Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cheap Tricks 2: Save More Trees!

I was going about my morning ritual of making coffee, when I realized here was another example of saving money, trees and the environment.  It has been a long and winding road (Beatles!) from using tons of non-eco-friendly white coffee filters to using none:

First, I had a drip coffee maker and would buy large quantities of those white cone-shaped paper coffee filters.  The reason they are white is because they are bleached.  Once I learned how bad bleach is for the environment, I started buying the brown, unbleached paper coffee filters.  My next step in my eco-evolution was realizing lots of trees were cut down to produce paper coffee filters which I was just throwing away after each use.  So I did a little research and discovered reusable cloth coffee filters made from hemp, such as

Hemp Coffee Filter

This worked great for a while with the only problem being it was sometimes difficult to get the fine coffee grounds cleaned out of the hemp filter.  So I did a little more research and found reusable cone-shaped coffee filters made from plastic and fine wire mesh to use instead.

Wire Mesh Filter

The only issue I had with the wire filter is those tiny coffee grinds would somehow make it through the wire mesh and into my coffee cup – yuck!  Then I realized I could put the wire mesh filter inside the hemp filter … the hemp filter kept all the teeny tiny coffee grinds from going into my coffee and the wire mesh filter made dumping out and composting the coffee grounds easy peasy.  (Yes, coffee grinds make awesome compost.)

I continued using this setup for five years (with the hemp filter still going strong!).  Then a few years ago I was introduced to a French press and – voilá – I was smitten!  In a French press, the coffee grinds steep in hot water for 4 to 5 minutes (rather than running fairly quickly through a drip maker), so I can use less than ½ the coffee and still have a nice strong cup of java.

French Press

So not only am I saving money because I am no longer constantly buying paper coffee filters, I also save money because I use less coffee.  And the other fantastically frugal part of this is that I now can use my wire mesh filter for making my daily cups of green tea.  I buy bulk loose leaf organic green tea (the same delicious tea I use in my pet food) and pour boiling water into my Pyrex measuring cup with the tea leaves, cover and let steep for 3 to 4 minutes.  Once it’s done steeping, I take my wire mesh filter, placed inside a single cup filter (it’s cone-shaped and made of solid material with a handle and only has little holes on the bottom – see picture below), set both over my teacup and pour the tea into the whole contraption.  All the tea leaves are saved in the wire mesh filter (which I can reuse for my next cup of tea – more frugality - yay!) and the tea pours through the holes in the bottom of the single cup filter into my teacup.

Single Cup Filter

So again, we’re saving money and trees by buying loose leaf tea in bulk and not using tea bags.  If you would rather use tea bags instead of a filter, you can purchase cloth tea bags made from cotton muslin that have drawstring closures.  (Hint:  These same cloth tea bags work GREAT for filling and refilling with organic catnip and letting your cat bat around, drool on, roll on, etc.!)

Cotton Muslin Tea Bags

Who knew saving the environment could be so much fun and save so much money?!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Prepare for your Puppy


The season of giving has officially arrived, and you'll know it if you just take a drive out by the mall.  If your plans include adopting a puppy, make sure you and your family are prepared for this wonderful gift.  He will need a few things for his new life in your household.

COLLAR & LEASH – Adjustable collars are best for growing puppies who change size rapidly. A 6-foot leash is the standard for obedience class. There are many non-toxic materials such as organic hemp. Small dogs and dogs with short necks (i.e. pugs, boston terriers) often need a harness rather than a collar for safety.

CRATE OR KENNEL – Crates give your dog a feeling of security and a quiet retreat when he needs a place to call his own, and they are essential for training, housebreaking and travel. Foldable wire crates are good for inside the house--buy one that will fit the dog your puppy will become and use dividers to adjust the space to his current size.  Molded plastic kennels are required for airplane travel and are safest for riding in the car. Soft crates of quilted nylon are convenient, but can be easily chewed through by needle sharp puppy teeth.  A washable fleece crate mat makes your pup’s new home cozy and warm.  NOTE:  When traveling with your dog, the crate goes IN the car, NOT on top of it.

