Saturday, August 30, 2014

The dicotomy of GMOs and healthy food

Image by Anna Langova

You cannot insert a gene 
you took from a bacteria 
into a seed 
and call it life. 
You haven't created life, 
instead you have only polluted it.

~Vandana Shiva

Friday, August 29, 2014

IOTUT: The value of packing a waste-free lunch

I swear these weeks go way too fast. Here we are at Friday already. This is the last installment of Instead of This, Use This for the month. It's hard to believe that next week will be the first Friday of September, which means it will be another Vinegar Friday!

In the meantime, I thought it would be good to highlight one of my sponsors for The Big 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway going on NOW. If you haven't entered yet, I assure you, you'll want to. The prize package, valued at over $500 is amazing, thanks to the 16 generous sponsors.

I'd never heard of Funkins until Lisa Baumgartner, Founder and CEO, contacted me from the company to let me know they'd like to offer a prize for my giveaway. I checked out the company and was really pleased with what I saw. With the start of the school year, packed lunches and wastefulness is on a lot of parents' minds. But how can you significantly cut down on disposables in your kiddo's lunch box? Cloth napkins are an obvious choice, but your 5th grader doesn't want to be made fun of because he's toting around one of Mom's fancy cloth napkins, right? Well, Funkins are the answer! 

 There are baseballs

and kitties.


and owls.

There are even Funkins that will make your little ones 
(and maybe even you)
break out in song.

Do you want to build a snowman?

What can I say? These are adorable and the perfect way to cut down on school lunchtime waste, don't you think? 

Here's a quick video about the reasons why it's important to pack a waste-free lunch.

So, see how easy it is and how much of difference it makes? Instead of disposable products, pack your kids lunches with reusables like Funkins. That's being kind to the environment... and to your wallet. 

Presenting earth-friendly alternatives,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

GG Interview Series: Will Reynolds Young of SKINourishment

On Tuesday, I featured an interview with Katie Vance of Wise Wife Soaps. In my second installment of the GG Interview Series, I'm thrilled to showcase one of the male followers/sponsors of our largely female community. 

I met Will Reynolds Young a couple of years ago at the Allegheny County Green & Innovation Festival. He was selling some of his company's wonderful toxin-free products. I approached him and asked him if he'd be interested in my doing a review. Without knowing me or my blog (although I think he did a quick check on his smart phone), he agreed and asked me to select a few products. I did so and a new fan of his was born. While I like many of the products, I am especially enthused about the deodorant, which I order again and again (a shipment is on its way to me right now, as a matter of fact).

Will did not hesitate to offer a $25 gift card for my 5th Blogiversary Giveaway (be sure to check it out here), not did he hesitate when I asked him for an interview. Here's a chance to get to know one of my sponsors:

Green Grandma Interview Series: Will Reynolds Young of SKINourishment

GG: What motivated you to get involved with SKINourishment?

Will: I literally grew up with what we know now as SKINourishment. As I was growing up, I would visit the offices that were originally in the back of my aunt's house. On my visits, I was able to see the passion and love she put into not just the product, but everything else she did. I knew that's exactly what I wanted. I wanted to share the love and passion she embodied with the world and put my own spin on it. I recognized the need for a technical mind to be added to the crew, and slowly paved my way. 

GG: So how long have you been with the company?

Will: Technically, I have been with the company almost two years in my current position, and about four years on a lighter basis. I would like to think I have always been with the company since I literally grew up as the company grew up in many ways.

A young Will was really interesting in mixing his own skin care products in shampoo bottles. Needless to say, I found out that I should stick to the technical side of things and leave the mixing to the master!

GG: What were you doing before you decided to work for them full time?

Will: Sticking with the entrepreneurial spirit of the family, in 2011 I started my own company to distribute SKINourishment products. Throughout 2011 and 2012, I attended over 40 events in the Pittsburgh region and acquired wholesale and retail customers. In mid-2012, I was approached by my aunt to join SKINourishment on a regular basis. You can read a bit more about that by clicking here.

