Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hankering for a Healthier Hamburger


Before my son left for his dream internship in New Zealand, we had the pleasure of a week's visit from he and his girlfriend. My biggest challenge in having him home is always feeding him. With an unending appetite, my 6' 3" tall environmental scientist can eat like nobody's business.
Well, you know what they say, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Brent has been learning to cook, and is looking forward to living in an apartment during his last year of college, so that he can cook his own food--finally. No more cafeteria food.


The following recipe is one I snagged, while watching him prepare hamburgers, that turned out to be mouthwateringly delicious. I have to admit, though, that whenever I make soups, stews, or ground beef recipes, I always add in some unseen ingredients that supplement the nutritional value of the meal. Hamburgers are no different than meatloaf or chicken soup. The result is a much more healthy hamburger, making it a bit more pleasing to those of us who avoid too much beef in our diets.


A Healthier Hamburger
  • 1 lb. Organic Ground Chuck, lowest fat content available
  • 6 large cloves of Organic Garlic, minced or crushed
  • 3 Tablespoons of Fiber powder (such as Benefiber)
  • 1 Tablespoon Organic Barbeque Sauce
  • 1 Organic Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Organic Ground Pepper
  • Sliced Organic Provolone Cheese (much better than American!)
  • Hamburger buns, Organic if available (we like Kaisers)
  • Organic toppings and condiments as desired: ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles, onions, tomatoes and lettuce

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly and create 4-5 patties. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to blend. Grill as usual, adding cheese at the end. Serve on toasted buns.

Like them? Serve these babies on July 4th and you'll be everyone's favorite cookout host. Don't forget to make time for yourself to enjoy your guests. Ask everyone to bring a side dish and you'll be set. Just add beverages and lots of ice.

Need some drink recipes? I recently posted Southern Sweet Tea and Organic Lemonade. These are the perfect accompaniments to Organic Caledonian Golden Promise Beer. Remember...You gotta keep the guys happy too. Enjoy!

If you're looking for some more creative cookout specialties, check this out:


Woofing Wednesday's Preview

While tomorrow's post is hardly green or organic, it certainly does address the health benefits of owning a pet. In full illustration, I'll show and tell you some of the reasons that pets can enrich your life and enhance your health. I hope you'll join me for "Cuddly Puppies" tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm Celebrating National Iced Tea Month in June

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009
Southern Sweet Tea in the Making



Having lived 11 years in Charlotte, North Carolina, I became a fan of Southern sweet iced tea. There's just no going back to instant tea after you've enjoyed the real thing. Fortunately, I got a native friend from the "old South" to teach me the tricks to getting that deep South flavor in your sweet tea.


If you're not a sweet tea drinker, I totally understand and you can move along. This post is devoted to the art of making Southern sweet tea the way folks in the Carolinas enjoy it--fresh brewed, bold tasting and sweetened at just the right time in the steeping process. Oh, and don't forget to add the lemon. Sounds nit picky, but the lemon is like icing on the cake. Here goes:


Mom's Sweet Tea (that's what my kids call it when they come home to visit)

(makes 1 pitcher=1/2 gallon=2 quarts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart filtered water, boiling
  • 2 family sized Luzianne Iced Tea bags
  • 2/3 Cup Organic Sugar
  • 1 quart filtered water, room temperature
  • Organic Lemon slices or wedges
  • Ice cubes, made with filtered water
Instructions:

  1. Pour 1 quart boiling water over 2 tea bags in a heat-resistant glass container. Time out here for a quality control tip: (A) I know this is an organic blog, but most of the organic teas I have tried just did not make the quintessential Southern Sweet Tea. The closest I have found was an English Breakfast blend, so try that if you're a purist. (B) No plastic containers--heating plastic releases toxins into your tea. Bad!
  2. Allow tea to steep about 10-15 minutes. A couple of minutes after adding the water to the tea bags, add sugar and stir carefully, so as not to bust the tea bags. Adding the sugar while the water is still hot immeasurably changes the flavor. This is the KEY to the special taste of Southern Sweet tea.
  3. When fully steeped, remove 1 tea bag, squeeze its liquid back into the container, and pour tea into your pitcher (1/2 gallon size).
  4. Place the remaining tea bag in the pitcher until it is cool; then remove it and go to step 5.
  5. Tip: Don't forget that those tea bags can go into your compost.
  6. Add 1 full quart of room temperature filtered water to the steeped tea and stir to mix.
  7. Quality control tip: Don't skimp with tap water and don't use chilled water. Trust me; it will taste different.
  8. More quality control tips: (A) When serving tea that is still warm, use an overfilled glass of ice, as much of it will melt when you pour the tea over it. (B) Make the tea just a bit stronger to compensate for the melted ice, which will water your tea down a bit. Do this by steeping an extra 5 minutes.
  9. Add your lemon to the top of the ice before you fill the glass. Serve with a smile--your Southern hospitality has arrived.
© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009
Southern Sweet Tea--Perfect!



Ahh! There's nothing better on a hot Summer day. Even so, you can try my husband's second favorite drink, made with the tea recipe above. An Arnold Palmer is Orlando's specialty. It seems that they serve it nearly everywhere around this area--especially the golf course restaurants. I wonder why?

