post author: rachel
It's no secret - I love wine! I enjoy trying new wines, learning about different types of wine, the grapes used, and the barrels they're aged in.
About five years ago, my husband and I went to Napa and Sonoma and completely fell in love with exploring the vineyards and discovering new wines.
We have invested in a few upscale wines that we save for special occasions and once we pop the cork, we savor every drop. However, we have also found several very reasonably priced wines that we drink regularly. You don't have to break the bank to find wines that provide fantastic flavor, rich tannins and a smooth finish.
Here is my list of the Top 10 red wines under $25...
10. prophecy cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: "Prophecy Cabernet sources grapes from premier appellations across California. The wine is smooth and approachable with layers of blackberry, plum and raspberry with oaky notes of graham cracker and a smooth finish."
- Prophecy Cabernet Sauvignon
9. ozv old vine
Tasting Notes: "A robust Zinfandel from the region's signature 50-100 year-old vines. Jammy with raspberry, milk chocolate and mocha falvors, soft tannins and a supple mouth feel. Pairs well with Memphis-style BBQ Ribs; Angus-patty Hamburgers with Gruyere; Pepperoni Pizza; Hanger Steak with Balsamic Reduction."
- OZV Old Vine Zinfandel
8. Ménage à Trois silk
Tasting Notes: "With its bright, red ruby hue in the glass and alluring fragrance of dried violets and berries, silk beckons, promising an unforgettable experience. Succulent cherry and ripe raspberry flavors mingle with delicate hints of rose petals and toasty spice, and glide gracefully across your palate like liquid silk. Seamless and lustrous, Silk is the lavish, luxurious encounter you’ve been craving."
- Ménage à Trois
7. Robert Mondavi cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: "Layered and complex, our Bourbon Barrel-aged Cabernet Sauvignon leaps from the glass with aromas of blackberry cobbler, graham cracker, brown sugar, milk chocolate, coffee and smoke. A palate of blueberry pie, praline, sweet vanilla custard, caramel and mocha is framed by soft, chewy tannins and a hint of toasted oak on the lingering finish."
- Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Aged in Bourbon Barrels
6. 7 Deadly old vine zins
Tasting Notes: "Complex aromas of tart cherry, raspberry and caramel are wrapped in flavors of chocolate cake, vanilla oak spice, and plenty of wood smoke. Medium bodied with a rich smooth texture, mild tannins and a beautiful garnet color."
- Michael David Winery
5. 14 Hands cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: "The 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich, juicy red that features aromas of dark cherry, black currant, coffee and subtle hints of spice. These flavors are complemented by a touch of spicy oak and emphasized by refined tannins."
- 14 Hands Winery
4. Dreaming Tree crush
Tasting Notes: "This wine brings juicy red fruit with good mid-palate weight from the Merlot, ripe, jammy flavors from the Zinfandel, and dark fruit and structure from the Petite Sirah and Tannat. This blend of the North Coast’s finest varieties results in a very tasty, complex wine with lots of fruit flavors and a long, soft finish."
- Dreaming Tree Wines
3. Decoy Red Wine
Tasting Notes: "Rich and concentrated, this wine reveals voluptuous layers of blueberry, cassis and dark chocolate. On the palate, hints of salted caramel and exotic spices add depth and complexity to the fresh fruit flavors, while carrying the wine to a long and silky finish."
- Duckhorn Vineyards
2. Freakshow cabernet
Tasting Notes: "Quickly becoming one of Michael David’s most sought-after wines, this brute of a Cab is midnight in color and medium in body. A myriad of French oak influenced aromas fill your glass, accompanied by toasted hazelnuts and blackberry cobbler. Flavors of ripe Mission figs and hints of clove and cinnamon give way to velvety tannins, balanced acidity and dark ripe fruits."
- Michael David Winery
1. Arrington red fox red
Tasting Notes: "Aromatic notes of wild strawberry and black tea are followed by flavors of mixed berries, vanilla and black plum."
- Arrington Vineyards
This is one of our absolute favorites, but if you want to shell out a few more bucks, you have to try their Russell 2014 at $33.00 or the KB915 at $60.00. This vineyard is incredible and honestly, all of their wines do not disappoint. Grace also featured this vineyard in her Top 5 Things To Do In Nashville.
