Gimmie a N-I-S-D…

Northside school district (NISD) offers Adult and Community a diverse range of classes including the following categories:

  • Profit & IT – computers, business solutions, minding money
  • The Arts – dance, fine arts, jewelry making, make-it-yourself, music, languages
  • Mind & Body – Body/Mind/Health, defensive driving, leisure, personal growth, study skills, etc.
  • Fun & Play – kid summer camps, animals, clowning, D-I-Y, home/garden, sports, travel, etc.
  • Online Computers – basics, networking, programming, web design, etc.
  • Online Mind-Body – accounting, cert preps,
  • Online Personal Interest – everything under the sun…

I have enjoyed taking several different classes through NISD including a sushi class, advanced French class, a first-time homebuyers  session, and a financial planning class for women.  Although my daughter will be out of town during the week they’re offering this awesome class  – Robotics using Legos – I contacted the coordinators and they graciously setup another class for a different time (the response was QUICK!)

Some classes I haven’t tried yet but want to include:

Get the FREE course catalog by mail if you don’t already – if you do stop throwing it away and check out the awesome offers!

Have a workshop in mind?  Teach it!  They’re always looking!

Some other cool links on the NISD website:

  • Raise Your Hand Texas – “a non-profit, bi-partisan advocacy organization made up of business and community leaders, parents, taxpayers and concerned citizens, all with a single focus: supporting the more than 4.5 million students in the Texas public education system.” Support them on Facebook too!
  • Volunteers/Mentors – everything you need to know and fill out in order to volunteer in the NISD. (Parents – fill this out before you try to help out in the classroom – go to your child’s school prepared!) Opportunities for parents and friends in the community – be a positive role-model for a child today!
  • NISD Weekly Newsletter – find out where your taxes are going and how NISD is contributing to the community! (Signup for e-mail or txt alerts here – get alerted with emergency notices, academic notices, and event reminders!)
  • NISD News – NISD details making the news…voting, information about new schools and the school boards…anything and everything else you wanted to know about the Northside school district.
  • Facility Rentals – Hosting an event like an HOA meeting? Rent the neighborhood school in the evening instead of inviting strangers into your home…
  • Reunion Announcements – did you graduate from a NISD high school? Have a reunion coming up?
  • School Menus – if you can’t remember what’s for lunch check out this site.

Craving Welfare…

Normally welfare denotes a negative connotation but in this case Welfare Café leaves little to be desired.

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Receiving glowing accolades from all over the state (including Texas Monthly and the San Antonio Express-News), Welfare Café has established itself as one of the best reasons to head to the Hill Country. Visiting twice on leisurely Sunday afternoons, I instantly am taken back to the 8 years I lived in Bavaria Germany. Just reaching Welfare is a drive (well worth it!!) through farms and the Hill Country…the restaurant was originally the town of Welfare’s General Store in the early 1900s. Although there are several tables surrounded by history inside I recommend eating outside on a mild, spring day. The sun shines through trellis and it’s incredibly serene while you’re sipping one of 10 German beers or munching on homemade breads.

Don’t come if you’re in a hurry although the chef rewards your patient wait with incredible modernized German dishes. To start off ordering the Kartoffelpfannekuchen, a very traditional German potato pancake, with both the sour crème and apple sauce. While my Deutsche roots compelled me to select the apple sauce, my date enjoyed the sour crème as well. (Order your own, you won’t want to share…)

For entrées the gentleman ordered Chicken Fredericksburg served over spätzel…the caramelized peaches and jalapenos danced a spicy-sweet number together we enthusiastically applauded. I ordered a traditional schnitzel, (their menu boasted 7 different varieties!) with red cabbage and pan-fried potatoes. I’ll admit that when I placed the order I was skeptical it would meet my high, lived in “Germany for 8 years” standards but the pork cutlet was thin, tender, and pan fried to crispy perfection.

I can’t wait to go back, let me know what you order! Just make sure they’re open before you go, as of this post they’re open on Thursday s-Saturdays for dinner, Sundays for both lunch and dinner. Enjoy live music on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons!

