nerdy girl dates: valentine’s day

In case you’ve been living under a rock and not watching any TV or reading anything online or going to any store, Valentine’s Day is in a few days, people. While I’m generally not a Valentine’s Day fan, I am a romance fan (last year’s faves) and a marketer’s dream, in that I love anything pink, red, heart-shaped, sparkly, and generally over-the-top cute. You make a mini heart-shaped ramekin? I want four. You put hearts all over…well, anything? GIMME. I love celebrating love, but I’m totally not into the roses-chocolate-overpriced-dinner-and-lava-cake thing. I am especially not into enduring any more “Every kiss begins with Kay” commercials. We don’t usually do gifts besides maybe a bag of “thinking of you” candy, but my goal each year is to make our celebration just a little unique. Recently, and I’ll be honest here, it’s been the same old dinner-and-watch-a-movie-on-the-couch kind of night. Nice, and sadly very reflective of me and the husband as a couple, but we pretty much do that every weekend. Not so special.

We are, of course, always last minute about these kinds of things, meaning we can never get a reservation at a restaurant or get tickets to a concert or movie. No biggie, we don’t really want to deal with the crowds anyway, but it means we’re in the aforementioned Valentine’s Day rut. This year V-Day is on a Saturday, meaning there’s a WHOLE DAY to do romantic, mushy, love-y stuff! Here are a few of the fun and nerdy date ideas I’ve been planting in the husband’s mind all week:

-Go to a bookstore and pick out a book or two to exchange. It can be one you’ve loved in the past or one you think they’d love (that of course is also on your reading list…two birds, one book). I know there are also cute bookstore scavenger hunt ideas all over the internets if you’re feeling especially ambitious and cutesy. Finish up with a yummy coffee and start reading!

spin-a-record

-Along the same lines, go to a record store (or a CD store? Was that ever a thing?) together and pick out a few inexpensive oldie-but-goodie selections or some random albums just because you like the art. Spend the night giving them a spin with a bottle of wine.

-A staple: find a fancy new recipe and try to cook it together. Bonus points if you wear aprons and silly hats to make each other laugh. Extra bonus points if it involves the crème brulee torch and cute heart-shaped ramekins.

-And if that gives you a heart attack: order carryout from a nice restaurant and plate it like you made it yourself. Be sure to wear your fancy clothes! (We may or may not do this every year. I hate cooking.)

beer-tasting

-Host a blind beer, wine, or bourbon tasting. Take notes and compete to see who can guess what they’re tasting. This one is especially fun if you’d rather hang in a group, and you get to eat lots of snacks in between tastings!

-Three words: Board game tournament. You can decide the stakes. Wink wink!

-Enjoy a nice meal out…just not dinner. We’ve got the whole day! Use it! Bypass the typical dinner date and go out for breakfast or lunch. I personally LOVE lunch dates. Somehow it feels so like such a treat to enjoy a glass of wine and a slow, relaxing meal with good conversation in the middle of the day. Or stay up late and go out for a nightcap and dessert. What could be more romantic?

-Go on a first date. It’s probably impossible to get dinner reservations at this point, but the bar in a swanky restaurant might just be the best place to have some fun together. Plan to meet separately at a bar and pretend you’re strangers. Have fun deciding who gets to creatively ask, “want to go back to my place?”! (Anyone see when they did this on Modern Family? I love Clive Bixby.)

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Whatever they are, I hope you feel loved!

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nerdy girl reads: favorite love stories

So it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s portrayed as a very divisive holiday, either you love it and go over the top (the average person spends something like $200?) or you hate it and want to curse the little flying fat guy. I don’t really fit into either category. You all know that I am a sucker for love stories, but I also think any day when we get to celebrate love in this harsh world of ours is a great thing. On the other hand, I don’t really like celebrating some random day with the husband just because everyone else is. In the spirit of making this world just a little more loving today, here are a few of my favorite love stories. Go check them out and feel your heart grow three sizes today!

Favorite-Love-Stories

Classics

Wuthering Heights
If you’re expecting to see any Jane Austen on this list, you’ve come to the wrong blog. Not impressed. The Bronte sisters, however, can do no wrong. And Miss Emily especially. She is really wicked. There is something so haunting about Heathcliff and Catherine, everyone is just so broody and dramatic. None of the characters are likable and all the relationship dynamics are crazy effed up…but it’s a grotesque train wreck you simply can’t stop watching. I love to pick this one up over and over when I’m feeling crazy – to remind myself that people are FAR more insane than I ever will be.

