Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dr. Oz Helps You Learn Your Real Age






You've probably seem him on Oprah, or perhaps seen his book at Borders. You Staying Young, by Drs. Oz and Roizen, is a remarkable book indeed. Yet even after reading it, I was not compelled to visit Real Age to find out my real age. I think I was a bit concerned I would not like the answer.


I'm over that worrying about my age business now, so this past weekend I checked it out. The quiz is a bit longer than I anticipated. Actually quite a bit. I didn't time it but it probably took me a good 20 minutes. Time well spent. Not because I liked the result, although I did, but because I was impressed with the thoroughness with which this test evaluates your inner health. Only once before have I been interviewed this completely by a doctor. That is clearly saying something about how deep they dug.


In any case, I was delighted to learn that I am 9.8 years YOUNGER inside than the calendar would tell you. Wow! That was a surprise, given my health history. What I had going for me was my lack of vices and excess weight, and my low blood pressure...I think. I suppose if they had asked about vices other than those on their list, I might have scored a bit older. I have a sweet tooth and love my vanilla lattes, but I guess these vices have clearly not had the effect that 2 packs of cigarettes a day (or a pint of ice cream) might have had.


Whatever the outcome, it is good information to know approximately how your general health stacks up, based on your lifestyle and heredity. Even so, I have thought of a couple of things that could have swayed the results in the opposite direction, if asked. I am sure that Drs. Oz and Roizen struggled with just how thorough they could be without having people abandon the quiz in the middle, when it ran too long for their patience.


If you are interested in seeing how old your insides are, I invite you to visit the Real Age site and take the test. It may make you think about some of your choices, which could be a good thing. The other option is simply to read the book. I enjoyed their well-illustrated manual and found many things that made me take a second look at my lifestyle. After all, isn't that what we're looking for when we read a self-help book?

Monday, March 30, 2009

More on Naturally Enhancing Your Compost

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Free Coffee Grounds
for your Compost are a
Good Excuse to Get a Latte!


I know I've shared with you some of the strange things I put into my compost. Geeky as it may seem, I find it rather fascinating that I can toss odd things like receipts, straw wrappers, and dryer lint. The thing is, good compost needs a balance of green (live stuff) and brown (dead, like paper) stuff to maintain its balance. This keeps it smelling like a rain forest.

So, what am I getting at here? I suppose I am just trying to let you know that you'll need more brown matter than the small items I listed above. We all have it everywhere around our home, so you shouldn't have a problem finding enough. If your newspaper is printed with Soy ink, its safe to include in your compost. Same with catalogs, junk mail and the inside of magazines.

If you're eager to have good, rich compost ASAP, run the sheets through your paper shredder. The smaller the paper, the quicker the compost. If you don't have a shredder, you should. Did you see the movie Catch Me If You Can? Leo DiCaprio played a real life character named Frank Abagnale, a con artist and identity thief. Abagnale wrote a book, THE ART OF THE STEAL, and now works for the government as a consultant. One of his recommendations is that you shred anything and everything that you discard, if it contains a bar code or account number, name and address, or other personal information. Nowadays, that's just about all of your junk mail. That's why I compost mine.

If you haven't read this book, you probably should add it to your list. Like me, you will likely learn a lot of things that you are doing, that can set you up for identity theft, like throwing out those pre-approved credit card applications. Did you know that someone else can change the address on that form and get a credit card, using your name? Then they'll have a shopping spree and screw up your credit. It's a scary world out there, but Abagnale's book goes a long way to helping you avoid scams like this. I highly recommend you read it.





Besides the book being helpful in saving your credit, it is entertaining as well. Maybe not as entertaining as the movie, but some of the things this guy got away with are truly amazing. He just figured out how to get around the things that were checked.

I guess I got a little off track there, but it was my intention to let you know about identity theft and credit card fraud. I've been hit 3 times myself, and it is a lot of trouble to straighten out the mess. Better to avoid it, if possible.

Now back to business. To enhance the nitrogen in your compost, save your coffee grounds. Starbucks gives them away in big bags for gardening. They're great for compost and are a wonderful addition at those times when you discover that your compost doesn't exactly smell like a rain forest. If you open your compost pile and get smacked with a garbage dump smell, my advice is to add coffee grounds and lots of paper products. Stir and recover.

The coffee grounds will camouflage the odor, while the paper will give the microorganisms what they need to balance the smell through their digestion. The smaller the paper the better, so make use of that shredder whenever you can.

One final thought. Lots of people who are really into composting have a ceramic or aluminum compost container for their kitchen. They use it to hold scraps of food until it is full and then dump the contents in the compost pile or bin. This is great, as long as you remember to balance it with brown matter.



If you're striving to keep the toxins out of your soil and your compost, leave out anything with preservatives or food coloring. You could even go so far as to eliminate items that are not organic. It's up to you.

One way to do this, that will save you money and reuse items you already have, is to use paper bags or paperboard boxes (cereal, gift boxes, cookie boxes, etc.). Paper bags are fine for items that aren't too wet, but if you're peeling a bag of carrots, use a box. Large brown envelopes and anything made out of "poster board" type paper is also acceptable if it isn't buried in tape or stickers, or heavily varnished (shiny coating). Watch everything you are about to discard, and you'll find yourself storing a lot for reuse as compost containers. There you go again--reusing instead of sending it to the dump. Good job!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ten Tips to Save Big on Your Food Bill

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Save on Food with Dollar Savvy's Tips


As reported by MSNBC, here is an abbreviated form of Dollar Savvy Magazine's 10 ways to save on groceries. Dollar Savvy suggests turning grocery shopping into a game, using strategies just like any other game. Following are their tips:


1. Read grocery ads before shopping. Building your menu around sales items.

2. Navigate the store like a pro. Shop the perimeter of the store. Food essentials (produce, meats, dairy, and bread) are usually located around the store’s perimeter.
Shop the middle of the aisle. Pantry staples are usually smack-dab in the middle of the aisles. Look up, look down, look all around. Generally, the most expensive brand-name items are on shelves at eye level. Less expensive store brands are on the upper and lower shelves.