GG: What is your favorite part of the job?

Will: I love interacting with fans of the brand via social media and in real life. In addition, I love to meet new people and have the opportunity to introduce them to the product.

GG: That aspect of your personality shone through the first time I met you. Your enthusiasm is evident, so what makes this company stand out from its competition and why is that important to you?

Will: When I think of natural skin care or organic skin care and the market that it has become over the last decade, I kind of giggle to myself.

Personally, I find our approach to skin care to still be way ahead of the curve across world markets. We don't use any synthetic ingredients at all. Today you will find companies not using synthetic fragrances, but that simply puts us at less than 1% of the skin care companies across the world. In addition, every synthetic ingredient is tested on animals. Therefore, companies that use synthetics can still claim they don't test on animals where their ingredients are still tested on animals.

GG: Really? I wasn't aware of that, but it makes sense. What you're saying is that a company can state they don't do animal testing, but the ingredients that come from somewhere else are tested on animals from the supplier.

Will: Right. And we don't stop there. Aside from not using any synthetic ingredients, we also don't use any fillers, parabens, or perfumes. And all of our products are free of GMOs.

The amount of knowledge I have gained about the cosmetics and skin care market over the last few years, is insanely mind blowing. I can't even begin to tap into the wealth of knowledge my aunt has about this subject, but I sure try.

GG: Of all of the products you sell, Will, what are your three favorites?

Will: That's a tough question. I have fallen in love with so many of our products for different reasons. I think if I had to choose, it would be climbOn Creme, RIDICULOUS! Spray, and SKINourishment SPA Face Tonic. I use the climbOn Creme for everything from out of the shower to wind burn. RIDICULOUS! is great for pre-workout, post-workout, after long days on your feet, long car rides, and more. Finally, the Face Tonic is insanely refreshing and energizing.

GG: These are great suggestions for the winner of the giveaway who will have a $25 gift certificate to spend on your site. Moving away from the products, let's get more personal. Who inspires you?

Will: I have been extremely fortunate to have several inspirations close to me in my life.

  • My mother: She ran a small business called Kate and Allie's Cafe and Catering. She loved to share her passion for food at work and at home.
  • My father: It's simple -- He will do anything to help his friends and family.
  • My Uncle Steve and Aunt Joette: They married young, started a family and a business and, against all odds, succeeded through love, passion, and hard work. They operate their business on trust and integrity, building it solely through word of mouth.
  • My Aunt Polly: She constantly and consistently overcomes all odds. From having a woman-owned business to entering the billion dollar brutal cosmetic market, through everything, she just does it.
GG: You're right. You are quite fortunate to be surrounded by such inspirational people. With your commitment to safe personal care products, I can't help wondering if it carries over to other parts of your life, such as your food choices, etc.

Will: Working for a company that values healthy living in terms of cosmetics has certainly changed the way I look at everything I do. From reading ingredient labels more closely to finding more ways to be active, it has truly helped me become a better person. 

In the last year, I started to tackle my long-term stomach issues, being far more aware of what my body wants and doesn't want. I find myself not needing caffeine to function, and generally making healthier choices.

I learned overall that being honest with yourself about your choices is the most important thing. Taking care of your body should always be a top priority.

GG: Good lessons to learn and impart. So what three ingredients do you avoid at all costs?

Will: Personally, I do everything in my power to stick to our company policy that if it's not something you can eat, then your shouldn't put it on your skin. It doesn't get more simple than that.

GG: I know you don't have any children at this point, but was wondering if you were to have kids, would you cloth diaper them?

Will: I have two cousins; one who did cloth diaper their child and one who didn't. I can't think about kids right now, let alone decide if I would choose to cloth diaper them.

GG: Before we close this enlightening interview, why don't you give us one fun fact about you?

Will: One time I slept through a fire alarm going off in our apartment complex. I woke to a firefighter and my father standing there. Needless to say, I am great at sleeping!


