Love with a side of Mayo.

When I met my husband it was love at first sight. Even though we were very different people from very different backgrounds, we didn’t care. Like a monster truck roaring down the highway, tossing rational thought to the backseat and empty beer cans out the windows, our love was YEEEEHHAAAWWW!!! Days flew into weeks, weeks into months, and before we knew it, we were getting married. Yet despite our commitment there remains one fundamental difference between my husband and I. Something few couples can resolve without tension, especially when children come along.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but for years I’ve tried to convert him. I know it’s wrong to foist your opinions onto anyone – let alone the person you hold most dear. But I simply can’t understand why he doesn’t feel the same way I do. How he can’t see the beauty in the light! The purity, the wholesomeness. The divine deliciousness of mayonnaise. That cloudlike concoction of whipped oil and egg, the condiment that elevates a humble sandwich to celestial heights. You wouldn’t think something so creamy could be so divisive. But when a person has devoted years of their life to something as important as a choice of condiment, it’s bound to cause trouble when the spouse isn’t on board. The problem? My husband HATES mayo. And I’m a homeowner on Hellmann’s Hill.

Ooooh how I LOVE mayonnaise! And have for as long as I can remember. The look of it, the smell of it, the touch and taste of it brushing past my lips to my tongue. Just thinking about it now is making my mouth water. Even on my low sodium diet, I simply cannot say no. I know I should, I try to limit my consumption. But whereas normal people keep a normal size jar in the fridge, this is how I roll:

GALLON SIZE, BABY!

Now don’t be a hater. If you, like my husband, don’t feel mayonnaise is pure ecstasy, that’s okay by me. Feel free to pass that little plastic cup of yours on over. I like EXTRA. When our daughters came along I wondered on which side of the fence they’d fall. And as luck would have it, we got one of each. My older daughter hates mayo with a passion. My younger eats mayonnaise sandwiches: mayo and bread. She may even like mayonnaise slightly more than me, but as a fellow devotee, I understand.

The reason I am writing this mayo post is NOT b/c we are out of mayo. Heaven forbid! No, we restocked last month and we’ve still got a little ways to go:

It’s because of this mayo “issue” between my husband and I. You see, he’s a mustard man. I like mustard, really I do, but it’s not mayo. And even though I know my husband detests mayonnaise, I am constantly trying to get him to fall in love with it like I am. So I try to slip it in things when he’s not paying attention. Today he caught me fixing some sandwiches for him and spreading the rye bread with mayo. Just a thin spread – almost undetectable – and only on the one slice, but he caught me. And yelled. And then stormed out the door. When he came back in I made my “sad face” at him and apologized. He hugged me and said it’s frustrating not being able to eat a sandwich the way he likes it. Especially when he’s told me, oh, 6,703 times he doesn’t like mayonnaise. But deep down in my heart I just KNOW he’ll love it.. one day.

20 Years Later…

Weeks ago I blogged about whether or not to attend my upcoming 20 year high school reunion.  I detailed the specifics and asked readers to weigh in on the issue (via the post SHOULD I STAY or SHOULD I GO?) Thanks to many of you for offering your opinions and encouragement (and even bigger thanks to my folks for getting me a free hotel room), I made the decision to – GO FOR IT!

I spent Thanksgiving Day in Maine with my family, cooking and feasting, and the rest of the weekend traveling to & from Philadelphia for this “once in a lifetime” event.  And as promised, I’m BACK to blog all about it!  WOOT!  I’ll try not to dwell on the drive – which for a normal person would have been grueling but for someone like me (with Meniere’s) was just shy of hellish, and instead focus on the PARTY.  My 20 year high school reunion in a nutshell?  CRAZY FUN.  Truly one of the most unforgettable and surreal experiences of my life (drive included).

Picture yourself traveling back in time… 5 years.. 10 years.. 15, 20… You step into a room filled with former classmates, and…

From the moment I arrived at the reunion, I was transported – not just back to high school, but all the way to childhood.  Greeting me at check-in was a friend I’d known since I was 5, who’d slipped a Van Halen poster into my 6th grade desk to impress me.  There stood friends I’d known for YEARS, people who’d played with me as children, laughed with me as adolescents, and Yes, even dated me as teenagers.  Most of my very best friends were in attendance, all of us reunited under one roof.  And seeing each of their faces, changed after so many years, and yet so fundamentally the same, was worth every bit of the travel agony I had endured.

