6 Awesome Summer Wines Under $10

6 Awesome Summer Wines

You know I love a good happy hour as much as anybody, but most of the time, I prefer to enjoy a drink in the comfort of my home, or sip a glass of wine discreetly while grilling at the beach. Even if you find a really cheap happy hour, it’s never going to be as affordable as a bottle of wine. 

There are plenty of great white wines to be had for under $10, and if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that sells wine in the grocery store, they’re extremely convenient to pick up for a weekend dinner party or a Wednesday night that needs a dose of calm. Here are some of our favorites in no particular order. I’m not a wine expert. I just like what I like.

Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio is crisp and refreshing. I find it works well with food and isn’t too sweet.

Menage a Trois Moscato is one of Geoff’s favorites. It’s definitely sweet and best for sipping after dinner. I’ll admit that I prefer moscato with ice. I find it calms the syrupy quality that moscato can sometimes have.

Barefoot Refresh Crisp White is the perfect pool or beach side sipper. It’s a little bit bubbly, a little bit sweet, quite crisp and completely refreshing. It seems to have a low alcohol content, so you won’t be stumbling about after a few glasses.

Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice when you need a large bottle of wine. It’s still just under $10 and pleases most any palate. 

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc is on the green side, which I really like, especially in warm weather. 

Chateau St. Michelle Riesling is possibly my favorite wine. It’s made not far from where I grew up, so it has a sentimental attachment for me. Plus, rieslings are just the right level of sweet for my taste. Not too syrupy, not too dry. It works well with food or on its own.

I almost never buy a wine that costs more than $10. They’re not always great, but they’re rarely that bad. These are all wines I would gladly drink again and again. Feel free to bring a bottle.

What are your favorite summer wines? What will you be drinking at your Labor Day celebration? 

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

How to Fix a Torn Moped Seat for under $10

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

So you followed my advice and bought a moped. You’ve been zipping around town feeling awesome because you’re only spending $5 a week on gas while your insane car driving friends are spending ten times that. You’re wearing your helmet because it’s better to look like a dork than have your brains splattered on the pavement. After all, your brain is your most attractive asset. You’re feeling pretty rad. 

But then you get a  tear in your seat. It rains all winter and the water soaks into the cushion and you keep showing up to work with a wet butt. It costs at least fifty bucks to get it replaced, and that sucks. What’s a cheap girl to do? 

Duct tape! Duh. You can fix something broken, and personalize it for less than ten bucks. It’s just bursting with win.

I went to my local office supply warehouse (Fisher Hawaii in Kakaako) where they have about twenty different colors and patterns of duct tape. I bought one roll of black and one roll of a black lace pattern. Get whatever you think is awesome.

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

First, I covered the whole entire seat with the black duct tape. Just start on one end and pull the roll across. Use scissors to get a nice clean edge and tuck the ends up under the seat a bit to make sure you have full coverage. If you just have one tear, you may not want to do the whole thing. I thought it looked more uniform to cover the whole seat. I had a lot of damage.

I then added the lace tape in diagonal stripes just for fun. I think it looks pretty fun. You might also try a chevron pattern if you’re good at geometry. 

I’ve had the tape in place for a few weeks now, and it hasn’t started peeling off at all. I also noticed that it’s actually easier to dry off the seat now. The water just beads on the tape, and you can wipe it right off. It’s pretty genius. I also had plenty of tape left over for other duct tape type emergencies. 

How to fix a torn moped seat for under $10

Why spend money on new stuff when you can fix what you have with something cheap and make it even better? And now you’ll have money left over for cheese and chocolate. That’s what it’s all about.

DIY Wedding Flowers from Awesome on 20

DIY Wedding Flowers for $40

DIY Wedding Flowers from Awesome on 20

Fun fact: A typical bridal bouquet starts at $200. Yes, STARTS! That’s the lowest amount one should expect to pay for a bridal bouquet from a florist. At least, that’s what I heard when I was flower shopping for my wedding last year. Does anybody else think that’s completely insane? Even if they raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, that’s still half a week’s work for one bouquet. 

Funner fact: Guess how much I spent for flowers at my wedding. $40! That’s not just for one bouquet, that’s for flowers for the entire bridal party (of 3 people) and for the tables at the reception. Forty bucks. That’s it? Want to know how I did it? Shocker: I’m about to tell you.