3. Get organized! With grocery store sales in mind, make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it. By being organized, you not only make fewer trips to the grocery store but also end up throwing out less food.

4. Do the math. When comparing prices at the store, always compare price per pound (or per gallon, for liquids). It’s the only objective way to compare costs.
5. Study your store’s selling patterns for sales. Grocery store sales often occur in patterns. For example, we know of a grocery store that puts our favorite ice cream on a “buy one, get one free” sale on the third week every month. On the first week of the month, it’s only a dollar off. Learn the patterns (and keep track of them in a notebook).

6. Learn the tricks of their trade. Here’s a well-kept secret: When a grocery store advertises a special — say, buy ten containers of yogurt for $5 — you don’t have to buy the number of items they’re advertising. In this case, you could buy one container for 50 cents. Unless the store specifically states otherwise, you should buy as few as you want.

Here’s another: Sometimes it’s hard to find handheld grocery baskets — they are usually tucked into a corner at the store’s entrance. You feel like a cart is your only option, and that’s what the grocers want. Once you have a cart, they reason, you won’t even think twice while filling it up. If you only need a few things, seek out the baskets … and stick to that shopping list!

7. Use coupons (wisely). Buy extra copies of the paper for high-value coupons on items you use a lot of. Trade and save. Have friends or family that you know use coupons? Offer to host a twice-a-month coupon-trading session over coffee. Use Facebook or Meetup to exchange coupons with friends and family.

Go online to save. More and more Web sites are offering coupons you can print out. (Right here on Organic Journey Online, I do a coupon post monthly, bringing you a large selection of savings that are easily printable. Click this link to take you to the most recent one).

12: Sort your coupons smartly. Organize your coupons the way you organize your shopping list: in the same order as the store aisles.
Seek out stores that double or triple coupons. Some grocers double coupons up to $1 in face value; others triple coupons regularly (or on certain days of the week).

Know when small packages can yield the biggest discounts. Buying the largest size of most items is usually the thriftiest option, but calculating bargains might work out differently when using coupons (especially “two-fer” coupons that require you to buy two of the same item to get your discount). Using a coupon and buying two smaller-size items may yield you a better price per pound.

8. Save rain checks for a rainy day. If you go shopping on Saturday or Sunday, these sale items are probably already out of stock. Good — that’s exactly what you want. Ask for a rain check on the sold-out bargains, and you can cash in on those sales when it’s convenient for you.

9. Layer, layer, layer. Use a manufacturer’s coupon with items already on sale and you'll save double. Use them at grocers who double or triple their coupons, and you'll save even more.

10. Watch the register. Knowing this, keep a watchful eye on the cashier’s display as the cashier scans each product. Make sure that discounts for sales and coupons are applied. Make sure that the clerk keys in the proper produce codes for perishables without price tags, so that you’re not paying for exotic mushrooms when you’re buying green peppers. And make sure that the register is logging items with price tags correctly — when there’s a mistake, many stores give you the product for free when you point out their errors.

And after you have confirmed that your purchase was correctly tabulated, be sure to keep your receipt. This is a good practice for a few reasons: If the item is on sale but doesn’t ring up with the sales price, you can bring the receipt back to the store for a refund. (Some stores may refund you the difference if that grocery item is on sale at a competing store, too.) If you get home and find out that one of your items is damaged or has a broken seal, you can easily return it. Finally, many register tapes are printed with valuable local coupons on the reverse side. Read carefully and keep saving!

Excerpted from "Dollar Savvy: 317 Ingenious Money-Saving Tips." Copyright (c) 2009 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. To read more from Dollar Savvy, click here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cell Phones for Soldiers



Got a new cell phone, Iphone or Blackberry? If you have an old one, even a bit scratched up, there can be a new life for it. Cell Phones for Soldiers is a recycling program of sorts, that takes your used phone and turns it into prepaid phone cards for soldiers to call home with. Isn't that better than sending your phone to a recycling facility?
You can get a free shipping label, so the donation costs you nothing, by visiting Cell Phones for Soldiers Shipping Label. Give the gift of a phone call to a loved one. It will make you feel good all over.
If you're planning to purchase a new phone soon, save this information. Or better yet, make that purchase right now:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Puppies are Green Entertainment

















© all photos copyright Carrie Boyko

Oliver Enjoys Playing with his
Ball in a Tube Toy


Isn't it amazing how relaxing it can be to watch a child or a puppy playing peacefully with a toy? As I captured the photos above I was marveling at what a relaxing episode he was having. The pure enjoyment of mouthing the soft, chewy tube and trying to retrieve the ball from within it had captivated him for quite a while. Me too. I lost myself in his play until a sudden interruption brought us both back to reality. I guess we were both in FLOW, that concept of total engrossment in an activity that completely disallows any other thoughts from entering your mind. Have you read the book? Check it out:



It occurred to me then, what a green form of entertainment that had been. No gas, no cost, no electric, no water consumption, just the pure enjoyment of trying to solve a problem--how to get that ball out of the tube. Oliver has not yet solved that problem, even in ensuing playtimes with the same toy. His big brother, Tanner, has easily managed to outsmart his Ball in a Tube toy (much larger sized for a Golden Retriever) with his exceptional jaw strength. He was easily able to squeeze the ball out, much as we would with toothpaste. Oliver simply doesn't have the chopper strenth that Tanner has, but he certainly is determined. That's what makes this such a good toy. It is challenging fun, a problem to solve.

