Man vs. The Dinner Party

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I have guy friends who do not enjoy entertaining, in the sense of having a dinner party. Football, beer, chips and dip are fine, but the idea of opening their house to a large group of people is anything but fun. I, however, absolutely enjoy having people over; the more people, the more eclectic the group, the more unique the food, the better! I love preparing my favorites foods for others to enjoy, sampling delectable delights they have created, and talking about the world. In fact, I will make up a reason for a party, especially during the summer when I can get the smoker going. I am ridiculously proud of my pulled pork.

As with other endeavors, I have three rules for any guy to turn what might be a dreary evening into great time with friends.

Rule one, likely the most important; “Do not pass this off on your wife.” Be engaged and help plan and prepare the meal. Get in there and chop, dice, drain, fry, boil, SMOKE, and strain. Rachel and I enjoy cooking together quite a bit. This is just one more way to spend some quality time listening to music, talking and doing something productive.

Related to this first rule, but not really a rule in its own right is that you do not have to provide all of the eats, but preparing the main dish is a good idea. Selecting and telling your guests what you are preparing for the main dish, can also set the tone for “theme” dinners, in which everyone brings something related to a particular theme or type of food. Easy examples include Mexican or Italian. However, by doing this I have found that I really enjoy Indian cuisine, in particular, some vegetarian dishes created by Holly and Kori.

The second real rule is to invite people with whom you know you enjoy spending time AND some NEW people. Make new friends. If there is a couple, with whom you have been casual acquaintances, maybe friends of friends, invite them. For me, this rule has a “sub-rule” also. We have been accused of “collecting people”. I like to invite an eclectic group of people to foster lively discussions. In my house, no topic is off-limits. I love to talk about politics, history, religion, child rearing, education, fishing, cars, gadgets, fashion, food, movies… Some may be wary of this idea, as they are afraid of conflict. However, in my house all ideas are welcome and all minds must be open. People are always welcome to self-exclude if this may offend their delicate sensibilities, or otherwise challenge their narrow-minded view of the world.

The third rule is to RELAX and enjoy your friends. Do this as often as you can. Talk with both your guy friends, and their significant others. Do not segregate into men and women, at least not on purpose. As the conversation flows, you may find that different people drop in and out, this may relate to gender, age, interests and professions.

One more thing… If you guests have children, make sure they know it is ok to bring them along. We even allow our children to each invite a friend to add to the fun. One of the boys, a skilled martial artist, even provides the entertainment sometimes. To sum it up, eat, drink, be merry and worry about the mess later… it will be there in the morning.

Written by: Terry Sorensen

 

 

 

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How Do We Measure Life’s Failures?

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Interesting enough when I think about the failures in my life for some odd reason it always reverts back to what I lack monetarily.  I preach about being satisfied with the little things in life.  I stand at my pulpit and shout out how love conquers all.  I must have little songs playing in my head so loud that I can’t hear the sound of my own voice.  As a therapist I am rather good at convincing clients money isn’t everything… but is it?

Those of us who don’t have any would argue, energetically may I add, that it sure doesn’t hurt the situation which is life. Those of us with some to spare tend to hold onto every single penny so tightly while trying to say that love is not symbolized by a dollar signs.  Ya right if that is true hand it over!  Those of us in the middle, well some days we preach about love and some days we lament not having enough possessions.  This thing called money puts us in quite an uproar but should it cause us to measure our failures according to what we have and what we don’t?

I was watching an episode of Beautiful Homes on HGTV which is a show completely centered around how much money really can buy.  I found myself wanting a bigger kitchen, now for all of my readers whom know me personally it is a fact that my kitchen is amazing in its own right.  I also found myself wanting a new theatre system, a 2 man luxury shower, a new pool, an extravagant outside kitchen and quite possibly a rare Buddha statue in the front yard.  Practical?? No not for a middle class family raising four children but it doesn’t stop me from thinking of ways to make more money.

