Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And the winner is ...

to Tiffany B,

Please email me with your contact info and the kind mamas at EMAB will get your prize shipped out to you!

The Misuse of Imagination

I did a guest post on JDaniel's Mom for today. So why don't you head over there and check it out. It's all about worry ... or lack thereof. I know you're busy, so I won't burden you with an additional post here : )

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sabbath Experience

View from my office window
I've lost track of what week this is in my Sabbath Experiment/Experience journey. I simply know it's been over a year and I'm reaping the benefits.

Yesterday, Bill and I did not attend church, which is quite unusual for us. Instead, we headed into the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh to a place called the Waffle Shop. It's a cool little place where they make amazing waffles (I had the pumpkin waffle with cream cheese ... yum), served by students from Carnegie Mellon University. Oh, and they have a small stage set up for talk shows. From 11-12 every Sunday, Chef Tom Totin hosts a show called Cookspeak. Tom contacted me several weeks ago and asked me to come on the show and talk about Vinegar Fridays. It was a delightful hour, although when I went back to watch the segment, I was wishing I had known the camera was running in the 4 minutes or so before the show started, and again, after the show ended. I really didn't want those moments aired. Oh well. And, I was disappointed in the quality of the video, which didn't seem to be an issue in other shows they've taped there. But for Tom's part, it was a nice interview and I would love to do it again.

After the show was over, Bill and I enjoyed chatting with Tom over coffee and (on our part) waffles. It's invigorating to me to talk with someone who's on the same page about BPA in cans, unhealthy foods in schools and deadly toxins in our cleaning products. As I said, it was an unusual, but enjoyable Sunday morning.

We stopped at Construction Junction before heading home, since we were in the area. I can't tell you how disappointed I was with the place. I hadn't been there in several months and was looking forward to introducing Bill to this wonderful warehouse of used building and household supplies. His first comment was about the amount of trash littered across the parking lot. And, I have to admit, it was appalling. Construction Junction has a whole line of recycling dumpsters for a variety of recyclables -- and they were filled to overflowing; thus, the reason for some of the litter, I'm sure.

We went inside and the first thing we looked at was a beat up and filthy claw foot tub. $425! We moved on. There was a beat up porch rail for $60, a nasty-looking kitchen cabinet for $40, some pegboard sheets for $7 each, ceiling fans for $15, and more disgusting-looking old tubs for $425 each. While some prices were reasonable, for the most part, the prices for this stuff was ridiculous. What happened to the Construction Junction I knew and loved?? All I can say is, I won't be going back. Which is too bad. I love the concept of the place. But ridiculous is ridiculous.

Bill wanted me to drive yesterday because I'm more familiar with that area of Pittsburgh. Even though we almost got hit twice (one man went right through a stop sign and a woman turned right in front of us), and I had to dodge quite a few potholes on Penn Avenue (the city ought to be ashamed of themselves!), I found the drive relaxing. Bill had a different take on it, but this is my blog and I simply enjoyed the drive. Why? Perhaps it was because it was the Sabbath and I wasn't in a hurry. Remember Sunday drives? Of course, when you think about Sunday drives, you generally think about peaceful drives in the country, but yesterday, I discovered there's more to it than that. It's about not being in a hurry. Period. It's about not having anywhere in particular to be. It's about having nothing on the agenda. It was Sunday and, other than the show at 11, I didn't have anything I needed to do.

But wasn't there a backlog of work waiting for me at home? Of course. But it was Sunday. Wasn't there cleaning to do? Yep. But it was Sunday. Aren't many of the Christmas decorations still up? Uh huh. But it was Sunday. And I chose to rest.

Admittedly, since it was a beautiful, sunny day, Bill did choose to go outside and take down the decorations that are getting on even his nerves. But he did it at a leisurely pace and got most of it done.

We decided to use some gift cards we got for Christmas and went to Applebee's for dinner. Bill wasn't really in the mood, but didn't tell me that until we were in the car. His mood quickly changed as we ate, talked, and spent time getting to know our waitress, a single mom in her 20s struggling through potty training and a little bit of the terrible twos. She was a delight and made us especially glad we'd gone there.

Once home, we sat done and played games for a couple of hours. We never turned on the television yesterday, which isn't unusual in our home, but I appreciated it nonetheless. I love being married to someone who isn't married to the TV or any other electronic device. Bill doesn't even have a cell phone. Yes, that's inconvenient at times. But, for the most part, it means I don't have to compete with anything when I want his attention. That, my friends, is the making of a good husband. And today, on the day after a restful Sabbath, I'm feeling incredibly blessed.

Sharing my Sabbath experience with you,


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Motivated by love

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Gloom and doom are not necessary components of the message that needs to be brought to people about caring for creation. Trying to frighten ourselves into action is far less preferable than working to care for creation out of a love for the Creator in gratitude and joy.

Our working in and for creation, however, ideally, should not be out of a sense of impending doom, but from a deep love and obedience to Earth's Creator, Redeemer, and Reconciler.

-- Calvin B. DeWitt
Au Sable Institute

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vinegar Friday


Are you happy it's Friday? I always have mixed feelings about it. I never seem to accomplish what I want to during the week, so the weekend is met with a certain level of disappointment. Anyone else feel that way?

Well, regardless of how I feel about it, it's here. Another Vinegar Friday. So, what shall we talk about today? How about our bodies? Or, more specifically, the following conditions:
  • urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • fungal infection
  • muscle strain
  • inflammation
  • joint pain
  • arthritis
  • tendonitis
  • bursitis
  • gout
  • eczema
  • sunburn
What do the above have to do with vinegar? Well, apple cider vinegar can actually help with all those conditions. But we're not talking taking it internally, although that would help as well. No, this time we're talking about soaking in it.

