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Somewhere Ever After

traversing the road to the rest of my life

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date night

Ineptitude, Thy Name is Cassandra (a.k.a. Valentines Fail)

I suppose I should start by saying that major gift giving holidays (birthdays, Christmas, and so forth) make me nervous. I am not good at giving gifts. The thought of giving someone a disappointing, duplicate, less-than-useful, or otherwise not-up-to-standard gift makes me squirm. Oh, to be sure, so far, I’ve always done amazingly. But there’s a little catch to that– it’s because I avoid gift-giving if at all possible, and when it’s not, I put a lot of effort into it, because, of course, I’m a perfectionist. That, and I’ve gotten really lucky where my husband is concerned. Eventually that luck is going to run out.

Valentines Day meant A LOT to me this year. In the four years we were dating, we’ve never had a real Valentines. I know it doesn’t seem like a couple could manage to skip it four times without trying, but it’s true.

Year 1: The relationship was a bit of a whirlwind at first, and neither of us were expecting it. We ended up stepping back into “just friends.” We weren’t very good at being “just friends” and were back together permanently a month or so later. However, in that period, we missed Valentines. Technically though, it was one of my favorite Valentines Days,  just because we spent the evening together– no candy or cards or candlelit dinners, because we weren’t actually dating, but it was a pleasant evening. Nonetheless, doesn’t count!

Year 2: He was in Thailand. That alone should suffice. However, I might add that he sent me roses, chocolates, and a small gift— WHILE IN THAILAND. Isn’t he amazing? Because he wasn’t 100% sure where he’d be at all points of the semester, I made a box of  letters, quotes, cards, song lyrics, comics, etc. for him to open daily. It was supposed to be a Christmas present, but I couldn’t finish it in time and had to mail it to him in Thailand. (Good thing he knew where he was starting at least). See? Bad at gifts. Anyhow, there were fun Valentines cards in there for him. No gift from me, because I fail. And most importantly– we definitely weren’t able to celebrate together that year.

Year 3: Koby was back in school, and I was at home. Valentines Day was on a weekend at least. However, my best friend’s birthday is on Valentines, and this year, she wanted a big Mario themed party, complete with crazy decor DIYed by us both for about a month in advance, and costumes (of course, I sewed hers and Koby’s). It was awesome. That was our Saturday. Fun, but not terribly romantic. And Sunday, February 14th? Well, Koby had to be back to school in time to get ready for class. We went to the really tiny Church of Christ congregation that’s a bit closer (35 minute drive rather than an hour) and ends earlier so he could get home right after.

Funny story– I attended there every summer for four years. That day, the elderly gentleman who was leading services announced, “We’re so happy to have Koby here, and his… bride-to-be.” He said the same thing three more times through the service. I ducked my head and covered my mouth, trying not to laugh. Obviously, he’d forgotten my name. Koby however, went bright red, and on top of that, thought I was crying. And (best part) one family is late every week, so here they scurry in on VALENTINES DAY to hear me announced as a “bride-to-be”– obviously some assumptions were made. They come up asking “When’s the big day?” and Koby can only reply “I didn’t know we were engaged!” Thankfully, everyone quickly figured out that Fred just made a mistake, but it tops the cake for funniest Valentines.

Year 4: I’m going to be honest guys– I don’t even remember this one very clearly. I was going through a rough time. I believe I went up to Pepperdine for the weekend, and we had a nice dinner and just enjoyed each other’s company. I also was probably vaguely hoping for a proposal, given a recent statement of “You’ll be mine sooner than you think.” No proposal though. (Turns out all the plans were in motion, just  not finalized yet. He proposed two months later). What I do know is that Valentines was officially during the week, so we didn’t spend it together.

Now we come to this year. This year I was really looking forward to celebrating because we would be able to spend it together, and because it would be our first Valentines as a married couple. And, just for added significance, it would be exactly one month after our wedding. I really wanted to plan a great Valentines Day. Unfortunately, reality set in. For one, I feel like things still haven’t slowed down. Therefore, it kinda snuck up on me. Next thing I knew, it was less than a week away, and I hadn’t done anything but buy a card– which I had hidden I knew not where. No gift ordered or even chosen. No plans. On top of that, a crazy busy weekend, followed by my long work day on monday. Not good.