What would life look like if what we had was enough especially when we have so much already?  I will tell you the daunting thought that I am a financial failure would lessen my stress by leaps and bounds. I wouldn’t take the early years of our life together as 10 years of failure because we didn’t have pennies to rub together.

Funny how when I think of having my children at a young age I don’t think about how much love I gave to them but how I didn’t have a nursery with matching furniture made by Ethan Allen. I also think about how I’ve never taken the children to Disney World.  We tend to measure our failures on how much money we have to throw around but I would like to challenge everyone to measure your successes not by money but by personal happiness.

I have 5 people who say good morning to me and 5 people who hug and kiss me goodnight.  There are 4 boys who call me mom and one man who calls me his wife. Two parents who are still married that are proud to call me daughter and 2 siblings that shout out how much they adore me.  Don’t even get me started on the cuddlyness (yes I made that word up) of my two nieces.  I am loved by many friends despite what I do for a living or where I live.

How are you loved?

Written by: Rachel Sorensen

A Twist On The Typical Personality Quiz

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Check out 100things.personality.visualdna.com for an interesting take on personality quizzes. SLE and I completed it (without each other knowing.) Later, it came up in a conversation. There were a few amusing insights:

My husband is romantic.
I’m romantic.

* You would never guess this about either of us. We’re pretty bad at celebrating our successes or milestone achievements. Still, the best Valentine gift he ever gave me was a book of ALL of our email exchanges, from our first meeting in June of 2002 through Valentine’s Day 2003. We met, had four dates in a two-week period, then separated. He attended school in California. I worked in New York City. It was the start of our relationship and we were apart for the first three months. In retrospect, it really made our relationship stronger. Throughout our courtship, we were often apart because of my work. The upside was that I could spend my down week anywhere I wanted, or I could fly him to see me. That’s how we ended up together for our first Valentine’s Day. I made arrangements for him to see me.

My husband is LESS of an introvert than I am.
I was 100% introvert according to the test.

* No one who knows us will EVER believe this one. I can hear them laughing now.

We both ranked pretty high on the curiosity meter, though he was higher.

* That surprised me (not that his was so high, but that mine wasn’t higher than 75%.)

We’re both “glass half full” people with energy to spare.

* Neither of these was a surprise. We’re go-getter types. Sure, some new idea might scare us, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do it!

Case in point: I signed up for a 5K run. In January, I decided to stop drinking wine for 31 days and to start running. I hate running. Today, I completed a run at the gym. My daughter ran around doing her version of laps. When I finished, I assumed the plank position to create an obstacle for her to jump over.

“Why are you an obstacle?” she asked.

“Because obstacles keep things interesting,” I replied.

It’s true. A glass half full person sees obstacles through a different lens and has energy to spare while tackling them.

The quiz wasn’t perfect. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so I’m not going to share why or how I believe it could be improved. Get cozy with your loved one and take the quiz. Maybe you’ll discover some new and interesting tidbits about your lover.

KDM

A Wonderful Interview About Being a Couple!

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downtownHere in Fremont Nebraska we have a local radio station called 1340 KHUB.  This morning in spirit of Valentine’s Day the guests were Bob Yanike, a retired Fremont High School choir teacher and Matt Price, KHUB’s very own morning show personality.  Each talked about their marriages.  It was an amazing conversation between the two men and myself.

Bob has been married for 56 years!

Matt has been married for 7 years!

I have been married for 18 years!

Follow the link to the podcast on myfremontradio.com  Rachel with Matt and Bob 2142013  http://www.ask4direct.com/InfoRead.asp?id=MFRD&InfoID=855527

Man Vs. Entertainment.. The Valentine’s Day Edition

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“Turning Off the Tube and Turning On Romance”

In the past I have made a very clear definition of what I consider entertainment. Books do generally not entertain me. In fact, I don’t read many (really any) books, due to a very short attention span. However, I do read quite a few magazine and professional journal articles each month. By professional journal articles I mean those within my career field of teaching. On the other hand, magazines are purely for entertainment. Those I read include Archaeology, Smithsonian, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Hot Rod! I never know when I will need to build something ridiculous, or make the Camaro go faster.

