{the life} Valentine’s Day The Second

by Rachel on February 13, 2012

valentine's day conversation heartsEric and I celebrated Valentine’s Day on Saturday and it really was my idea of a perfect day.

After sleeping in and then eating Snickers and peanut butter muffins for breakfast, we got dressed, dropped the dogs off at doggie day camp, and headed to the outlet malls to go shopping.

Yes, going to the outlet malls is now officially our Valentine’s Day tradition.

I never thought shopping would be something I’d want to do for a date, but Eric and I really enjoy shopping together. We have a similar approach to shopping. We don’t treat it like an Olympic sport. We don’t try on very many things, so no one gets stuck standing around outside the dressing room for an hour. We don’t buy very many things; we might each come home with a new shirt or slippers or something, but really it’s just an excuse to hang out and people watch. (And eat at Sbarro!) Really, I’ve found that Eric and I are happiest when we have things to talk about, so going shopping just gives us new things to discuss. And rather than go to the mall by our apartments, we went to the outlets on Saturday; going to the outlets involved a mini-road trip built in, and road trips are pretty much our favorite thing to do as a couple.

After a fun day of shopping, we headed back to our neck of the woods, picked up the dogs, ordered Chinese takeout, and came home to watch a little TV and then start the Mockingjay audibook. It was like we took all of the little things that I love to do and crammed them into one day, and it was wonderful — exactly how I want Valentine’s Day to be.

Also, there were gifts!

It’s no secret that I love gifting and consider myself pretty good at it. Unfortunately, most of my nearest and dearest are difficult to shop for because they are, much to my horror, really unmaterialistc. The upside to this is that when I do find the perfect gift for them, it’s a million times better, because it’s everything they never knew they truly wanted and so they are truly delighted. But it’s hard to figure out what that gift is when they rarely shop for themselves and somehow manage to go through life without wanting more stuff.

Eric is one of these people, so I was a little confused last month when he started giving me ideas for Valentine’s Day and/or his birthday. Eric has never made a gift suggestion to me. I was initially confused because that he was making a Valentine’s Day suggestion implied he knew that Valentine’s Day was approaching, and that’s just not something I expect Eric to know. But more than confused, I was really offended.

I mean, by giving me suggestions, he was making it seem like I needed suggestions. And I don’t. I am the gift whisperer. How dare he give me a list?! But what’s worse, he was ruining the fun for me. See, his first suggestion? Was something I’d been planning on getting him for months. So now it was going to look like I’d taken his suggestion to heart. He just needed to stay out of it and let me surprise him.

The first gift he suggested was one I had been planning since before Christmas to give him for his birthday in March. But I figured I’d give it to him for Valentine’s Day, no big deal. Well, it was on backorder. The second suggestion was something that had crossed my mind a year or so ago, but it required a lot more input from him…input he never really got around to giving me, and custom sneakers aren’t really something you can have overnighted. At this point, I was actually starting to wonder what to get him.

Honestly, I’ve never put this much thought into a gift for Eric before, simply because he’s not materialistic and therefore doesn’t care what I get him. I mean, he always appreciates his gifts and sometimes he even really loves them, but I could also get him something kinda “eh” and he wouldn’t care. (I, on the other hand, had several meltdowns over the course of my life over “eh” gifts, until I finally discovered the five love languages and started telling my family up front, “I know it may seem like you can buy my love but…it’s just that you can kind of buy my love.”) When Eric started giving me gift ideas, I asked him if he wanted ideas for me too. And he said no, that he had already selected a gift for me and didn’t want any input. This is completely out of character for him — Eric’s love language is not gifting, but he knows it’s important to me, so he always asks for a list — and though I was excited about this new approach it also left me feeling a bit intimidated. If he was this confident about his gift, I needed to really bring it! I was actually planning to do something a bit more low-key and sentimental for Valentine’s Day this year, but now I had to up my game. It was a bit unnerving actually; I’ve never felt stressed about what to buy someone before.

Then I had a great idea: I could secretly upgrade our DirecTV package to include the channels that show Kansas State sports. We didn’t have all those channels which meant he always had to watch the basketball games at the bar, something that was a pain when he just wanted to relax and watch the game at home. (Or when he wanted to experience a loss he knew was coming in private.) I e-mailed a friend of his to find out what channels I needed to be sure to get so that we’d be covered. I was so excited about this plan.

