Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Happy Gardener

As spring comes into full bloom, many of us are heading out to the local garden centers to purchase fertilizer, plant food, containers and more. But how many of us stop to consider the dangers in the chemically-laden products we're buying?

There is a safer alternative. The Happy Gardener Inc., a company founded in 2003 by Annette Pelliccio, focuses on eco-friendly gardening and lawn care. Their wide range of products include vegetable-based fertilizers and plant foods, rather than the traditional animal manure-based ones, as well as bird feeders, birdhouses and birdbaths made from recycled plastic milk jugs and soda bottles. They carry handmade specialty items, flower bulbs from the Netherlands, composting bins made from 100% recycled materials, container gardening supplies and more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

There's more to fear in your shower than Norman Bates

The shower was a scary place to be back in 1960 as women tried to shake off the image of Vera Miles being brutally stabbed to death on the big screen. But guess what, folks. It's even scarier today.

Why? Because of the toxins lurking within your plastic shower curtains. Toxins like DEHP and DINP, phthalates known to cause hormonal upsets in humans. Toxins that are also being considered as carcinogens by some researchers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Doing a happy dance with Happy Mama

Have you tried the Earth Mama Angel Baby products yet? If not, you don't know what you're missing. My daughter swears by the Earth Mama Body Butter and the Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash is a must have if you have little ones in your home.

But today, I'm singing the praises of a new USDA Certified Organic product -- Happy Mama Body Wash with all natural ingredients, zero toxins and no parabens.

Newly pregnant and nauseas? Hop in the shower with some Happy Mama Body Wash and let the fresh ginger scent calm the queasiness.

Feeling fat and sluggish? Let the invigorating pink grapefruit and lime energize you and make you feel light on your feet.

Have a little one who loves to shower with mommy? How nice is it to be able to lather up with the same, safe product?

Wow, it's hard to turn off the advertising copywriter in me sometimes. While this may sound like ad copy, I'm just expressing the thoughts that came to me during my shower as I breathed in the essence of Happy Mama Body Wash. It's almost an out-of-body experience!

The liquid foams as you pump it and creates a nicely scented lather, yet leaves behind little scent as you dry off, so your body wash does not compete with your body spray, lotion or cologne.

Did I mention ZERO TOXINS? Yeah...but it's worth another mention.

Happy Mama Body Wash makes this grandma, well, happy!

Buy some. Try some. Drop some in a pampering baby shower basket for the mother-to-be. After all, we all need some me time. And there's nothing wrong with that. Not a thing.

Keeping it green,


Sunday, March 28, 2010

For Love

Do all the good you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

                  -- John Wesley

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday's quote

"Never, no, never,
did Nature say one thing,
and wisdom say another."

                                                -- Edmund Burke

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vinegar Fridays


With Easter being a little over a week away, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss vinegar and Easter eggs. So here goes...

Maybe some of you grew up dipping your eggs in store bought dyes or in homemade concoctions of vinegar and food coloring. Not me. And not my kids. For us, painting Easter eggs involved undiluted food coloring (we were hardcore!) and a pile of Q-tips®. With newspaper spread out to protect the table from the inevitable spill, we unleashed our creative sides and went to work on our egg-shaped masterpieces. I'd create my mini-Mary Engelbreit reproductions as the kids and my husband painted crosses, empty tombs, bunnies, etc. In the end we'd have a variety of styles and colors and tie-dyed fingers that took days to clean.

This year, we'll probably do more of the same. But I plan to try some of the ideas I'm presenting here as well.

The Dip

Set out some cups deep enough to immerse eggs in. Fill the cups halfway up with water. Add about a tablespoon of food coloring and 2 teaspoons of distilled white vinegar. Gently lower the egg into the cup and swirl it around a bit. For pastel eggs, remove quickly. For richer colors, allow the eggs to soak for awhile.

Simply Marble-ous

Prefer a marbled look? That's easy. Grab another cup and add a tablespoon each of food coloring, vinegar and oil (the real secret to the marbled egg). Fill the cup with enough water to cover the egg and stir. Immediately lower the egg into the solution and remove. Dry with a rag. Simply marble-ous dahling.

A Little Twisted

Using the same solution as The Dip, dye eggs wrapped in rubber bands for a twisty-striped look.

Color My World

Pull out the crayons and let your imagination go wild! Color pictures on the eggs and then dip them in the vinegar, food coloring and water solution. The waxy markings will repel the dye and give your eggs a totally different appearance. This is a nice way to get even the littlest members of the family involved.

Au Naturale

Dying eggs with nature's dyes is a fun project, especially for pre-schoolers and elementary school-aged kiddos.

You can make your own dyes using any of the following:
  • Tea bags -- for a variety of colors, try red zinger, hibiscus, chamomile, green or black pekoe teas
  • Onion skins -- yellow or red
  • Spices -- turmeric, saffron (although a bit pricey), chili powder, paprika
  • Vegetables -- cooked carrots, beets, spinach
  • Fruits -- cranberries, grape juice, blueberries, raspberries
  • Instant coffee
Prepare the dyes first by boiling any of the above in a small amount of water. Let stew until the desired depth of color is achieved. Add the dye to the pan/pans of water being used to cook the eggs, along with a tablespoon of vinegar, of course.

My preferred method of making hard boiled eggs is to place room-temperature eggs in cold tap water with at least an inch of water above them, cover the pot, wait until the water boils and then turn the heat off. Time for 10 minutes. Dump the hot water and fill the pot with cold. To ensure easier peeling, you might want to add a few ice cubes to the water to make sure the eggs cool completely. Once cooled, you can crack the top and bottom of the egg and peel the shell.