Recommend reservations: 830.537.3700

Finding Welfare Café in Welfare, TX:

*Near Boerne

For directions check out my Great Bytes Google map. This map will be updated with my favorite places to grab a byte (technically really a bite) to eat. I’ll link from posts about the place to my map and I’ll also link from my map to the detailed post for more information including recommendations on what to eat and when to go.

Welfare General Store & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Geekette’s Top 8 Mailing Lists to Join…

DISCLAIMER: I strongly recommend separating your mailing list emails or setting up good filters (either through your e-mail or Outlook.)  They all go to my personal email account but filter into various categories, quickly looking at each – kid offers, home and garden, food, travel, etc.

Companies LOVE mailing lists and member accounts for the following:

  • Save $$$ – it doesn’t cost as much to send out an e-mail as it does to send out paper notifications of specials, etc.
  • Instant, Clear, and Searchable – online specials are often much better then those found in the mailbox or newspaper

Not everyone is web savvy so they can afford to make awesome offers available to those who take advantage.

*Look back for a post about finding savings in the daily newspaper…

Why I love mailing lists:

  • Sign-up Incentives (one time offers for joining a site – often the best offer/discounts you’ll see)
  • Birthday Presents (on your birthday look in your inbox and mailbox for great offers – they want you to spend your birthday money, dinner, etc with them.)
  • Offers/Discounts not for the Masses (Instead of getting what everyone gets, receive something a little more personalized AND special.)

This list is based on just the facts, I probably have subscribed (and sometimes un-subscribed) from 100-200 different websites for any retail service you can think of.

*In no particular order – I picked my favorite in 8 different categories…

Top 8 Mailing Lists to Join

  1. KOHLS.com – Not only do you get $5 off in-store and 10% off online, Kohls sends out notifications every couple of days with offers of free shipping and great sales.  (Word from the wise – create an account and save your shopping cart…it will time out and you’ll lose everything in your you’ve potentially purchased.)
  2. Chuck E. Cheese’s – You want your kid to be a kid…and the cheaper, the more inclined you’ll be to tolerate the loud noises and obnoxious parents.  (Did I say obnoxious?  I meant assertive and strong…)  The best part is the payout at sign up time – you pay for 40 tokens ($10) get 60 tokens, FREE!  You get a set of 4 with each coupon alert eventually the ratio reverses to pay for 60 tokens ($15) get 40 free…still a great deal.)  (Check back for my post on tips and tricks for playing the games – timing is everything if you want to be the mom (dad/uncle/friend/etc) who walks up everytime with at least a thousand tickets.)They’ll also e-mail chore charts, doctor visits, and other certificates worth 10 tokens (FREE) upon completion.
  3. VistaPrint – If I could only keep one mail subscription, it might just be VistaPrint.  Although you are frequently are e-mailed offers, the offers are incredible!  A printing website with quick turnaround a good quality – the offers are great to use at different times of the year.  My daughter and I made fridge magnets with her in red by the tree for Christmas, and included a poem she wrote on the site.  Priceless.  Literally!  Pay special attention of offers with free or discounted uploads (template and pictures included –  a majority of the bill can add up when adding pictures to cards or calendars.)  This website doesn’t just print business cards, print post cards, mousepads, key chains, stamps, car magnets, calendars, hats, and more!  With each e-mail offer select up to 10 FREE products to personalize or design from scratch, only paying for shipping at the end.
  4. RetailMeNot.com – The easiest way to find online coupon codes.  I do not make a purchase online without first googling promotional code (or whatever is requested upon checkout.)  I’ve saved incredible amounts of money with discounts or FREE shipping.
  5. Borders Perks – I’m not sure where this gem was hiding and who knew that Borders Bookstore had such an extensive, inclusive listing of incredible deals.  Sent in a weekly message, rewards include discounts for not only their own bookstore but a plethora of others as well.  Anything and everything is included in this extensive site listing but top offers are emailed every couple of days, based on preferences.
  6. 2-Way Tie for Best Picture:
    Walgreens & Shutterfly – Both regularly e-mail great discounts and promotional codes just in time for the holidays or birthdays.  New members receive free prints – I normally hold out for coupons for $.10 or less…they also offer discounts on photo products (mousepads, scrapbooks) and include updates to new functionality AND services.
  7. Ticketmaster, Broadway Across America, & NBA.com are all worth mentioned when purchasing tickets to entertaining events.  Ticketmaster and Broadway Across America both send clean, easy to read emails, on a weekly basis, about local events based on my preferences.  It’s a great reminder and they often include special codes for buying in advanced!
    NBA.com is worth mentioned because not only can you get INCREDIBLE discounts in alert e-mails, you’re also e-mailed about other promotional events by the players and discounts to hotels and travelling.  Get great seats to the next Spurs game!
  8. Overstock.com – Sign-up at the bottom of the page for Omail, Overstocks frequent flyer about over the top deals that normally only last through the weekend.  A lot are for $1 shipping (a great deal on large rug or furniture purchases)…highlights the top sellers and best deals, both the website and e-mails are very clean and manuever through.