An Arnold Palmer is 1/2 Iced Tea and 1/2 Lemonade. Here's how I make my homemade organic lemonade. If you stop by most any day, I'll have a pitcher in the fridge. It's a staple at our house.

Arnold Palmer
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 Cup Organic Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed does taste better, but bottled organic lemon juice works too; just don't resort to reconstituted--yuck!)
  • 2/3 Cup Organic Sugar
  • 2 Quarts Filtered Water
Mix ingredients together until well mixed and serve over ice. Add a lemon slice for a little extra ambiance, when serving guests. Enjoy!
One additional note: If you're looking for good sweet tea in Florida, good luck. There are few places to find Southern sweet tea that tastes like the Carolinas. Your best bet is Sonny's Real Pit Barbeque. Be sure to tell them I sent you.
Tuesday's Commercial Preview
With Independence Day just around the corner, cookouts and cold beverages are on every cook's mind. Today's post was a start. I hope you'll take time to visit on Tuesday when I share a recipe for a wonderful organic hamburger that will melt in your mouth with magnificent flavor. You simply cannot miss this one: "Hankering for a Healthy Hamburger."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: One Family's Year of Eating Locally Produced Food


For me, the enjoyment of this delightful narrative, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about a family who commits to eating only locally produced foods, was in the details. While I have written two other reviews of the book for other blogs, the review you will find here is another animal entirely—no pun intended.

I loved reading the turkey sex stories (seriously!) and learning about how agribusiness has taken over the seed industry and the problems they have caused. I enjoyed learning more about CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations, where animals are raised without grazing or seeing sunlight), and their appalling use of antibiotics to kill the inherent bacteria created within these facilities.

Through Kingsolver’s story of zealous zucchini and not enough fruit, I came to appreciate why food costs so much at market. Learning that there is a label for my abstinence from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was absolutely exciting. I can now proudly say I am fructose celibate. Sounds kinky, huh?!! Kingsolver’s writing style enthralled me. And listening to her read her own book on CD made it even better. Her voice brought a calm, soft-spoken strength to the issues; she reminded me of a female Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. I really think these two should meet. Despite their entirely different fields, they both endeavor to bring a difficult message to the masses—one that involves a belief system.




While I have long known that small farmers struggle, Kingsolver’s stories drove this reality home, with her descriptions of poultry harvesting day and mountains of zucchini to find a home for. The challenges vary with each day and each task, and these farmers clearly do not do it for the money.

In as much as I write about the dangers of pesticide use, I had never thought about the collateral animal death from agricultural pesticides. Birds, rodents and rabbits are all at risk in farming areas, with pesticides in the air, land, water, and on the plants and vegetables that they often steal in the night. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle added a whole new level to my commitment to organic foods.

A wonderfully inspiring book, Kingsolver and her family craft an educational, yet charming snapshot of their year as a Virginia farm family. While she professes not to be a purist, she eloquently presents a viable lifestyle for those who might wish to take a crack at producing and/or living off their locally available foods. A must-read for anyone interested in food production, health or limiting their oil usage, her charming family narrative will open your mind to the possibility of not living a life dependent on processed foods from the global marketplace.


Web Resources at the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website

Can't wait to read it? You can order from my site. In just a couple of minutes it will be on its way to you. Go ahead. You'll love it!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Woofing Wednesday Has Gone to the Dogs!

Nah! The dogs are just stepping aside for a minute while I wish my husband of 31 years a Happy Anniversary. At a recent teen event, we took a turn in the photo booth, just like the rest of the teen couples, and these two pix caught my eye. What a hoot to be young again for just a few seconds!


Caught in a kiss

Young Love is Still Here


And We Can Still Laugh at Ourselves!



Two years after we began our organic journey, he hasn't tossed me out yet. My cancer rechecks continue to be positive, and my attitude and energy level are good. No wonder; I have a terrific husband.


The dogs are glad we've gone green, too. Here they are, all dressed in their green bandanas, wishing all of you a continued green life. You can read more about their greener life at All Things Dog Blog. Our goal may not be to live off the grid, but we are succeeding in living a lighter shade of green. It's a start.


Xena, Tanner and Oliver

Enjoying their Organic Journey

Speaking of going to the dogs, I have to share Xena's good news too. More than a year ago she had a diagnosis of liver cancer, and was given a couple of months to live. Without giving up hope, I put her on organic dog food and treats and have been feeding her organic carrots for snacks. According to my reading, carrots have a cleansing effect on the liver, which seemed to me to be a positive thing. She's still as energetic and playful as ever, more than a year after her bad news. No symptoms or problems. I'm simply enjoying her happy days.


So, when Real Age, a website that evaluates your body's actual age in terms of wear and tear, started their Dog Age evaluation...well, I just had to put Xena's stats in and see how she turned up. She is 12-1/2 years old, which puts her at nearly 90 in human years. Her Dog Age score? 48.1! No wonder she still enjoys her wrestling matches with Tanner.


I encourage you to check out Real Age for yourself, and try the Dog Age test for your Fido or Fifi. It's great input, as they give you an analysis that explains what factors go into your positive and negative scoring areas. It's quite useful information, and well worth the time. Try it. Just click the links and you'll be on your way.





Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Can You Spare Two Minutes to Help Save the Polar Bears?


