It’s prime entertaining season and in lieu of coming empty-handed many of us will pick up a bottle of wine to bring to a gathering, so in the spirit of the holiday season, my gift to you is my Top 5 Reasonably Priced Wines. Sometimes I’m introduced to a new wine by a friend or a recommendation from a server in a restaurant, though often I choose a new wine based upon its eye-catching label. Maybe the label is really pretty or is called something that strikes a chord with me. . .or maybe it somehow offers up some humor. Clearly, this is not a scientific process. It should also be pointed out that I am not above drinking wine from a box either. Because we’re boaters and don’t bring glass on board the boat, I buy individual boxes of wine (each mini box contains a couple of ‘glasses’) that are actually pretty good on a sunny, summer afternoon and each compliments even the simplest turkey sandwich ~ yes, I am a classy gal. My other criteria is that I don’t like to and won’t spend a fortune on a bottle of wine. No cork? No problem. A twist-off is just fine in my book. In the end, like a favorite pair of shoes, these wines are all loved and each have their own place in my wine rack. ♥ The wines in this Top 5 Reasonably Priced Wines list also pair really well with an Easy Inexpensive Charcuterie Board which is the perfect take-along to a holiday party, sure to win you Brownie Points with your host.
Is shopping at the Farmers Market still on your ‘Summer To-Do List’? Well, even though Labor Day has passed, Farmers Markets are still open and will be into the fall with the best seasonal fruits and vegetables you’ll find anywhere.
Last week we said a painful goodbye to our dear friend, our beautiful Golden Retriever. Paddy was truly the best. She taught us so many things in the years she was with us — much more than 5, but here are the Top 5:
1. You’re never too old to have fun:
Stay in the moment. . .have a ball. Inspire the people around you with your joy. You couldn’t help but smile when she’d leap to catch a ball. Every day, every catch brought her joy. Find what brings you joy and do it.
2. Move every day: Start your day with a good stretch. . .a scratch behind the ears. Go outside if you’re able. Let the sun warm you. Do whatever activities you enjoy. . .biking, skiing, golfing, walking — maybe even make a snow angel. . .and after you’ve moved, never underestimate the value of an afternoon nap.
3.Be kind. I’ll say it again. Be kind. . .wag your tail and let your smile reach your eyes. Let the people you love know it. Show compassion and whenever possible; offer comfort.
4. Never turn down an offer to ride in a car. . .especially a ride with no particular destination. . .and if you can’t hang your head out the window, at least take in the sights and sounds around you. Children easily and routinely get excited about little things. As adults we feel it has to be a Big.Deal. to qualify for our excitement. A dog jumps and circles around when it finds out it’s going for a ride in the car — doesn’t matter where it’s going. Though where Paddy was concerned, if that car pulled up at the Dairy Queen, well . . . there was a whole lot more tail waggin’ going on. Get excited about life.
5. Don’t be afraid to look silly. Some of the best times of your life may come when you let your guard down, not caring how you look. Create less ‘wish I had’ moments and more ‘glad I did’ ones. Worry less about what people think of you.
Two days after Paddy left this world, we saw a rainbow coming through a gorgeous blue sky. I like to think this was her saying she made it to heaven and joined some familiar faces — family, friends and our other pets (some of whom were her former roommates). Godspeed ♥.
First off, no one would confuse me with a trendsetter. I’m far from being the first one jumping on the cable-cutting bandwagon, but as I sat at my desk recently paying our monthly internet bill — that’s right — just.internet. I realized that cutting the umbilical cord linking us to cable is one of those things I wish I had done sooner. Now you may be thinking:
- She probably doesn’t watch TV anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
- She must have drugged her husband and/or persuaded him in some other fashion to get him to go along with this.
- Her husband believed cutting cable was easier than listening to her
nag, pesterpersuade him. Hmmm . . . this maaaaay be partially be true.
I will admit. This was not an easy sell. In fact, it was a daunting task. My husband does not embrace change and this, my friends in his mind was Change — or as he described it, a lifestyle change (yes, I’m using air quotes).
That being said, I do enjoy watching TV. We have a few favorite weekly series we tune into and I also like curling up on the couch under a blanket with a good movie, a bowl of buttered, ranch-seasoned popcorn and a glass of wine. . .and maybe a little chocolate. Who could say no to that? What I don’t enjoy is wasting money, so together my husband and I made a list of the TV shows we routinely watched:
- Modern Family
- The Middle
- Black List
- The Following
Um. . .that’s it? Yep. That’s it. Two ABC shows, one NBC and one on the Fox network. My husband also likes to watch the local evening news — often a regurgitation of the morning paper — found on ABC, NBC or CBS — or
we he channel surfs, occasionally pausing for a repeat episode of Modern Family or Law & Order.
Our youngest daughter was the first in our family to cut the cord. Faced with an impending substantial increase in her monthly cable/internet bill after her one year ‘price lock’ ended, she simply said ‘no thanks’ to cable, kept the internet, bought an HD antenna, subscribed to Netflix and hasn’t looked back. Her basic antenna gives her ABC, NBC, CBS and a total of about 10 or so more channels. This alone, however didn’t sway me. She’s in her twenties, works a full-time job, has an active social life and routinely travels for business and vacations, so she’s rarely home.