Don't forget to check out the 5th Blogiversary Giveaway for a chance to win some Wise Wife Soaps products and a whole bunch more prizes valued at $500+.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

GG Interview Series: Katie Vance of Wise Wife Soaps

Since I have such awesome sponsors for the 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of them so you could get to know them, or their products better.

Katie Vance, of Wise Wife Soaps, graciously agreed to be interviewed for today's post. For all of you moms out there who have babies and little ones at home, you'll especially enjoy Katie's story of being a wife, mommy, and small business owner.

Katie donated a basket of her products to the huge blogiversary giveaway. The basket includes: bar soaps, a lavender roll on perfume, spicy bay rum roll on perfume, and some lavender beeswax lotion.

Click here to read a review I did of some of her products. You can follow Katie on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Green Grandma Interview Series: Katie Vance of Wise Wife Soaps

GG: What motivated you to start Wise Wife Soaps?

Katie: When my husband and I were first married, his skin was continually irritated from commercial soaps. This led us to start buying all natural and organic soaps. However, we were both in college and couldn't really afford those expensive soaps, so I started researching cold process soap-making and made my first batch in 2011.

GG: So when did you make the move from making soap for personal use to actually starting a business selling it?

Katie: 2013 was the "official" launch, however from 2011 to 2013, I perfected my soaps and made products for friends and family.

GG: What were you doing before you decided to do this?

Katie: Before I started Wise Wife Soaps (WWS), I did a variety of things. I was a substitute teacher, an administrative assistant at a hospice, and a preschool teacher... I hold a degree in English Literature and certifications in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Aromatherapy. I guess you could say that I'm just a jack of all trades.

GG: That's quite a resume, Katie. So what is your favorite part of this job?

Katie: I love making products that are good for people, but that don't break the bank! When I see customers smell my soaps and try my lotions, the look on their faces says it all. I am happy to provide products that help others maintain a happy and healthy family without forcing them to spend a fortune.

GG: I know that's important to the folks here in the Green Grandma community. Most of us are looking for ways to cut costs while still paying attention to safe ingredients for our families. What makes your company stand out from its competitors?

Katie: So many soap-makers use fragrance oils in their products. At WWS, we never do that. We only use pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. Fragrance oils often irritate skin since they have an undisclosed ingredient list. When you think about "fragrance oils," think along the lines of "natural or artificial flavors in food, which can have numerous undisclosed ingredients as well. In my opinion, fragrance oils make even the best soaps not worth using.

We also craft castile soap from scratch. That means our soaps have a high percentage of, and most are completely made of, olive oil. Many soap-makers will use less expensive oils or unnatural fillers to make more profit. 

GG: But surely, you're looking to make a profit, too.

Katie: Of course, but our philosophy is less about making money and more about making a product we can be proud of. That's why our slogan is: "Simple Ingredients, Better Beauty."

GG: You had a baby this past year. How do you manage to juggle being a wife, mommy, and business owner?

Katie: Each day, I try to set one goal. That may be for the business, for my home, or for my family. I achieve the goal, and then I move on. It makes me freel good about my time management and it also ensures that things still get done (even if it does take me a while!).

GG: I love that! I don't have any little ones at home, but I certainly have a lot of different coals in the fire and constantly struggle with juggling them. Setting a goal for different things every day could really help me focus. Thank you!

Katie: You're welcome. I also try to prioritize, which means, faith first, then family, then business.

GG: Ahh... we're now starting to understand the name of your business -- Wise Wife. You certainly have a lot of wisdom for your age.

Katie: Thank you. I'm very blessed to have an extremely supportive husband and family. My mother-in-law is our dedicated babysitter when I have craft shows and markets to attend. I make soap and products on the days when my husband is not working and I pack and ship orders in the evenings after my son goes to bed. Some days are tough, but it is always worth it!

GG: Do you hope to have more children?

Katie: Definitely! We are enjoying this season with our son so much and would welcome another addition, all in God's timing.

