Candlelight. Firelight. Delicious food. Flowers. Fine china and crystal…ah, romance! Well, that was the plan, anyway…
When I told my friend that my husband and I had never spent an evening at home enjoying a candlelight dinner or (gasp!) dancing, her immediate response was, “Are you serious??” Who am I kidding, we don’t even dance at public events where we are supposed to dance, let alone at home! But I digress… The point is that after almost 24 years, perhaps it was time!
The plan had romance written all over it: Valentine’s Day, fine china and crystal, a room full of candles, romantic music playing in the background, and a delicious menu complete with a heart-shaped red velvet cake! Proper dress was even required — no blue jeans allowed on this night. And of course this exquisite culinary expression of love would be followed by an evening dancing in front of the fire……in a perfect world.
As romantic as this all sounds, the fact remains that anytime I am involved in the planning and execution of something I’ve never done before, there is a learning curve (steepness ratio varies depending on any number of factors!). Let’s face it: I’m a tactile learner, which means I have to mess it up all by myself before I figure it out! Here is a peek into my afternoon — and more importantly, lessons learned. I’ve even created a checklist to help you pull off a lovely evening that will knock his socks off, hopefully with fewer foibles. (You can get it by clicking here!)
I wanted something a little different, so I opted for Cornish game hens. They look impressive, and are actually very easy to prepare. I found this recipe on Pinterest; it was delicious, but since the hens are roasted with the vegetables (I added Brussel sprouts to the recipe), it is a lot of the same flavor. I would use this recipe again for the hens, but I will cook the vegetables separately with different seasonings next time. Wild rice and whole grain crusty rolls completed the main course.
Dessert was romance-themed all the way! Chocolate covered strawberries, just because they are pretty, and a heart-shaped, chocolate glazed red velvet cake. I was going to make these individual chocolate lava cakes, but I opted for the red velvet cake since it was Valentine’s. (Okay, so I cheated…it was a Betty Crocker boxed cake, heart-shaped pan included. Please don’t judge, I was running out of time. Besides, it was perfect! 🙂 )
Break out your best dishes, find the candles (matching candle holders not required!), turn down the lights. This is a rare occasion at our house (obviously!) so I climbed on the chair and wrangled the china and crystal out of the top cabinet. Then I rummaged through the lower cabinets and found a variety of candle holders and candles, from tapers to tea lights, and spread them all over the table and the dining room. The most beautiful tablecloth we own was buried under all the other table linens we never use, but it had its moment of glory this night.
A couple of bunches of mostly white flowers from the grocery store, divided among an eclectic grouping of small vases, completed the tablescape (wow, I feel like a domestic diva — I had a real tablescape! 😉 ).
I’m slowly learning how to use Spotify (don’t laugh, I’m tech challenged!). For this evening I created quite the eclectic playlist of romantic songs, from Frank Sinatra to Bryan Adams and a wide sampling of everything in between. You can grab the playlist here if you would like to use it.Candlelight & firelight! See what worked, what didn't, & plan your own #romantic dinner! Click To Tweet
A Few Lessons Learned
- The evening was beautiful, but it definitely did not come off without a hitch. The dancing I had planned never happened. Here’s a hint: if your honored guest suddenly starts feeling ill during the course of the day, you may want to consider rescheduling. Yes, sadly, by the time dessert was finished, so was my husband (poor guy!).
- It will always take more time than you think. ALWAYS. So if the recipe says 2 hours, plan on 3. If you think it will only take 1 hour to gather the china and crystal, candles and candle holders, and arrange the flowers, better make it 2! My poor husband spent 4 (yes, four!) hours banished to the basement on Valentine’s Day so that I could prepare his “surprise.” And this takes me directly to my next point…
- The surprise factor complicated things. He knew I was planning this evening, but I didn’t want him to see any of the process. Since I chose to do this on a Sunday when he was home, that was a little difficult. I sent him to the man cave when there were still grocery bags on the counter. I didn’t let him come back until it was all prepared. Next time (and there will be a next time!), I’ll plan this on a day when he’s not home. It will be so much easier to decorate earlier in the day instead of trying to do it while glazing a cake!
If you would like to plan your own romantic dinner for two but, like me, tend to get overwhelmed with the details and the time schedule, then you will want to download this free, helpful checklist. It will guide you from idea to fork in hand — and make sure you don’t forget the rolls!
Click here to see the parties where I’ve shared this romantic dinner, and discover lots of other great authors sharing their stories and projects.
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