Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend quote

The fairest flower in the garden of creation 
is a young mind, 
offering and unfolding itself 
to the influence of divine wisdom, 
as the heliotrope turns its sweet blossom 
to the sun.

-- Joseph Russel Smith                    

Friday, September 28, 2012

Monsanto... Get your dirty hands out of my bucket!


It's the last Vinegar Friday in September. Where did the month go?! It seems like just a week or so ago we were bemoaning the end of August and now October is upon us. How did that happen? Just the thought of Christmas around the corner makes me almost panicky. I am so not ready for that!!

I am so not ready for this, either. And chances are, neither will you be.

You know how I'm always posting links or writing about GMOs? Well, I never gave any thought to the possibility of how that might affect my beloved vinegar. And I guess I should have. Unless you are buying organic vinegar, chances are good you are ingesting or using vinegar that is genetically modified. Doesn't that make your blood boil?!

Photo by Jiri Hodan
Here we are, trying our best to create non-toxic homes by cleaning with vinegar, and guess what? We're failing. Not failing in that we are keeping chemically-based carcinogenic cleansers out of our homes, but failing in our attempt to keep it pure. You know what I mean? The white vinegar we use to clean our homes is made from corn and corn is, for the most part, a GMO. Monsanto has its dirty hands in our natural cleaning buckets. Damn them. (Excuse the swearing, but I'm just soooo angry).

Of course, there is an alternative. We can buy organic vinegars. But there is something in me that cringes at the thought of pouring organic DWV into my toilet to clean it. Don't you agree? It's not that the conventional vinegar will hurt the toilet or kitchen counter or hardwood floor. It's just that by continuing to buy it, I'm knowingly contributing to Monsanto. Granted, it's in a rather small way, but if I hold to principles, I wouldn't do it. But then again, I wouldn't buy bread or cereal or produce or anything else unless I researched it and knew for certain it wasn't genetically modified in one way or another and I don't do that. Who has that kind of time? I could limit my purchases to organic everything, but, quite honestly, I don't have that kind of money. It's a tough conundrum we all find ourselves in, especially since the products are not labeled to reflect the polluting of our food by Monsanto and the likes.

Here are some companies who do have money, and are using it to aid in the fight against Proposition 37 and the fair labeling of our food:

Monstanto -- $7.1 million
DuPont -- $4.9 million (you can thank DuPont for being instrumental in the outlawing of growing hemp in this country)
Dow Chemical -- $2 million
Pepsi -- $1.7 million
Coke -- $1.1 million

This is why those of you in California must get out and vote and spread as much knowledge around to the people you know about the necessity of labeling. I know you're fighting big corporations with big bucks. But you are armed with something more powerful than money. TRUTH. Stay strong, soldiers of the truth. I smell a victory.  

Trying to keep it green with vinegar,


For more information on DuPont's involvement in banning hemp in the US, read The Surprising Benefits of Hemp.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Even Russia is saying NO to Monsanto!

Officials in countries across Europe are demonstrating what it is like to have leaders who care more about your health than about money. Just last year, officials took drastic steps to protect Hungarians from the dangers of GMOs.