By monday evening, I had a plan. While he was working, I’d try to get more of the apartment clean. I would cook him lunch and surprise him with it at work. I would buy him a new card, because I STILL couldn’t find the other one, and pick up some nice bath stuff we both liked. I would be waiting for him to get home, wearing something nice. And I would cook his favorite pork chops (in part because I was going to cook them the other day and schedule change prevented it. So… slightly less romantic than it sounds). I would make Chocolate Molten Cake for dessert. We could enjoy it while watching a romantic movie, perhaps Amelie? Not great, but at least it’s something.

So how did it go, you ask? Well, I overslept. Thus, I started lunch too late– the food processor sped things up, but just a little, because it was the first time I’d used it. I had to call and request that he delay lunch (there goes the surprise). AND I realized we had no tomatoes, so I had to stop and pick up some up. Except I didn’t bring a knife, so… I had to get grape tomatoes, which are not the same as diced tomatoes. As such, we had a few tomato mishaps, which were less than romantic. I picked up some of the puffy sugar cookies he liked at least. He claimed it turned out perfect because he’d started a test running just before I arrived and it wouldn’t be done for a long time. Still… surprise ruined, and lunch was an hour late. Fail. Cleaning fail too.

I had to get groceries too, so right after the late lunch I tried to accomplish that. First I wanted to pick up the bath goodies (because, obviously, groceries should never sit in the car during other errands.) I drove past two high schools at 2:30– never a good plan– to get to the quasi-mall area in our neighborhood. I checked the map and found that there was no Bath and Body Works. For awhile, I wandered about, bewildered. Then I remembered– Bath and Body Works is just across from the grocery store. So… I drove back (past one of the high schools again). By this point it was 2:50. Koby finishes work at 3:00. Waiting for him at home seemed unlikely. I tried to rush groceries, but that NEVER works. Between the coupon scavenger hunts and the general confusion of trying to find specific items when your brain is recalling other grocery store layouts, it took just as long as usual. I did manage to find some bath supplies though, and I ended up buying two cards for Koby because I couldn’t decide.

I walked out with all my groceries in reusable bags (for once) and as I was packing them in the car, I thought “Ok, now just for Bath and Body Works, and I can go home.” And then I realized I bought bath stuff from the grocery store already. Why? I don’t know. So… no Bath and Body Works.

When I got home, he was taking a nap. I managed to get all the groceries up the stairs and inside without disturbing him. I put each one in its place. I got a little cleaning done. I signed his cards, staged the bath supplies, and then gave up. I crawled in for a nap, at which point he finally did wake up. Since he was awake, we exchanged gifts. As mentioned, I got him the two cards (three, if you count the silly kids Valentine, four if you count the as yet still missing card I bought a few weeks ago) and grocery store bath supplies.

Real snazzy, huh? Here’s what he got me. This should look familiar to anyone who has browsed my “Kitchen of my Dreams” Pinterest board. Due to price, I wasn’t sure I’d EVER get this one.

Yes, it wasn’t wrapped, but that’s because it didn’t arrive until today. Are you seeing a little disparity here? A few folded pieces of paper and some flowery grocery store  bath stuff, versus a gorgeous teapot to match my kitchen. More fail.

After a relaxing few hours, I commenced to cook dinner. Now, I had learned from his birthday to keep it simple. Crispy Pork-Chops with Honey Garlic Sauce (the most difficult, but I’d done this before), grilled asparagus (pretty easy), and one other side– Rice Pilaf from a box (can’t get easier than that, right?) Surely I couldn’t mess up dinner? Ah, but you thought wrong. The kitchen was a royal mess when I finished, the asparagus was cold, and I had burned the rice. I messed up Rice-a-Roni guys. That puts my cooking skills about on par with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Super fail. AND I forgot to put the orange cream sodas in the refrigerator, so those weren’t cold. (Apparently I put all the groceries away except those?) Dinner was not the romantic affair I envisioned.