To be safe, keep the eggs in the refrigerator and consume within one week.

That's it for this week's vinegar tips. Enjoy your egg dying. While the real meaning of Easter has nothing to do with painted eggs, adding fun traditions to every holiday is good for family bonding. So, dye some eggs, laugh together, and tell your kids you love them...over and over and over again.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not the cool mom….not me!

I am happy to have guest blogger, Becca Smith, sharing her insights about raising boys in today's society. Becca is a single mom whose parenting combines old-fashioned ways with 21st century common sense....hey wait, that sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?

None of my friends will ever accuse me of trying to be the “cool mom.” Why? Because I live by a self-imposed set of rules with my kids. I am a 47-year-old only parent of two boys, aged 14 and six. I love my boys with all my heart and want them to grow up to be good men, not six-foot-tall little boys. I may be old-fashioned by many of today’s standards, but what's wrong with that? Here are some of the things that make me “un-cool:”

1) I never rush out to buy the latest and greatest. Not cell phones, MP3 players, DVD players, etc...

Kids who get everything they want end up being discontent kids if you’re not keeping up with every upgrade out there. I expect my boys to be happy with what they have, rather than always waiting for the next new thing to come out.

2) Don't create a praise/reward junkie.

I know you need to praise them and reward them so they know they did well. On occasion.

I once heard a mom tell her grade school child, "Oh, you didn't misbehave in class today? Hey, that's great!" Hmmmm, don't you expect them to behave at school every day? I know we all have a bad or off day from time to time, but those days should be the exception, not the norm. I reward my boys and praise them for trying their hardest, while also reminding them that the reward is a job well done. That is the value, how they feel for their accomplishment, not the gift they get from me.

3) Not my Johnny.

This is my personal pet peeve. If a teacher/coach/daycare person tells you something negative about your child, listen to them. Think about it -- what do they have to gain by telling you your child didn't listen well or was not nice? Ask questions or ask another adult for more information; that is your right as a parent and advocate of your child. Then ask your child for their side of the story. Don't fly to their defense without gathering as much information as you can. You’ll know in your gut whether or not they are picking on your kid. I know that happens. When someone tells us about our child’s misbehavior, it’s hard to not take it as a personal criticism of our parenting skills. I have a hard time with crow myself...

4) “If you get in trouble at school, you are in trouble at home, too, mister.”

No confusion here. I support my kids’ teachers and principal. They will be punished at home, too. Period. That might mean no TV, or I might restrict computer usage to homework only. I’ll let them know that they didn't do what I expected them to do at school. Okay, that sort of goes with #3. Told you it's a peeve!

5) Homework gets done as soon as we get home.

I know some parents feel kids need time to de-stress, but I like to have the work done and over for the night. Since we’re in the car at least 30 minutes, we have time to talk about the day and visit with each other on the way home. I’ve found it's hard to get my boys to settle down to do homework later. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest; objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Don't mess with Albert's rules!

6) Regular bed, meal and chore times.

I have many friends who feel they don't get enough grown-up time -- sleep and such -- because they don't have a set time for anything. It appears this may be contributing to the obesity issues we are finding in our children today as well. Eating dinner at 8:00, and going to bed between 10:00-11:00 is just too late for grade and middle school kids. I can't fly by the seat of my pants and it seems most kids don't do well with that lifestyle either.

My two favorite sayings about parenting are:

1) If it takes a village to raise a child, don't yell at me when I correct yours, too!

2) If kids didn't need parents for guidance and to raise them, they would hatch out of eggs and run like he** before I ate them.

(Inspired by mama 'gator on PBS)

Okay, so I have a quirky sense of humor too. But hey, as a single parent, it helps get me through the day!

                                                          -- Becca Smith

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guest blogger...tomorrow!

I'm excited to be featuring a guest blogger tomorrow who is brand new to blogging! Becca has a lot to say about life as a single mother of two. Make sure you stop back to see what she has to say.


I am in the middle of an office relocation (within my home) and things are a bit chaotic right now. So I hope you will accept my apology for not doing a blog today and drop in tomorrow for a new post. And don't forget about Vinegar Fridays...just two days away!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The difference in our lives

A riddle: What do March 17th and April 22nd have in common? Answer: The color green. While St. Patrick's Day involves shamrocks and green beer, Earth Day focuses on environmental issues and is day when young and old join forces to go green.

This year, there will be more attention given to Earth Day as we celebrate its 40th anniversary. Kids will come home from school asking you to help them with projects related to going green.

It makes me wish my kids were still little. They're projects may be simple, but they can pack an environmental punch, be it ever so small.

See, that's the thing about Earth Day. It's not always about the reforms in the laws, corporate initiatives, etc. It's also about the small things everyone of us does to make a difference.

"What can I do?" you may be asking. "How much of a difference can I make?"