I was, however, not only swayed but firmly convinced for other reasons and here are my
Reason #1: Cutting the cord will put an additional almost $2,400.00 in our pocket in just the first year. After our cable company’s promotional rate expired, I watched our cable bill increase incrementally until it had escalated to almost $200.00 per month or $2,400 per year — which, over the course of a year amounts to a vacation that could involve sun, a sandy beach and even a drink or two with an umbrella and some exotic fruit in it.Reason #2: From the time I signed with my cable provider, I routinely called them due to extra charges for services or gadgets I didn’t have and/or an explanation for another increase in the bill. The calls resulted in long waits on hold, transfers to multiple departments, more waiting on hold . . .seriously? Did they just disconnect me?
A recent online poll revealed my former cable provider to be ranked one of the worst in customer service, a statistic I would not disagree with.
When I made that final call to cancel our cable, I was perhaps naively surprised there was no fight to keep our business. I (incorrectly) thought they’d beg me to stay — maybe offer me . . . something! After all, I’d given them the best years of my life. Oh wait, that’s not the cable company. Some months after cutting the cord, a rep from the same provider I kicked to the curb knocked on our door (just as we sat down to dinner) offering a $200 Visa gift card if I returned. Enough said.
Reason #3: Despite having more than 250 channels to choose from, there was frequently “nothing on” — as in:
My husband: “What are we watching tonight?”
Me: “I don’t know. I just scrolled through and there’s nothing on“.
Reason #4: Packaged/bundled cable channels. As a consumer, I want to choose only the channels I watch creating a custom package. I don’t want to be forced to select a pre-set package of channels chosen by my cable provider. To get the channels I really wanted, I had to purchase a larger, more expensive package. In short, I want control over what I’m paying for. Sounds simple, right?
Imagine if your grocery store sold only packaged shopping carts of food chosen by them. Say I want steak, mushrooms and a bottle of wine but those items are only in the basket containing diapers, chick peas, spare ribs and Frosted Flakes. Wait — I don’t want or need those items. Too bad. If grocers operated like cable providers and I wanted steak, mushrooms and wine, I would have to buy the entire cart, Frosted Flakes and all.
Reason #5: I Since cutting the cord, we signed up for Netflix and for about $8.00 per month, Netflix streams countless first-rate movies and TV series in a variety of categories with more of each routinely added. We also signed up with a different internet provider who offered twice the speed for half the monthly rate of our prior provider — proof that it’s good to shop around. Last but not least, we bought a mid/high range HD antenna for a cost less than one month of our prior cable/internet bill. The HD antenna streams not only ABC, NBC and CBS but over 30 channels with the same high quality picture we had with the cable provider. What cable companies don’t tell you is with any grade antenna alone you get a variety of channels streamed into your home. For.Free.
While cutting the cord may seem intimidating, gut-wrenching and maybe even heart-rending, think about it — you didn’t leave your infant tied to the umbilical cord for all eternity so why keep yourself tied to a cable company when there are options!
Admittedly, without cable I can no longer watch the Detroit Tiger games at home, but in reality I rarely sat and watched the entire game. It was usually in the background while I multi-tasked until I heard the announcer’s enthusiastic “it’s gonnnne!” and then I’d catch the replay — but is this enough to warrant 250 channels 365 days per year? Not in my book.
I figured if I missed seeing J.D. Martinez drive one deep and into the stands we could always go back to cable but I’ve found it’s more fun watching the game at a local bar/restaurant than my living room because Detroit fans can be as lively there as in Comerica Park — and $2,400 can buy some really good seats down at Comerica Park, more hot dogs than I probably should be eating and the sunshine, aroma and ‘the wave’ are all free.
I’m a suburbanite but I truly l♥ve going into Detroit and wind my way down I-94 as often as I possibly can. I l♥ve the noises of the city. . .the character of the people living and building lives there and the endless supply of food and entertainment, just to name a few. The Detroit Institute of Arts is just another one of the many reasons I l♥ve Detroit and her spirit. Even a torrential downpour on a given Sunday wouldn’t keep me from going and here are the Top 5 Reasons why you should go too:
1. The DIA is free (with identification) to all Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County residents. Looking for something to do without spending
much any money? You won’t find better than this and it’s great entertainment (and education) for adults and kids alike. Pack up and go. You won’t be sorry.
2. That said, there are optional visiting exhibits that the DIA charges a fee for and one such exhibit there now that I would highly recommend is the Diago Rivera-Frida Kahlo Exhibit, but don’t put it off. This exhibit is only at the DIA until July 12.
3. The DIA is considered to have one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States.
4. It’s 85 degrees outside. Your AC is broken. The kids are out of school for summer vacation and are already bored. GO.
5. The Kresge Court. Yes, the Kresge Court all by itself is worth going to the DIA. While at the DIA recently, I spoke with an elderly gentleman playing backgammon with his grandson in the Kresge Court. He explained (though the beauty and relaxation factor of the Kresge Court — a perfect 10 — needs no explanation) that he lives in the City of Detroit and frequently comes there simply for this reason. Others around us were dining on sandwiches and delicious looking desserts and sipping coffee or wine. . .and if none of these reasons convince you to go, you simply must stop in for a their charcuterie board. That’s right. A charcuterie board (by the way, paired with a very generous glass of Chardonnay!) — at the DIA! I suppose because it’s. . .art.