February 2009


behemoth-icon

One of my favorite blogs, Money Saving Mom, recently posted about a new digital entertainment site, called Behemoth. Think “itunes for the conservative Christian” 🙂 Entertainment categories include AudioBooks, Learning (conferences, Home Ed.), Movies, Music, and Sermons. The selection is rather thin, but I expect there are some real gems in each category. From Behemoth’s welcome section:

Behemoth.com’s vision is as big as its name: to provide a large-scale, cost-effective download venue for customers of all ages, featuring trustworthy, downloadable audio and video content for the Christian family.

I haven’t downloaded any content yet, as we’re nearing our bandwith cap for the month (if only we lived in the lower 48, we could have unlimited bandwith rather than our measly 10gb for an arm and a leg). I’m eyeing some of the children’s films and audiobooks, and hope to download one next month. If anyone beats me to it, let me know how your experience goes.

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I just finished a great documentary on PBS’ Frontline called Inside the Meltown. This segment, which aired last Tuesday, chronicled the beginnings of the U.S.’s current economic troubles, from Bears Stearns “shotgun wedding”, to the October 2008 investment of the U.S. Government in the nation’s nine largest banks. Even though this documentary gave an “infusion is the only option” point of view, and hailed Paulson’s “conversion” from conservative to expansive policy, I still enjoyed the timeline aspect and learned a lot. I’m interested in learning more about the idea of Moral Hazard (just a name for an idea that we’re all familiar with), and why this idea has been completely steamrolled in the interest of stopping the fall of Wall Street. Check out the website, where you can also watch this segment online.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while. Here’s a list of some of my absolute favorite things we have around the Maxwell house. Some are more useful than others, but I think all are worth putting here. Let me know if you’ve had experience with any of these too!

  • Open Office – This not so little piece of software is an awesome alternative to the Microsoft Office Suite. The mac version is titled Neo Office. Both are absolutely free, and updates occur often. Unless you’re doing frequent presentations, I think you’ll find that this freeware is just as useful as its expensive counterpart.
  • Grapefruit Spoons – Our diets have contained a lot more fruit ever since this little invention made its way into our cupboard. We never used to buy grapefruit because of all the work required to scrape out a few meager scraps of citrus. Now, we enjoy a grapefruit every day. Locally, you can find them at All I Saw Cookware, or at several online stores.
  • Walmart 88 cent toy section – located in the toy section, this little space is a real gem. Here you can find everything from sunglasses to plastic animals to jumping jacks. This is a favorite stop for me while stocking up on entertainment items in preparation for an upcoming flight.
  • Click-N-Ship – Actually going to the Post Office is SO 2008. Visiting USPS’s online site is way cooler. Here you can buy stamps and have them delivered to your mailbox (it’s an extra buck for a sheet of stamps, but it’s worth it for me). My favorite section of this site is where you can use Click-N-Ship to send packages anywhere right from your house (your postal carrier will pick them up). You just fill out some info, charge the postage to your credit card, and print off a label. What? You don’t have any boxes with which to package your goodies? Request more straight from USPS.com and your mail carrier will deliver them to you (they’re free!) Don’t know how much a box weighs? Just cram as much as you can into a flat-rate box and you’re charged a straight amount regardless of how heavy the box is. We just climbed back on the ebaying bandwagon so I love using this service for all of my outgoing packages.
  • Net10 Prepaid Phone & Service – This is a great option for those of us who want a cell phone but don’t need a ton of minutes each month. After hours of research, we purchased this phone for me at the local Walmart, and ported my number over. This prepaid service charges a flat 10 cents per minute for local/long distance/roaming calls. Minutes can be purchased in blocks of 300 (or greater), which adds 60 days of service, for $30. I’ll do the math: that’s 150 minutes per month, at $15 bucks. This is about the same price we paid to have me on Kevin’s ACS plan (we’re saving a couple of bucks), but now we have the benefit of not loosing these minutes each month (they rollover) and we can also use this phone when we’re calling out of state, or when we’re in a roaming area. With the amount of minutes I use (around 50 per month) we should be banking plenty of airtime for future use.
  • Yogurt Maker – If you eat a lot of yogurt, or would like to start, this is a great appliance to have around. It’s not absolutely essential for the process (you can incubate yogurt in other ways), but it’s a great idea if you don’t want to have to babysit your yogurt. These usually come in quart size, so the cost of your yogurt ends up being pretty much just the cost of milk. $3.50 a gallon for yogurt is a great price, plus you control the fat and sugar. The process is simple: you heat up milk until just before boiling (we use whole milk), let it cool to room temp and then add yogurt starter (either freeze-dried, or just plain yogurt from a previous batch). Then you incubate, and 8-10 hrs. later, toss it into the fridge and eat! It’s easy to add some sugar and flavoring, although you have to be careful when you add it to the process. I won’t go into that here, there are plenty of great sites that explain how to get the best results. Here’s an article from the Dollar Stretcher that explains the process, although there are many variations.

