Dollar Daze (NBOA)- Make Your Own Gummies, Part 1

25 Jun

NBOA header

 

 

Believe it or not, there was not one but TWO make your own gummy kits in Nagzilla’s Box of Awesome. We decided to try this one first:

I didn't catch Andrea before she ripped open the package.

I didn’t catch Andrea before she ripped open the package.

As you can tell from the dolphin, turtle, and fish illustrations, this gummy pack had an ocean theme going on.

We get to eat sea creatures! Although I wonder why the dolphin was split into two pieces.

We get to eat sea creatures! Although I wonder why the dolphin was split into two pieces.

The package included the critter shaped molds seen above, some mystery packets,

NBOA gummy

Andrea’s Japanese has improved a lot, but there’s enough kanji that this could be challenging.

 

and an aquarium scene, which we assumed was what you put your gummies on once they were done.

NBOA gummy

Cute. Superfluous, but cute.

So, let’s at least take a stab at the directions, right? I mean, visuals have to count for something.

NBOA gummy

Erhm…

So it looks like the first step is to use the red and blue packets to fill up the molds. Can do.

And we'll use the little fork to make sure things are even.

And we’ll use the little fork to make sure things are even.

Next, it looks like we add some liquid with the dropper.

Even though we did this wrong (as you will soon find out) I thought the picture looks pretty cool.

Even though we did this wrong (as you will soon find out) I thought the picture looks pretty cool.

Once the powder was saturated we waited. And waited. And attempted to remove the gummies but they were a sticky, not solid mess. Let’s look at the instructions again. What did we do wrong?

Ah ha!

Ah ha!

So apparently this white package holds the ingredient that actually allows the candy to hard. I’m assuming gelatin. Whatever it is, we were supposed to add it to the water before putting the water on the powder in the molds. On a log in a hole at the bottom of the sea.

Let's mix this up and try it again.

Let’s mix this up and try it again. You can see how slimy the fishes look.

This looks a little better.

This looks a little better.

After a few minutes, the magical packet had worked it’s charms and we now had gummies!

Which we then displayed on the aquarium playmat. Because what else were we going to do with it?

Which we then displayed on the aquarium playmat. Because what else were we going to do with it?

They came out a little misshapen, and I don’t know if that’s because we screwed up or if they would have turned out that way regardless. The dolphin in particular is a bit deformed. The true test, however. The true test is how they taste. Andrea?

She's less than enthused by the texture.

She’s less than enthused by the texture.

NBOA gummy

The moment of truth.

All in all, they weren’t bad. They weren’t GREAT, but they were edible. We even did a second batch using the remainder of the red packet and the now adequately mixed magic sauce.

Second try turned out much better.

Second try turned out much better.

They were still a weird combination of slimy and grainy, which is…weird. They were edible though. It was like eating goopy koolaid, if you can imagine that.

In the end, we gave this gummy kit a C+. As a snack, it was less than impressive, but it was entertaining to make them. So positive points for the fun that went into making them, but demerits because eating was not as awesome as we had hoped. Good effort.

So will the other gummy kit be as or more successful than this one?

It has more parts, so definitely more complicated.

It has more parts, so definitely more complicated.

You’ll have to tune in next week to find out in part II of our Japanese gummy adventures!

 

 

PS- Once again I have to give props to Alex Hurst. She’s the source of the Box of Awesome (and the mega cool Nagzilla drawing!) and I would be remiss if I didn’t give her credit. Send her some love and go check her out!

50 by 50 #7 – Get Vicalyn For Our Yard

18 Jun

If you’re new to the blog (welcome, you’re awesome!) you may not have heard about Vicalyn yet. But it’s summer, which in Minnesota means cabin season. Technically we have access to a camper rather than a cabin, but we still do the Head North thing that a majority of Minnesotans do, which means at least once a month we’re traveling past the garden center where my beauty is housed, so she’s once again a regular obsession.

Meet Miz Vicalyn.

image

Well, hello Miz Vicalyn!

Vicalyn is a giant velociraptor statue. And I want her. I want her in the worst way. Sadly, she’s $5,000, so I haven’t had the opportunity (or the funding) to acquire her yet. Course I haven’t even had the $500 to acquire my next tattoo yet, and that’s been over ten years now, so putting Vicalyn on my five year to-do list is probably not realistic in any way, shape, or form, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

I still think Vicalyn poking her head out of the bushes in our yard would be awesome, but part of my motivation to acquire her is gone. I mean, make no mistake- I do love her and think it would be awesomely quirky in my yard. But one big motivator to putting Vicalyn in my yard was just to piss off the bitch who was in charge of our association’s management company. Fortunately, our association had a change in leadership and they voted in a new management company. So pissing Peggy off is no longer a consideration.

