Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cloth Diaper Trade-In Program -- How cool is that?!

Okay, all you cloth diapering mamas and papas out there. This is really cool! Happy Baby Company now has a cloth diaper trade-in program. This is perfect for all those diapers you bought and ended up not using for one reason or another. Below are the "rules," but I'm adding one more ... well, it's not really a rule; it's more like a favor. Let Adam and Lilli know I sent you.



Ready for a new size or new style? No need for your old diapers?
Trade them in for store credit at Happy Baby Company!

Happy Baby Company offers store credit for your gently used diapers.
Here's how to do it:

1. Find your diapers on the drop-down here and add them to your cart.

2. Complete your order - no payment will be due.

3. Mail us your gently used diapers (or just stop by the store if you're local). Include a copy of your order so we know whose they are!

4. We'll check them and issue you a store credit for the value.

5. Buy something new with your store credit!

It's that simple! Here are the rules:

Diapers must be in excellent condition. Our customers rely on us to only offer excellent used diapers. This means:
  • No stains.
  • No odors (even detergent fragrance)
  • Not repelling - we will check (a drop of water on the inside should begin to absorb immediately)
  • PUL still waterproof (no cracking or dulling)
  • No hair (check the velcro!)
  • All inserts and pieces included (FuzziBunz One-Size extra elastic not required)
  • Tags must be attached
  • No "seconds"
  • Must be current model/design
  • No broken snaps
  • No rips/holes
  • Elastic still good (not loose)
You are responsible for shipping the diapers to us. Please purchase postal insurance as we cannot be responsible for lost packages. You will not be refunded for your shipping costs.

Include a print-out of your order receipt in the package so we know whose diapers they are.

We reserve the right to refuse any diapers for any reason. You will be responsible for the cost of return shipping to you of any diapers that do not meet our quality rules. When in doubt about a diaper, contact us first.

If you have a diaper that you don't see listed, please contact us to ask if we are accepting it.

Didn't I tell you this was really cool? Have fun!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review It Wednesday -- this one's for the guys

Did you ever notice that most of the resources out there are mother/child related and not father/child oriented? Well, Jonathan Aspatore noticed it, and it bugged him. So he did something about it.

WonderDads is a new media company expressly positioned for today's dads. Through their books, website, mobile applications, and events, they inspire fathers to engage with their children and families. They work with an editorial team spread across the country to bring dads the tools and ideas they need to turn them from parents into heroes, and create a community of engaged consumers ready to interact with brands and services that reward them for being dads. WonderDads supports and celebrates the moments when dads go beyond the usual, the routine and the mundane to do extraordinary things with their kids.

A couple of weeks ago, Joanna Green contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing one of the WonderDads books. "Of course," I replied. After all, who doesn't like getting free stuff?! I checked out the website and fell in love with the whole concept Jonathan Aspatore came up with. As Founder and "Chief Hero Helper" of WonderDads, Jonathan's frustration over the lack of materials available for dads spurred him on to creating this wonderful outlet that enables and inspires dad & child activities, trips and traditions. He wanted to make it easier for dads to become heros in their kids' eyes.

The company offers over 45 Dad-centric books, published within the last three years, including 37 city guides full of the best dad/child activities. I must say, I was disappointed to find that Pittsburgh wasn't among the lucky cities. At this point, the 37 cities include:

Albuquerque, Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Chapel Hill, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Durham, Greensboro, Indianapolis, Inland Empire, Jacksonville, Long Island, Los Angeles, Marin County (CA), Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Mobile, New Orleans, New York City, Orange County (CA), Phoenix, Portland (OR), Raleigh, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, St. Paul, St. Louis, and Washington DC.

I have to admit, there is one thing I do not like about the website. You can't access it until you choose your city from the pull-down menu (or, as in my case, click on the "Don't See Your City" link. Then you have to enter your email address. That was enough to almost stop me from going any further, and I imagine there are countless others who feel the same way. It's something that, in my opinion, should be changed. If you can get past the login issues, the website is worth a visit.

Once I was on the site, I found so much to be excited about. Dads ... this site is for you!!! Seriously. In addition to the books, there is also other merchandise, like T-shirts, toolboxes and reusable cloth bags. There are loads of 'dad resources,' something you simply don't find very often. 

The board books are perfect for toddler's little hands. Joanna sent me goodnight, Dad by Chris Gattorna. It has an eye-catching cover and a cute story. It came in the mail on a day when my 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Laura, was going to spend the night. When it came time for her bedtime book, I read goodnight, Dad to her. When I was done, she turned the book over and said, "Read it again." Normally, she hops off my lap and reaches for a different book. Not this time. Instead, she wanted to read this book again and again. After the third read, I put the book aside and shuffled her off to bed. For me, her enjoyment of the book was the stamp of approval I needed. This book gets my green thumb's up.

goodnight, Dad usually sells for $9.95 in the U.S. and $13.95 in Canada. But you have a chance to win this delightful little gem. We haven't had a giveaway in awhile, so I thought today seemed like a perfect time to have one.

And entering is simple. Just head over to Facebook and 'like' my page and the WonderDads page. Post a message on the WonderDads page letting them know I sent you and post a message on my page telling me why you, your husband, your dad or some other outstanding guy deserves the 'WonderDad' title.

