Saturday, July 31, 2010

Consider the ant

Go to the ant, you lazybones;
   consider its ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief
   or officer or ruler,
It prepares its food in summer,
   and gathers its sustenance in harvest.

                                 -- Proverbs 6:6-8

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vinegar Fridays


Last week my neighbor's Jack Russell terrior, Jake, got into a scuffle with a skunk. Not a pretty sight or smell! I never did get around to asking my neighbor exactly what he did to eliminate the odor, but I wish I had known about the occurence at the time. Because, guess what? Vinegar could have rode to the rescue! What else?

If one of your furry friends needs fumegated, try a rub down with vinegar (any kind will do, but I'd recommend the cheapest you can find). It should do the trick.

While we're talking pets ... have any of you had a flea problem this year? So far, our cats have remained flea-free, and we're hoping it's because we've been adding that splash of distilled white vinegar to their drinking water, like I recommended in an earlier VF.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

That time of the month

Okay, this one's for the ladies. Unless you sensitive, loving, wonderful guys in the community want to read this to gain a valuable understanding of what the beautiful women in your life are going through on a monthly basis : )

That said, here we go. Whatever is a grandma doing writing about that blessed time of month, formerly known as "the curse" in earlier generations? Well, because, unfortunately it's something I'm still dealing with -- cramps, leakage, bloating and all. Yippee. While I know some women, well, actually I know of one woman who bemoans the fact that she's done with her period, but as for me...I can't wait!!

Cramps are bad enough any time of the year, but in the summer...yuck. Don't you agree. I mean at least in the winter you can curl up under the covers with a heating pad and receive a little bit of comfort. But when it's 90 degrees out....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I received a question on Facebook after my post yesterday regarding the use of lemons in natural cleaning products. In addition to adding a truly natural lemon scent to your home, here are some of the things you can do with a lemon:

  • Polish up your brass and copper by halving a lemon and rubbing it on the tarnished items.
  • Dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits with undiluted lemon juice.
  • Scrub kitchen surfaces with a halved lemon sprinkled with baking soda. Use it the way you may have used Comet years ago. This is a wonderful way to get stains out of your sink or off your counters. You can also wash dishes, pots and pans with this handy little lemon scrubber. When done, toss the lemon into your garbage disposal. Ahh, the energizing aroma of lemons! 
  • Polish your hardwood furniture with a solution of olive oil and lemon juice (1 cup to ½ cup). Guaranteed to make your home smell yummy – naturally! 
  • Disinfect a cutting board by rubbing a cut lemon across the surface.
Speaking of disinfecting -- lemons are natural disinfectants. As a matter of fact, researchers at Tsyuma Central Hospital determined that lemon juice kills 99.9% of microbes, including the strain that causes strep infection. To make a natural disinfectant, simply mix up lemon juice with water (50/50) in a spray bottle and apply to non-porous surfaces.

Make sure you wear gloves if you have any cuts on your hands or fingers when cleaning with lemons. Lemon juice can sting when it seeps into an open wound!

Hope I’ve cleared up some of the questions about using lemons in your everyday cleaning. Keep the questions coming! I’m happy to find an answer for them when I can!

Keeping it green,


Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gravitating toward "all natural" cleaning products

"All natural." Wonderful. This one goes into the shopping cart.

But that such a good idea? Trusting a phrase like "all natural" could actually be deadly. After all, arsenic is all natural! And natural doesn't necessarily mean eco-friendly either. As I keep saying, label-reading is a necessity these days, but first you have to know what key terms/words/phrases to look for. Here are just a few terms to look for that are a bit more specific than "all natural:"
  • plant-based (I know, plants are always safe, either)
  • readily biodegradable
  • synthetic-free
  • free of dyes
Another thing you can look for on a label is this symbol on the right. When something is marked DfE, it means the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has given it a thumbs up as a safer, greener cleaner. 

Of course, if you've been following the blog for very long, you know I'm a huge proponent of developing your own natural cleaning products (just check out a few Vinegar Fridays' posts)! I mean, why choose "lemon-scented" when you can use real lemons? And did you ever wonder exactly what it was that created the "lemon scent?" In most cases, scents in traditional cleaning products, whether they're lemon, pine or that ever popular "fresh" scent, are derived from toxic chemicals. Did you really think there was a pine forest in that bottle?! Of course, you didn't. Fragrance-free is generally the better option.

