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Weekly Meal Prep

As if a date night every night wasn’t enough to do for the year, we are also trying to eat healthier. What good is spending all this time dating and making memories if we don’t live a long time to enjoy them? As Bender from Futurama would say, “Anything less than immortality is a complete waste of time.”

To help us along the way, we decided to try one of the crazes sweeping the Internet: prepping a week of meals in an evening. This date is somewhat time intensive since there are so many steps, but it will give us more time for dates during the week since we don’t have to worry about cooking as much after work.

Ingredients for Meal Prep

Part of the fun of this date is seeing all the raw ingredients on your counter. It’s pretty crazy to see a substantial amount of the food you will eat for a week all at the same time.

First, you need to plan out what you’re making. We decided on smoothies for breakfasts and salads for dinners. The smoothie mixes will consist of bananas, strawberries and a frozen berry mix we found at our local grocery store. Those will be prepped and frozen in individual servings, then blended with almond milk each morning. The salads will have iceberg and leaf lettuce, spinach, olives, walnuts, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli. Those will be stored in quart-sized Mason jars and tossed with dressing each evening.

The smoothies were really easy to prep. Cut the bananas up into small slices and toss them into a zipped sandwich bag with a handful of strawberries and mixed berries. Flatten out the bags as best you can and stack them in the freezer.

On to the salads. Usually, the salad dressing goes in the jar first, but we made our own dressing tonight and put in in another container (more on that later). Whatever you put in the jar first will come out last, on top of the salad. It’s a good idea to start with your stiffer vegetables as these won’t get soggy in the dressing. For us, that means carrots on the bottom.

Carrots chopped and divided

We chopped up about 8 ounces of baby carrots and separated them into 9 approximately equal piles (since we have 9 jars) then dropped a pile in each jar. Next, we chopped up our head of broccoli and again divided it into 9 piles, then dropped those into the jars.

Broccoli chopped and divided

We repeated this process with the cucumbers. For my salads, I sprinkled walnuts on top of the cucumbers. Next, we layered on spinach. For my salads, I added in a few olives on top of the spinach. Lastly, we filled the jars with iceberg and leaf lettuce.

While I finished up the salads, Amanda made olive oil and garlic croutons for us to top our salads. She also made an olive oil and red wine vinegar Italian dressing with garlic, rosemary, oregano, basil, and thyme.

Finished meals

Overall, it took us about 2 hours of prep to make a week of breakfasts, and salads for dinners. It was a lot of fun because we got to spend a few hours in the kitchen together, frequently dancing around the cat who always wanted to be under our feet.

Have you made smoothies or Mason jar salads? Do you have good recipes that we should try next week? Let us know in the comments.

Winter Stroll Through the Park

One of our favorite evening activities is taking a walk through our local park. It has a nice 3/4 mile walking path beside a small creek. Normally, we don’t go to the park during winter because of the cold, but since the temperature was in the high 50s and we’re expecting snow next week, we wanted to take advantage of the weather.

Walking path in Winter

This is a great date because we get a bit of exercise and a chance to talk about the day while enjoying some nice scenery. It only takes about an hour, so it is a good quick date if you have other plans for the night, which we did.

Creek beside the path in winter

Another view of the creek

We will be taking many more walks here this year once the weather gets nice again.

Bowling

As of yesterday, we have officially completed a week of dates. You could say that we are on a roll. I mean, I wouldn’t say that, because it’d be a horrible joke related to our bowling date tonight, but you could say it if you wanted.

There is a bowling alley about half a mile from our house that we have passed by numerous times, so tonight we decided to check it out. When we got there, the parking lot was almost full. Inside, the place was busy with bustling bowlers. Apparently, it was date night for everyone, just what we like to see. We rented shoes, picked up our bowling balls, and went to our lane.

BowlingAlley

Normally when we bowl, we pick random silly names for ourselves to enter into the score keeping system, but tonight, we just went with our actual names for the sake of pictures. Unfortunately, the score keeping system decided to abbreviate both of our names to the first letter, so it was A vs A.

BowlingFirstGame

It didn’t take us many frames to remember why we haven’t bowled (other than Wii bowling, which doesn’t count) for a while: even though it is fun, we are so bad at bowling. Our first game, we ended up with a combined score of under 200. Determined that we could do better than that, and at least break 200, we played another round. Ten frames later, we had succeeded in our goal.

BowlingSecondGame

As we played our games, we chatted with the people on our neighboring lanes. Bowling is a great social date. The games went by pretty fast, about an hour total for both games, since it was just the two of us bowling. Next time, we’ll have to make it a double date for a longer evening.

When is the last time you went bowling?

