Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From Consumer Reports: Cabs under $11

Via Consumer Reports... (with a thank you and hat tip to my friend Moeko)

The full-flavored cabernet sauvignon varietal is one of the biggest-selling red wines—and one of the best values, our latest tests suggest. These eight CR Best Buy wines are all very good, cost no more than $11, and rank with most of the other bottles we tested that cost $20 and up. (Our experts conduct blind taste tests, with no knowledge of the wine brand or price.) A few, as noted below, even had the combination of mouth-puckering tannins and ample fruit that can result in improvement over time.

Our picks include one retailer's private-label wine: 365 Everyday Value Trackers Crossing, $7, sold only at Whole Foods. They also include a Chilean bottle, from Frontera, that costs a mere $4, among the least expensive wines we've ever recommended.

Almost all of these wines have ample fruity and woody flavors from aging in oak. They pair well with rich foods such as red meats, which help soften their tannins, and with earthy foods such as mushrooms.

These cabs come from Australia (Lindemans, Rosemount, 365 Everyday Value, and Yellow Tail), Chile (Casillero del Diablo and Frontera), California (Gnarly Head), and Washington State (Columbia Crest).

About these listings

Prices are suggested retail; stores might offer better deals. All wines are very good overall, and are generally shown in order of quality within varietal, from top (best) to bottom.

Frontera 2008 $4

Frontera 2008
Frontera 2008

An exceptional value, even if the other bottles scored above it in this fine group. Nice array of fruit, spice, and woody notes. Rough tannins should soften with time. Now mostly available in a 1.5-liter bottle, which costs about $8.

Rosemount Diamond Label 2006 $10

Rosemount Diamond Label 2006
Rosemount Diamond Label 2006

Rich and complex, with intense fruit and solid acid and tannins. Should improve with age.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley 2006 $11

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley 2006
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley 2006

Black-fruit flavors dominate. Heavy, sweet, wood flavors.

Casillero del Diablo Reserve 2007 $9

Casillero del Diablo Reserve 2007
Casillero del Diablo Reserve 2007

Vivid black-fruit and spicy wood notes with firm tannins that should soften with time.

Yellow Tail 2008 $10

Yellow Tail 2008
Yellow Tail 2008

Varied and concentrated fruit flavors, balanced by notes of wood, vanilla, and brown sugar.

Lindemans Bin 45 2008 $7

Lindemans Bin 45 2008
Lindemans Bin 45 2008

Intense, ripe black-fruit flavors, along with lots of sweet wood notes.

365 Everyday Value Trackers Crossing 2008 $7

365 Everyday Value Trackers Crossing 2008
365 Everyday Value Trackers Crossing 2008

Big fruit flavors supported by solid acid and tannins. Sold only at Whole Foods stores.

Gnarly Head 2006 $10

Gnarly Head 2006
Gnarly Head 2006

Fruity and woody, with spice and intense black fruit on the palate.

Stay tuned. A Life Fulfilled will be posting reviews of some wines under $10 next week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

And the Winner is... (CSNstores.com Giveaway Winner)

Thanks to all who entered in the CSNstores.com giveaway this week.

I used the Web site Random.org to be fair and generate a number between 1 and 48...

And the winner is...

COMMENT #30! That's Mb from "Life of the Mb."

(Thank you to CSNstores.com for giving away the gift card.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reminder: Free Stuff! (Blog Giveaway)

Don't forget about my $80 CSN Stores Giveaway! Comments are due by Sunday night at 9pm - then I'll randomly draw a winner!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SEC Gameday Wear

Us University of Georgia girls take our college football attire very seriously.

Jeans a t-shirts on girls at Georgia games? No way!

The XX chromosomed fans find fun ways to don the team colors. I love to see how the girls get creative; you see paisleys, stripes, patterned sashes, houndstooth accessories, polka dots, you name it. Your imagination can run wild as long as you stick with black, red and white.

(To be fair, college football fans in the SEC all take their attire very seriously).

My gameday gear:

  • Black dress (no one I'd heard of) picked up at Brentwood, TN, for $7
  • Art-deco-ish stretchy belt - $20 (via Athens, GA, Salvation Army like 8 years ago)
  • Mom's bulldawg pin (circa early to mid 1970s) - gratis
  • Laredo brand snakeskin roper boots (via Decatur Last Chance) - $25 (found 'em brand new with tags)
  • Ruffled red bag with monogrammed initials - gifted by stepmother a few years back (features my maiden name initials - KAB)
  • Crazy feathered koozie - gifted (much girlier than I would have picked out for myself, but fun)

A few outfits I dug on Saturday:

A few more photos from the game:

Husband, brother (who is a junior and cheers for UGA).

