Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Cheaper Isn't Always Cheaper

Coffee Soap
   Now that it has cooled off, I have gotten back into making some soaps. Recently I made some Coffee Soap and took it out to the flea market to sell. As I was explaining about it to one of the other curious vendors, I told her that I hadn't scrimped any on the coffee that I used in it. I said that I had gotten a really good quality, strong coffee to make the soap with. I didn't get the absolute most expensive coffee, but it certainly wasn't the cheapest, nor even mid-range, either.

To my shock the woman started yelling at me, "Anna! Why on Earth didn't you get the cheapest coffee?! I would have gotten the cheapest I could have found if I was just putting it in soap!"  She really let me know how terrible she thought it was that I put a a few cents extra into my batch of soap. But here is how I figured it....

When all the calculations were said and done, using the much better quality coffee only added about another 25 to 30 cents to my entire batch of soap. If I am selling in competition with other people that make coffee soap, I certainly want mine to be the one that sells. If I use the cheapest coffee there is out there, my soap won't look as dark and pretty, and it won't remove odors nearly so well from hands, but my soap won't cost as much to make, giving me a better profit margin. But then if my competition spends the few cents more and uses the better quality coffee in their soap, their soap will look much more attractive, work much better and sell MUCH faster. The end result? I will be left with an entire batch of soap that won't sell, which means absolutely NO profit and  I will be out quite a bit of money that I can't recoup.... far, far, FAR more money than the price difference between the cheap coffee and the top quality coffee. But the woman could not understand this. She thought I was nuts for putting such a good quality coffee in SOAP. So cheaper isn't always cheaper.

Now I will admit that, initially, we did end up spending a little extra. You see, Dave and I decided we needed to try the coffee before we started selling the soaps made out of it. It was so good that, before we knew it, we had drank it all and had to go get more to make soap with! Fortunately it was the kind you get by the pound and grind fresh so we were able to just get a little at a time.

This same concept, Cheaper isn't always Cheaper, can be applied to so many things that you purchase on a regular basis. Paper towels are an excellent example. That package that is just $1 is ever so tempting, especially when the other package is $2.50.  Sometimes the cheaper package may actually be the better buy, but you will usually find that, when you figure in the number of plies, the number of sheets per roll, the thickness of each sheet, and the total square feet of each roll... that cheaper package may actually end up costing quite a bit more by the time you buy enough of it to equal the same amount that is in the more costly package.

So the gist of this post is READ THOSE LABELS!  Take the time to break down the costs and do some comparisons. The long-term savings could be enormous! Sometimes, the cheapest item isn't the cheapest for your needs.

We would love to hear examples of similar examples you have run into on this topic.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

(D♥A) Our Blog Turns ONE!!!


Can you believe it?! Our blog is already ONE YEAR OLD!  The time has gone by so fast. We are having so much fun writing this blog. And YOU, our readers, are what makes it so much fun. It wouldn't be any fun just writing into cyber space.

We want to extend a VERY BIG THANK YOU to ALL of our many, wonderful readers from all over the world. THANK YOU!!! Without you, we would not have a blog. We want you to know that you are truly appreciated!

And we want to extend an extra special THANK YOU to our readers that interact on our blog. It is you that gives us that extra dab of eagerness to keep coming back to write more. It is your interaction that lets us know what is working and where we need to make improvements. Your interaction makes our blog better!


We love and appreciate you ALL and look forward to another great year of blogging! Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

(AF) Those Beautiful, Wonderful Little Green Bugs!!!

 It has been a most hot and dry Spring and Summer! We have struggled just to keep a few plants alive. Most died and very few produced. Any we did get to produce we pretty much had to hand pollinate as it was even too hot for anything but the squash bugs to survive.

Now Fall has come, bringing in the Fall rains and cooler weather, which has caused what plants we managed to save (and the ones we took a gamble on and planted late) to jump into fast growth mode. Everything seems to be growing at top speed, now, and bursting into bloom. Here at Annas Farm, the blooming Perilla Mint has attracted the honey bees, which also mosey over to the veggies to pollinate them.  In addition to the bees, some kind of little, black-spotted, green bug has moved in by the hundreds! I have not seen many of them before, so I don't know what they are, but what I do know is that they are doing a WONDERFUL job of pollinating my veggies, especially my squash! They don't appear to be eating any of my plants/leaves, just working hard pollinating. They are working so hard pollinating, that I wish I could give them some kind of treat or reward because they are saving me LOTS of time, time that I had been spending each morning hand-pollinating my squash in an effort to get a few to eat this year. Oh, and that pic above is of an Okra leaf. They are busy working away there, too.

