Thursday, February 20, 2020

Valentines, Wine Parties, and Presents

Hello blogosphere! These days when I log in, I really do feel like I'm getting to say hi to a set of old friends. Happy belated Valentine's! I hope yours was filled with whatever you wanted, be that chocolate, champagne, a round of Parcheesi, and/or an early night with a good book.


I've always enjoyed Valentine's Day. I've been married forever, so the "having a Valentine" part is baked in, and we've always kept it small enough to be sustainable, but sweet enough that I do genuinely look forward to it. We do cards, sappy ones we take time to pick out separately, and dinner- some years it's a fancy one that James makes, it used to be a heart-shaped pizza (we miss you Mangia in Austin), and lately it's been heart-shaped pasta with a pink tomato cream sauce or a heart-shaped pizza James shaped himself. It's fun and a little silly and any weekday with an excuse to drink a bottle of champagne and employ themed lingerie is worth celebrating.

This year our kids dominated both the daytime and nighttime schedule- a theme that I think will remain for the next 12 years, but we fit in takeout Thai, a Sparkling Rose, and even a well-timed round of Parcheesi in between the pick-ups and drop-offs.

The kids woke up to the traditional Valentine's table. The Target tablecloth and plates, circa 2015, cards specially picked out by James and some little treat picked out by me (this year a bigger treat than normal thanks to a "buy 2 get 1 free" special at Walgreens; also the fluffy rainbow llama spoke to my heart). And candy I want to eat later sprinkled across the table. And a bulldog, who understood this was where the stuffed animal were supposed to be.

I love the care with which James picks out the cards and writes his notes to the kids. They're very individual and completely perfect.

The bracelet in Cora's card plays a rousing snippet of "Happy" and it is her favorite thing ever. James has regrets.

That night, Cora had a dance at her old preschool that she was DELIGHTED to attend as a wordly Kindergartner. Landon had his final Cotillion, wearing his first tie since his 1-year photos. He's so cute. And Claire crashed our Valentine's takeout dinner.

After the Cotillion, where Landon danced five dances he claims not to remember the names of, there was an after party full of pizza and dodgeball that ended at 10:30. And so, at 10:45 on Valentine's Day, James and I were awake only because we were waiting for our child to arrive home. The beginning of a new era for sure.

On Saturday, I went to Orangetheory where I burned 615 calories and nearly killed myself running inclines on the treadmill and Landon competed in Spelling Academic UIL, where he placed 3rd! And then I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking, baking, cleaning, and decorating for our grown-up Valentine's wine party!

Score cards, pencils, 24 wine glasses, kitschy Valentine's decor, and new outfits!

My dress had a petticoat and I LOVED it. Maybe A-line dresses with volume are what I was always meant to wear? I had a waist! A fake one, but I loved it!

Food abounded (I made Caprese Skewers, Cheddar Bacon Ranch Dip, French Dip Sliders, Valentine's Party Chex Mix, and Sopapilla Cheesecake (recipe below, it's AMAZING) and friends brought more,

Friends were present,

Maggie was petted,

Wine was tasted and tested and scored,

My friend Kim and I visited the same hair stylist before the party.

(It was her.)

(By the way I'm wearing the red lipstick I bought in 2010 and described in this post and pictured in this one and I can't believe it was 10 years ago that I bought it. Do lipsticks expire? I wear it approximately 1.5x a year and it could last longer than I do. Also, I've been blogging forever. Look at that Big Law attorney with two children, no hobbies, and a house in Austin? Who even is she?)

Scores were tabulated in excel, because accuracy and taking things out to the fifth decimal place are important.

As are reading people's comments are the wine they're tasting. Particularly when the wine they judge most harshly is the one they brought themselves. (The wines are placed in numbered bags by me and no one knows which is which.)

And my wine won! Good old MoonX, my "house" red blend, purchased from Trader Joe's for $6.99. Being the hostess, I felt that I should not take my own prize, so we moved to 2nd place, a delicious Garnache brought by our friends Haley and Julian. The prizes were donned immediately for a picture. I love a theme.

