Friday, February 27, 2009

Making Organic Baby Food: It's Child's Play

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Juicing Fruits for Baby Food is Quick and Easy

Saves Money, too!

I was appalled, recently, when I happened to notice the price of a jar of organic baby food. It's highway robbery what some of the companies are charging for a few tablespoons of applesauce or green beans.

Right then and there I made a note (in my little green notebook!) to prepare a post on making baby food at home with your organic foods. After all, if you are already cooking organic green beans or applesauce or chicken, why not save a little aside and prepare some baby food for tomorrow's dinner or the freezer.

Do you have a blender, food processor or juicer? That's all it takes. Any of the 3 will do the trick. Here are the steps I have followed in the past. Go for it:

Meats and Vegetables:
  • Cook the meats and vegetables well, with plenty of liquids to keep them moist.
  • Place individually in a blender or food processor, while still somewhat warm, and blend thoroughly till consistency is even.
  • For the easiest way to freeze serving-sized amounts for babies, I used ice cube trays. When frozen, pop the chunks out and store in containers that are labeled (green beans, chicken, etc.) You can thaw and feed the amount you need easily this way.
  • When juicing fruits for baby food, I advise not using the juicing strainer, but using the solid piece instead, thereby maintaining all the juice in the fruit blend.
  • Peel fruit and remove seeds.
  • Juice the ripest of your fruit options. Bananas, apples, plums and pears are the most common, and all quite easy to do.
  • To assure easy digestion, transfer the resulting fruit mixture into a casserole dish to cook in the microwave.
  • The length of time will depend on how much you're cooking, so judge accordingly. Cook on High for most fruits. Check every minute for texture and tenderness.
  • When done, follow the same procedure outlined above with the ice cube trays.

If you cook a little of your leftovers every week or two, you'll have all you need for the baby, and no extra expense. Watch out , Gerber!

If the applesauce smells so good, you want some for yourself, check out my recipe for Homemade Organic Apple Sauce.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Green Cleaning for Your Silver, Gold, Brass, Copper and Other Metals

© copyright Carrie Boyko
Can You Tell Which Item Has Not
Been Polished Yet?

I've been watching some of my finer metals get tarnished lately, and being lazy about getting them polished. Today my goal was to look up some of the ways to remove tarnish and grime from my once-shiny metal items, and share them with you. First, I'll dispell the photo frustration. The candle snuffer in the front does not catch the light in the photo. It is the one that has not yet been polished. The others turned out well...better than I expected, without chemicals. Here's what I learned:

Silver Cleaners
  • Use toothpaste instead of toxic silver cleaner to clean and brighten even your best silver. Use an old soft bristled toothbrush and warm water.
  • Rub with a paste of baking soda and water
  • To magnetize tarnish away, soak silver in salted water in an aluminum container; then wipe clean
  • Soak in boiling water, baking soda, salt, and a piece of aluminum foil
  • When a quick dip for silverware is needed, prepare a solution of baking soda in tepid-cool water (l level teaspoon to a quart) andbrush with a soft toothbrush.


  • Mix baking soda and white vinegar together to create a paste. Then, rub the paste into the copper or brass object that you wish to clean. Rinse, and buff with a dry cloth .
  • Mix equal parts salt and flour with a little vinegar, then rub.


  • In a small, glass jar, mix an all natural, vegetable based soap like Dr. Bronner's in equal parts with water. Soak gold jewelry when it looses it shine, and gently brush away the loosened dirt and oils with an old toothbrush.


  • Rub with undiluted vinegar


  • Rub with lemon juice and salt, or hot vinegar and salt. Mix baking soda and white vinegar together to create a paste. Then, rub the paste into the copper or brass object that you wish to clean. Rinse, and buff with a dry cloth.

Stainless Steel

  • Rub with a paste of baking soda and water
  • Heated vinegar helps remove hard water stains from stainless steel items such as dog bowls.

Before I sign off on this brief post, I'd like to point out something scary. I looked up the active ingredient in a bottle of commercially-available silver cleaner. The name was long and most of us would not be able to pronounce it. That was a hint. I quickly learned it has been found to cause cancer. Think about that. After you clean your silver with that stuff, what do you do with it? Dump it down the sink, right? Where does it go? Traces of it end up in our groundwater and in our soil. Either way, we're screwing up the Earth by using chemicals. Virtualy everything ends up back in the ground or in our water supply somehow. Is that what you want for your grandkids?

Okay, so that was a bit preachy. I could delete it and tell you to have a nice day. But I can't. My job here is to educate myself and you about the dangers of toxins. Soak it up. See you tomorrow.

Clean and Green (great site with lots of natural cleaning ideas)

Busy Mom's Tips

About Housekeeping

Please join me Tuesday, March 3 for a very special event here at Organic Journey Online. I will be posting a 2-part video series on the plight of the banana workers in Nicaragua. This is the story of a banned U.S. pesticide which was sold and shipped to Nicaragua, where it is now maying thousands sick. If this doesn't make you want to give up pesticides, nothing will.

If, for no other reason, than to protect yourself, please stop in next Tuesday and view this documentary. Bring tissues.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Woofing Wednesday Tip of the Day: Get out and Volunteer, America

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Tanner Likes Tiffany's Lap

Toni was home for a brief visit recently and that can mean only one thing--Tiffany was here too. Tanner loves Tiffany and he enjoyed taking a nap on her lap.

Today I am offering a Woofing Wednesday Tip, inspired by Tiffany. She has spent years volunteering for a local dog rescue organization. Her longevity there just about outpaces the owner! All kidding aside, Tiffany is to be congratulated for her dedication to helping homeless pets find families. She is a good example for her friends and others in the community who see her working tirelessly every weekend at the rescue's homebase inside Petsmart.

So, you guessed it. My tip of the week is to find a way to contribute. It doesn't have to have anything to do with dogs. Think of something you are passionate about and find a way to contribute. Our country needs more volunteers stepping up to fill the void. These are tough times and people like Tiffany are leading the way. So can you.

