Tag Archives: opolo

His & Hers Gift Guide – What They’ll Actually Use

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This time of year, I’ve been getting a lot of searches that link to this post from last year: Top 5 Gifts for the Hard to Buy For Person Who Has Everything. I want to offer up some more gift ideas this year. But I don’t want to give away my surprises of what I’ll be gifting.

Instead, I thought I’d create a different kind of list.

Part One – His

If you read last year’s post, you’ll know that my shopping for my husband is very difficult. He usually just buys what he wants when he wants it. And no matter how much thought I put into them, the gifts I get him end up in a drawer or on the shelf in the closet. So, instead, the HIS GIFT LIST will include items that Rob has either bought himself or has been given, but that he uses all the time.

Part Two – Hers

Here you will get a my Christmas Wish List. No, this is not a post to get what I want for Christmas. Besides, probably only one person I’m exchanging with actually reads this blog. And I’m pretty certain my mom is done with her Christmas shopping already. 😉 Instead, it’s just a list of things, that if offered to me this holiday season {or any old time}, that I would not turn down! It’s meant to give you ideas for women you may know like me.

Let’s start with the guys, since they seem to be the hardest to shop for, right? For additional ideas, please read Running with Racheal’s post from last year.

Great Gifts for Guys

{aka items Rob uses ALL THE TIME}

  • Smartphone – His iPhone is the one gift that Rob thanks me for throughout the year. He doesn’t know now, how in the world he ever lived without it. The thing is, it was a surprise a couple of years ago. He didn’t even know he’d want one. Because of the never-ending thank yous, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
  • iPhone Wallet – Rob bought this for himself within the last year and it’s made his life so much simpler. When getting ready for work in the morning, he no longer has to go in search of his wallet and his phone. It’s all together now. He found his on eBay and there are several styles. His is pictured below. He gets compliments all of the time. They are cheap, too!
  • Extra iPhone Chargers – Rob found these cheap online, too. I never strayed away from my one charger that came with my iPhone. But once we got extra, it made life so much easier! I can’t tell you how nice it is to have one in my car, one to keep in my suitcase or carry-on, purse, one for the office and the living room. Rob keeps one at work, too. It was handy when we left one behind on vacation to have extras on hand. Only downfall: When we finally upgrade to iPhone 5 or later, we’ll have to buy all new ones. But no matter, these were seriously cheap.
  • Flashlight(s) – Laugh all you want, but whenever we need a flashlight we can’t find one. This year, a friend of ours put flashlights in our golf tournament goodie bags. Of course, they were meant to keep in our golf bags to look for lost balls. But since we are too lazy to look for them are such good golfers, we use them around the house. Now, if we had about 5 more of those…
  • Lounge Pants – I don’t know about you, but we live in comfy pants over the weekend. That is, until we leave the house, of course. We’ve received lounge/sleepwear pants for Christmas a couple of times and now I don’t know what we’d do without them. They come in many styles. Rob’s collection includes Guinness and ESPN lounge pants, among others.
  • Packer/Wolverine Gear – You can never have enough gear to cheer on your team. Just make sure it is the size, style and fit that your recipient likes. I’m just sayin’, when I get him this kind of stuff, it always gets used!
  • Hammock – Once upon a time, Rob bought a hammock from Hammocks.com. And on any beautiful day in the spring, summer and fall, I come home to him reading, relaxing or napping in that thing. The dogs join sometimes, too! We bought our friends, who invite us up to their cabin every year, one as a thank you gift. It’s a priceless gift, really. It may be hard to think about when it’s so cold, but that’s why they are on sale today! We recommend the Quilted Island Bay with metal stand. Rob’s tip: Get coupons and promo codes when shopping online by typing in “Hammocks.com Coupon” instead of just “Hammocks.com” to save extra dough!
  • Dinner out – Rob nearly always takes me out to dinner, so it’s a special treat when I buy. Sometimes, I’ll make my own little certificate stating such {as I explained in this post} or what restaurant I’m planning on taking him, like I did for his birthday one year.

