The Texas Garden in April and Animals

Between the last post and this post one of our cats puked on the keyboard of our Macbook. I made an appointment at the Apple Genius bar, but alas, they couldn’t fix a beaten to death cat… or the keyboard. They did take it apart and confirm nothing else was damaged, but as it’s an older model they recommended just a plug in keyboard and not spending the $500-600 it’d cost for a keyboard replacement. (the cat’s fine)

Now I DO love a $39 option over a a $500+ solution… but it means I no longer have a way to write that feels like “home”. My old work laptop I’d had to turn in when I left my last job was a Macbook. My new work laptop is an HP and feels awkward and weirdly spaced and now this new plug in keyboard for our personal Macbook is super clicketty… with a different action to the keys than I’m used to. I am adrift in a sea of having to look as I type and still hitting the wrong key and me hattttttteeeeessss it!

That’s life for you though, nothing but change, all the way down. I shall adapt, but still… sigh. Click click…clicky click click. Click.

BUT! The windows are open, there is a cool breeze blowing through them after an overnight rainstorm, and I just ate a migas taco in bed with a cup of coffee now bedside me… so lets get after it!

First up though: ze garden!

It’s Roseville (and not the art pottery manufacturer from Zanesville, OH from 1895 to 1954- zing! Someone please stop me) in the backyard these days! Above is one of the two Marie Pavie roses- just this year hitting their mature size. (underplanted with lambs-ear.)

I swear I’ve weeded this bed since this picture was taken. In the front is the Twilight Zone rose- transplanted last year and yet still outdoing itself with blooms. (In the background are red liberty snapdragons and the orange bougainvillea {now there is a word I sure don’t know how to spell correctly on the first 3 tries}).

The Twilight Zone has some of the largest flowers of any of the roses in the backyard at the moment- and as always the color is impossible to capture correctly- it’s more purple and less fuchsia (ditto on not knowing how to spell that one), I promise. Yes, that was a rose thorn in my palm in that pic- I got it out right afterwards.

In the front of this picture is the grey green culinary sage- it is the only one that came back this year- the other one didn’t make it.

Fun fact- I cut almost all the leaves off of this plant for my former weight-lifting instructor to use for the cocktails at her wedding: Bee’s Knees with sage infused honey simple syrup, garnished with sage leaves.

Sage Bees Knees Recipe:

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce sage honey simple syrup
  • Garnish: lemon twist and sage sprig, serve in a coupe glass

Here is the Honey simple syrup recipe…

Sage Honey Simple Syrup Recipe

  • 1/2 cup honey 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3-5 sprigs fresh culinary sage

(Add all 3 syrup ingredients to a pot and heat gently until ingredients are combined, pressing on the sage leaves to release the oils, then remove sage leaves and refrigerate. No need to simmer or boil)

It’s not my favorite gin coupe drink, but it’s still a gin coupe drink.

back to the garden.

The grapes are doing well and already putting out a new crop of grapes- it’ll need a bigger trellis… a fact I’m blissfully kicking down the road to be solved another day.

I’ve decided to do the tomatoes in pots this year for no real reason other than I had a couple of empty pots and a dearth of empty spots in the garden- I have 2 Tycoons and 3 Sungold cherries and it’ll be WAYYYYYY too much for those pots come July. Another problem I am forcing future me to deal with. July me will curse April me’s name, I’m sure.

Next up: Animals

As mentioned briefly above- it rained last night and we’ve had some fairly frequent storms- thankfully, because it was quite a dry winter and we need the water. The only problem with this is that Murphy has pretty severe storm anxiety- so we always have to set him up in the one of the closets in our bedroom to ride them out. I’m not sure why he’s picked those particular closets as his safe space- they’re on exterior walls, but it’s where he goes every storm. The storm below was particularly thunder-y, so he got wrapped in a heavy blanket as well.

This shot conveys his frantic panting and shivering better than the top pic.

Do normal pets exist? I am not so sure.

In other animal topics- but not the real kind this time- hows about we discuss this porcelain elephant?

I found this 3″ Rosenthal elephant-on-a-drum figurine at an estate sale for $8 in a sea of other elephant figurines that filled a 6′ table- all the others were not worth anything at all,

I recognized the name Rosenthal on the mark when I saw it, and I could tell by the detailed work and quality of the glazing that it was special- and lo and behold it was as they sell for $100-150.

I thought this would be a good example to run through for how I go about reselling. This hasn’t sold yet but lets just say I sell it for $100 with $10 shipping.