Did I miss any? Add your favorite red wine in the comments!
POST AUTHOR: GRACE
Gosh, I have been wanting to shout those words from the rooftops for weeks! It feels so good to finally be able to share that we are expecting our first little one in January, 2019.
I've dreamed of this day for as long as I can remember and I've been over the moon happy since the word "pregnant" appeared on that little white stick!
So buckle in and join me as I share a glimpse into what our world's been like the past few months. I hope you find it helpful, maybe humorous and, if you're pregnant too, I'm excited to share this amazing journey with you.
The "Trying" Stage
We've been married 5 years and have had any number of reasons why we wanted to wait to start our family -- my husband's graduation from college, moving to a new city, buying a house, opportunities to travel, saving, saving, and saving some more (have I mentioned my husband is a planner?).
Finally this was the year we decided to start trying to get pregnant. Yay! This is the exciting part right?? I'm going to be completely transparent here...I did not enjoy the process.
We were blessed to get pregnant fairly quickly, but the two week waiting time between ovulating and the start of my period each month, was a total mind game. I would think and pray and hope I was pregnant and then I wouldn't be. It didn't help that the week before I start my period is usually an emotional roller coaster anyway without the added stress.
Wanting that positive pregnancy test with all your heart and being sad when it's negative, is completely normal. I have several friends who have been trying for a while to get pregnant and it is super hard to stay positive when you've experienced disappointment month after month. I don't really have any good advice here except to allow yourself to feel those emotions.
Also, don't put things on hold waiting to get pregnant. I had a really sweet conversation with a friend about not wanting to buy new pants for fear of outgrowing them in the future. Her advice was to BUY THE PANTS! Enjoy life and when you do get pregnant, you won't care that you bought those fun pants that you can't wear for 9 months. Just use it as motivation for fitting into them after the baby ;)
The most helpful thing for me was to tell a few of the women I am closest with that we were trying and to have my heart filled by their love and encouragement along with a listening ear and an occasional shoulder to cry on when it didn't happen. Women should ALWAYS empower women. If you have empowering women around you, lean into those relationships. We are in proximity for a reason.
How I "knew" I was pregnant
My initial pregnancy symptoms were not at all what I expected them to be. I thought my breasts would be sore, that I would be nauseous or have major food aversions. It turns out....every woman and pregnancy is different!
The things I noticed the week I found out I was pregnant, was that I felt out of breath and I was very thirsty. I would chug a bottle of water and immediately want another one. Another oddity, I didn't want any sushi. I wasn't repulsed by it, it just didn't sound appealing and that never happens!
I hadn't had any of these symptoms before, so I had a slight suspicion that maybe just maybe...but again, fear of being disappointed kept me from getting inside my head.
Finally, after two or three days of a missed period (not totally uncommon, I've been late before) and these weird symptoms popping up, I asked my husband to pick up a pregnancy test.
I waited until the next morning to take the test -- you know, for the MOST accurate HCG levels. I purposely woke up early, before my husband, took the test and waited for those few agonizing moments -- I swear it felt like time slowed to a crawl!!! -- for the results. I was shaking as I waited and as soon as I saw "pregnant," I ran into the bedroom and woke up my husband. He was SO happy! We were SO happy! It was, by far, one of the most exciting day of our lives!
I didn't experience any noticeable symptoms until I was six weeks pregnant. I kept thinking..."Is everything okay? Will I ever feel sick?".
Luckily, I have 3 sisters and several friends who can share their experiences and advice with me and have all assured me, no two pregnancies are the same. Some have had great, fairly easy pregnancies and others have been sick the entire time. Woof!
So far, my symptoms have been the common ones. As soon as I hit the six week mark, and I mean to the day, I started feeling not so great. I had to keep bland food on my stomach all the time to keep from feeling terrible and I was SO tired. I also gave up coffee. The combination of no caffeine and wild hormones, did not help my energy level.
I had really weird food aversions -- like grilled chicken and spaghetti. Weird, I know. I also only craved junk food. I couldn't fathom eating a salad, which used to be my lunchtime staple. So I ate what sounded good because sometimes that was all I could do to keep going.
