Remember Italy? The whole experience, sights, sounds, smells, tastes… Or perhaps Italy is on your list of places to visit when time or budget allows. Whatever the case, creating a little Italy at home is not difficult. Create an intimate atmosphere at home this weekend. We break it down into two easy steps.
Step One: Plan The Menu
Italian food is rich with pasta, sauces, cheeses, wine, and eaten with laughter and celebration. Keep it simple and order takeout from your favorite DC area italian restaurant, paired with a nice red wine, or embrace your inner Italian by cooking from scratch and offering several traditional courses.
Traditional choices can include cured meats (prosciuito, mortadella, smoked ham and salami), marinated vegetables, olives, pepproni (marinated small peppers – not the meat called pepperoni) along with an assortment of cheeses (like provolone, bocconicini and mozzarella).
The first course primo piatto (also referred to as simply primo) or minestra may consist of soup (minestroni), pasta, gnocci, risotto or polenta – a small portion.
The second or main course is called secondo piatto or piatto di mezzo which usually consists or fish or meat. Traditionally veal, pork and chicken are the most commonly used meat. The side dish is called contorno and may consist of a salad or cooked vegetables. A traditional menu features salad along with the main course. Fresh italian or garlic bread, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with grated herbs for dipping is a great addition.
The first dessert of cheese and fruit is called Formaggio and frutta – the cheese and fruit is usually served together.
Then it’s onto Dolce – dessert such as cakes, cookies or tiramisu. You might also serve coffee or espresso known as Caffè. Finally, Digestivo or “digestives” such as grappa, amaro or limoncello.
Step Two: Create the Atmosphere
Think italy. Use a red and white checkered tablecloth with chianti bottles as candle holders with wax dripping down the sides, or simply use a plain white, or bare wooden tabletop. Add real or silk strings of ivy around the room.
Add flowers for an added layer of atmosphere and aroma. We suggest our earthy Morning in Sorrento or our gorgeous Roman Holiday arrangement. Both provide an extra touch to make the weekend special and most of the following week!
Add an auditory layer to your italian atmosphere by playing great italian background music. Think opera for example. Some of Italy’s best singers include Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli (check out his album – Cieli di Toscana), Mina and Claudio Villa.
Keep it simple and focus on having fun. Turrn off the television, the computers, and the cell phones. Savor your time together and escape to Italy this weekend without packing or travelling!
This weekend, try to recreate a wonderful island vacation or enjoy a taste of the tropics at home! It’s fun to create a romantic date night using your imagination and ingenuity to arouse the senses with beautiful sights, sounds, flavors and aromas.
Set the patio or dining room with colorful beach chairs and beach towels. Buy a couple of coconut “glasses”. Throw in a tiki torch, a hammock, and straw hats! Light candles and place sand around the bases. Light the fireplace to create a warm ambiance.
Play soft, romantic music. Choose your favorties among calypso, reggae or Hawaiian music. If possible, add another layer of sound with an ocean waves soundscape CD.
Plan and prepare a simple, elegant meal, or pick up good quality take-out. Try to find out beforehand which foods your date particularly enjoys and serve them. Slice a pineapple into wedges and add kiwis and strawberries. Serve drinks with lime wedges.
Flowers are a staple of romance – feel free to use them liberally. We have great tropical flowers – take a look at a couple of our favorites.
For an Evening Outdoors
Coordinate your plans with the weather or natural events such as a sunset or a full moon. Be sure to check the weather forecast and have an alternate plan in mind, just in case.
Build a fire if your location allows, or bring along some candles or torches to provide light and warmth. Citronella candles might be advisable for warding off insects.
In summary, remember these items:
Candles and/or Citronella Candles
Pineapple and Strawberries (And maybe kiwi!)
Corona & Lime, Pina Coladas in Coconut Containers, Soda or Wine
Fine China and Flatware or Colorful, Tropical Paper and Plasticware
Tablecloth (or clean sheet)
Tropical Decorations on Hand. Sand, seashells, driftwood, pebbles…
Sometimes you really want to set a mood and make your time alone with the person you love simple and special. Here are 5 fun ideas to help you get started. Should you choose one of our suggestions or create your own, we wish you a fantastic evening!
