Planning for V-Day

Home. Family.

A year of dates
It’s only few weeks away and I am planning for that commercial holiday we call Valentine’s Day.  Personally, one should always let that special someone know how wonderful you think they are year round, but Valentine’s Day can push one to go above and beyond.

I'll let you in on what Jeff and I are doing this year for V-Day another time, but first I wanted to share what I had done this Christmas for Jeff, in hopes you can get your stuff together and possibly do it for your guy or gal for this February 14th. 

This Christmas we expected to be all about our new daughter Cora, but our plans didn't turn out that way.  Jeff and I had always talked about making sure that as parents we wanted our relationship to be strong because that's the cornerstone of a family.  I actually had planned to do this gift earlier this summer so even though our original plan A (Cora) didn't happen as expected, it didn’t mean we couldn't include it in the plan B.  Being a strong couple is just as important even if Cora is not physically here with us.

A year of dates isn't my original thought and I'm not going to claim it as my own.  I've seen this idea quite a few times with different interpretations.  I did however make it my own with dates that fit our lifestyle.

To start, you need to draft your list of dates the recipient would actually want to go on; dates at home, dates in town, and dates that require a day out of town.  I also didn't want to force us into having to do these dates on specific months so I left the timing totally up to us or the expiration date on the gift card.

Below are some examples of dates that were included:
  • Blind wine tasting at home - No need for a designated driver.  We have a wine tasting kit we used, but brown paper bags with numbers work just as well.  I have been on a Zinfandel kick so we tried a few bottles.  Jeff always likes the most expensive, but I actually chose similar to him this time. 
  •  Mad Libs in Love - This was a fun little game to play as well.  I remember doing this when I was younger and putting in all sorts of dirty words.  Now as an adult, it wasn't as taboo. 
  • Spa massages - Massage Envy allows you to print right from their website.
  • Massages at home - Massage oils and massage bars from Lush
  • Dinner out at a nice restaurant - I used Groupon and got a great deal for a local restaurant we like.
  • Husband and Wife Quizzes - I know what you are thinking…quizzes?  Honestly Jeff and I laughed doing these quizzes on New Year’s eve.  These are low stress and a good way to remember stories from when you first were together.
  • Gift card to the local beer store - We frequent there for tastings and grab a beer after a long week. 
  • Personalized boxers - I made a pair a long time ago using iron on letters and realized that pair was not doing so well.  A replacement was needed and no I will not tell you what they say.
  • Scratch off World Globe - If you're world travelers, this is a really cool gift to get. 
  • Movie date gift card with a box of his favorite candy -  We don't often go to see movies so I figured this would motivate us to see something on a larger screen.
A Year of Dates wrapped up in a bow
All the gifts were numbered in separate envelopes designating the order of opening. I wrote a personal message in each about the date and why it was chosen.  The first envelope (#0) explained how this gift worked.  If any of the envelopes had corresponding presents, they were also marked with a little number to match the envelope. 

Gift #5 that went along with envelope #5.
I decided to do brown butcher paper to wrap all the gifts and found envelopes with matching cards at Hobby Lobby.  I learned to make gift bags for each oddly shaped present here. It is super easy!

Overall, this gift took time and some imagination, but Jeff loved opening up each envelope and gift.   Showing him that I put in effort and thought is what he likes the most.  He told me that the anticipation and mystery was the most exciting.

So what are you doing for your special someone this year?  Maybe a year of dates might remind your special someone how much they mean to you.

<3 mk


Seafood Chowder


Since the new year, I have been doing my best to down size.  We honestly live in a very minimalist household, but I tend to stock up a lot on food, including frozen food.  I have this irrational fear of being hungry and having nothing in the house to cook. 

OK, back to the point of this post, recently I have been making meals using what I have in my freezer and ran across frozen seafood mixture from Trader Joe's that I had bought the last time we went on a major food trip there.  The bag contains a mixture of small shrimp, calamari rings and bay scallops. I am sure at the time I had a major plan for it, but it had escaped my mind. The recent gloomy weather requires something warm eaten with a spoon, so I went to searching recipes that I could use with this seafood mixture.

Pasta with a seafood (like this) always is my usual choice, but my husband is not much of a pasta fan and I would ultimately be the one finishing it off.  So, I and my thighs, decided against it and started searching for seafood chowder recipes, not that a cream chowder is any better, but you understand?

There are a lot to choose from, but I ultimately decided on this one because  I had all the ingredients I needed already.  Remember that irrational fear of being hungry?  It's actually helpful.

Picture courtesy of Movita.
 I'm a bad blogger and took no pictures. Hunger was in charge.

I actually followed the recipe as precisely as I could except for a few adaptations.

1-  I used the thawed seafood mix (shrimp, scallops, calamari) instead of the fish and the lobster.  Next time I will add the lobster because you know it will take this recipe to another level.  

2- I added some sliced crisp bacon pieces that were left over from that morning and crumbled them on top. 

Follow the directions! Simmering at low is helpful to keep the seafood from getting chewy.  The next day the chowder was really better, but we had so little left it was hard to share.  I had made the chowder before noon and we actually ate around seven PM.  It had plenty time to sit and get all those flavors to develop.

If you are planning on making this for a group, double the recipe.  What I made was barely enough for just the two of us.  


<3 mk


A New Year

Have you ever tracked yourself while running and it shows your pace in a graph at the end?  If you are runner, you totally understand the screenshot below.  Well,  I realized after I was running yesterday, that my pace was similar to my 2014 year.    The line (my life) gradually got better and better and then towards the end there was a really big dip.  It's crazy how one can make analogies with anything.

What can I say about 2014…it was mostly good?  The year started off with us finding out we were pregnant with our Cora in January.  Gradually increasing in excitement with all the hopes and dreams getting more realistic as her due date in early October got closer.  She grew and so did I.    Then suddenly without warning, there was a huge dip (the runners cool down) and she was gone on September 23rd.

The only thing that I can think about making life better is to keep on that treadmill called life.  I need to keep moving and growing because yes, there will be dips, little ones, big ones, and very unexpected ones.  I keep on having to realize that there will be bad days, but try to remember that the good always outweighs the bad.  So this year I'm not setting a resolution; I'm not going to set something that may or may not be done.  I am going to try to make my day better because feeling bad just isn't something that I want to feel. Cora would not want her mother feeling sad all the time.  

I know my friends from work will laugh at me for this, but the phrase that keeps going through my head is what I hear every morning at school, “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.”  It's funny that I have heard it every morning for over a year and half, but never realize how true it was until I really listened to it.

So, let's make the 2015 year a great one because it really is up to you!

<3 mk

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