Chocolate, Dairy-free, kitchen, Quick and easy, Recipes, Saving money, Sharing

Dairy-free Hot Fudge Sauce

This chocolatey recipe is quick, easy, inexpensive and tastes better than store-bought versions.  What more can you ask?

Dairy-free Hot Fudge Sauce

1/2 C cocoa
2 C sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Image by hakze at sxc.hu

1 C boiling water
1 tsp vanilla

Mix cocoa, sugar and salt in a medium sized saucepan. (Don’t use a small pan, as the mixture rises up when it boils.)  Add boiling water and stir well. Boil 2-3 minutes.

Cool, then add vanilla.  Store in refrigerator.

Note: Be aware that this thickens as it cools. Choose a shorter boiling time if you want a thin sauce to mix in milk for chocolate milk, or boil it a bit longer for a thick sauce to spoon over ice cream or fruit.

Advertisements
penny pinching, Reading, Saving money, Sharing

Should e-books cost More than Printed Books?

How Much do YOU think E-ebooks Should Cost?

Photo by jrdurao at http://www.sxc.hu

I don’t yet own an e-reading device, but lately I have been comparing the different readers- just in case a long-lost millionaire uncle I never knew about decides to leave me his fortune.

As I researched, I was surprised to noticed that some e-books actually cost more than the paperback version of the same books, which is the opposite of what I expected.  So I was interested when I learned about a survey showing that while some readers think that e-books should cost less than their counterparts, not all readers do.

Those who already own an e-reader appear less likely to think that the downloads should be priced lower. I wonder whether this is because they have gotten used to paying the higher price, or because they are willing to pay more for convenience and instant gratification, or perhaps because those who could afford to buy those devices were not so concerned about book pricing as the rest of us.

What are the benefits of digital vs. printed books?

The main benefit of e-books seems to be convenience. But convenience aside, they lack many benefits of traditional books.

I have books that I have owned since I was a child and now share with my own children , and favorite books that I have loaned out many times to friends (without the limitation that they must be returned within 2 weeks). Other books I’ve read once and either sold (so I could afford to buy more books!),  or donated to benefit my local library.

When you buy an e-book, you are not really buying a book at all, just a license to be allowed to read the book. Add the limitations of its use to the facts that:

  • you have to first purchase a device for reading the books then spend more for permission to read each book,
  • you can only give the book as a gift if your friend also happens to have an e-reader (and the right one),
  • other family members can’t read the book you bought unless you either loan them your reading device or buy them each one of their own along with their own licenses to read each book (which would be quite a hunk of change in a large family like mine.  Hope that rich uncle doesn’t forget me!),
  • you can not re-sell the book used to reclaim some of your original expense and
  • you cannot donate it to charities to sell used,

and suddenly the expectation that e-books should be priced lower doesn’t seem either unrealistic or unreasonable. In fact, I’m surprised that more people don’t think it should be lower!

What about publishers?  Shouldn’t we worry about them going out of business?

Even though the publishers still have many expenses with e-books (editing, formatting, promotion, etc.), they don’t have the printing or inventory costs that exist with traditional publishing. There are no supply limitations, so they don’t have to guess at how many copies of a book will sell; 200 electronic copies won’t cost them more to produce than 50 copies.  Some publishers are also giving a smaller cut of the profits to authors than they do with printed books.

Some publishers will certainly fold because of the e-book revolution, but I doubt it will be due to low e-book pricing. More likely it will be due either to greed (see above about authors getting a smaller cut, driving  them toward self-publishing), bad debt (as other companies such as bookstores go under), or most likely of all – a failure to adapt to a changing market.

Those who make it will do so because they see digital books as an opportunity to expand the book market, rather than a contest between e-books and traditional ones.

What do you think?

Do you have an e-reader?  Do you think e-books should cost the same, more or less than traditional books?

How might publishers and authors best adapt to a rapidly changing market?

frugal tips, kitchen, penny pinching, Saving money, Sharing

The True Cost of Meat

Ever wonder how much your meat really costs per pound once you cut the bones out?  I know I have.

