Saturday, May 30, 2015

In need of down time

My backyard pond is one of my favorite spots in the world

If you've noticed, I've been a bit hit-or-miss lately. For that, I truly apologize. I've just needed a break. March, April, and May were busy months for me. I was on the faculty for writing conferences each of those months, which absorbs a lot of my time and energy. As wonderful as conferences are, they're also exhausting. By the time I returned from the one a couple of weeks ago, I was wiped out, both physically and mentally. 

Taking care of ourselves is important. As parents, you know what it's like to give of yourselves sacrificially to the point of burnout. That's why you need to prioritize and realize that many things left undone simply aren't that important. Give yourself a break. You're doing the best you can, and sometimes you're doing way too much. It's okay to say no sometimes. 

While those of you in the Green Grandma community may miss my daily posts when absent, I know you understand, and I thank you for that. I'm refreshed now and plan to put the blog back on the priority list. Hope you're looking forward to that as much as I am.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend. Take some time to refresh your spirit. Remember, even Jesus valued down time. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Looking for a gluten/soy/dairy/grain-free protein bar option? How about some cricket bars?

Disclosure: I received product and/or compensation in exchange for this honest review.
Sometimes I'm really excited about a review and other times... well, not so much. While I ate my share of insects as a child, I eventually outgrew that habit. So when I was contacted by the good folks at Exo about doing a review, I was a bit hesitant. After all, they wanted me to review their protein bars made out of cricket flour. Somehow, that just didn't appeal to me.

However, I do have a daughter who has eliminated gluten and dairy from her diet, so I thought they just might be a good option for her since the bars are gluten/soy/dairy/grain-free.

Ounce for ounce, crickets use 20x less resources than cattle, produce 80x less methane, and use 1000x less water. The UN Food and Agriculture Association reports that eating insects can help reduce world hunger, boost nutrition, and reduce pollution. That's something you can't say about GMOs (not if you're being honest).

Recently mentioned in Treehugger's 7 food trends of 2015 that embrace health and sustainability, the Exo cricket-flour protein bars definitely have a place in the diets of many Americans looking for a healthy dose of protein (10 grams) in their energy bars. They're also ideal for those with a gluten intolerance/celiac disease or dairy intolerance. People concerned about the environmental impact of our protein sources, like cattle, are also apt to choose cricket-flour bars. But what about the picky eater?  

My two-year-old granddaughter, Marley, is a picky eater. But once she tasted the Blueberry Vanilla bar, she was frantically making the sign for "more." Just look at that face!

She gobbled down the first bar and begged for more. Even her big sister, six year old Laura, enjoyed a bar with her daddy.

I sent some bars home with my daughter, Bethany, to try. She's been anxious to try cricket flour, since she's not always happy with the gluten-free options out there. As a matter of fact, her husband is hoping to back her a birthday cake out of cricket flour. 

I called Bethany to ask what she thought of the bars. She said she enjoyed them and that the peanut butter and jelly one really did taste like a PB&J sandwich. Bethany mentioned that you need water close by as you're eating one because of the density. 

With the 10 grams of protein, one bar would really serve someone well as a meal replacement. The bars are also low in saturated fats and sugars, although, as a diabetic, I still found the carb count a bit too high for my consumption.

That said, I must confess I did not sample the cricket bars. Even though 80% of the world is known to eat over 1600 species of insects, I just kind of want to stay in that 20% that doesn't. 

But the grandkids and kids tried the bars. When I asked Bethany if she would buy them, she didn't hesitate to say "yes." I made the deal sweeter for her, and for any of you who are wanting to try the bars. Through the end of 2015, you will receive 20% off your order when you type in the code GREENGRANDMA at checkout.

Cases of the bars are just $36, so the discount would take them down to a mere $28.80. Or you can try the four-bar sample pack at $13 minus 20%. Free shipping applies to all orders over $45 and there are additional discounts available when you join the Exo Elite program. Click here for details. 

