Friday, July 31, 2015

Know your snakes!

Recently, a man from my area was bitten by a rattlesnake while camping in Elk County. From what I understand, he was simply sitting by the campfire with his family when the snake bit him. Unfortunately, the bite was fatal.

This past week, a dog was bitten by a copperhead while walking with his owner along a local walking trail. He survived, but not without some scary moments.

I came across the following chart on the MD DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service Facebook page today and thought you might find it helpful. While I'm not frightened of snakes and actually like them, it's good to know which ones to steer clear of, right?

Be safe,

Thursday, July 30, 2015

TBT -- Chill Out!

For this week's Throwback Thursday and in honor of the 90+ degree whether we've been having lately, I decided to revisit a post from July 2011. I hope you find the info helpful. 

Image by Peter Griffin
Between the introduction into the world of hot flashes and night sweats and the insanely hot weather, I am desperate to find ways to cool down.
So you can imagine my delight when this month's Good Housekeeping magazine decided to address this very issue in an article.

Here's what I learned:

  • AC (no kidding). Keep it set between 70 -75 degrees when you're home. Set it to 80 degrees when you're not. Bottom line on this -- if you let your house get too hot, it will take a lot more energy to cool it down. But make sure you don't have any heat-producing devices (TVs, computers, lights, appliances, etc.) located close to your thermostat. Some of you may be gasping at the recommendation to set it so low while you're home. But for me and my hot flashes, that's just the way it is going to be. Note: If your central AC unit is more than 12 years old or if your portable unit has been hanging out the window for more than 10 seasons, you may want to consider replacing it. The result could be a 30% savings on your electric bill.
  • Location, location, location. If at all possible, put your portable AC units on the north side of your home. Or plant some nice shade trees near the unit. Keeping your AC out of the sun can lower your energy use between 10% and 25%.
  • Keep the shades drawn. When sunlight is streaming through your windows, the temp inside your home can rise by as much as 20 degrees. Whoa!
  • Turn on the fan. Circulating air feels 8 degrees cooler. But make sure you turn off the fans when you're not in the room. After all, they don't actually cool. They just make you feel cooler. If you don't have or don't want to use your AC, consider buying a couple of window fans -- one that pulls air in and another that blows air out.
  • Set up a dehumidifier or two. We actually have 3 running in our house.
  • Take a cool shower or lukewarm bath. Supposedly, this will cool your body 25 times faster than hanging out in the breeze. Make sure you run your exhaust fan for at least 20 minutes afterward to dry out the air.
  • Remove your plants. I know I'm always telling you to load up your rooms with plant in order to help remove toxins, but in the heat of the summer, they actually are counterproductive. Plants produce moisture, thus making your indoor air a bit more humid.
  • Grab a sterling silver dinner knife. According to Heloise, this old-fashioned (and green) trick is pretty effective. Simply press the flat part of the knife against the back of your neck or inside of your wrist. Since your blood vessels are close to the skin in those places, the cool metal will immediately cool them. No sterling in the house? Grab an ice cube instead. It's a bit messy, but it will work.
Uh oh. I feel a hot flash coming on. Think I'd head down to the silverware drawer. If you have any tips of your own to share, please do. I can use all the help I can get!

Trying to keep cool,

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Life Hacks to make life easier

We all love Life Hacks. Whenever I see them on Facebook, I'm eager to scroll through them to see what tidbits of life hack wisdom I can glean. So I thought I'd share a couple of my own that just might help you out a little in your everyday life.

This morning, I was preparing an egg casserole for my husband and my cousin who was visiting from Lancaster County and thought it was the perfect time to share these life hacks.

I have a little clip thingy (I don't know the technical name) from a scarf or something I bought awhile back. I found it's perfect for hanging on the handle of my cupboard in the kitchen whenever I'm preparing a dish from a recipe card. I just clip the card to it and it's right in front of me the whole time. Before implementing this idea, I was constantly misplacing the recipe card in the midst of putting together a meal. It would end up underneath an ingredient container or something. And it always ended up dirty from messy hands or spills. Genius, don't you think?

When it came time to grease the casserole dish, I just reached inside the fridge and pulled out a Kerrygold wrapper. You see, every time I unwrapped a hunk of Kerrygold butter, I noticed there was a decent amount of butter left behind on the inside of the wrapper. Then it dawned on me: save it and use it to grease pans and casseroles. So that's what I do. And it works perfectly. How's that for a "green" life hack?

