Saturday, January 31, 2009

Superbowl Chili: Super Easy in the Crock Pot

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Joan's Chili just starting in the Crock Pot


It never fails. I've forgotten a holiday. Not being a big football fan, I completely overlooked Superbowl Sunday. So what can I cook up in a hurry for an easy dinner on game day? Chili is great on a cold day, and surprisingly it is cold here for Central Florida--65 degrees for a high on Superbowl Sunday is chili for us. Sorry, you northerners. Anyway, here's the way I make organic chili--a slightly modified version of my mom's traditional chili with a little twist.

Joan's Crock Pot Chili
  • 1 1/2 pounds Organic Ground Chuck, browned and drained
  • 3 28-ounce cans Organic Chopped or Crushed Tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 15-ounce cans Organic Kidney Beans, Red Beans, Chili Beans or combination, drained
  • 1 large Organic Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Chili Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 2 Cups cooked Organic Elbow Macaroni, to be added at the end
  • Minced Organic Red Onions
  • Grated Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Organic Sour Cream
  • Organic Hot Sauce(s)
  • Organic Corn Chips

  1. Mix the ground chuck, tomatoes, onions, seasonings, and beans together in the crock pot early in the morning.
  2. Turn it on high, so your chili is sure to be ready when the party starts to crank in late afternoon.
  3. By 2:00-3:00, you may want to adjust your seasonings to taste and turn the crock pot down to low heat.
  4. Shortly before your guests arrive, prepare the elbow macaroni.
  5. Stir into the chili, and you're done.

NOTE: Chili makes for a delicious chip and dip appetizer, as well as a main course. The wonderful thing is you don't have to fuss. The crock pot does all the work and you can watch the game--or just catch up with friends, if you're like me. Who's playing this year?

If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you might make some corn bread or corn muffins. This will be a big hit with the chili and is always a crowd pleaser.

Finally, if you're looking for a great organic beer, look no further. My guys have approved and love Caledonian Promise, which I find at our local Whole Foods Market. Send your guys out for ice and the brew while you're "slaving" over the toppings. This will give you a few minutes of peace and quiet to read, relax or perhaps check out my Sunday posting. I've put up some terrific organic cooking videos. The first recipe is a chicken dish that I'm planning to try next week. Check it out--looks great!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Organic Journey Online Gets Press in Oklahoma Newspaper

(Courtesy of the Examiner-Enterprise online newspaper, this article appeared yesterday. It is reprinted here for the readers of Organic Journey Online to enjoy)

January 30, 2009


While “Our Class Is Going Green,” a book written and illustrated by kindergarten students from Oak Park Elementary School, has made its way across the country via national book fairs, its message of environmental responsibility is being conveyed worldwide through the Internet as well.

Last month, Carrie J. Boyko featured the book in her popular blog, “Organic Journey Online.”

In her environmentally-focused blog — as part of an entry dated Dec. 16, 2008 — Boyko wrote of the book, “The effort and attitudes of these young kids plays out in the pages, adorably illustrated using things from their recycling bins. This book is a charming introduction to living green, suitable for even the youngest children.”

“Our Class Is Going Green” is a product of Joyce Nickels’ 2007-08 kindergarten class from Oak Park.

The book was entered into last year’s Scholastic Book Fairs’ Kids Are Authors program and eventually won the grand prize in the “Going Green” category.

Written by the 19 students from Nickels’ class with assistance from the instructor as well as Oak Park art teacher Erinn Rakes, the book was featured at Scholastic Book Fairs at more than 100,000 schools across the country last fall. The book — which was created with recycled products — had no trouble catching the eye of Boyko, who is the wife of Scholastic Book Fairs president Alan Boyko.

“If you have a young child on your gift list, I hope you will consider this fun and educational book,” said Boyko in her blog entry. “It is a wonderful thing to support the work of such conscientious youngsters. Thanks much to the children and staff at Oak Park Elementary School for their efforts.”

The young authors, who are now in Debra Wailes’ first-grade class at Oak Park, were invited by Boyko to respond to her blog entry and eagerly did.

The 27 comments on the blog were the most ever received by Boyko. In their comments, the students offered helpful hints to protect the environment and save energy and posed some questions for Boyko as well.

Young author Reed Adams commented, “If you keep things clean, it will help take care of the earth. Never keep your room messy. It will remind you to keep things clean.”

Trey Glover offered some words of wisdom as well.“Instead of throwing things away, use them,” he said in his comment to the blog. “We had some old used wood and then we used it to make a dog house!”

Those interested in reading Boyko’s full blog post (dated Dec. 16, 2008) focused on “Our Class Is Going Green,” as well as the comments from the young authors, can view it at the following link:

From the main page, scroll down toward the bottom of the page and click on the link entitled “Older Posts.” Then, scroll down to the blog entry from Dec. 16, 2008.

“We were most excited to see that other people outside of the school were picking up on this book and being so interested in it,” said Dr. Bobbi Sexson, the Oak Park principal. “It was a great surprise to see it posted on a person’s blog like that, especially one that promotes sound environmental living.

“When people see that children have written a book like this — about taking care of the environment — maybe it will help them think about the things that they can do to help the planet.”

* Article credit to Examiner-Enterprise.

Why Organics are so Popular in Baby Products

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
My TreeHugger Mascot

More than a few people have asked me about the disproportionate amount of organic and all-natural products that that are seeing for infants: clothing, lotions, shampoos, baby oil, organic cloth or chlorine-free diapers, toys, organic sheets, etc.

Not surprisingly, I'm also seeing this transition in the classy pet boutiques. You know the ones. They're small, located in upper class areas where Yorkies and the like would not be caught dead outside without their cute little frilly outfits. I'm not making fun, mind you. I love it. It's just that my little dog is a BOY, so he's not into that frilly stuff. He does have a dapper little jacket--actually 2--and, dare I say it, one organic Tshirt. He's modeling it above. Yep! It's made out of organic cotton and has a tree appliqued on the back with the word TreeHugger on it. Awwww! I couldn't resist. I figured he'd be my mascot for the blog.

All joking aside, there is good reason to consider organics and all-natural products to be even more important for small children and small dogs. The answer is simple. Their bodies are smaller, therefore the buildup of toxins in their livers can occur much more quickly, when exposed to all those nasty additives like dyes in their sheets, towels and Tshirts, food coloring in their food, preservatives in their treats, and pesticides lacing all of it, lurking unseen. Because the toxic load buildup occurs faster, the smaller the body, our babies and small pups are more at risk.

