Monday, February 29, 2016

Celebrating Leap Year Day

Every four years, we have the privilege of celebrating Leap Year Day on February 29th (the only exception is century years not divisible by 400). 

Leap Year Day birthdays

It's a really special day for some -- those who celebrate their birthdays on this day (over 4 million worldwide). While it may seem awesome to some, for others, there are some psychological drawbacks to being a Leap Year Day baby. For one thing, they can only celebrate their actual birthday once every four years. That's kind of a drag for children, but it might be a fun thing once you reach the age where you no longer want to celebrate getting older. Unfortunately, Leap Year Day babies don't have the option of aging one year for every four, so even if you've only celebrated your birthday on Leap Year for the past 15 years, there's no getting around the fact that today, you are 60. Happy birthday! By the way, if you live in China, your "official" birthday is February 28th, while in Hong Kong, it's not until March 1st.

For babies born on this day, they're often referred to as leaplings or leapers. And they all seem to have different feelings and opinions on what it's like to be counted among the 4 million of other Leap Year Day babies. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured interviews with some of these "leaplings." You can check it out here. 80-year-old Suzie Harding said it's lots of fun for her granddaughters who, at 28 and 30, are older than their "20-year-old" grandma!

And have you heard about The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies? If you are one, or are the parent of one, you might want to check it out by clicking here.

A bit of history

Leap Year was introduced in 45 BC by Julius Caesar in order to adjust the calendar to contain an average of 365.25 days. Starting in Ireland and Britain, women were permitted to propose marriage during Leap Year. The tradition changes from country to country, where some permitted this proposal to occur only on Leap Year Day. If a man refused, there was a price to pay. The fine, supposedly issued by Queen Margaret of Scotland, was a leather glove (to hide the un-ringed finger), a rose, and a kiss. Maybe the hope was that the kiss would be a game changer. Who knows? In Finland, men who refused proposals were to buy the suitor fabric for a new skirt.

While proposing during leap year is acceptable, some consider it bad luck to marry during leap year. Hmmm. I wonder if there are statistics backing up the claim.

A day to celebrate

Schools, communities, and parents find ways to enjoy this once-every-four-years day. If you're looking for some ideas, click here for 29 fun things to do on Leap Year Day. For me, I'm celebrating with my tribe; a group of writing friends who have gone beyond critiquing each other's stories and have actually become a supportive posse of women I value greatly. We're heading out for dinner and drinks and, undoubtedly, a whole bunch of laughs! 

What are your plans? Will you treat the day any differently? Or maybe, you're one of the lucky ones who were born on this day. I'd love to hear all about your celebration!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

5 Sustainable Ways to Remodel Your Home

Today, I'm happy to welcome guest blogger AJ Earley, who offers some fantastic tips for sustainable home remodeling.

Five Sustainable Ways To Remodel Your Home

There are few things more exciting than doing a little home renovation, and the upcoming arrival of spring is the perfect time to get on those projects you’ve been wanting to do. Whether your remodeling project involves gutting and re-doing entire areas of the house, or just adding new paint or appliances, there are ways to keep your project green and sustainable. Here are five things to consider when upgrading your home:


One of the quickest and most inexpensive ways to change a room dramatically is to add a fresh coat of paint. Not to mention, it’s fun picking out the color(s) and coordinating a room! You can stick with a single, subtle color if your room has vibrant decor, or add a contrasting trim or accent wall. You can even get a little crazy and do designs and patterns, which is much easier than it looks.

The important thing to remember when painting is to select a paint that has no VOCs. VOC stands for volatile organic compound, and these are quite harmful in vapor form. These toxic chemicals contribute to many health issues; sometimes long after the paint has dried. It’s best to avoid them at all costs. Try to find a company that utilizes sustainable business and manufacturing processes. 


New flooring is a surprising way to bring new life to your home. If you’re trying to help out the environment, carpet is actually not the greenest option. It’s difficult to find carpeting materials that are green and eco-friendly, and maintaining carpets is a much bigger drain on the environment than hard flooring. Think about it: you have to use electricity at least once a week to vacuum them, and vacuum cleaners are not known for being energy efficient. When it comes time to give them a deep cleaning, you have to use gallons and gallons of water, often harsh chemicals and an even less energy efficient carpet shampooing machine. Plus, carpet has to be replaced much more often than hard floors.