Same goes for all the stuff that makes your house smell fresher. They're toxic, folks. Whether you opt for aerosol sprays (no comment) or energy-sucking plug-in or battery operated fresheners, the bottom line is they're just not healthy! Sprinkling baking soda on your carpet or upholstery before vacuuming can freshen your home the natural and safe way.

I hope these suggestions can help to guide you to a greener and healthier home. A little bit at a time....


Monday, July 26, 2010

Ignorance is bliss....or is it?

Shopping is getting more and more complicated these days, don't you think? It used to be I simply shopped for a bargain. Coupons, grocery store specials, etc. dictated what went in my shopping cart. But with all of the warnings about carcinogens and toxins lurking in everything from milk to produce to cleaning products to fabric softener....yikes!! I'm starting to gain a new appreciation of the phrase, "Ignorance is bliss." I guess that is until someone I love ends up with cancer or severe asthma or fibromyalgia or....oh wait, I've had all of those! Hmm. I wonder where they all came from.

Let's see. Asthma...maybe that's linked to being raised in a home of smokers...or perhaps it has to do with spending 18 years of my life breathing in asbestos-tinged air from the asbestos plant two blocks away. Fibromyalgia. That's linked to my Epstein Barr Virus Syndrome that I've been suffering from since 1973, before they even had a name for it! We've discovered a sensitivity to chemicals, particularly formaldehyde, is to blame for that. As I've been struggling to walk lately, I'm wondering how much of it has to do with the body powder I use daily that I just discovered over the weekend contains that dreaded toxin. Of course, having been married to a husband who worked at a chemical plant and brought all of the super-toxins home on his clothing every day couldn't have helped matters much when I was a young wife and mother. As far as the cancer goes...who knows? There are so many possibilities there.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"After all, I don't see why I am always asking
for private, individual, selfish miracles
when ever year there are miracles like white dogwood."

-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001)

Photo by Jessica J. Taylor

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vinegar Fridays


For quite a few months now, I've spent my Fridays with you extolling the virtues of vinegar. Today I thought I'd explain why vinegar is a better choice when it comes to cleaning by exposing the dangers of common household chemicals. After reading this, you may be even more motivated to go back and read earlier Vinegar Fridays' posts to see how vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect your home, car, laundry, etc.

Cleaning solutions for glass and floors, as well as furniture polishes often contain ammonia.

Why is that a problem? Because ammonia can cause eye, nose and lung irritation, as well as causing skin rashes. Ideally, you should wear gloves, goggles and a mask before using ammonia.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When it's More Than Teasing -- Keeping Bullies at Bay

The following is an article I wrote for the current issue of Pinpoint Publications magazine, just in time for back-to-school preparations.

Image courtesy of Katrina Joyner

Bullying. It’s an all-too-common occurrence in today’s society. Reports from the U.S. Department of Justice reveal that one out of every four school-aged child deals with bullying at some point during the school year. It can take on many forms, from physical and verbal abuse, to cyber stalking, racial and gender slurs, to intimidation, ostracizing and public ridicule. In short, it is aggressive behavior aimed to intentionally hurt another physically and/or emotionally. While every child may encounter a bit of this from time to time, it’s the constant onslaught that needs to be dealt with swiftly, before it results in serious, if not grave consequences. Some schools have been proactive in eliminating bullying; however, it usually requires the parent, child and school administration working in tandem to find a solution.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mirena -- What are the facts?

Let's talk birth control...specifically the supposedly "safe" Mirena IUD. And let's look at what the word "safe" actually means.

Is it safer than the Pill? Perhaps, but if you're considering using Mirena for birth control, there are a few facts you must consider.

First of all, contrary to popular opinion, Mirena, like all IUDs, does not prevent conception. When you use this type of intrauterine contraceptive, you will continue to ovulate. It is not a spermicide, so sperm will continue to travel in search of an egg to fertilize. And many times, a successful fertilization occurs. However, Mirena keeps the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, so your body will eventually expel it. For some, that's no big deal. But if you believe, as I do, that life begins at conception, you could be aborting countless children without even knowing it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Teach your kids not to share

Okay, I'm beyond annoyed right now. I was paging through my new Parenting Early Years magazine when I came across an ad that made me quite angry.

The ad is for an automobile and the words at the top say, "Teach your kids not to share." Below the two pictures that follow is the statement, "Sharing is for other cars." This vehicle features a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system so kids don't have to negotiate which program to watch or video game to play...and they don't have to share! Isn't that nice? Don't I wish I could have just switched on the onboard entertainment system for my kids when they were growing up so I wouldn't have had to be bothered with conversation on the way to the grocery store, church, or even on the 4 1/2 hour drive to Grandma's? Not!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The whole earth
is a living icon
of the face of God.