Do my dogs eat organic food? You bet they do. I got the 411 from my vet on how to be sure it was balanced. There are some high-priced, boutique foods out there that don't meet the canine balancing criteria set by the AAFCO, so I did my homework. What's the AAFCO? The Association of American Feed Control Officials study animal nutritional needs and recommend the levels for healthy dog maintenance.

Enough about dogs. I've talked to lots of moms who apparently are on the same track with their infants. They are feeding their babies organic baby food, even though they don't eat totally organic themselves. At least it's a good start. As the kids grow, perhaps the diet of the whole family will move more in that direction. It's tough; I know there will be a lot of kids at school with fruit roll ups in their lunch boxes. But we have many new options available to us, and the organic industry is growing to meet the need. Despite the downturn in the economy, I still find my local Whole Foods Market to be quite busy.

Need help keeping up your standards? Check out my coupon post for dozens and dozens of coupons. You can save a lot of money with just a few minutes of printing on your computer. I'll be back sometime in February with some tips on making homemade organic baby food the easy way. If you don't want to miss it, be sure to subscribe in the box above. You'll get the title to each day's post in your e-mail. It's as simple as that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Last of the Green Ideas from "Kids Going Green"

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Recycled Holiday Cards Make Great Gift Tags

I enter today's post with a bit of sadness. I have truly enjoyed answering the comments and questions of the youngsters who have written to me about their book, Our Class is Going Green. Today is the final installment of my answers to them, although I do hope to hear from them again.

Brody reminded us to turn off things when we're not using them, to save electricity and batteries. Dominic is on the same track. His comment about not leaving the refrigerator open reminded me of ME talking to my own children.

ShaiRon is more focused on saving water. She says "You should never let it run." Desaray helps wash the dishes because it goes quicker and they use less water.

Ethan says we should remember to recycle, and ask for help if we need it. He makes a good point. Some things that can be recycled, can't go in our recycling bins. We can go to Earth 911 or Freecycle to find out where to recycle other things in our area.

Trey G. was the enterprising youngster who shared with us that his family used some leftover wood to build their dog a house. He also asked what I do to reuse and recycle my stuff. Wow; that is a question that would take pages to answer. I'll just give you one example that you might like to try yourself. I like to recycle my holiday packaging and cards. I make my Holiday cards into gift tags for next year's gifts. Here's a link to the post where I explain how to do this: Recycle Your Holiday Packaging and Cards. You could do this easily, at home or in art class. The picture at the top of this post is a few of this year's new tags. I like the birdhouse the best. What about you?

Speaking of recycling, I'm in the process of cleaning out my garage. I have all kinds of broken DVD Players and other electronics that I know cannot be just thrown into the garbage. They contain stuff that is bad for the Earth and need to be disposed of properly. Some parts of them can be reused, so it is best to take them to a recycler that specializes in these items. That is a post for another day. Here's the commercial:

Electronics Recycling 411
All new at Organic Journey Online
Coming soon to this channel

Thanks again to all the authors of Our Class is Going Green, and to their teachers who I know as Heather, Mrs. Wailes and Mrs. Nickels. Pardon me if I've missed any names, but please know that I appreciate ALL of you for making this a fun series for me. My readers learned a lot and were pleased to see children engaged in such meaningful activities. Keep up the good work, ladies! We need more teachers like you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Social Networking Goes Green

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Xena and Tanner Network on the Raft

Over the holidays I took the plunge. No, I don't mean into that pool, although I did that too. Did you see last week's Woofing Wednesday photo? Anyway, I finally joined a social network. As a blogger, I know that networking is critical to my success, but honestly, it is my shortcoming. Or was. I can now say that I'm enjoying the new social butterfly that is emerging from my cocoon. I'm finding cousins, coworkers, old friends and new friends from my past that I thought I would never talk to again. We're catching up on the years and finding common ground.

Now that I'm engaged in this new activity, I'm seeing how the social networking atmosphere can help me spread the word about living more green and eating organic. If I can save just one person from the pain of cancer, it will be worth it. Not to mention that I'm having a blast making all these connections. The world gets a little smaller each time I sign on.

So, what's my next step? Green social networking. Want to join me? A bit of research and here's a few green social networks you can choose from. I think I'll start with Make Me Sustainable. I hope you'll join me. Inspiration breeds action. Thanks to Take Part, a social action network, for much of this info. Here they are, with a few words about their main focus:

  1. 2People focuses on climate policy.
  2. Be Green Now is all about minimizing carbon emissions. They have a carbon calculator on their site.
  3. Big Carrot gives prizes for community projects that are suggested, solved and followed through on by groups.
  4. Carbon Rally has team competitions to reduce carbon emissions.
  5. Care 2 make a difference is a "do-good" type site, with a large variety of areas to choose from and focus on.
  6. Celsias is a network of climate fighting advocates who participate in projects.
  7. Change has a variety of philanthropies, several of which are green.
  8. Do The Right Thing includes user-created corporate performance ratings and encourages corporations to communicate with consumers.
  9. Gaia is environmentally and spiritually conscious.
  10. Greenwala tauts itself as The green social network. See what you think.
  11. Gusse is all about urban sustainability.
  12. Make Me Sustainable has carbon footprint tracking for members that continues as they make lifestyle changes, allowing members to monitor their improvement.
  13. World Coolers provides global warming alerts.
  14. Zero Footprint creates branded carbon calculators and community sites for cities and large organizations. They are non-profit.

I'm sure there are more, but this is certainly enough to get you started. If you're in, just pick one. I plan to take the time to develop one fairly well before I get myself in over my head. Wish me luck, and I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quick Organic Pancakes are Great for Mornings on the Run

I'm so excited to share this with you--especially you moms who would like to make pancakes on school mornings, but can't seem to make the time for all that measuring, mixing and batter messes. Your answer is here.

I found this gem at my local supermarket, Publix, of all places. It was in the cooler with the dairy products and just jumped right off the shelf at me. I guess I'm beginning to really scan for the key word: ORGANIC. It is small, but it is there: Organic Batter Blaster Orginal Pancake & Waffle Batter, USDA ORGANIC.

My first concern was its packaging. It comes in a can, like whipped cream, which I soon found out contains no CFCs that can deplete the ozone layer. So it passed the first test. These types of cans are recyclable in my area, so that's test number 2.