That may seem like a lot for something I paid $8 for (and it is, don’t get me wrong!) but the math works out like this:

Sold Price including shipping charged to customer: $110 (customer is also charged sales tax but that is never paid out to me)

COGS (cost of goods sold); $8

Ebay Fees: 20% of sold price AND shipping costs: $22

Promoted Listing Fee (makes it appear at top of listings): 5% of sold price AND shipping: $5.50

Cost of 11″x7″x5″ box: $3.50

Cost of 10 pieces packing paper at $0.04ea: $0.40

Cost of 2′ bubble wrap: $1.50

Tape: $1

Shipping charged to me ($10 charged to customer): $8.85

So reselling that elephant for 12.5 times what I paid for it nets me $59.25 in profit after all of the above is taken into account. Also, everyone who resells more than $600 must report it to the IRS and gets charged 20% of their profits in taxes- so that is $11.85 (20% of $59.25) I need to put aside to cover that at the end of the year.

That means after all expenses, all fees, and taxes I make $47.40 to go in my pocket from that $100 elephant I bought for $8, not $92 as it would seem.

I should also be factoring in that it takes me about 10 minutes to take pictures, 5 minutes or so to post the listing, and about 15-20 minutes to pack it up and drop it off at the mail once it sells- but for this example I don’t put a monetary value to that. Also not taken account in this example- the hours I spend sourcing for things to sell.

Is it worth it? Well yes, of course- I can make $47 off a tiny elephant figurine. I can also deduct all cost of goods bought in 2022 (even things that never actually sell if you pick up what I’m putting down there) on my taxes, as well as gas and all fees, expenses, etc… so if you keep records it’s pretty easy to not get hit with a huge amount of taxes at the end of the year to pay out.

But the thing is… if it’s close to barely worth it for a tiny little elephant figurine sold at a huge profit- I don’t know how the folks buying a shirt for $10 and selling for $20 are making any money at all- even though it looks like a good idea from the outside.

The economy is not great right now and inflation is crazy; I’ve seen a definite uptick in the numbers of folks in thrift stores and estate sales who look like new resellers (looking everything up on their phones and baskets piled high with stuff is the first clue)… but I worry for them. It’d be really easy to get underwater with just a few bad buys and even without that not everything bought actually sells. Even things that do sell don’t always do it quickly and reselling inventory isn’t like a saving account- there is no guaranteed way to turn on the sales quickly when you need cash in hand.

It isn’t for everyone and I do worry that it has the potential to hurt more than it helps for a lot of these folks. I had the good fortune to make it the first 6 months without making any profit and be fine as thats the learning curve needed- but not everyone can float it for that long.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why Ebay charges fees on the item and the shipping (it does seem unfair) it’s because people used to get around the fees by charging $1 for an item and $1000 in shipping charges… so a few bad apples ruined it for everyone.

And if you’re wondering how the shipping charges work: Ebay calculates the shipping based on the weight, size, and shipping method you input and charges the customer about 10% more than they charge the reseller. This is to take into account the expenses incurred for packing material.

I do save boxes and packing material when I can- I don’t always use new boxes, and if I ship Priority Mail I get a $100 in insurance free and free boxes, so that can drive down the shipping expenses for me.

I also pay $34.99 per month for an Ebay store subscription- something I switched to in the last 5 months. There is a bit of a reduction to the fees but the most useful thing is that my listings will appear on Google searches- in this case for “Rosenthal elephant on drum”- even if it isn’t like, at the top of the searches or anything. As I specialize in pretty obscure things this is useful to me as about 20% of my sales come through Google searches.

So there ya go- I actually have to go pack a few things, though alas the elephant is not one of them. I also have to run some eggs down to the neighbor who is trading me eggs for Swiss Chard she grew- having a good network like this in place will be useful when we get to the full collapse of the economy in like 7 months.

See ya next time!

3 thoughts on “The Texas Garden in April and Animals

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for the breakdown of the costs associated with selling. It was really helpful because you used actual numbers! It seems like it’s probably worth it if you know what you’re doing, but it’s a lot of work and luck.

    My husband uses a very clickety clackety keyboard on his desktop and I actually have to go to a different floor of the house when he uses it, so I’m very sympathetic to your plight!

  2. Yay! Another post!

    Wow, cats will sure resort to drastic measures to make sure you are paying to NOTHING but them. The keyboard thing sounds like a real bummer.

    Fascinating to hear about the selling methodology and your final income. Thanks for breaking it down!

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