Mental challenges are good for dogs, especially on a rainy day when he can't go out to play. Dog games, obstacle challenges and even obedience training are all forms of mental challenges that will help to establish you as the leader, while giving your dog something to focus on and learn from. These types of challenges are fatiguing mentally, which will result in better naps, too. What's good for pup is good for the owner.

While my dog's mental challenges usually revolve around Agility training, obedience training and following household rules, sometimes a challenging toy like this one can also give my dog a mental workout. These are the best kinds of toys to choose for them--the ones that make them work toward a goal for satisfaction. Enjoy your pup's journey.




For all you pup lovers out there, check out my other blog, All Things Dog Blog, where I yammer on about everything you can imagine, as long as it has something to do with dogs. I guess I just needed another outlet for my blabbering about dogs. Today's topic is our "cousin" Jacque, Oliver's Papillon relative who was recently adopted by my mother.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Scoop on Green Pest Control



Do It Yourself


Green Pest Control


Is An Option


Moving toward a green lifestyle certainly has been a journey for me. Each and every aspect of my life seems to have its own unique concerns, and pest control has been one for a long time. After calling countless pest control companies advertising Eco-friendly pest control methods, I've finally hired a small, local company.


It has been at least 19 years since I have used any type of pest control inside my home. Doing so almost inevitably triggered a migraine headache. Even sprays outside could elicit this same response, so making this change should have been an earlier decision. I've just been slow to move on this one because I felt it was nearly impossible to KILL anything without poison. Thanks to my friends at Jolly Green Planet, I learned that there are many natural, even food grade products, which can repel or eliminate pests.


A few months back, I purchased an all-natural spray at a natural foods store to use on one spot that was having a sugar ant problem. It is along a window sill, so I suspect there are cracks for the little creatures to slip through, and there is a pet dish located there. They must have great noses, just like my dogs. The product did the trick, and I have only treated it once. That really surprised me.

This product, available at Whole Foods Market, is called Bugs 'R' Done. I found their link to be problematic, but I also found this product at Isabella Catalog. You can check it out at that link. While it is clearly not an organic product, it is much less toxic than anything else I have found. To be sure, as with anything non-organic, use with extreme care and as little as possible.

The good news for me is that the scent is not a headache trigger. That's a huge plus, as insecticides have always had that affect on me.

Back to the organic pest control. The representative of the company I am going to try was honest about the shortcomings of the organic products. He said their biggest downfall is a lesser residual. For this reason, he treats slightly more often when using these products. I requested the official labeling from all the products he plans to use, and he gladly e-mailed them to me.


Each of the products are approved for exemption from registration as an insecticide (etc) by the EPA. Some are Organic Program compliant, meaning they have no known danger to humans, wildlife or the environment. Two products did include a concern for usage in or near water, as fish can be affected. I did a double take on these two items and decided they would be used only on an as-needed basis, and only inside walls or in the attic. Outside use of these could allow trace amounts to seep into the water table. Additionally, since I live on a lake, it is my duty to protect the lake's inhabitants.


Primary ingredients include plant oils, corn, baking soda, boron (borax), and mineral oils. I'm feeling better already, knowing that my organic lawn care has taken care of the bugs in the grass, and now my occasional household visitors will be held at bay as well.


The plan is to dust inside the walls, since it hasn't been done for 13 years, add a perimeter barrier and retreat about every 6-8 weeks. If needed, we'll add a treatment to the attic. Currently, I rarely see bugs inside, with the exception of the sugar ants near the dog bowl. I told the new provider about that situation, and he basically said, "hey, if it works and it's safe, go for it!". When he told me he uses the organic materials in his own home, I finally knew I had my guy.


I'll keep you posted, or should I call it "bugged"?!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thrill-Seeking Green Fun


Alan and I are thrilled to have cousins Tom and Debbie, from Michigan, coming to visit soon. I'm sure they're looking forward to experiencing our milder Florida weather, so we're planning some outdoor activities to get some fresh air and green scenery. Green outdoor activities in Florida abound, and Alan brilliantly came up with a couple of ideas that are sure to be big hits.


The first idea, hot air ballooning, is a bit pricey, but perfect for this special occasion. Have you even been up? The experience of floating on air is like nothing else; there is no feeling of a floor or solid ground underneath as you lift up ever so lightly. You're close enough to the ground to know what you're seeing, yet far enough up to get a twinge of heart-pounding excitement. Not quite the kind you get when you sky dive; nevertheless it is a thrill.

Taking off at daylight, you watch the sun slowly slip into view, larger than life, and enjoy its boldness as you rise along with it and a dozen or more other balloons. The sight is truly breathtaking. The flight plan will take us over the Walt Disney resort area and surrounding rural Central Florida. Much of the scenery will include dozens of lakes, Central Florida's trademark.

My first experience was particularly surprising at landing time. I expected to hit the ground with a plop, and tumble over with the balloon basket, but was surprised to find our talented pilot could set us gently on the ground, just as soft as a marshmallow. An assistant reached out from the ground and helped us each out, as we were still in shock at the powder puff landing.

Helping to gather the balloon and repackage it was more fun that it would appear. The balloon was immense, yet packaged into a tidy roll which fit into the back of a pickup truck. In the air, hot air balloons are clearly quite large, but on the ground, they suddenly are three times the size you may have expected. I enjoyed seeing the process of preparation and pack up, as each was its own learning experience, with a new story to tell.