STAIN & ODOR REMOVER – The item most often forgotten until your puppy has an accident on the carpet. And he WILL have accidents because a puppy cannot physically control his bladder until a minimum of four months old.  Get the enzymatic odor remover to ensure your puppy isn't drawn back to the same spot for his business.  My favorite:  Anti Icky Poo, which works on cat urine, too.  (Found out the hard way, but that is another story.  Ugh.)

NAIL TRIMMER & STYPTIC POWDER – Start trimming your dog’s nails weekly when he’s young to get him used to it. Have styptic powder on hand to stop any bleeding if you nip the blood vessel that runs through nail – just dip the end of the nail into the bottle.

BRUSH & COMB – Again, start early so your puppy learns to enjoy grooming and consult with a groomer to find out what tools you need for your dog’s particular coat.

SHAMPOO – Choose a gentle formula that won’t strip the coat’s natural oils.  Tropiclean Puppy and Kitten Shampoo smells great and is gentle enough for babies.

Food and Water BOWLS – Stainless steel or ceramic are best, with a stand or non-skid rubber to avoid sliding or getting kicked over. Never use plastic, which can off-gas toxins, harbor bacteria and give your dog acne from scraping his chin against the bottom of the bowl. 

A Variety of CHEWS AND TOYS – Puppies have an urgent desire to chew and explore, and if you don’t keep them busy, they will entertain themselves--often at the expense of your shoes and furniture!  A good variety will save your stuff and your sanity. Bring out a few at a time from the toy box to prevent boredom. Rico likes any toy you put in front of him, but Lucy is more picky.  Try everything--ball toys, rope toys, and rubber toys for hard chewers, plush toys, squeak toys and raw beef bones.  Get something interactive like  A Cheerful Pet long felted Tugzees. Go for lots of digestible chews such as bully sticks and tripe braids. Avoid cheap rawhide chews. Hunks can break off and get caught internally, and formaldehyde and other chemicals are often used in bleaching and tanning.
He knows where the toys are.
RAW BONES TO CHEW – The best chew and the best nutrition for any puppy! Dogs that start raw bones when they are young have the cleanest teeth, freshest breath and are the happiest! See our post on Raw Meaty Bones for more information.

TRAINING - Your new puppy will need to learn some manners and will need to be socialized.  Find a good trainer, preferably one who offers puppy classes and one who uses positive reinforcement like clicker trainers, and get started early with helping your new friend fit into your home and know the rules.  We've had fun at A Good Dog's Life with Gail, who really knows her business.  The single most common reason dogs are turned into shelters is because they didn’t get early training and socialization.  Dogs have a small window of opportunity for learning to get along with others and not be afraid, so get them enrolled and started off on a good paw!

Have fun and Happy Holidays! 

And remember: A tired dog is a good dog.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cat Chronicles: Top Cat & Cat Scratch Fever

Cricket (top), Whiskers (middle) & Buttons (bottom)

Cats are highly territorial creatures.  So if you live in a multi-cat household like I do, you have to find creative ways to keep the peace.  One of the best things you can do is to put up a cat tree, also called a cat condo.  These are structures made of different materials which your cat can climb, perch and sleep on.  Because cats are territorial and because there’s only so much horizontal space in our homes, cats can use vertical space to define their territories.  The term “top cat” literally applies here – the more bossy a cat, the higher up on the cat tree he will be.

Buttons supervising the assembling of the cat tree.

An added bonus to having a cat tree - cats can use it for scratching (instead of your furniture).  Scratching is super important for cats for 3 reasons:  1) it’s good exercise, 2) it helps trim their nails, and 3) it marks their territory (there are scent glands between a cat’s toes which release the cat’s scent when he scratches).

Cricket, top cat for now ...

So having a cat tree in your home will help your cats carve out their own little territories, save your furniture and keep everyone happy!

Whiskers, one happy camper!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Top 10 Lies/Myths About Pet Food

I’ve heard some pretty outlandish things about pet food since I got interested in the topic when my beloved Bernese Mountain Dog, Zephyr, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma--bone cancer.  A forward thinking vet at the time recommended I lay off the carbohydrate rich dry food and start feeding him raw, grain-free food, because cancers feed on carbohydrates.  Zephyr would eat anything that passed by his nose, so switching foods was no problems, and I am convinced it prolonged his life.  And it made me question all those bags of “prescription diet” I’d fed him over the years because of his sensitive stomach.  You know, the ones I paid top dollar for at the other vet?  It made me wonder what other lies I’d been told over the years about pet food and nutrition.

