June 2009


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I’ve passed by a sign exclaiming the above entreaty for the last few years but it wasn’t until recently that we were introduced to the group responsible for the sign: Alaska Live Steamers. Last summer our good friends invited us along to the Alaska Live Steamers train ride operation, located next to the Alaska Transportation Museum. For a donation of $4 per person to this nonprofit organization, a trained volunteer will transport you and your family on miniature trains on a 7 1/2 gauge track through a scenic wooded lot. The ride lasts approximately 20 min. Our ride was closer to 30 min., as the train derailed a few times (for a train of this size, it’s not a big deal to derail, they just quickly lift the passenger car back onto the track). Additionally, as the first ride of the day, we stopped at an embankment so that volunteers could put out a herd of plastic dinosaurs. The conductor explained that the dinosaurs had to be brought in each night or the nearby family of foxes would drag them back to their den. Placed throughout the ride, along the track, are various dioramas of sorts: a farm scene, an outhouse, a cabin with a barbie on the porch, a box car with G.I. Joe hanging off the side, a wild west town, and even a run-down barbie mansion that Kevin cutely termed “Neverland”. For more information, as well as dates and times of operation, check out the Club website.

I love the idea behind this club; some hobbyists joined forces and found a way to support their hobby and further their love by providing a service that brings smiles to kids’ (and adults!) faces.

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Well, I’m FINALLY ready to wrap up the Emergency Preparedness series! Summaries and action steps from this series:

Food Storage

  1. Identify your food storage goals. What kind of time frame would you like to stock up for? A week? A month? Three months? Our goal is to have three months of good food plus 3 months of beans and rice.
  2. What types of food do you want to stock? Beans, rice, and wheat are popular choices. To this short list we personally add powdered milk and canned tomatoes.
  3. Work your food storage into your meal plans so that you know how to cook with these items.

Helpful links from this post:

  • Safely Gathered In – Food storage tips, stocking schedules, and recipes, plus how to prepare an emergency car kit and 72-hour kit
  • Wolf Lake Wellness – A local food coop that makes monthly group purchases of organic produce and Azure Standard food items. They updated their site and database method and it is awesome…
  • Wholy Living – A local grainary that sells miscellaneous food items ideal for storage.
  • Organic Alaska – An Anchorage area coop that sells Azure Standard food items.

Water for Emergencies

  1. Know how much water you need (One gallon per day per person is recommended)
  2. Know your water sources (supply of bottled water at home, unconventional reservoirs in the house, nearby lakes  and streams)
  3. Get ‘er done! Buy gallons of water, water purification tablets, pumps, etc. (according to your need).

Helpful links from this post:

Warmth During Emergencies

During an emergency, two good options exist for staying warm:

  1. Ditch your house in favor of somewhere that has an alternate heat source. If this is your chosen option, take steps to protect your house from freezing temps.
  2. Install a wood stove or gather a generator and electric heaters for a temporary home heating solution.

Helpful links from this post:

At Maxwell House we’ve completed our food storage goals. We still aren’t storing much water, and we’d like to eventually get a nice hand filter, maybe at REI’s fall sale? This is the are that we’ll need to focus on the most. With regards to heating, we’ve got our chimney in! Yay! Hopefully within a month we’ll have the hearth built and the wood stove in place.

A final word on emergency preparedness: perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare for an emergency is to MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE. A verse stored in your noggin’ and remembered in times of distress is more valuable than any food or water storage. I’ve admittedly gotten lax in my practice of memorization (the monthly kid’s verse notwithsdanding), I want to make it a priority again.

Kevin's Da Man

Overheard spoken by a certain Maxwell House Dad: “We should go to a rock concert to give our ears a rest.”

If I could live on bread and cheese, I totally would. In the bread world, I am diggin’ a spelt/kamut/prairie gold blend. Our current cheese obsession (I don’t use that word lightly) is Dubliner by KerryGold. We buy it from Costco. Dontcha just love that giant hanger of a store?

