List of Favorite Wines Under $20

As you may notice, I have a thing for wines. I love trying new wines and trying to pair them with new and interesting foods. I don’t tend to spend many nights out on the town but I guess this is my way of enjoying the finer things in life without spending too much money. I will literally walk up and down the isles at the wine store and shameless harass the staff for their advice on the best new bottles of wine, preferrable under $20 a bottle. Some times I save them for a special date night with hubby, other times I’ll have a couple of girlfriends over and I let them choose from the stash. Of course this is a great list to pick from if you’re having a party. For me, buying a new bottle of wine to try is as satisfying as some ladies find buying a new pair of shoes. So far, this is a list of my top ten favorites.

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1. Lindemans Pinot Noir or Merlot (red)
2. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (white)
3. Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz (red)
4. Senorio D Ruios (white)
5. Beaujolais Villages (white)
6. Yellow Tail Shiraz (red)
7. Open Riesling Gewurztraminer (white)
8. Wolf Blass (red or white)
9. Cupcake Chardonnay or Red Velvet (red or white)
10. Inniskillin Merlot (red)

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Classic Macaroni Salad

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This has been a family favorite ever since I discovered it. Creamy and sweet, works well for potlucks, BBQs and any casual dinner. It’s also a very inexpensive salad to make that will feed a lot of people.

Ingredients
4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, pimentos and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.

Party Planning on a Budget

I absolutely love to entertain but as I’m sure you’re aware, entertaining can get expensive. I love going the extra mile to make my guests “oh” and “ah” over the décor.
Here are a few suggestions for investing in a few timeless pieces that can be customized and will wow your guests each time.

White Plates
This is a great starting point for any dinner. White makes your food look fantastic and will fit any color theme you have going for a party. It’s as simple as going to a dollar/discount store for some cheap napkins! I purchased large square plate and have used them to eat on as well as serve appetizers.

Clear Glass Ware
I’ve checked out a bunch of thrift shops and discount stores watching for unique, inexpensive vases, dishes, candle holder, etc. to buy. You do not need to use the dish for it’s indented purpose. Fill it up with seasonal candy, or rock salt and candle – anything! Again, it’s so easy to customize for the theme of your party. Make some specialized signs on your computer and print them out. Buy ribbon from the discount store for a splash of color.

Candles
I find candles add a special element to any gathering. It seems to put people at ease and adds an elegant element. If you’d like to invest in some large pillar candles that will be around for a while, choose white. Again, so easy to customize to coordinate with your theme. If you also have white serving dishes, white candles will look intentional. White candles also tend to be cheaper and easier to find.

Wine Glasses
I recently purchased 2 dozen wine glasses for a wine party I held. They were purchased at the discount store for $1.25. No one would know the difference but my bank account knows. I purchased the larger sized ones and I’m so happy I added them to my collection. I don’t use them for just wine. I serve all types of drinks in them and people love being served their non-alcoholic drinks in them as they feel like they are still getting a special treat. The glasses can also be prettied up by tying a wide ribbon around the stem.

Cookware
Do you have a favorite party dish you like to make each time you have company over? Or many you’re always asked to bring that dish to a potluck? Watch for sales and invest in a beautiful serving dish to use. For example: you can get some beautiful brie baking dishes now. Brie is a huge hit at any party I go to. Looking for some recipes? Look Here.

Serving Dishes
Pick a theme for your serving dishes and stick with it. You don’t have to go crazy all at once and break the bank. Be a smart shopper and keep your eyes open for that special dish that jumps out at you that will be a lovely addition to your collection.

Anything Stainless Steel or Aluminum
Aluminum containers can be expensive, so watch your thrift shops and discount stores for these. And use your imagination. Containers can be repurposed for just about anything. Before I started to host parties, I had purchased these adorable little aluminum pails at the discount store – $1.00 each. I bought 5 with the intention of using them in my hobby room to store pens/markers. They never made it that far. I’ve used them to serve treats, napkins, forks/knives, etc. They work beautiful for any party.

Table Clothes
Adds a special elegance to any party. I invested in a long white table cloth for my table and watched the thrift shops for smaller table clothes I can layer on top for a punch of color. Simple and easy!

White Christmas Lights
I purchased some Christmas lights over 9 years ago at an end of season sale. Those lights have participated in over 5 weddings, anniversary parties, Christmas parties and regular party events. They can be used in your back yard during the summer to light your back yard, or hung behind shear curtains in your house to add a soft glow to the party area.

Folding Chairs
If you’d like to make sure your company has a place to sit without always having a lot of bulky furniture around your house, this is the perfect inexpensive solution. Have a special storage place for them – even under your bed. Take them out when you need and put them back into hiding when you’re done. Great for in the backyard as well as indoors.

I totally recognize the fact that entertaining is expensive and I personally don’t have the extra cash to buy special dinner ware for the theme of each party so I watch for sales, check out the thrift or discount stores and visit yard sales to see what I can find. Get yourself a large Tupperware container where you can store everything and when you’re having company over, pull it out and start decorating. If your collection will not fit in one container, keep it organized and label the outside of the container so you know which one to reach for when you need. Happy Planning!

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