Can you imagine a world without Polar Bears? They would disappear not only from the wild, but also from toy stores, storybooks, Sea World gift shops, zoos, and much more, while causing disruption to the Arctic food chain, among other disasters. Their majestic beauty would sorely be missed.



Biogems and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are trying to make a difference. Global warming is shrinking our polar ice cap, limiting the environment for polar bears, who need much territory to survive. You can help. Do your part by signing this Petition for Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar. If enough of us sign it, we will send a powerful message to President Obama that the Polar Bears matter. Once again, imagine a world without a Polar Bear. Let your conscience do the rest.

Want to learn more? Check out this video:



Friday, June 19, 2009

Save Money with Recycled Aluminum Foil




recycling,recycled products


© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009




Recycled Aluminum Foil Rocks!



Way to go Reynolds! They finally got it right. They've introduced a recycled version of aluminum foil. When I first heard about this, my initial thought was that it would likely be more expensive. I was concerned that this would diminish sales.

But, surprise! This new product is actually considerably less expensive than the original version. I paid $1.40 less per box for the Recycled Aluminum foil pictured above, than the price of the original foil at the same store on the same day. That's great news for those of us who would like to do our part to use more recycled products.



I was also delighted to find it at my local traditional supermarket, making it more likely that the cost would be less than if I purchase it at an organic market, where prices tend to run a bit higher. I suppose this is mostly due to the larger volumes that supermarket chains are able to purchase. Their bigger purchasing power gives them more leverage for discounts and cheaper shipping costs per item.

Whatever the reason, it's all good news for consumers. Let me know what you think of this new product if you try it. As always, I encourage comments at the end of each post, where you can have your say on most anything I talk about. Feel free to chime in. Just click the COMMENTS link next to the little envelope icon below this post.

Lookie here! See what I found at Amazon? I guess we do have options. Multipacks are available also, at a savings per box, so if you're not into supporting the big companies, this could be your ticket.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Teflon Alternatives



It seems that with each passing year we learn more about the health dangers of our cookware. Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer's and now Teflon has a host of concerns. You can read about this at my recent post, Teflon Terror!





In order to provide you with some alternatives, I'm bringing you a few tidbits of possibilities. I wish there were more. As much as I have read and heard nothing problematic about stainless steel, we all hate cooking with it. Nonstick is so much easier to cleanup that we have now been spoiled, destined to wander the Earth in search of an alternative to Teflon. Pristine Planet has some nice Eco-friendly options. Check it out. Also, I have heard and am checking on a new line from Cuisinart. I'll get back to you on that.

I've been cooking with a cast iron skillet for many years. Once seasoned, or broken in properly (just some oil rubdowns and a few uses) the cleanup of a cast iron skillet is not nearly as disgusting as it appears. Actually, a quick soak in hot, soapy water will do the trick for everything I cook.



The other benefit is that most cast iron cookware can also go in your oven. This gives you much more flexibility, and requires less storage space.

Granted, cast iron is heavy and not as glamorous looking as the beautiful Calphalon cookware we find in kitchen superstores. However, in my humble opinion, Calphalon could stand to go on a diet, if it doesn't want to be compared to cast iron. Have you ever lifted their large saucepan? Bring a hand truck if you decide to buy a set of this stuff.



Consider this. Cast iron cookware has been found to leave small residues of iron in our foods, small enough to be considered a mineral enrichment. Reports I've read over the years gave glowing kudos to these old fashioned pans that we love to hate and hate to love. Yet, we often fail to consider the nutritional and health consequences as quickly as we dismiss these darlings for their less desirable appearance. Why has some company not yet made cast iron with a beautiful red exterior of ceramic? Maybe I have a business idea here. Would you buy them if they were pretty?






Bad news. Or good news, depending on your vantage point. I'm too late. There are already red ceramic-coated, cast iron skillets on the market. A note to my family: these babies are on my wish list...hint, hint, wink wink! Check it out:





Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Leading Your Pack of Mixed Size Dogs





© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009

Oliver Collects His Toys



Yesterday was one of those days that can only be described as a breath of fresh air. As I worked, Oliver and Tanner were playfully enjoying their day. First Oliver collected a few toys on the dog bed. You'd think he might want to protect them, but instead he was sharing like a nice little boy.



© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009

Oliver Offers a Play Bow--

Inviting Playtime


Holding his brown bear, he offered a play boy to Tanner--a sort of doggie invitation to play. Tanner reciprocated with his own play bow, after accepting Oliver's offer of the bear:

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Tanner's Accepts the Bear
with His Own Play Bow



This kind of innocent play is always my cue to push back from the computer and take a breather. I break out the camera to try to capture the images. My boys are playing like two little children, despite their 50 pound difference in weight. I must say; I've taught them well.


When Toni adopted Oliver, we followed
Cesar Millan's instructions nearly to the letter. I have to give him all the credit for Tanner and Oliver being such good buddies. They were introduced with all the right dog communication, sending the messages we wanted them to understand.


  • The humans are the pack leaders.

  • The dogs are the followers.

  • Tanner must play gently with Oliver, using his snout, not his paws:



© photo copyright 2008 Carrie Boyko

Tanner Learns How to Play Gently

Using His Snout


  • The food, toys, and everything else all belong to the pack leaders.


