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  • 3 Great Tech Tools for Busy Moms at Back-to-School

    What’s a busy mom to do? Tech to the rescue! Guest blogger Carissa Rogers is here to share time saving tips just in time for that back-to-school rush!

    by Carissa

    August supplies meteor showers, hot afternoons and the crazy of back to school time! Shopping for school clothes, school supplies and plenty of worrying about class schedules or the perfect-fit teacher are enough stress for any mom to handle. What a mom doesn’t need is more stress about her OWN schedule.

    Food On The Table

    Throughout the summer, it's easy to fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to meal time. A hot dog at the pool or nachos at the ballpark work May through July, but once the school year sets in, you need a plan to sit down and enjoy meal time together. Food on the Table is a mobile app that helps you plan meals around the sales at your local grocery stores with quick, kid-friendly recipes and an organized grocery list.

    VolunteerSpot

    The last things you need on the first day of school are multiple clipboards of sign up for this, list your email for that. Imagine a free online sign up sheet where long reply-all email chains are a thing of the past! With VolunteerSpot, a room mom or teacher quickly sets the schedule of needs and parents sign up to help with a tap on a smartphone or click of a mouse - it will even remind them before the event. Magic!

    VolunteerSpot is terrific for organizing classroom readers and parties, your library and carnival volunteers, soccer snack schedules and tournaments, or just about any other parent supported activity. Be sure to tell your child’s room mom to check out VolunteerSpot.com! And best of all, because it’s so easy to sign up to help, MORE parents get involved and that makes less stress for all of us!

    *You can even jump over to VolunteerSpot’s facebook page for a chance to WIN $500 in School Supplies for your favorite school!

    Cozi

    When the kids head back to school, they also head back to sports schedules, music lessons, school projects, you name it. Which means parents head back to the mad scramble involved in making sure everyone gets dropped off and picked up (with the right gear in hand), not to mention volunteer stints, PTA events, birthday parties, teacher appreciation duties and so much more. If you try to remember and take care of all this yourself, your head might explode.

    Cozi gives you a place to park your whole family calendar in one place, so everyone can see it – whether from a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet like the iPad. No need to sync; since all your family’s schedule (and lists) are shared in one account, everyone sees the same thing. Add an appointment, input the school calendar, even include all the times and locations of the soccer schedule – including notes like “bring the potluck dessert” or “meet at the front gate”.

    Back to school can be a calm and fun experience for everyone. Jump in with these techy tools to get your mom-world organized and take out the stress!

    .................

    Do you have any back to school tips to share? We'd love to hear how you stay organized!

    About the author: Carissa Rogers is a busy mom of 3 and blogs at GoodNCrazy.com and VolunteerSpot. When she’s not playing photographer, dancing up a storm, leading the PTO, or chasing kids to and fro she’s connecting, consulting, freelancing and lots of other ings …a mom of all trades.

  • Top Five Tips for Winter Skin Woes

    written by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt

    winter dry skin solved by Siobhan and Alexandra

    Siobhan and Alexandra

    This has to be one of the most erratic winters on record, which means that everyone from New York to Florida and all the way over to California is battling weather-worn skin. If you're a regular on our blog, then you've probably heard this advice before but we can't stress this stuff enough. Here, we've culled some of our favorite tips to share with you.

    1. Try skin-friendly oils. This was probably one of the most crucial discoveries we made when writing our book: healthy, skin-compatible oils straight from nature are a beauty godsend. We love argan oil for our faces, and coconut oil for our bodies. We use these oils to moisturize, to take off makeup—even to shave our legs! They absorb quickly and, contrary to what you may imagine, do not leave skin feeling greasy or cause breakouts.

    2. Stop using so much soap. We're not huge fans of soap, and it's not because we don't like to smell good. It's just that lathering up head-to-toe every day is just so darn drying. We suggest you show a little restraint with your soap bar: Use it where you feel you need to, and then leave the rest of your body alone—especially during the winter. Some of our bravest readers recently took a no-soap challenge, and the results we're kind of shocking. Almost everyone reported softer, more hydrated skin, while almost nobody complained of odor problems. And for your face, stick with a nourishing cream cleanser that contains plant oils.

    3. Don't over-exfoliate. Whether for you that means a sugar body scrub or a trip to the derm for a glycolic peel, we strongly suggest that during the winter months you go a little easier on your skin. Peels and scrubs—aside from often containing nasty chemicals—remove that protective skin barrier that, well, protects you. While exfoliation certainly has its place, especially for very congested skin, many people have made it a too-regular part of their regimen. Once a week is plenty.

    4. Eat your fats. There's a reason why we crave more fat in the winter: because we need it. Of course, we're not talking about burgers and ice cream here. We're talking about olive oil, skin-healthy omega 3s, nuts and avocados—the kind of fat that feeds your skin. In fact, we dare you to up your fish or flaxseed oil intake, and not notice happier, more hydrated skin.