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Great Gifts for Gals

{aka gifts I would Graciously and Gratefully accept}

  • Socks – Not kidding here. As it grew colder this fall and I had to put the sandals away, I found that many of my socks were either missing a sibling or developed a hole. I’ve thrown away quite a few. I like fun, funky socks, but they can be hard to rotate within the wardrobe and Rob isn’t a fan. So even just comfortable black socks will do!
  • Turtleneck Sweaters – Are these out of style? I’m having such a hard time finding nice ones! I’m a freeze baby. So in the winter, I like warm sweaters. When I’m trying to overcome Pirate Eyes in the early, black a.m. of winter, I don’t want to have to think about my outfit before work. I want to put on a warm turtleneck sweater and dress it up with a scarf. DONE. Solid colors are best… and timeless.
  • Alligator Clips – This is the name Rob gave to a hair clip I used to rely on all of the time. I’ve lost it since our trip to California this fall and just feel LOST. I am all about low maintenance when it comes to my hair and rarely use a hair dryer. I used to twist it and put it up with my alligator clip when wet. Later in the evening or the next morning, I can wear it down without having to do very much with it! We’ve search stores everywhere for more, but just found them online under other names – beak clip, Japanese clip, concorde clip. There are lots of colors and styles to choose from!

Beak Clip

  • Opolo Mountain Zinfandel – This is one of our favorite wines, but it’s not really priced for everyday. So it’s a treat when we get it!
  • Davis Family Vineyards Pinot NoirGuy Davis knows his Pinot. I never actually liked Pinot Noir until I tasted his at his tasting room on a trip to the Russian River Valley. You can’t find it in stores, so you’ll have to order some. Might as well get a case while you’re add it. Your life will be transformed.
  • Davis Family Vineyards Wine Club Membership – Hell, why not just join the club? I did join the Davis Family Vineyards Friends and Family Club after that trip, but canceled when we needed to buckle down to buy our house. I should just get back in this club and swear never to buy a cheap bottle again and savor every drop of this wine. Quality over quantity, right?
  • Other Wine Goodies – I love this post by grapefriend, with some unique wine-related finds. In particular, I’m intrigued by the wine2go flask and the rewined carmenere candle.
  • Champagne – I love me some bubbly. But it’s extra special to receive a bottle of real champagne!
  • St. Germain – This elderflower liqueur is one of my all-time favorites. I haven’t met a cocktail I didn’t like when it’s made with it.
  • High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – At one point, we bought a Groupon to join an olive oil club. Each month for three months, we got high quality, expeller pressed Italian olive oils! We didn’t continue because it took us all year to use them. The third bottle is almost empty, so we’re in the market for more. I also love this idea of adopting an olive tree and receiving the olive oil produced from it.
  • Cheese of the Month Club – Um. I’m from Wisconsin. I’m a Francophile. No brainer.
  • Fruit of the Month Club – I’ve always wanted this! Fresh fruit delivered to my door every month, yes please! I’ve been eyeing the Arizona Orange Company for two years now…
  • CSA Share – I absolutely adored my CSA box in the summer! But it just proved to be too much food, even split with a friend. They had solo shares this year, but were more basic and sold out right away. If you want to give someone a CSA share, make sure the pick-up location and window is doable for them.
  • Donation to a Cause I Support/Admire – Like a Pet Rescue or Shelter, such as Homeward Bound, where I found Sophie almost 9 years ago and the Carver-Scott County Humane Society, where we found Shamrock this year. When friends of ours refused to let us pitch in for the timeshare and rental car when they invited us to join them in Hawaii, we donated to the Marine Mammal Center in support of the endangered Monk Seals on the island of Kaua’i. We were lucky enough to see them there.
  • Packer Gear – Can never have enough!
  • Packer Tickets – Hey, I am getting higher up on the waiting list; but if anyone can spare a pair, we’ll take ’em! {We support our team during winning AND losing seasons!}
  • Gourmet Coffee – I’m always willing to try a new brew.
  • Tickets to Evita – I love musicals and Evita will be in Minneapolis this year. I loved the music in the movie and have never seen it performed live.
  • Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake – Laugh if you must. I had a roommate with whom we bought these for each other’s birthdays! The Bonus is that the two of us shared it, so we both got to pick away at it All. Week. Long. It’s been years since I’ve had one, though, so maybe my tastes have changed. Wouldn’t hurt to find out!
  • Gift Certificates – I know some people think that these are impersonal, but I love them. They say to me, “I know you like to shop here, so pick out what you want!” or “We really loved this place and thought you might like it, too.” I also like to save them to use as fitness or weight loss rewards. Here are some great places for which to receive gift cards:
    • Sul Lago – Our favorite restaurant “South of the River.” The very first time we visited, we saw about a dozen or so people come in to order gift certificates at the bar!
    • Restaurants – We like to dine out, so any place we haven’t tried, under our Restaurant Impressions Wishlist will do. Otherwise, we always like to try other people’s favorites, so recommendations are welcome.
    • Kohl’s – I don’t buy clothes very often, but when I do it’s because I need something. Kohl’s is close and familiar. I like to save gift cards here as rewards to myself. I’ve found a lot of good deals on workout gear here, too!
    • Barnes & Noble – I don’t have a Kindle or Nook. I still read real books. But I really think B&N gift certificates are good for travel guidebooks. We love to travel. If you know someone is traveling somewhere, buy them the most current guidebook. Or, they can walk right into a store and flip through guidebooks to see which ones suit them best.
    • Spa – I don’t know any girl who wouldn’t appreciate a spa day or to choose their own spa treatment. Just a pedicure can do wonders.
    • Movies – We don’t go to the movies often, but when we do, we ask ourselves why we don’t do it more!
    • Car Washes & Oil Changes – Okay, this one sounds really impersonal. But truthfully, I hate spending money on this kind of stuff myself. So having a card to just use whenever it is needed would be so wonderful.
    • Amazon Gift Card – Well, because you can use it for ANYTHING!

