It's Valentine's Day. A day in the middle of the winter to just stop and celebrate all things pink and red and heart-shaped, and sweet, and silly.
|Years of collected dried flowers|
Since the holidays are well behind us, it's also a day to make an excuse for an indulgence...or two, tell someone important how much you love them, and just generally smile at all of the wonderful messages floating around and people being all mushy-gushy.
I have had the most lovely surprise this Valentine's Day. Usually, I tuck something sweet into Patrick's briefcase along with an "I love you" letter. We usually go out to our favorite sushi or Indian restaurant for a nice meal. I fill little bags with sweet treats or little treasures and leave them at the breakfast table in the morning for the kids to discover.
|Weekday lunches; my new pottery with a simple meal of creamy grits and cheddar|
playing with the sunset and bokeh; Polly-wolly being her silly self
But, this Valentine's Day, I truly received a surprise...a gift that I will cherish always because of the absolute sentiment, thought, and memories behind it.
Years ago, we were in Italy for the first time. The first time in Italy is such thorough immersion in all things beautiful, rustic, delicious, and ...Italian. It was an incredible trip, the children were young and inquisitive about everything, and we enjoyed celebrating the Easter holidays in Italy, in a small town called Sovigliano.
|Ingredients for Braised Chicken with Rosemary and White Wine|
The kids were running through each piazza we visited and wearing themselves out chasing pigeons. We sat at nearby outdoor café tables trying to keep an eye on them and at the same time,taking in all of the wonderful sights and sounds of Italy.
As we wandered around the shops, stretching out from a piazza in Sienna, I spotted a little pottery shop, spilling its wares into the street that beckoned me to step inside and become immersed in beautiful lovely Italian pottery.
I fell in love with a particular pattern of pottery. I was breathless with excitement and overwhelmed at all of the artisanal beauty in the shop.
|Fresh chicken for Valentine dinner; soup bowls from Sienna, Italy|
Heartbeat Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile; and Mr. Lazy Bones...Chester
Should I get plates, bowls, or platters? It was all so lovely but my eyes kept resting on one particular cream pattern with blue trim and a little painted bird in the center. It was a sweet pattern and maybe because it was a simple one, I was consistently drawn to it.
The price on the tags ultimately made the decision for me. I would not be walking out with a "set" of anything. I looked longingly at the plates and bowls and platters but ultimately walked out with a tiny teapot and an even tinier butter dish.
Just being in Italy and taking in all of its beauty was gift enough, indeed. I carried those two items back with us. They've moved from house to house and have been lovingly unwrapped in each one. I've treasured those two items over the years and often point them out and mention how much I love the pattern, the little bird, the trip, the experience, the memories...
This week Patrick was traveling in Italy...Florence to be exact. I remained at home, sulky and glued to the books with Riley...trying desperately to stay on a tight schedule. All the while, I was dreaming of Ponte Vecchio, narrow wet cobblestone streets, Mercato Centrale, the Duomo, and the miles of vineyards flowing into the countryside outside of Florence.
|Valentine's day indulgence...Cream Puffs|
Little did I realize, Patrick had one blessed afternoon free on his trip. And...little did I realize, he had a sweet Valentine plan in mind...
He bought a train ticket from Florence to Sienna. He somehow made his way to the same piazza we enjoyed so many years ago, stumbling along, not knowing the city. He wandered the narrow roads that radiate out from the center of town, walking aimlessly, hoping to stumble upon this elusive pottery shop from 15 years ago.
And...It was still there...
The tiny little pottery shop that I could barely tear myself away from so long ago...was still standing there looking just as quaint and sweet as ever, its wares tumbling onto the street, beckoning passersby.
"There it was" he said when he ventured inside, "The same exact cream pattern with the blue trim and the tiny bird painted in the middle".
He bought eight wide flat bowls and a sweet lady wrapped them in the most beautiful floral paper. He got back on the train, returned to Florence, and carefully carried the set all the way back across the Atlantic Ocean. A set of Italian bowls...a set!
For me...for Valentine's Day.
So my gift in return can't even begin to compare, but of course it would be something lovingly prepared for the table. I arranged the table for a romantic meal, opened a delicious bottle of red wine from Chile (indeed...it is called HeartBeat (chuckles)...but it was very delicious), laid out all of the dried flowers that I have kept over the years, and added some cream puffs on the table for a sweet ending to what is now...
the most sentimental Valentine's Day of our love story.
Labels: braised chicken, chicken, chicken in white wine, cream puffs, lemon chicken, Valentine's Day menu