There you go. I'd love to hear some of your favorite life hacks. Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Wishing you a magical day,

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Dark Act -- Who betrayed us with their votes?

I'm still fuming over Congress's passage of The Dark Act. Since I'm from Pennsylvania, I wanted to share the list of PA representatives who betrayed us, all of which happen to be Republicans.

Charles Dent
Michael Fitzpatrick
Tim Murphy
Ryan Costello
Patrick Meehan
Bill Shuster
Tom Marino
Scott Perry
Keith Rothfus
Glenn Thompson
Lou Barletta
Joseph Pitts
Mike Kelly

There you go. PA traitors. For a list of representatives' votes from your state, click here.

We have to keep fighting. Our children are counting on us!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Congress Denies Our Right to Know What's in Our Food!

We're talking about a bill that was drafted up by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and pushed on us by all the usual suspects. All the ones who are afraid of you actually knowing what's in your food. Because even if you don't care about the genetic alteration of your food, you most certainly should be concerned as to whether or not it has been doused in Monsanto's cancer-linked herbicides.

~Anthony Gucciardi of Natural Society
Read more here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What's cooking? How about Pizz-ghetti?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Wild Oats products? From time to time, the company sends me food to try. In exchange, I let you know what I think. I even come up with fun recipes from time to time. One of my recipes was featured in their holiday recipe book. How cool is that?

Anyway, I thought I'd share this cool video they produced: "How to Make Fun Pizz-ghetti Kids Love." Sounds like a perfect Friday night dinner to me!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Medela Freestyle Breastpump Giveaway!

What happens when you're done breastfeeding and no longer have a use for your pump? 

Choose the correct answer: 

A. Post it on Craigslist?
B. Sell it at a garage sale?
C. Donate it to Goodwill?

D. None of the above

Actually, it's not legal to sell a used breastpump. So, what do you do?

Throwing away your often-expensive breastpump seems wrong on so many levels. But how do you keep it out of the landfill?

Fortunately, Medela has the answer! The Medela Recycles program focuses on helping moms who have completed their breastfeeding journey help other moms start theirs. By donating your pump to the Medela Recycles program, you support the donation of new hospital-grade, multi-use breastpumps and supplies to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). Since parents of preemies and other infants in the NICU can't be at the hospital 24/7, the same high-quality equipment used at the hospital is available for use during their stay at a Ronald McDonald House. It's just one less thing for parents to worry about during this demanding time.

Did you know that nearly 40% of the families served by
RMHC are caring for babies in the NICU?  By recycling your pump through Medela Recycles, you can feel good about the fact that your pump is being recycled properly and is helping another mom (and baby) who really needs it. Your recycling directly translates to caring for families in crisis in a tangible, meaningful way. And you don't even have to pay for postage! Click here to learn more.

In exchange for my helping to spread the awareness of the Medela Recycles program, the kind folks at Medela are giving away one of their popular Freestyle breastpumps to one lucky winner in the Green Grandma community. How awesome is that?! 

Valued at $399, this compact, lightweight double electric breastpump features a rechargeable battery for mobile pumping. Its 2-Phase Expression technology is based on the two distinct phases of how babies breastfeed and is proven to produce more milk in less time!

When babies latch on, they initially suck faster to start the milk flow. This is called the stimulation phase and is followed by the expression phase where babies slow down with a deeper suck after the "let-down" starts. The Freestyle's 2-Phase Expression technology works the same way. Plus, with the Easy Expression bustier, moms are able to pump hands-free!

Enter to win the Freestyle pump in the Rafflecopter below. Contest is open to US residents only, ages 18+. Entries will be verified and winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Questions about GMOs, Roundup, and glyphosate? Maybe this video will help

Questions about GMOs? Confused about the difference between genetically modified foods and hybrids? Wondering why glyphosate (Roundup) is such an issue? Check out this short informational video to learn more.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Two green thumbs up for!

As I was clicking my "Get Points" link at today, I realized that many of you may be missing out on this dandy little website. I discovered Recyclebank a couple of years ago. Every week, I have the opportunity to earn points simply because I recycle. The points add up over time and I can redeem them for money saving coupons, magazine subscriptions, and more. 

