Posts Tagged ‘date’

Festive Fun

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

By Ashley McIlwain

For anyone that knows my husband, Steve, and me, they know that we are somewhat obsessive over Christmas. We love everything about Christmas, and we just can’t celebrate the season enough! Twinkling lights, soft scarves and mittens, time with family, familiar Christmas melodies, gingerbread cookies, the birth of our Savior (not in that order) … what’s not to love?!

While controversial to some, we get a jump on celebrating Christmas by decorating as soon as Halloween is over. That’s right, this year, our home (minus our Christmas tree because we get a live one) got its festive facelift on the first weekend of November. Before you roll your eyes, throw your hands up in protest, or point a finger, hear me out.

We don’t ignore or overlook Thanksgiving. In fact, we feel like Thanksgiving is the perfect prelude to Christmas, and we love taking time to gather round the overstuffed table giving thanks for God’s goodness in our lives. But here’s the thing, how can you say it’s wrong to want to relish the one time a year that everyone seems just a bit friendlier … that joy is a frequent visitor of … that celebrates purpose, hope, and the ultimate gift in Jesus Christ … that brings people together?

For us, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and we just can’t contain our excitement and love for it … so we don’t. And we don’t apologize for it. This year, we decided to tackle a few festive and fun activities together. First, we finally made a gingerbread house together. This has been an item on Steve’s Christmas to do list since I met him, so this year we made it a priority and a reality. We gathered up a bunch of candy and went to town on our beautiful, brown cottage of sugar and spice. It was fun to work as a team, and yet, we both left our distinctive marks.

The second activity we took on was hand-painting a nativity set that my sister bought us a couple years ago. We (mainly me) underestimated how involved and time-consuming this project was, but we really had a blast. My husband was such a good sport about it, and I loved seeing his finished products. At the end of it all, we were left with what we like lovingly refer to as “Our Family Heirloom” since we spent so much time on it. This is one of those things that will be forced on generations to come.

We laughed, concentrated, and sipped on hot cider while making precious memories together that will truly last a lifetime.

Have any of you done any festive and fun activities so far? Do you have any planned? Do tell 🙂

Talking Tuesday

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

 

Share your thoughts, feelings, and stories as well as respond to others regarding these questions:

Tell us about the last date you went on with your spouse or significant other …

I’ll get us started …

The last date that Steve and I went on was our weekly lunch date. Every Thursday we set aside that lunch for a date together. We switch up where we go, but it’s just a really special and fun time for us amidst the craziness of the work week. That is one of my favorite times together because I can look forward to that quality time each week. If you can, I would highly recommend a weekly lunch date 🙂

Okay, it’s your turn!

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Talking Tuesday

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Share your thoughts, feelings, and stories as well as respond to others regarding these questions:

Tell us about the first date with your spouse or significant other …

I’ll get us started …

Steve’s and my first date (technically) was a Tyrone Wells concert in Los Angeles. His song Wondering Where You Are already had a special place in our hearts so we decided to hit up his concert. It was an intimate venue, and we enjoyed singing, dancing, and being together. It was a fun and memorable first date, and the best part is that every time I hear that song, it reminds me of that night.

Okay, it’s your turn!

Congratulations to our April Talking Tuesday Giveaway Winner … Melisse!!! Thanks to everyone who has been participating; we LOVE hearing your thoughts! The conversations have been so good, and we are thankful for each of your responses, so keep them coming! And spread the word 🙂 

*To comment on this entry, simply click on the “no comment” link in blue just below the post (if someone has already commented, you will see a number instead of “no” in front of “comment”). Fill out the form that pops up. Your name & email are not required. Once you have entered your comment, click on the “Submit a Comment,” and it will appear once it is approved for posting.