What I like about this was the idea that the batter is ready and there's no pouring it onto the pan and dribbling all over the counter. You know the way it goes. Not to mention the time it takes to make the batter. On school mornings, it just doesn't happen. There's always some little crisis (remember those meltdowns over clothing choices and lost homework papers?) that makes it impossible to find time for a hot batch of pancakes.

So, I tried it. The can makes 9 servings of 4 pancakes each. It contains 0.5 grams of fat per serving and only 7 grams of sugar--better than your average breakfast cereal. Breakfast was done in a jiffy with no messes. Simply a pan and a spatula. With the plate and utensils rinsed and in the dishwasher, I was done and working within minutes. This was definitely a do-able process for a work or school morning breakfast.

Watch for it in your dairy cooler, or visit their site for a store locater. Just type in your zip code and they'll tell you which stores carry it within a 5 mile radius of you. Enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Live More Simply or Simply Living: Either Way You Save

Use the library for books, magazines and newspapers Drop the bottled water habit to save big bucks

More Fun than the Gym!

We're all feeling the pinch right now. Everything seems to cost more and who isn't worried about losing their job? Cheer up. I'm here to boost your spirits with an inspirational idea: Live more simply. How, you ask? Here are a few examples to get you started:
  • Drop your gym membership and walk your dog, take a hike in the park or ride your bike on your errands.
  • Skip pizza delivery and make your own. It's a fun family activity that everyone can get behind. Assign prep kitchen tasks according to age and when the pizza is ready, everyone feels like he or she had a hand in making it. It will taste that much better.
  • Save $10 a person on movie tickets and rent one for $5 or less. Invite your friends and spring for the popcorn and organic lemonade. You've invested less than the price of one ticket and you've got yourself a party.
  • Need some help with "living in the now"? Visit the dog park and watch the dogs play. So what if Fifi bumps into Hulk. Neither care. Dogs let that sort of thing go. They don't hold grudges. So you left them home last night while you went to a free concert in the park. No big deal. Fido is still happy to have you home and will greet you with plenty of affection. We can learn a lot from our furry friends about our attitudes toward life.
  • The cost of a land-line phone is no longer necessary, unless you need a fax machine. Add a line to your family plan for $10 (at many wireless carriers) and drop your land line. You've just saved $40 a month.
  • Try some budget-cutting measures in the kitchen that will have the same effect on your waistline. Split one grilled chicken breast onto two large dinner salads.
  • Go meatless with homemade pasta sauce or grilled pepper jack cheese on rye bread. Make your own bread in a bread maker. The sauce recipe at this link is inexpensive, easy and fabulous.
  • Make your juices skinnier by adding about 1/3 water. This tip will lower the calories, cost, and hardly be noticed.
  • Eat more raw foods to save time in the kitchen, as well as power.
  • Check out the coupons on my Coupons, Coupons, Coupons post from last week. There are tons of savings there.
  • Drop the bottled water habit to save your health and lots of dough. Pick up a BPA-free reusable water bottle and a Brita water filtering pitcher. You're in business and will save lots of money.
  • Remember old fashioned Oatmeal? It will save you a bundle over cold cereal and is much more nutritious. Think it takes too long to make in the morning? Check the label: One bowl is 3-5 minutes in the microwave. Or just boil up a pot full and you'll have leftovers to reheat tomorrow or the next day. Another option is to make the oatmeal while you're cooking dinner. Microwave each bowl in the morning for about 2 minutes.

By now your own ideas are probably kicking in. Have a brain-storming session with the family tonight and make sure that a youngster is taking notes. It will make him or her feel important, and so will being part of the decisions that are being made. The kids will be much more likely to pitch in and do their part when they get to be a part of the planning process. Good luck, and I hope to see you back here soon for more help with your green and organic lifestyle makeover.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sourcing Locally Grown Organic Foods Saves Money

Who? What? Where? Why? Let's start with what and why:

  • Buying foods grown or produced within your county, state or region, minimizes the petroleum consumption used to bring it to your store. This reduces your cost and helps the environment--two powerful reasons to look for local sources.

  • Foods produced in your general area are beneficial for people with allergies, who need a constant, minimal exposure to their allergens to help build their immunity. Building up an immunity to allergens means fewer allergic reactions and less of the hay fever type symptoms--runny nose, watery eyes--that plaque those with allergies.

  • Buying locally produced foods keeps the money in your local economy, helping all your neighbors keep their jobs. It's not just about the farmers. Think about all the people who provide products and services to the farmers: farming equipment, building materials for barns and storage areas, veterinarians and their assistants, natural fertilizers, pest control and herbicides, animal feed, vegetable plant nurseries, and the list goes on. Want to help your local economy? Read the labels; look for products grown nearby.

  • Organic farming is better for the soil. Organic plants decompose into the soil, adding nutrients, rather than pesticides to the soil. Keeping your nearby farmers' soil healthy means that local produce will be healthier. You can help by supporting your local farmers.

Now, I'll tackle who and where:

  • First and foremost, start with your local farmers' markets and produce stands. Talk with the farmers and find out who grows their produce and produces their livestock or poultry organically. Typically, small, local farmers cannot afford the cost of getting certified as an organic producer. But many choose to pursue this path without official certification, and you can find out who they are by talking to the farmers. They love to chat with buyers at the market, so go make some farmer friends. You may learn something.

  • Check out Eat Well Guide or click the widget in my sidebar. It's the yellow thing that asks for your zip code, located just below my profile. When you use this widget, it will pop open a list of farmer's markets, natural foods markets, restaurants, etc. This is an easy place to get started.

  • While they do try, your local natural foods markets rarely have a large selection of locally-grown/produced products. Sometimes there are signs noting a product's origin, and some stores have pamphlets identifying such products. You can also ask an employee who would best know these answers. Perhaps the produce buyer and the meat manager can be your best sources. Get to know them and they'll start to direct you to the products you're looking for. These folks can be your best friends at the market.

  • Organic buying co-ops allow you to reduce your grocery costs. Buying co-ops use the buying power of a large group to get better pricing from local markets. Ask around at the markets or do a Google search. I found several local groups in Central Florida, but your area will have different ones. This info is just one Google away.

