6.29.2009

Wild West Night

Remember Dr. Quinn, medicine woman? I always wanted to be a little like her...and I always thought it would have been kinda fun to live back in the "old western days". So, I recreated one date night in the Wild West for me and hubby.

Here are the elements that will make this night go off with a bang!

Wild West Saloon

Serve Sasparillas/IBC (bottled root beer) and greasy appetizers (we had grilled tortillas, mozzarella sticks, and chips & salsa with IBC rootbeer).

Wild West Shooting Range
What's the Wild West without a little gun action? {Rubberband gun action, that is.} I covered pop cans with scrapbook paper and labels I made, which you can download HERE. Just ink around the edges to give it a dirtier look. Here's a color version for you to get a better idea.

Using a rubberband gun or your fingers, shoot rubberbands at pop cans you've set up as targets. Establish how many shots/rubberbands each of you get and the reward for winning or losing (perhaps a back rub or dish-duty)

Wild West Poker

Write on the back of your homemade "chips" certain wagers (each of you will have a set that is identical) So, there are 2 of each chip: (5 min. back rub, diaper duty for one weekend, etc.) Then, when you are betting your hand, you'll know what you could get…or what you could lose if you lose the hand!
Download PDF of chips HERE.


Wild West Theatre

This is optional, if you wanted to watch an old classic western flick or maybe Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" (this doesn't mean I recommend this movie....just a suggestion).

*Spice it Up*

1. Go to the bathroom while he's finishing his sasparilla and appetizers. Come out with a badge on acting as the town "sheriff". Place him in handcuffs (dollar store plastic cuffs work great!) and tell him he's going to jail for flirting with a married lady! You decide the punishment.

2. Get a cowboy hat, some boots, and something for in between that goes with the theme.

6.26.2009

{Date Night}

Well, as you may have already noticed, I am a huge advocate of dating your spouse...whether you are newlyweds or have 30 years of marriage behind you. Being married should never be a reason to stop dating...that's when the fun begins!

I recommend a weekly date night…I don’t plan to expand on the reasons why. There are entire books written about this and I don’t claim to be an expert. I have not completed years of research on the matter. However, I am a wife whose life has been blessed by weekly date nights with my husband. These date nights aren’t always (hardly ever, in fact) grandiose... but,
The more you date and the more new and different dates you try, the more opportunity you will have to talk, and the more things you will have to talk about. There is always something new to discover about each other. You just need the time to find out what it is!
Lisa Sussman, Redbook’s 500 Great Dates

Here are some excellent posts from fellow bloggers about dating. Check them out!
Becca and Enoch - Date Night
Michelle - Date Night Priorities

To help you with your date nights, I have put together a list of ways that you and your spouse can rotate the date planning, so it doesn't always fall on just one of you.

Date Night Rotations:

1. Have some sort of “item” that you can pass back and forth. Whoever has “it” is in charge of planning the date that week.

2. Date Jar: Take one date night to scribble down 6 ideas each on scraps of paper. Put the scraps in a jar. Take turns choosing at the beginning of each week. (The chooser is the planner)

3. Envelope Day: Super easy & fun idea (one of my previous posts)

4. This isn't really a rotation, but it makes dating easier!
Keep a Date Night Guide: Get a medium sized binder, pocket dividers, blank tab dividers, and some sheet protectors. On the blank tab dividers, write your categories (i.e. Dining Out, Take Out & Delivery, Movies & Theaters, Parks & Recreation, Nightlife, Hotels & B&B's, Shopping, Seasonal, Babysitter Info, etc.) Keep menus and brochures in the sheet protectors. Keep a "try it list" in each category, so you don't do the same thing over and over again.

My husband and I have had several versions of this throughout our marriage, but this is our latest rendition. I call it the "funizer" (fun+organizer=funizer). So, when I find some new cool thing I want to try on an upcoming date, I "funize it" so I won't forget.

{click to enlarge}

PS. I bought this at WalMart for under $5

So, there you have it. This Date Night discussion is by no means over....you know I have more to say, but I'll leave it for another day!

