To be honest, Dan and I have never really celebrated Valentines Day. Mostly because it falls right between both of our birthdays. We tend to go out to dinner at least once every two-three weeks, most of the time Mila joins us. Though you know when couples say “Everyday is Valentines Day” I believe there to be some truth behind that. I’m the type that needs LOVE often and when the going gets a little hard I thrive off enjoying chocolate or ice cream (and wine) with my husband on the couch after a long day. We celebrate our relationship daily I think in our own little ways. So when February 14th rolls around we don’t feel the need or pressure to over do anything. Maybe because we are parents and are tired a lot of the time? Are we lazy? Haha!
One thing we have mastered is a date night at home. Dan and I started date nights at home back when we were in college together as a way to save money. I’d always make us dinner in my tiny apartment and Dan would always bring chocolate or a pack of Oreos. (The Oreos, his mom sent him from time to time and we’d always be so excited when she did! Thanks Kathleen) We’d somehow turn our ordinary surroundings into romantic ones and have ourselves a great night alone.
Now a days it looks quite similar! The only real changes are; Netflix, the baby monitor near by and couple extra dollars to splurge on a nicer wine. I think it is important to actually go out for date night, of course! But to be honest those are far and few between. What we can do is make a few nights a month extra special by having a ‘Date Night At Home’.
Here are some ways we create date night at home (+ a yummy marinade recipe you can use for dinners not just for date nights, but the whole family will love it!)
-We always plan a few days in advance. We set a date so we have something to look forward to. When it comes to that specific day, I get more excited than I normally would to finish up the day and be home with Dan.
-Mila goes to bed at 7:30pm every night. This is something that we have been working on since she was around 8 months. It is routine now and come 7:30pm we can all REST! For a date night at home we feed Mila dinner and hold out till after she goes to bed to enjoy our dinner, alone. If your little ones don’t go to bed till later and you don’t want to wait to eat try doing; a fun dessert, making a cocktail together or a mocktail, going through a travel book together or anything that is hands on. I think with a date night at home it is more exciting to be hands on with each other before you lounge around and chit chat etc.
-Earlier in the day I’ll prep dinner and be sure to make it a simple one where I can do most of it ahead of time. This way once our kid goes to bed, it takes 30 minutes or less to finish cooking. Whatever it is you are making, try to prep as much as possible before hand. So when it is time to ‘date night’ everything is ready to rock.
-Typically I make dinner while Dan plays with Mila. But on date nights at home Dan joins me in the kitchen. We drink a little wine and talk while putting together our dinner. It ends up being a nice switch and we can actually do all of it with out Mila wanting in on the action. This tip is just re-iterating the importance of doing something together like cooking, making a drink etc. Whatever it is, I think it is helpful to be hands on with something together. It increases conversation and I always learn something about my husband haha! Once we put together a puzzle and I realized then that we'd actually make a pretty good pair on The Amazing Race!
-Now, to make things more special I always light some candles. We also have a record player and while we cook we have it on low in the background. I try and wear something other than my normal yoga pants or sweats. And NO I am not talking about cooking in lingerie. I’d just try and wear a little something different. A cute PJ set, a silk night gown? Anything that would be out of the ordinary and that you feel comfortable in. Something to get you both excited ;)
-Once dinner is ready we enjoy it together. We tend to talk about anything and honestly we catch up on a lot with what is happening at work or with our family. I know many try and not talk work or kids during a date. But honestly that is so hard for us. We love what we do for a living and we love our family and extended family too much to make those off topic. I think if you don’t make rules on what you can talk about, things just flow naturally. I sometimes ask Dan questions like “Do you remember when we …” “Where do you want to travel to next?” or anything that comes to mind to help keep our conservation fun and insightful.
-Of course after dinner there is always some type of dessert. Dan loves homemade brownies with Butterfingers smashed in and I love any kind of ice cream. I always plan something different for dessert that we can enjoy. Try buying ice cream sandwiches or a small carton of fancy gelato!
-And since I keep it real, we typically watch a movie on Netflix or catch up on a reality show we love (like The Challenge or Amazing Race). I'll save you the intimate details ;) but being intimate in the bedroom is always a PLUS and much needed.
-The thing to keep in mind here is to plan ahead. Try to make things a little extra exciting with a fun dinner, drink, a little on the sexier side clothing, low music, candles. Don’t do anything that doesn’t seem natural, other wise you both will feel weird. Keep it light and try to remember why you fell in love. Also, I know a lot of couples love to be spontaneous ... which is great! But for Dan and I being spontaneous isn't something that comes natural on the regular. Don't feel bad for planning ahead to spend quality time with your partner! Life is nutty with work, children and other things. Planning for a date night at home and making it special in your own way is a life saver!
Happy Date Night At Home Friends! Let me know how it goes.
Photos by Lily Ro Photography
The Tastiest Marinade
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 grated or finely diced garlic clove
Line a large bowl with a gallon sized zip top bag. You'll be adding your marinade right into the bag and keeping it in a bowl will help if the bag accidentally rips. Also, be sure to have your meat fully defrosted and ready to go. As well as your vegetables. This marinade is enough for one pound of meat + some vegetables. If you think you need more just double the recipe. *You can also omit the meat if you are vegetarian. This marinade works great with anything!
Add all your marinade ingredients inside the bag. Use a spoon (not a fork) to mix together the marinade. You can also seal the bag and toss it around gently to ensure the brown sugar gets fully dissolved. This will help make for an even marinade.
Once your marinade is fully mixed, add in your meat and/or vegetables. If you plan on making kabobs, make sure all your meats and/or vegetables are cut the same size! This way they will cook at the same time on the grill.
Once your meat and/or vegetables are in the marinade. Seal the bag and gently move the marinade around so it coats all the meat and/or vegetables. Place the bag back into the bowl and let marinade over night or at least for an hour.
If you are making kabobs, be sure to soak your skewers in water for at least an hour before using. This way they won't burn while on the grill!
Once your meat and/or vegetables have fully marinaded make kabobs or cook as you would until they are ready to eat. Never store extra marinade after meat and/or vegetables have been in it! Though try doubling the recipe and storing the marinade for future use in a squeeze bottle or air tight container. You could even mix up some as a dipping sauce or to drizzle on top of your cooked food.