Sideling Hill

Some days, it seems like date night might be hard to fit into a schedule. Today, we had to drive over five hundred miles to get home from visiting friends and family over the holidays. The scenery in early January isn’t anything special and with the warm weather we’ve had recently, there wasn’t even snow to make up for the lack of greenery. Outside the car was really dull, but inside, we were talking about our recent visit and listening to music as the miles passed by.

Despite the trip, date night must prevail! For our date today, we scheduled a detour to a place that we have passed by dozens of times without visiting: Sideling Hill. There is a giant man-made cut through the mountain to allow Interstate 68 to pass through. The rock strata are clearly visible and tower over both sides of the interstate.

Sideling Hill

We arrived at the location right before the sun set, luckily. Because it was so cold, there was ice formed on the rocks that glistened in the near-sunset. The view was gorgeous and we lingered to scan the horizon.

View of the horizon from Sideling Hill

Another view of the horizon from Sideling Hill

As we climbed the seventy or so stairs, we were able to see our breath because of the height and cold. At the top of the area open to the public, we were able to use a view finder for a quarter to see some of the details in the landscape. There was also an interesting sign at the top about the ice formations on the rocks, which is caused by the layers of sandstone.

Sign at the top of the area open to the public

It was a quick and convenient date, a beautiful view, and we finally visited the location that we had pointed out for years.

Have you visited any cool attractions on a road trip recently? Let us know in the comments.

Links:
Sideling Hill history on Wikipedia

Yale University Art Gallery

After the high-flying adventure yesterday, today we decided to relax and enjoy a calm walk through the Yale University Art Gallery, the #1 rated thing to do in Connecticut on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures of the exhibits, so this post will be light on the images.

Yale University Art Gallery

Admission is free and the museum is open to the public. This was a cheap date night idea, as we only had to pay for parking.

Our first exhibit was the Arthur Ross Collection of European Prints and Drawings, a temporary exhibition. This collection featured a number of lithographs and sketches from artists such as Francisco Goya and Edgar Degas. It was astonishing to see the depths and dimensions that these artists created with just a pen. We saw a collection of sketches of bull fighting, including a few done by Pablo Picasso. We also saw one piece drawn by Rembrandt.

We toured the African art gallery and saw a number of sculptures, drums, and traditional headdresses. Then we toured the Asian exhibits and saw a number of ancient Chinese and ancient Indian sculptures, pottery, and paintings. The amount of details in the works are astonishing.

Next, we went to the European exhibit. There was a vast array of different works of art, including two Van Gogh paintings. We enjoyed looking at all the pieces we could, while pointing out the features that we enjoyed. Also in this exhibit is a two-volume set of the original Gutenburg Bible, one of only 23 remaining complete copies in the world. This was my favorite piece we saw, because it is like seeing part of the technology that enabled the modern age.

Lastly, we went to their ancient coin exhibit. They had a nice collection of coins throughout the ages, from some of the first coins that were merely scored metal ingots to what we think of as coins today, depicting ancient rulers and royal crests.

If you’d like to learn more about the pieces, visit during a museum tour or visit their website.

The one thing that we would have done differently was arrive earlier. The museum was huge and we didn’t get to see everything with the amount of time we had. This, however, is a good problem to have.

What is your favorite museum or collection? Let us know in the comments.

Links:
Yale University Art Gallery
Trip Advisor – Best of Connecticut

Aerial Adventure Park

This year, we want to get outside our comfort zone. That’s a major driving force for us embarking on this year-of-dating adventure. Normally, you’d expect a bit of a gradual build up to more exotic and extreme dates, but not us. For our second date, we went to an aerial adventure park. We spent the night doing an obstacle course suspended 15 to 20 feet off the ground in between trees. This was also our first double date. Amanda’s brother and his girlfriend came along with us.

Fields of Fire is located in Mystic, CT right off the highway. As we drove near it, we could see the whole place lit up and oh man, did it look cool. They had long strands of lights strung through the different courses for their Friday Night Lights event. The car was buzzing with excitement as we drove by.

Fields of Fire course

The atmosphere of the event was full of chatter and laughter. We signed in when we arrived and soon we were getting harnessed in to do the tutorial. We went over some safety tips and went through a mini course a few feet off the ground. After that, we were ready to take on a course.

There were different levels of difficulty depending on your skill level, yellow being easiest, then green, blue, and finally black as the hardest, each culminating in a zip line finish. We started off on one of the yellow (easiest) courses. It was so cool doing each element (an individual part of the course) while suspended above the ground. We went through about a dozen elements all lit by the lights.

