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Archive for Green Outdoors

May 7th, 2014

New Use for Old Shoes: How to Make a Shoe Planter

Groovy Green Livin Shoes

Shoes are made for more than just walking.

This photo was taken on our way to a Red Sox game in Boston. I’m always amazed to see what people can do with their small patch of green space in the city. Some of the gardens are breathtaking. I once spotted a bed frame converted into a flower bed. Not my taste, but very clever!

Shoe containers embrace the true meaning of reusing.

The saying goes: “One person’s trash may be another person’s treasure.”  We live in a use-and-toss society where most of the time we don’t give a second thought to using an item once and then tossing it. If we stopped before tossing we might realize that some of those items that seem ripe for the trash  can be repurposed into something completely different for our own use.

That trash could become our own treasure.

Reusing something is different than recycling. Recycling is the process  by which old goods are re-manufactured, allowing them to be turned into new products. Reusing or repurposing is taking a product that’s already in existence and lengthening its life by using it for something new.

The flower containers we spotted are a perfect example of creative reusing. I love how the shoes filled with flowers add a pop of color to otherwise drab steps.

We certainly have plenty of old shoes.

Groovy Green Livin Shoes

If you’re interested in using your old shoes to brighten up a walkway or stairs, here are instructions for making your own unique shoe containers.

  • Get your kids involved!
  • Take a look at the space where the shoes will be placed to determine the amount of sunlight. Base your plant selection on this.
  • Find small plants that don’t need a deep space to root.
  • Pick colorful plants that complement each other. You might want to mix up the plant colors, plant height and the shoe colors to make the design more whimsical.
  • Make several holes in the soles of the shoe so the water can drain.
  • Fill your shoes with potting mix and plant.
  • Decorate the exterior of the shoe if you’re feeling artsy. Use a mixture of glue and paint and add in a few sparkles. My only concern is the decorations could wash off when it rains. 
  • Arrange the shoes!

 While I love the concept of shoe containers, I’m not so sure I would put them on my front steps. Would you?

September 19th, 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Try Paddle Board Yoga

Groovy Green Livin Paddle Board Yoga

Stand up paddle board yoga (or SUP yoga as it’s known to many) is all the rage. As summer transitions to fall here in the northeast I’m trying hard to keep the highlights of summer vacation front and center. One of those highlights was learning to use and ultimately practice yoga on a stand up paddle boards. If you’re new to paddle boarding and paddle board yoga the wheel pose in this photo might look daunting, but with a little practice I promise you it’s not.

What is Paddle Board Yoga?

Paddle board yoga is a combination yoga on a paddle board and yes, you’re in the water. It’s a kick ass core workout since you have to use those ab muscles for balance on top of a paddle board while getting into various yoga poses.

This summer I spent a lot of time paddle boarding and fell in love. The boards we have are very stable and have a cushy mat that makes standing and practicing yoga very comfortable. I know you’re thinking how can you possibly do yoga on a thin paddle board without capsizing? That’s part of the fun. It’s important to let go of the fear that you might and very well could fall in the water. The risk of tipping is always there that’s why holding those ab muscles in is so important for stability.

Here are a few reasons to add stand up paddle board yoga to your “must try’  bucket list.

  1. You’re practicing yoga outside, in the water. Nough said. Really, how cool is that?
  2. It’s for everyone. Honest. From beginners to advanced yoga practitioners there’s a pose for each of us. If you’re not initially comfortable standing on the board you can sit or kneel-perfect segue into cat or cow pose. Over time and once you find your balance standing postures become second nature.
  3. Stand up paddle board yoga encourages the practice of letting go. When you’re practicing yoga on the water there’s little to control. A wave or current could hit at any moment, tossing you into the water. Then comes the realization that there’s no perfect yoga practice and each is unique.
  4. Every pose is a whole new challenge. The muscles you’re used to working on land are still working, but your core has to kick in for stability. Think about lying on the board for shavasana and letting your hands touch the water listening to all the sounds the water has to offer.
  5. If you fall you get wet. It’s easy to get back on the board and try again. Hopefully you’ll be laughing and dripping all in the name of fun.

Have you tried stand up paddle board yoga? Let me know if you have or if you’re up for the challenge.

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

June 10th, 2013

Non-Toxic Summer Camp Supplies

Groovy Green Livin camp supplies

The lower bunk bed in my son’s bedroom is covered with summer camp supplies. Two of my boys are heading to overnight camp in a few days. The packing has begun, but there’s so much more to do to get them ready for 4 weeks away at overnight camp.