Contest ends at midnight EST on Monday, July 4th and the winner will be announced here on the blog on Tuesday. The winner will be chosen via S/H charges will apply if the winner lives outside of the U.S. or Canada.

Celebrating the heroic efforts of dads everywhere,


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Am I becoming my mother?

My mother with her sister-in-law, Claire.

I recently saw an article with the above title and, without reading it, it made me think. Am I? Would that be such a bad thing?

Gene Vilma Strickler
My mother is an extraordinary woman. At 17, she left her small Pennsylvania town (and a fiance) to see what life was like in the big city. She met my father, who was seven years her senior, while living in Washington, D.C. After the war, he settled there, after growing up in (Finnish) Harlem. They married, had two daughters while living in Arlington, VA, and then moved back to the small town of Manheim, PA, where my mother grew up. He worked as a treasurer for a company in Lancaster and she stayed home with her three little girls (I was a surprise after the move).

Life didn't go as planned for my mother. Just seven years after moving to Manheim, my father suffered two major heart attacks. It was 1964 and the doctors predicted he had five years left at most. My 37-year-old former SAHM quickly decided she better get a job and find a way to support her three daughters. So, she went to work, went to night school and learned to drive. As it turned out, Dad beat the odds and stuck around for another 18 years! I come from tenacious stock.

Rather than sitting around popping Valium, worrying about the future and feeling sorry for herself, she proactively transformed her life. By the time she retired, she had an impressive position in Human Resources in a large Lancaster County company.

Mom is a survivor. She's tenacious and driven. She does what she has to do.

My mom with some of the family. May '09
(Millersville University. Sculpture by my sister, Tina Haatainen Jones)

In the past couple of years, she's had some health problems. But each time, she's risen above them and bounced back. Just a couple of months shy of her 84th birthday, she had her left knee replaced. That was in November. She is now able to walk up steps without a problem. I'm impressed. So are the doctors. They attribute it to her taking water aerobics and staying active.

Oh, and she quit smoking after 60-some years. How about that? Cold turkey. No drugs, no programs, just will power. After all, she's quite bullheaded.

Gene and Danny
In 1996, she wed a man she'd known from back in her D.C. days. It was a beautiful ceremony in Las Vegas. Really. Danny died a few years ago, leaving her to face widowhood once again.

Mom has always been a stylish dresser, had a nice eye for comfortable, but classy, decor, and is generous to a fault. She is admired by many.

A voracious reader, my mother also attacks crossword puzzles with a vengeance, is tough to beat when playing Scrabble, Bananagrams or Boggle, and enjoys a competitive game of Pinochle. Her hospitality skills are unmatched and she can cook up a meal for a crowd or make an intimate dinner seem special for anyone lucky enough to be a guest in her home.

Mom and Laura
And she has always been a wonderful grandmother to Peter, Heidi, Bethany and Jessica, and now, a great-grandmother to Laura, Vera and Lincoln.

I would like to say, yes, I am becoming my mother. Perhaps that would be the greatest compliment someone could pay me.

Indeed, we are very much alike. But there are differences as well. While she opted for a corporate life, I choose to exercise my creative talents and work for myself. Despite being widowed at 32, I decided to stay home and raise my girls and not pursue a career until they were grown. I am passionate about causes I believe in, and they are not necessarily causes Mom even agrees with. I chose to remarry rather quickly after my husband died, much to my family's dismay at the time.

We often choose different routes than our parents. However, when there is a quality worth mimicking, how wonderful is it when we can actually do just that?

I'm thankful for a mother who taught me about strength. Who gave me a hunger for knowledge. Who never wanted me to settle for less than what I was capable of.

Are you becoming your mother? Or your father? Is that a good thing?

As children, it is our privilege to glean the good from our heritage. As parents, it is our responsibility to pass on outstanding traits to our children. My hope is that someday my daughters will look at themselves and say, "I'm becoming my mother," and they'll smile.

Sharing more of my life with you, my friends,


Monday, June 27, 2011

The Sabbath Experience -- week 38

The view from our patio
It started with a sore throat that got increasingly worse until laryngitis set in. For Bill, that is. With 50+ hours of voice-over work lined up for this week, I have to admit my biggest concern was not for how he was feeling as last week wore on, but rather for how I would be feeling come Monday. By Saturday afternoon, my worst fears were starting to materialize. A sore, scratchy throat. A raspy voice. NO!!! There was no way I wanted to let five different clients know I wasn't going to meet their deadlines. No way!

So, I reached into my kitchen cupboard and pulled out the honey and Dr. Bragg's apple cider vinegar and I mixed up my magic concoction -- a 50/50 mix -- and started taking spoonfuls every hour or so. By Sunday afternoon, my sore throat was gone and my voice was fine. You gotta love that vinegar!!

Bill ... well, he's still sick. He finally tried the honey/ACV miracle cure on Saturday, but didn't follow through with it. Plus, he'd already been sick for a few days at that point, so when he didn't feel better right away, he gave up on it. He's not the diehard vinegar that I am.

Since we were both not feeling well on Saturday, we found a substitute teacher for Bill's Sunday School class (thanks, Maggie!!) and decided to spend the entire Sabbath resting. I must say, it was a lovely day. With no alarms set, we slept until 10, and then spent most of the day outside on the porch. I had a time of Bible study and prayer, enjoyed a leisurely brunch, played a couple of games of Bananagrams, watched an episode of season one of the television show, Beauty and the Beast as we ate dinner outside, and finished the evening watching The Wish List on the Hallmark channel.