Making my top 8 mailing lists:

  • How often are e-mails received?  Is the content worth the frequency?
  • How easy to read is it?
  • How easy is it to use the discount/promotion?
  • Can I get to the website easily from the e-mail?
  • Amount of savings (time/money)…

*Although this is my first post on mailing lists I will eventually offer more granular TOP 8 mailing lists: kids, food, offers, etc.  Let me know what you’re interested in hearing about the most?

8 Bits in a Byte

This will be the first of many top 8 lists to come…I love top lists because they’re quick…feel free to comment on them and look back for more!

The goal of mine will be to present lists that I wasn’t able to find or ones that are especially important to me.  I ‘ll try to link to each website I’m referring to and only include those that I am happy with.  (Unless is a bottom 8 list…).

Agree to disagree but post comments, I’d love to hear your feedback.

*Geeky Disclaimer: Why 8? Wiki Wiki!

Mother’s Day Card

Although I’ll go into a MUCH more insightful review of one of my favorite sites, follow the link to Scrapblog’s Mother Day Card.  This great website offers to send a free card to your mother, the mother of your children, your mother’s mother…just for signing up.  Personalize one of their standard designs (very modern, unique, colorful)  or start from scratch choosing from thousands of pictures, fonts, and backgrounds to find the card that suits the lady of your lif!

Man’s Best Friend

Man’s Best Friend – check this out:

M – utts

B – eer

F – ootball

What are the odds?  But I digress.

What to do with man’s best friend in San Antonio?  Well, from what I hear from my canine loving co-workers, not much.  I don’t have a dog but enough of my dear loved ones do…so I’m going to give you the kibbles and bits.

From what I’ve found, there are a couple animal love resources…

Fetching Newspapers & Blogs

Pet Me is “a blog about our furry and feathered friends.”  While checking out the articles in my local copy of 210SA (My San Antonio’s sister cool and happening periodical) I have been pleased with the amount of dog-oriented information.  They listed all the places that dogs were welcomed, dog photo contests at La Cantera, and I’m sure they’ll include information about the 4th annual Bow-Wow Meow Luau put on by the Pet Pals of Texas which has quickly become a San Antonio tradition.

The Dog Blog is written by the owner of a black Lab named Missy.  The dynamic duo reviews foods, talks about canine events, and even tries different recipes.