I'm looking forward to reading this magazine. One-year subscription -- 240 points

You can earn points a couple different ways. Each week, when you report your recycling, you earn 10 points. But you can also earn points for watching environmental videos, which are both educational and entertaining, or by reading articles. Some examples include: How Can I Clean Recyclables Without Wasting Water, How Do I Recycle an Old Flag, and DYI Diversions (all about upcycling).
I just ordered this U-Konserve icepack with a sweat-free cover made of recycled plastic bottles. 1500 points

Currently, I have close to 5,000 points. With that, I can trade them in for discounts on products at or on a huge variety of dollars off coupons for meals, movie tickets, massages, home goods, etc. Plus, I can use them to buy gift cards, receive free digital and print magazine subscriptions, or make a donation to The Nature Conservancy. 

I ordered a $10 JCPenney gift card, too. 2500 points

It's a win-win for everyone. Have you signed up yet? After ordering the above three items, I still have 614 points. Next week, I'll have even more.

This is one program I wholeheartedly award two green thumbs up! Give it a try and see what you think. And please note, this is not a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links. I'm sharing this info simply because I think you could benefit from it. Click here to get started.

Friday, July 17, 2015

When a pet dies

This afternoon, while my grandchildren played with other children in their front yard, a friend's dog ran out into the street and was struck by a car and killed. There were screams and tears from the children and adults alike and I just can't shake the sick-in-my-stomach feeling I've had ever since. It can happen so fast.

Last month, my daughter's cat died. My granddaughter, Laura, loved Congo. And she loved Rue, the little dog that died today. 

It's made me think about how kids handle the death of a pet. 

If your little ones are facing this issue, here are some excellent articles to help them get through it. 

And, if you don't mind, give them a hug from Green Grandma. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

20 Feet Under: The State of our Oceans in the Modern World

Today's guest blogger, Gretchen Comcowich Student, shares her passion for the ocean.

My aunt and I connect islands every time my phone pings in my pocket. She is calling me from two oceans away. Yet, catch us at the same time and we could both be watching waves crashing. I am spending part of the summer working on Nantucket island; she lives  in Maui. But our cellular connections aren’t the only things connecting these two places.  

History connects, whaling ports have been memorialized in both places, humpback whales breach off the Kanapali beach near her with a few returning to Nantucket, rebelliously spouting near Great Point Light. Then, of course, there are all the summer homes. It's tourism that pumps life into the economy in both of these places, but I can’t help but wonder if the utter placation of vacationers will end up doing more harm than good. 

It would be nice if it were just the whales and the visitors that connected Nantucket and Maui to the past. It would be nice if the blood stains from the whale ships' tryworks were the last memories of human destruction of ocean. 

Unfortunately, the reality might be worse than we want to consider, and much darker things connect Maui and Nantucket than just cell phones and American citizenship. 

Scientific American predicts that even if we are able to prevent the global temperature from rising more than the two degrees Celsius we have allotted, those two degrees still mean the ocean could rise 20 feet. If that happens, London would be underwater and the galleries in Lahaina  near Karen's house will be washed away. On my island, hurricanes already blow water through the businesses on the Wharf and Easy Street. Thinking about a 20 foot rise creates images of all that would be left of Nantucket -- the cranberry bogs near Alter Rock and maybe a few shattered cedar shingles. Then again, maybe I have indulged in too much destruction porn on the Internet.  

Fetishism or not, we do know that, according to the   journal PLOS ONE, there are 269,000 tons of plastic waste floating in our oceans. Additionally, 5.25 trillion particles of micro plastic has been swept out to sea by our own complacency. If I could track it, would I find some from Maui as I scoop my fingers through the sand on Madaket beach as the sun set over Cape Cod? I don’t know for sure, but if the Great White Sharks can travel from here to there, who says the plastic isn't riding the gyres too?

We also know that whales, sea lions, and polar bears are dying from pollution and climate change. However, we often forget the thousands of other marine species because they linger out further than where we snorkel among Hawaiian reefs or scallop in the Nantucket Jetties. Images of the stomachs of dead sea birds laden with bits of old pens, fishing line and trash cover the Internet, sea turtles die from eating jellyfish-like plastic bags and other animals are dragged under to drown by discarded fishing gear. Or they die slowly of starvation because they are no longer able to hunt for food. 

