Wine Wednesday: Sancerre

What we’re drinking right now: Sancerre

Sancerre is a region of France that produces some of our favorite white wine of all time for splurge nights. According to Wine.com:

Marked by its charming hilltop village in the easternmost territory of the Loire, Sancerre is famous for its racy, vivacious, citrus-dominant Sauvignon blanc.

It also happens to be the wine drunk frequently by one Mr. Grey throughout the 50 Shades books, if you were paying attention…

If you like drier whites, and you happen to find a Sancerre for under $30, buy a case. This one by Robert Cantin Les Pierblancs has a rating of 92/100 and is priced at $22.

We love this one paired with your favorite seafood appetizer like local raw oysters or shrimp cocktail.

This one was $25 in store

My husband and I splurged on a $52 bottle during a date night suggested by the local Restaurant known for its raw bar selections and pairings.52$ in restaurant $25 in store.

Certainly not at our price point for the day-to-day wine consumption, but well worth it for special occasions.

It was worth every penny. We’d never had a Sancerre before, and boy did we swoon!

Happy Whining! Wining!

Try and enjoy responsibly. (Which means uber)

At Home with Christiana: The Wine Files, XL

Welcome to the first installment in what will be a recurring series here called the The Wine Files, because my friends think I’m classy (or lush) enough to write about wine and have asked me to do so. So here we are.pexels-photo-290316.jpeg

Installment One is kicking off in a big way, literally, by focusing strictly on 1.5 Liter bottles of wine. Also known as Magnum, XL, or Granny wines. (You know, the big bottles in the section you used to think only grannies shopped in?? Yep, those.)   

While these larger bottles tend to have a bad rep here in the States, they are not only perfectly normal across the pond, but they are also really dang convenient. Because you never know when you might have unexpected company or an epic series of your children’s complete meltdowns culminating in a first-world crisis. (No judgment. We’ve all been there.)

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Not pictured: Me, actually trying to shop.

Also worth noting is the fact that bringing multiple small children to the store is an adventure anyway, but bringing them through a decent wine shop is a downright crusade. Yes, I know. Booze is definitely an area where bigger is typically not better. I get that. But I also get wine. And I get parenting. And somedays you just feel like…

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So in this phase of life, if you have the opportunity to grab one good bottle of wine that is actually two good bottles of wine, then I’m saying bigger actually can be better. Because less work and more wine = victory in my book. 

“Fave Four” Wines, XL style

Without further adieu, here are my four favorite red and white 1.5 Liter wines. All of these are solid, not-your- average grocery store picks to suit any budget-conscious-fancy-preschool-tuition-paying parent or gourmand alike. No granny panties required.

My Fave Four Reds

 

Name Price* (@1.5L) Description Suggested Pairings LtoL Rating
D’Autrefois Pinot Noir $21.99 Elegant, Cherry, Raspberry, Vanilla, Medium bodied Anything with fresh herbs. Grilled poultry; fish; herbed focaccia.  4/5
Ruffino Chianti $14.79 Juicy, Cherry, Plum, Floral Pizza; Pasta. Any Italian food, period.  4/5
Titus $109.99 Complex, Black Currant, Oak, Chocolate, Full bodied Filet Mignon! Prime Rib! Go big or go home. 5/5
Pierre Henri Cotes du Rhone Villages Signargues $29.99 Rich, Blackberry, Cherry, Spice, Medium bodied Charcuterie;  Lamb; Roasted anything; Chocolate.  Life.  5/5
*Prices may vary depending on location and availability. These are local prices currently available near me.

Pinot Noir

  1. D’Autrefois Pinot Noir

This Pinot Noir is a great value from an acclaimed winery in Burgundy, France. A very drinkable, light red French table wine with a crisp finish. A good summer red when full-bodied wines can be too heavy. Chill slightly and enjoy.

  1. Pierre Henri Cotes du Rhone Villages SignarguesSignargues

This Grenache/Syrah Blend from Cote du Rhone, France is one of my all-time favorite red wines. So the fact that it comes in a 1.5L size is really worth cheering about. With a fruity yet spicy finish, it goes with just about everything. Really. Everything. 