In other news, my husband rocks. We were at a wedding this past weekend when I had a sudden realization of yet another way he is a super hubby. He accepts who I am. Wahoo. Let me elaborate; often I say goofy stuff, and he never teases me or gets embarrassed of me. A little dialogue as an example (spoken at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony):

Lovely stranger behind me: “It was a pleasure to sit behind you. You’ve got gorgeous curly hair!”
Me: “Oh gee, I’m glad I took a shower today!” Then embarrassingly fumbling, “I mean I was debating, uh… uh…”

Who says that kind of stuff? TMI Janeen, TMI. I think maybe it stems from that whole “I want everyone to be my friend” thing. Like I assume that presumptuous intimacy will accomplish a lifelong bond of chats over coffee and European cruises. Oh dear. And my man? He didn’t say a word 🙂

    Originally posted here. A Maxwell House note: we’ve since swapped all of our old DVDs for veggie tales and kid movies. This service has been great for us.

    *       *       *

    Do you have a bunch of books/movies/music laying around that you don’t use? Want to trade your old stuff for some new stuff? We recently started swapping our old DVDs for kid movies, by using the service SwapaDVD. SwapaDVD allows you to list all the old DVDs you don’t want any more, and build a queue of DVDs you’d like to own. Each time you send out one of your DVDs (at your expense) you recieve a credit. When one of the DVDs in your queue becomes available, SwapaDVD notifies you, and if you have a credit you can opt to have it sent to your address (at the shippers expense). Sweet!

    It costs about $1.85 to send out a DVD. Because of this cost, I wouldn’t recommend it as a rental type service (there are better options available, like Netflix, Blockbuster, or Blockbuster rewards). However, it’s a great way to get some movies that you’d like to keep for a while. Right now we’re trying to stock up on Veggie Tales. This way we get each movie for $1.85 instead of the $10 it costs to buy new. SwapaDVD makes it super easy to ship. They have a mailing label you just print off your computer, wrap around your DVD, slap on some postage, and send.

    If you’re interested, they also offer PaperbackSwap (for swapping books) and SwapaCD (for swapping music). There are a few other sites out there that offer this service (like SwitchPlanet, which I checked out) but none seem as simple as SwapaDVD. The next best thing would be getting DVDs free from friends (a local swap would be sweet) or getting them for a quarter at a garage sale. Can you even find stuff for a quarter anymore?

    Finally, the last of the Emergency Preparedness series, WARMTH. Check out the past posts for WATER and FOOD.

    In an Alaskan winter, where temperatures can often dip to -30 degrees, it is prudent to have a plan for keeping your family warm if gas and power are lost. Out of the three topics discussed in this series, this implementation is likely to be the most costly. Your options if your primary heat source is unavailable during the winter months is 1) abandon the house and seek shelter elsewhere, or 2) prepare by purchasing and implementing a second, “off-grid” source of warmth. We’ll take a look at these two options separately:

    1. If you don’t have a way to heat your home in an emergency, you’ll want to take steps to protect your investments from freezing temperatures. To lessen the speed at which heat leaves your home, take the following steps: check the weather stripping around your doors and windows, and replace if necessary. Check your attic insulation and blow/lay in more if necessary. Simply Insulate has detailed information on determining your actual and recommended R-value and adding insulation.
    2. Install an off-grid source of heat. Temporarily, heaters that run off of propane could be useful, but they’re not meant for long term use, and they must be used carefully to insure the safety of your house and family. A generator can be tied into your current heating system to provide warmth, or a generator can be used to power several electric heaters. Your best bet if you’re interested in long-term off-grid warmth is to invest in a wood stove. We just bought a stove at Central Plumbing and Heating’s annual sale last month. With the 20% off discount we were able to purchase the stove, pipe, and accessories for less than it would have cost for just the stove at regular prices. Thank you God! If you’re in the market for plumbing or heating supplies, keep this sale in mind as it affects the prices of nearly all items in CPH.

    Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to get prepared in this area. Baby steps, eh? For example, you could start saving for a stove and plan on checking your insulation R-Value this summer. Have fun crawling around in your attic 🙂