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Indian: Chutney, Curry
French Onion Soup, Crusty Bread,
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Nights in Rodanthe
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Grilled Chicken or Steak
Numerous Votives, Strategically Placed
Double Indemnity (1944)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
The Bourne Supremacy
Soundtrack, Orchestral Score, Christophe Beck
Cheese, Fruit, Crackers
Tapers Melted In Empty Wine Bottles
The Princess Bride (1987)
King Kong (2005)
At First Blush
Pillars Arranged in River Rock
We also recommend making it easy on yourself. Order take-out, plan ahead for the DVDs and music, and use your fireplace instead of candles. Choose movies that you will both enjoy. Consider watching the first movie you saw together, listen to your favorite song, eat the foods you ate on your honeymoon. Mix it up; make it about both of you!
What do you do when your competition is not another woman, but another guy shooting a ball?
As March madness kicks into high gear, women whose husbands are sports fanatics can feel neglected and abandoned — it’s the classic “football widow” syndrome. But you’re not doomed to annoyance and resentment if you can meet your husband halfway.
Your goal is not to get your man to stop watching sports. After all, you wouldn’t be pleased if you were forbidden to engage in an activity that gives you great pleasure. It’s OK for you not to like sports — just as it’s OK for him not to like shopping.
Don’t forget that there are benefits to sports fandom. Sports fans have something to look forward to as well as a good avenue for blowing off steam. They are able to identify with a group and bond with friends over the game — all are plusses for mental health. Sports often create common ground for fathers and children.
A problem exists only if you feel your man’s sports fanaticism is negatively affecting family or couple time.
One good strategy is to do your own thing while your husband is watching the game. Plan your own day out with your friends or with other women in the same boat.
If you want to stay with your husband while he watches the tube, don’t feel obligated to watch intently. Do your own thing — read, write, do the crossword puzzle, brush the dog.
Use sports as a way to bond with others. Turn the game into a social event. There’s no rule saying you need to actually watch the activity on the field. Catch up with your friends, and spend the time talking rather than watching.
Make the game a family activity, too. When your team wins, you can go for pizza and celebrate. When your team loses, you can go for pizza and commiserate.
It’s pointless to tell your man you hate sports or you don’t get why he likes them. It’s better to try to get involved. If you have any interest at all, have him explain the game to you. (Don’t do this during a game. Badgering him with “What is happening?” is like talking during a movie and likely to annoy him.)
Have him discuss not just the rules but the players. Their personal stories are often far more interesting. Every team has its backstories and personalities — the bad boy, the underdog, the comeback kid.
Still if your man is watching sports to the point your marriage is suffering, he might be using sports to avoid you. Sportsaholics and workaholics sometimes immerse themselves in outside activities to avoid their home life.
If he places sports too far above your life together, it could be that something bad is brewing between you. In this case, his sports fandom is masking the real issue, and he won’t reduce his reliance on sports until that problem is solved.
So you should let him know that, while you want him to enjoy watching the game, you feel a distance between you, and you should brainstorm about ways to create inclusion.
Bottom Line: Don’t try to get a sports fan to give up sports. Instead, consider the positive aspects of sports fandom, and meet your man (or woman) halfway.
You procrastinated when planning a romantic Valentine’s Day this year? And now all the best restaurants are booked and the limo services aren’t even answering their phones. It’s not too late. Order the flowers. Today. Then plan some quality romantic moments for tomorrow.
Here are five great mix and match ideas for saving yourself and enjoying time with your partner. Keep in mind that you need to plan an experience, add the element of surprise, and, above all, be totally focused on your dearest.
