I realized a couple of days ago that we are over two weeks into March, and I have yet to share with you guys what we did for February’s date night! If this is the first you’re hearing of this, let me bring you up to speed—for Christmas, I gave my husband a packet of 12 envelopes corresponding to the 12 months of the year. Inside each envelope was an already-planned, perfect-for-us date night idea for us to go on during that month. In January, we headed out and watched a basketball game at a local brewery. For February, we got our bookworm on!
This idea comes straight from the genius of about a million different folks on Pinterest—a bookstore scavenger hunt! In this month’s envelope, I packed in two extra identical cards. Printed on each one were three sets of scavenger hunt tasks for us to tackle from the bookstore shelves.
We grabbed our cards and drove out to nearest, big bookstore (which, admittedly, is not close), found a nice little table to set up shop and then went our separate ways to work on the first set.
We met back up a few minutes later and shared our findings. First charge: pick up a cookbook or a food magazine and find a recipe you’d like to try. No surprise here, Craig came back with a cookbook called I Love Bacon!, and inside of it, he found this delicious-looking recipe for Scallops with Dried Cranberries and Bacon.
Next on our scavenger list: find an idea for another date night. If you had any questions if we were perfectly matched for each other before this little experiment, they should be put to rest now, because, dude, we both ended up picking the exact same book.
I guess we should have just bought the damn thing, but we didn’t, for some reason. We spent a good 20 minutes flipping through and reading about all the new-to-us trails in our area.
Next task: pick up a travel book for a city or country you’d like to visit. My choice was obvious. I’ve been wanting to visit Greece (and more specifically, cruise around the Greek Islands) for pretty much my entire life. I tried to look through all the travel books and find something not-as-obvious, but the beautiful photos of blue waters kept pulling me back in.
Craig, on the other hand, picked something that surprised me—a city guide for Montreal! We’ve mentioned before about taking a trip up there, but we never really talked about it seriously. It was really fun to flip through the guide and see all the cool things Montreal has to offer. It seems to me that a trip to Montreal is pretty much as close to a trip to Europe as you can get in North America. Bonus: Montreal can be reached by car, Greece, uh, can’t.
Time for set number two! We put all of our set one books back carefully, and then headed out to tackle the next three tasks. First up, head over to the children’s section and find a book we loved as a kid.
I couldn’t pick just one, so I snagged The Poky Little Puppy and a Scary Stories book. The Poky Little Puppy was something my parents read to me no less than 40,000 times in my childhood. It still makes me giggle. And the Scary Stories books were the it books in my elementary school library. I remember we’d all know when the new one came into the library, and when it was time for library class, we’d all run to the shelf to try to check it out first.
Craig picked up The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is a book that I don’t remember from my childhood, but became very well-acquainted with once my siblings started popping out my nieces and nephews.
Next up: find a book about something you’d like to learn how to do.
I have no idea why I’m so obsessed with the idea of making my own sausage right now, but I totally am, and hence, picked up this book all about different kinds of sausages. We definitely had a few “ewwwwwwww!” moments going through this one. There are some really unappetizing-sounding sausages in the world.
Craig grabbed this idea-packed book on solar panels and all the ways we could use them to do different things around the house. We were particularly intrigued by the solar water heaters and solar ovens.
Our next task was to head over to the magazine section and pick out an article we thought the other person would like to read. I picked out a preview of the new Star Trek movie in EW for Craig, and he handed me a homesteading finances article from Mother Earth News. We ended up ordering some coffee (well, coffee for him, tea for me) and sitting down and reading through our magazines together.
Once our coffee break was over, we headed out to do our last set! First up, we headed to the comedy section to pick out a joke or book that we thought would make the other person laugh.
We both ended up picking two not-entirely-politically-correct books that both had us crying with laughter. Craig brought me Crappy Children’s Art, which was so mean, but so hilarious. And I brought him Chinglish, which was a mixture of un-funny stuff and some real gems. This one makes me laugh every time.