Even though I didn't personally try the bars, I still give Exo two green thumbs up. They have a product that meets so many needs while keeping the environment in mind.

Check them out. Click here to order, and don't forget to enter the GREENGRANDMA code to receive your 20% off discount!

So what do you think? Would you eat cricket flour? Would you serve it to your kids? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Saturday's March Against Monsanto... will it make a difference?


On Saturday afternoon, I participated in the March Against Monsanto in Pittsburgh with two of my daughters, son-in-law, three of the four grandchildren, and some friends. The weather was perfect and the march went well without any disruptions. People along the route cheered us on with applause, thumbs up, and honking horns. I was, however, disappointed in how few people attended. With only 150 of us marching, I couldn't help wondering where everyone else was. After all, a whole lot more than 150 people are anti-Monsanto in this city. 

That said, I will not be marching next year because I am on the faculty of a writing conference in Lancaster, PA that weekend. But I'm sure that won't stop my children from participating.

One of my other daughters asked me a question the next night at dinner. "Do you really think it's going to make a difference?"

I've thought about that question a lot over the last day or so. Yes, I do think it makes a difference. Will thousands of people worldwide participating in a march convince Monsanto to shut its operations? Of course not. But it will raise awareness. When people start asking questions, they start learning the truths about Monsanto. Truths not tarnished by the millions of dollars Monsanto throws around trying to convince people of their worth in society... money that buys government officials and government agencies. When you consider whose "truths" benefit whose wallets, it's not hard to decipher motivations behind research. Do organic farmers have something to gain by convincing consumers to boycott Monsanto? Naturally. But not nearly as much as Monsanto and their cronies benefit by perpetuating the lies they tell and the poison they sell.

Loved seeing little ones involved

My daughters and me

Grandbaby :)

Delighted that my former roommate joined us!

Waiting for the March to begin

Here we go!

How precious are these little ones in their own "float"?

I encourage you to get involved. Sign petitions. Talk to people. Call your elected officials. And next year... MARCH. Do it for your children and your children's children.

And if you've already participated, let me know in the comments below. Where did you march?

I received permission to post pictures of the children from all of the parents prior to doing so.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekend quote by Browning

The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven -
All’s right with the world!
~Robert Browning

Friday, May 22, 2015

If we didn't have birthdays...

Today, in honor of my birthday, I'm posting a poem by Dr. Seuss. My sister, Tina, made a huge poster for me when I was young and this is the poem she wrote on it. 

If we didn’t have birthdays, you wouldn’t be you.
If you’d never been born, well then what would you do?
If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a doorknob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes.
Or worse than all that…Why, you might be a WASN’T!
A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t.
A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present.
But you…You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!
Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive...who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!
Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham.
Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am!
That’s a great thing to be!
If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!” 

~ Dr. Seuss

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT: Memorial Day... it's about much more than picnics

For this week's Throwback Thursday, I'm revisiting a post from Memorial Day 2010.


It's Memorial Day and I woke up wondering about what my role should be. Growing up, Memorial Day started off with a parade, in which, as a Girl Scout, I took part in. We marched up the hill at the cemetery and there, we honored those brave military men and women who sacrificed all. It was a good tradition that is now simply a memory.

I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the last time I attended a Memorial Day parade. [Note: I attended a Memorial Day parade last year.] I'd never really given it much thought before today. After all, I don't enjoy parades. But as I thought about it, I realized the purpose of a Memorial Day parade is not for entertainment. For me to attend a Memorial Day parade would take, well, a sacrifice on my part. And for that reason, I very much regret not coming to that conclusion in enough time for me to drive somewhere to stand along the parade route and honor those who march by; those who are a small representation of the lives lost for our country. To stand by in tribute, to humbly say "thank you," to watch teary-eyed as the flag passes by... that's what I should be doing on Memorial Day.