Now, let me tell you, I am a sucker for a hot bath. It is at the very top of my list for favorite things to do. And, as pointed out in my book, Green Grandma's Vinegar Fridays, it works well to soften my skin. But I just found out that soaking in a vinegar-infused warm bath can help cure gout. That's good news for folks like my husband, who suffers with an occasional bout of it.

Why does it help? Apparently, ACV baths are affective in a few different ways:
  • help restore normal pH balances in the skin
  • naturally detoxifies
  • draws excess uric acid out of the body
When it comes to UTIs, the ACV works by killing off any bacteria in the urethral opening. That's why it is effective with yeast infections as well.

There is a warning involved with all of this, however. Due to the detoxifying properties of ACV baths, some people do experience flu-like symptoms (feeling achy, etc.). This just means your body is responding the way it should to the treatment.

The "recipes" for ACV baths vary from 1/2 cup to 2 cups in a tub of warm water with a 20 minute to 45-minute soak. If you're concerned about the strong smell of vinegar, add some essential lavender oil and create a true aromatherapy session in your bathroom. Ahhhh.

As I'm writing this late at night (in the early hours of Vinegar Friday), all I can think about right now is climbing into a hot bath.

So with that said, I bid you a wonderful day/night and a truly grand weekend.

Keeping it green and healthy with vinegar,


Thursday, January 26, 2012

BPA lurking in your cupboard

Are you concerned about BPA leaching out of plastic food packaging? Yeah, me, too. That's why I'm trying to switch over to food storage containers made of glass or stainless steel. Admittedly, I still have some plastic containers in my fridge right now, however. Of course, I never, and I mean never, heat anything up in the microwave in plastic. Even on the rare occasion I eat a frozen meal, I pop it out of the plastic it's in and put it in a microwave-safe glass bowl. It just makes sense to me.

Actually, I don't use my microwave often anymore. It scares me a bit. I generally reheat things on the stove in my GreenPans.

But taking all these precautions doesn't do much good if the food I'm eating is coming out of a can lined with bisphenol-A, right? But, how do you know if a can contains BPA, and why would it anyway?? After all, it's metal. Yeah, that's what I thought. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and the fact is that most canned food is poisoned by BPA. The worst leaching occurs in canned food that is salty, fatty or acidic (like tomato sauces, soups, etc.) Crap.

The more I learn, the angrier I become. And the more I long for summer and local farmer's markets. Even if I go to the store and avoid the canned goods section, I'm still picking up meats and produce packaged in styrofoam and BPA-laced plastic wrap. Crap. Crap. CRAP!!!!! What are these food manufacturers trying to do to us?

And don't even get me started about BPA in infant formula!!

Why am I so worked up about BPA? Well, because I don't want breast cancer, for one, and bisphenol-A is strongly linked to it. Cancer and reproductive issues, ADHD, immune system damage, and ... get this ... OBESITY!! So, perhaps it's not how much you're eating that's making you fat. It might just be the packing it came from!! And that might explain part of the reason obesity is not such an issue in countries where the residents buy fresh food at the markets.

According to Breast Cancer Fund's website, here are the top 10 canned foods to avoid (unless they are in cans specifically marked BPA-free):
  • Coconut milk (I hate coconut ... so far I'm safe)
  • Soup (well, there goes that!)
  • Meat (I generally don't buy canned meat -- SPAM is in my email, not in my cupboard)
  • Vegetables (but I really like canned mushrooms)
  • Meals (Uh oh, Spaghettios!)
  • Juice (is there anything safe about juice these days??)
  • Fish (canned fish isn't a problem in our home, either)
  • Beans (I stick to fresh or frozen here)
  • Meal-replacement drinks (this is almost humorous -- let's skip the meal to lose weight, but pack on some extra BPA pounds!)
  • Fruit (I love, love, love canned fruit)
Is there anything left?? This list was compiled after testing 300 products.

Feeling rather helpless, I did take the time to contact Del Monte, General Mills and Campbell Soup and ask them to let me know what they are doing to address this serious issue. After all, I wrote, I know you care about what goes into the bodies of your kids. I also told them I have a blog that focuses on healthier living and am looking forward to sharing with my readers what steps the companies are taking to get BPA out of their cans. It will be interesting to see if I get a response.

If you would like to contact them, there is a form letter you can send from the Breast Cancer Fund website. I encourage you to take the time to send an email to all three companies.

You can also check out this list of foods sold in BPA-free cans. Thank you, The Soft Landing, for making this list available! This is a worthy-of-checking-out website. Loads and loads of information to help you raise healthier kids!!

Not wanting to scare you, but sharing what I know,


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review it Wednesday -- and it's something safe for EVERY body!

When I heard Earth Mama Angel Baby was coming out with lip balms, I jumped on it!

"Send me some to review!" I pleaded. Well, I didn't exactly plead, because I didn't have to. But I was prepared to, if necessary.

No more Angel Baby Bottom Balm on my lips anymore, I thought. Hurray!

So, let me tell you -- I was not disappointed. Of course, the sweet mamas at EMAB could have sent me one to try. That would have been satisfactory. But no, they sent me all three delectable flavors. Well, they sent me all three flavors ... two of which I find delectable. The third one is questionable, only because I haven't tried it. After all, it's coconut and I hate coconut. So I'm saving that one for someone who likes it. Fair enough? Besides, I felt I could do a fair review by just sampling two of the flavors -- Lavender Meringue (light as a cloud with a hint of vanilla) and Mint Herbal (classic and beloved ... for kissable lips), with the latter being my favorite. The Coconut Smoothy, described as vanilla tinged and silky, just doesn't appeal to me.

There is lots to love about these lip balms, first of which is the fact that they live up to the EMAB policy of zero toxins. Sweet.

The mint is stimulating and the lavender is calming. Both do their job to soften my lips and take away the winter burn I was experiencing the day the package arrived in the mail. I guess that's the part that matters most to a lot of you -- Does the product deliver on its promise? Yes, in this case, it does.

