It’s December and that means it’s time for holiday party-packed weekend, sparkly clothes, and more food and drink than you can imagine! So just in time to shop for what kind of wine to bring to your next holiday party or what kind of wine to consume just because you want to be merry and bright, here are my friends’ top wine picks under $15… and a couple of mine too.
- Jen’s pick Marietta Old Vine Red: Aromas of ripe blackberries, dark cherries, and plum, with some spice, earth, and subtle oak
- Monica’s pick Mark West Pinot Noir: Strong floral aromas, hints of black cherry, strawberries and vanilla, mild tannins and not very heavy
- Jena’s pick La Crema Chardonnay: Lively citrus and subtle toasted oak with a kiss of butterscotch, round and nutty, with flavors of yellow apple and orange
- Desiree’s pick Anthropology Shiraz: Soft and fragrant, with floral and spice notes and some fresh berry flavors; not overly heavy, not overly light
- Jessica’s pick Liberty School Cabernet: Soft and easy with aromas of blackberries and dark cherries, chocolate and cassis
- Kathie’s pick Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: Light to medium-bodied and aromatic, crisp and well-balanced with intense aromas of gooseberry, passion fruit and citrus
- Betsy’s pick Dynamite Cabernet Sauvignon: Aromas of black fruit, cassis, and chocolate followed by flavors of blackberries and toffee
- Marcela’s pick San Silvestro Dulcis Rosso: Sparkling, sweet, light, tastes of cherries and strawberries
- Liz’s pick Bookmark Red Wine: Scents of smokiness, marzipan, black currants and black berries, tastes of sweet fruit with berries, plums and chocolate
- Mare’s pick Coppola Diamond Merlot: Soft, smooth tannins, rich, fruity and oaky
- Pam’s pick Viña Esmeralda: Strongly perfumed, with some floral notes, roses, lilies, silky and sappy on the palate
- Jim’s pick Cline Ancient Vines Mourvèdre Dark fruit, cocoa powder and a savory/meaty/smoky quality on the nose. More juicy dark fruit flavors (dark cherry mainly) on the palate, with a latte-like creaminess and a faintly herbal note (this is his review); check out Jim’s VINEgeek site… lots of great recommendations!
- Annette’s pick DaVinci Chianti: Well-balanced with jammy flavors of ripe plums, cherries and red fruit
- My pick #1 Pascual Toso Malbec: Smooth, tastes of bright red cherry fruit, hint of ripe blueberry and earthy smokiness
- My pick #2 Finca el Origen Malbec: Aromas dominated by red plums, cherries, figs and apricots; hints of oak, vanilla, chocolate, toast and caramel
I have not tasted all of these, and prices vary by seller, but you should be able to find them for $15 and under. I look forward to enjoying them all! And have some fun while your wine shopping, serve it up in my favorite red swirl glassware from Pier 1. Perfect for the holidays! Cheers!!!
Every Friday, I’ll (try to) post a favorite find to share with all of you. I seem to like a lot of things, so I think I’ll have lots to share. Today’s find comes from Etsy. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this ipad case from Pink Oasis. It comes with front pockets to store your headphones and your iphone… and best of all, it comes in a ton of super cool fabrics. Check it out, I ordered the one in the pic below. And use the coupon code “pinkoasis” to get 10% off!
It’s that time of year where we’re all scrambling to think of something creative to get our teachers. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Personalized stationary: Lots of options to consider. I like these schoolhouse note cards and stationary sets from Etsy or Erin Condren flat cards. Add some fun, colored pens and markers for a small set, and I think every teacher would love to receive this.
- Cozies: Mentioned in another post… lots of us have given Starbucks gift cards to teachers, but a new way to gift coffee lovers is to get a to-go tumbler, get one of these cozies from either Knit Storm or Natalya’s Studio and add some Via packets… all wrapped nicely in a cellophane bag with pretty ribbon. Nice presentation and a unique twist to the coffee gift. If your teacher is a tea drinker, add some tea bags instead of Vias. You can’t go wrong!
- Personalized tumblers: Love these!!! I just had my order delivered this week from Sweet Southern Company and they look amazing! Candace can customize your tumbler and these make great gifts. Add a few small cans of their favorite soft drink and maybe some snack bags and you’ve got a great Christmas gift basket. She also has wine glasses… so grab one of these for your gal pals with a nice bottle of red, and that’s another person off your list!
