Saturday, October 30, 2010

Harmless fun?

"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so."

-- Deuteronomy 18:10-14

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vinegar Friday


One of our community members recently got a job cleaning a Laundromat. Yesterday on Facebook, she posted a question about how to clean stainless steel appliances. Of course, I had to answer her with a vinegar solution! So here it is:

To clean stainless steel appliances and make them shiny, take a clean spray bottle and add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, a few drops of dishwashing liquid (preferably an eco-friendly brand) and warm water to the top. Spray and wipe. Safe, easy and effective.

And because it has been a very long week, that is all for today. A simple vinegar tip for those of you with state-of-the-art kitchens or jobs in Laundromats.

Keeping it green with vinegar,


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Green to you and green to me ... perhaps we see quite differently

Photo courtesy of Heather Desuta
It is an absolutely beautiful morning in Western Pennsylvania. A perfect day for stripping the bed, washing the sheets and getting them up on the line. That is where mine are right now. Do you hang your wash on the line to let the sun and wind dry it? Or do you throw them in the dryer, even on perfect days like today, and use gas or electricity to do the job? If you answered 'yes' to the latter, do you actually consider yourself "green?" How can that be?

There are reasons why I'm asking these questions, and while it may seem I am questioning your commitment to caring for the environment, you will understand where I am going with this in just a moment.

Yesterday, a man who apparently reads my blog, for whatever reason, tried to egg me on into an argument. First he tried by flashing a Halloween decoration in my face. When that did not stir a reaction, he started on me about stinkbugs, challenging me as to how I can kill one of God's creatures? How can that work when I am the Green Grandma? How can I advise others on ways to kill something that is part of the environment?

He tried, but failed, to get me going. After all, I knew he could care less about the stinkbugs. He just wanted to argue with me.

It is funny how people who try to make a difference become targets for criticism on a daily basis. We are watched so closely. Just ask any minister and they will concur. People like to prove other people wrong. Some seem to thrive on it, always looking for ways to start an argument, to trip someone up. It makes me weary.

On Tuesday I posted my recipe for sausage stew, knowing full well that someone in the Vegan community would probably challenge me on it. I was not disappointed. Naturally, I was accused of not being truly 'green' because I eat meat.

Let me tell you something...there is not a single one of us that lives a truly green life. The second you get in your car and turn on the engine, you are doing your part to harm the environment. How about when you climb in hot bath, filled to the top, or take an extra long shower? Did you cook dinner last night? Did you grab the food from your refrigerator or freezer? Did you slap a disposable diaper on your baby's bottom?

Let me repeat myself: None of us live genuinely green lives. We just don't.

Does that mean we shoudn't try in whatever way we can to be a little more environmentally conscious? Of course not.

There are the basics -- the easy things we can all do. Recycling. Turning off lights, televisions, radios, etc. when they are not in use. Unplugging appliances. Limiting waste. Etc., etc., etc. Common sense things.

And then there are the other things we find ourselves called to focus on. Cloth diapers. Riding a bicycle or walking to work. Not eating meat. Growing organic vegetables. Raising awareness of toxins. Etc., etc., etc.

It is all different for all of us. That is why I decided to repost my Going Green poem, just a reminder to those of you who see me as failing in one area or another, that we're all in this together. I do my thing and you do yours. And as I have said many times: every drop in the bucket matters.

Going Green

Green to you
And green to me
Perhaps we see
Quite differently

Perhaps to you
Green’s kind of blue
A teal-ish kind of
Crayon stew

While green to me
Comes from my heart
Cloth grocery bags
Are just a start

Or light bulbs
In peculiar shapes
Or hanging up
Some thermal drapes

But when my green
Gets really sticky
Is when I wash
Cloth diapers – icky

I hang them up
On lines to dry
Save the earth?
I really try

Is so passé
Recycle now
Don’t throw away

The landfills
Soon will overflow
With diapers, trash
And things that glow

With plastic bottles
Glass and cans
Old TVs
And broken fans

The time is now
To do our part
Let’s go for green
At least, let’s start

-- Hana Haatainen Caye

May not be reprinted without written permission 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Halloween party pooper

As we were singing our closing song at church on Sunday, a certain line jumped out at me and has been haunting me ever since. The song was "Now Thank We All Our God" and then particular line I am referring to is "...and guide us when perplexed..."

You see, I am perplexed. I just do not get this whole Halloween thing. For me, celebrating this so-called "holiday" involves a total lack of common sense.

Okay, I know I have just lost a whole lot of fans right now, but please bear with me and at least hear me out. Let me explain the reasons why we never celebrated Halloween as my kids were growing up.
  • Putting the origins of the day aside, what is modern-day Halloween centered on? Death. Evil. Monsters. Blood. Gore. Slasher movies. Okay, sure, it is very cute to see a toddler dressed up like a bunny, or a kindergartener prancing around in her princess garb. There is nothing wrong with dressing up and make-believe. May I suggest reserving it for another time, such as a birthday party, when the atmosphere is not surrounded by evil? I personally hate driving around seeing coffins, bodies hanging from trees, skeletons, tombstones, bloody corpses, etc. To think that people actually spend money to make their homes look so darned ugly is beyond me. Let me tell you something. Anyone who has experienced the traumatic death of a loved one most likely finds these images disturbing at the very least. I should know. October is such a magnificently beautiful time of year, but it is marred by the images of death (not to mention the political litter everywhere!).
  • Trick or treat is such a bizarre practice. Again, where is the common sense here? All year long, your kids hear the message, "Don't take candy from strangers!" Then on October 31st, that message is thrown out the window when parents send their little ones door-to-door collecting treats...treats that then have to be x-rayed at the local fire station to make sure there are no razors or pins inserted in them. What?!? Are you kidding me?!? And the explanation that the kids are only going trick-or-treating in their neighborhood holds no water with me. How many of you really know all of your neighbors? I know I don't. My parents trusted all of our neighbors...and let me tell you -- they shouldn't have.
  • Mischief is encouraged on Halloween. Toilet papering someone's yard seems harmless enough, but it creates a lot of clean up work for the victim. What other time of year is this even remotely okay? Then there is the egging of cars and homes. But aren't kids given the message somehow that mischievous activity is acceptable on Halloween? After all, the phrase they're taught from the time they first knock on a door is "Trick or treat." The implication here is, "Give me a treat or I am going to do something nasty." Nice. This was illustrated so perfectly last night on the show, GLEE, when one of the characters said to a teacher, "Give me chocolate or I'm going to cut you." Enough said.
  • Candy. Lots and lots of candy. Who lets their kids eat that much crap?! Seriously?
  • Occult activity. If you think it doesn't happen, get your head out of the sand! There is no other time of the year when occult activity is so prevalent. None. Every year, police stations across the country receive calls about discoveries of the remains of animals that have been sacrificed. Most times these burnt remains are that of beloved family pets.
Will the occult activity cease if you don't let your kids dress up and go door-to-door collecting candy? Of course not. But in the case of my family, I could never see the sense of participating in an activity that goes against so much of what I stand for.

