From the looks of these photos, it would appear that I am a hopeless - and sappy - romantic. Which certainly isn't true. Valentine's Day has never been a big deal for us. We're not the type to go out to dinner on the one holiday of the year when everyone else goes out. In the past, we've celebrated by watching LOST and eating pizza on the couch. Last Valentine's Day, Larry was in Asia. And this year there is no LOST to watch. In fact, other than Christmas, birthdays, and stuffing our faces on Thanksgiving (the one holiday all about food!) - Larry and I don't do much to celebrate holidays. Maybe because we don't have kids it doesn't seem worth the effort? But lately, I've been realizing it's the little celebrations that make life fun and I've been trying to have more fun with holidays - especially the easy ones that don't require gift giving, family stress, or a big budget.
This year, I didn't want the day to go unacknowledged, so I started brainstorming how I could surprise Larry with a nice low-key Valentines at home. We're in the throes of refinancing our mortgage, doing our taxes, and trying to run a small business - as well as all the other daily adult responsibilities that seem to get in the way of our relationship and sap the fun out of life. (Doesn't being a grown-up suck sometimes?!) An evening dedicated to the two of us paying attention to each other was just what we needed...
However, Larry and I have been together for almost nine years. At this point, surprising each other is virtually impossible. We both enjoy the simple pleasures - a good meal, a glass of wine - but are avid home cooks and we love cooking together. We try new recipes all the time and don't shy away from difficult recipes. Since we cook special meals almost every night, making a special meal for a special occasion is also virtually impossible for us. (Which isn't to say that we are such food snobs that we don't order pizza or eat cereal for dinner from time to time - we definitely do that, too!)
While I certainly don't need a Hallmark holiday to prove my love for Larry - why not take the time to do something special on the day dedicated to love? Which is why I spent the weekend before the big day punching out hundreds of paper hearts and slaving away at my sewing machine. The Valentine's surprise? A wall of garlands made of over 800 hearts:
In true Rachel (Queen of Procrastination) fashion, I didn't plan dinner until 3 pm on the 14th - and after hanging up all the garlands and a last minute trip to the grocery store, finally started cooking. So Valentine's Day for us was a bottle of wine, a simple meal of comfort food, candlelight, cell phones and television off, good conversation, and giving each other our undivided attention. (Plus a couple of sweet treats and a whole lot of paper hearts!) Perfect.
Sometimes Valentine's Day is just a good reminder to celebrate the one you love (both on February 14th and throughout the rest of the year). Making time for someone you love is always a good idea:
I told Larry that all I wanted for Valentine's Day was for him to clean out the tub so I could take a bath. He did it over the weekend, and while he watched The Walking Dead on Sunday night, I had a lovely zombie-free soak. I was also secretly hoping for some cupcakes. And look what Larry had with him when he got home from work on Tuesday:
Cupcakes from Baked & Wired - hands down, the BEST cupcakes in D.C. (Especially the strawberry ones - which Larry and I agreed are The Best Cupcakes in the Universe.)
The cupcakes were especially meaningful since Larry had to carry them all the way home on a crowded metro - the westbound trains were so packed during rush hour, that Larry actually had to hop on a train going the opposite direction and turn around and transfer to finally get to Virginia.
That wasn't the only treat in the Smoellke household, though. I made panna cotta - Larry's favorite dessert:
And Larry and I weren't the only ones celebrating. John Deere and Banjo also joined in:
Banjo was a little too excited about it...
It was one of the best evenings we've had in a while.
Oh, and the best part about getting cupcakes for Valentine's Day? Breakfast the next morning:
Cake for breakfast! (Isn't being a grown-up awesome sometimes?!)