Answer with Care. Or Not at All Wednesday, May 8 2019 

IMG_3180A trip of a life-time. A family member in trouble. The “IRS” demanding payment. Scams on every level play on victims’ emotions to entrap them into sharing personal date and hard-earned money.

I recently received a phone call that rang for ten minutes straight. Caller ID showed “Name Unavailable” and the phone number of the caller. No doubt, the caller thought harassing me with the ongoing ring would force me to answer.

Instead, I called my carrier on another phone, and they instructed me on how to stop the ringing (press #77 without picking up). I then filed a complaint against the caller. Google notes that number has multiple complaints from consumers who did answer.

We have a few options today to reduce the number of solicitors and scammers. None are sure-proof, but the more caution we take, the last chance we have of being scammed. The number one rule of prevention is not to answer a number we don’t recognize. If the call is truly coming from someone needing to reach us, they can leave a message. And above all, do not give information to anyone we aren’t absolutely certain that we know.

Some carriers, such as Xfinity Voice, offer codes to reject block calls. Their Anonymous Call Rejection is set by following these simple steps

  1. activate  your caller ID
  2. Enter *77
  3. Listen for 3 beeps
  4. Hang up.

In some areas, this code may connect you to law enforcement. (It did not when I used it in the Chicago area.)

It’s also advised to list your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry This registry is managed by The Federal Trade Commission and should prevent calls from telemarketers. Telemarketers are prohibited, but not actively prevented, from calling. Nor does this action eliminate calls from political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors, or companies that a consumer has an existing business relationship with. Setup is simple with a few clicks on their website.

No More Robo is another option to prevent computerized telemarketing and political auto-dialing. It is free for landline phone lines but users need to know that this also eliminates automated calls from public-service and emergency announcements. Users should supply an option for text messaging to their cell phones to receive these messages.

Scammers will always find ways around roadblocks, but these options help in the meantime.

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Sun’s Up Saturday, Apr 16 2016 


Finally, the sun is shining in the Midwest. We can have any weather in the spring-rain, sleet, snow, chilly, or warm-but these are the days we treasure. It’s in the 70s and everyone is running outside, waving to neighbors, driving with the windows down, and firing up the barbecue.

It’s also the time we get our first sunburn of the year because we forget about sunscreen. Actually, we should be using sunscreen year-round. We can burn even on a cloudy day since UV light passes through clouds.

Studies show that the daily use of sunscreen significantly slows the aging of skin and lowers risk of cancer. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher is our best defense. Anything less only protects from sunburn.

The recommendation is to apply a generous amount of sunscreen to dry skin 30 minutes before going outside. Be sure to cover all exposed areas including the head if hair is thin. Reapply at least every two hours and immediately after swimming.

(Beautycounter Protect SPF 30 All Over Sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide, which is an effective and safe natural mineral sun blocker, aloe vera for hydration, and green tea and blood orange extracts for antioxidants. Find yours here on my website.)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

The Look You’re Going For Wednesday, Feb 3 2016 

Here’s a tip from my husband, Marshall:  If you don’t like the way someone applies their make-up, don’t take beauty advice from them.

Sounds simple enough, but I’ve often stopped at cosmetic counters and done just that only to proceed to the ladies room and wash it all off. Marshall would then remind me of his warning. Just because someone stands behind the counter doesn’t mean their method or style is appropriate for me.

All mentoring works that way. Follow the lead of one you want to emulate. Too often we move with the flow of the majority without thinking if that’s what we really want to do or if that’s the type of person we want to be.

As much as I love my husband, I’ll be following his warning but not his style of make-up application, especially since his cosmetology experience was as the much-loved Wizzo the Wacky Wizard on Chicago’s Bozo Show.

(For fabulous beauty products made safely, see my Beautycounter website.)Wizzo.Blue

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

One Less Contaminant at a Time Saturday, Jan 16 2016 

DSCN3524The average woman uses at least 12 products a day on herself. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, sunscreen, foundation, blush, eye makeup—the list goes on. More than 10,000 chemicals are used in the cosmetic industry in products such as these, 90% of which the FDA has never assessed for impact on long-term health. In fact, the U.S. has not passed a new law in more than 75 years regulating ingredients used in skincare products and make-up.

According to the FDA website, “It’s against the law for a cosmetic to contain any ingredient that makes a product harmful when consumers use it according to directions on the label, or in the customary or expected way,”

However, they also state, “Under U.S. law, FDA does not have the authority to require cosmetic manufacturers to submit their safety data to FDA, and the burden is on FDA to prove that a particular product or ingredient is harmful when used as intended.”

Nor do companies need to disclose their ingredients. For example, “fragrance” may consist of anything, natural or synthetic.

In other words, “Buyer Beware.”

In contrast, the new company, Beauty Counter, excludes the use of 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients in their products, 1,400 of which are cosmetic ingredients banned in the European Union but not in the U.S. Beauty Counter has a rigorous screening process to ensure the highest safety level possible. More than 80% of the ingredients in their products are organic, natural, or plant derived. And they believe in transparency, naming all ingredients included in every product.

