California Wine Club is Nothing to Wine About

Could there be anything better than enjoying a cozy evening with a glass of wine and great conversation? Maybe a really tasty meal as well, but the wine really helps doesn’t it? I’m not a big drinker, but I do enjoy really good wine to take the edge off every now and then. I’m a MOM, what do you expect?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve randomly picked a bottle out at the liquor store just hoping that it would taste decent. I’m no expert, but I know what I like and also enjoy trying new wines. Especially those recommended by friends. You know those friends, the ones that know everything about every wine out there.

We all have one of those friends don’t we?

Enter the California Wine Club. They are kinda like that friend. Bruce and Pam Boring started this club over 20 years ago. Each month, they travel California’s fertile wine country to local wineries. They meet the families that run them and taste their wine. Then they share them with the club! It’s like a “cookie of the month club”, but with wine.

My favorite part is that they all come from family-run mom & pop wineries. Usually, that’s where the hidden gems are and it’s awesome to be able to try wine that you might never have been able to experience before.

I received a membership this month and was thrilled to receive my first shipment! Each month, your membership comes with 2 bottles of wine. One red and one white. But they will work with you if you prefer all white or all red. You’ll also receive a copy of their magazine Uncorked. It’s full of info about the wine you’ll be drinking along with tips, recipes and more. Plus, discounts and special offers for reordering your favorites.

The coolest thing is that they share with you the story behind the winery where your wine came from. There is even a picture of the people/family that run it in the magazine. Plus, ahem, you get wine set to your front door. How incredibly awesome is THAT?

It really is cool idea. And with Christmas around the corner, this would make a stellar gift idea for the wine lovers that you know. Or you know, just a treat for yourself. Once you join, there’s no obligation. You can cancel anytime which means you can give it a try. They have a few different options of shipments to choose from as well.

Wanna check it out for yourself? Here’s how to find them:
California Wine Club Facebook
California Wine Club Twitter

And you do NOT want to miss out on my next post about these folks y’all. There might just be a giveaway in the works and I can’t WAIT to share! Stay tuned.

This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. I received a 2 month Membership to the California Wine Club for the purpose of this review.

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A Challenge: 30 Days of Thanks

Today marks the very first day of November. Can you believe it? That means that Christmas is just 55 days away. But before we get into the Christmas spirit, it’s time to get into the thankful spirit.

While I’m thankful all year long, it feels right to make November the month of thanks. Every one of us is truly blessed in so many ways. Why not share your blessings with those around you?

For the next 30 days, I’m going to be posting on my personal facebook and Pennywise Cook twitter account 1 thing that I’m thankful for each day. I encourage you to do the same on your social media sites! We often see people posting about complaints and concerns throughout social media, but how awesome would it be to have a movement of folks sharing things that they are blessed with and spreading positivity?

If you do choose to share on twitter, you can use the hashtag #30DaysofThanks and join in on the fun! I’d also love for you to tag Pennywise Cook on twitter too! I considered sharing my thanks on the Pennywise Cook facebook page, but I was thinking it would be a little much for your facebook stream. What do you think?

At the end of the 30 days, I’ll come back here and post my 30 Days of Thanks for you to see them all.

Now go!

Tweet, facebook, Google+, Myspace, whatever you’d like your thanks for the next 30 days!

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Extreme Cheapskates: Cheap or Crazy?

Creative Commons License photo credit: {ErinKphoto} aka redcargurl

Have you seen this new show Extreme Cheapskates? It’s on TLC, the same channel that also brought us Extreme Couponing. The premise of this show is people who live in extreme measures to save money. In all aspects of the word, they are cheap. My friend Tshanina at Thrifty T’s Treasures brought this up on her blog the other day and it got me thinking.

