Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

The Card Lady

valentine's day cards

I dated my husband for 10 years before marrying him. I like to be really sure of my decisions before acting upon them. When we finally did marry, I realized that I would need to carve out a role for myself in my new family. Being an only child, I never had to do this before. But now, I had 2 brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law, and a second mom and dad. That’s a lot of personalities in the mix, and I wanted to stand out.

When I was younger, I pictured myself becoming Wonder Woman. At five, this was a literal interpretation. My cousin even custom-made me a costume complete with bullet deflecting wrist bands and a Lasso of Truth. As I got older my interpretation of what becoming Wonder Woman would mean changed significantly. I pictured an amazing career in advertising, a husband who adored me, a charming, neatly kept house, and the time to craft, bake, garden, and throw decadent parties to rival the ones seen on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (sans all the crazy drama).

But then I met “Leslie” (name changed to protect the guilty). Leslie is my sister-in-law, a.k.a. the second coming of Martha Stewart. She is the ultimate household superheroine. She bakes bread from scratch, grows a vegetable garden in the backyard, wins “yard of the month” for the beautifully landscaped front yard, collects antique furniture, and cooks entrées like Duck Confit Cassoulet that requires two weeks to prepare. Oh yes, and she also sells high-end real estate and is raising the perfect, gorgeous blonde-haired child who prefers caviar to hamburgers and the viola to the violin. She’s 11.

How I would love to wrangle Leslie with the Lasso of Truth to find out how she does it all! By comparison, my house is rarely neat—matter-of-fact there are several doggie fur tumbleweeds rolling by on the hardwoods at the moment. I don’t bake or garden even though the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter has been collecting dust in my garage for the past two years. I have never baked anything “from scratch” and the edible mainstay of the parties I throw include appetizers from Costco and dinners from the Honey Baked Ham Company. I just don’t have the time or energy for much more. And since I don’t have kids, it doesn’t seem I deserve a free pass for my mediocre existence. (At least, that’s my impression.)

So since the role of Domestic Goddess was so clearly already taken by my sister-in-law, I needed to develop a new persona for myself. Hence, The Card Lady was born. Actually, she wasn’t just born as I had been sending cards to family and friends for years. More accurately, she was rediscovered and newly impassioned.

My card giving surpassed the handwritten thank you note (a sadly dying art) and the traditional birthday card by leaps and bounds. I was a woman on a mission, to send cards for every holiday. And not just ANY card, but the absolute perfect card for each recipient. One that would resonate with them, make them laugh or cry—a card for them to keep and treasure forever. Or so I would like to think.

I scour every card rack that I see. I seek out high-end card boutiques. The magnetic stripe on my plastic Hallmark Gold Crown card is well-worn and I always use the gold seals provided on my envelopes to show that “I cared enough to send the very best.”

And for all my efforts, I have received more than I have given. My family has begun sending cards too—for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. My in-laws even sent our dog a Christmas card containing money for visits to his favorite doggie daycare. (He’s really spoiled.) But by far the very best outcome has been that my husband, for each year since we’ve been married, has given me a custom-designed Valentine’s Day card featuring our anniversary year on the cover. This year marks our 9th Valentine’s Day together as a married couple and he continues to make me feel adored every day.

It turns out that I’m not the perfect homemaker that I thought I would be, but hey, that’s okay. I’ve evolved into someone who I think is pretty wonderful all the same. And it turns out that I had my own unique super power all along—the ability to make people feel loved and appreciated with a simple hand selected card and personal note. Take that Martha Stewart. XOXOXO

Eating My Centerpiece

As a pre-Valentine’s Day surprise for my husband, I planned a wonderfully romantic dinner for two. The highlight of the meal was the stuffed pasta shells which he adores but that I rarely fix because it makes a mess of the kitchen. In addition to the candlelit ambience, I had devised a beautiful centerpiece ironically inspired by the 2006 movie “The Break-Up” starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. In the movie, Jennifer’s character asks her boyfriend (played by Vince Vaughn) to bring home 12 lemons for their dinner party centerpiece. Unfortunately, we never get to see the citrussy main attraction because he only brings home 3 lemons. (Apparently, he never listens, which is one of the factors leading to the break-up.)

So, I was left to my own imagination to figure out what a lemon centerpiece might look like. My only clue was that it would require 12 lemons. (Not 3, but 12.) I put 12 lemons in a bowl and it looked like—well, 12 lemons in a bowl. So I added some yellow flowers that I bought on my third trip to the grocery that day and voila!—a bright, cheerful centerpiece was born.

And it was a good thing that the centerpiece was so cheerful, because what happened next did NOT make me happy. With T-minus 45 minutes, I raced to take a bath and get dressed. In the 10 minutes that I was in the tub my dog managed to steal a purple pen from my purse and eat it on the orange wool entrance-way rug. Then, with ink-covered paws, he walked on the hardwood floors to the living room rug, then popped up onto the sofa and later trekked to his water bowl. It didn’t take advanced sleuthing skills to determine the sequence of events. The track of purple doggie prints, ink splattered everywhere, the remains of half a pen and the fact that my once yellow-looking lab mutt was now sporting purple paws and lips told the whole story.

T-35 minutes: Panic ensues. Dripping wet, and naked except for a towel, I dash across the living room praying that the blinds are closed and cursing my dog who looks utterly un-phased. I quickly wipe the ink off the hardwoods. “Thank God, it comes off!”

T-33 minutes: I frantically grab my phone and Google “How to remove ink stains from carpet”. First suggestion is rubbing alcohol. I looked in the medicine cabinet and we don’t have any. “Crap!”

T-31 minutes: Second recommendation on the list is to dab a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar on the offending stain. In my panic, instead of dabbing, I dump. Now there are mounds of white baking soda scattered from the front door to the living room, and when the vinegar is added they bubble over like little volcanoes spewing purple-tinted lava. I begin scrubbing furiously. (Which is exactly what Google said not to do.) The stains remain and the damn dog is smiling (laughing, actually), “Bugger off, Hooper!”

T-10 minutes: I’m freezing. I’m still naked and wet! Shit! “Please God let my husband be running late.” After insisting my husband be home promptly at 8pm I was now wishing for a small traffic jam or an interstate construction hold up. I spend my few precious remaining minutes recovering all the stains with baking soda. I prefer the “Pompeii ash-covered look” to the “my dog slaughtered Barney the purple dinosaur” crime scene.

T-5 minutes: Fastest getting dressed and made-up in the history of womankind. “Maybe he’ll assume my heavy breathing is in anticipation of our romantic evening?” Not a chance. My tear-stained face will give me away not to mention the powdery mounds throughout the house.

The dog is barking like a banshee. My husband is home.

After a quick explanation of the day’s crazy events, several more ineffective scoldings to our dog, and a few very large glasses of wine, we did finally sit down to a great meal and a relaxing rest of the evening. It’s just ink-stained stuff, and in the grand scheme of things, not that big of a deal.

By now you are probably thinking that this is a “making lemonade out of lemons” story, and you are right. Literally. My centerpiece flowers finally died several days ago and now I am left with a bowl full of 12 lemons and nothing planned for dinner tonight.

T-3 hours: Time to Google, “Recipes using lemons.”