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Monday, February 27, 2006

Post-Valentines Day

Valentine's Day has come and gone (really gone!) We did it again. We had a terrific, luxe Valentine's Day without breaking the bank. The two dozen beautiful white tulips are just fading now. They looked spectacular on the dining room table. The charming heart bracelet I received for the Day is still clinking away on my wrist as I write this (don't you just love when something is schmaltzy enough for Valentine's Day but still chic enough to wear after the big day is past!)
Dinner was delicious. Grilled sea scallops, roasted fingerling potatoes, and steamed asparagus. Yum. Healthy, fancy, delicious, and nutritious. And easy to clean up to boot!!
For dessert, we used a recipie from 1-2-3 Desserts -- a cookbook I'm loving at the moment. Everything in it has a mere 3 ingredients -- and whips together in no time flat. The first several recipies are very health conscious -- fruit only (okay, I added some shaved chocolate to ours for a special touch). We made 'Napoleons" out of sliced oranges and raspberries --- they looked as good as the photo in the book (unusual in my experience) and tasted delicious. Its actually the photo on the cover of the cookbook -- and probably what tempted me to buy the cookbook in the first place.
In listening to our friends and colleagues at work (who spent W--A--Y more than we did for the evening!) I think we had as nice a time than most and nicer than many --- and we were not lamenting the expense the next day.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Luxury Flowers for Valentine's Day

My husband and I have an arrangement. He does not buy me roses for Valentines Day (they're too expensive and I'm too frugal). He does buy me flower frequently throughout the year. I'd much rather have $100 worth of flower spread out into once-a-month posies than have one sorry dozen roses on Valentine's Day.
But, being the romantic that he is, that doesn't mean that he won't bring me flowers on Valentine's Day. He just won't bring me the traditional roses. And he definitely won't be spending $100 or more doing it.
My flowers for Valentine's Day will likely come from our local grocery story (which, by the way has a terrific floral department). Here's what we've learned (the two of us) about making that inexpensive grocery store bunch look and feel like the lap of luxury. After all, that is what riding on the coattails of luxury and chic is all about.
First, buy ONE kind of flower. There is something about the abundant look of a larger bunch of just one flower that feels richer than a mixed boquet. Choose one gorgeous flower in one color and grab a few bunches of them. Our grocery store sells them at 3 bunches for about $15 (some flowers are even a little bit less) I was eyeballing some really stunning, deep yellow daffodills today while shopping. I noticed my husband was checking out the tulips. Either way, a bunch with just one kind and color of flower always seems to look richer.
Secondly, unwrap the cheesy plastic sleeves from the grocery store. This step only matters on a day like Valentine's Day, where presentation is a big part of the gift. Any time that presentation matters, don't skip this step. Many times, the floral counter right at the store will assist you with this (you'll have to pay for the flowers separately at the floral counter, not through the regular checkout). Re-wrap the flowers in a solid color of tissue paper. If you can choose the tissue, so much the better. I keep a fairly good size pack of tissue paper at home for just this purpose (and a few others!). Select a color on the opposite side of the color wheel --- for my yellow daffodills, a deep blue paper. Wrap the flowers florist style and they'll look smashing -- much better than that awful plastic sleeve.
Finally, at home, arrange them in a simple vase --- again, soli