I gave myself plenty of grace and tried to keep in mind that my body is working overtime to grow a human being! Not an easy job. But guess what? I'm craving healthy food again and it feels so good. I'm also feeling more energized, so things are looking brighter.
According to my doctor, I really only need an extra 300 calories a day while I'm pregnant. Unfortunately, I'm not actually eating for two, whomp whomp.
Eating healthy can be a real struggle, but it's especially challenging when you have cravings and don't feel well. I feel like I'm getting back on track now and consuming as many good fruits and veggies as possible each day.
To be honest, I did not workout much the first few weeks. My energy was zapped and I just plain felt blah. Until one random morning, I woke up wanting to workout. It was incredible to feel like myself again.
I am trying to squeeze in four workouts a week now and, honestly, it looks different every day. Some days I just do cardio (a lot of power walking) and other days I do workout videos. Right now, I am loving Tone It Up's prenatal workouts and Knocked Up Fitness. Normally, I love taking walks outside, but this intense summer heat is making it hard for me to want to be outside at all right now. So instead I've been hitting the gym and utilizing their indoor track and a few light weights.
Trying to stay healthy for baby!
Boy or Girl?
Again, my husband is a big time planner so he wanted to know as soon as possible if we were expecting a boy or a girl. I, on the other hand, would have been just fine waiting until 20 weeks, which is when most people find out. But when we learned our insurance covered genetic testing at 10 weeks, I was totally onboard with finding out!
My husband thought we were having a GIRL and I was pretty positive we were having a BOY.
And now for the moment you've all been waiting for (or did you scroll straight to the bottom already? haha!).
Baby Santschi is...
Thanks for sharing in our joy! This is a dream come true for us and we're anxiously looking forward to meeting our little guy. I can't wait to see how God has uniquely knitted him to be our son.
I'm excited for you to join me on this journey and I'll be sure to keep you updated on my progress, and also on the products, the workouts, and the fashion that I love and find helpful throughout my pregnancy.
Stayed tuned! Next week I'll be revealing the name we've chosen for our little man and how we chose it!
Photography by Anna Godwin Photography. Check her out!
We are so excited it's Friday and we're ready for the weekend! Here's our picks for this week's Fashion Friday.
P.S. Rachel is sharing her all-time favorite jean shorts!
POST AUTHOR: RACHEL
It's a Santschi family tradition.
We are spread out across the country, have crazy work schedules and often don't get to be together for the holidays. But we treasure spending time together and exploring a new city is one of our favorite things to do, so a few years ago our parents decided that in lieu of giving us gifts for Christmas, they would give us a one week family trip. Mom and Dad get to pick the location, somewhere we've never been and then on Christmas morning we each get an envelope with a post card revealing our next adventure location.
It's a win/win for everybody - we get a great trip and a whole week of dedicated family time! The challenge is finding a week that works for everyone, but somehow it always works out.
This year it was Grand Cayman!
We rented a beautifully furnished 3 bedroom condo on the northern end of Seven Mile Beach. We found this condo through VRBO.com, which is a great way to save on lodging costs. It was just a quick walk across the street to the beach and it came with kayaks and snorkel gear available for us to use.
Unfortunately, we arrived at the tail end of a tropical storm that was passing thru so we had a rainy start, but the good news was that we had plenty of food, drinks and family games on hand. We made the best of it and enjoyed sitting on the covered balcony listening to the sounds of the island and a summer country playlist.
Once the storm finally passed, we were excited to hit the beach to enjoy the sun, sand and beautiful ocean.
Here's some tips and recommendations if you are planning a trip to Grand Cayman!
Dad's daily breakfast spread can't be beat, so having a fully stocked kitchen is essential! We usually plan to have lunch or dinner out at least a couple of times during our trips - experiencing the local cuisine is always fun - but half of us like to cook and the other half don't mind cleaning up, so we prepare most of our meals at the house.
Also, we had heard that meat can be particularly pricey in the Caymans, so before the trip, Mom and Dad stocked the freezer at home with some of our favorites, vacuum sealed everything and loaded up a couple of soft sided coolers to bring with them. They had direct flights, so everything was still frozen solid upon arrival and we just thawed it as needed throughout the week.
