Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 5 posts of 2015

It seems like many bloggers are posting their top 5 or top 10 posts lists today, so I'm joining in. Of course, my most visited posts include giveaways (especially when they included products from Earth Mama Angel Baby!), so I'm excluding them from this list.

Here are the top five in descending order. I hope you'll take time to read or revisit these posts and comment on them. Comments always mean so much to bloggers like me. Without them, there's no way for us to know what you're thinking or how you're feeling about a post.

5. The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

After only a few hours of sleep, I woke up to a 7 a.m. phone call from my friend, Trudi. She'd heard of my husband's death and was offering her heartbroken support. It was 1989 and my husband had died a short six hours prior.

I crawled out of bed and started wading through the fog of early widowhood. I was 32 years old and in no way prepared for what lie ahead... read more

4. Dinner in the Field at Freedom Farms

This past Sunday, I attended Dinner in the Field event at Freedom Farms in Valencia, PA. The theme was 'Fresh Herbs' and we were served some amazing food right from the farm. We also had ridiculously delicious cocktails made from strawberries and basil, rhubarb and rosemary. I haven't had a mixed drink in years, but The King of the Garden (the one with strawberries, basil, and dark rum) made me wish I could have one or two nightly... read more

3. Wendy Bell, You've Gone Too Far

Pittsburgh news woman, Wendy Bell, launched her Summer Electronics Ban (SEB) campaign a couple of months ago and has been documenting it on her public Facebook page. I've 'liked' many of the posts she wrote regarding the progress of the campaign. Her four sons, however, have probably not been quite so pleased. For one thing, I doubt they enjoy having their personal lives put on display for thousands upon thousands of their mom's followers. I can't help wondering what their friends think or what it will be like for them when they return to school later this month... read more

2. Spit it Out! Pesticides in Our Food

Pesticides on our produce should be a cause for concern for every one of us. Even if you feed your own kids all organic foods, if they go to school, they're bound to be exposed to the very pesticides you're trying to protect them from. I believe that if we all start spreading the word about how harmful these chemicals really are, change can take place. Armed with facts, parents can approach school boards, day care centers, church groups, etc. and ask them to protect our kids... read more

1. PUR & Brita Recycling PLUS Donating to Charity. Brilliant!

If you are one of the many people who use PUR or Brita filters for your water, there is exciting news! Both companies have partnered with TerraCycle to create recycling programs for their
  • pitchers
  • bottles
  • filters
  • dispensers
  • faucet mounts
  • and all packaging
That means all PUR and Brita water filtration products are 100% waste-free! I told you this was exciting news... read more

Well, that's it. The top five most read posts this year. They're not necessarily my favorite, but they were read the most, nonetheless. Which of the five is your favorite? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you many blessings in the new year. May your dreams turn into realities.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Party appetizers from my recipe box

I have to confess, I'm not as crunchy or as healthy as many of you in the community. Sometimes I like to splurge on things that simply aren't going to win me any awards for being environmentally or health conscious. That's just the way it is.

So, for those of you in the same boat as me, I thought you might enjoy some of my favorite party recipes as you prepare for New Year's Eve. It goes without saying that buying organic (or at least non-GMO) ingredients is the best choice, so I'm not going to specify. Do what fits your lifestyle and budget. By the way, the mushroom recipe has actually garnered some marriage proposals... even after I was married!

Image by Lynn Greyling

(makes approximately 35 appetizers)

1/4 lb. bulk pork sausage
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (with tops)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 lb. medium-sized mushrooms
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (mild or sharp -- your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13" x 9" baking dish.

Carefully remove stems from the mushrooms and set aside. Line the mushroom caps, stem-side up, in the baking dish. Finely chop the mushroom stems.

Cook sausage in skillet until brown; drain the grease.

Transfer sausage into a large bowl and add green onions, mushroom stems, and mayonnaise. Mix well and scoop into the mushroom caps. Cover with shredded cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly, but not burnt. 

WARNING: These things are addictive!

(This recipe was shared with me and I do not know the original source. Makes 12 appetizers)

12 dates
6 slices of bacon, halved

Preheat oven to 500 degrees** while soaking 12 toothpicks in water. 

Lightly grease a jelly roll pan or line with parchment paper.

Wrap each date with bacon and insert wet toothpick. Place seam-side down.

Bake 6-8 minutes until well-browned.

Rotate and bake for an additional 2-4 minutes. Drain grease from each appetizer on clean rag or paper towel. 

**Alternative baking instruction -- Use a 350 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. There is no need to soak the toothpicks in water when doing it this way.