  • Of course, you can consider growing your own. Even if you live in an apartment, many vegetables can be grown in pots with the right light exposure. While, I'm no expert, my basil growing on the back porch (facing South) is thriving. If you enjoy working with the soil and have a yard with an appropriately sunny spot, test a small area with a few suitable veggie choices and try your luck. You may find that it is fun and therapeutic, as well as healthy and tasty.

  • Some municipalities have plots of land on which small sections are allotted to residents to grow their own food. If you lack ground or a sunny spot for pots, check with your neighbors or you city to see what your options might be. Who knows, you might start something.

  • With a little planning and luck, you could be eating your own freshly grown, organic veggies in the Fall. Got a friend with a big back yard? Maybe you could bond over a garden project. You provide the seed (and perhaps some natural fertilizer) and she provides the land. Split the proceeds and you have a co-op.

I'd love to hear your organic gardening stories--successes and mishaps alike are all welcome. We can learn from you. Please share at the comment link below this post.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Green Wisdom from Green Kids

Those of you who follow my blog know that I have been talking with some first graders who wrote a book called Our Class is Going Green. These children want to take care of our Earth. I wrote a post, Kids Going Green, about their book. Their whole class wrote comments to me, many with questions. Some of the children had some very cool ideas. Today, I will share these with you.

Reed, Jaden, Baylee and Trey W. all had terrific ideas about respecting other's things, taking action to keep things clean, and setting an example by cleaning up after others. Many children do not clean up after themselves, but these kids are willing to clean up after others. They are model citizens and I am sure their parents and teachers are very proud of them.
Jayden likes to pick up trash on the playground. Baylee will clean up other people's messes. Trey W. says we should be careful to respect things that aren't ours. Respect is very important.

I was especially moved by Reed's comment about keeping his room clean. He said it reminds him to take care of the Earth. What a profound statement from a 7 year old. We adults can learn a lot from these children. Yesterday I commented on Trey G.'s recycling project, and on Thursday, January 22 I will be wrapping up my answers to these children. Their comments about saving water and electricity will make good green tips.
Tomorrow I'll have some ideas on finding local organic food. If you need resources, join me for a quick primer on locating healthier choices. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ideas for Building Dog Houses on Woofing Wednesday

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Winter Swim with Tanner

No teasing. I'm wearing a wetsuit because it is freezing in our pool. Tanner has a double coat, given to him by Mother Nature for fetching birds for the hunters. That's what retrievers were bred to do. He doesn't mind the cold water. I have no coat at all, so I opted for the wetsuit. I know I look silly, but I'm warm. Do you swim in January?

Today I'd like to thank Trey G. for commenting on my Kids Going Green post. He suggested that instead of throwing things away, we should use them for something else. Guess what Trey used his old wood for? Yup! He built a dog house. Tanner would be very proud of him. He doesn't have a dog house. Maybe someday when Trey is older, he will start a business building dog houses with recycled wood and other stuff. That sounds like a good, green business to start. Keep up the good work, Trey. And thanks for commenting on my blog. I'm sure some of my readers are in their garages right now looking for old stuff to build a dog house.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why Sea Salt?

Today I have a question for all of you out there. Why is Sea Salt the way to go in natural food markets? So far, I have gotten only a couple of answers. There is a lot of info out there about the variations in taste, and that's fine; it's your choice. But I switched to Sea Salt because I read--somewhere--that regular, table salt is processed with aluminum equipment and has some aluminum residue. This adds up to the same issue as deodorants with aluminum chlorohydrate. Supposedly, there is concern about their possible connection with Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases that involve dementia.

When I started to research this post, I anticipated finding lots of info on this subject, but found naught. Not even the info I originally read turned up. I have nearly turned my office upside down. You don't want to know how much material I have here; it is impossible to organize it well. Nevertheless, I am at a loss, now, to tell you why I am using Sea Salt, other than that it is less processed than table salt. Maybe that is enough. You decide.

I did find one useful site that offered many uses for salt around the home. I'm going to share this info with you because I found many new ideas there, and perhaps you will too. Meanwhile, I hope you will comment at the link BELOW the post if you have any information on why Sea Salt is preferred in natural food stores.

  1. Control poison ivy
    Add three pounds of salt to a gallon of soapy water. Spray it onto leaves and stems.

  2. Pick up a dropped egg
    If an egg breaks on the kitchen floor, sprinkle salt on the mess and leave it there for 20 minutes: You'll be able to wipe it right up.

  3. Keep windows frost-free
    Dip a sponge into salt water and rub it on windows. They won't frost up even when the mercury dips below 32 degrees. (Be sure any metal parts are sealed with a quality sealant or are painted.)

  4. Clean tarnished copper
    Fill a 16-ounce spray bottle with hot white vinegar and three tablespoons of salt. Spray it onto the copper, let it sit briefly, then rub clean. (Don't do this to lacquered copper.)

  5. Clean a cutting board
    Cover it with bleach and salt, scrub it with a stiff brush, then rinse with very hot water and wipe with a clean cloth. Repeat with each use.

  6. Restore tub whiteness
    Use a solution of salt and turpentine to restore the whiteness to yellowed enameled bathtubs and lavatories.

  7. Clean brass or copper
    Try a paste of salt and vinegar to clean tarnished brass or copper.

  8. Freshen sinks
    Pour a strong brine down the kitchen sink to prevent grease from collecting and to eliminate odors.

  9. Control insects
    Salt helps destroy moths and drive away ants.

  10. Make ironing easier
    Use a dash of salt in laundry starch to keep the iron from sticking and give linen and fine cottons a glossy, like-new finish.

  11. Restore wood
    A thin paste of salt and salad oil removes white marks caused by hot dishes or water from wooden tables.

  12. Clean ovens
    Use salt and cinnamon to take the "burned food" odor away from ovens and stove burners. Sprinkle spills while oven and burners are still hot; when dry, remove the salted spots with a stiff brush or cloth.

  13. Clean refrigerators
    Salt and soda water will clean and sweeten the inside of your refrigerator without scratching the enamel.

  14. Cooking Tips
    Salt Crusted Baked Potatoes
    Wash your favorite potatoes: white, red, sweet, etc., Rub with canola or olive oil, then rub with Diamond Crystal® kosher salt. Place on rack in oven (no piercing, no foil). Bake time based on number of potatoes.

  15. Improve coffee
    A pinch of salt in coffee will enhance the flavor and remove the bitterness of over-cooked coffee.

