  93% -- Soy. Look out. In addition to the obvious -- soybean oil, soy milk, tofu, and tempeh, soy is lurking in many products you might not be aware of like vitamin E, lecithin, and more.

3.  90% -- Corn. Wow... what doesn't contain corn?! Look for corn oil, corn starch, and high-fructose corn syrup, just for starters.

4.  90% -- Cottonseed. Of course, you want to stay away from non-organic cottonseed oil. But you also want to look for it in salad dressings, margarines, and fried snack foods, like potato chips.

5.  90% -- Canola Oil. This is simply not a good choice when shopping for oils.

6.  80% -- Papaya. Does that one surprise you? It did me. According to the USDA, all US-grown papaya is most likely GM or contaminated with GMOs. Yummy. Think I'll steer clear.

Photo by Mark Yang

One more thing to keep in mind when shopping for dairy products. Cows on non-organic farms are generally fed alfalfa. The problem with that is that a large portion of the alfalfa crop in the US is genetically modified from cross-contamination. Does that mean your non-organic milks and cheeses are affected? That's a matter of opinion and I guess it just depends on who you believe.

Naturally, the only option we have if we want to avoid genetically modified foods that have any of the above ingredients is to shop for organic or Non GMO Project Verified foods. As I've said in the past, just because something is Non GMO Project Verified does not mean it's organic. However, all organic foods are free of GMOs. Also, don't trust the word "natural," as many products labeled as such are full of genetically engineered ingredients. 

So, instead of GM foods, opt for organic. You may pay more initially, but think of all the doctor bills you just may avoid! After all, keeping our families safe and healthy is our #1 priority, right?

Keeping it healthy with alternatives,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's time to think about fall planting. Where will you get your non-GMO seeds?

It's time to order your seeds for fall planting and I just discovered the perfect place to do so. Seed Savers Exchange is known by some as "the anti-Monsanto." I'm already interested in learning more. What about you? According to an ad I read, they got their nickname because they have a public domain seed bank housing over 20,000 varieties of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. These seeds can be saved and grown again, a process that goes back thousands of years. Take that Monsanto!

A grass-roots organization, Seed Savers Exchange understands the importance of the biodiversity of life and food. This charitable organization believes that caring for seeds is the same as caring for the earth -- it is for the benefit of future generations.

You can order a free catalog by clicking here. All of their seeds are untreated, non-GMO varieties.

Check out this short 3 1/2 minute video to learn more about this non-profit, earth-loving organization:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Petbrosia Customized Pet Food Review and Giveaway!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received product and/or compensation in exchange for the possibility of a review. All opinions are my own.

Theo and Vincent Van Gogh
We learned quite awhile ago that clay cat litter is really, really bad for cats. As a matter of fact, through our research, we concluded that several of our cats probably died due to our poor choice of litter. So we're committed to only using safe litters for Vincent and Theo, the unrelated Van Gogh brothers. 

That got me thinking... if I cared about their litter, shouldn't I care about their food, too? We've never fed them cheap food, but it seems that whenever we'd try expensive, supposedly healthier foods, they simply stopped eating and nearly meowed us to death in their attempts to get us to buy something edible.

Along comes an opportunity to review some cat food from a company called Petbrosia. Now don't go scouring the shelves for Petbrosia pet food. You won't find it. Petbrosia is a unique company that customizing dog and cat food according to your pet's nutritional needs. 

What does that mean? Well, after you've filled out an online survey, they customize a diet that is perfect for your dog's or cat's breed, age, weight, food allergies, activity level, and any other specific needs you want addressed. They do this using all-natural meats, fruits, and vegetables. The food is technically, not grain-free, but they do not use corn, soy, or wheat. Additionally, you won't find any artificial flavors, preservatives, colors, or unnecessary fillers in the mix. This made-to-order pet food is also free of antibiotics and hormones. Try to find that combination on the store shelves.

