Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Hyland's Giveaway!


Have a baby at home, or one on the way? Then you need some Hyland's!

I am a huge Hyland's, Inc. fan. For years, I've depended on Hyland's leg cramp formula for those middle-of-the-night cramps in my legs and feet. If you've ever had any, you know exactly what I'm talking about -- the hideous pain that wakes you up and keeps you up. With Hyland's Leg Cramps, I just reach for the bottle I keep beside the bed, pop a few quinine tablets under my tongue and wait a few minutes for them to dissolve and do their magic. Works every time!

I have a few more Hyland's products in my cupboard as well: Calms Forte to help with that occasional sleepless night; Menopause for hormone-related symptoms; Hayfever for seasonal itchy, sneezy symptoms; and Gas for, well, you know.

I love the fact that Hyland's products are 100% natural and safe. The homeopathic remedies can be trusted for everyone in your family, including your babies! And the Hyland's Baby line just got better! Now you can treat the symptoms of your baby's cough with a safe, effective homeopathic cough syrup for infants 6 months and older. If you're like other parents, you're concerned about the use of over-the-counter medicines for infant coughs and colds. The Hyland's Baby Cough Syrup is the answer! It is safe to treat most coughs, and it doesn't wind your baby up or knock him out. No drowsy or stimulant side effects!

According to Amy Fox, vice president of product innovation at Hyland's, "The  medicine itself was formulated specifically to cover the wide range of cold-related coughs, from the tickling cough to the dry cough." Recognizing the challenge parents have in finding safe medicines, she explains, "Unlike most traditional over-the-counter medicines that suppress symptoms, Hyland's Baby Cough Syrup alleviates coughs due to colds by stimulating the body's own defense mechanisms."

That's the key to Hyland's homeopathic formulas! And I'm really excited to let you know they have offered an amazing gift basket to one lucky member of the Green Grandma community! Here's what you could win from their baby line:
 Retail value: $66.23!

Is this a great prize package, or what?!

And there are a lot of ways to enter:

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Sabbath Experience continues

Cats consider every day a Sabbath day!

I love Sundays!! I just do. Our church, lunch with kids/grandkids, naps, etc. tradition is addictive. It seems like nearly every Saturday, when I haven't completed the weekend tasks I'd planned, I go to bed with a resolve to break my Sabbath commitment, and spend Sunday afternoon/evening doing work. But then, Sunday comes and I forsake the work in lieu of worship, fellowship and rest/recreation. That is why I love Sundays!

Yesterday afternoon, I took a 2 hour nap on the couch, curled up with a blanket and a cat. And because it was the Sabbath, I didn't feel at guilty about it.

The other reason I love Sundays is because I love spending time with my husband. While he might do some things around the house, for the most part, he rests/recreates, too. We spend the time together and I cherish that.

How do you spend your Sundays? Are they just like most other days, full of work and activity? If so, I challenge you to start a Sabbath Experiment of your own. Of course, it doesn't have to be a Sunday. After all, the Sabbath was originally on a Saturday and is still honored as that by many. My intention isn't to get into a theological debate about when the Sabbath is, but rather the purpose for it. Yes, I believe that includes worshiping the Creator of this magnificent world of ours, but I also believe God recognized our need to rest from our labors. How marvelous is that?

Rest. Spend time with the people you love. Serve others. Play. Step outside the ordinary. You'll reap countless benefits ... I guarantee it.

Sharing my Sabbath experience with you,


Read more:

Why I started The Sabbath Experiment
When the Experiment turned into an Experience (and how it kind of failed this week!)
The best laid plans of mice and men -- how a mouse undid my Sabbath rest
A year later -- what did I learn?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What makes it green?

A green product is one that won't harm you, your children, your pets, or the environment inside the house or outside where your waste goes. And it won't hang around like an unwanted guest after you use it.

-- Sloan Barnett

Friday, February 24, 2012

Vinegar Friday and some tips from fans


This is the first Friday of the annual Lenten Fish Fry season. Do you know what that means? Lots of malt vinegar will be sprinkled on fish all over Pittsburgh, and probably where you live as well. How cool is that? Lenten Fridays are truly Vinegar Fridays! And that just makes me smile.

Do you know what else makes me smile? Vinegar tips from community members! I love that you want to share your own discoveries with me. Of course, I don't want to keep these delectable goodies to myself, so here are some more ways vinegar fits right into everyday life!

Jill wrote to tell me about her daughter's adventures with an unlit candle and ... the television screen. Uh oh! Guess how she got the waxy artwork off the TV? You got it! Vinegar!!

Jessica wrote the following on the Green Grandma's Vinegar Fridays Facebook wall: Best vinegar tip lately ... apparently you can drink a small shot of apple cider vinegar to help control diabetic blood sugar spikes. I currently have gestational diabetes and I haven't had to use any medication because of a little vinegar before bed. Woo hoo!