Any sort of hard flooring is not only more cost-effective, it’s also greener. You don’t need any electricity to clean and disinfect it, a mere broom, mop, and solution of vinegar and water will do the trick. And it’s healthier: you can actually disinfect it. Carpets, not so much. Another thing to consider is your flooring material. Floors made from endangered redwood trees may look beautiful, but they're not an environmentally-friendly option. Bamboo, on the other hand, is fast-growing, sustainable, and versatile. It’s also stronger than steel! Bamboo flooring is hearty and long lasting. And it looks great to boot. 


Sometimes new window coverings are all you need to complete your redecorating, but sometimes new windows are in the cards, especially if you’re having problems with energy efficiency in your home. If this is the case and you don’t quite have the budget for all new windows, you can always take on a project to seal your drafts, which will save energy and money.

If you’re in the market for new windows, consider fiberglass windows, which are safe and durable. Also look into the energy efficiency rating of your glass manufacturer, because not all windows are created alike. If you’re going for new ones, you might as well invest in windows that are going to save you money in the long run. Don’t forget to boost your new windows' efficiency with venetian or roller blinds that can manage different types of light at different times of year. This will help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. 

Appliances And Fixtures 

Who wouldn’t love an updated, or completely new, kitchen or bathroom? If that's what your home needs, you’re in for a stressful, but ultimately fun and rewarding experience. Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the biggest remodeling projects you can take on, but there are many ways to utilize eco-friendly, sustainable resources during this process that will create a greener and more energy efficient home.

Many major brand names are upping their energy efficient game within the last decade, so you have lots of options when selecting new appliances. Just be sure to look for the Energy Star sticker, which is earned through a voluntary labeling program overseen by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DOE (Department of Energy). You can find cabinets made from recycled, reclaimed, or salvaged wood, and counter tops made entirely of recycled glass, both of which are excellent and sustainable options.

If you’re going for new faucets, fixtures, or surfaces in the bathroom, there are several things to remember: first, find a reputable manufacturer known for environmentally friendly practices. Second, choose fixtures that reduce the flow of water so you waste less. Third, consider sustainably harvested surface materials like water-resistant cork and wood that have natural anti-mold properties. This will be healthier for everyone in your home and virtually eliminate the need for harsh cleaning chemicals. 

Green and Sustainable Luxury Items 

Homes come in all shapes and sizes, from humble cottages to expansive mansions. If you happen to have luxury amenities like a pool or giant television, it doesn’t mean you can’t be eco-friendly about it. You can always switch your pool or spa to a salt system instead of using toxic chlorine. Or, if you opt to eliminate the pool, that large backyard space can be converted into a vegetable garden.

The appliances in your huge gourmet kitchen can be gas instead of electric if gas is available. If you have a large roof, you might consider covering it with solar panels. If a massive television screen is something you can’t live without, consider switching to a projector, which uses about half as much wattage as a large plasma TV.

For those planning to hire a contractor or service to do any of the work, do your research and find a company with a green reputation and stellar reviews.

Lastly, remember that a green home is a happy home and happy homes make a happy earth. Cheers!

What green and sustainable remodeling projects are you planning or have you done?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Laura's #goodnessrules challenge

Today at breakfast, my daughter, husband, and I were talking about some pretty negative stuff going on in the world. My daughter said, "The good news is..." and, without missing a beat, my 7-year-old granddaughter said, "There's good news?" 

At 7, even she is tired of bad news. So, in my granddaughter's honor, I invite you to join me in a social media #goodnessrules challenge. Post 3 #goodnessrules stories each week on your social media sites until election day. 

Let's start a #goodnessrules hashtag explosion! Who's up for the challenge? Please let me know in the comments below. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Heart-healthy Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post. It in no way is to replace the advice of a physician.

Last year in February, my husband had a heart attack. It was mild and served more as a wake-up call. The fact is heart health is important and both men and women need to pay attention to it. 

My father was 45 when he had his first two major heart attacks. The damage was severe and doctors believed he wouldn't make it to 50. Only 7 YO at the time of his first attack, I grew up to the sound of ambulances and hospital beeps. I feared walking into the house when his car was in the driveway because I knew he wouldn't be home unless he wasn't feeling well and I was afraid I'd find him dead on the floor. It wasn't a fun way to grow up. 

