15 Budget Red Wines Under $15

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Between the sugar hangover and the bloated belly, I can’t bring myself to drink sweet whites or really any white wines for that matter. Since my Chardonnay days ended towards the end of college, I’ve become more of a dry-full-bodied-red-wine-with-an-oaky-base kind of gal. So if you like sweet Pinots, this post isn’t for you.

I am all about finding a nice & affordable, yet delicious full-bodied red. People say there’s a huge difference between expensive wine and cheap wine. Maybe if you can afford a $70 bottle of Caymus Collection for a 2 glass Friday night, then there’s a difference. But $30 vs. $15? I beg to differ.

Matt and I started taking notes on every bottle we drink because we always seem to forget which ones were just “eh”, especially if they have a cool label. I included some of our notes below.

Here are my top choices for bargain reds, so you can afford to split a bottle…or even 3 on a good night…without breaking the bank. P.S. Some of these are usually priced higher, but I get them at a lower rate by buying 6 bottles at a time at places like Ralphs.

1. Trader Joes Coastal Merlot – $4.49

I’ve tried the Cab Sav in this collection and I’m not a fan. But WOAH MERLOT. TJs, you win with your new-age $2 buck chuck.

2. Trader Joes Growers Reserve Merlot – $4.99

We note this one as “smooth & dry AF”.

3. Arrow Creek Merlot – $4.99

“Warm & full-bodied”.

4. La Finca Tempranillo – $3.99

Getting out of our cab/merlot comfort zone with this one. “Spicy and unique”.

5. The Original Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon – $8.99

Matt calls this one “slutty”.

6. Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon – $8.99

I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t like this signature cab.

7. Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon – $9.99

8. 7 Moons Red Blend – $9.99

“Easy drinkin. Medium-bodied, with a smooth after taste.” Table wine for any occasion.

9. Robert Mondavi Merlot – $8.99

“Delicious” – 5/5

10. Josh Cabernet Sauvignon – $11.99

Oh, how I love Josh. He’s a constant in my life and every time he’s around, I’m overcome with delight. Don’t try to find him at a commercial grocery store or he’ll be over $20. Trader Joes sells him at a casual $11.99 and my heart is happy.

11. Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon

Hands down favorite. My mouth waters just thinking about it. You can get it for a good deal at Ralphs when it’s on the buy 6 bottles sale.

12. Raymond Merlot – $13.99

Dry, smoky and extremely delicious.

13. Gnarly Head Merlot – $11.99

“Bold, sophisticated, & smooth.”

14. Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon – $14.99

Pretty much have realized we like any red wine that has a man’s name in it. I’m not sure how it’s worked out like that, but it has.

15. Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon – $14.99

See?

16. Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon – $13.99

Classic favorite of ours. “Warm, smooth, no after taste”.

Have a favorite I’m missing? Comment below – I’d love to try it!

 

ClaudettesCorner

 

Name Change List for Newly Married Babes

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I’m going to be real here. The name changing process sucks. It’s long, frustrating and hard to determine what all needs to be changed and when.

To help my fellow newlyweds out, I compiled a list of where to change your name and tips for how to do it in order to make the process as efficient as possible. I’m also a huge fan of lists and wasn’t able to find a good consolidated one when I was changing everything, so I hope this helps someone else out there!

Step 1: Marriage license

Get three to be safe. You’ll want to keep one on file and then will have to send in a couple copies during the name change process.

Step 2: Social Security

First, make an appointment at your local SSN office. Then, fill out the application, print it and bring to the SSN office. You will receive the new copy in 10 business days.

  • Bring all forms of ID and paperwork – old license, marriage license, new social security card, birth certificate, and name change

Step 3: DMV

Schedule an appointment for at least two weeks after your SSN appointment. You’ll need your new SSN card in order to get a new license. FYI, apparently when you get a brand new ID, you go into the system to be called for jury duty. I got my letter about a month after I went to the DMV!

  • Bring all forms of ID and paperwork – old license, marriage license, new social security card, birth certificate, and name change
  • Complete form DL 44

Step 4: Banks

Once you get your new license, you can change your bank information. Bring your ID and marriage certificate to the bank. Now’s the time to switch bank accounts or join with your hubby. We’ll save that convo for a later date.