If you are a dog lover and enjoy the fresh air and free spirited play of dogs, consider Adopting a Dog Park, as a way to contribute some time to a worthy cause. Click the link to join my group, and you can talk with other volunteers who are working to help keep their own dog parks clean and healthy for everyone. Get some discussions going and we can all learn from one another. Sounds like a song, huh? Maybe we should write week.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Influencing School-Age Kids to Live Greener

Moms Can Set the Example
for Living Greener

There are many ways to influence your children, or a group of children with whom you work, to live greener in their daily lives. Like many adults, children are creatures of habit. For example, if you establish a routine of turning off the water while teeth are being brushed, and you brush yours along with your child, this habit will eventually take root. At the risk of being cliche, practice makes perfect.

Choosing stories and videos which exemplify a green lifestyle are good examples for your children, and good starting points for discussion over dinner. Open ended questions are usually best to get a discussion started; something like:

  • "What did you learn from the way Johnny handled his job of taking out the trash?"
  • "Did he put miss any recyclable items, when sorting?"
  • "Did you enjoy watching the family take care of their garden, and see their vegetables grow?"
  • "Would you like to grow vegetables in our back yard?"
  • "Did you get any ideas from this movie/book on things we could do to help the Earth stay greener?"
  • "What are we doing in our home that you would like to change?"

When school reports are assigned with the topic being the child's choice, try influencing that choice by making a list and talking about the pros and cons of each choice. I'd probably use about 4 ideas, with 3 of them being topics I know my child won't pick, and the fourth being a living green topic that may have some appeal to him or her. You know your child best, and can use this to your advantage in planning this to assure that your child picks the green topic.

Now that your child has a green topic to write about, you can give helpful ideas on how to research the topic that don't all include the Internet. Perhaps an outing or two to recycling facilities, farmers' markets, nature preserves, river clean up projects, or the like, would be more fun, and especially more eye-opening than a sore backside at the computer desk.

Studying food ingredients for no-nos like preservatives and food colorings can be a wonderful less for children. A visit to the local healthy food market will allow your child to see labels that have ingredients he can read and understand. Counter this with a visit to a traditional supermarket, where your child will quickly discover many ingredients that he cannot read and doesn't know how to identify. Write some of these long names down.

Your next outing could be a visit to the library, which will allow him to look up their true identity. I have a copy of an old food ingredients reference, which describes the mega-long names on all those food labels. Trust me, it will be very educational for your child to read for himself just what is in those big, long names. This will be the best lesson of all.

All that said, the bottom line is that the best way to teach your child anything is by example. You may not see the results this week, this month or even this year; but I promise you you will eventually see your lessons played out in the kids' actions later. That, my friend, is your legacy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring Yard Clean Up is the Time to Create Your Yard Waste Compost Pile

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Can You See My Yard Waste Pile?

Last weekend I started in with a little bit of Spring clean up. A little weeding here, some mulching there and a bit of trimming. I ended up with a wheelbarrow full of weeds and bush trimmings. This was the perfect time to start my yard waste compost pile.

A while back I set it up, in anticipation of this day. I guess it doesn't take much to get me excited. Oh well. I needed a somewhat secluded site so that it wouldn't be visible from the street, or to any of my neighbors. A quick walk around my yard and I found the perfect place, between some large bushes and a tropical palm, that is quite overflowing. Located between a couple of trees, it is in partial shade, also. All of this provides great camouflage. Although the palm will need a bit of trimming, it is still large enough to keep my science project tucked away from view fairly well. Check out the photo above. What do you think?

My test came when my husband helped me dump the wheelbarrow over the top of the garden fencing I erected to contain the pile. I figured if he saw it and didn't complain, I was good to go. He's fussy about how things look outside. Sure enough, he didn't say a word. I guess that was my approval.

Since all of the material that went into the bottom of the pile is green, live weeds and bush trimmings, I knew I needed to add some brown, to give it balance. We had 7 nights of freezing temperatures this Winter (that's almost unheard of in Central Florida), so I knew I could easily find some dead potted plants on my porch and in my potted garden in the back. I was right. I located a half dozen crispy, dried out and dead potted plants. As I pulled the dead plants from their pots, I shook off some of the soil so as not to put too much weight into the compost pile. Then I dumped the remainder right into the pile, on top of the green matter, which hopefully will provide a balance. Needed moisture will come naturally with rain, so my new pile is off and running.

Lazy, as always, I did not stir the contents, but then I'm in no hurry. I suppose my wish list should have a pitchfork on it, just for this purpose, but I have to ask myself, "Would I use it?"

My biggest reason for composting is still that I don't want to use any more environmentally-UNfriendly plastic bags to send stuff to yard waste heaven or the landfill. And even if I used trash containers that would be left behind, there is still that concern that my yard waste will not be composted, but simply rot in a pit and never be used to add nutrients and moisture-holding capability to our sandy soil, here if Florida. That makes it a double waste in my analysis.

Besides that, I really can't get behind paying for all the gas and the trucks to haul off our yard waste, when we can simply turn it into compost in our back yards. I totally understand that we do need some help with tree limbs, fallen trees, and other such larger objects that cannot easily be placed into a compost pile. But, think about it; we could save a lot on trucks and gas if they only picked up the stuff that can't be composted in our yards. I wish someone would get that message across to the budget bureaucrats, who have been busy trying to figure out what costs we can cut. Do we really need this service?

Okay. I understand that some types of housing may not have an appropriate place for composting. But it seems to me that a simple, attractive, non-biodegradable, solid fence would aesthetically contain a compost pile just about anywhere. I'm talking about a plastic 3 ft. X 3 ft. contraption. Who can't find a spot like this on the side or back of their house. My first two compost bins are behind bushes--perfect.