-- John of Damascus (675-749)

Friday, July 16, 2010

And the winner is....

Erika Gohl! Congrats Erika...some Rockin' Green is headed your way.

Email your address to me (

Thanks to everyone who participated.
Don't forget...the drawing for the free bag of Rockin' Green ends at 9:00 p.m. EST tonight! Thanks to Happy Baby Company for making this deliciously watermelon scented detergent available!

Vinegar Fridays


For many of us, summer means hitting neighborhood garage sales, right? Especially for those of us with kids or grandkids...or home daycare centers for that matter. Since babies and toddlers outgrow their clothing so quickly, it seems rather foolish to buy new when used generally looks new anyway.

But what about toys? Do you ever debate whether or not it's wise to buy used toys for your children? What about all of the germs?

Well, thanks to our good friend, white distilled vinegar, most toys can be passed down from one child to the next without a problem.

Today's vinegar tips are for those of you with little children in your lives.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another blogger loves Rockin' Green and tells us why!

I had the pleasure of meeting Adam, the owner of Happy Baby Company, (formerly Pittsburgh Cloth Diapers) last week. He and his wife own the natural baby products store in Pittsburgh, where you can not only buy a wide array of safe and healthy goods for your baby, you can also go there for classes, such as the Cloth Diapering Orientation held on alternate Saturday afternoons.

Adam took the time to talk to me about a variety of things and even went so far as to check to see if my car seat was installed correctly. It wasn't. He removed it (despite the tether buckle burning his fingers in the 95 degree weather), re-threaded the strap and then reinstalled the seat, kneeling on top of it in order to ensure a solid, tight fit. That's what I call going above and beyond the call of duty. Awesome.

As we talked about my blog, he offered to give me a bag of Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper and Laundry Detergent to use as a giveaway for you, my readers. He also introduced me to another Pittsburgh-based blog,, singing the praises of Jen, who pours her heart and soul into it.

I discovered Jen's blog was worthy of his praise. I also discovered a wonderful post she did with a thorough review of Rockin' Green and she has graciously allowed me to repost it here. For all of you who like reading about common sense parenting, you have to check out her blog!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don't forget to head on over to Facebook and become a fan! Love to see your comments there as well!

Simple tips for backyard pools and spas

We don't have a pool, unless you count the little blow-up kiddie pool we fill for our granddaughter from time to time. Nor do we have a spa. But I know that some of you are fortunate enough to have one or both. My sister does.

So I thought you might like some energy-saving tips related to them. For instance, did you know that by covering your pool when it's not in use you can reduce evaporation by up to 90 percent! Plus, if you have a heated pool, it will retain the temperature better when covered.

In the same way, covering your spa will naturally keep the water temperature up when you're not using it. That way you won't use as much energy to heat it up when you're ready to slip into the hot, bubbling water.

Inconvenient? Perhaps. Budget- and eco-friendly? Absolutely.

Simple tips. Short post. Enjoy the sunshine and soak up some vitamin D!

Keeping it green,


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dangers in your car

I watched an interesting segment on Good Morning America on ABC this morning. It was about how dangerous loose objects can be in your car because in the case of a crash, they can become projectiles and cause serious injuries, or even deaths.

What they had to say was really common sense, but sometimes we have to be told about something before our common sense kicks in. Do you know what I mean?

George Clark was traveling in a car that got hit going 50 mph. Since a child was not in the car at the time, the untethered booster seat went a-flyin', slamming into George's head and basically annihilating his cheekbone and jaw. Ouch.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Win a bag of Rockin' Green!

The Happy Baby Company has graciously donated a bag of Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper & Laundry Detergent to be given to a lucky GG community member. All you have to do to win this 45 oz. bag of Classic Rock Smashing Watermelons scent RG, is:

1) be a follower on this blog
2) go to the Happy Baby Company website and pick your two favorite products there. Then post your choices on the GG Facebook page or in the comment section for this post.

That's it! The winner will be randomly chosen on July 16th.

Good luck!

The reality of it

The weekend brought with it many trials and tribulations for people we know and care about. Between children being put in foster care to affairs being exposed, families are being town apart. Not to mention the devastating effects of cancer and other diseases as they threaten to take loved ones away from their families. Wow.

