Saturday, December 30, 2023

After Christmas Shopping Steals

In the days and even weeks after Christmas, you can find some amazing deals on Christmas decor and wrapping paper.  I always shop for these items for next Christmas Dec 26 through early January. 

But if you have a keen eye you can also find great deals on wrapping supplies that can be used for Valentines, St. Patrick's day, and Birthdays.

Here are some recent finds at our Target that could serve these other celebrations....all 50% off.     

Lovelies for Valentines...

Birthday Bargains...

Not as much gets wrapped for St. Patrick's Day, but if you do wrap anything for that, there's some green and gold papers above that would work for that too.   I also saw some paper with a purple v-shape design at one target.   And there's lots of tissue paper options (plain red, white...I even got a set with blue, black and white).

If you craft, the tissue paper is useful for that too.    

There was lots of this left.  I'm not getting paid by Target to say this, just sharing from there as it's a place that tends to be in both Texas and California.   Lots of drug stores, like Walgreens and CVS, and of course places like Walmart, have after Christmas sales too.  (The drug store sales tend to be around the longest because people don't think to shop there as much as the larger stores). 

People say you can't save money by spending...but when they are things you would have to buy anyways, it pays to buy them when they are cheaper.  Happy savings!  

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Garden Tips: Seed Organization

If you are planting multiple seeds in the same bed, and want to stagger them (so you want to have both the seeds out to use at the same time), use caps for various things in a larger Tupperware, dish, or box to put the seeds into for easy access.

Seeds organized in caps

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Two Views of Californian's Immigrating to Texas

Two articles in Texas monthly recently (or sort of recently) dealt with California transplants (among others)...

 The Newest Texans Are Not Who You Think They Are
  It's subtitle read "The record influx of recent arrivals from all over might be exactly what the state needs. That includes Californians. (And no, they’re not turning Texas blue.) "

The second, written back in March, was a little less optimistic...Californian's Could Ruin Texas - but Not In the Way You Think.

Sunday, July 12, 2020


I don't support Betsy DeVos threatening to withhold funding for schools that don't open and opt for distance learning in stead...but this line from this article made me so angry...

"But make no mistake, if schools don’t reopen, DeVos is going to hand over public school tax dollars to parents to educate children any way they want. What options will they have? Lousy charters? Online programs that have a known failure rate?"

While there are some "lousy charters" just like there aresome "lousy public schools," there are also many excellent charters who are doing a great job with kids. And that "known failure rate" of online programs is compared to regular in person schooling...we have no idea how the distance learning programs brick and mortar schools are cooking up during the summer will compare to what the charters have previously done, and have no reason to assume they will do better.

And when many schools went to distance learning this year who did they go to for advice about how to do it? Charter schools that had already been doing it! And yeah, those hastily planned models schools quickly moved to weren't great, but that's because they were formed without much time to set them up correctly (crisis schooling, not real distance learning, right?). But they wouldn't have been better trying to "invent the wheel" from scratch, I'm certain of that.

It would make so much sense to let as many students as possible transfer to distance learning charters that have experience. But in our state, our state just passed a funding plan that would base all school funding on last year's enrollment, therefor cutting off all chances for charters to expand to meet demand. And the demand is high. Parents, understandably, were flocking to distance learning charters and independent learning charters. Even before this charters were putting some families on a waiting list (cause they had some limits on how much they can expand). But now new families who had already been accepted to these charters were sent letters saying...sorry, we can't take you because the funding we expected to be there was pulled.

Meanwhile in LA teachers unions actually made a moratorium on charters one of their demands they are threatening to strike over. I support them striking due to covid safety issues and paid sick leave, but demanding a moratorium on charters is just a slap to the face to their fellow educators in charter schools (oh, and we ALREADY had a moratorium on new non-classroom charters schools until 2022...LOVELY. That's working out SO WELL, isn't it).

Not as bad as Texas educational organizations threatening to deny funding to their own schools if they choose to do distance learning, but it's still a poor choice.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How to Save Money on Spices

I have a secret to save 50% or more on spices!      Some stores, such as HEB, Whole Foods, and Sprouts have a section where where you can buy loose herbs and spices.   In stead of buying spices each in their own little bottle, you fill up a baggie from a large canister and pay by how much it weighs, and then you can refill your spice bottles at home.   Generally, the cost is much, much less to buy spices this way. 

The bulk herb section of the HEB in Hewitt, TX

Below is some cumin I purchased--two small scoops.  Notice the price, 69 cents!   The bag doesn't look big, but it filled up the whole spice jar shown in the next picture down.

And yes, that jar was EMPTY.   So $0.69 filled up a whole jar which usually costs around $6.  Now, that jar was organic*, and so might have been a little pricier than most.  But even compared to the LOWEST priced jar I could find of bottled cumin ($1.99 for 1.7 oz of HEB generic cumin), my bag of cumin was 1/3 the cost!   Guess you pay a lot for that jar!

And yes, I've tried similar comparisons with other spices.   Even at a pricier store like Whole Foods, the bulk spices were much less than the regular spices at other grocery stores.  

Herbs that aren't ground give you an even better savings, usually (since they take up more space but are very light).  Bulky herbs, like bay leaves or cinnamon sticks tend to cost A LOT less loose than in jars (often a savings of 75% or more). 

*(SIDE NOTE:  If you are concerned about GMO, you should know that very few herbs have ever been genetically modified, probably because they tend to be naturally critter resistant.   The only ones I'm aware of are sugar cane, alfalfa, chicory, flax, eucalyptus, rose and chrysanthemum [edible flowers], and tobacco if you count that (and except for sugar, you would not find any of those on most spice aisles anyways).  Of course these lists change so you can always check the GMO crops list on wikipedia or this list at the ISAAA.)

Monday, May 04, 2020

Quarentine Lawn Decor

Found this walking around our San Diego neighborhood last month...

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Garden Tip: Use Faux Plants to Protect Real Ones

This is an easy garden tip I learned by accident.   I had tried and tried to grow plants from seeds on my back porch when I was living in an apartment, but time and again the hot Texas sun fried the seedlings before they could grow.   So, in frustration one day I just stuck a bunch of fake flowers in the pot, strait down into the soil I had planned for real flowers.

And then, two weeks later, I noticed some new leaves pushing up through the faux plants.   REAL petunia seeds had sprouted under the shade of the fake flowers and were now inching their way past them to the sunlight.

Even when we moved to a house with a real yard, I used this technique.   I'd buy dollar store fake flowers, and stick them in the ground over my rows of carrots, beans, peppers, ect. until the plants were strong and hardy enough to do without the shade. 

Above you can see a young green been being protected by some of these dollar store flowers.  

Yes, you can also start seedlings inside and transfer them once they're stronger...but that doesn't work with all types of plants, and it's an extra step you can skip if you use fake flowers or something else to shade them.   And the fake flowers are easy to use and look pretty in the meantime.