One of my favorite sites for information on Earth friendly practices is Planet Natural. This site is a wealth of information on organic lawn care, composting, natural pest control, natural cleaning products and even natural pet care. If you'd like to read the article on Composting Yard Waste, just click this link. Their detail in this article is way over my labor time or willingness, but here I'll share a few tips:

  • If you have a wood chipper or shredder, you can put sticks and such through it before placing them in your pile.
  • Avoid waste from highly resinous trimmings, such as juniper, pine, spruce and arborvitae.
  • Don't include waste that has been treated with weed killers.
  • If you aren't planning to compost any kitchen wastes, you can still add occasional coffee grounds, when the pile becomes too dry.
  • Add a little water occasionally to keep it slightly moist.
  • If you'd like to have compost in a couple of months, I highly suggest you read the article at the link above. They can tell you all the ins and outs to make it happen quickly.

Tomorrow I'll be back with a few tips on influencing your school age children to live greener. Woofing Wednesday's post will provide a new way to recycle unusable clothing for your dog. Did that peak your interest? No, we won't be remaking our old sweaters into ones for Fido. I hope you'll stop in to see what I'm up to.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Can I Put in My Compost?

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Coffee Gounds are Good for Compost

or Just as a Soil Additive

Before the holidays, I wrote about composting quite a bit, as I was just beginning to start composting. So, for reference, here are the links on my initial phase:

Composting: What is It and Why Do It?

Selecting a Spot and Setting Up a Compost Pile

Kitchen Compost Storage

Healthy Choices for Your Compost Pile

More Composting Options and Information

What Do I do With Large Quantities of Material to Compost?

I was forewarned that my first batch of compost would be the slowest, due mostly to lack of skill on my part. I also quickly figured out that I am a lazy composter, so I added on several months to the estimate I was given as to when I would actually have compost ready. After all, it wasn't as much about the compost for me, as it was about not sending stuff to the landfill or through my garbage disposal to the water treatment facility.
Now, my first compost pile is beginning to show signs of near readiness, despite its lack of the recommended attention. It is rather fun to see the transformation from garbage and paper to what looks more like rich soil. This stuff will help my plants retain moisture, absorb nutrients and flourish.
Best of all, I have been sending very little to the landfill since I began composting, along with my stepped-up recycling efforts. It's actually exciting to take out my trash on pickup day. I look down the street and see so many cans, bags and boxes overflowing with household discards. My little one-half bag looks almost, well, like we don't throw much away. That is becoming more true every day. I'm doing more recycling, reusing, remaking, donating and composting--all of which give new life to most of what we formerly would have discarded. It feels good. I may even tackle Ebay at some point. Any tips?

Back to the subject at hand. I've been hearing a few more questions lately about what can actually go into a compost bin or pile. So, here goes. Hopefully, this will be a fairly comprehensive list, but please feel free to use the COMMENT link below the post, if you have questions. I'd love to hear from you.
  1. Yard debris: weeds, dead plants, grass clippings, mulch, small twigs, leaves, etc. The keys here are small and not diseased. Don't put in large branches or diseased plant material.
  2. Junk mail and other paper items, such as the following:
  3. Magazines, with their covers removed (covers often have a shiny varnish on them that will not decompose well or be healthy for your plants)
  4. Junk mail that doesn't include excessively shiny/varnished/heavier paper. Do not include envelopes with celophane windows.
  5. Used printer paper, letters to be discarded, etc. will compost very well. To speed up the process, you might want to put it all through a shredder.
  6. Newspaper biodegrades quickly. Of course, it is also recyclable in most municiple recycling programs.
  7. Boxes made of paste board (cereal, etc.), corrugated cardboard (I recommend cutting or tearing it into smaller pieces), or heavy paper similar to poster board. The smaller the pieces, the faster the compost.
  8. Paper bags of any kind, unless heavily varnished.
  9. Paper Towel and Toilet Paper Tubes
  10. Dryer Lint
  11. Rags or discarded clothing made of natural fibers: cotton, wool, silk, hemp (remove buttons, zippers, etc.)
  12. Foods, cooked, raw, or spoiled: All foods except meat, meat fats and dairy products (yogurt, cream cheese, cheese, etc.) can go into compost.
  13. Miscellaneous household discards: tissues, cutips, cotton balls, paper towels, straw wrappers, note paper, used wrapping paper (not heavily varnished), receipts, paper tags from purchases, greeting cards, envelopes without celophane windows, untreated wooden skewers, wooden toothpicks, used napkins--okay, you get the idea. Just be mindful of what is on these items: i.e. cotton balls with nail polish remover, for instance, would not qualify. Neither would paper towels used with chemical cleaners.
  14. Coffee grounds are wonderful for assisting with the nitrogen balance in compost. You can pick up free bags of grounds at Starbucks. I have found that they also balance the aroma, when the pile takes on a certain scent.
  15. Egg Shells are also said to be good for your compost.

Now, for just a word or two on the balance of all this stuff. My composting mentor at Jolly Green Planet tells me that compost should always smell like a rain forest. If not, the cure is generally to add more brown material.

When adding materials, generally, alternate layers of brown and green materials. That brings me to the concept of brown and green. Apparently, dead stuff is considered brown and live or moist stuff is considered green. So, discarded foods and weeds or fresh grass clippings are all green materials. Paper, cloth and dead plant materials are all brown.

You may be asking what's next. That depends on how quickly you want compost. If you're in a hurry, then a routine of stirring the composting materials is said to be the most important thing you can do to speed up the process. I would add to that one tip. When your bin or pile is relatively full of fairly new materials that are not yet composted, stop adding and create a new pile. Allow pile number one to do its thing, with or without your assistance. By not continuing to add to it, you will allow the microorganisms to catch up on working their way through its contents more quickly, and get you to your goal faster.

Monday I'll be back to touch on composting your yard wastes, without food. This is another art, which I am just venturing into. It doesn't appear to be nearly as intimidating, so join me if you can. We'll get our yards into shape for Spring, and create a place to compost the debris, OR you could buy a compost bin. That would be nice tidy way to handle this matter.

If you're considering that possibility, I've selected a variety of ways you could do it, from "do it yourself" to automatic. Isn't shopping online great? It is so easy to compare. Have fun!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Building a Support System for Your Green Lifestyle

A Green Lifestyle:

If You Build It, They Will Come

Making the choice to live greener is more than taking your reusable bags to the grocery store and changing your light bulbs out to CFLs. That's a good start, but it won't bring you and us the results we need to clean up the Earth. I can't write the whole book today, but I can give you a few more tips on how to move forward with your efforts.