Woo hoo, indeed!! Yea, Jessica!

Another one from Jill: I'm getting rid of our yucky fireplace smell with vinegar today. Vinegar Tuesday!

Do you have an awesome vinegar tip to share? Leave a comment here or post it on the Facebook page so I can share it with the rest of the community on an upcoming Vinegar Friday.

Keeping it green with vinegar,


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday's Truths and Tidbits

Did you know that February is Pet Dental Health Month? And did you know that periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed problem in cats and dogs? Bad teeth can lead to a host of other problems throughout your pet's body, so make sure you're taking care of your dog's and cat's pearly whites.

Our Eskie, Jake, before the teeth were pulled!
We didn't keep up with brushing our dog's teeth and we suffered through some pretty nasty odors as he breathed on us from day to day. By the time we took him to the vet, it was too late to save the majority of his teeth. Poor pup. He ended up having the majority of his teeth pulled and we ended up a bit poorer for it. If only we'd kept up with the brushing!

February is also Black History Month. So I thought it would be a good time to recognize 4 of the top African American environmentalists who are working to 'green up' their corners of the world.

There's Majora Carter who initiated green-collar job training and placement systems and founded Sustainable South Bronx, one of the most "environmentally and economically challenged" parts of the United States. 

Van Jones is the author of The Green-Collar Economy and is an award-winning pioneer in clean-energy economy. Jones is the co-founder of three successful non-profit organizations, including Green for All.

And then there's Gloria. Just Gloria. No last name. Gloria runs a website called, Black into Green where she shares news and tips related to green living from an African American perspective.
For 22 years, environmental activist, Dr. John Francis, traveled across the country, mostly on foot, as an affirmation of his responsibility to the earth. He also took a vow of silence that lasted for 17 years!

Lastly, February is Creative Romance Month and National Sweet Potato Month. And, since I'm feeling generous. I thought I'd throw a contest!

Post a non-sexual creative romance tip or a sweet potato recipe in the comments section here or on Facebook (bonus entries if you combine the two!). I'll choose a winner via Random.org and announce it here on the blog on Tuesday, February 28th. Winner will have to contact me via email to claim their prize within 3 days.

What could you win? How about a Vinegar Fridays reusable cloth bag and a signed copy of the book? Sound good? I can't wait to start reading (and trying out) your creative romance tips and sweet potato recipes!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review It Wednesday -- It's Udderly Amazing!

Photo by Michael Drummond
I love goat's milk products. While I'm not one to drink goat's milk, or cow's milk for that matter, I do like to wash or moisturize my body with products made from it.

 Udderly Amazing is one of the many companies offering soaps and lotions made goat's milk and that couldn't make me happier! Recently, I received some free samples of Udderly Amazing products from Natural Products Network, including a small bar of soap and a 4 oz. bottle of lotion. While the products were not sent to me in exchange for a review, I thought they were more than worth one.

Let's start with this nifty little bar of soap. One of the cool things about Udderly Amazing is that you can choose scents for their products. The soap I'm using is scented with essential patchouli oil. Other scents available include 
  • eucalyptus
  • lavender
  • peppermint
  • peppermint/chamomile
  • tea tree
  • and simply soap (unscented)
This goat's milk soap lathers nicely and leaves hands feeling clean and moisturized. I'm a fan. 

Ingredient-wise, it doesn't get much better than this. Udderly Amazing Louisiana Secret Recipe Goat Milk Soap is made from a one-of-a-kind recipe that starts out with the raw milk of the family's hand-raised goats. The pH in goat's milk so closely resembles the pH in humans, that it is naturally moisturizing, even without the additional ingredients, which include saponified coconut oil (we all know that's good for your skin), saponified soybean oil, saponified cottonseed oil and saponified olive oil. The soap is also rich in nutrients like zinc and vitamins C, A and B-complex.

What's not to love about it? And it's safe for the entire family. No toxins. No harmful chemicals. Just natural moisturizing goodness.

And then, there's the lotion. The Udderly Soothing Everyday Lotion is just that ... soothing. I have the unscented lotion, although I would love to try the honey almond. It also comes in lavender and peppermint/chamomile. 

The lotion is not greasy, nor is is sticky, like some body and hand lotions can be. It has a smooth and easy application and absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving it soft and touchable. Ahhh. And, like the soap, it's gentle enough for the whole family, with ingredients like aloe vera whole leaf juice, safflower oil, shea butter and natural vitamin E.

The benefits of goat's milk are outlined on the Udderly Amazing website. Goat milk soap is good for sensitive skin, eczema, and acne. It exfoliates and its moisturizing properties rival all the expensive, and often toxic, products on the market. Udderly Amazing offers its products with competitive pricing in mind. The soap sells for $4.95 a bar and the 8 oz. bottle of lotion goes for $12.95.