When considering movies, I have easy rules to define what I find entertaining: things go fast, things blow up, and the good guy wins in the end! Pretty much what one might expect from a lover of Hot Rod magazine, right? I am a sucker for “period” love stories also, such as “Water for Elephants”, “A River Runs Through It”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Legends of the Fall”, and “The Notebook”. The latter, by the way, is the only Nicholas Sparks movie that does not make me want to punch him in the face. Movies which are sad, just to be sad like “Message in a Bottle”, where true love is thwarted by some force beyond human control, really tick me off.  Maybe this is related to the last of my three rules above; the good guy wins in the end. To sum up what really amounts to a bit of a digression from my topic, I have rules for what I find entertaining, as I am sure do most men.

Another form of entertainment is time with my amazing wife. In this instance I am not talking about the obvious frivolity and fun we have enjoyed over the last twenty years together (we have four children, after all). Rather, I am referring to the precious gift of time. Quite often, we are too busy to spend any meaningful time together. We work long hours, and the boys keep us pretty busy. Sometimes, it feels like we almost have to steal time away from the world. This time can come after a 12-hour workday for her, and a late meeting for me, as was the case last Monday.

I have rules for quality time also.

Chief among these is a limit of distractions to ONLY music. We have a play list titled, “Fireplace and Wine”, to which we have both added our favorite “just talk and relax songs”. This rule means NO cell phones, NO iPads, No Facebook, NO e-mail, and NO working on work. This is decompress and re-connect time. So simple, yet often so hard.

The second rule is TALK. This means, TALK about the world, TALK about politics, TALK about work, TALK about something funny that made you think of each other, TALK about the kids, or TALK about how your wife just got asked to host her own radio show! Using affirmations during this time is also a nice way to TALK. Rachel has written some really great articles on using this tool in your relationship.

Third rule, you may eat, or even cook during this time. Rachel and I often do this after we have both returned home from very long days, the boys are settled in for the night, but we have not yet eaten. Since it is often late, making something light, low fat and quick is a good idea. If cooking together, or just cooking altogether, is not your thing, you might want to consider my standby, Jimmy Johns! If I put enough lettuce on the sandwich, it becomes healthy, right? The point is that we are doing something constructive together, that we would have to do anyway. Plus, pleasing the stomach can only lead to happiness. I’m sure that’s an ancient Chinese proverb.

Since I am a man with a short attention span, three rules should suffice here too. So, NO distractions, TALK, and you may EAT. The real goal here is to foster romance through mental and emotional intimacy. Spend time; enjoy each other’s company, and debrief your day. You LOVE each other; treat each other like you do!

Written by: Terry Sorensen

February’s Damn Romantic Playlist

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Missing You by John Waite

Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens

Wicked Games by Chris Isaak

Lucky Strike by Maroon 5

Afterglow by Great White

Let’s Get Lost by Beck and Bat for Lashes

My Love by Sia

Sunday Morning by Maroon 5

Good Morning Beautiful by Jim Brickman

Edge of Desire by John Mayer

Daddy by Fleetwood Mac

Lost by Michael Buble

Celebrate Black What?

Every year I feel conflicted. (At least, this holds true now that I’m married with two young children.) Not only am I interracial (I’m not conflicted about that), but I also married a white man (also not the conflicted part.) Here’s the conflict: Should I continue to recognize an entire month devoted to black history? To be honest, I’ve felt conflicted about this in the past, BM (before marriage) and BC (before children), but it wasn’t as pronounced as it is now.

Why should I devote time and energy to one part of my identity just so our children can learn about black leaders, explorers, inventors, scientists, writers, musicians, sport legends, and et al.? This is what schools should do, right?