For many, giving up is not an option. Ocean saving organizations are everywhere. The beach protecting, board lovers of Surfrider have 5 branches in Texas alone, with branches in countries all over the world. Other groups track sea turtles and fight for nesting beaches. Plastic exfoliating beads, known for destroying sea life, are being removed from many products worldwide.

When I look out at the sea from a Nantucket beach, my complicated feelings come in frothy waves. I am saddened by the trash left by beach goers and the apathy about climate change, but optimism floats in on a wave of realization that no whale ship will ever leave Nantucket Wharf ever again, and no plastic shopping bag has been used to tote around the goods of Nantucket shoppers for the last 24 years, both monumental issues.

When I think of Karen on Maui, I worry about the over-loved, carbon-bleached reefs out by the crater shaped rocks of Molokini, but I am encouraged by the signs warning  beach goers not to stomp on reefs, as damaging them  destroys one of the most important ocean ecosystems in the world. Hope flops clumsily like a little whale calf learning to breach alongside her mother. What it can grow into is as astonishing as this whale's first several thousand mile migration to feed off of Alaskan herring before returning to Hawaii to eventually give birth to her own.

I am aware that our troubled oceans can't be saved quickly. Nevertheless, one more bike ride to work cuts down my carbon footprint, one more essay about our oceans informs another reader, and one more reusable cup I use is one more kept out of the landfill or into the surf. As we look out over the sea, remember, it's up to all of us to do all we can do.     


About the Author: Gretchen Comcowich is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in, and a wide variety of other places. She is currently working on her MFA from Columbia College Chicago in Nonfiction. When she isn’t traveling or writing, she is working as a publicist, riding someone else’s horses or scoping out a new coffee shop. Follow her on twitter @lidamarketing

About the Artist: Earl Thompson is a Native Oklahoman and Maui based artist. He currently lives with his family in Maui and is often found painting or photographing the island he loves, he is also an avid scuba diver. Find his work at

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Once upon a time...

You've probably seen the meme: Once upon a time, all food was organic. Truth. And once upon a time, it was safe to roll around on lawns spattered with weeds rather than Roundup and its toxic friends. The real danger in walking barefoot was the occasional bee sting, not a cocktail of toxins absorbing through your skin into your non-Roundup ready system.

Photo from 2015 March Against Monsanto in Pittsburgh

When I think about it too much, I become weepy and the sadness clings like a toddler not wanting his mommy to leave. Life changes. It always has and always will. But that doesn't mean it's always a good thing. Our toxic environment is full of someone's idea of progress, much of which started in the minds behind Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, etc. Progress, as it often does, led to greed, and now those corporate giants seem almost unstoppable. They're gambling with the health of your children and mine. And we cannot remain silent.

Talk to your friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors. Read everything you can about the dangers of Roundup, GMOs, neonicotinoids, etc. Learn about safe alternatives. Whenever possible, buy organics. Ask the farmers at your local markets and farm stands if their produce is non-GMO. Ask if they grow their flowers with or without neonics. Talk to them about the crisis of the bee colony collapses of recent years. 

Our kids' and grandkids' lives are at stake. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand. We can make a difference with our voices, our dollars, and our votes when election time rolls around. Find out which presidential candidates are in bed with Monsanto and let others know. 

I believe this is the most critical issue facing our nation and our world. There is no room for genetic modifications of any sort. There is no room for poisonous chemicals sprayed on our lawns, parks, ball fields, and food. There simply is no room for it. Think about seeing your precious little one lying in a hospital bed with a shaved head and tubes coming out of their body. Then speak up. Let's do this... together.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Answer: This non-toxic solution will kill ants

Question: What is vinegar.

How about a vinegar tip on a non-Friday?

Photo by Ken Kistler
Yesterday morning, my husband dropped a piece of sausage on the floor of the porch. It was under the table and he forgot about it. This morning, when I carried my cup of coffee outside, I discovered this moving blob. It was the unrecognizable piece of sausage covered with small brown ants. There were probably one thousand of them. It looked like something out of a horror movie (on a much, much smaller scale, of course). I watched as trails of ants marched to and fro and crawled all over that nasty piece of meat. What could I do?

I went inside and grabbed a bottle of distilled white vinegar. I poured it directly onto the ant-covered sausage as well as the trails of ants. When I checked back a half hour later, there wasn't an ant in sight. Vinegar does it again. No toxic bug spray. Just vinegar. Almost worthy of a book, don't you think? 

