Celebrating Galentine’s Day

Do you remember filling out Valentine’s cards when you were little? You would go through the entire box to find the prettiest cards for your best friends, the least “lovey” card for the annoying boy next to you, and ask your mom to remind you again why you had to even give a card to the meanie who stole your special pencil right off your desk!?!

I think I just dated myself here….

Those were the good old days; the ones when how much you spent or who you were celebrating Valentine’s Day with didn’t matter. It was about friendship, camaraderie, and simple little things that have long passed as our lives grew complicated.

Now our lives are consumed with family, work, and oftentimes loneliness. As adults we’ve twisted what Valentine’s Day was all about and so many made it a day to hate instead of remembering what’s its for….… LOVE!

Not necessarily romantic love, but friendship …. Philia : an affectionate, platonic type of love that makes you crave friendship with someone. It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, or what stage you are in life, we all need Philia in our lives!

So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with brunch with a sweet girl friend?!

Galentine’s Day, as the social media world refers to it, is a day for celebrating those special friendships; the friends you would sort through the entire card box looking for the best one to give. It’s an intimate time to catch up on life’s hardships and beauties, laugh together, share a meal if you choose, and make a mess while making your own chocolate dipped strawberries!

Earlier this week I enjoyed having my sweet friend, as well as fellow blogger, Tammie (Talking With Tami ), over for a little Galentine’s Day brunch.

It was so relaxing as we made our own dessert together, and caught up on the projects, busyness and even stresses in our lives! We prayed together over our meal which just strengthens bonds with those around you.

It was so fun to set a themed table with the colors associated with Valentine’s Day, and pull together a super easy (but very filling) menu to let Tammie know how special she is and have her feel welcome in our home.

What was on the menu?

Mixed Fruit

A fresh salad with vinaigrette dressing

Quiche

and Chocolate dipped strawberries we made together

That’s it; simple and understated. Quiche is the quintessential brunch dish; you generally have many of the ingredients on hand. I’ll attach the full recipe for you, but you need to gather together eggs, fresh veggies (I used spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic), bacon, heavy cream, cheese, and a pie crust.

Click here for my recipe for Simple Quiche

Believe it or not, quiche pairs well with a salad, and you can’t go wrong with fruit. I think so many times we get caught up in going BIG that we forget the simple things often speak the loudest. The purpose of celebrating girl friends is not to stress us out, but to foster friendship and build stronger relationships!

Take some time out to reconnect with the ladies in your life. Celebrate your uniqueness and embrace your differences! God puts people in our lives for a reason. Embrace them and treasure the simple moments, even when life tries to get in the way.

Happy Galentine’s Day y’all!

A Little Romance on Valentine’s Day

I have been a cheesy, hopeless romantic for as long as I can remember. This began when I was young and was fostered by the books I read, classic movies I watched, and creative writing in journals long gone. I adored the writings of the Bronte sisters, and the often tragic love stories of Shakespeare. I soaked up Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables wishing for my own Gilbert Blythe, and dreamed of being Christy traveling to the Appalachian Mountains to teach school. Twenty-fours years with Audley and I’m still that same romantic.

Tulips from Mr. Jones … just because

It’s easy to keep romance in our relationship as I am married to a man who, while not as hopeless as I, romances me in his own sweet ways. During the years we’ve been together he has planned special dinners, brought home little gifts or flowers when I least expected it, and refused to take gift ideas from me or the kids because he wants to pick out that perfect birthday or Christmas present himself. Whatever it is, it’s always special because Audley thought of me. To be truthful though, it’s the little things that mean so much. He loves the cheesy dates I pull together, including the ones where we just stay in.

These are some of my favorite moments. There is nothing more cozy that being in your own space without the world and its crazy distractions closing in around you.

With Valentine’s Day just a couple of days away (and on a week day), we took the time over the weekend while Audley was off from work, for a little relaxation, quiet time, and “cheesy” romance. With a fire in the fireplace and a nontraditional snack, it was the perfect time for conversation and reconnecting. Being romantic is a way to savor each and every moment you and your spouse have together; enjoying the unique journey you are taking together. Romance is such a simple way to show affection, and is not as difficult as people would like for you to think it is.

For our romantic evening in, Audley built a cozy fire in the fireplace, we found a fabulous country station on Spotify playing a little George Strait, Alan Jackson, Shenandoah, Reba, and Randy Travis, and I put together a wine and fruit board that we could snack on while talking.