What's your best piece of "wisdom" concerning date night?

6.24.2009

Gestures of Love

For today's Midweek Romance tip, saying "I Love You" is mandatory....words, however, are optional. Here are two ways to"say" those three magical words without moving your lips! The point is to email or mail these pictures to your love while they are at work, school, etc.

This is my friend, Meagan. I owe her big time for making her be my model for this. But, she did a fabulous job and I have a feeling her hubby is going to love receiving an email someday soon with these pictures attached...

{ click to enlarge }

Another wordless "I Love You" is an idea from Becca over at Happiness is Homemade. Becca took these pictures of her hands to spell it out for her hubby.
How cool is that?! I think my husband would love to get a personalized version of this (with my hands) sent to his email...wouldn't yours?

How to do it:
(sorry, I don't think your spouse will enjoy a picture of Meagan's "I love you" or Becca's hands--they are both beautiful, but it's gotta be YOU!)

- Take your digital pictures and upload.
- Edit them to make them look super good! Picasa is an excellent and easy-to-use editor (that edits in lots of fun ways) and you can download the program online for free HERE.
- Organize the photos in a word document. (size and layer them the way you want).
- Save the word document as a PDF.
- Then, send your hubby an email with the PDF attached. Tell him it's a very urgent document that requires his immediate attention.

Voila! You've got one happy husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance....and if you're not one of these...then what the heck are you saying "I Love You" for anyhow?!

6.22.2009

Happy Birthday to HIM!

How about surprising your man on his birthday this year with something that's a little more original and unexpected. Here's some ideas I've put together for you.

"Birthday Wishes "
For my hubby's 26th birthday, I made a powerpoint presentation on the computer titled, "26 Things I Wish For You". (one wish per year he is old) For every wish, I gave him a gift which related to the wish. Some were tangible items, others were not. The powerpoints looked like this:

Example 1:

Example 2:

All of his wishes/gifts were small things like a new kite to fly at the beach, coupons for back massages, cologne, coupons for home-cooked meals of his choice, frozen Alaskan salmon (his fav), fishing license, and other intangible items (aka: romance stuff). And as he went from slide to slide I presented the gifts. I had "My Wish For You" by Rascall Flats playing as well.

If you're spouse is over 30, you're gonna have to be really creative with this one. But, my hubby LOVED it. He really did.


"Golden Birthday"
My friend, Anna Rose over at The How-To Gal, planned this super fun birthday bash for husband's 25th "Golden" Birthday. Check out the details HERE.


"Custom Candy Bar Wrapper"
If he likes chocolate, how about leaving a jumbo candy bar on his desk, by the sink for when he wakes up, or in the car for him to see while driving to work.
Make one up on your computer or with scrapbooking supplies and it makes for a thoughtful little gift.

Photo courtesy of {www.rachaelraymagDOTcom}


"Birthday Freebies"
How fun would it be to go from place to place collecting freebies JUST for being born on that day. You could make a whole event of it! Check out these links.

http://www.frugalliving.tv/free-stuff/birthday-freebies.html http://www.birthdayfreebies.com/
http://freebies4mom.blogspot.com/2009/04/birthday-freebies.html


"Cable Upgrade"
So, you know how guys are always hoping for the latest and greatest in TV accessories and packages? I constantly hear about how cool it would be to have HD and better channels.... Well, a fancy cable package just doesn't make the cut on our budget...However, with a little planning and saving, you could check into giving him a cable upgrade for his birthday gift. Usually it runs about $10-20 a month more (so if you were planning on spending money on some hotel room or anything else upwards of $100), he may appreciate this more… If you already have those bells and whistles, how about TiVo? Blueray player?


"Gift Card Bouquet"
Get some card picks from a local floral shop and gift cards from his favorite stores and/or restaurants. (Home Depot, Subway, or even an Credit Gift Card to apply to anything he's been wanting). Wrap in tissue paper or make an arrangement in vase and have it ready to present as a gift.


"Check"
If yours is anything like mine, he'd rather just get money so he can save up for something big. I love how Shana presented her husband with a "check" on his birthday. She made him think he was only getting a fondue pot, and then...