Hopefully I got them all. The bottom line is that it is up to you to set the rules for both small and big dogs, to help them learn what play behaviors are safe and accepted. You're in charge.



Obedience training ensued quickly with Oliver, as Tanner was enrolled in advanced training at the time. That actually turned out to be a good thing. Tanner served as a role model for Oliver, showing him what he had to do to get my approval. By the time Oliver finished advanced obedience, we had begun with Agility training, adding an additional mental and physical challenge to their training. This has been a good thing to help them calm down and be easier companions, both for us and each other. Although it wasn't always easy keeping up with so many classes, I don't regret a single one. The payoff is coming now, as my boys are calming down and becoming good pack members.



Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisperer, has a National Geographic TV show and has written a couple of books. His teachings do not involve dog training. Interestingly, his approach is more about helping owners become good leaders, which results in well-behaved dogs. His is definitely an intersting concept which will mesmerize anyone watching his show. I'm a big fan, even though I can see that his teachings might not work for everyone. They need to have some ability to bring out their "inner leader."


Cesar's methods are all based on dog psychology, which is a matter of understanding the history and evolution of canines. I find this stuff fascinating! Does that make me a Geek? Oh well.






Here I am Walking My Pack

I'm Finding My Inner Pack Leader!



Want to learn more? Visit Cesar's websites above or check out his books:




Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Help Organic Journey Online Hit 5000 Visitors by July 4, 2009





Hello Organic Journey Online readers:



In reflecting on the past year, since I began OJO July 4, 2008, I see that I am nearing 4500 visitors. I'm flabbergasted by this overwhelming interest in my fledgling blog. Aside from an email to friends, my only advertising has been word of mouth, and clearly there has been a good amount of that to have had more than 4300 visitors to date. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!





If you have not taken a good look lately, I hope you'll take a few minutes to peruse. Things have changed since last July immensely. I've done a lot of Internet sleuthing and added all kinds of bells and whistles in the sidebar--fun stuff for you to do and look at.


To celebrate my upcoming anniversary, I have added three slide shows to give you a little extra something to enjoy. Kick back your chair, prop your feet up and stay a while. Check out the resources in my sidebar. Did you know there are links to everything in my blog at the Archives section? Were you aware of the links to other blogs and the lists of my favorite green books to read? There's even a widget that will find your closest Farmer's Market or organic restaurant. Cool, huh?!


One of the slide shows I added includes pictures of fresh organic vegetables and another portrays images of juicy organic fruits. Your mouth will be watering by the time you finish watching. At the bottom of the posts section, there is a unique slide show of wind farm images. I particularly enjoyed watching this, finding it serene and peaceful.


I hope you enjoy these and I encourage you to throw caution to the wind and send me a comment. Just hit that purple COMMENTS link under this post on the right. It is just to the left of the little white envelope icon. You'll get a cute little box to write your note in and you can even click Anonymous if you'd rather not have anyone know you commented. Your choice, of course.



How am I doing? What would you like to see here in the coming year? What kinds of topics would you find so interesting that you would tell others about OJO, or perhaps send them my link? I'd love to hear from you at my OJO email: CarrieLeaJohnson@gmail.com . Fire off that note right now while you're thinking about it. Without you, I wouldn't have made it this far. Thanks for your support.


Following my note, I will include a complete list, in order, of the "bells and whistles" in my sidebar. We'll call it a Sidebar Tour, and I'll be sure to let you know which items are links; these can simply be clicked to take you where you want to go. Links really do make navigating so much easier. I hope you enjoy my tour.