Next up: go to the biography section and pick up a book about someone you admire. When I got to the biography section, I immediately saw no less that 10 people there I admired, but I tried to narrow it down so I didn’t have to get a cart to carry my selections back to the table.
I grabbed books on Michelle Obama, Anne Frank and Tina Fey. Craig brought over one of Jon Stewart’s books. He also mentioned that he tried to find Rachel Maddow’s book, but had no luck.
And thus ends this short peek into our political leanings.
Our final task was to go to the magazines and find a quiz we can take together. This was so hard! Apparently quizzes aren’t a big magazine thing anymore! I finally ended up finding a quiz in American Girl magazine (ha!), so we took the What will your friend be like in 2020? quiz.
Craig didn’t have any better luck that I did, but he did find something more fun—this guess-the-celebrity illustration section in Vanity Fair. They had spreads for 1933, 1993, and 2013. We got about 2% right for 1933, 50% for 1933 and 98% for 2013.
Overall, it was a super fun way to kill an afternoon, and other than our $5 worth of coffee and tea, it was totally free! In fact, it was going to be 100% free, because we had a Starbucks giftcard, but apparently Barnes & Noble Starbucks don’t take Starbucks giftcards. Go figure.
Craig’s already opened the March envelope, but that date night isn’t happening until the last week of the month, so you’ll have to hold out to find out what’s in store for us.
What’s your best idea for a free date night?
Today, is a very, very special day, my friends. Today is the 28th birthday of Babyface!
I am so insanely lucky to have this guy in my life. He makes me coffee in the morning. He does my laundry. He cleans up after my kitchen bombs. He tells me loves me every day. He even lets me call him “Babyface” on the internet without batting an eyelash. He’s just…a good guy. And I feel like there just aren’t very many of those left anymore. I’m so proud to be his wife.
It’s an extra special birthday this year because, as you know, his whole family is here to help us celebrate! I don’t know how it is in your house, but in ours, when it’s your birthday, you get complete control over the menu. Babyface’s first birthday-related food request actually started yesterday. Last night, we all headed out to New Albanian Brewery to get some of the best pizza and beer in the area. Man, I love that place.
As far as the actual birthday fare, I didn’t even have to ask, I knew exactly what Babyface was going to request for dinner tonight. Craig loves the vast majority of the food on this blog, but there are three recipes that are absolutely his favorite—pepperoni pizza mac and cheese, maple bacon burgers, and butterfinger cheesecake. He mentions that pepperoni pizza mac and cheese no less than once a week.
Not really the most balanced of meals, but hey, you only have a birthday once-a-year! It’s totally worth it to celebrate my amazing husband. I think birthdays are meant for indulging.
I’m off to go spend some time with the birthday boy! I’ll be back tomorrow with a crazy addictive recipe for roasted nuts. We’ve been munching on them all week long. Yum!
What meal do you always pick for your birthday meal?
If you guys follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have noticed that Babyface and I are housing the whole lot of his family this week! We’re so excited to have the Canadian contingent spend some time with us, and it’s awesome that they were all able to be here to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with us here yesterday.
We always try to do something for Canadian Thanksgiving (like last year)—it’s important to both Babyface and I to celebrate both of our great countries in this house—but this time it was extra special for us all (Canadians and hono(u)rary Canadians) to be together under the same roof.
Prep actually started a few days back (more on my prep schedule and other ways to cook a
stress-free stress-reduced Thanksgiving dinner coming up in a separate post), but the real star of the show had to go into the oven bright and early at 7am yesterday morning. So I was up before the sun with my hand stuck in a turkey’s various orifices. That’s love, my friends.
Once Mr. Turkey was nice and settled into his toasty home for the next 4-5 hours, I tackled my favorite task of any holiday—setting the table! I love setting the table and making it pretty, and it’s always nice to get it out-of-the-way early in the morning before things get chaotic. This year, I went pretty simple with a burlap runner, flowers from our back yard, solid placemats and napkins, and my great-grandmother’s china. I thought it ended up being a pretty nice looking table.