I filled out the survey for my beloved cat, Theo. He's a Siberian Forest Cat who is 10 years old, weighs 15 pounds, and is moderately active. I was anxious to see what he'd think of his new diet.

So, have you ever thought about what is in your pet's food? What exactly is by-product meal? Quite simply it's meal made up of leftover animal parts that aren't suitable for human consumption. Things like feathers, entrails, beaks, feet, necks, hooves, hair, horns, and teeth. Yummy.

But what about foods that are labeled "Natural," "Holistic," or "Organic"?

The law states that pet foods labeled "Natural" must consist only of natural ingredients that are free from chemical alterations. This does not include the addition of vitamins, minerals, or nutrients.

Holistic foods come with no legal definition, which means these foods are completely unregulated when it comes to the labeling. Bottom line, any pet food made up of any type of ingredients could be labeled "Holistic." Hmmm.

Of course, if you're buying "Organic" pet food, you can trust that the ingredients truly are organic and GMO-free. Pet food manufacturers must follow the same USDA guidelines as human food when it comes to using the "Organic" label.

Theo with his winter coat

While it can be confusing to read the pet food labels, here are some things to look for:
  • "Complete and balanced." This means it will contain the right amount of nutrition for your pet. 
  • Choose a blend that is made for your pet's size and age.
  • Avoid by-product meal.
  • Opt for "Natural" over "Holistic" labels.
When in doubt, call the telephone number listed on the bag, or talk to your vet about your pet's specific needs.

The customized Petbrosia pet foods are put together right before they're shipped out to consumers, thus insuring that the freshest possible food is being delivered. And, once your pet is hooked, you can set up an Auto-Replenishment schedule so you'll never run out of healthy, fresh food for your kitty or pup.

And there's no need to be concerned about switching your pet food. You can find step-by-step instructions on Petbrosia's website

So... the real question is: how does Theo like his new food?

He loves it. Seriously. And he eats far less than he used to. He's satisfied quickly and no longer begs for canned food. He's just content with eating what he's given.

And what about Vincent. He's eating Theo's food, too. I didn't realize that I could have entered both cats' info and received a bag of food with the ideal nutrition for both of them. Next time. Vincent is smaller (almost 12 lbs.) and doesn't eat much of the food. But he, too, is satisfied quickly, and he isn't begging for more food anymore, either. 

The fact that they're not eating as much (way less than they were with the cheaper brand), means Petbrosia pet food would actually save us money, despite its higher ticket price -- $34.90/10 lbs. plus $4.95 s/h. 

Rather than taking the time to compare on your own, here is a handy comparison chart with Petbrosia and some popular brands.

 Yes, it's pricier. Only you can decide if it's worth it for your furry family members. For us, we've determined it is. 

And now, you can get $10 off of your first order by using the promo code: BRL10.

Or you can wait and see if you're the lucky winner of a FREE 3 lb. bag of dog or cat food. If you live in the 48 contiguous states and are 18 or older, you are eligle to win. Entries will be verified. Winner will be announced here and on FB and Twitter. Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Say NO to antibacterial soaps and other products containing triclosan

Vintage Soap Advert
Back when soap was safe

Last week, I touted the value of SoapBox soaps. There are still some of you, however, who believe that unless a soap boasts antibacterial properties, it's not good enough. Folks, listen up! Triclosan, the active ingredient in most antibacterial soaps, is a suspected endocrine disruptor. What does that mean? It might cause early-onset puberty and infertility. Yes, I said "might." But doesn't the word might scare you enough to protect your children from this substance? Besides, scientific studies reveal that soaps containing triclosan are no more effective than regular soap. So, again I ask, is it worth the risk?

The truth is that the FDA hasn't ever approved triclosan for use in antibacterial soaps. Surprising, isn't it? Of course, there is a loophole. They also have never banned it. That loophole is the reason triclosan was permitted to be added to soaps way back in 1978. Of course, the widespread use of it back then wasn't common as it is today. Go into nearly any public restroom and wash your hands. Most likely, you've just been exposed to triclosan and its toxic effects. 