I’m trying my best to remain calm. This is my oldest’s third year at this camp and my middle son’s first year. Thankfully, there’s a level of comfort sending them to this camp-they’ll be with five of their cousins and it happens to be the camp that I went to as a child. But four weeks is a long time.

My job right now is to follow the camp packing list and fill two huge duffle bags to the brim with the ‘stuff’ the camp suggests bringing to camp. If you and/or your children have gone to camp (overnight or day camp) you know that most camps have a  “packing list”. This list includes a run down of everything you need to pack, from underwear to stamps.

Whether it’s day camp or overnight, sending a child to camp means giving up control for a few weeks. I know that they’re going to eat food that they probably wouldn’t find at home, but I’m OK with that. That’s what camp’s all about.

Non-Toxic Summer Camp Supplies

Every year I try to find a few must-have camp supplies that go into their duffle bag. Here’s what I’m sending this year.


I’ve shared my favorite safe non-whitening sunscreens this year and one of the brands will be included in the camp duffle bags. Episencial Sunny Screen SPF 35 is a great choice for any camper.Groovy Green Livin Summer Camp Supplies
The price point is right at just $11.85 for 2.5 fluid ounces.
I have another sunscreen of choice for camp this year: Badger All Natural SunscreenGroovy Green Livin Camp Supplies
. I didn’t have a sample of this sunscreen when I was reviewing sunscreens, but now I do and I really like what they’ve done this year. The sunscreen is a new formulation and it’s easy to apply and non-greasy. That was my biggest complaint with the original Badger.

Bug Repellent

I’m sending them both to camp with a DEET free bug repellent. We’ve been using Buzzaway  for a few years and it really works. Groovy Green Livin Camp SuppliesThere are also natural ways to treat bug bites. Check out a few of my favorites HERE.

Groovy Green Livin Camp Supplies
Body Wash and Shampoo

Our go-to shampoo again this year is Earth Mama-Angel Baby Organic Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash. Body wash and shampoo together? We’re killing two birds with one stone! Maybe they’ll actually use it when they shower?

Mabel’s Labels 

Groovy Green Livin Camp Supplies

I’m a big fan of Mabel’s Labels for labeling clothing. Everything that goes to camp has to be labeled or it won’t make it home. My favorite labels are the Tag Mates which stick directly onto the clothing tag and don’t come off! This year I decided to get the  Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs which includes a variety of labels.


My kids actually requested chapstick this year and it’s on the packing list as “optional”. I’ve been using Eco Lips Sport Spf 30 Organic Lip Balm Tube Groovy Green Livin Camp Suppliesand just bought a few tubes for them to take with them to camp.

I’ll keep you posted on how the send off goes. I’m trying to keep it together.

If you’re interested, HERE are a few more summer camp essentials.

What camp supplies do you send with your kids to summer camp?


Disclosure: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Any purchases made will help support this blog. Thanks!
Photo credit: Stock Photo © mandygodbehear #6469765



May 28th, 2013

How to Recognize Poison Ivy

Groovy Green Livin Poison Ivy

If my kids say “poison ivy” they get it. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but every summer someone’s covered from head-to-toe in poison ivy and I’m done. I have the natural remedies for poison ivy down-I’ve had to use them so many times.

The saying goes “leaves of three let them be”. Learning how to identify poison ivy and then avoiding it is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. It’s true that poison ivy always comes in “leaves of three”, but so do many other plants.

This summer I’m determined to avoid poison ivy like the plague.

Groovy Green Livin poison ivy

Here are a few guidelines to help recognize poison ivy. Follow along and then run…..

Where does it grow?

Everywhere in the US and southern Canada except the far west, deserts and at high altitude.

What does it look like?

Groovy Green Livin poison ivy

  • Poison ivy is a cluster of three leaves at the end of a stem.
    • The center leaf usually (almost always) has a small stem and the two side leaves grow directly from the vine and don’t have stems.
    • The two side leaves are smaller than the middle leaf. The middle leaf will always stick out more than the other two.
    • The three leaves are generally smooth and sometimes have shiny leaves – one extending from the end of the stem and two radiating from the same point a little farther down the stem
    • Poison ivy leaves are generally fatter at the base of the leaf.
    • Some poison ivy has jagged leaves, but not always.
  • Poison ivy can be found as a vine on a tree, ground cover or as a bush.
  • In spring the young leaves may appear bright green and shinny, but the color can fade and the leaf can become waxy later in the season.
  • The leaves will change color in the fall and can turn red or orange.

Best advice: if you’re not sure avoid it!