Let me give you a scenario to think about.

On Halloween, you take your little girl around the neighborhood trick-or-treating. The neighbor man at the corner asks her what her name is. She looks up at you, questioning whether or not it is proper to answer him. You nod and say it is okay. She tells him her name and he throws some candy in her bucket.

The next day, your daughter is walking home from the bus stop. The kind neighbor sees her walking by and calls out to her.

"Suzy, I have some candy left from last night," he tells her. "Why don't you come in and I'll give you some."

"I can't," she says, hesitantly. "I'm not allowed to take candy from strangers."

"Strangers?!" the neighbor feigns hurt. "I'm not a stranger. Your mom let you take candy from me last night, remember?" He coaxes her further. "I saved some candy just for you! You're my favorite little neighbor."

"Well, okay," Suzy says. "I guess it's okay."

Bam. The neighborhood pedophile just lured in his prey. And you gave him the bait he needed.

Think it doesn't happen that way? Let me tell you that it does. Please, please, be very careful.

So, looks like my kids missed out on all of the fun 'cause Momma's a Halloween party pooper, huh? I wish you could ask them yourselves how they felt about it. They would answer and tell you that some of their favorite childhood memories were from our time together on October 31st each year, because it was a really special day.

I often took them out of school early on Halloween, so they didn't have to be exposed to the evil costumes some parents think it are okay for their children to don. I also did not want them participating in the seemingly innocent occult activities that were often planned for the day.

Late in the day, we would head out to Chuck E. Cheese where other like-minded parents would gather to have a fun time with their kids while the neighborhood streets filled up with the little ghosts, goblins, and a Freddy Kreugger or two. We had a ball. Occasionally, one of their friends would tag along, asking their parents if they could skip trick-or-treating and join us instead. As the years passed, my daughters wanted to continue our tradition, so we did...all the way until the youngest was 19, I believe. Eventually, we added a movie to the night.

There was a lull in years between our last trip to Chuck E. Cheese on Halloween and the dawning of a new era. Last year, our tradition resumed with one-year-old Laura's first visit. This weekend, she will spend her second Halloween with Chuck E. and her two-month-old cousin, Lincoln. The tradition continues. I love Halloween.

Sticking to common sense,


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An interview and some good food

Yesterday, I promised you some recipes. So I'm posting them below. While you're whipping up some balsamic vinagrette for your salad, or chopping veggies for your stew, why not listen to the interview I did on October 15th on WORD-FM in Pittsburgh?


Hana's Sausage Stew

1 lb. smoked sausage (I prefer Hillshire's)
8-10 small to medium onions, quartered
4-5 carrots, sliced
6-8 small to medium potatoes, sliced
1 tsp. marjoram
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (you knew I had to work vinegar in somehow!)
4 to 6 oz. of beer (optional)
enough water to cover

Slice sausage in 1/2" slices and brown in bottom of large stew pot. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 4-5 hours.

You can also cook this at a higher heat for 2-3 hours, but I prefer the slow cooking method. This actually just gets better the longer it cooks, so if you want to have your house smelling absolutely delicious for an entire day, start cooking it in the morning.

Add water as needed. You want to have enough broth to dip some fresh baked rolls in!

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup organic balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP fresh minced garlic (I love the jarred garlic)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 TBSP dijon mustard
1 TBSP dark brown sugar (optional)
3/4 cup olive oil

Add ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well. Toss with fresh salad greens. This is not only delicious, but has some of those wonderful health benefits that accompany vinegar.

Hmm. I'm thinking I should have saved this post for Friday!!

Keeping it yummy...with vinegar, no less!


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sabbath Experiment -- week five

Some of our daughters and our grandbabies
It is a rainy Monday morning in Pittsburgh. I expected to be a bit more tired today than I actually am. Yesterday was a busy day.

It started off in line with my goals for a Sabbath day. I taught Sunday school to the adult class (I Peter 4:12-19 -- good stuff) and then sang with the worship band. Ours is a smallish urban church that is faced with the issues in the beginning of James chapter 2 on a fairly regular basis. I doubt there's a rich mega-church in our future, which is perfectly alright with me.

We skipped going out to lunch with the family because most everyone was gathering at the house later in the afternoon for dinner to celebrate our daughter's birthday. On the way home from church, I had to stop at the grocery store for some things I neglected to get on Saturday. That the first strike against my Sabbath day goal.

Since we had our granddaughter with us, we had to feed her when we got home. Then it was diaper-changing time, followed by a story and nap...or so I hoped. Checking in on her about 15 minutes after laying her down, I discovered the need to change yet another diaper...a poopy one. Okay, on the second try she fell asleep and slept for two hours. Good girl.

That is when I had to run downstairs and get dinner on. My husband kindly had cleaned up the kitchen while I was upstairs with Laura, and then started cutting up the potatoes while I went to work on the smoked sausage, onions and carrots. For some reason, Melinda loves my sausage stew and requests it every year for her birthday meal. Usually I like to simmer it slowly for 5 hours or so, but Sunday's schedule certainly didn't allow for I browned the meat, added the veggies and other ingredients and then hiked up the heat and let it boil for awhile.

Next it was time to open up the dining room table to add a leaf to accommodate 8. Laura is still in a high chair and Lincoln is either dining from the breast or sitting in his car seat. Clean tablecloth. Check. Remove dead flowers from the centerpiece and add fresh ones. Check. Clean up the family room. Check. Wrap the presents. Check. Set the table. Check.....Check. Check. Check. Whew. Something about all of this does not seem to mimic the initial plans I laid out when I started the Sabbath Experiment!

The family descended on us and I continued in my busyness for another 4 hours. By the time everyone left, Bill and I were beat. One load ran through the dishwasher, but other than putting the food away, that was all I was doing. Bill gathered the trash and recycling and put it at the end of the driveway and then we basically crashed for the last 2 hours of the Sabbath. At least we got 2 hours of rest in! far as week five of the experiment goes...I have to say it was a fail. HOWEVER, as far as family time was any but that. After all, there is nothing better than surrounding yourself with the ones you love, even if it means exhaustion at the end of the day. That's how nearly every day is for you moms out there who are taking care of precious little ones, right? And you wouldn't change it for the world.

Am I glad for the fail yesterday? You bet. Celebrating Melinda's birthday was so worth it. And oddly enough, I feel quite rested today. Rested and content.

In honor of Melinda, I thought I would share my recipes with you. The sausage stew is a really wonderful thing to serve on chilly fall days, by the way. So check back tomorrow for that recipe, as well as the one for my balsamic vinagrette dressing.