    5. Get a humidifier. If dry winter air has you seriously suffering—and the above advice isn't cutting it—a humidifier may be the answer. Just keep it clean to avoid bacteria, and use it where it will have the most impact, like by your bed. That way you can spend your sleep hours (oh, and try to get more of those!) hydrating, so that you wake up to healthy, glowing skin.

    Thanks to both Siobhan and Alexandra for sharing these helpful tips with us! Many of us here at Daily Grommet have already put these tips to a test. Check out our thoughts on using Argan Oil and a Humio Humidifier to help your skin.

    Do you have a tip you'd like to share with us? Tell us what you do to fix winter skin woes below in a comment.

  • Urban Gardening: one Bostonian's mission

    When Laurel Valchuis first began telling us about her effort to bring a new type of urban gardening to the residents of Boston, she caught our interest. Urban farming or container gardening are trends in today's city homeowners day to day lives and Laurel is inspirational to those wanting to get started in this urban gardening style! Today we invited her to share her mission with all of you. Think she has a great idea? Help her out with a quick vote!

    by Laurel Valchuis

    urban gardeningLast summer, after learning of the 5 year waiting list to get a plot in the community-garden, I decided to create my own urban garden space by putting my porch and some Tanzanian wisdom to work by building two ‘sack gardens’. I was first introduced to the concept of the sack garden while volunteering in Tanzania, where this technique came in handy for those who subsisted mainly on relatively cheap ugali (maize meal), had little or no land, and were in desperate need of affordable, fresh produce. Grown in a burlap bag, this urban gardening or urban farming method takes full advantage of vertical space, and adapted beautifully to my Boston porch, providing me with fresh veggies all summer. In addition to the delight of watching my vegetables grow, an exciting twist was watching mother-nature take action on the horn worms that had found their way to my tomato plants. The worms eventually became infested with parasitic wasps a phenomenon the biology major in me (and my three year old neighbor), found fascinating, especially as it took place in the middle of our neighborhood in the South End!

    urban gardeningIn addition to being a great science experiment and promoting biodiversity in an urban environment, the Landless Garden has the potential to address nutritional and economic gaps in the city. As a mentor for the Urban Improv Mentoring program, and analyst for HighQuest Partners (an agribusiness consulting firm), I have become well aware of the educational and price barriers to eating fresh foods in an urban environment.  Urbanites’ often have a disconnect from their natural environment: not knowing where and how their food is made, has also become very apparent.

    With access to just 24 square inches of outdoor space, the Landless Garden can provide city dwellers the pleasure of cultivating a garden and cost-effective access to fresh foods, all while quelling urban water runoff. To spread the Landless Garden, I have applied for a $5,000 grant from Pepsi to build 500 of these gardens around Boston and  I need your votes! Funds are granted if I get in the top ten number of votes; voting only takes about 30 seconds by going here http://www.refresheverything.com/landlessgarden and signing in through Facebook or Pepsi. You can vote once every day until January 31st, when the winners are chosen.

    Please help me spread the Landless Garden around Boston by voting every day!

  • Calling for contractors, help needed in Haiti

    The Daily Grommet team has shared with you a sewing cooperative in Haiti, a  portable heathcare delivery system bound for Haiti and several other philanthropic Grommets that you all warmly embraced. That is why when we got an email about physical volunteers needed in Haiti- we knew we had to share the information with you. Read on to learn what help is needed and how you can assist.

    ____________________________

    My name is Michele Boston and I am Executive Director of No Time For Poverty, a St. Paul, MN based non-profit organization dedicated to bringing a program of comprehensive medical care to the southwest region of Haiti.  Specifically this summer we will be completing our 8370 sq. foot pediatric medical clinic for children ages one day to 16.  We expect it to be the first medical facility to open in Haiti since the earthquake. In accompaniment of our clinic is a comprehensive community outreach program addressing the preventative needs of children ages one day to five years.  No Time For Poverty has been working in Haiti for the past six years.  We have a well developed infrastructure and an excellent reputation. 

     We need volunteers in the following areas to come to Port Salut , Haiti , and work for 7 to 14 days on our children’s clinic. Volunteers are needed beginning June 27th and thereafter throughout the summer.

    Electrical wall rough-in - Last week in June or right after July 4th.

    One electrician and one assistant (or additional electrician) needed.
    This will involve installation of flexible plastic conduit and electrical boxes into the panel walls.  Plumbing will be with PEX and clamp-ring connections for supply piping and PVC for waste. All in ground plumbing is now complete. Once this is completed we will plaster the interior walls while the roof trusses are going up. (one week estimated).

    Then approximately the second week in July we will rough-in the ceiling electrical and pull wire. Two electricians and two or three assistants needed. (10-14 days estimated).

