It’s 58 days until spring, but who’s counting? I am, sort of.
After Dec. 31 is past, I’m done with winter. January and February are cruel months, I think. It’s dark and cold and there’s not much to do. If I lived elsewhere, there might be fun outdoor stuff in the winter, but that’s not happening around here!
I beat the snow mostly on Tuesday as I galavanted around town. I popped into Sandy’s Back Porch garden center in Belleville and saw a good amount of Christmas goodies still on the shelves. All are half off. I saw some very pretty things for next December, or that could do duty any time of year. I was especially taken with two faux vintage wreath hangers, regularly priced at $39.99. They looked gilded in gold and would be spectacular any time, with or without a wreath. Bet somebody can think of other things than a wreath to hang on one. Remember, only two there.
This should help you think spring: Save 20 percent on pottery and houseplants, including air plants, succulents, cyclamen and tropical foliage and bonsia at Effinger Garden Center in Belleville.
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Thinking of Mardi Gras (Ash Wednesday is Feb. 10) and the celebrations in the bi-state area, I didn’t have to look far at World Market in Shiloh to find lots of Cajun mixes, seasonings and sauces, plus Tabasco products, on sale for 20 percent off through the end of the month. I also saw Cafe du Monde coffee ($9.99) and beignet mix ($3.99). My favorite potato chips, Zapp’s from New Orleans, are discounted to $1.59 a bag, too. (Spicy Cajun Crawtators are my favorite flavor.)
If an indoor winter pastime is knitting, Michaels Crafts in Shiloh has all its yarn on sale, no exceptions, though Saturday. I spied yarn bundles in some great colors, textures and blends, as low as $2 and as high as $8 (regularly $10).
At Five Below in Fairview Heights, check out snow discs for $5, hoping the white stuff stays around at least through the weekend. The store also has $5 accessories for that GoPro camera you got for Christmas so you can mount it on a helmet, for example. Then, take that sled or disc, strap on the helmet, push the On button and head down that steep hill.
Thinking about an upcoming trip to Europe, I’m on the hunt for new luggage. The last stuff lasted 20 years through lots of airports, so I figure I’m due. If you’re planning a vacation and need suitcases, I would suggest checking out TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores first for quality pieces. They carry trusted brand names like Samsonite at some serious discounts, as well as other popular brands. The trick is if you need a full set and want matching items. I spied both soft-side/expandable and hard-side cases for as little as $60 for the smaller and carry-on pieces. Prices went up from there. All the ones I saw are spinners, which may be one of the best travel inventions around because you can’t check luggage at the curb anymore.
I normally do not write about appliances in this column, but every now and then I come across something that just trips my trigger. For 2016, it’s a mini washer from LG that fits underneath a regular-size, front-load LG washing machine so you can do two loads at the same time. It’s being touted as a way to save time and energy.
Where a regular washing machine may be 5 cubic feet in size, the LG Pedestal Sidekick is 1.0 cubic foot. It comes at a price, though: more than $700, depending on where you buy it. Check out Home Depot to see what the mini washer looks like. The retailer has it on sale for $702 through Wednesday. Best Buy and Sears also sell it. Lowe’s sale price is about $650, depending on color, through Tuesday.
Stay tuned. I think other washing machine manufacturers will follow with this idea.