Keeping the way or another,


Next it was time

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

The widespread lack of awareness and ignorance
of creation and creation's integrity
means that we and many others
have abused and degraded the environment
and stewardship means that we will work
to set things right again --
to reconcile and redeem.

-- Calvin B. DeWitt                    
Preparing the Way for Action

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vinegar Friday


With all the focus on breast cancer this month, I thought I would pass on some nutritional anti-cancer tips and, of course, they have to do with apple cider vinegar!

ACV helps to prevent cancer because it contains beta-carotene, vitamin C and calcium. Why are these three nutrients importants?
  • Beta-carotene can change into retinoic acid in the body. This is used to treat cancer of the blood and bladder, and protects the stomach, larynx, lungs, esophagus and breast.
  • Vitamin C also protects the breast, as well as the stomach by boosting the activity of the white blood cells.
  • Calcium, when paired with vitamin D, adheres to the fats in the intestine, which reduces ability to promote cancer. In this case, the colon is protected.
In addition to ACV, adding the following foods to your diet will increase beta-carotene, vitamin C and/or calcium: broccoli, carrots, green peppers, red peppers, salad greens, strawberries and tofu.

If you enjoy barbecued meat, you have probably heard the warnings about the carcinogens in meats cooked on the grill. I have good news for you, and you might just want to tuck this info away for next year's barbecue season. According to researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laborartory in California, there is a way to reduce the heterocyclic amines in the meat. When it was marinaded with the following anticancer recipe, these acids were significantly minimized. At least that is what Jim Felton, Ph.D., division leader in molecular and structural biology discovered. Here's the recipe these scientists came up with:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil

Yum. It makes me want to go fire up the grill right now!

In 2005, a charity in the United Kingdom called Cancer Research UK, named vinegar the "Food of the Week" because of its healing and cleansing properties and its anti-cancer elements.

A daily dose of apple cider vinegar will not provide you with an insurance policy guaranteeing you will not get cancer, but it will boost your chances of living a cancer-free life. According to the American Cancer Society, dietary changes can help lower your risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer and cervical cancer, calling these changes your best safeguard against cancer.

So, if you are concerned about cancer, consider adding an ACV cocktail to your daily regimen. But, as I stated before, make sure you stick to organic apple cider vinegar, complete with the "mother." I find the taste a bit nastier than commercial-grade ACV, but I am counting on the long-term health benefits and sticking with it.

Keeping it healthy with vinegar,


Thursday, October 21, 2010

How about Breast Cancer Prevention Month instead?

This whole Breast Cancer Awareness Month stuff has me a bit confused. Why awareness and not prevention? While I understand that prevention is certainly not always possible, I still think it is a better goal than simple awareness. Aren't we all aware of breast cancer already?

More and more studies are confirming the link between breastfeeding and a reduced risk of breast cancer (and ovarian cancer, for that matter). This is some pretty exciting news, but for some reason, many women are not being made aware of this link.

According to findings in the Cornell University Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors in New York State in 1999, there are a number of possible reasons why breastfeeding could lesson the risk for cancer. They conclude that breastfeeding:
  • causes hormonal changes. Reduced levels of estrogen has been linked to reduced incidences of breast cancer.
  • suppresses ovulation. There have been numerous studies revealing a decreased risk of developing breast cancer in women who have had fewer ovulatory cycles.
  • flushes out potential carcinogens stored in the adipose tissue of the breast.
  • alters the cells lining the mammary ducts, which may result in a resistance to mutations that can lead to cancer.
Interestingly enough, several researchers have concluded there is a decreased chance of developing breast cancer in women who were breastfed as babies. Why? Because of the hormones and immune factors present in breast milk. (You're welcome, B & J!)

Of course, because there is a link between breast cancer and BPA, it only makes sense to conclude that many formula-fed babies who were given bottles containing BPA are more at risk for developing cancer than their breastfed cousins.

Aside from a lowered risk of developing breast cancer when they grow up, much research indicates that babies who are breastfed either have lower incidences or less severe cases of a variety of childhood illnesses, including:
  • diarrhea
  • lower respiratory infections
  • ear infections
  • bacterial meningitis
Further studies suggest some possible protective effects in regards to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), allergic diseases and chronic digestive diseases.

The length of time you spend nursing your children matters as well. The longer you breastfeed, the more your risk for breast cancer decreases. A study by Roko Cancer, indicates that breastfeeding for longer durations significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. And a study of Chinese women who nursed their babies for a combined total of six years, cut their risk of developing breast cancer by 63% compared to women who never breastfed!

Of course, I expect to get some backlash from women who tried, but failed, at breastfeeding, or for one reason or another, chose not to nurse their children. It is not my goal to make any of you feel badly or heap regret or guilt upon you! My goal is simply to educate women who may be unsure of whether or not breastfeeding is the right choice for them and their babies. And Breast Cancer Awareness Month seemed like the perfect time to do that, since awareness of the facts can lead to prevention. So maybe awareness isn't such a bad thing after all!

Keeping it healthy,


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I need help!

Here we are in the second half of October. I can't believe how quickly Christmas is approaching and am so not ready for it this year! Most other years I have half of my shopping already done. Not this year. There are a variety of reasons for that. For one thing, I'm just stumped on what to buy people anymore. We all have so much stuff! Actually, we have been trying to buy more consumable presents. And in the last year or so, I have been more conscious of fair trade goods and eco-friendly products. That makes shopping a bit more challenging, since in the past I spent my time perusing the clearance aisles at TJ Maxx and Marshall's looking for the perfect gift at a decent price. Now that doesn't quite seem to fit into my mission of promoting fair and green purchases.

Have you ever bought or made a gift for your child and could barely wait to give it to him or her? Makes you wonder if that's how God feels when He has plans of bestowing something truly wonderful on us. I want to feel that way this year, but so far it is looking doubtful. I just don't have anything spectacular in mind. It is really hard when your kids don't need anything anymore. And while the impulse will be to over-buy for the lovely little Lady Laura (Lincoln's too young for that this year), she really doesn't need a lot more stuff. As I said, I am feeling challenged this year in a way I have never felt before.

So, here's where you come in. I need help and I'm asking for your suggestions.

Post comments with links to fair trade and/or eco-friendly gifts (reasonably priced, please!) or give me some ideas for other types of gifts. Since there are so many couples on my gift list, couple gifts are great!

There's no reward, prize or giveaway involved with this one. I'm just asking my wonderfully supportive community for some help. Fair enough?

