Friday, September 26, 2008

Find a "Green Jobs Now" Event Near You!

This Saturday, September 27, hundreds of "Green Jobs Now" events (656 to be exact) will be held across the country to make one statement: we must repower America with green jobs.

My husband and I are taking the kids to a rally at UCSD tomorrow to show our support. I'm pretty excited about it as this will be the first "official" rally that I've attended. Just thinking about it takes me back to my parents' hippie days. Maybe I should put flowers in my hair tomorrow. Ack! I'm turning into my Mom. No flowers, no freedom music, just good ol' green support.

I'm also pretty eager to see how our 14 year old daughter and her girlfriend respond to the rally tomorrow. Today's youth are MUCH more engaged in the environment than I was at that age. I hope it will leave them with a desire to do something bigger than update their MySpace page and they will demand that we clean up our planet and keep it healthy.

Is there a "Green Jobs Now" event near you? Why not take an hour out of your busy day and drop in to show your support? Click here to find an event near you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Top Ten Autumn Yard Tips

Autumn is the perfect time to get out and prep your lawn and garden for the winter months so you will an amazingly healthy yard in the spring. Here are a few autumn tips to get you started:

  • Leave your leaf blower in the garage and bust out a rake to rake up all those leaves. This is not only good exercise for you, but it’s better for the environment. Plus your lawn will love all that sunshine and air that it wouldn’t get when suffocated under a wet blanket of leaves.

  • Clean up your flower garden by removing all the spent flowers and vines. Watch for leaves that are diseased or infested and dispose of them separately (in the trash) so they don’t propagate throughout your garden next year.

  • Add your collected leaves, twigs, grass clippings, flowers, and chopped brush to your compost bin. Don’t have one yet? gives you step-by-step instructions, tips, and answers for all your composting questions.

  • Opt for an organic mulch to enrich your garden’s soil, retain moisture, protect your plants’ roots, and prevent soil erosion. You can use wood chips, bark, sawdust, lawn clippings, straw, or your compost collection. The key here is to make sure you are using dry materials because wet lawn clippings or leaves, for example, will clump together and block the much-needed air and sunlight.

  • Help your lawn make it through the cold and blustery months by winterizing it with fertilizer. Fertilizers help the lawn store vital nutrients that help root development and results in a fuller growth in the spring. Terracycle has a natural lawn fertilizer made from worm poop (sounds gross but works great).

  • Take some time to consider your spring flower garden. Who doesn’t like tulips, daffodils, and irises? It’s best to plant bulbs in late September so they will root well before the ground freezes.

  • Place some all-natural bird feeders out for our feathered friends. Tie a string on a pinecone, slather the pine cone with peanut butter then roll it in birdseed. Hang from a nearby branch and watch the birds flock to their feast.

  • Once all of the leaves have fallen off your trees you can prune the diseased, infested, dead, or broken limbs. Be sure to prune those branches that are too close to your house or the neighbor’s property.

  • Clean and sharpen your gardening tools so they will last for years to come and will work great in the spring.

  • Get outside and enjoy the crisp weather and the changing leaves before winter is here and you’re stuck inside.
  • Monday, September 22, 2008

    Green Your Water Garden

    Like most people in San Diego, my husband and I have a tiny yard. In our tiny yard is a water feature that looks like a mini tropical oasis, complete with two small waterfalls (more like trickles) and a palm tree in the center.

    When we bought our home, the previous owners advised us to add a chemical called "Shock" to the water to keep algae from growing in the water feature. So in the beginning, we faithfully added our chemicals and enjoyed our little slice of paradise.

    But then we started thinking...if this chemical is killing the algae, what else is it doing? We decided to research some green alternatives to the chemicals and within a few hours we had a new game plan.

    Even though our water feature is rather small, we were able to add two types of aquatic plants and a few fish to the water to keep clean. We selected water irises and water lilies to filter the water and mosquito fish to snack on the algae.

    You might think this sounds like a lot of work but it was incredibly simple. The aquatic plants came in planters that we just placed directly into the water. The hardest part was picking out the plants that we wanted - there's a huge variety available.