Like “The Dog Blog”, SA Paws is hosted off My San Antonio’s website.  This sub-site not only has a calendar of pet pal events, but also feeds all animal related stories from the local Express-News and of course has furry forums and cutesy pictures.  You can even find them on Facebook which impressed me as mysa.com is not known for taking advantage of cutting edge social networks.  Find information about pet product recalls, more pet blogs, and the following helpful links:

Giving Back to the Canine Community

Don’t have a dog?  Don’t want one full-time?  I know a mother with a 5 year old daughter who DESPERATELY wants a dog?  Is the mom ready for one?  NO!  So instead of dedicating their life to just one single dog…they go the San Antonio Humane Society and give their love to many dogs (and cats) who also want love and affection.  For many this is a great way to still bask in unconditional furry adoration.  I felt very comfortable visiting on a Saturday afternoon.  The facilities are surprisingly clean, bright and open.  They also have all kinds of events, some fundraisers, for adoptions, or just plain fun.  You can email the Humane Society to offer your services as a volunteer – sign up for their bi-monthly training class.  The class last only an hour and a half and with a one-time $25 fee per person.

This covers your volunteer T-shirt or apron, badge, volunteer insurance coverage in case of injury, and your HS/SPCA membership.

Want to be a foster parent?  Click on the link and download the application.  Take care of the pet of someone deployed in the military, a rescued animal, or a special needs puppy.  These are the animals that need the most love and attention.  You can be specific in how long, what type, they’re looking for pet-lovers and am sure will try their hardest to match foster parents with their ideal situation.

Kid’s birthday?  Book it at the San Antonio Humane Society and you’ll get two and a half hours of interactive, education fun.  Get behinds the scene tours, educational presentations, and playtime!

Puppy Play Time

Just like toddlers enjoying playtime and group play, Pawderosa Ranch offers day-time and overnight drop offs while you’re at work or away in San Antonio.   Another puppy playgroup to join is Camp Bow Wow which also encourages social interaction, during the day, or sleep away.

Now this is on par…

UPDATED: (2/6/2010) Volunteer for May 2010 Valero TX Open, details on Facebook.

Will work for golf?

Last year, raising $8.5 Million dollars, the Valero Texas Open is the 3rd oldest PGA tours tournament and a San Antonio ritual.  They have an Aquafina Family Fiesta Day where you can bring the kids to pick up lots of golf related goodies and play golf-related games.

Did you know volunteers for this event receive the following:

  • Uniform shirt (women’s or men’s shirt) & a cap for only $25
    (a $65 value)
  • Complimentary food & beverage while working your shift(s)
  • Appreciation Day round of golf @ La Cantera (18 hours or more of volunteering required) ($125 value)
  • GSA volunteer badge – good all week ($65 value)
  • 4 good any day tickets for a guest ($68 value)
  • GSA volunteer parking pass – good all week ($25 value)
  • Volunteer Party with guest – Friday before tournament ($60 value)

Total Value – $405*

*Those benefits are in addition to the priceless gift bestowed to volunteers in general…

Feel like signing up for the numerous positions available – something for everyone to do, they even ask who you want to work with!  I volunteered a couple years ago AND have gone to the kids’ event numerous times…I’ve never been disappointed!

Speaking of kid-friendly golf events, kids 6 and older are encouraged to join the First Tee San Antonio golf program.

To register your child, stop by the Polo Field Golf Center and complete a Parent Permission Form, or download the form and return to the Polo Field Golf Center (click on ‘Learn More’ for form). We are located at 915 E. Mulberry, near Brackenridge Park and the S.A. Zoo. The program is free and equipment is provided.

Very informative website, http://www.thefirstteesanantonio.org offers opportunities for children and families to get excited about golf!

*Check out part 1 in this golf bit series…

Links for when the lie actually matters…

The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.
~Billy Graham

Although the misnomer we call winter is gone, spring brings not only heat waves but more opportunities to hit the driving range, the golf cart, and eventually the 19th hole…

Here are some bits of advice on the San Antonio golf scene (apologies in advanced non-local golfers…)

My San Antonio – Keyword: GOLF

I plan to post a review about local San Antonio websites, so I don’t want to focus too long on the My San Antonio website…in the search bar, if you type “golf” you’ll be redirected to their Golf section:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/golf/

Here hosts newsworthy golf headlines, course reviews, and a couple quick glances at San Antonio golf courses (their 2009 edition).

