Friday, January 30, 2015

Take heart, weary mama

Can you believe the first month of 2015 is almost over?! How did that happen? I'm still trying to figure out where 2014 went!

When I was a young mom, sometimes it seemed as though the days, weeks, and months dragged by. I didn't understand when older folks would complain about how quickly time was passing. Really? I thought as I struggled to make it to the end of a tiring day with two little ones under foot. The piles of unfolded laundry, the sink full of dirty dishes, the stack of unpaid bills, the toys everywhere except where they belong... no, time was definitely not flying by. But I always wondered how it was that nothing ever seemed to get done.

Sound familiar? Take heart, weary mama. What you're feeling is normal and it will pass. Far too quickly, unfortunately. Before long, it won't be a crying baby or teething toddler keeping you up at night, it will be a teenager out on a date or a 16-year-old out with the car. Then there will be romances and marriages and adult kids with adult problems. There will be bite-your-tongue moments (lots of them) as you watch your kids make poor choices. There will be swallowed 'I-told-you-so's. 

And, of course, there will be moments of intense pride and feelings of wonder as you watch your kids excel at adulthood. And, if you're lucky, there will be grandbabies. Maybe lots of them. And suddenly (yes, it will seem like it happened overnight), there will be toys everywhere except where they belong, and it won't bother you. 

Ahhh, the cycle of life. When you think about it, isn't it amazing that your own parents went through all of this, too? It's this commonality that bonds us as sisters and brothers in this thing called life. Be kind to one another, and blessed, weary mama, be kind to yourself.

You're my heroes,


Thursday, January 29, 2015

TBT -- Forget the F-word. This T-word is nasty!

Today, on Throwback Thursday, we're only going back eight months to May 2014. Why? Because the topic keeps cropping up and it's worth repeating. 

So here we go...

 
Our society likes to make a fuss about swear words (fair enough), but how is it we don't cringe when we hear words like triclosan? Let me tell you -- it's much more harmful to our health than a F-bomb. Seriously.
Dr. Ben Kim, writing for the site BeyondPesticides.org, lists the health warnings as well as some pretty surprising places where triclosan is hiding out. 
First, let's look at why we should avoid triclosan according to Dr. Kim. It can cause
  • problems with the endocrine system -- especially troubling is its effect on the thyroid 
  • weakening of the immune system
  • birth defects
  • uncontrolled cell growth (I don't know what that means, but it sounds scary, don't you think?)
  • unhealthy weight loss -- we're talking about when the pounds start falling off and you haven't reduced your dining to a few celery stalks a day
And, according to Regina Bailey, writing for About.com, there is strong evidence of a link between triclosan and breast cancer.
 


So, where do you think you'd find triclosan? In all those antibacterial soaps, right? Well, of course. But did you know it's also in some toothpastes and mouthwashes? Spit that stuff out! Yuck. Not seeing it on the ingredients listed? Try looking for these instead: Microban® Additive B, Irgasan® (DP 300 or PG 60), Biofresh®, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac or Cloxifenolum. Triclosan in disguise.

Okay, let's switch to cosmetics. Here's a surprising one for you -- triclosan is an ingredient in the brand Jason Natural Cosmetics. Once again, it's evident we cannot trust the word "natural." Some of the other cosmetics listed (which is a partial list, I'm sure) are Supre® Cafe Bronzer™, TotalSkinCare Makeup Kit, Garden Botanika®Powder Foundation, Mavala Lip Base, Blemish Cover Stick, Movate®Skin Lightening Cream HQ, Paul Mitchell Detangler Comb, Revlon ColorStay LipSHINE Lipcolor Plus Gloss, and Dazzle.

So let's move on to some other personal care products. Deodorant. I only use non-toxic deodorants, personally, but I was once again surprised by the name of one of them -- Queen Helene®Tea Tree Oil Deodorant and Aloe Deodorant -- Tea Tree Oil?! Aloe?! Beware of those who will suck you in with their natural and "healthy" sounding names!

 Then there are shave gels, acne treatments, and even Diabet-x™ Cream. First aid products are another tricky category -- from antiseptics to medicated sprays to cervical collars with Microban. Look out. 

From medicine chest to kitchen cupboard, beware of Farberware®  Microban Steak Knife Set and Cutting Boards. Looks like that Microban is bad stuff, huh? You'll want to stay away from the Hobart Semi-Automatic Slicer and the Compact Web Foot® Wet Mop Heads, too. Oh brother.