As soon as I finished eating I rushed into the kitchen to make the Chocolate Molten Cake. I misread the “1/2 a stick of butter” and had to quickly drain some melted butter from the bowl before it mixed with the chocolate, but at least it wasn’t ruined. I tried to invert it onto a plate like it’s supposed to be served, but of all the times I made it, today it would not. He got to eat his out of the glass cup thingy (what is that called?) and I got to scrape the gooey part of mine back into the cup thing and eat it as such.  The plan was to eat it while watching a movie, but  as it was already 10:45 (definitely bedtime) that plan was not going to happen. We sat long enough to finish, and crawled into bed. Fail again.

After all that, as you can imagine, I felt like the scum of the earth. Here’s the amazing part: somehow, he was thrilled with it all. He’s been extra affectionate all week, and telling me how loved he feels. Go figure.

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Birthday Dinner for Koby

Because nothing says “I love you” like making someone wait/help 5 hours to have dinner at midnight. Yeah… that didn’t go quite as I envisioned it.

This coming saturday is Koby’s birthday. However, beginning last night (wednesday) and running through sunday afternoon, our congregation is holding a meeting (for you non Church of Christ folks, that means we have a guest preacher in town, and services every evening and twice a day weekends. Good stuff). We will be busy saturday, especially as Koby has made himself invaluable as the resident techie. As such, we decided to allocate the previous saturday for birthday spoiling.

We had an excessively lazy morning (seems neither of us had gotten enough sleep during the week) followed by an excursion to a rumored tea shop in the mall a bit North. We sampled some really tasty teas, and though expensive, the tins of tea we took home will be enjoyed for awhile to come. The names are about as complicated as a Starbucks coffee order, so I will ramble on about tea another time. By the time we got home with groceries for dinner, it was 7:00. And… as mentioned, dinner took 5 hours.

Double Crispy Honey Garlic Pork

Post to come.

Oven-Fried Onion Rings

Post to come.

Sweet Potato Fries

Post to come.

Parmesian Crumbled Asparagus

Post to come.

Moroccan Carrots

Post to come.

Apple Dumplings

Post to come.

Chocolate Molten Cake

Post to come.

You see, given the opportunity to cook for him, I raided my Pinterest boards and came up with… well… a lot. One entree, two vegetables, two appetizers, and two (abandoned) desserts, to be exact. In my defense, I expected to do one of the desserts on a separate nights, and the other was just a variation on an old favorite. I know, pretty weak defense, huh?

So… immediately upon returning home, I dove into cooking. He helped quite a bit, and claimed to enjoy most of it (including the helping.) Most of the food was decent, and there were few mishaps and even a few serendipity moments. However, he did make a very wise observation as we ate our very late dinner.

“Maybe next time, only one appetizer, and one new recipe at a time.” Yeah, perhaps that would be best.

I’ll post accounts on the various recipes in the upcoming days.

Adventures in Oz

In my previous post, I mentioned that my fiance and I had watched the last of Tinman, a three part series put out by the sci-fi channel (I refuse to call it syfy) based on the Wizard of Oz. They did a great job taking a classic story and reshaping it into something new while still retaining some of the themes of the old. We saw the first episode when we were first dating, but missed the second and third, and only now have gone back and watched all three.

Wizard of Oz has become an increasing part of our relationship. One year, while wondering just what to get him for his birthday aside from what he’d already told me, I happened to see a table of Wizard of Oz themed books and items. I am a sucker for the themed tables, so I took a moment to peek before resuming the birthday mission. And, lo and behold, there was a Wizard of Oz graphic novel. He loves graphic novels, but normally, I shy away from them (especially marvel) because there’s no way to know just which ones he already has, which are a travesty to the more seasoned geek, so on and so forth. But this, I thought, might hit the right note: graphic novel meets classic literature with great whimsical illustrations. After some sneaky phone calls to a mutual friend who casually asked a few questions, I got it, praying I did right. Apparently, I did. He had been trying to purchase that exact book and found it sold out in three different stores. Score one point for me. Since then, we’ve enjoyed reading it together when we can.

Even better– he recently found the next book in the series. And during all the drives to see him on weekends, I’ve gone through the entire 14 book series (and have since gone through several of L.Frank Baum’s other works). In a comic book shop, we found the  beginnings of the next book, Ozma of Oz, in leaflet form. We’re just a little excited.

Oddly enough though, neither of us care for the movie much.

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