Friday, May 29, 2009

Dinner for two, please!

It’s Friday evening, the long week is over and now its time to relax. But where to begin? The kids are acting like a couple of wild March hares and you know any minute dear hubby will be coming through the door looking as if he’s gone 5 rounds with Mike Tyson. As for you, well the old “Calgon take me away” commercial comes to mind as a means to escape. But…we all know that’s not gonna happen so let’s face reality, and as my grandma used to say, “Grab the bull by the horns.”

So let’s start nice and simple. Dinner, followed by peace and quiet and if you’re lucky a little romance thrown in to help start the weekend off right.

Don’t forget this simple rule: Keep it simple!

Easy recipes make meal time more enjoyable because let’s face it, after working all week, juggling kids, work schedules and laundry who really wants to slave over a hot stove? No one!

McDonald’s is worth its weight in gold if you want some alone time with hubby. So grab the kiddies their favorite meal from said fast food joint, let them eat while you throw the salad together and the potatoes in the oven. Once they're done eating, pop in the kids’ favorite movie so that you and your hubby can enjoy a great, light meal together and wind down from a busy week.

All that stated, I'd like to share a couple of simple, easy, cheap dinner recipes for a nice salad and a tasty baked potato that I think you and your husband will enjoy while the kids watch Hannah Montana or Ben Ten or whatever else those munchkins like!


Mixed Salad Greens with Raspberries and Pears

Romaine Lettuce
Fresh Raspberries
Fresh Pear, diced
Feta cheese
Sunflower seeds

Raspberry Vinaigrette:
· 1/3 cup canola oil
2.5 TBSP raspberry vinegar
.5 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
finely chopped shallot

Combine all ingredients and pour over salad when ready to serve.

Baked Potato with caramelized onions and mushrooms

2 large russet potatoes washed and pricked with a fork
1 TBSP. Olive oil
2 TBSP. Butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 handful sliced button mushrooms
butter – for topping
salt & pepper
sour cream
chopped chives
pre-packaged cooked chicken breast strips

Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake potatoes until tender about 1 hour. In the meantime sauté the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil and butter. Once veggies are soft and caramelized set aside until potatoes are done.

After the potatoes are baked and ready, top with the veggies and your favorite toppings. I personally don’t like chicken on my potato but my husband can not live on veggies alone, the poor dude needs a little meat in his diet.

Remember to set the table with candles, your nice dinner plates and let soft music help you set the mood for a great night.

Best wishes & many blessings, Amy

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day


It's Monday morning, Memorial Day, and I wanted to give a shout out to all the military men and women serving to make our nation safe.

THANK YOU for all you do for us. The sacrifices of time, family, money, safety, and even life, all so we can be free.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And my own special thank you to a man I never knew, but who carries a special place in my heart . . . my grandpa, Park J. Conklin.

He served in WWII as a staff sergeant, trained troops in the early part of the war for the Pacific front, and in the later part of the war fought in the European front.

He received a Bronze Star for saving the lives of the men in his unit, though he never told anyone in our family what he did. To this day, we still don't know. He was also one of the soldiers who helped liberate the concentration camp at Dacau.

From all the recounts of his life that I have heard, he was a silent man who loved his family and friends. He was a farmer at heart, a wonderful husband and provider, a firm but loving father, and later in life a doting grandfather. He loved his wife, family, church, community, and his country.

He passed away from leukemian before I was born, but he is not forgotten.

One day I will inherit the locket he gave my grandmother just before their wedding . . . the same necklace my mother wore when she married my father . . . the same locket I wore when I married my husband. And I hope one day the locket my daughter will wear when she gets married.

That is the romantic legacy he has passed down through our family, and I will treasure this memory always.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated 37 years of marriage. Hard to believe how quickly the years have passed! It seems like just a few days ago that the elder of my two brothers walked me down the aisle to meet my groom. In the wedding photos, Jack’s light-sensitive glasses appear to have pink-tinged lenses, and we’ve often joked about how he viewed the day through rose-colored glasses.

Oh, how very many couples enter into matrimony the same way--expecting the romance to last and the road to be problem-free (or at least with only minor potholes)! In real life, though, our rose-colored romance sometimes doesn’t even last beyond the honeymoon. We return home to bills, responsibilities, and each other’s bad habits. Promises we made to love, honor, and cherish turn into “nag, grumble, and tolerate.”

There are days--many days--when I look over at the man I married and wonder how we made it this far. He’s a morning person; I’m a . . . well, a middle-of-the-day person. He’s a doer; I’m a ponderer. He’s outgoing; I’m reserved. He works with numbers; I work with words (and yet I’m the one who balances the checkbook!). There are lots of things we just don’t get about each other and probably never will.

