Categories
Housekeeping

Lead Poisoning and Crock Pots

Crock pots containing lead was the subject of an investigation that started in Salt Lake City with KUTV’s Bill Gephardt. After his investigation about lead in ceramic glazed plates, bowls and mugs and finding high a content of lead in them, his focus turned to ceramic glazed crock pots after a viewer did a little research on her own.

A mom from Weber County, was a frequent user of her crock pot. Her concern about lead poisoning prompted her to take her Rival slow cooker to the county fair, where a booth was doing free lead testing on dishes. What she discovered was her crock pot contain lead. She notified Gephardt about her findings and he took the investigation from there.

Gephardt took several slow cookers to Data Chem lab in Salt Lake City to be tested. He found that 20 percent of the cookers were leaching out measurable amounts of lead into food. When ceramic ware is heated to just 80-degrees, it releases nearly 10-times the amount of lead as a plate at room temperature. (Something to keep in mind when you heat food in the micro-wave on ceramic dishes.) Crock pots can heat up to more than 250-degrees.

Wanting additional findings, Gephardt took a crock pot to chemist Robert Aullman, who preformed the standard test established by the Food and Drug Administration for testing leaching lead. He found that the Rival slow cooker leached lead at .085 parts per million. Anything below 2.0 is considered acceptable by the FDA. (It’s important to note that lead does not leave the body easily. A build up of lead over a period of time is dangerous.)

Mr. Gephardt took his findings to Utah House Rep. Jim Matheson. Congress was looking into a proposed amendment that would force manufactures to put labels on ceramic ware to identify lead content. However, Gephardt’s investigation was reported in 2004 and, so far, no law or amendment has been put into place.

My research in to whether Rival had removed the lead from their crock pots produced conflicting information. I called Rival’s Consumer Services department (1-800-777-5452) and they confirmed that their slow cookers still contain lead. They stated that the level is below the FDA standard for lead in ceramic products.

Upon further investigation, I called Hamilton Beach (1-800-851-8900) and they assured me that their crock pots do not contain any lead or cadmium. (Cadmium is another highly toxic metal associated with zinc ores. Oil paint used by artist’s contain a lot of Cadmium and Zinc…. Cadmium Red…Cadmium Yellow… Zinc White. It’s also found in industries where ore is being processed or smelted. Ceramic can be colored with Cadmium colors.)

It’s been suggested that you can use plastic liners in your crock pot so lead doesn’t leach into your food. I personally don’t recommend doing that because plastics heated to high temperatures leach other kinds of toxins. However, Reynolds claim their liners are made from a high resin nylon which is suitable for high temperature cooking. You’ll have to be the judge on this one.

I don’t use my crock pot often, but when I do, I want to know that the food is completely safe for my family. “So long… Good-bye… Rival crock pot.”

I find it disconcerting that the FDA allows any amount of lead in products if it’s possible to manufacture them with out it. A little of this… and and little of that… here and there can amount to a lot of toxins being ingested by Americans.

I’m not convinced that the FDA always has our best interests in mind. Just look at how many drugs and products are taken off the market that have been found to be harmful… even deadly… after the FDA has put its stamp of approval on them.

Becoming aware, and taking responsibility for our own well-being is the best solution for combating toxic and lead poisoning.

Till Later
Insightful Nana

P.S. The Hamilton Beach 6 Qt. slow cooker runs about $49.99 compared to Rival’s 6 Qt. at $34.99. It looks like Hamilton Beach is a bit more expensive… but what’s $15.00 when you can have a lead free product and peace of mind.

P.S.S. If you find another crock pot that doesn’t contain lead… let me know.

Categories
Housekeeping

Housekeeping Tip For Your Bathroom Sink

A housekeeping nightmare can present itself around your bathroom sink, floor, shower or tub.  Have you noticed how static electricity keeps you from picking up a fallen dry hair… and snagging a single wet hair is next to impossible?

For some reason, this is a subject no one wants to discuss… Talking about the hair on our heads doesn’t seem to be a problem… as illustrated by the lovely blond tresses in the photo.

But,  just mention the unsightly hair that falls around the sink, on the bathroom floor or, the strays that adhere themselves to the side of the tub… and it’s off limits for open discussion.

Maybe the uncomfortableness is attached to, “hair in your food” or “loose hair on your shoulder” or just admitting our humanness.  But, face the fact… cleaning a bathroom and confronting “The Hair Problem” haunts all good housekeepers.

Now… I have thick dark hair… and so does my daughter, Katie.  For some reason we shed hair like a Labrador Retriever.  Don’t fret… it seems to grow back over night but loose hair in our bathrooms is a continual problem.

I use to frequently travel for business with a co-worker and we often shared a room at a hotel.  Jumping into the shower and washing my hair became a bathroom housekeeping nightmare.  Wanting to be a compatible roommate, I would spend at least fifteen minutes in the bathroom tiding up my fallen mane before my friend could enter… and she’s thinking… “What in heck is taking so long?”