Step 5: Misc

  • Credit Cards – These are pretty easy, at least with Chase & CapitalOne. I was able to change both of mine online!
  • Bills – Now that your bank info has changed, you’ll want to update all of your auto-pay info with your new name.
  • Passport – You’ll need to purchase a new passport Fill out the application and bring passport photo, birth certificate, certified copy of marriage license, and ssn card to a local post office or place that makes passports. They will take everything from you and mail it back in a few weeks.
  • TSA Precheck – Make an in-person appointment, bring your marriage license, and may as well bring copies of your legal docs. It took 6 months for them to change my name after my first phone call.
  • Airline Accounts (Southwest) – This will vary from airline to airline. For Southwest Rapid Rewards, name change requests must be submitted in writing to Rapid Rewards, P.O. Box 36657, Dallas, Texas 75235. Written request must include a letter about your new legal name, member contact info, RR account number, and photocopies of legal docs (old and new photo ID & marriage license). If you already have a flight booked with your old name, email crrrdox@wnco.com – submit copy of old & new ID, copy marriage license, and flight numbers to change.
  • Employee Benefits – Update your name with your company and they will help you change your benefits information.
  • Home – Title company & mortgage company
  • Auto – Car registration & auto insurance
  • Gym Membership
  • Voter Registration

Did I miss any important ones? Let me know!

ClaudettesCorner

Eating Our Way Through Paris in 2 Days

Honeymoon Part 4

Our final stop after the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, and Western Switzerland was Paris, the city of love…and foodgasms. Leaving miles and miles of walking for last day may have been a little crazy since we were totally pooped after 14 days gallivanting all over Europe, but it was worth every last second bite.

Overall, Paris was surprisingly cheap. At least compared to where we had already been. They even have free water (woahhhhh crazyyyy). After two weeks of purchasing it everywhere, this was pretty exciting.

Okay, back to the trip…after a lot of research, I was torn between which area to stay in. I finally chose St. Germain, which turned out to be an up-and-coming neighborhood in walking distance to pretty much everything. Our 2-CV local tour guide even said we picked quite a cool place.

While in Paris, we basically just bar and appetizer-hopped our way around the city for two days and had a spectacular time doing so.

Foodie Favs

  • Breizh Cafe. The crepes here are so so so good. Salmon and goat cheese is to die for.
  • Eggs & Co. Matt found this place on Yelp and I would venture to say it’s pretty hipster, with the hole-in-the-wall type of look. Yet, it’s decorated tres cute and the food is great. I had the benedict and au plait eggs with bacon, chives, and parmesan plus they give you salad and yummy mini potatoes.
  • Odette. Definitely stopped here because 1. it looked cute and 2. because it rhymes with my name. Turns out they have yummy cream puffs and I don’t even like cream puffs!
  • Les PhilosophesTwo words. Foie gras. I didn’t know what exactly I was eating until I had finished, but holy s*** it was good. Who knew duck liver + jam on toast could be so tasty? We also had the french onion soup, because well, France.
  • Paul. I think this must be a chain since I saw two of them, but they’ve got some great pastries.
  • Escargot. Turns out, not a fan. We ordered half a dozen, tried to thoroughly chew 2 and were unsuccessful. Also had to awkwardly ask the waiter how to get those suckers out of the shell with the clamp. Everyone in the restaurant had a good laugh.

Favorite Hoods & Must Dos

  • Le Marais. A cute historical neighborhood in the 3rd Arrondissement with plenty of shops and food, notably Les Philosophes.
  • Rue de Boci. Another super cute neighborhood with outdoor cafes, live music in the street, and great people watching.
  • 2 CV Tour. Matt’s dad said we HAD to check out this 2-hour night-time tour and he was totally right. Riding around Paris in a lavender-colored, French version of the VW bug with no roof was seriously the coolest thing ever. Our tour guide was a local French woman who was a bit crazy behind the wheel but very entertaining and knowledgeable. Not only did we get to see all of the big features in Paris lit up, but we got a great lay of the land on night one.

We will definitely be back and I can’t wait to continue exploring and EATING!

Cheers Claudette 2

How to Preserve Your Wedding Bouquet

DIY Dried Flower Frame

After months of planning your dream wedding, suddenly it’s over. All of the details you pined over for the past year waiting to be boxed up, thrown away or donated. Luckily for us DIY-ers, there are plenty of ways to reuse wedding décor, add a very personal touch to your home, AND get a daily reminder of your special day.

I’m all about memorabilia, and my bridal bouquet was something I definitely wanted to remember. I decided to try a couple different DIY projects to preserve the flowers: hanging a bridesmaid bouquet to dry and pressing my bridal bouquet flowers to create a DIY piece of art for our home. I am obsessed with how the framed flowers turned out and get to walk past it every day in my hallway!

What You’ll Need:
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Books
  • Paper
  • Large floating frame (The biggest I could find was 20×24)
  • Hot glue gun (I used a flower detail glue gun and it worked great)
  • Optional: vows printed on paper
  • Optional: ribbon from bouquet

Florals by Ahnalise Draper @gingerroots_ca

Disassemble Your Flowers

The day we got home from the wedding, I set to work on cutting flowers from my bouquet off each stem. I cut most of them to ensure I had plenty for the frame. In retrospect, I would have let them dry out a for a couple more days.

Thicker flowers like roses can be cut in half or you can pull out as much of the center green part as you can to spread it out in a circle. I ended up liking the round ones best after they dried.