Thanking you in advance,


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A little bit of common sense

During the radio interview on Friday, the host asked me about some practical, common sense things people can do to care for creation. I started my answer by talking about recycling and then ran out of time before I had the chance to add other suggestions. So I thought I would just continue the conversation here with a list of small changes you can make that are kinder to the environment and, in many cases, your health as well.
  • Line dry your clothes
  • Switch to cloth diapers
  • Skip the disposables -- buy inexpensive plates, glasses and flatware to use for all your parties and holiday gatherings...and don't forget the cloth napkins!
  • Wrap gifts creatively -- decorative boxes and tins are great for this. If you want to use gift bags, why not reuse ones you already have?
  • Avoid using fabric softener...ever! Dryer balls and/or vinegar are all you need.
  • Rake your leaves instead of using the leaf blower, whenever possible.
  • Combine errands and plan your route to use the least amount of gas possible.
  • Wear layers at home so you can keep the thermostat turned down. Make sure you have lots of throws and blankets handy!
  • Go for walks in your neighborhood rather than driving to the gym.
  • Gather water in rain barrels.
  • Compost.
  • Buy bars of soap rather than liquid soap in pump bottles.
  • Clean with vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.
  • Print on both sides of the paper.
  • Use a toaster oven whenever possible, rather than heating up your oven.
  • Carry a supply of reusable bags with you whenever you go to the store.
  • Shop in resale shops and thrift stores. Goodwill's my personal favorite!
  • Use rags instead of paper towels.
  • Buy notepaper made from sugar cane, like the notebooks at O'BON.
These are just the first things that popped into my head...I'm sure I'll think of more after this posts. What about you? Do you have any suggestions for greener living you would like to share with the GG community? If so, please post a comment. I love it when I learn something new from one of you!

Keeping it green,


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Sabbath Experiment -- week four

The lovely little Lady Laura turns 2

It was quite a weekend, starting out with my appearance on the John & Kathy Show on WORD-FM in Pittsburgh, which I must say went well. Fifteen minutes is not a long time to get my points across and I skipped over some things I wanted to say, but overall I was happy with the interview.

On Saturday, we celebrated my granddaughter's second birthday. It was such a fun time. The lovely little Lady Laura was delighted with all of the attention, and remained sweet throughout the sweet that I asked if she could spend the night, which she did.

Waking up on Sunday morning and starting my Sabbath day with her sweet presence was the best thing ever. She truly seemed to appreciate all that had been done for her the day before and she and I had a lovely time getting dressed and ready for church. We both even wore purple dresses so we could match. My husband had to leave the house at 8:30, on one of those rare, rare times he wasn't able to go to church, so the morning was just the two of us -- birthday girl and so-in-love-with-her Grandma. We called my mother so she could wish Laura a happy birthday and we spent some time primping in front of the mirror.

Then we headed to church where Laura touched my heart, and many others, I suppose, when she lifted her hands toward heaven as we sang a worship song. What a precious blessing she is. After I took her down to the nursery, I got to hold my seven-week-old grandson, Lincoln, who looked up at me and babbled his precious baby babble, complete with giggles...and eventually a cry for mama to take him back and get that diaper changed...that cloth diaper, by the way. I let her handle that.

Two of my daughters, my grandchildren, and I headed out to lunch...a rare day when all the men were working. Then we hit the mall, which may or may not have been a good thing to do on the Sabbath. We had a good time, though, and then I enjoyed the evening with my husband. All-in-all it was a weekend that revived my spirit.

There is a lot of sadness around lately. Last week, a friend lost his 46-year-old sister to brain cancer. Then over the weekend, two friends lost parents. Life is so tough sometimes. That's why a weekend like this past one is good for the soul. Family, friends, fun, worship, rest....I am more than ready to face the week ahead. The only problem I'm having is that I am missing the sweet smile of the lovely little Lady Laura and the gentle cooing of little Lord Lincoln.

Remembering the Sabbath,


Saturday, October 16, 2010

An act of social justice

Caring for creation is an act of social justice. Because humanity is part of creation, and because we are designed for interdependence with the whole of creation, caring for creation means caring for humanity. Caring for humanity, in turn, demands protecting and restoring creation.

-- Carla Barnhill                     
The Green Bible Trail Guide

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vinegar Friday


It has been an historical week. I will never forget watching as the Chilean miners and rescuers surfaced from what could have been a dark tomb. What a miracle! Thank God for the brilliant men from Pennsylvania who built the rescue cage that ultimately saved the lives of these brave miners.

But back to the subject at hand...vinegar. Several people have asked me lately what vinegar is actually made from. Quite honestly, I didn't have the answer to that question, so I looked it up.

Here is a rundown of the different kinds of vinegar, how they are made, and what the ingredients are.With the exception of distilled vinegar, all of the vinegars are made using a twofold fermation process.

Apple cider vinegar -- apples and apple juice (no surprise there). That's it. Apples.

Malt vinegar -- barley malt (or other cereals where starch is converted into maltose)

Sugar vinegar -- sugar, syrup or molasses solutions

Wine vinegar -- grapes, peaches and/or berries

As you can see, the ingredients are minimal. but coupled with fermentation, a variety of vinegars are born. In the case of distilled vinegars, an acetic fermentation of dilute distilled alcohol transforms the whole grain alcohol into the vinegar.

Apparently you do not want to rush the fermentation process, as the best vinegars are those which ferment the longest. And when you are using cider vinegars, opt for unfiltered, organic ones that still have the "mother"  in them. This stringy-like substance contains good bacteria and enzymes and, as I mentioned last week, is vital if you are counting on reaping optimal health benefits from ACV.

There are several videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to make your own vinegar, or you can check out the step-by-step instructions on, so if you're game, go for it! Let me know how it works out for you.

Keeping it healthy and green with vinegar,


Thursday, October 14, 2010

O be careful little eyes what you see

I have long been amazed at the types of movies parents allow their children to see...not to mention the violent video games they let them play...but that's a different topic.

Parents who rely on the PG or PG-13 rating without learning any more about a movie, are acting irresponsibly as least in my opinion. When my kids were young, I made that mistake myself from time to time, much to my embarrassment. But back then, there were no quick resources like there are now to help a parent out.

By the time the girls were in their teens, I discovered Focus on the Family's Plugged In online resource. The thing I appreciate about Plugged In is the thorough reviews given of movies, videos, television shows, games and new albums. Rather than just providing a brief overview followed by a thumbs up or down, several different aspects are examined. In the case of movies, the reviewer addresses the following issues:

• Positive Elements
• Spiritual Content
• Sexual Content
• Violent Content
• Crude or Profane Language
• Drug and Alcohol Content
• Other Negative Elements
• Conclusion

What I love about this, and have always loved about it, is the way the reviewer lays it all out for you, so you can make a well-informed decision about whether or not the film is age-appropriate for your child.

But it is not just about what is right for your kids to watch. My husband and I turn to Plugged In on a regular basis before we head out to the movies. While alcohol use does not necessarily offend us, excessive profanity does. Same with violence. It is something we would rather not be exposed to.

Teenagers are deluged with sexuality all around them. Do you really want them watching movies that affirm recreational sexual encounters and illicit affairs?