This new company is continuously monitoring their products and adding new ones for the whole family. They have so much more than just make-up.

As I wrote in the previous post, my goal this year is to eliminate as many toxins in my life as possible. I don’t expect to avoid everything, but even changing a handful of products will reduce the toxins with which I pollute myself and my environment. Not only do I want to eliminate these chemicals in myself, I want to leave behind a safer world for my children and grandchildren. Our planet is toxic enough. I don’t want to contribute to the contamination any further.

For these reasons, I started using Beauty Counter products as a consumer and was so convinced of their purity as well as effectiveness, that I am now a consultant. (See my website at:

You can find more information about Beauty Counter on my website, especially at the very bottom of every page under FAQ. You also may place an order on that site.

If you are interested in ordering products or becoming a consultant and would like to chat about it, please contact me. I’d love to share what I’ve learned about this fabulous company.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

No Need to Compromise Safety for Beauty Tuesday, Jan 12 2016 

The day I’m on my deathbed, I’ll scare anyone observing me to the other side before me. Without make-up, my face is nearly invisible and I have this crazy hair that dances in every direction if not flat ironed into submission.

I’m one of those women who won’t leave my house without makeup, and I also use lotion from head-to-toe. I’m too vain to show the real me in public. But I do admit that slathering all those chemicals on day-after-day does concern me. I have enough health problems. I don’t need to pollute myself further.

However, there are safer products and ways of checking how yours rate on the safety scale. Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep is an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products where you can look up the safety of a product or ingredient. The database provides safety ratings for tens of thousands of personal care products.

Skin Deep lists a hazard rating and a data availability rating for products and ingredients. The hazard score is on a 1-10 scale with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest hazard. A 1-2 score is believed to have low hazard, 3-6 is moderate, and 7-10 is rated high. The data availability rating reflects how much scientists know about an ingredient’s safety.

If you own a product that is rated high on the hazard list, it’s suggested that you do not dispose of it down the drain. This adds to the growing concern of water pollution. Tossing it in the trash is not ideal but considered a better option.

You can find extensive information on the EWG’s Skin Deep site about products and ingredients. Try it out for yourself. Enter the names of your shampoo, conditioner, make-up, and skin care products into the search bar. You may be quite surprised at what’s in your favorite products.

For safer skin care products, check out Beauty Counter, products that work beautifully without compromising safety.

(Information gathered from EWG’s Skin Deep)

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Pack a Basket Friday, Aug 15 2014 

Some of the most romantic paintings visible at the Art Institute of Chicago depict picnic scenes without any wind, rain, humidity, or insects to interfere with a perfect day.

From the time I was a child until only about five years ago, my very large extended family gathered for an annual picnic. Around 50 relatives—aunts and uncles, first, second, and third cousins, parents and siblings—gathered to share food, games, and stories. It was all love and fun until the water toss. Then we became a family divided with every man for himself.

The word “picnic” (pique-nique) was seen for the first time in print in the 1692 edition of Tony Willis, Orignines de la Langue Francaise. The word was used to describe a group of people who brought their own wine to a restaurant. It signified everyone contributing toward a meal.

Picnicking became popular after the French Revolution when royal parks were once again opened to the public. From then on, throughout the centuries people have enjoyed a day outdoors and a humble meal brought in a towel or nestled in a basket.

Today’s picnic basket usually consists of a cooler, which is much safer alternative to keeping foods fresh. A few other food-safety precautions include: taking only the amount of food you think you will use, separating raw and cooked foods, keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot, carrying extra water and disposable wipes for clean-ups, and disposing leftovers at the end of the picnic. It isn’t likely the remains will be uncontaminated or bug-free.

The food and activities set the tone of the day. Enjoy a simple meal of peanut butter and jelly or one as sophisticated as caviar and toast points. Fish, toss a Frisbee or ball, play croquet, or lay on the grass and relax to your favorite music.

Don’t let the season pass without packing a lunch and setting out for a park or beach. Shared with friends, family, or a special someone, these are the things that memories are made of.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

We Are Not For Sale Tuesday, Aug 12 2014 

Humans do a lot of horrific things to one another and human trafficking tops the list. I thought I understood the crime but an article in the August 2014 St. Anthony Messenger Magazine brought my understanding to another level.

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is defined as the transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, by means of threat, use of force, or other forms of coercion, for the purpose of exploitation.

I thought the crime was something that happened in other countries or cultures but now know that it is the second-leading crime worldwide, including in the United States. It’s been reported in every state of this country, the top five states being California, Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and Ohio.

In the article, “The Face of Human Trafficking,” Theresa Flores says that when she was in high school in the affluent city of Birmingham, Michigan, she fell victim to trafficking when a schoolmate drove her home from track practice. He first stopped at his home where he drugged and raped her. The following day he started a daily pattern of abuse and threats to her and her family should she ever report the crimes. For two-years the young man auctioned her off to multiple men every evening.