Later that day, after e-mailing with Eric’s friend and then patting myself on the back for finding the best Valentine’s Day gift ever, Eric texted me to tell me that he wasn’t going to the bar to watch K State play that night, that he had just gone ahead and upgraded our DirecTV package so we got the necessary channels.

I. Was. Sad.

See, Valentine’s Day is totally my holiday. I mean, nothing could ever top Halloween for me, but Valentine’s Day is my second favorite. I’ve always loved it, even though I’ve spent 24 out of 25 of them single. It’s always been kind of a family holiday for me actually. Three years ago I bought my little brother the Perfect Brownie Pan for Valentine’s Day and he told everyone it was the best day of his life and so it was kind of the best day of my life too. It’s just a day when I get to smother people in love just because. And yes, cynics, that’s something one should do do every day, and yes, cynics, I do do it every day. But on this one day, I get to do it using a really pretty color scheme.

Anyway, I was pretty bummed Eric had inadvertently ruined the gift I was so excited to give him. At this point, I didn’t know what to give him; while I felt like the thoughtful/sentimental gift I had been planning all along was pretty awesome, I wanted to nourish his newly-discovered materialistic side, since, frankly, I’d have more fun with that in the long run. As luck would have it, the next morning, Daniel Tosh tweeted that he was going on tour and pre-sale tickets would be on sale the following day. And he was coming to Houston. DONE. I set a reminder on my calendar to buy the tickets as soon as they went on sale. and prayed that Eric didn’t suddenly decide to join Twitter.

I bought the tickets, and then I held my breath for two weeks. At this point, I was concerned he was going to accidentally out all his gifts, even the smaller ones. I was on edge until Saturday.

So. The gifts. Well, there were the Daniel Tosh tickets, which he was really excited about, because he still had no idea Tosh was even touring again. But the tickets were not what I was most excited about.

What I was excited about was the bottle of Sam Adam’s Infinium, which I had been on the lookout for since fall of 2010, when Eric first mentioned it. I had been looking all over Houston for it ever since, but apparently no store had ever thought to carry this magical brew (which is a champagne-like beer). I asked one of my coworkers about it last spring — he’s a beer buff — and he said he’d never even heard of it. It was starting to feel like an urban legend. But then, in January, my coworker texted me one Saturday night to say he’d spotted the Infinium in Houston and would I still like some for Eric? YES, I’D LIKE SOME FOR ERIC. I have awesome coworkers, and that my coworker — who is definitely a gifter — gave me a gift that would enable me to show my love via a gift…well, my heart nearly exploded that day. Eric was pretty impressed that I had found it, which made me really happy.

But I was most excited about the framed pictures of Chuck and Indiana that I gave him. While I’ve never really been a picture-as-gift type person, I knew Eric would love to have pictures of our dogs for his desk at work. So when Caitlin came to take my photos last month, I secretly had her take some photos of the pups too. It wasn’t easy — these dogs tend to behave much like the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes and Indiana head-butted me during the process — but she’s good. I received them in the mail on Friday and bought a frame for them on my way home from work. I also printed off a really lovely poem that I tucked into the frame. (I’ll share that tomorrow!)

Eric loved all the little items, probably more than the Tosh tickets, which I kind of expected. But, as I said, he was getting me something big, so I wanted to bring it.

And his something big for me? Was a Tempur-Pedic pillow! I was thrilled. I’ve wanted one for months but it’s just not something I’ve been willing to splurge on for myself. Given all the sleep issues I’ve been having, it has been on my mind more lately; when we got into bed Friday night, I actually said, “Ugh, I think I need to get a new pillow, even if I can’t get the Tempur-Pedic one right now.” Eric had actually been asking me all week if I wanted my gift early because he knew how much I needed it. I don’t know if it was the new pillow or what, but I slept so well last night. Like, feel-like-a-new-woman well. Oh-my-gosh-that’s-what-my-face-is-supposed-to-look-like well.

It was really a sweet Valentine’s Day celebration and weekend! How was yours? Did you celebrate yet? Any gifts exchanged? Planning something fun for tomorrow? Please share!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie February 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

Haha. I sent this to my boyfriend along with last year’s post, he needs all the help he can get! :)


2 Sara February 13, 2012 at 11:26 am

I just love you! Love that your Valentine’s Day celebration was so low-key, yet still fun…we are planning the same this year, and it is SO nice not to stress out about it and know that the important thing is just spending time together. You are such a great writer! And I LOVE that you know about the 5 Love Languages! Mine are quality time and physical touch, so gifting sometimes falls by the wayside in our relationship, but you are inspiring me to incorporate it more. Sounds like your V-Day was just right :) I’ll be blogging about mine on Wednesday!