And just to get it out there, I myself am cheap. Sometimes I may be too cheap, according to my husband. 😉 I even have a $1 philosophy that I used to live by when I was hardcore couponing. I still have lingering symptoms of this. It’s basically where I have trouble paying over $1 for anything. I’d prefer that everything be less than $1. And with coupons, it’s actually quite possible most of the time. But now since I’m *cough* not couponing as much these days, it’s not realistic to live by that philosophy anymore.

I am coming to terms with this. 🙂

When I first heard of this show, I thought oh these people are going to be the ones who take Sweet ‘N Low packets at restaurants. Well, yes they do that. However, what I also witnessed that they do was beyond something I’d ever imagine.

Most of these people actually HAVE money. There was one guy on there bragging about how he had over $100 thousand dollars in his bank account and yet, he did not even own a couch in his living room. They sat at a card table (the only piece of furniture in the room).

Another lady was a millionaire and yet peed in a bottle to save money on water. This same millionaire also dumpster dived for her food.

Anywho, I guess what I’m getting at is that I think this show justifies that I am not in fact, crazy cheap. THEY are cheap. And extremely at that.

What do you think? Have you seen the show? What do you think about their methods of saving money?

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Breaking Away from Busy & OMG It’s October?!

We are back in one piece after a couple of different road trips. The first going south and the second going north. Do you ever get on one of those I have to get out of here kicks? I think that’s what must have been going through my head to schedule two different trips within a week of each other. That and fall break, so it’s not completely my fault.

The picture above is from my husband and I’s trip to Atlanta. The picture itself was taken at the Sundial Restaurant in the Peachtree Westin Hotel right smack-dab in the middle of downtown. Beautiful place and spectacular view to say the least. If you’ve never been there before, the restaurant SPINS. Yes, it spins! In 1 hour of dining there, you’ll get a full view of the entire Atlanta skyline. In this picture, if you look reeeeeeal close, you can see Stone Mountain! So cool huh?

The food was terrific. The service was wonderful. However, I do recommend going at lunch for 2 reasons: 1) you can actually SEE more when its light outside 2) because it’s like 75% cheaper to eat there for lunch than at dinner. I remember looking through their menu seeing something for as much at $80 (1 entree) at night. Most of the food was $20 (1 entree) or less during lunch.

It’s highly worth it to eat here if you’re headed to Atlanta!

Our next adventure involved the entire family and took us up to Ohio. Using my fantastic Groupon, I was able to score 2 nights including lunch for over $300 off the regular price at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH. Not bad if I do say so myself.

This was our first “real” family vacation that didn’t involve us visiting someone or bringing someone along to help. To be honest, I was actually quite worried about how we were going to hold up, but it turned out to be a fantastic and fun family trip!

The resort itself was so nice. The staff was friendly and very helpful. 1 and 1/2 hours into the trip we realized that we had forgotten our pack n’ play for our little one to sleep in. The Great Wolf Lodge had those and they were complimentary! They really did think of everything. All the way down to the story time every night. The wolf characters came out to see the kiddos and all of this combined with the incredible WATER PARK meant that the girls were completely pooped by the end of the day. The water park was huge and had something for all of us. There were slides that young kiddos could go down. There were slides just for the older kids including a water coaster! That was pretty scary if I do say so myself. And we really enjoyed the “toilet slide”. It starts with a very steep drop and then basically flushes and swirls you backwards down a tube. Sounds kinda silly, but it was fun!

Aside from the random fire alarm that went off the first night, we really enjoyed our stay. My oldest has even stated that she wished that she “lived at The Great Wolf Lodge”. I see a trip back there (or to a different location) soon.

I come back from all of our adventures to find out that it’s OCTOBER already! Geez, where have I been?

You want to know something really sad? I was walking to my van the other day and realized that I still had my Rudolph nose attached to the hood. Yeah, big red nose in October. You can see how out of touch with time that I am!

After being away for a while, we needed some things at the store. Addie found this lovely monkey mask on the Halloween aisle (yes, it’s that time!) and wanted me to take her picture in it and “put it on facebook”. Her words, not mine. Wow.