The answer to those questions is why I do this blog. I'm not out to change the world. My goal is to encourage each of you to make a change or two in how you do things. I know not everyone who reads this will follow every one of my suggestions. It would be bizarre to expect you to. But just maybe you've read something and thought, "I can do that!" Something like:
  • switched from disposables to cloth diapers
  • started using Freecycle or taking things to Goodwill rather than adding to the increasing landfill problem
  • protected your little ones from the dangers of BPA
  • considered having dad stay home with the kids rather than placing them in daycare
  • started buying organic milk and other products
  • replaced your chemically-laden cleaning products with vinegar
  • given more hugs to those you love
  • considered adoption as an answer to an unplanned pregnancy
  • bought earth-friendly and child-friendly products
  • started taking vitamin D
  • cut back on your energy usage
  • read more labels
  • signed a petittion
  • reduced the amount of junk mail you receive
  • been more creative and earth-friendly in your gift giving and wrapping
  • not freaked out when there was a turd in the tub
  • decided to circumcize, or not to
  • forgiven someone
  • reconsidered wind power
  • decided to breastfeed
  • opted for a gluten-free diet
  • wasted less food
  • used more cloth bags when shopping
  • started eCycling
  • got rid of mice the natural and kinder way
  • discovered the benefits of hemp
  • got a better night's sleep
  • turned off the TV
  • accepted the fact that going green is non-partisan
  • realized it's all about common sense!
If you've made any changes in your thinking, your life, your family, your part of the world, because of what you've read here, I'm humbled and thrilled. If you could leave a comment and let me know what they were, I'd be grateful.

Let's encourage each other with our stories as Earth Day approaches. We're in this together. If you're looking for a prior post about one of the above subjects, there's a convenient search bar near the bottom of the page. While there, why not participate in the poll located there.

Keeping it green, keeping it healthy, keeping it real,


Monday, March 22, 2010

Blogger woes

There are definitely some problems going on with Blogger. Images are appearing and disappearing, rather ghostlike. Trying to get to the bottom of it, but until then appreciate any images that show up. They just might not be there next time you drop in!

New Poll

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and let me know which types of articles are most relevant to you. I really love knowing what means the most to my readers.

Wade through the confusion of recycling

I'm convinced some people do not recycle simply because the whole process confuses them. Going back to the April issue of Good Housekeeping, I wanted to share some tips they had about recycling that might just clear some things up for you.


I've spent more time than I care to mention removing staples from paper prior to throwing it in the recycling bin. Well, as it turns out, that wasn't necessary. The recycling plants have machines that will weed out all of the metal from the paper. So paper recycling just got a bit easier for me.

When tossing paper into the bin, avoid recycling paper that has any food stains on it, as this could contaminate an entire load. If food has come in contact with the paper, simply throw it away.

Glass and Metal

Do you spend time removing labels from cans, bottles and jars before throwing them in the recycling bin? Stop it! The machines save you time here, too. However, you do want to rinse out the containers.

What can you recycle besides the obvious? How about washed pie tins and foil, wire clothes hangers, metal bottle caps, and any other scrap metal you have. I just replaced my worn out aluminum wheels on my car with steel wheels and plan to haul the old wheels right to the recycling plant. Not only is this the responsible thing to do with them, but it's also a boost to my pocketbook, with aluminum bringing in a decent rate these days.


Ever screw the lid back on a water or soda bottle before tossing it in the recycling bin? Bad idea. You see, the bottle and the cap are made of two different plastics, so they need to be separated before being recycled.

Check with your municipality to find out which numbers found punched on the bottom of your plastic containers are recyclable in your neighborhood

Bottom line....and I say it often enough for it to sink in: Think before you toss. Can you reuse, repurpose, recreate, or recycle it? Than what's it doing in your trash?!

Keeping it green as we start this first full week of spring,


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Followers' Prize Drawing

Don't forget to sign up as a follower to be part of the drawing on March 31st.

One winner will receive a Green Grandma reusable cloth tote.

Second time around

The greenest product
is the one that already exists.

-- eBay ad               

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kudos to Earth Mama Angel Baby!

Earth Mama Angel Baby made the SafeMama list for the BEST CHOICES for 100% chemical free products for baby! Go EMAB! If you haven't checked out their products yet, click on the ad on the left of this page.

To see who else made the list, go the SafeMama website.

Vinegar Fridays


Coffee, tea or...yuckiness! Don't you hate those awful lime deposits in your tea kettle? Guess what? Distilled white vinegar is the answer. Imagine that! Simply pour 1/2 cup into your tea kettle, fill with water and go to bed. The lime deposits will be gone in the morning.

Then there's the ashy residue in your coffee maker and other yuckiness. Fill the reservoir with a cup of vinegar, run it through a cycle. Follow up with two more cycles with just plain tap water.

Stains on your favorite teacup or coffee mug? Do a 50/50 mix of distilled white vinegar and baking soda, scrub lightly and rinse. Another non-vinegar related trick I sometimes do to rid my cups of those brown stains is to fill the cup with warm water and plop a denture-cleaning tablet in. Let the fizz do its magic and voila! Good as new.

There you go. Now you can start off your day with coffee, tea and...cleanliness. Thank God for Vinegar Fridays, huh?!

Keeping it green with distilled white vinegar,


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let's get back to the breast

Just a quick nudge to anyone out there debating between giving their baby formula or breastfeeding. There really are numerous advantages to breastfeeding. Today I just want to focus on the benefits to baby:
  • Worried about SIDS? I can only tell you researchers have provided solid evidence that there is a significant decrease in risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Lots of food allergies in your family? Well, you can reduce your babies chances of developing her own by simply nursing her.
  • Concerned about the rise in obesity in teenagers? Yep, I'm going to tell you that breastfed babies are less likely to become overweight teens. I'm just reporting the facts here, folks.
Of course, as mothers, our primary concern is the health of our children. If you want your baby to be protected against infections like diarrhea, haemophilus influenza, otitis media (ear infection), herpes simplex, and respiratory syncytical virus (RSV), breastfeed your baby for at least the first six months. Additionally, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends breastfeeding as much as possible to protect your infant from the H1N1 virus, and as you know, the swine flu presents serious dangers to little ones. By building up your child's immune system through breastmilk, you give him a better shot at a healthy first year.