Here is a pic of my Cocozelle Zucchini.  It isn't often that a male and female bloom are that closely together.

And here are those wonderful, little green bugs hard at work to pollinate our squash.

Isn't nature wonderful?! If anyone knows what these little bugs are called we would love to know, or even hear what you think or suggest they might be.  And hopefully, in a few days, we will be able to share with you what that little squash looks like on our plates!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Conserving Energy

It is that time of year, again, where we are changing seasons and going quickly from one temperature range to another. I see so many people that seem to think they have to be totally "comfortable" at ALL times. They seem to always have either their air conditioning or their heater on, in their homes and in their vehicles. I have one relative that I have often times seen run both in the same day to keep that temperature a 'constant comfortable', then complain about the bill when it comes in. Personally, I don't even think this is healthy! (the constantly even temp nor the bill)

Personally, I don't like BIG utility bills. I find them far more uncomfortable than the temperature being a little cool or warm. I prefer to use other methods, other than turning on those heating and cooling units, to combat the slightly changing temperatures. If it is a little cool, I simply switch to a long sleeve shirt or visa versa. If the house gets a little warm, open a window ..... cool, close them. If it is a little more than slightly chilly I bake something, like bread. The energy used serves two purposes instead of one and the resulting heat usually lasts a long while if you don't run in and out of the house too much.

This week it has been very nice. We had rain come through last weekend and cooled things down a bit. It is sunny in the middle of the day and only slightly warm, so I turn on a small fan for about an hour or so. It circulates the air, cools it down, and it is nice in here the rest of the day. But by the end of this week, a much bigger cool down is expected. The night time temps are predicted to go down in the low 40s, possibly even upper 30s (F) with one day only rising up into the mid 50s (F). Am I going to turn on my heat? Absolutely not! What will I do? Plan ahead.

A couple of days before the predicted temperature drop, while it is still warm, I will be shutting down my house. During the warmest part of the day I will shut all of my doors and windows that have been open the past week to circulate the fresh, fall air throughout the house. Yes, it will get a little warm inside for a day or two, but it won't be unbearable. And I am usually outside during the heat of the day, anyway, doing work in the yard or with critters. Then at night, when it starts to get chilly and I come inside, the warm air that was trapped in the house will feel wonderful! Most of my house is pretty well insulated, so by shutting it down while it is warm inside and out, it will hold the warmth in. Then when the temperature makes that big drop outside, it will stay nice and warm inside for several days, no heater needed!

This time of year, when we have a cold front come through, it usually only lasts for a few days before warming right back up. By using this process, my house usually stays warm for several days. If it gets a little chilly before the next warm-up, I simply put on warmer clothes and stay very comfortable. Catching up on some physically exerting chore that I had been putting off warms me up pretty good, too. I also plan on spending some of that time to cook up some meals ahead. All that cooking warms up the house and then when it is warm again, I can simply heat up my meals in the microwave and not heat up the house on the warm days, resulting in no need to cool the house down on those days. This time of year our weather is constantly changing back and forth from warm to cool to warm.... When it does get warm again, I open the house all back up.

I repeat this process over and over until the colder days of winter set in. Last year I never had to use any heat until December! It really isn't hard at all. It just takes a little planning to get started and once you adjust to the routine, it becomes second nature. Then in the Spring, I reverse the entire process. Yes, before the hard cold of Winter, and the high heat of Summer, some days I may get just a little uncomfortable, but as I said, it is short-lived and not nearly as uncomfortable as trying to pay those high utility bills makes me! And most importantly, it keeps us much more acclimated to our changing environment. Should the day come that the grids go down (and they will), I will be able to stand the ever changing temps (and keep on going smoothly about my daily work) far better than everyone that keeps pushing those little heating/cooling unit buttons every single time the temperature changes a degree or two.

How do you handle the fluctuating temperature changes during the changing of the seasons?