Husband, father.

Now if our football team could just get its act together... Regardless of the game outcome, going to an SEC game is something you must put on your bucket list. The fans are out of this world. You've never seen a campus so covered in fans, tailgates and general excitement — it's a fun time.

How do you do game day wear?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My First Blog Giveaway - Win $80 Gift Certificate to CSNStores.com

Exciting stuff!

I'm doing my first giveaway on A Life Fulfilled — I'm giving away a $80 gift certificate to CSNstores.com!

CSN is a network of 200+ retailers that offers a wide variety of items. Looking for a coffee table? Nifty cooking gadgets? Fitness and workout gear? Luggage? Other furniture and interior decor accessories? CSN covers all these areas and more. Seriously - they have tons of stuff. They also pride themselves on competitive prices (you guys know how much I appreciate a deal).

This is a simple giveaway*. Simply comment on this post with a link or explanation of something you would buy from CSNstores.com if you won the gift certificate. Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. I will draw a winner at random on Sunday, September 26 at 9pm.

Here are some things I would buy if I won (and at these prices, I could buy more than one thing).

5-piece Ginsu knife set (the steak knives we registered for are awful and I would love to get some different/better ones). These have great reviews. $14.99.

Shoes... need I say more? These Diba snakeskin material boots would be killer to wear under or over jeans this fall and winter. $68.

Who can say no to a sassy apron? And if you're as clumsy as I am, you'll appreciate this shielding your clothes from renegade spaghetti sauce. $29.99.

If you read my other blog, you know I have been globe/map crazy lately. I'm ga-gah over this one for $49.50.

You can't go wrong with stemless wine glasses. (Harder to break, easy to wash in the dishwasher.) Set of 8 for $34.99.

Good luck! You could keep the winnings for yourself (I would!) or use 'em toward Christmas (not a bad idea either!).

(*Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian readers only. If you're a Canadian reader, international shipping rates may apply to your purchase).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not Batman's Cape

I've read in more than one place that capes are supposed to be all the rage this fall season.

So I'm even more excited than average to pull out the vintage, wool plaid cape I found a few years ago!

Mmmm. Fall. Can't wait for it to get a little chilly so I can wear capes (and jeans, and boots and sweaters, oh my!), drink pumpkin spice lattes, cheer on my fave NFL and college football teams and be cozy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Glamourai Inspired Sleeveless Coat

I've had a blog crush on The Glamourai since my friend Mb recommended her blog to me two months ago. She's glamorous (duh!), edgy and on-trend while still beating to her own drum beat.

When I saw her rock a neutral/light sleeveless trench over a dress, I thought, "Hey, I bet I could do that, and for relatively cheap."

The Glamourai (Kelly Frammel).
See more photos from her sleeveless trench coat post here.

So I set out to find a trench that I could have the sleeves cut off of. Like Kelly's, I wanted it to be neutral and simple. I visited Atlanta's Last Chance (Decatur location) and the Tucker, Dunwoody and Buford Highway Goodwills before I found something I thought would work.

Enter the $4 tweed 3/4 sleeve coat. While it had a simple neckline versus the trench look I was hoping, the fabric did have the versatility and neutrality I was looking for.

It was also important that I find a neutral dress. The thought of wearing pants with a sleeveless coat felt very 1990s power suit to me — or Hilary Clinton campaigning in the summertime. I got lucky and found a khaki linen-ish dress at Ross on clearance for $8.

This outfit:
  • Coat (no label): $4 plus $10 alterations (to remove sleeves) — via Dunwoody, Georgia, Goodwill
  • Dress: $8 (no one noteworthy) plus $4 to have the sleeves removed — via Dunwoody Ross Dress for Less
  • Shoes: Steve Madden nude leather heels $4 — via Dunwoody Goodwill
  • Necklace: $12 from Decatur antique vintage mega awesome store Kudzu (it's rose quartz, wood and faux gold)
  • Ring: $10 (quartz and copper) — from Art Walk (walking street vendor market) in Santa Barbara, California
  • Total: $52 (so freaking close to $50 or less)

Also, take a good hard look at my straight hair — since it takes a while to straighten, I don't do it often. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Martha's Colors (and for $50 or less!)