Theresa said her family were devout Catholics, loving, and attentive. They never learned of the abuse because she worked hard to conceal it from them for fear of their safety, sneaking out after everyone was asleep. The abuse finally ended when her family moved out-of-state.

Theresa is now a licensed social worker and tells her story so that she may alert parents and inform young people that there is a way out. In 2011 she formed the group, SOAP, which stands for Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution. Their hotline number is:  1-888-373-7888.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

How Cold is it? Monday, Jan 6 2014 

If hell is in the Midwest, beware of all those things you said would happen when hell freezes over. With actual temperatures double digits below freezing, everything instantly freezes. You may remember reading in one of my past posts that frozen turkeys are flash-frozen at 30 degrees below zero. Wind chills currently are well below that.

Brrrrr does not describe how cold it really is here. But there are colder places.

The coldest recorded temperature in the U.S was -79.8 F at Prospect Creek, Alaska on January 23, 1971. The earth’s coldest inhabited town is Oymyakon, Russia in northeast Siberia. It’s not unusual for residents to experience temperatures as low as -60s, and their coldest recorded temperature was -89.8 in 1933. The long-standing record for the coldest temperature anywhere was -128.6 F recorded in Antarctica in July of 1983!

Frostbite and hypothermia risk is great at subzero temperatures. In addition to the cold, travel remains difficult in many areas due to the heavy snowfall and ice. If you have to go outside, dress in layers, and cover every inch of skin. Return indoors as soon as possible. Use fireplaces and space heaters safely, and never heat a room with your oven.

It’s a good day to work from home or take the day off. Snuggle up with a good book, movie, loved one, or pet. You can fill a need for productivity by cleaning a closet, gathering income tax information, or putting on a pot of soup. You also may give those with limited mobility a phone call to see how they are doing.

Wherever the day takes you, may you be safe and warm.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

When In Doubt, Throw It Out Monday, Aug 26 2013 

The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million) get sick from food borne diseases. Of those people, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. With the upcoming holiday it is a good time to think about proper food handling. We need to be especially vigilant when serving outdoors where it is more challenging to keep surfaces clean and food at proper temperatures.

Food poisoning, or food-borne illness, is caused by eating contaminated food. The most common offending organisms include bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Food can be contaminated at any point by several means. Meat and poultry contamination occurs during processing if animal feces contact the meat surfaces. Home and commercial canned foods may be improperly canned. Produce and shellfish can be contaminated from soil or water. A food may not be fresh and already spoiling before preparation.

And everything depends on the cleanliness and health of the food handlers and how the foods are served. Meats, gravies, and salads may be perfect until serving when dishes are not kept hot or cold enough.

We’ve all experienced occasions when one or more of a group becomes ill from a food but others do not. Food-borne illness depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, and your age and present health. Infants and young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic diseases are more susceptible.

Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms can start soon after eating or days later. For example bad oysters may not make you ill for up to a week after consumption. Most often, symptoms improve on their own without treatment but they can last as long as ten days.

It’s time to call the doctor when you have a fever of more than 101.5, there is blood in the stools, weakness, diarrhea longer than 72 hours, difficulty speaking, or trouble standing.

If you are uncertain if food is contaminated or not, it is best to toss it. It isn’t worth the risk of becoming ill.

For more information go to or call the American Association of Poison Control Centers  1-800-222-1222.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Summer Drives Thursday, Jul 18 2013 

mkd.yellow daisies

I recently took a five-hour drive one day and back home the next. Going was enjoyable and even relaxing. But the ride home was rough. I began the drive already exhausted and emotionally drained and so had difficulty keeping alert and awake.

My solution was to stop often and get out of the car and walk around. I also drank ice water, munched on jalapeno Cheetos, listened to upbeat music, and kept the air conditioning blowing on me.

Taking a long drive is a summer highlight for many families. It can be a fun and memorable way to visit loved ones and scenic and historic sites across the country. But staying awake while driving can be challenging, especially when we are in the midst of summer heat and draining physical activity.

In addition to stopping often and the ice water, loud music, and peppery treats, here are a few other suggestions to help keep your attention on the road :

  • Chew gum
  • Get enough rest before setting out
  • Suck on peppermints
  • Plug in an invigorating aromatherapy adapter
  • Periodically stretch arms and legs
  • Avoid sugar, which can make you sleepy
  • Avoid consuming alcohol prior to driving
  • Avoid medications known to make you drowsy
  • Keep wind or air conditioning blowing on you
  • Talk to passengers or friends on the phone

The bottom line is to be safe. Never forget the powerful weapon a vehicle can be. If you don’t feel able to drive  without hurting yourself or anyone else on the road, DON’T DRIVE. It is better to hand the keys over to someone else or arrive at a destination late or even on another day rather than risk anyone’s life.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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