Here's the technical stuff you need to know (directly from the website):

Every Earth Mama Herbal Lip Balm is 100% Natural, vegan, smooth and yummy, and safe for EVERY body, even pregnant mamas!

NO Petrolatum
NO Artificial Flavoring
NO Artificial Colors
NO Artificial Preservatives
NO Toxins, ever!

Can you say the same thing about the lip balms you use? Or is it something you've never thought of before? Hmmm. Let's see. Putting stuff directly on our lips without thinking about the ingredients (and possible toxins). Not really bright of us, is it? And notice -- I said "us," because it's not something I've really looked into before. Sure, I've been using Burt's Bees and Aveda's lip balms and just assuming they're safe, but I never really looked into it ... until now.

Here's what I found out (from EWG's Skin Deep Safe Cosmetic Database):

Aveda Lip Saver (2005 formula) rates a 5 out of 10 for toxins. Let me say that again: Aveda Lip Saver (2005 formula) rates a 5 out of 10 for toxins. Ouch. Get that crap off my lips now!

I don't know about you, but it really disturbs me that I can't even trust Aveda to provide safe products. Isn't that why I pay so much for them? Granted, that is the 2005 formula. Unfortunately, I can't find data on the current formula. But just knowing there were that many toxins in their products back then, doesn't give me a lot of confidence in their products now.

That's how the Aveda Lip Saver rates. But what about Burt's Bees?

Okay, that's a bit better. But still, the Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm still rates a 2 out of 10.

How does the Earth Mama Herbal Lip Balm stack up? Oh yeah, zero toxins.  Let me repeat that: zero toxins. I could keep using my Aveda Lip Saver (5), my Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm (2) or my brand new Earth Mama Herbal Lip Balm (0). I wonder what I'll choose? What would your choice be?

Well, here are the lists of ingredients for all 3 lip balms:

 Mint Herbal Lip Balm: Olea Europaea (organic olive) seed oil, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (organic shea) butter, Mentha viridis (organic spearmint) leaf oil, Mentha pipperita (organic peppermint) leaf oil, Calendula officinalis (organic calendula) flower extract

Coconut Smooth Lip Balm: Cocos nucifera (organic coconut) Oil, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Cocos nucifera (organic coconut) flavor, Vanilla planifolia (organic vanilla) flavor, Calendula officinalis (organic calendula) flower extract

Lavender Meringue Lip Balm: Olea Europaea (organic olive) seed oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (organic shea) butter, Vanilla planifolia (organic vanilla) Flavor, Lavandula officinalis (organic lavender) flower oil, Calendula officinalis (organic calendula) flower extract

Would you like to try some out for free? Well, maybe you can, because the super sweet mamas at EMAB are going to send a set of all 3 flavors to 1 lucky GG community member (U.S. resident only)! Don't you just love giveaways?!

Here's what you need to do in order to win:

Either 'follow' GG here on the blog or 'like' GG on Facebook and 'like' Earth Mama Angel Baby on Facebook or sign up for their email newsletter, You Herb it Here.

You have to let me know (either here or on FB) that you 'liked' EMAB or subscribed to their newsletter, or I won't know that you did. Keep in mind that you're not just getting involved with EMAB so you can win something. You're doing it because they are one of the most awesome companies around ... a company that cares about you, your family and your unborn children. You certainly can't say that about most other companies, no matter how cute their packaging or advertising campaigns may be!

With a special apology to our Canadian community members, the contest is open to U.S. residents only. As always, the winner will be chosen via Random.org. Contest closes at midnight (EST) on Monday, January 30th. The winner will be announced here on the blog and must respond by emailing me within 5 days of the announcement.

Reviewing it for you with extra soft, extra kissable lips,

(think I'll go find my hubby for another opinion)  ;-)

And just so you know ... EMAB did send me the lip balms for free. They wanted my opinion and I posted it here. It's my honest-to-goodness opinion.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And the winner is ....

According to Random.org,
the winner of the Envirosax giveaway is ...

'Cali Hicks!!

Plus, since 'Cali had more than 10 entries, she will also receive a Green Grandma reusable cloth bag!

Congratulations, 'Cali!

Email your address to me
and I'll put your prizes
in the mail.

This giveaway was not hosted by Envirosax. I did not receive any free products to review or giveaway.

The peaceful kingdom

I've been spending a little bit of time 'unwinding' from having company for the past week. It was a good week, but I found I needed some time to myself this morning after they left, so I soaked in the tub and read for awhile, ate a leisurely breakfast, washed the sheets and towels, and sat in the recliner, praying and reading. Now, I'm sitting in that same recliner, with a cat sleeping across my legs and a couple of candles burning on the table beside me. It's quiet, it's warm and it's lovely.

I was reading from the book of Isaiah this morning and wanted to share this passage with you because I found it to be beautiful and encouraging. I hope that it speaks to your heart as well. Isaiah 11:6-9:

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

Isn't that marvelous. The peaceful kingdom, as it was designed to be and will be again.

I hope this imagery will carry you through the day.

Looking forward to the day when the earth is no longer polluted and we all will live in peace,


Monday, January 23, 2012

...to visit orphans and widows in their distress

"This is true and undefiled religion/worship
in the sight of our God and Father:
to visit orphans and widows in their distress..."

-- James 1:27a

Photo by Shari Weinsheimer

Never was this passage from the book of James truer to me than during the period of time following my husband's death in 1989. The amazing people in my life who came up beside me and ministered to my children and me were practicing acts of worship every time they
  • listened to me talk about Jim
  • held me while I cried
  • babysat my children
  • shared a meal with me
  • called me on the phone
  • sat with me at church
  • made me laugh
  • made my children laugh
  • forgave me
  • mowed my lawn
  • brought me groceries
  • brought me flowers (loved that!)
  • remembered a birthday/anniversary/special date
  • sent me a card
The list could go on and on. True religion. True acts of worship. In the sight of our God and Father.