3 Lindsay February 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

Dear Rachel, sometimes I think you’re my spirit animal.

Anyway! I’ve always felt the same about Valentines Day, or really any holiday that allows me to make themed baked goods. Now my brothers are pretty consistent in giving my boyfriend a hard time about his inept abilities as a gift giver. Because they like me, excel at it, and my poor poor boyfriend, while his heart is always there, he’s much more a “here let me take you shopping so you can buy whatever you want” kind of guy. So in an attempt to help him out this year I forwarded just a few Groupons etc. his way…and his response? “Babe, do me a favor and go check your Gmail…I think it got hacked” …FAIL.

So after I stopped laughing long enough to breathe again and explained to him the situation, we decided on plain old dinner at our favorite Turkish place and a movie. Short, sweet, and just the type of thing we never really get the chance to do on a Tuesday night!


4 Rachel February 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

“’Babe, do me a favor and go check your Gmail…I think it got hacked’ …FAIL.”



5 Elle @ Mistakes & Milkshakes February 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

Ha! I hate hate hate when people pre-empt your awesome gift ideas by suggesting them to you, or buying it themselves. Last time I had a really great idea for my fiance’s Christmas gift (a Roger Corman DVD collection he didn’t know had been released), I got so panicky every time we’d start talking about movies or DVDs, I’d change the subject. He probably thought I was crazy! Hahaha

My best Valentine’s with him was our first year together — I knew he hated Valentine’s Day, but loved Halloween, so I gave him all “Halloween” themed presents, and wrapped everything in orange and black, and made him ‘eyeball cupcakes’. We don’t make nearly as much effort for V-Day anymore — I’ll be happy if he takes the dog on an extra walk. :)


6 [SMASH] February 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I love your love for Valentine’s Day. So many people are so jaded about it, which is fine, but I’ve always enjoyed it. Joel and I usually do dinner + a movie or something. I love your shopping tradition!


7 Parita @ myinnershakti February 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Valentine’s Day is not something we celebrate because my fiance truly believes its a hallmark holiday. I, on the otherhand, think of it as a fun day to celebrate love, even if everyone else is doing that too. The first couple of V Day’s took some adjustment and a few honest conversations, but now I understand a little more of where he’s coming from. We actually spent this weekend together doing a bunch of really trivial but fun things, and that was the perfect way to “celebrate” for me, even though we never uttered the words “Valentine’s Day.”


8 Julia February 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Love this post! I’m kind of a weird combo in that I really do LIKE valentine’s day but I also don’t want it to be overboard in any way. This year was the first one with my guy, and we ended up exchanging the SAME framed picture. I mean… really. With funny cards. And then drank a bottle of wine. It was pretty stellar.

Completely unrelated, and much more serious than sweet holidays–have you read the recent HelloGiggles piece on Chris Brown performing at the Grammy’s? I’d really like your perspective in terms of societal expectations and the media’s role in such a situation, especially after your comments regarding the Komen controversy. I thought the author made some critical points, and it certainly was on my mind while watching Sunday night.

Happy Monday!


9 Rachel February 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Oh, Julia. There are very few things I get seriously RANTY about, but Hollywood’s treatment of “bad boys” (um, last time I checked they were bad MEN) is one of them. I was so worked up over the Charlie Sheen roast one day at work, everyone in the office heard me ranting. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)

I didn’t watch the Grammys, but I was appalled when I started seeing updates regarding Chris Brown’s performance in my Facebook and Twitter feeds yesterday. APPALLED. Thank you for sending the HelloGiggles article — I hadn’t seen it. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to write a full post on it (I leave for NYC in a couple hours!) but honestly, I’m not sure I even need to because HelloGiggles summed it up perfectly. Everything I’ve felt about this issue since the beginning is in that article. Just reading the article made my blood start boiling.