I did my children a great disservice by not instilling in them the need, the desire, to commemorate these brave servants by respectfully honoring those who march by on the a Monday morning in May. I sit back and watch as Americans busy themselves with plans for fun on Memorial Day. Not that I begrudge anyone a family gathering or a picnic with friends. But when all we think about and celebrate is a three-day weekend with good times and good food, I think we're missing the point somehow.

As parents, and grandparents, it is our duty to instill in the younger generations a respect and an awe for those in the military, both past and present, regardless of our view of war. For everyone who serves is in a potential position of great sacrifice. Jesus said it well when He said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)  Greater love indeed.

As parents, grandparents, spouses, children and friends grieve the loss of their brave loved ones today, I honor them as well for their sacrifice and count myself blessed to not be standing side-by-side with them in their grief. My heart and prayers go out to you, dear ones.

While they did not lose their lives at war, I also want to give thanks for the service of my father, Harold V. Haatainen and my step-father, Daniel W. Wagner, who both served in WWII. Dan received a Purple Heart after his ship suffered a kamikaze hit. Both these men were wonderful examples to me of bravery and service. Oh, to be more like them.

So, this Memorial Day, pause for a bit and send up a prayer of thanksgiving for those who fought and died for our country. Remember them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A wooden watch... hmmm...

Disclosure: I received products and/or compensation for this sponsored post.

Watches. I used to have a whole selection and wore them every day. Eventually, as batteries died and cellphones became the norm, I stopped wearing them. After all, I could always check my cellphone if I needed to know the time. Anyone else identify with me on that?

Well, I'm a new convert to wearing a watch. Awhile ago, the folks at asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their watches. Of course! I checked out the website and chose the Ely watch in black. I was quite pleased when it arrived carefully packaged in a beautiful wooden box.

Of course, as a writer, the most important thing about the watch for me was the comfort. After all, I'm chopping away at a keyboard for the majority of my day and if the watch isn't comfortable, I'm taking it off. Naturally, I don't have to wear a watch while in my office, as the time is always displayed on my computer screen. But when I'm in and out, it's nice to put it on in the morning and keep it on. 

With the JORD Ely watch, it's not an issue. This natural wood watch is so lightweight and comfortable, it's easy to forget that I'm even wearing it. As a matter of fact, it took awhile for me not to reach into my purse for my phone when someone would ask me what time it was. I forgot I was wearing it.

And check out how attractive it is. I'm not a small woman. At 5'9", I often find dainty jewelry to look off-balanced. The Ely looks great on my wrist. Don't you think so?

The real test for me came over the weekend. I was on the faculty for the annual Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh, which meant I was conducting writing workshops. In the past, when doing so, I had to rely on my phone, constantly illuminating the screen to see how I was doing on time so I could wrap up the session without leaving anything out.

At Pennwriters Conference. Photos by Heather Desuta

However, at this conference, my phone remained in my bag. I just glanced down at my wrist whenever necessary and I paced the workshops so we were able to finish on time. It was wonderful. I didn't realize how much I'd missed wearing a watch.

Of course, I've had quite a few compliments on the watch. It's unique, attractive, functional, and is made with sustainability in mind. I love that each watch is slightly different in that the wood grains can vary. 

JORD features a wide variety of designs for both men and women in a nice assortment of woods and face colors. From the simplest of designs ($120) to ones that are more complex ($295), there is something for every taste and budget. 

And did I mention comfortable? Oh yeah, I did. But it's so worth mentioning again! Comfort, design, and natural materials. This watch deserves highest praise from me. With Father's Day right around the corner, slip one onto your husband's or father's wrist and you're the one who will be on the receiving end of high praise. You really can't go wrong.

Unique Watches

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

March Against Monsanto this coming Saturday!

Monsanto's squirming a bit. After all, thanks to people like you and me, their name is being dragged through the pesticide-laden mud. Let's keep it up. 

