Sunday, January 31, 2016

Love is Dizzying, But Romance Is All About Balance #FreshTastyValentines #sponsor #giveaway

This sponsored post is written by me on behalf of UncommonGoods. All opinions are my own. 

Today is the kick-off for a multi-day, multi-blogger event I coordinated called Fresh Tasty Valentines. How do you feel about Valentines' Day? At almost forty-three years old, it's growing on me. Again.

When I was a kid, Valentines' Day was exhilarating. One year, in elementary school, I remember making all of my Valentines' cards with my mom, taping bubblegum to the cards on which I had painstakingly written - in bubblegum scented pink ink no less - 'Stuck on You!'

Then, in college, I worked as a florist. And my disdain for the holiday was born. I worked at a flower shop because I loved flowers - all those the scents, all those the textures - and I loved creating something beautiful that a fellow flower lover would enjoy. 

But on February 14th, directly proportional to the proximity of dinner time, men would line up for a dozen long-stemmed red roses. It wasn't thoughtful. It wasn't creative. And it certainly wasn't authentic. It was obligatory. 

"How about something a little less common?" I suggested once, reaching for a bunch of fringed parrot tulips that were a sunny yellow bloom tipped in scarlet. The man nearly bit my head off in his impatience. "I just want the long-stem red roses and I'm already late for my damn dinner!" he bellowed. 

How's that for romance? For years after college, I despised Valentines' Day. 

I firmly believe that love and romance belong front and center all the time. Why is February 14th designated as a day for people to show their sweethearts that they are adored? What about the other 364 days?!?

I would rather get a bunch of handpicked wildflowers on a random day in August than a dozen red roses on a day when florists mark up their wares beyond the typical 300% markup. Thankfully all three of my boys know this and I find flowers from the garden in a mason jar on the table when their bushes are in bloom.

A Hand-Picked Rose from My Boys' Garden

I know that I sound unapologetically unromantic. Is there a Valentines' equivalent of a Grinch? That would be me. Would have been me. But one of my boys loves Valentines' Day and spends weeks planning his cards for his classmates; so, we make the cards together. Kinda like my mom did with me. I love that and it's helping to melt my iciness towards the holiday.

I look at it this way: I love my Valentines (my Love and our two boys) 365 days of the year. Why would I refuse to celebrate that affection just because everyone else is celebrating on that same day?!

And, truth be told, I'm not unromantic. I love romance. I just don't reserve romance for February 14th. Jake and I take our romance to the redwoods, on a lake, to the snow, and to the beach. All. Year. Long.

Me and My Valentine

After nearly sixteen years of marriage, and eighteen years together - the most important thing to remember: love is dizzying, but romance is all about balance. So, that is the filter - that it's all about balance - through which I view Valentines' Day now. To that end, I have partnered with UncommonGoods to share a recipe for a romantic date night at home. No need to go out an spend a lot of money, though that can be fun, too!

What to Know About...

UncommonGoods is a company that this laid-back, tree-hugging couple from California's central coast wholeheartedly adores. At the root of the company is an passionate respect for creative individuals. Their business practices are rooted in the belief that they have a responsibility to positively impact the globe.

Watching the sunset on our first trip to Mexico with my parents. May 1999.

Headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is a privately-owned retailer whose mission is to shine the spotlight on unique products and handcrafted gifts and provide a sales venue for artists and designers. All of their products are produced without harm to animals or people.

While I have enjoyed every product I've ever received from them - and I've been purchasing from them ever since I heard about them a decade ago - here's what really makes me smile: half of what they sell is handmade, a majority of their products are created right here in the United States; and nearly a third of their entire collection utilizes recycled and/or upcycled materials.

Browse their gifts collections for your sweetheart or for your best girlfriends or yourself.

For this UncommonGoods-sponsored post about Valentines gifts, I am sharing my recipe for the best gift ever: a romantic date night at home.* And I am thrilled that they agreed to sponsor my #FreshTastyValentines online blogging event. They will be giving one of our readers a $150 gift certificate for a shipping spree at their online marketplace. See the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post for more information and to enter. Good luck!

You can browse their Kitchen-Bar collection here to come up with your own combination of things to have a great night in. Like all good recipes, I hope this inspires you to get creative and mix it up!

A Recipe for Romantic Night In: 
It's All About Balance!

Ingredients
  • Your Sweetheart
  • No External Distractions
  • Something He Likes
  • Something You Like
  • optional: a roaring fire, your favorite tunes


Procedure
Your sweetheart: Grab your sweetheart. It doesn't matter if it's in the dining room, the living room, the bedroom, or the backyard. Just be in the same place at the same time with the goal of a little romance.

No external distractions: Shut off all devices. Yes, this is very important! Your sweetheart deserves your undivided attention; and you deserve his. Let the phone calls go to voicemail. This also means that you need to get a babysitter and send the kiddos out for a few hours. Or make a late-night date for after the kids are in bed.

