3 Steps to a Perfect Valentine’s Day (or any date, really)

Valentine’s Day 2010 was a smash-hit… probably thanks to “Snowmageddon”. Being snowed in for over a week and not being able to see James for almost 2 weeks wasn’t too much fun. But it did make Valentine’s day even more special. For future reference, however, I’ve realized that there are 3 easy steps for a perfect valentine’s day, or any memorable date, for that matter.

1. Do something different for a change

James picked me up in the morning and took me to brunch at this fun French place in Columbia, MD called “Cafe de Paris”. Very original, I know, but the owner really is French, we met him, and French is clearly his first language. The decor was fun, faux plaster/stucco-ish walls with vintage French posters and big comfy red leather couches. The Crepe Cafe was the section of the place that served breakfast. I had a crepe filled with eggs and ham, and James had one with brie, tomatoes, and onions. The onions were a little heavy and he didn’t like it very much, but he was a good sport about it, and I gave him some of mine.

2. Have a thoughtful and heartfelt surprise planned

The best surprise of Valentine’s day this year was the gift James gave me. He made a CD of all the love songs he sings to me in the car. You know, those classic 90’s love songs like Brian McKnight’s “Back at One” and All 4 One’s “I Swear” (best re-make in pop history, in my opinion). I love it. He couldn’t have done anything else that would have made me so happy. What made it so great was that it really means something to us. He was so thoughtful.

3. Make it clear, you love spending time together

After brunch, we spent the day together. We ended up going to the mall and walking around for a while, before heading back to my house just to hang out. Sometimes it’s really nice just to be together. Later on around 7:30 we watched a movie and ate pizza for dinner. Maybe that doesn’t sound special, but it’s the attitude that matters. Sometimes there’s nothing better than cuddling on the couch with take-out. Love stories aren’t about fancy restaurants and expensive presents. They’re about hearts.♥

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Treasure Hunting

Yesterday James and I went to Mt. Airy. He had to take his car to the dealer, and I went with him because I’ve been wanting to go to the antique mall that’s on Main Street. I love going to antique malls. They’re much more interesting than small antique shops, as you generally have a much better chance of finding something that’s both fascinating AND affordable.

This trip to the antique mall was something of an experiment for my relationship, actually. It’s called discovering our common interests. We have things we like to do together, but I’ve often made the mistake of assuming that James probably wouldn’t like the things that I love, such as poetry, history, antiqueing, etc.  Now that I’ve realized how stupid I’ve been, I’m making up for lost time. The other week, James and I pulled out my poetry books and read together. We both enjoyed it, and I was thrilled to find that he really does like the same things I like.

The trip to the antique mall was a success in this way, too. James had fun looking at everything, and we ended up splitting off and exploring items that interested us. I ended up buying a postcard from 1909 with an old stamp on it, a second printing of a Nancy Drew book, and an old 1914 geography textbook that was used in the D.C. Public Schools. It was fascinating, for several reasons. First, the book was extremely racist by today’s standards, and it was interesting to see how prejudice pervaded the classroom. Second, the maps and information are pre-World War I, so it includes Austria-Hungary, the German Empire, the Russian Empire, and Africa divided into colonies. Third, the section about the United States lists the nation’s top 10 chief trading partners doesn’t even list China, of course, which shows you how much the world has changed. The book wasn’t in the world’s best condition, but overall it was the most fascinating thing I bought yesterday.

Lesson learned: Don’t assume that your handsome, tall, sweet boyfriend has no interest in poetry, antiques, and other things that you love. It seemed too good to be true but… it’s true. You CAN have everything.

After the antique mall, we went bowling, then Christmas shopping. With the blizzard of the century on the radar, you can imagine how the stores were packed. The parking lot was a mad house. Despite the insanity of it all, we had fun finding presents for people. I think my shopping is finished.

Now I’m just sitting here, lounging around with my laptop, watching the blizzard. I’m considering getting up and actually doing things today but… oh this is just too much fun 🙂

A Perfect Holiday Date

Last Friday night, James, my knight with a white SUV, scored major points once again with what turned out to be a perfect date for the holidays.

First, he surprised me with a big bouquet of Stargazer lilies. Google that right now if you’re not sure what those are. They’re absolutely beautiful!