    Plumbing rough-in  - Second week of July.

    Two plumbers needed. Plumbing will be with PEX and clamp-ring connections for supply piping and PVC for waste. All in ground plumbing is now complete. Once this is completed we will plaster the interior walls. (one week estimated).

    Carpenters for roof framing crew - last week of June or right after July 4th.

    Two carpenters and 2-4 assistants (or carpenters) needed.
    This will involve building light weight metal trusses on site and setting of these trusses on the Clinic walls. The truss members are cut from c-studs and attached with prefabricated/pre-punched metal truss plates connected with tech screws. Trusses are then strapped to a metal top plate (attached to the walls with a threaded rod embed). This is a hip roof covering a 8,500 sq. ft. building. (14 days estimated). 

    Carpenters for window/door installation - Last week of June or right after July 4th.

    Two carpenters and 2 assistants needed. These are to be installed into the panel walls with metal embeds, cemented in, and metal door frames (interior only) to be filled with grout half way up. (7-10 days).
     
    Then approximately the third week in July we will install the roof insulation and metal roofing. Two carpenters and 2-4 assistants (or carpenters) needed.
    This will involve placing a reflective foil product over hat channel (already installed with the trusses) and then attaching 260 metal roofing  sheets to the hat channel with gasketed tech screws. The metal sheets are 33" X 16'-0". (14 days estimated)

    Carpenters for ceiling metal lath installation – Third week of July 

    Two carpenters and 2 assistants needed.
    This will involve installing high-rib metal lath to the under side of the trusses with tech screws. (7 days estimated).

    Plasterers for finish Portland plaster ceilings - Last week of July

    Four to six Plasterers.  Portland plaster to be placed over the high-rib metal lath by hauk and trowel method (9'-8" high ceilings).The mix would be 1-part Portland , (4) parts sand probably with an add-mix plasticizer. (7-10 days estimated).

    Painting of Interior Ceilings and walls - Second week of August.

    One Painter and two assistants. Ceilings will be sprayed with Dryfall. Walls will be sprayed and back-rolled with primer. (7-10 days).

    NOTE: Floor tile by Haitians will start second or third week in August.

    Painting of Exterior walls - Second week of August.

    One Painter and two assistants.

    Walls will be sprayed and back-rolled with elastomeric. Two color scheme, two coats. (one week estimated).

    Finish Electrical -Third or fourth week of August.

    Two electricians and two assistants needed. (one week estimated).

    Finish Plumbing - Third or fourth week of August.

    Two plumbers needed. (one week estimated).

    Final paint coat by NTFP volunteers - First week of September.

    (one week estimated).

    The cost of a 7 to 10 day trip is approximately $1,500.00. 

    If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please give us a call at 651-714-6359, or send an email to [email protected].  You can also learn more about No Time For Poverty by visiting our website at www.notimeforpoverty.org.

  • MINE: Documenting the bond between humans and animals

    MINE is a heart-wrenching story about the pets of Hurricane Katrina and an insightful commentary on human nature and our relationships with our pets. The film is an exploration of the bond between people and animals and how that bond is intensified in the face of tremendous tragedy and loss.

    This feature-length documentary presents the complexity of an intensely emotional situation that has no simple answers. A tragedy like Hurricane Katrina reveals the worst and brings out the best in humankind, and it also presents an opportunity for meaningful social change. This film challenges us see the way we treat animals in our society as an extension of how we treat each other.

    Grommet friend Julia Elmer,  was extremely moved by this film after hearing about it from a friend. She caught up with Geralyn Pezanoski, the director of MINE, to find out a bit more about the film.

    Malvin Cavalier was separated from his dog, Bandit, during hurricane Katrina. ‘Mine’ chronicles the efforts by Mr. Cavalier (and others) to be reunited with his pet.

    by Julia Elmer

    The New York Times described MINE as “smart, sincere, and affecting.” How do you believe your film has affected people?

    One sentiment I hear echoed from people is that they went in feeling strongly aligned with one side of the custody battles but left having a better understanding of and empathy for people on the other side. A number of people also expressed regret that it didn’t occur to them to get directly involved after Katrina. Seeing the rescuers in the film inspired them to understand the potential impact of individual action.

    Your dog, Nola, was a victim of Hurricane Katrina. What role has she played in your desire to tell the story in MINE?

    Nola played a huge role in transforming my initial involvement in documenting the rescue efforts into a full-fledged documentary film. Had I not gone through the fostering and adoption process myself, I don’t know that I would have been compelled to explore the intricacies of it. My emotional involvement gave me a perspective that allowed me to tell the story from the inside out.

    How many hours of raw footage did you have to sift through when pulling this film together? How long did the production process take?