So now I’m ready to slow it down. Breathe a little. Step into fall and enjoy some cooler weather, crisp apples, fall colors, and yummy fall food.

Who else is with me?

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Making A Memory Last Forever

Back years ago when I first found out that I was having my first baby, I remember anxiously waiting to find out what the gender was so that I could go out and buy baby clothes. I know that some people don’t like to find out what they are having, but I was excited to get in the mind set of what to expect.

Would I be having tea parties or GI Joe wars? Would I be looking at blue paint or pink? Would I buy plaid pants or flower dresses? This was life-changing information people! The night before we found out the gender, it was like Christmas Eve. I could barely sleep.

The big day arrived and we found out that it was going to be a GIRL! Though I didn’t exactly share how much I really wanted a girl, I was so excited that I would have a princess to spoil. I went out shopping and bought the cutest little halter top romper pictured above. We learned a lot from our baby education classes, including the fact that it’s important to watch the dyes and scents found in the fabrics that baby clothes are made with. Not to mention how rough some of those fabrics can be before that first trip through the wash.

I bought my very first bottle of Dreft within days of buying that sweet outfit. Though the romper was one of my favorites, there were lots more outfits that I bought along with it. A entire load of laundry was in order and Dreft was the detergent of choice!

What do you bet that when we found out we were having another girl 4 years later that I would bust out this very outfit for her to wear. I love its blue color because it went so well with their baby blue eyes. Years later, Dreft has kept it looking just like the day that I bought it. Even after the spit up, pureed carrots, and many messes from 2 babies, it’s remained adorable and dear to my heart. Even if it is missing a snap. 😉 I hope to keep this little outfit forever to remember just how small they were.

These days, Dreft is the most recommended laundry detergent by pediatricians. No wonder, it softens and cleans baby’s clothes gently while triumphantly getting rid of those stinkin’ green pea stains. My favorite part was always that the bottle lasted forever! You can wash like a billion pieces of baby clothes in one load. I never worried about my investment in Dreft because it went a long way for sure. And you know it’s good when a product has been around for over 75 years y’all!

Whether you’re a first timer or the greatest, grandest mother of them all, there’s on thing moms have agreed on for over 75 years- Dreft makes your little one’s fabric feel as clean and soft as can be.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dreft. As a part of this program I received the product, the opinions and text are all mine.

Whether you’re a first timer or the greatest, grandest mother of them all, there’s on thing moms have agreed on for over 75 years- Dreft makes your little one’s fabric feel as clean and soft as can be.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dreft. As a part of this program I received the product, the opinions and text are all mine.

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Making Space in a Crowded Kitchen

When we purchased our home years ago, we planned for our little family to grow. It did indeed grow. We went from 1 to 2 sweet children and there were space sacrifices made. For instance my stockpile closet in the guest bedroom/office became my sweet baby’s closet. Which also meant that my guest bedroom/office became the nursery.

Needless to say, we’ve become quite the masters at utilizing the space that we have fairly efficiently. And then one day after moving my stockpile into my kitchen cabinets, I realized that there just was not enough space. To be honest, I don’t think that I would EVER have enough space for all the cool gadgets, cookware, and ingredients I’d like to store in my kitchen. But we do the best that we can to make room.

One our kitchen wall, we had a very lovely large black mirror hung over the buffet. This buffet used to contain a huge hutch for our china cabinet, but in the process of de-cluttering and minimizing it got the boot. Back to the mirror.

It was huge and made the wall basically unusable. With cans and pots (and my obsessive mug collection) popping out of the cabinets (almost literally), I decided it was time for a change.

Here’s what I did! 3 simple shelves in place of the mirror gave me space and a place to show off some of my favorite kitchen treasures. I’m fairly sure that when I first brought this idea to my husband that he thought I was silly. But after it came together, he came around.