If you choose to formula feed, does this make you a bad mother? Of course not! And I don't mean to imply that. I just want to make my readers aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, based on recommendations by the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others. Now if you decide to bottle feed with cow's milk from the fridge, then we might have to talk!

Keeping it healthy,


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Good Housekeeping goes green

April's issue of Good Housekeeping is full of green tips in honor of the upcoming 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd. I gleaned some to share with you.
  • Looking for a new diaper bag? Rebirthing an a nearly new one saves 90% of the CO2 of making a new one.
  • As the warm weather approaches, plan to set your AC to 78 degrees instead of 73. Doing so can shave up to 40% off your electric bill.
  • Don't toss your coffee grounds into the trash. If you don't compost, at least spread the grounds around your outdoor azaleas, rhododendrons and other acid-loving plants.
  • Buying case after case of bottled water, but not feeling too badly about it because you recycle the bottles? An average bottled-water-drinking family of four would save over $1,200 simply by replacing bottles with filtered water from the fridge or sink.
  • Opting to skip the sales at the mall and hit a consignment shop instead? Good for you. Buying a pre-worn sweater instead of a new one saves the energy (that goes into making it) equivalent of nearly 70 loads of laundry.
  • Recycle everything you can. I know I sound like a broken record here, but the United States is the king of the hill when it comes to trash. It is estimated that every single person in the U.S. produces 1,643 pounds of trash each year. It's time to dethrone the king.
  • Taking a reusable bag into CVS = credits on your CVS card ($1 for every 4 visits when you don't take one of their plastic bags). If you shop CVS a lot, this could add up! Check with other stores to see if they have similar programs.
  • Every page has two sides...why are some of yours blank? Set up your printer to print on both sides of the paper.
  • Quit tossing those take-up cups into the trash! Keep a travel mug with you and when you get the urge to stop for a cup of java, ask them to fill it up.
  • Lifelong habits are lifelong habits...if they're good ones. Teach your children to turn off the water when they're brushing their teeth. Each time they brush the eco-way, they'll save up to five gallons of water.
  • Don't throw out that old vinyl shower curtain! Toss it in your trunk in preparation for all the spring planting that will be underway soon. Put all your plant purchases on the vinyl and protect your car from dirt stains. This is a perfect solution for keeping sand out of your trunk as well after a family trip to the beach.
Okay, enough tips for today. However, I do want to mention that the Good Housekeeping Seal, which has been around forever, it seems, is now even better. Look for the GH Green Seal on products that not only meet their marketing claims for efficacy, but also have made environmental improvements in ingredients and product safety and packaging reduction, as well as in manufacturing processes.

Good Housekeeping Green. How cool is that?

Keeping it green,


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vitamin D -- redux

A recent Reader's Digest article by Christie Aschwanden debunks some myths about vitamins. While I don't necessarily agree with most of her suppositions, the fact that she ends the article lauding the benefits of vitamin D makes the article worth mentioning, even though I blogged about this already, back in October.

The truth is many of us are seriously lacking an adequate supply of vitamin D. Part of it is due to our spending less time in the sun, and when we do, we tend to be slathered up with sunscreen. You see, sunlight is responsible for producing vitamin D in our bodies. If we're not exposing our skin to the sun's rays, then it's only natural we're deficient in this essential nutrient.

Why is vitamin D so important?

Well, according to Cedric Garland, MD, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Diego, an estimated 50,000 cases of colorectal cancer could be prevented yearly if only Americans had sufficient levels of D in their systems. Additionally, vitamin D significantly reduces the chance of developing other cancers (breast, skin and prostate), as well as cuts the risk of heart attacks in men by as much as 50 percent.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to other physical disorders/diseases as well, including:
  • stroke
  • adrenal insufficiency
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • allergies
  • autoimmune disorders -- i.e. multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • diabetes types 1 and 2
  • gluten intolerance
  • lectin intolerance
  • hypertension
  • infertility
  • learning and behavioral disorders
  • tooth problems
  • osteoporosis
  • rickets
  • Parkinson's
  • PMS
  • psoriasis
  • osteoporosis
Not only that, our grumpiness meter could be seriously altered during the gloomy winter months if we started taking vitamin D supplements because this happy little vitamin actually helps to release melatonin in the brain; more melatonin means more smiles. See, there really is a reason for the mid-winter blahs!

This past summer researchers at Aberdeen University found a possible link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency. Wouldn't it be nice to find out some of our fat problems could be resolved simply by taking a supplement?! According to Dr. Helen MacDonald, from Aberdeen's department of medicine and therapeutics, "Obese peole had less vitamin D and the link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency was statistically significant."

So how does a lack of vitamin D in pregnant women affect their babies? I am particularly concerned about the findings here. According to studies conducted at Oxford University, springtime babies were more in danger of developing multiple sclerosis than babies born in the fall. The conclusion that was reached is that summertime pregnancy results in higher sunlight-induced vitamin D levels in the moms.

Apparently the birth-month effect is particularly strong in Scots, with a stronger link developing the further north you are, as Scotland is known to have a serious lack of sunshine.

