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Friday, July 23, 2010

Bring Back the Silliness!

The hottest part of summer has arrived.  This is the time of year I usually feel the most lethargic and uninspired.  The haze and the humidity just make everything seem heavy and tiresome.  Hours spent in climate control make me soft to the great outdoors.  I wilt the moment I step outside.  The glass door is fogged over by 7:30 a.m. and we hurry the dog through her visits to the yard.  What better time to settle in for an afternoon movie?  Something timeless and romantic.  Like, The Marx Brothers!

Groucho has to be one of the greatest romantic heroes.  Who can resist that greasepaint moustache and those waggling eyebrows?  Not to mention the cigar.  Silliness aside (well, that's impossible as long as we're talking about the Marx Brothers), I do love the films.  And, formulaic though they may be, there are certain aspects I always look forward to and others I always laugh at - and heartily, just like the first time.  I love to watch Chico play the piano.  Harpo's harp playing is enchanting.  I can't help myself when Harpo tries to explain through whistling and gestures to Chico that Groucho is being duped by a woman (though, Natalie could do without that - we've discovered she runs from the television whenever there's a screaming monkey and whenever Harpo does his thing).  But, then, there's the inevitable wooing of Margaret Dumont.  Whatever characters they play, the wooing is always the same.  

Where has all the wooing gone?  Swallowed up in sophistication and sobriety.  Where's the silliness?  I mean, after all, what in life can't benefit from a little silliness?  It's terribly romantic.  Think how great you feel when you laugh.  

So, there's my prescription for the summer blahs:  see Dr. Hackenbush for a healthy dose of absurdity and kiss me in the morning!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Ordinary Day

Today I was reminded of a simple yet important truth.
     This morning Shellie and I visited a local farmers market. Not the height of the harvest season, but still plenty of good fresh produce to choose from. While we strolled up and down between the various vendors, we chatted with friends, farmers and each other. We pretended to be very knowledgeable as to what was best in fruits and vegetables. After a truly enjoyable time, we left with two large canvas bags of straight-from-the-farm goodies. Then this evening Shellie banished me from the kitchen while she prepared dinner. While I surfed on the world-wide she was busy chopping and cooking. The big moment, we lit candles, played soft jazz, and sat down to a wonderfully delicious meal of roasted vegetables, tossed salad, free range eggs, sliced tomatoes, hummus, and a mouth watering peach dessert. It was a  feast for the eyes, nose, and palate. My only contribution was to light the candles, pick the music, and brew the black walnut coffee. Shellie was responsible for this culinary treat. Store produce can't even begin to compare. Our day was, in many ways, an ordinary day. But also extraordinary in its own right.
The truth I remembered was this, romance is often found in the ordinary. When you get to share your life with the one you love, any day can be memorable.                                 Bruce

Guest Blogger: Bruce Foltz

Later this evening I will be hosting a guest blogger:  my husband.  I'm a brave, brave woman.

Monday, July 12, 2010

That Must Be Some Good Ice Cream

Black walnut ice cream.  My favorite.  A couple years ago I bought Bruce a little book about unique places in Missouri.  It's got listings of restaurants and things.  Last summer he drove me to Stockton, Missouri just to get some black walnut ice cream from Hammons Emporium.  It was worth the hour drive.  So much so that today we did it again.  It was better than I remembered.

On the way home we drove through Greenfield just to see what it was like, circled the square and noticed the old Opera house.  We detoured in Ash Grove to see the site of our wedding 12 years ago.  A one-time bed and breakfast that is now someone's very cute loft apartment.

I realize gas is expensive and I realize it's not a good thing to be mindlessly contributing pollutants to the atmosphere; but, may I recommend a good old fashioned Sunday drive any day of the week you can manage one?  Second to a picnic, the Sunday drive is simple romance at its finest.

When Lucas was younger and we were first married, we tried to do family dates.  That meant fun, but on the cheap.  One of the things we used to have fun doing was a driving scavenger hunt.  We'd make a list of several things we had to find, then get into the car and the first one to spot it got a point.  Whichever of the three of us spotted the most got to choose which McDonalds in town we'd go to for McFlurries.  I don't really remember too many of the things that made our lists, but I do know that some of the easier finds around Springfield were:  "overweight man without a shirt mowing the yard"; "car with one headlight"; and "kid on a skateboard".