You'll even want to steer clear of Microban in your office -- Fellowes Cordless Microban Keyboard and Microban Mouse Pad may sound like a healthy option, but they're harboring the T-word. Stay away!

Clothing is even an issue. Dickies, Fruit of the Loom, and Biofresh® socks are just some of the items you don't want touching your skin. Even Merrell Shoes and Sabatier Chef's Aprons are unsafe.

Of course, as parents and grandparents, we're especially concerned about the kiddos. So, here's a list of toys from Playskool® that contain triclosan:
  • Stack 'n Scoop Whale
  • Rockin' Radio
  • Hourglass
  • Sounds Around Driver
  • Roll 'n' Rattle Ball
  • Animal Sounds Phone
  • Busy Beads Pal
  • Pop 'n' Spin Top
  • Lights 'n' Surprise Laptop
Makes you wonder what other nasty toxins are in their toys, doesn't it?

According to BeyondPesticides.org, here is a list of miscellaneous items you want to avoid if you don't want to be affected by triclosan:  Bionare® Cool Mist Humidifier; Deciguard AB® Antimicrobial Ear Plugs; Bauer® Re-Akt hockey helmet and 7500 hockey helment; Miller Paint Acro Pure Interior Paint; Holmes Foot Buddy™ HMH120U Antimicrobial Foot Buddy Foot Warmer, Blue Mountain Wall Coverings, California Paints®, Davis Paint® Perfection, Hirschfield’s Paint®,O’Leary Paint®, EHC AMRail Escalator Handrails, Dupont™ Air Filters, Winix Dehumidifiers, J Cloth® towels, select Quickie cleaning products, Kimberly Clark® WYPALL X80 Towels, Canopy® kitchen towels, ALUF Plastics®, BioEars earplugs, Petmate® LeBistro feeders and waterers, Infantino cart covers and baby carriers, Oreck XL®, Bissell Healthy Home Vacuum™, NuTone® Central Vacuum systems, Rival® Seal-A-Meal® Vacuum Food Sealer, CleenFreek SportsHygiene Yoga Mat, Resilite Sports Products, Rubbermaid® Coolers, Stufitts sports gear, Venture Products® fitness mats, Custom Building Products, DAP®Kwik Seal Plus®, Laticrete, Niasa Biquichamp® mortar grout and sealant, ProAdvanced Products. 

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. There is triclosan lurking all around us. You have to be proactive in keeping your family safe as best you can. Keep in mind, too, that many companies are quietly removing toxins month by month. The above products did, at one time and most likely still, contain triclosan. Read labels, be informed, and sign the pledge to ban triclosans from your home.  Also, if you want to do more, follow BeyondPesticides.org on their FB page or Twitter account and click here to take a survey about antibacterial soap.

Taking action and keeping you informed,


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A swiggydiggydoo review and a giveaway, too!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post, which includes my honest opinions and thoughts.

A local woman won a copy of my book, VINEGAR FRIDAYS, in a giveaway by Holistic Parenting Magazine last month. She and I corresponded via email and I discovered she has a subscription box service for children ages 0-3. She asked me if I'd like to do a review and a giveaway and, of course, I jumped at the chance. After all, I have a 22-month-old granddaughter and another one due in a few weeks.

Lauren sent me the January box from her company, swiggydiggydoo and I was quite pleased. (Click here to see a picture of what was included in December's box.)



The first thing I noticed was the eco-friendly packaging. Lauren uses a local box supplier that sells recycled or previously used (and inspected) boxes and she chooses box sizes based on the products that will be shipped. This way, she can avoid using fillers. Her shipping labels, box tape, and paper for the insert are all green products, with many made from recycled materials.



My box included:
 
 
  • Poor Lil Baby Balm by Libras Botanicals -- this balm is safe for babies older than 2 months and works to ease congestion and coughing by rubbing it into the soles of their feet. Libras Botanicals is a Green America Certified business and uses recyclable containers for its natural and organic products.



  • A Little Lemon Treasures natural maple necklace that is perfect for nursing moms. The ring is safe tugging and chewing by baby, but should only be worn by mom!

  • A 3-d wooden giraffe puzzle by topozoo. I actually gave this as a gift to a little girl who turned 2 this past weekend. I was happy to give her something that was safe and eco-friendly. The company uses all recycled materials to make their toys. 