Miz Martha Stewart (along with Miz Heather over at "We Met in a Bar") has been very fond of pairing grey with yellow.

I used to shy away from wearing yellow (thought it clashed with my hair), but lately I've been gravitating toward bright, cheerful hues like yellow a lot myself.

  • Blouse: Banana Republic Outlet ($12 on sale)
  • Wool vest: $4 at one of my local Goodwills (Tucker, I think)
  • Skirt: Isaac Mizrahi for Target ($5 at Goodwill or Salvation Army)
  • Shoes: Nine West via Ross ($25)
  • Necklace: gifted by stepmother
  • Ring: $2 at a thrift store in Santa Barbara
  • Shoulder bag: $16 at Tucker Goodwill (and it's leather!)
  • (Okay, it's only $50 or less when you don't count the purse...)

This necklace has really grown on me. When I opened it up circa Christmas 2008, I wasn't sure what to think. I thought it was too feminine or too busy or something. But I find myself wearing it all the time now. It's subtle with light colored tops -- and bold and interesting with colors like navy and black.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cheap Shades and Rx Glasses

I've been pondering ordering a pair of eyes from Zenni Optical* for about 8 months.

Zenni offers prescription glasses and sunglasses for $10 to $40. They have fashion-forward frames, traditional frames, funky frames — no lie. Considering I paid about $300 for my prescription glasses at a major eyeglass retailer, I've been damn curious about their offerings.

My glasses have been great — but since I need my glasses especially for distance and driving — a pair of sunnies have been in order.

I have no idea why, but I put it off and put it off...

I finally bit the bullet about a month ago, anticipating a trip to sunny Santa Barbara, California. I ordered a pair of glasses for $9.00 plus shipping (totaling around $20).

Well, dum dum me forgot to check the box for "80% tint - amber" to make them sunglasses — so instead of a pair of retro funky sunnies, I ended up with some geek chic (okay, maybe that's stretching it...) googles. Whoops!

I feel a little Kanye West up in this piece...

And for reference, my regular Donna Karan glasses:

If you're wondering how to read your prescription, see below. Lucky for me, my mother-in-law used to work for Lens Crafters and was able to translate for me.

My RX:

OD -0.25 -0.25 x100 -- Right eye
OS plano -o.75 x80 -- Left eye
pd or pupillary distance is 59 -- this is the distance between my pupils and is needed for glasses

(Click to enlarge my prescription write-up)

Considering the prescription was write-on, I recently RE-ordered the glasses and remembered to fill in the lenses tent field so I can get sunglasses this next time. :)

But what's the verdict on this pair?
- So nerdy they're cool
- So nerdy you should throw them away
- Meh

*Hat tips to my girls Megan and Olivia for recommending this site.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Love Maegan Inspired Shoes

Gals, you must read Love Maegan. She's a fabulous, stylish, glamorous blogger from LA with a great mixed modern and vintage sensibility. Thanks to a tip from Mb, Love Maegan has been a
daily read for the past two-ish years.

Anyway, Maegan has most excellent taste in shoes. Not only are her shoe picks mega-stylish, I can tell she picks durable shoes to fill her closet. Did I mention I would love to raid that closet?

Being the thrifty gal I am, I occasionally crawl the offerings of eBay for the shoe brands I see on Maegan's blog. Some of her faves are:

I know a nice shoe can be a good investment — but as almost a rule — I will spend about $50 max on a pair of shoes.

A few weeks ago, I scored the jackpot!

Two pairs of Boutique 9 shoes (new) for $20.99 each plus $10 shipping:

Boutique 9 "Dalia" wedges (blue suede with a suede heel). Original retail: $148 ($20.99 plus $10 shipping from eBay vendor edubbsthename007. I think I'm in love!

Boutique 9 Pippa Sandals ($20.99 plus $10 shipping from eBay vendor shoe-discount-warehouse).


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lil Tip: Taming that Excess Beltage

Do you have regular belts you sometimes wear at the waist?

Too long/big belts worn at the waist leave you with some extra flappage (that pesky belt tail hanging out).

Here's a 'lil tip: use a clear pony tail band from a cheap $3 pack of Goody's Ouchless pony tail holders — and tame that sucker down!

Voila! Almost invisible!