Even after I'd moved 250 miles away, my own heart still stopped whenever I'd hear an ambulance, assuming it was my dad on the way to the hospital again. You see, he made it past his 50th birthday and all the way to his 62nd. In 18 years, he survived 13 heart attacks. We assume his 14th killed him.

I guess it was because of my experiences with my father that my husband's heart attack hit me especially hard. I'd already been widowed once, in 1989, and I wasn't prepared to walk that road again. 

The leading cause of death in both men and women, heart disease claims the lives of more than 610,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. That's one in every four deaths. 

On his last visit to the cardiologist, my husband received a good report. The doctor even took him off his blood thinner. Phew. Relief. The wake up call worked. My husband heeded the warnings and started taking better care of himself. 

One of the reasons we believe the attack was minor is that Bill has always taken the right supplements, including lecithin, which keeps the cholesterol moving through the veins, and fish oil.

It's a fact that there is more scientific evidence between the cardiovascular benefits of fish oil than virtually any other nutritional supplement. In over 8,000 scientific studies, including close to 1,000 human clinical trials, the evidence has shown that EPA and DHA, the omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil, support overall cardiovascular function and reduce the incidence of heart disease. Even the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week for this reason. 

Research on Omega-3s for the Heart have shown to:
  • Support overall cardiovascular health
  • Optimize circulation and blood vessel function
  • Support a healthy heart rhythm
  • Promote healthy triglyceride levels
  • Support healthy blood pressure
  • Are natural and safe for long-term use
With concerns over environmental contaminants, eating fish is not always the best option, however. That's why supplementing your diet with high-quality purified fish oil makes sense. 

We've been taking Nordic Naturals products for years. They are the #1 Fish Oil Company in the U.S. But they also understand the necessity of combining fish oil supplementation with a heart-healthy diet rich in whole, nutrient dense food, as well as the importance of staying active. 

The company sent me THE COMPLETE MEDITERRANEAN DIET book by Dr. Michael Ozner to review. The book includes fantastic recipes that are not only perfect for someone concerned about their heart health, but also for diabetics like me. Dr. Ozner is a renowned and well-respected cardiologist. The traditional Mediterranean diet is clinically proven to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and a variety of other diseases. Combined with the latest scientific findings in health and nutrition, Dr. Ozner was able to create an easy-to-follow and delicious diet. There are 500 classic Mediterranean recipes in the book. I especially like the desserts and the thumbs up for dark chocolate. 

One of the interesting facts I learned from the book, is that people in Mediterranean countries tend to nap a lot, often taking short naps after lunch. A recent study revealed that doing this reduced the risk of death from heart disease by 37%! Let's hear it for the power nap!

The book also contains steps for stress reduction and exercise tips. It's really an amazing publication and the fine folks at Nordic Naturals want to give it away to one of you! 

In addition to the book, THE COMPLETE MEDITERRANEAN DIET by Michael Ozner, MD, they're also including two of their outstanding products:

  • Nordic Naturals CoQ10 Ubiquinol (60 count Non-GMO Verified) provides 100mg of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) ubiquinol to support cellular energy production and cardiovascular health. Ubiquinol is the active antioxidant form of CoQ10, a fat soluble molecule found in nearly every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, which helps transform food into energy. It is ideal for people who may be deficient in CoQ10, or for individuals with cardiovascular conditions, those taking statin drugs, or for anyone over the age of 40 looking for extra antioxidant support.

  • Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega 2x (60 count Non-GMO Verified) features Nordic Naturals highest concentration triglyceride form omega-3 oil in a slightly larger soft gel that delivers 1000mg EPA+DHA per soft gel. With one or two soft gel serving options, this powerful concentrate can be tailored to meet a broad range of unique nutritional needs. 
  • Plus a fun swag bag full of goodies!

Additionally, now through 05/01/16, Green Grandma readers will receive a 15% discount on all phone and web orders at Nordic Naturals! Just use the code HEART16. Plus, there is free shipping on all orders over $25.

So how can you win this fantastic prize package, valued at over $100? Simply enter on the Rafflecopter below. 