- Birthstone necklaces: A delicate and beautiful gift… If you don’t know your teacher’s birthday, find out from the room mom. I like the tiny bezel necklace from Laonato or One Life Jewelry’s petite initial necklace.
- Personalized totes: I’ve seen multiple teachers carrying books and papers in reusable grocery bags, these personalized totes are a stylish and functional alternative. I’ve ordered one of these totes from FlyDuds before and loved it. Clip a Barnes and Noble gift card to the bag for an extra little something. A couple other options are the essential tote or the blinged-out tote. I also like personalized lunch totes.
- Lesson planners: A little expensive, but these lesson planners from Erin Condren are AWESOME! This can be part of a class gift, especially if you use the “picture this!” planner and use a class photo for the cover. You can also check out the calendars… equally as cool!
- Personalized teacher blocks: Great for their desk! Do an Etsy or even a google search, you’ll find lots of styles, but I like these options at Personalized Blocks.
- Pencil cup with gift card: Love this idea from Family Fun Magazine. This is a super cute class gift, especially if you pair it with stationary or a calendar.
- Basket of faves: A classic… gather some of the teacher’s favorite things including soft drink, snacks, candy, etc and organize in a basket. Some other basket ideas include: (1) cellophane bags with different types of popcorn, popcorn tins (often in the dollar section at target) and a movie or gift card to a theater. (2) Italian (or favorite food) basket including a bottle of wine, good pasta, sauce and a couple wine glasses. (3) Reading lover basket with hot cocoa, coffee mug, reading light, gift card to Barnes and Noble, and maybe a child-made bookmark. Make your own… these are such cool gifts to receive!
These are just some ideas that you may be able to use and build on. There are so many things to do on your own, like cookies in a to-go box or the uber-popular cake pops. Whatever your idea, in this case, it’s the thought that counts. I’m so grateful to have the teachers we have and we can’t thank them enough! What are some of your favorite teacher gifts?
So one thing you should know about me, is that at Christmas, I go big. I love to make this time of year a huge thing. I decorate every corner of the house, have holiday sheets on beds, and drink coffee out of Santa cups. I love it. And when it comes to Santa, I want the experience to be magical. I want my kids to come down and be floored with what they see… that one time out of the year, they got everything they wished for. We’re blessed and grateful we can do this for them and with that, the planning begins early.
Step 1. Meticulous development of Christmas list. There is much research and prioritization to be done.
Step 2. Communication. After multiple revision cycles, the final communication to the “big man in red” comes. It’s an exciting time…
Step 3. Visual invoicing. Some proof that the exchange occured.
And so with that, here it is, the top 10 gifts on our list this year:
- Fijit friends: Dancing, talking, interactive, thingys. Not sure exactly what they are, but they are on all the must-have lists this year. Check out this youtube video. If you’re looking for Logan, the blue one, he’s very hard to find. I haven’t seen him in any store and stock is sold out in several websites. Target has a coupon that you scan with your smart phone and should give you $5 off. A good price is $35 to $39 for these.
- Croc Chameleon boots: My kids love the Chameleon Crocs and new as of a few months ago, are these boots. The bottom crocband changes colors when the weather dips below 50 degrees. Available in pink and blue. They are a great little add-on and they are functional too! Save 25% today on orders over $69.
- Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure: Built for almost every gaming platform, including DS and Wii, players take on the role of a powerful Portal Master who can control over 32 different characters, including the fire-breathing dragon, Spyro. In the game, they go on a quest to save their world from Kaos, an evil Portal Master, that they must defeat. The video game comes with 3 action figures and a peripheral called the “Portal of Power”, which connects to the player’s console of choice. Both Target and Walmart have good prices on these, still in stock, but I’m starting to see these go too.
- Disney Pixar Cars Geotrax: Our home apparently doesn’t have enough Lightning McQueens… so enter this pretty cool Geotrax set. Kids can control the cars via remote control and build on with different sets. It’s a little bigger than the smaller wooden sets, so it’s nicer for younger kids. Today only and online only, at Toysr’us, the Grand Prix mega set is on sale from $99 to $87. One other option is the Shake n’ Go set. And if your kid REALLY like Cars, like mine does, get the character poster from Amazon and order a nice big set of diecast Cars. They can learn the names of each car using the poster. Note that in terms of diecast, the harder ones to find are Lewis Hamilton, Carla Veloso and Max Schnell. As far as I can tell, you can only find Lewis and Carla in a set.
