Monthly Archives

January 2018

Interviewing Grandparents

Interviewing Grandparents: Creating Ways To Remember Our Loved Ones & Preserve Our Family History

January 24, 2018


Today marks 19 years since my amazing grandfather passed away. He had a heart of gold, the warmest smile and a special twinkle in his eye. I have countless memories of helping him do farm chores, sneaking me lemon drops during church, and him and my grandma taking us camping in the summers. Lucky for me, my grandpa played a large role in my childhood thanks to being raised on a family farm in which my grandpa and dad farmed together. Because of this, I saw him nearly everyday for my first 18 years. My other grandpa, with whom I also shared a special bond, passed away last February. Neither passing was a shock, as both were sick in the months prior to their passings; nonetheless, it was still incredibly difficult. After all, your grandpa is such a special role in your life…often like a second dad.

One regret I have with my grandpa who passed away 19 years ago today is that I never interviewed him on camera nor made a video to be able to reflect back on and remember him by. (I’m sure if I hounded my relatives hard enough, I could track down the many VHS tapes they have with him and create my own video.) However, I only wish I could have asked him questions that I didn’t think to ask as an 18-year old, like “What were you like as a boy?” “What did you dream of becoming one day?” “Who were your heroes?” “If you could give your 20-year old self advice now looking back on your life, what would it be?”

Thankfully, six months before my second grandfather passed, I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to interview him on camera. It was a last-minute trip we had planned so the interview was very informal and casual. I used my iPhone with my kids noises in the background, my grandpa in his farm overalls (how I wanted him to look as that’s how I saw him 90% of the time), and sitting in his favorite chair. What I had anticipated taking under an hour with my 30 or so questions turned into a fascinating, two-day, beautiful, story-telling event. He shared so many stories (most of which I had never before heard), and went into great detail with his responses to my questions. It was truly a wonderful experience and a great final visit with him before his passing. I learned so much about him, his history, and our family history. The fact that I have all of it on camera is such a blessing.

After his death, my tech-savvy friend compiled and edited all of the questions and stories into a DVD. At the end of the video, we made a montage of photos of my grandfather through the years while his favorite song played in the background. I made 25 copies, bought some nice DVD cases, labeled them each with front covers of “An Interview With My Grandpa” and presented them to my grandmother, mother, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles as Christmas gifts. It’s a great way to remember our grandfather and to show our children (when they’re older) not only what their great-grandfather was like, but also to educate them about their family history.

Here are some of the questions I used:

  1. Have you been told the story of the day you were born? What was your mom doing when she went into labor? Where were you born?
  2. Were you named after a family member or does your name have a special meaning?
  3. What were your grandparents like? Parents?
  4. What is the earliest memory you have?
  5. Was there a nickname that your siblings or friends called you growing up?
  6. What was your house like as a child?
  7. Did you have any pets? What were their names?
  8. What was your favorite subject in school? Favorite teacher?
  9. Who was the U.S. President you first remember being in office when you were growing up?
  10. What did you and your friends do for fun?
  11. What are some of your favorite family traditions you remember? How did you celebrate birthdays? What are your favorite Christmas memories?
  12. How would you describe yourself as a teenager? What were your hobbies? Favorite food? Games?
  13. Who were your heroes as a child?
  14. When did you learn how to drive? Who taught you?
  15. How did you meet grandma?
  16. How did you propose to grandma?
  17. What are some of your favorite memories from your wedding day? Who was your Best Man?
  18. What was your first car?
  19. Where have you traveled? Do you have a favorite family vacation memory?
  20. What are some of your favorite memories with your children?
  21. What could you tell me that I would be surprised to learn about you?
  22. What have been some of your greatest successes in life? Has your life unfolded in the way you thought it would?
  23. What advice would you give to your grandkids today in their 20s and 30s?
  24. What was the best advice you ever received and from who?
  25. What makes you happy?

These are just some of the questions I asked my grandfather, as many of the other questions were geared to him specifically. I highly advise to prepare beforehand as a little research goes a long way. Making a timeline of their life including important historical or news events, for instance, can be interesting additional insights. Try to include known family events on the timeline as well, (i.e. weddings, births, deaths, moves, etc.). Whether you choose to have it fancy and professionally done or more casual and homemade, either way it creates a priceless document for your family now and your children and their children in the future to know about where they came from. After all, it’s because of them we even exist today. In a world that seems to be focusing less about preserving one’s heritage and more about focusing on the “me” culture, it’s a nice and subtle way to teach our children about our own family history while honoring and remembering some very special grandpas and loved ones that we will never forget.

Recipes

Best Guilt-Free Kid & Adult Sandwich EVER

January 18, 2018

About ten years ago, I was on a work trip in Orlando for one of my former clients, Steve Jobs, and his family. Steve’s diet was very healthy and vegan, so I always tried to find the best vegan restaurants on the road for him. This particular trip, I found a restaurant with a great healthy kids menu, as well. (This was never the case in my experineces at the vegan restaurants I frequented.) One of the items on the menu was their Banana, Almond Butter, Marshmallow Cream Sandwich. I ordered it, tasted it, and my life would never again be the same. It was simply UNREAL! I was truly blown away…something so simple, healthy, and a combination I would have never thought up!

Since then, I have occasionally made the sandwich for both myself and my family. My youngest and my husband go CRAZY over it. (My hubby asks for it constantly.) It’s truly an awesome, fun weekend lunch item or snack for the whole family to enjoy. I’ve tweaked the way I’ve made it over the years, as I learned, for instance, it’s much better grilled than plain, and since I never had any marshmallow cream, I simply slightly melt the marshmallows to provide the same taste.

