Monday, February 18, 2013

my simple valentine

One of my favorite things about holidays is that I get to prepare an extra-special meal for my loved ones to enjoy. It usually involves ingredients that we wouldn't normally purchase due to budget constraints and something that involves much more preparation than one of our "normal" meals.

Part of my desire for living simple means that I don't partake, or rather, am not interested in partaking in consumer driven culture---this encompasses our holidays.

For us, Christmas isn't about getting material things. Easter isn't about giving a child a huge basket full of sugary candy and various toys. Valentine's Day isn't about being taken out to the fanciest restaurant and being showered with jewelry. That's just the way we live though, which I realize it doesn't fit in with the masses.

But trust me, I love not fitting in with the masses. 

Money to me is a tool to be used wisely---not to be thrown away frivolously. I do purchase "things" occasionally, it just doesn't drive me. My energy is focused on relationships--making memories and creating a home. Your home is where you come to relax, to get away from it all. It is to be your safe haven. So I make sure to enjoy it.

So why would I want to spend Valentine's Day anywhere else?

This Valentine's Day I decided to make Pasta Puttanesca served with a Arugula salad and Bourbon Chocolate Truffles for dessert. The kicker out of all this---I finally get to break out my pasta machine that my wonderful fiance gave me for Christmas! Do you know how excited this makes me? Pasta puttanesca with homemade pasta?

Aside from the fact that I would rather be at home with Drew present than most anywhere else in the world, cooking from scratch provides a huge cost savings. And part of the purpose of this blog is living a frugal life, right?

So lets get down to the money business...

From my best guess---and it is very much a guess---our Valentines meal would have cost us around $120+ at a local Italian restaurant. Homemade pasta and sauce, great bottle of wine, spinach and Arugula salad, homemade decorated cost: $40 (we splurged, $20 of it was wine). That's an $80 savings. Does it require extra effort on my part? Yes. Does it take away time during the day where I could be doing other things, things that are more productive? Yes. Do I love every minute of it? Do I enjoy working on meal that not only I will love, but Drew will as well? Are we making wonderful memories and building upon our relationship? YES!

I'll take my $80 savings and extra effort and go home.

Might I also add that we went hiking as well. Aside from the gas we consumed driving, this cost us a whopping sum of $0. Literally, priceless.

Here's a few pics from our simple, absolutely perfect, valentine...

But first, allow me a moment of cheesiness, this is a Valentine's post after all: 
My fiancĂ© makes me want to be a better cook. A large part of that "joy" I get from cooking is because of him. He's so loving and encouraging with anything that I do. He enthusiastically supports me in any of my crazy cooking endeavors....which is saying a lot! A seaweed dish for dinner? Sure, honey! 
Such a lovely, wonderful man. 

Picture time!

Homemade pasta---gotta let it dry for several hours before cooking. 
Well, you don't have to, but it works better (in my opinion). 

The beginnings of the sauce. 
Have you smelled the combination of garlic, crushed red pepper and anchovies? Oh, my..... 

It's dinnertime, baby!

Now for some dessert makings.... 

Toasted coconut, toasted walnut and chocolate coated with a white chocolate drizzle.
I ate two. I have my wedding dress fitting in four days. This is could be bad. 

We also enjoyed a wonderful (albeit cold, especially for Alabama) hike at Ruffner Mountain
Yep, we're both nature loving crunchy folks---and I love every minute of it!

Here's the Amanda requested we-must-get-a-couple-shot-during-every-single-hike photo.
I used to have this great vision of making some photo album with all of our random hiking pictures---then I realized that I wear almost the same outfit every time we hike. To which we also do the same pose. After this realization I scratched my photo album idea.

Forgive the hair. It was a tad bit windy. 
Isn't he the cutest? 

I'll leave you with the words of the wise Porky Pig, "Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-... That's all, folks."

You know you just read that in your best Porky Pig voice. 

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