My 20 year high school reunion was amazing, not just because of the memories it brought back, but because of our collective present.  Teenage insecurity, awkwardness and fear be damned!  Each of us returned to this reunion armed with 20 years of personal growth.  Regardless of career choice, whether married or not, childless or not, rich /poor/ or in between, all of us are now (thankfully) adults.  And at age 38/39, most of us seem to like ourselves.

And you know what?  It shows.  From the get-go I was astounded by just how great everyone looks!  Sure, we’ve all aged, but on the whole we’re far more attractive now than we were in high school.  Why?  Because 20 years later… we’ve grown up.  And not just up; we’ve grown INTO ourselves.  As teens we thought we knew everything, but we spent more time wondering what others were thinking than ever truly thinking.  We worried, we picked, we agonized over minutia.  Time has erased many of those petty concerns, replacing them with understanding and PRIORITIES.  We’ve faced challenges, we’ve made accomplishments and we didn’t need to waste the night trying to prove anything.

Instead we enjoyed each other, and ourselves. We made chit-chat with those we recognized, we delved deep with those we’d truly known, and I for one came away changed. That’s what happens when you reunite.  You can close a chapter on your life with a smile, and without regret. Whether you’ve told someone they were special, or said you were sorry for a past wrong, reunions are an opportunity to explore another side of yourself. A former side, finally at peace with the present.  It was a wonderful night.

Huge thanks to the reunion committee for all their hard work, and to the many people whose photographs I’ve reprinted here — thanks for the memories!

Photos courtesy of Amy Eisman Kaplan, Jill Katz, Shawn Kwon-Chang, and Brian Miller, Chorus Media.
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Your own PERSONAL CUPID

Sometimes I think fate is out to make me its mistress. Take this thrift shop find: a whole store’s worth of vintage 80s Valentine cards. I just couldn’t resist. Maybe I could have if they’d been the traditional schmaltz, but most of these cards are suggestive. Who doesn’t like a nice racy card? Pretty hot stuff for 1985. Like this one:


Winky eye + smoke coming out of head = Most magically delicious valentine ever

Could there be anything cooler than whipping out a 1980s Recycled Paper Products, Inc. valentine, seemingly out of thin air? These things don’t just grow on trees (I am speaking figuratively here, b/c yes I DO KNOW THEY USED TO as they are composed of 100% recycled paper* obviously way ahead of their time). But you know what I’m saying. Especially if you lived through the 80s. Of course they were stupid and Hideous then, but it’s 2008, Now they’re RETRO.

Remember that TV show A CURRENT AFFAIR? No, I was not suggesting you’d ever watched it either. But I have a card based on it. Other winners include Boynton and the comic strip Cathy. The rest just suggest SEX.

But the greatness of this find doesn’t stop there. You see, my life is all about LOVE. I love LOVE. I enjoy joy. Valentine’s Day was MADE for people like me!! So now I have this surplus of vintage Valentine’s. AND a compulsive inner drive to make others happy. I’m thinking of starting up my own (one-season) seasonal business and I’m going to call it “Your own PERSONAL CUPID”. After all, just last week I posted a whole whopping list of creative, thoughtful, and CHEAP ideas for Valentine’s Day. because that’s just the kind of loving creative thoughtful and cheap person I am. But this idea goes well beyond all that. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have a completely anonymous stranger act as your cupid? I can write and speak English (and a little French – oh la la! the language of looove). I can come up with interesting, totally spontaneous greeting card messages like “BABY, oh BABY. I am thinking of you right now. Meet me at the train depot at 6 PM tonight. I’ll be the blonde with the suitcase.” Or, “I WANT YOU. AND I KNOW YOU WANT ME. Guess who?”

GREAT stuff , huh?

What could be more titillating than sending a Secret Admirer valentine to someone you have the hots for?? IT IS GREAT.