  16. Boil water
    Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time. (It does not make the water boil faster.)

  17. Peel eggs
    Boiling eggs in salted water will make eggs peel easily.

  18. Poach eggs
    Poaching eggs over salted water helps set the egg whites.

  19. Prevent browning
    Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.

  20. Shell pecans
    Soaking pecans in salt water for several hours before shelling will make nut meats easier to remove.

  21. Prevent sugaring
    A little salt added to cake icings prevents them from sugaring.

  22. Crisp salads
    Salting salads immediately before serving will keep them crisp.

  23. Improve boiled potatoes
    Boiled potatoes will be given a fine, mealy texture by sprinkling with salt after draining, then returning them to the pan and shaking them back and forth quickly to get rid of the excess moisture.

  24. Improve poultry
    To improve the flavor of poultry, rub the fowl inside and out with salt before roasting.

  25. Remove pinfeathers
    To remove pinfeathers easily from a chicken, rub the chicken skin with salt first.Keep milk fresh

  26. Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.

These tips courtesy of the Salt Institute. Do you have some to add to this list? Please comment below:

Monday, January 19, 2009

The New Rechargeables: Faster, Better, Last Longer

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Years ago when my children were little, we had a ton of battery operated toys. We had everything from portable video games, remote control vehicles, games, musical toys and much more. The cost of replacing all those traditional batteries was enormous until I invested in a set of rechargeables. I thought it had to be a good move, a no-brainer.

Wrong! As it turned out, the recharged batteries lasted only a matter of 15-30 minutes in most toys, making it impossible to keep up with the recharging. I do place some value on my time!

That said, when rechargeable batteries began to become more popular again recently, I was the ultimate skeptic. I held out until after I began writing this blog. Now it is my duty to test these things and report to you. I fully expected a failure and a waste of my money.

Surprise! The batteries and recharger, which I purchased at Costco, are amazing. I put them to the test by placing 2 freshly-charged batteries into two matching Christmas light-up decorations. I turned them on and ran them for the same amount of time each day, just waiting for that rechargeable to die. The joke was on me. The name brand battery began to grow dim and flicker near the end of the holidays, while the rechargeable was still glowing strong.

An additional pleasant surprise came when I read the package and learned that these new rechargeables are RECOMMENDED for use in electronics. I put one in my camera and still haven't had to replace it. It has been several months now. I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself.

The familiar name brands that you have come to know are all jumping into the game now. I'm starting to see rechargers and rechargeable batteries for sale--even at the grocery store. They were expensive though, so shop around. Here are a few options:

Green Batteries (they also offer a downloadable battery guide with info on the different types of rechargeable batteries.)

Energizer Rechargeables

Staples Assorted Rechargeable Batteries

Only Batteries

Assorted Rechargeable Battery Brands (including mine: Sanyo Eneloop)

The cool thing about mine is there is only one battery (size AA) for AA, C and D batteries. You simply place a AA inside a "spacer", which is the size and shape of the C or D battery. Cool, huh? This gives me much more flexibility in which size batteries I need.

FYI, even rechargeable batteries need to be recycled when they are spent. When your batteries will no longer hold a charge, or become damaged, visit RBRC or call 1-800-822-8837 for recycling information in your area.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What's the Buzz on Bisphenol A?

Biohazard Symbol

Perhaps you've heard of Bisphenol A, or BPA, as it is commonly called. You may sense that it is not good for you, but haven't really looked into the dangers. I just read an extensive report by investigative journalist, Randall Fitzgerald. It's scary to think that this stuff is in most every baby bottle and water bottle made. The word is getting out though, as BPA-free bottles are now available--particularly baby bottles and reusable water bottles. You can see mine at my post,
Dropping the Disposable Water Bottle Habit.

So what is BPA and what are the dangers? I'll give you a headstart here. Then you can either read THE HUNDRED-YEAR LIE or go to Hundred Year Lie for more info. Of course, there are tons of other resources also. I like Randall Fitzgerald's writing style--lots of facts from research--no guesswork.
According to Fitzgerald, "BPA is a well-known endocrine disruptor affecting development, memory, intelligence, and learning." Here's some facts from his research findings. I suggest you sit while you read:
Bisphenol A is used to manufacture the polycarbonate plastics added to food containers, baby bottles, and a range of other products. Blood and urine sampling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered BPA in 95 percent of all people in the U.S., apparently the result of BPA leaching from food products.
A laboratory accident in 1998 unexpectedly revealed the extent to which BPA might impact health. At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, a lab assistant mistakenly cleaned the cages of lab animals with a detergent commonly used on floors. Plastic in the cages reacted to the detergent and leached BPA into the animals' food and water. Nearly half of the offspring born to the affected animals had chromosomal abnormalities.
Plastic linings are found in about 85 percent of the food cans sold in the U.S. Scientists analyzed twenty brands of this canned food and found BPA contamination in half of all they examined. Bom BPA in cans of corn and other food was found to be in amounts of eighty parts per billion, far in excess of the level a Stanford University research team had previously identified as causing breasst cancer cells to proliferate.
A group of professors at Yale School of Medicine reported in 2005 that low does of BPA, as found in food-storage containers, textiles, and flame retardants, may lead to learning disabilities and age-related neurodegenerative diseases in humans. They speculate that BPAs may be a causative factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease, now afflicting nearly five million Americans.
Studies done at the University of Missouri have found that very low levels--two parts per billion--of bispenol A, a chemical found in plastics,. . . causes birth defects. Until 2002, plastics used to package foods were called indirect food additives by the FDA because it is generally understood that plastics leach chemicals into food, water, and the human body. But in that year the FDA changed the terminology to food contact substances so the public would not be unduly alarmed by the migration of
plastics into food and water, especially bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastic water bottles.
Is it any wonder that I am diverting my plastic kitchenware to household storage, and replacing it with glass, ceramic and other materials? While BPA-free plastic water bottles and baby bottles are popping up everywhere, other plastic containers are lagging behind in this trend. Hopefully, this will be the next new product line we see: BPA-free Tupperware?
Have you tried the new rechargeable batteries? I'll review them and give you a few tidbits on Monday. Come see what's new and how you can save lots of money on batteries.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Green Kids Help Save the Earth

My Favorite Illustration from Our Class is Going Green

I am enjoying a new part of my job. Answering questions from children who are authors is such fun! Back in December I read a book called Our Class is Going Green. I wrote a post, Kids Going Green, about the book, and received comments from the authors. Their questions, thoughts and ideas have kept me quite busy--28 of them! Today I have a few more of their answers:

Myla asked which idea in the book was my favorite. That was an easy question. I love to walk my dogs and enjoy the outdoors. Can you guess my answer, Myla? I liked the idea about walking to school, instead of riding in cars. This saves lots of gasoline. It also saves money for cars. But best of all, it is good for us to walk. It helps to keep us healthy.