Our nearby State park areas offer canoeing through wilderness, and the peaceful serenity of this experience is quite similar, yet less passive that hot air ballooning. On this adventure we will be the conductors, paddling and steering our way through low, caressing branches and watching for water life along the way. An occasional gator, spring flowers, or perhaps an Egret will be our thrills on this green adventure.

Hang gliding has been considered, but perhaps cast aside. There appear to be questions as to its safety which I cannot confirm or deny. Any input from you out there would be most appreciated. Thoughts on hang gliding in our area or other ideas are welcome. Mikey?


My personal thrill would be to take my dogs on a hike through the woods at the State park, but alas, the dogs are not welcome there. How is it possible that Tanner could be denied an opportunity to run through a forest and along a river, exploring the scents along the way. Isn't that what Golden Retrievers are supposed to do? Although Tanner's only fetching experiences have been in our pool and at dog parks, he is quite the fetcher, and would enjoy the water immensely, chasing a fetch toy into the river and returning it countless times to be tossed again. I'll have to find other hiking areas for this eventual outing, or go to a dog park with a lake.


If you know of a place where dogs are welcome to "hike" and swim, I would be most happy to hear from you. Hit the COMMENT button just under this post. Thanks!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Orville's Family Kuchen Recipe--Organic Style

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko


Organic Blueberry Kuchen



This recipe was handed down from my grandmother, who must have gotten it from her second husband, who was of German descent. Too much information, right?! All that said because I am not German and cannot take credit for the recipe. It is delicious though.


Organic Fruit Kuchen


Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Sugar
  • 1 Scant Cup Organic Flour
  • 1 Organic Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Filtered Water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

Fruit and Topping Ingredients:


  • About 2 Cups Organic Fruit, well drained--Berries are great on Kuchen
  • 3/4 Cup Organic Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Flour
  • Dash Organic Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Cream or Organic Half and Half

Instructions:


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add flour and baking powder and mix in.
  4. Beat egg and add water.
  5. Add egg mixture to dough and mix well. Dough will be very stiff.
  6. Press the dough into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan, using your fingers.
  7. Distribute fruit evenly over the dough.
  8. Mix the other topping ingredients together lightly.
  9. Pour over the top of the fruit.
  10. Bake 45 minutes.
  11. Great served warm or room temperature.

This quick and easy family dessert is just as delightful for company. Once I made individual kuchens in shallow mini bowls and they were the hit of the party. Keep in mind that, if you decide to make minis like this, they will cook much faster. Adjust your time accordingly and keep a close eye on them.


Got an organic recipe you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you. I am particularly looking for Norwegian and Belgian recipes, as that is my primary heritage. I'd like to try some of their specialties that I haven't yet experienced. I'll look forward to hearing from you at CarrieLeaJohnson@gmail.com .

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Toxin Exposure

Last week I shared some of the easy-to-implement tips I've learned from reading Living Like Ed. Today, I am bringing you some of his more easy tips for limiting your toxic exposure or toxic load. These are all hand picked from the many in his book, with an eye on choosing the most simple ones to use.
  • When buying furniture, try to find items made with sustainable materials such as bamboo. Ikea, a major mainstream furniture manufacturer and retailer, carries many products made from sustainable products.
  • Using a reusable water bottle is no new idea. I posted on this way back in October at Dropping the Bottled Water Habit. Ed uses one made of corn, that is not only biodegradable, but washable and reusable. I'm not sure I understand how that works, but it is a really clever idea. It has its own filter, so you'll be drinking healthier water. Find this at New Wave Enviro.
  • This one is really new to me, and the science goes over my head (blonde moment!). Ed sells a battery-free flashlight on his website at Living Like Ed, that stores electricity in a capacitor for when it is needed. Apparently it has a much longer life expectancy than a solar flashlight or rechargeable batteries. Talk about a lightbulb moment!
  • You may have heard that avoiding Parabens is a good idea. This is because they mimic estrogen. Breast cancer tumors often are found to contain parabens, which is a good clue to why you ought to consider avoiding them. These preservatives are found in many mainstream personal care products, such as creams and lotions, so read those labels.
  • Choose a healthier dry cleaner that does not use perc, a known carcinogen, and air and water polluter. Check out my post at A Greener Shade of Dry Cleaning, for more information on this topic.

I've really enjoyed reading this book and encourage you to check it out. I especially got a tickle out of the banter between Ed and his more aesthetically-oriented wife, when they differed on how to handle green options. It is a clever format that keeps the book's topic light and fun.

Next week I'll return with a final installment from this book, a list of items that should never be sent to the landfill. Most will not be news, but you may learn a thing or two about a few others. I did. See you then.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green Weddings aren't Just for St. Patrick's Day

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Alan and Tanner
Play a Wet Game of Fetch


Cold or hot, Tanner loves to swim. I couldn't resist taking this photo of Alan, soaking wet, after trying to play a simple fetch game with Tanner. Alan hadn't expected to be drenched. I'll have to give him a few tips on "dry fetch" next time he takes Tanner up on water time.

While Tanner was having his fun with Alan, I was busily researching green weddings. Noooo! I'm not yet planning a wedding. I'm too young to have a married kid, right?!! I am curious though, and surprised to see how much there is on the web about this topic. Apparently it is all the rage.


So for future reference for those of us who may, at some point, need to plan a wedding, here are some resources to save:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Measuring Your Carbon Foot Print




After vowing to measure my own carbon footprint in my January 28th post, Social Networking Goes Green, it turned out to be an interesting expedition into green living. Not that I learned anything I didn't know I SHOULD be doing, but it gave me the opportunity to measure the effect of what I was already doing. That part of it was fascinating to me.