Many thanks,

Carrie Boyko
*****************************

OJO's Sidebar Tour


as of June 16, 2009

First, let me point out that this tour is only good for a few days. I am constantly looking for new additions to my sidebar, to give you more things to explore in the green and organic world. So if you come to this post next week or next month, please accept my sincere apologies if the sidebar doesn't match the following tour. That said, here goes:
  1. Free Email Subscription Box--fill in your email address, answer a question or two and you'll receive my posts in your email. It's free! But best of all you won't have to remember the exact website address. Your email will give you the title of the post. If it is not of interest to you, simply click delete. If you want to read it, click to open and it will magically appear.
  2. Amazon gift card widget--click and it will take you right to Amazon to purchase a gift card for Father's Day, or any other special day you need a gift for. You can even celebrate Monday and buy one for yourself!
  3. Honors and Nominations--a link to the organization who voted me the 15th best Organic Blogger in the US.
  4. Visit My Other Sites--these are links to my sites. Just click and go.
  5. Fruit slide show--corny, I know. But if you watch it for a few seconds you'll start to wish you had purchased more fruit when you went to the market.
  6. Amazon Stuff I Recommend: Books, composting solutions, green magazine subscriptions, natural weed killer, etc. All the photos are links to the Amazon site, where you can purchase these items without searching for them. I did the work for you. You're welcome.
  7. My Profile: My story in one paragraph. That's all it takes.
  8. Badge: My Blog Fights Climate Change. I had to earn this badge, so I am proud of it. By displaying this badge, Brighter Planet purchased 350 pounds of carbon offsets to fight climate change. Go Carrie!
  9. Green Day News: This is green, organic, Eco and Sustainable News from around the Google world. Click to open any articles that sound interesting. They change daily.
  10. LinkedIn: My business profile is at this link.
  11. RSS Subscription. For those of you who save lots of stuff from around the web, using RSS to collect posts from blogs you like, is a great way to store them for reading whenever you're ready. They collect in their own little email account called a Google Reader and you can read them on vacation, at Starbucks, or anyplace you have Internet access. It's handy for all you techies. Need help? Check out my post on how to set it up. It takes 10 mintues...no big deal: Free and easy subscribing to Organic Journey Online.
  12. Amazon search box: If there is something you'd like to look up at Amazon, you can do it right here, without leaving OJO.
  13. My Topic Schedule: This is here for your convenience. What do you think? Should I stick to a schedule or just write what's new and interesting on a daily basis? Give me your thoughts at the comment link below--next to the little envelope icon at the bottom of the post.
  14. The Yellow search widget is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Just type in your ZIP code and it will bring you a list of nearby farmers markets, organic markets, organic restaurants, sustainable farms, organic caterers, cooking schools and more.
  15. Google search box: Duh! You know what to do with this.
  16. For Bloggers Only: Fave this Blog to Technorati. Thanks in advance if you give me a thumbs up.
  17. Green Blogger Badge: This is sort of like membership, a badge that shows my affiliation with a group.
  18. Blog Catalog: more of the same from #17.
  19. Favorite Blogs: These links are super neat. They list the blog name (which is a link) and their latest post, with a day of posting. This is also a link, so you can easily navigate to their site, if you see something of interest. Have fun with this. It changes every day, so you could find all sorts of interesting topics here if you simply remember to check it which you visit.
  20. The last blog on the Favorite Blogs list is Central Florida Green Guide. I'm on staff at this blog which reviews products and services and gives news about events in the Central Florida area. If you're a local, this blog is a must-read.
  21. Kindle ad is provided by Amazon. This is a really cool Eco gadget for saving paper and money. You download cheap books, articles and magazines to this high-tech gadget(really, just a few bucks each) and it holds a bunch of them. It's light and portable, so you can carry all your reading with you. It's definitely worth a second look.
  22. Recommended Books: Some of my favorite reads.
  23. More Favorite Sites: Yeah....more! Again, they are all links, so just click and off you go.
  24. "I Recommend" is an Amazon widget with photos of the books I recommended in item #22 above. These photos are links to Amazon, so you won't have to search and rescue your book of choice. Just a few clicks to purchase it and you're done. Thanks, by the way, for any Amazon purchases you make via links on my site. Every little bit helps support my work.
  25. Archives: This is my library of posts, sorted by date. If you knew the date of a post, you could find it here. If not, move on to number 26:
  26. Labels: This is where you can find what you're looking for if you have a topic in mind. Every topic is alphabetical, and is also a link. Click the topic you're interested in and you'll get the posts that include that topic.
  27. Last but not least, at the very top of the blog, above my title, in the left corner, you'll find a "Search Blog" box. This is run by Google to help you sort through my massive amounts of posts (266 to date, in 11 1/2 months of posting) and find what you're truly interested in reading about. By all means, use it.

If you stuck it out all the way to this point, I commend you. This was pretty dry stuff, I know. I felt the need to give an overview of what all that gobbly-gook is in the sidebar. My hope is that this provided you with a little more reason to visit and stick around for a while. Comments? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Take our Smart Travel Quiz


Summer is here and vacations have begun. Just this morning I had a conversation with a family member about their plans. Air fares are at an all time low, as airlines struggle to fill their planes. This is encouraging some families to plan trips involving airline travel, when they might have driven two months ago when gas finally dipped back to around $2 a gallon. So, what can you do to travel as green as possible? Take the Green Guide's Green Travel Quiz and see how your plans stack up.

This 10 question quiz gives good insight into how you can travel in a more Eco friendly manner. Considering the environment, your travel does not have to contribute thousands of tons of carbon to the atmosphere. I took the quiz and learned a few things that will even help me in my day to day living. It's quick and informative--go for it!


If you're really, really good, you could also look into buying carbon offsets for your travel. How? Go to TerraPass to learn more. You'll be surprised at how little it costs to compensate for the kerosene you'll burn in that jetliner. For example, according to their site, you can purchase carbon offsets for a year's airline travel for about $50.

What do they do with your $50? To put it simply, TerraPass will invest your money in emissions reduction projects, chosen to effectively reverse the damage done to the environment by your travel. They purchase new, clean power and invest in ways to make it. Check out the link to find out how they're spending their customers' money in 2009. And while you're on their website, you can take a carbon footprint test and find out where you stand. It's kind of fun to know how much or how little you are contributing to global warming. Can you beat my score? Send me a comment if you take the test. I'd love to hear from you.


Friday, June 12, 2009

What is Happening to the Bees?

First, a little preview:







Some of you may have already been aware of the concerns about disappearing bees. The television news magazine, 60 Minutes, did a story on this problem some months ago, without significant mention of the possible connection to pesticides. Yet, on my quest to turn up all that might fall under this umbrella, I once again, found a link.