I don’t know how it is in your family, but in ours, the dessert table isn’t just reserved for after dinner. Desserts are like appetizers! So I set out the whole selection (brownies, pumpkin spice cream cheese cake balls, chocolate chip cookies, persimmon pudding, pumpkin pies) along with some real appetizers (apples, pumpkin dip, roasted nuts, and deviled eggs) and let everyone pick and nibble all morning long.
I had finished quite a few dishes ahead of time (and pawned a few off to my Mama to help with) so my day-of cooking list was actually pretty short. I just whipped up some chicken ‘n’ dumplings (standard in my family growing up and something I’ve turned Babyface’s family onto) and finished heating up and assembling everything else once Mr. Bird was done. In the grand scheme of holiday cooking, it was a pretty chill day. I’m starting to really rack up the number of turkey dinners I’ve cooked and using tried-and-true recipes and taking seriously detailed notes each year has really helped make it run smoothly.
Having kitchen helpers also makes it easier.
Soon enough, dinner was served!
I think everyone really enjoyed the food. If you’ve ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd, you know that it’s really hard for you, yourself to enjoy it. By the time dinner is served, it’s just so nice to sit down and not have to juggle any more recipes that the food doesn’t even really register. But no worries, the leftovers will register. I’ll be swimming in leftover HappyLand for days. A turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce has my name on it for lunch today.
We ate dinner early in the afternoon, which gave us time to head out and burn off some of those carbs. It was a really chilly morning, but it ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day outside. The games started off with slingshotting black walnuts into the lake and ended with a little bit of shooting around the hoop—Indiana style, yo. I’m a little ashamed to type this, but the Indiana girl got her ass handed to her in a game of
HORSE PIG by all the Canadians. Shame. SHAAAAME.
Although I did totally school Babyface in a game of one-on-one.
Once we’d worked off at least a slice of pumpkin pie, we headed back up to the house and lit up the bonfire. It’s been so chilly at night the past few days, but it’s been really nice with our fire ring and some expert fire-building. I snuggled up to the flames with a cup of Echinacea tea. Babyface has had a cold for the past few days and I’m just starting to feel the tickles of a sore throat. Not. Allowed. Santa says so.
After my tea, it was early-to-bed for me (well, after a plank, of course). All that cooking wears a girl out, but it was totally worth it to have such a special holiday with my Canadian family. I get asked a lot (by Americans) if it’s weird to celebrate Thanksgiving in October, but I honestly love having this holiday now. The weather is always gorgeous, the trees are always beautiful and it’s a nice time separation from Christmas. It really gives you a chance to enjoy the holiday and embrace the reason for it without it being overshadowed by Christmas. A lot of times I think thankfulness is an afterthought to Thanksgiving, but today, I had a marquee list of things I’m thankful for running through my head all-day-long.
I am thankful for so many things. Too many to list here. So here is just a big blanket “Thanks!” to the universe for blessing me with such a special, happy, and love-filled life. I’m so fortunate.
If you celebrated yesterday, I hope you had an amazing, wonderful, delicious holiday! And if you didn’t…uh…happy Tuesday!
Canadian or not, we can all use a dose of gratitude. What are you thankful for today?
…snuggled up to a Mastiff.
…a LOT of wine.
…officiated a plank-off (my ultramarathoner brother won, my Babyface came in second).
…timed a chair-sit competition between my sister and her husband.
…failed miserably at the saltine challenge.
…watched my sister watch her dinner rolls (she forgot to set the timer).
…admired the colorful table.
…told everyone what I was thankful for.
…was shocked at the amount of food we made.
…divvied out leftovers.
…digested by playing outfielder on the Sharks baseball team (we were playing the Cobras).
…sang Happy Birthday to my sister.
…tried to choose which dessert I wanted.
…snuggled by the fire.
…fell asleep while watching Elf.
…had the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had.
How was your Turkey Day?