I was on the phone with my daughter this morning and said, "Can we just go back and start this year over?"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The earth is our home

"The family needs a home,
a fit environment
in which to develop its proper relationships.
For the human family, this home is the earth,
the environment that God the Creator
has given us to inhabit
with creativity and responsibility.
We need to care for the environment;
it has been entrusted to men and women
to be protected and cultivated
with responsible freedom,
with the good of all
as a constant guiding criterion."

-- Pope Benedict XVI, 2007 World Day of Peace message

Friday, July 9, 2010

Vinegar Fridays


Here it is again. After a brutally hot week in Pittsburgh, it's Vinegar Friday once again. Too bad I don't have a vinegar remedy for the heat!

While you might want nothing more than to stay out of the kitchen in this heat, I thought I'd give you some vinegar-related food tips today.

Some of you have complained a bit about the smell of distilled white vinegar, even though it does dissipate quickly. But do you know what's worse? The smell of fish! To minimize fishy odor, just apply some of the distilled white vinegar to the fish, rub it in, and suddenly neither the vinegar, nor the fish, smell too bad.

Cut out another foul odor by boiling cabbage in water with a touch of vinegar added.

Hands smelling oniony? Rub them with some distilled white vinegar. Problem solved.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Unfathomable grief

I heard the saddest story at church on Sunday. The wife of a friend's friend was backing out of her driveway thinking all six of her children were in the car. Unfortunately, she was wrong and it cost her husband and her their 7-year-old son, who died in the arms of his older brother.

I haven't been able to shake the effects this story has had on me. Such unimaginable loss. My heart bleeds for this family, so new to this grief. I heard that the mother does not cry; she wails. Wailing for a child she will never again hold safely in her arms while on this earth. Wailing out of loss. Wailing out of pain. Wailing from regret and remorse. Yes, it was an accident, but that doesn't take away her misplaced feeling of guilt. Think about would you feel. I think I would want to die.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The demands of time and attention

Did you ever notice there are some weeks where the demands on your time seem overwhelming? Yeah, I'm kind of feeling that way today.

It's easy to push aside the little ones in your life when you get busy with other things and to view them as nuisances at times. This is not good. When I child feels he is "in the way," it knocks him down a notch in the self-worth department. On the other hand, children need to know they're not the center of the Universe, either. It's a tough juggling act, and the answer lies mostly in your attitude and how your react to their wants, needs or demands.

Right now, my grandbaby is sleeping in the other room. She needs absolutely nothing from me at this time. But that could change at any minute. And when it does, guess what? This blog post will fall by the wayside. Not that it's not important for me to get it written and posted, but priorities change at the sound of a little one's cry. Know what I mean? I hope so.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Common sense and the 4th of July

What do common sense and the 4th of July have to do with each other. Well, apparently not a whole lot when it comes to some people.

According to a local emergency room physician, the holiday weekend casualities included eyesight, fingers and a hand, all lost to amateur fireworks accidents. Like I said, a lack of common sense.

I live in Pennsylvania where explosive fireworks are illegal, unless one has a permit. Perhaps where you live these dangerous "toys" are legal. But legality doesn't make it smart. Take, for instance, the legality of riding a motorcycle without a helmut on a highway....ummmm, I don't even know what to say about that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I'm celebrating the holiday with my husband. Check back tomorrow for a new post.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed
by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are
and the pursuit
of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

Vinegar Friday


I hate polishing metals. For one thing, I just don't like the smell of the polishes I've used, whether it's for silver, pewter or brass. So, if you're like me, you'll like today's vinegar tips. Of course, vinegar doesn't have the best smell around, but we're all getting used to it, right? Besides, you can add a little bit of lemon juice to fragrance it up a bit. At least you'll know where the lemon smell comes from in your homemade remedies, unlike the secret lemon scent of commercial products!

Let's start off with brass and copper. Of course, you want to grab your distilled white vinegar, but this time you have to reach into the refrigerator and take out your Heinz ketchup (you can use another kind, if you must, but I'm a Pittsburgh girl, so Heinz is the only way to go!). Mix 2 tablespoons of ketchup with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Smear it on your brass and copper pieces and rub until dry. Check out the shine! Let me know how many of you headed out for some fries after finishing this task!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Random tips and thoughts

You may have read some of these in previous posts, but thought you could use a reminders....

Did you know that Heloise preached about cleaning with the things you already have in your cupboard (vinegar, baking soda, etc.) 50 years ago?!

Did you know hydrogen peroxide (3%) is effective in killing mildew on tile and bacteria on plastic cutting boards? Just pour enough to cover the area, let it sit for 30 minutes; scrub, rinse and dry.

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