Monday, July 6, 2015

A Week of Summer Fun and Savings!

Awesome photo of a fire-breather, courtesy of Husband.

We went to the Colorado Renaissance Festival this past weekend.  The funds for this came from our trip/vacation fund.  We went on "Children's Weekend", which made Daughter's admission free.  We bought half-price admission tickets for Husband and I from Living Social.  It is clearly stated that you cannot bring food into the festival, but you can bring in sealed bottled water, so I bought a 24 pack of bottled water (on sale) the week before.  We froze some and took some chilled.  As the frozen bottles thawed, we could re-fill them from the chilled bottles.  It worked out very well.

It was "vacation" so we shared various snacks while we were at the festival.   We would get an item, share it, walk around a while and go to a show or a joust, then have something else a bit later.  We had a turkey leg, some breaded green beans with a coconut-Thai-curry-peanut sauce, an Italian ice molded into an orange half and a pretzel.  Everything was tasty, and it was nice to just stay at the festival.  (We have brought a cooler with food in the past, left it in the car and then gone out to the car to eat, then returned to the festival, but we decided against that this year.)  We had a lot of fun and really enjoyed our day.

The royals welcomed us to the village in the morning.  Later in the day,
the queen knighted Daughter (and the other children who attended the ceremony)
for her honor and loyalty to the realm.

There were big cats!

There were acrobatic jugglers!

There was jousting!
The lady to the left was dressed as a seamstress.  She had many patches
on her dress, and her hair had spools of thread and ribbon.  She was delightful - she
welcomed us at the beginning of the day, and then she was our cheer-leader
during the joust.  I wish I had gotten a better photo of her and her costume.

Sir William.  He represents honor, chivalry and justice.  We were cheering for him!

Will-iam! Will-iam! Will-iam!

We have many more pictures from our visit, but these are some highlights.  There are also many shops, offering clothing, costumes, toys, jewelry, leatherwork, swords, knives, incense, brooms, furniture, wands and more.  There are also many food choices - virtually everything was available!

Lots of people dress up for the Renaissance Festival.  It is amazing to see all the people dressed as lords and ladies, princesses and peasants, wizards and....pirates.  There were a lot of pirates!  (I also saw a young boy dressed as a fire fighter.)  It is all in good fun, but I was not interested in dressing up - those costumes all look hot to me!  Daughter, however, did want to dress as a falconer.

We borrowed a dress from a friend that would work as a tunic, but we later remembered a hooded dress that daughter had in her closet - it worked perfectly.  She wore leggings and boots for the rest of her outfit.  She has a stuffed toy eagle that she took for her bird.  I used felt to make a hood for it (You can find patterns for everything online these days!) and braided some yarn for the jesses (leg 'ties' that falconers use much like a leash for their hunting birds).  We tied a couple of stuffed animals to her belt, hanging upside down, to indicate that she had been hunting, and had gotten a rabbit and a duck.  She tucked a toy dagger in her belt and wore a brown leather glove of mine for her falconer's glove.  Finally, I used some really lovely satin fabric that my friend gave to me and made a water bottle holder and a coin bag for her belt.  She really looked the part!

I made a felt hood for 'Liberty', with a
feathered top-knot.

'Liberty' in her hood and jesses.

Alas, the costume was a bit warm, so after the costume contest, we did make a quick visit to the car.  I had packed her flip-flops, a tee shirt and shorts and she was very happy to change into those after spending over four hours in her costume.

When I had the sewing machine out for Daughter's costume accessories, I altered a pair of pants for Husband.

Back at home, it was a busy week, but our activities were more typical of our day-to-day life.  We invited friends over to play one day.  The children played outdoors until it got a little warm, then they came inside for snacks - popcorn, watermelon and lemonade - and played with legos for a while.  We spent some time at the library and borrowed books and media to keep us occupied through the week.  I did two bunny programs and subbed at the library as well.

To wash the lettuce leaves from our garden, I fill a clean sink with cold water and two drops of dish soap.
Without the soap, it is more difficult to remove the dirt.

Next, the leaves are rinsed in plain cold water.

Finally, I spin the leaves dry in the salad spinner,
then store them in a plastic container in the fridge until it's time to make salad.

