I Got No Sap

I might like Valentine’s Day a lot better if it came, say, in the middle of July when the weather is warm and I don’t have to put on twelve pounds of clothes just to go to the mailbox.  But as it is, February is not my best month – it’s been cold and gray and dreary since November and while I know intellectually that in March things will begin to warm up enough for me to begin to believe Spring will really come, knowing and feeling in February are two entirely different things.

Nor am I the kind of female that gets all sappy.  I’m not into the whole romantic comedy thing – I’ve never seen Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail or Pretty Woman – and for the most part, love songs make me cringe.  I read romance novels once in a blue moon, but when I do I usually find myself rolling my eyes and, occasionally, making fake barfing motions.  If a man were to begin quoting romantic poetry to me, I’d be hard put not to giggle during the recitation.

Which is not to say that I don’t like being told that I’m loved and appreciated, or don’t like getting flowers or jewelry or being taken out for a nice meal, but I don’t like getting those things because greeting card and candy companies and florists say I should get those things.  I want to receive those things because someone wants to give them to me.

Then there’s the small fact that I’m hard-headed stubborn an independent cuss and hate being told what to do.  Oh, I HAVE to celebrate your manufactured holiday?  Well, see this?  It’s my butt.  Kiss it.

That being said, Beloved and I usually observe Valentine’s Day in some fashion.  Last year, we were out and about a couple of days before The Day at the Hartville Market (I’ll have to do a Travel Tip Thursday post about that place soon) and Beloved bought me the Precious Moments figurine you see here, along with another of the black-and-white retro Mickey Mouse statuettes by Jim Shore.  Which was fine with me.  Sometimes we go out to a nice restaurant on V-Day, but mostly I cook a special dinner for us, which is what I’ll do this year.

If you like all the hearts and flowers and romance, I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day this year, I really do.  But if you’re like me, and find the fact that the local grocery store is offering “The Ultimate Stay-At-Home Romantic Dinner” for $25 (two dinky steaks and lobster tails in a heart-shaped container) absolutely hilarious, I’ll be more than happy to join you in the snickering.

For more optimistic Valentine’s Day posts, go visit Sprite’s Keeper and the Spin Cycle.

Money in the Bank #1…Oh, and Chocolate Souffle

Piggy BankThe wise and venerable Smart Mouth Broad has tasked our dear interwebz with a weekly feature alá the Spin Cycle – let’s all get together and share ways to save money.  Voila – we give you Money in the Bank.

I think it’s a dandy idea.  So here I am.  Oh, and looky here – I’ve brought my soap box along for the ride, too.

Ahem.  Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day*.  Beloved has already fulfilled his obligation showered me with lovely gifts for this superfluous “holiday” with this and this, reasoning (and rightly so) that he would spend that much on flowers and candy – things that wouldn’t last.  Ahhhh – now there’s a thought!

Money in the Bank Tip #1 for Valentine’s Day: Gentlemen, if you’re going to spend money, buy something that she’ll be able to keep for longer than a few days.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful (the key word here being “thoughtful”).  That being said, you should pay close attention to the first sentence of the next paragraph…

My good friend Twenty Four at Heart observed in her creatively-named Valentine’s Day post “Cupid is an Asshole” that, “Quite honestly, the most romantic meal in the world would be if a man put the effort into making a candlelit dinner for two at home.”  Since I can be reasonably sure that isn’t going to happen and since I also believe I’ve mentioned that Beloved is notoriously hard to buy for, I’m taking the easy way out:  I’m making dinner, including his favorite dessert, and then will pull some lingerie out of mothballs and spend the rest of the evening giving various parts of his body various massages.  Ahhhh – another thought!

Money in the Bank Tip #2 for Valentine’s Day: Ladies, you know what he wants.  YOU KNOW WHAT HE WANTS.  Give it to him!  Put some thought into it!  Put some effort into it!  You know that somewhere in your closet or dresser is something lacy or slinky that you haven’t worn in so long he’s forgotten all about it (although, granted, not as well as you may have).  Get it out.  Put it on.  It will make him happy and won’t cost you a red cent.  And you never know – you may end up enjoying it too.

So, there you go – two very sound pieces of advice for not only saving money, but surviving Valentine’s Day.  And you thought I couldn’t multitask.

