Monday, July 23, 2012

end of Fun Fest

Saturday is the last day of Fun Fest.  We came, we ate, we walked around, we listened to the last bit of the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.  (Really, you should see Natalie rocking to "Sweet Home Alabama."  Priceless.)  Then we watched the fireworks. 

Sarah watched the fireworks jumping up and down with excitement the entire time.  She particularly liked the heart-shaped fireworks and the smiley face ones.  Natalie kept exclaiming, "Good job, multicolored fireworks!  Do your stuff!" 

Here are some of the shots from Saturday evening.

Natalie hamming it up for the camera.

This cracks me up.  Sarah looked up right at the wrong moment and got surprised by the camera. 

Natalie wanted a picture with her daddy.

Natalie doing her She-Ra impersonation.

Crowd shot.

More of the crowd.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

balloon glow

Friday night at Fun Fest is Balloon Glow.  Hot air balloons look very pretty when they fire up in the dark (or twilight, as the case may be). 

Unfortunately, I am a lousy photographer and I didn't get any shots that did justice to the experience.  But you can still see what I did get. 

One of the balloons going down.

Another balloon goes down. 

No, my children didn't draw these.  The children of a friend of mine did.  But I thought they were cool. 
Nelson took pictures of Saturday's fireworks.  Rest assured, he took much better shots than I did. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

another frugal flop

I'm not doing so well in the save-money-by-doing-it-yourself department.  Not well at all.

Last week I wanted to try making my own yogurt.  I first read about yogurt making in the The Tightwad Gazette.  I watched Alton Brown make yogurt on Good Eats.  Then yogurt-in-the-crockpot hit the internet a few years ago.   It seemed so easy.  It also seemed cost-effective.  We love yogurt, and we eat a lot of it. 

I always have almond milk on hand and don't always have regular milk.  So I used this recipe.  I was so excited.  I couldn't wait to have yummy homemade yogurt.

Instead all I got was a great big flop.  I don't know what I did wrong exactly, but I sure as heck didn't get yogurt.  :( 

I may try one of the alternate yogurt-making methods (the heating pad is supposed to be fool-proof) if I decide to give it another whirl.  Or I may just buy yogurt at the store.  I can buy 32 ounces of Dannon vanilla yogurt for $2.99 ($0.09 per oz.).  Nostimo vanilla Greek yogurt is $0.88 for 6 oz. ($0.15 per oz.).  To make the yogurt, I need a half gallon of milk (the almond milk I used was $2.99), plus 1/2 cup of yogurt (I used the above-mentioned Nostimo).  That makes the cost for 64 oz. of yogurt $3.87, or $0.06 per oz.  Not really huge savings there--especially when you consider that store-bought yogurt goes on sale and has coupons. 

But we'll see.  I may try again and have it go a bit better.  :)  If so, I'll revisit the calculations and reevaluate whether I want to add yogurt-making to my homemaking routine.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

more fun fest

Today we went to see the annual Fun Fest magic/comedy show.  Sarah got a big kick out of it.  I'm not sure Natalie understood much of it, but she stayed still and quiet, so that's a success in my book.  :) 

After the show, we played some of the "carnival" type games that are set up at a local elementary school.  They also had several of those big bouncy things.  Sarah had a good time in one of the smaller ones.  However, one had a rather high slide which she did not like at all.  She managed to make it down once, then opted not to go back into that particular bouncy structure (what ARE those things called, anyway?). 

Both girls had a great time visiting the Kindermusik booth.  They stayed awhile, playing with every instrument there.  Sarah liked the shark and sun mascots (pictures below) and greeted both enthusiastically while Natalie cowered.  Once again, Natalie refused to have anything to do with them and claimed to be frightened.  Then as we were heading home, she declared, "I wanted to say hi to the shark!" 

We still have a few more activities to go this week, and I'll try to remember the better camera. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

fun fest adventures

It's the week of Fun Fest here.  We always enjoy many of the offered activities.  Sunday was "Farm Fest," and the girls had a great time...well, Sarah had a great time.  Natalie did too, up to a point.  But by mid-afternoon, she was WAY overdue for a nap and it SHOWED.  Finally, she had the biggest meltdown known to mankind (yes, if you heard a screaming hissy fit Sunday afternoon, it was probably her), so we left. 

I only had my phone available for picture taking, so I don't have many shots and they aren't very good.  But hopefully you'll enjoy them anyway. 

Sarah got to try her hand at good old-fashioned weaving.  She was very meticulous about it.  

Watching the experts.