The truth is, we wouldn’t have made it through 37 years of marriage without our commitment to each other, to the sanctity of marriage, and to God. When times got rough, we worked even harder at bridging our differences. When the problems got too big for the two of us, we sought help. Neither was willing to simply give up.

No marriage is perfect. No marriage is problem-free. The survival of a marriage depends much less on romance than it does on plain old commitment. But once you’re secure in that commitment, a little romance goes a long way to take you from surviving to thriving!

Where are you on your marriage journey? Any issues you need to face together or pray about? Any negative behaviors you need to correct or forgive? What one thing could you do today to rekindle the rose-colored romance from your wedding day?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Really Romantic - I'm Not Lion

So, Broadway plays... they're like a 10 on my romance-o-meter. Luke would probably like them better if some bad guys rappelled in with big machine guns or something like that. :) However, he does have at least one music appreciation bone in his body, so every once in awhile, we get to go.

Last week, a friend of ours received 6 tickets to the Lion King, which has been showing here in town all month. We were invited to go, and amazingly, I didn't have to whine too much to get Luke to agree.

It was a "group date" so there wasn't a lot of alone time, but it was fun to hold hands or have his arm around my shoulders once the lights went down. And very fun just to have him with me when I know he probably would have preferred being at home watching basketball.

It also reminded me of when he took me to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in New York City, over 7 years ago (gosh, I can't believe it's been that long!). We drove up to NYC from his parents' house in Wilmington, Delaware. That drive was an adventure in itself. Who knew that NYC drivers have their own language of honks? Phantom was incredible, but just being there with Luke made it a wonderful date.

So I guess since I got a date that was a 10, it's Luke's turn next. I wonder what sporting event he'll choose???

By the way, I am still singing Lion King songs this week. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009


This post will be brief. Not necessarily because I don't have time, but because I have a heavy-heart this week.

Something I wanted quite badly did not come through for me this week. I was able to nurse my wounds in private, and readied myself to push forward and march ahead.

Never say die!

Never give up!

And then I got more news related to this thing I wanted so much, news that brought me to a screeching halt in my pushing onward plan.

This is causing me to rethink many of the things I once believed about myself, my abilities, and my choices.

Now I am confused and despondent, but I have to say the light at the end of this tunnel has been my hubby.

He has put his best effort into picking me up, dusting me off, and telling me everything will be okay, even when neither of us knows whether it will be or not.

And maybe one day, I will be able to return the favor for him. It's just nice to know I have a cheerleader in my corner.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spur of the moment plans can be romantic

Around our busy household,  sometimes the best laid plans fall through. So, we're finding that if we can accustom ourselves to coming up with something on the spur of the moment, or accepting an invitation at the last minute, or working around the plans of others in our household, we can work in a special time together.

Not too long ago, when the rest of our household went on a retreat to Colorado, we'd planned a special meal of the things we love, that they don't all particularly like. But something came up to cancel our plans. A few weeks ago we got the chance to try again. We had a couple of days with the house to ourselves and this time, the weather was nice enough to grill outside. Dan grilled steaks just the way we like them...and I made baked potatoes and Chile Rellenos to go with them. It was a great evening to enjoy a simple meal and each other's company. Sometimes you just can't beat a quiet evening together at home.

Other times, spur of the moment works well when our kids want to have people over and we decide to have an evening out so that they can have time with their friends. It gives us a chance to have some time to ourselves that we hadn't planned on but find immensely enjoyable!

So, plan well, be prepared to have them cancelled, and learn to think fast. :)


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Melting for my hubby...

Last weekend was my birthday. I'm not going to mention my age, but I will spill the beans on how romantic my hubby was.

First, there were the "non-birthday" presents. He went out and bought replacements for several things that were stolen in the robbery of our house recently - since I haven't had time to do it. That was sweet and thoughtful.

Then, there were the actual birthday presents - several DVDs that I have been wanting. Very romantic, as they were all chick-flicks.

AND... he took me out for a romantic birthday dinner at Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant. It was the first time I had ever been, and it was SO COOL!

The restaurant itself was very romantic - dimly lit, deep booths (very private), quiet music playing. Our waiter was terrific, very friendly and helpful.

And the food! We had the full deal - cheese course, salads, main course and then a pot of chocolate for dessert.

I never realized before how romantic fondue could be. Basically, you have to cook your meal yourself - skewer the pieces of meat (assorted - my favorites were filet and lobster) and then put them in the cooking pot for about 2 minutes each - and they come out all cooked and flavored.