I could go on and on about this, as it is something I feel passionately about. But I have found that parents either care about this or they don't. For those of you on the fence, I simply ask you to check out the reviews on Plugged In and see for yourself if it is a useful resource for your family.

As I sit typing this post, a song from my childhood keeps playing over and over again in my mind. Casting Crowns resurrected the song a couple of years ago, which I think is a really good thing. The lyrics are simple exhortation:

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There's a Father up above
And He's looking down in love
 So, be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little ears what you hear
O be careful little ears what you hear
There's a Father up above
 And He's looking down in love
So, be careful little ears what you hear

The song continues with warning our hands to be careful what they do, our feet to be careful where they go and our mouths to be careful what they say. Perhaps this is a song we should all have written on our hearts. And it is a song we should be humming to ourselves as we enter a movie theater or send our kids off to one.

What does this have to do with the purpose of this blog? Well, part of keeping our families healthy, includes keeping them emotionally, mentally and spiritually well. So while I try to inform you of what chemicals to avoid to keep your homes and families safe, I also give out my unsolicited advice in emotional and spiritual matters as well. I hope it helps.

Keeping it healthy,


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mercy in the mine

As I write this, the third miner in Chile is being raised to the surface. What a day of rejoicing this is! I couldn't help thinking about the Quecreek mine rescue back in 2002. Remember? 9 for 9! I'll never forget the experience of hearing that all nine were alive!

And now I'm praying for the successful rescue of 33, plus the two brave men who went down into the mine to aid in the rescue. Real heroes. Thank God they still exist!

Following the miracle at Quecreek, I wrote an article titled Mercy in the Mine and I thought today would be a good day to share it with you. While it is not about the rescue in Chile, the theme, as you will see, is universal.

A dirty bucket remains sealed. Inside are nine precious gems no one is to see. They emerged from the depths of a mine, and yet are valuable to only a few. These are not gems to be put on public display. They are not gems that need to be cut and polished. They are to be left alone. Untouched. Undisturbed. For God's eyes only.

Inside the bucket are nine precious letters. Letters written to loved ones the writers thought they would never see again. Goodbyes and tender words. Perhaps some advice and wishes for happiness. Assurances of love, no doubt.

We do not know exactly what is inside that bucket. Neither should we know. These are private thoughts from nine men who suddenly went from the darkness of a miner's life into the brightness of the spotlight. Nine men who thought they were going to die. Who vacillated between hope and despair. Nine men who rejoiced at the sound of drills and grew despondent at the sound of silence.

When interviewed, their composure waivers as they talk about the letters. We hear of bits and pieces, like the words of one writer who said, "I'll see you in Heaven;" an assurance to those he loved that this was not the end for him and that they would rejoice together again someday.

The letters cause us to ponder. We have wondered what we would say if we were facing inevitable death and only had a pen and some paper. Where would our priorities lead us as we wrote? How many of us are living in the darkness of a mine -- cold, wet and seemingly without hope? Will their mine experience change their lives? Will ours?

The miners waited for help to come. They could do nothing on their own, but sit, wait and receive the gift of life when it arrived. They could not work for it. They had done nothing to earn it. It was free to them. The way out of the mine came from beyond their own resources and they simply had to accept it, which they joyfully did.

Mankind was once struggling in a dark mine, trying with everything it had to crawl out into the light, failing at every turn. And then, amidst the great darkness surrounding them, a baby was born and light began to shine.

Jesus is not sitting on a throne somewhere, watching with the Father as men try to dig out of their own personal mines. He made the way out. He lowered the basket.

"Climb in," He whispers.

"No, no," some say,"let me wash up first. I can't come into the light looking like this."

"I will wash you cleaner than snow," Jesus assures them, "Climb in. I will give you rest."

And in His incomparable grace, He raises us up, demanding nothing in return as He brings us to safety. There is no bargaining. There is no repayment required. But oh, how there is love that returns to Him, because of the rescue He has provided. Not obligatory love and service, but devotion born of deep gratitude and awe.

The miners were lifted up into the light, into life. They blinked. They looked around. And they wept as they saw that they were surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses, who were cheering them on and rejoicing in their new life. They were in awe of the multitude of workers, volunteers and equipment.

"All of this to save nine men that they didn't even know," stated one of the miners, astonished and humbled.

So we look to the cross. Life-saving equipment that we would be lost without. There we see the One volunteer who was willing to sacrifice His life to lift us to safety. He did not consider the cost. He did not get caught up in bureaucratic nonsense. With no guarantee of the outcome, He simply did what He had to do because of His great love and mercy.

All we have to do is accept His help. Reach up through the darkness and take His hand. He will lead us to higher ground. With relentless effort, He will try to break through the walls that surround us and carry us to safety. Grace. Amazing grace.

Mercy. Mercy in the mine and mercy at the cross.

Sharing my heart,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just some fun fiction

I lead a monthy writers' group called Writers at Work. Each month I create assignments for the group, which are usually fictional stories under 600 words. This month the stories had to do with stinkbugs. So, to add a bit of levity to a subject that has caused many of us a bit of stress, here's my story from last night's meeting. I hope you enjoy it.

Driven to Distraction

by Hana Haatainen Caye

“Your turn, Charlie. Hop in!” Meredith placed the jar up against the brick wall prompting the stinkbug to jump. “One hundred and sixty-two.”

Watching the pseudo-armored bug struggle against inevitable death, Meredith smiled. The watery graveyard was mucky brown with those that had suffered identical fates – death by soapy water. It was a formula she learned about on Facebook from someone calling herself “Green Grandma” who promoted environmentally-friendly ways to solve common problems. Not that the eradication of stinkbugs was all that common, mind you. Meredith could not recall a time she had ever even noticed one of these insects in the past. Now it seemed these miniature army men were threatening to overtake civilization as she once knew it, creeping their way onto her kitchen counters, into her bathroom, atop her line-dried organic bamboo bed sheets. Everywhere she turned, she saw them. The news stations were airing special reports, strangers in the grocery stores were swapping war stories, and newspapers blowing in the wind sported headlines about the problem.

Meredith herself was working on a magazine article titled, Destined to Die: The story of an American stinkbug, but so far she could not seem to get past the title. That happened often with her. She would create a dynamite heading, often perusing her trusty Thesaurus for elegant alliteration or pithy similes, and then fall flat in her effort to match up her titling abilities with an equally dynamic article.

Maybe if I just spend some time with Charlie and all his Chinese relatives, I’ll come up with something, she had thought, but then succumbed to a killing spree rivaling any she had participated in prior to this partly sunny, unusually warm October day. Thinking about the mass grave she held in her hands made Meredith start to feel itchy. First it was her shoulders and she twisted back and forth trying to reach the spots on her upper back where it felt like bugs were crawling. She could hear buzzing in her ears, the telltale sound of stinkbugs on patrol…or attack…or whatever it was they were doing.

