Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cupid's Curse

Are you tired of the stereotypical, overpriced, and well, frankly boring Valentine's Day expectations? Ya? Well, me too. I don't know how the one holiday designed to honor a special someone who holds the key to your heart became such a predictable, thoughtless endeavour. A box of chocolates, a dozen roses whose cost could equal your car payment, a giant stuffed monkey professing his love that in no way will fit into your everyday decor, or a mass produced card dripping with sentiments that would never in a million years pass through the lips of my Prince. Yep, I have received each and every one of the items mentioned. I will admit at the time I was ecstatic because I knew each one was chosen with love and good intentions. Sure, I do enjoy the normal items adored by nearly all red blooded women out there, fresh flowers, chocolate, etc. What I don't enjoy is the fact that these are nearing "required" status just because a silly calendar says it's the day to hand out overpriced nonsense to show someone how much you love them.

I personally find it MUCH more romantic and special when love is expressed in individual ways, and for no particular reason except you care. A bouquet of grocery store flowers when I am having a bad week. Someone grabbing the trash bag from my hand as I head out into the rain to empty the trash. A romantic gesture of heating a can of chicken noodle soup brought to me when I'm huddled on the couch with a cold. A card that says I love you waiting on my pillow when I've been away on business. These things rock my world!

So, how do you plan a romantic, individual, spectacular celebration of love that doesn't include all those "normal" things? I have a rather unique challenge when planning this special day to celebrate my Prince Charming. He is a genuine, certified (x-rays and scars), AARP card carrying cowboy. I love each and every inch of this man and would not trade him for anything in the world. That said, let's be honest here shall we? Cowboys don't appreciate flowers, something about sticker weeds not good for horses..... Cowboys don't appreciate over sized stuffed teddy bears, something about ruins their image with their friends. What I have discovered is two things. First is they are rather sentimental souls. I think Prince has every single card I ever gave him tucked in his dresser drawer, hidden of course under his socks, but saved all the same. He dutifully reads each one, gets a bit misty eyed, and rewards me with a giant bear hug and kisses. He doesn't care if it is a store bought or home made version, in fact he likes the home made ones best. He finds it fascinating someone can whip up something from a few bits of paper and ribbon and make it come out looking good. Maybe a admiring quality for a man who can fix anything with bits of junk laying around the house.

The second one is pretty standard, in fact I am pretty sure you don't even have to marry a cowboy to hit the mark on this one. The way to a man's heart is simple folks-through his stomach! If I want to impress Prince Charming all I have to do is make a spread of his favorite culinary delights and it is a home run every time. Now comes the catch. I couldn't just marry a cowboy. Nope. I had to pick one with diabetes and heart disease. All those years of hard living have caught up to him in a big way. No more daily indulgences of meat, potatoes, and sugary sweet confections. Which of course happen to be at the top of his favorite list of things to eat. Does that mean we don't indulge on this special day? No way! Everything in moderation is the key. We have eaten light all week, chicken, veggies, fish, the usual healthy menu. This allows him to indulge a bit on special occasions and not be sick for days after. He always offers to take me out as a "treat" on Valentine's Day so I "don't have to work so hard". He finally learned that my cooking is WAY better, we get what we want, and we don't have to wait for hours or pay a massive amount of money. It isn't really work as I get to make his favorite dishes that are table ready in about 30 minutes. Our menu this year is simple. Grilled rib eye steak and shrimp on skewers basted in garlic butter (all bought on sale and in the freezer waiting), roasted red potatoes (toss in olive oil and Italian seasoning spread on a cookie sheet), steamed broccoli or green beans, and likely a bowl of French Onion soup for a starter. Desert will be a chocolate bread pudding cut into a heart shape and served on one plate for sharing. I have a bottle of cheap pink champagne chilling to which I will add a splash of pomegranate juice and a handful of seeds.

Now, for the gift. I plan to give him what he ALWAYS wants and asks for, me. He gets my undivided attention for the day. No work, no laundry, no running errands, no reading books. I will spend the day in the moment with him. I am planning a day long scavenger hunt to add a little adventure to this gift as well. I will start the day with a note explaining he will be treated to a day of adventure, anticipation, and excitement. He will then be instructed to follow the clues to the next note for further instruction. The day will begin with a breakfast, either at home (if I get my fanny out of bed in time) or a restaurant. He will be led to the car for another clue, which will read "sit down, shut up, buckle up, and hang on" and I'll take him for a drive to see the country side somewhere. At some point we will get out but I'll drop another clue in the car to check the back where he will find the necessary items for a picnic lunch. Of course the basket will have another clue to lead us home again. I will be renting some romantic and funny movies and we will enjoy one of those to relax for awhile before dinner. Dinner will be at a romantic table set with real china, white linen cloth, and candles in every room of the house. He really hates the candle thing says he can't see what he's eating, but he loves me an humors me anyway ha! After dinner, another note will appear for the remaining evening adventures....... Because it is Valentines day after all, the last note will be attached to a package on the bed containing a new slinky red outfit just my size of course...aahh hmmm....... Ok, you get the idea.

