Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reaction to Russian Ban of GMO Corn

photo courtesy of
Okay. Let me apologize in advance. And warn you. I plan to rant. I need to let it out. I am angry. 

Here we are begging and pleading and signing petitions and blogging and facebooking and lobbying for LABELING of food containing genetically modified organisms and to no avail. Monsanto has so much money in the right pockets and so many people whispering in the right ears that we can't get anywhere! 

Meanwhile, France has studied GMO corn and found that it's a dangerous carcinogen. It causes CANCER! So they banned American corn. Now Russia is following suit based on the same study. And France is presenting the study to the European Union in an effort to ban all imports of American GMO corn (cause only stupid Americans grow this stuff for food).

I hope they do! I absolutely positively hope that the EU bans the stuff. Maybe then America will WAKE UP! 

I am sick and tired of big money companies running our lives. If the majority wants labeling, then label the stuff! Even better, follow France and Russia and ban GMO food in America! 

It's time for some action!

For more info on GMOs, try my previous article here or try this website for basic info and this one to stay updated on what's going on in the anti-GMO community.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shelter Pets: Desperately Seeking Someone

I have always had a soft spot for critters of all sizes. Maybe it's because my parents have always had (and still have) multiple cats and dogs. Maybe it's because my grandfather was a farmer who took me with him to feed the hogs and the horses and even the baby raccoon that he kept as a pet after accidentally catching it in a squirrel trap. Or maybe it isn't my upbringing at all, but rather an inner desire to treat all others (not just people) the way I want to be treated. 

Regardless of why I love those furry little guys, I do. When I was in college, I volunteered to spend some time socializing the animals at the local SPCA. It was a very large shelter and there was rarely an empty cage. If you have ever walked through an over-crowded shelter, you know it's a sorry sight. I have seen makeshift cages in the yard at our shelter because they didn't want to euthanize anyone and didn't want to turn away an animal either. 

My boyfriend and I would take the animals out and hold them and pet them, sometimes even going outside to exercise and play with them. We ended up adopting a dog that came in with cigarette burns. She had recently had puppies but the pups were not found. She was so afraid and pitiful and because she was older and scared of people her chances of adoption were small. Missy kept a nervous disorder all of the years we had her but we gave her the best life we could. 

Later, we also adopted a kitten from a litter that we had handled since they were born in the shelter. As soon as they were old enough to be adopted out, we decided we couldn't resist the really long-haired lazy one. She is 15 now and lying beside me as I type. Jewel is soft and beautiful and sweet and gloriously fat. 

And when my daughter wanted a pet of her own, guess where we headed to look for one? She found a crazy kitty that I advised her not to adopt. She reminded me that I told her she could have any one she wanted as long as it came from the shelter. So... the crazy thing is running around here somewhere right now. Sugar doesn't like us to hold her and rarely lets us pet her but she eats well and is quite active. When she does get friendly, we are happy to oblige her demands for affection. 

Wanting to get involved with the shelter again, and not feeling able to take on another family member (that's what they become), I talked with my daughter about the idea of fostering. Foster families for pets are much like foster families for children, offering a temporary home until a pet can be placed in a permanent home. Fostering is sometimes needed for less than a week, or sometimes it may be for months. 

Our first foster pet was a sweet little puppy named Clemson, which also happens to be the name of my daughter's fave football team. The two of them really bonded in the short time Clemson was with us, and Clemson left our home for a permanent family with much better social skills than when she came to us. 

This week I heard about an adult dog named Ruby, who had come to the shelter very frightened and after several days had still not settled in. A foster home would be a much better place for her and may help her to overcome some of her intense paralyzing fear. We brought her home yesterday. She has been hiding from us since she got here and has only come out to eat when we are not looking. It may take a while, but I hope that we can teach Ruby that not all people are scary.

And the moral of the story is: If you have room in your home or yard, talk to your local shelter about fostering. If you have the desire and means to add a pet to your family, please adopt from a shelter or rescue organization. If you have pets that are not spayed or neutered, get it done. 

Do you have a shelter pet? Have you adopted or fostered or both? Tell me about your babies by leaving a comment below!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just a Few Words...

Sometimes you read a quote that just seems to sum it all up for you. I want to share one with you that I hope will inspire you as much as it did me. 

"My creed is this- 
      Happiness is the only good. 
      The place to be happy is here. 
      The time to be happy is now. 
      The way to be happy is to help make
      others so."
                                   - Robert Ingersoll

A happy day to you!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight: Green Virgin Products

I was so excited when I recently received some cleaning products from Green Virgin Products to review. You may have already heard me rave about how much I love their soap nuts. I had seen the GVP Formula 433 cleaner on their website, but I hadn't tried it so I was thrilled to be able to try it. 