The good news is that, due to pressure from groups like the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), triclosan-laced soaps are likely to be off the market within the next two years. Unfortunately, however, that doesn't mean we'll be safe from triclosan, as it's in countless products, including many children's toys, kitchen products, cosmetics, deodorant, toothpaste, shoes, towels, and clothing. If you find a product labeled "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial," chances are good it either contains triclosan or triclocarban, both equally disruptive to your health and the environment.
There are exceptions, of course, as silver and some essential oils, such as tea tree oil, are also known to have antibacterial and/or antimicrobial properties. Read the labels. Know the facts. Keep your kiddos safe and healthy.

Keeping you informed,

Click here for an informative pdf about triclosan from a scientific viewpoint.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The reasons behind my opposition to GMOs

Photo by Petr Kratochvil
Okay, we've all been hearing a lot about GMOs, and most of us are adamantly against them. But do you understand the reasons why we should take a stand against them? 
  • It's becoming more and more evident that genetic engineering is destroying the environment.
  • It's never been proven to be safe. Those conducting the research that says genetic engineering is safe, are the very ones who are profiting from those same GE crops.
  • So far, without the appropriate research, the only thing we can count on is unpredictable results.
  • GMOs are harming the ecosystem.
  • They are creating super weeds and super bugs.
  • Over 90% of all corn, soybeans, and sugar beets are genetically modified, making it nearly impossible for us to avoid. GMOs are being forced on us without out consent.
Learn more about why we need to continue to fight against the monsters at Monsanto by watching this short informative video. Do it for you. Do it for your family. It's that important.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


the most urgent thing you can possibly do 
is take a complete rest.

~Ashleigh Brilliant

If you would like to learn more about my own experience with finding the time and necessity for rest, check out my Sabbath Experiment.

Friday, July 18, 2014

IOTUT -- Back-to-School Swap Party

Image by George Hodan

It's Friday already. I can't believe how fast this summer is flying by. As you prepare to send your kiddos back to school, I have a suggestion. Why not skip the big back-to-school shopping excursion and host a BTS swap party?

Let's face it -- all your kids' friends' parents are in the same boat as you. Some of you might even be a bit strapped for money, yet every August, you have to shell out a bunch of money for new items your kids probably don't even need. So here's my Instead of This, Use This suggestion for the week.

Back-to-School Swap Party

Invite your children's friends and their mothers to a party where everyone brings last year's backpacks, clothing, shoes, etc. Organize the items according to type. Give out a ticket for every item brought and then let the kids have fun "shopping." You can even color code the tickets to match the categories. 

Let the moms in on the fun, too, by swapping purses, jackets, and shoes. 

Serve refreshments and, if the kids are up to it, let them put on a fashion show with their new clothing. Let the kids know how much they're helping the earth by reusing items already purchased. Maybe you can even invite a guest speaker who can give a short talk about how cool it is to go green (I'm available in the Pittsburgh area).

This is a win-win situation for everyone! It certainly helps your budget while the kids have the chance to have new-to-them back-to-school clothes and accessories. 

And that, my friends, is this week's Instead of This, Use This. What do you think of the idea?

Keeping it green through reuse,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

soap = hope Made in the USA Blog Carnival


Welcome to the July 2014 
Natural Living Blog Carnival: 
Made in the USA.  
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and the Green Moms Network. This month, our members are talking about shopping for products that are Made in the USA. Stop by all of the posts listed at the bottom of mine to get ideas on how your family can support more US-based businesses.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received product and/or compensation in exchange for the possibility of a review. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinions.

I was shopping at Whole Foods a few months ago and met a young man who had a display of soaps from a company called, SoapBox. We had a lovely conversation, followed by an exchange of business cards. A week or so later, I received an email from Aaron and agreed to do a review of the products. I must admit, I was already loving one of the products, as I had purchased it at Whole Foods the day I was introduced to SoapBox. And it wasn't just the product I loved... it was the entire concept of this Virginia company. 