After a day like that I start off this work week with a few observations and realizations.
  • I love having discovered for myself that the Sabbath was made for rest. I believe that more than ever after starting this experiment nearly nine months ago. I cannot recommend this necessary day of rest to you with more conviction. Of course, our day of rest usually starts off with worship with our church family, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But our afternoons/evenings used to be consumed with work and busyness. The day was no different than any other. God did not intend it to be that way. We all need a day set apart from our usual activities.
  • I love my home and my backyard/patio/porch. The sound of the fountain in the pond refreshes my spirit. The pleasure of watching the birds as they fly from tree to bush to tree, the hummingbirds as they enjoy the nectar of hanging baskets and the butterflies as they glide effortlessly on the breeze, cannot be topped, for me, by exotic or exciting vacations to faraway places or, gasp, noisy amusement parks.
  • I love to be and not do sometimes.
  • I love the Creator and the Creation.
  • I love my husband. Oh how I love my husband. And, the best part is, I really like my husband. What it a joy it is to spend every day with my very best friend.

Today, my heart is filled with an overflowing joy. God is good. A simple statement that holds a wealth of truth.

May you be blessed with a fruitful week and may you discover the joy of the Sabbath.

Keeping it restful,


 Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, 32 oz, Bragg - $4.29
Retail Price: $14.29
You Save: $10.00

Saturday, June 25, 2011

To Jessica

Today is my baby girl's birthday, so I thought I would share a poem I wrote for her wedding day. Written in the voice of her late father, who died when she was five, I tried to express what I thought he would say to her ... if only he could.

Happy birthday, precious one. I love you.

My beautiful daughters

To Jessica

Sweet, sweet Jessica.
It seems like only yesterday
you ran to me to climb up my legs and give me
your one-of-a-kind hugs.

It seems like only yesterday
you stood behind me, brushing my hair
and making me feel like the luckiest dad in the world.

It seems like only yesterday
your little girl smile lit up every room you walked in
and I know it still does.

I wish you could feel me beside you
as you hold on to your new dad’s arm.

No, there’s no aisle to walk down,
but don’t forget to look around and see
the beauty surrounding you.
See the love your new dad poured into
every part of the natural beauty there.

Feel the warmth of this place you called “home”
and cherish the memories that belong
only to you.

Have a wonderful life, sweet daughter.
You have everything it takes
to be the phenomenal wife and mother
I know you will be.

Enjoy this day.
You deserve only the best.

I’m here with you today, Jessica,
my beautiful baby girl,
all grown up and ready to give her love
and her life
to yet another man.
He is worthy of all you have to give
and he’s blessed to have you.

I know because I was the first man you loved
and it was one of the purest gifts in my life.
Let your new dad embrace you for both of us.
He knows exactly what I mean.

© Hana Haatainen Caye

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday's 3 Rs -- Medications

Did you ever wonder what you should do with expired medications, or medications you are no longer taking? Flush them, right? Wrong! Dump them in the trash, right? Wrong! Leave them in your medicine cabinet and let your kids deal with them after you're dead. Well, I guess that could be an option.

Here's the thing -- prescription and over-the-counter drugs can leach into the ground water, as well as pose a potential risk of ingestion for curious kids and animals who may be attracted to the yummy candy-like appearance of a rainbow of pills and capsules.

So, what do you do?

Well, ideally, you take all your people (and pet) meds to a collection event close to you. Call your local municipal building and ask if a Take Back event is scheduled in your town.

You can also check with your local pharmacies and see if any of them have a safe disposal method for your expired prescriptions.

If there is not an event coming up and you can't find a pharmacy that takes your meds, you can still clean out your medicine chest by throwing the meds in the trash. However, you must be careful how you do this.

First, open bottles and dump contents (pills, capsules and liquid) into a sturdy Ziploc-type bag. Add a little bit of water to help the pills dissolve. Next, add some cat litter or coffee grounds to make the concoction less appealing to curious children or scavenging critters. Seal the bag and throw it in the trash.

Remove your name and any identifying information from the bottle and recycle it.

There, that's not too complicated. Ideally, you want to keep these toxins out of the landfill, but if you don't have another alternative, this is the best way to go.

The FDA released a list of meds that are safe to flush down the toilet. If this is the method you choose, pay strict attention to the following list. Do not add any meds to this list, unless the bottle specifically indicates that the drug may be flushed!


This list from FDA tells you what expired, unwanted, or unused medicines you should flush down the sink or toilet to help prevent danger to people and pets in the home. Flushing these medicines will get rid of them right away and help keep your family and pets safe.

FDA continually evaluates medicines for safety risks and will update the list as needed.