I opened the box and found a quart of GVP Formula cleaner-degreaser concentrate, along with two empty spray bottles, a foaming pump dispenser, and a bar of GVP Formula 433 laundry prespotter. 

The first thing I noticed after removing everything from the box is the label on the concentrate. Formula 433 is non-toxic, carcinogen-free, eco-friendly, fragrance free, and hypoallergenic! According to Green Virgin Products, it's safe enough to drink! 

But how would it work? I set to work mixing the solution. One bottle was labeled medium duty cleaner and the other was labeled light duty. Each had labels with mixing directions and the bottles had markings that made it super easy. After mixing in the two spray bottles, I poured some of the medium-duty mixture into the foaming pump dispenser. My daughter was happy to test this one! It foamed as expected and made a great hand wash. I even found it worked well on greasy dishes and it now has a new home on the window sill over my kitchen sink!

Next I wanted to try the spray cleaner. I have some really cheap cabinets in my kitchen that came with the house. They are porous and only lightly stained so every time the kids spill something, my cabinets just soak it up. They always look bad and I've tried and tried to clean them, even resorting to bleach one time (which just left ugly streaks in some places). Sounds like a good test subject, right?

one spray, before wiping
I had a plan. I looked for the yuckiest spot and sprayed just one squirt of the medium duty cleaner. I would wipe with a cloth and see what happened, then try again with a scrubbing sponge. I was amazed instantly as I watched the clear cleaner turn brown and drip down the wood onto the floor. You can say the little puddle in the picture on the right. I never even used the scrubbing sponge because wiping with a washcloth was all that was needed! I was inspired and proceeded to clean every cabinet in my kitchen, even inside the doors! This job used to take hours and leave me feeling frustrated because they still looked so awful. This time I was done in about 30 minutes and my cabinets haven't looked this good since I moved in!

The best part is that I used so little of the concentrate to make the full bottle of cleaner and only used about 1/5 the bottle of mixed cleaner to clean all of my cabinets! 

mixing for medium duty

Next, I wanted to try the GVP Formula 433 Prespotter. The main ingredient is, of course, the Formula 433 Concentrate, with  the other ingredients being palm kernal oil, coconut oil, baking soda, and sodium hydroxid. Again, this product is completely non-toxic. According to Green Virgin Products, you rub the bar with a wet toothbrush and then scrub the spot. It should disappear before your eyes. Then you launder as usual. 

Yeah, okay, well we will see about that! I grabbed my daughter's white shorts because I knew she had multiple stains on them. I had cringed when I saw them in the laundry earlier today. Here's what happened (pay special attention to the bottom left, which is where I tried the prespotter): 

Okay, well it wasn't instant and it wasn't magical, but I am still quite impressed! That was a  dried on spaghetti sauce stain on top of dirt and who knows what else. I scrubbed for about a minute with an old toothbrush. Not bad, huh? 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have more stains to remove. I see the fridge door getting cleaned today, too...

If you are interested in winning some GVP Formula 433 for yourself, head over to enter our  Fall into Green Giveaway, which will run from 9/22/12 to 9/30/12!

Green Virgin Products  will ship one lucky reader a gallon of concentrate, two spray bottles, a foaming pump dispenser, and a bar of prespotter! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BPA: Is Partial Ban Enough?

I found this article and attached video today and wanted to share. The FDA banned BPA in some containers in July of this year but is that enough? Although, I am thankful for all steps in the right direction, this seems to be a baby step.

The article can be found here:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: Unleash!

I recently was honored and privileged to receive an advance reading copy of Pastor Perry Noble's new book, Unleash: Breaking Free From Normalcy.

Being a member of Pastor P.'s congregation at Newspring Church, I had heard about and was anxiously awaiting this book's release. I know what an amazing speaker he is, but how would that translate to words on a page? As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about it! As soon as I started reading, I didn't want to put this book down. 

Whether you gave your life to Christ years ago, or are a new follower of Jesus, Unleash! presents a clear message that God isn't finished with you yet. In fact, often we become complacent in our walk with Christ and forget to expect the miraculous and the wonderful, satisfied with the usual instead. 

Pastor Perry reminds us that God wants great things for our lives, for us to prosper and be happy. Then he goes on to discuss and help us overcome some of the common obstacles that can prevent us from living the life that God wants for us. He uses true stories from his own life as well as the lives of others to show us how to life a more meaningful and fulfilling life as Christians. He's easy to relate to, telling stories about his daughter's "poo" and his mother-in-law's fast car. But he backs it up with stories and scriptures from the Bible, paying special attention to the story of David.