GG: How does your husband support you in your business?

Katie: Oh my, it would have been much easier if you asked me how does he "not" support my business! He tests soap for me, helps me at every farmer's market (he even arranges his schedule so he can attend each one!), watches the baby while I make soap, helps me think of blog posts, and the list continues.

GG: You're certainly blessed to have a partner like that! You mentioned your blog. What is the link so others in the community can follow you?

Katie: It's just That's my website where I feature DIY articles, natural living tips, and recipes. There's also a shopping section where you can order the products I make.

GG: Obviously, you have a terrific husband. But who else inspires you?

Katie: I am inspired by "the wise wife" of Proverbs 31. While my business is called "Wise Wife Soaps," I am a wise wife in progress. This proverb teaches about a wife who is hard working, slow to speech, wise in words, and who fears the Lord.

GG: It sounds like you're definitely on the right path, Katie. Part of wisdom as a wife and mother involves keeping your family safe from things that could harm them. Does your commitment to safe personal care products carry over to other parts of your life, such as food choices, etc.?

Katie: Absolutely. In our home, we buy non-GMO foods, local produce, and local grassfed meats. We also use all natural cleaners (like vinegar), cloth diapers, and glass bottles. We believe that what goes in our bodies is just as important as what goes on our skin. 

GG: You're continuing to imprint that "wise wife" impression on us. So, what are three ingredients you definitely avoid at all costs?

Katie: In my personal care products -- sulfates/sulfites, triclosan, and PEG. In my foods -- high fructose corn syrup, MSG (in all forms), and hydrogenated oils.

GG: Good choices. I think we could all learn a lot from you. But how about telling us something about yourself which may surprise us?

Katie: I was prom queen! Which was a big surprise for m, since I was a size 11 throughout high school and never the most popular girl. It just goes to show that being beautiful on the inside is much more important!

GG: This has been a fun interview. I really appreciate your taking the time to share a bit of your story with us. I have one final question: How long have you been a follower of Green Grandma and a member of the GG community?

Katie: Since 2011, when my mother-in-law gave me a copy of VINEGAR FRIDAYS. It was love at first read!


Don't forget to check out the 5th Blogiversary Giveaway for a chance to win some Wise Wife Soaps products and a whole bunch more prizes valued at $500+.

Monday, August 25, 2014

California Oranges Giveaway!


Welcome to the California Oranges Giveaway Event, hosted by Happy Mothering. During this giveaway, we'll be giving away a gift box filled with goodies valued at approximately $100!


This gift box will include:


Certified Organic Oranges



Tangerine Balsamic Vinegar



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Big 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway!

What do you get when you combine 
16 awesome sponsors and a 5 year blogiversary? 


Sponsored by 

Natural Products Network
Earth Mama Angel Baby

with donated prizes from:

Holistic Parenting Magazine
Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Wise Wife Soaps
Happy Baby Company
Ava Anderson Non-Toxic
Soapbox Soaps
Lynne Dempsey
BANDY Woodworks
Eat Cleaner

So here's the deal. I launched this blog on August 20, 2009. Since then, the community has grown and changed. I am ever grateful to all the new members, and enormously thankful to those of you who've been with me from the start (and have chosen to stick around!). 

To honor all of you, I joined with the above sponsors to offer you a one-of-a-kind giveaway. Unfortunately, and sadly, because of some of the sponsors stipulations, this giveaway is open to those of you in the US only. Of course, if my Canadian friends, and there are quite a few of you, have US connections, you can always enter and have your prizes shipped to a US address.

Rather than giving away various items to various people, this year, I'm offering the entire prize package to ONE lucky community member. The winner will be chosen via and Rafflecopter and announced here on the blog on Wednesday, September 3rd. I will also email the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond. If I do not receive a reply by then, an alternate winner will be chosen. Fair enough?

And to sweeten the pot, I am including a $50 VISA gift card, taking the value of the giveaway to over $500! 