The morning of the wedding, my daughter/junior MOH and I got in the car and drove to Watanabe Floral, a huge flower shop in Honolulu. They sell bouquets and leis, but they’re also a wholesaler, so you can buy a bunch of different types of flowers and create your own arrangements. We ran around the shop choosing all the prettiest flowers in my color, red.

When I told the sales person what we were up to, she showed me around their walk-in fridge section and even helped me choose a couple of good filler greens to compliment the flowers we’d selected. She equipped me with a roll of florists tape, and took me to the register. I couldn’t believe it when she told me the total. I was expecting to spend at least $100. Nope, just over $40.

DIY Wedding Flowers from Awesome on 20

When we were ready to build our bouquets, I laid all the flowers out on a towel on my living room floor. We all selected the flowers we wanted, building from the inside out. We taped as we went along, layering flowers and greens. I bought some raffia earlier in the week, and we used that to wrap around the outside of the finished bouquets to cover the tape. Then we trimmed the flowers so they were all the same length.

We just had fun getting creative and finding the look we wanted. Maybe they don’t look like those sparkly $200 bouquets you see on Pinterest, but I’ve never been into looking like everyone else. Each bouquet matched the maker’s personality. Creating our own flower bouquets was probably the funnest part of getting ready. It took us about 30 minutes to put them together.

All the extra flowers went with our friends who set up the decorations at our reception site. I had spent a year prior to the wedding hoarding glass jars and scrubbing off the labels. She filled the jars with a bit of water and cut the flowers to fill the jars. Just a few flowers for each. Simple, fun and elegant. When we arrived at the reception, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.

DIY Wedding Flowers from Awesome on 20

I recommend this really helpful tutorial from A Practical Wedding. Really, everything on this site is tremendously helpful and down to Earth.

A wedding should be a beautiful day, but I don’t think it’s worth going into debt over. Don’t believe the hype, and don’t get suckered in to paying too much for something just because it has the word “wedding” attached to it. Remember who you are and why you’re there. Support a local flower seller, spark your creative side, reflect your unique style, and just create your own flowers. You’ll have a great time. I promise.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

DIY Wedding Cake

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

It’s already June, which I’m okay with since July means Emily is with us at last. They say June is wedding season, and I have to believe them since I’m so uncool I never get invited to any weddings. I did have a wedding a little over a year ago, though, and I definitely have some strong thoughts about the situation.

The amount of money people will spend on a wedding makes me want to cry. The average cost of a wedding in America is $20,000. People spend what, for some of us, is half a year’s pay on one party for one day. I realize your wedding is a very special day that you definitely want to remember, and I’m sure you want all those people you truly love to be with you. You want to treat them to a nice dinner and make sure they have a wonderful time. I totally get that. But half of your salary? That’s just insane.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

We spent about $2000 on our wedding, and comical series of disasters not withstanding, it was absolutely beautiful. How did we save so much money? For one thing, we kept it small. Rather than inviting everyone we’ve ever met, we kept the list to under 50 people. You can’t really make a meaningful connection with more than that number at a party anyway. Too many people and your wedding becomes theatre for an audience, not an expression of love. 

We also did just about everything ourselves. I prepared a majority of the food. We made our own decorations. The bridal party made their own bouquets (more on that later). I even made my own wedding cake.

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

The average wedding cake is over $400. Those multi-tiered, fondant-covered confections take hours of detailed work. They’re absolutely beautiful. There’s also no way I’d be able to afford one. Besides, it’s just a cake, and cake is something I want to eat even more than I want to take a picture of. Also, fondant is gross.

If you have even the slightest baking experience, you can make a beautiful and delicious cake that everybody will actually be excited to eat. A great recipe, an abundance of vanilla frosting, and a few fresh flowers is all it takes to make your own wedding cake. Even if you splurge on a vanilla bean for your wedding day, you can make your wedding cake for under $50. 

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

This recipe comes from cake genius, Sweetapolita. Bake the cake the night before, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it until you’re ready to decorate it in the morning. I used my offset spatula to create the swirls on top and the stripes up the side. Then I just bought some pretty carnations, rinsed them with cool water, and pressed them into the border. Use your favorite flowers. Just have fun and don’t take yourself to seriously. 

I just saved you $350. You’re welcome!