Enjoy a picnic. Choose the location. Your living room floor, your backyard, at the park or public garden, anywhere you can spread a blanket will do. Choose the time. Breakfast, which might include your bringing a favorite cereal, bowls, spoons and milk. Lunch, which can be already put together sandwiches and chips on paper plates with soft drinks. Or you can order takeout from a favorite restaurant for a dinner picnic and include a bottle of wine and wine glasses. If it’s late enough, you can lie back on the blanket afterwards and stargaze and talk about life and each other.
Walk or hike. Walk downtown and window shop, holding hands and allowing yourselves a small budget to spend on each other. See if you can buy something without the other’s knowledge and surprise him or her. See a matinee or take a local bus tour. Or, if you have access to wide open country, go for a hike. Take along water and a small sack lunch. Plan ahead and think of everything so your partner can relax and enjoy. It’s always a good idea to have a surprise gift tucked away in your jacket or backpack to present while you are resting.
Gift a spa day. Giving a spa gift certificate is great, but not as romantic as being the masseusse yourself. You can provide a much more relaxing treatment at home and reap the rewards yourself. Usually a spa day would include a bubble bath, a massage, and a facial. Chances are you have all the supplies you need already on hand. Clean towels, bubble bath, a soft robe, a place to lounge, massage oils (protect fabric with a clean sheet if you are using massage oils), a mud mask, candles, and hot teas or decaffeinnated beverages are the basics. Put on some relaxing mood music. For more ideas, read Give Yourself a Spa Day. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Choose two or three things that you would feel comfortable doing, and keep it simple and easy so you are both relaxed.
Have a day of fun. Your partner’s idea of fun, that is. Spend the day doing what he or she likes and be gracious and fun. Take your camera or cell phone along and have strangers take your pictures as a couple throughout the day. Be spontaneous or prepared, based on what you know about your partner.
Plan a romantic dinner at home. The food is not as important as the work you put into it. Setting the table, putting on music, lighting candles and adding a few roses can make macaroni and cheese seem like a banquet. If you don’t want to cook and be worried about cleaning the kitchen, order takeout or delivery. Just remember to make it a surprise and look deep into your partner’s eyes during dinner.
And, some nice romantic touches that can add to any of the above experiences include:
Flowers – arranged to have them delivered at the beginning of your romantic efforts
Chocolate dipped strawberries or champagne
Tickets to an event that your partner will enjoy
A love letter or short, romantic texts – check out some love poems online
Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are located in McLean, Virginia.
Today, we want to talk about how to buy the perfect floral arrangement for Valentine’s Day. What we are going cover is, how to choose the right florist; how to choose the right flower and arrangement; how to get the best quality, and how to get the best performance and experience with your Valentine’s Day flowers.
Before we get going, let me say just a little bit about myself and MyFlorist. My wife and I started the company in 1989 and in that time we have grown to be a top one hundred florist nationally out of 25,000 florists in this country; and I think our success is because we have certain philosophical points that are important to us. We carry lots of flowers and we give our designers almost unlimited options to work with. Our designers are among the best in the industry. They are truly artisans and we want them to make each work a unique custom-made design.
So that’s a little bit about us. Let’s get going. What we are going to talk about right now is how to find the right retail florist.
How to Choose a Florist for Valentine’s Day
Brad Parker: Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are in McLean, Virginia. In this segment what we want to explore is, how do you go about and find the right retail florist. Today, it is become increasingly popular to go to the Internet and the Internet of course is best and wonderful resource and you can use it to get a good result, but you really do have to be careful. In our industry, if you go to the Internet the majority of the florist on the Internet are, what we call cyber florist. In other words, they don’t actually do anything more than take your order; they don’t actually have a store; they don’t actually touch the flowers; they don’t arrange the flowers. What they do is they take your order, they take a sizeable amount of the money, and then they send it downline to a florist that will fill it for them.
In our experience, it’s not a great value for the consumer. What I would suggest you do if you go to the Internet, my favorite thing to do is to go to Google or you can use one of the other search engines, but if you go to Google and you just type in florist and next to it your zip code or the zip code where you want to send flowers, what would immediately popup on the top and to the right are all the paper click adds. The majority of these florists are the cyber florist. If you are interested then drill down into their site and see if you can find a local address. You might not be able to find one at all and if you do you might find that it’s thousands of miles away.