Oh wait, there already is a book. I highly recommend buying one, if you haven't already. And if you turn to page 54, you'll not only read my poem dedicated to ants, but you'll see my vinegar remedies for all sorts of creepy crawlers!

You can read reviews here and purchase the book here. And right now, you can pick up the book for just $6.99! Help support your favorite green grandma. :-)

Friday, July 10, 2015

A vacation or bedroom redo? That was the question I asked one year ago.

Last summer, my husband and I were debating between remodeling our bedroom or going on a vacation for a few days. I posed this question to the GG community on FB:

Wednesday's WWYD: Money is tight. You can either go on a vacation with your spouse or redo your bedroom, which is badly in need of updating. What would you do?

The question brought in 103 responses. Many commented on the "money is tight" part, noting they'd do neither, in that case. Here are some other takes on the question:

Jamie said, "Vacation, nobody's ever died thinking man I wish I'd picked different drapes!" while Suzi wrote, "Redo the bedroom. We'll be making our own little vacation in that room." I like the way Suzi thinks!

Kristen added, "Vacation. Memories matter, not things." And Donna agreed. "Vacation! The relationship is so much more important than new furniture." Same with Kelly: "Vacation. Material things can be taken care of anytime. But memories are priceless.

At first, it looked like the vacation option was going to win. But then, the bedroom redo fans started chiming in:

Stephanie saw through the generic question and addressed me personally. "Redo the bedroom and have a staycation, Green Grandma." Others like the staycation option. "Redo our bedroom and have a romantic weekend in there!" wrote Stacy. Tonya liked that idea as well. "I'm in the minority," she posted, "but I would redo the bedroom. You see it every day. Redoing it would be like an extended vacation." Elizabeth agreed. "Redo bedroom! I've skipped vacations before and put the money into renovating the house, and fit in a few fun things in between like day trips to the zoo."

Well, as Stephanie implied, it was not a generic question -- we were trying to make a decisions and I wanted to the community's input.

I was overwhelmed by how many of you offered your opinions. While money was tight, we had enough to do one or the other. Both were badly needed.

In the end, we opted for the bedroom remodeling, which basically involved repairing the walls and ceiling (paint was chipping off and pooling on the floor), painting, and having new carpeting installed. We did not replace any furniture or bedding. I had a $100 budget to buy some new things to update the look and, taking the advice of many on HGTV, I grabbed stuff from other rooms to complete the look.

Here are some before (gasp) pictures:

See the clutter? That's the door to our 16'x20' balcony where we grow our vegetables.

I loved the Marjolein Bastin Nature's Sketchbook theme back in the mid-90s.
Note the peeling paint.

The need went beyond cosmetic.

Stress crack along ceiling.

Crowded space behind door.  
Some of the pictures were taken last summer at the completion of the project and some were taken today. Here are the end results:

Moved things from other rooms: picture (with new frame), runners on dressers, "hat" with hooks, vase with silver mini lights.

Picture above wardrobe is a card I received framed in a wooden frame I already had. Clock from Goodwill.

I love this runner (a gift from my sister years ago). I "stole" it from the dining room.
Hat boxes were in other places in the house. Hamper and bench were on clearance at Home Goods for really cheap.

Same bedspread (from my mom's house) and same pillows. New shams were bought at a thrift store for 50 cents each. I reframed the Van Gogh picture with a $69 frame from Joann's. It was 60% off and I had a 20% off coupon on top of that!

Same cafe curtains. Gray curtains purchased at Kmart for cheap.

Love the design on this cloth hamper with comfy padded seat.

Matching wastebasket was only $7!

Area behind door is the new clutter-free home of this bookshelf that I moved from my office. It was made by my father-in-law over 50 years ago. Isn't it lovely?

Carrying on the hatbox and roses themes with boxes previously used elsewhere.

Am I happy with our choice to bypass a vacation in lieu of a bedroom redo? Absolutely! It's been a year now and I'm still loving it every time I walk into the room. It's a calm sanctuary that feels like an ongoing vacation. We make the bed and and clear clutter on an almost daily basis, so the benefits go much further than the temporary fix of a vacation. So for us, this was the best choice and I don't regret it one bit. 

Thanks for offering your opinions. I really appreciated your input.

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