If you read last week's Vinegar Fridays' post, you know what we've been going through lately. Our "true worship" has been put to the challenge, and I hope we've fulfilled our high calling in Jesus Christ. We've visited. We've laughed. We've cried. We've shared meals. We've shoveled snow. Etc., etc., etc.

Do you know who was blessed by this? We were. There is nothing more fulfilling than being used by God to minister to the needs of others. Especially when those needs are the needs of dear friends. Especially when those same dear friends did all of the above for me when I was the widow and my children were the orphans.

Today, we spent a couple of hours at the funeral home. Before we left, I stood and watched the widower (my friend's father) sit in his wheelchair beside the casket staring lovingly at his wife of 68 years. I approached him to say goodbye:

"Your bride looks beautiful," I said softly into his ear, with my hand on his shoulder.

"Yes, she does. Just like I remember her," he replied. "I'll never forget the first time I saw her. She was 'it' for me right then ... and always was."

I smiled at him. "You were a good husband to her," I said, making a feeble attempt at comfort.

"It takes a good wife to make a good husband," he said simply.

"You were so lucky to have each other," I managed to get out before a tear rolled down my cheek.

"Yep. We were."

They were indeed. Oh to be that lucky. To know that kind of lifetime-love. To be cherished that much. Wow. Forget Angelina and Brad, Tom and Katie. This earth has lost one of its supercouples. Because, let's face it, one-half is never a whole.

Sharing my Sabbath with you,


Saturday, January 21, 2012

A new heaven and new earth

Photo by Larisa Larisa

The earth and everything in it is included
in God's plan of redemption.
Creation does not pass away,
but is restored and renewed as part
of the new heaven and the new earth of God's kingdom.

-- The Green Bible Trail Guide

Friday, January 20, 2012

A different kind of Vinegar Friday

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

The phone woke me at 4 a.m. this morning. That is never a good thing.

Earlier in the week, my friends who live in Virginia received the news that Mike's mom (who lives here in Pittsburgh) was dying. The doctor said that it would be a matter of hours. Of course, doctors tend to exaggerate things, don't they? It wasn't hours, it was days. However, in the early hours of this morning, she passed away. Thus the phone call.

On the other end of the line was Mike's sister, calling to let them know she was gone. Mike and Kathy were asleep in our family room and just didn't hear their cell phone ringing. So his sister called the house, which was perfectly fine at a time like this. Mike and Kathy got dressed, cleaned the snow off the car and headed to the hospital. Then they drove to the physical rehab center to break the news to Mike's father.

This is the part of the story that makes me cry. About a month or so ago, Mike's 91-year-old dad fell backwards down the escalator at Northway Mall. For those of you who know the mall, you know the escalator I'm talking about! It's two times as high as regular ones. After 68 years of being by his wife's side (except during the war when he was serving on a submarine), he was taken to a rehab center to recover from his multiple injuries. It was during this time his beloved wife (who was blind, by the way, and so dependent on him), became ill and died. Doesn't that make you want to cry? It does me. I find it to be so very sad.

While he did speak to her on the phone, he was not able to travel to the hospital to see her for a final goodbye.

This story reminds me so much of another sad, sad time in my life nearly 12 years ago. My friend's father was dying of esophageal cancer. He made numerous trips to Pittsburgh for treatment. On one particular occasion, as he lay in a hospital bed 130 miles or so from home, his perfectly healthy wife died. It was such a shock to the family. I didn't even believe it when my friend called to tell me the news. I joined him at the hospital to break the news to his father, and then, the next day, we traveled back to Ridgway with him so he could attend his wife's funeral. What a nightmare. I will never forget wheeling the grieving widower over to the casket at the church and watching as his hand lightly caressed the smooth wood.

Twenty-two days later, he died at home with a hospice nurse, three of his children and me surrounding his bed.

I cry even now with memories of that time. And I weep with anticipation of watching Mike's dad struggle, both physically and emotionally, through the funeral of his beloved bride.

So you see, today is a different kind of Vinegar Friday. I just simply don't feel like writing about vinegar. And I'm pretty sure you understand.

Sharing my heart,


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blood stains on the nation

As the anniversary of Roe v. Wade approaches, I wanted to repost the following. If nothing else, I hope it makes you think.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review it Wednesday -- What do others have to say about Vinegar Fridays?

Since I'm always posting my opinions about other products and books, I thought I'd reverse it this week and give you a glance into what others are saying about my book, Vinegar Fridays.

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino of the Best Ever You Network, recently awarded VF with the Blue Ribbon Award!

Elizabeth writes:

The book just isn't about cleaning with vinegar though. It is about many other uses for it such as keeping rabbits out of your garden, taming the frizzies in your hair and more.

But above all, Green Grandma "Hana" is a really great writer. Hana really has a knack for words and good sentences, so really the book could be about anything and it would be a winner because of Hana's writing touch.

Click here to read more of the Best Ever You Blue Ribbon review.

Toni, the Chic Mama gave another glowing review:

Hana Haatainen Caye, also known as The Green Grandma, has written "Vinegar Fridays," a book filled with the wonderful uses of vinegar. I absolutely love the book's description, "A splash of vinegar with a dash of personality." The book, "Vinegar Fridays," is such an easy read, many thanks to Hana's personality jumping off the pages. Let me tell you, this book is not your Grandma's book about vinegar. Ummm, well, actually it is, but this Grandma's book is way better!

The first thing I noticed about "Vinegar Fridays" is that all of the information is compiled in such an organized way. For example, each chapter pertains to a specific use of vinegar. One chapter is regarding the beauty uses of vinegar: "Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder." Another chapter is regarding the many health benefits of vinegar: "Vinegar - For The Health Of It." This organization truly makes finding specific uses for vinegar around your household easy peasy.

