Smith's "Nauvoo Polygamy"

From frozen milk to something else entirely...

My husband and I sometimes make time to attend a local discussion group, where topics involving Mormonism are aired. The discussions are housed in the Potomac home of a well-to-do individual. It's more like visiting an Italian castle than anything else. And the refreshments are good.

And the company is invariably interesting.

At the end of the month the discussion group will host George D. Smith, who recently published a book titled "Nauvoo Polygamy: '...but we called it celestial marriage'." I note that he is, in fact, both author as well as the founder and current publisher of Signature Books, the imprint bringing out "Nauvoo Polygamy."

I understand George D. Smith is a fascinating person. And since I am highly interested in Nauvoo and the emergence there of polygamy, I decided to buy George Smith's book.

My family was involved in the emergence of Nauvoo polygamy. So one of the first things I did was try to find my people. The first page listed in the index gives a super-brief summary. The second page has nothing at all to do with my family member.


I will be reading the book, but I've already noticed several instances where the author's choice of words or characterization is like fingernails on a chalkboard to this reader.

I expect George Smith is more personable in the flesh.

If you want a review of the book and don't want to wait for me to read it, my husband found a review here: http://is.gd/fMGE.


Freezing Costco Milk

If you shop at Costco, you've noticed that the milk cartons are very unique - more rectangular than the normal jugs in the regular supermarkets.

So I got thinking there must be a good reason for that.

It would be sufficient reason if they were able to reduce the packaging for themselves. Maybe the new carton means they don't have to have those big plastic crates (the ones we used to seek out back during college - they made great furniture for the truly penny-pinching). That would be sufficient reason, but of no use to me.

On the other hand, the new carton might be good for freezing milk. But I didn't know if freezing milk is "done." Turns out it is possible, best done with skim milk, and it changes the mouth feel enough that you'll never find the dairy council recommending the practice.

But I'm just a busy mother with kids who want their milk. If having a frozen gallon or so around between shopping trips lets me buy all my milk at Costco (less than $3/gallon), that would beat the $4/gallon we are currently paying at the local grocery.

So I did the experiment. Milk expands when frozen, but the Costco cartons are thick-walled and have bunches of "grooves" in the side which allow for expansion. Plus the more columnar form of the carton means the milk can expand upwards without being forced into a bottle neck. In all, it worked pretty well.

The milk took a while to thaw. The milk ice is much more ice than milk. We started drinking milk before the ice had thawed, and that milk tasted like powdered milk. But when we let the entire gallon thaw, it tasted normal enough.

So - freezing milk is a bit of a hassle. But for our family, it is sufficiently acceptable given the $ savings.


The Freedom of Freecycling

I have to admit it. I have an addictive personality.

No, not that you are addicted to my personality, rather that I find it very easy to get addi... absorbed in things.

So this freecycle thing. I suppose it could be considered my latest addiction. But it's a good addiction.

I don't need the stuff filling boxes and crevices throughout my home. It's like the material equivalent of fatty deposits over muscles or lining the walls of blood vessels. It looks gross and inhibits my ability to do everything I might wish. For those who've encountered the Flylady crowd, they refer to it as CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome).

Each day in 2009 I've found something I don't want to keep around, for whatever reason. I list it on the Freecycle page. Usually by the end of the 24 hours I have not just one person who wants my discard, but many people. I don't have to do much, just bag it, label it, and place it near the door. The stuff flies out of the house. I feel like I'm making people happy, and I'm happy because that stuff clearly had value to someone. I wasn't *crazy* to keep it around all that time. Silly, perhaps, but not crazy.

Others in the family are catching the "don't have to hoard it" fever. My married daughter tells me she started a freecycle group in her town. My younger kids help me search for freecycle fodder, or have offered up their stuff.

So today I come home and ask out loud what I should freecycle today.

"Dad says to freecycle the rollerblades."

This is my husband who still has boxes of mag tapes from the 1980s.

Oh. My. Goodness. There is hope yet.


Happy 2009!

It's a new year - arbitrary as that is. Still it's a chance to make a break with the past and start new - like the cleansing baptism or communion serve in some communities. Rather than tell you the myriad things I hope to do, I'll focus on one area:


Here are a couple of ways I'm explicitly going to go (or stay) green.

Recycling.  We are lucky to have places nearby where we can recycle paper, plastic, glass, metal, electronics, and plastic bags.  This almost doesn't count as a new thing, because we're pretty well set up to do these things now.

Freecycling.  Again, we're lucky.  I don't know if this is an option everywhere, but in our area there is an active freecycle group. Last year I mostly remember the cool stuff we got - a futon mattress and frame, a dresser, a refrigerator.  In the past month, though, I've started offering stuff up for freecycle - a loft bed, a violin, electronics. My 2009 goal is to offer up at least one thing per day (on average).  I have boxes and boxes of stuff I keep telling myself I should go through.  For years.  But in my quest to find something else fresh and desirable, I expect to see those boxes dwindle appreciably over the coming year.  It would be so nice to be able to actually use the space I own.  I'll also get a better sense of what is actually desirable - I mean, if people don't even want it for free, is it worth keeping/donating?

E-gifting.  In past we've received large boxes at Christmas time, but no more.  This year the gifts we received were modest in size if mailed.  In a couple of cases the gifts were hand delivered. Exchanging gift cards?  You may say, "What's the point?"  I find that knowing we have a gift card or check frees me to get a thing I really want, a thing I wouldn't get if it were just me and my own funds.  I figure I'm freeing the recipient from having to exchange items.  And if I give a particularly fungible giftcard, they can use it for necessities, if that is really their greatest need. Besides, I've found that's an easy way to help out folks when I become aware of a need.  Someone's computer blows up with all their files, someone is in danger of being evicted.  I give generously through official channels at work and church, but there are times when you just want to help a particular individual who is down and out.  E-gifting lets me do that and extends the potential scope of friends I can help across the globe.

Fight the "Bigger, Better" temptation.  I already live in a town home within walking distance of school and (in a stretch) church, and shopping.  It's a modest commute from work, which I can do by public transit when not required to drive myself.  So I'll remind myself that is good.  No salivating over lovely single-family homes that would increase my commute and require that we use a car to do anything and everything. Beyond that there are the decisions about what to do with the home we have.  There's a line between necessarily maintenance and "but I *want* a new floor, redesigned fixtures, the thing that will make my house look like that magazine ad."  I can embrace the value of 'neat,' 'clean,' 'well-maintained' as sufficient, rather than feeling deprived because I can't gut and trash everything and start fresh. Feel free to tell me other things I should be doing, or that you're doing!