(While you have the bacon out... )

2 8-oz. cans whole water chestnuts, drained
1/2 lb. bacon, halved

1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap chestnuts in bacon and secure with toothpicks. Place in baking dish.

Combine ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in small saucepan and heat until the mixture starts to boil.

Pour sauce over the water chestnuts.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bacon is thoroughly cooked.

(Can be sweetened with 1/2 tsp. Stevia extract)

2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

Blend ingredients. Place in bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Serve with graham crackers, bananas, or pound cake.

For an adult party, you can liven up the recipe with a splash of Amaretto.


That's it for now. Happy, and safe, partying!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and unmatched socks

Well, that's it. Unless you're planning to celebrate Orthodox Christmas on January 7th, all the hustle and bustle of Christmas 2015 is over and done with. Now you simply have to face the challenges of where to put all the new toys, DVDs, stuffed animals, games, etc. that, even though everyone said they were cutting back, are piled high under the tree. Or maybe you're ahead of the game and everything is already in its place. Kudos to those of you with the energy and organizational skills necessary to have accomplished that. 

Image by Peter Kratochvil

If you're like many other moms, however, not only are the toys piled high, but so is the laundry. You might even be behind on your chores and the dishes just might be stacking up on the counter and in the sink. Sound familiar?

Now let's talk about Christmas break for the kiddos. They're thrilled to be home, but if you're honest, there's a part of you that just can't wait for school to be back in session. After all, your schedule has lost its equilibrium. The time you normally spend with your toddler has to be shared with your second-grader. Baby's naptime, which is normally your time, is now filled up with the sound of Disney tunes being sung, a little off-key, by your 6-year-old. And let's not forget your college freshman who is home on break after experiencing his first taste of freedom for the past few months. Remind me again why you couldn't wait for him to come home...

Wow, Green Grandma, you're being awfully cynical today, aren't you?

Sorry, I don't mean to be. After all, I no longer have children living at home. But I remember what it was like. And I know enough young moms to know that a bit of this is ringing true to some of you. Our idea of perfection is challenged at best during the holidays. And, if we spend any time at all on Pinterest, forget it. We see ourselves as complete and utter failures.

Take heart, my friends. There are no perfect moms out there, despite what you see on Pinterest or Facebook. That flawlessly coiffed mom at church with her five perfectly dressed and well-mannered little ones? Well, you weren't at her house an hour before Sunday School, were you? 

We're all able to present a pulled together front, complete with matching socks and all. But that doesn't reveal everything, does it? 

I'm here to tell you you're doing okay... even if there isn't a clean fork to be found, or matching socks for that matter. Heck, at this point, you might be lucky if you can find matching shoes for everyone in the family (many things get buried under the holiday happenings!). Hang in there! And as you embrace your family's and your imperfections, take some time to laugh, play games, and sing along with the little ones, even if you, too, are a bit off-key. Believe me, years from now, what everyone will remember is the fun you had, not the unchecked chores on your to-do list. Eventually, everything will be back in order.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A child's wish... friends, home, unicorns, and peace

I was honored to accompany a few others in judging a holiday card coloring contest in November. The winner was awarded a $250 gift card and a $1,000 donation to their school in their honor. With over 600 entries, choosing the winner was a daunting task, but in the end, we unanimously chose this card, designed by Lily Cosme, a 9-year-old from Butler Catholic School in Butler, PA. 

Three runners-up each received $100 gift cards, along with $1,000 donations to their schools. They are (in no particular order:

Kayte Beinhaur, 10, from Clarion-Limestone Elementary in Strattanville, PA, whose wish was for kids to have a home!

Abygail Farmer, 5, from Mary Queen of Apostles, New Kensington, PA, who wanted unicorns for everyone!

Victoria Sydeski, 10, from Hillcrest Intermediate School in North Huntingdon, PA, who wished for everyone to have peace.

Friends, home, unicorns, and peace. These are some pretty awesome wishes for us all, don't you think?

Thank you to Edgar Snyder & Associates who sponsored the contest. Their annual holiday card this year features Lily's design on the front, with the other three children's designs on the back. 

Since 1982, the law firm of Edgar Snyder & Associates has represented over 50,000 injured people, including children hurt in all types of accidents. When they send their clients and colleagues holiday, greetings, they want it to brighten their day. So instead of ordering a corporate greeting card, they invite elementary school students throughout Western Pennsylvania to enter their coloring contest and draw their "holiday wish." To celebrate the holidays, they feature the winning artwork on their greeting card, and award the gift cards and school donations to the top four designs.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed participating as a judge for this contest. I hope I'll be invited to do so again for the 2016 card.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! May the new year bless you with friends, a home, peace, and, of course, unicorns for everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Spreading some Christmas cheer and charity: A story


Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it 
by giving the light of love to those who need it most. 
~Ruth Carter Stapleton 

I walked through the house looking for my twelve-year-old daughter, Jessica. Entering the family room, I found her sitting cross-legged in front of the Christmas tree. Her back was to me, her long blond hair nearly reaching the floor.   