Since then, I have fairly consistently been making small changes and adding them to the measurement data. It updates itself and gives you a new footprint measurement and calculates the amount of reduction in your carbon footprint per year. My reduction since that post is an astounding 1 ton of carbon per year. It became almost addicting for a while, as I would do something and run back to the computer to see what the net effect was. Changing a light bulb to a CFL (you can enter the number changed) became a game of how much can I decrease my footprint. I may be sounding a bit like Ed Begley, Jr., but I'll take that as a compliment, if so.


There are lots of places to measure your carbon footprint on the web. It only takes a few minutes and is quite educational. I would particularly advise you to do this with your kids who are old enough to watch the change in the numbers. If you choose a calculator that will save your carbon footprint and allow you to make improvements in your green lifestyle, you can watch it recalculate. Re-entering a better number means the carbon foot print goes down--sort of like dieting and watching the scale register lower each time you get on it. It's exciting!


Here are a few places you can measure your own carbon footprint. Each has a few different twists to what they can do. It really doesn't matter, as long as you continue to measure against the same measuring device--like comparing apples to apples.


It really is interesting. If I had young kids or grandkids, I would do it with them. Or you could do it for the Earth. Just do it.



Have you read Al Gore's Book, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH?:





By the way, Happy St. Patrick's Day. I hope the luck o' the Irish will follow you everywhere. If you need any traditional recipes, check out my last 2 posts for Traditional Corned Beef and Vegetables and Organic Irish Apple Cake.


Check in on Thursday for a few more of Ed Begley, Jr.'s simplest green living tips. And don't miss my Food Friday recipe. I'll be serving up Organic Blueberry Kuchen, a German dessert.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Organic Irish Apple Cake: Organic Journey Online Style

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Irish Apple Cake
Hot Out of the Oven

This apple cake is like nothing I've ever tried before. With very little batter and mucho apples, it is high in fiber and vitamin C, while low in carbohydrates from flour. While apples are the basis of many traditional and contemporary Irish desserts, I modified this recipe using several I found. I added a double dose of apples and it is wonderful.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons organic butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 1 organic egg, beaten
  • 4 medium organic Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and diced (4 cups) I use a countertop peeler/corer/slicer for this task to finish 4 apples in less than a minute!
  • 1/4 cup chopped organic or all natural walnuts, optional (I omitted these)
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup organic all-purpose flour
  • Organic whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (for serving)
Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Generously grease an 8-inch square cake pan.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, apples, nuts, and vanilla and stir well.
  5. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cook in the pan for 5 minutes.
  9. Unmold and serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Irish Apple Cake Upside Down



Serves 10-12

Source of Recipe: Food historian and cookbook author Theodora FitzGibbon, with amounts and ideas from other recipes.

Tomorrow I'll be revisiting Make Me Sustainable for an update on how I'm doing. I've been making step by step changes in my lifestyle and other factors, and will reassess my carbon footprint. Come along for a trip into the world of evaluating your carbon footprint. We'll see if I have been able to improve mine.

Friday, March 13, 2009

St. Patrick's Day All Natural Braised Corned Beef Dinner

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
No Leftovers! This Corned Beef Dinner
Was All Gone When Dinner Was Over


St. Patrick's Day may bring out the green beer in some places, but for my family I'll be cooking up a traditional Irish corned beef brisket, complete with the boiled vegetables. I have to admit that it has been years since I have made this. I'm excited to have it again, and equally pleased that my daughter and her college roommate will be home for Spring break to enjoy it with us.


I had to do quite a bit of digging to find the recipe I last used for this meal. It was buried in a book I haven't used for quite some time. I'm glad I had an excuse to dust it off; it looks like there are some other goodies in there I should try again. Meanwhile, break out your slow cooker or Crock Pot. This is definitely the easiest way to make it.


Ingredients:

  • 3 to 3 1/2 lb. All Natural Corned Beef Brisket, trimmed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 cloves Organic Garlic, minced
  • 2 Organic Bay Leaves
  • 1 medium head, Organic Cabbage, cut in wedges
  • 2 large Organic Potatoes, cut in lengths
  • 4 medium Organic Carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium Organic Yellow Onion, cut in wedges

Instructions:

  1. Wash brisket and place on the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Place bay leaves and garlic on top of meat.
  3. Layer potatoes over the meat first; then add carrots and onions in that order.
  4. I like to add the cabbage about 2 hours before mealtime to keep it a bit crisper, but you can put it in now if you like it well-cooked.
  5. Pour water over ingredients slowly.
  6. Cook on high for 3-4 hours and then turn to low for the remainder--totalling 8-12 hours. If you have less time, cook it on high for 8 hours. That's what I did and it was very tender and delicious.

I cannot give credit for this recipe to anyone, as it is a combination of 3 different versions, using crock pot cooker timing. I guess that makes it mine. Watch out Martha!