Well, several year ago, my sister, Sheila, came to my rescue.  She had a cleaning business and serviced homes in the Park City ski area. The tip she shared with me is so simple that you’re going to be surprised!  Toilet Paper… That’s right… simple Toilet Paper does the trick!  Grab a few sheets of paper and wipe the tub, around the sink and the floor. The loose hair attaches to the paper like a magnet. Wow… it really works!I don’t know why it works… it just does.  (Probably creates a static electricity field… who knows!)

Now if you have any better ideas… just let me know.  I’m always open to discuss uncomfortable subjects. (My daughter’s don’t agree… but I just think they’re the one’s who are uncomfortable.)

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  Now you can alway use those Pledge “Grab It” dusting cloths. But, toilet paper is handy and cheaper.  And, I know you won’t want to carry dusting cloths in your make-up bag when you travel.  Might raise a few eyebrows!

Categories
Gardening

Lavender – The Romantic Herb

Growing Lavender plants is easy. Lavender is best grown in well drained, dry soil. It does best in Zones 5-8 and can survive Zone 4 if planted in a protected area. French or Spanish lavender is the easiest to grow. English Lavender can be a bit touchy because it doesn’t tolerate hot humid heat.

This perennial blooms all summer long and reaches from 1 to 3 feet in height, depending upon the variety. You can wait till the flowers stop blooming before you harvest the flower buds… which is the end of August or the first of September.

Lavender is know for it’s romantic fragrance and is used in potpourris, sachets, and soap. The flowers are lovely in dried floral arrangements and wreaths. Lavender holds it’s fragrance for a long time and can be easily refreshed with a bit of Essential Lavender oil. Even the leaves are fragrant… so don’t worry if the stems and leaves end up in your potpourris and sachets.

I love to walk by my lavender bed and smell the fresh clean scent.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Last spring, the clean up crew I hired cut my Lavender back to the nubbins and I was frantic. I was afraid I wasn’t going to get any blooms. It was probably one of the best things that could have happened… it bloomed like crazy…as you can tell by the photo. I’ve enjoyed my fragrant Lavender plants all summer long.

Categories
Gardening

Potting Shed Secrets

Secrets in a Potting Shed? You bet. Just check out the “magic” I found in my sister, Sheila’s potting shed. You can just imagine my surprise when I walked into her garden shed and found a bird nest mecca.

These potting shed creations have been collected by Sheila for some time now. Her husband Dew, was involved with yard maintenance for several years…. always on the look out for another bird nest for the potting shed collection. Sheila is continually looking for a new find… checking out tree limbs and bushes.

Bird nests of all sizes have been carefully placed on shelves… the smallest being a humming bird’s nest. All together, they make a breathtaking site when you open the door. What a collection!

Enjoy!

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. I would have never thought of having a collection of bird’s nests… let alone display them in a potting shed. This idea certainly lends itself to Sheila and Dew’s country home and pastoral surroundings in rural Wallsburg, Utah.

Categories
Gardening

Growing Cilantro In Your Container Herb Garden

Growing cilantro in your herb garden is easy…but in order to have a continuous crop, cilantro seeds should be sowed every two weeks. It’s a fast growing herb and can be harvest quickly.

Cilantro looks like parsley. In fact, it’s called Chinese Parsley. If you purchase a bunch at the store, smell it first and make sure it’s not regular parsley… the strong citrus like fragrance will let you know right away whether you’ve picked up the right plant.

The herb, cilantro, dates back to at least 1,500 B.C. It’s mention in historic Sanskrit writing.

Cilantro and the herb coriander come from the same plant. Coriander seed come from the blooms of the cilantro plant… it’s a two-in-one herb

Container gardening is ideal for a year round cilantro crop.

1. Find a container that is at least 28 to 20 inches wide and about 10 inches deep. Make sure it has good drainage.

2. Fill the container with good potting soil. I like to use soil that already has the fertilizer in it. I’ve found that Miracle grow works well. Moisten the soil before you sow the cilantro seeds.

3. The seeds are very fine, so sprinkle the seeds over the top of the soil. Cover the cilantro seeds lightly with soil. Spray the soil to moisten the top layer. The seeds will germinate in 7 to 10 days if the container is kept in a sunny spot. Keep the soil moist.

4. Harvest the cilantro by cutting it near the base of the plant… leaving about 2 inches of stems remaining in the container. If you harvest the cilantro herb on a weekly basis, new leaves will being to appear. You can usually get 4 cuttings.

5. When your 4 cuttings are complete… pull up plants and resow the area.

Cilantro is not only used in Mexican food, but it’s an herb frequently used in Chinese food as well.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. My recipe… Fresh Mex Fiesta Salsa calls for fresh cilantro. Check it out and sign up for a free printable copy.

Categories
Gardening

Growing And Cooking With The Herb: Parsley

Growing and cooking with the herb… parsley… with it’s celery like flavor… gives a freshness to many dishes. It’s easy to grow and comes back every year. It prefers full sun but… I have found that it flourishes great in partial shade.

This garden herb does well in a container garden and is successfully grown indoors in the winter…that is… if you have a sunny window.