For anyone who’s interested, the article is here — http://hellogiggles.com/im-not-okay-with-chris-brown-performing-at-the-grammys-and-im-not-sure-why-you-are (the site is slow to load FYI, so keep trying if it doesn’t work the first time)

Julia, I’ll try to link to the article this week on my blog because it was really fantastic, and more women should read it! But for now, I’ll be Tweeting it and posting it on FB, hoping it reaches more women.


10 D February 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I saw on your facebook some women’s responses…damn. I don’t like Rihanna for many reasons, but I feel like many of those comments were a combination of slut and victim shaming, and it REALLY bothered me.

I personally think Rihanna is a pain in the ass and overly sexual for no reason, but I’m prettyyyyyy sure she still doesn’t deserve to get punched in the face. And so what if she did hit Chris Brown? Is it all fair then? Honestly, those comments were disturbing. She’s not a role model because she didn’t leave the relationship early enough? It’s her fault because she was the “aggressor” that night? Suggesting that it was a PR move? I’m pretty damn sure her bloody face and fat lip weren’t staged. And suggesting that because Rihanna never discussed it before, that it makes it suspicious? Are you effing kidding me?

Those comments just show that a certain attitude always exists, and that is “Sure it’s wrong for a man to hit a woman, but if she’s slutty enough and aggressive enough, she has it coming”


11 deva at deva by definition February 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm

So, my birthday is in one week, and as a result, we don’t really celebrate valentine’s day. Unless you count us going to GameStop yesterday to get new video games as a celebration, when really we were tired of being cooped up in the house.

Our first year together The Boy mentioned in passing that he needed a new wallet, so I did some sleuthing and bought him a new wallet for valentine’s day, that he only recently replaced. For the most part, we do cards or cutesy text messages over celebrations.


12 Samantha M. February 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Yay for a fun Valentine’s day! I’ll admit I get self-conscious about the scrutiny V-day seems to get from people who are all “CORPORATE HOLIDAY BLARGH” about it, but The Hubs and I had our first official date on Valentine’s Day, so we like to celebrate it. This year we had a little day trip to a historic state park about 2 hours from where we live; it’s a recreation of a mining town with little shops and museums to check out. I packed a picnic, we walked around, panned for gold, and even did those cheesy old-timey photographs (which we’d never done before)! It was fun to experience something we’d never done before together, and it really was a fantastic day. =)

We probably won’t actually do anything tomorrow because we’re both working, and I won’t even get home until 6ish at the earliest, but I’m sending out some Valentine’s to friends and family today just to share the love; I just like the idea of having a day to tell everyone you care about that you love them! =D If I’d planned farther in advance, I would TOTALLY throw a “Galentine’s Day” a la Leslie Knope, it’s SUCH a cute idea.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


13 Becca February 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm

How was the Infinium? I’m very intrigued…

And I’m so jealous of your gift giving skills. I always forget to write down ideas I think of throughout the year and come December, or June/July/August as most of the birthdays I buy for fall in that span of three months, I’m scrambling to come up with ideas.


14 Cameo February 14, 2012 at 8:09 am

Holy crap factories. Wow. I mean. Geez! Nice couple! Great gifts! Is this something you will keep up for your entire lives? How will you continue to top your own awesomeness without losing sight of the greater meaning? I am very impressed with the level you go to. Your friends and bf and family are all very lucky to have you around!

My fiance and I had our first date on Valentines Day 10 years ago. We are not celebratory types, nor conventional, nor gifty. I am sneaking into tonight’s Narcisso Rodriguez show and he is going to his screen writing class. If we’re lucky, there will be some sex involved but probably not today…maybe tomorrow.


15 RAIN February 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Sounds like you had a great Vday celebration! So cool that you two like shopping together! Sounds fun!

I got my husband 3 personal training sessions because he had mentioned he would like to learn more about lifting weights….he got me a great pair of ballet flats I had asked for…and a 5ft metal flamingo :) (Kind of have to see to appreciate!)


16 deva at deva by definition February 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I couldn’t help but chuckle at “5ft metal flamingo” because it made me think of The Bloggess’ chicken, Beyonce.


17 Paige February 15, 2012 at 8:50 am

Ughhhhh my boyfriend always ruins my gift ideas too! He is also one of those people who buys stuff for themselves immediately preceding their birthday/Christmas/our anniversary. If there is only one thing that I learned from my mother, it’s that you should give everyone the courtesy of waiting until after gift-giving occasions to buy something that could be a potential gift from someone else.


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