There are a million ways to express your love that don't have to cost a fortune and will mean the world to those you love.

  • Make a coupon book of gifts for your special person and tailor them to their likes: good for one back rub, good for one weekend of free reign over the remote, good for one breakfast in bed, good for one round of golf, whatever they like

  • Plan a picnic for a meal in a place that has meaning to you, or somewhere the other person has always wanted to go but hasn't. A sunrise breakfast with a great view would be a great start to the day. Lunch in the car near an airport to watch the planes for a pilot. A sunset desert to see the city lights.

  • Make a card, write a poem, create a scrapbook-tell them all the things you love about them and how much they mean to you.

  • Make all the food for the day red or heart shaped. Cookie cutters make great egg shapes, sandwiches, brownies, etc. Red foods are berries, apples, beets, beans, tomatoes etc.

  • Give a miniature rose plant which will last a whole lot longer than that bouquet.

  • Draw a heart to frame their face in the mirror and write a special message. Lipstick works, but trust me a dry erase marker will make cleanup much easier....... How about a chalk message to greet them on the sidewalk or driveway? Heck a post it on the remote is just as effective, on the coffee pot, on the milk in the fridge, wherever you want.

  • use food coloring to write a message in the snow in the yard

  • leave a romantic message on their cell phone or voicemail at work (careful here..)

  • set delayed delivery text messages to be delivered on their cell phone every hour saying I love you!

  • change the sheets to ones that are satin or higher thread count if you have them on hand.

  • Pick up a couple white pillow cases at the thrift store and embellish with fabric paints in the shape of hearts or write a romantic message.

  • Get some fortune cookies and carefully remove the fortune with tweezers and insert your own fortune. Dip the cookies in bit of melted chocolate and candy sprinkles for a unique desert

  • make your own chocolate covered strawberries with melted chocolate chips, whip up some REAL whipped cream and feed your sweetie for a little fun.

  • bake up a batch of their favorite cookies, bread or cake

  • play romantic music, dress up like you were going out, and dance on your kitchen floor.

  • turn off the lights and watch TV or a movie in the dark. Have popcorn and some chocolate kisses handy for a snack.

  • serve your kids sparkling cider or apple juice for breakfast, pop in a cherry or strawberry

  • make heart shaped pancakes, or make a heart design in the batter with chocolate chips. serve with melted strawberry jam for syrup. buy bulk sausage and shape in heart shaped patties. make heart shaped burgers-cut heart shaped "buns" out of thick slices of french bread.

  • freeze cranberry juice for ice cubes to float in the sparking cider or champagne

  • use a paper heart doily as a stencil to sprinkle a pattern with powdered sugar or cocoa on a cake or cheesecake

  • make a heart shaped pizza with the family's favorite toppings, or a giant heart shaped cookie and decorate it like a cake

  • Looking for a creative way to combine that chocolate/flower gift into one? Have a look at this idea.

Really the ideas are endless if you just take a bit of time to to think it out. If all else fails, just give the gift of yourself. Stop and be present in the moment, hold hands with your partner, read to your children, play ball in the backyard, dig out those board games, whatever you enjoy doing together. Tell them you love them and show them it isn't about money or gifts. It is about what is in your heart each and every day.


Menopausal New Mom said...

What lovely ideas you've presented here. I would love to receive some flowers though, Valentines day or any day for that matter. This far into the snow and winter, nothing perks up my mood like fresh flowers!

You have a wonderful menu planned and yes, moderation does make these little indulgences okay.

Hope you two have a wonderful celebration. My hubby is working but I can still prepare a lovely meal for him, better yet, maybe he'll take me out!

Tara said...


You are so's the little things that tell all--I am a breakfast in bed person. I love to get up early and bring that to my DH. He loves it... simple, easy adn thoughtful, because during the work week I am anything but! SO I hope this makes up for it and generally, it does. then my little one who's now 9 will lay in bed (after already being up) and wait for hers to come.

You have great ideas here that cost nothing but time and effort and feeling frmo the heart!

PS--and I loved the "AARP card carrying cowboy" description!