Romance is where you create it; the loving feelings it generates benefit the whole family.  Sunday drive.  Picnic.  Scavenger Hunt.  Dollar Dates.  So many ways to spend time together and love each other.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Gift

What says love more than four new wheel covers?
2002 Toyota Echo 14" Wheel Cover
That's right - four shiny new wheel covers for my Echo.  I am Queen of the road in my little buggy now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Facebook | Your Photos - No Penalty for Love Launch Party

At long last, the Launch Party Pictures! Facebook | Your Photos - No Penalty for Love Launch Party

Grilled Cheese by Candlelight

Yes, even the humble grilled cheese can be romantic.  We have been eating out a lot lately - all through our Minnesota vacation and since we've been home I've cooked very little.  We've had a lot of cold cereal suppers and lunches out.  Tonight, the refrigerator being nearly empty, we had grilled cheese.  But, this wasn't any grilled cheese.  This was romantic grilled cheese!

Step 1:  Make a pretty green salad - include fresh basil if you've got it because nothing tastes more like summer than fresh basil!
Step 2:  Pick more fresh basil - it's going on the sandwich.
Step 3:  Pour some marinara into a container to nuke.
Step 4:  Set the table with cloth napkins and candles.
Step 5:  Make two cheese sandwiches with basil leaves (I used Swiss cheese).  Lightly grill one side, then flip.  While the second side is getting toasty gold, lay another slice of cheese on top of the lightly grilled slice and top with another slice of bread (if this is getting to be too many calories for you, use light bread).  Once the bottom is perfection, gently flip the whole thing over to melt that last slice of cheese and toast the top piece.
Step 6:  Light the candles and nuke the marinara.
Step 7: Start the music (Bruce chose Josh Groban) and cut each sandwich in quarters.  Arrange around a small dish of marinara.  Garnish with a couple more basil leaves. Serve with a smile.

Dessert was a truly yum 100 calorie Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle ice cream bar - so worthy of candle light. Simple, satisfying, sweetly romantic.  Ahhh.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Thank you, Lia Brown, editor at Avalon!  Love Under a Dark Sky by Shellie Foltz to be published in early to mid-2011!!!!  See the trailer above for a few hints of what's coming your way!  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

For Lucas and Jennifer

Lucas and Jennifer
Lucas and Jennifer:  This is for you - with love.  Mom

Two Harbors 2010

Our favorite summer destination. Breakwater House was built in the early part of last century. What a great place to stay! Natalie handled it all like a champ. She loved walking by Lake Superior and sniffing some sort of weed along the paths that we must not have in Missouri. It was sure different having little four paws along, but well worth the extra efforts to accommodate her. Year four and many happy returns to Two Harbors! Two Harbors 2010

Having a Good Clear Out

The Cast of As Time Goes By

As Time Goes By became a fast favorite for me when I discovered it on PBS one Saturday night years ago.  Back in the days of VCRs.  I got hooked from the moment I caught Jean and Lionel, Judy, Alistair, and Sandy; not to mention Rocky and Madge and the indomitable Mrs. Bale.  The last time I loved a British sitcom was in college - a vulgar show in the '80s called The Young Ones.  I should be ashamed to admit it, but I do own the boxed set and do get it out every now and then to watch.  Only when Bruce isn't home, though.  He hates it.  BUT, he does enjoy As Time Goes By and even encouraged me to replace our worn out video tapes of it a few years ago with the complete dvd set.  A bargain at any price as many times as we've watched the series all the way through.  In fact, recently Bruce suggested we watch it from beginning to end again this summer.  I think it's a wonderful plan!

In one of the episodes, Jean is having a clear out.  If I hadn't been watching I wouldn't have realized it just meant cleaning out the closet (or cupboard, or whatever).  Lionel took this to mean that something was wrong - in his experience women had clear outs when something was bothering them.  I do find a good clear out to be therapeutic, but I also find it to be fun - in the right frame of mind.  My clear outs tend to come at the end of Christmas vacation from school after the tree is down and before the new year.  Last winter my kitchen got cleared out and, amazingly, the cupboards still look nice and "rationalized".  