Want more? Read the rest of Toni's kind review here. Sorry, but someone already won the contest and received a signed copy of Vinegar Fridays, but you can still buy it!

If you head over to Because I Said So (and Other Mommyisms), you'll have the chance to read the most thorough review of the book. It seems as though Meg tried nearly every tip in the book ... and posted pictures to demonstrate the effectiveness of these tried and true vinegar-related remedies! Like this pee-stained carpet --


and after
Meg has more pictures and more to say about the book ... lots more. Including this:

There is literally, something for everyone in this book. Several tips could easily fit into more than one chapter, so I found myself wishing there was an index for easy reference.

Oops. Oh yeah, an index. Something I should have taken the time to included, but didn't. However, I am working on one now, and it will be included in future printings. I am also going to make an index available for download, so those who already have books can simply print it up and stick it in the back of the book.

Meg's review is a fun and informative read. If you haven't had the chance, I highly recommend checking it out. I guarantee you'll learn something!

Jodee, from Multi Healing Balm, gave another glowing review.

If your new year’s resolution is to clean up your act whether it to be more eco friendly, healthier, happier, more energetic or to lose weight then Vinegar Fridays should definitely be on your read list.  The green grandma takes you through every room in the house even giving your beauty supply an overhaul in an often funny, easy to read style.  Although I thought of Vinegar Fridays as more of a reference book I promise those ‘dedicated’ will find it hard to put down. 
While you're on Jodee's site, take the time to check out one of the most amazing products I've ever come across -- Multi Healing Balm. And if you want to read more about what I think about this product, click here for the review I posted back in November.
Wanda, of Scratch That, mentioned the need for an index as well. But she had some other really nice things to say about the book. Her review is quite comprehensive, too.
The book itself is a very quick read. Hana condenses a lifetime's worth of tips into 72 pages. Each of the 19 chapters is just a few pages long, so it's quite easy to breeze through them. Hana's personality comes through as well, making me giggle at times. I've never met her in real life, but I feel like I know her from reading her blog, and her book feels just the same. She introduces us to her family in this book and tells how these tips have helped her whole family, right on down to her grand-kids.
The Green Grandma community has become like a family to me, so this book is my gift to you, my family. I've gotten to know some of you through the blog and Facebook page, and you, have become well-acquainted with me. As Wanda says, the book is written in the same style you've come to expect from me. I didn't change my style for the sake of "a book." Basically, what I did was put all the info I'd shared with you (plus some) and compiled it in a book to make it easier for you to make the switch from toxins to vinegar.
I hope you will take the time to read the book and let me know how much your enjoyed, or didn't enjoy, it. I love feedback! So let me know.
I so appreciate the kind words these gracious reviewers shared. If you have a website, blog, radio or television program, or podcast and would like to receive a copy of Vinegar Fridays to review, email me and I'll send out a copy.
Let's make every day a Vinegar Friday!
Keeping it green with vinegar,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Anything to stop the crying!

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to be bringing old posts to the forefront this week (which in the blogisphere is an absolute no-no ... oh well). Here's a post I did two years ago on soothing a colicky baby. If you have a crier in your home, I hope something here will help!


My grandson, Lincoln James

Nothing soothes the soul like the sound of a colicky baby. Well, perhaps there's not much truth in that. Actually, there's no truth in it. The sounds that emerge from your usually sweet little one when he or she has a bellyache can be heart-wrenching. So what's a parent (or grandparent or caretaker) to do?

While your doctor might offer other suggestions, such as prescription drugs (which may be necessary), here are some natural remedies that just might work to help you and your baby enjoy some quiet time.

Rock-a-bye baby. The motion of rocking can calm a gassy belly and cause your little one to actually pass the gas. Settling into a rocking chair with mommy might do the trick. A swing can work wonders as well; just make sure your baby is at least 3 weeks old before placing him or her in a swing.

The sounds of silence ... NOT! Oddly enough, a colicky baby isn't looking for some peace and quiet. The gentle roar of the vacuum cleaner or the swishing of your dishwasher is somehow soothing to little ones with upset tummies.

Warm and cozy. Throw a towel or fuzzy blanket into the dryer to warm it up. Then place it across your infant's abdomen. The heat is soothing and might be all that is needed.

On the road again. If all else fails, get out the car seat, strap in your little one and hit the road. This used to be a tried and true remedy for the average folk, but with the escalating gas prices, it seems to be reserved for those who have either fat bank accounts or hybrid cars!

If you have any other ideas for home remedies for colic, please post a comment. I love to share readers' comments with other parents out there searching for answers to common issues.

Keeping it green and healthy,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Derailed by rearranging, undecorating, piles of fur and mouse poop

Have you ever had days when you just felt like crying because there was too much to do? That's what I'm facing today. I just want to crawl under the covers and go to sleep rather than dealing with the daunting to-do list on my desk. The to-do list that is somewhat buried under a pile of papers, books, bills, etc. that all need to be sorted through. Bottom line ... my office is a mess. Again.

So is the rest of the house, unfortunately. Bill and I decided to do some major rearranging this weekend. And when I say 'weekend,' I mean the entire weekend, minus our time at church yesterday. Thus, there was no "Sabbath rest" for me. It's rather interesting, I think, how overwhelmed I feel today. Is that because I didn't take the time to rest and recreate over the weekend? Most likely. But we really didn't have another option. Once we started on this project, there was no turning back and no slowing down.

We have a relatively small dining room. It is plenty big enough for us, but when you add our daughters and their families, it gets, well, a bit tight around the table. The folks seating along the wall are trapped there until the end of the meal, because the end chairs are literally against the china cabinet and opposite wall. Not fun. So for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we moved the dining room table into the living room, and half of the living room furniture into the dining room. It worked well for the holiday meals. But it was a pain to do, and we decided something permanent had to be done. Our next family gathering will take place in our new spacious dining room.