Check out the trailer:

Unleash! is available in bookstores on September 18, 2012, and will be available on on September 20. Or you can download the ebook at . Grab a copy and let me know what you think. 

October 1, 2012 Update: Unleash is now on the New York Times Bestseller List! See it by clicking here!

Unleash Released

So blessed to have an amazing pastor like Perry Noble! Thrilled to be asked to review his new book! Review to be posted this week! "Unleash" is available in stores on 9/18 and on Amazon 9/20.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gift Hulk Giveaway

Mama Making Changes is joining the Gift Hulk Giveaway, hosted by Green Moms Network, to bring you another way to win great prizes! I know my readers love giveaways and this one is for PayPal cash or Amazon gift cards so you can buy whatever you like!

Gift Hulk Giveaway Event

This giveaway is sponsored by Gift Hulk. If you haven't heard of them, click the link to check them out. You can sign in with Facebook, which makes it easy, and you can start earning rewards right away! 

The giveaway even will run from September 20 to September 30, 2012. There will be two winners. One will receive $50 and one will receive $25. The winners will get to choose whether to receive PayPal cash or an Amazon giftcard! 

Be sure to check back on the 20th to enter! In the meantime, be sure to share the link with your friends so that they can get in on the cash too!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

BioPlastics: For Better of Worse?

Bioplastics, which are plastics made from plants, are popping up more and more lately. This labeling can be found on water bottles and other previously taboo plastic containers. I decided to do a little research to get the scoop on these supposedly compostable, sustainable, eco-friendly plastics (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?) and what I found is definitely worth sharing. 

Traditional plastic is a petroleum product. Bioplastic is made from plant derivatives such as cellulose or starch. Of course, the primary plant used for bioplastic is corn, which 
creates another dilemma entirely and is not much better than using petroleum. Other plants may be used, however, so for the sake of argument let's say our bioplastic is being made from one of the other plant possibilities. What then is its impact on our environment?

First it is important to realize that bioplastic is still made in a factory on machinery that is run by petroleum products. However, while statistics abound and often vary, it is widely accepted that making bioplastic from farm to finished product still uses at least 20% less petroleum than traditional petro-plastic. 

Second, it is important to realize that even though these plant-based plastics can be made from agricultural byproducts, most are being made from crops that are grown specifically for industrial uses. This means deforestation, over-use of farmland, soil erosion, heavy pesticide use and more. 

It is also important that even though your plastic bottle may say "biodegradable," it may degrade so slowly or require such specific circumstances that it will not actually biodegrade. The good news is that starch-based plastics, while less durable, will actually degrade in compost conditions. 

Another problem with bioplastic is that it is recyclable, but must be recycled separately from traditional petro-plastic. Mixing of the two can cause serious damage to equipment at recycling facilities and most consumers don't know to separate them so the responsibility falls on the facility to carefully sort them out, which creates a higher cost for recycling. 

The bottom line, however is this: Only 27% of ALL plastic get recycled. The rest is in our oceans and landfills. So, regardless of whether its petroleum-based or plant-based, avoid using plastic whenever possible. 

  • Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it from a water fountain or faucet when you get thirsty. 
  • Reuse old newspapers and other paper products for packing material.
  • Avoid plastic straws; if you can't skip the straw completely, carry a re-usable glass straw.
  • In the kitchen, opt for glass or metal. This applies to dishes, storage containers, bakeware, etc.
If you have more information to share on this topic, or if you have questions, tips, etc., please share them in the comments section below! I love to hear what you have to say!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gotta Get A Goat

I want a goat. No, I am not joking. I want a goat. Or two or three. 

I have a fenced back yard that is about half an acre. I am a single mom trying to keep the grass cut (which really means paying to keep the grass cut) and nobody uses that part of the yard for anything. Goats would keep the grass trimmed and, as a bonus, we can have fresh goat milk. I would absolutely love to learn to make goat cheese, too!

I've never owned a goat, although my uncle used to keep them. Having no idea where to actually find a goat, I looked (don't laugh) on Facebook. I went to the fan pages of several local farms and found a single goat for sale. It's a special purebred goat and the asking price is $400 obo! No, no, no. I am not entering these goats in the fair. I need a less expensive version! 

Where do I go now? Do you have goats? Do you have any advice for me?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Last Ounce of Courage"

I got an email today from a friend about a movie that will be released September 14, 2012. Curious to see what this movie was about, I watched the trailer. I will be looking for it in one of our local theatres this weekend!

"Last Ounce of Courage" is a family-friendly movie about a family who lost a son/father in combat. As they learn how to move on with their lives, they realize that they have become complacent. This movie celebrates and defends values such as family, freedom, and faith.

