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Sunday, September 30, 2012

1800Flowers $15 for $30 Towards Flowers and Gifts

Birthday Flower Cake Pastel

Cactus Dish Garden
($29.99 to $39.99)

For a limited time, you can pay $15 for $30 towards flowers and gifts at

Google Offer Details:

Limit 1 offer per person. Limit 1 offer per order at Valid online or at 1800Flowers stores only. Offer must be redeemed within 32 days. Offer value may be used toward shipping or service charges. Shipping rates and delivery times vary. Shipping for direct-shipped gifts starts at $4.99 and flowers arrive in a box. Service charges for florist gifts starts at $12.99 and flowers arrive in a vase. Sunday delivery available with select local florists only. No Sunday shipping available. Items may vary and are subject to delivery rules and times. This offer is for a unique promo voucher good until 10/31/12 (11:59pm ET) for $30 at After the redemption period ends on 10/31/12 (11:59pm ET), the promo voucher loses its promotional value and buyers who have not redeemed the promo voucher will automatically receive a refund for the value they paid ($15), credited to the credit or debit card used to purchase the promo voucher, within 2 weeks of the close of the redemption period. See the rules that apply to all offers »

Friday, September 21, 2012

Check Your Voter Registration Status Here

Not sure you are registered to vote?  You can use double check your voter registration status, and find your polling location by visiting this link:

If you won’t be able to vote on Tuesday, November 6th, you can also register to be an absentee voter. In that case, you would receive an absentee ballot about three weeks prior to the election to return to your local board of elections by Election Day. 

To learn about the candidates, you can visit:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making Way for Cool Annuals

Summer annuals need to come out of garden to make way for cool season annuals

Here in the mild climates on the West Coast, the difficulty of getting new cool- season annuals into the garden to bloom through autumn and winter is not selecting, procuring and installing the new annuals; it is the removal of the warm-season annuals while they are still blooming and looking so good. Knowing that planting new annuals sooner than later will get them an earlier start is not always much consolation....

To read the full article, click here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reduce Your Water Bill By Using This Watering Schedule

According to this website, most landscapes are over-watered by as much as 50%.  You may be able to reduce your water bill by following this watering schedule:

Please Note: This irrigation guide is tailored to clay and loam soil, and weather conditions in Contra Costa County, California.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reduce Your Water Bill by Using These Drought Tolerant Plants

The Contra Costa Water District has compiled a list (and photos) of drought tolerant plants that are tailored to Contra Costa County conditions.  They also identify drought tolerant plants with additional characteristics.  For example, some drought tolerant plants attract hummingbirds or butterflies.  Some plants are good for screening, and other plants are deer-resistant, etc.

To view the drought tolerant plant web resource, click here:

To view a guide on how to use this web resource, click here

Thursday, September 13, 2012

West Nile Virus: Control Mosquito Population with Rosy Minnows

The first West Vile victim of the year in Contra Costa County was confirmed last week.  Thankfully she is reported only mildly ill, and is expected to make a full recovery.  To read the full article, click here.

Photo: Rosy Minnows

To help combat the spread of this disease, please eliminate potential breeding sites for mosquitos.  Mosquitos only need a few tablespoons of water to complete a life cycle.  For those of you who have ponds, consider purchasing mosquito-eating fish.  

I purchased rosy minnows at our local pet shop for our two small ponds.  They only cost 10 cents each, and I purchased $2 worth of fish for our two ponds!  I have had them for about a year, and I have not seen any mosquito larvae since introducing them to the ponds.  I do not have to feed them because they get plenty of food from the pond, and I also do not have to do anything extra to treat the water.  I definitely prefer keeping these pretty little fish over chemically treating the water for mosquito larvae.    

Free Mosquitofish.  Contra Costa County's Mosquito and Vector Control District is also offering free mosquitofish to its residents.  If you do not live in Contra Costa County, try checking your local Mosquito & Vector Control District or go to your local pet shop and purchase rosy minnows as a substitute.

Report Neglected Pools.  Neglected pools, spas and ornamental ponds are a big problem with the rising foreclosure rates.  Contra Costa Residents can report neglected pools here.  

More Information on West Vile Nirus.  For more information about the West Vile Virus and how to protect yourself, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Free Composting Workshop Tomorrow (Sep 13)

You can attend a Free 2-hour Composting Workshop tomorrow in Antioch.  Just reserve your spot by calling Julie Haas-Wajdowicz at (925) 779-7097 or email her at

September 137 - 9 pmAntioch925-779-7097

$25+ Free Shipping & 15% Off Michigan Bulb

You can get Free Shipping on your Michigan Bulb orders of $25 and over, plus an additional 15% off when you use Key Code 0825870.  Code expires in 10 days.

75 Daffodil Bulbs for Under $30

Example: These daffodil bulbs will cost $0.33 each after you take in consideration 15% discount and free shipping.*

*Note: Calculations do not include state tax.  Some states have to pay sales tax.