Pregnant moms need a sufficient amount of vitamin D in their systems to ensure proper bone growth and strength for their growing infants. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about the need for additional vitamin D supplements. Your pre-natal vitamins may not be enough, and even though this essential nutrient is found in eggs, milk and oily fish, chances are you're not getting enough simply through your diet. Keep in mind your body cannot absorb calcium without vitamin D.

One way to determine if you are vitamin D deficient is to put pressure on your sternum. If the pressure results in pain, there's a good chance you are seriously in need of a supplement.

How much should you take? Here's where experts differ. Within the past year the amounts have climbed significantly, with an average recommendation at 2,000 IUs for adults and 1,000 IUs for kids. Pregnant women need even more, but do not do anything without careful research and a conversation with your doctor!

Remember how simple life used to be? We spent hours on end poolside in the summer and a fair amount of time outdoors even in the winter. But that was before two-income households, Wii, TiVo, pay-per-view, Facebook, and...oh yeah, fear of skin cancer.

Keeping it healthy,


Monday, March 15, 2010

An unhealthy estate of mind

My husband and I like to head out for late breakfasts on Saturdays, followed by an estate sale or two. We rarely buy much, other than practical things, such as childproof latches, light bulbs, kitchen matches, etc. Most of the sales are in the homes of elderly people who have either died or moved to nursing homes. We are often saddened as we browse through a lifetime of belongings, some generic and some extremely personal. Every once in awhile I’ll catch my husband with a faraway look in his glistening eyes as he holds an heirloom in his hands, imagining a young child proudly presenting the gift to her parents many, many years ago. We’re always on the same page here, as we browse through someone else’s memories.

This week was different. As we drove away from the sale, my husband recounted a conversation he had with a couple of other shoppers. At one point he looked over at me and said, “You’re not really crying, are you?” followed by, “If this is how these sales affect you, maybe we should stop going.”

However, this time the tears weren’t about how sad I was for the people who once lived in the house. Rather they were for the state of our country. They were for the utter wastefulness I saw at this particular sale; a sale held in one of those ultra-rich neighborhoods with the obscenely large homes where people have more than they could actually want or need. This was a sale about excess, as the owners of the home simply had relocated and these “trinkets” were just what they left behind.

There were dishes and more dishes, artwork, books by the hundreds, televisions, sofas, beds, tools, clothing, etc., all of which can be found at any estate sale. But the excess glowed most brilliantly when we counted at least 100 figurines, pictures, and stuffed versions of dachshunds. There were at least one dozen like-new ace bandages. In the basement I found a small dresser with labeled drawers -- the top one designated for kitchen magnets. Seriously? A whole drawer of kitchen magnets?! And there was a medium-sized box labeled shoe laces. Why does anyone need dozens of pairs of shoe laces?

Unlike other sales, this house wasn’t full of items saved for 50 years or so. Other than a few antiques, there didn’t seem to be much that had resided in the house for more than a decade or so. The gray-haired owners were at the sale, carefully watching that no one slipped anything into a pocket or purse. Most times, the company hired to do the sale, has enough workers at a home to watch over things, but these two weren’t going to trust that. They obviously had a hand in overpricing most everything as well. I couldn’t help wondering what this wealthy couple needed with a home of this magnitude. It was huge!

It was obvious to anyone at the sale, based on the literature, slogan buttons, etc., that these people were devout democrats. However, their lifestyle didn’t seem to embrace the environmental side of the party, for in the garage there were eight, yes I said eight, large, well-used trash cans, complete with the name of the couple boldly marked across the front of them. Setting demurely beside them were two township-issued, barely touched, recycling bins. I got sick to my stomach. How, in God’s name, could anyone have that much trash?!

My question was somewhat answered on the drive home as my husband recounted the conversation I mentioned earlier. To make a long story short, the couple he spoke with told him that the people in the house, along with many of the other residents in the neighborhood, buy new things all the time and then just toss out the old. And by old, I mean, gently-used. The man he was speaking with told him about a perfectly good lawn mower he’d taken out of the trash, as well as a gas-powered weed wacker, neither of which needed any repair and both of which he is still using to this day. He even picks up things sometimes and just runs them over to Goodwill, or sells them at a garage sale at reasonable prices. Anything to keep the stuff out of the landfill.

Why did this make me cry? Because I’ve never seen anything like this firsthand. Excessive waste. Extraordinary self-centeredness. Greed. Laziness. And, apparently, more money than they know what to do with. It just made me sad and I wanted to share my story.

Appreciate what you have and share what you don’t need or no longer want. Whether you sell it, donate it, freecycle it, or give it to friends or family members, just please don’t toss it out.

Sharing my heart and keeping it green,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shrinking energy bills

Want to save 20 percent or so on your heating and cooling bill? Then find and fix the drafts. How? Well, for about 50 dollars you can purchase the Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector. Its infrared sensors change color when discovering a draft in a window, wall or door. Simply aim the detector and watch for changes in hue. Then seal the leak and watch your bills shrink.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Writer's Conference in Western PA

Just wanted to let you all know that I will be teaching two workshops at the Mercer County One Day Writers Conference on April 24, 2010 in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.

The keynote speaker for the conference is John B. Olson, a novelist, scientist, software engineer, and entrepreneur. There are 22 workshops to chose from. My first on is titled, "The Power of Blogging: Using your writing to influence the world," and my second is "The Business of Writing: Ways to make money as a freelance writer."

For more information and to register online, visit the conference website.

If you make it to the conference, please introduce yourself to me. I'd love to meet you!

Have a fantastic weekend!