“Vinegar!” she shouted. “I have to find some vinegar!”

Slamming the screen door behind her, Meredith started opening cabinet doors in her kitchen, pulling out bottle after bottle.

“There must be a jar of vinegar here somewhere, Tawny,” she said through gritted teeth. The cat ignored her, sauntering past her before bounding down the basement steps to his litter box. “The basement!” she exclaimed. “You are brilliant, Tawny. Of course, there’s vinegar in the basement!”

Tawny looked up at Meredith from his squatting position in the corner of the laundry room.

“Why vinegar, you ask?” Meredith directed her question to him as he scratched at the litter. “Well, because,” she continued. “Green Grandma says vinegar is the answer for everything! Remember when we watched that movie about the Greek family and the wedding?”

Tawny did not answer.

“Well, the bride’s father thought Windex was the answer, but let’s face it, Tawnmeister – Windex is not environmentally-friendly. Vinegar is!”

Retrieving the gallon jug from the cabinet above the washer, Meredith hurried up the steps, taking them two at a time. If I can find a way to eradicate these freakin’ demons, the article will write itself.

Her neck started to twitch as Meredith walked around the patio toting an almost full gallon of vinegar, without a clue as to what she was going to do with it. Realizing she was at a total loss, she went back into her office and began to type.

Dear Green Grandma…

The article would have to wait.

* * *

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 3

Good Monday morning! It is a magnificent day in Pittsburgh...sunny and cool with temps expected to rise throughout the day. Can't ask for better weather for the 11th of October. Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian friends!

One of the best days of my life happened seven years ago today. I received a phone call early in the morning from the daughter I gave up for adoption 23 years earlier! I cannot describe the feelings I experienced that day as I was able to hold my "baby" in my arms once again (which happened just four short hours after the phone call)! It was a magical day. So happy anniversary to me!

So, how was your weekend? I had a lovely one...for the most part. Garage sales on Saturday with my youngest daughter and grandbaby and then my celebration of the Sabbath yesterday. Bill and I started off the day with Sunday School and worship, followed by a quiet lunch by ourselves. It was one of those truly rare Sundays when the kids weren't with us. After lunch, we stopped at an estate sale as they were closing up for the day (bargain time!) and I picked up two wonderful card tables for a dollar each and two Po-ke-no games for 25 cents each. I see a recreational theme developing here! The folding tables are old...and super sturdy! Heavy wood legs and inlaid wood tops. Simply beautiful...for a dollar each!! And the Po-ke-no games brought back such fun memories of playing with my kids and mother-in-law. If you have never played this game, it is one of those rare games that you actually enjoy playing with children.

After the sale, we drove over to the house of a dying woman. We are good friends with Denise's brother and his family, but have only met her a handful of times when she visited our church. However, we've been praying for her a lot over the past several years, heartsick over the news of her brain tumor; overjoyed when the treatments produced positive results. This past summer, things started to go downhill. Now, at 46 years old, she lies in a hospital bed in her own home surrounded by loving family who wait with her for the end to come.

It was a sad visit. Bill prayed for Denise -- not just for peace and comfort in these last days, but also, boldly, for a miracle. Bill called upon God to heal Denise, knowing that our God is a master of miracles. No supernatural manifestations occurred, but we are confident God is at work. It is just that the outcome is not always what we are hoping for.

I napped for awhile in the late afternoon (don't you just love naps?!) and phoned my mother. ("What did you want?" she asked. "Nothing in particular, Mom. Just called because if I don't, you'll call and say, 'I haven't heard from you in a week.'" "Oh." I got her on that one)! Then Bill and I both spoke with our second oldest daughter who celebrated her 31st birthday yesterday. She is on vacation, so we missed out on seeing her, but at least we got to talk to her.

At 7:30, we entertained new friends who came over to play Pinochle, a game my husband and I love, but haven't been able to find anyone to play with since my step-father died three years ago. We had a simply wonderful time sitting out on the porch playing cards and talking o'clock in the morning...on a work night! No one was paying attention to the time.

Overall rating of our third Sabbath day of rest: B+. With the demands of work lifted off our shoulders for a day, we actually had the freedom to do what we wanted. And that is exactly what we did.

Have you jumped on the Sabbath Experiment bandwagon yet? If so, let me know how it is going for you. In the meantime, I think it is time for me to get back to work.

Have a blessed week,


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Home is the bottom line of life,
the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions
are hammered out --
the single most influential force in our earthly existence.
No price tag can adequately reflect its value.

-- Charles Swindoll                              
Home: Where Life Makes Up Its Mind

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vinegar Fridays


I should know better. I have been taking my apple cider vinegar cocktail daily...well, at least most days...but it is a major fail! Why? Because I opted for cheaper and didn't buy organic.

On Wednesday I received a book in the mail from someone in the GG community. Lisa Marie sent me Paul and Patricia Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System. I am already hooked. It was on page 2 where I discovered my mistake. I hope the Braggs do not mind my quoting them.

"Natural (undistilled) organic, raw ACV can really be called one of Mother Nature's most perfect foods. It is made from fresh, crushed apples which are then allowed to mature naturally in wooden barrels, as wood seems to "boost" the natural fermentation. Natural ACV should be a rich, brownish color and if held to the light you might see a tiny formation of 'cobweb-like' substances that we call the 'mother.'"

The ACV in my cupboard doesn't fit this description. While it might be okay for adding to my bath water, rinsing my hair or adding to my foot soaks, it really is not the best option for consumption.

Apparently, it was the American public that demanded the clearer, non-organic version of ACV -- the cloudiness was unpleasant to look at. So I guess I am about to engage in a hunt for the real thing. You see, the distilled version I am used to buying has undergone a heating process that has virtually destroyed the powerful enzymes and steamed out the wonderfully beneficial minerals (potassium, magnesium, etc.). According to Bragg, "Distilling also destroys the natural malic and tartaric acids which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria." Lovely. Here I am trying to improve my health and have basically been taking nothing more than a placebo.

Dr. Paul and Dr. Patricia Bragg start off writing about the harmful effects of potassium deficiency -- something I know I suffer from, based on the horrific leg and foot cramps I get so often. Here are some other signs that you might have that indicate you are not getting enough potassium in your diet:
  • saggy eyelids
  • premature aging
  • muscular weakness
  • fatigue
  • temporary memory loss
  • constipation
  • sleep disturbances
  • kidney disease
  • hypertension
  • nervous system disorders
  • dry skin
  • acne and other skin problems
  • heart palpitations
  • irregular heart beat
  • abnormal psychological behavior/depression
Potassium deficiency increases acid levels in the body, thereby lowering the natural pH. It also has an affect on the formation of connective tissue, which makes the body tissue vulnerable to a wide variety of health problems.

