Why you should try something new...

I want to start off by telling you that I stepped out of my comfort zone this week.

It was my turn to plan date night, and even though I absolutely adore a good air mattress movie night, I wanted to plan something that would make Michael smile. I found a Groupon in my inbox for unlimited range time at the Athens Gun Club and I just decided it was date-night fate. 

I'm not the shooting type, I get nervous and my palms get a little sweaty when I even think about guns. But Michael (like most boys) has always been intrigued, so I decided that I'd let him show me the ropes. 

We shot 10 rounds at a time, and we would use the little electronic target-mover to bring in our targets after each turn and tally up points. It was very James Bond, although I'm sure we weren't playing it cool. We decided to make it a competition, just for fun. 

I need to tell anyone who is feeling nervous about this date-night idea that if I can do it, you can do it. I've never felt more like Angelina Jolie in my life. I shot at my pink target and Michael shot at his blue target, it was cute, and at the end of an hour [wait for it...]

I beat him. 

Just barely, but still. I attributed it to his incredible teaching skills, and he gave me a giant hug.  I could tell he was torn between majorly-proud and a little competitive. But we had such a blast, we actually vowed to make it a tradition of ours.

So why a post about date night?

Because this is one of those areas that I haven't always chosen to make fun in the past.

I realized last summer that I don't like trying new things.

There, I said it. 

You know how it is, you spend a lot of time telling yourself,  "I don't have the time," or "I really need sleep this week," or "I'd really rather have a 'casual' night."

But really you look back on your weekends and all those "date nights" where you fell asleep on the couch in your sweatpants and no make up watching "one more episode" of Friday Night Lights and start to feel bummed that your life isn't exciting.

Because, if we're being honest we all want to go on a really fun date. Interesting conversation, laughing at each others jokes, drinking a glass of good red wine for once, and eating something other than the cardboard stuff you bought on your health-kick at the grocery store.

For awhile I had convinced myself that I preferred movie night over planning an new type of date. Michael would come up with these cute ideas, and early in the day it would sound fun, but by the time it was date-time I didn't want to go. Looking back (and Michael can confirm this) I actually regretted most of our chill dates and wish that we spent more time pursuing each other. Which was obviously my own fault.

Last summer Michael and I started reading a book that I highly recommend, because it changed how we do our marriage. In this book it suggests that every month you should plan a date for your spouse, and they should plan one for you. Yes, thats TWO date nights per month.  But it's been such a good thing because it gives us equal responsibility for the growth of our marriage (instead of waiting around for him to plan a special date, only for me to turn around and suggest that we stay in).

It's like a commitment to dating each other. We put our dates on the calendar each month, and therefore we would be breaking our commitment if we decided to cancel it.

Just a tip ... If you don't plan ahead for it, your date night probably won't happen.

(this rule goes for you single folks too, because planning a regular girls night, starting a book club, or trying something new that you've always wanted to do doesn't just happen on its own)

Go ahead and take the pressure off, because it doesn't have to be perfect. Knowing that you will have a chance to redeem your last date night when you plan the new one each month can help you relax into the fun of what date night is really supposed to be. Just get it on the calendar and commit to spending that one day getting to know your person a little better than you did the day before. If you don't know the things that make them smile yet, this is such a fun way to learn.

If you need some suggestions, I designed a DATE NIGHT CALENDAR (click HERE to find it) for 2016. It starts in February, and you'll need to fill in the numbers by hand. Then fill in your date nights and make a commitment to try something you wouldn't normally try. TRUST ME, it'll be fun.

Because it's on you to make life interesting

xo, EM

RECIPE: Lavender Gin & TONIC

I remember when I first read The Great Gatsby.

It's one of those books that you have to read for school, so you assume that you won't like it. But I loved The Great Gatsby. I was so intrigued by the Roaring 20's and the way of life for people like Daisy Buchanan. There was a social event every night where women went out in their most elegant dress and sipped cocktails and danced all night. Then I started watching old Audrey Hepburn movies (in an attempt to catch up on the classics I'd missed when I was a little too interested in the Mary Kate an Ashley movies…). Then MadMen became an obsession for all of my roommates in college. I think we watched the whole first season in 2 days. To me there is something so alluring about the way things were in those days.  It's funny, because in most ways I don't like fancy things. My little house isn't perfect or impressive. It's cozy and represents little pieces of who I am, like the paint colors I chose on a whim or the furniture I picked up for $20 from an estate sale. So I'm not fancy, and I turned down my own chance to be a debutant. But I've think my fascination with elegance comes more from my desire for things to feel magical.

One magical, Roaring 20s-esque thing that has become a hobby of mine is making traditional cocktails. It adds a hint of creativity and sparkle to a regular night. Next time you have friends over, I have an easy (and impressive) recipe for you to try for my very favorite cocktail.

One day we'll tackle fancier drinks (like the Martini) but until then, enjoy the Lavender Gin + Tonic. Your guests will think you're a cocktail whiz. Scroll down for the recipe & a print out to stash on your fridge or in your go-to recipe book if you like the recipe.

xo, EM




Gin / St. Germain Elderflower liqueur / 1 lemon / culinary lavender / sugar / club soda

Directions /

    Combine the lavender, lemon juice + sugar cubes. Use the muddler to dissolve the sugar cubes in the liquid. Add the St. Germain, gin + 6 cubes of ice. Securely close the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Top off with about 1 oz. of club soda (I recommend Fever Tree).

PRO TIP / you can make this recipe with any clear liquor (rum, vodka, etc)

Because it's on you to make life interesting.

xo, Em