Gimmies in Golf

Golf’s not a cheap sport…and people are willing to pay…

However, if there’s a deal, I’ll find it and now I’m sharing it with you!  Some of the best bargains I’ve gotten (besides tutoring computer science students in exchange for free golf clubs…) were from online offers/mailing lists.

Although I’m sure to have other posts about the benefits of online mailing lists, this next section focuses on local deals to be had.

Course Mailing lists

I recommend going down the list and middle-clicking the “ONLINE” website for the courses you’re interested in or already regularly frequent.  As soon as you go to their homepage look for the invitation to join their mailing list (“Are you interested in hearing from us?”…something along those lines.)  I have subscribed to many golf courses, and many send out regular offers:

Free sleeve of golf balls

Later tee time = drastically discounted price

2 for 1 deals, ladies’ nights

…free beer at the 19th hole

And that’s just a few of the great offers.  Some send almost daily emails…come today and pay only $12 dollars, $9 if you walk the course.  Last year, the Quarry sent out an email for a cart, unlimited range balls, AND all 18 holes for any tee time after 2 for only $22 in the month of July!

*Middle-clicking:  Use your middle finger to click the middle button on your mouse (if it has a wheel).  This will open the link to a new page)

Entertainment 2009

Look for another post on this coupon monster book alone!!  Within these pages, there are great discounts for golf equipment AND green fees:

Discounts on Golf Equipment:

Dick’s, FogDog Sports, & Sports Authority all offer various discounts on total purchases (to include golf equipment) – 15% to 18% off

2-for-1 Deals:

Alamo Golf Course – buy one, get one bucket of balls free

Silverhorn – 2 for 1 breakfast

Blossom – golf fee

Polo Field Golf Center – bucket of balls

Rolling Oaks Golf Center – bucket of balls

Woodlake Golf Club – green fee

*more deals found on entertainment.com or in the book!

Golf Store Mailing Lists

A quick Google search of “golf store San Antonio” returned a list of local golf merchants.  Go to the familiar sites, like Golf Galaxy to sign up for their “Golf Galaxy Advantage Club” as well.  Not only will you immediately receive a discount off your first purchase but you’ll also be alerted when golf pros are stopping by, advanced notification for sales, and insight into “Member Only” events…

Stay tuned for parts two and three in the Geekette Bits Golf Series…next we’ll take a look at courses I’ve hit at and also other ways to play for free and introducing kids to the game…for free!

It’s in a book, just take a look…

Remember the days of Reading Rainbow?

It’s a book, just take a look…

For a while I was going crazy at Half-Priced Books:

  • Joining their mailing list, getting e-mails for printable coupons
  • Using their FREE in-store calendar with monthly coupons (25% off entire purchase…)
  • Becoming their friend on Facebook

…but with the recession (and a general desire to save some of my hard-earned money…) I decided to go back to the library. (Not a novel concept, one reason I didn’t return earlier was a pending $50 fine…)

Housed off the City of San Antonio’s website, the San Antonio Public Library system (SAPL) is surprisingly user-friendly and functional. It lacks creative, modern interfaces (no Flash can be a good thing…) but you can do almost everything you want to do.

San Antonio Public library information SAPL@mysapl tweets!

Getting the Card:

Physically go to the SAPL nearest you with the following:

  1. Who are you? (I.e. driver’s license or photo ID)
  2. Proof of Residency (lease, utility statement, checkbook, etc.) <=free to all Bexar County residents…

Bits about Online Features

What’s missing, how long do I have?!

After you go to the library and create an account you can register online. Not only can you see what’s been checked out and when it’s due but you can also register for e-mail reminders (3 days out) to return which books/movies. You’ll also be notified when books/movies placed on hold are ready.

I’m still looking for the stupid book!! Help?!?!

Relax, just renew it. They even have a nice, “Renew All” button (although if you prefer you can put a checkmark next to individual titles too.)

Movies checked out for a week can be renewed once. Books, twice (potentially keeping a book for 9 weeks!)

Byte: If someone else wants the book, you can’t renew books that already have holds.

