Reading, Sharing, Tips

Aha! There is a Reason for E-book Pricing Madness

In my last post, I wrote about e-book pricing, and how strange it was that some of them were priced higher than their printed counterparts. (If you missed that one, read it here.) After all, the costs for producing an e-book appear to be lower.

Was it just greed?

Photo by Sven Golz at

Nathan Bransford gives us the real reason, and a very clear explanation in his blog post: Why Some E-Books Cost More than the Hardcover.

Apparently, both publishers and bookstores are facing even more changes than I realized. And good old-fashioned competition has more to do with those changes than even the advent of digital books.

We are already seeing the strain on bookstores. As most of you are aware, Borders has already gone bankrupt and is closing many of its stores. Barnes and Noble is also struggling, and is searching for a buyer. And if the big guys are having trouble, you know that the smaller booksellers can’t have it easy.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the industry over the next few years. I expect that things will be a bit dicey at first while we all figure out where this is going.

But I am optimistic that the future of
books – both digital and print – is better
than ever, as there will be more options
for publishers, authors, and especially

We may be headed for an initial storm, but after that may come the golden age of reading, where there are more books available and more people interested in reading them than ever before.

One can only hope.

Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Humor, Sharing, Tips

Holiday Tip #3: Christmas Codes

Dear Aunt Alice,

I hate waiting until the last minute to wrap gifts and put them under the tree.  The tree looks so bare without them!  But if I do it early, my kids demolish their gifts trying to figure out what they are.  Any suggestions?

Smasher-shaker’s Mom

Dear Smasher-shaker’s Mom,

Have you tried padding?  The gifts, I mean, not your room.  To protect them.  If you use enough, you can also change the shape of the gift, making it harder to guess what’s inside.

Actually, I’ve found that while he won’t lose interest entirely, a child will poke, prod and shake a box much less if it doesn’t have his name on it.  So go ahead and wrap the gifts ahead of time, but wait until Christmas Eve to label them.  This may not work if you only have one child, as she will assume that all the gifts are hers (or at least the interesting looking ones), but if you have several children they may spend more time trying to figure out who the gift is for than what the gift is.

How do you remember which gift is which so you can label them later?  Come up with a code!

Label each gift with a code that only means something to you.  Not only will this (hopefully) cut down on the handling of gifts, you will have the bonus of driving your children crazy as they try to crack the code.

One year I labeled each present with a six-digit number.  All except the last digit was random, and that last one stood for birth order.  So, for my firstborn son, his gifts could be labeled 384991 or 273641 or 192281.  As long as the last digit was a one, I knew that it was for him.  Since no two gifts had the same number, the kids went nuts trying to decipher it.

Another year, I used a letter code.  My 8-year-old cub scout was C, my third-grader was T, etc.  The code was easy for me to remember, but random enough that they didn’t even come close to figuring it out.  Come to think of it, I don’t even remember what I gave or got that year, but I do remember laughing a lot as my children tried desperately to figure out the code.

Ah, the simple pleasures in life.

Book reviews, Gifts, Holidays, Humor, Sharing, Tips

How to Alienate Your Woman: Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Even the most practical woman on the earth likes to receive gifts that are not in the least bit practical:  chocolate, jewelry, a gift certificate for a massage  (wait, that could be considered practical, couldn’t it? After all, it’s for my health.  So is the chocolate.  Ahem.), etc.  It’s not that we don’t like practical things, it’s just that we want a gift to make us feel special.

Most men don’t seem to understand the special principle.  It’s not what you give us that really counts.  Maybe not even the thought.  It’s how special it makes us feel.  The least expensive, smallest gift can make a woman want to give her whole life to a man (or at least her whole evening), if it is sentimental enough to make her feel important.

On the other hand, even the most expensive gift, if it makes her feel, shall we say, not special, can make a woman want to throw dog food at her man.  And suggest a nice, quiet place in the backyard where he can eat it in private.