"I told him to go check the mail, which I had already done, and while doing so I had put my other little gift to him in our mailbox - a Special Delivery letter addressed to him from Mr. Playstation himself...Okay, the letter wasn't actually from Mr. Playstation (as if there is one), but there was a surprise check encloed to put towards the purchase of the game system."

Click on the image..notice it's a fake check?



"Beef Jerky Float"
The "Meat Float Bouquet" is sold by BeefJerkyBouquet.Com for $54.95 but how easy would it be to make your own?! Super Easy! Get yourself a mug (check the dollar store, then walmart) and fill it with some beef jerky.


What other creative ideas do you have?

6.20.2009

Winner Winner!

Congratulations, Melody of Cheat Day Cafe!
{Thanks, Melody for being a loyal follower of Love, Actually!}

She wins the HOT Romance Package, again thanks to
Lisa with PureRomance!
Melody has an awesome food blog which has delicious recipes and treats and I seriously suggest you all go check it out....

AND, just because you didn't win doesn't mean you can't get these fun products for yourself. Head on over to Lisa's Pure Romance Site to check out the rest of her romance products!

6.18.2009

HOT! HOT! HOT! Giveaway

I'm re-posting this. I find it hard to believe that out of 269 followers only 67 people want these awesome romance products. So, comment and get qualified to win! Ends Friday (tomorrow)!!

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Who's up for another giveaway?! Okay, dumb question...I know you ALL are! Lucky for you, Lisa from Pure Romance has sponsored this fabulous giveaway package for my followers!

Bring the heat back into your relationship with these hot romance products...

I call it the "Hot-Hot-Hot" Package....a $40 value!
Now, I'll break it down for ya...
Hot Heart Massager

Experience the sensual and therapeutic benefits of this heart-shaped heat pack! Warm each other's body for an unforgettably romantic massage or use to soothe aching muscles.

Aura Massage Oil

Indulge in a full body massage with Aura massage oil as it gently caresses your skin and senses. Aura is formulated with the purest of essential oils and emollients including Kukui Nut and other fine oils from Hawaii. It is also fortified with therapeutic herbal extracts and Vitamin E to ease sore, tense, aching muscles. Leaves your body sensually smooth without a greasy feeling.

52 Weeks of Naughty Nights Set

Who said every night can't be naughty and nice? Sensual thrills, playful surprises, and expressions of love and seduction are all temptations that you can expect to find inside 52 Weeks of Naughty Nights. Inside you will find over 100 scratch-off cards suggesting naughty ways to spice up your love life- some for him and some for her. Comes complete with a satin draw-string bag.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Here's how to qualify:
1. Be or Become a Follower of Love, Actually ------->
2. Leave a comment on THIS post telling me what your favorite romance product is (may it be apparel, bath/beauty, game, book, props, etc.) *Make sure I have the link to your blog, or your email*

BONUS Entry: Order a Pure Romance product from Lisa and leave ANOTHER comment letting me know (you don't have to say what it is if you don't want) *make sure you mention my blog when ordering*

Also, this package will be on sale after the giveaway for anyone to buy. (Details to come)

Randomized Giveaway - Ends Friday, June 19th at 6 pm EST.


6.17.2009

Fireproof

Looking for ideas for your next date idea? How about watching Fireproof? {A heroic fireman in a failing marriage takes up his father's challenge to be part of a 40-day experiment designed to teach both husband and wife the real meaning of commitment. PG}

Michelle over at Her Cup Overfloweth invited her hubby to watch it with her...