Medicine  --  Active Ingredient

Actiq, oral transmucosal lozenge *  --  Fentanyl Citrate

Avinza, capsules (extended release)  --  Morphine Sulfate

Daytrana, transdermal patch system  --  Methylphenidate

Demerol, tablets *  --  Meperidine Hydrochloride

Demerol, oral solution *  --  Meperidine Hydrochloride

Diastat/Diastat AcuDial, rectal gel  --  Diazepam

Dilaudid, tablets *  --  Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

Dilaudid, oral liquid *  --  Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

Dolophine Hydrochloride, tablets *  --  Methadone Hydrochloride

Duragesic, patch (extended release) *  --  Fentanyl

Embeda, capsules (extended release)  --  Morphine Sulfate; Naltrexone Hydrochloride

Exalgo, tablets (extended release)  --  Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

Fentora, tablets (buccal)  --  Fentanyl Citrate

Kadian, capsules (extended release)  --  Morphine Sulfate

Methadone Hydrochloride, oral solution *  --  Methadone Hydrochloride
Methadose, tablets *  --  Methadone Hydrochloride

Morphine Sulfate, tablets (immediate release) *  --  Morphine Sulfate

Morphine Sulfate, oral solution *  --  Morphine Sulfate

MS Contin, tablets (extended release) *  --  Morphine Sulfate

Onsolis, soluble film (buccal)  --  Fentanyl Citrate

Opana, tablets (immediate release)  --  Oxymorphone Hydrochloride

Opana ER, tablets (extended release)  --  Oxymorphone Hydrochloride

Oramorph SR, tablets (sustained release)  --  Morphine Sulfate

Oxycontin, tablets (extended release) *  --  Oxycodone Hydrochloride

Percocet, tablets *  --  Acetaminophen; Oxycodone Hydrochloride

Percodan, tablets *  --  Aspirin; Oxycodone Hydrochloride

Xyrem, oral solution  --  Sodium Oxybate

*These medicines have generic versions available or are only available in generic formulations.

So, the next time you are about to toss some pills in the trash or flush a medication down the toilet, check back here first. There is a proper way to do it and when you care about the environment and the future of your children and grandchildren, it's definitely worth the effort to do it right!

Keeping it out of the landfill (as much as possible),


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taking a stand ... with grace

This picture of Laura last summer always makes me laugh ... and I need to laugh right now.

It's Wednesday night and I've had a rather stressful evening. So I thought I'd skip the research for tomorrow's blog and just write for awhile. Mostly, I want to address the issue on my mind. Extremism. It's bad stuff, folks. Extremists rarely win people to their side, no matter what side it is. Extremist are generally a bunch of close-minded people who do not understand much about grace.

I have strong opinions. About a lot of things. I don't think you should kill an unborn baby. I don't think you should litter. I believe people should care enough about their children to use cloth diapers. I dislike when cigarettes are smoked around children ... or anyone, for that matter. I believe in people being married before they live together. I could go on and on. Couldn't you? Don't we all have strong opinions? But if we all took extreme stands all the time, what would happen? Well, first of all, we wouldn't be liked by many people, except, of course, like-minded extremists.

I believe, as a Christian, my first responsibility is to introduce others to the love of Jesus. Can that be done in an extremist stance? Of course not. Shoving Christ down someone's throat will not increase the Kingdom of God. It just doesn't work.

And it doesn't work for other causes either. So, if you are one to take an extreme right-wing or left-wing stand, consider listening to someone else's opinion. We don't all have to be right all the time, do we? After all, that is impossible. And while you, or I, may think we have all the answers, the bottom line is, we don't. We just don't.

To pepper our words with grace does not weaken our stand, it just makes it more inviting for someone else to hear our words. To actually listen to what we have to say.

That's all I wanted to say. So, as I sit on my porch with my feet soaking in cool water with a half cup of apple cider vinegar mixed in, I'm breathing a little easier. I almost got sucked into an extremist-motivated argument tonight and opted to bow out ... gracefully. For that, I'm thankful to the God who has humbled me and shown me what is really important. Plus, I got to share my feelings here in the shelter of this community. For that, I'm thankful to you. As we all work our way through this journey, let's show a little kindness. It goes a long way.

Sharing my heart,


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review It Wednesday -- GG's Top 10

I've been reviewing stuff for awhile now ... longer than many of you have been reading the blog. So I decided to do a top ten list of my favorite items I have personally used and reviewed here.

Click on each link to read the reviews.

Green Grandma's Top 10

in alphabetical order

These are great products, folks, which I highly recommend. Some were sent to me at no charge in exchange for a review, and others were items I purchased and loved. If you have a product you would like for me to review, please shoot me an email and we can discuss it.

Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Five Heart Facts Every Woman Should Know

Today, I'm happy to have one of my friends from high school as a guest blogger. Desiree Brown has a passion for teaching women about the danger ticking right inside their own bodies ... and what to do in order to keep the worst from happening.

What is the #1 killer of women? Breast cancer, right? Wrong!

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some heart disease facts that every woman should know, as well as the men who love them.

  • Each year significantly more women than men die from heart disease and stroke.

  • Lack of public knowledge about women’s heart disease is the largest healthcare threat to women.

  • 80 percent of women age 40 to 60 have one or more heart disease risk factors that can be controlled or reduced.

  • Risk factors that can be controlled include salt intake, smoking, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels or low HDL (“good”) levels, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, uncontrolled diabetes and high stress levels.

  • Women are far less likely than men to be tested or treated for heart disease in a timely manner.

  • Women who are at risk for cardiovascular disease are often not referred for diagnostic testing that are otherwise standard for men.

  • Women have more heart attacks that go unrecognized, more repeat heart attacks, and greater risk of stroke after heart attack.

  • Physicians may under-evaluate and treat women because they don’t appear to be as high-risk as a man, especially if they are young and “appear healthy” with a slender build.