Both girls liked the dulcimer.  I guess those Kindermusik classes have made an impact, huh?

This was funny.  It was a demonstration of composting.  Sarah watched and listened, but she did NOT want to touch the stuff.  Natalie, however, reached right in and grabbed the biggest handful you've ever seen.

Stringing green beans. 

Making sauerkraut. 

A cup of water--cinnamon water!  I'd never even heard of such a thing, but it was refreshing.  I may have to try to make some.  :)

The hay was a big hit.  Both girls spent a long time playing in it, running through it, rolling around in it, and throwing it at each other!  :)

Bunnies!  They were so cute and cuddly.  I wish I had better shots of each girl holding a bunny, but I don't. 

We also toured the garden, Sarah and Natalie washed handkerchiefs to hang on a line, and we saw horses, cows, and chickens.  Natalie said the chickens were the most beautiful she'd ever seen.  She talked about the horses for ages...right up until she saw them.  When we got close enough to interact with the animals, Sarah petted a horse and brushed another one.  Natalie clung to Nelson and refused to touch one.  Then she promptly spent the entire ride home wailing that she'd wanted to pet a horse and "Daddy wouldn't let" her. 

Did I mention she really needed a nap?

So we went home, and she slept for eons.  She awoke in a more pleasant mood, although still kind of bummed about the horses.  However, there were more Fun Fest activities to come. 

To be continued...

Monday, July 2, 2012

DIY: liquid castile soap

I really love Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap.  This stuff is is lovely--all natural, very mild, and it doesn't aggravate my sensitive skin. 

The downside?  It's EXPENSIVE. 

My favorite grocery store here sells Kirk's castile soap in bars for only about $1 per bar.  Much more reasonable.  The bars lather well and have all of the above mentioned advantages of the above Dr. Bronner's. 

The downside?  I really prefer the liquid.  I can't help it.  I just do. 

So when I read this idea, I knew I wanted to try it. 

I started out grating the soap with a box grater.  It's kind of a pain, and I'm honestly not sure why I did that.  I know better.  I figured out a long time ago that a rotary style grater works better for soap.  Once I switched, the process went a lot faster.  I'd say I spent about 15 minutes grating two bars of soap.  I could have spent less time if I'd never bothered with the box grater to begin with, but we'll stick with the 15 minute time frame for now. 

Once I was finished, I had this much liquid soap to show for my efforts: 

I estimated, based on the sizes of the containers that I filled, that I have about 108 oz. of liquid soap. 

The cheapest I could find Dr. Bronner's was $14.16 for 32 oz. at Amazon.  That means to get 108 oz., I would have to spend $47.79. 

Again estimating, I spent $2.41 (once tax is included) on my two bars of soap.  I don't think the energy expended to boil water is really that significant, but I'll go crazy here and round up to $2.50. 

That means for about 20 minutes worth of work (I'm including time to pour the soap into my containers, and again I could have spent less time if I had switched to the rotary grater sooner), I saved a whopping $45.29.  If you want to figure out an "hourly wage" like The Tightwad Gazette does, that's $135.87 per hour.  Not too shabby.  If you include the hour the soap is just sitting, it's still an hourly wage of $30.19--again, not too shabby, though far less impressive sounding.  But I'm pretty content just to say I save over $45 by making my own, for only 20 minutes worth of hands-on time.

The results weren't perfect.  My liquid soap solidified somewhat overnight.  So I will definitely need to adjust something.  I'm thinking I need to remove the stockpot from the hot stove eye, rather than just killing the heat, since the blogger I'm stealing the idea from thought maybe it cooked too long. 

However, I added a bit of water to my first container of soap and shook it up and although it's still not real "liquid-y", it is more gel-like and will at least come out of the container and lather up on my pouf.  I'm satisfied with that.  I know I've read that people who make the homemade laundry detergent in its "liquid" form sometimes find its consistency strange.  It apparently doesn't get truly "liquid-y" either.  So it may just be par for the course as far as trying to make homemade liquid soap.  For over $45 in savings, I'm not going to be too picky.  The stuff works, and I have an awful lot of it for just $2.50. 

So all in all, I'm satisfied with this DIY project, and I will do it again.  I'll update if my results vary next time (especially if it ends up working better and avoiding the solidifying problem!).  But don't hold your breath--it's going to take me awhile to use up all that I have currently!  ;) 

DIY projects that I've done so far:

1. Cleaning wipes
2. Sourdough bread
3. Fry bread
4. Detangler spray (this is so ridiculously easy, it almost doesn't count)
5. Liquid castile soap

Note: product links are affiliate links.