On Monday, March 16, I'll be experimenting with another combo recipe for Irish Apple Cake. This cake is my own version of one of many Irish apple cake recipes. It comes heavy on apples and light on flour, and soooo good. Come join me for this traditional recipe and raise your green beer in a toast to...Good Luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tips from Living Like Ed

© photo copyright Toni Boyko
Carrie and Tanner Play Tug
with a Recycled Tug Toy


Recently I posted Keeping Up With the Begleys--A Book Review, after reading the actor/activist's book. In today's post, I'm sharing a few of his easiest to implement tips for saving money and resources:

  • It turns out that, when loading your dishwasher, hand-rinsing them uses more water than running the dishwasher's rinse cycle. That was a surprise to me, but good to know.
  • Every year our curbside recycling programs change. This year, mine added some new items that can be included for recycling. Be sure to keep up to date on what you can place in your bin for recycling.
  • Make use of Terracyle and Freecycle to find new homes for items that cannot be recycled in your curbside program.
  • Buy as many products as available in glass, particularly larger volume items like juice and milk, when available. Glass is one of the easiest materials to recycle, therefore a better choice.
  • Choosing plastics can make a difference. Number 3 and Number 5 plastics are the least environmentally friendly, and therefore the least desirable. When possible, choose products that are packaged in other recyclable materials.
  • High quality paper, such as printer paper, can be made into recycled printer paper, when recycled with the right facility.
  • Don't place dirty paper in recycling bins.
  • Although magazines can be recycled, it is better to donate them, after you've read them. Consider hospitals, retirement homes, any place with a greater need for reading material.
  • Leftover paint can be donated for use in a paint exchange program. Imagine giving up your 1/2 can of yellow paint in exchange for 1/2 can of pink for that bathroom you've been wanting to repaint. Cool idea, huh?
  • When recycling electronics like computers, be careful to use reputable facilities that will destroy any contents that might provide information for identity theft. Even though you may think you have deleted all the contents of your hard drive, much of that information can still be harvested by a knowledgeable hacker.
  • Creatively reusing old items is the best plan of all. Recently, with an idea from a friend, I made some old clothing in doggie tug toys. I was so pleased to have a new use for stained and torn clothing, and so were my dogs. Check out this idea at Recycled Doggie Tug Toys, my post on how to quickly and easily make your own.
  • Choosing products with less packaging means less to recycle and send to the landfill later.




Next week I'll return to offer a few additional tips, this time on the topic of reducing your exposure to toxins. Some call this your toxic load. Sounds scary, but it's easy to make a difference. Join me next Thursday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Joan Enjoys Oliver and Her Organic Orchids

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko


Joan and Oliver Admire her Organic Orchids

My mother has been adding coffee grounds and eggshells to her orchids, and this gorgeous bunch of blooms is obviously crying out, "We don't need chemical fertilizers." Oliver seems to enjoy them also, and loves spending time with my mom. She is becoming quite the dog person, since she adopted Jacque. He's inside taking a nap. Oliver wore him out wrestling in a game i call the Tumbleweed, because that is what they look like--a little ball rolling about in the wind. The two playful boys sure do enjoy each other's company. Oliver loves visiting mom when I am working in her area for the day.



© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Sleep Tight Jacque

For tips on growing your own organic orchids, inside and out, check out these sites:






Happy gardening. Isn't Spring wonderful?!
Before I sign off, I'd like to mention that today's post at my All Things Dog Blog is about bringing peace between your dog and cat. If you've got both living in your house, I hope you'll stop in for a tip or two.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Save Money with These Organic Coupons

Saving Money with My Organic Coupons



I went on the hunt for organic coupons again, this time looking for new sources to change up the assortment. I used a different set of parameters in my searches and different search engines and found quite different sites popping up. I hope you'll find some treasures in here. What I do for you guys!!! Just kidding, of course. I love it. Have a fun shopping spree. Don't forget your reusable shopping bags.






















I'd love to hear some feedback on this batch of coupons. Although I watch my analytics program and can see that coupon posts are always very popular, I would love to hear from you personally about your thoughts on this month's edition. Click that COMMENT link just below and tell me what you think. Thanks!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lighting a Fire Under My Compost



When I initially started my first compost pile, I vowed not to turn into a composting maniac. I may have gone a bit too far with the vow. Other than filling the pile, I have completely ignored the poor thing. Despite that, when I peek in it seems that Mother Nature is doing her thing. I could give it a little help and have some nice, rich organic compost in time for a Spring green-up treatment for my potted plants. The one thing I have done to assure organic compost is to only put in organic food scraps. So whenever I finally get some real compost, it is going to be super duper healthy stuff. Hmmm.....maybe I could sell bags of it!


So, how can I tell that Mother Nature is working? The appearance is becoming more like a textured soil-like material, and it smells fresh and earthy. I guess it's about time I paid some attention, so here is my plan:

  • Buy a small pitchfork and begin turning the pile a few times a week. I could say I was going to turn it daily, but I don't honestly believe that will happen. At heart, I am still the lazy composter.
  • Turning the compost will allow me to asses its moisture and temperature. Warm, moist compost will decompose faster. If needed I can add a bit of water to assist Mother Nature.
  • The pile is ideally located where it receives several hours of morning sun, so the temperature should generally be good in that location during the summer. The concern I have is that we have had a particularly cold Winter this year, so that may have slowed things down a bit. One night we had an unheard of 23 degrees, which hovered for 5-6 hours. My compost was probably frozen that night, so doubtful if it has reached an optimum temperature since then.
  • One other thing I could test for, after a good stirring, is the Ph. Or is it pH? Yeah, I think it is pH. Anyway, I have some of the pH testing papers, so that could be an interesting science experiment. I'll look up the pH goal for compost piles and we'll see where mine stands.
  • After assessing the condition of my compost, I may decide to purchase a package of stimulator for it. Supposedly, this is all natural stuff that aids Mother Nature by luring in the microorganisms that do its work. There may be some natural enzymes in there too; I'll have to look into that. There are all kinds of these products on the Internet, so I'll be calling my composting mentor, Vicki at Jolly Green Planet, for some advice.

Meanwhile, I'm going to check out the compost activator products available at Planet Natural and the ones shown below. Has anyone out there got a favorite? I'd love to hear from you.