    We also bought three mosquito fish at the aquatic garden center and dropped them straight into the water garden. Apparently they were "busy" because now we have hundreds of fish. Good thing they are small!

    Between the plants and the fish, our eco-friendly water garden is healthier than ever. Every day we can ooh and ahh over our beautiful flowers, like the water lily in the picture above. And we are visited by butterflies and birds of all sorts, who like to cool off in the water. We were even graced with a hummingbird nest that cradled twin hummingbird eggs that hatched last spring. That nest, holding two birds, is about the same diameter as a D battery. Amazing! If that’s not proof that small changes make a big difference, I don’t know what is.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Serene and Green Giveaway

    The winner of our "Green and Serene" Giveaway is "Bookworm". Congratulations, Bookworm and thank you to all who participated. Watch for more giveaways this month.

    A note from our winner: "Just wanted to let you know that I received my package yesterday. Wow, everything smells wonderful. I didn't know if I should take a bath or light the candle, so I did both. Very nice! Thanks very much!"

    Ahhhhh the weekend! Finally some time to unwind and decompress. For me, there's no better way to relax than to soak in the tub with some candles and a good book. So I decided to share that with you! Enter the Serene and Green Giveaway for a chance to win a Soy Candle and Handmade Rainwater Soap, courtesy of Radiant Ideas (valued at over $30).

    Tell us how you relax and enter to win!
    Just leave a comment below with your favorite eco-friendly relaxation tip and you will be automatically entered into our Serene and Green Giveaway. But hurry! This giveaway ends September 30, 2008 at 11:59 PM (PST). The lucky winners will be announced here and notified via email. View our contest rules for more info.

    Bloggers can also receive a 2nd entry by promoting the “Serene and Green Giveaway” on your blog. Just copy and paste the URL of your blog post in the comments section.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Easy Energy Saving Tip

    Quick Tip: Bypass the timer on your garage opener light and save over 42 hours of electricity usage each year!

    My garage door opener has a timer on the light. It turns off four minutes after the door closes. I know this because I stood there and timed it this morning. That was a looooooong four minutes.

    It usually takes me about 30 seconds to get out of my car and walk into the house (thats being rather generous). That means the handy light in my garage stays on for at least three and a half minutes after I've left the garage. It doesn't seem like a long time but it adds up. Consider the following:

  • 3.5 minutes x 2 drivers = 7 minutes a day

  • 7 minutes x 365 days = 2555 minutes a year or 42.58 hours a year

  • As I walk into my house, I bypass the timer and turn the garage light off myself. Doesn't take but a second (disclaimer: I did NOT time that).

    How do you conserve energy? Leave a comment and let us know!

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Freeze It and Save

    Last week I made my favorite glazed salmon recipe, which calls for one teaspoon of adobo sauce. Back in the day, I would purchase a can of chipotle chiles, use one teaspoon of the adobo sauce, and then pitch the rest of the can. After all, it wasn't like I was going to make the same recipe the next day! And it only cost 99 cents...not a big deal, right?

    Now that I'm a little more concerned about my consumption habits, I've learned to modify my behavior to send less waste to the landfills with the added benefit of spending less money at the grocery store. Here are some quick and easy tips to freezing:

    Freezing Sauces
    Save that leftover spaghetti sauce, pesto, gravy, or just about any other sauce (including adobo) for upcoming meals. Simply pour the remaining sauce into a muffin tin or ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen solid, pop the sauce cubes out, put into an airtight container, and return to the freezer. Your frozen sauce will be good for two months.

    Freezing Fresh Fruit Juices
    If you know you’re not going to be able to use those limes and lemons before they go bad, squeeze the juice into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen solid, remove from tray, put into freezer bags, and return to the freezer. Your frozen fruit juice will be good for 8 to 12 months.