Usually, I plan for my clear outs.  You know, build up to them.  Last week, however, I had one sort of sneak up on me.  After staying at Breakwater House in Two Harbors for a week, I decided our house could have some of the features about that one that I really enjoyed.  Namely, a more open and airy feel to it.  So, I transformed my library into a breakfast room and the dining room became a little sitting area which my mother says is called a "morning room".  I had fun choosing the cushions and deciding which pictures would hang in which rooms once the change was made and did it all for relatively little money.  But, when it came time to sort through all those books in the library and decide which ones to leave out and which to store, when it came time to figure out how we were going to keep compact discs that had been stacked inside little peach crate tables that were going for other uses now organized and accessible, when it came time to deal with the years and years of magazines I'd accumulated . . . well, let's just say a lesser man would have said, "This was your idea, not mine" (or something profane) and walked away.  Instead, Bruce helped me.

I like that he takes an interest in our home.  I like that he's pleased with how it looks and feels.  I like that he doesn't complain when I want to change something.  He's not an eager project-taker-oner and there are certain things he'd just as soon not do, like painting.  But, I've never known him to be a brute about anything I wanted to do.  He may drag his feet a little sometimes, but when it comes down to it, even if I can't, for whatever reason, do the things it takes to make an idea work, he helps me get it done.  In the past twelve years, he has endeavored to hang checked wallpaper for me, paint a whole lot of kitchen cupboards a rich orange maple, carry cinder blocks to the second floor to build a desk tall enough that I could see out the dormer window while sitting at it (then move them from the second floor to the basement some years later when I grew tired of the desk), maneuver innumerable heavy pieces of furniture up or down a narrow staircase that curves at the top, and transform the room that was Lucas' dark dungeon bedroom into a beach room complete with new ceiling fan blades and pulls while I was away at a conference.  He has hauled at least a hundred bulging bags of clothes and shoes from my closet to the car trunk to the Salvation Army donation box, drilled holes in the top of an old table on our porch to anchor down a pretty little Christmas tree that kept blowing over in the wind, and hosted dozens of open houses without a complaint.  

I see men who are ugly about their wives' little projects; who sometimes are flat mean about having to be involved in some kind of home project.  If Bruce gets bored (and I'm sure he does) with my myriad and only sometimes ludicrous suggestions of how to improve our home, he never shows it.  He's learned the art of letting me talk it through.  Probably he's hoping I'll talk myself out of it, but if I don't, he's right there to help and encourage.  And always to praise the efforts when we're through.

As time goes by, I find out more and more things to love about the man I love.  As time goes by my heart becomes more and more satisfied with our life together.  As time goes by, I learn how beautiful love can be and how precious it is to trust your husband with your thoughts, your hopes, your fears - even if they are silly ones like, "But what if we move the table down the hall and I hate it?"  His answer is, "Live with it a year and if you still don't like it, we'll move it back."  But, I know he'd do it that same night to just please me.  

So, all this to say:  having a clear out is a great way to spend time together.  You find things long forgotten, you problem-solve together giving each other a chance to shine and be the hero, you get to stand back when you're done and experience that satisfaction of working together for a common goal, and you get to crash in each others arms that night too exhausted to do anything but watch a favorite something together.  Who knew clear outs could be so romantic?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Announcing a New Blog

For those of you who are fairly regular readers of Life as a Great Romance and who are Christian, you might be interested in a new blog I've launched:  Live Quietly (okay, the web address is livequiet, not livequietly, but that url was already taken; however, I couldn't bear to have a grammatically incorrect title on my blog).  While Life as a Great Romance is designed to inspire the feelings of romance and beauty, to make suggestions for how you can experience romantic living whoever you are, Live Quietly is specifically geared toward a Christian audience and is meant to help readers cultivate the quiet life we're admonished to live in I Thessalonians 4:11-12.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I've posted twice and hope to every day.  Please join me there and be sure to leave your comments!

Correction and Apologies

I wrongly attributed the Christian Chick Lit post to Sarah Pulliam Bailey.  The author of the post is Ruth Moon and Ms. Bailey edited it.  Thanks for letting me know!