Then I ran across the 2007 Annual Pet Food Report from Animal Wellness Magazine which addressed that very topic.  I thought I’d share my top ten list of myths and lies.  See if any sound familiar to you.

1.  Dry kibble and treats are good for Fluffy’s teeth

I talked about this earlier when I talked about raw bones.  It’s like saying a diet of croutons would keep your own teeth shiny and white.  It is simply not true, and, in fact, commercial foods often have ingredients that contribute to plaque and tartar, ingredients like carbohydrates that break down into sugars.

2.  Feeding one food is better for Fluffy

I talked about this in my article on Rotational Feeding.  It’s like saying you could thrive on a diet of Cheerios or baloney sandwiches alone.  Like us, our dogs and cats need variety in their diets to truly thrive.  They rely on nutritional variety to maintain healthy immune systems and healthy digestive systems. 

3.  Table scraps are bad for Fluffy
If a food nourishes us, it will likely nourish our pets as well.  Giving your pet leftovers once in a while will add variety and interest to his diet.  Just avoid cooked bones, sweets, chocolate and the following veggies--onions, grapes, raisins, tomatoes, macadamia nuts, walnuts, avocados, excessive raw fish, chocolate, excessive cabbage or broccoli, excessive garlic, apple seeds, green tops of carrots, peppers and eggplant.

4.  If the vet sells it, it must be healthy and high quality

Please refer back to my introduction.  Prescription foods are made by the same large corporations that make grocery store foods, and have many, many questionable ingredients as well as questionable effects on your pet’s health.

5.  All bones are dangerous
Again, see my article on Feeding your Dog (And Cat) Raw Bones.  Only cooked bones are dangerous, as they can splinter.  But raw bones are beneficial in many ways, some surprising--dental health, nutrition, mental health.
6.  Raw meat causes aggression
There is no evidence that this is true.  If your pet is food protective, it is a behavioral issue unrelated to the type of food you feed.

7.  Cats should have access to food at all times                                                              

In fact, 24/7 access to foods leads to obesity and, if it’s dry food, urinary tract blockages.  Like wild canines, cats in the wild only eat when they hunt and only kill what they need to survive.

8.  Semi-moist food is like meat
No, no, no.  It is like dry food with extra chemicals, additives and preservatives in it to keep it moist.  How do they even get away with calling this “food”?  This is the junk food of the pet food industry.  These are the Twinkies and Pringles and never EVER should be considered part of a healthy diet.

9.  Cheap food saves money
I know it hurts sometimes to pay for raw beef and fresh veggies for your pet.  But I promise, cheap food costs more in the long run.  It costs more because your pet has to eat more to satisfy his nutritional needs. It costs more at the vet’s office--for treatment of skin problems, for teeth cleaning, for treatment of the chronic diseases associated with a poor diet.  I promise--if your pet survives, bags of cheap food will cost you over time.

10.  Raw food will make my animal or family sick
Dogs and cats digest food more quickly than humans, so the food passes out before they can develop any food-borne illnesses.  Plus, they have a very high concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomachs which kills bacteria.  If you prepare your own raw diet, buy human grade meat and handle it the same way you handle the raw chicken or hamburger you prepare for your family.  If you buy prepared raw food diets, thaw it out in the fridge.  

Raw food is safe and biologically appropriate for your pets.  It will save money in the long run and will make for a happier, healthier Fluffy and Fido and Fifi.

RIP Zephyr 1997-2006.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cheap Tricks: Save the Trees!

Why am I so frugal?  I am often asked that question.  The answer is I like to spend my hard-earned money on things that will provide a better quality of life for me and pets, such as healthy food.  Yes, organic food is more expensive initially, but in the long run, if I or my pets eat a healthy, species-appropriate diet, we won’t have chronic expensive diseases like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, thyroid problems, etc.  So I will end up saving money overall and my pets will live a long, happy, healthy life.

