Celebrating 18 Years of Valentine Love

In honor of Valentines Day I thought it would be fun to get a little personal and share 18 stories about me & my Valentine  as we celebrate our 18th Valentine’s Day together.

After all, Valentines Day is all about love and let me tell you, I love this man of mine!

1.  Audley & I had a really fast & entertaining courtship…. we “met” in November … well, we were reacquainted in November of 1994 after knowing each other in high school.  I had died my hair jet black …. talk about attention getting!
I didn’t like him back in high school; thought he was a real redneck!
Anyhow, I was dating someone else in late 1994.  I had plans to spend time with the guy I was dating for New Year’s Eve that year and Audley wished me a really “crappy” time.
Yes, I had a really bad time.
One week later Audley hit on me with a “come-on” line at church that I still laugh over today.
“All of those people I sit with over there are married.  I think it’s contagious, can I sit with you?” 
That was January 1995.
2.  January 18 was our first date.  We went to Shoney’s after Bible study and spent three hours talking over hot fudge cake and ice tea.
{I paid.}

3.  Audley proposed to me the first time, three weeks later on February 10, 1995 at a Reba McIntyre concert in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

{I said “maybe”}

4.  The first meal I ever cooked for Audley was a fancy taco salad.  I had every ingredient possible layered into that salad and served it with chili-cheese Fritos which were his favorite.  The salsa and Spanish rice that accompanied it was homemade.
4.  Audley proposed the second time on March 30, 1995 in his parent’s living room with a gorgeous diamond in hand.
{I said “yes”}

5.  We were married on August 5, 1995….. less than seven months after our first date and despite the fact his mother didn’t want us to get married.

{I like to remind her just how long we’ve been married as each year passes.}


6.  Audley was nearly late to our own wedding!  He had used his tie and cummerbund to tie up the antenna on the TV at the church to watch NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.  The song he was supposed to walk out to was half over before he was dressed and out the door!
7.  We did miss check-in at our hotel on our honeymoon.  Audley and I sat in the truck listening to the last 20 laps of the race … He was pulling for Jeff Gordon and I was pulling for Mark Martin.
Dale Earnhardt won.
Oh well.
8.  Audley loves to tell corny jokes at the craziest of times …. like laying in bed on our wedding night:
“These two Pollocks walked into a bar….
You would have thought the second one would have ducked.”

That’s my husband.

He still does things like this today, except sometimes his jokes come in picture messages from across the room via iPhone.

Or he dazzles me with his sense of fashion….


9.  The night I went into labor with MacKenzie Grace (1 year and 40 weeks after our wedding day….), we went bowling and about five minutes after we got home, Audley (who was an EMT & Firefighter at the time) was paged out on a call for a car accident.

That’s my man in the yellow turn-out gear.

He left that call as they were paged to a house fire, and by 11:00 PM, I was in full labor at home by myself!

I had to call 911 to get them to find my husband and have a police officer bring him home!

10.  For almost the entire 23 hours I was in labor with MacKenzie Grace, Audley and our two best friends sat in the delivery room with me quoting and re-enacting scenes from
“Gone with the Wind” 
“But Miss Scarlett!  I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

“Forrest Gump”
“Now Forrest, you lean up against me and I’ll lean up against you and we won’t have to sleep with our heads in the mud.”

and the always colorful “Slingblade”
“Reckon you make me some biscuits.”

“I like them french fried potators.”

“Got any biscuits and mustard?”

11.  Audley delivered partially delivered Madeline because the doctor didn’t believe I was “ready” because she had just checked me 15 minutes earlier.

After the nurse told the doctor to put down her **** cup of coffee and get in there Audley put on gloves …. the doctor walked in as he was suctioning our precious baby and Audley told her that if she didn’t do her job she wasn’t getting paid!

We NEVER got a bill for Madeline’s birth.

14.  I found out that I was expecting Bradley on our fifth anniversary.

We were VERY surprised.

13.  When I gave birth to Bradley (13 months after Madeline was born), Audley “made” me a crown to wear out of a rubber glove.  He was proud of his son!