Ruffino

  1. Ruffino Chianti

Nicely balanced Chianti taste that’s not too dry and finishes with just the right amount of tart cherry. This is a great value wine, considering you’re getting two bottles for less than $15. Cheap Chiantis can be disastrous, but this is a nice, safe pick from an established vineyard that makes more high-end reserve Chiantis as well.

Titus

4. Titus Cabernet Sauvignon

This Napa Cabernet is liquid gold. Yes $100+ is a lot to spend on wine, but keep in mind this is getting you TWO full bottles in one and many comparable Cabs sell for more than twice this price. Titus is a deep red, fruity and full-bodied wine that doesn’t disappoint. Great for holiday meals and special occasions.

My Fave Four Whites

 

Name Price (@1.5L) Description Suggested Pairings LtoL Rating
Bougrier “V” Vouvray $24.99 Elegant, Peach, Medium-bodied Cheese; Fruit 5/5
Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio $12.99 Crisp green apple, mineral,  Seafood; Asian/spicy dishes 5/5
DeBaune Connoissuer White $14.99 Fresh, Apple, Honey, Light-bodied Appetizers; Chicken and fresh seafood dishes 4/5
La Vostra Prosecco $19.99 Sparkling, Crisp, Apple, Honeysuckle Brunch; Appetizers; Celebrations! 5/5

Vouvray

  1. Bougrier “V” Vouvray
  2. A quintessential summer wine, this Vouvray from France’s Loire Valley is light and refreshing on a hot day without being too sweet. Tastes great by the pool, or with your feet in the kiddie pool pretending. Perfect with a cheese plate and fresh fruit.mezza
    1. Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio

    This Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy’s Dolomite mountains is my go-to white. An excellent pairing with seafood, spicy dishes (particularly Asian flavors), or really, with just about about any sunny day. You cannot beat the price for such a versatile white. A good all-around “porch-pounder” as they say down here in the south. 

    DeBaune white

  3. 3. DeBaune Connoisseur White A great French table wine, that blends just the right amount of peach and honeysuckle. Relaxed varietal that tastes far more expensive than it is. Great with appetizers and fresh seafood. La Vostra
  4. 4. La Vostra Prosecco Because, brunch. And if your friends are anything like my friends, there’s no point in bringing a small bottle of bubbles for those mimosas. This prosecco is not too sweet, and not too dry and is the perfect brunch guest in it’s pretty pink bottle. A fantastic value.  

That’s all folks! I hope you find something here that you love, you want, and maybe even need. Be sure to follow us so you don’t miss out on further installments in The Wine Files. Requests welcome.

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Until next time… cheers!

 

  1. fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

 

 

Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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Momday Faves: Part Deux

To continue a “few of my favorite things” on these Momday Faves list….

Kristy’s turn:

Mommy Hooks

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Does this look like you running errands or enjoying a day out with kids in tow…one in a baby wearing device, one holding hands, and one in a stroller? Trying to run errands, go to the farmers market, store, zoo,shopping mall, anything can be overwhelming when the “stuff” piles up.

“mommy hold this” twice from each kid….plus picking up that package from post office and the flowers that I told you to buy for yourself a few posts ago…..

Heres your solution…The Stroller Hook!

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This one, by Toogli, is one that I like but there are several comparable brands to choose from here: Hook Options

This lovely thing clips ALL YOUR BAGS into your cart, stroller, backpack, wherever you want it! Its a heavy-duty carabiner that saved my life with two kids, a diaper bag, a baby wearing device, all the coats, shopping bags, etc!

Home Meal Delivery 

I am way into things arriving on my porch, ready to be made! Taking my kids to the store ended up getting extremely expensive for a family of four who eats wants to eat a paleo diet. We found Sunbasket.com and have LOVED every box we’ve gotten. They have very healthy options, and it saves us the time and money of getting all the ingredients at the store. Most of you know Blue Apron, but Sun Basket offers organic, free range, and different options for different dietary restrictions.