  • A darling crocheted "crown" for babies ages 3 - 6 months from TheCrochetClosetTN I can't wait to see it on my new granddaughter a few months from now!


  • A custom designed limited edition swiggydiggydoo t-shirt.

Fun stuff! For the most part, I was happy with the selection. My favorite item was the giraffe puzzle.  

While most of the items meet my standards for eco-friendly and safe products, I was disappointed the t-shirt was not made from organic cotton. Since cotton is the crop that is hit with the most pesticides, this can be a big deal to a lot of concerned parents. But if you're already buying clothes made from non-organic cotton, then I'm sure you're going to love this adorable shirt!

All-in-all, I was really happy with the January box. While each box is different, I believe Lauren does her best to find the right selections for eco-conscious parents who appreciate products that are eco-friendly and made in the USA. I like the fact that Lauren chooses products from small etsy businesses, often run by moms like herself.

As I mentioned above, this is a subscription box service, but you can just buy one box for $39.95, which makes a lovely gift for a new mom or for a birthday. You can also choose a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month plan, with discounts up to $36/year.

The boxes are gender-specific and the age ranges to choose from (for shirt sizes) are 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months, 2, and 4.

Here's the best part: YOU just might win March's box! Just enter below on the Rafflecopter. Must be 18 or older to enter and be living in the U.S. Entries will be verified. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my email before an alternate winner is chosen.

As you'll see, visiting swiggydiggydoo's and Green Grandma's Facebook pages will earn you 3 entries each. But do me a favor... 'like' both pages. Visiting is fine, but liking is kind.

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why I'm taking a stand against fracking

"You just don't care about the economy." It's something I often hear when people learn I am opposed to fracking. Of course, there's no truth to that. However, when a process such as hydraulic fracturing is clearly causing so much environmental chaos, my priorities change.

"What about all the jobs that would be lost if fracking is outlawed?" 

My question would be, "What about all the jobs that would be lost if Monsanto goes bankrupt?" I guess it would be a problem for many, but the reverse, in both cases, is that fracking (and Monsanto's assault on our food supply) is far more problematic for far more people. So, I'm not anti-people. I just really believe fracking is dangerous and hazardous to both the health of the earth and the health of its people.

I like the way Miranda Carter, National Online Campaign Manager for Food & Water Watch, puts it in a recent email:

Fracking is a real wolf in sheep's clothing. Politicians, from state governors all the way up to the White House, say that drilling for natural gas is the answer to our energy woes.

But at what cost??

Fracking has been proven to pollute our air and water and poison entire communities. There is much speculation that fracking is the cause of countless earthquakes across the country. And why wouldn't it? Think about it. This process of extracting oil and gas by fracturing layers and layers of rocks deep within the ground using a high-pressure blast of toxic chemicals, outrageous amounts of water, and sand surely must affect the stability of the earth in one way or another.

According to Carter, the dangers are proven:
  • Fracking pollutes -- a lot! Aside from using millions of gallons of water (even in areas where there is a serious water shortage), fracking releases toxic fumes and leaves behind pools of radioactive wastewater that can't be transported or disposed of safely. You'd think I could stop right here. Isn't this bad enough?
  • Fracking hurts communities.  The stories are pouring in. Families are getting sick. Water is undrinkable/unusable. I personally know people who have been adversely affected by these fumes. I know adults who developed asthma after fracking began close to their homes. I know people who struggle with infertility in areas where they're surrounded by fracking. Coincidence? Not according to a lot of the research.
  • Fracking affects everyone, no matter how far away you are from the sites. As you know, water isn't stagnate. It travels and this contaminated water and fracking waste are posing a serious threat to our increasingly limited supply of fresh water on earth. Air pollution affects us all as well.
 Let's face it. The people who "benefit" from hydraulic fracturing are the big oil and gas companies that are doing whatever it takes to procure and expand their right to frack. And they're doing it without regard to the damage they are causing in the process. Damage to the earth, damage to communities, and damage to the health of those they are sending out to work at the wells. Yes, they're providing paychecks to these people, but again I ask, at what cost? 

https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=C17A1311FDD4FB5D2DACB506E79D2C53.app331b?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=769&autologin=true


So what can we do? Let's start off by letting our voices be heard. Our elected officials have to start paying attention as more and more of us demand a ban on fracking. I'm asking you to join me in letting congress know that you stand behind this ban. Click here to sign a letter to your members of congress. 

