I just finished a healthy chunk of our Christmas shopping, and for kicks and giggles, I decided to build the exact same cart with both Jet.com and Amazon.

The big question now is why on earth haven’t you shopped Jet yet?

A couple notes:

  • The thing that surprised me the most was that I was able to get all of the items at both locations. When Jet first launched, it was hard to find certain things. It looks like those problems are quickly becoming past issues. Jet currently has over 9 million individual SKUs available, and while that is still a far cry from Amazon’s vast collection, it’s getting to the point that it works for most everything, especially the stuff most people buy. Plus, the number of SKUs is climbing rapidly.
  • My shopping choices ranged from toys to clothes to electronics to media to food stuffs.
  • I purchased 15 items ranging in price (on Jet from $1 to just over $40). The cheapest item on Amazon was $6.40 and the most expensive $87. I also ended up having to pay $20 shipping on one Amazon item, but I did not include that fee in my comparison below. Shipping was free with Jet.
  • Because these are gifts for the family, I am NOT going to post my purchases here for all to see.

So when all was said and done, I walked away from Jet having spent a grand total of $357.08. My Amazon total? $503.86.

That’s a difference of $146.78.

Put another way, Amazon was 41.11% MORE expensive than Jet!

So if you’re not already, why exactly aren’t you shopping on Jet? Do you like spending more money on Amazon?

And just for those that tell me that Prime gives them so much more, let’s add that $99 Prime fee in there. So Prime costs $99 a year, and for this specific order I would have spent roughly $150 more than on Jet. So for the $250 I just saved on this single order and not having a Prime membership, it’s worth it to have 2-day shipping and access to some media….

To each their own, I guess.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary since moving in. It’s surprising that it’s been a year already, but what a good last year! As I think back over the last year, there really isn’t that much that I would do differently, and that’s a nice feeling. It seems like there is always a thing or two that I’d like to change, but I can’t say that this year.

We’ve got pretty much my whole family heading this way for Thanksgiving, and we’re enjoying the calm before the storm. It promises to be busy, loud, and crowded. And it works.

We’ve got the snowmen up for Christmas, the tree is up with lights (no decorations just yet), and a good chunk of the painting is finally done on the main level. It’s all coming together finally.

Oh, and lest I forget, we did another Practice Thanksgiving this past week. Truly delicious. We made the turkey like we normally do, and had potatoes, veggies, pies (four), stuffing, cranberries, green bean casserole, and rolls. It was good to get together with friends and just have a good time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a meeting at the church this morning, and after the meeting, a friend invited me over to his house to get a squash. Boyd also keeps bees, and I asked if I could see his hives because, well… bees!

When we got up to his hives, we noticed a fairly decent amount of activity, which is uncommon on a cold morning (about 39 degrees). On closer inspection, we noticed that it was wasps and not bees, and that there was a healthy stream of the little beasts flying in and out! Boyd quickly cracked open his hive and confirmed that he had a colony in the top of the hives, but that wasps were scattered throughout the hive raiding. We quickly sealed up the hive completely except for a single tiny entrance at the very top. Within moments, a sizable number of wasps had built up in front of the hive trying to get in. I’m hoping we got the entrance closed up in time, but I admit to not feeling very confident in that. I think the damage is done, and we probably trapped another 50 wasps inside who will just continue to do damage until they are gone.


Boyd filled a bucket full of carrots and onions for me, and I went home.

When I got home, I checked my own hives. I have seen some wasp activity around the hives, and yesterday I couldn’t hear the bees when I knocked on the hives. That’s always been a fairly unreliable way to check for me, so I wasn’t too worried. After Boyd’s disaster, though, I moved my entrance reducers to the smallest opening possible and cracked the lid. The top of Inside Hive was full of very active bees. The top of Outside Hive had bees but they were less active. I think Inside Hive was more active because I was a touch more aggressive in trying to get a noise through knocking. Both hives weren’t necessarily light but also weren’t that heavy oomph that I would have hoped for.

I still need to get into Inside Hive and pull the medication strips (I’m still bugged I had to do that), and I will do a good honey check when I do that. If they are light, I will sugar feed (even though I hate that as much as I hate medicating). It’s better to sugar feed and live than not and starve.

With the bees done, I went inside to clean up the carrots and onions Boyd had given me. Boyd suspected that most of the onions were bad, which turned out true. We were able to salvage just one, but the carrots were almost entirely good. There was only three or four that had been nibbled on by rodents or rotted in the cold. The rest were pristine, crunchy, and perfect.