We went out to the Cosi in Rockville for a light dinner followed by s’mores. For those of you who haven’t been there, Cosi is a chain that’s a little like Panera, but more sophisticated. They have sandwiches on their famous flatbread, great coffee, soups, salads, and desserts. The coolest thing about Cosi and the real reason to go there, however, is the s’mores. They bring a little fire to your table and you roast your marshmallows right there on little skewers. It’s so much fun! (I used to do this with my friends in college down at the one in Dupont Circle. We always had a blast.)

Cosi is more of a lunch place, and they close rather early, around 7 or 8. This was actually nice for us because there weren’t many people in there and we liked having our privacy.

After we finished, we headed over to the movie theater to watch A Christmas Carol. We happened to arrive just as the 3D version was starting, so we decided to spend the extra money and watch it.

It was BEAUTIFUL! A Christmas Carol 3D was an amazing visual experience. The 3D effect made it seem like it was snowing in the theater. The music in the movie was also fantastic. It wasn’t a whole lot different from other versions of this story, but some of the scenes were especially touching. The visual effect, touching music, and tear-jerking scenes made it a great date movie for the romantic, emotional girl that I am.

Friday night was great, and the next night James and I went shopping. I know I’m spoiled, I have a boyfriend who will watch my movies and take me shopping. He’s amazing.

It’s Friday again, and tonight we’re going bowling. Today he’s at the mall buying something, but he won’t tell me what. I’m so excited!

Our Dinner Cruise in the Baltimore Harbor

Yesterday evening James surprised me with the most romantic date I’ve ever been on in my life.

He picked me up in the afternoon with 24 pink roses! 24! Pink roses! My favorite! Then he told me, we were going to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore for a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Baltimore.

We boarded the ship at 6:30, and were led directly to a table for two near the window. That was the next big surprise. Usually on these cruises you sit at a table with other passengers, but James had indicated that this was a celebration of some sort, so they gave us our own table. Our waiter asked us what we were celebrating. “A new adventure,” said James. It was perfect.

Our dinner was delicious. Chicken stuffed with creamy spinach, garlic mashed potatoes with a white cheesy gravy, baked salmon with a hint of fresh lemon, green beans with almonds, and a carving stations with ham and roast beef comprised an impressive all-you-can-eat buffet.

While we were eating, James whispered something to the waiter. After dinner we walked up to the third deck, an outdoor  area with tables and chair where we sat and watched the sunset over the harbor. It was a beautiful scene. The moon was high in the sky as red and orange light flooded the horizon. We passed Fort McHenry, the site of the 1812 battle where Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner.” Massive ocean-going vessels docked for the night, sparkling lights coming from the city, this is certainly one of the most romantic ways to see Baltimore.

While we were sitting on the upper deck, enjoying the breeze, the DJ announces, “This song goes out to Connie,” and all of a sudden they start playing “Unbelievable” by Diamond Rio. “James, you didn’t!” I was all smiles. I was smiling so big that my cheeks started hurting, but still I couldn’t stop smiling. No one had ever dedicated a song to me like that. It was so exciting!

When it finally got dark, we went back downstairs to have our dessert. Out came our plates, with cheesecake and these chocolate things that looked like ice cream scoops, but turned out to be a brownie topped with mousse and dipped in chocolate. Garnished with a strawberry and whipped cream and drizzled with raspberry sauce, the dessert was the height of elegance.

While we ate out dessert, the waiters provided live entertainment. The kitchen manager came out in a blue sport coat and began to sing “My Girl.” While singing, he came over to our table and let James sing into the microphone. James was grinning ear to ear when he sang to me. It was so sweet. I couldn’t stop smiling.

After the singing, the DJ began to play dance music. James and I danced a little and then decided to go back outside on the upper deck. We stayed out there for a while, enjoying the breeze. We didn’t go back downstairs until the ship was nearing the Inner Harbor.

As soon as we got to our table, the DJ announced, “Now to end the night, let’s slow things down a little for all you couples out there,” and he put on “Amazed” by Lonestar. It was our song! Even James had no idea they were going to play it. It was a beautiful surprise for both of us.

It couldn’t have been more perfect. There we were, dancing to our favorite song with the glittering lights of the Inner Harbor in the background.

I’ll never forget that night as long as I live.