Most importantly, building a lifestyle of living more green will set the stage for new habits and simpler living. You have to start small and gradually add new habits, in order to reap the benefits and see success along the way. I've seen a few people jump in too quickly, making major lifestyle changes that suddenly they found they could not handle. Take it slowly and build gradually. As with any change (diet, stopping smoking, etc.) it always pays off to take baby steps toward your big goal. Here's some suggestions for getting the ball rolling:

  • Realize that anything your children are involved in, you will be involved in. Choose wisely.

  • When offering possible activities to your children, include those that build on good Eco habits, like Girl Scouts, for example.

  • Encourage your children's efforts in any area that will save the Earth. Their successes will build their confidence and therefore, their interest in similar activities.

  • Engage your kids in Spring cleaning with you, assigning each tasks that are age appropriate. An older child can locate recycling facilities by using Freecycle, Craig's List, Terracycle and Earth911; while a younger child can sort items: clothing, toys, electronics, etc. Each can contribute in their own way.

  • Plan vacations and outings around an Earth Friendly theme, involving children in the research, planning and decision making.

  • Label containers for broken or spent items that must be taken to recycling facilities, and use these as sorting locations throughout the year. Items like fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, electronics, small appliances, unusable paint, dangerous chemicals, expired medications (out of children's reach) all can be recycled and should not be disposed of in landfills.

  • Have a Spring cleaning day in each child's room. Afterwards, hold a brainstorming session on new ways each discarded item might be used. How much landfill space did you save?

  • Encourage science projects that involve Earth science. So much about caring for the Earth can be learned by testing of various components of our planet. Things like water, air, soil and produce can all be tested for toxins and other environmental hazards. How did they get there?

How did the toxins get into the vegetables? There's a subject for another post. I'll be back with that later.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon Nap

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
You Know it's Cold When Xena Naps on My Bed

These days Xena takes most of her naps in her open crate. She likes it there. It's quiet, cozy, away from the noise of the household, and private. Mostly, though, I think it's also easy-access. At 12, you would think her joints might be getting a bit testy and she'd avoid jumping up, but nothing has changed. She is still quite playful and agile. She has always preferred sleeping on the groung level to my bed, except when it is cold. Then all bets are off. Here I caught her in a rare nap on a chilly day. We're getting more of them this Winter than usual. Global warming? I don't see it here...not this Winter.

My new Adopt a Dog Park campaign is moving along...well,...slow. I could really use some of you to join and perhaps add your dog photos or get a discussion started. Hey, at least I'm trying to do something socially responsible.

My second step was to set up a website in addition to the above discussion forum and photo sharing setup. My website allows you to contact me and actually adopt a dog park. Check it out at Adopt a Dog Park Website. You can write to me at if you're interested in helping to clean up your own dog park. Do it for your dog.

If you would like to submit your dog park photos to me, I will put them on Woofing Wednesday and/or on my new blog, the All Things Dog Blog. You can submit your dog park photos, with dog's name and park name and city/State to me at Thanks, and I'll look forward to hearing from you and your furry best friend.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Setting the Example for Younger Children to Live Healthier

Parents Set the Example
for Daily Exercise Right from the Start

P Teaching kids to live green really starts at the very beginning. Mind you, I'm no perfect example. I've learned along the way, but made many mistakes. So don't berate yourself for not being completely Eco-friendly. Just take each day as it comes, and make the most of each one. Despite all the seemingly rampant waste that occurred in my home during the early years of our family, I have one child who is currently an environmental science major at a very reputable university, and is spending the semester working on a sustainable farm. I share that example to help you realize that no matter how many mistakes you make, there is still hope.

If you have young, impressionable children, you have the easiest job ahead of you. Learning by example is something parents do naturally, if they only think about how their children see their actions. Without actually telling your child to save water, for instance, you can show him how to brush his teeth with the water OFF. Walking to nearby errands and composting your kitchen wastes to reduce landfill stress will also set the example. Include your child in these activities, giving him the "fun" jobs. These are just a few of the many things you can do that will go a long way to creating children who will lead us out of this crisis of natural resources.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and redo parts of my child-rearing years. Since that's not possible, I've vowed to focus on trying to make up for my former sins, and doing what I can to contribute to progress. My message to my grown kids and to all of you is:

  • Start your own children off right with organic foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Assure that your infants only come in contact with organic skin care products, clothing, sheets and toys--the ones that they handle and put in their mouths. These first years are so important to their bodies' and brains' development. At this most important stage of their development, there is nothing more effective that you can do to preserve their future health from the many toxins in our world.
  • In all that you do, be mindful of what your children see in your actions. Set the example for what you want them to do or be.

Looking for organic baby products? Check out Amazon's selection by using the search below. I hope to see you Thursday when I'll be sharing some tips on building a support system for helping your kids to live greener. Join me then.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Green Lawn Care: A Tale of Two Families


The Green Family looks through gardening catalogs to get ideas for their year. They order wildflower seeds to border their lawn, to make it a more manageable size.

The Brown Family looks through gardening catalogs to get ideas for their yard. They order vegetable seeds so their kids can grow a garden.


The Green Family spreads corn gluten meal to prevent weeds from sprouting in the lawn.

The Browns apply a pre-emergent herbicide. They keep their children off the lawn for 24 hours as specified by the product label.


The Green Family sharpens their lawn mower's blades.

The Brown Family's lawn has a few weeds and the lawn looks good.


The Green Family's children pull dandelions that survived from last year, every day for a week.


The Greens spread an organic fertilizer on the grass. The organic matter holds the nutrients in spite of several rains, and releases them slowly throughout the season.

The Browns apply a synthetic fertilizer to the grass. The synthetic fertilizer delivers an immediate greenup of the lawn, but the unused nutrients end up in the groundwater, contributing to a decrease in water quality.


The Greens' lawn looks good for the party they have on the 4th of July.