There's not a lot else for me to say about these two products, other than to say they come from a pretty cool family that started out with two Nubian goats named Grace and Little Bit. You can read their story here.

While I give the Udderly Soothing Everyday Lotion and the Louisiana Secret Recipe Goat Milk Soap a green thumbs up, I will caution you on one thing. If you are no pooing or are simply using vinegar as a hair rinse, do not lather up with the goat milk soap. Why? Well, you figure it out. Milk and vinegar. It just might conjure up memories of the smell outside on the lawn of the fraternity house on a Friday night at college. Minus the alcohol, of course.

Reviewing it for you,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Agave syrup -- have you bought into the hype?

Photo by Kecia O'Sullivan

Refined white sugar is bad. Artificial sweeteners are bad. High fructose corn syrup is bad. That's all we seem to be hearing lately. Thank God for agave syrup, right? Wrong. Some smart marketers along the way convinced a bunch of consumers that agave syrup was the way to go if they wanted to sweeten their diets "naturally." Unfortunately, despite the labeling, agave syrup is not "natural." Neither is it "raw."

In actuality, a natural sweetener can be made from the agave plant. That is what some people do in Mexico. They boil the sap of the plant for hours until it becomes syrupy; much like genuine maple syrup. Unfortunately, that syrup is not what you will find in your local health food stores or supermarkets. Commercial agave syrup isn't made from the sap at all. It's made from the starchy root bulb. According to  Russ Bianchi, Managing Director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc., in order to create the hyped-up syrup health-conscious folks are buying up, the starch goes through "a highly chemical process dependent on genetically modified enzymes," just like ... gasp ... high fructose corn syrup! As a matter of fact, there is little difference between the two ... except perhaps the cost! Agave syrup contains at least 70% fructose!!

But don't take my word for it. Read more in a report called, Agave Nectar: Worse Than We Thought by Ramiel Nagel and Sally Fallon Morell. This report delves into the whole HFCS debate, so if you're not sure what that's all about, I highly recommend that you read it.

Later in the report, they expose the truth about agave nectar. Here's how they begin:

As the educated public has shied away from foods containing HFCS, the industry has brought a new sweetener on the scene, one used especially in foods aimed at the health-conscious consumer: agave “nectar.” Agave nectar is advertised as a “diabetic friendly,” raw, and “100% natural sweetener.” Yet it is none of these.

Agave nectar is found on the shelves of health food stores primarily under the labels, “Agave Nectar 100% Natural Sweetener,” and “Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar.” In addition, it can be found in foods labeled as organic or raw, including ketchup, ice cream, chocolate and health food bars.

Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, had this to say about agave nectar: 

"[Agave is] almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing.” 

Unfortunately, we've all fallen victim to great marketing from time to time.

Even more disturbing is this little bit of often overlooked information (also from the report by Nagel and Morell):

"However, the truth is that the saponins found in many varieties of agave plants are toxic steroid derivatives, capable of disrupting red blood cells and producing diarrhea and vomiting, to be avoided during pregnancy because they might cause or contribute to miscarriage by stimulating blood flow to the uterus. At the very least, agave products should carry a warning label indicating that the product may cause a miscarriage."

Let me repeat that: Agave products should carry a warning label indicating that the product may cause a miscarriage!!!

Lesson learned: Just because it's in a health food store or in the nutrition section of the grocery store does not mean it is healthy! Or safe.

My take on agave nectar/syrup? Avoid it. It is not good for you. It does not deliver on the manufacturers' claims. And if you're buying it because you want to keep your family away from high fructose corn syrup, I hate to tell you this, but you've been duped. Like thousands of others. And here is where Dr. Oz and I part ways once again. Ever since he touted the benefits of agave syrup on Oprah, sales went through the roof. And, admittedly, I'm quite confused as to why he's promoting it. Yes, it is lower on the glycemic index than many other sweeteners. But so is aspartame (with a 0 GI). And you can find countless websites and "experts" extolling the virtues of aspartame. But you and I know it's poison, right?

I'm anxious to see if Dr. Oz reverses his stand on agave syrup. High fructose is high fructose, right? Whether it's corn or agave, it's simply not good for you. And if you're trying to lose weight by eliminating sugar, guess what? Spoonful by spoonful, sugar and agave syrup are the same -- 16 calories per teaspoon.

One of the members of our community switched to agave syrup recently, in her quest to break the sugar habit. A short while later, she started getting headaches. Baffled by the cause, she made a doctor's appointment. But then she discovered the truth about agave and stopped using it. Guess what? Her headaches went away. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Unless you're vegan, the best choice for sweetening is locally produced raw organic honey. It's been called one of nature's miracle foods for good reason.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of more bad news about something many of you thought was good for you. But, as always, I just want to keep you informed.