As I cleaned them, I had the strong thoughts that we have got to do better of being self-sufficient. Boyd talked about how he’s able to keep most of his veggies fresh and edible clear into mid-winter with very little effort. That includes the squash and especially his root vegetables like carrots and onions. Looking across his garden, which wasn’t that big, I’d guess he had a good 200 lbs of cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and various other kinds of produce that he simply hadn’t gotten around to harvesting. I’d guess total garden space at less than 30 X 30 feet. It was a spectacular haul of produce and very inspiring for me.

This year we didn’t plant a garden of any kind. We kept hoping to have the garden ready for spring and it just didn’t happen. Courtney has committed to spending time this fall at clearing that garden space so we can use it. It’s a big space, and if we plant it right and maintain it, we could probably get quite a harvest out of it. Of course, I would love to double and even triple the size of it. It just has the feel of “right” to it all.

I don’t know what the future holds for us, but the more I learn about health, eating right, and the world in general, the more I’m convinced that local, sustainable food is by and large among the best of paths for many of us. I hope this next spring to join the ranks in full!

Almond Milk

I’ve had a few gross days nutritionally. Since switching jobs, I’ve not done as well eating (fully stocked breakroom with all my happiest treats!), and I’ve also lost my lunch walk. Everything is so busy that I just don’t get out that much. I need to put forth the effort to walk though, and I will.

Anyway, I’ve long had issues with milk (pretty standard stuff), and after the gross days, I decided I wanted to try a couple things. I saw a report about nut milks, something I’ve always been kind of iffy on, but it caught my eye this time. Courtney has done nut milks in the past due to dietary issues with the kids, and we fed Katherine straight soy milk as a young girl because she could not handle dairy. The report I saw, however, showed how to make your own nut milks, and it’s surprisingly easy (though still expensive). Here’s the basic recipe I followed:

  • 1 cup of nuts/seeds of your choice (I used almonds, but I want to try hazelnuts)
  • 4 cups hot water
  • sweetner (I used about 1.5 tbs of honey)
  • vanilla to taste (about a tbs for me)
  • a pinch of salt

You take the nuts and soak them in water overnight. I did mine for about 18 hours, which was great. Drain off the water and put the nuts with the rest of the ingredients in a blender and let it go. After a minute or so, you strain out the pulp (we used the strainer from our yogurt maker), and there you go!

It came out really watery with a light vanilla scent to it. I think next time I’d use a little more honey. I don’t care for the watery texture (makes skim milk look creamy!), but it works well in foods. I had some with a bowl of grits, and you couldn’t really notice the difference at all.

Because there’s nothing to preserve the milk, you have to use it within a couple days, so keep that in mind.

This is, for me, part of a long-term and slow moving goal to be healthy. I was promised that if I would live close to the Word of Wisdom, I would be able to avoid the plagues of the modern day. What those plagues mean could be any of dozens of things, but if you want my opinion, it’s cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, and obesity with all the related issues. The truth of the matter is that I’ve done merely okay with being and eating healthy. But over the last two or three years, I’ve made a stronger and more consistent push to do better. This is part of that.

I did something yesterday that I had vowed to avoid if at all possible: I put a mitecide in my hives (Apistan). To medicate or not is one of those beekeeping questions that, in my experience, is classic trench warfare with firm opinions and, I think anyway, valid arguments one way or the other. For those who do medicate, I’ve heard arguments about how as beekeepers we have a responsibility to do all we can to help and protect our bees from the plague of varroa destructor. For those who don’t, I hear how medicating is just breeding weak and susceptible stock and how many beekeepers medicate incorrectly which creates stronger mites.

I fall in the middle.

As a practice, I don’t sugar feed (the pH of sugar is harmful to bees and beneficial to varroa), I don’t medicate (I tend to lean towards the breeding and medication issues I described), and I don’t spin my honey (pollutions and chemicals can build up in the wax over time, and harvesting the wax each year reduces that risk). And having said that, I would point out that I have sugar fed, I have medicated, and I have spun. My current attitudes come from a mix of my own readings and study and my experience with my hives. Personally, I’ve had a lot of success without sugar feeding and medicating.

But on the other hand, even if you don’t like to shoot foxes, when the fox is in the hen house, you pull the trigger. My Inside Hive has a mite problem, and if I do nothing, they will die this winter. At least by medicating, I give them a chance. It’s better that the live with the complications that I feel medicating causes than that they die outright.