In case you men are confused, here are some things you should give your woman only if she has specifically asked you for it, or you have a taste for generic dog food:

  • a weight-reducing gadget of any kind
  • a how-to-clean DVD
  • a dieting book
  • jumper cables
  • an appliance
  • deodorant
  • a hair-cutting set, so you can save money by having her cut your hair
  • your old, cast off _______, so you can buy yourself one that is newer & better
  • a light bulb (Of any color.  Really.)
  • a piece of construction paper crookedly folded in half, with a note quickly scribbled on it on Christmas morning (even if she did say she wanted something homemade)
  • a half-eaten box of chocolates
  • a box of chocolates that you proudly announce you found by the roadside (even if it doesn’t look like roadkill…)
  • address return labels you got for free from Easter Seals
  • mouse traps (even if she really, really wants to get rid of the mice)
  • a box of fabric softener (even if you wrap it in gold paper with a shiny, red ribbon)
  • tickets to see a sports event that you would kill to see, and she would kill to avoid
  • money, with the instruction to “get yourself a haircut”
    (no, this is not the same as a gift certificate to an exclusive hair salon)



So, what is one of the worst gifts YOU ever got?

Children, Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Tips

Holiday Tip #2 – Save Your Child’s Hearing

I’ve shared this tip before, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re giving a child a toy that makes sounds (music, beeps, etc.) especially if it doesn’t have a volume control, stick a layer or two of packing tape over the speaker portion of the toy before you wrap it up.

Toys tend to be much too loud for a child’s sensitive ears. This simple trick can help save their hearing, and maybe save you a few headaches as well!

Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Sharing, Tips

Holiday Tip #1 – Getting Sneaky

Carry a tarp, blanket, or even a large box in the back of your car for hiding gifts. This works better if you put it in the car well before December so the children get used to it being there. Then they’ll be less curious about what’s in or under it.

Of course, carrying a blanket in the wintertime is a good idea anyway. You never know when you might get stuck somewhere in bad weather!

kitchen, lunches, Quick and easy, Time-savers, Tips

Time-saving Tip: The Quick Way to Chop Eggs

I used to chop up my boiled eggs one at a time, either with a knife or an egg-slicer. Now I’ve come up with an easier method, and it’s so quick I couldn’t believe it the first time I tried it.

The trick? Use a pastry blender! You know, one of those little gadgets that you drag out during the holidays to use for cutting shorting into flour for a pie.

A bowlful of boiled eggs and a pastry blender
A pastry blender makes quick work of chopping eggs


If you don’t make pies you might not own a pastry blender.   If you do, give it a try the next time you need to chop eggs.  And if you don’t, but have a large family who love egg salad sandwiches, it might be worth investing in this great little tool just for the eggs!


Chopped up eggs in a bowl


It took me longer to take these pictures than to chop up the whole bowlful of eggs.  So I can smile at all the time I saved, and my kids will smile when they see that they get egg salad sandwiches in their lunches.  I hope this brings you a smile, too!



Bye-Bye, Shampoo

Two things happened to me recently that I’ve never had happen before in my life.  First, DH, who usually doesn’t even notice when I get a haircut  (even if it’s a drastic change in style), told me that my hair looked great and asked what I’d done to it.  I had NOT gotten it cut or changed the style.

Second, when I did go in for a haircut this week, the hair stylist told me what wonderful hair I have.  (Me???)  I was so surprised, I actually looked around to see who she was talking to, then realized I was the only one in the room besides her!  In fact, she kept repeating it over and over, and finally asked me what I use on my hair.

As I said, has never happened to me before.  So what changed?

I switched from shampoo to soap.  Soap?  Did I say soap?   Yep, that’s what I said: soap.

After reading an article Ivory wrote on Little House in the Suburbs on using soap for hair, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.    Most of our soap contains glycerin, which is supposed to be a no-no for hair, but I happened to have one bar of goat milk soap so I used that.  I really didn’t expect to see much of a difference, especially since the shampoo I’ve been using is one of the more *natural* ones.  Was I in for a surprise!

I’ve been using the goat milk soap for about a month now, and I don’t plan on ever switching back to shampoo.  My hair looks much fuller and shinier now, and it feels better.

Ivory suggests a vinegar rinse, but my skin didn’t take too kindly to that.  I only used about a tablespoon in 2 C of water, and I rinsed it out, but my scalp and neck itched for hours afterward.  So I just use a very little bit of my regular conditioner.

Thank you, Ivory!

Now I just need to make friends with someone who raises goats and likes to make soap.  😀