Browse/search the catalog, across SAPL branches, and find what I want!

Let’s say I moved, my old branch has a book my new branch does. No worries, I can place it on hold, either at the library or online, within my account. By finding what you want and placing it “on hold”, you’ll get a nice email letting you know everything is ready and waiting for you at the branch of your choice. You can waltz into the library, head straight to the holds shelf and find all the books you wanted, with your name on it, bundled with a little rubber band. And you’re done! (This is especially nice for parents with children who don’t feel like going or on the way home from work…)

You can place 20 items (movies and books) on hold at any time and once they’re received, they’ll keep it for 10 days.

Little Bits (LBs)

A SAPL branch by any other name is still as sweet…

You don’t have to return the book to the same location you got the book from! As long as it’s in the SAPL system you can drop it off!

It might not be too late…

As long as you drop it off before the library opens, the morning after it’s due, it’s NOT late! For example, I thought I was a day late (because my book was due Saturday) and was expecting a fine – I didn’t make it before the library closed that same Saturday. But because it was in the book slot before the library opened on Sunday I had a get out of jail card and no 10 cent fine. (This to me says, “We really want you to come and read!”)

Reserve books from across the country (or another country)…

The library doesn’t even have to have your book, if your book can be checked out from a library in Texas, the US, Canada (or other countries, as needed); they’ll ship your book to the SAPL branch of your choice in 2-12 weeks!

For example, I want to get into iPhone programming but SAPL only has a couple resources. However, by going to the Interlibrary Loan website and creating an account, you know have millions of books at your finger tips (more bits here).

One man’s old magazine is another man’s reading material…

Before you enter the library, there’s a plastic bin where you can swap your old magazines for someone else’s. Let someone else enjoy magazines you’ve finished while finding some new periodicals to peruse.

Better late than never…

Finally, don’t forget to return the books. When you have reached your renewal limits, bring the books (and especially movies!!) back to avoid the following fines:

Books: $.35/day (adult-aged, $10.00 maximum), $.15/day (kids, young adult, $6.00 maximum)

Movies: $2.00/day ($10.00 max)

Maps

Don’t forget to check out the maps to find the nearest library location AND to find out where the SAPL Bookmobile stops!

SAPL Locations on Google Maps

View San Antonio Public Library Locations in a larger map

SAPL Bookmobile Locations on Google Maps

View SAPL Bookmobile Locations in a larger map

Under Construction…

Something that I’ve always felt strongly about is not debuting a website until you are ready to take online traffic.  You only get one chance to make a first impression and who wants to come back to a website that is “in-progress”…chances are there is a website out there that already does everything said website promises (and it probably does it bigger and better!)

But what do I know?  My website is in progress.  I am waiting for a fix for some login functionality.  My ultimate goal would allow users to post bits and bytes without having to create a new account.  I would like them to use the logins they use for facebook, Gmail, yahoo, etc – offered by OpenID.  I’m also researching Google’s new Friend Connect tool that allows you to use OpenID to login and also shows what you’ve posted on the website in an RSS feed fashion (similar to facebook.)  It’s very clever in theory but it’s in Beta so there are a lot of limitations.

In the meantime, I continue to find great deals and shortcuts bits I want to share with whoever’s listening – the whole point of Geekette Bits and Bytes.  So please keep in mind that more functionality, hopefully intuitive and fast, is coming.  (In the process, if your comments are deleted it was NOTHING personal.)

Welcome to Geekette Bits!

Welcome to geekettebits.com.  There’s a million blogs out there, why read this one?  The goal of this site is to incorporate my love for everything nerdy with my desire to save money and time.

I have a knack for finding sites that other people don’t.  I have been known to save hundreds of dollars.  Especially with the economy the way it is, I want help others out with bits and pieces of information I take the time to find about everything from money, to clothes, to traveling.

I’ll also include little food bytes about local San Antonio eateries I’ve enjoyed recently…I have an insatiable taste for GREAT food!

I’m excited to hear what you have to say, comment back!