And in case your wondering, here's my personal review of the movie. It don't think it should take any awards for best motion picture, but it definately made some awesome points about marriage. The whole idea of "not leaving your partner behind" was really quite inspiring and touching. It also demonstrates what spirituality and faith can do to help a marriage. I've kept this pretty general to not spoil it if you have not seen it.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think? (Just don't spoil it in your comment)


6.15.2009

Love From a Distance

You know what they say...."absense makes the heart grow fonder"... and yadda yadda yadda. Does that really make it any easier? Not a chance. But, there are lots of things you can do to stay fond of each other even when the miles separate you. I've had several requests from LDR couples hoping for some ideas.
So, here you are, my friends. Make sure you spread the word about this blog with friends/family/strangers-on-the-street who are in long-distance relationships!
From a Distance Dinner Delivery:
Look up restaurants in your love's area which deliver. Order something you know he'll/she'll like and have them deliver it to their door. Arrange to have the tip paid on your credit card, and maybe you can schmooze them into scribbling a little love note to attach with the dinner. (Be sure that they'll be there to accept it.

Boudoir Photos:
This might be a litle risque for some of you, but it was recommend to me by Mallory at Pope Hill Photography. She started doing boudoir photos for military wives, however, it can apply perfectly for any type of long-distant couples. If you have a tripod and digital camera, this will eleminate a 3rd person from viewing your photos. Seriously, how much would your spouse love something like this when he's away from you?!

Before You Go
Before they leave, give him/her a little bag with these goodies and a can of sprite with this note attached:

Countdown Calendar:
When it gets down to 30 days (or 15, or 10, whatever), do a fun count-down via email (if you didn't plan ahead of time) OR.... send a package in the mail with 30 envelopes. Instruct them not to open the package until the date in which the countdown begins.
On each envelope, write the number for the day, "25 days left..." Only one can be opened each day. In the envelope, have a little coupon/index card which has a reason why you love him/her, and something you want to do with them when you're back together. Get as creative as you'd like with this.

Scavenger Hunt
Send him/her an email/letter with instructions for a little adventure. Give them clues (like specific directions or riddles) that will take them from their home to their destinations. It may take a lot of planning and schmoozing with locals, but you could "guide" them to a local bakery to get a treat you pre-ordered for them and then to a restaurant for a pre-ordered reservation/meal/take-out, and then to a store where a special gift is waiting for them. This idea has endless possibilities.

74 Activities for LDR Couples
This site is fabulous! Michelle and Frank are experts in long distance relationships and they offer free LDR ideas (74 to be exact). Their site also has a list of "13 Great Long Distance Gift Ideas", advice on how to spice up boring phone calls, and all kinds of other great topics.

These are three of my favorite things/ideas on their site..

You an order these bracelets for him and her for $4.50.
"Love Knows No Distance"

HoochyMail - #6 This is funny! HoochyMail is a website where you enter information and it automatically generates a story with your names/info in a MadLib type fashion. You choose the story level: sexy, x-rated, or off the wall. You gotta give it a try. (You don't have to be in a LDR to use this.)

The miles between you don't have to ruin your date nights....try some online games HERE!

So, what do you think? Do you have any other creative ideas to offer long distance relationship couples?



6.10.2009

A Slice of the "Big Apple"

Today's idea comes from my sister-in-law, Carli. She's an excellent example of making big fun out of little money! This was for their 3rd Anniversary...but could easily be adapted for any occasion.
******
For our anniversay, I made:

- 2 fake plane tickets to NYC
- Matching shirts that said "I Heart NY" on the front and on the back I wrote "...and my husband/wife! Happy 3rd Anniversary."
- a Phantom of the Opera "program" and tickets
- a sign that said "Broadway"

It happened to be on a Saturday, so we took the whole day to celebrate.

I gave Ryan the plane tickets around 10 am; we grabbed our bag and boarded the "airplane" (the car). We sat there for a minute and then I made him get out of the car and go into our "fancy hotel" which was just our apartment. We unloaded our bags and grabbed some lunch, which I had made earlier. Then we started our sight seeing trip of NY. We walked around "Central Park" (the park across the street from our house). After, we went to the local zoo with our matching shirts on and pretended it was the "New York Zoo". We took Hannah with us and I made a matching shirt for her too. We got lots of compliments, which was fun!

While we were in The Big Apple, we had to get a pizza pie...so we went and got the most authentic one we could find at a take n' bake place and then went and got cheesecake--another thing NY is famous for.