If you have need for it’s breath freshening qualities… chew a bit of parsley after you have eaten garlic or alcohol. If your in need of more vitamin C… this is the herb for you. It’s loaded with C.

This garden herb can be harvested frequently during the summer. New growth will spring up from the bottom of the parsley plant.

You can dry or freeze parsley leaves for use at a later time. However… fresh parsley is alway the best.

Aside from using parsley in your cooking to enhance soups (great in chicken soup)… casseroles, potatoes, stuffings and rice… it’s frequently used as a garnish. A small sprig is often used to give color to a plate of food… and can be used after the meal to sweeten your breath.

Cooking with fresh herbs is just the best!

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. If you want to add some fresh herb spark to your cooking… check out my Parsley Potatoes.

Categories
Gardening

Growing & Cooking With The Herb…Dill

Dill is an herb that flourishes well in an herb garden and is a delightful herb to use in your cooking. Growing dill is easy and it does well in the full sun or part shade. Dill can be be planted by seed or plant starts. Sometimes it’s called dill weed because it comes back in the herb garden if the seeds from the previous year have fallen to the ground. It can over take an herb garden area so, you can control it by plucking out the new plants you don’t want to grow to maturity.


The dill herb reaches from 24 to 36 inches tall. However, there are dill dwarf varieties that are nice for container gardens. As the dill weed reaches full maturity, the plant may have to be staked because they have a tendency to bend over.

Harvesting the dill weed tops just before the flower opens gives you the best flavor. However, you can let the flowers go to seed for the next years planting. Also, the dill seeds from the head can be harvested and used later in your cooking.

Down on the stem of the dill plant, are airy fern like leaves. These can be harvested chopped and used in dill sauce, or a dill dip. The leaves can be cut and dried for future use. The entire dill weed head, stem and leaves are used in bottling homemade dill pickles.

An accent of the dill head and stem are lovely mixed in with a cut flower bouquet.

For me… the growing season for my herb garden is not long enough for me to experiment with all the possibilities. I am planning an indoor herb container garden for this winter. However, a 36 inch dill weed plant will not be part of my indoor herb garden selection. Too bad… for I dearly love a touch of dill.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. For cooking with dill weed, check out my fantastic Fresh Dill Dip.

Categories
Gardening

Hand Garden Tools

These hand garden tools line the inside of my sister Sheila’s, potting shed. She and her husband, Dew, scout out the dumps and antique stores in search of clever items. These antique garden tools are quite a find. The nice thing is… they’re still usable… and Sheila puts them to good use in her delightful yard. Here a a few fun photos of their safe haven in Wallsburg, Ut.

Note how well they use their “dump” finds in their landscape. What fun!

The flowers in the old bike basket is one of my favorites.

Till Later,
Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. I need to get busy and put my hands on my tools… The weeds are out of control!

Categories
Gardening

Container Herb Garden Update

Today, when I watered my container herb garden, I thought… you folks needed a little up date on this little bit of fragrant heaven. One of the herbs bit the dust… it was the red basil… which was a disappointment. I meant to run right out and pick up a new plant but was way-laid by other things. So… in the little bare spot… I placed a sweet red ceramic bird my daughter Emily, gave me for mother’s day. Looks good huh!

Notice that everything is flourishing just fine. The basil is spreading because I keep pinching out the top leaves so it will bush out before it gets too tall. I’m just getting ready to pinch out the new growth again… we need a little more width before it grows in height.

Container gardening is fun because it’s so easy to control all of the plants. If one dies… replace it. If one gets too big… prune it back.

I’m looking forward to tomato season so I can dive into the basil… Mmmmmm Good!

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Hope your herb garden is doing well. You don’t have one? It’s not too late… if you want to plant one. Grab a container and follow the directions on my previous post…Planting A Container Herb Garden.

Categories
Gardening

Unique Garden Decor: A Gazing Ball

A gazing ball can be part of your unique garden decor. Garden ornaments are growing in popularity every year and, I just saw one of the most clever garden gazing ball ideas… so I thought I’d pass it along to you. Perhaps you could add the idea it to your outdoor decor scheme.

Nestled up in a quiet little hamlet about twenty miles from my home is the country cottage of my sister Sheila, and her husband Dew. Their yard is definitely an attention getter…one of those “You just have to see it for yourself” kind of places.

I noticed she had placed a new gazing ball in a garden flower bed behind her home. Her idea definitely fits into the “affordable garden decor” categories… and I like that. Clever and Inexpensive!

On one of her many excursions to her local “Thrift Store,” she spotted an array of bowling balls for sell…some for as little as $1.00. Now that’s a deal.

She haul a couple of balls home… yes, bowling balls… found an old iron stand and placed one of her new finds in her garden. You could have fooled me…in fact she did. I thought it was a real gazing ball until she picked it up to show me it was a bowling ball.

Looks great huh!

I just need to keep my eyes open, my imagination alert and watch for some unique, affordable garden ornaments for my yard.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. I wonder if I put a gazing ball in my flower garden… gazed into it… and made a wish that all the Morning Glory would disappear… Do you think it would work? You just never know!