The Browns apply an herbicide to kill weeds. The spray drifts on their children's vegetable garden and accidentally kills all the plants. Additionally, the kids have to stay off the lawn for 24 hours, so they celebrate the 4th of July at someone else's house. While they are out, a neighbor's child chases her dog across their yard, barefooted, thus exposing them both to unnecessary pesticide exposure.


The Greens water the lawn once a week. The lawn is greener than many of their neighbors who are watering daily. With deep roots in the healthy soil, the grass is not stressed very easily.

The Brown Family's children water the lawn every day for the whole month, but nothing seems to help their lawn in the heat. The daily watering also encourages white grubs (a pest that destroys grass roots).


The Greens spread grass seed suitable for their somewhat shady lawn and add compost to help their grass out-compete weeds for the next season.

The Browns apply a synthetic fertilizer and accidentally burn the grass because the dosage was too high. They also spray an insecticide to kill the white grubs. The children can't play on the lawn for 24 hours, according to the insecticide label.


The Greens have a healthy lawn, and a lawn that will have fewer weeds next year. Their grass is also more resistant to disease and insect problems. Their children can safely play on it all summer.

The Browns have a green lawn, but it needs constant watering and fertilization. The need for weed control will be just as great next year. The Browns have unknowingly contributed to water contamination and have exposed their children to hazardous herbicides and insecticides.




The Green Family's lawn was a lot of work last year, so they decide to hire a lawn care provider who offers an organic program, free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

The Brown Family receives a call from a conventional lawn care service. Since they maintained their own lawn last year, and it was a lot of work, they decide to hire the conventional service, who will treat their yard with herbicides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizers.


The Green Family's organic lawn care service applies a compost, corn gluten, and organic fertilizer. The organic matter holds the nutrients in spite of several rains, and releases them slowly throughout the season.

The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer and a pre-emergent herbicide. Much of the nutrients are washed off in the next rain and end up in the groundwater. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries, according to company literature.


The Green Family hand picks a few weeds.

The Brown Family's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer and an herbicide. After playing on the lawn, one of the Brown children complains of dizziness and feeling sick to her stomach. These symptoms could be a result of the pesticide application.


The Green's organic lawn care service applies an organic fertilizer.

The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer. The excess of nitrogen from the fertilizer application has encouraged aphids, so the company applies an insecticide as well as another dose of herbicide. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries.


The Green's organic lawn care service scouts for white grubs, but the Greens have only a few per square foot--not enough to damage their healthy lawn. As a precaution against possible problems, the service applies Milky Spore, a naturally occurring bacteria which will inoculate the lawn against grubs over the course of a few applications.

The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a fertilizer and an insecticide to control white grubs. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries.


The Green family's organic lawn care service spreads grass seed suitable for the Greens' somewhat shady lawn and adds compost to help their grass out-compete weeds for the next season.

The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer and an herbicide. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries.


The Green's organic lawn care service applied another round of organic fertilizer.

The Brown's conventional law care service applies fertilizer.


The Green Family has a healthy lawn, and it will have fewer weeds next year. Their grass is also more resistant to disease and insect problems. The children can safely play on it all summer. The Greens paid $250 for the season.

The Browns have a green lawn, but it is reliant on fertilizer and is easily damaged by insects and drought. The need for weed control will be just as great next year. The Browns paid $300 for the season.

Source: A Tale of Two Families and the graphic above are provided to Organic Journey Online courtesy of the Safer Pest Control Project, dedicated to reducing the health risks and environmental impacts of pesticides and promoting safer alternatives. For more information, they can be reached at:

Safer Pest Control Project
25 E. Washington Suite 1515
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 641-5575
(312) 641-5454

For information on organic lawn care in Central Florida contact my provider at Jolly Green Planet.
Speaking of local companies, if you're a Central Florida resident, you might enjoy checking out a great blog which reviews local companies, products and services, Central Florida Green Guide.
I have just signed on as a regular contributor for CFGG, and my first post, Hoover's Essential Health Market--a Hidden Gem, appeared Friday, February 13. There is quite a variety of reviews on this site, so stop in and check it out sometime. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Plastic Recycling Efforts Continue

Graphics credits: Take Back the Filter

According to Take Back the Filter, an announcement was made November 8, 2008 that "Brita and Preserve have teamed up to create a take-back recycling program for Brita pitcher filter cartridges!"

You can read the entire press release and get more information at the link above. Apparently, "participating" Whole Foods Markets are the drop off point for used filters. At this time, only pitcher filters can be recycled, not the faucet attachment type. Contact a Whole Foods store near you to see if they are participating in the program to recycle #5 plastics.

According to the website, "the filter material will be regenerated or converted to energy." An educational website, there is an Anatomy of a Filter Cartridge included, along with news, producer responsibility in this program, an opportunity to donate, and much more. Finally, a daily tally of the cartridges received from each state is included in the right sidebar, a motivating feature. I was disappointed to see the low number for Florida, but plan to do my part to increase that number. I hope you'll join me.


On another note, I should not forget to remind you that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. If you are, like me, in a rush to bake something cute, yet simple, for your sweetie, check out my Valentine Cupcakes post and How to Make Recycled Valentines from whatever you have around your house. A homemade Valentine card is sure to drive Cupid's arrow home. Have a great weekend!
If you are interested in local (Central Florida) health food stores, I have a guest post on the Central Florida Green Guide today, Hoovers Essential Health Market--a Hidden Gem. This is one of my local organic markets; one that I frequent. If you live in the Altamonte Springs area, it's definitely worth a visit.
And the latest news, just in: Organic Journey Online was named to the Top 100 Organic Living Blogs, by a research project published by Radiography My blog actually was ranked number 15. It is good news to know that radiology students are also studying natural health avenues. I am pleased to be honored.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Are Seniors Going Green?

Let me begin by admitting that I didn't expect to find much green action in the senior citizen sector. I felt it was definitely an area I should investigate, but was surprised when I learned just how many seniors are truly concerned about the future of our Earth.