And, on that note, I want to share one more thing another community member shared yesterday. It's a really handy-dandy tool we should all print out and keep on hand -- The Cooking Oil Comparison Chart.

I hope this will guide you into making healthier choices for you and your family!

Trying to keep it healthy,


Monday, February 20, 2012

I just have to brag

Yesterday was a perfect Sabbath day. My Sunday School class engaged in a lively discussion of the new earth during my Environmental Stewardship lesson. That was followed by another inspiring worship service, led by our amazing worship leader, Tim Hartman. Our new senior minister, Tom Fodi, started a sermon series that will carry us through Lent. I'm looking forward to all I'm about to learn from him in the weeks to come.

Bethany with Lincoln and Laura
  In lieu of our usual lunch out with the family, we all gathered for a meal in the fellowship hall to celebrate Meili Lowry's second birthday. We had lots of reasons to celebrate. Brian and Kelly Lowry waiting a long time to bring this precious child home from China. After years of disappointments, they were finally able to go to China this past autumn and bring their daughter home. Through the years, many of us asked God why their prayers for a child were not being answered. Why the delays? Why the disappointments? Now we have the answers. All we have to do is look at Meili's beautiful smile and we know God had her in mind all along. Meili was meant to be a Lowry. What a blessed little girl she is!! Quite honestly, if I was a little girl, I would want to be a Lowry, too!

So we celebrated with our church family and it was a true blessing. Of course, we also had the kids and grandkids with us, which always makes every event even more special.

My grandbabies having fun at Meili's birthday party
Our daughter, Jess, attended the 40 Days for Life kickoff last evening, so Bill and I watched Laura for her. This is where my bragging comes in.

Jess has been teaching Laura about the 50 states and she can now say them in alphabetical order. I think that's quite an accomplishment for a child who just turned 3 in October. As I was driving home with Laura yesterday, I asked her, "What comes after California?"

Without hesitation, she said, "Colorado." Lucky guess, I thought to myself.

"What comes after South Carolina?"

Again, an immediate answer. "South Dakota."

Hmm. "What comes after Washington?"

Ahh, a pause. "I don't know that one," she said.

"Wyoming?" I asked.

"No, Green Grandma [which is what she calls me], it's Wisconsin."

I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty advanced for a 3-year-old. Later that evening, I repeated the exercise at the house, so Bill could be equally impressed with our genius of a granddaughter. She didn't let me down.

Since I taught her to recite the books of the New Testament when she was 2, I decided to see if she could randomly name them as well.

"Laura, what comes after Hebrews?"

"The book of James," she answered matter-of-factly.

Yep. We've got a brainy one on our hands. And, I think, that gives me bragging rights.

Sharing my Sabbath with you,


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is it all about gloom and doom?

Photo by Caroline Steinhauer

"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.

And. while we may dislike the word 'alarmist,' there certainly are times for 'sounding the alarm.'"

-- Calvin B. DeWitt
snippets from Preparing the Way for Action

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vinegar Friday and Dr. Oz

I opened my kitchen cupboard this morning to retrieve my apple cider vinegar to take my morning dose and thought, this would make a perfect picture for Vinegar Fridays. What do you think?

Taking a dose of ACV is the best way to start a Vinegar Friday, don't you think? Today, I took a couple of spoonfuls while eating a hard boiled egg. It was actually quite yummy.

Yesterday, I caught a little bit of The Dr. Oz Show and went from cheering to jeering when Dr. Oz advised adding 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar to a 16 oz. glass of ice water to jump start your metabolism. Doing this daily could burn 21,000 calories in a year. He also mentioned that it will give you more energy and help prevent blood sugar spikes. Go Dr. Oz!! 

My cheers turned to jeers, however, when I saw what kind of ACV he was using! It was the clear, pretty stuff. You know, the kind with all the good stuff filtered out. What?! I wanted to pick up the phone right away and let him have it! If you've read my book, you know that research proves the health benefits are realized only when you take organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. So what Dr. Oz was touting is a placebo. Tsk. Tsk. 

If you want to read more from my book about ACV and weight loss, click here. And for even more info about the wonders of vinegar, you can get free shipping on the VINEGAR FRIDAYS book today (2/17/12) with the code FLIGHTLESS. 

Results on weight loss vary, of course, but for me, ACV has helped me lose some of those stubborn inches in my waist. It also gives me more energy and definitely curbs my appetite. I'm down 15 lbs. since I started taking it again a few months ago. Yes, I said 'started taking it again.' The fact is, I do not enjoy taking ACV, so I stopped doing it a while back. And guess what? I gained the weight back and my ulcer acted up to the point where I had to take Nexium twice a day! Now, I'm pain-free and Nexium-free. That's a testimonial in and of itself, don't you think?