Watch the trailer in its entirety and let me know what you think of this new film. Will you be looking to see it? Go to to see if and when it's playing near you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mama Crazy

Do you ever feel like you must have lost your mind to have committed to all this? Like your many commitments are going to end up getting you commited?
photo courtesy of

It's hard juggling the many aspects of being a mom sometimes. As a single mom, things get even wackier! Try working a full time job, parenting and home schooling an 8th grader, juggling a [minimal] social life, taking care of pets, housework, and a blog! Add to that attempting to make sure your child has social activities and stays stress-free (or relatively stress-free anyway). Its' all just nuts at times!

Example, tomorrow I decided to invite a few friends over. Then my parents called wanting to take us out to eat for my daughter's birthday on the same night.  Okay, as long as we eat before the homeschool meeting I have to attend tomorrow evening. Yes, the meeting should be over around 8 so my friends are expected at 8:30. That means I will need to have cleaning and baking done before we eat with my parents without neglecting school time with my daughter so that I can entertain as soon as I get home from my meeting. Whew!

Oh well, time to put on my big girl panties, lace up my bootstraps, smile a big smile, and deal with it! One thing at a time, it will all get done and it will all be worth it. I often have to write myself notes to remember everything, but I rarely miss an appointment or meeting or anything else that's scheduled. At the end of a super busy day, I usually feel very productive and proud of myself if I am able to handle it calmly and grab the bull by the horns, so to speak (versus running around like a bull is chasing me!).  And for those who know me, this is why everything has to be scheduled! I cannot make last minute plans! I've even scheduled a day of having nothing scheduled the day after my crazy day above! I know I'll need the break to maintain my sanity. 

What do you do when you're near crazy for having too much to do? Are you usually able to smile and get through it or do you panic and muddle through it? Does over-scheduling make you feel over-stressed or just productive? I love your comments so please share your thoughts with me :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall Into Books Giveaway Hop

Fall Into Books
Mama Making Changes is excited to announce participation in the Fall Into Books Giveaway Hop! This hop, hosted by Literary Addicts,  will run from September 17 to September 30, 2012. It's a bibliophile's dream! Each book-themed giveaway will have a minimum value of $10. 

If you've never participated in a giveaway hop, it's easy and fun! After you enter here to win my giveaway, click on one of the links at the bottom of this post to go to the next giveaway. Each giveaway will have the same list, so you can keep hopping from blog to blog till you enter them all! 

Mama Making Changes is happy to be able to partner with Ellis Jones, PhD, author of The Better World Shopping Guide, for this giveaway hop.  We will be giving away 9 copies of the 3rd edition of this useful pocket guide to the best and worst companies. The report card style grades that he gives them are based on five areas of responsibility: environmental sustainability, animal protection, human rights, community involvement, and social justice. For more information on The Better World Shopping Guide, check out the Sponsor Spotlight post. 

Each of our 9 winners will receive one copy of The Better World Shopping Guide and a bookmark. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. 

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Sponsor Spotlight: The Better World Shopping Guide

Recently I received the 3rd edition of The Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.  Having already owned the 2nd edition of this book, and already being a fan, I was super excited when Dr. Jones decided to send me several copies of the newest edition for me and my readers! 

The Better World Shopping Guide grades companies based on 5 major issues:

  1. Environmental Sustainability
  2. Human Rights
  3. Community Involvement
  4. Animal Protection
  5. Social Justice
Thousands of hours of and two decades of research have been put into grading these companies, which finally results in a report card score, with A+ being the best possible rating and F being the lowest. 

The companies are conveniently divided into categories such as "Frozen Dinners" and "Gasoline" and "Airlines." There are 70 categories in this edition. 

There are also tidbits of information with each category. "Green Heros" are listed, as are "Corporate Villains," along with the reasons behind that label. Each category also has a list of additional resources that I find interesting and handy as a blogger.

My favorite part of The Better World Shopping Guide are the Top 10 lists and the 20 Best and 20 Worst lists. (Yes, I am a list maker!)

The book is small so it's easy to keep it handy in your purse or in your car's glove box. Carry it in the grocery store or check it when deciding on a new bank. Spend a few minutes looking up some of the companies from which you frequently purchase products and you may change your mind about some of them! I did!

There is so much information in this guide that I can't begin to cover it all! I love it! For more information or to order a copy for yourself, visit There is also an iPhone app that you can download called Better World Shopper.