Recently, I came across this: http://www.omaha.com/article/20130131/GO/701319990. I love learning about inventors. Whenever we travel, our family really enjoys visiting science museums (which seem lacking in the “other” inventors category, by the way.) As soon as I learned about the African-American Inventors exhibit, I told my husband that we should go. Why? Because, as I pointed out to him, I never learned about “other” inventors in school, and I’m afraid that our children aren’t either.

My husband has little interest in studying his heritage. I asked why once. It boils down to the fact that it never mattered when he was coming up. He’s white. No one ever looked at him and asked, “Why are you here?” or said, “You don’t belong here” because he is white. He automatically fit “the picture” wherever he went.

By now, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Cozy Couples. Our perspectives are obviously varied, and today, I found myself wondering if any of the other writers ever gave this topic (Black History Month) much thought. Many people are likely thinking about Valentine’s Day. I’m not. It’s not all that important to us.

My overall point is that we don’t need one particular day or month to acknowledge or celebrate anything. My husband just said, “You’re thinking like a guy.” (Yes, he’s right here at the kitchen table as I write this.) Don’t get me wrong, I like flowers and gifts, but I also love surprises, and prefer celebrating our relationship 365 days/year rather than pinning all of our hopes, desires, and expectations on a single day.

No single month or day is more critical than investing time and energy into something or someone every day.

KDM

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Popcorn is TOO a meal!

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mmm....shadows...

Ghee and Pesto Drizzled over Popcorn

At least in my house it is.  If I’m seriously crushed for time, feeling lazy, watching a movie, or the popcorn bowl is clean…we’ll have popcorn for dinner.  I have to buy the stuff in bulk.

(Why in the world am I writing about popcorn as a meal? Our theme this month, as you might have noticed, is on entertainment.  Popcorn is the ultimate food to consume while watching movies, TV, playing games, entertaining friends, etc.  Anyone who says otherwise has obviously never had popcorn.  Ever.)

I grew up eating the good stuff at grandma’s house, cooked in a heavy bottom kettle in oil, then doused in melted butter and salt.  It gave me a stomach ache, but it was delicious.  At home it was microwave or in the Stir Crazy.  The Stir Crazy terrified me; I was always scared that when I flipped it over, I’d drop it on my face.

I was such a logical kid.

The two and a half years I had braces were supposed to be popcorn free.  I made it a month or two.  If my face was gonna hurt on and off for TWO AND A HALF YEARS, you can bet I wasn’t giving up popcorn.

Now I use an air popper, but I add my homemade ghee (clarified butter), salt, and/or a bunch of other toppings.

What would those be? I’m glad you asked.

Start with quality popcorn.  There are some great organic options with minimal Old Maids (those kernels that just won’t pop).  I like Natural Value 100% Organic Yellow Popcorn.

Option 1: Melt some ghee, and add hemp powder (a complete protein).  After drizzling this mixture over popped popcorn, I’ll sprinkle turmeric, nutritional yeast (salty), pepper and garlic powder on, toss it up real good, and boom.  Have napkins.  Prepare to have yellow fingers.

Option 2: Melt some ghee.  Mix pesto into the melted ghee.  A smoother pesto means fewer chunks in the final product.  Drizzle/dribble mixture over and toss to coat.  Sprinkle some parmesan over top!

Option 3: This one sounds a little out there, but I promise it’s yummy.  Melt even parts ghee, honey and peanut butter.  Add soy sauce and garlic powder to taste.  Drizzle this gooey mixture over popcorn, liberally coat w/ nutritional yeast, and toss.  It’s sweet and savory, surprisingly tasty.

If you can’t bear the thought of just eating popcorn for dinner, go make you and your love some grilled cheese sandwiches.  Just make sure to cut them on the diagonal.  

Leinenkugel makes a lovely Snowdrift Vanilla Porter that goes well with everything this time of year.  As for wine, go for sweet and fizzy.  Think Moscato d’Asti.

Bless and Enjoy!