dinner at eight :: italian style - part 2

{Dinner at Eight is a special project I am doing with my friend Rebekah this year - planning date nights at home for our husbands every other week, putting the kids to bed early and being intentional about our marriages! Read more Dinner at Eight posts HERE!}

This date more than ever reminded me of the importance of setting aside intentional time with my husband. Last week was a seriously exhausting week. It was super busy- there were lots of things taking us away from home all week, which contributed to the physical exhaustion. But there were also some serious things going on that were weighing really heavy on my heart. The kind of things that consume you. The kind of things that you have to just keep on handing back to the Lord, over and over again. 

So try as I could, I just couldn't pull our date off on time. So I postponed it, with the intention of doing it Friday night. Friday night came, I made our main dish, but we were both too tired to make it happen. So we postponed it to Saturday night. Saturday I was gone all day because I had two photoshoots out of town. Came home and we both agreed to postpone the date yet again. Big mistake. 

I woke up on Sunday morning in the worst mood. Seriously bad. And I just couldn't snap out of it. But I didn't have any problem snapping at Erik and the kids. Oh, it was bad. And of course, my bad mood rubbed off on everyone. By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, we were all grumpy. Erik let me take a nap (because I obviously needed one!) and I woke up feeling much better and determined to make up for how I had been acting all day. 

I read this quote on a dear friend's facebook page on Sunday night and it describes it all so perfectly: 

"It takes a certain amount of effort to be miserable and another kind of effort to be happy, and I was willing to do the work of happiness."
Ann Patchett, "Truth and Beauty

I fed the kids dinner and got them ready for bed, then I set to work preparing for our Italian feast. Meanwhile, Erik headed to the hardware store to get some supplies for our little backyard garden. And that, my friends, was the secret. We both spent time apart, consciously doing something for the other person. While I was preparing our dinner, I was thinking about Erik and how I wanted to make the dinner special for him. I was preparing my heart for our time together. And at the same time, Erik was doing something for me- he knew that I really wanted to get started on our garden during the weekend, so he took the time to get the supplies and begin work on it; doing something special and intentional for me. I can't even begin to tell you how much willingly, intentionally serving your spouse changes your heart. It works. It really truly works. 

And in reference to my plans, here is how the date went...

 {pull the little square kitchen table into the living room  for something different}
 We tried this (Erik was hesitant at first) and we ended up loving it! It felt so much more cozy and intimate sitting at a smaller table, and Erik even made the comment that it made it feel like we were in a restaurant!

{cover it (the table) with a tablecloth ( hopefully red + white checkered + vinyl (!), if I can find one at Joann's...)}
I ended up to just using one of my own vintage tablecloths and it worked just fine. I didn't have the time to search for anything fancy during the week, but my mother-in-law did mention that she saw some of the red + white checkered ones at Safeway, if anyone else is interested! 

{lots and lots and lots of white tea lights in little canning jars, Rebekah-style }
Why oh why do I not do this more often? It is such an easy and beautiful way to dress up a table. Totally going to be a staple from now on. 
{fiestaware plates (as usual)- maybe the green + red this time...or would that be TOO Italian?}
 Used the fiestaware, but ended up just grabbing a random assortment of colors. 

 {red wine}   
 I am not the best at picking out wine (that is usually Erik's job!), so rather than spend a lot on a really bad bottle, I ended up just grabbing one of the cheap $2 bottles at the grocery store. It wasn't the best wine we have ever had, but it was good enough!

{garlic bread}
 I bought roasted garlic french bread from Costco, sliced, buttered, and broiled it and it was awesome.

{a green salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette}
Didn't end up making homemade vinaigrette, but no one noticed! 

{this pasta for the main course- a Pioneer Woman recipe}
It was my first time trying this particular recipe and it ended up being pretty good. Erik like how meaty it was, with less emphasis on the tomatoes. To be honest, if it had been my choice, I would have made this (it is amazing!), but since it was all for Erik, I think it was a good option! However, if I make it again, I will definitely half the recipe- we ended up having way too much left over.

{creme puffs for dessert}
I did buy some from Costco, but Erik wanted ice-cream instead (which always sounds good to me!). 

{the conversation will include lots of reminiscing about our trip to Italy five years ago}
Truth be told, we didn't talk about our trip to Italy at all. But we had a really great conversation, nonetheless! 

{the night will end with a showing of one of the following movies (I am still undecided. Or maybe I will let him choose!): Roman Holiday, Gladiator (needed to throw a guy/action movie in there), or Return to Me. I am kind of leaning towards Return to Me because we haven't seen it in forever, but of course, I always love Audrey Hepburn...}
 Yet another confession: no Italian-themed movies were watched. By the time we were done with dinner, it was nearly 11:00 and Erik really wanted to watch a rerun of SNL, so that is what we did!

{And just in case you are tempted to think that the entire date went off without a hitch, let it be known that we were interrupted many a time by a certain five year old...}

In retrospect, if I had the entire thing to do over, I would have made all the extra effort it took to make this date happen so much sooner. I would have made sure it happened on Friday, or at the very latest Saturday. We desperately needed the time together and nothing cured our grumpiness until we invested some intentional attention to each other.

Lesson learned.

{Dinner at Eight :: Italian Style- Part 1 can be found HERE!}
{And don't forget to check out Rebekah's lovely (as always!) date HERE!}


  1. That first picture is so beautiful and cozy - love it!

  2. I love it! What a great date... you know I've been plotting one for Karl. Hopefully soon... thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Part 2 - I love your honesty Miss AndiMae! Even though this date was postponed 1 too many days seems like perhaps the timing you did this was awesome...The part about you two being apart for a few hours, doing something "intentional" for one another was very touching.
    You certainly have a knack for painting a beautiful picture with your words. Thanks again for the inspiration.
    Bless you sweet daughter :)