Let me tell you about it. SoapBox products are:
  • Made in the USA, which automatically cuts down on the environmental impact that importing products can cause.
  • Cruelty free & Vegan certified. I'm personally not concerned about the second part of that statement, but I know it's important to some of you.
  • Gluten free. Again, not an issue for me personally, but for those of you with gluten sensitivities, it's good to know.
  • They use 100% recyclable packaging. Notice, it's not 50% or even 90%. It's 100% recyclable.
  • Palm Oil free.
  • Paraben free.
  • Petrochemical free. Keeps getting better, doesn't it?
  • Phthalate free.
  • Sulfate free.
  • And here's the best part -- Made with 100% pure hope.
 So, what's the deal with SoapBox soaps? The above reasons would be enough motivation to buy their products, right? But it gets better. Much, much better.

SoapBox works with local bar soap makers around the world to empower communities, not create aid dependency. The company is dedicated to saving and improving lives across the globe, as well as here in the United States.  They do this in three ways:

1. Every time a bar of soap is purchased, SoapBox donates a bar to someone in need. More than 3,000 children's lives could be save every day if they simply had access to soap and clean water.**

2. A month's supply of clean water is provided through their partner, RainCatcher, for every Liquid Hand Soap purchase. Did you know that every week, more than 27,000 children's lives could be saved by clean water and improved living conditions around the world?**

3. With each purchase of Body Wash, a year's supply of vitamins is donated to someone in need through their partner, vitamin angels. More than half a million children under the age of five die every year from malnutrition. Nearly one in four of these children's lives could be saved through vitamin A supplementation alone.**

That's where their slogan "soap = hope" comes in -- buy one and they give one to a person in need. Their mission is simple: "to empower customers with the ability to make the world a better place through everyday, quality purchases."

Through soap, water development, and vitamins, each of their products helps to save the more than 24,000 people's lives that could be saved through preventable measures.**

**According to the 2012 Report by UNICEF & World Health Organization.

So who makes up this amazing company? It's just a small bunch of young, dedicated people who plan to change the world through their partnerships with homeless shelters, food pantries, and orphanages. I'm impressed. Aren't you?

Of course, the only way they can accomplish their goal is by producing a good product. Right? Well, they hit their mark on that one. I love, love, love, the All-Natural Bar Soap, the Liquid Hand Soap, and the Body Wash. So does my husband. And the various guests I've had in my home who have washed their hands and asked me about the "wonderful" soaps I have in the bathrooms and kitchen. 

I love the scents. At least the ones I've tried. I especially appreciate how the entire bar is scented so that it retains its light scent as it gets smaller and smaller. We're currently using the Spearmint Bar Soap in the upstairs shower and love the invigorating scent.

I have the Mandarin Body Wash in the downstairs bathroom. I love the refreshing citrus aroma that mixes with the steam as I shower. Ahhh. 

Finally, I have the Liquid Hand Soaps in the bathrooms and kitchen. I love how soft my hands feel after washing with these soaps. We just finished the Lavender Liquid Hand Soap upstairs and savored the relaxing aroma each time we washed our hands. Now we're using the Apple Liquid Hand Soap (with aloe and jojoba oil) and are loving the crisp apple scent. 

We're using the Tea & Ginger Liquid Hand Soap in the downstairs bathroom. Again... ahhhh... The aloe and shea butter are a perfect combination with the tea and ginger scent. I'm especially enjoying the choice I made for the kitchen, both because I like how the soap cleans my hands and because I love how the bottle looks on my kitchen counter. It is most likely my favorite: Black Liquid Hand Soap. I mean, who does black/gray in their liquid soap packaging? It's awesome.The Black Soap (bar and liquid) has activated charcoal mixed with sea salt, which works to draw toxins out of your skin while it exfoliates. Brilliant.

There are more varieties available. You can check out the ingredients and scents on the SoapBox website, where you can buy individual products or money-saving bundles. Sign up for their subscription service and save even more! 