While simple, this is such a wonderful way to spend time together. In a time where we are always on the move, disconnecting from the world is very needed for every marriage. You never realize how much the world infringes on your time, space and mind until you unplug!

Baker’s Dark chocolate and white chocolate melts; I just used sprinkles, pecans & mini chocolate chips on hand for decorating.  

Evenings in like this are also wonderful when finding a babysitter is difficult. Find something to occupy your kiddos or send them to bed, then enjoy each other’s company. Schedule simple couple time regularly, just as if you were scheduling a meeting at work. Be mindful in keeping romance in your relationships, and unplug from the world!

Aldi’s special cheese collection for Valentine’s Day.  BTW, Aldi has a great assortment of flavorful cheeses on a regular basis.  Its worth checking out!

My favorite part about this simple night in is that it didn’t cost much at all! Since it is close to Valentine’s Day, Aldi had these fantastic heart shaped cheeses along with some unique flavors (Wensleydale cheese with raspberries and white chocolate, aged cheddar, & cranberries with Wensleydale) in the store. I just paired them with crackers and made my own chocolate dipped strawberries for 1/8 of the cost of Godiva. Paired with non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice (Aldi had a Rosé grape juice cocktail) and crackers, this was the perfect platter to relax with and enjoy.

By the way, the cost of our evening in was around $23. That’s it.

When you look back over your years together, these are the simple moments you will remember and treasure. Take some time and plan your own “cheesy,” romantic evening in. You won’t regret it!

Valentine’s Date Night In

It’s the beginning of that week in February that everyone loves to hate: Valentine’s Day.

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If you ask most people, It seems they would rather skip Valentine’s Day, and feel it’s an overrated, commercial event.

I’m just the opposite, being a hopeless romantic I absolutely adore Valentine’s Day! It’s such a fun holiday whether you celebrate it with a sweetie, your kids, or gal pals! And despite what so many like to think, you don’t even have to spend a fortune to make it special!

Money doesn’t equate love, but thought, time and effort definitely show how much you care.

This week I’m sharing several ways to celebrate this holiday of love with your significant other, girl friends. & even yourself. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to find a whole new side of Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is on a Thursday this year, and you know as well as I do all the “good” restaurants were booked weeks ago. If you hit the local steak house, you’re going to be waiting for hours and looking over the movie guide there isn’t a thing worth seeing at the local theater!

So who ever said you have to go out for Valentine’s?

How about a movie night in?

If you don’t have grandparents nearby to entertain the kids for a little bit, after supper send those kiddos toddling off to bed early, (they’ll get over it), dim the lights, light a few candles, grab a box of donuts, a couple of mugs of hot chocolate and your favorite cheesy rom-coms for a cozy night for two!

This is the ultimate evening in; pajamas and donuts (oh my!), a patchwork quilt, and laughter as you just unwind together.

Need ideas for cute romance movies?

Try these:

You’ve Got Mail

Sleepless in Seattle

The Princess Bride

Kate and Leopold

Sabrina

Never Been Kissed

and Audley’s favorite, the Little Rascals (He’s such an Alfalfa fan)

The cost of this date? If you make your hot chocolate from scratch and add whipped cream, around $25.00 (a dozen conversation heart donuts from Krispy Kreme is $10.99).

By the way, you can’t even go to the movies for $25.

You don’t have to fight crowds. You’re able to spend time with your kids before sending them off to bed. Donuts taste way better than stale popcorn at the theater. And if you fall asleep snuggled in a patchwork quilt with you spouse on the sofa, it’s even more romantic.

Want to make the evening a little more romantic? Plan it ahead of time with your spouse, and send each other messages throughout the day to keep the excitement up for those few simple hours together. Use quotes from the movie you’ve picked out, conversation heart messages, or just a text saying how much you’re looking forward to sharing a little time with them that evening. You can make your messages a little spicy if you choose…. and I’ll just leave that here for you to ponder.

Love it or hate it, like anything else in life, Valentine’s Day is what you make of it. Try something new this year and see what happens!

Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for another easy, inexpensive date for Valentine’s Day!

What’s your opinion of Valentine’s Day? Let’s hear your thoughts!