Think about it:

  1. I send your love a card FOR YOU.
  2. They get it in the mail. Surprise!
  3. He/she looks at the postmark, thinking who the hell lives in Philadelphia? SURPRISE!
  4. He/she opens the envelope to find a HOT!HOT! message, signed with YOUR NAME (WHEN DID THEY GO TO PHILLY??) or NONE AT ALL.
  5. He/she cannot believe it – and WHAT A COOL CARD TO BOOT.
  6. BEST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER!!

Great ideas for Valentine’s Day. Creative. Thoughtful. AND CHEAP!!

This post was inspired by my blog buddy, Hayden, who just wrote about The Big Day. And it got me thinking. I’ve done lots of sweet things for my husband on Valentine’s Day, I really should share some of them. So whether you lack creativity or money (or both), here are some ideas to make V-day sizzle. JUST REMEMBER: You do not have to spend a lot of money to make someone’s Valentine’s Day the best they’ve ever had. Romance is in the eye of the beholder and thoughtfulness always trumps money when it comes to true love.
Now.. onto the ideas!!

Image courtesy of ValentinesDayIdeas

1) I don’t normally toot company horns, but this one is so great, I am making an exception. My husband and I made books – REAL books – as presents for some of our loved ones this year, and they were fabulous. It was beyond easy to do and truly affordable. Go to BLURB.COM and download their bookmaking software for FREE. Then upload photos of you and your sweetheart, personalize everything, and order. Blurb.com does the rest. Choose from soft and hardback styles. We’ve done both and they are simply AWESOME. Your loved one will be touched beyond belief.

2) Not into that? Then make your own scrapbook. I have made several of these for my husband. One with all of the emails we exchanged in college. Sweet and silly. Another with all of our wedding mementos. Another with poems. You get the picture. All that matters is that it’s from you, filled with loving memories of your time together. They will LOVE IT.

Image courtesy of BlissTree

3) Make a gift basket filled with treats he or she especially loves. This does NOT have to be expensive! One year, I went to the dollar store and bought a brand new woven wicker trash can, a silk red rose garland, and every single Reese’s peanut butter cup variation I could find – 12 packs, singles, white chocolate, candy bar interpretations, etc. I went home and arranged everything artfully in the basket, wound the garland round the top, then delivered it Valentine’s Day to my husband’s office as a surprise. I cannot tell you how many women SQUEALED IN DELIGHT!! when they saw me coming. My husband was floored when he came back to find this sitting on his desk. They charge a fortune for this stuff online. DO IT YOURSELF. Just vary the basket filling according to what your significant other likes. Candy bars, snacks, health food, fruit, specialty foods, beer, wine, arts & crafts supplies, beauty supplies, sporting goods, you name it. IT’S ALL GOOD.

Image courtesy of Cookerie-Girl

4) Decorate your bedroom to set the mood. One year I went to the Dollar Store and bought a bag full of party decorations. Streamers, hanging lanterns, hanging hearts, etc. Then I pulled out some white Christmas lights and I decorated our bedroom, weaving the lights around our bed, hanging the hearts above, etc. My husband was so surprised!! And it was so lovely with the fairy lights and everything, it looked like our own private wonderland. We kept the stuff up for weeks afterward it was so nice.

Image courtesy of DesignFling

5) Instead of taking him/her out to eat, cook dinner yourself – or hire a friend, family member, someone else to. I dated a chef years ago – he made me dinner one night at his apartment and I still remember the meal – figs stuffed with cheese, softshell crabs. Amazing. But you don’t have to be a professional cook to impress. Check my website for recipes! Heck, email me and I will even talk you through it. Just take the time to show your loved one how much you care. Skip the expense of a faceless meal. Make your own. Or pick up take out food and pretend it’s your own. Still impressive! You can confess later, after you’re both full and happy.

Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

6) Couples massage ROCKS. But you don’t have to pay a professional to touch the one you love. DIY, baby! Buy a bottle of scented massage cream or oil, at home place a clean sheet over the bed, dim the lights or better yet, light some candles, and put on some relaxing music. Invite them to their very own “spa”. Crack your knuckles and work it. They will LOVE YOU for it. Trust me.