Penniless Parenting has it all figured out, and has been nice enough to share the results of her research with us:  The True Cost of Meat.

Of course, if you use your bones for broth instead of throwing them out then you’re getting more value than just the meat.

frugal tips, penny pinching, Saving money

Electric Rates Shock – 10 Tips for Saving Electricity this Winter

We received word last week that our county will soon be raising it’s electricity rates by 8%.  Just in time for winter, thank you very much.

But I’m not going to complain.  (It wouldn’t do any good, or I might!)

Instead, I’m going to hold a family meeting to discuss ways we can save on electricity in our home.  If we work together, we might make enough of a difference to keep our monthly bill where it was, or maybe even lower it.

Here are a few ideas to get us started:

  1. Turn lights off. I’ve been nagging about this for years, and you probably have, too.  This time I’m going to brainstorm with the kids, or maybe have a contest to see how many times during the day I can catch them turning the lights off (with points deducted for turning off the bathroom light when someone’s in there!).  In our old house, we installed a timer switch in the kid’s bathroom so the light never stayed on for long.  It helped some, but also got them into the habit of thinking a light would turn itself off automatically.
  2. Keep closet doors closed. Why heat extra space unnecessarily? The clothing and linen won’t mind being cold. If they do, they can’t tell me, so who cares?
  3. Kill a Watt. My son has one of these nifty little gadgets that measures electricity usage.  I’m sure I can bribe him to use it throughout the house and make a chart so we can easily see where we can cut back.  (Note:  if you decide to buy one of these for yourself or a gift, don’t waste your money buying the more expensive power-strip style.  You can just plug the cheaper kind into a power strip and do the same thing!)
  4. Insulate Windows.  Mother Earth News has a great article about making your own thermal shades at a much lower cost than buying them, and it looks like an easy project.  A lot of heat can be lost through windows.  Even heavy curtains can help some.
  5. Plant trees.  I’m planting a couple of cherry trees on the south side of our house this week.  They won’t help with winter bills, but will hopefully give us enough shade in the summer to cut down on cooling bills.  And we’ll have some delicious cherries to boot!If you get a lot of wind at your house, you can plant a windbreak fairly inexpensively by buying trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.  I’ve ordered a beautiful pink dogwood from them that I will plant near the driveway to shade our cars.  (No, I don’t put our car in the garage.  What a silly question!)By the way, Fall is the best time to plant trees, as it gives them time to really put down roots before the warm spring weather causes them to put their energy into the top part.
  6. Using sleeping bags on the beds, at least for my youngest child. He always kicks off his blankets.  Then he gets cold at night, and is more likely to get sick.  If I have him in a sleeping bag, maybe he’ll stay warmer – and his bed will be easier for him to make.
  7. Go to bed a little earlier, so I can turn all the lights off sooner.  Got to be careful with this one.  As Amy Dacyczyn (author of The Tightwad Gazette) once pointed out, going to bed early won’t save you any money if you end up with twins!
  8. Use my slow cooker more often. I already think that the crock-pot is one of the best inventions for the kitchen ever, and use it for convenience.  Since it uses less electricity than the oven, using it regularly could also save us some money.  (BTW, did you know you can bake bread in a Crock-pot?   I don’t usually do it, since I bake 4-6 loaves at a time for my family, but it can be done.)
  9. Bake extra and freeze it. Speaking of baking, I can bake more than one item at a time or one after the other (such as bread and cinnamon rolls) , taking advantage of the already hot oven.   I might even go old school and designate a baking day every so often to bake as much as I can and freeze it for later use.
  10. Keep the freezer full. I usually try to do this anyway as it helps save  money on food.  I buy extra meat and other foods when it’s on sale and freeze it, so I rarely have to pay full price for these items.  It also helps cut down on the temptation to eat out, since I have my own convenience handy in the freezer.  But I haven’t kept it really full since the move, and a full freezer takes less electricity run.  Maybe a baking day would help with this as well!

What are some things you do to save on electricity?  I would love to hear your ideas!