Saturday, August 17, 2013

Couch Dates

Since Derek got home from his deployment, we've tried to make extra effort to make our time together time well spent. Deployments and separations are often looming somewhere for us, so taking advantage of being together in the same place for any length of time is something important to us. It's not always easy, given that we've got a crazy-active 21 month old, his hours at work are rarely set in stone, and I'm generally running around and keeping so busy that by the end of the day, we all just kind of flop...but we still need to do it.

And while time as a family is most important, we have learned that we always need to take time for our marriage, too. Given the nature of Military marriages having to face the elements of separations, moves, uncertainties and life in general, Military couples face different challenges and stresses compared to civilians. And because of that, Derek and I feel that it's especially important to take time for each other, even if that time is spent sitting on our couch.

Since we aren't anywhere near family and have yet to find a babysitter in our neighborhood, "real" dates come few and far between. It's a real treat for us to enjoy a meal together, sans Conner, or to sit through a movie at the theater and split a popcorn. So Derek and I have come up with a suitable alternative (that sometimes, quite honestly, beats sitting in a movie theater) that makes a Saturday night one to look forward to.

Generally we start by keeping a list of movies we want to watch. We know it'll be a crap-shoot as to whether or not we will see it in theaters, so it's nice to have a list so we don't forget that if we missed it, we can rent it :) That evening, after the little dude goes to bed, we will go onDemand (or eventually when we get one, Roku), pick our flick, and get set up. Turn the lights down a little low, grab our favorite blanket, drinks and one of my popcorn recipes hot off the stove. Then we curl up in the comfort of our home, and enjoy a new-to-us movie together.

It's nothing fancy, by any means, but its time that is special to us. A chance to connect with each other in a manner that isn't changing a diaper or vacuuming chicken nugget off of the floor. It's making a night at home a date night...and who doesn't love dating their husband??

Date night popcorn :)

We don't have a Whirly Pop or anything similar, so my large pasta pot with a lid works just fine. If you have a stove-top popper, you can make the popcorn as usual or directed. For this recipe, cooking the popcorn with oil makes the difference in flavor, so don't skip it! It's not as good otherwise!

Drizzle olive oil in the pot, enough to coat the bottom. Then add popcorn kernels, again enough to coat the bottom. Turn the stove up to just above medium (on my gas stove, I turn the burner up to 6). When you start to hear the oil and corn simmer and begin to pop, grab the handles and continuously shimmy the pot back and forth on the burner (this will prevent the popcorn from burning) until you hear the popping slow to an almost stop.

Immediately transfer the popcorn to a large bowl and sprinkle with a little Johnny's Seasoned Salt. Mix the popcorn and sprinkle again, tasting as you go. Continue until your popcorn is seasoned to your liking.

For salt and butter popcorn, I don't find that oil-cooked popcorn is necessary. We have a bowl that you add kernels to and will air pop the corn in the microwave. Works well and only cost about $8 at Target!

Melt a few teaspoons of butter and have a sea-salt grinder on hand. In a large bowl, drizzle butter light over the pocorn and give a few grinds of salt. Mix and repeat until its to your liking. Don't forget to taste as you go!

Garlic Parmesan
This is another one that is best served stove-popped, so follow the popping directions from the seasoned popcorn. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl and gradually mix in the Parmesan mixture.

Enjoy!! And happy couch date night :)

Much love,

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