We went to a "Yankees game" (which was a little girl's softball game across the street from our house) while we ate our pizza and cheesecake. Then we finished the night off with a trip to the "opera" and watched Phantom of the Opera in our apartment.

(sorry about the bad quality photo...but these are the "Opera tickets")

It was a really fun night, but with all that sightseeing, it was nice to zonk out in our own bed!

{Thanks, Carli!}
*******
Pretty clever, huh? So now you can experience New York and Las Vegas without ever leaving your town... kinda makes me want to see what else the world has to offer! Any suggestions?


6.06.2009

Dating...with kids!

So, hubby & I are in New York City for the weekend. I have 3 days off work, so we decided to make a somewhat spontaneous trip south! Wahoo! But, just in case any of you are feeling deprived, here's a little tid-bit for you. I'll call these type of posts, "Words of Wisdom"....
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Even with all the support I get for this blog, there are still some who say, "Dating for us is just impossible. We have kids...there's no time to date." While I understand, I'd like to second this quote below:
"When you have kids, it’s easy to make excuses for not being able to find some dating time for yourselves. The realities of having a family leave little money, time, or energy for a date night. But, you can’t let this get in the way of your marriage! Good parenting is about taking care of your children and keeping them safe. But it’s also about being their role model. What we forget is that children are sponges, constantly absorbing the world around them. They observe your priorities and what makes you tick. So their ideas about what a strong marriage is and how to eventually form and manage their own relationships comes directly from the horse’s mouth—you!

One of the most important love lessons you can give your children is the knowledge that their parents absolutely adore one another and want to spend time together. They need to see love in action. Seems enough incentive to start speed-dialing a sitter right now, wouldn’t you say?"

-Lisa Sussman, Redbook’s 500 Great Dates

Amen.


6.03.2009

Romantic Picnicing

When was the last time you went on a picnic....alone?

Since picnic season is now in high gear, I've put together a few different and simple ways to do a picnic (since I know not all of you appreciate the same style). Hopefully one of these ideas motivate you to plan a picnic of your own with the one you love.

{ An Simple Outdoor Picnic }

Courtney, a follower of Love, Actually, did a picnic with her hubby in the park...

You don't need to get all fancy for your outdoor picnic. I love how Courtney has a bottle of gatorade in the picture above. No bottle-opener or wine glasses necessary. Keep it simple. Bring some easy finger foods and a blanket to throw down on the grass.

{ A Fancy Outdoor Picnic }

If getting fancy is your style...then by all means, grab the glasses, your favorite bottled drink, some fancy french bread, some type of cheese you can't pronounce and some grapes. Feed each other while you're at it. Don't forget the blanket and fancy basket to put all your fancy food in.


{ Romantic Evening Picnic }

If leaving the house for a picnic is just not an option, how about a romantic evening picnic in your backyard after the kids have gone to bed?

{Okay, this looks a little too fancy, I know...but a little visual inspiration goes a long way}


{ Indoor Picnic }

{Okay, this one's sooo not fancy...but we were on a tight budget, in a grungy old house in Alaska away from our own home...I had very little to work with.}

My husband and I lived and worked in Alaska for a summer when he had been married for only about 6 months. We lived in an old house with 7 other people in downtown Juneau and didn't have a lot of privacy or time alone (which was a major drag!) So, one evening, I set up a little picnic "getaway" in our room. I brought home a pizza and we sat on our blanket on the floor and watched our wedding video on the laptop. It was just the break we needed to get away from our roommates and shared living space.


The good thing about an indoor picnic is that the possibilities are endless... You can make it feel like a real picnic complete with a basket and pb&j or serve steak and mashed potatoes. I don't think many details are necessary for this one.

Okay, now this is important. Who's in need of a Pic-a-nic Basket (spoken like the one and only Yogi Bear)? Gourmet Mom on the Go is here to solve one lucky person's picnic basket blues!

She's hosting a giveaway of this:

Click HERE to find out how to win! Ends June 6.

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So, there you go. I know this wasn't some novel idea that you are wowed by, BUT, it's cheap, simple, and fun. And it might be just the motivation you needed to do a picnic of your own in the near future.