All I truly need for Christmas is health, love, spending time with family and reconnecting with old friends.

However, sometimes we just fret over that perfect gift for a loved one. So I hope these his and hers lists inspire you with ideas for the rest of your shopping this year. Or sit down and make out your own list. You might just come up with something for someone else!

What is a gift you wouldn’t turn down?

Did this post give you any ideas for someone else?

Cheers~
Carrie

Our Absolute Favorite Wines

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Today is our 3rd anniversary – Rob’s and mine, that is. Of course, we’ll be celebrating at one our favorite special occasion restaurants – Perron’s Sul Lago. I just may order a steak – they have the best filet mignon in the entire Twin Cities {and, yes, I have been to Manny’s and Murray’s}.

But it’s Wine Wednesday, so I thought I’d share our absolute favorite wines! These are wines that are so pleasing to us that we will never turn them down. They are ones that are more expensive than you average wine, so we don’t drink them every day. They are not in order of love, but in order of discovery. Enjoy!

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In 2005, I earned my first trip with The Traveling Vineyard. It was to the wine country of Sonoma and I remember thinking about all the times I had been to Europe, but this was my fist ever to California! On this trip, we made a visit the Davis Family Vineyards tasting room. Guy Davis was one of the winemakers and collaborators of many TTV wines. It was in his tasting room that I first fell in love with Pinot Noir. I hadn’t liked the varietal prior to that. And this was also before the big Sideways anit-Merlot and pro-Pinot Noir craze.

Davis Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

(Approx. $40 – $45/bottle)

Davis Pino

At that tasting, I learned why I adored this Pinot Noir more than any other I tasted. Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape. It’s fickle and a hard grape to grow. It’s hard to do it right. Guy has 5 rules to crafting a great Pinot… and I love # 3. So what makes it so great? The best way for me to describe it?