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For the price point, we’ve found Sunbasket to be the most convenient and the most excellent. As cross fitters, we need to focus on the fuel we put into our bodies daily.  With our schedules as they are, we wouldn’t eat as healthy as we do without Sunbasket.  Give it a shot!

And finally, a HUGE thank you to all of you who promoted our blog and got us to 50 followers. Keep sharing the good news and we will keep posting fun/informative/inspirational/random stuff!!

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At Home with Christiana: Grout redemption!

As a follow up to my earlier backsplash post (more on that here if you missed it), I want to highlight a quick fix for what can be a frustrating aspect of a backsplash project, or of tile anywhere for that matter. Grout. Like the constantly dingy-looking, never comes clean, “I think it used to be white but now it’s just gross” grout.

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You can fudge up grout color in a project, or you can simply inherit some yucky stuff with your house. Either way, I. HEAR. YOU. And I am here to help you fix it! Once and for all. In one afternoon. (Don’t worry, this is not a “magic” cleaning method involving a tootbrush and too much of your time. Whole lotta nope.) Welcome to your grout redemption!!

Let me explain how I got to this point. We had awesome marble basket-weave tile floors installed in our hall bath, which is primarily used by our kids, buuut is also frequently used by guests since it is located in our front hall. (Basically, it is not a room you can just close the door and pretend doesn’t exist.) We chose light gray grout for the installation based on the package color sample. Which looked great. Until it dried. And our “light gray” grout was in fact not gray at all but… drumroll please… white. Womp, womp. Who wants to clean white grout in a kids’ bathroom? That’s right, no one. We weren’t pumped, we didn’t get the contrast we wanted from gray grout, but okaaaay we thought, it’s not awful. (Not yet.)

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Noooo! We white-grouted our bathroom floor!

Buuuut, fast forward through potty training two little boys, 1,000 grimy kid (and dog) baths, and SURPRISE! The grout was no longer an okay white-ish color. In fact, it never looked clean, and most of the time was a shade of icky beige which made our very recently installed floors look old and dingy. SHOOT.

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These guys make a mess?! No way…

After I discovered became obsessed with DeLorean Gray grout and used it on pretty much all of our other projects, I had a hard time refraining from adult tantrums about our bathroom floor situation. I actually contemplated re-grouting the whole floor until I figured out that for starters, it would entail chipping old grout out of approximately 5 million tiny joints with an itty bitty diamond coated blade. Uhhh no. 

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Fade-Resistant and available in something like 40+ colors. This stuff is legit!

I had pretty much given up when I stumbled upon Grout Renew during an early morning hardware store run. And praise to all the high powers it was available in Delorian Gray. For less than $20. Um, excuse me. Whaaaat?  I was pretty sure that it was too good to be true and most likely wouldn’t work, but what the heck did I have to lose?

So, that afternoon, my husband I found ourselves with a napping baby and two fairly distracted children and decided to give it a shot.  Per the package, you simply apply the solution evenly to all of your grout joints with a toothbrush, wait 30-60 minutes and wipe off. Easy peasy, right??

Actually yes, with one caveat.  Work in small sections and work quickly. Make sure you wipe your tile before the solution dries, which happened way faster than we expected.  DO NOT ATTEMPT this project when your children are only fairly distracted and might want a snack, OR when a certain baby might wake from nap time early. (Say, our whole lives right now.) Set your timer for 30 minutes and attach it to your person. Getting distracted and missing your clean-up time can derail this project in a major way and leave you with our pretty little situation below. But don’t worry, even that can be fixed.

 

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Dang nap time sabotage!

While scary, even the holy-crap-there-is-dry-grout-paint-everywhere situation was not unsolvable! Just way more difficult than it needed to be. (Luckily you have us to try out the more difficult route for you. You’re welcome!) But really, just a lot of extra scraping with One of these multi-tools (which I recommend everyone have on hand for clean up after any and all paint, tile, adhesive, anything projects), and the tiles cleaned up perfectly.  No more icky yellowish-white grout! Instead, perfect, easy-to-clean gray. Fist pump.

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After Grout Renew: Clean and gray!

In sum, use this stuff! Just don’t don’t make the same mistake we did.   (Unless of course you want to skip your arm workout and scrub tiles instead…) Here’s to happy grout!