Friday, March 6, 2009

All Natural Chorizo and Potatoes: A Man's Meal

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
All Natural Chorizo and Potatoes

Why is it that men are so attached to meat and potatoes? I haven't answered that question, but this recipe will most certainly satisfy the men in your family. It is actually a modified creation of a meal my son, Brent, experienced while interning in London last summer. Thanks Eugene!
The rich, garlic flavor, tangy onions and spicy Chorizo combine with the potatoes and seasonings for a very flavorful, and budget-cutting dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of All-Natural Chorizo (I found it at Whole Foods Market)
  • 4-6 medium Organic Potatoes
  • 1 1/2-2 medium Organic Yellow Onions
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Garlic Infused Oil (see my instructions below for preparing this yourself)
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Organic Garlic
  • 1-1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 Teaspoon Organic Black Pepper

Instructions:

  1. To create your own garlic infused oil, start by mincing at least a couple of heads of garlic and place them in a small glass container. Pour enough Organic Olive Oil over the minced garlic to cover it completely. Cover tightly and refrigerate to marinate the oil. I use this for so many recipes, that I keep the container filled at all times.
  2. Slice each Chorizo sausage longways and then slice into 1/4 inch pieces.
  3. Chop onion.
  4. At this point, place the oil and garlic in a large sauce pan and turn on medium heat.
  5. Peel and cut potatoes into small bites.
  6. Place remaining ingredients in the pan. Season and stir. Do not cover.
  7. After about 10 minutes, stir and turn the mixture.
  8. Check again every 5-10 minutes until potatoes are tender and have become crispy brown on the edges.
  9. Serves 5-7

This dinner is packed with flavor, so pair it with a green or fruit salad to balance the flavors. Enjoy!


Monday I will be passing along some tips on speeding up your compost pile. Mine is crawling along like a turtle, so I finally decided to take some action--minimal, but nevertheless, action.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Greener Shade of Dry Cleaning

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

A Greener Cleaner

This was an experiment made in heaven. Let me explain. When we moved from Charlotte, NC back to Central Florida, my challenge was to find a dry cleaner that suited (no pun intended) my husband. That's not always an easy thing to do. To be honest, it is almost always very difficult. He's fussy. Not just fussy; he's downright adamant that his dry cleaning must be perfect.



So you can imagine how many dry cleaners we went through before I found one he liked. Maybe you can't, but I'll give you a hint; it was more than 20. We've stuck with the winner for quite a few years now, and when my itch to find a greener cleaner came scratching, I knew I was in for a big challenge. I honestly did not expect to be changing cleaners. But here we go.



After doing the required research I learned that there is apparently no such thing as ORGANIC dry cleaning, and that such a thing would actually be an oxy-moron. The silicone dry cleaning solution used in the GreenEarth Cleaning products, which are used by Martinizing Dry Cleaning Stores, are described as chemically inert, because they do not interact with the clothing. The reports indicate that their dry cleaning products leave no residues and are therefore, more gentle to clothing and buttons or other trims.



According to their documentation, about 85 percent of dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (or perc, for short), which is classified by the EPA as a Toxic Air Contaminant and a probable human carcinogen (cancer causing chemical). No surprise if you've ever take a whiff inside a bag of fresh dry cleaning. Perc can seriously contaminate soil and groundwater, as well as cause irritation to eyes, nose and throat, along with headaches, dizziness and fatigue.



Green Earth's silicone cleaner, a liquefied sand, is so safe that it is not regulated by the EPA. When it is released into the environment, it degrades into its three original components: sand, water and carbon dioxide.

There are 2 other recognized green dry cleaning methods--wet cleaning (another oxy-moron: "wet dry cleaning") and CO2, a liquid carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, CO2 machines are extremely expensive, making them unaffordable for the average family owned dry cleaner. Wet cleaning methods require extra labor that also is costly, leaving these two methods to represent less than one third of all dry cleaning.

In addition to checking out the chemical side of things, I wanted a dry cleaner who would recycle or reuse their hangers. After all, I had been collecting them since I pledged to go the green route--about 8 months or so. Do the math. Five shirts a week and a few jackets and suits each month need to go to the cleaners. I suppose that's about 25-30 hangers a month. It was quite a load to drop off, and they were happy to get them.




I arrived armed with a huge load of hangers and a bag of clothes to be cleaned. Angela cheerfully put my information in the computer (that was a surprise) and told me I would be emailed when my cleaning was ready. Cool! No more trips to the cleaners for naught.


Then the big day came. With my laundry quickly retrieved, I scanned it skeptically, knowing I would find something my husband wouldn't like. But I didn't. The ironing job was as perfect as can be. No broken buttons or missed stains. Before I could awaken from this dream, I grabbed the laundry and scurried out saying, "I'll be back next week. Thanks again."




Tomorrow's Food Friday post is a recipe for All Natural Chorizo and potatoes. This recipe is a man's meal, for sure. Come and enjoy a hearty meal that is also a money-saver.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Recycled Doggie Tug Toys



© photo copyright Toni Boyko


Tanner and I Play Tug with a Recycled Tug Toy


Thanks to Carmen and Buddy Lee for this great idea. I hate throwing things away now. I'm getting so anal about my trash volume that I look really hard for ways to reuse things. I donate our unused clothing when it is in good enough shape to be used by someone else. But what about torn or stained clothing?


That's where Carmen's idea comes in. One night at agility class she was using a particularly cute tug toy with her little Corgi mix, Buddy Lee. When I inquired about it, she shared her secret. The tug toy was actually remade from a pajama top that was no longer being used.


