Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giardino di Fiat {Dinner Date at Home}

Oh, man, y'all! I have a confession to make. My darling, sweet, amazing, wonderful husband has been feeling a mite neglected lately. :-( I KNOW!! Here I am trying to encourage everyone to be intentional about your relationships while my very own marriage was taking a little hit.

Now, I'm not beating myself up because I know that the last few weeks he has been traveling a lot, which means I've been THE parent, which means when I happen to have gotten a free moment or could use him to "babysit" while I go grocery shopping or see my DFFs for a couple hours, I have taken it. It's been a season. And I also know I haven't been totally inattentive, but our quality time has suffered. And I know that there is more I could be doing to remind him he is special.

So, when he told me he needed a date, I took that as a challenge. I'm good at that. :-) I started planning Tuesday evening's date on Monday morning, brainstorming over text with the DF gals. I had some inspiration because at Walmart the other day I picked up a frozen skillet dinner for 2 that happens to be one of the hubster's favorite meals from Olive Garden - Steak Gorgonzola. I think I pretty much made the day of the older gentleman handing out samples when I taught him how to pronounce all those Italian cheeses. :-)

Next, I decided to hold our evening in the garage as opposed to the patio since the forecast said rain and storms. I dug out the one and only tablecloth that I own (a hand-me-down from my in-laws), some Christmas light from the attic (and all I could find were the blue ones) and some red bead garland (also from the attic). That's where I got the inspiration for a "Roses are red, Violets are blue" decor theme.

I have these cubicle walls from when I have done craft fairs in the past. I picked them up off Craigslist for a good price, and, while they have stood useless in the garage for a couple years, they were put to good use for this purpose. With my 5-year-old daughter's help, I got them all set up and connected in a stable shape. Then I got out an old rug we haven't used since we moved to our house over 4 years ago and put that down.

Riley was so excited to help out! I asked her why she thought that her daddy and I had date nights, and she replied, "Because you love each other, and you like to be together." I'm so glad she sees that in us! Such an important heritage!!

I cleaned up our patio table and rolled it through the house to the garage. (At this point is was storming so hard and flooding the back yard. I got soaked just cleaning off the dust so I could get it through the house!) Next came all the decorating, searching for recipes for the rest of the meal, the grocery shopping for the extras, designing the invitation and the menu and the music playlist, etc.... Whew!!!

Nearly 2 full days to set up, but it was so worth it!

I sent him a text to let him know not to park in the garage. :-)
I know, not the cleverest of rhymes, but I was rushing at this point, okay?
The invitation presentation on the bar stool.
I got the idea for the movie and the wording for the second part of the invitation from  The Dating Divas.
The name for our restaurant was totally my idea though. Translated roughly to "Garden of the Fiat" - Fiat being an Italian car brand. Heehee!! Yes, I am a nerd!
Welcome to Giardino di Fiat!

My sweet husband took and edited all these beautiful pictures for me. Isn't he something?

In addition to the Steak Gorgonzola (which, by the way, did not taste like a frozen meal!), we also had a copy-cat Olive Garden salad with homemade dressing from this recipe, store bought breadsticks, and store-bought frozen turtle cheesecakes. I also made some Peach Bellini Tea by brewing some Lipton's hint of raspberry iced tea, sweetening it and adding some frozen peaches for garnish and flavor. No, I'm not ashamed of getting store bought items. I worked my tail off with the rest of it, and really I think the food tasted better for my not slaving over it this time around. :-)

Everything was delicious! I think hubster was impressed since he kept saying, "This is really cool, Susie!" :*) We did get to entertain sweet Jonah for a bit, and I ran inside multiple times for the next course, but we really did have a lovely time, and it was almost like escaping for a while.

We put the kids to bed early and enjoyed While You Were Sleeping until we both dozed off. A fitting end to the evening after a day of travel and date night set-up. :-)

Perhaps the best part of the whole thing, apart from getting to do something special for my wonderful husband, was him telling me the next morning that our daughter has been watching me and learning how to do sweet and thoughtful things for others. She apparently set up an elaborate tea party, designed invitations for each of us, and displayed my invitation with a toy rose. I'm so happy to be passing along a desire for serving others to my children!

I hope this has inspired you to make extra effort to do something special for your loved ones. It feels good to serve others, and doing something out of the ordinary can be a great boost even to a happy relationship.

Have you had any unique ideas for date night lately? Share them with us, won't you?

Linking up here:

Living Well Wednesdays at Women Living Well
Works for Me Wednesdays at We are THAT Family
Things I Love Thursdays at The Diaper Diaries


  1. This is so sweet...and an inspiration! Good for you for finding a way to bring such a special time into the middle of your week. :-)

  2. Definitely an inspiration! Can't wait to my own date with my husband. Love all your decorations! :)