But here's the funny thing: I had someone tell me fairly recently that I seemed to have everything figured out, that I seemed like I was organized. I wanted to laugh and hug the person at the same time.
Thing is, we bloggers, for the most part, put our best faces forward. We write of the things that are going well in our lives, the things that we're proud of. For example, I'm happy to put a photo of my garden on here, but you won't see any wide-angle photos my lawn (it's patchy and has a bunch of weeds in it). I'm more than happy to write a post about canning salsa or cloth diapering, but I'm probably not going to give much advice on organization or time management. I usually only show the things that work out, the things that I'm proud to show to anyone who will look.
That said, I thought it would be kind of fun to lift the curtain and show you some of my latest frugal flops. I love to experiment around my house and in the yard (it keeps things interesting!) -- sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Oh well. Incidentally, if you've tried any of these things and had success, I'd love to hear about it!
Flop #1 - Homemade Seed Tape
I read about homemade seed tape on Pinterest first and then in a book. I figured if two people could attest to it, then it had to work, right? I spent some time one afternoon (during valuable baby naptime, no less) making carrot seed tape. I hate planting carrot seeds because they're so tiny -- I don't like just scattering a bunch (what a waste!), but it's sort of a pain to crouch over the dirt and plant each speck of a seed one by one. So when I read that you could glue the seeds onto strips of toilet paper and then plant them all at once (and evenly spaced), I was excited. I got all the supplies together -- seeds, toilet paper, and homemade paste (flour and water) -- and got to work. I took so many pictures of the process, thinking, "I can't wait to share this on the blog!"
Once I'd finished sticking those seeds on the toilet paper strips, I planted the tape, patting myself on the back. This was the way to plant carrots! I covered them with dirt, watered them, and waited. And waited. And waited. I'm not sure what happened. Maybe I didn't water them enough, I can't be sure. All I know is that over a month later, I finally gave up and turned the bed over to plant something else. You can bet that there was a bunch of dried toilet paper that came up with the rake. Incidentally, I just replanted carrots not too long ago and discovered today that they're all sprouting, so it wasn't the seeds that were bad. I don't know where it went wrong -- the idea is great, but I just don't know if I want to spend the time to try it ever again.
Flop #2 -- Homemade Dish Soap
I found a recipe for homemade dish soap on a blog and quickly pinned it. Homemade dish soap for pennies? Could it be true? The recipe called for castile soap, water, and vinegar. As you may know if you've read this blog for a while, I love castile soap. Don't even get me started on my love for vinegar. So, once we were finished with our store-bought soap, I mixed the soap, water, and vinegar together and filled the dish-filled sink with water. I added the dish soap. It didn't work at all. I might as well have just used water. I just didn't understand -- how did castile soap and vinegar let me down? I did a little research and found out that vinegar and castile soap sort of cancel each other out when they're mixed and stored together (here's the link where I learned about that). Thankfully, I only made a little, so there wasn't much waste. Plus, I can always use the extra castile soap for something else.
Flop #3 -- Soap Nuts
I so wanted these to work. Have you ever heard of soap nuts? They're basically this dried fruit that people have used for centuries to clean clothes. The soap nuts contain saponin -- an all natural soap. I did lots of reading and research before buying them. There were so many testimonials from people completely happy with them. I even read great reviews about washing cloth diapers with soap nuts. I figured hundreds of years of use says a lot. Plus, I could compost them when they were used up! I was sold. I told my husband about them and he was pretty skeptical, but, being the awesome and patient guy he is, he was open-minded about the experiment.
It's tricky with these things -- you can't really tell if they're working while they're in the wash because you don't get the suds in the water like you do from regular laundry detergent. I washed a few loads with them. The clothes seemed clean but I worried about it in the back of mind. I even washed a batch of cloth diapers with them. The clothes and diapers smelled like, well, nothing after I washed them (which is a good sign). However, it didn't seem to take long for the nuts to lose their oomph. To test if they're still good to use, you squeeze them when they're wet -- if a sticky substance oozes from them, they can be used again. After a few washes, I was mostly squeezing water out of them. I got nervous about my laundry. The diapers started getting a strong ammonia smell for the first time ever (which was weird because I'd read that the soap nuts actually stripped diapers and prevented ammonia build-up). So I stopped using them. Looking back, I think the problem is our really hard water (a byproduct of living next to mountains). I still have the soap nuts. I want to use them. Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated.
Flop #4 -- Healing Clay Poultice
Well, it finally happened: I got my first sting since becoming a beekeeper. It's my own fault -- I got lazy and decided to not wear boots. Sure enough, one of our little bees (at the very end of the inspection, I might add) decided to land on the top of my foot and sting me. I've been stung by bees before with hardly any sort of reaction, but this time my whole foot and ankle swelled up like a balloon (that explains why my foot and toes look so big in this picture)! I should have just taken a Benadryll and been done with it, but since we didn't have any on hand (we do now), I thought I would try out a different remedy first.
My mom is the one who introduced me to "healing clay". She had visited a health store and gotten a free sample. Apparently, this stuff is supposed to heal all sorts of things (according to the informative pamphlet that came with the sample), including bee stings. In fact, one of the testimonials actually said that the clay poultice had pulled out the stinger from the sting site. One man said that his hand had been stung by wasps twelve times -- he put the clay on it and his hand was better an hour later. The pamphlet had all sorts before and after pictures, so it seemed like a viable option. I mixed up some clay with some water, slathered it on my foot, wrapped it in some plastic wrap (so it wouldn't dry out too quickly -- this was also in some of the testimonials I read), and let it sit for a good while. I felt pretty silly walking around the house with my foot in plastic wrap. The clay helped a little with the pain and the itching, but it did absolutely nothing for the swelling. Once the clay dried out and I rinsed it off, my foot hurt just as it had before and it still looked terrible. Thankfully, the swelling subsided as time went by and after a couple days or so, I was back to normal. But why was my experience with clay so different than the ones I read about? Why didn't it affect my bee sting?
I'll give the clay another try, but it didn't work in this instance. Maybe I'll just use it for a facial. And I'll always wear my boots during inspections.