Pittsburgh March Against Monsanto 2014

This coming Saturday, May 23, 2015, you have the opportunity to join the March Against Monsanto. My family and I will be marching in Pittsburgh, PA. If you are in the area, please try to join us. I will be marching for the Vietnam vets and their families who have been affected by Monsanto's Agent Orange

Enough is enough! I'm tired of sitting back and allowing Monsanto and its cronies continue to poison people around the world. I'm tired of paying more so I don't have to consume their poison. I'm tired of not knowing what is in conventional foods. I'm tired of poor health, food allergies, obesity, and more. I'm tired of Monsanto. And you should be, too.

Make your voice be heard. Join the movement. Join the march.

Click here for worldwide locations and times.

Click here to follow the March Against Monsanto on Facebook.

Friday, May 15, 2015

21 Ways to Get More Out of Your Day

I'm thrilled to welcome my friend and colleague, Debra Sanchez as my guest blogger today. Today's busy moms (and dads) can glean from her wisdom on how to make your sitting and waiting time a bit more productive.

Image by George Hodan

Mom on the Run – 21 Ways to Get More 
Out of Your Day

 by Debra Sanchez

Rush, rush, rush.  Everyone is in such a hurry these days.  Parents have so much to do and so little time to do it.  Today’s economy has made it necessary, in most families, for both parents to work, often more than one job each.

Kids are more active in school and community activities than ever before.  They are in sports, music lessons, scouts, church groups, and other things that need to be juggled into 24 hours. And that doesn’t include the time spent at doctor and dentist appointments. 

When my family was younger, they kept my juggling skills well tuned.  A dozen years ago, our son was in college. Our 16-year-old daughter was active in soccer, church youth group and many school clubs.  She also had a part-time job.  Our 8-year-old had piano lessons, Brownies and played softball in spring.

My husband worked long hours and he also coached soccer year round.  I had two jobs, helped with my daughter’s Brownie troop, edited our church’s newsletter, and in my “spare time” I was working on my college degree.

With our hectic schedule, there were a lot of things that I wished I had time to do. One day, while sitting in the car waiting for my daughter to get out of school I realized that I did have time to get a few little things done. 

We all have times when we just sit and wait.  I came up with this list of things that can be done while you wait. Some can be done anywhere, but everything on this list can be done in your parked vehicle.

1.    Read the newspaper
2.    Read a book
3.    Read a magazine
4.    Knit or crochet
5.    Sew or mend
6.    Fold laundry
7.    Listen to news
8.    Listen to music
9.    Listen to an audio book
10.  Do word puzzles
11.  Take a five minute nap
12.  Eat your lunch (or other meal or snack)
13.  Plan your menu
14.  Make your grocery list
15.  Clip coupons
16.  Update your calendar or day planner
17.  Balance your checkbook
18.  Pay your bills
19.  Enjoy the scenery
20.  Relax in the peace and quiet
21.  Write something  

Consider some of the routine tasks that you have to tackle in your own life.  Think about the kinds of places where your life parks you in “hurry up and wait” situations. Plan to use some of that waiting time to do simple tasks that might not get done “later” when you are exhausted from your chaotic schedule. Bring your supplies, tools, or ideas, whatever you need to do the job.  Or maybe just bring a travel mug with your favorite beverage and relax.

Whether you use your down time to catch up on chores, to make plans and lists, or to relax and catch your breath is up to you. After all, your time is yours.


Debra Sanchez has moved over thirty times... so far. She and her husband currently live in Cheswick, Pennsylvania, and have three adult children and four grandchildren. She has won awards at writers conferences in various genres, including children’s stories, poetry, fantasy, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Several of her plays and monologues have been produced at festivals, churches, and theater camps. Some of her work has been published in literary magazines, local newspapers, and her short story “Hazy Decision” was published in an anthology in September, 2014. Visit Deb's website here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

TBT -- Heartburn and hairy babies... really?