    Freezing Fresh Herbs
    Fresh herbs are yummy but can be expensive. Don’t let those leftover herbs go to waste. Wash the healthiest looking leaves and pat dry with a dishtowel or (gasp) paper towel. Spread the individual leaves on a small tray or cookie sheet. Cover and place the tray of leaves into the freezer. It’s important to freeze the leaves flat so they don’t turn into a big ol’ solid brick. Once frozen solid, place in airtight containers and return to the freezer. Your frozen herbs will be good for about three months.

    Share your tips! What do you like to freeze?

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Are you SURE those dishes are clean?

    When is the last time you looked inside your dishwasher? At first glance, it probably looks okay. But literally stick your head in there and take a closer look.

    I bent inside of my dishwasher this afternoon to grab a few lingering scraps from the last load and did a double take. At first I noticed some greasy buildup, which I guess is to be expected after years of use. Then on closer inspection, I discovered black grime and (gulp) tiny patches of mold. EWWWWW!!!

    With some quick research and literally 10 minutes of elbow grease, my dishwasher is sparkling clean again and ready to tackle the toughest dishes. Here's how you can get your dishwasher in tip-top shape without using harsh chemicals:

    1. Take the dishracks out of the dishwasher so you are able to easily access the inside of your dishwasher.

    2. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar (yes, I love vinegar) and liberally soak all greasy, grimey, moldy areas. Don't forget to get the rubber seal, the bottom of the door, and the hinges. Trust me, these areas are the worst. ICK!

    3. Using an old toothbrush, scrub the areas that you just sprayed down.

    4. Wipe clean with a wet sponge and inspect your dishwasher again, repeating steps 2 and 3 as necessary.

    5. Check out the drain area and remove any debris that may be stuck there.

    6. Put the racks back in your dishwasher. Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the bottom of you dishwasher and run a full cycle on the hottest setting with no dishes in it. It's recommended to do this step once a month.

    So I double dog dare you to stick your head in YOUR dishwasher and tell me what you find. I would LOVE to hear if you have any other dishwasher cleaning tips to share.

    Tuesday, September 9, 2008

    Book Giveaway: The Better World Shopping Guide

    The average American family spends around $18,000 each year on goods and services. Think of it as casting 18,000 votes every year for the kind of world you want to live in. The question is, how do we know what company to "vote" for?

    "The Better World Shopping Guide" is your handy guide to determining which brands to buy and which to avoid. For example, I think we all know that Ben & Jerry's is an obvious choice in natural ice cream and they (naturally) scored an A+ in the Shopping Guide. But would you have guessed that Dreyer's and Haagen Daaz both received an F in the Shopping Guide?

    One of my new fave blogs,, is sponsoring a book giveaway. Check out GreenYourDecor and enter to win "The Better World Shopping Guide" today. Or if you're just dying to get your hands on a copy now, visit BetterWorldShopper to buy a copy for yourself.

    Monday, September 8, 2008

    Suds Patrol

    Another product that I absolutely love these days is Method Foaming Handwash. I first discovered it at Target but have recently noticed it in my local grocery store as well. It's priced right, eco-conscious, and smells great.

    Hats off to Method for developing cleaning formulas that contain biodegradable ingredients derived from natural materials like soy, coconut, and palm oils. Plus their packaging is made from recyclable materials. On top of that, they also offer a budget-friendly and eco-friendly refill pack that sends less waste to our landfills.

    If you haven't used Method yet, give it a shot. You'll help the environment and feel good every time you wash your hands.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    Junk Mail Be Gone!

    According to ForestEthics, more than 100 BILLION pieces of junk mail are delivered in the United States each year. This creates over 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent of idling 2.4 million cars 24/7. Ouch!

    Protect your mailbox before the barrage of holiday catalogs hit! GreenDimes gives you control over catalog delivery so you can choose what you get. Plus, they will plant five trees on behalf of each premium member.

    GreenDimes offers a do-it-yourself kit, which is free. Or you can upgrade to their premium service for a flat fee of $20. I signed up for the premium service today and think it was money well spent. They listed a handful of companies that specialize in junk mail offers and you can also search by name of catalog. Simply add the catalogs and GreenDimes will notify them immediately.

    Check it out! Your mailbox and recycle bin will thank you.