Renwood 2004 Barbera: $6

Renwood 2004 Barbera

Yay, finally a wine under $10 worth writing about! Tonight, I had dinner with friends at Coalfire Pizza (you HAVE to go, if you live in Chicago – it’s super chill and offers delicious pizza) after a failed attempt to go to Piece (March Madness is STILL not over – argh!). We arrived at Coalfire to realize it was BYOB. My wine connoisseur friend, Chris, and his girlfriend Suzelle, immediately made a beeline for nearby Randolph Wine Cellars to pick something up. According to their account of the events, Chris headed to the fancy wines he knew. Suzelle, meanwhile struck up a conversation in the front of the shop. After she mentioned that she was dining with friends at Coalfire and asked for a suggestion, the staff recommended a 2004 Renwood Barbera.

Fast forward 20 minutes… With the wine open, we all toasted Suzelle’s birthday as Chris recounted the goings-on at Randolph Wine Cellars. He got to the point of the story I recounted above, when he stopped, and said, “Have a few more sips. Then I’ll tell you the rest of the story.”

So, we had a few more sips, deemed the wine delicious, and Chris continued triumphantly: “So, the last part of the story is that the wine cost $6 a bottle!” A little background: Chris does not skimp on quality when it comes to wine. The night before his birthday, he generously shared a couple bottles of Stag’s Leap Artemis with us. The Artemis averages about $50 a bottle, depending on the year. And it’s quite good.

I had tasted the Renwood’s Old Vine Zin on several past occasions, and it was not particularly memorable. But the Barbera was delicious – I’m not an expert at identifying tasting notes, but it had a lot a fruit, and almost a caramel-y, smooth finish. And just a touch of smokiness, probably from whatever oak whence it came.



Pretty Old Navy Soap: 2 for $5

Old Navy Soap

During a routine shopping exercise (ahem), I wandered into Old Navy, tempted by the bold, black and white patterns that graced the displays. Not a minute later, I feasting my eyes on the loveliest bath and body display I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if all Old Navy’s feature these items (I can’t find them online ANYWHERE), but I had to share.

At least 8 different scents (including Clean Musk, Vanilla, Pear, Peony, and Green Tea) paraded as soap, candles, lotion and reed diffusers. Not only were the smells divine (very natural – not perfume-y or artificial), the packaging is BEAUTIFUL. Each scent has its own unique black and white pattern accented by a single color. For example, Green Tea is, well, green. And peony is pink.

I bought three immediately as gifts. Then I went back to stockpile some more. I really hope they keep things like this around! Over the holidays, they had some of the prettiest graphic wrapping paper I’ve come across. Old Navy must have some talented designers working for them 😉

PS: Their current line of enamel accessories is very of-the-moment and cool, but alas, my favorites are not under $10. $12.50, if you must know…

John Frieda Clear Shine Luminous Color Glaze: $7.49

Stuff that will make your hair glossy!

I have to give my friend, Kristen, credit with this one. Before my wedding last November, she introduced me to the Brilliant Brunette version of this stuff. I wanted super-shiny hair for the big day, and it really made my hair beautiful. The only downside is that it discolored my palms (and anywhere else it dripped!) if I didn’t wash it away within a couple seconds.

Fast forward several months… I was shopping at La Jewel (Osco for you midwesterners), and lo and behold, I stumbled upon a color-free version of the glaze. Yay! You shampoo and condition as you would normally, then you squeeze as much water as you can out of your hair, and apply the glaze liberally. Two minutes later, you can FEEL the difference as you rinse it out. My hair feels much smoother, and the smell is really nice – not chemical at all. And no discolored extremities to boot.

I’m a big fan – and I think you will be, too!

Sterling Silver “Ball” Earrings: $5

Silver Ball Earrings

I know, I know. I haven’t been particularly attentive to my blog since I launched it. Work has been a little hairy this last month, but I promise to try to keep up a better pace here at Less Than 10.

And so… that brings me to our topic du jour: jewelry. I’ve had many conversations with my girlfriends about “investment pieces” vs. fashion jewelry (Target has really fun of-the-moment pieces) and I’ve concluded that the best items can be both precious and inexpensive. Enter sterling silver. Even though sterling is a precious metal, it’s amazingly affordable. And it’s non-irritating: great if you have sensitive skin like I do.

Of all the earrings in my jewelry arsenal, I wear my sterling silver ball earrings the most. Somehow, they always make me feel dressed up. (People say the same thing about diamond studs, but we’d be hard-pressed to find those under $10!) What love about these earrings is that they don’t fight with any other jewelry you might want to wear at the same time. I have an amazing Links of London necklace (Objets Trouvés) that is definitely a statement piece, and the only earrings that seem to work with it are the silver studs.

Ladies, if you have your ears pierced and don’t already own a pair of these, order them now! You won’t regret it – especially for the price.

Amy’s Mattar Paneer: $4.50


Anybody who works with me knows about my *small* obsession with Indian food. It’s a fairly recent thing for me; getting older apparently makes spicy food yummier.  Or maybe it’s living in a big city, with an abundance of international restaurants that cater to my every food whim?

The one thing that is for certain is that Amy’s prepared meals are TASTY. And the Indian variety are a lunchtime staple for me. The Mattar Paneer meal, which consists of savory rice, peas, paneer (which is like cottage cheese, with a consistency of firm tofu), and chick peas in a delicious tomato gravy, is my favorite. Spiced with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and mace, it’s the perfect balance of savory and delicate.

What I especially like is the heartiness of it. I’m not a vegetarian, but I try not to eat meat daily, and this meal makes me full despite being vegetarian. The best part is that all ingredients are organic. I know that “certified organic” is a loose term by FDA standards (read the Ominvore’s Dilemma if you want to know why), but I like the idealism of it all.

February at the Art Institute & Field Museum: FREE!!!

Art Institute lion

Why is there an “r” after the “b” in February, anyhow??? Shouldn’t it be pronounced feb-ROO-airy not feb-YOO-airy? BUT… I digress.

February is a quite the bargain month, here in Chicago…

For the entire month, admission is free to the Art Institute of Chicago AND the Field Museum! Yay! This, of course, does not include special exhibits. However, at the Art Institute, you can get a special ticket for $10 that gets you into two special exhibits: one featuring Edward Hopper, and the other, Winslow Homer.

Hooray for art! Hooray for Sue!

Method Leather Wipes: $5.59

Method Leather Wipes

I can’t promise this will be the only time I blog about Method products. Simply said: they rock!

Method Leather Wipes are my best friend in the winter months. Come to think of it, they’re pretty great year round, too. When the winter weather deals its nastiest, I love to have these on hand to wipe the salt and crud off of my leather shoes. They come in a flip-top cannister and are loaded with moisturizing, leather-friendly stuff. They’re a lot like baby wipes in look and feel. And as a bonus, they’re biodegradable.

Oh, and Leroy says they’re great for getting bulldog drool off of leather car seats.