“Hey, what are you doing?” I asked. 

She didn’t answer, but I noticed her wiping her nose on the back of her hand. 

“What’s going on?” I persisted. 

She paused. “Have you spent everything you were going to spend on me for Christmas yet?” 

“No. Why?” 

“How much is left?” 

I thought about the budget and wondered where this was going. She was probably going to ask for something way too expensive. 

“I’m not sure. Probably around ninety dollars.” Again I asked, “Why?” 

She turned to me, her gray sweatshirt streaked with tears. 

“Honey, what’s wrong?” I sat down beside her and cradled her in my arms. This was my baby, the youngest of my children. Jessica was the one who took my husband’s death seven years earlier the hardest. At the tender age of five, she lost her daddy to a flash fire at the place where he worked and she still missed him terribly. 

After her sobs subsided, she told me what was on her mind. “There are so many people who don’t even have food. They don’t have a home or a place to sleep.” She paused. “Can we give the rest of the money you were going to spend on my presents to the homeless?” Her request was pure and sincere. It was my turn for tears. 

“Whatever you want, baby,” was all I could muster. “Whatever you want.” 

The tiny bulbs on the tree sparkled, lighting the season with new hope… hope for my daughter’s generation. Perhaps this would be the one to eradicate poverty and homelessness. At least I knew there would be one amongst them who would try. 

On Christmas morning, the family gathered to exchange gifts. The pile of presents under the tree was considerably smaller that year. Yet somewhere close by, a family or two was enjoying an unexpected Christmas celebration. I glanced out the window at the gently falling snow and said a prayer for them. Looking up to the heavens, I had a heart full of gratitude. “Thank you,” was all I could manage to say. 

Jessica smiled as she watched her sisters opening their packages. And as she gave me my present, I looked at her precious face and knew there was nothing in that box that could be better than the gift she’d already given me. 

~Hana Haatainen-Caye

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The healthcare nightmare... maybe this is a solution

The healthcare deadline is looming (it's hours away). My healthcare costs have risen dramatically, which caused me to look for alternatives. With the high deductibles, premiums, and co-pays, it really isn't healthcare insurance anymore. It's just a gamble if I ever end up hospitalized for an extended amount of time.

A friend told me about Christian health cost sharing programs and I've been doing some research. Endless hours of research, actually. And I think I'm sold. At least for 2016. I'm going to sign up with Christian Healthcare Ministries, although I haven't yet determined if I'm going with the gold, silver, or bronze program. The cost sharing program is not insurance, but it allows me to not pay the fine for not having insurance since, through the program, I'd be exempt for religious reasons.

While I will be paying nearly all of my medical expenses out of pocket, Christian Healthcare Ministries does assist in negotiating healthcare discounts for its members.

If you, too, are looking for an alternative to the healthcare nightmare I've found myself in as someone who is self-employed, I encourage you to look into health cost sharing. It just might be the answer you're looking for.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dog and kid safety... what to look out for

No matter how wonderful and loving your dog is, I always get a little bit nervous when there are babies, toddlers, or preschoolers nearby. The thing is, dogs have bad days, too. Have you ever lost your patience with your kids and snapped at them? If you're like most of us, the answer is yes. 

Well, what makes dogs any different? Sometimes little kids stress them out and they snap. 

Photo by Circe Denyer

When I was growing up, my neighbor's Boston Terrier took a chunk out of their granddaughter's cheek. She'd been around the dog since she was a baby and he'd never bitten anyone... until the day he did. She was scarred for life.

A 10-year-old in my elementary school was running down the steps into his best friend's basement. It was something he did every day. Unfortunately, on one particular day, the St. Bernard he'd grown up around decided to attack. Corey needed 100 stitches on his face, head, and neck. He was blessed to be alive.

My own American Eskimo was unstable and I was always nervous when my kids' friends were around. It's a horrible feeling -- worrying about whether or not your dog is going to bite someone. What's worse, is not having that horrible feeling and your dog does bite someone. Especially when that someone is a baby or small child.

There are warning signs to look for that indicate that your pup is uneasy when children are around. Pay attention. It just might prevent a tragedy.