First, allow me to backpeddle. Recently Frontline Flea Spot Treatment, among others made for dogs and cats, came under fire as a possible carcinogen. I had reported this previously in posts at my "baby" blog, All Things Dog Blog. Its primary ingredient, Fipronil, is used by pest control companies in sprays made for use around our homes, both inside and out. After a discussion with my pest control representative, I did some web research and decided it was time to bail on Fipronil. That was a year ago, and my foray into natural pest control methods continues.


While, most of the year I use cedar oil and food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on my dogs for flea prevention and treatment, occasionally I have to resort to a "bad boy," when there is a particularly bad breakout of the feisty boarders. I had used Advantage for this occasion, in the past. No more.


I've treated the whole yard with DE, washed the dogs' bedding in hot water, and treated nearby carpet areas with DE, as well. It seems to have done the trick. All my friends are complaining about their flea troubles, and my pups are snoozing peacefully at my feet, while I write.


Today, when I looked up the active ingredient in Advantage, I found unfortunate information that it is a suspect in the collapse of bee colonies.


It is tough in a short post, to help you understand how important the bees are to us. They do the toughest part of our farming. They pollinate our food. It's sort of like plant sex, being managed by the bees. Without pollination, there would be no fruits, vegetables, or even flowers. France and Germany have taken the lead, by banning products using Imidacloprid.


In addition to flea and pest control uses, Imidacloprid has many other pest-related jobs. It is used to treat seeds, which then produce a more pest-resistant plant, which are then pollinated by bees, who come in contact with the substance in the plant's nectar. Thus, the cycle continues as the poison is carried back to the nest by the bees.


Want to learn more? Read my previous posts on natural pest control at Taking Your Dog Green, and Flea Season is Here: What's a Pup to Do? You might also like to read some at Wikipedia, which is a layman's version of some of these complicated issues. Check out Colony Collapse Disorder and Imidacloprid.


Got questions? I'll field them if I can. Use the comment link just below this post:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recycling Your Odds and Ends

My Odds and Ends of Recycling Stuff


Left to right: used batteries, silica desiccant gel packets, used Brita filters (Whole Foods recycles them), bottle caps, Bread bag closers, plastic bottle caps, expired medication, light bulbs, wire hangers (my dry cleaner takes these), wine corks, and Styrofoam cups and containers (a local grocer takes these). It sounds like a lot of stuff, but as you can see, it doesn't take much space. I could even move it to the garage if it gets out of hand. Hey! Not a bad idea.






Maybe I have gotten a bit out of control, but ever since I found out that there are places like Terracycle taking wine corks and granola bar wrappers, I have started to collect all sorts of things.

An Example of what Terracyle Does with Corks




Even so, much of this stuff definitely does not belong in the landfill. Do I want expired medications leaching into our groundwater? No! Light bulbs have dangerous elements inside, as well as desiccants and batteries. So why not collect anything that I get large amounts of, until I take a trip to the recycling drop off.


You may be wondering why I'm not collecting plastic bags. Well, first of all I have a major collection of reusable bags, so I rarely get any plastic bags at the grocery or other stores. I keep a Chico Bag or two in my purse all the time, so whenever I'm shopping, I'm prepared.









Beyond that, all plastic bags, such as the newspaper bag, get used for doggie....well, you know. At least they are used for something purposeful. It saves me buying so many special poop bags. I always buy the corn starch ones that are biodegradable. I'm hoping to try the new Flushpuppies soon. They are flushable; cool, huh? They just dissolve in the water.


I'm collecting something else. Electronics. The rainy season has begun here in Florida, which means thunder storms every afternoon. Last year and the year before, we blew out 2 DVD players, a stereo boom box, 2 sets of wireless phones, an answering machine and more. You get the picture. There is definitely a cost to living in Sunny Florida!



I've also saved a couple of keyboards and monitors from previous computers, just in case, but I guess it is time to give them up, as well. They're not the flat screens, so probably no one would want them. However, it did occur to me to call the local elementary school to offer them there first. If they don't want them, they'll go with me to the special place at the landfill where potentially toxic items go. I like to think of it as electronic heaven.



I've read that they take the dangerous components out of the electronic stuff and that goes into special containment for toxic materials. Hopefully the medications will go there too.



I have written previous posts with more details about a few of these items. Here are the links to those posts, if you'd like the full scoop:



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Puppy Playtime






There is nothing like the unadulterated joy of puppy play. Just above, Oliver is performing the traditional Play Bow, a request that says "Let's Play" with much enthusiasm. At the top, Oliver bolts with a toy he just scooped up in a grab-n-go.

It is times like this that I just slide my chair back away from the computer and call a timeout on work. Puppy playtime is good for both of us.

According to the The Complete Holistic Dog Book, "playtime is not just for puppies. Play provides physical activity and mental stimulation, and helps fill the need for social interaction. Oliver has this in spades.

Finally, this book offers 3 strategies for getting the most out of puppy playtime:


  • rotate toys

  • offer a variety of playmates, to encourage socialization with all types of dogs and people

  • offer sufficient play opportunities, frequently through the day.

I hope you enjoyed today's Woofing Wednesday offering. If you would like to indulge yourself more in my dog world, I invite you to visit my other blog: All Things Dog Blog, where I talk dogs 24/7.