Image courtesy of SheKnows

7) Make your loved one a card. Hallmark doesn’t know them, BUT YOU DO. What is it about them that you love? Their smell? Their eyes? Their sense of humor? EVERYTHING? WONDERFUL!! If you’re good with words, write your own poem for them. They will never forget this most simple gesture, ever. If you’re not good with poetry, just write out your feelings. That’s all that matters. Even just, Honey, I love you. Always. For a woman this is everything.
I still have the only secret admirer valentine I’ve ever gotten. It was handmade, just a piece of plain white paper with blue pen. 18 years later, I still think it’s one of the sweetest things anyone’s ever given me.

Image courtesy of HomeLifeWeekly

8) Plan a date night out. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE!! Be thoughtful. What does your s/o like? Art – take him/her to a museum. Nature? Go to a local park or arboretum. Sports? Take them to an event. Music? Go see a local live band. And so on. For our first Valentine’s Day together, my husband – then boyfriend- and I were flat-out broke. He took me ice skating along the Delaware River. It was magical and cost almost nothing.

Image courtesy of LakeGeorge

9) Instead of buying chocolates, make your own. Check my website for a decadent peanut butter truffle recipe. Bake them a heart-shaped cake, or a big tin of cookies. DELICIOUS + MADE IT YOURSELF > CRAP CHOCOLATES IN HEART-SHAPED BOX FROM CVS

10) Print and frame a nice photo of the 2 of you. My husband framed my favorite picture of us and gave it to me as a Christmas present this year. I burst into tears, it was so sweet. I LOVE IT. And he/she will too.

Image courtesy of PersonalizationMall

11) Have a special skill or talent? SHARE IT. Are you good at making things? Then make something for your loved one. Write them a story. Draw them a picture. Build them a birdhouse/ bookshelf/ mailbox. Good at fixing stuff? Fix that broken cabinet that’s been annoying her. Or the car. Or the dishwasher. EVEN If you’re totally talent-less, you can still do something thoughtful. CLEAN THE HOUSE! Or the basement, or the WHATEVER. Do the laundry. The dishes. You get the picture. I know you don’t want to do it, but neither does she, and trust me, she WILL REMEMBER THIS, and in a GOOD WAY.

Image courtesy of Anonymous8

12) This one’s more for the men out there. Buy something to pamper her, especially something that she wouldn’t normally buy herself. A treat. Is she a waitress, a chef, a nurse or doctor? Someone on her feet all day? Buy her a foot bath, foot cream, and give her a foot massage. Is she an overworked mom? Give her a night of relaxation away from the kids. FOR INSTANCE: at Trader Joe’s they sell gorgeous French-milled natural soaps, with scents like lavender and lemon verbena. Since they go for $4-5 bucks EACH, she won’t splurge on herself, but YOU CAN. Buy her four different scents, along with a new thick bath towel, scrub brush, and a scented candle. Throw in a CD of her favorite relaxation music – I recommend Astrud Gilberto. Chill a bottle of wine for her. Fill the tub. Then take the kids to the park.

Image courtesy of SupremeMassage

13) Are you musical? Write her a song and she will be yours forever. Can’t carry a tune? Then make her a mix-tape of songs that remind you of her. Even if you can’t sing, they can. And that will woo her far better than you crooning the hits if you can’t croon, though she’d probably still like it anyway.

Image courtesy of IndiaForums

14) This one may take some doing, so it’s good I’m posting this early. Make her a movie or simple video asking her to marry you, or just proclaiming your love. You can upload it to YouTube, or put it on your own website – or even just email it to her. Or you could invite her over for a special screening. Be creative.

Image Courtesy of GreenvilleDailyPhoto

15) NEW!! JUST ADDED!!!!!!! Order a one-of-a-kind portrait of you & your sweetie!!

***Whatever you do, IT’S the gesture that counts. If it comes from the heart, it’ll be amazing. Just think of the person you love, only of them and what they enjoy. Then imagine how you can make them happy. Can you bring them something? Do something for them? It’s often the simplest things – not the most expensive or elaborate – which mean the most.