Perhaps it's their grandchildrens' world that they are worried about, or maybe they, in some small way, feel somewhat responsible for the current state of our environment. In fact, it is the Baby Boomers who are more responsible for our sad state of affairs, than their parents.

Think about it. Our current senior citizens grew up during the Great Depression, a time when unemployment was higher than our current record highs, and food rationing was considered the norm. These elders grew up learning how to use things up, and then reuse them again in some new way. Without knowing it, they passed along some of their know-how to our parents. Victory gardens were often grown organically with composted kitchen waste as fertilizer, and pesticides were not yet widely available for garden use. Natural pest control methods were more often used, such as soapy water sprays, hand picking insects and vegetable oil sprays.

Enough about what was; this post is about what is now, and now there is definitely a different group of seniors out there. The image I had of most seniors enjoying their afternoons in a rocker on the porch is very inaccurate. Many of today's seniors appear to be taking the bull by the horns, using their retirement years to make a difference.

Most notable is the Green Seniors site, founded by Joyce Emery and Keith Farnish, two like-minded seniors who wanted to make a difference. Each, in their own way, and on two different continents, had contributed considerably to the Eco-knowledge of their countries, and have continued to do more in their individual and mutual retirements, if you can call what they do retirement.

Of particular interest to me, each of them write for multiple blogs, and each have their own, as well. Emery's blog, Green Granny, focuses on encouraging seniors to make a contribution, thereby giving their grandchildren a better future. The Earth Blog, Farnish's creation, inspires people to take an interest in human rights and the global environment by offering many solutions to choose from.

Farnish's blog is philosophical and often scientific. Its appeal is to the more techhy sorts who like to look at human suffering issues with a microscope. Don't get me wrong, I think its a great blog for his target readership; I just found it hard to get my hugs there. Green Granny, on the other hand is more like a letter from the ultimate grandmother, filled with updates on her lifestyle and focused on trying to set a good example. I saw a bit of my own future in her blog, so naturally I would find it to be a better fit for my own personal reading.

Green Seniors' site offers green groups, how to articles, networking and campaigning, with a ton of information for interested groups to act on. It is truly a fabulous resource.
Gray is Green is the website of the National Senior Conservation Corps, founded by Robert Lane, a professor emeritus at Yale University. In a recent interview, Lane poignantly stated that "We are trying every way we know how to teach people who will be dead in a few years about environmental stewardship--so they can teach their grandchildren." This nonprofit has worked with seniors to boost recycling in senior-living communities, and shares tips on green living with them through many media.

The president and founder of Gerontological Services, Inc., a market reserach firm in California, Maria Dwight, says that ecological awareness is evident in retirement centers that she visits. Her presentations on such topics, which began in 2000 with 16 attendees, numbered about 400 in 2008. I was most impressed with the retirement village, La Costa Glenn, which cut copies of printed menus from 600 to 65, simply by posting menus online. Brilliant!

AARP reported on Australia's Grey Power Community, a sub-division of Greenpeace Australia, that is learning and sharing their knowledge with their senior residents.
These are just a few of the many examples of retired people getting involved in leaving behind a better world. So, how can we get our grandparents involved in living more green? That's another post for another day. Your comments are welcome below at the purple COMMENT link.

Late Breaking News:

Organic Journey Online's Woofing Wednesday will soon be moving to its very own blog, the All Things Dog Blog. I would like to know how you all feel about the pup photos moving there also. Please answer the single question poll in the sidebar. Thanks for your input.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Green Solar Energy Provides a Warm Bath on a Cool Day AND Organic Journey Online Founds Adopt a Dog Park

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Solar Energy for a Warm Bath

Brrr! It's a chilly day and I need to bathe the dogs. Tanner just finished his turn and was kind enough to pose, all wet, for you. Fortunately here in Florida, chilly isn't as bad as it would be in, say, Chicago. I can still do it outside, and have warm water to do it. How? I use the greenest water heater available: solar power. It's easy. I take a kiddie bathtub outside in the morning and place it in the sun, in a location that is suitable for bath time. I fill it half full of water. By 2-3 p.m. the water has warmed to a toasty temperature, and bath time can be a pleasant experience for my pups.

Solar energy can work its magic, even in cooler weather. As long as the sun is out, the water will warm up. Your dog may not enjoy an outdoor bath if you live in Chicago, but warm water could be useful for other jobs, like washing a car or scrubbing the outdoor furniture. Who am I kidding? You northerners probably don't do that sort of thing in February, huh? Oh well. I'll stick to the South where I belong. Feel free to tease me in a COMMENT if you like. I deserve it.

Today's website offering is a surprise of sorts. I've been thinking about getting some kind of grass roots thing going to help keep our dog parks clean. With shrinking government budgets, money won't exactly be flowing to park care now, will it? So, I went to Care 2, a green and social action network, and set up an Eco-social action group called Adopt a Dog Park.

If you are a dog lover who enjoys visiting the dog park, you can visit my site, and even join if you like. There you will find photos of my dogs at the bottom in the Shares section, a few words about adopting your own local dog park, and a place to offer your comments, thoughts and ideas. You can even post your own dog park photos. Joining is free, and my only goal here is to encourage others to help take care of our dog parks. How you do that is up to you. I suppose that's what the discussion forums are for--exchanging ideas and such.