I love how the shelves made some of the most mundane things like these glass jars look sparkly and special. These would otherwise just be locked away in a dark cabinet and only seen when in use.

Or this trifle bowl. It’s a beautiful vision now with it’s showcase position on the shelves.

Even the canisters holding my tri-color pasta seem to demand more attention.

I enjoy looking at the things that once caused me much grief when I opened and closed my cabinets. And now my matching plate and bowl set are living in harmony in their cozy cabinet without the clutter of mix-n-match thrift store finds cramping their style. But little do they know they were Dollar Tree finds themselves! Shhh, we won’t tell them…

For now we’ll enjoy our extra space. For now that is, until my mugs take over and that is a very big possibility.

I hope that this might inspire you if you are becoming crowded in your own kitchen. Get creative, inventive, and don’t give up!

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The Great Milky Way Disaster…(Vlog)

I promised to share it all with you. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, maybe not the ugly. If it’s really ugly, I probably won’t be taking a picture of it.

Anywho, I have created a video to share with you my situation…

Yeah….that. Kindergarten has me in a tizzy. I didn’t expect it to be this way, but alas I have buckled under it’s pressure. I’ll get used to it. I think…

THIS is the failure. It happened more than once actually.

Yes, it tasted heavenly. Yes, I ate WAY too much of the carnage. And I was bouncing off the walls at 9 o’clock at night after eating my weight in pure sugar.

While I’d really like to call it quits, I simply MUST conquer the Milky Way candy bar. And you’ll be there first to know when I have!

Until then, will you leave me a comment with your favorite candy bar? Maybe it’ll get my mind off this mess!

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Hair Cuts, Ear Infections, and Squash

Yes, I’m still around. Is my sanity? No, but I’m making it.

My husband left for a business trip just as a double ear infection set in on my little one. Not sure why this particular one has decided to be the worst, but I think we might be over the worst of it. My children always tend to run really high fevers no matter what they have so I immediately jump to high alert trying to figure out what it is. It usually ends in a doctor visit and the impending It’s a virus and it’ll have to run it’s course from the doc. Or it ends in antibiotics and horrible diaper rash from the other impending situation….diarrhea. Oh the joys of motherhood, right?

On a less runny note….




Forgive my excitement, but one of my tomato plants died and I should’ve had a funeral for it. Instead, the result was a tiny tomato that was so small that my mom thought I was growing grape tomatoes. When “harvesting” my one little tomato, I asked my oldest to carefully take it inside. She proceeded to throw it in the air and exclaim that “she can play ball with it!” My heart sunk and then I calmly removed my poor little tomato from her fingers and took it inside. You’ll be glad to know that it survived the game of catch and that it’s sitting on my kitchen counter.

I can’t even eat it. It’s too special.

Sooooooooo, long story short. I have actual squash growing now! I have a few of them, actually. Isn’t it cute? I’m so proud. You may remember that I hated on bees because of their lack of help in my squash growing processes. I think they must have read that post and sent out their queen bee to do some quality control on my garden. I can’t wait to make up some of that yummy oven “fried” squash from my own garden!

Hair cut…yes I got one. It’s very, very, very, very, very (plus about a million more verys) short. Probably the shortest that I’ve ever gotten it cut. Probably not even as short as you would think, but short to me anyways. I also got highlights because it came with my Plum District package. It was a fantastic deal. $52 for shampoo, conditioning treatment, cut, and partial highlight. I had Plum Dollars so I actually didn’t have to pay anything at all. Which made it ok that I’ve already dyed it back to brown.

Yes, I couldn’t stand the highlights. I’m ridiculous and wishy washy I know. But it was free and the highlights washed me out.

So there’s an update on my life. I hope that all of that didn’t bore you…

I’m very random aren’t I? How is your week going? SHARE with ME! 🙂

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A Day of Random Acts of Kindness

This year on my birthday, I really wanted to do something completely different. Most of the time we’ll just go out to eat and maybe have some cake. This year I really wanted to do something extra special. Not for me, but for others. We often spend our birthdays centered around ourselves and there’s nothing wrong with that. But what if we could spread the love by blessing others, too? That’s exactly what I set out to do!