As a grandmother, I don't want to look my grandchildren in the eyes someday and answer the question, "Why didn't you do something, Grandma?" Do you?

Let's take action today!





 


 



Monday, January 26, 2015

Fourteen Days of Saying I Love You

Roses and chocolate. I get it. As a former floral designer, I know roses are a big hit on Valentine's Day. Add chocolate and the guy's got you wrapped around his little finger, right? Add jewelry, and, well... 

Guys, on the other hand, are harder to buy for, so we often cook them a romantic dinner, add some candlelight and music, and treat them extra special. 

At this point in the post, some of you, particularly you moms with young children, are rolling your eyes and maybe even calling me names. Go for it. I get it. A romantic dinner for you just might be take out and Netflix once the kids are all in bed. And chances are, you'll be asleep before the movie ends. 


Take heart (no Valentine's pun intended)! It won't always be this way. But let's be honest. Unless you make the effort now to keep the romance alive, there might not be any romance left by the time you're empty nesters. 


So I thought up an idea for Valentine's Day that won't stretch your already taxed budget. As a matter of fact, this one's free and works for either male or female. I guarantee this will take your romance meter up a notch or two, even if you're too tired to act upon it for awhile.


Fourteen Days of Saying I Love You


Starting on February 1st, I'm suggesting that you give your sweetie a note every day until Valentine's Day. Slip it in their wallet. Prop it up on their pillow. Serve it with their morning coffee. Tape it to the bathroom mirror. Put it on the dashboard of their car. Whatever works for you.

Here are 14 suggestions to help you along. Feel free to be creative and come up with your own prompts. 
  1.  I love you so much. So for the next 14 days, I am going to let you know why, starting now. I love you because _____.
  2. The first thing I noticed about you when I met you was _____.  (Make sure this is something positive! The sexier, the better!)
  3. I knew I was falling in love with you the moment you/we/I _____.
  4. Every time you do/say/sing _____, I still melt. No one makes me feel the way you do.
  5. The best part about us is _____.
  6. If you were a fruit, you'd be a _____. If you were an animal, you'd be a _____. If you were an instrument, you'd be a _____. If you were a flower, you'd be a _____. Why? Because they're all my favorites and so are you.
  7. I love it when you wear _____ because it makes you look/smell amazing. 
  8. My favorite month to spend with you is _____ because _____.
  9. If I could take you anywhere in the world, it would be _____.
  10. I can't wait until we can _____.
  11. Thank you for making me feel _____. No one else has ever made me feel that way.
  12. If I found a genie in a bottle and he was going to grant me three wishes, these are what my wishes would be for you. _____, _____, _____.
  13. The sweetest thing you've ever done for me was when you _____. I'll always love you for that.
  14. For the past 13 days, I've written about how much I love you. It's Valentine's Day. Let me show you.
I'd love to hear your (not-too-intimate) stories about how this worked out for you. For Valentine's Day, I wish you love.




Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Quote -- Energy, shrinking resources, and the future


We simply must balance our demand for energy 
with our rapidly shrinking resources. 
By acting now we can control our future
 instead of letting the future control us.

~Jimmy Carter

Friday, January 23, 2015

The mother who set her baby on fire... before you judge...


Today, I'm honored to feature a guest post from my friend and fellow writer, Janet Cincotta, MD. A family physician for 30 years, Jan retired to pursue her other passion -- writing. Click here to follow her blog, begin...begin again.

Jan wanted to write in response to a current news story that has shocked and appalled many of us. She has a different perspective and I'm so glad she's willing to share it with all of you. I believe it's THAT important, especially if you know anyone who has a new baby or is due to have one soon. I ask you read this, and to pay attention.


If you’re anything like me, you were horrified by reports of a newborn baby who died last week after her mother intentionally set her on fire, an unconscionable act of cruelty. This unleashed an outpouring of comments on social media demonizing the infant’s mother, labeling her “pure evil,” and “a monster,” some calling for her to suffer a slow, painful death by fire, too.

Wait a minute. Let’s not be so quick to judge.

This case shouts “postpartum psychosis” to me, and although I’m not an expert on the condition, as a family physician I am painfully aware of its existence and the devastating impact it can have on a new mother. You should be, too. If you recognize the symptoms in someone you know, you might be able to prevent a similar tragedy.