And very creative.

14.  Audley and I have dated for 18 years now.  While the kids were young we went out at least once a month and now that they are older we go out EVERY week.

We have been known to get in the car and drive two hours one way to go eat for a date.

Our favorite dates have been trips to NASCAR races.

We also love to attend hockey games, minor league baseball games, go bowling, catch a movie, play miniature golf, check out unique or highly recommended restaurants or have a simple carpet picnic in our living room floor.

15.  Since we married in 1995 we have moved 13 times and lived in 6 states….. Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and South Carolina!

16.  We LOVE to travel.

In our 18 years together (without our children) we have been to Hawaii, Jamaica, multiple vineyards, the Army/Navy game in Philadelphia, the Sugar Bowl to watch Georgia play, St. Louis, Lexington, Louisville, Charleston, New Orleans, the Biltmore House, Honeymoon Beach Florida, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, shopping in Chicago, camping, races in Atlanta and Bristol with Charlotte on the schedule for May.

Army/Navy Game 2009


Sugar Bowl 2006
Rock Climbing on a camping trip in Illinois

He has also attended multiple blogger events with me from a Framing Workshop in Atlanta hosted by Larson-Juhl & Eddie Ross to antique shopping trips.

17.  Audley and I love musicals.
We have seen Jekyll & Hyde, Beauty and the Beast, Titanic, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, The Music Man, Little House on the Prairie (with Melissa Gilbert), & Dreamgirls.

Tomorrow night we’ll add Billy Elliot to the list.

He won’t know that until our date (to a hockey game) tonight.

18.  Audley is my biggest cheerleader.

I could not ask for a more supportive husband.  As a stay-at-home-mom he leaves me feeling secure and confident, proud to have a wife that can be home for the children and him.

He supports my crazy whims of redecorating and kitchen experiments, encourages me to get out of the box I often put myself in, and obviously brags on me continuously since every time I meet co-workers of his they always say “I feel like I already know you!”

We garden together all spring and summer, and when I have a large cake to bake for someone ….
Audley rolls the fondant!

He has been the best support on my health & fitness journey …. take this post on his Facebook wall just this week….


“Hey everyone!  You know Jennifer is getting healthy and her confidence is increasing.  She is getting confident…… here is a picture of her getting “Naked” at the grocery store.”



Just three days ago …. wearing my first non-plus-sized dress in about 9 years!

I have absolutely loved these 18 years with Audley and I look forward to the many years that lie ahead for us!

Linking up with Decor to Adore for her perfectly fun Valentine Party today!


Valentine’s Day

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  Despite my tendencies to keep our day-to-day activities organized, menu’s planned, and everything just so-so, life happens.  With a family of six you know there is always something going on.

Take for instance all of my grand plans for a fabulously romantic Valentine’s Day.  Audley had to go out of town for work yesterday; ten days of work.  So, my five star dinner became something for the children, but only three of them.  With Samantha engaged now, she spent her evening with her sweetheart.

It’s life. 

I picked a new menu for our Valentine’s dinner; one that thrilled Kenzie-Grace, Madeline, & Bradley:
shrimp & Parmesan stuffed shells topped with marinara
crisp green salad with basil vinaigrette (Kenzie-Grace made this)
yeast rolls
chocolate dipped strawberries
white chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing…. it’s Valentine’s Day, extra sugar is OK.

the recipe will be up on Wednesday!

I will admit, it took a little push to get me motivated for this evening.  But, as my oldest, Samantha, pointed out …. “we make fun of you for going overboard, but would totally miss it and be really disappointed if you didn’t do it.”

Not one to disappoint, I went overboard for the four of us at dinner.

With an “Italian” influenced dinner in the works, Williams-Sonoma’s music library provided the perfect mood music.  Believe it or not, not one complaint was heard from my “modern” children.

Rose petals, tulips, candles, presents …. the works.  I put it out for a classy evening with the loves of my life.