I stopped picking asparagus about a week early, to let the plants go ahead and build up for winter and next spring.  Also...I admit....I was starting to burn out just a little bit.  I love asparagus, but I was not as excited to have it as I was back in May, so it was time to let the plants burst forth!  Now we have a big, wild fern-like patch of asparagus plants.  Meanwhile, we are still getting lettuces from the garden.  I picked some arugula too, and I do not like it at all.  It is, to me, very bitter and strong.  I will see if anyone I know would like some, but clearly, arugula is not for me.  Kale, however, is lovely this year, and I picked a big bag full.  We had it in some vegetable blends, and I made a kale salad that we all enjoyed.  I also picked a few peas this week and harvested some herbs for some of our meals (chives, thyme, oregano, cilantro, parsley, mint), as well as for drying for winter.  A gopher did some digging in my beans, so I set traps, but I didn't have any luck.  I did unearth a salamander when I was removing the traps (We were both very surprised.), but I turned him loose in another spot, since I was afraid I would accidentally bury him when I was filling in the gopher hole.  My tomatoes are blooming, and I can see little tiny zucchini fruits on my squash plants.

Kale.  We are getting a good crop!

Husband and I took a walk around the orchard.  We got a very late frost this year, during the time when most of our fruit trees were blooming.  It was a hard frost that took the leaves off most of the deciduous trees in our area.  However, we discovered that we have some apples, pears and peaches on our trees, as well as sour cherries.  Our harvests will not be for at least a couple of months (with the exception of the sour cherries), so we will keep an eye on those trees and make plans for harvest, freezing and canning.

My friend is out of town on a trip, so she brought me some fruit that they would not use before they left.  I made a banana cake with the bananas, and we are eating the other fruits fresh.

There were some good sales on grill foods for 4th of July.  We combined some with coupons and stocked up on smoked sausages and chicken, some condiments and snack crackers.  We had nearly $40 left from June's grocery budget, so we are in 'good shape'.  Since we are getting quite a few of our produce items from the garden right now, this is a great time to stock up on other pantry staples.  I am on the lookout for sales on a few different items.

We do not have air conditioning in our home - it is rare to actually 'need' it here.  We open the windows at night and let cool air in, then we close the windows on warm days and use the ceiling fans.  We are in our typical summertime pattern where we often get rain or stormy weather in the afternoons, so I do my best to hang laundry outdoors earlier in the day so that I can be dried and brought in before the clouds begin to form.  I have only used the drying racks once in the past few weeks.

I hope you had a good week!  Do you have plans for special summertime activities?


  1. We recently moved and I am so excited that we have 3 apple trees! Do you spray your trees with anything to keep the bugs and birds from getting all the apples? A few of our already look like bugs are getting them before they are even close to being ripe.

    1. Ashlee, the short answer is that yes, you should spray your trees for the bugs, and no, we do not. This is part of the reason I make a lot of applesauce. The deer also love apples, as do the birds. Netting will help (some) with them. There are entire books about apple care - I would suggest you talk to someone at your county extension office to find out what works best in your area. Congrats, and enjoy your new home!

  2. Fun, fun, fun! Our kids have gone to the Renaissance Festival and really enjoy it, too. You made a wise decision to enjoy the fair food after all those opportunities don''e happen along very often! I am glad to hear about your fruit trees!

    We drove about 3 hours and spent the weekend at our youngest son and his wife's. We had a really low key weekend of just hanging out and talking. We did not even go out to the fireworks since their dog gets so terrified of the sounds we stayed home to keep him company. There ended up being fireworks all around so we went out into their screen porch with is on the second floor and watched and did not even have to drive anywhere.

    A week from Sunday we will meet my Mom and Dad at their timeshare at Daytona Beach. That is a nice getaway and all it costs is gas and some meals out. They love to have us come. In August we will go to visit our oldest son's family in Alabama. They have a brand new house that we have not seen yet. The last week we will spend at our lake house. That is our favorite because we can really rest. All the travel is quite reasonable this year with the low price of gas. We still try do do deals on eating out where ever we are. And then summer will be over! I think we will have traveled about 5000 miles!

    Have a good week!

  3. Oh wow, what's more fun than a RenFaire?! I must say your young falconer looks perfect, and I love that you provided her bird with her own hood and jesses. Falconry is a noble sport!

    We were able to be frugal this holiday because our Independence Day festivities were courtesy of my husband's employer. The company is one of the sponsors of a military appreciation event at a local park, and employees are encouraged to attend - they ask that people RSVP in advance, and beyond that, the event is a "freebie". All food was provided, and there was live music and a terrific fireworks display.

    July 4th is one of my favorite holidays, and I am always so tempted by the fun decorations in the shops. I decided to behave this year, and decorate using only items I already owned. Once I started gathering things together, I had so much to work with I was actually embarrassed. I put together several displays in different areas of the house, and felt very pleased with the way they turned out. The one on the dining room table centered around the wooden, hand-crank coffee mill that was in my great-grandmother's farmhouse kitchen. I feel very fortunate to have inherited it.

    Have a great week.

  4. I love arugula, i just can't eat it by itself. Boil linguine noodles. Drain the water, reserving about a cup of it. Stir in parmesan cheese using the water to help melt it. Add baby spinach and arugula. Yum. I can usually get away with that as a main dish


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