In fact, there exists a continuum of depressive disorders that are unique to the postpartum period, the days and weeks after the birth of a baby. They coincide with the dramatic shift in hormone levels that follows delivery. In most cases, the onset of these disorders can’t be anticipated or predicted. Every pregnant woman is vulnerable.

These disorders include:

·  The Baby Blues: This is a commonly occurring but temporary disorder that develops within a few days of birth, usually lasting 1-2 weeks, characterized by unexpected mood swings, anxiety, crying spells, poor concentration, and insomnia.

·  Postpartum Depression: More intense than “the blues,” this condition sometimes lasts for months if left untreated. Symptoms include sleep disturbance, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, dramatic mood swings, lack of joy, withdrawal from family and friends, difficulty bonding with the infant (often leading to feelings of guilt or shame), and intrusive thoughts of harming oneself  or the baby. These thoughts may be frightening but are not acted upon.

·  Postpartum Psychosis: This is the rarest of these conditions, occurring at a rate of 1-2 cases per 1000 births. It is more likely to occur in women with a prior history of depression or Bipolar Disorder. The changes in the woman’s behavior mark an abrupt and extreme departure from her usual mental, physical, and emotional state. In addition to the above symptoms, she may appear to be confused or disoriented. Auditory or visual hallucinations can occur. She may display paranoia, becoming suspicious and accusatory toward previously trusted individuals. But the defining symptom is the intention/attempt to harm herself or, to harm or kill her baby.

Bingo.
 
In cases like this, reporters do not have the authority to speculate about motive, nor to guess at pre-existing mental health issues. Their job is to present an attention seeking story line—in this instance, an episode out of the life of a cruel, sadistic monster. Perhaps the rest of us should exercise caution about embracing it. Instead, we should be aware that postpartum depressive disorders are a grim fact of life, and that they are treatable. First, though, they must be recognized. With proper diagnosis and management, tragedies like this one can be averted.

I wonder how this story will turn out. If, in fact, postpartum psychosis did play a role in it, how was it missed by the people who were closest to this woman? Did anyone try to get help for her? Did the system fail to provide it? Unfortunately we may never know. Next week the media will report on the next gut-punching news story so as to stir up more knee-jerk outrage and merciless commentary, while this case slips out of awareness.

This post is not intended to excuse or justify what happened in this case. My hope is to raise awareness of this disorder, to urge women to get help at the first sign of postpartum depression, and to urge responsible and compassionate media coverage when the news is enough to break one’s heart.

Many thanks go out to Hana for inviting me to weigh in on this issue, and to share it with you.

If you’d like to know more, an excellent discussion of postpartum psychosis in plain English is posted at: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english


           ~JanetCincotta, MD

Thursday, January 22, 2015

TBT -- The mission of William Wilberforce

Today on Throwback Thursday, I'm taking you back to this date five years ago. This is an issue close to my heart and despite the possibility it may cost me some followers, I'm reposting because I think it is that important.

 

The mission of William Wilberforce

As we near another anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, I thought it would be a good time to bring this blog post to the forefront. If it does nothing else, it is my hope that it will make you think.


There was a horrific time in our history when black people were not considered fully human. The rationale was that if they weren't human, white people could 'own' them, abuse them, kill them, etc. Why would it matter if they weren't human anyway?

Thank God for people like William Wilberforce who tirelessly worked to abolish slave trade in Great Britian. If you haven't seen the movie Amazing Grace, rent it and learn about this hero.

What Wilberforce did for the slaves, we need to stand up and do for the unborn. The common rationale is that they're not fully human (unless they're wanted), so we can kill them at leisure...it doesn't really matter. Or does it?

We love to twist truth to satisfy our wants and supposed needs.

So on this anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that rocked our nation and cost us the lives of over 50 million human beings, we need to stop and reflect on the reasons why. Why do we feel we have the right to take innocent life? Why does our government assume we, as taxpayers, want to pay for abortions? Why do we not get it?

The situation is no different than the slave trade. It was all about people's self-centered thinking and need to satisfy their own desires.

Is an unplanned pregnancy difficult? Of course it is! Does it change a person's life? Yes, it does. But it's not just about the pregnant mother. A new life has been created and who has the right to decide to end that life?

Mother Teresa said, "But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?...Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."

