A Practical Valentine

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Not two words that usually go together, right?

Despite the bad reputation Valentine’s Day often gets, I’ve always been fond of it and enjoy doing mostly fun, silly things on the day. Since it’s so close to Christmas and Todd’s birthday is in March and mine in April, we usually concentrate on cards and smaller gifts. This year, though, I had the idea that we could kill two birds with one stone (though a lot more romantically than that phrase suggest).

For our last Valentine’s Day before the wedding, we gifted each other our wedding bands.

It turned out to be a very, very good idea, especially in hindsight.

I’d ordered Todd’s ring and it came in the night before, just in time to wrap it up along with his cards and chocolates. I gave him one set in the morning before work, and planned to give him the ring and the other set of card and chocolate that night.

Todd's gifts

Todd’s gifts

Now, Todd doesn’t often buy me flowers, it’s just not his thing. In the 5+ years we’ve known each other, he’s sent me flowers exactly twice. Once as a thank-you for helping out with a project we were both volunteering on (just before we officially started dating), and once for Valentine’s Day 2011 (or was it 2010? It was during my last cellphone contract, so one of those). So when he gave me a stripey sock monkey and 2 cards that Thursday morning but said I had to wait until I received a signal to open the second, I didn’t immediately think it meant he had sent me flowers.

Pink striped  socked monkey purse hanger

We love the Pier One commercial with the singing sock monkey, this little one that now rides around on my purse prompts lots of renditions of that little ditty.

Well, he tried to.

Around 1:30 I got a text apologizing for the flowers not arriving. You see, 1-800-FLOWERS had sent him a confirmation email on Wednesday saying that the order was being prepared for shipment, despite 2 florists telling them on Tuesday that the item he ordered was out of stock (it was a martini-glass vase filled with roses)–that last bit we found out when he went to track the order and found it had been canceled. Not subbed for a similar item, canceled.

This, of course, put Todd in a foul mood and, after trying to be zen about it, eventually made me feel rather guilty in a third-party sort of way. In the way of if I didn’t like to make a big deal out of holidays then he wouldn’t have felt compelled to try and send me flowers sort of way. Irrational, but sometimes my brain runs that way.

The long and the short of it is that we both tweeted about the snafu, but they reached out to me, not him, and when I explained that it was a little late to fix things and I was more concerned about Todd getting his refund processed (because, no, that didn’t happen immediately) they said they would follow-up with him and never did. But on Monday I did receive these:

Make-Up Flowers courtesy of 1-800-FLOWERS that I didn't ask for and didn't really enjoy.

Make-Up Flowers courtesy of 1-800-FLOWERS that I didn’t ask for and didn’t really enjoy.

Not what he’d ordered and way too full of lilies for my sinuses to handle, I was actually reluctant to sign for them. This was 1-800-FLOWER’s way of apologizing (the card even mentioned that the delivering florist was not responsible for the delay, hah!) but neither Todd nor I were very impressed.

The point is, as screwed up as his surprise turned out, it was good we were having a relatively low-key Valentines because knowing that the rings were the real gifts meant that all the rest was just icing and easily ignored. I’m still not quite able to think back on the flower debacle and laugh, but trying on my new bit of sparkle does make things easier.

His and hers unmatched wedding bands.

His and hers unmatched wedding bands.

Todd was still set on the tungsten carbide high-polished band, so I found a vendor with positive reviews via Amazon and crossed my fingers it wouldn’t somehow be subpar since it was only costing $39.95. I needn’t have worried, Todd was thrilled by it and it fit just right. Since my ring was going to be a local purchase, we headed to Marks and Morgan that Saturday evening (when we’d last gone shopping we had the best service there). I thought I knew which ring I wanted, but when we got there they showed me another and, oh, I had to make a decision after all.

In the end I went with a sterling silver openwork band with diamonds and lab-created sapphires (the link is from Kay, their sister-store, because M&M doesn’t really have an online store to link to). It’s reminiscent of my engagement ring but not too matchy-matchy and well-priced at $159.