 

Momday Faves

You know that feeling when you discover a new {item, gadget, service, app…} that revolutionizes your day-to-day mom life? That howdidIeverlivewithoutthis?? moment? Well these are a few of Christiana and Annie’s faves we’d like to share with you lovelies! If you’re on a strict budget…. stop reading now. You’re gonna want one all of these…

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First up, Christiana’s Faves:

Not being able to finish your coffee while it’s hot is the subject of more parenthood-memes than I have legos in my house. Enter: Ember Temperature Control Ceramic Mugember

This mug is my Monday morning hallelujah. No matter how many diaper changes, lost shoes, or forgotten hidden homework assignments try to derail my morning, I have hot coffee from first sip to last drop. All. Morning. Long.

Shout color catchers

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After my boys’ royal-blue shark towels turned nearly half of their summer wardrobes into a similar shade of blue in the wash, I lamented the catastrophe to a family member who looked at me like I had five heads and asked “Did you not use a color catcher?!”

Say whaaaat?? Yes, color-catchers are a real, actual “holy-cow-where-have-these-been-my-whole-life” thing. One tiny sheet literally ‘catches’ loose colors and prevents them from running onto other items in the same load. End result: wash colors and whites and everything (even shark towels!) together with no fear.  No separating, no worries. WIN.

The Endless Reader Apps

Although we are all on-board with American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice to limit screen time, those “limited” moments of distracted-child bliss are priceless. These apps, no joke, are at least partially responsible for having taught my kids their alphabet, sight word reading and basic numbers/math. They are fun enough that kids think they’re getting away with something, but 100% child-brain enriching.

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Annie’s turn:

Robotic Vacuum 

Our household contains not only one heavy-shedding dog (Chesapeake Bay Retriever) but also 3 heavy-shedding long-haired women. In addition to that, there is the usual dust, dropped cheerios, crushed goldfish, lint, etc… of a busy household. This miracle worker (ours is named Wall-E) is programmed to come on at 9 am when we’re (usually) out of the house and takes care of nearly ALL of it. The few days it has been unplugged or put away for some reason, there are actual rabbit-sized dust bunnies that build up in our house and this little guy keeps our floors – even the corners and UNDER FURNITURE – spick and span. Plus…

Our dog weighs 90 pounds, so can’t partake in this fun, so sad!

These are the highest rated models on Consumer Reports – we have a 2 year old version of the cheapest one that both my children have ridden around and it’s still trucking!

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Melissa and Doug Water Wow On the Go

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These little board books come with a “paint brush” that you fill with plain-old water. When the kids apply it to the magical board-pages, the colors show up as if they did, truly, perfectly-in-the-lines paint them. My kids will do these for an hour straight. Perfect for the car when you don’t want them to be watching the iPad for the entire 3 hour road trip, or just for those moments when you’re like “how is it an HOUR until naptime, if I have to clean up another mess I’ll just burn the house down!”. No mess, no problem.

I buy the three packs, in a pinch, the pages can be blow-dried for rapid cycling tantrum-aversion.

 

 

 

Nerium Hydrogel Patches and Eye Serum

These little babies should be given out at EVERY baby shower. And bridal shower. And just, everyone needs these. They will take your most brutal “baby-woke-up-7-times” or “we-had-too-much-fun-on-date-night” under-eye bags and virtually eliminate them in 25 minutes flat. And hey – for the dads out there, this is so popular with men it’s dubbed “man-makeup” because 5 minutes of serum can take years off. This is me on left, a family friend on right, same lighting, same camera, no make-up, NO EDITING, (yes, slightly different angle because I’m a doctor not a professional photographer):

And in case you’re wondering if it’s a short-term gimmicky-result… these are one of the few rapid treatments that also improve your results progressively with time. The other name for the serum? Unicorn tears. Nuff said.

Ok, now you have to share your favorites in the comments and share.

Bonus, if we get up to 50 followers from this wonderful sharing by the end of the week, Annie will send a free sample of this magical eye serum to 1 lucky follower!

Now go get your Monday on!