Keeping it green and healthy with apple cider vinegar,


The discussion continues in the Green Grandma Facebook community!

For more information about the weight loss benefits of vinegar and more, pick up a copy of Vinegar Fridays, available through Lulu.com and Amazon.com.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday's Truths & Tidbits -- a little bit of this and that

Remember the smell of mothballs when you walked into your grandparents' house? Hopefully, it's just a memory for you. But if you're still using mothballs in your closets, you might want to consider getting rid of them. Why? Because they contain the chemicals paradichlorobenzene (PCDB) and naphthalene, known carcinogens.

Click here for a recipe for a natural moth repellent that combines rosemary, mint, ginseng, thyme and cloves.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Greyling
While looking for some helpful hints to share, I couldn't help laughing at this one from Health Magazine (April 2008):

"An antioxidant in extra-virgin olive oil can protect against brain-cell damage, according to a recent study. Plus, women who eat a Mediterranean diet, often rich in olive oil, seem to reduce their risk of dying (from any cause) by 20 percent."

Did you get that ... "reduce their risk of dying by 20 percent." Really? So, why hasn't this immortality secret gotten out? In any case, it looks like extra-virgin olive oil is really good for you and your brain.

Image courtesy of Jean Beaufort
Allergies have been really bad in Western Pennsylvania this month, largely due to the lack of rain. At least that's what I've heard. Did you know that eating locally produced raw honey will help ward off these seasonal allergies? Apparently, the pollen in the honey will work to build up an immunity to those things that normally set your eyes a-itchin' and your nose a-runnin'. How cool is that?

But remember ... because of the chance of botulism, NEVER give honey to infants! 
And a final tip for this week: Flowers inspire. According to researchers at Texas A&M University, an arrangement of fresh flowers in your office will bring out innovative ideas and solutions to problems.

Those are my truths and tidbits for today. Hope you found something useful here.

Thursday's Truths and Tidbits

Welcome to my new feature -- Thursday's Truths and Tidbits ... a little bit of this and that.

Photo by Joy Shrader
Remember the smell of mothballs when you walked into your grandparents' house? Hopefully, it's just a memory for you. But if you're still using mothballs in your closets, you might want to consider getting rid of them. Why? Because they contain the chemicals paradichlorobenzene (PCDB) and naphthalene, known carcinogens.

Click here for a recipe for a natural moth repellant that combines rosemary, mint, ginseng, thyme and cloves.

Photo by Jiri Hodan

While looking for some helpful hints to share, I couldn't help laughing at this one from Health Magazine (April 2008):

"An antioxidant in extra-virgin olive oil can protect against brain-cell damage, according to a recent study. Plus, women who eat a Mediterranean diet, often rich in olive oil, seem to reduce their risk of dying (from any cause) by 20 percent."

Did you get that ... "reduce their risk of dying by 20 percent." Really? So, why hasn't this immortality secret gotten out?

Photo by me

Eating locally produced raw honey will help ward off seasonal allergies, as the pollen in the honey will work to build up an immunity to those things that normally set your eyes a-itchin' and your nose a-runnin'. How cool is that?

But remember ... because of the chance of botulism, NEVER give honey to infants!

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Flowers inspire. According to researchers at Texas A&M University, an arrangement of fresh flowers in your office will bring out innovative ideas and solutions to problems.

Those are my truths and tidbits for today. Hope you found something useful here.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lead in lipsticks? Not in this one!

Have you been following the news about lead in lipsticks? Scary stuff ... especially if you have little one who likes to play dress up and sneaks some of Mommy's lipstick from time to time!

Well, I have good news! Canadian company Leaf and Bud Naturals has a wonderful new lipstick from Suncoat that is free of lead ... and a lot of other unsafe ingredients!

I placed an order from Leaf and Bud Naturals a few weeks ago (thanks to a generous gift certificate from my daughter, Bethany). When I received the package, there were a couple free bonuses in the box; one of which was a full-size tube of Suncoat Natural Lip Stick in Almond Frost. I was pleased and eager to try it!

My first reaction, after I'd opened the attractive green box, was one of surprise. The tube was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Instead of the usual plastic, this lipstick was encased in bamboo! How wonderful is that? Bamboo is highly renewable, as the fastest growing grass around! And check out how gorgeous this is (in an earthy, eco-friendly way).

I immediately applied it to my lips, and admit, I was a bit disappointed. It didn't apply as smoothly as I expected. But then, I had to ask myself, "Is it because I'm just used to all the unsafe crap in my usual lipsticks?" Oops. That's probably it. And, the bottom line is, I rarely wear lipstick. I'm partial to lip gloss or chapstick. So, naturally, the application would be a bit 'rougher' than I'm accustomed to.