  • Women do not know that heart attack symptoms may be different than in men. Women are more likely to feel shortness of breath, fatigue, abdominal pressure, nausea or heartburn, or jaw, neck, back, or upper shoulder pain.

  • Call 911 if you think you are having any of these symptoms. Do not hesitate for a minute when calling for help. Trust your intuition that something is “not right”. Do not be concerned about looking foolish or “bothering” anyone. And do not drive yourself to the hospital. You can be attended to while riding in an ambulance, and every minute counts when diagnosing and treating a heart attack.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

The Mayo Clinic

The Female Patient

Desiree Brown, MSN,MHA,RNC-OB

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Sabbath Experience -- week 37

You may have noticed the change in the title this week. I decided this in no longer a Sabbath Experiment, but is a Sabbath Experience instead.

Yesterday, I learned something about my Sabbath Experience that I'm not quite sure I know what to do about. While it is nice to set aside one day a week to do whatever we want, aside from working, entertaining might not be the best option. Why? Quite simply because entertaining can be a whole lot of work. As was the case yesterday.

Even though we were simply having family over, we still had a lot of work to do by the time we got home yesterday. First of all, it wasn't a typical Sunday. Of course, we spent the morning at church, followed by lunch with some of the kids and the grandbabies. That's what we do as a routine. However, we then had to kill some time because we were going to a going away party at 3 p.m. We didn't want to go home and then head back out. So we didn't arrive home until 4:30 or so. Company was due at 6:15. For some of you, having the kids over may be no big deal. But dinner with the family is always a big deal for us. I treat them like valued guests, because ... well, the are. I treasure family dinners. After all, I know too many lonely people out there whose adult kids barely bother with them. And I know others who rarely see their grandchildren, even when they live in the same town! Of course, in our family we have a couple adult kids of our own that we don't see, and it is heartbreaking. So, like I said, I treasure family dinners with the ones who do care. So I cook for them, clean for them and serve them as if they were my favorite guests ... because they are.

Even though we ate outside, I had to have my cloth tablecloth and nicely set table. I did do something yesterday that garnered some shocked responses -- paper napkins! There is an explanation for that, however. I have a drawer full of fancy paper napkins I accumulated in my not-so-green days. Some were gifts, and others were bought at places like Goodwill (as was the case with yesterday's). Since our dinner included spareribs with homemade balsamic vinegar barbecue sauce, I predicted messy hands. I just made the decision to go with paper for a meal. It created quite a buzz!!

Of course, during and after dinner, there was quite a bit of getting up and heading to the kitchen for drink refills, forgotten items, etc. By the time everyone left, I was beat. Bill was beat. And we had a messy kitchen. I filled the dishwasher and started it up. With all the dishes, glasses, silverware and pots, we still had a messy kitchen. I faced that this morning.

Wait a minute ... yesterday was the Sabbath. Wasn't it supposed to be a day of rest??

Yes, and therein lies the problem of entertaining on Sundays. Of course, it was Father's Day and the kids wanted to spend the evening with their dad. Can't blame them for that. But I must say, I'm looking forward to the day when that means one of them invites us for dinner!

The lesson I learned was this: if I am going to entertain on Sunday, I must work extra hard on Saturday in preparation so Sunday is not quite so crazy.

Bill and I did end the day sitting on the porch playing Bananagrams before we went to bed. A relaxing end to a busy weekend, which included keeping our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter overnight on Saturday. That, of course, was magical. The night included catching lightning bugs, going out for ice cream, reading, and playing. Like I said, it was magical.

And there was one other highlight I just have to brag about a bit. It was a late birthday card I got last night from my stepdaughter, Mindy. Since we haven't been able to get together since my birthday in May, she brought my gift and card along yesterday. While I have one stepdaughter who refuses to speak to me, it blessed me to read these words from the other one:

A mom's love
is an
to be kind,
to be wise,
to be there.

Amazing --
the woman that you are,
the mom that you've been ...
the love that never ends.

Happy Birthday

(Hallmark Licensing, Inc.)

I guess I'm not such a bad stepmom after all. Thanks, Mindy.

Sharing my Sabbath Experience,


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thoughts on Father's Day

My father and mother, Harold V. and Gene V. (Strickler) Haatainen

Father’s Day. A day to honor our fathers. A day to honor our Father. A time set apart to remember those dads who aren’t with us anymore.

How will you spend this special day? Dads -- will you delight in your God-given role as earthly fathers? Children -- will you surround your dads with the kind of love that only you can give? Doesn’t Dad deserve more than the obligatory tie this year? Teens -- how about giving him some of yourselves, some of your time? Take him out to eat, one on one. Tell him about your life, your goals, your dreams. Let him tell you about his. One of the greatest gifts that we can give is to truly listen to each other. Wives -- be his helpmate. Love him and thank him for being such a good dad. Give him a break. Go the extra mile for him (hasn’t he done that many times for you and the kids?)

Visit that man in the nursing home that sometimes doesn’t know who you are. After all, you know who he is -- he’s your dad. Remember when he taught you how to ride a bike? How many times did he toss that ball to you? Give something back.

Is Father’s Day messing up your plans for the day? How many times did Dad’s plans get messed up for you? He probably never complained or let you know, but you can be sure that there were times he’d rather be somewhere else than at that band concert, or at that track meet, or at home with you and your 103 fever. Sacrifice. That’s what it’s all about.