Despite that, I still want Vicalyn. Maybe I’ll start a gofundme to help me adopt her.

You will be mine. Oh yes, you will be mine.

Just kidding. I’ll start a special savings fund after I finish my tattoo fund. Maybe not by 50, but definitely by 60!

 

 

Dollar Daze (NBOA)- It’s a-PEEL-ing!

16 Jun

NBOA header

Yes, it’s our first official Nagzilla’s Box of Awesome post! I wanted to do the cool ice cream thing, but we didn’t take a lot of pictures because we were taking video. In the hopes that we can recover the video, I’m moving on to another item that intrigued me.

Box of Awesome peeler

Vegetable Peeler. Thank goodness for token English text at the bottom.

One would assume that I wouldn’t need much in the way of directions since it’s a peeler and I use those on a regular basis. That’s good, because if I had to rely on the packaging…

NBOA peeler

Andrea’s Japanese is getting better, but she doesn’t know a lot (read: any) kanji yet, and there be a whole lotta kanji in these directions.

I figured since I had to peel some potatoes, may as well dive in.

Please note I'm keeping my regular peeler close by as a fail safe. In case things don't end well.

Please note I’m keeping my regular peeler close by as a fail safe. In case things don’t end well.

The way you hold the peeler intrigued me. I have a tendency to get hand fatigue when I use things requiring fine motor skills, so I was really curious as to how this would work.

Hold between your fingers instead of using a traditional ham-fisted grip.

Hold between your fingers instead of using a traditional ham-fisted grip.

 

Am I doing this right?

Am I doing this right? Also, I need to clean my fingernails.

With peeler firmly in hand, I was ready to go.

NBOA peeler

So far so good.

I have to admit, it felt a little odd and unwieldy at first, but it only took a few swipes to adjust my hand and get the feel for it. It was surprisingly easy to use. Sure, there were still parts that were hard to navigate (particularly the ends) but those are areas I would have had challenges with using my regular peeler.

Clean as a whistle, guv!

Clean as a whistle, gov!

So first super win of the NBOA (Yes, Nagzilla’s Box of Awesome will be getting its own acronym) because I’m definitely keeping this device in my tool drawer. I really liked the ease of use, and once I grew accustomed to the feel of the finger peeler, I found it much easier and less tiring on my hands than my other one. I love the 100Yen veggie peeler!

 

PS- Check out Alex Hurst’s blog page. She’s the source of the Box of Awesome and I would be remiss if I didn’t give her credit. A few page views as a thank you isn’t too much to ask, is it? Go check her out!

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Dollar Daze

9 Jun

Did you know that Dollar Tree has a doppelganger of sorts in Japan? Over there, they have 100¥ (yen) stores that, much like Dollar Tree, sell a random assortment of weird and wonderful items for the low, low price of (you guessed it) 100¥.

The amazing Alex Hurst of alex-hurst.com sent me the most wonderful care package last week. We had been discussing the 100¥ stores and she wondered if I’d be interested in sampling a few items from there for future Dollar Daze posts.

I also requested, if she was willing, some BabyStar, because that stuff is awesome and we can’t find anywhere around here that sells it anymore.

She delivered, yo.

First off, the box itself was a work of art. Literally.

Box of Awesome art

I love this so much. And this is going to be the cover pic when I do a 100 yen Dollar Daze post. Because Nagzilla’s Box of Awesome is perfect.

Box of Awesome art

Box of Awesome art

Andrea didn’t see the asterisk at the bottom right away, and exclaimed excitedly “OMG! Mom, that says Nagjira in kanji!”

Box of Awesome art

I was a little perturbed at the post office for covering this one up with a sticker.

I was a little perturbed at the post office for covering this one up with a sticker.

And as if it’s possible, it just got better from there.

so. much. Babystar.

so. much. Babystar.

I'm going to be trying these out for weeks, y'all. Look at all this stuff!

I’m going to be trying these out for weeks, y’all. Look at all this stuff!

Some close up sneak peeks:

Box of Awesome bubble blower

You KNOW this one is going to get used!

This vegetable peeler looks intriguing

This vegetable peeler looks intriguing

This was first on Andrea's to-do list.

This was first on Andrea’s to-do list.

This was second on Andrea's to-do list, resulting in a late-night run to Walgreens sans bra. Oh yes, there's a story there.