If your dog is doing any of the following, quickly intervene and move him away from the child:

  • licking his lips 
  • panting without a physical reason
  • turning his head away from the child
  • showing the whites of his eyes
  • growling or making soft grumbling sounds
Train your children to never run at a dog, approach a strange dog, pet a strange dog without the owner's permission, hug a dog that seems uneasy, surprise or awaken a dog, or go anywhere near a dog while he is eating or chewing on a toy or bone.

This last one hits home for me because my aunt's dog bit me in my own backyard when I was a child. I can show you the scar on the inside of my upper right arm where the Airedale took a chunk out of it. Again, it was a dog I was around on many occasions. On this particular summer day, however, he was eating when I ran up to him. The next thing I knew, I was being rushed to the doctor's office for a slew of stitches. It wasn't a bad dog. It was just a bad situation. 

The thing is, most dogs that attack children have never bitten anyone before. But do you want that first time to involve your little ones or someone else's child who is visiting your home? Of course, you don't. Just take proper precautions so you, and your kids, can enjoy the company of your favorite pup. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Paying attention to scams

Photo by Peter Kratochvil
I had a conversation with one of those Microsoft technician scammers from India today. You know, the ones who call to let you know that you have downloaded a virus on your computer and they're calling to help you resolve the issue. Normally, I just hang up on them. This time, I talked to him for awhile. I was surprised to find out he really did have my correct address, knew I had Comcast Internet, and even had my IP address. That bothered me. Of course, I didn't take it much further than to find out what they knew about me. They never did refer to me by name. And there was no way I was going to give them access to my computer. It wasn't even turned on at that point.

Later, I did some research. Like I said, it bothered me that they had my IP address. Sure, they can look up my physical address based on my phone number, but IP address... Hmmm. Oddly enough, about a month ago I received one of these calls on a particularly bad day. I had some not-too-nice words to say to the scammer. Later that day, my computer crashed. Even though I never gave them access to it, I have to wonder if they had something to do with it. I might be way off base here, but it seemed like more than a coincidence. 

While most of you would never fall for a scam like that, I just wanted to put this out there in case one or two of you is caught unaware. Maybe you can share this with your elderly parents who are on the Internet. It's important that none of you are taken with this scam.

Here is a link for a webpage that fully documents what happened to one individual who decided to see how far this would go. He stopped just short of paying the $299 and when he did, they wiped out his files, his pictures, his programs, and his access to the Internet. Scary stuff here. Scary, scary stuff. 

I ended the call by saying, "I'm sorry that you don't have more pride in yourself to work at a job that isn't ripping people off. I can't imagine what your children will think of you one day when they find out what you did for a living. What a sad life you have." Then I hung up.

Wishing you a life free from scams,

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hyland's Healthy4Holidays Sweepstakes!

Disclosure: As a Hyland's Ambassador, I received product and/or compensation in exchange for this sponsored post.

You know I love Hyland's. I mean, what's not to love? If you are on Instagram, you'll love this sweepstakes!

Right now, Hyland's has a FANTASTIC giveaway going on over on Instagram! It involves reposting their sweepstakes picture (you can do this everyday). You will receive an entry for every one of the seven photos you repost during the Sweepstakes Period. Include hashtags #Healthy4Holidays #SweepsEntry for each image reposted. And do me a favor. I'd love to know you've entered, so please tag @thegreengrandma on your posts, too. Three people will each win a prize package valued at over $200!

Also, follow the partnering companies on Instagram.

Here is what you could win:

  • Hyland’s
    • Hyland’s Baby Tiny Cold Tablets, 125 Tablets - $12.99
    • Hyland’s Baby Nighttime Tiny Cold Syrup, 4 oz - $11.99
    • Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold ’n Cough Nighttime, 4 oz – $10.49
    • Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold ’n Cough, 4 oz - $9.99
    Total = $45.46
  • SheaMoisture
    • SheaMoisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Shampoo 13 FL oz - $10.99
    • SheaMoisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Crème Rinse 13 FL oz - $10.99
    • SheaMoisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Energizing Hand & Body Scrub 12 oz - $9.99
    Total= $31.97
  • Ella’s Kitchen® Drinks
    • (4) Four Ella’s Kitchen® Organic Coconut Water Electrolyte* Drinks – two (2) pears + berries and two (2) banana+ginger (each drink is 32 FL oz) - $6.99 each
  • Justin’s
    • 1 Jar Chocolate Hazelnut Butter 16 oz -$12.99
    • 10 Maple Almond Butter Squeeze Packs (1.15 oz. per squeeze pack)-$12.99
    • 6 Peanut Butter Cups (1.4 oz per cup)- $11.94
  • One Love Unified
    • Mens, Womens or Kids shirt (winner chooses which one of three options they want and size) – $34
  • Wild Oats
    • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic Chicken Broth, 32 oz $2.00
    • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic Bay Leaves, 0.15 oz $3.97
    • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic Basil Leaves, 0.5 oz $3.97
    • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic Oregano Leaves, 0.5 oz $3.97
    • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic Thyme Leaves, 0.6 oz $3.97
    • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic Garlic Powder, 2.5 oz $3.97
    • Wild Oats Marketplace Organic Ground Flax Seed, 16 oz $3.48
    • Wild Oats Organic Penne Rigate Pasta, 16 oz $1.38
    Total= $26.71

Didn't I tell you it was a fantastic giveaway?! 