It tastes like velvet.

It has just the right balance of tannins and acidity to feel like velvet on your tongue. That is, a velvet made of fruit and warm spices!

Now, Rob likes to describe Pinot Noir as having a waxy characteristic. Well, for me, that would be the cheap-cheap Pinot Noirs. {In fact, I still have a tough time with some South African red wines that taste like lipstick to me.} I like to describe Guy’s Pinots as dusty. Just the perfect amount of dry. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I truly believe that this wine has made me a Pinot Noir snob.

Guy makes fantastic other wines, but in my opinion, his Pinot Noirs outshine them all. He wins awards year after year after year. And rightly so. But the wines don’t come cheap. That’s the price you pay for expert craftsmanship. Would you pay an Ikea price for a handmade mahogany chest? I walked away from the tasting room that day having joined the Davis Family Vineyards Friends of the Family Wine Club. A year later, I had to cancel because we needed to save all the money we could to buy a house. Sometimes you just have to make those sacrifices!

But, Rob, if you are reading this… A membership to the Davis Family Vineyards Friends and Family club again would make a perfect anniversary, birthday or Christmas gift any year. You know that you will reap the benefits of that gift as well! 😉

P.S. You can’t find this one in stores, so you’ll have to order them from their website.

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Another wine I discovered with my fellow Traveling Vineyard friend, Madeline from Colorado, who was visiting family in town with her husband. We met up at a wine bar and they treated me to this phenomenal wine.

Opolo Mountain Zinfandel – Paso Robles, California

(Approx $25 – $30/bottle)

opolo

Months later my friend Sally took me out to dinner. When I saw this wine on the menu, I pointed it out. The main reason? My friend Sally is the one who got me into Zinfandel! {This ain’t the pink stuff, folks! It’s a hard core red.} I finally found it in a store across the street from the wine bar where Madeline and I had tried it. I just had to introduce it to Rob. I knew he’d fall in love. And I was right.

Months later, Rob and I were invited to Sally and her husband Ryan’s place for dinner. On the way, we stopped at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of the Opolo Mountain Zinfandel as a gift. The clerk there said, “You are lucky this! A lady came in here a day to buy a case, so this is our last bottle!” Whew. Upon presenting the bottle to Sally, she giggled. She was the one who had just bought the case at the wine shop. Yeah. That’s how good this stuff is.

This wine is big, bold and a bit spicy. You’d think it’d hit you in the face with its high alcohol content; but it really is just complex. I love the jamminess, followed by warm spices. It’s exactly how I like my zins. And while the “Summit” version of the Opolo Sin is still good, it’s just not as good at the Mountain!

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And Lastly, is a wine that is very dear to our hearts:

Dievole Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy

(Approx. $20/bottle)

This wine hails from the Vineyard where Rob proposed in 2008, thus very appropriate for our anniversary. It was another trip I earned through The Traveling Vineyard and, actually, Rob’s first trip abroad. I was completely clueless about his proposal. It was the ultimate surprise.

And even for Rob, this trip was Un. For. Get. Able. and In. Cred. Ible. Barbara MacDonald, who orchestrated the entire trip, could not have done any better. We are forever in her debt. I mean, LOOK at this place! That’s just where we stayed…

In any case, Rob never liked Italian wines before arriving in Tuscany and now he is a life-long fan. I will say that we ultimately agreed that the Italians keep the good stuff for themselves and send the leftovers abroad. 😉

Here’s a bottle we enjoyed at Sul Lago. We can’t find Dievole wines anywhere. So it was a treat that the very first time we happened upon Sul Lago, it was on their menu! Currently, they have this baby Chianti, but the Classico is even better!

Dievole

Yeah, these are some of the higher end wines we drink, but because tonight is a special night, we found it important to share.

What is your absolute favorite go-to wine when celebrating a special occasion?

Cheers~
Carrie