It’s a Zoo Out There

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

It’s a Zoo Out There

By Ashley McIlwain

Since I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, I repeatedly heard about the San Diego Zoo. It was supposed to be the zoo of all zoos, and I always wanted to go there. I could only dream of all the different animals delighting my senses with their beauty and exoticism. Maybe someday …

That day did finally come! Part of my husband Steve’s birthday celebration for me this year was to take me to the San Diego Zoo. Honestly, it was like my inner child was unlocked as I anxiously awaited the exploration of a childhood dream. It didn’t disappoint.

After getting some insider tips from one of the workers, we set out to see what we could see. The grounds are huge spanning one hundred acres which house over 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing more than 800 species and subspecies. Some of my favorite animals to see included the elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, hippos, grizzly bears, polar bears, panda bears, and the koalas. We even got to see a tiger with two of her cubs, and a hippo with her baby as well – both of which were incredible and rare sights. Amidst all of the animals though, the highlight of my day was seeing rhinoceroses.

Having never seen rhinos in person before, I was completely enamored with these beasts. Their skin sectioned off in a way that made them appear to have armor on. Despite their large size, they were surprisingly fast and agile. There were two out when we were at their display, and they seemed to enjoy friendly combat with one another. After rough housing for a while, they would take off with surprising speed leaving behind dust clouds in their wake. All around, the rhinos were remarkable to see and watch in action.

Another bright spot in the day came at the orangutan display. Having seen these furry, funny, and friendly creatures several times before, I didn’t have particularly high expectations. There was a crowd huddled around a spot where one of the orangutans was closely hanging around the glass, so I decided to head over to a vacant spot away from everyone. As I crouched down, one of the orangutans walked right over and faced me. We stared curiously at each other for several minutes only separated by inches of glass. It was an incredible and surreal experience that left me marveled.

Honestly, I could go on and on about my day at the zoo. It was an amazing experience that left me pondering just how incredible God is to have created all of these spectacular animals. My childhood dreams were realized and expectations surpassed as I savored a whimsical day with the love of my life. Together, hand-in-hand, we relished in the amazement and splendor of God’s creation. From spots to stripes, fast to slow, large to small, God has weaved together an inspiring mix of masterpieces – a good reminder of how powerful, awesome, and magnificent our Creator really is.

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Sizzling Summer: Camping Out

Friday, July 9th, 2010

While I know that not everyone is a huge fan of the outdoors, there is something to be said for the raw surroundings of nature. Being enveloped in the fresh arms of a tall tree or lulled to sleep by the ocean waves is simply a must-do for everyone at some point and time. That is why my final summer date night suggestion is a camping trip for two – you and your spouse.

Before you completely wave off the idea, think about it. Camping is one of those activities that really help us get back to our “roots.” It is kind of like us in our raw, natural form. There is something very real and authentic about the outdoor version of ourselves that can make for getting to know someone at a much deeper level. It rarely involves much electricity or any sort of modern technology, which makes for a fun and very real experience with your loved one. There’s nothing like being surrounded by nature, stinky, and only having each other for entertainment that will bring a couple a lot closer pretty quickly.

In addition to the deeper emergence of the raw side of someone, camping out is flat out fun. Not only are you “unplugged” but you can get down and dirty starting with some fun outdoor activities. Maybe it’s a hike in the woods, a simple walk through nature, bringing along some games to play (throwing a football, board games, etc.), or playing in the nearby lake, ocean, or river. There really are so many things you can do to have some fun. The best part is the camp fire. Making smores is a definite must! There’s nothing like scarfing down some yummy smores and then talking to each other in the warm, orange glow of the flickering camp fire. Of course this is also the perfect opportunity to get a little closer…to keep warm, of course!

Camping out is a wonderful way to unwind, unplug, get real, have fun, and really bond over some funny, awkward, and challenging moments that nature can bring about.

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Sizzling Summer: Star Gazing

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

 “Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars.” ~Christopher Marlowe

Is there anything more lovely than a romantic evening under the stars? A thread throughout history has been sewn of couples who have all peered up into the night sky making wishes, sharing kisses, and savoring special moments together. Summer time often boasts some of the most beautiful starry nights, and it’s time to take advantage of it.