We moved the china cabinet -- oh my goodness -- the dirt and dust accumulated after many years of not going behind it was enough to spur on allergies in my husband and an asthma attack in me. We had enough fur back there to recreate some of the beloved pets that are no longer with us. I mean, seriously, who moves their china cabinet ever?? The last time we moved ours was in 2004 when the room was painted.

Moving a china cabinet is no easy task. First we had to empty it. Then, of course, I had to whip out my Norwex cloths and clean the glass shelves and doors, etc. I must say, it looks rather sparkly now. Which is a good thing, since it's now the focal point of what was once our living room!

That was the one good move. Then we came to some issues. Like what to do with a too-big couch, recliner and large swivel rocker with an ottoman. The furniture simply didn't fit in the "new" living room. Crap.

Yes, we knew that going into it. We're not total idiots. But we still thought things would work out a little better than they have.

Conclusion? Well, of course, this involves more work. We have another room in our downstairs that is used for one of those "catch-all" rooms. Those of you whose kids have moved away probably know what I'm talking about here. After going through many transitions, from bedroom to two different daughters to office to remnants of old office when I moved upstairs and didn't want to tote all my stuff along with me. Now what we have is a 'remnants of old office' mixed with coat room mixed with toy room (for storing, not playing) mixed with Christmas decoration packing up room. In other words, a nightmare. And we've decided that's where the couch is going!!

But before that can happen, a whole heck of a lot of work has to be done first. We have to finish taking down the Christmas decorations (which we only started doing on Saturday as we were moving furniture), pack everything up in the attic, and sort through the piles of papers, books and other office stuff that accumulated from 2002 until 2009, including 5 years of papers from meetings for the Pregnancy Care Centers of Pittsburgh, where I was on the Board of Directors. For the most part, the papers have to be shredded, as the info from board meetings was confidential. Once we have the room cleaned out, we have to rip up the nasty carpeting that bears then evidence of an old and dying dog that couldn't control his bladder.

Then, we can put down a new rug and move the couch into the room. There's already a TV and cable in there. So that will be our new "den" and playroom for the kids. But in order to get it ready, we need time, something we don't have a lot of of.

Thus, my morning tears. I feel overwhelmed. Especially when I open an email and discover I completely forgot to complete a project for a client and he's "wondering if I can complete it soon." I'm sure I wrote it down, but then, there's that mess on my desk.

To top all of that, last night before going to bed, I discovered the little brown pieces of evidence that a mouse was visiting my kitchen drawers!! Can somebody please explain to me why they don't put backs on kitchen cabinets before attaching them to the walls?!

Guess what I have to do this morning? You got it. I have to wash all my silverware, and other miscellaneous kitchenware that was once clean but now might have mouse pee on it. Then I have to sanitize the drawers. And we're talking a couple of hours of work I hadn't planned for the day.

So why the long blog post, if I'm so darned busy? Simply because I needed to rant!! And to explain why I'll be using some old posts over the next few days, as I need a break from writing the blog, but don't want you to take a break from reading it. Make sense?

And with that, I think I'll go downstairs and face the mouse poop. I hope you have a lovely day and that next Monday, I'll be able to write about resting on the Sabbath once again (although, I'm pretty much thinking that's a pipe dream at this point!).

Sharing my lack of a Sabbath with you,


Saturday, January 14, 2012

A huge warehouse of stuff ... or is it?

"Our present ecological crisis, the biggest single practical threat to our human existence in the middle to long term, has, religious people would say, a great deal to do with our failure to think of the world as existing in relation to the mystery of God, not just as a huge warehouse of stuff to be used for our convenience."

- Rowan Williams

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vinegar Friday


It's a snowy, blustery vinegar Friday in Pittsburgh! Fortunately for me, I don't have to go anywhere. I'm working at home, as I usually do, but today, I'm wishing vinegar could perform its magic on my Comcast email account. I haven't been able to open any emails today. I can see the list of them. I can see how important some of them are. But I cannot open them and I want to scream. Spraying vinegar on my laptop clearly would not help the situation. Neither will a call to Comcast, which I already tried. They're having "issues" with email. No crap.

Anyway, it's Vinegar Friday, and I'm sure you didn't drop in to listen to me gripe. You came on by for some good ol' fashioned vinegar tips, right? How about a vinegar recipe instead? It just seems like a good day to cook.

Photo by Ellen Sholk

Vinegar Chicken and Herbs

2 1/2 - 3 lbs. chicken pieces
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. each of a variety of favorite dried herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, etc.)
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 16 oz. can tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic and herbs in oil in heavy skillet until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, catsup, vinegar, salt and pepper. Top mixture with chicken pieces and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 - 45 mins. Baste chicken several times during cooking.

Remove chicken to a warmed serving platter. If you want a thicker sauce, mix a little bit of cornstarch to an equal amount of water and slowly pour mixture into the sauce. Stir and simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.

Serve over pasta or rice.

Yum. Can't wait to make dinner tonight! Let me know if any of you try this out tonight as well.

Enjoy your weekend, and of course, your Vinegar Friday!

Keeping it green and yummy with vinegar,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Darned-If-You-Do, Darned-If-You-Don't

I am host of a radio show on KQV in Pittsburgh. Last week on the Lange Money Hour, we were privileged to have as our guest, the wonderfully wise and well-spoken, Neale Godfrey, author of 26 books that deal with money, life skills and value issues. Her groundbreaking book, Money Doesn't Grow on Trees: A Parent's Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children, hit #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

After the show, which I found extremely informative, I contacted Neale and asked her if she would be willing to share some of her wisdom and insights with the GG community. She not only agreed, but surprised me with a program of hers I didn't even know about! The following post by Neale provides some valuable insight for parents and grandparents.