…lets me call him “Babyface” to thousands of
strangers friends without a single complaint.
…goes grocery shopping with me. Just because I want him to.
…will drop everything and take a picture with me for the blog if I ask.
…doesn’t get mad when I flip the covers off our feet when I get warm in the middle of the night.
…e-mails me all day long when we are at work.
…cleans up after I’ve tornado-ed the kitchen.
…can figure out all the connector cords for the TV, DVR, stereo and Blu-ray player.
…still opens the car door for me
…takes Puppyface out every single time she needs to go.
…sits on the same side of the table with me at restaurants.
…does our laundry.
…dresses really, really well.
…is an incredibly talented photographer.
…is an incredibly good person.
…has more creativity in his pinkie finger than I have in my entire body.
…is definitely the “ideas man” in our relationship.
…is some seriously awesome eye candy.
…loves me. And even more importantly, still likes me.
…tells me he loves me everyday.
…opens my beers for me.
…turns 27 years old today.
Happy birthday, Babyface!
Yesterday, I told you guys that we celebrated Puppyface’s birthday. I know that some people aren’t dog people or even really pet people at all, so it might be hard to understand why you’d celebrate a pet’s birthday, but let me tell you, this 60 pound ball of gray fur is pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me and Babyface. And you better bet we are going to celebrate her!
If you read back to her story, you’ll notice that we actually have no idea when Puppyface’s birthday is. She was dumped, hit by a car, and found her way into the lake on my parent’s property to soothe her wounds. But the vet estimated her age at 10 months based on her teeth, so we then and there decided her birthday was August 17th-ish, 2006, which makes yesterday her 5th birthday.
So what do you do to celebrate a puppy birthday?
Well, first of all, you get her some puppy cupcakes!
She was mega excited about these. Puppyface is generally excited by anything that is in any kind of packaging. For some reason, she assumes when we are opening a package of something that it is for her. This time it actually was.
She was a little confused by them at first, but eventually pulverized a cupcake.
Then she dug into the rest of her birthday bag o’ fun.
What was in it? A metric ton of squeaky toys! Her favorite. I think we crammed 5-6 in there. Because she doesn’t have nearly enough toys already. She was very excited.
(Please forgive our empty, messy, plastic-covered living room. Still no progress since the tornado.)
While the Puppyface blissfully bounced back and forth between various new squeaky toys, Babyface and I decided we wanted to try the puppy cupcakes ourselves. Of course, we filmed the results.
Ha! “What’s it taste like?” “Uh, a dog cupcake.”
Later in the afternoon, we leashed up the Puppyface and took her out for a hike at one of our favorite parks in town, Leonard Springs. It has SUCH beautiful waterfalls and awesome views. Puppyface likes any place that has water.
This is one very, very happy PF. And an equally happy PF Mama.
It’s hard to explain what Puppyface means to me. She can be such a handful
sometimes most-of-the-time. She hates strangers and doesn’t let anyone get within 10 feet of us without freaking out. She wants to eat every dog smaller than her. She’s had more surgeries than most humans. She can’t walk 10 feet outside without getting something tangled in her fur. She kicks in bed. She sheds like it is her damn job.
But I love her.
I love it when she nuzzles under my arm for “sneak-a-pets”. I love that she wags with amazing enthusiasm every time I walk into the room. I love her lady beard. I love that she is totally dependent on me. And she trusts me to take care of her. I love how soft her ears are and how dark her nose is. I love it when she dreams. I love that she likes to use my feet as a pillow. I love how strong and resilient she is. I love that she has been through so much but can still be so sweet. I love that the fur on her legs curls when it’s wet. I love that she is smart enough to respond to any, and all, of the nicknames we’ve given her (Puppyface, PF, Poof, Monkey Nose, Sillyface, Fluffy Face, Cutes, Puppy Pups, Puppy, and then, her actual name, Rory). I love that she knows when I’m sad and is there to comfort me.
I feel like I am such a better person because of my dog. And if that makes me a crazy dog lady, then so be it.