But you don't have to order from website because SoapBox soaps are now conveniently available at your local Target stores, too. How cool is that? So you can add to the positive environmental impact of the soaps by skipping the shipping and picking them up on your next shopping trip.

With SoapBox soaps, it's not just about buying an environmentally friendly, natural, and effective product for you and your family. No. It goes beyond that. And that is what drives me to give them the Green Grandma's Two Green Thumbs Up Award!

Reviewing it for you,


Visit Happy Mothering and 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:


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Natural, Gentle, Safe, Effective, and Available at Target!

Disclaimer: I am a Hyland's Homeopathy Ambassador and receive various products and gift cards from Hyland's 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.

I can't tell you how excited I am about the Made to Matter initiative at Target. Target chose a handful of companies to feature in this line... companies that care about the health of their consumers and the proven safety of their products. Companies like Hyland's. I have to admit, Hyland's is one of my favorite companies and I've known for years that their products truly are made to matter.

Hyland's is thrilled to be part of Target's Made to Matter program. Their homeopathic medicines are made with the highest quality natural ingredients and they've followed the strictest standards of preparation for over a century! There's something to be said for a company that's stood the test of time, don't you think? 

Hyland's Teething Tablets (what family with young ones can live without these?!) were first mentioned in a company product catalog in 1925. There has been a lot of sore gum relief since then!

Founded in 1903, as Standard Homeopathic Pharmacy in Los Angeles, the pharmacy was bought by George H. Hyland seven years later when he started Standard Homeopathic Company. In 1923, Cecil Crag joined the organization and in 1940, he developed Hyland's Pink Aspirin for Children for his daughter, Marion. By 1947, the manufacturing "plant" outgrew the basement. Forty years later, J.P. Borneman, PhD. Chairman and CEO joined the company.

Jump ahead to the 21st century. In 2008, the company launched Hyland's Cold 'n Cough 4 Kids and Hyland's Nighttime Cold 'n Cough 4 Kids, products I think are must haves for families with children. After all, nearly every child, at one point or another, will keep parents up hacking and sneezing. In those cases, Hyland's spells RELIEF in a safe, natural, and homeopathic way.

In 2009, Hyland's moved its corporate headquarters to its current location in Carson, California. Two years later, they introduced Hyland's Baby Tiny Cold Tablets and Hyland's Baby Cough Syrup, making them the first major brand to offer cold medicines for babies (six months and up).

They updated their packaging just last year for the Hyland's Baby and Hyland's 4 Kids lines, and now you can find these products at Target in their Made to Matter section. Because, like I said, Hyland's products are made to matter. They're natural, gentle, safe, and effective. Believe me. I know. I've been a long time fan of Hyland's and will continue to be for many years to come.

Unfamiliar with Hyland's? Check out this 30 second video to learn more:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Canadian Backyard Habitat

Today, I'm thrilled to welcome award winning author, Lillian Brummet, as a guest blogger. In addition to writing 6 books, Lillian also produces and hosts the Conscious Discussions talk radio show, and manages the Brummet's Conscious Blog in partnership with her husband and business partner, Dave Brummet. The main focus of everything they do is to inspire hope in individuals, helping them realize the value of their efforts, and encouraging them to become more positive and proactive in life. 

Lillian was happy to share her experiences with creating backyard habitats.

Recognition of farmers and gardeners who plant native and pollinator-friendly plants,
 minimize tilling, use no chemicals (fertilizers, herbacides, pesticides), 
and provide both water and habitat for a wide array of living beings.


Backyard Habitat 

The Canadian Wildlife Federation has some amazing programs and how-to instructions that help people green their yards, roofs and balconies while creating diverse beauty and habitat for native and migrating creatures.  One of their programs is called the Backyard Habitat Certification that honors and celebrates those who have created a diverse backyard habitat with different types of landscaping, ponds, gardens, and trees that provide food or habitat for a wide array of organisms from bees, butterflies, birds, and frogs, to humans. Dave and I had the honor of being awarded this certification for our last property. When we purchased that double corner lot, it had been a rental for a long time to various people, some of whom were mechanics. When we looked into the history of the property we learned that many years ago it was also a repair yard for the railway at the turn of the century. On top of this, the earth was compact, rocky, and heavy clay. What little greenery that survived there was mostly weeds. While building a privacy fence around the entire property, we also created a 3-bin compost system in order to produce good soil. 