DIY Wedding Cake from Awesome on 20

On my wedding day, I wanted to be able to relax, enjoy my friends and family, and be overwhelmed with love. I wanted to show my guests I cared by making them food I knew they’d want to eat. This cake? You wont’ be able to stop eating it.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Serves 12
The perfect white cake for a DIY wedding.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the cake
  1. 5 egg whites
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 cup whole milk
  4. 2-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 3 cups (345 grams) cake flour, sifted
  6. 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
  7. 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
For the frosting
  1. 3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) butter, softened
  2. 3 cups (475 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  3. 3 tablespoons milk
  4. 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. pinch of salt
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter, line with bottom with parchment, and then flour two 9-inch round cake pans. You don't want to take any chances on this cake sticking.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of the milk, and the vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk or use your stand mixer on stir to combine for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter bit by bit with the mixer running on low. Beat about 10 second after each piece. You'll have a crumbly texture like when you make biscuits. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and beat for five minutes on low.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then begin to mix in the egg mixture on low. Add it in three stages and mix thoroughly between each. Scrape and fold the batter a few times to make sure everything is completely mixed.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between your two prepared pans. You can even weigh them to make sure they're even. Smooth out the batter with an offset spatula to help avoid a domed top.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick insert in the center comes out with a few small crumbs. Be careful not to overbake. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then cool, tops up on a rack until cooled completely. If you're working ahead, wrap your cake layers completely in plastic wrap and store in the fridge over night.
For the frosting
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 8 minutes. This will make it very light and fluffy.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, then turn the speed back up to medium and beat for another 6 minutes. It will be fluffy and dreamy and beautiful.
To assemble
  1. Place the bottom layer of your cake onto a pretty board so you can transport it easily. You can fill your cake with your favorite flavor. I like raspberry jam or lemon curd. You could also just go with the frosting. That's awesome, too.
  2. Place the second layer on top of the bottom layer with the bottom of the cake up to ensure a flat surface. Scoop a good amount of frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly. Frost the side of your cake carefully. You're better off having too much frosting so you can take some away.
  3. To make the swirls on the top slowly rotate your cake while applying slight pressure with your small offset spatula or a butter knife, slowly bring the spatula toward the center of the cake in spiral. To make the stripes up the side, simply pull your offset spatula straight up all the way around. If you have a rotating cake stand or a lazy susan, this will be a lot easier.
  4. Cut the buds off of your favorite small flowers and press them into your still soft frosting all the way around the border of the cake. You can add a few flowers to the top as well. Just make sure they're clean.
  5. Pop everything into the fridge for a bit to set. Then go get married and have a beautiful day!
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Adapted from Sweetapolita
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/

DIY Air Conditioner

DIY Air Conditioner1

Hey there, Geoff here! It’s been a while! 

The temperature is rising rapidly in paradise and summer is looming. I use the word ‘looming’ reluctantly because I love the summer…just not the soaring temperatures and sweat-inducing humidity. We don’t have air-conditioning in our humble abode so during the day it becomes unbearable!

Checking online for something that might help brought up a few designs for a do-it-yourself air conditioner so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with a budget “Awesome-on-20” AC unit! 

First off, you’ll need something that keeps the cold in and the heat out. I chose a cheap $2.99 polystyrene cooler from Safeway.

Secondly, you’ll need a cheap fan, preferably one that’s been lying around at home for a while.

Thirdly, you’ll need some ice…It’s that simple!

DIY Air Conditioner2


Take your cooler and cut a hole in the lid. Make sure that the hole isn’t bigger than your fan but big enough that most (if not all) of the fan’s power can be directed down into the cooler.

Next, you’ll need somewhere for the air to come out again. For this, you just need to cut two holes in the side of the cooler. The two plastic pipes ($2 from a hardware store) I added are optional. These will give you more control of the air direction. Remember, the smaller the holes, the faster the air will blow through them and the more breeze you will get.

Add in some ice, plug in the fan and away you go. We filled a gallon milk carton with water and left it in the freezer overnight. Although any and all ice should work for you!

DIY Air Conditioner3

I’m not going to say that this is the best AC unit ever. . . it’s not. . . but if you want something to sit on the desk next to you while you are writing the next chapter of your novel and drinking Pimms and lemonade…you’ve got a winner.

Enjoy mes amigos! 

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