Now, on the lower left hand side you have the organic listings. Many of these florists are listed. They are your local florist and it is a pretty good source to go to; but the absolute best place to look is in the middle left. Google will provide for you the names and addresses with maps of the local florist in the town or zip code that you just put your search for, so start there because there you are going to find a real florist that you can deal with directly.
Now, once you have selected a florist, you found a local florist or a florist that’s near where you want to have flowers delivered, the next challenge is to find out whether it is a established florist with a good reputation. There are many florists in our industry that are more like hobbies and they are like serious businesses. The problem in these instances are that they just don’t have enough size and volume to carry enough inventory of fresh flowers and they also often are not able to employ fulltime designers, who are truly talented and skilled in the filed. So one thing that I would recommend, if you find a local florist and you talk to them; try to find out and see if they have at least six to ten fulltime employees and a couple of delivery vans. That will tell you that they have a certain size; they have a certain critical mass, so that they can have a good inventory of fresh flowers on hand at all-time and they can afford to employee one or more fulltime skilled designers.
So these are some of the tips if you just have to go out there on your own and find a florist. My number one recommendation for finding a good florist is to get a referral. Talk to a co-worker, talk to a neighbor, talk to a family member, someone who has an established relationship with the florist and they have been getting a good result. This is the best single way to find the right florist to serve your needs on Valentine’s Day or any day.
In the next segment, we are going to look at how you can choose the perfect arrangement for Valentine’s Day.
How to Buy Non-Rose Flowers for Valentine’s Day
Brad Parker: Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist in McLean, Virginia and in this segment, we want to look at your flower choices on Valentine’s Day, if you don’t want to buy roses. In fact, 25% of the purchases on Valentine’s Day are not roses and the good news here is the universe of flowers is enormous. The variety of colors, shapes, textures and fragrances is absolutely wonderful and if you are working with the right florist and the right flowers and the right designer, it’s amazing what can be done. If you take a look here at some of these flowers, it’s a Gerbera Daisy, nice type, focal point in vivid color; you have Hydrangeas; you have flowers with the long lines. It’s incredible what can be done. The key, when you want to have a flower arrangement made for you on Valentine’s Day that’s not roses, is again to find the right florist. You need a florist that has a big inventory of flowers and has the right designers who can put them together in a way in which you are really sinks. Here is another example, actually a mixed arrangement with both roses and non-rose. These were Snapdragons, the long ones, but you can see, it’s done in the beautiful and unique design, which is going to make an absolutely lovely statement. So your options actually are large, but you want to find a florist that has the right inventory of flowers and the designers who can make something really unique and beautiful for you. Finally, what we want to address is which flowers last the longest. I am often asked this and in reality almost all flowers last plenty long enough to give you a great experience with your arrangement. The key is whether or not they are quality flowers and whether or not they have been handled properly and we are going to look into the quality and handling issue in our next segment.
“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.” Denis Diderot
Passion can be defined as a strong feeling or emotion. Passion makes your heart sing, your spirit soar and your life rich. We are passionate about flowers. We think, live and breathe flowers at MyFlorist.
We understand that your passions may lie elsewhere. You may be in love, have a cause, enjoy a hobby, or generally feel good about life. But sometimes our passions wane and we need to refuel. So here are ten ways to get back in touch with your passions.
Touch. Try the approach, “Less is More”. A whisper soft touch on the skin, fingertips to fingertips, can send a frisson of goosebumps all the way up the spine. Feel the texture of a baby’s skin, a soft blanket, or a windy day.
Breathe it in. Smell the fragrances of life. Take a deep breath the next time you find yourself in a room with roses. Laugh at the smells that come your way outside, pleasant or unpleasant. Smell triggers memories like no other sense. What smells make you feel warm and fuzzy?
Taste Savor the flavors of life. Our mouth is connected to our center. Slowly enjoy a meal, allowing each bite to fill your senses. Kiss as if it’s your first kiss. Taste with hunger, as if it’s your last kiss.