I can’t say how often Todd tries his band on (though he joked about doing it when I gave it to him), but I fully admit I slip mine on every 2-3 days to admire the sparkle. After all, it fits differently than my current ring, so I have to get used to the wider band, right?

That’s totally my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wouldn't these make great covers for our wedding vows? Tempting...

Wouldn’t these make great covers for our wedding vows? Tempting…

Aren’t those little books absolutely adorable? I found them (Don’ts for Husbands/Wives) via Paper-Source when I was shopping for stocking stuffers. They’re full of all sorts of out-of-date yet charming suggestions for how to have a happy married life.

Pretty Book and Flower Icon


How do you decide what to give for Valentine’s Day?

AlcoHOLidays | Valentine’s Day | Loving Cup



Ah, yes, Valentine’s Day

Thought by many to be a wonderful day of expressing our love for others in various public and private ways. Thought by others to be a trumped-up excuse by the candy and card manufacturers to bilk out a little more money between the Christmas holidays and Easter. I’ll never forget the time my economics professor held up the start of class because he had to go on a tirade about how silly it was that the depth of his love for his girlfriend was decided by what he did or did not do on a single day of the year.

I’ve always been of the mind that days like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries and the like are all wonderful for reminding us to show people how glad we are they’re in our lives. Yes, it’s fabulous if we do it the other 364 days of the year, but we’re human, we get busy and preoccupied and maybe we forget to show our feelings as often as we intended.

Obviously, I’m pro-Valentine’s Day.

And for those who blame major corporations for trumping up the Feast of Saint Valentine (and I’m not saying it’s not incredibly commercial these days), giving cards, candies and flowers on February 14th goes back to the 1400s–well before Ye Olde Hallmarke Shoppe ever opened.

So, whether you go “all out” with the flowers delivered to the office, a candlelight dinner at a corner table for 2, maybe something sparkly or shiny, or prefer a more laid-back approach (picnic in the living room or backyard, depending on the weather, a favorite movie and avoiding the crowds, and a handwritten note of affection are all grand ways to mark the day), if you’d like a creative drink to serve your sweetie, try this on for size.

Loving Cup

1 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Goldschlager
splash of Rosewater

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake like your heart is on fire. Strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass and garnish with a heart-shaped marshmallow.

The Loving Cup takes an old stand-by, the Cosmopolitan, and adds a little more sweetness, some spice, and a subtle perfume–all the things I think a perfect Valentine’s Day should contain.


Cocktail Gifts Galore


On Monday I told you about a fabulous trip that would make a romantic Valentine’s gift if ever there was one. If that trip is a little out of your budget (the way it is mine), here are some other gift ideas for the cocktail lover in your life that might not make your wallet faint:

Along the lines of Divino Tuscany, but a bit closer to home, if you’re near Paso Robles, California, or will be on March 31, 2012, consider gifting yourself or your loved ones the “Olfactory Evaluation of Wine” class led by Alexandre Schmitt at Niner Wine Estates. Learn exactly what all those notes about “noses” mean in this afternoon class for wine pros and enthusiasts alike. At $125 per person it’s practically a steal! Make sure to RSVP, though, as spots are limited.

Engraveable bottles of Double Cross Vodka
Prefer something a little more portable? How about an engraved bottle of premium vodka? Double Cross (seems like a dubious name for a Valentine’s gift, right? never fear, it refers to the double cross on the Slovakian coat of arms) vodka is offering just that for $39.99 (engraving may be extra  is free!). Email gifts@doublecrossvodka.com for specifics.

More from California, but this time from the comfort of your own home! The New York Times’ Knowledge Network (didn’t know there was such a thing, did you?) is offering a California Wines: Napa Cabernet course for the very reasonable rate of $65. A perfect gift for the online learner who’d love to know more about this very popular varietal.