Our Father God sacrificed the sweet fellowship with His Son so that Jesus could grow up as another man’s son. He was born, so that he could die for each one of us. And Father God simply had to turn away and let it happen. Because He loved us -- His adopted children. Jesus provided the way for us, not only because of His love for us, but because He honored His Father.

Honor your father today. Even if you can only do that in your memories. And if you have no memories, because your father simply wasn’t there, then honor your Father God, because He has promised to always to be there. He will never leave us or forsake us.

Missing my dad on Father's Day,

Photo by Michele Walters

If you want to build a ship,

don't drum up people together to collect wood

and don't assign them their tasks and work,

but rather teach them to long for the sea.

-- Antoine de Saint Exupery     

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday's 3 Rs -- those pesky used gift cards

Did you know that used gift cards can be recycled? Well, they can. And that's a good thing! Every year, we throw over 75 million pounds of PVC material from these plastic cards into the landfill. Over 75 million pounds!!!!!

So the next time you're about to toss one in the trash, STOP!! Best Buy is one retailer that accepts used gift cards (and not just their own). They have kiosks in the front of the store where you can drop off your cards.

Whenever you need to find recycling info on anything specific, just visit and type in your item and zip code. The site will direct you to the closest drop-off location.

If you don't have a Best Buy close to you, another option is to simply mail your cards to Earthworks where they will chop them up, melt them down and create new cards and other products out of 100% recycled PVC.

Cards can be mailed to:

c/o: Halprin Ind.
25480 Miles Rd.
Bedford, OH  44146

Put your name or the name of your organization on the package so they can track it. Include only the cards ... no rubber bands, paper clips, or paper.

In lieu of recycling your old gift cards, you can check into the possibility of reloading them. Many retailers will be happy to reload them for you and then you can give them as gifts -- this is regifting at its finest!

But what if you have unused gift cards sitting around that you know you're never going to use? It happens. Someone buys a gift card for a store that caters to petite women and gives it to a woman who's a size 14. Or a card to a beer distributor given to a recently proclaimed alcoholic. Dumb, perhaps, but it happens. Do not despair! Simply swap your card for cash. is the place to go. They have over 1,000 agents across the U.S. Or you can send the card into Keep in mind you will not get the full value for your card, but it's better than having it sit in your desk drawer for years unused.

Recycling your used gift cards is not your only green option. You can also find household uses for them. Here are just a few ideas I gleaned from
  • Use them as scrapers and texturing tools when painting, sculpting or making pottery
  • Punch holes in them and use them to keep threads separated when doing needlepoint, crochet or cross stitch projects
  • Cut them into shapes for stenciling
  • Paint them and cut them out to use as scrapbooking embellishments
For more ideas on how to reuse gift cards for household projects, check out This Old House.

Remind your husbands and dads not to throw away all the cards they get for Father's Day once they've spent them!

Keeping things out of the landfill,


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A turtle, a bumpy path and some amazing shrimp

Sometimes you just need to take a break. That's what my husband and I decided last night. Work stress was threatening to put us both in the hospital so we took the night off. After all, the yard work and gardening could wait and I would just have to work a little smarter to make up for an evening spent somewhere other than at my desk.

After Bill got home, we headed out to one of our favorite spots from when we were dating -- the Wildflower Reserve in Clinton, PA. We're not quite sure why they call it a wildflower reserve, because there are very few flowers anywhere on the property, but we love walking through the woods, despite the multiple roots crossing our way and making it a bit difficult to manuever at times.

The weather was perfect. High 70s with practically no humidity. Thinking ahead, I stuffed some vanilla-infused cotton balls in a bag in my pocket, just in case the mosquitoes were in attack-mode. They were and, after coating our bare skin in vanilla, they basically left us alone. Score one for the relaxation mission!

The highlight of my walk, other than holding hands with the man I adore, was stumbling upon a box turtle. I resisted the urge to take him home with us to put by the pond (good call, Bill), but I did pick him up and check out his spotted belly. Little things like that make me happy. They bring out the inquisitive little girl in me who used to lift rocks hunting for salamanders and snakes in my childhood days in Manheim with my best friend, Dawn. We had such fun together.

As the sun was setting, we headed back to the car in search of a good restaurant for a late dinner. By the time we got to the first choice on our list, the kitchen was closed. The second choice was too pricey, so we politely excused ourselves and the third option was a charm!

We stopped at Smokey Bones, where we had the best service (thank you, Justin) and amazing food, including some teriyaki shrimp that was unbelievable.

In the past, I would have driven right past Smokey Bones and looked elsewhere for our late night supper. After all, they used to be part of the Darden chain of restaurants, which I will not support. Fortunately, they were bought out. Dardin owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille and Seasons 52. Why won't I dine in any of these restaurants? Simply because Darden is a supporter of Planned Parenthood (like they need corporate support after sucking up so much tax money from the government).

For me, there is no reason to give Dardin a nickel of my money, when I know there are many other good, and sometimes superior, options available.

We drove home, after leaving Justin a generous tip (he had to stay later because we came in so late), feeling revived and refreshed. It was a good night.

And now, I have to get back to focusing on deadlines and pleasing clients.

Reminding you to take some time to relax in nature,


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review It Wednesday -- head-over-heels in love

I'm in love. Completely. Totally. Head-over-heels.

With a washcloth.