Bottom line -- keeping your body properly nourished with potassium is vital and organic apple cider vinegar can provide the nourishment your body needs. Once again, let me quote the Braggs:

"The two great enemies of life are toxic poisons (found in food, air, water and soil) and nutritional deficiencies caused by improper diet. The best prevention of sickness is to eat vital, healthy food (organic when possible), especially those high in potassium. These provide the body with correct, life-giving nourishment."

I am certain I will be sharing more from this book as the weeks go by, but for now, I am going to close this Vinegar Friday and head out in my quest to find some organic ACV. My health depends on it!

Keeping it healthy with vinegar,


Thursday, October 7, 2010

When life gives you lemons, start cleaning!

Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Hernandez Zurdo

My microwave is dirty. I don't know what exploded in there, but it definitely left its mark.

Now before those of you who are anti-microwaves (and probably rightfully so) jump on me, I know microwaves are not the best things to have in our homes. I use mine sparingly and generally keep it unplugged. Actually, it serves more as a breadbox than anything.

But back to the interior condition of my microwave -- it needs a good cleaning. Fortunately, I have a solution, and it doesn't involve chemicals! I found this little hint in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine recently. The blurb started out with "Let lemon-infused steam do the work of cleaning your microwave." That got my attention.

Here's what you do (and what I'll be doing a bit later):

Grab a glass bowl that is microwave-safe. Add about two cups of water, followed by the juice from half a lemon. Next, place the squeezed lemon half into the water and put the bowl into the microwave. Set it on high for five to ten minutes and turn it on. Now walk away...don't stand there watching the bowl spin. It is best not to be nearby when the microwave is doing its thing! Keep the door closed for an additional five minutes or so and then wipe out the inside with a cloth. According to BHG, "the work is done."

Here's hoping...

Now that you have used half of your lemon, why not use the other half for something useful? Here are some ideas:
  • If the change in weather has you feeling under the weather, and you are suffering from a sore throat, simply skewer the halved lemon and roast it over your stove's burner until the peel turns golden brown. After it cools down a bit, mix the juice with a teaspoon of honey and swallow it.
  • Are your fingernails (or toenails, for that matter) looking rather yellow and sickly? Just rub them with a wedge of lemon. They will be sparkly white in no time.
  • Speaking of white -- if you add about 1/2 cup of lemon juice to your wash cycle, your dingys won't be dingy anymore.
  • Plastic and wooden cutting boards can get nasty with food stains over time. Super lemon to the rescue! Just squeeze the lemon onto the board, rub the stain with the juice and then let it sit for a half hour. Rinse it off and it should be looking like new. This will disinfect the cutting board as well. This is a good trick for sanitizing chopping blocks, too.
  • If you have been grating cheese, simply rub the lemon (pulp side) over the grater and voila! No more stickiness!
Don't you love discovering new uses for the things God's created? Okay, I'm off to clean my microwave. I'll let you know how it goes!

Keeping it green with lemons this time,


Okay, here is my review on cleaning the microwave -- A-

After a little bit of scrubbing, my microwave looks like new. I only "cooked" the lemon-infused bowl of water for seven minutes. Perhaps had I gone with ten minutes, I would have bumped the grade up.

When the microwave was clean, I went on to clean other things in my kitchen with the lemon water. Then I used the cooked lemon and scrubbed my bamboo cutting boards. Finally, I soaked my sink stopper in the bowl and ripped apart the lemon and fed it to the garbage disposal. No waste here. My kitchen smells wonderfully lemony and I feel really good about disinfecting and cleaning with nothing more than a halved lemon, some water and a dishcloth. Post your own review after you give this a try. Maybe you'll give it an A+!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How do you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y?

Have you ever been under a microscope? If you hold any position of authority, the answer is probably yes. Or if you ever take a strong stand for, or against, something. People love to watch other people fall. Just turn on America's Funniest Videos and you know that to be true. I am always amazed at the way people laugh when others take some rather serious spills.

Whether the falling is physical, spiritual or otherwise, people like to point fingers. Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they shake their heads in disgust, sometimes they write letters to the editor and sometimes they let the person have it. But with each response there is a greater underlying response -- judgment. We laugh at so-called idiots. It makes us feel superior.

We criticize moral character. It makes us feel righteous.

We label others as hypocrites. It makes us feel justified.

As Green Grandma, I am under the microscope. People are watching me. God forbid I get caught coming out of the grocery store with a gasp plastic bag! Believe me, I am especially paranoid about being spotted with one of those. But let me tell you -- occasionally, we need plastic bags around here and my husband gets frustrated when there are none to be found.

"But I have an image to maintain," I rationalize. That doesn't really pacify him. So if any of you want to donate some plastic grocery bags, feel free. Bill will thank you for it!

Back to my point...I am under a microscope. Of course, sometimes it is self-imposed, I realize. For instance, we have a small group Bible study in our home on Thursday nights. People take turns bringing snacks. Naturally, we do not use paper plates. However, I have a drawer full of pretty cocktail napkins that happen to be paper. I received these as gifts through the years, as well as thoughtlessly buying them myself...long before I became Green Grandma.

At our first meeting in September, I pulled out the paper napkins. After all, they're not doing any good in the buffet drawer, right? You have no idea how awkward I felt placing them on the table for our guests to use. When I had everyone's attention, I explained why we were using them. Everyone quickly dismissed my concern, obviously not bothered in the least that Green Grandma was using something disposable. Of course, I was among friends.

But what about strangers? What happens when they have me under the microscope? Well, for one thing, they let me know when they spot hypocrisy. A comment was posted on the blog a couple of weeks ago. As I read it, I got angry. Apparently this anonymous person drove past a car with a large Green Grandma magnet on the passenger door. Mind you, it was not my car. The anonymous poster was quick to point out that he/she thought it ironic when he/she saw a passenger in the car smoking. They found it both sad and amusing. I found it infuriating and quickly picked up the phone to call the owner of the car and request that the sign be removed. You see, I have an image to portray. Sometimes I might fail to live up to that image, but at least it will be me failing. The sign is no longer on her car.

When is the last time you jumped to a conclusion based on something you saw or heard? Did you make the leap to judgment? Let's face it -- we have probably all done it at one time or another. But maybe it is time to cut people some breaks. Extend some grace. After all, we are all struggling in one way or another. I, myself, am trying to make a difference in this world or ours. Sometimes I succeed. And sometimes I fail. So I pick myself up and move forward. It seems the only logical solution.

If you spot some hypocrisy in me, let me know. But please pepper your words with grace. And while you're at it, send some of that grace to someone else who is struggling. Most likely, it is the very thing they need.

Keeping it real,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is it propaganda?