Keagan's question took me a few minutes to decide. He wanted to know which picture I liked best from the book. I think I decided on page 7, because I love bugs and butterflies. You and your friends are good artists. I put this illustration at the top of this post.

Ariel asked what is the "funnest green thing that I do". I am enjoying learning how to make compost out of my trash. I only send a few things to the landfill now. Most things go in my compost pile. This makes me feel good. And the compost is good for my plants and yard. Ariel, what is the funnest green thing that YOU do?

Timothy commented that we should try to get jobs that help to keep the Earth clean. This is a very smart idea, Timothy. Earth is our home. If we do not take care of it, who will?

Finally, I will answer AJ's question, "Why did you start this blog?". I have always liked to write. I have written books, but was ready for a change. Writing a blog means I can make all the decisions. I chose to write about living green and eating organic food. I made this choice because it is important to me. I am learning how to do these things, and can share what I learn with you. I hope you, your friends, families and teachers will write to me again sometime and share with me what you have learned. We can learn together. We can all take care of the Earth...together.

I'll be back next Thursday with more answers to questions from my new green friends. I hope to see you then.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Woofing Wednesday has Natural News

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Tanner and Oliver love their Wubbas

My "boys" are happy to have had a visit from their cousin, Jacque, this past weekend. They played hard and enjoyed a nice visit to our local dog park. I was so busy, I didn't get any pictures of them. Maybe next time.

Today my Woofing Wednesday website offering is Natural News. It's been on my list for quite a while, and I'm sorry it took me so long to visit. This site is an amazing resource of over 25,000 articles and reports, including pod casts. The format is very user-friendly and nicely organized. I think you'll like it. Topics include natural living, natural health and natural news. Your comments are welcome. Please click the COMMENT link AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST to let me know what you think--about anything.

Tomorrow I'll be back with more on the Green Kids who have been commenting on my blog. They are all the authors of Our Class is Going Green, a bright bunch of first graders who have captured my heart with their dedication to saving the Earth. Join me for a few more comments on their thoughts and questions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Organic Food Savings: COUPONS, COUPONS, COUPONS!

Sample Coupons Only: Please visit sites for actual coupons

I know this may look like a lot of coupons, but browse through and pick the products you like or those you'd like to try for the first time. This will save you some time; no sense in printing them all out. Remember, while we are always about saving money, we are also about saving paper and trees. Don't forget your reusable shopping bags when you hit the store.

Sun Organic : Online sales at great prices for dry goods, canned goods, staples, non-food items, wines, pet food, coffee and tea, etc.

Grocery Coupon Guide : 6 pages of organic coupons in many different categories

Frugal Living : Barbara's, Cascadian Farm, Earthbound Farm, Earth's Best, Eden Foods, Hain, Horizon Organics, Imagine Foods, Kiss My Face, Knudsen Juice, Mrs. Meyer's Muir Glen, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farms, and more.
Coupon Moms Nature's Oasis

Store Coupons Now: Fill in zip code and locate coupons of interest to print

Flat Earth Get a free bag of Flat Earth Chips
Annie's Homegrown Coupons - Sign up for Annie's e-newsletter to receive coupons for their most popular products

Mambo Sprouts - Click, print and save on your favorite organic and natural products. Starting this year Mambo Sprouts will have monthly giveaways on tons of natural & organic products along with some great contests. So be sure to check them out.

Vegan Coupons - A variety of coupons or vegan and vegetarian food, juicers and eco health and beauty.

Nature Made Vitamins Coupons - Become a member and get $5 in printable coupons

Organic Valley Coupons - Sign up for Organic Valley's Farm Friends and get a free kit with coupons for their most popular products.

Seventh Generation Coupons - Sign up for $10 worth of Seventh Generation coupons.

Knudsen Juices - Save $1 off any Recharge, $.75 off juice

Santa Cruz Organic Juice - Save $.75 off any product

Coleman Natural Beef - Save $5 off any hot dog, bacon or ham product

Earth's Best Baby Food - Coupons for Earth's Best Organic Baby Food

Feline Pine Cat Litter Coupon - Get your first bag for cat litter for free
Stonyfield Farm Coupons - Save on your favorite Stonyfield Farms yogurts, smoothies and products
Natures One Baby Formula - Rebate on Nature's One Baby Formula : This website has thousands of links to organic companies. Once you find a company you are interested in, visit their website to request coupons.

Alex's Coupons : This is a great web site that lists a nice variety of organic food stores as well as personal care stores that all have coupons. web site is selling coupon books that focus on fair trade products, organic products and environmentally responsible corporations in North America. 1 : Tons of coupons here! 3 : and more here... 4 : and finally, here.
And if that list doesn't cover all the bases for you, check out these suggestions. Do a search of your favorite organic food manufacturer's web site to find organic food coupons. Look for the coupon and promotion sections to find on-line printable coupons. If you find the manufacturer does not have any coupons listed on their web site, be sure to contact them directly to request that coupons be mailed to you. If you send a polite e-mail with your address, you may be pleasantly surprised. You can also call the toll-free phone numbers listed on the sites to request coupons.

Individual health food stores also have printable coupons for many natural products. For example has a great coupon section listed on their web site and all of their coupons are for national brands, so you can use them at any store that carries these products. Be sure to check your local health food store's web site for coupons!

One last thing: Remember to enjoy the journey. Take in the sights and smells at the grocer. You'll enjoy the food that much more.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Junk Mail Got You Overwhelmed?