Indeed. The dehumanization of black people led to hideous crimes against them. In the same way, the dehumanization of the unborn leads to our accepting and advocating the killing of innocent lives. The blood stains on our nation for both atrocities makes me wonder how it is we're still standing. God forgive us.

Hana

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Does a day really matter?

Today was one of those days when I was reminded about what is truly important in life.

My church got hit hard with shock and grief. Yesterday morning, while she was at the church just a block away from her home cooking for others, one of the gracious servants of the church lost her home to a fire. Her 85-year-old mother was inside the home and was rescued by a young man who just happened to be stopped on her street because his girlfriend's car got stuck in the snow. This young hero opted to go inside a burning home and risk his life to pull her to safety. I couldn't help thinking about other people who may have pulled out their cell phones to videotape the fire instead. 


The fire company had trouble getting to the house, as did the police, because the roads were suddenly bad. As it turned out, six police officers carried the woman to McKnight Road, where they flagged down a passing ambulance who just happened to be driving by. The elderly woman is now in ICU at a local hospital.

In the meantime, the house is gone and these two women no longer have a home. The younger one, who is my granddaughter's teacher in children's church and has one of the kindest faces I know, is not handling this well at all.

Then, last evening, a 32-year-old young man from our church died suddenly. He couldn't breathe and went to the ER, but the doctors couldn't save him. 

My heart hurts. 

Yesterday, my Mary Engelbreit Page-A-Day calendar had this saying: 

It may be unfair, 
but what happens in a few days,
sometimes even a single day,
can change the course of a whole lifetime.

~Khaled Hosseini

Indeed. Within a moment, our lives can change forever. For these families, for our church family, for the kids this young man mentored, for those in our community... our lives are forever changed. Nothing will ever be the same.

That's how it happens, folks. Just like that we can lose our homes, our jobs, our spouses, and even our children. 

Hug them tight tonight. Tell them you love them. Don't ever stop telling them you love them.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On the search for Fair Trade

Have you ever made the effort to find Fair Trade products in your local stores? Sometimes it's a hit and sometimes it's a miss, right? But what can you do about it?

According to Green America's Guide to Fair Trade, "If you don't see the Fair Trade label in local stores, approach the manager or write the company requesting that they carry Fair Trade."

And if you find they are already carrying Fair Trade products, make sure you thank them for making the products available. They need to know that customers like you care about the origins of the products you buy. 


Fair Trade at The Shepherd's Door
Here in Pittsburgh, there are numerous stores that make carrying Fair Trade products a priority. Stores like Whole Foods, Ten Thousand Villages, etc. are obvious choices. But many small, independently-owned stores do as well. If you're ever in the North Boros, stop by The Shepherd's Door, located at 563 Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue, PA. They have a lovely array of Fair Trade jewelry, gifts, decor items, coffee, jellies, olive oils, toys, greeting cards, and more! And if you drop in, make sure you ask for my husband, Bill, and tell him I sent you. 

Oh, and if you haven't already picked up a copy of my book, VINEGAR FRIDAYS, you can get your copy right there. 

Shop Fair Trade. Shop local. It matters. It always matters.

If you would like more information about organizing a campaign to get your local supermarket to stock Fair Trade, contact Green America at fairtrade@greenamericatoday.org for an organizing toolkit.

Keeping it green and fair,


Monday, January 19, 2015

A bright idea! Lighting options for the new year... PLUS a giveaway!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post. 

Happy Monday! Here we are, already heading into the third full week of 2015. Time is speeding by. And, as always, as time goes by, innovative products hit the market, intending on making our lives better in one way or another. Of course, that's not always the case (take GMOs, for example).

One of the areas that keeps evolving is in the realm of lighting options. From torches to gas lanterns to the incandescent light bulb, society is ever reaching for the best possible lighting solution. 

When CFLs hit the market, we thought we finally had it. But, in my opinion at least, we were wrong. There were so many issues with CFLs, from the danger of releasing toxins when they broke to the problem of safe disposal to the rather crappy lighting they provided.

That's why I was happy with the GE bulbs. I really like the energy savings that accompany LED bulbs, and I'm happy with the way they light a room. I tried some out a year ago and have continued to enjoy them.