Here are the prizes:

Didn't I tell you it was an awesome giveaway?! Enter on the Rafflecopter below. The contest runs through midnight on September 2, 2014. Entering is simple. You get one entry for each page you like or account you follow. Grab 1 or all 32 entries. Then get an extra 10 for sharing the giveaway on Twitter and another 10 for commenting below. While I don't usually do mandatory entries, I'm making an exception for this giveaway and am requiring everyone who enters to join the Green Grandma FB community. For those of you who are already part of the community, this is a freebie for you.

I hope you will discover some amazing new products by visiting the sponsors' websites.

Have fun and 
Good Luck!

When you're done with all these entries, make sure you enter to win 
a $500 Southwest Gift Card by clicking here.

Disclaimer: No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsors will be responsible for product shipment to winner of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, or Instagram. Contact if you have any additional questions or comments.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who wants to win a $500 Southwest gift card?

Welcome to the MPM BTS Transportation Sweepstakes 
 Organized by: Mom to Bed by 8 
Special thank you to our supporting co-host bloggers:  

One winner will receive a $500 Southwest Gift Card.


What better way to celebrate my blogiversary eve than to launch a fabulous giveaway? Sounds good to me. Now I just have to get the song, Leaving on a Jet Plane, out of my head!


Giveaway ends September 19th at 11:59pm, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. Excludes Quebec. Only one entrant per household, per address. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Enter using the giveaway form below. Good luck! 

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact if you have any additional questions or comments.

Gearing up for the biggest giveaway ever on GG!

Tomorrow's the big day! Green Grandma turns 5 years old and the celebration includes the biggest giveaway I've ever hosted on the blog! 

Here's a glimpse into what YOU could win, thanks to my awesome sponsors:
  •  A bundle of goodies from Natural Products Network, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Soapbox Soaps, and Wise Wife Soaps
  • An assortment of books for young and old written by Lynne Dempsey, Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino, and me
  • Gift cards from SKINourishment, Happy Baby Company, and Ava Anderson
  • PLUS prizes from HankyBooks, Bandy's Woodworks, Eat Cleaner, Holistic Parenting Magazine, and Funkins
Sound good? With a prize valued at over $500, this is one giveaway you don't want to miss!

Getting ready to celebrate in a big way,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Plant it Forward

This month, you can help farmers in Africa "Plant it Forward." And all you have to spend is ten cents per tree. This will help farmers in countless ways.

Imagine 500 or so trees growing in some of the most desolate areas of Africa. When we partner with farmers, they're able to grow forest gardens -- combining the best of a forest and a garden on one small piece of land. These simple ecosystems help in three ways:
  1. They increase farmers' incomes
  2. They provide food for farmers and their families
  3. They protect their environment
It's a fantastic deal! Many of the farmers are already "planting it forward," teaching others the skills they've learned. You can learn more here. And please, follow the progress of these programs by liking Trees for the Future on Facebook.

And now, through the end of August, Eco Optics, a brand by Modo Eyewear, will match every donation, up to a total of $15,000. That means a mere $25 can plant 500 trees and $50 can start a forest garden. Do you realize the impact of that small gift? It means you'll be providing food and ongoing income for a family in Africa for years to come!
Let's do this, folks! Click here to donate.

Sharing causes I believe in,


Saturday, August 16, 2014

In the distance

Every mother is like Moses. 
She does not enter 
the promised land.
She prepares a world
she will not see.

~Pope Paul VI

Friday, August 15, 2014

IOTUT -- Unplug and connect

Squirrel hanging out by the pond
Is it me or do Fridays roll around awfully fast these days? It seems like just a couple of days ago when I was advising you to ditch the tissue and embrace the greener option -- hankies.

It's Instead of This, Use This Friday. This week, I have a rather unusual tip. It involves disconnecting from electronics and connecting with nature.