Genetically modified corn
Almost 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said. The GMO maize has been ploughed under, said Lajos Bognar, but pollen has not spread from the maize, he added.
Just imagine the amount of discussion involved in the ultimate decision to destroy the crops! I'm confident this was a decision that wasn't reached without much research, thought, and perhaps even a prayer or two.
Now the news is out about Russia. On Tuesday, Russia suspended the import and use of Monsanto's genetically engineered corn, following last week's study in France that prompted heightened concerns about the the health risks of eating genetically engineered foods. According to Proposition 37 Campaign Manager Gary Ruskin, "There is a giant question mark hanging over these foods and their health risks. For those of us in California, the case for labeling of genetically engineered foods has never been stronger."
Notice, Proposition 37 is not about banning GMOs. It's simply about labeling them. Yet all sorts of big corporations are fighting it. Why?? My personal frustration over this costs me sleep at times. There is an evil force at work here, and it's wearing sheep's clothing. While Bill Gates and countless others are singing the praises of Monsanto and GMOs, the rest of us are nothing more than lab rats being fed experimental garbage. It makes me sick.
I have no doubt that people I've known and loved and died because of genetically modified food they've eaten. Can I prove that? Of course not. I'm not a scientist or a doctor. I'm simply a concerned citizen who is beyond angry that the United States government is not following suit and banning the foods that Europeans are keeping out of their countries. For me, this issue is of utmost importance in the upcoming elections, yet I can't seem to find a candidate brave enough to stand up to Goliath.
This food is poisoning our children. Since GMOs were first introduced in the mid 90s, we've seen a bizarre increase in nut allergies, with genetically modified soy as a suspected culprit. According to Scott H. Sicherer et al. in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a protein in natural soy has cross-reactivity with peanut allergies.
Looking back to my childhood in the 60s, I don't recall anyone allergic to peanuts in my school. Peanut butter and jelly was a regular staple in the cafeteria. I took my mom's homemade Peanut Butter Fingers (delicious) for every birthday celebration throughout elementary school and every one of my classmates enjoyed them. I didn't know a single child with diabetes or celiac disease, either. The list could go on and on as to how many diseases/disorders have skyrocketed in the decades since Monsanto started tainting our food. And they have enough money to keep us in the dark. 

Here's my question: if GMOs are not a danger to us, why the campaign to keep them off the labels of our foods? Why can't the American consumers make their own choices about the food they feed their families??

Hungary cares. Russia cares. Why, oh why, doesn't America?

Additional info about the companies spending big bucks in efforts to defeat Prop 37:

Monsanto is in for $7.1 million
DuPont is in for $4.9 million
Dow Chemical is in for $2 million
Pepsi is in for $1.7 million
Coke is in for $1.1 million

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A fun-filled Saturday. Don't miss it!

This post is for those of you in the Southwestern Pennsylvania community. I just wanted to let you know of 2 awesome events coming up this Saturday, September 29th. It's something you don't want to miss!

The Hay Day at Hartwood, as you can see from the poster, is a fun event for the entire family. There will be hay rides, pumpkin patch, face and pumpkin painting, petting zoo, balloon art, corn maze, bouncy castle,crafts, a trackless train, performances, and more! And, from what I hear, the weather's supposed to be rather nice! If you have children, this is an event that will start off the fall season perfectly!

While you're having fun at Hay Day, stroll over to the 3rd annual Allegheny Green & Innovation Festival. I'll be there with my daughters, Bethany and Jessica, so stop at the Green Grandma booth and say hi. 

Here's what you'll find at the GG booth: 

Cloth diapering demos at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00

A sampling of the various types and brands of cloth diapers

Vinegar Fridays
Signed books will be available for purchase at the special price of just $10 or 2 for $17
We'll be giving out lots of vinegar tips for toxin-free living!

Multi Healing Balm samples -- free for the taking

Diva Cup demo models -- sizes 1 and 2 -- check out this green solution for your period

Plastic twist-off bottle cap recycling bin -- bring all your hard-to-recycle caps (water, soda, detergent, etc.) and toss them in the red bin. I'll be taking them to Aveda for recycling

Displays of Norwex, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Glass Dharma products and more! Touch, smell and see some of my favorite products I've reviewed through the years

And here's the best part! There will be drawings for prizes.

This is what you could win:

A Size 1 Diva Cup (for women under 30 years old who have never delivered vaginally or by c-section)

A Size 2 Diva Cup (for women over 30 years old and/or who have delivered vaginally or by c-section) 

A basket of goodies from Hyland's, including:
  • Hyland's Baby Vitamin C Tablets
  • Hyland's Baby Tiny Cold Tablets
  • Hyland's Cold 'n Cough 4 Kids
  • Hyland's Calms Forte
  • Hyland's Leg Cramps
  • Hyland's DEFEND Sinus
  • Hyland's DEFEND Cold & Cough
  • Hyland's Muscle Therapy Gel with Arnica
And for those of you who are not able to attend the festival, you still have a chance to win the above products from Hyland's by entering the giveaway here.