Something He Likes: I affectionately call my sweetheart a 'Sugar Pig!' Actually, I am pretty sure he called himself that once...and it stuck. Though I am more of a savory gal, I had to make something sweet for him.

Also, I am more of a wine-drinker. I will drink beer, but my husband thoroughly enjoys beer. So I decided to host a Valentines Beer Tasting for him.

I love all of the glassware that UncommonGoods sells. From elegant to chunky and austere to themed, it's as fun as it is useful. Check out the glassware collection here. While I was perusing that I found a 13 Piece Beer Tasting Set (here) that was perfect for my plans. I'll post about that date night in soon!

Something You Like: As I said, I'm more of a savory girl. And true confession: my husband hasn't set foot in the kitchen in 18 years. Okay, that's not totally true; he comes in the take out the compost bucket nightly and the garbage whenever it needs emptying. But we do not share cooking duties. I know he must have cooked before he met me, but that was a long time ago. And he probably would cook more, but I'm territorial in the kitchen. 

Since I love to get creative in the kitchen, I wanted to try the Gourmet Island Sugar Set (here) and the Dessert and Baking Salts (here) and work some culinary magic for a date night dessert. The balancing act: it has both sweet and savory and - believe it or not - the ubiquitous Valentines' flower: roses!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
with Rose Peppercorn Salted Cream 

Ingredients makes 6 individual cakes

  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 C butter, cubed
  • 3/4 C organic raw turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 C rum soaked sugar, part of the UncommonGoods Gourmet Island Sugar Set (here)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 T whole milk
  • 1 T honey
  • 1/4 t rosewater
  • 1 can coconut milk (chilled overnight)
  • 1/4 C organic powdered sugar
  • rose peppercorn salt for garnish, part of the UncommonGoods Dessert and Baking Salts (here)


Procedure
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease your baking dishes. I used individual heart-shaped springform pans.

Place chocolate and butter in a bowl over a medium saucepan of water. Over medium low heat, stirring often, melt chocolate with butter until completely blended. Add sugars and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in milk, honey, and rosewaer. Sift cocoa into bowl and stir until just blended.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cakes have risen and top has formed a thin crust. The cakes should be just firm in the center when done. Let cool completely.

Open the can of chilled coconut milk and remove only the thickened coconut milk solids. Leave the liquid in the can and use it for another purpose.


Place in a mixing bowl with powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.


To serve, remove cakes from the pans and place on individual serving plates. Top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream. And sprinkle with rose peppercorn salt. Serve immediately.

While we sipped and nibbled the cakes, we made our way through the What I Love About You by Me Book (here).

So, do you see the underlying thread of a romantic night in? Be together. Have fun. That's it!

You can't buy love. But you can certainly find some unique gifts that help in making an evening with your Love more fun. Best. Date. Night. In.

*Disclosure: I received complimentary products, of my choosing, from UncommonGoods for the creation of this post. This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.*

Find UncommonGoods
on the web: here
on Twitter: here
on Facebook: here
on Pinterest: here
on Instagram: here
on Google+: here

Enter the #FreshTastyValentines Giveaway
that includes a $150 shopping spree
at UncommonGoods

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 comments:

  1. i feel the same way as you do about flowers! i like the interesting ones. :) or white roses, because they're my sorority's flower. my husband knows to not waste his money on red roses. :)

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    1. That's great! Thanks for joining me in posting for #FreshTastyValentines!

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  2. I get flowers throughout the year from my husband and he always treats me like his Valentine so we don't really celebrate the day at all. I would much rather stay home and snuggle on the couch than fight the crowds at a restaurant.

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    Replies
    1. Totally agree! Thanks for being part of #FreshTastyValentines, Wendy.

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  3. Awwww, love this post, and a perfect cake to celebrate the special romantic day! I officially adore Uncommon Goods! Thank you for all you do, T

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  4. Great post, Camilla, and I wholeheartedly agree. I would much rather have handpicked flowers. Thanks again for putting this all together. Your are SuperWoman!!!!

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  5. I'm with you on the flowers, Camilla! Thank you for hosting this awesome event and a shout out to all the sponsors that made it possible!

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  6. You put this together despite how you feel about the holiday? I love it! Great recipe for a night together, too. :)

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  7. Great post and a yummy dessert! I am excited to be part of this!

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  8. I can completely see why working in a florist would put you off! To be honest I'm not sure I have ever been that big a fan, I prefer signs of affection when they are spontaneous rather than instructed, as you say. Love the sound of those cakes!

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  9. Oh that rose peppercorn salted cream sounds divine!

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  10. I agree with you on Valentine's Day. I've never been a big fan and do not like roses (any day of the year). It's sweet that your boys show their love all year round. I'm sure my V-Day celebrations will grow beyond our traditional fondue as my boys get older.

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  11. These cakes look amazing, Camilla! I'm dying for some good chocolate cake. I'll be making these for the hubs.

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