What’s one way you can save money to help pay for a healthier diet?  Paper products!  (And not only will you be saving money, you’ll be saving trees and the environment, too!)  Some examples:

1.  Instead of Paper Towels: Use Rags!  After using the rags, simply wash and use again.  And you can save even more by using cut up old towels, sheets and clothing rather than buying new rags.  Or you can go to thrift stores and buy cheap towels and wash cloths.  That way you are also recycling material instead of it ending up in the landfill – another win for the environment!

2.  Instead of Kleenex/Tissues:  Use Handkerchiefs!  Your grandparents did – they may even have pretty embroidered ones they can hand down to you.  Or you can buy them online or in stores.  I have about 20 handkerchiefs which I’ve been using for the past 4 years.  Initial investment = $20.  That works out to $5 per year and my handkerchiefs are still going strong.  Before that, I spent about $5 every couple months on tissues – even more during the cold and flu season.  And handkerchiefs are super easy to clean – they’re small and lightweight so you can launder a small batch by hand in a couple minutes.

3.  Instead of Paper Napkins: Use Cloth Napkins!  Not only are cloth napkins more environmentally friendly, they’re softer and prettier, too.  Again, you have an initial investment of about $20 for some cloth napkins, but you can wash and use them for years and years and years.  I recommend getting darker colored/patterned cloth napkins – they hide possible stains better and you won’t have to use bleach to whiten them (bleach is NOT good for you or the environment).

4.  Instead of Disposable Diapers: Use Cloth Diapers!  There are wonderful cloth diapers available now that are easy to clean, easy to fit (none of those scary pins involved) and made with eco-friendly material (organic cotton, wool, bamboo, etc.).

I draw the line at toilet paper, however.  I admit I just can’t get past the “ick” factor with using cloths instead of toilet paper.  But I do buy toilet paper that is made from recycled paper so it’s more eco-friendly.

So there you have it … I used to spend about $150 a year on napkins, paper towels and Kleenex, but now I spend that money on healthy, organic food for me and my pets … a much tastier alternative to paper products!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rotation Feeding for Better Health

Rotation feeding is one of the newer buzz words in pet nutrition. Gone are the days of auto-pilot feeding where your pet gets the same old kibble night after night after night. And your pets will be all the better for it. Changing your pet's diet periodically is one of the best things you can do for his or her health and well-being for several reasons.

First, wouldn't you get bored eating a bowl of corn flakes every day for the rest of your life? Wouldn't you crave a scrambled egg or a fruit smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal just for fun once in a while? Keep them excited about mealtime by keeping them guessing. Even if your dog or cat has a sensitive stomach, different flavors of the same brand of food are generally similar enough in composition that pets usually can make the switch without a lot of planning and preparation.

Second, changing your pets food regularly can help prevent the development of food allergies by limiting their exposure to potential allergens.

Third, by exposing your pets to a variety of foods, you help strengthen their digestive systems and limit stomach upset.

Finally, by exposing your pet to a wide variety of protein sources and brands of foods, or feeding a brand like ours that rotates ingredients based on what is available seasonally, you provide them with a large and varied cornucopia of nutrients and minerals and vitamins that will keep them healthier over the long run. Just like in human nutrition, the bigger variety of foods we eat, the more building blocks our bodies have to keep us healthy and vibrant.

How to Switch
If you have a new puppy or kitten, you are in luck (in so many ways)! They are usually the easiest to transition because their digestive systems are more flexible. While they are young, give them a big variety of foods--different flavors, different textures, different kinds (canned, freeze dried raw, frozen raw), different brands.

For older dogs, you may need to transition more slowly by adding 10-20% of the new food to their old food and increasing the percentage gradually over a week to 10 days. Add digestive enzymes, probiotics and/or canned pumpkin to help with digestion. After a few months of switching gradually, your pet's digestive system will get tougher and you may be able to eliminate the slow transition time altogether.

Dogs transition easily from dry to canned or raw food, but cats who have been fed dry food for a long time may turn their noses up because, well, cats have attitudes and definite ideas about things. Here are a few tips on how to make it easier to switch cats to canned or raw food...

