I'll get right to the point. Are you like Jeff and I? Then skip the crowded, over-priced restaurant on Valentine's Day.
Here's a simple menu for a nice, cozy Valentine's celebration at home.
For the table setting (yes, you are going to have to clear the table) I brought out my crystal, but it's not necessary. Glasses for water, wine and champagne -- I'd skip the Solo cups for the evening. A candle or two is very nice. Unscented. No one wants to smell banana split, fresh laundry, or new car interior while eating dinner.
Yeah, I got a little carried away and folded the napkin in the shape of a heart (I watched a YouTube video for this -- it's easy). My plates don't match, but who cares? Look at that napkin!
For dinner, steak, roasted potatoes, red peppers and onions. For dessert rosemary-lemon bars. Dessert can be done the day before or even that morning.
Get the steak marinating.
The red peppers and onions can be prepped and set aside to be cooked while the steak is resting.
The potatoes will be in the oven for awhile.
About 15 minutes before the potatoes are done, plop the steak on the grill.
And, for goodness sake, start with a pink cocktail!
I don't get all worked up over Valentine's Day anymore. It's just one day out of the year. I rebel against the pressure to have a romantic evening. I believe romantic moments should be spontaneous, easy ... and frequent! No fancy restaurant required.
Don't get me wrong. I like Valentine's Day, and I definitely like fancy restaurants! I have great memories of receiving little Whitman's Sampler boxes and adorable long-legged stuffed Valentine elves (think Elf on the Shelf) from my mom. I loved that stuff! And I enjoyed decorating the house and doing Valentine's Day activities with my daughters when they were younger. I still do -- I just sent them both little Valentine's care packages. Valentine's Day is fun as long as you keep your expectations realistic. That's the key.
In elementary school it was exciting to hand out Valentine's Day cards to my classmates. And who doesn't remember giving the "special" card to that cute boy, hoping he would read between the lines and see just how much you liked him! A simple card reading "I want YOU to be my Valentine" actually meant "I want to marry you and have your babies." Did he just give me a look of agreement?!
Wait. Stop right there. Did you catch that? Unrealistic expectations -- it starts in elementary school.
As I got older, it was fun to be pampered by my boyfriend-of-the-moment. The dinners, flowers and gifts were appreciated, but most of my enjoyment came from watching him orchestrate the evening and knowing how much effort he had put into all the little components.
Of course, there were many Valentine's Days where I was boyfriend-less. Many. Sad.
Torture to see the endless bouquets of roses being paraded through the lobby, past my pathetically rose-less desk to the ladies at work. Ugh. One girl (Tina, if I remember correctly) received 5 bouquets from 5 different guys. How did she do that? More importantly, how could she ever be interested in any guy who was so easily fooled?!
Eventually, my similarly-single gal pals and I rallied. We shook the shame off and went out to celebrate and pamper ourselves. THAT was awesome. I ordered what I wanted. Ate as much as I wanted (garlic and onions as well).
I was the best date I ever had! Single life was actually kind of cool -- to a point!
On Valentine's Day 1988, I had a new boyfriend-of-the-moment. This was the first of many Valentine's Days Jeff and I have celebrated together.
I don't remember it! I don't remember it!
Honestly, as I write this piece, I realize I don't remember most of our Valentine's Days since we met. What does this mean? Are we failing???!
Nah. For us, Valentine's Day is a day we celebrate, but we don't make a huge deal out of it. (Remember - I rebel against the pressure and believe romance should be spontaneous, easy and frequent...)
I remember our 1999 Valentine's Day. We made a last-minute /spontaneous/ decision to get a babysitter for Jackie and Alyssa. We went to dinner at Islands, about 4 miles from where we lived in San Diego /easy/. Jeff had been putting in a crazy amount of sea time. A LOT. He had just received orders to transfer to Sardinia, Italy. It was so ... perfect to sit down with him over dinner and talk about our family's future. THAT was romantic.
So, enjoy Valentine's Day, but keep your expectations realistic /low/ and your romantic celebrations throughout the year spontaneous, easy and frequent!