So yesterday I regretfully slipped two strips of Apistan into my hive, and I’d do it again in a heart beat if I found my hive struggling. To thank me for my efforts, two bees crawled up my pant leg and give me a gift in my right calf. I had a super in my hands at the time, and it took me a minute to put it down and then move safely away from the hive so that I could remove the stingers. I got enough venom that I have a lovely sausage for a lower leg. Because I move that leg a lot, the venom has spread in fun ways and left me itchy spots all over. I’m glad I’m not going to be on my feet for work tomorrow because the last thing I need is that venom trailing into my foot. That would be incredible!

My reactions to the venom seem to be heading the right direction though. My first sting in my hand was violent enough that I didn’t sleep that night for the itching. Over the years, it has diminished to the swelling and dull itchy feeling that only really comes when the sting gets scratched.

Back to the medication…. The only real concern I have now (aside from medicating in general) is that I get to make an early December visit to pull those strips out. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates enough to give me one last warm Saturday around Thanksgiving!

I bottled the honey from the harvest a few weeks back. As is usual, I put all the wet wax out for the bees to pick through and salvage what they could.

And then I sat in the middle the swarm (took my first sting of the year as well, though from a wasp).


Dave Loveless–10/10/2015

Pretty Incredible! Here’s another shot of the same swarm.


Dave Loveless–10/10/2015

After sitting for a while, I started noticing which bees were from the same hive and which were not. Most of the bees largely ignored each other, but there was quite a bit of fighting, including this lovely little lady who was nursing the stump of her missing legs.


Dave Loveless–10/10/2015

Poor thing.

I don’t remember seeing fighting like that the last few years, though now that I think about it, I suppose I wouldn’t have noticed it. In the new house, the spot I chose for the pan of wax was just outside the kitchen window. In our old house, it was out the back door and in a secluded area of the yard. Hard to see and watch.

As the beekeeping year comes to a close, I’ve settling into a comfortable happiness with the bees. I admit that I could take it or leave it at this point, but that I’d prefer to take it. I like having bees. I like being unique in that way, I like what I can do for my local ecosystem, I like the fresh honey, I like having something to do and be engaged in, and I like having something to look forward to each spring. I like being a beekeeper.


Honey for harvest–9/26/2015

Two hives seems just about perfect. It’s enough to be busy without being busy. It’s enough to get us the honey we typically use, have a little left over for friends and family, and the wax we like to use for lotions and stuff.

I want to make at least one more visit to the hives before this year wraps up (probably next week and hopefully with some mite strips for Inside Hive). I don’t want to lose that hive. I think I’ll find another batch of harvestable frames on that hive for another gallon or two, but I admit that I don’t know that I’ll take them. I don’t need more honey, and I am loathe to take from them more than I need.


Honey Harvest–9/26/2015

And so closes year… 6? I think this was the sixth year for beekeeping. Not that it matters.

Missing Three Friends

As General Conference continues this weekend, I am missing more and more the voices of three beloved friends: President Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry, and Elder Richard G. Scott. I miss the wisdom and spirit and calmness they brought with them, the rich emotional tenor of Elder Scott, the sly smile of Elder Perry, and the humble consistency of President Packer.

I find myself waiting for them to just still be there, and while I’m excited and eager for the three newly called Apostles of Jesus Christ, there’s still that lack.

I’ve had the extreme good fortune of meeting Perry and Scott in person, and my memories are rich and full. Both visited my mission while I was serving in Brazil, and both left a lasting impression on me. Perry’s enthusiasm for missionary work and the gospel was contagious. Scott’s sobriety and commitment was palpable. He invited all of (four missions or ~800 people) to come one-by-one to shake his hand. I remember his size. He was tiny, and as he was so capable of doing, he seemed to look through our souls. He and Elder Christofferson (then of the Seventy) spent the next six hours pouring truth, light, and knowledge on us in a never-ending flood of teaching. It was then and remains now one of the deepest and richest experiences of my life.

And while I never met President Packer in person, I’ve long lived his unalterable consistency in testimony and faith. Surely few other apostles of the modern era have faced such constant criticism for the stances he took on marriage, family, and the gospel, and I loved him for it.

So as conference continues, I find my ears perking for that country drawl, the guttural rumblings, and the oddly paced potency of three beloved friends. I miss them.

P.S. As I listened to parts of Elder Scott’s funeral services, I had the clearest image of the reunion between him and his beloved wife, Janeen on the other side. My missing these three can’t compare in any measure to the reunion that just occurred!


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