Oh, and the Chocolate Soufflé in the title?  Beloved’s favorite dessert.  Here’s the recipe, as my Valentine’s Day gift to you, dear interwebz.  While it’s best started the evening (or at least several hours) before you plan to bake it, it is absurdly easy to make.  And it’s not expensive, either.  Serve it with some good vanilla ice cream – this is one of those gooey, intensely chocolate affairs.

Note: While the original recipe calls for this to be baked in small, individual springform rings, I bake it in a pie plate or small soufflé dish and serve it from there.  Not quite as elegant a presentation, but it is easier and it certainly doesn’t detract from the taste.

Chocolate Soufflé

Serves 4, or Beloved

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

3/4 cup sugar

1 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch

2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together.  In another small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks together.  Whisk the melted butter/chocolate mixture into the sugar/cornstarch mixture, combining thoroughly.  Stir in the eggs, just until smooth.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Butter a 9″ pie plate or small soufflé dish well.  Spread the chocolate mixture in the dish, and bake in the top half of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

Serve immediately.

*Re-reading this post, it sounds rather snarky.  I didn’t mean for it to, but I don’t have the time/inclination to re-write it.  I love you dear, and I love the figurines.  They look so nice in my new curio.

Spin Cycle: What’s Love Got To Do With It?

LoveThis week’s Spin Cycle has been absurdly hard to write, and I’m not sure why.  Not only that, I’m probably going to take a bit of flak over it.  But that’s okay – it wouldn’t be the first time I pissed someone off with my opinion.

Love is a great thing – a very necessary thing.  We all feel it and we all have the need to be loved by someone, somewhere.  Without it we would wither and die.  We often spend ridiculous amounts of time, energy and money attempting to find someone to love who will love us in return.  Sometimes, in our desperate desire for love, we find we ourselves in love with someone who is not right for us, and sometimes bad for us.

So, while I love and feel the need to be loved in return, I’m not a hopeless romantic.  Sometimes I doubt I’m even a hopeful one – I just find it hard, after all these years and yea, oh so many mistakes, wrong turns and dead-ends, to get all sappy about love.  Like most things, I try to take a sensible approach to it.

I sometimes find that I am irritated by the attitude of some women when it comes not to their expectations of love, but by their expectations of the expression of that love.  Women who get all bent out of shape when their man looks appreciatively at another woman particularly irritate me.  Hello!  He’s a MAN!  There’s a biological imperative at work here!  Oh, and you never look at another man?  Puh-leeze.

Love is not bouquets of red roses, candlelit dinners, hand-in-hand strolls down moonlit beaches, champagne on a fake fur rug in front of a fireplace and frequent declarations of undying devotion.  I suppose all of those things have their proper time and place, but expecting to be the center of someone’s universe is unrealistic, not to mention undesirable.  They have a name for men who make one woman the end-all and be-all of their existence – they’re called “stalkers.”

Let’s face it – that guy on a white horse, facing the sunset?  He ain’t there.

Now, having said that, Beloved was a great boyfriend.  Granted, he spent years as an extremely successful salesman and has the ability to understand the needs of a girlfriend client and act on those needs without going overboard and queering the deal.  So I got “wined and dined” in a manner that was just perfect for me, and our courtship was adventurous, passionate and only the tiniest bit sappy.  I had a grand time, and knowing what I know about the whole salesman thing didn’t hurt any of it a bit.

Of course, all courtships must end and as soon as he had his sale me roped in, he went into “support mode.”  The frivolities came to an end for the most part, and he began the very serious business of keeping the whole thing a healthy, functioning and profitable relationship for both of us.  Oh, there’s enough of the “fun” stuff to keep me from idly entertaining the thought of another hardware provider partner in life and that’s great, but it’s the support that’s important.  The hardware He does what he says it he will do.  He works tirelessly to keep things going, and if those day-to-day processes and procedures aren’t always glamorous or exciting, that’s okay – this system relationship isn’t crashing going anywhere.

I look at it this way:  he’s there when I go to bed every night, and he’s there when I wake up every morning.  If sometimes he rolls over in the middle and starts snoring right in my ear, hey – he rolled over in my direction.  Is he perfect?  Hell no!  But neither am I, and he accepts that and deals with it far better than anyone else I’ve ever met, or am ever likely to.

So what’s love got to do with it?  Everything, actually.  There may be no white horse, and the bouquets of roses and declarations of undying devotion may be few and far between, but that’s fine – I’m perfectly happy to walk off into the sunset years of my life being soundly and solidly, if sensibly, loved and supported by a good man.