Creating my table wasn’t too expensive.  I had the vases and clear stones within them left over from my class reunion last summer.  The tulips were the most expensive part of my table; forty stems for $30.  That’s about the best you can do this time of year.  I found these beauties (and the red ones you’ll see in a minute) at the Fresh Market in Chattanooga.   I bought two single roses without the frills of baby’s breath & greenery to use for the petals.  They were a dollar each.

The best part is that I can enjoy the fresh flowers all week long!  Do fresh flowers make you happy?

The little vintage salt & pepper shakers belonged to my grandparents.  I love to use these when setting a special dinner table.


The votive holders were .99 at Target last spring.  You can find some really great deals as the seasons are changing in the retail market.  The candles themselves came from the dollar store.

When picking candles, make sure they don’t have scent.  Scented candles influence the flavor of your meal, and not always in a good way.

The little red plates came from Home Goods.  They came in a set of six with a little black stand for storage for $5.99.  These are the perfect size for appetizers, bread, and desserts.  These can be used for so many other occasions from Christmas hors d’oeuvres to fresh blackberry cobbler in the summer.


Pink lemonade served in simple goblets really completed my romantic theme.


I told you the red tulips were beautiful!

The kids were in sugar heaven today (as I was recovering from cupcake hell).  The white chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting seemed to make their day, but the chocolate dipped strawberries made their eyes dance!


I waited for the joking at my expense to start with the music this evening, but after making it all through dinner with not one remark at how “crazy” I am, I realized that my children really appreciated and loved their special night.

Maybe it was because they knew I was a bit disappointed at the change of plans, or maybe they are getting old enough to enjoy my obsession with going all out for every holiday.  Whatever the reason, I hope tonight was a night to treasure for them.  I hope they will carry these moments with them as they grow up and will want to share them with their families one day.

I know I treasure these moments.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Romance is in the Air

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching our home is filled with wonders and secrets:  What is Samantha getting Justin?  What is Daddy getting Mom?  What is Mom getting Daddy?  And most importantly, what is my 10-year-old son son getting his little girlfriend?  

Our home is a home filled with silly, giggly girls, so these are the important questions on their minds.


I guess I look at Valentine’s Day in the same way.  Give me the romantic world of Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy, Scarlett & Rhett,  Gilbert Blythe & Anne Shirley, Almonzo & Laura, or Edward & Bella (I just can’t help it!) any day!

Like Anne here, I am constantly having to put my hand over my Audley’s mouth!

I want to find the most perfect romantic gesture to win over my Valentine(s) and after sixteen years, I do believe I have perfected it.   I’ve always heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Audley is living proof of this.  I cooked for him a month after our first date and he proposed to me a couple of weeks later!  

So my Valentine gift to him (and our children) will be a 5-star dinner in our very own dining room.

The menu is nearly complete, but nothing makes a meal more special than to set a beautiful table for us to enjoy our special dinner.  I have been gathering up ideas for a couple of weeks now, and picked a few of my favorites to share.

This is the most romantic to me, but with snow on the ground in north Alabama (again), this is not going to happen any time soon! 


Setting a romantic table doesn’t have to be expensive and “loud”.  Cloth napkins, soft candlelight and pretty glasses can make dinner as lovely as high-end china.

mike wade

Of course you can always go for al the sparkle and shine to create your memorable table as well!

unknown source

While most people think of reds, pinks, and whites for their Valentines decorating, you can set a romantic table using so many other colors.  I just love the lavender and greens used here.


There is always the option of really taking Valentine’s Day to the extreme and really carrying the theme through!


This is one of my favorites since we share our romantic dinner as a family:  using scrabble boards and spelling out cute little Valentine notes.


SImple flower arrangements can make the table gorgeous….


colin cowie

Or lots of red for a more sultry dining experience!

colin cowie

And you don’t have to serve dinner at the table.  Set up a cozy space in front of the fireplace or set your coffee table, using colorful throw cushions for “chairs”.

colin cowie

With all of the ideas so readily available and decorations easy to access, it doesn’t take a professional to set a gorgeous and romantic dining table for Valentine’s Day.  Now I just need to settle on a theme and make it happen!

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?  Is it a  family affair, or dinner for two?