Hear what is going on around you. Open your mind, focus not only on words, but why they are being said. Most people aren’t tuned into the most effective communicating methods. Be a good listener. Don’t offer advice if it isn’t asked for. Sometimes being a sounding board is profoundly helpful.
See Rejoice in the visual beauty in the small things. The petals of a rose, the fluffiness of a cloud, the lines in your grandmother’s face. Go to an art museum and see how others express what they see. Gaze deeply in her eyes until you both giggle.
Visualize a scene where you are the star player, real or imaginary, where you feel the most like you. You might be alone, with someone special or in a crowd. Now own the scene. Make a goal to make it a reality, no matter how silly. You might have to adjust the vision to accomodate reality. You might have to work on it for years, or the rest of your life. Own your dream.
Focus Find specific times to spend on your passions. Make a date night with your dearest or allow yourself a few hours a week to nurture a hobby, old or new. Allow yourself to shed your everyday responsibilities during your focus time.
Move Find joy in movement. Dance, even badly, to your favorite loud music. Be a teenager at heart. Walk through the park with your child or pet. Feel your body functioning and rejoice!
Laugh Be emotional. Be happy. Be sad. Be angry. Feel what you feel. No emotion is bad as long as you have a positive means to express how you feel. Work on expressing yourself more by “getting in touch with your inner self”.
In the moment. We can only control ourselves in this moment and then the next. Life is a series of moments, and each one is precious.
Here are some tried and true steps for a classic romatic evening at home. The key is to set a relaxing mood and pamper her extravagently.
Step 1: Gather supplies.
2 – 3 days ahead of time.
Here are some supplies you may need to line up beforehand – keep in mind what she likes and make changes to our advice accordingly. If you are surprising her, hide everything!
Tapered Candles – at least 2, with holders. You can find these at a candle shop or a department store.
Wine – You can find good wine starting at $10 a bottle. Ask your liquor store clerk for help.
Flowers – Order a quality flower arrangement and have it delivered just before she arrives home. If you are not surprising her, you might want to have them delivered to her workplace. If you are ordering roses, buy one, two or three dozen. Call your florist and make arrangements now. Consider ordering an elegant centerpiece for the dinner table as well.
Mood music. Set up a CD or Ipod speaker system to play her favorite relaxing music. Burn her favorite mix, if you have the chance.
Bubble bath and votive candles. These can be found at a department store at the mall or possibly your neighborhood drug store.
You’ll need to either cook her favorite meal or order it for pickup. Plan this ahead of time so you aren’t stressed.
Step 2 – Set the Stage
2 Hours – 4 Hours Ahead of Time
Clean the house. At least the areas visible to her during the evening.
Set the table with your best china, cutlery, napkins & stemware.
If you chose a white wine, put it in the fridge to chill at least three hours ahead of time.
Put the tall candles in the center of the table. Don’t light them until just before she arrives.
Pick up dinner or begin cooking. Coordinate your cooking times with your personal grooming time and/or hers. If you are picking up, do it before she arrives.
Shave, shower and shampoo. Brush your teeth. Splash on a little cologne. Put on clean, dress-casual clothes.
Set up the bathroom. This is optional. She may enjoy a long bubble bath surrounded by candles while you finish preparing the food. It is okay to ask her if she wants a half hour or hour to herself before dinner. She may enjoy relaxing and making herself look good for you, too!
Step 3 – Meet Her at the Door
Just as the night begins.
Give her a kiss and present her flowers with a smile. Show her the table, let her know the menu, and offer her a glass of wine and a bubble bath. Time the meal preparation accordingly.
Step 4 – Wine and Dine Relax and enjoy the ambiance!
Turn on the music. Light the candles. Top off the wine glasses. Eat, drink and enjoy yourselves.
Step 5 – Be Charming and Considerate All night long.
Enjoy the evening. You both deserve it! Just remember to clean the kitchen for her the next day and bask in the loving looks she sends your way.