This was second on Andrea’s to-do list, resulting in a late-night run to Walgreens sans bra. Oh yes, there’s a story there.

Homemade gummy candy maker? No English instructions? What could possibly go wrong?

Homemade gummy candy maker? No English instructions? What could possibly go wrong?

I was originally going to share a video that Andrea and I made on an initial exploration of the box. It took us about half an hour to film, and Andrea spent three hours editing it down to a hysterical and informative six minutes. Despite several attempts to upload it to her YouTube channel, it never loaded, and shortly after that iMovie ate the video, along with the original footage. Needless to say, all involved were pissed and disappointed.

(ps- if anyone knows how to recover lost iMovie files, give me a holler)

So you’ll have to survive on just pics and writing for now. Maybe we’ll try a video again later, but we haz a sad because it really was a good video. And now we’re a little gun shy because that was a lot of work to just disappear into the void.

So hang on for the ride. There’s definitely some winners and some not-so-much in store. Stay tuned!

 

(Oh, and make sure to check out Alex’s blog. Her April A to Z entries were the bomb diggity!)

50 by 50 #6 – Learn How to Play Bagpipes

21 May

I have no idea where my fascination with bagpipes started. I’m going to attribute some of it to my family heritage. While I do have a mix of stuff, I really embrace my Scotch-Irish heritage the most. I probably have as much German as I do Scot/Irish, but I tend to play up that side a bit more. I think because it has the best story. Now, how much of it is actually true, I have no idea. And frankly, I’m not sure I want to know because like most stories it’s probably been heightened a bit and bears very little resemblance to the real thing. Ignorance is bliss. But the legend of the McInnes/McInstrys is fun.

Supposedly we started out in Scotland as part of the McInnes clan. We even have a family tartan, which mom bought as a tie many, many moons ago.

I wear it from time to time, but I always drag it out and wear it on St. Paddy's Day. Which is funny because it's Scotch, not Irish. But whatevs.

I wear it from time to time, but I always drag it out and wear it on St. Paddy’s Day. Which is funny because it’s Scotch, not Irish. But whatevs.

The story goes that we were in Scotland until our clan fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie, and when that side lost the McInneses became outlaws and escaped to Ireland and changed our name to McInstry. It later evolved to McKinstry, and we stayed in Ireland until the potato famine and then we emigrated over here. Again, I have no idea how much is true, but it’s a fun story to tell. And who doesn’t love a tartan?

Someday, I really want to get a kilt in the tartan. But damn those things are expensive!

Someday, I really want to get a kilt in the tartan. But damn those things are expensive!

In addition to the heritage thing, I genuinely love the sound of bagpipes. I know a lot of people think they sound like an 18-wheeler running over a cat, but I think they sound beautiful. So elegant, so mysterious. Seriously, has Amazing Grace ever sounded as majestic as when it’s played on a bagpipe?

The roller derby league I volunteer for has bagpipers who introduce one of our teams, and I love how they look and sound.

bagpipes2

Mega classy.

I really want to learn how to be cool like this.

I really want to learn how to be cool like this.

The problem is that, much like the kilt, bagpipes are hella expensive. I mean, we’re talking upwards of $1,000. That’s a bit much for an instrument I’m not sure I can actually learn how to play.

I have seen that you can get what’s called a bagpipe chanter that can teach you how to play the reed part. Those only run about $40, so I keep meaning to give one of those a try to see if I could play it at all before I attempted the real thing. As with all things (you know, that whole Laziest Person Alive® thing), I just haven’t gotten around to it, and I know that I suck at committing time to something on a regular basis. Why do you think I was last chair French horn every year in high school? I can fake it, but practice isn’t something I do well. At least I’m honest about it.

I figured maybe if I put it on my 50×50 list, I’ll at least get around to getting the chanter to see if I can pick that up. I don’t know that I would ever be good enough to join a pipe and drum corp, but I think I’d be doing my great great grandmother Sarah McKinstry proud if I at least took a stab at it.

 

Dollar Daze – MMMmmmmm…BBQ hair!

19 May

dollar daze logo

Spoiler alert (in case the title didn’t already give it away): this one does not end well.

We’re lucky in my family that we have awesome hair. Not gonna even try to be modest about it. Hair is one of my best assets.

My hair when it's straight. Typically when I blow dry it in the winter, I end up looking like first year Hermione Granger. On this particular occasion, it actually worked. So, of course, selfie.

My hair when it’s straight. Typically when I blow dry it in the winter, I end up looking like first year Hermione Granger. On this particular occasion, it actually worked. So, of course, selfie.

Now that it's summer, thick and wavy.