Next, I got really gutsy and looked up all the National Awareness "days," "weeks," and "months." I discovered that there aren't any special awareness dates for keeping dog parks clean, so I created one. A bit crazy, I know, but I was in the mood to make a difference and feeling a bit like Rambo. So here it is: National Clean Dog Park Awareness Week is the first full week of Spring, March 22-28.
I'm not done yet. On a roll, I decided I needed to have my own website, one where I could list dog parks that have been adopted and provide ideas on getting an adoption started in your area. Maybe this wasn't necessary, but it was part of my vision, so off I went to Google sites to set it up. I had no clue what I was doing, but, considering that, it didn't turn out too bad. I hope you'll visit this site at Adopt a Dog Park to see my simple creation and envision your own dog park listed at the left just underneath my listing, with your dog's photo shared on the page. I would love for yours to be the next dog park on my list. As you'll learn at the bottom of the webpage, Adopt a Dog Park has its own e-mail: I'd love to hear from you with ideas, questions, or perhaps some technical assistance. I'm SO out of my league!
Spread the word. Someday this will be big. I can see Clifford the big red dog making appearances at dog parks all over the country and big celebrations occurring at every dog park. Photos, costumes, doggie treats, bobbing for dog bones, and free samples of all the best organic dog foods will all be available. Can you see it? If you're with me on this goal, make a poster and put it up at your dog park in March. Tell your dog park friends. Let visitors know about our new holiday. Xena, Tanner and Oliver will be at the Doctor's Dog Park on March 22 to kick it off. I hope to hear from some of you that have adopted a park near your home--a place your dog can call his own.
I have a pillow on my bed that says: "The dog and his housekeeping staff sleep here". Sounds rather like a dog owner who cleans up after his dog, and I suppose that's what I'm proposing here. See you at the park!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Inspiration for Free, Recycled Valentine Cards

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Carrie's Hand Made Recycled Valentines

What do you need to buy to help your child make valentine cards? Nothing. Example: I made the above valentines with discarded items from around my home. All I needed was glue, scissors and a marker. I started with a photo of a kitten and scanned it. I copied it onto the back of a bright pink flyer from my junk mail--4 small scans onto one sheet.
Next I set a goal of finding a shoe box full of pink, red, white and purple items that could be used to create something 3-dimensional to complement the pink kittens. First, I dug through my personal collection of odd items I save for crafting and there I found buttons, ribbons, bows, felt scraps and some small pink and white shells from a broken wind-chime.

Then I searched my daughter's closet for leftover craft stuff. I knew I was more likely to find goodies in a girl's room. Jackpot! I found some scraps of pink construction paper which I used as the pink heart behind the kitten photo. I kept looking and found a white net bag which was tied shut with satin ribbons. It had once contained a cosmetics gift.
In my office I had recently cleaned out my files for the new year, and discarded a tattered red file folder. It had some writing on it, but I still used it for the backing of my valentines, covering the writing with the various hearts, shells, buttons and bows I had collected. I wrote on a few felt hearts and glued them to the front of each valentine.

Finally, I cut the net bag open along its seams, removing the bow and cutting it into pieces. Sectioning off the net into 4 pieces, each easily gathered into a bow made from the ribbon taken from its closure. As you can see below, I glued each of these onto the back of the valentines, giving the look of a flowing veil.

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Back View of Valentines

While these valentines would not make it past Martha Stewart, your child's grandmother, teacher and friends (well, at least the girls) will be delighted. Perhaps a different style would better suit your boy, but you get the idea.

You and your child can enjoy a Saturday afternoon of crafting together, after cleaning out your own closets and collecting odd items that can be used. With a little creativity, you can make something unique and therefore, special. Remember, it's the thought and the effort that counts. It's also nice that you didn't buy lots of impersonal, paper valentines that were made at a factory and shipped hundreds, if not thousands of miles to your store. Sorry Hallmark.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Keeping Up With the Begleys: A Book Review

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

My Copy of Begley's Book
A Well-Used Resource

In my 2/2/09 post, Should We Stop Keeping Up with the Joneses? I admitted that I, too, am striving to follow a peer group. They're green and Eco-conscious, worry about things like toxins and eat really well. No, they aren't green Martians; they are the Begleys--Ed and Rachelle. Although I align myself with Ed's ideologies, I am nowhere near the green living expert that he is. I suppose I appear to have a bit more of Rachelle's attitude, in that I want to live life as green as possible, yet with a conscience and some style.

Ed Begley, Jr.'s book, Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life, is an interesting combination of a guy driven to live totally green with an aesthetics-conscious wife holding his foot on the brake. Their back and forth viewpoints on each topic are an excellent example of how many couples trying to live the Eco life can coexist and compromise to make every issue work better.

From common sense confirmation of tips you may have heard to pouring thousands of dollars into a fully-solar home, Ed reviews every angle of living green to share with you what works and what does not. He is clear, also, on what may work, but at a price that may not be worth the payoff. Most importantly and timely, Begley's book indicates clearly how much money you can save, or expect to spend, on each option he discusses.

© copyright Carrie Boyko

Begley, a well-known Hollywood actor, has been living a totally green lifestyle since about 1970, long before it was considered popular. His dedication to research and testing of new technologies and willingness to make make tough decisions to pursue his dedication to a healthier Earth have made him one of the most committed environmentalists of our time.

With all the book options out there for an Eco-conscious reader to choose from, this one could easily have slipped into the "Dummies" series, as Begley smoothly explains each concept and guides you to a simple decision. An easy read, it clearly helps you to move in the right direction--keeping it green. It's a bargain in paperback at under $15.00 (at Amazon) retail.

I'll return sometime in March with some tips from Begley's book on Thursday's Green Tip Toe: Your Organic Journey Online guide to 10-minute green living changes to make in your life. Join me tomorrow for some valentine card ideas made out of recycled materials. Ed will be proud of us!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Valentine Cupcakes Make for a Sweet Tradition

  • Today we're baking easy, easy, easy. I'm talking cake mix, frosting and some cute toppings. Easy to make these babies really appealing. Save time, money and don't forget to pull some coupons from my last coupon post. Here's your shopping list:

Valentine Cupcakes

  • Organic Cake Mix, white
  • Organic Frosting Mix, white
  • Organic eggs
  • Organic canola oil
  • Organic butter
  • Organic cooking spray or paper baking cups
  • All natural toppings

All natural topping ideas: sliced strawberries (they're in season in Florida!), raspberries, pomegranates, dried cranberries, cherries or raspberries, or canned whole cherries. Perhaps you can think of some others and share them with us at the comment link below. I also found a couple of kinds of colored sprinkles that are made with natural colorings. Thank goodness for our small organic market.

Bake the cupcakes per the directions on the box. I tried some of the all-natural red coloring, but found, after 3 tries, that it turns gray. :( If any of you have found a really good natural red coloring, I'd love to hear about it. Meanwhile, I'll have to experiment with berry juices.