Giveaway is open to U.S. only. 18+. Contest ends at midnight on 03/24/16. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before an alternate winner is chosen. Prizes will be shipped by Integral Marketing on 04/01/16.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The solace of Amtrak and a Bev Doolittle landscape

To me, the best coffee in the world is right here on Amtrak. Of course, it bothers me that I have to drink it out of a disposable cup and have to get a new cup rather than refilling this one, but rules are rules. And, if I were being totally honest, it's really not the best coffee. It's just that I love nothing more than drinking it aboard the train.

I'm homeward bound. Well, not actually homeward, since I can no longer call Manheim my home since we sold my mom's house at the end of 2013, but in my heart, it will always be home. 

I boarded the train in Pittsburgh at ten after seven this morning. Wow, that's early for me! I'm not one who enjoys getting up in the dark and going out in the bitter cold. I know that's something most of you moms out there are all too familiar with. It's part of your everyday winter routine. But since it's been years since the kids have gone, I no longer have any reason to face this brutal assault of morning on a regular basis.

But today was an exception. My alarm was set for 6, but I awoke at 5 and couldn't go back to sleep. Are you like that? I am so afraid of oversleeping that I undersleep. Yikes. I imagine I'll be good and tired tonight. 

I wish I was heading to Manheim for a happy occasion. Unfortunately, I'm going there for another funeral. The last time I was there for a funeral was just a week and a half ago. This time, it's for my cousin's. With the potential for bad weather, I opted to travel by train. And I'm so glad I did. My husband couldn't join me for this trip, so this made the most sense. Until the train pulled out of the station, I'd almost forgotten how the train is my sanctuary. With all the sadness lately (6 deaths since Jan. 22), Amtrak feels like my balm in Gilead. My weary soul is refreshed as I gaze out the window at the passing scenery, reminiscent of a Bev Doolittle painting, the snowscape dotted with barren trees, fallen branches, rocks, and neglected weeds, browned by the change in season. Gliding alongside half-frozen rivers, viewing the world-famous Altoona Curve, being soothed by the gentle rocking of the moving train... these things are healing. I am ever grateful for this. Ever grateful. 

If I had an endless supply of money, I would do this on a regular basis.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy this opportunity of being held captive in a moving train, and I'm going to write. I'm currently working on 2 new books (in a 10-book contract) with iStoryBooks. Five of the books are biographies and I brought my research materials for Rachel Carson and Molly Brown. Both strong women with bold and tenacious personalities. I hope I can do them justice.

Thanks for hanging around even though my posts have been sporatic at best lately. I hope you understand.

Sharing a little piece of my life and heart,

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why and How to Buy Eco-Friendly Furniture

Today, I'm happy to welcome guest blogger, Satinder Haer, who is offering her expertise on why you should look into buying eco-friendly furniture and what to look for.

Why and How to Buy Eco-Friendly Furniture
By Satinder Haer

Buying furniture is a task that most people will undertake at some point during their lives. However, very few people set out with the intention of purchasing eco-friendly furniture. The extensive environmental and health benefits of eco-friendly furniture are relatively unknown. Combined with the fact that eco-friendly furniture is harder to find, only a small share of consumers seek it out.

Use these tips to learn why eco-friendly furniture might be a good fit for your home and how to buy it.  

via Zillow Digs®

What is Eco-Friendly Furniture?

Eco-friendly, or “green” furniture, can be defined in a number of ways. Typically eco-friendly furniture is made from reclaimed, sustainable or recycled materials and often the manufacturers of eco-friendly furniture pledge a commitment to sustainability in the production of their goods. Some definitions of eco-friendly furniture also place an emphasis on fair trade practices and completely avoid toxic finishes such as Teflon, which is used to make upholstery stain-resistant.

The most commonly used materials in the creation of green furniture are recycled metal, plastic and reclaimed wood. Sustainable materials such as bamboo, hemp, wheat and sunflower are also popular options. For fillers in upholstery and mattresses, the safest bets are natural latex foam, organic cotton or organic wool.

Source: Robert Holgate Interior Design via Zillow Digs®

Why Buy Eco-Friendly Furniture

The two main arguments behind eco-friendly furniture are its environmental and health benefits. Green furniture is usually made from recycled materials which means less waste is sent to landfills, thus decreasing the global carbon footprint. Additionally, purchasing eco-friendly furniture means less off-gassing occurs—the phenomenon where new furniture releases toxic and environmentally-unfriendly gasses into the air. Because most eco-friendly furniture is used, vintage or made from recycled materials that have already released their toxic gasses, little to no off-gassing occurs.