Spring Entertaining

Easter weekend swiftly passed and spring is officially arrived in my book!  Time for open toe shoes, bare legs, sandals, white and cute hats to finish up the most casual or dressy of an outfit!

It’s also a great time to entertain guests; both family and friends.  Between Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, and in our family birthdays galore, there are so many reasons to open up the door!

Looking ahead to a season of hospitality, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips to help you organize your next event with little stress.

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It’s really quite easy to pull together a dinner to welcome spring or celebrate those you love, despite the desire to be just like Martha Stewart!

**First, the menu, which isn’t as difficult as it seems! While you don’t have to go this route, traditional spring meals often include ham, lamb or chicken.  These can be prepared several ways (I love variety) and carved right up for serving.  Spring vegetables include asparagus, fresh leafy greens, artichokes, radishes, avocado, Vidalia onion and broccoli, which should be at their freshest and of course most flavorful time.  Shopping for food that is in season immediately takes a load off of your mind because you aren’t searching for elusive veggies or disappointed in the taste!

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**Speaking from experience, prepare foods your familiar with so that you aren’t upset and fretting over how a new dish has turned out.  Save the experiments for family supper one night.

 **If you are hosting family (and plan to prepare it all), think of and prepare recipes that they know and love … in our house it’s three cheese mac and cheese and roasted green beans on the menu.  Between shopping seasonal and preparing family favorites, your menu should come together fairly fast.

**Knock out most of your prep work and make desserts the day before, leaving just the main course for the day of a gathering.

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**Any dinner you host doesn’t have to be formal; a wonderfully prepared buffet or potluck dinner can be just as elegant.  I always loved the spreads at my aunt and uncle’s house over the years as she ordered everything, from Costco, Sam’s or Honey Baked Ham; laid out a beautiful sfeast and enjoyed the entire day with the family!  Aunt Jean knows how to entertain stress free; let me tell you!

{Sometime’s it is just worth it to let someone else do all the work.}

**Don’t be afraid to delegate; typically guests are more than happy to bring drinks, and appetizer, a side dish, or dessert.  Take a load off of yourself.

**If entertaining families, have games and toys for children to play with, or ask parents to bring their children’s favorites.  This will help entertain little ones and maybe keep them from being bored.

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Grocery store Blue Willow dishes collected in the 1990s are probably my favorite dishes to use!

**Decorating your table is a wonderful and memorable way to make your guests feel welcome. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to set a pretty table.

**Mother’s Day, a birthday dinner, or the Easter holiday is the perfect time to showcase your best dinnerware, glassware, flatware and linens if your desire.  I love to pull out my Noritake china purchase at an auction years ago by my mother-in-law, but I also adore  a basic white plate topped with a fun salad plate. With either choice of plate adding the crystal glassware that belong to Audley’s grandparents is such a special touch.

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Simple white rimmed plates from Pottery Barn match absolutely everything!  Here they are paired with bunny plates from Williams Sonoma.

**For outdoor gatherings and those gathering for the guys, an old fashioned cookout is perfect! With all the variety in paper and plastic products now, setting up a table or theme is as simple as ever.

**Maintain a beautifully simple color scheme.  Spring inspired plates, patterns and a touch of greenery make for an unforgettable table setting.

**Keep the table uncluttered by using a buffet to display and serve drinks, side dishes or desserts.  Decorate it to match the theme of the dining table.

**Bring your home to life with flowers and glowing candles; both of which create a welcoming mood.  Seasonal flowers in April and May include tulips, daffodils, and lilies which bring the beauty of spring inside. Some of these you may be able to cut from your own yard, or you can usually find these popular flowers at your local grocery, very inexpensively!  Candles are plentiful at the Dollar Store or clearance at Target.  I love to buy them when on clearance to put up for later use.

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Table decorated with tea-lights and succulent pots.

 **For an easy springtime table, bring the outside in with greenery such as grass, ivy, fern, or even succulents.  Fresh yellowbell branches from the yard are stunning on a buffet or mantle!

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**Decorating can be done in advance: set the table, arrange the centerpiece and add special touches a day or even two days before.

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The glassware I’ve used here belonged to Audley’s grandparents; the etched flowers fit the season nicely!

It doesn’t take a lot of stress and money to treat your family and friends to a celebrations they will long remember.  Just take on what you know you can handle, use what you have, and make plans to celebrate the spring!

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