For months I was telling my husband that I wanted to spend the day just gallivanting around town doing what I could to make someone smile or simply make their day. So I did some research into ideas and came up with some of my own. My husband even took the day off work and we got a babysitter for my little one. My oldest got to come with us and that was such a great experience for her to witness compassion, giving, and simple kindness.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

– Galatians 5:22-23

We spent about 4 hours just having a blast doing small things to brighten others days. I took a few pictures to document it and thought I’d share them with you. I tell you, I think that everyone should spend their birthday doing this. It brought us all so much joy and that joy just emanated to those that we blessed.

It’s funny to me how most people thought it was odd. Being given something for nothing. It’s sad that these days there is always a catch to things. I know even I always want to know what you’re selling me if you have me something free.

1) The first thing that we did was leave a special treat in our mailbox for the mail lady. She left us a note the next day that said it had made her day. Mission accomplished on our very first random act of kindness!

2) Then it was off to leave our little one with a special friend who we felt led to bless for no reason at all. 🙂

3) We taped quarters to random buggies (yes buggies. That’s what we call them here in the south y’all!) at Aldi. Some folks don’t realize that you have to have a quarter to get a buggy. It’s their very own cart system that is actually quite brilliant because I don’t know anyone who won’t want to return their buggy to get their quarter back! I think that next time I’ll do something with bags. People also don’t realize that you need bags because they don’t provide them free AND that you have to bag your own groceries. All part of the reason they are so cheap. I love Aldi!

Addie leaving a dollar on the toy aisle for one lucky kiddo!

4) We stopped at a couple of different Dollar Trees along the way and left a few $1 bills on a few of the aisles. Honestly this was a funny experience. I felt like a thief because I didn’t want anyone to see us. There were people who kept coming up and down the aisles. I know they had to think we were being silly. I wish I could’ve seen the faces of the people who found those dollars!

5) At a couple of the local grocery stores, we stopped and taped some quarters to the coke machines so someone could enjoy a refreshing drink on that hot day. They are so expensive these days!

6) We were getting hungry by this time, so we stopped at my favorite place, Arby’s! We purposely went through the drive-thru so we could anonymously pay for the people behind us. While we were waiting for our food we decided to pay for both of the cars behind us, as there were only 2 cars behind us. We gave the cashier a couple of those Random Acts of Kindness notes to hand to them when they came through. She smiled and said “That is so sweet!”.

7) After lunch, we dropped into a couple of different Goodwill stores and left $10 gift cards taped to the back of the dressing room doors. Can you imagine trying on clothes and looking up to find a gift card? Score!

We also handed 2 random people cards just to see their reaction. Both of them gave us really funny looks but smiled and said thank you. I’m sure they were lost in a sense of What’s the catch?

8) There are always homeless folks who stand around on the corner near the interstate. There is a Burger King close by so we stopped and grabbed a couple gift cards for the 2 men on different corners holding signs.

9) We are regulars at our local YMCA. We’ve been going there for years and the staff is so great to my girls. They love going to Y-Play so we took them some cookies to say thank you. I took them some of my White Chocolate Chip Cookies and I got rave reviews!

10) We took some of those cookies to our local fire department. I think they were shocked by our gift, but very thankful. A wanted her picture by the fire truck and that might just have been the highlight of her day.

11) We left a special gift for a friend.

12) We sent 2 of our relatives thank you and gift cards for things they’ve done for us.

13) We donated to the Operation Homefront School Supply Drive.

It was so much fun. I smiled the entire day and even cried a few times…

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iPhone Diaries: Seeking Date Night Ideas!

It’s another iPhone Diary today and this time I’m looking for date night ideas…

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