Please note: In order to enter, your personal Instagram profile settings must be public. Sweepstakes runs until 11:59 p.m. PST on Dec. 13, 2015. US only. 18+.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The last Vinegar Friday of the year... for ladies only


Well, here it is, the final Vinegar Friday of 2015. I still can't believe how fast this year has gone, but I won't belabor that point again.

I'm thinking of coming out with a revised edition of my book and making it available as an ebook, but I'd love to know if that would be of interest to anyone. I'd love it if you'd let me know in the comments below. Do you think having an electronic version of VINEGAR FRIDAYS would be helpful? Would you like to see a revised version with new tips and recipes? That just might be a project for the new year.

But for now, let's end this year with a good ol' vinegar tip to help improve your life in a non-toxic way. And we're going to get really personal here.

With the colder weather, I tend to take a lot of hot baths. In the past, before I knew about living a cleaner, greener life, those baths led to constant vaginal infections, most likely due to the crap I was bathing in (Calgon's "Take me away" slogan took me directly to the doctor more times than I can count). It seems like I was always taking Diflucan to treat my vaginal yeast infections. The other day, I realized I haven't had vaginitis in a really long time. Why? Most likely it's because I now bath in vinegar. Yep. When I'm not dumping Epsom salts into the bath water, I'm pouring apple cider vinegar in instead. If you find yourself dealing with vaginitis, I recommend adding 2 to 3 cups of ACV to a hot bath and soaking for 20 minutes or so. Spread out your legs a bit to allow the vinegar water to make its way into your vagina (I told you this was going to get personal!). 

Here's the reason this works (although I'm not a doctor or a scientist... I just find this has worked for me). The vinegar will help restore the acidity in your vagina, which will kill off candida, gardnerella, and trichomonas. The result? No more itchy, smelly, yuckies down there. 

You're welcome.

Oh, and an added bonus -- ACV baths help soothe aches and pains and they draw excess uric acid from the body (this helps prevent gout attacks). 

Happy soaking!

BabyComfyCare Essential Baby Shower Pack Giveaway!

Sponsored By: Baby Comfy Care

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

Co-Hosted By: Lil' Blog and More

A big "Thank You!" to my sponsor, amazing co-host, and all the wonderful bloggers who are participating in this giveaway! 
Thanks for all that you do!

Well, here we go with yet another great giveaway. Be sure to check out the other current giveaways here on Green Grandma! 

Check out Love, Mrs. Mommy's 
Baby Comfy Care Review, HERE

Love, Mrs. Mommy received the Essential Baby Shower Pack at no cost to facilitate this review.

1 Lucky Winner Will Receive a: 

Baby Comfy Care Essential Baby Shower Pack! 

($37 RV)

Items Included In The Shower Pack Are: Safety Nail Clipper 
Teething Jewelry 
& Nasal Aspirator

Open To US and must be 18+ to enter Giveaway 
Dates ~ 12/4 12AM EST through 12/18 11:59PM EST

Good Luck!

We love it if you "Like" us on Facebook!

Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. Winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a new winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Big bee-saving news!

We did it! Thanks to all of you who let your voice be heard, Home Depot has agreed to eliminate neonicotinoids from its garden plants! You know, those nasty bee-killing pesticides we've been fighting against. This is HUGE! And Home Depot just reunited with a former customer... me.

We swarmed them and they responded! How cool is that?? But it wasn't just our voices that swayed them. It was the science behind our demands. The bottom line: they care enough to do something about it. As does Lowe's. 

But don't rush out and blindly buy your plants from them come spring, as the total elimination of neonicotinoids won't be happening until 2018. To date, 80% of their plants are free from the pesticide, but you have to ask which ones are safe and which ones aren't.

With Lowe's and Home Depot on board, it's time we swarm two other big garden retailers and demand that they act on this important bee-saving issue as well. Now's the time for Ace and True Value to up their game because Lowe's and Home Depot are proving you can cultivate plants without neonicotinoids.

Jump on board, folks, and sign the petition. Make your voice heard. The bees in your neighborhoods will thank you. 

And so do I!

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