With a little instruction, I went home to give this idea a try. It turned out to be so easy, that I just have to share it with you. Carmen's concept is simple. Use the strongest part of the clothing as a handle. Necklines with collars and waistbands are good.

Lay the item out flat on a table and cut two slits up the length of the item, creating 3 sections. Braid the 3 sections tightly and when you near the last 8 inches or so, tie the 2 longest pieces around the third and knot it tightly.


Trim off all the ends to create even lengths. Viola'! Your pup now has a new toy--free!

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Assorted Recycled Doggie Tug Toys Made by Me

A few additional tips to make your experience less of an experiment than mine was:
  • For ease of braiding, hook the "handle" over a chair knob, as shown above, or a door handle.
  • I found that rolling the cut edges of the strips into the center of each strip make for a neater looking finished product.
  • Neatly trim out buttons, brads, zippers, and labels, along with any other metal or plastic items attached to the clothing.
  • Double knot the bottom for extra tough tuggers, like my Golden Retriever, Tanner.
  • Since all clothing has front and back sections, I cut double strips, so I actually start out with 6 strips, and combine them in twos.
  • For short sleeved shirts, simply invert the sleeve into the strips. You'll hardly know they're there.
  • Long sleeves make great strips of their own, leaving the shirt body to be a third strip. I found it wasn't a problem to have different thicknesses in the sections.
  • Denim is good and strong for extra large dogs.
  • Cotton knit polos have a little more give for the mouths of medium sized dogs.
  • Thinner fabrics make smaller braids for small dogs to get a good grip.

I hope you enjoy making some tug toys for your furry friends. I'd love to hear from you if you have any other great ideas for making recycled dog toys. Happy tugging!

Today at my All Things Dog Blog I am presenting some help on making mealtime a bit more mannerly for your pack. Even if you only have one dog, feeding time can be a bit of an excited time. Tanner, Oliver and Xena are there giving a rare peek into chow time at our house. Stop and see how easy it can be to bring a calm dinner to the....ummm......floor.

Tomorrow's post here at Organic Journey Online will be about greener dry cleaning. I hope you will come and share in my pleasure of finding a less-toxic dry cleaner, and also a place to reuse or recycle all those dry cleaning hangers I have collected.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pesticide's Destructive Path

Once again I am on a rampage against pesticides. My son, Brent, is working on a sustainable farm in Costa Rica for the semester. There he met another student, Lauren, who recently helped to film a documentary, with a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant, to help expose the plight of the banana workers in Nicaragua. The story is all at once appalling, enlightening, absorbing, saddening and left me feeling helpless, yet more inspired than ever to avoid pesticides.

I met with the organic pest control representative today and signed up. More on that later. Check out this 2-part documentary video. Grab a box of tissues first. Comments?





Thanks to Lauren for bringing this to my attention through Brent. I am very proud of you Lauren!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hold Fast Your Dreams

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Thank You for
Sharing Your Speech in My Book


A few years ago I published a collection of commencement addresses, given by well-known Americans, HOLD FAST YOUR DREAMS. From time to time, I reread some of their advice. Often this trip down memory lane brings me to consider the enjoyment I experienced in working on this compilation of wonderful speeches. Today’s review of the book found me looking for comments and wisdom that might address my current passion, that of living more green and eating healthier.

While most of what I found can only be loosely linked to my new passion, I found much good advice on tackling my new endeavor. I hope you will patronize me while I offer a few examples of the wisdom I found in these words.

Gloria Steinem, the ultimate, influential feminist, suggested that “whatever you want to do, just do it. Do not worry about making a fool of yourself.” I contemplated this and decided that I did just do it, and I most certainly am making a fool of myself—sometimes--or at least, according to my kids.

Carl Sagan’s advice was similar, in that he insisted that “the urgency you feel to make change is just the extent that change will be made. Do not sit this one out. Do not play it safe”. I am sure that, as one of the word’s most well-known Astronomers, he took his own advice.

After reminding her audience that there are no free lunches, Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, advised them to “Listen for the sound of the genuine within [themselves].” How poignant is that?!

Cartoonist, Cathy Guisewite, had several thoughts which particularly struck home with me. Let’s see what you think:

· “Give up the quest for perfection and just shoot for 5 good minutes in a row.”

· “If you want something to change, do something different.”

· “Allow yourself to regraduate every 4 years”, in other words, reevaluate and remake your life to suit the changes that need to be made.

You will probably not be surprised to hear that Ralph Nader’s suggestions involved a term he coined as citizen work, which is essentially social action and volunteering. I felt proud to have joined the Care2 network, and to have started a campaign for dog owners to Adopt a Dog Park.

Grammy award winning musician, Billy Joel, ended his remarks by profoundly stating, “Welcome to the fire. Now it’s your turn to hold the hose.”

Finally, I will leave you with the entire speech given by one of the most famous children’s authors of all time, Dr. Seuss:

My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers

My uncle ordered popovers
From the restaurant’s bill of fare,
And, when they were served,
he regarded them with a penetrating stare…
Then he spoke great Words of Widsom
As he sat there on that chair:
“To eat these things,” said myuncle,
“You must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what’s solid…
BUT…you must spit out the air!”

AND…as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
that’s darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.



Final notes: Ironically, today is Dr. Seuss's birthday. How fitting it is that I chose his speech to highlight. I hope you enjoyed it, and it makes you think a bit. By the way, HOLD FAST YOUR DREAMS was nominated for the American Library Association's Best Book for Young Adults award.

*****************************************************

Tomorrow is a very special post here at Organic Journey Online. Please join me for a video presentation on the devastating effects of a banned pesticide on banana workers in Nicaragua. I am airing this documentary to spread awareness. Grab your tissues and stop in.

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