  • Try a variety of flavors and textures--my cat loved anything seafood, but eating turkey was a chore; loved pate, but had her doubts about gravy.
  • Remove dry food when wet is offered and feed them twice a day.
  • Mix the canned food with the kibble to get them used to the smell and taste.
  • Top the canned food with something irresistibly smelly like bonito flakes or salmon oil.
  • Be patient. They will come around eventually.

See Transitioning Your Cat to Raw Food for more information and tips.

Introduce raw foods slowly to your cat or dog. Raw food is so dense in nutrients that it will be easy for your pet to overdo, especially if you have a lab or any other eating machine.

Remember, you are giving your pet the most nutritionally complete, well rounded diet you can by providing him or her with a wide variety of foods. That means your pet will be with you longer and will live a high quality, happy life.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Dora & Mittens "strutting" on the playground!
I have multiple cats and a nice large backyard that I have enclosed with a “cat fence” – netting attached to brackets which keeps my cats from getting over the fence.  Unfortunately, there are no large trees inside my backyard, so nothing for my cats to climb and scratch on (two very important activities for a cat’s emotional and physical well being).

Mittens demonstates the "horizontal" scratching technique.

Dora demonstrates the "diagonal" scratching technique.

Cricket demonstrates the "lazy" scratching technique.

And if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a rather frugal person.  Not to mention I have zero woodworking skills whatsoever.  So when I decided to build an outdoor “playground” for my cats to compensate for my lack of trees, I was stumped (no pun intended) as to how I could build it for hardly any money and hardly any skills.  I Googled “outdoor cat playground” and did not find anything that was either premade which I could buy or anything easy to build myself.

Then one day I was looking at my extra wire fencing and garden stakes lying around the yard.  Hmm … an idea was forming (and you know how I love to recycle!).  So I took six 5’ stakes and a 3x8” piece of wire fencing.  I put the stakes in the ground, three on a side, spaced 3’ apart, with three more stakes on the other side about 3’ across from other stakes.  I then attached the wire fencing along the top of the stakes using the little notches in the stakes plus some zip ties.  I put another shorter stake between the pairs of 5’ stakes to give the structure a little more stability.  I then took some old big branches I also had lying around and put the heavier branches leaning diagonally from the ground to the top of the fencing and the lighter branches horizontally along the top of the wire fencing (some of the branches I also zip tied to the fencing for extra stability).

You can see the wire fencing and the stake across for stability.
Full cat playground (with a couple of canines - Galaxy & Bamboo).
I then added a few cats (I have plenty to choose from) and my cat playground was born!  My cats now have a place where they can climb, scratch and get away from the sometimes annoying canine family members.  They can also take wonderful cat naps under the structure.

Cosmo climbing up the playground.

Cricket, just "hanging" (Galaxy, annoying canine in background).

Cosmo, king of the mountain!

So if you have only a small yard with no large trees for your cats to play on, you can build your own cat playground for less than $40.  Or if you’re handy, you can use untreated wood posts and boards instead of the stakes and wire fencing … the sky’s the limit!
(If you build your own cat playground, I’d love to see pictures!  You can go to our Facebook page and post your pictures:

Cricket & Cosmo - one goes up, the other goes down.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Raw Meaty Bones for Dogs (and Even Cats)

Raw meaty bones are a great way to improve your pet’s nutrition, keep his teeth clean, provide exercise and improve his psychological well-being.  Many holistic veterinarians, including Dr. Ian Billinghurst who wrote Give Your Dog a Bone and The BARF Diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), recommend feeding uncooked bony parts of chickens (necks, wings, backs), beef knuckles, marrow bones, turkey necks, lamb ribs.  And they should be a significant part of your dog’s diet. 

Raw Bones are NOT Dangerous
We’ve all heard how bones can splinter and get caught in your pet’s throat, but that is not the case for RAW bones.  Yes, cooked bones can become brittle, but raw bones are pliable and resilient.  Poultry bones can be chewed and digested (or swallowed whole, if you are a certain lab-chow mix who lives with me).  Harder bones like beef or bison are mainly recreational, not meant for eating, just chewing.  They provide marrow, gristle and connective tissue, contributing valuable nutrients, roughage and teeth-cleaning components.