These catalogs came to my home in just 3 days. Do the math. How much is that in a year's time? The landfills are bursting as it is. I've been using catalogs and newspaper to line my gardens underneath the mulch. This slows down the weeds and helps use up a lot, but no way will it eradicate the problem. I also compost a bunch of them. That's still not the answer, as you can only compost so much paper with your food scraps. So, what can you do to stop the catalogs from bombarding you?
First, a few facts, and then I'll tell you what tools I have found that promise to cut your junk mail significantly. These facts came from a Good Morning America (ABC) show that aired October 18, 2007. The numbers are likely larger now.
  • The average family gets 26 pieces of junk mail per week (an admittedly low estimate)
  • This adds up to about 100 million trees
  • It weighs about 4.5 million tons, costing a fortune in gasoline to transport to all of our mailboxes.
  • There are about 19 million catalogs printed for use in the U.S. each year, which adds up to about 53 million trees, just in catalogs.
  • It takes about 38 trillion BTU's to create this material, which is enough to power about 1.2 million homes.

So what can you do to cut back on all this wasted paper, gasoline and power? A little research, and I found out that there is quite a bit you can do. You may not have time to use all of these methods, but pick one or two and try them. I'll do the same. I'd love to hear how your results pan out.

An organization called Green Dimes, started in 2006 byPankaj Shah, claims to help you reduce your junk mail by up to 90%, in about 90 days. They have received a lot of coverage in the news media, including Ellen, Oprah, The New York Times, Business Week, and more. For $20, Green Dimes will send you a kit to help you contact all the organizations that sell your name and address to junk mail advertisers. Could be $20 well spent. In addition to their assistance, they will plant trees (5 per customer?) when you sign up.

The Direct Marketing Association is aware of the problem, and offers assistance on their site for limiting who sends you mail. Their assistance is in helping you stay off of new customer lists, and costs $1.

Stop the Junk Mail is an organization that helps small businesses with up to 25 employees tame their daily advertising mail, for $20-$90. A 2007 article Business Week said they currently had 6000 members.

Free services that I found include Ecocycle, which includes a recycling resource similar to Earth 911, and Obviously Junk Mail, a home-grown version of instructions for limiting the junk. The latter helps consumers with list brokers that are not members of the Direct Marketing Association. Catalog Choice helps you make choices about paper catalogs that you no longer wish to receive.

Enough about catalogs. Let's talk about paper that actually has a great purpose: COUPONS!!! Tomorrow's post will be packed with organic food coupons. Warm up your printer and join me for some savings.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pomegranates: Now They are Easy to Open

I've been eating a few organic pomegranates lately, as they have been in season over the holidays. This delicious fruit is beautiful, sweet, full of antioxidants and Vitamin C, and.... very frustrating to open. Until now. I found this great little brochure, which I am sharing partially with you here.

But first, let me take care of business. I cannot take any credit for these beautiful illustrations. They belong to the American Heart Association and POM Wonderful LLC. I trust they won't mind if I advertise for them here:

Oops! My software is telling me I'll have to continue these graphics in the next post. This is sort of like an episode of LOST; you don't know what happens until next week. Nah! I'll do the next post right now and you can scroll down and keep reading. This is a first for me; a TO BE CONTINUED: But it's worth it to find out how to finish opening this wonderful fruit. Check it out below.

POM Wonderful--Finally Opened

You are half way there. Here are the last 3 steps:

Finally, here are a few ideas for using pomegranates, also supplied by this cute little brochure:

  • Sprinkle them over your main dish for a lively, appetizing garnish.
  • Use them to brighten up a green salad.
  • Sprinkle on yogurt or stir them into dry cereal or oatmeal.

How do I eat pomegranates? In a bowl with a spoon. Yum!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More Questions from Green Kids: Earth Friendly Cleaning and Products

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

A number of the authors of Our Class is Going Green, have sent me comments and questions about Earth friendly cleaning and products. This information is especially for AJ, JoHanna, Baylee, Myla, Desaray, Ariel, Trey G., and Ethan. Thanks for your questions and ideas. Here are some of mine:
  • Families are just like teams. We need to work together to find the best ways to clean our homes and take care of the Earth. I use mostly all-natural, biodegradable cleaners. This means that the cleaner will not remain forever in the soil. It will break down and disappear. Good cleaners can be made from things around your home like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, and other items. You can find books at the library about making these cleaners. Also, there is lots of information on the Internet about natural cleaners.
  • If you do not want to make your own cleaners, there are a lot of good ones you can buy. My favorite general cleaners are BioKleen All Purpose Cleaner and Dr. Bronner's All-Natural Liquid Soaps. I like the clean smell of BioKleen. Seventh Generation makes a good dish soap. These are sold at many health-food stores like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's. Many smaller, health-food stores have these cleaners also.
  • How do I find Earth friendly products? What I do not find in local, all-natural shops, I find on the Internet. I look for sales, coupons and discounts. Google is a great way to look things up. Have some fun on the computer with your family next Saturday.
  • Thank you, Ariel, for asking how I learned all of this. Every day I use natural cleaners. I also read EVERY DAY. Reading is very important. You and your friends will be good keepers of the Earth if you read every day. You will learn how to take care of the Earth. Also, reading every day will make you a very good student.

I'll be back next Thursday to comment on some more of your questions and ideas. Thanks again for writing to me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Woofing Wednesday Says See Spot Recycle

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

No. I didn't come up with that title on my own. Someone named Mel from Plenty Magazine wrote an article that I tuned me in to this new product. The way Tanner goes through pool toys, I'm definitely going to be watching out for this.

Plastic chew toys are a personal favorite of my Golden Retriever, Tanner, including the floating ones he fetches from the pool. He takes his daily Fetch game very serious. So serious that he destroys the toys--about one a month.

One pet toy manufacturer knows all too well the impact on the environment that this can have. West Paw Design, a Montana-based pet toy company, has been using recycled plastics in their toys, and is now planning a bigger fix. They have developed a rubber-like material called Zogoflex that is designed to be recyclable. Broken remainders of damaged toys can be returned to West Paw, where they will be remade into new toys. My first thought at this was, "Great! Not so many destroyed dog toys going to the landfill." But it turns out that there is more to it.

West Paw is offering to replace (once) your damaged toy with another, or a cash refund, free of charge, except shipping! Tanner and I are in! We'll order a couple of these toys and see what we think. Can Zogoflex out-perform Kong? Tanner was able to eat a Kong without any problem, even as a puppy. I'll report back later.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Save Money on Organic Produce: Buy in Season

Image borrowed from Produce for Better Health Foundation website

I hear your cry. Organic produce costs more. So what can you do to bring the goodness of organics to your table? Today, I'll just touch on one primary tactic: Plan your menus and eating around produce that is in season. If you live in the northern hemisphere, we're talking about Winter produce. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, here are the fruits and vegetables that are in season for December through February:

Belgian Endive
Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Red Currents
Sweet Potatoes
Winter Squash

The website I got this list from is a wealth of information. I included the link above because you'll find lots of great information there. They've included topics like storage, nutrients in fruits and vegetables, recipes, reading a label, a recipe sharing section, a kids section, and more. There is also a free newsletter you can sign up for. Check it out.