The cedar fence panels were raised 2’ off the ground so we could run wire fencing along the bottom so the dogs could have a view, the neighbors could enjoy the flowers, and the landscaping could have air circulation and sunshine. Slowly over the next 5 years, we put mortared rock wall-lined raised beds surrounding the inside of this fence line, some landscaping outside in the grassy area between the fence and the curb, and 9 raised beds for our berry and vegetable garden. We then put in a small pond with a fountain and raised flower beds along the patio, carport, and driveway. 

We focused on choosing plants that provided nectar or berries for a wide array of living beings and that would provide a constant supply of fresh flowers throughout the growing season. Another important aspect in our choice was placing deciduous shade-producing vines or trees on the areas of the house that got the most sun exposure for optimal energy savings. We also planted berries and herbs for our own consumption, installed 5 bird houses, a bird bath, and both a suet and seed bird feeder. 

The home became a stunning park that anyone passing by paused to enjoy. The air was cooler and had more moisture than outside the property, which meant we had less energy costs and less dust in the home. We spent more time outside because the yard had become beautiful, quieter, and private, and the dogs had a better experience on summer days because they could seek out shade and water. We noticed increasing numbers and diversity of birds, butterflies, pollinators, and other insects. Frogs and dragonflies magically appeared with the installation of the pond and we always had a full freezer and pantry from the garden harvests. 

After putting in so much time and passion into that property, it was difficult to leave as it was reaching maturity and the peak of its beauty. However, it was important for us to follow our dream and move to the Kootenay region of BC, Canada. Real estate agents often state that landscaping can add 15% or more to the value of your home - this is something we can attest to, and it did not take long to sell, due to the beauty of the yard and, evidently, the certification was also a selling feature. 

We purchased a home in the heart of the Kootenays and, using what we learned from the last place, we began again. Because this property was not likely to have toxins in the soil, we were able to use the earth and sod that we dug up from various projects to layer in the 3-bin compost system. We’ve been here 4 years now and already have 7 raised garden beds. We started the landscaping including 11 shrubs, 9 trees, various flowers and herbs, and 2 bird feeders. Another year will see the completion of the landscaping – the final 2 raised beds for the garden, a pond, and bird, bat and butterfly houses to help attract them to the property. 

It is important to note that the plants we’ve put in so far will help mitigate global warming - when mature, the trees and shrubs will absorb 1875 kg of pollution and release enough oxygen for 25 people every single year. 

We learned from experience that creating diverse yards not only increases property value and inspires others; it also reduces energy costs, reduces dust and noise, and provides leaves for our gardens.


Award winning author Lillian Brummet produces and hosts the Conscious Discussions talk radio show, and manages the Brummet’s Conscious Blog. Although it seems like a lifetime of scribbles and notes have led up to this – Lillian has been professionally involved in the realm of writing since 1999. She began writing poetry as a teenager, which allowed her to express the issues and emotions from a broken home, abusive childhood, and being on her own at 13-years old. Through poetry she learned how to see beyond these hurts and discover a world outside of herself, where she learned that her life really did have value and that she had a purpose to fulfill.

Lillian has fond memories of an early childhood in California and Nevada (USA) and grew up in the south-central region of BC, Canada. Her business partner and husband, Dave, was born and raised in Kelowna (BC) where he met up with Lillian in 1990 and they have been together ever since. Dave and Lillian have collaborated their efforts and have authored of 6 books.

In those few stolen moments when she is not in the office, she can be found spending time with her husband gardening, indulging in nature, camping, and walking the many trails in BC’s (Canada) wilderness. 

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