This is a 'moisturizing' lipstick, however, so my expectation was to feel immediate moisture on my lips. That didn't happen. However, 'moisturizing' doesn't always occur instantaneously, right? It's more of a conditioner that takes repeated application.

So, after dealing with how it felt, I determined I wasn't happy with how it looked. On me, at least. And that is simply because of my age. My lips are getting old, and frosted lipstick just exaggerates that. At my age, believe me, you don't want anything that exaggerates it!

I decided to give the lipstick to my daughter, Bethany, who is naturally beautiful. The lipstick just enhances her beauty. She had the same reaction that I had to the bamboo tube! We love it and wish more companies were going this route.

Bethany likes the look of the Almond Frost, which works much better on her younger, fuller lips. She, too, is used to gloss and chapstick, so the drier consistency of the lipstick required some acclimation. She's wearing it everyday, however, appreciating the 'safety' factor, especially in light of all the 'lead in lipstick' news of late.

For me, a non-frosted formula would be better. It's just one of the endless changes women my age have to adapt to. There's a trade-off for me, though. I get to be a grandma. I'll deal with the other changes! Lincoln and Laura make it worth it!

If you're unfamiliar with Leaf and Bud Naturals, you don't know what you're missing. I can't say enough good about them! This is what they say on their About Us page:

"We truly care about the well-being of you and your family, so we bring you trusted natural, organic, vegan, vegetarian gluten free and cruelty free products and brands at fair prices."

And they do truly care ... at least that's been my experience since discovering them a couple of years ago. Plus, they have a Certified Aesthetician available to answer any questions customers may have. Allin and Catriona Faragalli are not just about selling products! They're about making lives better.

Here's some of the information they provide about the Suncoat Natural Lip Stick:
  • All natural, safe and non toxic
  • No paraben preservatives, no petrochemicals, no artificial colors or chemicals
  • Natural renewable bamboo cartridge
  • Made in Canada
And, of course, that means, there is NO LEAD. Period. None.

Check it out for yourself. And while you're there, peruse the site for more wonderful Leaf and Bud Naturals products.

Reviewing it for you,


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day message

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

This morning, my daughter, Bethany, posted this on her Facebook page:

‎"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
While I see other people's kids post things that make me cringe, I can't tell you how much I love the fact that she posted this. After all, this passage, written by the apostle Paul, says it all, doesn't it?
Love is patient. As parents, when hasn't this phrase been tested and proven to be true? When Bethany was a toddler, she was sitting on the potty and I was in a hurry to leave the house so we wouldn't be late for an appointment. Growing frustrated with her for holding us up, she looked up at me, with such sincerity on her face, and said, "But Mommy, love is patient and kind." I was immediately put in my place. Kids have a way of doing that, don't they?

Love is kind. How often are we unkind to the people we love? Perhaps today is a good day to ask for forgiveness for that.

Love does not envy. Does envy cloud your ability to truly love? There were times I was jealous of my sister, Tina's, success. She is an amazing artist and designer, and has always been admired and respected. Her talent knows no bounds. Growing up, I knew my talents would never compare to hers. I envied her. Envy blocks love. Now, with some maturity and hindsight, I no longer envy her. I recognize my own talents and I respect her hard work.

Love does not boast. Hmm. I find myself boasting about my wonderful husband quite a bit. Is that wrong? What exactly did Paul mean when he wrote those words? Perhaps, although my interpretation could be wrong, it's okay for me to boast about my husband provided I'm not doing it to 'rub it in' to someone else who doesn't have a relationship like I have. That would not be at all loving. 

Love is not proud. Pride goeth before the fall. Have you ever known someone who bragged (boasted) a lot about their wonderful marriage, only to later discover their spouse was having an affair? Ouch. Quite honestly, I am proud of the marriage Bill and I have, mostly because it's grounded in commitment. We have had, and continue to have, our share of small, and sometimes quite large, problems. But we don't let the problems define our relationship. Commitment is what defines it. Yes, I'm proud of the hard work we've put into it, but not a haughty 'we're better than you' kind of way. There is nothing better about us. If you could see inside the past 20 years of our marriage, you'd probably feel a whole lot better about your own ... or even your lack of a marriage, if you're single. Wow ... we really went through a lot of crap

Love does not dishonor others. Harmless flirtations with other people dishonor our spouses. Plain and simple. I know of a man who never says any woman, other than his wife, is pretty or beautiful or, God forbid, sexy. He feels it would dishonor his wife to do so, and I love that about him. 