Today's Throwback Thursday takes us back to February 2010 and a discussion about the correlation between having heartburn while pregnant and having a hairy baby.


Photo by Vera Kratochvil

Not that any of this really matters, but... remember the old wives' tale that said heartburn in a pregnant woman meant she was carrying a baby with a lot of hair? Well, researchers at Johns Hopkins found there to be truth in this.

The findings were published in the journal Birth. Kathleen Costigan, an RN at the hospital, spearheaded the study in which she and other colleagues selected 64 women to observe throughout their pregnancy. The moms-to-be recorded their heartburn symptoms, ranking them according to severity.

When all was said and done, 28 of the 64 participants reported moderate to severe heartburn. Twelve women claimed they had none. So what happened when the babies were born? I know you're scrolling down quickly to find out.

With heartburn: 82% delivered babies with lots of hair.

Without heartburn: 83% delivered little baldies (or at least ones who didn't have enough hair to write home about).

So... maybe the old wives knew a thing or two. My personal experience, from what I can remember, was that I had out-of-control heartburn the first time around and daughter number one came out with a fair amount of thick black hair. Daughters two and three had fine light hair and gave me little trouble in the heartburn department.

Of course, there is scientific speculation as to why this occurs and it all has to do with estrogen. Women with estrogen levels slightly higher than normal tend to experience heartburn more because estrogen works to relax the sphincter at the base of the esophagus, which means stomach acid can work its way up and cause heartburn pain. Well, it just so happens estrogen seems to be the hormone responsible for hair growth in developing infants. Who knew? Oh yeah, all those old wives!

Have a heartburn/hairy baby story of your own? Do tell! That's what the comment box is for!

Keeping it, well, real (in a pregnancy/baby kind of way),

Click here to find out what to do if heartburn is a problem for you!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Car washing, the green way

On Saturday, my daughter and I took the kids to Camp Lutherlyn for the day. Unfortunately, it was unseasonably hot, which made it a bit difficult to enjoy the long walks in the woods and standing around waiting as Laura did various activities. Ten-week-old Robyn didn't seem to mind the heat, but two-year-old Marley was pretty sweaty by the end of the day.

Despite the heat, I really enjoyed spending the day with my daughter, Jessica, and my grandbabies. I love watching her parent them, as I think she's one of the best mommies around. Seriously. When cautious grandma said, "No, Laura, you might fall," when Laura wanted to swing on the log swing, Jessica just shrugged and said, "Then she'll fall." Then they both climbed on. 

Like I said, it was a fun day. And Jess is a fantastic mother.

Her husband deserves some praise here, too. Not only is he a great father, but he's also a great son-in-law. My car was parked at their house for the day. After seeing the mess the oak trees made of it in the previous days, he washed it for me before he headed to work. I came back to a clean car. Massive points for RT! 

Photo by Paul Brennan

Which brings me to today's subject. Green car washing. Yes, my maroon car had a green sheen from the oak pollen, but that's not the green I'm talking about. I'm referring to eco-friendly ways to keep your car clean, especially in areas where water conservation is necessary.

First of all, try to find green car washes in your area. These environmentally-conscious businesses use recycled water and safe cleaning products. And only run your car through the car wash when it's absolutely necessary. 

Other times, you can grab a bucket of water and a rag and simply clean the windows and lights. Just ask yourself if a full wash is really necessary. A microfiber cloth, like the Norwex Envirocloth, goes a long way in cleaning your car with little water.

Using a bucket of water rather than a hose will save water. But here's an even better idea. Fill the bucket while you're taking a shower, or leave it outside during a rainstorm to collect rainwater. 

Make sure you pay attention to the cleansers you use, too. By using non-toxic products that are safe for the environment, you're doing your part to care for this amazing earth where we live. As I always say, every drop in the bucket counts toward making life better for the earth and for future generations.

What do you do to conserve water?

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