If you have any extra gently used reusable bags lying around, please bring them along and donate them to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, which will also be collecting non-perishable food items. Come have fun and help out those in need at the same time.

Doesn't it sound like a funtastic day? Hope to see you sometime on Saturday between 11 and 4 at Hartwood Acres.  


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The challenges of a one-car couple

Since I work from home and my husband retired in early May, we came to the difficult conclusion that our needs have changed. We don’t really need two cars. Gulp

I have had a car at my disposal since I was 16. My husband has had one since he was 18. Now, at 65 and 55, we share one. The decision made sense. After all, on many a week, his car would remain in the driveway and mine in the street for four or five days without moving. We don’t seem to go out much. On Sundays, we go to church together. I have occasional classes to teach or meetings to attend, but that’s it. Neither of us has to drive to work. 

A couple of weeks ago, Bill sold his car. Since then, it’s been rather humorous how many times we’ve both scheduled something for the same day. 

“But I scheduled this appointment six months ago,” Bill said yesterday.

“But my Writers’ Breakfast Club has met on the fourth Wednesday of the month for a year now,” I countered. 

Hmph. Amazing. 

It happened last week, too. 

“I have a doctor appointment at 10 in Cranberry,” I told him, proud of myself for finally making the appointment I’d dreaded.

“I have a doctor appointment at 8:15 in Wexford,” he replied. 

Problems. The solutions involve us spending lots of time waiting for the other person while they do their thing, so they can then wait while we do ours. Fun times.

People ask us why we did this. It’s rather simple. Having two cars costs money, and since one of us retired, there isn’t as much of that lying around in the bank or in our pockets. Even without car payments, each car requires registration, inspection, and auto insurance. Let’s face it, car insurance can be costly. Before we decided to do this, we looked up some auto insurance rates, but it was to no avail. Even with the least expensive option, it was still an expense.  

So that’s where we are right now. We’re a one-car couple with lots of one-car challenges. Every week seems to bring new ones. Funny how we never seemed to have plans on the same days when we each had a car! It’s all part of adjusting to retirement. And it’s all okay. It just means we have to be a bit more creative… and start writing things down on the calendar! 

Sharing my challenges,


Monday, September 24, 2012

Thankful for the Sabbath

Peaceful photo by Vera Kratochvil

It's been 2 years now since I started my Sabbath Experiment and yesterday was a sheer delight. It started off with a wonderful adult Sunday School class, followed by an inspiring worship service. Rather than going out to eat after church, we decided to head back to that house and make brunch there. What a wonderfully fun day! Our daughters, Bethany and Jessica, were here with their children, Lincoln and Laura, as was my mother who is visiting from Manheim (Lancaster County, PA). 

There was food and playing and giggling and singing and, oh yeah, the unfortunate knock on the door when someone stopped by to let us know he'd hit my daughter's car as he was backing out of the driveway across the street. Yeah, not so fun. Common sense... look where you're going.

After Bethany and Lincoln  left around 8:00, Bill, my mom and I sat down for a second night of Pinochle. We played until midnight and then I cleaned up the mess in the kitchen from a Sabbath Day full of fun and relaxation. I didn't come into my office and turn on this computer even once on Sunday. It was such a nice reprieve, and until I embraced the luxury, and necessity, of the Sabbath, I never would have done this in the past. I would have excused myself from the festivities downstairs and I would have come up here to make sure there were no urgent emails from clients. Ahh, the wonder of honoring the Sabbath. I sit here at my desk now, feeling revived and ready for the week ahead. 

If you haven't given the Sabbath Experiment a try yet, I encourage you to do so. Go back and read my first post about it. And then read the one when I decided it was no longer a Sabbath experiment, but was a Sabbath experience instead. 

I'm looking forward to this beautiful week ahead. I hope yours holds many, many blessings.