- Uptown Espresso Kitchen by KidKraft: Luca’s second obsession, other than cars, is cooking. He absolutely loves to play in his kitchen, which is why this will be the third kitchen upgrade for us. I love this kitchen… but the bad news is…. it’s backordered until mid-January. You can find it on Amazon, but it’s priced way too high. Here’s the one we are hoping to replace the backordered one for: KidKraft Suite Elite. As add-ons, we’ve got the grocery basket and some additional play food. Plus, personalized aprons I ordered from Mr. Whale shop on Etsy. These are super cute!
- LeapPad: Everyone’s favorite sold-out toy. There are a few options for this type of toy this year, including Vtech’s InnoTab. They are very similar tablets, and choice really comes down to the user experience you’re accustomed too. If you have primarily been a Leapfrog user, LeapPad may be your best option (and vice versa). Age says from 4 to 7, but this is on the list for our 2-year-old. Kids are so savvy now and the LeapPad grows with your learning ability… in otherwords, the games/books become tougher as you learn more. Games are also compatible with Leapster Explorer. Ok, now for the tough part… finding the thing. Walmart had inventory issues with it and does not have it. Target and leapfrog.com are sold out. My recommendation: call the Target stores (the online finder is NOT accurate for this product) and check to see if they have any. Second tip is to check Leapfrog’s facebook page… they promised to post as soon as any retailer has some availability. Good luck on this one!
- Slap watches: Kids love slap bracelets and slap watches are the next big thing especially if they are learning to read a watch. Slapwatch.com (the orginal slap watch site) has some junior options, but I like the amazon.com selection. Also, Target just came out with some Circo slap watches a couple weeks ago for $9.99. These are great gifts for adults too.
- Lego: If you have boys especially, legos are likely on your list every year. For us, this year, it’s all about Cars. I like Flo’s V8 Cafe for bigger kids and the Pit Stop duplo set for the young ones. Toys r’Us has a buy one, get one 50% off deal right now, so check it out.
- Museum Tour items: If you have trouble finding something interesting for someone, this may be your best stop. Museum Tour has some great toy and gift ideas for kids that are really into science, music, engineering, etc etc. These are not all toys you find in the typical shops, and there are lots of cool options. My faves are: Piano Made Easy, Science DVDs (these are on our list), Snap Circuits and the Electron microscope, which gives you fun facts about the things you are seeing.
- Lastly, just sharing one of my favorite stocking stuffers this year: Grab n’ Go Play Packs. The one in the previous link is a Cars one (of course) that I used for our road trip. There are some holiday ones, all in the dollar bins at Target. My friend, Jen, also mentioned she takes these to restaurants for a good kid activity. I bought these also for the class treat bags I’m making. A good thing all around :)
And that’s it for now. Happy Cyber Monday and happy shopping! Make sure to buy the Michael Buble Christmas album so you can enjoy it while you’re driving to the store… or ordering online!
For awhile now, other than my all-too-frequent trips to Target and quick purchases on Amazon, my favorite thing has been browsing (and purchasing) from Etsy. I LOVE it!!!! I’m totally addicted. Everything is pretty, unique and handmade. You can find amazing things for birthday parties, personalized stickers and beautiful jewelry. So here is my nod to my top ten favorite shops. Tell them I sent ya :)
- One Life Jewelry. My first “favorited” shop. Arlyne D’Andrea makes the most beautiful pieces. I love the simplicity and delicateness. Some faves are the short bar necklace, learning to fly bird necklace, crossroads necklace, think different necklace and the love life necklace.
- The Jewelry Bar. Susan’s pieces are colorful, whimsical and unique. She’s a more recent discovery and I have added lots of pieces from her shop already. Check out all her bezel pendant necklaces (I have two, one in aqua and another in a warm grey stone), orchid necklace, baroque pendant necklace (I don’t have this yet, but I see myself with the coral or ruby stone option), amethyst extra-long stone necklace and the bubble orange chalcedony drop earrings. Careful… you’re gonna start adding things to your cart very quickly!