Nuthatch enjoying the fresh seed

This past Saturday, I found myself sitting on my porch for hours, enthralled by the menagerie of birds and other wildlife in my backyard. I'd just filled the feeders with a new seed mix I'd purchased the day before and, for some reason, it drew the birds like magic. We counted 16 different species of birds in those few short hours. They were accompanied by a few squirrels and chipmunks, all eager for a free meal. We even had a couple of deer wander past us. Here are the species that graced our presence:
  • American Robin
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Carolina Wren
  • House Sparrow
  • American Crow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Mourning Dove
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Purple Finch
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • Northern Flicker

Female goldfinch on line
Male goldfinch on feeder by playhouse

I was thrilled to see a pair of yellow finches and the occasional visit from the Northern Flicker always pleases me. With this wide variety of birds flitting around so close by, I felt particularly blessed to be able to watch them from the comfort of my porch rather than with a group of folks at the Audubon Society. For me, the day was magical. 

Blue jay and cardinal sharing a meal

The menagerie included a dozen or so cardinals, including a handful of babies. It was interesting to watch both mama and papa feed them. I didn't realize the parents still fed the little ones when the little ones were big enough to fly.

Male cardinal in lilac bush

So what am I suggesting on this edition of IOTUT? I'm suggesting you put down your phone or tablet, turn off your laptop or TV, and spend some quiet time appreciating the brilliance of creation. Hunt for bees (it's hard to believe they're so hard to come by these days), discover new wildflowers, stare at a butterfly... We had the most magnificent black butterfly visit our potted flowers on the patio. It had beautiful blue markings and was a joy to watch.

Bee on coneflowers

It's a simple thing, really. But doable. If you live in the city, go to a park. If your yard is void of birds, take a walk in the woods. I challenge you to take some time over the next few days to unplug and unwind. Better yet, take your kids along on a nature walk and leave your electronic devices at home. Find some time to truly connect. 

That's it. Instead of TV, watch birds. Instead of staring at a screen, stare at the gift of nature, in whatever form it presents itself. 


Even my cat, Theo, enjoyed the time with us outside. And he never once went after any of the critters. Good kitty.

Offering you alternatives and encouraging a greener lifestyle,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Non-GMO vs Organic... cutting through the confusion


Labels can be confusing. One thing that really seems to confuse people is the difference between non-GMO and organic labeling, so I thought it would be helpful if I explained it to you.

When a product has the Non-GMO Project Verified label, that means the product contains no genetically modified organisms. There are strict guidelines that have to be met before a product receives this certification. And I imagine nothing makes Monsanto angrier than to see this label appearing on more and more foods. But it makes us happy, right? 

Now the question is... if it's labeled GMO-free, does that mean it's organic? And the answer is no. 

Here's an example: I called a local farm recently and asked if their corn was non-GMO. The farmer confirmed that it was. He said, "We don't use no GMOs here." Of course, I won't comment on his grammar as that's beside the point. I reworded the question, just to make sure: "So none of your corn is from Monsanto's seeds. It's not genetically modified, right?" "That's right. You won't find none of that here." 

Okay, time for the next question: "Is it organic?"

"It's good corn."

"I'm sure it is," I affirmed. "But do you use any pesticides?"

"Yeah. We have to... 'cause of the worms, you know. But we use [he pronounced two pesticides I wasn't familiar with and can't remember the names of] and they're the safest ones."

I thanked him and hung up. 

In order to be organic, there cannot be any toxic pesticides used AND the produce must be free of any genetic engineering. 

So, the bottom line is... if you're concerned about pesticides and GMOs, stick to organic, which may or may not have the Non-GMO Project Verified label.

If you're mostly concerned with GMOs, look for labeling that indicates there are none (whether it simply includes the words "No GMOs" or has the actual Non-GMO Project Verified label.

And don't forget, when it comes to the PLU number on fresh produce, it's important to look at the first digit. If it's a 4, that means it's conventional. An 8 means it's genetically modified. And a 9 means it's organic. 

Keep an 8 
off your plate, 
bite into a 9 
which is perfectly fine. 



Just remember:

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