Did I mention the chocolate dessert? You dip your pieces of strawberry, banana, marshmallow, cheesecake, ETC. into the chocolate. Mmmmmmmm...

It was very fun and very romantic. Five stars for this birthday celebration. Hubby did good!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Searching for Common Ground

I've posted before on how important it is (to me) to focus on the positives in a marriage. How you should think of some of the many wonderful aspects of your mate's personality, write them down, and give them to your sweetie to see.

And I still believe this is true.

But today I am focusing on another topic. Opposites. Which can lead to irritation, and negatives in your marriage.

I have to say, in many ways, my husband and I are very different. We do not have the same taste in: movies, books, music, hobbies, political views, TV shows . . . you get the idea.

Right now, I am listening to a Classical Standards radio station . . . Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald. Hubby would rather hear Big 80's Hair Metal bands . . . Guns-N-Roses, Poison, Warrant, Motley Crew, Ratt.

He loves the mob movies . . . The Godfather (I, II, & III), Goodfellas, Scarface, Pulp Fiction.

I love romantic comedies and classics . . . Return to Me, Sabrina, Pride & Prejudice, While You Were Sleeping.

The book he is currently reading . . . Tom Clancy: The Sum of All Fears.

The book I am currently reading . . . Lisa Wingate: Texas Cooking.

Sometimes I get jealous when I read about, or hear stories about, these couples who seem identical, and their personalities and tastes are just an extension of each other. They love to do the same things, and life for them is so compatible.

That is so not us.

We have to make lots of compromises in our lifestyle, but we also expose each other to new experiences.

Minor league baseball games. That's all we have in our area, and I LOVE them. I love going to them, and never would have done it if hubby hadn't insisted we go.

Line Dancing. I learned a few in high school, and after we were married, our church offered a free class. Hubby hated the idea, but went because I begged. HE loved it!

Swing Dancing. We both love it, but I insisted first.

Sudoku. Hubby got me started, and I really like doing those puzzles now.

So . . . I guess my point in this post is even if you have differences in your personal tastes, sometimes it's rewarding to try something your sweetie likes. Watch a movie that's his favorite. Let him choose the radio station in the car (even if it just sounds like noise to you). Do something she really wants to do, like dance lessons.

You just never know when you're going to turn an opposite into a similarity.


Thursday, May 7, 2009


So what does the game Scrabble have with romancing your spouse? For my husband and me a lot. We love to play this game and often do on the weekend, but we aren't competitors. We are a team playing against the computer. I have laughed so much during these times we play Scrabble. It has been a great time for bonding.

I'm usually quick to put something up while my husband loves to take his time and try to use all the tiles even when we have letters like five or six vowels or q, v, f and b together. There's probably a word out there that has q, v, f and b, but I could think forever and never come up with it. I've threatened to use the speed version on my computer.

What kind of games do you play with your husband? Are you a team or competing against each other?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Two Kinds of People . . .

I was reading from a book I bought a few months ago, "1001 Ways to be Romantic" by Gregory Godek, to my husband.

It was from a section called 'Two'.

"There are two kinds of people in the world: Object People and Experience People.

Object People see love symbolized in gifts, in things: roses, jewelry, socket wrench sets. Experience People see love expressed in time spent together, in experiences: dinner, movies, bowling.

Neither is better than the other, they're just personal preference. And, interestingly, neither preference is related to gender.

Why do you need to know this? Because if your partner is an object person, and you take her to the best restaurant in town and drop $200 on an elegant experience, she'll still be expecting a gift at the end of the evening!

She's not being selfish, she's just being herself.

Object people love items that have special meaning. Experience people love activities that create special memories.

Tip: Don't argue about it. Neither of you will ever change the other."

Hubby and I both agreed that we are definitely Experience people.

Last year for hubby's birthday, the kids and I worked all afternoon to create paper streamers out of construction paper. I made his favorite dinner, baked him a cake, we blew up balloons, and decorated the kitchen and dining room.

When we heard the garage door open, we hid behind the counters and under the table, and surprised him when he came through the door.

And he was so happy and moved that we would do this for him, he didn't even care that there were no presents. He told me later that us getting him a gift never entered his head, but the impromptu surprise party made him feel extra special.

On the other hand, my sister-in-law is absolutely a gift person. A birtday has not been properly celebrated until a present has been given. Or Mother's Day. Or Easter. Or any other holiday. She is an Object Person all the way, and my brother has finally learned this about his wife.

So if you want to help create memorable moments, or make your spouse feel extra special, consider whether they are Object People or Experience People, and you might just earn a few extra points with your sweetie.