- Bella Mantra. I love Jen’s earrings! I quickly became addicted to every color of her rose post earrings… especially the minis. These are my go-to, everyday earrings that give your look a no-fuss, color lift. Then, came the hair pins. You’ll find that I love hair accessories… mostly because I never have time to do my hair, so I overcompensate with pretty and sparkly hair accessories. My favorite way to wear them is to stick a cluster of three into a hair bun. Just a little umph to the “my-hair-is-still-wet-but-I’m-trying-to-make-it-work” look… She’s been making some pretty unique necklaces and head bands too, so check those out as well.
- LillyEllen and Timbro D’Amore. They have the cutest charm necklaces for little girls. You gotta love the sweetness of these pieces. I’ve purchased several necklaces for friend’s daughters and my nieces. My current fave… Hello Kitty. So super cute… definitely take a look around for Christmas gifts.
- The Pink Dillo. Hello, stickers. I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for cute little stickers and tags to put on treat bags, or even on my kid’s lunches when they have to take a sack lunch. I ordered some for Halloween treat bags for school and they were great. Plus, she’s here in Austin… so shout out!
- Knit Storm and Natalya’s Studio. Coffee/ tea cozies! This is one of my favorite gifts to give this season. Grab a plastic to-go tumbler from Target or any other store, add a cozie, put it in a cellophane bag with pretty ribbon and some Starbucks Via pouches… and ta da… a super cute, personalized gift that’s a pick-me-up to your everyday cup-of-joe.
- Sweet Life Paper. I love this stationary. I think these make great gifts, especially for teachers. I’m using these this year as part of the baskets I’ll be making for class gifts. Inexpensive, personalized, functional… can’t get better than that.
- Diana’s Treasures. Scarves galore. I mentioned I have about a gazillion-and-one scarves. I particularly love the look of infinity scarves. Scarves are the best solution for the “throw-it-over-a-Target-tee-and-look-put-together” look. Diana is here in Austin too and she’s got some great fabrics. I prefer the lighter fabrics like chiffon, but in places where it actually gets below 70 degrees, you can pull of the thicker, flannel fabrics.
- My Wonderful Walls. LOVE decals. I like that they can add so much fun and whimsy to a room and are easy to remove when you’re tired with them… or when your kid moves on from adoring trains to being obsessed with farms. So, naturally, one of my faves is the farm decal, which we have in Luca’s room. I like that some of these decals have a more weathered/rustic look. Sometimes decals can look a little too glossy, but these are very nicely done. Search for holiday decals on the site too. It’s become part of my ritualistic holiday decor.
- MadebySam. Current and total obsession. I want everything from here. She’s got multiple sites if you want to buy in bulk. I think she is currently working on 10 pieces for me! I’ve customized a lot of designs for special people for Christmas. This is unique jewelry and I love that you can add meaning to what you design. Faves: her entire leaf collection including the bracelets like her heart bracelet, starfish necklace, and every other thing she has! Dangerously addictive.
Before you go crazy and start maxing your credit cards, be armed with a few tips for successful Etsy shopping:
- Customize. Send a message (appropriate Etsy-regular lingo is “convo”) and make your purchase even more unique.
- Like them on facebook. They often have promotions for their shops on facebook.
- Discounts! Remember buying multiple often means discounts. So if you’re purchasing multiple pieces, ask to see if they have discounts for buying more than one. Many do.
(speaking of shopping, stay tuned for my top Christmas gifts for 2011)
After much encouragement from my friends, I’m starting a blog. Apparently, I’m full of useless information like where to find the best winter hoodies, slight differences between 12 types of sippie cups, where and when to find the best deals… on you name it… and on and on and on. So here goes.
First, a bit about me so you know your novice blogger.
33. In marketing. Two (gorgeous) boys that drive me totally insane. Together with my hubby over 17 years (don’t do the math). Perfectionist. Crafty. Favorite color purple. Can’t walk in heels. I love sparkly things, scarves and headbands. I decorate for every holiday, but my favorite is Christmas. Favorite superlative: super. Sometimes super duper. I go to Target like 12 times a week. Organization is calming to me. I love to plan parties… used to be dinner parties, but now, it’s my kid’s birthdays that I start planning an obnoxious 6 months ahead… I can’t help myself. In love with interior design. Live for the moments I can sit down with a big glass of wine (malbecs are a fave), an over-sized mug of coffee, or an ice-cold diet coke.
I take on too much all the time. I want my children to have the best life ever. And I work hard to try and balance it all… which I understand is completely unachievable. Life is crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.