Spoiled children

It is not giving children more
that spoils them;
it is giving them more
to avoid confrontation.

-- John Gray, Children Are From Heaven

Friday, March 12, 2010

Vinegar Fridays


With spring on the horizon, many of us are switching our home decor from winter candles and warm colors to the upcoming season's cheery florals and pastels. Easter brings out painted eggs and potted plants, like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and lilies. With all of that in mind, this week's Vinegar Friday is focusing on what to do with vases, flower pots and such.

Have you ever been ready to arrange some freshly cut flowers only to discover a nasty water line on your favorite vase? Not a problem. Grab the distilled white vinegar and fill the vase half way up with it. Add water to the top and let soak. Dump the solution out in an hour or so and give the vase a quick wipe.

Are your cut daffodils starting to droop? Perk 'em up with a quart of fresh water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar added to it. Mix it up, pour it in the vase and rearrange the flowers. If you have water left over, pour it in your sink and give the sink a quick shine. Of course, as always, use only distilled white vinegar.

I always love receiving flowering plants for Easter. If you get some acid-loving ones, mix up a gallon of water with a cup of vinegar and give them a good watering from time to time. This is a good idea when nurturing your azaleas, gardenias, hydrangeas and rhododendrons, both in pots and out in your spring garden.

If you're planning on doing some transplanting, as you discover your plants have become root bound over the winter, you can easily get the stains and white mineral crusts out of your pots by soaking them for an hour or two in a sink of water and vinegar (a 50/50 solution). This works for clay, glazed or plastic pots.

To get the deposits that form from the rim of planters off the water-catching saucers, soak the saucers in undiluted distilled white vinegar for a few hours.

One more...clean the mold out of your terra cotta pots by soaking them in this solution: 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup chlorine bleach (yeah, I know, it's not environmentally friendly, but mold's a tough one) and a gallon of warm water. After soaking for a few hours, grab a steel wool pad and scrub away.

Happy preparation for spring everyone! And, of course, Happy Vinegar Friday!

Keeping it green,


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Follow me and win a prize!

While it's great having so many visitors on my blog each day, it's even better when those visitors become followers! Please consider joining my group of followers here on The Green Grandma Blog.
I will be having a drawing on March 31st and awarding one such follower with an environmentally-friendly Green Grandma cloth tote.

Be a winner with Green Grandma!

Ban triclosan

Want to do something about the dangers of triclosan? Sign the petition to ban it. I just did.

Thanks, Kathy, for posting a comment and making me aware of this.

Pass me the hand sanitizer...NOT!

Don’t you love those purse-sized hand sanitizers? Ever since the threat of H1N1 hit the news, more and more people have been relying on them to keep their families germ-free. Coupled with anti-bacterial soaps, we’re all feeling a bit more secure.

But did you know that one of the common ingredients in hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps can cause damage to your liver and kidneys? Not only that, but triethanolamine may also be a culprit in the rise of super-strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Not good. Not good at all.

Triclosan is another ingredient you want to avoid, as it’s been linked to the dioxin, a highly carcinogenic chemical that can lead to a variety of health problems, including:

• Decreased fertility
• Altered sex hormones
• Birth defects
• Cancer

In addition, exposure to triclosan can actually weaken the immune system, making you, and your little ones, more susceptible to infection.

This discovery is seriously bumming me out. I, personally, love the little hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works and use them religiously. I even handed them out as a favor at my daughter, Jessica’s baby shower. And my currently pregnant daughter, Bethany, is always popping a bottle out of her purse to ward off the germs.

What should you do? Well, once again, I’m going to steer you toward essential oils for a natural alternative to chemically-laden anti-bacterial products, some of which are showing promising results at fighting off germs and killing off bacteria, viruses and staff.

Shop for soaps that contain essential oils, yet do not have the terrible Ts (triethanolamine and triclosan) listed with the ingredients. Here I go again, touting the benefits of eucalyptus oil, but its antimicrobial properties are natural and effective. Look for citrus oils, cinnamon leaf, clove bud, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree and/or thyme.

The key to killing germs is frequent hand washing and it’s never too early to teach your children that.

For a list of brand name products containing triclosan, visit Grinning Planet. This comprehensive list includes not only soaps, but children’s toys, kitchenware and more.

Keeping it green and healthy,


There are some companies who produce hand sanitizers without the use of the triclosan or triethanolamine, such as Purell. However these use alcohol which can be drying to the skin (beats damage to the liver). Don't confuse tocopheryl acetate with the terrible's just a fancy name for Vitamin E! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Petition for safer food

Concerned about food safety? Sign the Food Safety Enhancement Act petition. The problem is, many of the foods our little ones love happen to be on the Top 10 list of foods most likely to cause some type of a food-borne illness. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, eating the following foods made over 50,000 people sick in the past decade:
  • bean sprouts
  • berries
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • ice cream
  • leafy greens
  • oysters (okay, maybe this one's not on your toddler's favorite foods list!)
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • tuna
It's vital we make our representatives in Congress understand that this is unacceptable and action must be taken.

In the meantime, don't forget to wash your produce and cook your children's food thoroughly!

Keeping it healthy,


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sneakers...recycled for a cause

What do an injury, a runner and a bunch of used sneakers have in common? The answer is Greg Woodburn. This student at the University of Southern California started a unique charity called Share Our Soles. The purpose of S.O.S. is to provide sneakers to underprivileged children in the United States and other countries. But these aren't "let's run to Walmart and buy some shoes for kids" kind of sneakers. They are sneakers previously worn by runners like Woodburn and others.