Here’s my version:

Angela’s Banana, Almond Butter & Marshmallow Grilled Sandwich

  • 1/2 of a Banana
  • Creamy Almond Butter
  • 1/4 cup of marshmallows
  • Earth Balance Coconut Spread (or Butter)
  • bread (I use gluten-free white bread from Trader Joe’s)

Spread the coconut spread (or butter) on one side of each slice of bread. Spread almond butter on the opposite sides. Place one slice down on a non-stick frying pan (coconut spread or butter side down). Place slices of banana on top of the almond butter. Next, sprinkle marshmallows on top of the sliced banana. (Optional: Drizzle a very small amount of honey on top.) Place the other slice of bread with the coconut spread facing upwards on top. Cover and cook on low to medium heat for a few minutes until the bottom slice of bread is darkened to your liking and flip. The marshmallows should slightly melt. It’s most tasty while warm! Enjoy!

Non-Toxic Living Products Safe Cosmetics

Swapping Out My Toxic Cosmetics

January 4, 2018


As I stated in my previous post, my main New Year’s Resolution from last year consisted of making our home as non-toxic and eco-friendly as possible. I swapped mattresses, cleaning products, personal care products, and most recently, I tackled my cosmetics. Yes, it was incredibly sad to say goodbye to my beloved mascara that added a whole new dimension to my lashes, and to my favorite lipstick that made my lips pop like no other. However, I’m happy to say that the transition has been better than I anticipated, as I’ve found some wonderful non-toxic alternatives.

On average, our bodies absorb seven pounds of makeup each year. This combined with the fact that the United States only bans 11 harmful and toxic ingredients in cosmetics, while Europe bans over 1,300, is very alarming! (A big thumbs up to you, Europe!) Clearly, if you’re an American, those seven pounds are most likely incredibly toxic. Sadly, the FDA, under current law, does NOT require cosmetics companies to perform safety assessments on their products. (Thank goodness for the EWG.org, an environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, that conducts product toxicity-level testing and shares results with the general public.)

U.S. researchers report that a majority of the ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products are mainly comprised of synthetic chemicals that are skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disrupters and carcinogenic. I won’t go into detail about the specifics of these, but there are several websites that break down the toxic ingredients and how they are harmful to our health, like  safecosmetics.org.

Over the past six months, I have swapped most of my regular makeup products for natural versions. I’ve used the EWG.org website to check the toxicity levels of each product. (The EWG rates products from 0-10, with “0” being not toxic to “10” being highly toxic.) It’s been a bit of trial and error, but overall, I’m very happy with my current makeup products, especially knowing I’m not smearing harmful chemicals on my skin and into my bloodstream. Below are some of my favorite nontoxic makeup products…

 

  • W3LL People Bio Brightener Invisible Powder – I LOVE this stuff! You can find it on target.com or detoxmarket.com, (among other places). It has the best possible rating from the EWG with ZERO toxic or harmful ingredients. 
  • RMS “Un” Cover-up – This is my daily concealer/foundation. I apply it where needed and use the Bio Brightener directly after. It’s light-weight and effective, and RMS has a “1” rating at EWG. This can be found at The Detox Market, (although I’ve seen it at sephora.com and lots of other websites).
  • W3LL People Bio Bronzer Stick – I just purchased this and have only used it a couple of times, but so far, I am a fan. Like the Bio Brightener Powder, the bronzer also received the best rating at the EWG. I purchased mine at pharmaca.com. They also have this at detoxmarket.com.
  • Lily Lolo Mascara and Laid Bare Eye Palette – Even though they are not found on the EWG website (as they have yet to be tested), they seem to be wonderful products without any toxic ingredients. I buy mine at petitevour.com. (They also have these at several other websites…Petite Four is the cheapest I’ve come across.) 
  • bareMinerals Blush – The bareMinerals Blush and Primer both tested well at EWG with a “1” rating. (However, my former bareMinerals powder and brightener both scored poorly with a “7” and “4”-rating.) I’ve been using this blush for years and was pleasantly surprised that I could continue using it with the good EWG rating.
  • Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream – This cream is incredibly light-weight and works as a great primer. I use the tinted option and absolutely LOVE the way it looks and feels. I buy this at petitevour.com.
  • Kjaer Weis – I’ve tried their eye shadow and mascara and love them. Kjaer Weis is truly one of the more luxurious organic makeup lines out there. They are a bit pricey, but well worth the extra $. Sadly, they have not been tested by the EWG, but I’m hoping they do soon! I buy mine at integritybotanicals.com.
  • Skin Owl Eye+ – This is another product of which I am a huge fan (and sadly, it too isn’t on the EWG but hopefully soon). It’s a nourishing and youth stimulating eye concentrate that I apply every morning and evening under my eyes. I buy mine at The Detox Market (detoxmarket.com) or biggiestore.com.

Please let me know if you have found a healthy makeup line that you love. I’m always game for trying out new products, particularly those rated on the EWG or highly recommended by a place like the Detox Market who takes great pride in ONLY promoting and selling completely non-toxic, safe products. It’s impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical, but you can do your part in limiting the amount of toxins your body is exposed to. I highly recommend checking out the https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/#.Wk5xrCOZNE4 to research toxic chemicals that could be in your cosmetic and personal care products. And if you happen to live in Europe, lucky you!