    MINE was about three and a half years in the making, but we shot for over four years because even after the film premiered, our subjects’ stories were still evolving. We had about 140 hours of footage when all was said and done. That’s a lot when you consider the final film is 80 minutes. There are so many stories we didn’t get to tell.

    Toward the beginning of the film, one of the animal rescue workers tells us that she was asked why she went to New Orleans to save animals when people were suffering, too. Then, Jessie says toward the end of the film that, “animals let us know we are not alone. We’re not as independent as we think we are.” What do you have to say to those who objected to rescue workers whose aim was to save animals in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

    First I want to say that I find it unfortunate that people would be criticized for how they decide to volunteer their time. They’re following their conviction and contributing to the betterment of the world.

    The criticism targets the fact that some people find it easier to rally around the unmet needs of animals than those of human beings. How many times have you heard someone say they are “more affected seeing an animal suffer than a person – with the exception of a child?”  It makes sense that compassion lie with creatures we perceive to be defenseless. But the bottom line is that a rescuer who saved a dog or a cat, regardless of his or her motivation, had an undeniable impact on another human being in the process whether it was on an adoptive guardian who brought that pet into their family, or on someone like Malvin Cavalier who had lost everything and yearned for the companionship of his pet. You can’t really separate the animal toll from the human because of the profound bond that exists between people and their pets. I think we’re all better off when our compassion extends to include all living beings.

    Do you think our country is better prepared to handle pets during the next natural disaster? Will the PETS Act of 2006 make any difference the next time around?

     I think individuals are more aware and empowered now to properly care for their pets in the event of a disaster. The PETS act is definitely making a difference. According to Scotlund Haisley of HSUS, who responds to disasters all over the country, fewer people are leaving pets behind, and more and more shelters are accommodating entire families – humans, felines, canines…

    What’s next for you?

    Right now I’m working with a small PR firm, to help other independent filmmakers get the exposure they deserve for their films. That’s extremely gratifying for me.

    I’m also exploring how MINE can be used to help raise money for animal rescue organizations through shelter screenings and DVD sales. The messages of the film are already so impactful. What a bonus if the film can directly benefit the animals and the people who care for them!

     …And because I have to ask: Is Mr. Cavalier still alive?

    YES! And he turned 90 this past January. I was fortunate enough to get to celebrate with him at the MINE premiere in New Orleans.

    May 8th is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Why not take a moment to make sure you’re prepared in case we face another natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina?

    http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/apr10/100415c.asp

    http://www.cesarsway.com/cesarstips/cesarspeaks/Animal-Disaster-Preparedness-Day

    If you would like to win a copy of MINE for yourself, simply leave a comment on this post. We will randomly select one winner.

    General contest rules: To enter, you must be a U. S. resident, and at least 18 years of age and you must leave a comment or question on today’s post. No purchase necessary. The winner will be randomly selected and will receive a win a copy of  MINE . Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. You are not eligible to win if you have received a prize or giveaway from Daily Grommet in the last six months. Void where prohibited. Contest will run from 8:00 am EST May 5th through 10:00 pm EST May 5th, 2010.

  • My Favorite Childhood Toy

    By Lindsay Ferrier of Suburban Turmoil

    I don’t remember how I got him, or why, but somewhere around the time that I was seven or eight, LeMutt came into my life.

    He was a stuffed dog with floppy arms and legs, yellow eyes, and the kind of fur that almost immediately took on a deliciously well-loved quality. I had never been all that attached to any one doll or animal before, so my affection for LeMutt took everyone by surprise. After all, there was nothing very special about him.

    What can I say? He just felt right.

    For the next four years, LeMutt accompanied me on car trips and vacations. He slept beside me in bed each night. During those years, everything was changing- my mom remarried, we moved from the town where I had lived my whole life, and I began seeing less and less of my father. I was changing, too, undergoing the slow metamorphosis from child into budding adult. But through it all, LeMutt was a reassuring constant, a soft, fuzzy presence that never failed to soothe me. He didn’t need anything from me. He didn’t make demands. He just was. And that was just what I needed.

    At some point, like all girls, I grew too old for stuffed animals and LeMutt was put away with my other childhood toys. Years later, I sorted through my childhood memorabilia. I eagerly looked for LeMutt, but he was gone. I sifted through the toys again. All the dolls were there, along with bags and bags of plush toys, most of which I reluctantly threw away.

    But no LeMutt.

    It seems a little silly now, but I’ve never forgotten that loss. What on earth happened to LeMutt? Why didn’t he survive when so many of my toys with far less significance did? Was he my own personal Mary Poppins, sent with the understanding that he would only be around until I didn’t need him anymore? I wonder.

    Because I wouldn’t mind having him around now, just to take out on occasion, when no one else is looking, to bury my face in his fur and smell that old familiar LeMutt smell, and to feel the familiar peace that only a favorite stuffed animal can bring.

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