When hip and knee injuries tripped up Woodburn's high school track season back in 2006, it got him thinking about the benefits of running. When the realization hit him that there were kids all over the world who didn't even have shoes to run in, he started a campaign to gather 100 pairs of shoes to distribute for Christmas. He didn't dream big enough! More than 500 pairs of slightly worn sneakers were cleaned up and handed out that year, with over 3,000 pairs donated since then.Woodburn, himself, has personally cleaned nearly all of them, with occasional help from his parents and trackmates. Some shoes get tossed in the washer and some are hand scrubbed.

Coming along side him in the cause is a nonprofit organization called Sports Gift that sends soccer and baseball equipment to children across the globe. Keven Baxter, founder and president of Sports Gift, seemed like the likely choice when Woodburn sought out someone to ship the sneakers.

Since its inception, Share Our Soles has branched out to include chapters at USC, the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and the original one in Ventura, California. In addition to recycling the gently used shoes, S.O.S. also sells wristbands and socks as a way to provide funding for new shoes and socks for underprivileged children. They are in the process of changing their name and website to Give Running. With an emphasis on sneakers, they also collect boots and other footwear.

It is refreshing to hear about a teenager who, rather than moaning about his life, turns things around to benefit others. And so, today's Greeny Award goes to Greg Woodburn...and to his parents, who were successful in raising a kid in today's "give me" society who actually lives his life giving to others.

Keeping it green,


Monday, March 8, 2010

A greener trash night -- biodegradable plastic bags

Even those of us who have cut down the amount of trash we throw away, there is still something else we can do to make trash night greener and it has to do with our choice of bags. Petroleum-based garbage bags will sit in the landfill for approximately 1,000 years or more without decomposing. Isn’t that an unnerving thought? I never gave it a second thought when putting out the trash last night. I usually buy whatever trash bags are on sale and just feel good about the fact that we never even fill up our garbage can anymore.

But today I discovered a greener alternative and I wanted to share it with you. Trash bags made with TDPA technology won’t last over two years in the landfill. They’ll have completely dissolved by then. To me, that’s exciting news! Truegreen has a variety of sizes available of biodegradable plastic trash bags. You can shop for them by clicking on the link on the top of the page.

Truegreen also has other earth-friendly and people-friendly products, such as cleaning supplies, hand soaps, laundry alternatives, treeless paper and jute shopping bags. They’re definitely worth a look.

Biodegradable plastic bags. I never thought about it for my trash...until today. I think I’ll click on and place my order for a greener trash night next week!

Keeping it green,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Laws and the environment

Many laws protecting environmental quality
have promoted liberty by securing property
against the destructive trespass of pollution.

-- Ronald Reagan                 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Vinegar Fridays


Outside my office windows in Pittsburgh, PA, an unfamiliar sight is warming my soul -- sunshine!! Two days in a row.

As a result of slightly warmer temps and glorious sunshine, laundry is flapping happily on the line! Can't wait to breathe in the scent of it!

Speaking of scents, if you've ever had a pet, you know things in your home don't always smell the best. So I thought I'd give you some distilled white vinegar tips for your fuzzy, finned and feathered friends.

Remember to use distilled white vinegar ONLY!

WARNING! When I recommend spraying or pouring vinegar on a surface, please test in an inconspicuous area first to make sure there will be no discoloration!

First we'll address odors:
  • Accidents on the carpet? Blot up any liquid, then cover the spot with baking soda and leave it alone overnight. After vacuuming it up the next morning, scrub the area with the vinegar. Don't forget to rinse with clear water. Sound like a lot of steps? Well, you could opt for a quicker, chemically-laden commercial solution if you prefer. But this does work.
  • Stinky litter box? Clean it out, then fill the bottom of the box up to 1/2 inch with vinegar. Wait a half hour or so, then rinse the litter box clean. Adding baking soda or Borax to the litter will help keep the litter odors in check.
  • Sassy skunk-sprayed? If your kitty or pup dog run into the house with the telltale odor of a tussle with a skunk, you don't have to go the messy route of a tomato juice bath. Mix up a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar and sponge Sassy down. She won't like it, but maybe it will teach her to steer clear of anything black with a white stripe down the middle. Make sure you rinse her off thoroughly with clear water. Repeat as necessary.
  • Kitty getting territorial? If your cat is marking his territory around your house by spraying, spray back. Spritz some vinegar on the spots and rinse off with water. Kitties hate the smell of vinegar.
Reduce the itch:
  • Fido ferociously scratching at his ears? Try wiping them with a soft rag saturated, then rung out, with undiluted distilled white vinegar. 
  •  Flies creating a nuisance? If you horse or other outdoor pet is bothered by flies, simply grab your spray bottle with the 50/50 water vinegar so lution in it and give the pen a good spraying. Flies don't like vinegar either.
  • Fleas? Add a splash of distilled white vinegar in the water dish.
Behavior problems:
  • Kitties jumping up where they don't belong? Spritz the area with a 50/50 vinegar water solution.
  • Pets chewing on plants? Spritz the leaves.
  • Cat fight? You guessed it. Spritz 'em.
  • Neighborhood kitties invading your garden? Soak some small sponges in vinegar and place them strategically among your plants.
  • Incessant barking? Again you want to grab the 50/50 spray bottle, but make sure you only spritz in the direction of the dog, and not in his face!
Birds, rodents and fish:
  • Dirty cage? Scrub out your bird's and other small pet's domain with undiluted vinegar. Follow with a good rinsing.
  • Dull fishbowl or aquarium? Empty the bowl or aquarium and them wipe it out with straight vinegar. Again, rinse well. If there are stubborn water lines and deposits, make your fish cozy for the night in another container and soak the fishbowl or aquarium overnight. At the very least, let it soak for a few hours before rinsing out.
One last tip for Fido. Want his coat to shine like a showdogs? Skip the expensive pet store solutions and mix up your own with a cup of vinegar and a quart of water. Rub it in good and let it dry. Looks like a blue ribbon to me!

