date night


Photo by Adrian Garcia.  This image is subject to LASDI© by Life As She Does It. Please do not reuse without linking credit.

Photo by Adrian Garcia.  This image is subject to LASDI© by Life As She Does It. Please do not reuse without linking credit.

Every year somewhere around the 4th of July, The Hubster and I go camping on our Annual Beach Date Trip.  It's only one night, but it has become a tradition I look forward to so much, that when we are leaving the beach from one trip, I am already talking about the next one to come the following year.

I am a girl who thrives on tradition; the history of things excites me.  I can't explain it.  I'm the one who buys a beat-up torn-down table because it is that way.  I've had someone ask me as I made a purchase like that how I was going to refurbish it, to which I replied, "I'm not.  I absolutely love the cracks and weathered appeal.  It tells me all about it's character."  The person looked at me like I was mad, and it made me smile.

Building traditions is like that for me.  I believe it creates the legacy we live in the present and the one we leave behind.  I don't think anyone is going to remember things I said or did in 100 years, but perhaps I can build traditions in our family that continue to be passed along from generation to generation and that may make a difference both now and long after I'm gone.

It is crucial to part of that legacy that The Kiddos and Grittles (GRAND Littles) see The Hubster and I make time for one another; that we still date each other.  It is vital to the lifeline of their own marriages and relationships.  Hence, the Annual Beach Camping Date Trip!

It's pretty simple, really.  We take our tent, which we set up in the back of the truck instead of on the sandy beach.  There has to be a thermos of wine and two plastic wine glasses.  We take along hot dogs and tortillas to wrap them in - and don't forget the skewers to hold them over the fire!  

Ah, the fire.  It's essential to a successful night, and I mean ESSENTIAL.  We go around the beach collecting wood and shells to create a pit for the fire.  We roast those wieners, sip our wine, look up at the stars, and listen to the roar of the ocean waves (and maybe a little Enya).

We play verbal games that remind us of how rich beyond riches we are.  We play "What's the Top-Five Most-Beautiful Places We've Ever Been" game, and "Top Three Favorite Restaurants", or "Best Family Vacay Memories".  We talk about our wedding, which by no coincidence, took place on the beach.  We never let any sad or unhappy memories interfere with our date - we have enough of those during our regular-life days together!  #Reality

One of our favorite games is something we actually do on our regular days together, but this time with a twist.  On normal days at dinner together, whether we are by ourselves, with The Fam, or with friends, we play "The Pit and the Peak".  This game is where everyone goes around saying the worst part of their day first (The Pit), and then to end on a good note they must say the best part of their day (The Peak).  

Since no worst part of any day is allowed to be discussed on this date, we call it "The Beach and the Pit".  This is where we sit around that fire pit we built in the sand, and talk about all of the best parts of our marriage - the things one has said or done for the other in order to edify them; the times that stand out to us in a great and fond way.  Now sometimes things are repeated from the same game the year before, and that is more than okay.   And there are the new moments from the time we left the beach the year before to the present that we talk about.

It is so easy for we, as mere humans, to cling to the bad.  It is, in fact, easier to place any good on a forgotten shelf if something bad occurs.  We all do it, really.  But life is too short to allow that to happen, so I will fiercely fight for the memories of the happy things - the good parts - even if it means I fight fire with fire by sitting around one and forcing those memories to the surface.  It is the best medicine for those regular days that bring reality back into play.

Do you have beat-up torn-down memories in your own history that tend to make you feel like you need a refurbished life?  Do you allow them to make you feel cracked and weathered or know that it builds character in you and can create a good-and-long-remembered legacy you can leave behind?  Does it make you look back and feel like a mad person or make you smile?

Real life is not always beachy and full of fun and games - trust me, I know.  But it is definitely what you make of it and what you allow it to make of you.  Don't put all the good on a forgotten shelf.  And mark out those times to remember the peaks - even if it means you must fiercely fight to do so.  And in order to see you are rich beyond riches, let the fondest pit be the fire.


Life's a Picnic

Image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if this image is used.

Image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if this image is used.

Last night, we had a reason to celebrate.  In honor of my new job, AND it being an amazing opportunity, we decided to do a special dinner.  Rather than go out, I decided to make our dinner - this way, it's less expensive, I control the ingredients going into our food, and we had intimacy in lieu of a crowded, noisy restaurant.  Since we wanted it to be extraordinary and festive, we did a winter picnic!

I made broccoli cheese soup (tastes exactly like Panera), and turkey sandwiches on home-made pretzel rolls.  It was so delicious I couldn't stand it!  We accompanied the dinner with Layer Cake Shiraz that my husband was his way of telling me getting the job was a'"piece of cake'.  (I know...he can be so adorable).

We were going to go out back on the patio, but because the wind was whipping pretty hard, we decided to light a fire, turn on some jazz, and have our picnic inside!  It didn't cost a lot, and by just making a few adjustments (lighting, music) we turned our living room into a winter picnic and had a woncderful time.  (Believe me, People, it's worth the effort!)