We hit up the local grocery store and liquor store right after we arrived and filled the fridge with all the essentials for the week. Mom and Dad already had a meal plan prepped (and even brought our favorite spices, in case we couldn't find them on the island!) so we were just filling in with fresh fruit, veggies and dairy items. It really made that initial trip to the grocery store quick and easy. Of course, we went back to pick up a few extra items throughout the week, but the store was just a couple of blocks away.
We also had a great time exploring the island! Here's a few tips for excursions and some delicious food recommendations.
BIOLUMINESCENCE KAYAK TOUR
There are lots of excursion options available and plenty of places to explore! My dad does a fantastic job of researching and finding the best opportunities. We did two excursions during this trip.
The first was a two-hour bioluminescent kayaking trip through The Sweet Spot. Basically, it was a night kayaking trip through the ocean as it lights up like a glow stick. We met our group at sunset at Rum Point, got our instructions, our life jackets and started out on our tandem kayaks under a clear, star filled sky. Our guide did a great job explaining what we were seeing and stopped along the way to show us starfish and camouflage jelly fish. It was incredible!
We ended up in a cove where the water glowed brightly. A few brave souls in the group threw on their snorkel gear and jumped into the dark water to see the glowing light below the surface. Always up for a new experience, my dad was not going to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity and in the water he went. He was thrilled to report that it was stunning!
The tour is about 3 miles of paddling and takes about two hours and requires moderate paddling. You will get wet though, so bring a change of clothes or towels for the ride home.
SNORKEL, starfish & stingrays
The second tour was out of this world! It was through Acquarius Sea Tours and it was a full-day three stop trip. We were able to bring food and drinks, so we loaded up our cooler for the day's adventure.
The tour company provided transportation to and from our condo to the dock; which was very convenient. Once everyone was checked in and onboard the boat, we made our way out to a secluded area of the ocean. There were a few sprinkles during the boat ride out, but there was plenty of covered seating for everyone as well as a bathroom onboard.
The water was shallow, blue and crystal clear. Our first stop was snorkeling near the coral reef. They provided the snorkel equipment and even took complimentary underwater photos of everyone so we could just enjoy viewing the colorful underwater life. It was amazingly beautiful!
After snorkeling, we headed off to our second stop - Starfish Point. You guessed it, it's a beach area where many starfish can be found. Our tour guides picked up a few of the starfish to bring them closer to the group and explained how to hold them. You can't bring them above water, but you can pick them up and rest them on your hand under the water. They start out stiff, but once they begin to relax on your palm they become flimsy and their tube feet crawl around on your skin. It was a very unique experience. At this stop, again, they take free photos that everyone can have access to online after the tour.
From Starfish Point, we had one last stop, saving the best for last - Stingray City. We ventured quite a way out into the ocean and had the chance to swim with stingrays! Our guide was basically a stingray whisperer. Without offering the animals any food to lure them over, it was as if they knew him and came straight over to visit. He flipped a stingray up on our backs and said it was "the best massage you'll ever get." It was so interesting. We were able to touch and feed the stingrays and even KISS one!
We had a fantastic time on this tour! It was such a fun day and a wonderful memory to make as a family!
I would highly recommend Acquarius Sea Tours if you are in the Caymans. The whole crew was wonderful, shared anecdotes and loads of information about the island. It was one of the best tours our family has ever been on!
the sunshine grill
Everyone recommended we stop by this incredible restaurant known for their fish tacos and WOW! It's no wonder it is Trip Advisor's #1 rated restaurant in the Cayman's. The Sunshine Grill is a must! It's located inside the Sunshine Suites Resort along Seven Mile Beach. We stopped here for lunch and sat at a poolside table shaded by an umbrella.
A few of us ordered their "World Famous" Island Fish Tacos with grilled mahi and a side of Sunshine Scramble, which is a mix of deep fried fries, mushrooms, onion and jalapeno. Yum!
While we waited, we enjoyed a competitive game of Ring on a String and Hook game. The guys were thoroughly entertained!