Love is not self-seeking. Did any of you see the Teleflora commercial during the Superbowl? I didn't see it, but our minister mentioned it on Sunday. Apparently, the message it portrayed was something like, "Guys, buy roses for your sweetheart so you can reap the rewards, if you know what I mean." This commercial, along with society's messages in general, cheapen sex ... and love. You don't give so you can receive. That, my friends, is self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered. Guilty as charged on this one. I tend to get angry quickly, and in so doing, I'm not being at all loving. It's something I have to keep working on.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. My husband, Bill, is the greatest teacher of this part of Paul's passage. He truly keeps no record of wrongs. Not just with me, either (and let me tell you, the list for me is quite long). Even with his first wife -- if you were to hear him speak of her, it is with such love. Bill lives a life of forgiveness. He doesn't just talk the talk. He truly walks the walk. I'm learning from him, and becoming a better person as a result.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Human nature, or at least our fallen human nature, tends to lead us into the paths of delighting in evil, doesn't it? We love to see comeuppance, don't we? A husband leaves a friend of ours to marry a friend of hers and then his new wife leaves him. Oh yeah! We do a little happy dance with our friend ... oops. Maybe that's not what Paul had in mind here, but it's what convicts me personally. What about rejoicing with the truth? I think this part of the verse deals with the larger picture. Sometimes, within the church, compromise is not the loving option. Truth, according to Scripture, is truth. While taking a stand against evil might not seem like the loving or 'tolerant' thing to do, the fact is, if a church is based on the Bible, it would be hypocritical not to take a stand. We all have to base our lives on the truths we believe and then, act accordingly. It's all part of love, or tough love, as some would call it.

Love always protects. As a wife, it's my duty (and privilege) to always protect my husband's integrity. And it's his responsibility to do the same. For me, that includes not criticizing or making fun of each other, under the guise of "I was just kidding." It can hurtful, and when we do it, we're not protecting each other. This is another area where I fail miserably.

Love always trusts. When you've been 'burned,' as so many of us have been, it's difficult to trust. I have a friend whose husband cheated on her, repeatedly. After they divorced and she remarried, she had a lot of issues with trusting her new husband. I kept reminding her that husband #2 was not husband #1 and it was unfair of her to project her mistrust of #1 onto him. Years later, I'm happy to say they are a loving couple and she was able to let go of her trust issues. Love always trusts ... it just takes awhile to get that through our heads, and hearts!

Love always hopes. This is perhaps the easiest of admonitions. Someone inside each of us is the indomitable spirit of hope. When life is at its darkest, there is hope. When the damage to a marriage seems irreparable, there is hope. When the feeling of love is lost amidst a bunch of life's garbage, there is hope. When a child becomes a prodigal, there is hope. When a sibling turns away from the family, there is hope. When a parent is an addict, there is hope. There is always hope. Remember that.

Love always perseveres. Love. Despite circumstances, love is always there. You may not feel it, but it's there. It perseveres. It rises above. It sustains us.

Today, on a day set aside for love, remember -- it's not all about hearts and roses, sex and chocolate, cards and promises. Love is so much more than all of that. And whether you have a sweetheart or not, today is for you. Love transcends traditions. It transcends Hallmark and FTD. It's universal. And it's eternal.

Happy Valentine's Day. 

I love you,


Monday, February 13, 2012

A Perfectly Romantic Sabbath

Painting by David Wagner

Wow. When it comes to perfect days, yesterday joins the ranks. But it didn't start out that way. Kind of like my marriage. A rocky start that transformed into the greatest blessing my life.

Woke up feeling pretty lousy. Same with Bill. Plus, our street hadn't been plowed and it was bitter cold. We decided to skip church and stay home. I climbed into a hot bath around 10. Fifteen minutes later, I got out of the tub, wrapped a towel around my dripping body and walked into the bedroom.

"Any chance you could be ready to go to church in 25 minutes?" I asked my husband. To avoid boring you by making the next 25 minutes into a long story, we hustled, despite a couple of upset stomachs, and made it to church on time. Amazing.

The service was good. Uplifting, challenging and, apparently, just what we needed. I still didn't feel well, but I got better as the day went on. During the service, one of our members shared some love poems her parents, who were going through a difficult marriage, wrote to each other. They are deceased now, but left behind such a precious gift -- a testimony to their commitment. 

Our daughter, Jessica, spoke at the end of the service. She was trying to inspire congregation members to get involved in the 40 Days of Life campaign that kicks off next Sunday, and she did a darn good job of it.

If you've been reading along with my Sabbath Experience, you know what came next. Yep. Lunch with the family at a local restaurant ... one of my favorite times of the week.

Perfect day? Sounds pretty normal so far, although gathering with my church family for worship and then dining with my kids and grandkids is pretty close to perfect. It was the rest of the day that warranted a 10 rating for the day.

With a super busy week ahead, Bill and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day on Sunday. What a good choice!

We started by going to the 4:50 showing of The Vow. Before I tell you how much we loved the movie (and we really loved the movie!!), I have to tell you how much I loved the new prices at our local movie theater. As we drove past the entrance, I noticed a sign indicating lower prices.

"Yeah," Bill said, in his usual cynical tone, "they probably dropped them a half a dollar." 

