Energy Audit, February 2009

Last Thursday we got a home energy audit from a service called IAQ Solutions, part of Blue Dot Kansas.  It would have been good to get the audit last fall, but the waiting list was quite long.  The fees were also quite reasonable: the cost of the audit itself is paid by a grant, so we just have to pay for the auditor's transportation from Topeka, which will be about $125, but we haven't got the bill yet.  In any case, the recommendations he made should pay for themselves in a year or two.

Freelancing again

I'm back to freelancing as a Web developer again, and I'm at the stage where potential clients are everywhere, but actual clients are hard to find.  It always seems like people want my services when I'm not available, and as soon as I'm available, they're busy or have made other plans.  It's a lot like dating, actually!

100% post-consumer recycled wedding invitations

What my sister calls the "marital industrial complex" has been rightly criticized for its environmental impact.  When you're planning a wedding, there are simply too many things to think about without worrying about ecology as well.  I'm sure my college friends would be shocked to find that Jessie and I will be using disposable dishes, for example.

Wholesome Monster Cookies

People keep asking for this recipe, so I'm going to post it here...

I used to really love "monster cookies" -- that is, oatmeal-M&M-peanut butter cookies -- but then peanuts stopped agreeing with me, and I learned that most chocolate is made by child slaves, and I was living around a bunch of health-food enthusiasts, so I needed a wholesome substitute.  I started from this basic oatmeal cookie recipe, which I found online somewhere:

Ben mows the lawn with a reel mower

Ben mows the lawn with a reel mower

My landlady in Fairfield had an old rusty reel mower in the garage, and I tried using it once before giving up -- it just wouldn't cut worth a darn, so I assumed it was dull, and I asked around to see if anyone would sharpen it, but no one would.  But then just before I left Fairfield, a friend told me that he used a reel mower, and he was the first person I'd ever met who did, so I asked him how he sharpened it.  He said, "You don't need to sharpen it.  You just adjust it right, and it sharpens itself."  Well, that got me intrigued, so I tinkered with t

Garden goals

A number of people have asked me just what I'm planning to do with the yard.  Some are asking because they know I admire what Brian and Kelly did with their home in Fairfield, "The Pharam," even though Brian and Kelly themselves call it an experiment in chaos.  Others just want to know why the front yard is 6 inches deep in leaves.  So here are my ambitious goals for the project, which I hope Jessie supports:

Solar-powered Christmas lights - a review

Jessie and I saw some solar-powered, LED Christmas lights for sale at Target and just knew we had to try them this year.  They're made by a company called New-Ray, and here's a commercial I just found, to give you an idea what I'm talking about:

Perspective from a distance

Jessie and I just returned from spending 10 days at her parents' house in Manley, NE.  We had a great time, but we're both glad to be home!  Here are some reflections on our home life, inspired by the time away:

Fulfilling childhood dreams

Earlier this year Ben and I listened to the book The last lecture by Randy Pausch. In this book the professor, who was dying of cancer, talks a lot about the importance of fulfilling childhood dreams, no matter how big or small. I can certainly say that having Ben in my life and planning the rest of our lives together has fulfilled and is fulfilling many dreams for me but recently I fulfilled a childhood dream without him. In November, my friend Dareth and I went to the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) concert in Kansas City, Missouri.

Happy 2009 from Ben and Jessie!

I traditionally call my holiday letter a "newyearsletter" because I rarely have it in the mail before Christmas, and this year is no exception.  However, if you don't mind viewing it online, you have that option!  See Jessie's beautiful photo collage and read about our 2008!  Note that our street address and phone numbers have been removed from the online version.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

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