There. I said it. My passion for this particular washcloth just may border on an obsession ... an addiction ... an unhealthy fascination. Except, it's so darn healthy!

Yes, I know I just raved about Norwex a few short weeks ago, but I can't help myself. I have to do it again. And no, I'm not a Norwex rep; I do not sell Norwex; Norwex is not paying me for my reviews and, in this case, I even paid for the cloth!

It started out innocently enough. I got an email asking me if I'd like to try the Norwex Enviro Cloth and Polishing Cloth (the Basis Antibac Package) in exchange for a review. Seemed like a mild flirtation. Surely I would never take it this far! However, the tantalizing feel of the damp cloth in my hands as I wiped away dirt, grime and germs with such ease won me over. As did the sparkling windows.

With her birthday just around the corner, I simply had to order a set for my daughter. So I went on the website and, since I was already there, I didn't think it would hurt to just look around a bit. How easily I can be seduced. There it was, calling out my name, reminding me of my past sins, promising a solution.

You see, I hate to wash my face. Hate it. Really. The washing itself isn't so bad, but rinsing really gets to me. I just don't like water being splashed in my face. Maybe I was traumatized as a child, or something. When I discovered the little disposable makeup remover wipes, I was in heaven. But that was before I had a green conscience. So, that solution fell by the wayside a couple of years ago.

Imagine my delight when I saw this little ditty: "Say good-bye to all those facial cleansers!" The seduction continues: "These antibacterial microfiber washcloths are amazing at removing makeup, even mascara and eyeliner, using only water. Dirt and bacteria are gently removed from skin surface with the silky soft microfiber, exfoliating your skin every time you use them."

Could it be? Something even better than disposable makeup remover wipes and facial cloths? I breathlessly clicked on the link to put the package of three into my cart, the thought of no more buying facial wash that has to be rinsed off and no more looking to find something safe to use on my face thrilled me!

Then, as if that wasn't fulfilling enough, the fact that Sherri, The Cleaning Queen, would ship all these wonderful products to me for free sealed the deal.

A few days later, I arrived home to find this delicious bundle on my doorstep. The neighbors probably thought I'd won the lottery or something. Happy dance time!

And guess what? The experience was as good as the anticipation. These cloths are amazing. I no longer dread the nightly ritual of washing my face. I simply wet the cloth with warm water and scrubbed my face. No need to rinse. When I was done, my skin felt cleaner than I ever remember it feeling. Really. And there was no trace of mascara left, which was a bonus! Thank you, Norwex. Your products are transforming my life!

At this point, I can only imagine what the baby cloth wipes are like. Or the spa socks (amazingly comfy, I suspect). Or the bathroom scrub mitt. Those are fantasies left for another day.

For now, I'm just going to revel in the afterglow of being in love. Head-over-heels, at that!

Reviewing it for you,


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Go green with the perfect Father's Day gift

Last night I was at my writing workshop and one of the writers handed me this lovely recycled gift bag. She took a medium-sized plain paper bag, folded the top down, punched four holes in it and treaded some recycled yarn through to make two handles. I loved it! Inside was a brown T-shirt she bought me to thank me for leading the group. How sweet. The shirt has an image of a green frog with the words 'It's easy being green!' How cool is that? I feel appreciated and understood. Thanks, Norma!

Anyway, it got me thinking about Father's Day and what kind of green gifts are out there for Dad. So ... if you haven't found the perfect gift for your dad or hubby, consider buying a practical gift that is eco-friendly.

Such as? How about a solar-powered watch? From what I've read, Casio seems to be the leader in this field, with the Casio Solar Atomic Analog Watch considered to be one of the best. Here are the features:
  • Durable -- great for all types of sports activities, construction work, even rough-housing with a 6-year-old!
  • Accurate -- automatically syncs every night
  • Attractive -- looks good when dressing up ... or down
  • Water resistant -- perfect for water skiing, swimming, fishing, etc.
Casio has a variety of solar-powered watches, both analog and digital.

Check out the selections at your local retail stores, such as Sears and Target.

Does he already have too much stuff and really doesn't need or want another watch? Well, how about buying him some trees to plant in Brazil? Seriously. At $1/tree, you can choose how many you want to plant in his honor through The Nature Conservancy. There are a lot of other great gift-giving ideas at the Conservatory as well ... for the guy who has everything and cares about the Earth.

Another option is the book Your eco-friendly Yard by Tom Girolamo, "sustainable ideas to help you save time, money and the earth." I haven't seen the book, but it certainly sounds cool to me! If someone wants to buy me a Father's Day gift, I'm thinking this would be a good one!

These are just three suggestions. Feel free to leave comments with more ideas for greener gift giving. And don't forget to wrap responsibly!

Keeping it green,


The winner is ...

Congratulations to Lisa Bartelt
who won a bottle of

Email me with your address and the kind folks at Eat Cleaner will send out your prize!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Sabbath Experiment -- week 36

Wow. Typing "week 36" threw me. Has it really been 36 weeks since I started this experiment?

I was talking with my daughter, Bethany, yesterday and said, "Mondays used to be my favorite day of the week ... until I started the Sabbath Experiment." The idea of forced rest is so liberating!

Take yesterday, for example. After our usual ritual of Sunday School, church and lunch with the kids and grandkids, Bethany and Lincoln came by the house for awhile. She needed clothespins because her husband put up a clothesline (actually four clotheslines). Now she'll be able to hang all of Lincoln's diapers on the line, which makes me quite happy!