The food was absolutely phenomenal and flavorful, and the portion sizes were more than plenty. Plus, after lunch, they brought us mini ice cream cones. Delicious!
kaibo beach restaurant
Another restaurant we visited was KAIBO Beach Restaurant near Rum Point. It is right on the beach with spectacular views of the ocean. We grabbed a booth facing the beach and ordered a number of items including some wood fired Cayman sausage pizza, buffalo wings, conch fritters and some other local cuisine. All of it, of course, paired well with a few fancy drinks in hand.
For dessert, they have some delicious ice cream and sorbet, which was the perfect way to cap off our meal while watching the sun set over the water.
Overall, an absolutely wonderful trip was had by all!
Even though the first few days were filled with rain clouds, the last few days were full of sun and so much fun.
We don't typically revisit a destination, but we've decided we might need to give the Cayman Island another chance. The tropical storm had the waters churned up a bit and the winds were pretty steep, but over and over again we heard how unusual it was for them to have a storm like that. We are already looking forward to a second trip to this beautiful island!
Regardless, it was a blast and, once again, we had an extraordinary Santschi family vacation!
POST AUTHOR: GRACE
Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and were able to escape the heat!
With the summer here and of course that heat in full force, I'm sharing my Top 5 Summer Sandals that can be paired with just about any outfit this season. Each photo is linked with where to buy your own pair, so just click and shop! Plus, these are all from Nordstrom, which is having their anniversary sale coming up July 20th through August 5th.
price: $53.96 - 40% off
This sandal is perfect for long days filled with walking.
I would have LOVED these for Europe. At 40% off, you simply cannot beat it!
twist cross strap sandal
price :24.90 - 25% off
I'm living for these BP sandals.
They are perfect for a casual look and they are extremely comfortable!
'arizona' soft footbed sandal
price: $109.95 - $134.95
Who doesn't love a good birkenstock??
I am also loving the charcoal color of these. These are a great investment for sure!
bandi platform wedge sandal
These Bandi Platform Wedge Sandals...all the heart eyes for these guys.
They are so adorable and comfortable!
sannibel platform wedge sandal
Last but not least, the Sannibel Platform Wedge Sandal. They are perfect for your next date night or girls night out!
What's your favorite summer sandal?
Leave a comment below!
Happy Friday! Hope y'all had a great Independence Day and have a nice relaxing weekend ahead.
Check out this week's Fashion Friday picks!
Note: Rachel found this romper at Ross Dress For Less for just $10! Ross does not sell clothes online though so similar options are linked.
post author: rachel
The final stop of our two week trip in Australia and New Zealand was to Auckland, which is on the north side of the island. Upon landing, we hopped on the SkyBus, which was a really easy way to get around town, plus there was a stop just a couple blocks from our AirBnB. It was a small apartment in the perfect location, right in the heart of downtown. We dropped our backpacks and went to explore the city and find dinner. We stumbled upon a Spanish style restaurant near the Sky City Tower called Bellota. Two sangrias and a large seafood platter later left us happy and full after a long travel day!
As I've mentioned in previous posts, throughout this trip we made it a habit to stop at the grocery store on the first day we arrived in a new city. We found that having snacks on hand, or breakfast readily available made for a quicker start to the day and saved us money. Buying a few bottles of wine also helped cut costs because the price for one bottle at the store was the same for one glass at most restaurants.
Following dinner, we walked to the grocery store to stock up, headed back to the AirBnB, opened some wine and watched a movie on Netflix to end the night.
Wine tour day! Can you tell we love wine?
We got up early, walked down to the Harbor and boarded a ferry for Waiheke Island - an island just off the coast of Auckland that produces some of New Zealand’s best wines. We stopped at a two wineries - Casita Miro and Thomas Batch - and one distillery - Dellows.
After the tour, we asked our guide to drop us off at Mudbrick Vineyard. We had dinner reservations there and were extremely excited to try it. It did not disappoint! This place is a MUST-TRY! When we arrived, we went to the tasting room and sampled some amazing wines. Neither of us favor white wines, but their Chardonnay was one of the best we've ever tasted. We then hiked up on top of the hill that’s located right behind the vineyard and were treated to the 360-degree views of the ocean and the entire island. Such an amazing sight! Take a look at the photos in the gallery below to see the view.