Oh, and if you're interested in the book I just mentioned, here it is. Just click and you can buy it from Amazon right here...just a few easy clicks. FYI, I did the price check. Ours is within 2 cents of the other two big retailers.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Blog Fights Climate Change!

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Perhaps you will notice the appearance of this badge in my sidebar. It's just underneath my profile, and is my latest addition. By joining the ranks of 1600 other bloggers, I have helped to purchase 350 pounds of carbon offsets. Yes, 350 pounds just for my little blog! I'm pretty proud of that. One small step...you know.

These offsets help support renewable energy in communities across the U.S., to decrease our national dependence on carbon-emitting "dirty" energy sources like coal burning power plants. Some of these projects are wind power projects, among the cleanest power available.

If you are a blogger, or know a blogger, please pass this link along to them. They can help too. It's our small way of participating in creating a cleaner tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, and for supporting my blog. If you like, you can visit Brighter Planet and measure your own personal carbon footprint. I did it. So can you. Without you, I could not have done this. You just supported climate change too. Atta Boy!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Welcome to the Official Debut of World Ocean Day


Welcome to Organic Journey Online and our celebration of the first official World Ocean Day. While World Ocean Day was originally declared at the Earth Summit in 1992, this year it has been declared officially by the United Nations, to be celebrated on June 8 each year.


The purpose of World Ocean Day is not only to honor the world's oceans, but to build awareness of the care it requires in order to remain healthy. Besides being the home of our seafood, marine life and aquarium animals, the oceans make international trade possible.


Learning what you can do to help is important to our ocean's future, and this goal is taken up by the Ocean Project, working in partnership with the World Ocean Network. I hope you will take a few minutes to visit these sites for more information.

According to Wikipedia, World Ocean Day provides an opportunity to get directly involved in protecting our future, through a new mindset and personal and community action and involvement – beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests, film festivals, sustainable seafood events, and other planned activities, which can help to raise consciousness of how our lives depend on the ocean.

On short notice, I have just learned of this awareness day. My offering here is simply to provide these beautiful images of the ocean views, as a reminder of the aesthetic beauty that the oceans offer, as well. I hope you enjoy these gorgeous photos, and will keep the health of our oceans in mind as you go about your day. Remember that much of our gray water, that which has been used in our daily lives for laundry, dishes, showers, etc., eventually finds it way to our oceans. I would encourage you to be mindful of the products you use, seeking to go more natural with each successive purchase of detergents, cleaning and personal care products. If we all come together in this effort, the oceans will thank us by thriving.

Sources: Wikipedia, The Ocean Project, World Ocean Network
Summer is here. Keep in mind that wearing sunscreen helps to prevent skin cancer as well as sunburn. This all-natural version is also biodegradable, leaving no trace of its existence in the oceans:



Friday, June 5, 2009

Wanted: Single, Green-Minded Individual for Eco-Friendly Dates



Reported May 24, 2009, at ONLINE PR NEWS, a green dating website has been launched. Dubbed EcoDater.com, their niche is clear from their name. According to the article:

EcoDater.com offers its members a comprehensive array of tools to
participate in the EcoDater community and find other green, eco-friendly singles easily and efficiently by Online PR NewsEcoDater is an eco-friendly online dating site for green single men and women who care about living a natural, holistic lifestyle. Members include environmentalists, vegans and vegetarians, organic farmers, outdoor enthusiasts, yoga practitioners, adventure singles, activists and much more.


"EcoDater.com is a very open-minded place," says Ryel Kestano, EcoDater founder. "We believe in building a community one person at a time, giving each person the resources to share passions, interests, or musings. We created EcoDater because it represents the best of what we see and experience in this world - community, connectivity, friendship, and a respect for the natural life."

EcoDater.com provides members with two simple membership package
options. Free EcoDater members can join at no cost and create a profile with a photo, search for other EcoDaters, contact other free EcoDater members, and post EcoPolls to their profile.

Premium EcoDater members can post an unlimited number of photos, access advanced and keyword search functions, contact all other EcoDaters, and enjoy top priority in the search results. Premium EcoDaters also have access to the proprietary EcoMatch feature, an algorithm that matches members based on profile data.

The EcoDater blog is updated frequently and is a great resource for
fresh news in the eco-friendly world, with all content handpicked by in-house staff. EcoDater also maintains a comprehensive links section with links to eco-friendly products, topics, and issues on the web.

EcoDater donates a portion of all membership revenue to charitable
organizations that represent the interests of the eco-friendly community. These include the National Resources Defense Council, World Wildlife Fund, and American Forests.




I have to admit that this concept peaked my interest. Not for a date--I'm already happily hitched--but just to see how they bring it together in a green way. Of course, after a quick look at the homepage, I went straight to their blog to check it out. Was it compelling, innovative or empowering for potential members looking to live more green? Not so much.


It's cool that they give a donation for memberships. But it appears that there's not really any way to confirm a new member's "green-ness". I mean really; can you quantify a person's eco-friendliness, short of giving them a carbon footprint analysis and then confirming that their answers are factual? No! It's just a way to help green-minded singles find each other. And I suppose that is fine--good, actually. I'll give it my seal of approval for creativeness. But I can't tell you their blog will keep you coming back. Maybe their dates will. Let me know if you decide to give it a test drive. Be sure to take the Prius.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Saving Water, Detergent and Money with Your Dishwasher

First, let me point out that we don't recommend you wash your lab puppy in the dishwasher. Although Organic Journey Online is a dog-loving site, there are better ways to bathe your dog. That said, this photo that has been passed around the Internet for years, was perfect for this post. Done.