The final medal stand contenders:

1st: MoonX Silver, Cabernet blend ($6.99, Trader Joe’s)
2nd: El Vivero de Usaldon, Oregon Garnacha ($13)
3rd: Mother’s Choice, Cabernet Sauvignon ($11)
4th: Bucket List, Cabernet Sauvignon ($5, Albertson’s)

It was very fun. I love a themed party. And wine.

The next day, which is now Sunday, my parents arrived as a stop on their trek up to Colorado for the Spring and to celebrate my birthday a week early. As it would happen, Sunday was also their 40th anniversary! So we went out to celebrate at our favorite Fort Worth fancy restaurant.

Look at these two crazy kids: February 16, 1980.

and February 16, 2020.

It was a great night an I'm so glad we got to celebrate their love and commitment and the gift those two things have been to me, both growing up and now as an adult.

On Monday, a holiday for me and the kids but not for James (now that my parents are retired, they're quick to point out that everyday is a holiday for them!), we went on a long walk with all three of our dogs to work off our indulgent meal the night before. Except for Maggie who rode in her stroller and worked off nothing.

I wondered if she'd be embarrassed, riding in her chariot while my parents dogs who are 2.5x her age managed on foot, but no. She seemed quite pleased with her accommodations. It's as if she knew that's EXACTLY where she should be. Then she napped with her new friends all day to recover.

My dad took the kids on adventures all over Fort Worth while my mom and I did our traditional shopping. I had some birthday money to spend and we had a blast (and, per my phone, walked 15,000 steps, which feels exactly right). Somehow she talked me into this loose pants and cropped top shirt and I have to admit I kind of love them. Will I ever wear the out of the house? Unknown.

We picked out the most beautiful dress for me to wear on James and my 15th anniversary beach trip this summer, a Trina Turk number I love more than anything I've ever put in my closet, and purchased at the Clearance Dillards for 15% of the nearly $400 asking price. I also picked up a swim suit cover up I love, yellow sandals that make me smile, and a red skirt I wore today to speak at a local law school. It was a great day and each time I see or wear the things we picked out together, it makes me smile all the more.

For dinner that night we had my grandma's Mexican casserole, a cake they ordered as a surprise, and a fancy candle they brought from Houston. It's so fun getting to celebrate your birthday with your parents and your kids.

They left before dawn on Tuesday morning to continue their drive and our week kicked off with a bang. I worked all day Tuesday, taught my Tuesday night barre class at 5:30, subbed a TCU yoga class at 6:30, and then came home to eat dinner, tuck my kids in bed, and work until midnight reviewing exhibits and prepping for the testimony I had on Wednesday. Then I dragged myself back out of bed just after midnight because I remembered I had drafted and scheduled the PTA newsletter it's my job to send out every Wednesday morning. I'm very glad it's now Thursday.

I need to go to bed, so I leave you with this cheesecake recipe as my Valentine to you. It's from my friend Sarah (actually, from Sarah's grandparents, as the recipe is adorably signed) and it is DELICIOUS. It won our SEC dessert contest last year and only one piece remained after my wine party on a counter with MANY desserts. I can't recommend it more highly.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 - 8 oz. pkgs cream cheese
2 - 8 oz. pkgs Crescent dinner rolls
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbl cinnamon, combined
Zest from half lemon

1. Sprinkle little bit of cinnamon sugar in bottom of 9x13 pan.
2. Unroll and flatten crescent roll dough on bottom of pan.
3. Mix sugar, room temperature cream cheese, extract, and zest; spread over dough.
4. Unroll second can of crescent roll dough and flatten on top of cream cheese mix.
5. Pour melted butter over top of dough and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
6. Bake at 350 for 30-40 mins.

Happy almost-Friday to you and those you love!


  1. Happy belated birthday!

    Also, that a-line dress is fabulous :)

  2. Yours is the only blog I still read after reading dozens. It's my favorite and I get so excited to check back. The party looks so fun and happy birthday!!!