Neale Godfrey
To learn more about Neale, her books, and her philosophy, visit her website or look up her many books on Amazon.com. You can also find Neale on Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog.


In the United States, we're a nation of "stuff." We want stuff, we produce stuff and then we throw away stuff away and call it "garbage." We used to burn a lot of garbage until it was pointed out that we were polluting the air. So we doused the fires and started creating "landfills" of garbage. However, they attracted flies and rodents, smelled awful, and, guess what... they still caused pollution. So, what was our next idea? We put our garbage on barges and sent it to places where we thought people might not notice or care.

Every day, the earth's population grows; creating a demand for even more stuff that will eventually end up as garbage. What's a consumer to do? It's "Darned-If-You-Do, Darned-If-You-Don't" dilemma. Even worse, it may cause a reaction of, "I'll be wrong no matter what I do, so I'll do nothing."

Since we all have contributed to the Earth's problem, it's up to all of us to accept responsibility and then do something to change our ways. In short, we have to take ownership for what we've done and we hope that you can ECHO to your kids that they need to "step up to the plate," as well.

We are a nation of stuff, and we are willing to pay for innovations that save time effort. These same innovations supposedly increase our standard of living, yet-if you're anything like me-I feel like I spend even more time and effort dealing with them!

These things are happening even if you don't think about them. So, we don't really have the option to drop out. You have to stay engaged, be a responsible parent and grandparents and ECHO to your kids, your community, and the world.

That is one of many solutions that I have created. I want to empower children and their families' to take charge of their financial lives.

I created the ECO-Effect program, which celebrates what we all can do to make the world a more ECOnomically and ECOlogically healthier place for everyone and everything. In the ECO-Effect, we help you teach your kids and grandkids- and your kids to teach you- to "ECHO" to the community, school, businesses and government... and to be good Citizens-of-the-World.

Your ECOnomic decisions are world decisions and your ECOlogical decisions are world decisions. With the ECO-Effect, we hope to raise consciousness, be inclusive and have you take steps together with your family.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review it Wednesday -- It's all about the Sax

I hate taking plastic bags when I go to a store. What about you? For me, I feel like the biggest hypocrite on the planet when I walk out of a store carrying a plastic bag. Horror of horrors, the thought of running into someone I know makes it so much worse!

But sometimes you run into a store unexpectantly and you're not toting around your reusable shopping bags. After all, a lot of them are big and bulky and you often just leave them in the car, right?

Well, I have a solution for you! The handy, dandy Envirosax®.

My cousin, Kelly, bought me an Envirosax® a couple of years ago, and I've been hooked since. After all, what's not to love about these lightweight nylon bags that roll up and snap and can be tossed into nearly any size purse? With the Envirosax®, there's never an excuse to be without a reusable bag, even when you make an impulse purchase! With Envirosax®, you're always prepared!

Animal Planet Bag 4

I have 3 Envirosax® bags. The one I received from Kelly, one I purchased at Heavenly Soaps and Scents in Lititz, PA, and one I received from my daughter, Bethany. It's from the Animal Planet line and is the prettiest one I have.

The bags are a roomy 19.5" x 16.5" size when opened, and a dainty 4" x 1.5" when rolled up. They weigh next to nothing, yet hold 44 lbs.!!

Bloom Bag 4
 The bags come in such a wide variety of patterns and colors (including solids) and there are even designs to appeal to kids of all ages!




In addition to the convenience of Envirosax® bags, what I really love is that they are machine washable! That makes them the perfect bag for grocery shopping. No more worrying about bacteria growing inside your reusable bags! Simply unload your meats and produce and toss the bags in the wash! How great is that?!


Envirosax® even has these wonderful little pouches you can buy to tote your totes in, and they only cost $1.95. You can put 3 bags in the children's pouches and 5 in the regular ones. And of course, they come in all sorts of marvelous designs and colors as well. While the individual Envirosax® bags sell for $8.95 and $9.95, you can buy sets of 5 with the pouch for $39.95!

I think the Envirosax® bags are so awesome, I'm giving one away! This giveaway is limited to those of you on Facebook, however. And I won't do the drawing (via Random.org) until after midnight (EST) on January 16th, provided my page reaches 700 'likes' by then. If we're not at 700 on Monday night, I'll wait until we get there. Fair enough?

Here's what you need to do to rush this process along. Refer your friends! Everyone who posts a comment on my FB wall stating why they want to win an Envirosax® will get 1 entry. Everyone who posts the contest on their own FB page (and let's me know about it) gets 3 more. Everyone who is mentioned in a friend's post ( ______ sent me), gets 6 more! That's 10 right there. Easy, huh? If the winner has at least 10 entries, they will also receive an exclusive Green Grandma reusable bag!

Again, the deadline is midnight January 16, 2012, or when we reach 700 'likes' after that.

Let's grow the community and save some plastic bags along the way!

Keeping it green with Envirosax®,


By the way, Envirosax® is having a sale that ends TODAY, January 11, 2012. If you spend $50, you get 50% off your entire order! See their website for details.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lactose Intolerant or Allergic to Dairy: How to Know the Difference and Protect Yourself from Symptoms

Today, I'm happy to feature a guest post by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses. She welcomes your comments by email.

This post is aimed at all the non-vegan readers in the community, and it deals with an issue that seems to be garnering a lot of attention these days. I must admit, however, I didn't know the difference between dairy allergies and lactose intolerance, so I found the article to be quite enlightening.

Thank you for sharing your expertise, Angelita!