While most of us believe that rinsing our dishes before placing them in the dishwasher will bring better results, the New York Times article which is sited here insists otherwise. Read on...


“Pre-rinsing dishes is a big mistake,” said John Dries, a mechanical engineer and the owner of Dries Engineering, an appliance design consulting company in Louisville, Ky. “People assume that the dishwasher will perform better if you put in cleaner dishes, and that’s not true. Just scrape. Pre-rinsing with hot water is double bad, because you’re pumping water and electricity down the drain.”

Saving money, water and electricity to heat the water is a no brainer reason for trying this technique, so I'll be testing it out to see where my dishwasher comes in on this topic.

It’s actually triple bad, according to Mike Edwards, a senior dishwasher
design engineer at BSH Home Appliances in New Bern, N.C. “Dishwasher
detergent aggressively goes after food,” Mr. Edwards said, “and if you don’t have food soil in the unit, it attacks the glasses, and they get cloudy,” a process known as etching that can cause permanent damage. It’s also important not to use too much detergent, he said. How much do you need? That depends on how much food soil there is, he said, not how many dishes. “If you have a light load,” he said, “don’t fill the detergent cup all the way.”

Powder detergent is preferable to that in liquid or tablet form, he said,
because it leaves dishes cleaner. But store it somewhere dry, not under the sink, where it can absorb moisture and form clumps.


The article goes on to talk about proper loading, which is best learned from your manufacturer's manual.

Mr. Dries offered a final tip: stick with the normal cycle. It’s the one
consumer organizations conduct all their performance and energy tests on. “Manufacturers know this, so it’s the cycle that the most work went into,” he said. The pots-and-pans cycle is rarely necessary, except when you have baked-on foods, he said, nor is the heat-dry function.
“A trick you can use is called flash dry,” he added. As soon as the dishwasher shuts off, open the door. “Dishes are at their hottest point and give up water moisture the fastest. Within 5 to 10 minutes, your dishes are going to be completely dry.”

So here's your challenge: Let's all test this theory and see what we find out. Your comments will be helpful in reporting a larger sampling of tests. So get those dishwashers running!

Source: The NY Times, The Fix on Dishwashers, by Arianne Cohen

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tanner's Eco-Friendly Fence is Invisible

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Tanner Respects
his Invisible Fence Line

Having 3 dogs means extra planning for just about everything. Taking them out to play and take care of nature's call are at the top of that list. And to make things more complicated, I live at the entrance to my neighborhood, where an escapee pooch could easily find himself on a main road to disaster.

Since I cannot tell my dogs to stay out of the street (yeah, I know Cesar Millan could!), we found another solution to this issue. It's called Invisible Fencing, and it came highly recommended by my veterinarian.

You may be familiar with this fence, and yet I find that even those who are, have misconceptions about how it works. Here's my chance to explain how our Eco-friendly fence does its job without harming humans, dogs or the environment. Tanner, shown here, wears a collar that has a small receiver attached. While the collar is made of webbing, just like most dog collars, the receiver is water proof.

Buried nearly a foot beneath the grass along our sidewalk is a wire attached to a unit that sends a radio signal to Tanner's collar. Always on, this signal sounds a tone whenever Tanner comes too close to the fence line. The tone reminds Tanner of the fence and he is trained to turn back toward the house, whenever he hears that tone. Xena, my 12 1/2 year old Retriever mix, has been using this Invisible Fence since she was adopted as a puppy. She still, to this day, remembers to run back to the house, whenever she hears that tone.

It is this tone that keeps the dog inside his Invisible Fence. Many people believe that dogs are shocked by their collars, whenever they approach the fence line. While they do receive an intense vibration, if they run across the line, they almost never do that. Training was intense and thorough, thanks to much help from the people at our local Invisible Fence distributor. In addition, the tone and the vibration can be adjusted to accommodate different dogs' ability to hear or feel this signal.

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Tanner Enjoys the Freedom

to Play in his Yard

Using flags as a visual indicator of the fence line, we had daily, 10-minute practice sessions to teach the dogs where their boundaries are. Even if their collars are left off by accident, it has been quite some time since either dog has left the property unattended.

Taking walks is a simple matter, yet requires training, as well. Our dogs were taught that leaving the property must ONLY occur when they are on a leash, walking down the driveway, or in the car. This gives me the control to get them to come with me when we leave for a walk. I simply have to remember to remove their Invisible Fence collars as we leave the house.

Our Invisible Fence has given me the freedom to enjoy playing with the dogs off-leash, in our yard. This is a gift that I could not have given them any other way. Due to neighborhood and property constraints, my yard did not qualify for a regular fence.

Finally, digging under the fence is not an option with an Invisible Fence. They would have to come within striking distance of the wire, which they simply will not do. Like the sign says, "Safe at Home".

If you're interested in learning more about the Invisible Fence containment system for your dog, visit their website at this link. Our Invisible Fence has given us and our dogs freedom to play and enjoy the yard. What could be better than that for a dog?


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