Dry Your Favorites

Place flowers between two sheets of parchment paper and squash down inside a book. After you’ve gotten all of your flowers inside of books, pile them in stacks in a closet or other dark space. Add some heavy books on top to weigh them down more. After at least two weeks of drying, you can gently take out your flowers.

  • Blue thistle surprisingly dried perfectly in its full form, although I did try cutting them in half as well.
  • Carnations ended up not looking so pretty, so I used them underneath other flowers to add texture.
  • Peonies kept the most color, especially the pink one in my bouquet, which turned out to be a pale shade of purple when dried.
  • Snapdragons turned out great and I wish I had dried more!
  • Greenery and wax flowers made for nice borders around the vows sheets and other flowers.

NOTE: Make sure to let them dry out for a couple days before pressing them. I pressed them right away when they still had water in them so some of the larger flowers, like the roses, ended up ruining pages in my books and molded a bit during their time in the closet.

Arrange & Glue

Now comes the fun part and probably the toughest, since your flowers will be fully preserved (AKA not moving) once you glue everything down. I printed our vows on paper that looked like wood to go along with our rustic wedding theme and placed the flowers around them. You can also incorporate other flat items, such as the ribbon from your bouquet.

Cheers Claudette 2

Tips for Wedding Planning on a Budget

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Last September, Matt & I got married in Sacramento in my mom’s backyard and celebrated with 125 of our closest friends and family. I originally thought we’d be able to coordinate our wedding for $10K…psych! Even having it in my parent’s yard came with its own additional costs: table rentals, linens, lighting, etc. We had to figure out absolutely everything since nothing was included with the venue. While we were able to get our budget down to under $20K, I was shocked by how fast everything adds up.

Still, we were able to come in almost $2,000 under our budget and I was quite happy about that! After months of planning, research and very meticulous attention to my budgeting sheet (I love Excel), I came up with a few tips to help my fellow brides out:

Make a budget spreadsheet. I hear a lot of people say they have no idea what they spent on their wedding. Of course, the goal should be to spend less than your max budget and the only way to know if you’ve accomplished this is to log ALL wedding-related expenses on your spreadsheet throughout the planning process.

Our budget consisted of columns for “budgeted”, “projected” and “actual” costs. “Budgeted” should have very rough estimates and the max you will spend on specific line items in order to fit within your max budget. “Projected” should have more specific estimates and the “actual” column will have the final amount spent. If you are having a DIY wedding, you likely won’t be able to fill out a portion of these until after the wedding, but at least you’ll have an idea beforehand.

Get multiple quotes and rough estimates before setting your budget. I had no idea what certain things would cost, so I collected basic info about various costs and vendors in order to create my “budgeted” column. This gave me a better understanding on what things would cost and where I would need to cut back.

List out what’s most important to least important to you. Determine a few things that are crucial and that’ll be where you splurge or focus more of your budget on. While hand carved nameplates on quartz slabs might be amazing to have at your wedding, it might not be a crucial item, which means it may need to be cut from the decor plan. For me, awesome photos, a huge cheeseboard and good music were most important, and therefore things I didn’t want to skimp on.

Find a venue that allows BYO. Many vendors require you to use their caterer or preferred partners. If you’re lucky, you can find the perfect spot that will let you bring in your own booze and/or your own food. That way, you can get quotes from various catering services and ultimately find something more affordable. To see my list of Orange County venues, what they cost and include, click here. Having more control over your wedding takes more planning, but also saves you money.

Easily find vendors within your budget. Use www.thumbtack.com to set your budget for a specific need and you’ll get quotes back from a few vendors within 24 hours.

Avoid telling vendors it’s for a wedding. A lot of vendors upcharge for weddings. Sometimes you can’t get away with NOT sharing this *tiny* detail, but do your best. “Oh I’m just having a big party…for like 150 people”.

Utilize your resources! A lot of times, your friends or family will be someone or know someone who can help and will do an amazing job. If you’re willing to work with a vendor who doesn’t necessarily do their trade full-time, it’s likely to be a lot more affordable (or free!). My aunt worked on calligraphy, my coworker created our table numbers & printed graphics, my friend’s friend made our bouquets last minute, and a family friend who DJ’s for a lot of charity events became our awesome DJ!

Huge thanks to all of our amazing vendors!

Photographer: Rachelle Photography
Pizza: Paul’s Rustic Oven
Day-of Coordination: Events by Christina
Hair: Meghen Lord
Makeup: Kelli Renault
DJ: Greg Andrews
Florist: Ahnalise Draper
Calligrapher: The Lovely Hue
Graphic Designer: Joy Shows
Videography: My grandad
Dress: Isolde by Anais Anette
Dress Shop & Alterations: Love & Lace Bridal Boutique
Shoes: Betsey Johnson
Jewelry: Kendra Scott

 

ClaudettesCorner