Whether they're for your own party or one for the kids, these cupcakes are sure to be a hit, but not too bad on the wallet.

If you're really looking for something low-fat, I've got your number. My favorite icing is a homemade one that takes only a few minutes and is fabulous. The recipe credit goes to the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book from 1976 (I'm really aging myself here, huh?!). Anyway, here goes:

Fluffy White Frosting

  • 1 Cup Organic sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • Dash of Sea Salt
  • 2 unbeaten Organic Egg Whites
  • 1 Teaspoon Organic Vanilla


  1. Combine sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  3. Very slowly add sugar syrup to 2 unbeaten egg whites in a mixing bowl, beating consistently with electric mixer till stiff peaks form--about 7 minutes.
  4. Beat in vanilla.
  5. My note: This frosting stores best in container that is cracked open slightly.

Monday I'll be sharing some thoughts about my latest read: Living Like Ed, by actor/activist Ed Begley, Jr. Join me for the 411 on his book and a few of his most interesting tips.

Organic Valley Farms Needs Your Help to Stop Genetically Engineered Corn

Please feel free to pass this along to everyone who might be interested in sending the USDA a message on this matter:

---Original Message---
From: Organic Valley
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 12:24 PM
Subject: Action Alert: Tell USDA NO on New Genetically Engineered Corn

February 3, 2009
Tell USDA "NO" on new untested genetically engineered corn
USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has given preliminary approval to Event 98140 corn, the first of a new generation of pesticide-promoting, genetically engineered (GE) crops designed to survive spraying with multiple herbicides. This latest petition to deregulate a new, untested, and complex GE crop poses food safety, environmental, and agronomic concerns that were not adequately evaluated by the previous Administration's USDA. APHIS has failed to adequately address a range of health and environmental risks in its draft environmental assessment (EA), including novel food safety concerns, increased pesticide use and increased prevalence of herbicide-resistant weeds.
To make matters worse, the USDA has limited the opportunity for public input, by only accepting comments until this Friday, February 6th!
Speak out now! Tell USDA to put the brakes on this approval, and prepare and publish a thorough Environmental Impact Statement before making a decision. Visit the Center for Food Safety's True Food Network at TODAY to learn more and take action.
Thanks for all your support for family farmers and a sustainable future for all!
The Farmers and Staff of Organic Valley Family of Farms

This Farm Friends bulletin is a publication of: Organic Valley Family of Farms, One Organic Way, La Farge, WI

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stop Those Phone Books

Free to Taker:
Extra Phone Books Delivered to My House this Year

How many of us actually use the phone book nowadays? Really! With cell phones being the norm, we make at least half our calls while we are out. That means the phone book is at home. Fortunately, cell phones hold lots of our frequently-called numbers. Isn't that great?!!

Now you can stop the Yellow Pages from being delivered. If everyone who doesn't want another phone book would do this, we would save millions of trees each year. I did it. It took less than 1 minute to sign up. No lengthy process. It's quick and painless.

Go to Yellow Pages Goes Green and do it--right now while you're thinking about it. It will make you feel good to save some trees.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Finding Pet Adoption Resources

© copyright Carrie Boyko

Joan Adopted a Papillon

from a Local Pet Rescue Agency

I suppose it was inevitable. My mother fell in love with little Oliver, my Papillon. Nearly a year after we adopted Oliver, she decided it was her turn. I searched the online rescue agencies and found this little fella. He is now named Jacque. Hard to believe he is recycled--such a cute little thing. His original owner fell ill shortly after getting him, and my mom was lucky enough to adopt him.

In most metropolitan areas, stores such as PetSmart and Petco offer pet adoption services for a minimal cost. But these aren't your only options. Online searches for pets will net you many possibilities, including small, local rescue agencies and individuals, owners looking to give up a pet they can no longer keep, and even pets who have been left behind when their owner passed away.

Many breeds have their own adoption groups, so if you're in the market for a particular breed, do a search for rescue groups for that breed first. This may be a quick ticket to your new companion. At Google, you can try various wording to get different results. For instance, if you are looking for a Cocker Spaniel, try:
  • Cocker Spaniel Rescue (always add your area for best results, such as "central Florida")
  • Pet rescue
  • Spaniel rescue
  • Medium breed rescue
  • Dog rescue
  • Pet adoptions
  • Dog adoptions
  • Cocker Spaniel adoptions
  • Free pets
  • Free dogs
  • Free dog adoptions
  • Free pet adoptions
Okay, you get the idea. Each re-wording of the search will bring different results to the top of the list. I found many rescue agencies that offered pictures and a history--very helpful.

Most of the organized pet rescue agencies require an application prior to a visit to see the pet. This is strictly to protect the foster parent from too many visits from people who aren't seriously interested.

Your local ASPCA or Humane Society can often help you with local agencies and keep an eye out for pets coming in that meet your criteria. Also, check the American Kennel Club to locate agencies that specialize in rescuing the breed or breeds you have in mind.

Canine Companions and other assistance dogs, guide dogs, etc. have training groups throughout the country. A few quick searches will help you locate one near you that can tell you how you may be able to adopt a pup who didn't quite make the cut. These dogs come highly trained and about as well behaved as you can imagine. I have two friends with former Canine Companions as pets, and they are great dogs. One of Tanner's favorite dog park buddies, Mahon, is a former Canine Companion turned family pet.

If you aren't sure what type of dog you want, take some time to read up on breed characteristics, energy levels, breed talents and instincts, etc. You'll want to find a dog that is a good match for your household and its other members. Of particular importance is matching your energy level to that of the dog. You need to be sure you can keep up with his need for walks, runs, fetch sessions and such. And don't forget to find time for obedience classes. Fido will need to be well behaved to remain in your good graces. Do your homework to assure the best possible results.

Tomorrow I'll be telling you how to stop some of those pesky, unwanted phone books from showing up at your door. Stop in for a very quick tip that is really easy to implement. I guarantee it will be worth your time. Friday I'll have all-natural Valentine cupcakes. Yummy!

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