Now that it’s summer, thick and wavy.

This is one of those genetic lottery things. I get my thick, wavy hair from Pa.

Check out those locks.

Check out those locks.

Thankfully, Andrea also inherited good hair.

Andrea by Lisa

Even though she likes to wear wigs, she has great hair. Dyed at times, but always thick and beautiful.

The only downside is that she does get itchy scalp. To keep the itching to a minimum, she uses T-Gel on a regular basis. I don’t know if you’ve ever used T-Gel, but that shit ain’t cheap. I love you, Neutrogena, I really do, but damn! I’m not a salon prices kinda gal, and a bottle of T-Gel will set you back $10-15. So when I saw this…

tgel

*Cue angels singing*

…I thought maybe I was in luck. The ingredients were essentially the same, so here’s hoping.

Sadly, I will not be saving $10 per bottle on the T-Gel knockoff. I don’t know how well the shampoo did in preventing itchiness, because we never made it past one washing. I was willing to let this experiment go a couple of weeks to get the full effect of switching, but Andrea had some concerns right off the bat. The primary one being that it made her hair smell “like barbeque.”

Now, if you’ve ever used T-Gel, you know it doesn’t have the greatest smell in the world in and of itself. It’s main ingredient is pine tar, so it has an odd aroma. But this stuff? Compared to this stuff, T-Gel is like a bouquet of roses. It seriously smelled like Andrea had stuck her head in a smoker and dipped it in honey barbeque sauce. It was very strange. There was definitely the smokey smell from the pine tar, but there was an odd sweet scent over top that made it smell like barbeque. Very disturbing. I imagined her being followed by dogs on her way to school because it smelled like a barbeque flavored dog treat. Not the scent she was going for. And that was AFTER several rinses and attempts to cover it with conditioner.

So we’ve been striking out on the Dollar Tree items here as of late. I’m going to have to find something good to make up for the failures. I can’t testify to the power of the shampoo to control flaking or itchiness, but with a smell like that, I think people would be less concerned about your dandruff than they were distracted by your delicious odor. Nice try, Dollar Tree. But this one gets an F.

 

 

In Memory of a Friend and Family Member

14 May

I debated whether to write this post, but I noticed that I mention her in my About section, and before I crossed her out or deleted her, I wanted to give an update. And for those who have been reading a while, you already know our crazy, spazzy, rock-herding, loving dog Ru. I’ve featured her before in posts, and most recently talked about her cancer diagnosis back in December.

The last picture we took of Ru. Saying goodbye was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.

The last picture we took of Ru. Saying goodbye was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

Sadly, Ms. Thing did not last much longer after that post. She had been doing pretty well and we were hopeful she’d make it to spring, but by Christmas she was struggling to walk. Christmas Day I took her out for a walk and she fell and just laid there for half an hour before she could get back up to go in the house. If you’ve ever had a pet, particularly one that is sick, have you ever had that exchange where their eyes tell you everything? There was such a sadness in her eyes that day, I knew she was ready. That was the point when I realized we were holding on for us, not for her.

Ru's foot

A close-up of the joint with the tumor. You can see compared to the other foot how much it had spread and how big it had gotten.

 

Uluru crossed the Rainbow Bridge on December 30, 2014.

 

We did make an effort to make her last day the Best Day Ever, or at least as well as we could. Both Jason and I (independently and uncoordinated) brought her two cheeseburger meals from McDonalds.

Which she ate with abandon

Which she ate with abandon

Then we tried to play a little fetch in the house as best we could. She used to be able to spend hours (literally, hours…not hyperbole or figuratively) playing fetch in the various fields, lakes, and parks where we took her to play. She’d had trouble playing fetch over the summer because it would make her hurt so much she was immobile the next day, but we tried to do light tosses to her for her to catch.

Ru's last day Andrea

I didn’t even gripe at her for popping the ball, which was her tennis ball MO.

We still miss her horribly. Andrea struggles the most, because Ru was like a sister to her. There’s not a single memory that Andrea has that does not include Ru.

puppy and kid

Two pups.

ru campfire

Pups all grown up.

But even though Andrea has been hit the hardest, we all miss our girl terribly. It’s gotten better, but there are still days when a place, or a food, or a memory sparks tears in our eyes and aches in our hearts. We will never forget Ms. Ru and everything she brought to our family.

cousins

Even the cousins loved her. Both of the girls were initially scared of this big, excitable dog, but eventually they loved her as much as we did.

 

Rest in peace, sweet girl. You will always have a special place in our hearts.

puppy Ru

 

 

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