Many individuals also favor green furniture because of its less harmful impacts on human health. The paint and finishes on traditional furniture often give off harmful fumes, toxins and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), some of which are linked to health problems. Buying eco-friendly furniture can help you avoid introducing potentially dangerous fumes and toxins into your home.

Source: transFORM Home via Zillow Digs®

How to Buy Eco-Friendly Furniture

One of the main reasons that eco-friendly furniture is not more commonly purchased by consumers is that it is hard to identify. While many types of green furniture are sold, there is no easy, singular process that consumers can use to verify that their purchase is truly eco-friendly. Until such a method exists, here are some tips you can use to seek out eco-friendly furniture:
  • If you are purchasing wooden furniture, look for a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo. The FSC logo means that the furniture was manufactured from sustainably-managed forests and meets the council’s standards and criteria for being environmentally, socially and economically beneficial.
  • Look for a Sustainable Furniture Council tag which indicates the manufacturer pledges their commitment to sustainability.
  • Purchase furniture made from a secondary species such as California oak, madrone and sweetgum. While these species are used less often in the production of furniture, they prevent the depletion of exhausted species such as mahogany.
  • Look for wood alternatives, such as hemp, wheat or bamboo furniture.
  • Whenever possible, buy used or vintage furniture. It’s often cheaper and decreases landfill waste.
  • Buy local furniture. Not only can you help support your local economy but you also reduce the pollution caused in the transportation and packaging of furniture.

While buying eco-friendly furniture may seem like a hassle initially, it’s environmental and health benefits are likely to outweigh the inconvenience. It’s worth investigating whether or not switching to green furniture is the correct choice for your household.

Friday, February 5, 2016

February's Vinegar Friday


It's the second Vinegar Friday of the year. Guess what I'll be doing (other than using vinegar, of course!). I'll be speaking to a women's group at their Mugs & Muffins gathering. We'll have a light dinner with muffins, of course, and a time to learn some new things. I'll be sharing some tips on how to use vinegar in your everyday life, based on my book, VINEGAR FRIDAYS (available here).

I'll address questions like:

  1. What is one of the most commonly used, yet most toxic products in your home?
  2. What is as effective as bleach at getting rid of mold?
  3. What is the name of the method of washing your hair with baking soda and water, followed by a vinegar and water rinse?
Do you know the answers?
  1. Fabric softener
  2. Distilled white vinegar
  3. No pooing
In chapter 17 of my book, Snuggle-free and Loving It! Vinegar in the Laundry Room, I list the toxic chemicals in fabric softeners and all the diseases associated with them, including Alzheimer's, ADD, Parkinson's, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and more. It's scary stuff, but vinegar really is the answer!

In chapter 3, Spic-and-Span without the Chemicals, I offer vinegar-based solutions for cleaning everything from toilets to kitchen floors... without all the nasty toxins that cause a whole slew of health issues for both humans and pets.

Chapter 11, No More Tangles... and No More Toxins, introduces the concept of no pooing, a method of washing hair without using shampoo or conditioner.

There's some exciting stuff in this book, if I must say so myself. If you haven't read it, I hope you'll consider picking up a copy. Even if you only implement a few of the tips, it will save you money in no time.

So, I'm curious, what is your favorite way to use vinegar? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Who wants an $80 GC to Snuggy Baby?

Green Grandma Teamed up with Mommies Gone Mad 
to give you the chance to win a $80 Gift Certificate 
to Snuggy Baby 
so you can #BuyAllTheDiapers 
or #WearAllTheBabies. 

Staying close to your baby is the greatest feeling in the world -- the daily snuggles warm your heart and just knowing your baby wants you pulls at your heart strings. But sometimes mom wishes she had 3 arms to get everything done. Good news, Mom! You don't need an extra arm in order to clean the house or cater to the other kids. You just need Snuggy Baby and one of their wraps or ring slings.

Read Mommies Gone Mad's full review HERE.

Sponsored by Snuggy Baby 

Hosted by Mommies Gone Mad 

Ends Valentines Day (Feb. 14, 2016)

Giveaway is open to US residents Only 


Disclaimer: Green Grandma and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed by or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn and will be notified via email. The winner has 48 hours to reply before a new winner will be chosen.

Search This Blog