Basket of Tulip Bulbs (80 bulbs for under $26)
Pink Passion Tulip Border (15 bulbs for under $10)

Royal Tulip Blend (15 bulbs for under $9)


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Propagating African Violets

African Violet: Leaf Cutting Started 6/28/2012

A friend of mine started an African Violet plant for me by using a healthy leaf cutting from her existing plant.

She snipped off a healthy leaf with a stem of about 1 to 1-1/2 inches long.  Then she stuck the stem in some potting soil in a small container.  She watered the plant, and then set the pot inside another clear plastic container.  She then placed a plastic baggy over the clear container to create a tent.  Because the water was trapped in this environment I only had to water it once in the last two and a half months!  I am happy to report new leaves sprouting near the leaf stem!

For first-time African Violet propagators, check out Christian Tamez's video on starting African Violet Plants:  

"Starting African Violets" by Christian Tamez

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Whiten Tile Grout The Cheap and Easy Way



Give your place a facelift by whitening your tile grout.  Sick of the years of dirt and grime on our tile grout, I decided to try a very inexpensive, but very effective solution.  All I used was an old toothbrush, baking soda and bleach.

  • old tooth brush (manual or electric)
  • baking soda
  • bleach
  • hot water
  • old container (to hold bleach and baking soda solution)
  • gloves (to protect your hands from bleach)
  • protective eyewear (to protect your eyes from bleach)
  • mask 
  • old clothes (that you do not mind accidentally getting bleached)
  1. Put on your old clothes and protective gear.  Then open some windows for ventilation.  
  2. Pour some bleach in the container and then slowly stir in baking soda until a liquidy-paste forms.    
  3. Use the toothbrush to apply the bleach-baking soda mixture on the grout.  Allow the mixture to sit for a while.  I waited about an hour.
  4. Fill the container with hot water, dip the toothbrush in the water, and then use the toothbrush to start scrubbing the grout.  The dirt and grime should come off effortlessly.  If not, you can repeat this process until it does.  I only had to do one treatment.
Note: I only used a manual toothbrush, but if you are taking on a large area you might want to consider getting a cheap electric toothbrush (i.e., the kind that costs less than $20).

Although I am sure most of you already know, do not get creative with bleach.  Mixing bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners is extremely dangerous.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Order Cheap Photos: 99 Prints for 99 Cents + Tax & Shipping

It's scrapbooking time!  This was too good of a deal not to pass on.  For a limited time only, you can get 99 prints for $0.01 each at when you use the coupon code PRINTSFOR99 at checkout.  The promotion ends on 09/12/2012.  Make your purchase via, and you will get an additional 10% cash back on your purchase.

I just paid $8.52 for 119 prints because I was also able to use the "20 Free Prints Credit" on my account in addition to the 99 prints for $0.99 coupon code.  That breaks down to about $0.07 per 4x6 photo not including any cash back reward.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Free Ficus Burgundy Plant by Mail

Photo: Ficus Burgundy, Free Plant of the Month by

Free Plants By Mail ( was started by local growers as a way to use the surplus plants from nurseries and also as a way to support The Nature Conservancy.  Free Plants By Mail offers a new free plant each month.  This month they are offering a Ficus Burgundy.  

Although the plant itself is free, you do have to pay a small shipping and handling fee of $6.95.
This organization also has over 100 plants available for sale on their site.  100% of the proceeds from the sale will go to The Nature Conservancy.

Click here to view Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homemade Anise-Fennel Seed Biscotti

Anise-Fennel Seed Biscotti

Organic Fennel Seeds Harvested from My Garden

I tried making biscotti for the first time.  I used a recipe featured in Better Homes & Garden, but used 1 Tbsp of fennel seeds instead of 2 Tbsp of aniseed, and I omitted the milk chocolate candy coating.  This recipe is a keeper.  I will definitely make it again, but next time I think I will lightly drizzle some chocolate over half the batch.  

Anise-Fennel Seed Biscotti Recipe

Makes 3 dozen


  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. anise extract
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds, pulsed in food processor for 5 seconds (OR 2 Tbsp of aniseed)


  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and extract.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in almonds and seeds.
  2. Divide dough in half.  On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (or lined with foil that is lightly sprayed with cooking oil), shape each portion into a 12-in. x 2-in. rectangle.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until firm to the touch and the edges are golden brown.
  3. Remove from oven and cool pans on wire racks.  When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board and cut diagonally with serrated knife into ¾-in. slices.  Return to baking sheets, cut side down.
  4. Bake for 6-7 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in airtight containers.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Free Composting Workshop, Sept 13

Contra Costa County is offering a free two-hour composting workshop to its residents.  All you have to do is call and reserve your spot.  Click here to view Contra Costa County's current schedule for free composting classes.
I have seen other cities/counties (e.g., Santa Clara, Solano, San Francisco, etc.),  offer similar free programs so perform a search for free composting classes in your county or check out your city's website and look under the recycling & waste department. You may even find that they offer free compost or free or discounted compost bins.

September 13
7 - 9 pm