WLW order

Last night we picked up our first Organic produce order from Wolf Lake Wellness (located 10 min. down Wasilla Fishhook). Oh boy, am I excited. WLW is a cooperative that ships up fresh produce from Organically Grown, out of Oregon. They also take orders for Azure Farms, out of Darfur, Oregon (grocery and household items). I helped do some sorting last night, and let me tell you (sounds like I’m selling something, huh?), all the fruits and veggies looked amazing. Organically Grown guarantees all their produce, so there’s no chance of getting smooshed or rotten fruit. This being our first trial of WLW, we only ordered $40 of produce, including Naval Oranges, Minneolas, Kale, Kumquats, Pears, Mangos, Broccoli, Avocados, and yellow onions. The owner breaks down cases into portions as small as 1/8 case so that customers can try a new product. The breaking down of cases is very labor intensive, so customers are encouraged to buy whole and half cases whenever possible. There are hundreds of different types of produce available. The prices are phenomenal, I’d guess 50-75% the price of Organic produce from the grocery store. Check out WLF’s yahoo group for more info. The owner will be taking orders for March produce, but will be taking April and May off (boo hoo), so if you’re interested you might want to check them out soon. I expect that March orders will be taken towards the end of this month.

Now all I need to do is figure out how to make sure we order the maximum amount that we can actually eat, and get creative on storing the rest (freezing, drying, etc.) In my ideal world I’d just make this order once a month and not have to pick up any other produce from the grocery. I am SO not there yet 🙂 If only Glacier Valley Farm CSA would add a Wasilla drop off, I could get the bulk of my produce from WLW and still get fresh local produce weekly. Ahhh, that would be good!

Posts from February 2008:

Today I started in on Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn. We’ve had this book several years (won it off of a KAFC contest), and it just never looked appealing. After reading the intro, I am excited and realizing that this book has a lot of appeal for me.

I still haven’t finished this Alcorn book. I got halfway through and…? Argh.

this week, I efiled on Sunday and discovered during my Tuesday (36 week) appointment that we’ll be having this baby sooner than we thought. Three days later I think I’m finally mentally “ready”. Now just to cook a few more days (37 weeks is considered full term) and then we’ll see how my next appointment (Tuesday) goes

Ha. This makes me laugh. Jacob didn’t arrive until 39 weeks, and that only after an induction (my midwife was leaving for Hawaii, among other reasons). I am so NOT finding out how things are “progressing” until at least 39 weeks next time. Lesson learned.

This was my first attempt at using an icing bag, and it looks a bit like a blind monkey did the decorating. I just told everyone that Jimmy helped 🙂

he took a lick of the frosting, but otherwise no cake entered his tummy. I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad that he doesn’t seem to like sugar!

This most recent birthday’s icing bag fun didn’t go much better. I kept popping the top off the bag while trying to fill the cupcakes. It’s turned into a battle of wills now. Who will win? Janeen or the icing bag? Oh, and this whole Jimmy doesn’t like sugar thing has taken a recent u-turn. It’s about time.

Couponing is such a roller coaster for me. Over the past year I’ve had fun spending some weeks cutting coupons and making deals, and other times I’ve not worried about getting the best deal, just enjoying the process of grocery shopping. Here are a few sites that offer printable coupons for organic foods. I usually check these before I head to Fred’s to see if there are any can’t miss match-ups with sales:

  • HealthESavers – including Lundberg rice, Organic Valley diary products, brown cow yogurt
  • Delicious Living’s eCoupons – including RW Knudsen Drinks, Health Valley, and Lundberg rice
  • Mambo Sprouts – including Annie Chun’s, Odwalla, Biokleen, Method
  • About.com’s organic grocery coupons list – this list contains links to popular organic grocery food companies, which often offer printable coupons on their own sites
  • Coupon Mom’s coupon database – Occasionally I’ll just type sale items into the database and see if there is a coupon I’m missing. This is a great, quick tool to use if you don’t have much time. You do have to register, I couldn’t find any databases that didn’t require this. Another bet for a good coupon database is Hot Coupon World.

Any other tips out there?

Congratulations to my brother and his wife on the birth of their baby boy yesterday. We are so excited for them! Our kids now have a cousin. I can envision them running around the woods together, building forts and making mud pies.

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