Pop Chart Lab's Constitutions of Classic Cocktails poster

Got a visually-inclined cocktail enthusiast in your life? Consider this new (and very awesome, it’s definitely on my wish-list) print from Pop Chart Lab, Constitutions of Classic Cocktails, for a mere $36. It’s like a maze, with awesome drinks at the end–who wouldn’t like to solve that one?!

Glenfiddich 125th anniversary bottling

For the scotch lovers out there, be on the lookout for the Glenfidditch Cask of Dreams 125th Anniversary special bottling. Only 3500 bottles will be available, starting this month, at a suggested retail of $99. Get it while you can!

And, finally, if you’ll allow me a shameless plug of my own: You’ve seen the cocktails I create each Friday here at Sips and Shots, but did you realize that you can have your very own signature drink created just for you (or a loved one)? Character Cocktails are custom-designed cocktails based on the recipients personality and presented as a ready-to-frame piece of original art for $67, shipping included. Gift certificates (real, live, hold-in-your-hand ones as well as printables for you last-minute sort) are available at the Character Cocktail site.

Nothing Says I Love You Like…


They say (whoever they are) that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Despite the anatomical argument against it, it very well could be true. Cupid knows the first, second and future dates I’ve procured due to the promise of my culinary skills.

With today being Valentine’s Day, the most loving of holidays (at least according to Hallmark), what foods of love are you serving up to your nearest and dearest?

Will it be the tried and true(?) aphrodisiacs of oysters and chocolates?

Dinner out, brought in!

Dinner out, brought in!

Will you be dining out? (If so, I hope you have a reservation someplace or are willing to wait a good, long while.)

Or will you skip dinner and go straight to dessert?

The other day we’d decided to seek dinner out a little too late on a Friday night to find any place without at least an hour’s wait and a line out the door. Rather than give in and pick up fast food, we got the idea to pop into Fresh Market and check out their ready-to-eat deli selections. We made a fabulous meal with a couple of pop-in-the-oven items, fresh fruit and cheese. Add in a bottle of wine from the fridge and a fire in the fireplace and it was a wonderful dinner out, brought in!

It’s Todd’s turn to cook this week so he’ll be cooking dinner but I’ve got dessert all ready to go: a lemon-blueberry cheesecake. Want to make your own? Check out my basic cheesecake recipe and not-so-secret secrets to getting the best results possible. This one features Lemon Snaps as the crust as edging, the cheesecake batter is flavored with a bit of Limoncello and then has lemon curd swirled-in along with fresh blueberries.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

So, what’s the way to your heart?

Episode 10: Love, Lust and Broken Hearts


Welcome to the semi-traditional February episode of Random Acts Radio! Yes, it’s predictable, but there’s a certain comfort in predictability, right? So we’ve got love songs. And lust songs. And songs somewhere in between, before or after. Hopefully you’ll be able to find one song, of the 22 we’ve got here, that speaks to you and your situation.

Keep the Love in Your Eyes–Al Stravinsky
Love I Have for You–Amanda Duncan
Love Song in G–Arthur Yoria
Teach Me Tonight–Connie Lansberg
Autumn Song–Manic Street Preachers
Temptation–Emma Wallace
Hold My Hand–Broni
Raise a Glass–Olivia Greer
Movie Date–Redefining the Moment
Rub Me Raw–Android Lust
Horizontal Tango–Roadside Attraction
Jack ‘n Ginger–Oedipus
I’m Bad–Cotton Jenny
Little Black Dress–Cush
I Don’t Believe in Love–Alicia Marie
Clever Girl–The Birdinumnums
Words Left Unsaid–Kay Rose
I’ll Be Right Behind You, Josephine–Josh Woodward
I’ll Be Alright–Marina V
If You Don’t Love Her–Ashley Rose
Another Sad Love Song–Annie Fitzgerald
Bring the Guitar–Alice Marie

In other news: I’ve set up a Facebook Fan Page for Random Acts Radio. Do me a favor a click that little Like button and I’ll be forever grateful. As well as keeping you up to date with the current podcast, the fan page will be a way to find out about other music (both mainstream and independent) that I find noteworthy (pun totally intended).

Until next month!