Of course, you should supervise your pet while they are chewing, just like you should supervise them during play or with toys.  And thaw out the bone before feeding it since a hard frozen bone could chip a tooth.  Your white carpet is definitely in danger with a gooey raw bone around, so feed outside or in a crate or on a floor that can be mopped.  Choose a bone to match your pet’s head size--you can’t give them a bone that is too big, but you can give them a too small bone they might choke on.  One last tip...separate your dogs when you give them their bones.  Even the best of friends may get testy when there is freshly killed prey in the house!

Raw bones provide the perfect balance of minerals for a carnivore’s growth, development and maintenance.  Wild canines and felines depended for eons on the bones of their prey for adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other trace minerals.  Feeding raw bones in your raw diet helps achieve this balance without you having to worry about micromanaging supplements and additives.

Raw bones also provide essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins, blood boosters from the marrow, cartilage and collagen to prevent arthritis, proteins and important amino acids.  Poultry necks and wings contain glucosamine.  Meaty bones can constitute an entire meal, occasionally.  Dr. Richard Pitcairn, who wrote The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, even recommends a short bone fast once or twice a month to mimic lean times your dog might encounter in the wild.

Dental Health
Raw bones are nature’s toothbrushes!  Kristi has never had to spend $400 to get her pets’ teeth cleaned because raw bones act like floss in the mouth, polishing and scraping away tartar as the animal gnaws.  And raw meat creates a slightly acidic oral environment that retards plaque and tartar formation and freshens the breath.  The myth still prevails that dry kibble cleans teeth, but if that were true, then we should be able to brush our teeth with Chex mix and animals fed kibble should never need their teeth cleaned.

Have you ever watched one of those nature shows and seen the wolf or the lion feasting on its kill?  I usually turn the TV off before it gets to that point, but my point is that when feeding on raw bones, your dog or cat will use every muscle in its body to tear the meat from the bone, bracing its prize with its paws while pulling the meat with its teeth.  Cats will stalk that chicken neck and tackle it with gusto once it’s “dead.”  Watch your cat or dog crush, rip, tear and chew bones and be glad they are domesticated!  

Mental Health
You’ve heard of Runner’s High?  How about Chewer’s High?  I just made that up, but it is exactly the same thing...the act of chewing/gnawing on a bone, like taking a long run, releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins that continue to circulate long after the chewing is over.  

Ground Poultry Bones for Finicky Animals
Some dogs and many cats are hesitant about bones, or their teeth are poor and they have difficulty chewing.  Feed these guys Green Earth Pet Food Chompin’ Chicken (dogs), Lickin’ Chicken (cats) or Savory Salmon (cats), all of which contain ground chicken bone.  It’s not quite as effective at cleaning teeth, but does provide the same nutritional value.  Or you can try chicken feet … they are mainly cartilage so easy to chew but also provide teeth cleaning qualities (and all that cartilage really helps arthritic dogs).

We also sell organic beef marrow bones which are 2” to 3” long--small enough for the little dog or big enough for the large dog in your life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

3 Reasons to Feed Your Pet Raw

Being a blogging "newbie," we are so excited to have written a "guest blog" for Carolina Mountain Dog, a great place to learn about all things "dog" here in the Western North Carolina region!

You can read about the 3 main reasons to feed your dog a raw diet here:

And thank you, Carolina Mountain Dog for asking us to contribute!  You can check out Carolina Mountain Dog's "blogazine" here:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

These Boots Are Made For Laundry

These boots are made for laundry
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots
Are gonna wash off doggie doo!

That’s right ... I do my laundry using polka-dot rubber boots.  “But that’s crazy,” you may say.  Well, let me give you the background and reasons why ...

Five years ago I finally bought an eco-friendly front-load washer (costing over $700!).  Then last year, my washer stopped spinning and the repair would cost me almost $300.  I thought this is ridiculous – big ticket appliances lasting less than 5 years?!  So I did a little online research and discovered I can easily wash my clothes in my bathtub by “stomping” on them (think “I Love Lucy” + grapes) – and voila, my new “washer” was born.  The hardest part is wringing the clothes by hand so I can then hang them to dry.  Yes, the heating element on my 5-year-old dryer also died so I hang my clothes to dry.  I still use the dryer to “tumble” the dried clothes which helps to soften them (line-dried clothes tend to feel rough, especially towels, so tumbling them in the dryer on no heat for 10 minutes cures that).

