Tag Archives: spa

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


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.


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?


California Winery of the Year


Happy Wine Wednesday!

We didn’t know it until we got there, but while we were in Temecula, we were stayed at the California Winery of the Year.

The friend who recommend visiting Temecula Wine Country also recommended that we stay at the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. She knew that Rob proposed to me at the vineyard where we stayed in Tuscany. She had been to Tuscany as well and said, “You guys will love it because it’s the closest thing you’ll experience to Tuscany here!”

She recommended getting a villa with a vineyard view. I told her about the of the Gulf of Naples view I somehow scored for us on our honeymoon to the Amalfi Coast thanks to the Trip Advisor reviews on Hotel Il Nido. Rob took full advantage of the balcony and sat out there long after I got chilly and retired each night.

“Oh! He’ll love this, then!” She said.

The view from our private patio

The view from our private patio at South Coast Winery.

I’ve never done a review or “impression” of a hotel on this blog. Quite frankly, hotels are often an afterthought for us. Generally, we just like to find an affordable place to sleep in a safe neighborhood. However, I did a little extra research on hotels for our honeymoon. I highly recommend Trip Advisor. While you’ll find negative reviews on every place listed, you’ll find the reasons people like or dislike a hotel or restaurant and it’ll help you decide what you want for your experience.

Because we were going to wine country and celebrating ten years together, I was willing to spend a little more money than we would on a basic hotel room. And you can’t forget the location factor! South Coast Winery is located pretty much in the epicenter of all of the other vineyards you might want to visit.

We really did enjoy our stay at South Coast and we would most definitely stay again. But I thought I’d share what we liked and disliked about our stay to give you a sense of what is important to you when you are choosing a place to stay.

I was disappointed in:

  • The front desk service – It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t personable. We were the only ones there when we checked in. All of her questions and instructions seemed robotic, not sincere. With no one else behind us, she didn’t ask what brought us to South Coast or if we were celebrating something special. Okay, that would be superior service. But I felt more valued at The Westin in Pasadena. {A new-to-me hotel chain with which I’m quite pleased!} The same gal checked us out and I felt the same way. She did ask if I would take the time to fill out a comment card/satisfaction survey, though. But I felt like it was just procedure. I wanted to, but we had to get to the airport and didn’t have the time.
  • The decor in room – I need to get over this one. It wasn’t that bad. It just felt a bit dated. I KNOW – First World Problems. I think the website portrayed a better looking room. Or maybe I was just coming down from L.A. traffic stress and wanted to be over-the-top-wowed.049
  • We went during the off season – So, this can be a pro or con and is not the resort’s fault. There didn’t seem to be anyone else staying there! The grapes were already harvested and we saw no hot-air balloons. Hey, wait a minute… If there were very few people there, why didn’t they offer to upgrade us? Maybe if they would have asked if were celebrating something…
  • They didn’t refill the coffee – We were lucky enough to have a Keurig in our room with two K-cups of regular coffee, two decaf coffees and two teas. We used the two regulars the first morning. They never refilled it. Okay, so we could have asked…
  • The bed – I woke up with a backache every morning. Since I’m prone to back issues, take that with a grain of salt. Though I was completely content with the beds in both Pasadena and Beverly Hills earlier in the trip. Maybe I was just longing for my bed at home by this point. I was also hot. I couldn’t find the right temperature/cover ratio.

But here’s what I LOVED about South Coast Winery Resort:

  • The private patio facing the vineyards outside our door – We could literally step outside and be in vineyards, even pluck a grape. We left the patio door open the first night and heard what we thought were coyotes! So cool! {We stayed in a Deluxe Vineyard King Villa.}
  • The Keurig & fridge in our room – We made coffee the first morning with the Keurig and took it out on our private patio. They didn’t refill it though. So if we wanted something the next morning, it’d have to be tea or decaf coffee. We picked some supplies up from Baron’s Marketplace to munch on for breakfast and in the evening. It was great to have the fridge for cheese, fruit and water.
  • The location – Right in the heart of Temecula Wine Country!
  • The bottle of wine in the room – Along with the room, we received a complimentary bottle of wine. I didn’t give it much of a look and we didn’t drink it while we were there. However, we have opened it at home since we’ve been back. It was a 2005 Merlot! At first we thought that maybe they put the “drink-now-wines-that-are-about-to-turn” in the rooms. But after we opened it, we learned that wasn’t the case. It was one of the better merlots I’ve had in a long time. Kudos to South Coast for not skimping on that one!
  • The spa and underwater music in the pool – I didn’t get the opportunity to try the spa, but I have at the last two California wine resorts where I’ve stayed. And I can say that it’s really nice to have a spa on site. However, one thing Rob and I truly missed out on was the pool. When a wine rep at another winery learned that we were staying at South Coast he asked, “Have you tried the pool? There is underwater music!” Damn. We forgot our suits. TIP: Just like I keep a corkscrew in my suitcase that never comes out, Rob has now vowed to keep a swimsuit in his suitcase that stays there.
  • The restaurant – We dined at the Vineyard Rose for a late breakfast the morning after our day of tasting. Again, I was disappointed with the somewhat dated decor. But the South Coast Huevos Rancheros made me giddy with happiness because they were so flavorfulThe scrambled eggs were combined with chorizo, pepperjack cheese and pico de gallo. A flour tortilla was served on the side with borracho beans, hashbrowns and a Merlot fruit cobbler that I. Could. Eat. Everyday.
  • The specials – Just for staying at the resort, we received Passport which included a two-for-one tasting, restaurant and spa specials.
  • We went during the off season – Yes, this was on my list of disappointments. However, as we know, that can be a good thing, too. I have no idea if we’d have to wait for a table or tasting if it was a busy time of year.
  • The Tasting Room – Because we went during the off season, we walked right up to the bar with our two-for-one tasting tickets. We got personalized attention from Gregg, who let us taste wines he thought we’d like side-by-side. He also led us to a great burger in town. Oh, and did you know that South Coast has won more awards on their wines than any other winery in the entire state?!
  • The Wine Club – We joined South Coast’s Wine Club! The only other one we really considered was Danza del Sol. We took our first shipment home with us and have loved all that we’ve tried. Rob keeps saying that he’s glad that we joined this one. It’s really opened our eyes up to some interesting wines. We had a Syrah that we weren’t too sure about at first. But after it had time to open it up, it kept evolving in the glass. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had that happen! With the wine club, we get to relive our trip every time we open a bottle.
    Check out this wine menu!

    Check out this wine menu!

    What’s the most interesting place where you’ve stayed on vacation?