I have put the recipes for the soup and the pretzel rolls below.  Most of the stuff I already had in my pantry and fridge, and you probably do, too!  Life's been NO PICNIC for us lately, but we are so grateful for the blessings we DO have - and with this recent news we truly felt this was the best way to nourish the celebration for the next step in my career path!

Home-Made Pretzel Rolls

1 pkg dry active yeast

1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp sugar

1 cup warm water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbs butter, softened

1/3 cup baking soda

1 egg yolk plus about 1 tbs water

1-2 tbs Kosher or course sea salt

In a small bowl, mix yeast, salt, sugar and warm water and stir to dissolve sugar. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy. In a large bowl, mix flour and cayenne. Use your fingers to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly pour yeast mixture into flour and stir with a fork to combine. Use your hands to gather dough together and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until no longer sticky and fairly smooth. Return to bowl, cover with plastic and let rise 30 minutes. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces and lightly form it into a sandwich bun or roll shape. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet (I used organic olive oil spray) and repeat with remaining dough. Let rise 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large pot, combine 10 cups of water with baking soda and bring to a boil. Boil rolls in batches (I did two at a time) until puffy about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer to wire rack to drain. Return to baking sheet, brush with egg yolk wash, sprinkle with salt and lightly score lengthwise with a sharp knife about 1/8-inch deep. Bake until golden to dark brown,  about 15 minutes.

I used a couple of slices of Boar's Head Oven Gold Turkey Breast (Boar's Head doesn't have any MSG, no fillers, no hormones, no preservatives, PLUS I had a coupon for $2 off!) and a slice of Swiss for me; for Adrian, a slice of provolone because he is not a cheesy-cheese guy.  I had a $1 off produce coupon at Kroger, so I spent a little extra on some avocado to put on the sandwich as a healthy fat in place of mayo, some lettuce, sliced tomato and red onion, a little Dijon, and that sandwich was frickin'-frackin' AWESOME.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar


Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half . Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender - about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

I put a ladleful in cute little bowls next to the sandwich, mixed a little balsamic and extra virgin olive oil in some field greens and put a handful on the side of both the sandwich and bowl of soup.  I sliced up two or three pieces of smoky cheese and put a little garnish (for fancy picnic's sake!) and it made for a BEAUTIFUL plate that filled our bellies!!  I made enough soup for Adrian and Cameron's lunches and froze the rest.

I felt like royalty with a meal like that, and celebrating the blessing of the new job made for a good excuse for a date night in the process!

What's It Gonna Cost Me?


My husband and I date - not other people, of course, but we date each other.  Last night was a good date.  Times are definitely tough right now and belts are tighter than they've ever been; somehow, we managed to have a great date of charge!!

It started when he picked me up at my house.  Okay, we live at the same house, but a lady likes it when a gentleman comes a-callin'.  (Besides, it makes for a good story!)

Adrian has always opened doors for me.  I'm a bit of a male-chauvenist, so it's never bothered me.  I actually love it.  He has opened my car door whether we are leaving home, a garage sale, or the opera...he does not discriminate and I love that.  It's the little things that mean a lot.  But it's especially nice on date night.

Anyway, back to the story.  So he picked me up (or walked me out to the car).

We headed to our first destination, which was a (sooooooooo long-overdue) mani / pedi for me, while Adrian sat in a massage chair next to me with the power on full blast.  Sipping wine and listening to soft music while getting my foot rubbins and arm and neck massage on was amazing...but what felt better is that it was all fer-ee!! (WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!?)  You heard me right!    Cameron gave me a gift card for Christmas to my favorite place (which I haven't seen in awhile) and we decided to start our date there because we knew they offered a free glass of wine with your pedicure.  So massage, manicure, pedicure, (tip, of course, was covered by the certificate) before-dinner cocktail, soft lighting and music = all free.  So far, so good.

Next, we decided to go to one of those places you can get dinner and a movie all in one place - not always the cheapest route to take these days, but apparently nothing's too good for us.  Guess how much I'm gonna tell you it was?  Come on, you see a pattern here, don't ya?  Well, in case you're on the edge of your seat with anticipation and wonder - it was free!  HOW THE HECK WAS DINNER AND A MOVIE FREE, YOU ASK?  Chelsea and Sam gave us a $25 gift card for Christmas (yea, we made out like bandits from our kids) and that covered the dinner part.  I received an email from this establishment for one free ticket.  (The name of the place is not relevant, because I subscribe to tons of places for reasons just like this one and you can, too).   I then searched through my Entertainment coupon book, found one for a free movie ticket to the same place, (did a yippee-doo-dah dance) and voila!  Dinner and a movie = all free.  WORD.

Now keep in mind that all the affection we showed each other throughout the night, holding hands (yes, we still do that), the laughs we shared, the time together = all free.  Exhausted from being pampered all evening, we headed home.  

I am grateful for the Christmas gifts, but even without them, we know how to paint the town red free of charge all the time, and we do it.  Date night is necessary.  PERIOD.  It doesn't matter what the dynamic or make up of your family is: small kids, grown kids, no kids.  Date night is essential to keeping your marriage healthy.  And we're proof that you don't even have to spend a lot to do it.

I won't tell you how we ended the date, but I WILL tell you that didn't cost us a thing, either. ;-)