By the time they left, I was tired. But, I kept thinking about the load of work I was facing in the days to come. Maybe if I just tackled some of the work today, I thought, Monday wouldn't be quite so bad.

But what about the Sabbath? I countered in this dialogue with myself. You know, there is that accountability factor.

The accountability factor. That did it. After all, I'm accountable to you.

So, rather than sitting down at my computer and working, I played around in the vegetable garden on my balcony for a bit and then, because the temps had dropped quite a bit, settled in for a nice relaxing hot bath.

Here's where the fun comes in! I reached for my Earth Mama Angel Baby   Happy Mama Body Wash so I could shave my legs. Breathing in the scent of grapefruit and ginger, I smiled. After a week of discovered how bad everything seems to be for us, it was a sheer delight being able to lather up with a product that was completely safe to use. Completely! Zero toxins. None at all. If I hadn't been reclining in the tub, I would have started doing my Happy Mama Dance (I reserve that for the shower)!

I turned the bottle around and read the ingredients:
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Organic olive oil
  • Organic aloe leaf juice
  • Kosher vegetable glycerin
  • Organic shea butter
  • Potassium citrate
  • Organic ginger oil
  • Organic grapefruit peel oil
  • Organic lime oil
  • Organic vanilla bean extract
  • Organic calendula extract
That's it. Nothing more. Isn't it a lovely list of ingredients?

So, I was a Happy Mama. Refreshed, I dried off, put on my jammies and headed downstairs to make a late dinner for my husband and me. We enjoyed our meal on the patio while watching the Hallmark movie, A Crush on You. We're such suckers for clean, romantic movies. What a joy it is to not have to suffer through a barrage of swear words and sex scenes.

At 11:00, I headed upstairs, brushed my teeth, washed my face (with a product I can't wait to review on Wednesday!) and climbed into bed, earlier than I usually do. I needed a good night's sleep before starting this week. After all, shouldn't I feel rested on the day after the Sabbath?

After my morning walk today, I headed out for a working breakfast and now I'm home trying desperately to complete all the tasks on my to-do list before heading out to lead my Writers at Work group tonight.

I hope you have a glorious week.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Photo by Anna Cervova

            "For lo, the one who forms the mountains,
             creates the wind,
             reveals his thoughts to mortals,
             makes the morning darkness,
             and treads on the heights of the earth --
             the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!"

                                                                               -- AMOS 4:13

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday's 3Rs -- What to do with nail polish

Photo by Shari Weinsheimer

TGIF's 3Rs!

I learned disturbing news about nail polish this week -- stuff I should've known a long time ago, but hey, I can only keep up with so much!

For one thing, the ingredients in many nail polishes can cause birth defects when used by pregnant women. Don't you think they should have warnings about that printed somewhere on the bottles?

The info I'm referring to regarding the dangers of nail polishes can be found in the Guide to Less Toxic Products from the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia. What's nice about this guide is that it doesn't just give you scary facts, but it also lists safe (or at least, safer) alternatives for household and personal care products. It's really worth checking out and adding to your Favorites file.

Here's what the Guide says about nail polish:

Three of the most harmful ingredients in conventional nail polish are toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate -- dubbed the "toxic trio" by the US Environmental Working Group. Toluene is known to be a neurotoxin and may put pregnant women at risk of having a baby with birth defects or delayed development. Toluene may comprise up to 50% of the volume in some brands.

After reading that, I looked down at my recently polished nails (something I hadn't had in months!) and I cringed. What had I done? Well, maybe, I reassured myself, I used one of the safe brands. No such luck.

Faced with a small hatbox full of polishes dating back to the 80s, I'm afraid, I pondered what to do with them.

First of all, I want to dispose of them and start all over with brands void of the "toxic trio." But how does one dispose of nail polish?

Thus, today's post.

Of course, I couldn't simply dump the box into the trash can. The stuff's toxic, for goodness' sake! And, I was reasonably sure I couldn't dump it into the recycling bin either. What to do? What to do?

I found that researching this dilemma didn't provide any easy answers. Most of what I found was creative ways to use your old nail polish other than putting it on your nails. Wonderful. A bunch of useless tips on how to spread the toxic love around. No, thank you.

The thing is, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), nail polish falls under the category of household hazardous waste (doesn't that make you feel just dandy?). Since it is a flamable substance, it considered hazardous and is illegal to put in the landfills. Oops. I wonder how many times in my early, less eco-conscious years I broke that law!

Apparently, most curbside recycling programs won't take it either. (Check with your municipality about this). So, the only solution is a hazardous waste pick-up or drop-off location. To find one close to you, visit and type in 'nail polish' and your zip code.

For me, three locations popped up -- one where you had to be a resident, one that was about 45 minutes away, and another in Ohio. Great. Wonderful.

So, here's the scoop. Hang on to your nail polishes (and be careful which ones you use) if you don't have a nearby location to dump them. Eventually, there will be some kind of Recycle Rama-type event close to you and, hopefully, they'll accept these eco-nasty bottles of toxins from you.

Just don't toss them in the trash. When your husband asks what the pile of half-used bottles of nail polish are doing in a box in the attic, just say, "Green Grandma told me to hang on to them." That should appease him.

Trying to keep it green with Friday's 3Rs,


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