We then walked back down to the vineyard and found a bottle of wine and table in the shade to relax, snack and enjoy the out-of-this-world view. Ironically, our waitress was from Oklahoma and had just moved to NZ a few weeks before. It was fun to chat with her, hear her experiences and how she up and left the states to explore the country.
When we finished our bottle of wine at Mudbrick, our waitress had recommended walking over to Cable Bay Vineyards. It was a quick walk up the road and had more of a relaxed hipster vibe. After grabbing one last glass of wine, we ventured out to the patio area, which was a large lawn filled with bean bags overlooking another absolutely phenomenal view.
After visiting as many vineyards as we could on Waiheke Island, we decided it was probably time to head back to Auckland. We split a cab with another family back to the pier and caught the ferry to the city just as the sun was setting. What a beautiful sunset! To think, we almost paid to take a sunset dinner cruise! Save the money and just hop on the ferry at the perfect time.
We were up early and at the bus stop to meet our tour guide for Hobbiton - the location for the filming of The Shire in The Lord of the Rings series, and The Hobbit - and the Waitomo Caves - a cave filled with glowworms lighting up the walls.
The tour company we used, unfortunately, was horrendous. It was through Great Sights - do not use! Due to holiday traffic (it was Good Friday), and our driver not leaving on time, it took us over half the day to get out there! It's normally just over a two hour drive from Auckland, but the heavy traffic disrupted our plans. Since we arrived in Hobbiton so late, we missed our time slot for the Hobbiton tour and missed our chance to get over to Waitomo Caves on time, which we were the most excited about.
The good news was that the Hobbiton employees were able to shuffle a few things around and fit us into another tour for the movie set. Our Hobbiton tour guide led us through The Shire, walking along the same trails the hobbits used in the movie. She shared tons of movie facts, grounds keeping stories and even let us go inside a hobbit home! We walked through the 12 acre set and saw all 44 hobbit homes on the property that are exactly as they are in the movie. At the end of the tour, we went inside the Green Dragon Inn and were treated to an apple-cider ale. It was such a neat experience.
Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings series, is regarded as a king in New Zealand and it's incredible to hear about his work, his keen eye and his creativity. His attention to detail is absolutely impeccable.
This is well worth the journey! I'd suggest a different tour company than Great Sights or rent a car and make the trek out there.
This was our last day of the entire trip. Our flight was that evening on Air New Zealand (highly recommend this airline!), so we had the whole day to continue exploring the city. We had to check out of our AirBnB that morning, so instead of lugging around our 15lb backpacks all day, we packed our smaller day bags with the essentials and stored our backpacks in a locker at the bus stop. It was the cheapest and safest way to ditch our luggage.
We wanted to see the city all at once in just one day...the solution - the hop on/hop off tour through Auckland Explorer Bus. We bought our tickets, grabbed the map, circled which places we wanted to stop, and made our way through the city.
We started on the red bus and made our first stop at the Bastion Point lookout for some out of this world views of the island, just breathtaking. Then we hopped off by the Parnell Rose Garden, which contains over 5,000 roses.
At the museum, we switched to the blue bus to explore Mt. Eden and Maungawhau, which is the highest volcano in Auckland. The last eruption was about 28,000 years ago, leaving a crater 160ft deep. We walked to the top in just under an hour, and let me tell - it was worth climbing that hill! At the top it was a 360° view of the city! Such a magnificent sight.
We made the long trek down the mountain and back to the red bus. Our next stop was to a gorgeous park. We had packed a few snacks and one last bottle of wine in our bag, so we found a cute bench in the park near the trees and flowers and enjoyed the last of our New Zealand wine and food.
After indulging, we made our final stop of the tour - the Sky Tower. Our bus tickets included passes to the Sky Tower, the 23rd tallest tower in the world. It was a fun and unique way to see the city. Just outside the base of the tower, we stumbled upon a festival. There were a number of locals, vendors and dancers. It was a wonderful way to experience their culture and put a cap on our trip.
This two week journey was one of the best of our lives! My husband and I loved every second of Australia and New Zealand! During our bus ride to the airport we were already talking about when we could return.
Thanks for following along this trip with me!