It has been shared by couples throughout history, a night underneath the starry sky. All is takes is a couple of blankets and a comfy spot with a clear view of the night sky. Take your special someone for a little trip to your spot, roll out the blanket, and snuggle up underneath another one. Lie there holding one another, watching the vast sky sparkle and twinkle, and soak in the touch, smell, and sound of your sweetheart. Talk about “wishes” you are hoping for, life, and dreams. Make it a whimsical night of romance and talks of future aspirations. Ask & answer questions like:

  • If you could be anything in the world, what would you be or do?
  • What does your “perfect world” in 5, 10, 15 years look like?
  • What is your biggest fear?
  • What is your biggest secret “wish?”
  • What is something no one knows about you?

Make it a romantic night for two free from any sort of cell phones or distractions and take in one of the greatest masterpieces of all times…the night sky.

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Sizzling Summer: Walk in the Park

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

With the warm temperatures of summer, it’s the perfect time to take the hand of your honey and go for a stroll. Depending on where you live, you can take a walk on the beach or a stroll in the park. Either way, a nice walk in the park or on the beach is the perfect time to have some wonderful quality time with your significant other.

If you really want to make a date of it, grab a blanket that will fit two and pack a little picnic. Sandwiches, fruit, and cheese & crackers are easy things to package up. You might want to grab a pen and paper too. Next, go to your local park or beach and just take a nice long walk hand in hand with your sweetheart. Make sure to leave your cell phones in the car to keep yourself from being distracted. This time should be all about your special someone, and I am pretty sure that anyone who calls can wait a couple of hours to hear from you. Talk about your day, the things around you, how much he/she means to you. Take time to stop once and awhile, enjoy the view and sneak in a kiss or two.

At some point grab your blanket and picnic basket, pick a nice spot (under a big shaded tree or in a nice, private area of the beach), and set up. Take in the view, talk more about life, snack, and enjoy the company of this special person next to you. If you brought pen and paper, jot down 5 goals the two of you have individually and collectively with the date on it so you can look back on it down the road. Something else you can do is snuggle up on the blanket, look up at the sky, and if there are clouds, play that game where you make shapes out of the clouds. Maybe you just want to snuggle up and keep on talking or looking into one another’s eyes. If it’s getting later, do some star gazing.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. It’s all about taking time to enjoy the one you are with. Give each other undivided attention and enjoy where you are at. It’s simple, cheap, and sure to mean a lot to both of you!

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Sizzling Summer: All is Fair

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Summer is here, and that means there are plenty of fun and exciting opportunities to get closer to the one you love. Not only are the days longer, afternoons warmer, and the nights filled with fireflies, stars, and the smell of summer, but most of us are filled with excitement and a sense of adventure. That’s why it’s the perfect time to take advantage of all these things and discover some fun, memorable dates with your sweetheart.

One of my favorite parts of summer is that it is fair season. As you see them roll in all the food, games, and rides on wheels, you know that it’s that time of year. Nothing says summer time like cotton candy, candied apples, funnel cakes, deep fried twinkies, ferris wheels, impossible games, clunky rides, old school entertainment, and ride tickets.

Fairs are the perfect date night! Guys, you can give those games your best shot in hopes of winning your gal a stuffed bear to tote around. Ladies, you can pull out some cute summer outfit and hold on tightly to your man as you go for a thrilling and somewhat scary ride on one of those rides that get toted all around the place (hoping they didn’t forget a screw or something in the last town). You can both stuff yourselves on that yummy, fair-only food. All while you laugh, make memories, and take silly pictures. It’s the perfect place to go, let loose, and laugh with one another.

Tip: Often times local vendors and newspapers will offer coupons or special offers so you can get some discounts on your night out at the fair.

*To comment on this entry, simply click on the “no comment” link in blue just below the post (if someone has already commented, you will see a number instead of “no” in front of “comment”). Fill out the form that pops up. Your name & email are not required. Once you have entered your comment, click on the “Submit a Comment,” and it will appear once it is approved for posting.