Why would anyone be crazy enough do their laundry by hand?  For 3 Important Reasons:

1.  Save the Environment:  Basically, I use no electricity to do my laundry except a very small amount when I use hot water (one of these days I’ll invest in a solar water heater) and when I run the dryer for 10 minutes on air only.  So doing laundry by hand generates an extremely low carbon footprint!  I also make my own inexpensive, non-toxic laundry soap (mix 1/2 borax + 1/2 washing soda – not baking soda; use 1-2 T. per load).  And ditch the fabric softeners (they contain too many chemicals and VOCs).  Instead, add 1/4 cup white vinegar to your rinse water (the vinegar smell goes away once the clothes are dry).

2.  Great Exercise:  Have you tried stomping on clothes or wringing wet clothes by hand?  It’s a great workout for the muscles of your core, legs, arms and hands!

3.  Save Money:  Because you’re hardly using any electricity, you save money.  Because you’re not buying new appliances or getting older ones repaired, you save money.  Because you’re making your own non-toxic laundry soap/fabric softener, you save money.  And because you’re getting a good workout without joining a gym, you save money!

So there you have it ... 3 great reasons to do your laundry by hand ... or should I say by feet?  J

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Transitioning Your Cat to Raw Food


Bagged kibble may be convenient and easy to serve, and your kitty may love her crunchies, but more and more veterinarians are concluding that we are not doing our cats (or dogs) any favors by feeding them kibble.  Cats on kibble are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, urinary tract blockages and kidney problems.  Cats need a diet high in both meat (min. 90%) and moisture (min. 70%), and raw food provides both.  If your cat is like my Quetzal, the transition won’t be easy, but in terms of her health and well being, it will be well worth the effort.

The kibble makers add strong-smelling flavor enhancers to their products.  When presented with a milder smelling food, like raw or canned food, your cat may not exactly respond with gusto.  Try these ideas to overcome kitty’s “finicky” ways:

  1. Pick up food after each meal and introduce a new food the next meal. A cat who is free-fed and thus never hungry has little biological incentive to try something new, especially if it doesn’t smell like food or if it’s a different texture. So, after each meal, remove all remnants of food, wash the dish and leave the feeding area clean. For the next meal, introduce a small amount of canned or raw food. Use a flat dish, not a bowl, for easier access
  2. Begin the transition with a strong-smelling moist food, like Green Earth Pet Food Savory Salmon which has salmon added for smell/flavor.  Fish-based or gamey flavors are best. You may need to try different brands, flavors and textures, as minor differences in ingredients can make a big difference to a cat’s palate. For example, Quetzal eats pate and flaked tuna, but turns her nose up to anything called "stew" or "cutlet."  Later on, try to mix in different meat sources to avoid a diet of exclusively fish-based food.
These two steps will work for most cats, but if you have a stubborn case (ahem...I’m looking at you, Quetzal), you may need to go a step further.  Here are some more ideas:
  • Start by mixing canned or raw food with their dry food and decrease the amount of dry food in the mix over time and/or crush some of the kibble and sprinkle it on top of the raw food.
  • Release the scent of raw food by adding some warm (not hot) water or raw goat’s milk that your kitty can lap up like gravy.  (I serve Answer’s brand raw goat’s milk and Quetzal LOVES it.  LOVES it!  And it's got additional probiotics for belly health.)
  • Sprinkle some Bonito flakes or freeze-dried salmon or liver treats over the new food (Ask at your pet store for treats or even samples.)
  • Add the juice from a can of your favorite tuna.
  • Sprinkle some nutritional yeast over the new food – some cats love it.

The transition may work overnight, or it may take days, even weeks, depending on how long your cat has been eating dry food and whether or not she’s ever been exposed to wet food.  But you can do it, and your kitty will be all the healthier and happier for your efforts.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to contact us if you have more questions. am I going to brush my teeth?