Dr. Ellis Jones, the author, has given me some extra copies of The Better World Shopping Guide to give away to my readers! See details of the giveaway and enter to win by clicking here

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Easy Summer Recipe

The fresh seasonal veggies are starting to change now that summer is coming to a close and fall is just around the corner. In my CSA bag this week, I had some butternut squash. I love butternut squash soup, although I've never cooked it myself. In fact, I had never cooked this vegetable in any way, shape, or form. I was completely perplexed and let it sit on my counter top for days. 

In a conversation with a co-worker today, I mentioned my squash troubles. She shared a super easy way to cook this veggie and it worked beautifully, as you can see! 

Slice the squash lengthwise into two halves. Use a spoon to scrape the seeds out, just like you would treat a cantaloupe. Place the two halves face down in a baking pan, a generous slice of unsalted butter underneath the fleshy part of each. Bake on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes before turning and baking an additional 20 minutes or until very soft. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and brown sugar. 

You could scoop these out to serve, but I thought the presentation whole was wonderful! It was very easy to eat with only a fork and tasted a little like baked sweet potatoes. I think these would also be delicious without the cinnamon sugar, which made it taste more like desert than a side dish.

Now I just need to know how to cook this acorn squash! Any ideas?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Credit Where Credit is Due

I am homeschooling mama, which I love. In general, I feel disappointed in the public school system and I want to ensure that my child gets the education and social upbringing she deserves. 

But today, I was impressed with the assignment that a friend's son brought home from school. He was asked to interview 5 people. The interview only consisted of one question...

Can you name the 5 things that the 1st Amendment to the Constitution guarantees all Americans?

So my friend calls me with a score of 0 out of 5! I got 3 right, so does that make me smart? I think not. I mean, shouldn't we know this stuff? These are our basic rights as Americans! 

Now if you knew them, congratulations! I know them now because my friend looked them up. But, if you didn't know all five of them, I'm not telling. Look it up. You should know! We should all know! And kudos to the teacher who gave this assignment!

Monday, September 3, 2012

10 Easy Ways to Get Greener Now (Part II)

Getting serious about going green can be difficult at times and sometimes requires us to get a little less comfortable. But other changes can be easier and don't require much of an adjustment at all. Here are 10 suggestions for simple changes you can make to get greener now:

  1. Plant a fall garden, or even just one thing that's edible. What to plant and when varies depending on where you live, so if you aren't sure, try this interactive map from Mother Earth News. Just click the appropriate link to the right of the map and then click the month you want to plant for a list of seeds you should sow now. 
  2. Buy local food. Go to the nearest farmer's market and save money by asking for seconds (the slightly less than perfect specimens of fruits and veggies). Be sure to ask where it was grown because many booths will have food that was shipped from other states. While you're there, look for milk, eggs, or pastured meats, too.
  3. Freeze your leftovers. Too much food ends up in landfills that are already overcrowded. Save money too if you buy and cook larger quantities of meat, then slice and freeze the leftovers for sandwiches, soups, pastas and more. Leftover veggies can be frozen for a later pot of vegetable soup.
  4. Re-use glass containers. Larger pickle and jelly jars make great canisters or use them to store buttons, loose change, kitchen utensils, etc. Smaller jars and bottles can be used as drinking glasses or portable water bottles. Even smaller containers can be re-used for dried herbs and spices or those miscellaneous screws and things that you find in your husband's dirty pants pockets.
  5. Plant ivy. Use less electricity in the summer by planting ivy around the foundation of your house. It will block hot sunlight and keep your home cooler. 
  6. Use the water while you wait for it to heat up. When you wash your face or shower, you let the water run till it's hot, right? Brush your teeth while you wait. Or capture some of the water in an old milk jug to water plants later. Get inventive with this one!
  7. As the nights get cooler this fall, turn your ceiling fans on reverse. They will push the rising warm air downward and keep you comfy without turning up the thermostat. 
  8. Stop junk mail. Register online at to stop receiving unsolicited credit and insurance offers. You can choose to opt out for 5 years or forever. Stop unwanted catalogs by signing up at
  9. Plug your electronics into power strips. Those electronics and chargers are drawing electricity even when not in use. This is called phantom energy. By turning off the switch on the power strip when they are not in use, you stop the flow!
  10. Switch to CFL light bulbs. You don't have to switch all at once, which would be expensive and wasteful. As bulbs blow, replace them with CFLs, which use less electricity to put out the same amount of light. These bulbs cost a little more but, in addition to saving you money on the power bill, they also last longer, which means you purchase fewer bulbs in the long run and put less garbage in the landfills. 

For more ideas on how to go green without going crazy, check out the previous list of 10 Easy Ways to Get Greener Now. If you have your own easy ideas to share or any other comments, please leave them below. I always love hearing what you have to say!