Recently, GE contacted me to check out some more of their light bulbs and I happily complied. They sent me quite a few of their energy-efficient soft white 60w incandescent modified spectrum replacement bulbs (43w), which use 28% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. No, they're not as energy-efficient as CFLs, but like I said, I'm not a fan of CFLs and all their baggage. The estimated yearly energy cost for one of these GE bulbs is only $5.18 per year (based on 3 hrs/day and they'll last nearly a year. So they're cost effective and cast a warm light using less energy than the other bulbs. 

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised when I received the incandescent bulbs, as I thought they were no longer allowed to make them. 

In addition, I received a couple of GE LED soft white 60w replacement (10.5w) bulbs that are dimmable and are estimated to cost just $1.26/year and last 13.7 years. Of course, the duration is based on 3 hrs/day and barring any active ball-throwing children, mischievous cats, or klutzy adults in the home!

These bulbs also have a warm glow to them, so they're a perfect light choice for any room. 

But choosing light bulbs is not always easy, is it? As a matter of fact, as time passes, this is becoming quite the difficult task. I hope these infographics can help you sort through the "clutter" of the lighting aisle. After looking them over, don't miss your chance to win one of three great GE Lighting Home Makeover packages:
  • Beautify House Makeover Package -- $200 worth of GE bulbs
  • Beautify Room Makeover Package -- $100 worth of GE bulbs
  • Bathroom Makeover Package -- $30 worth of GE bulbs
GE Lighting is providing the product for this giveaway to help you learn about the different light bulbs available as, like I said, the plethora of options can seem daunting at time.

For each lighting purchase you make, be sure to choose the right fit, the right brightness, and the right color and effect. And don't forget to consider the energy savings and lifetime of the bulbs. For more information, please visit the GE website.  

Enter below on the Rafflecopter through 12pm PST on January 30, 2015. Sorry, this contest is open to U.S. residents only. GE Lighting is not running this giveaway, but they are providing the products.

Good luck!
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Friday, January 16, 2015

A spill, a generous heart, and a bat in the basement

A few things happened this week that are worthy of mention. I shared these things on Facebook, but since many of you miss my FB posts, I thought they were worthy of a blog post.


First, my 4 YO grandson, Lincoln, got two green thumbs up from me on Wednesday. He was in the kitchen and made a mess. Rather than calling for his mommy to clean it up, he opened a drawer and pulled out every kitchen towel and rag. Every one of them. And he gave cleaning up his best effort. Of course, his mommy had to help him out in the end, but Linc tried, which is important. That's not the main point of my green thumbs up, however. 

Can you figure out why I'm so proud of him?

He used cloth towels! While many children and adults alike reach for the roll of paper towels when there is a spill, my grandson opted for cloth. Go Linc!

Second, my 6 YO granddaughter, Laura, made me cry yesterday after her teacher pulled her daddy aside to talk to him about Laura. Uh oh. Well, it turns out that the lovely little Lady Laura has been taking money to school each day and distributing it into other kindergarteners' cubbies. When asked, she explained that she's been taking money out of her piggy bank and giving it, anonymously (or so she thought) to other children she perceived needed it more than she did. Oh.my.goodness. 

Third, I have to brag a bit about myself. Yesterday morning greeted me with a bat in the basement. Not a baseball bat. Nope. It was the flying kind. After phone calls and much consideration, I went down to the basement, followed by my husband, and I caught the bat! I cupped a plastic container (good to know there is something useful about them) over the bat and held it tightly against the wall. Then, and only then, did my husband get close enough to slip a cookie sheet between the bat and the wall, and we carried it outside and let it go. 




It didn't fly away as expected, however. It just remained splayed on the lawn, with its 10" wingspan spread, hissing and showing off its tiny fangs. It was not a happy camper. My husband was concerned that we'd hurt its wings and it couldn't fly, but I think it just didn't like being out on the cold ground with the sun shining brightly in its face. Finally, Bill took a long stick and poked at the little guy. That was all it took for him to take flight. We cringed when it headed for our neighbors' open garage, but then it boomeranged and headed back toward us. Of course, our garage door was open, too, and we feared for a repeat occurrence. Again, it turned before entering the garage and we watched as it flew out of sight. I hope the little guy found a nice dark corner somewhere, other than in someone else's house!

While some people may have opted for killing the bat, we just wanted to make sure we gave it a chance to live. Will it survive in the cold? I don't know. I thought they hibernated at this time of the year. But at least we did the most humane thing we could think of to do. 

And those are my stories to wrap up this week. Do you have any proud moments of your own to share? I'd love to hear them. 


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