Do you have any advice for recognizing poison ivy?

photo credit: Jane Kirkland via photopin cc
photo credit: yoctotech via photopin cc
photo credit: fyrefiend via photopin cc

June 27th, 2012

Watch My Organic Garden Grow

It’s Wednesday and all over the internet you will find photos with no words of explanation. Why? Because pictures say a thousand words. This week I’m going to have a few words of explanation, but I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Our small garden spot hasn’t been looking very garden-like over the past few years. The weeds took over and I wasn’t sure how or where to begin.

Groovy Green Livin Organic Garden Beginning


With a little prompting and slight pressure from my husband we decided to spend an afternoon in late May revamping our seemingly hopeless garden into something beautiful.  A very sweet friend gave us a few organic seedlings to get things started.

Groovy Green Livin Organic Seedlings

We laid down paper to try to combat the weeds.

Groovy Green Livin Organic Plants in Garden

We are a few weeks in and look what’s happened.

Groovy Green Livin Organic TomatoesAnd this.

Groovy Green Livin Organic Brussels Sprout

Can you guess what we’re growing? What’s growing in your garden?

If you have a chance check out these great blogs who also share on Wordless Wednesday: I Thought I Knew MamaDagmar’s MomsenseMy Organized Chaos, Farmer’s Daughter.

June 25th, 2012

3 Mosquito Repelling Plants

Groovy Green Livin 3 Mosquito Repellent Plants

We were up in Maine this past weekend and the mosquitoes were fierce. It was difficult to go outside without getting eaten alive. Our only saving grace was when a breeze kicked in and the mosquitoes could no longer focus on our delicious ankles, arms and legs.

The first line of defense is to cover-up

It may seem counter-intuitive for the summer months, but the best way to keep the mosquitoes at bay is to cover up your skin with long sleeves, long pants and a hat. The less skin exposed the less likely you are to get numerous bites.


Over the years I’ve been on a quest to find DEET- free bug repellents and thankfully there are plenty of options. Unfortunately,  I forgot to bring our Buzzawayalong on this  trip so we were breakfast lunch and dinner for the Maine mosquitoes. Last night my youngest son counted over 30 bites on one leg.

In addition to DEET-free bug repellents there are a few plants which will help keep mosquitoes away.

Pot of basil

Basil is a known mosquito repellent (it’s also known to repel flies). Planting fresh basil around your outdoor eating areas is a simple way to repel those pesky mosquitoes. If there’s no time to grow your own pick up fresh basil at your local farmers market or supermarket and place it in a vase on the table.  If mosquitoes are circling your head and buzzing in your ear while you are trying to catch some z’s place a vase of basil on your night table to keep the mosquito and the buzzing away.


Catnip is a natural mosquito repellent . “Catnip” is the common name for a perennial herb of the mint family. It is native to Europe and is an import to the United States and other countries. The catnip plant is now a widespread weed in North America. In August 2010, entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET.

To grow your own catnip you’ll need a perennial herb called Nepeta cataria, which can be found at a nursery or by purchasing the seeds online. Line your yard with catnip to ward off mosquitoes. Another option is to place catnip oil directly on your skin. Note of caution to cat owners-cats might find you irresistible.


Citronella has been a known mosquito repellent for quite some time. You can find citronella scented candles, bracelets, buckets and sprays. The scent from the citronella plant itself  is your best bet in keeping the mosquitoes away since that provides the strongest protection. Citronella’s strong smell tends to mask your scent, making it harder for mosquitoes to find you.

According to eartheasy:

Citronella is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass which grows to a height of 5 – 6 feet. It can be grown directly in the ground in climate zones where frost does not occur. If grown in the garden or near the patio, it should be planted in the ‘background’, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs. In northern climate zones citronella can be grown in a large pot or planter, ideally with casters, so it can be rolled indoors during winter.

Natural remedies for bug bites

Last night my son with the 30 bites on his leg couldn’t sleep. The intense itching was keeping him awake. We ended up putting a cold washcloth on his legs in the middle of the night and he was able to fall back asleep. HERE are a few more natural bug bite remedies.

Are you a mosquito magnet like I am? How do you keep the mosquitoes away?

Stock Photo © pz.axe #2284534

Linked up with Farmer’s Daughter.




March 28th, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Organic Farm Stand

It’s Wednesday and all over the internet you will find photos with no words of explanation. Why? Because pictures say a thousand words.

This photo was taken on a bike ride through the mountains. Can you guess what state I was in? Hint: not Massachusetts, but close by.

Organic Farm Stand

Linky Love:  Dagmar’s Momsense, I Thought I Knew Mama,  Organic Mama.

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

Click HERE to contact Lori

Lori on ABC World News

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