Since I was paying for the movie, I was beyond thrilled to discover he was way off. All shows before 6 are only $5. But even after 6, my ticket would have been $7 and Bill's senior citizen ticket would have been $5. This was a cheap date!! At least on my part.

The movie was delightful. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams turned out stellar performances in a well-scripted, nicely directed film. The movie was based on a true story, which made the events in the film even more profound. One message the movie drove home is something I've stressed many times here on the blog -- life can change in an instant. And we never know when that instant will occur. Nor can we predict the aftermath. Life is all about surprises ... and not all of them are welcomed ones.

After we left the theater, we drove to Blue, a fine-dining restaurant nearby. We were greeted with the distinctive voice of Etta James as we approached the front door. That was a good start to a fantastic meal. The music throughout our evening was simply perfect. As was the rest of the atmosphere, the service, the wine, and the food. And, of course, the company. The bill was less than perfect, but that was my husband's contribution to the date (I got the good end of this bargain, don't you think?). I did contribute, however, by buying a $25 Restaurant.com gift certificate to Blue for $2 -- the smart way to enjoy dinners out!

Since we started our date night so early, we were pleased to be heading home a little after 9. Bill lit a fire and we cuddled up on the couch in front of the fireplace and talked. But it wasn't just small talk. Nor was it a deep theological discussion. Or a disturbing conversation about GMOs or BPA. It was a lovely reminiscence of our journey over the last 2+ decades. What a blessing this man has been, and is, in my life. Last night, we challenged each other to go through the alphabet telling each other of favorite memories of our years together. How romantic is that? I mean really?! For nearly 2 hours, we talked about the wonderful highlights of our life together.

We fell asleep holding hands last night ... a simple gesture that brought me so much joy as I drifted off to sleep. Sweet. Caring. Committed.

That folks, is love.

And that was my Sabbath yesterday.

Sharing it with you,


Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Task

To be honest, to be kind;
To earn a little and to spend a little less;
To make upon the whole a family happier 
     for his presence;
To renounce when that shall be necessary
     and not to be embittered;
To keep a few friends, but those 
     without capitulation;
Above all, on the same grim conditions,
     to keep friends with himself --
Here is a task for all that man has of 
     fortitude and delicacy.

                                     -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday's 3 Rs ... what about that toothpaste tube?

It's Friday. So what does that mean? For one year, it meant we were talking vinegar. Then, for awhile, Fridays were all about recycling, reusing/repurposing, and reducing waste. Then it was back to vinegar again. So what about today? Well, I decided to resurrect Friday's 3Rs this week to address a dilemma I faced last night: what to do with used up tubes of toothpaste. As I squeezed the last bit of paste onto my toothbrush, I stood there holding the tube, not wanted to mindlessly toss it in the wastebasket. But, quite honestly, I didn't know if there was an alternative.

I got up this morning with a mission to find out what others did. Here's what I discovered:

This subject is discussed much online. Click here for a link to some comments about what other, perhaps more creative than me, do with theirs, such as making jewelry, using for cake decorating, keeping money hidden, etc. Note the company in the Philippines is no longer taking toothpaste tubes, unfortunately.

I found this video from a company in Brazil that is using old toothpaste tubes to make roofing tiles and school desks. Love it!! Here's what Sebastiao Rufino Barbosa says on the video about what they're doing: "There is an interesting ecological feature. If I used wood, I would be taking it from forests and would not replace it. Here I am using what would be considered garbage. The forest is thanking me and, in the same time, we are using an environment friendly material." The forest is thanking me.  Isn't that a great line?! According to an article n AllBusiness.com, "The program is now diverting over 17 metric tons annually of Unilever's toothpaste tube packaging volume." No matter how hard I tried, however, I could not find any information on how to get the tubes to them, which, even if I'd found out, would prove to be non cost-effective nor eco-friendly.

Back to the crafty stuff, for those of you who are so inclined ... and have the time! Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make a toothbrush (or pencil) holder out of used toothpaste tubes.

Terracycle upcycles Colgate products, including the toothpaste tubes, into backpacks and other products, but I simply refuse to use Colgate toothpaste, so it's a moot point in my house.

I checked Earth911.com for any recycling centers in my area that take toothpaste tubes. No luck. Then I started typing in random states. Still no luck. Not even in California! Bottom line for uncrafty and time-challenged me -- the tube's going in the wastebasket. I just can't find a viable alternative. If you know of one, please let me know!

Trying to keep it out of the landfill,


P.S. Can't go without a vinegar tip! After all, it is Vinegar Friday! Sanitize your toothbrush weekly by filling a small cup with distilled white vinegar and soak your toothbrush (bristle side down) overnight. Rinse well. Won't it feel good knowing a week's worth of germs is eradicated in a matter of hours?

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