Have you heard about the controversy over the 10:10 YouTube “No Pressure” video? The graphic violence perpetrated against both children and adults because they will not participate in this global effort to reduce our carbon footprint is disturbing at best. But what I find even more disturbing is the negative impact this movement, and others like it, is making on environmentalism. Too many people want to avoid being defined as “tree-huggers,” so much so that they avoid any type of responsible stewardship of this amazing planet we have been blessed with.

Recycling does not make one a radical environmentalist, folks. Nor does carrying cloth bags to the grocery store. Come on! Personally, I am sick and tired of the excuses people use to not care for the earth. It is like saying you are not pro-life because some radical pro-lifers have blown up abortion clinics or attacked women as they have tried to enter such establishments.

Every group seems to have its radical fringes. But does that mean you should forsake the purpose of the group? Being green is not something to avoid. I have watched people cringe when I tell them the name of my blog.

“Oh, you’re one of those tree-huggers,” they will say, as they wipe their hands on their pants, as if to rid themselves of the very germs of my type. Oh please. Unfortunately, the only people I encounter like this happen to share the same beliefs as me on so many other levels. But their fear of being associated with my so-called type prevents them from embracing certain truths.

If you are a Bible-believing person, then guess what…God calls about YOU to be an environmentalist!

From the beginning, God’s first commands to man were to care for the earth. And this mandate carries through the entire Bible, all the way to Revelation. This is what John writes in the eleventh chapter, verse 18:

“The nations raged,
but your wrath has come,
and the time for judging the dead,
for rewarding your servants, the prophets
and saints and all who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

That is the Word of God, people. Unfortunately, I am probably preaching to the choir because most of you reading this already agree with me. The people who do not, wouldn’t want to be caught dead reading the ‘propaganda’ I promote.

Do I believe there is a dangerous movement pushing for radical environmentalism? Absolutely. However, that does not give me an excuse to carelessly abuse the earth’s limited resources. As I often say, it is all about common sense.

Is the 10:10 video inappropriate? That goes without saying. And I am angry with them for giving people even more reason to stay away from folks like me. Green folks. Folks who care. Hopefully, people like you.

Keeping it green,


Monday, October 4, 2010

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 2

Photo courtesy of Sharee Basinger
Yesterday, despite the forecast for rain, my husband and I accompanied two of our daughters, their children and a friend to the Hickory Apple Festival. It was week two of The Sabbath Experiment. Bethany wore Lincoln in his Sleepy Wrap and the lovely little Lady Laura mostly rode in the arms of her grandpap as the stroller wheeled along through the mud toting diaper bags and miscellaneous purchases.

As it takes us awhile for us to get out of church, it was well after 2:00 by the time we arrived at the grassy field parking lot to await the school bus shuttles to the festival. There were diapers to change, people to hug and plastic communion cups to gather to take home to recycle. The latter is a chore my husband and I took on awhile ago after discovering the cups were simply being tossed out. As Laura got old enough, she started participating and now that is her "ministry." Every week she eagerly climbs the steps from the nursery and runs into the sanctuary where she carefully peruses each pew, gathering the cups for recycling. Of course, this activity takes a bit longer than when Bill and I did it ourselves, but she feels a great sense of purpose in it; you can see it in her eyes. And, in case you are wondering, it is always followed by a good hand-washing!

After the bus ride past fields and cows and a couple alpacas, we found ourselves walking around the festival in a chilly mist. Lincoln was wrapped tight against his mommy, who shielded him from the dampness. Laura didn't seem to mind the weather at all. It was the two of us old folks that started wondering what in the world we were doing on our Sabbath, trudging through muddy fields in what ended up being a very rainy day!

The wait for the shuttle to return us to our cars was the worst. By then, it was raining...hard. With no shelter, we just stood there, trying not to get overly irritated by the rather long wait.

"Be nice," Bill warned me. I was. I even thanked the bus driver without a word as to why it took him so long to come get us!

We climbed into our cars, soaking wet and I quietly thanked God for my heated leather seats! After a drive home that took nearly a good 45 minutes or so, I headed upstairs for a long, hot bath. There is something very satisfying about peeling wet clothes off and climbing into a steaming tub with a cup of tea and a good book. Finally, I was resting on the Sabbath. By 8:00, I was in the kitchen making dinner. Bill and I ate our spaghetti in the living room in front of the TV, discussing a better plan for next week's Sabbath.

You see, the point isn't about not is about resting. And this week, we missed the mark. So next week, it will simpler. It will restful. Unless, of course, the kids come up with another plan for a fun-filled day with the grandbabies...after all, how do we say no to them?!

Learning from doing,


Saturday, October 2, 2010

The wisdom of Fillmore

Millard Fillmore
"The Sabbath I always regarded as a day of rest.
Besides being a religious duty it was essential to health.
On commencing my presidential career I found
that the Sabbath had frequently been employed by visitors
for private interviews with the President.
I determined to put an end to the custom
and ordered the door keeper
to meet all Sunday visitors with an indiscriminate refusal."

-- Millard Fillmore

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vinegar Friday


Another week has come and gone. Can you believe it is October already? How did that happen?! And here we are at yet another Vinegar Friday.

I am sitting here staring at my computer screen, my mind completely blank. After all, how much can there possibly be to write about vinegar? Every Friday for the past eight months, I have addressed the subject of vinegar. Today, I'm stumped.

But I trudge forward, although my offerings may be slim. Perhaps I will just tell you seemingly useless bits of trivia about red wine vinegar. For example:

Hippocrates, the so-called "father of medicine," did not have antibiotics back in 400 B.C. So he treated his patients with wine vinegar.

Remember the Great Plague of Marseilles in the early 18th century? Neither do I, but that is beside the point. Appartently the Four Thieves put vinegar to good use...although I'm not sure it helped much, considering the plague wiped out 100,000 people!

For thousands of years, red wine vinegar has been used by people of the Mediterranean for more than just cooking. They also count on it as a medicine and a preservative.

Of course, I can't leave you with only tidbits of useless trivia. So here are some important things to know about red wine vinegar:
  • It contains polyphenols, just like red wine. So if you are opposed to drinking alcohol, you can receive some of the same health benefits with red wine vinegar. Polyphenols are helpful in lowering blood pressure, so if you have hypertension, consider sprinkling some red wine vinegar on your salad every day.
  • Although there is some debate over this, it appears as though red wine vinegar contains resveratrol, a potent anti-oxidant, anti-clotting agent and anti-cancer substance.
  • It is fat-free. Woo hoo! Can't say that about the ranch dressing I would actually prefer to slather on my healthy greens! Besides being fat-free, it also has some fat-fighting properties worth taking note of.
  • It is rich in flavonoids.
  • It does not contain sodium or cholesterol.
  • Unlike its alcoholic counterpart, red wine vinegar does not cause liver damage.
So, there you have it. I struggled to find something to write about and ended up motivating myself to go grab a salad with some red wine vinegar and olive oil. This body of mine can use all the help it can get!

Keeping it healthy with vinegar,


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