Les Miserables
So much dramz! I adore the French Revolution and all its blood and gore and passion. It just seems so much more uncouth than ours was, maybe because the monarchs weren’t separated by an ocean? Anyway, what could be better than a saga weaving together the Revolution, a man’s attempt at redemption, a prostitute who has to sell her hair and teeth (!), a love triangle, and pages upon pages of revenge plots? I highly enjoyed the twists and turns of this crazy long classic and loved the relationship between Valjean and Cosette (not all love stories have to romantic…but Marius is pretty great too). There is so much to love in Victor Hugo’s masterpiece.

Gone with the Wind
Again with the dramz. Only this time pull out your Southern accents, y’all. Rhett is so dreamy. And ok, Scarlett is pretty much an annoying spoiled brat through the entire 1,000 pages. But you love to hate her because she’s a survivor and she shows our decisions and morality aren’t always so black and white. The history of this book is enthralling and all the characters are layered and complex – it leaves you breathless (probably because reading it is like running a marathon). I first read GotW in high school and it’s on my list to pick up again…I can’t wait to see how my feelings about it and its impact will have changed in the last 10 years.

Romance (If you want to really steam things up a bit…)

Nora Roberts’ Sign of Seven Series (Blood Brothers, The Hollow, The Pagan Stone)
OMG I loved these books, like read-the-whole-series-in-two-days-on-vacation loved. Bring together 6 hot friends (who are perfect matches for each other, naturally) and a demon-curse and you’ve got the Sign of Seven series. I really enjoyed the different personalities of the friends and reading each couple’s story throughout the series. The supernatural/fantasy part of the book creates a great mystery and is actually a bit scary in some places. The background and history Roberts weaves into the plot make it almost believable and the characters really are charming. (I’d call this romance-lite: the emphasis is on the love story and the demon, not necessarily the sexy times.)

Lisa Kleypas’ The Hathaways Series
If you want to turn the heat up a little bit, the Hathaway family can show you how. I have never been one to pick up so-called “bodice-rippers,” but a friend loaned me a Hathaway at book club and I couldn’t put it down. And then I read the other four. Each of the five books in the series tells the story of how one of the Hathaway siblings met and fell in love with their significant other. They are all super fiesty (not at all appropriate in Regency England, mind you) and bring great wit to the stories. My favorites of the series are Tempt Me at TwilightMarried by Morning (this one is about the only brother in the family and was fantastic), and Love in the Afternoon. These are definitely good old-fashioned smut, but they are never over-the-top cheesy and are great fluff reading.

Anne Rice’s The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
Fair warning: NOT for the faint of heart. I know it says Sleeping Beauty up there, but forget everything you know about the fairy tale when Anne Rice gets a hold of it. In this tale, Sleeping Beauty is not woken up by a kiss; it’s a bit more graphic than that. She is taken by her prince to his kingdom where she is kept (with many other princes and princesses) as a sex slave. I won’t lie, there’s a lot of BDSM…like 50 Shades without the crappy storyline and with much better writing. It is definitely not a romance. No love story at all. You will blush crimson. This used to be pretty heavy erotica, but I saw it in Target the other day. Go figure. (PS: Mom, if you read this…sorry.)

Contemporary
Me Before You/The Fault in Our Stars
If you’ve been reading the blog in the past year, you know from my reviews that both of these books destroyed me in the best possible way. I group them together here because they heave similar plots and deal with the same issues of love and death and living as much as we can right now. And both make you run up to your husband in ugly tears sobbing, “please don’t die!” Just me? Anyway…neither are happy. At all. But they are beautifully written love stories that remind us of the power we have over each other and how important it is to treasure the ones we love.

The Rosie Project
Not wanting to feel all the things? No prob. Check out dear Rosie, one of the wittiest books I read all year. It’s funny and charming and incredibly smart – it’s truly a rom com in book form. (But a good rom com, like Crazy Stupid Love or The Proposal good.) You will fall in love with the peculiar Don and wild child Rosie and root for them to get together until the very end. Originally written as a screenplay, the novel jumps right off of the page. It’s a fun and quick read with surprising heart and complex, likable characters (for once).

The Little Lady Agency
I have SUCH a soft spot for British chick lit. I read the Shopaholic series over and over in high school and think Bridget Jones is awesome. No shame. But even better than Beck Bloomwood’s misadventures are the tales of Melissa Romney-Jones. She’s practically perfect in every way, but can’t keep a job or get a man. To avoid embarrassment from her MP father, she creates a bombshell alter ego and starts the Little Lady Agency, a freelance girlfriend service to help clueless bachelors shop, entertain, and navigate social minefields. Most of her clients are straight up nerds…until the hot American shows up! But does he like her…or her wig? Straight up chick lit, but super fun and romantic.

Happy Valentine’s Day! What’s your fave love story?