Amanda on an element

Adam on an element

There was a fire pit set up for s’mores and we got some hot chocolate to warm up with. It was coooold out that night. We hardly noticed while doing the course, but once we were finished, the cold got to us. We watched the other couple we were with complete another course while attempting to stay warm. We also got to see some people completing the harder courses, which looked super intense. We also saw a couple people fall on the harder elements, which prompted the staff to go out on the course and rescue them, which was also really interesting. They were hanging from the guide wire that the harness was attached to.

FoFus

The whole night was so much fun. We’d love to go back. As we returned our harnesses, they told us they would be doing more night climbs in the future, and in different seasons as well. We’ll definitely go again once the weather gets warmer.

FoFgroup

A big thanks to Eric for being our photographer for the evening.

Links:
Fields of Fire Aerial Adventure Park

First Night

Have you ever heard of First Night?  We hadn’t either, but it was a great first night of dating. The closest First Night to us was Hartford, CT. We ordered our wrist bands last week, but you can also buy them at the event. We found parking (which caused an interesting end to our evening, more on that later) then strolled through downtown Hartford toward the event. Along the way, we passed by an art gallery displaying the “Myths and Idols” collection by Travis Durden, which features Star Wars characters edited in to classic statues. What a great, geeky way to start the evening. A couple blocks later, we arrived in Bushnell Park.

The first thing we saw was the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.

Soldiers And Sailors Memorial Arch

Unfortunately, we got there right before they were closing the arch for the evening to prepare for the fireworks. One hundred and sixteen feet of hurried stair climbing later, we stood on the arch and took in the view. Five minutes later, after catching our breath for far too little time, back down the tower we went.

Next, we walked around the park looking at the lights and decorations. We found a park bench near the pond and spent a few minutes enjoying the statue in the middle.

The Pond

As we continued strolling through the lit-up park, we passed the carousel. The line to ride was wrapped all around the inside of the building and back out again, so we decided not to ride (yet). Continuing on, we found the Pump House. Inside, they had a roaring fire in the fire place that filled the whole room with warmth and the aroma of crackling logs. In front of the fire place, a couple musicians were playing a variety of Irish and folk songs on acoustic instruments. We got some hot chocolate and spent a while listening and enjoying the ambiance.

Beside the Pump House was a temporary ice skating rink. Frosty the Snowman and Sonar, the mascot for the Hartford Wolf Pack, were skating around with all of the families. Our legs still felt like Jello from climbing the Arch, so we decided to just watch instead of skating. A few minutes later, we heard an announcement that the fireworks were starting soon, so we made our way back over to the Arch to watch the first fireworks display of the evening.

Fireworks over the Arch

The firework display was fantastic. As the different fireworks went off, we talked about the characteristics of each that we liked. At the end, we decided that ones we both like best are the fireworks that leave sparkling trails in the sky like streamers. On the firework test of compatibility, that’s a 100%.

After the fireworks, we saw the line for the carousel was much shorter, so we got in line. It should be noted that “much shorter” is extremely relative. We spent the next hour chatting about the fireworks and the park and cruising, because the horses reminded us of a cruise we took a few months ago that featured carousel horses as decorations. We finally got to ride the horses and it was totally worth the wait. Totally. We enjoyed a short ride, where I pretended to take off my cowboy hat and quietly yelled “Hi-Yo, Silver!” as the carousel made its way around.

We walked around the park a little more, then because it was getting too cold, we decided to head home. We walked back to the exit of the parking garage that we came out of when parked, but it was locked. This set off the great “How do we get to our car?” game of 2015. We first tried all the doors around us, then went around the block to the side of the building, where we tried more doors there. We walked further down the block and found an entrance toward an underground lot, so we walked in thinking that we could get to the car from there. Guess what all the doors were. Did you guess locked? You’re right. Looking around a bit more, we discovered that this was a service entrance for the building, not the parking garage. So, we walked back out and around to the next side of the building. There were a couple more doors, but they didn’t look like they lead to where we wanted to be, so we didn’t even try them. Finally, we rounded the block again and found the entrance to the parking garage we had been looking for. We got to the car, breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t lost/stranded in downtown Hartford (again… which is a story for another time), then headed home.

We spent the rest of the evening watching a Futurama marathon of all the episodes where Fry gets frozen on New Year’s Eve (Pilot episode, Season 5 episode 8, and Bender’s Big Score), then watched the ball drop.

It was a fantastic date night and a great way to kick off the year. Our New Year’s resolution is to do a new date night every night this year.

What’s your resolution? Have you ever gone to a First Night? Let us know in the comments!

Links:
First Night Hartford, CT
Myths and Idols article in the Hartford Courant