What do your Sabbath days look like?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The ebb and flow

Photo by Glenda Green

“When you love someone 
you do not love them, 
all the time, 
in the exact same way, 
from moment to moment. 
It is an impossibility. 
It is a lie to pretend to. 
And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. 
We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, 
of love, 
of relationships.”

-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
A Gift from the Sea 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My car is DVD-free. What about yours?

Welcome to the September 2012 
Natural Living Blog Carnival: Kids in the Car  

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about kids in the car.

Last month, while on vacation in Virginia, my husband and I were browsing through Goodwill. There was a television on in the back of the store and the movie Lion King was playing. A young girl (maybe 5 or so) was transfixed on the screen while her parents shopped. When it was time to leave, the girl put up a bit of a fuss, to which her dad responded to with a "We'll turn a movie on in the car. Let's go." She happily skipped out of the store. 

I was perturbed. Deeply. At what point in society did we come to the conclusion that children need to be entertained at all times? Even a simple drive to the store and home requires movie viewing. Really?

I, for one (and maybe the only one), do not believe in DVD players in vehicles. It appalls me that parents will pick their kids up from school, plop them in the back of the car and turn on a movie. And in some cases, turn on two different movies to suit the separate tastes of two children in the back seat! Whatever happened to talking to kids?! Does no one else see an issue with children needing to be entertained, even during short 10-minute or so car rides?! 

My husband and I drove to Virginia Beach with our 3-year-old granddaughter, Laura. It was an 11-hour trip and guess what... we didn't provide her with any electronic entertainment during the drive. But however did we keep her occupied? Well, let's see. 

  • talked
  • read books
  • told stories
  • sang songs
  • played games
Was it tiresome for us at times? Of course. But we made some pretty sweet memories. 

Some of the best times I remember having with my own kids when they were young involved car rides. We had fun when we traveled, which we did fairly often, as we would drive 240 miles on the Pennsylvania turnpike to visit my mother on the other side of the state. 

If you are one of those parents who has fallen prey to this on-the-go technology, I urge you to reconsider. The time with your kids in the car is a precious opportunity to bond with them. If there is sibling bickering behind the front seat, don't simply assuage it by slipping in a DVD. That does not solve the problem, it exacerbates it. Yes, you may have a few minutes of peace, but at what cost? Kids need to learn to work things out, not just tune things out. And, I'm sorry, but if your kids can't even cooperate long enough to watch the same DVD, you have some serious problems, my friend.

I imagine by now I've stepped on quite a few toes. It's not my goal to make you uncomfortable. I just want you to think about what you are doing. Just because every other kid in daycare/at school/in your neighborhood has their own portable DVD player in the car/van/SUV doesn't mean your kids need one. Rise above the crowd and have fun with your kids on your drives! Here are some of the things we do with Laura as we drive. You can adjust the activities according to your children's ages.
    Pennsylvania Turnpike
  • Look for rectangles, ovals, keystones (easy to find in Pennsylvania!) and other shapes
  • Look for things that start with the different letters of the alphabet
  • Tell stories by taking turns with each phrase. For example: Bill -- "Once upon a time, there was a rabbit and..." me -- "a spider, and they were arguing about who had nicer feet. The spider proudly showed off each foot, while the rabbit..." Laura -- "stomped his furry feet in the snow." Back to Bill to keep the story going. 
  • We also play a rhyming game where one person says a word and the next person has to rhyme it and then they say a word for the the next person, and so on. Bill -- "Car." Me -- "Star. Night." Laura -- "Right. Mouse." Bill -- "House. Street..." Well, you get the idea.
Keep in mind, these are games with a toddler, and yes, at times we listen to child-appropriate CDs, like Sandra Boynton's enchanting Rhinoceros Tap. A little bit of whimsy goes a long way when there are seemingly endless hours spent in the car. We also sang endless choruses of "There was a farmer who had a dog and Bingo was his name-o." 

With older children, there are other games to play, like auto bingo and the Ungame

I know you must have some car activities of your own I haven't mentioned. Aside from watching movies on the go, what are some of your family's favorite travel activities? Do you find car time a pleasure or a curse?

Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival! Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

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