Photo by Marina Shemesh

Who doesn’t love some kind of dairy? The central ingredient in ice cream, chocolate, lattes, and other delicious treats, is dairy, not to mention cheese and milk products. Unfortunately, for many, digesting dairy products isn't the easiest thing in the world. But if you’re starting to wonder if recurring stomach issues may have one too many slices of cheesecake to blame, you could be lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy.

Lactose intolerance is an extremely common phenomenon, marked by the inability to break down lactose, a sugar found in milk. Its prevalence varies throughout different regions of the world. In North America and Europe, lactose intolerance frequency ranges from 0-20%, while in southern South America, East Asia, and southern Africa, the prevalence can be as high as 80-100%.

If you are lactose intolerant, it does not mean you can't consume dairy products at all, it just won't be the most pleasant experience. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and bloating. The severity of symptoms varies, and many people with lactose intolerance eat a moderate amount of dairy.

If you find out that you are lactose intolerant, there are many ways you can still eat dairy without bringing on symptoms. The most common thing to do is to consume dairy products in small amounts and in combination with other food. Yogurt and kefir contain bacteria that help break down lactose, so those are actually great choices for people with lactose intolerance. You can also check out pro-biotic formulas that will provide some extra enzymes to help your digestive system. No matter what amount of dairy you are able to consume, it is possible to mitigate the symptoms of lactose intolerance and still include dairy in your diet.

Dairy allergies, on the other hand, are a completely different phenomenon. Dairy allergies are caused by the body's mistaking some component of a specific food as a toxin, causing negative reactions. Most dairy allergies come from an allergic reaction to the protein found in milk. People often mistake a dairy allergy for lactose intolerance because many of the symptoms are the same, but dairy allergies can be more severe and also include trouble breathing, hives, pneumonia, and, in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock.

If you suspect that you may be lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy, it is best to see a doctor and get tested to know for sure. Having an intense allergic reaction -- which can sometimes cause severe illness or death -- is not worth the risk.

Unfortunately, those with dairy allergies must avoid dairy products at all costs. Be sure to read labels vigilantly, since milk is a hidden ingredient in tons of processed foods. Inquire at restaurants about food ingredients, and, if your allergy is severe, make sure to carry an epinephrine injection with you, just in case. However, having a dairy allergy does not mean you will have to avoid all milk and cheese; you will just need to seek out non-dairy alternatives. There are non-dairy substitutes available in most grocery stores, which provide you all the nutrition of dairy without the negative effects of lactose.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What is her? An innocent question with a revealing answer

My mom and my grandbaby. Life is good.
Last night, we returned from a 3-day weekend in Manheim, PA, where we were visiting my mom. Her 85th birthday was on Saturday, so my husband and I took our granddaughter, Laura, and headed east on the turnpike. Laura is a real joy to travel with, which can't always be said about toddlers. We sang songs, played rhyming games, laughed and told stories. Lots and lots of stories. As much fun as it was, at my age, it's still a bit tiring to tote a toddler around for 3 days. I don't know how you older moms do it! I am so glad I had my kids before I was 30.

My mom usually goes to bed fairly early, but on Friday night, after we put Laura to bed at 8:30, Bill, Mom and I played Pinochle until after midnight. Mom and I, in an unusual night of card playing, lost every hand!

Laura's face beside the bed at 7:30 a.m. was not what I had planned on when I fell off to sleep around 2 a.m.! That was the start of a very busy day for me, as I hosted a birthday dinner for my mom that evening. The guests all seemed to enjoy the food, my traditional dinner questions and the company. By the time they left, and Mom went to bed, I was faced with a huge mess to clean up (Bill helped a little before falling asleep on the couch). The bed felt especially nice when I crawled in around 1 a.m.

Mom was surprised to find a cleaned up house when she made her way downstairs on Sunday morning, which made me happy. Sometimes, it's so worth the extra effort to do things right, don't you think?

My mom goes to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manheim, the church I was raised in. It's more traditional and formal than the church I currently attend, and I wasn't sure how Laura would handle the formality of it all. I must say, I was quite impressed with her behavior. She was quiet, respectful and promptly folded her hands and recited the Lord's Prayer right along with the congregation. Moments like that make a grandma proud. What didn't make me proud, but did slightly amuse me, was a particular comment Laura made before the service began.

There is a woman in the church that is, shall we say, a colorful character. So colorful, in fact, that she appeared on the show America's Got Talent last season. She even made it through the first round, although it is uncertain why. Mary Ellen is in her 70s, I believe, and wears a lot of makeup. Her hair is teased high and dyed bright red. Like I said, she's colorful. Her talent on the show was playing the keyboard and singing. Perhaps you remember her.

Well, she walked past our pew yesterday morning and Laura got a good look at her. With wide eyes, she turned to me and said, "What is her?"

I couldn't help laughing at the innocence of a child and her unrestrained honesty. We raise them to not point, to not stare, and certainly, not to make fun of anyone. But she was doing none of those things. She was curious.

Aren't we all? Haven't you ever seen someone and wondered, albeit silently, What is she? or What is he? or even What is that? Just because we are culturally refined, it does not mean we don't wonder sometimes. Which has me wondering ...

Has anyone ever looked at me and asked themselves, What is her? like Laura asked about Mary Ellen? After all, while I may not cover my face in "face paint," I sometimes cover my heart in it. Or my mind. Or my prejudices. Or my judgmental spirit. Sometimes a smile is a form of "face paint," when the sincerity of it is lost behind a slew of judgments or prejudices.

In many ways, Mary Ellen is more real than I am. What is her? In toddlerspeak, her is a woman who believes in her talent, is confident in her unique look and worships the same God I do. Her is worthy of respect.

Aren't we all?

And that, my friends, is the lesson I learned on the Sabbath this week. An unlikely lesson I didn't even recognized until I started writing this post. Now it's time to go wash off some of this "face paint" before the throne of God. After all, He's the only one who can wash me clean.

Sharing my Sabbath and more,


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