Keeping it green,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

No more phone books! Opt out!

Did you know you can opt out of receiving phone books? Is that awesome, or what? I am so excited to know that I no longer will have to stash these bulky yellow and white pages in my home, only to throw them away when the next ones arrive. The paper recycling companies won't take them, so the only choice is to dump them in the landfills. What a waste. Five billion trees per year cut down for what? After all, how many of us actually even look at the phone books? I search for phone numbers online at What about you? How often throughout the year do you reach for your yellow or white pages?

Well, it just so happens, opting out is simple. Just go to and click on Opt Out. Fill in your info and you're done.

And for that, you all get this week's Greeny Award! Go you!

Keeping it green,


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's going in the landfill...why should I care?

Why should you care? Indeed. Landfills are made for junk to get thrown in, so what's the big deal? As long as it's not in your backyard, right?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but every broken video console, out-of-date computer, and non-digital television that you carelessly set out on the curb on trashnight, eventually may be the cause of cancer for you or one of your loved ones. With all of the toxins these used electronics house, don't you think it's likely they're going to leach into the soil and pollute the water and air? That's what happens to this stuff, folks, so it is about you and about your health. There's no getting around that. Every toxin thrown into the landfill has the potential to serve as a carcinogen somewhere down the road.

Remember that 10-year-old in your community that died from a brain tumor? Maybe it stemmed from the old microwave you tossed out 12 years ago. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Now, I'm not trying to lay guilt on anyone. We've all done it...carelessly tossed stuff out without thinking about the consequences down the road. Why? Because we didn't know any better! But now, I'm making you think about it. And now, you know better.

I know this is a recurrent theme here on Green Grandma, but I just think it warrants the repetition.

Recycle, reuse, reinvent, remember.

Keeping it green,


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Healthy eating tips from Dr. Chad Larson

Just love these tips! And am grateful to be able to share Dr. Larson's article with you

National Nutrition Month

with Dr. Chad Larson
March is National Nutrition Month sponsored by the American Dietetic Association. While I want to bring attention to National Nutrition Month, I am not going to reference much of the material on the website because it is fairly middle-of-the road and typical - calorie this, calorie that, measure this, measure that - nobody is going to follow these non-inspiring recommendations. I would rather emphasize some great tips from Michael Pollan, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Here are some of his Food Rules:

1.Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?"

2.Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

3.Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.

4.Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions - honey - but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food."

5.It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"

6.Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love.

7.Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

This article appeared on The Pure Prescriptions website: on Monday, March 1, 2010.

Keeping it healthy,


Monday, March 1, 2010

Who's the boss?

Why is it when we are exhausted and in need of a nap, the little ones in our lives tend to resist every attempt to get them to lie down?? I was blessed with children that napped. They loved their naps and hit the crib willingly. So far, the grandbaby's pretty receptive to naps as well.

But I hear a lot of complaints from other parents about their little Energizer Bunnies who rise at dawn and keep going and going and going 'til long past dusk. Wow. I know, personally, I couldn't take that. The question is, do you have to? After all, who is in charge here? If you allow your toddler to dictate his schedule, expect him to rule in a lot of other ways as he gets older. I'm really tired of seeing parents bowing down to their children -- they're not supposed to be idols, folks!

"But I work full time and only have a few hours with my children each day," I hear you saying. "I don't want to spend all my time discipling them or forcing them to do something they don't want to do." Or the dreaded, "I want my kids to like me." Listen up....being a parent requires parenting not friendship. Children who grow up with buddies for parents tend to be self-absorbed, manipulative brats. That's just the way it is.

So back to the napping problem. You're the parent...they're the children. You can't force them to sleep, but you can require them to spend quiet time in their room listening to a book on tape, coloring, or some other calming activity...something safe and restful. Of course, watching TV should not be an option. If your little ones have televisions in their rooms at this point, you already have issues you better deal with.

I shouldn't have to tell you to eliminate caffeine from their diets, but unfortunately, I see way too many kids under the age of five sucking down cans of Pepsi and Mountain Dew. If you're a parent who gives your children soda, I have one question for you: What are you thinking?! And remember, chocolate is a source of caffeine as well.

Sugar is another detriment to having a kid who rests. But above all else, do not assume a sugar substitute is a safe option!! I'll be addressing the dangers of aspartame, et al in a future blog. Let me just say this: pregnant women and children need to steer clear! Diet soft drinks are not the answer.

Wow, this blog entry is just all over the place, isn't it? Once I got started, several of my trigger points flared up and I just went with it.

Bottom line, parents, is you are in charge. And you are responsible for the habits your children form, the dynamics of the family down the road, and the healthy, or unhealthy, choices in your children's diets. If you're exhausted (and, realistically, what parent isn't?), start developing restful habits in your little ones now. Grab a nap, read a book, chat with a friend -- whatever you do in their quiet time, enjoy it. Recharge. Everyone in the family will benefit.

Keeping it real,


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