When you visit your local organic market, you are likely to find many of these fruits and veggies available, simply because they are in season. Better yet, they'll cost less now than during the summer, when, if available, they will be flown in from the southern hemisphere--often Chile. That long flight adds to the cost and the quality. The produce has to be picked early, because it will ripen during shipping. That adds up to lost flavor. Buying produce that is vine ripened will always net you the best flavor, but that means choosing to buy the produce during it's in season.

The bottom line is, buy in season for the best price and the best flavor. Happy shopping!

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Blogging Schedule: Back on Track for 2009

© image copyright Carrie Boyko

Happy New Year to you all and welcome again to Organic Journey Online. Although the holidays are a joyful time, I am ready to have my life calm down again and get more structure in my days. Likewise, my blogging schedule fell by the wayside during the holidays, while I turned my thoughts to organic holiday cooking and green gifting. That was fun while it lasted, but 2009 is here and I'm happy to be back on track with my schedule. Here's how a typical week will look:
Miscellaneous Mondays: Miscellaneous green and organic topics

Tuesday Tips: Organic food tips, ranging from shopping and sourcing to cooking and eating.

Woofing Wednesday: I'll share a photo of one or more of my dogs and then a new website find that will be a resource for you on some area of green or organic information, products or services.

Thursday's Green Tip Toe: The name says it all. Thursday's posts will be tips on living more green, generally designed to take 10 to 15 minutes or so to implement.

Food Fridays: Yup! You guessed it. Fridays I will write about organic and all-natural foods--sources, shopping, food genres, menus, recipes, cooking--and let's not forget the most important part--eating it!

One very important part of the blog, however, is not the post, but your comments. Ideas from readers will help to fuel a dialogue which would be a lot of fun for me to respond to, and create a more dynamic atmosphere here.

For other news on upcoming posts, scroll to the bottom and you'll see what some of my upcoming post topics will be. I'm going to have some fun this month, jumping all over the map with topics.
In addition to my own blog, I also am a guest writer on two others, as well as a Yahoo group. These are Blake Bakes, Busy Mom's Recipes, and the Busy Mom's Tips Group at Yaho. These are all good resources for more cooking info. heck them out when you're cruising on the Internet.
I hope you'll join in the fun tomorrow, when I talk just a little about Winter fruits and vegetables. See you then.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mayo Clinic Says Grandma's Recipe for Colds and Flu was Right on Target

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

A recent study released by the Mayo Clinic found that good old soup and hot tea are, in fact, better for curing the common cold or flu, than the usual over the counter medications. Researchers studied the difference in severity and length of each of the illnesses, comparing use of decongestants and antihistamines versus Grandma's recipe--chicken soup and hot tea. You guessed it! Soup and tea was the winner.

The researchers found that decongestants affect sleep and often are not taken according to directions--with plenty of water. Without this important step, they really are not effective. Similarly, antihistamines tend to dry out the sinus drainage of many patients, which slows the course of the virus. As it turns out, runny sinuses may have a purpose--allowing the virus to run its course and get out of the system more quickly.

So, here it is, the prescription for a less severe cold or flu and a more speedy recovery. Drink plenty of fluids, preferably decaffeinated ones. Include hot tea throughout the day to moisten the sinuses and open them up to drain. The same goes for soup. Hot soup for lunch, snack and dinner will also help those sinuses drain, easing the congestion and allowing the illness to run its course.

Finally, avoid rich and fatty foods, which may upset the stomach or thicken sinus drainage. Dairy products are particularly known for the latter reaction.

You may be asking what's the cure for having only 1 can of soup in your pantry and no energy to go to the store. Make the soup now and freeze it. It will be there for that unwanted Winter visitor, a cold or the flu. Here are a few recipes to get you started. Chicken soup or Turkey with Rice--your choice:

With the holidays over, I'm finally back on track with my normal schedule. Monday I will review my post schedule, just in case you're watching for something in particular. Meanwhile, I have updated my upcoming posts at the bottom of the page. Check it out and see what's coming your way in January. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Green Kids Have Lots of Questions

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Today is Thursday, and it is time for my Thursday Green Tip Toe. I had some help from a class of first graders this week. After I wrote my post, Kids Going Green!, I was thrilled to hear from these young authors of Our Class is Going Green, whose book about saving the planet was published by Scholastic. These delightful children sent me questions, ideas and comments. Today I will answer a couple of their questions. Next week I'll be back with more, and so on until I get to all of them.
Before I start, I'd like to say that the future of planet Earth is in very good hands, if these children are to be the leaders of the future. They are wonderful examples of how our kids often take on responsibilities naturally, that we, as adults, cannot figure out. You can read my post about their book and click the COMMENT link to read their comments. These are some very dedicated children. They won a nationwide contest to get their book published. I know their teachers and parents are very proud of them. I certainly am.
One of the authors, Chaz, sent a comment asking how I save gas, and Robby, another writer, asked how I use my car so that it is Earth friendly. Here are some things I do:
  • I get regular auto maintenance like oil changes. This helps to make sure my car is running clean. It helps with pollution.

  • I also try to drive as little as possible. One way is by walking to nearby places--friends' houses and nearby shops.
  • I group my errands by location. This helps me to do less driving.
  • Sometimes my kids run errands for me when they will be near a place I need to go. This saves gas also.

  • I have 3 dogs that love to walk, and so do I. We walk to the Post Office, nearby restaurants, and a few shops where dogs are welcome. All this walking is very good for both me and the dogs. That is us in the picture at the top of this post. Their names are Xena (black), Tanner (large blonde), and Oliver (the small one).

  • Here is an idea that will keep you busy. When you buy products that were made nearby, or in your own state, it takes less gas to bring the product to the store. Shopping for products that were made nearby will save lots of gas. Think about that when you shop with your family. Read the packages together, and learn where the product was made. It has been fun for me to learn where my products are made. You could even try tracking them on a map. That could be a fun classroom project.

What do you and your families do to save gas and be more Earth friendly? Do you like to walk with your dogs?

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