6.01.2009

Zoo for Two

So, I thought about doing a post about how to make a lil' romance while walking around the zoo....but, I thought that those who actually have a zoo close by have already got it made. What about those who don't have one close by and have to sell an arm and a leg to afford a trip to the zoo...? This post is for those people...and it won't cost you an arm or a leg!

Today's post shows you how to create a zoo in your very own home. Okay, okay...some of you are thinking, "Cher, my home is already a zoo!" Point heard. and ignored. :)

Here are the elements you'll need for your Zoo:

1. A Brochure - Every zoo has a brochure. Yours should be no different. I'd slip this to my hubby and say, "Hey, I thought we ought to go on a fun date to the zoo, tonight. Want to?"

Download Microsoft Word version HERE (you can personalize this, but fonts may not be compatible)Fold in thirds to create brochure.

2. Admission Tickets & Bracelet - Put the tickets in the brochure when you give it your spouse... and then turn in the tickets for an admission bracelet when you get to the zoo. This just helps gets you in the mindset that you're "at the zoo". Silly, but it's all part of the date...

Download HERE

{I found these at JoAnn Fabrics...If you can't find them...make your own out of paper!}

3. Snack Stand - No zoo is complete without a place to dine or get snacks! So, deck out your counter with a sign and some zoo-themed snacks.

{I found these cute giraffe print cups/straws in JoAnne Fabrics $ section}

I've come up with 2 lists to help you create your own:

Food Stand Names:
Safari Snack Shack
Treehouse Cafe
Safari Kitchen
Zooters - be sure to serve fried pickles {Like Hooters}
Garden Grill
Pizzafari
Wilderness Cafe

Zoo-themed snacks
Zebra cakes
Peanuts (to feed those elephants)
Zoo Animal Crackers
Cowtails Candy
Gummy Worms
Any foods you may see at zoos (not necessarily "zoo-themed")

If you want to get your kids in on this "date" here's some fun snacks they may enjoy: http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Healthy-Snacks-What-a-Zoo/Detail.aspx
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cream-Cheese-Penguins/Detail.aspx
http://www.sandiegozoo.org/kids/recipes_queenbee.html

4. Zoo Theatre - Since you won't be seeing real animals at this zoo, you're going to have to set up a "theatre" around your computer where you can videos from the internet. My husband loves watching internet videos and always wants me to watch them with him. He'll enjoy this date.

Here are some good video clips I've found:
San Diego Zoo Videos - they update this site frequently with good quality, interesting clips about things going on in that zoo.
YouTube Videos - Sneezing Baby Panda or Sneezing Panda or Disco-Dancing Elephant or Smart Bird
If you're not into video clips, how about watching Madagascar or The Wild?

5. Zoo Exhibits - A zoo just isn't a zoo without some sort of trivia, animal-related experiment, or discovery project. So, here's a couple of options for you.

Exhibit A: Grow-Your-Own Zoo Animal - I bought these for $1 each. Have a competition to see whose gets the biggest.
Exhibit B: Zoo Trivia Quiz - You can download this PDF file I made and compete with your spouse to see who gets the most right (but don't you dare cheat!). Be sure there's a reward.

Download PDF version HERE

Exhibit C: You could have a powerpoint presentation with pictures of various types of animals. Have your spouse try to guess the names of each. Hey, you never know when you may need to know this kind of stuff....you could be the next contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? You'll thank me then.

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And I just wanted to mention one more thing. One. important. thing. Some people may think, this is totally stupid. Completely childish. My spouse won’t enjoy this at all. So, to those people, I say this: This blog is here to provide a variety of ideas…some ideas will suit certain couples, and be totally wrong for others. However, try to open your mind, try different things, be silly, and try activities that may seem dumb…imagine the memories you’ll have of things you’ve done together. My husband and I definitely have our favorites of the activities we’ve done, but if we hadn't done all the less-favorite dates, we’d have none to compare the favorites too! We definately have done lots of different "dates"...and have never regretted for a moment being silly or participating in a seemingly "child-like" activity.

Remember:
"We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing."