Weekly Featured Date:: Bellini’s


A couple of weeks ago, it was my dad’s birthday.  For the first time that I can remember, we surprised Dad by gathering the family here in town and surprising him with dinner at a local steakhouse.  Penny and I also got to celebrate my cousin, Jeremy who recently got engaged!  My cousin Jeremy is a chef, but I’d never actually eaten his food before.  He mentioned that we should come to his restaurant, Bellini’s, located in downtown Lexington.  A couple of days later, my planned DateNight with Penny sort of blew up in my face, and I had to scramble to come up with some new plans (hmmm, perhaps that’ll be a post- what to do when your plans blow up). So we shifted some things, I called my cousin, and he said to come on in.  And we did…

Usually this column is reserved for activities for couples to do on DateNights, but Penny and I had such a great experience at Bellini’s, that it really earned its own spot as a Weekly Featured Date.  Warning- this a pricey date, but the whole experience is one you won’t forget anytime soon.

To start off, Bellini’s is truly a fine dining restaurant.  Which as I’ve come to learn, is a big date in and of itself.  Not just because the price will probably use all of your dating budget for the night, if not a couple of nights; but also because this is a place that you’ll want to dress up for a bit.  I don’t mean a suit and tie, though that wouldn’t be inappropriate, but dressy casual.

Enjoy your drive downtown in Lexington, but as you pull up, take advantage of the Valet parking directly across the street from Bellini’s.  Enter through the martini bar on the left, where you can stop to have a drink first.  The low lighting and red glow of the room certainly sets the high class, romantic atmosphere of the restaurant.  As you enter the dining room, be ready to check your coat with the hostess.

Here’s where the real fun begins…the food.  Bellini’s is an italian restaurant, so I was worried that for a guy who can’t eat pasta right now, there might not be much for me to enjoy there.  Boy was I wrong!  The menu was one of those kinds that had no pictures and lots of foreign words…which always makes me nervous, but I was the hands of my cousin so I relaxed and just went with it.  Penny and I both picked items from the non-pasta side of the menu.  She got the duck, and I got the braised short ribs.  In addition to that, we got a plate of muscles as our appetizer and Chef Jeremy sent out a couple of amuse bouches.

The food was absolutely amazing!  When it came, the presentation was beautiful, I hated to defile it with a fork and knife.  Then the waitress actually explained exactly what we were eating as she set it down.  You know, “Here is the duck breast, simmered with an apple glaze over a carrot puree and blah blah blah.”  Basically all I heard was, “Here is some of the most amazing yummy goodness you’ll ever eat in your life.”  I have to say, I had no clue that my cousin was a great chef!  Upon taking the first bite of her food, Penny melted and mumbled, “Oh my god, this good!”

Anyway, Bellini’s definitely qualifies as a GreatDateSpot.  Go ahead and plan on at least an hour to an hour and half at the restaurant.  When dinner is over, you can add to it just about anything- a walk downtown, some ice cream somewhere, even a movie at home…because you’re date will have been a great one!

 

Weekly Featured Date :: The Double Date


Typically with the Weekly Featured Date segment, I try to highlight a place to go, an activity to do, or sometimes even a restaurant.  But this time I’m pulling out something different.  I’m not even sure what category this would fit into, but considering that I don’t much like categories, I’m really ok with it.

This week’s Weekly Featured Date is simple- do something, anything, go somewhere- but this time- invite another couple along and make it a Double Date.

The whole point of a DateNight in the first place is to give a couple time out from everything else in life to spend together, getting to know each other, and just have fun together.  I know it may seem that when you introduce another couple into the equation, then you lose the intimate aspect and you have to spend all the time together with another couple.  However- think about it- on a double date you get to be a couple, the other couple gets to be a couple, and you get to be a couple together.  I’m not talking about anything dirty here- its just called being a couple in community.

Also, this is great way to take a time out from everything else in life- think of the couples you know- couples at church, couples at work, couples in the neighborhood.  Going out for a Double Date with any of these couples puts you in a different setting and allows you to get to know not only the other couple better, but you get to know your dating partner in a setting with other people.

The Double Date- the hardest part is just finding a couple who’s schedule you can get to mesh with yours.

5 Things to Remember when saying “I Love You” for the First Time


Several months ago, a good friend of mine came to me and said, “Mulberry, I think I love her.  But I’m not ready to tell her.”  Then, last week, he looked at me and said, “Alright, Mulberry, I’m ready.”  I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and in full dude-fashion, punched him in the arm, and said, “It’s about dang time!”

Saying “I Love You” for the first time is really a big deal.  There’s a reason that we are cautious of saying it for its time.  You don’t want to say it too early, otherwise you could freak the other person out.  On the TV Show “The Big Bang Theory,” Leonard and Penny wound up breaking up because one of them said it a bit too early for the other’s taste.

So for anyone out there who’s dating and is feeling like its getting close to time to saying those 3 magic words, I have some advice….Click here to read the full article

Weekly Featured Date: Kitchen Witches by The Studio Players


That’s right, the Weekly Featured Date is back!  And I’m excited to have a line up of lots of new and exciting GreatDateSpots around Central Kentucky and the Tri-City area coming at you!  And to kick it off is what Penny and I are doing tonight.

Now, whether or not you live in the Central Kentucky region, one of the best Dates anywhere , and most affordable too, is taking in some local theater.  The great thing is that when you do local theater, you have several options to choose from.  Usually there is a high school play happening somewhere around you.  While the acting may not always be stellar, they certainly have a bit of nostaglia to them.  But I challenge you to look deeper and check out the Community Theater in your town.

I like plays.  I like plays a lot.  I like plays for DateNights even more.  And for several reasons, mostly because its a lot like going to see a movie, but very different at the same time.  Sure, you’re in a theater, with lots of people you don’t know, watching a story unfold before your eyes.  Its great for getting cozy with that special someone.   Rarely will you be in a theater with other people you know, which creates such a great, unique shared experience for the two of you.  But plays can be so much more fun- for one thing, there is a bond that happens between actor and audience, especially in the intimate setting of community theater.  It’s sort of an inside-joke that we all know what we are seeing isn’t real, but we are agreeing to suspend reality and just go with it.  When mistakes happen, we are drawn in even more to see how they will recover, and often add a level of charm that we would never get from a movie. Also, community theater tends to afford us the opportunity to break out of the same ole plays we see over and over again.  Let’s face it, sometimes they suck and there’s a reason this play never hit the big time.  But more often than not, these plays really are unfound gems.

Which is exactly what I’m hoping for tonight as this is exactly what Penny and I will be doing for our DateNight tonight.  We will be heading out tonight to see The Studio Players take on Canadian playwright Caroline Smith’s Kitchen Witches.  The premise is that we have two women, one ambitious, professional and self-promoting and the other a stay-at-home mom with country skillz who both happened to have loved the same man are forced to work together for a local cooking show.  I’m looking forward to what can only mean a lot of quick-witted banter and blows back and forth as these two polar-opposite forces collide.

For anyone around who’s interested, the Studio Players are based out of the Carriage House Theater on the property of the Bell House right off E Main Street.  Shows are at 8:00 and tickets are $16.  Check out the review from Lexgo.com for more info.  And if you do get to go, be sure to come back and leave a comment, let us what you thought of the show!

Looking Forward to a Second Year


Do anyone know what today is?  No, it’s not George Washington’s Birthday.  Or MLK Jr Day.  Today marks the first day of the final month of the first year of Penny’s and my marriage.  We are standing on the brim of end of our first year together as husband and wife.  And as I look out this time in our lives, as we look forward to Year 2, I am very excited to what this new year will bring us!  And I’m struck with several thoughts:

1) I am more in love with my wife now than I was on the day I married her.  I suppose that’s kinda the way it should be.  But it’s true.

2) We are communicating better and being more real with each other than ever before.  It’s an odd concept that more I am open, the more I let her see my own brokenness, the more it propels our intimacy- the more we know each other.

3) Our best years are really still in front of us.  I feel really sorry for whoever said the first year of marriage was the best.  Seriously, if I got to the end of this year and thought it was the best it was ever going to be, I might be done with the whole thing.  Thankfully, I am superexcited for what’s still to come.

4) I’ve never had an anniversary before…looking forward to it.  I got to plan out where we are going last night- I can’t wait.

5) We are set up great for a second year.  We have a cloud of witnesses around us that are in this with us.  They are really rooting for us…not just to stay together, but to thrive!

As I write this, I realize something- all of these things are also true in my relationship with my first love- the Saviour of my Soul- Jesus.  I love him more than ever before, and I feel his love more.  We are communicating better…I am hearing his voice clearer and sharper than ever before.  The best years are still in front of us.  The anniversary is really a special time- June 24.  And there is cloud of witness around me of people who have gone before me that are spurring me on.

6 Steps to Kick Off Dating in the New Year



It seems that it’s been a while since any activity has happened here on GreatDateSpot.com.  These past holidays were nuts around the Mulberry House, relatives and travel and parties and cleaning and doing it all over again…unfortunately, it seems that Penny and I haven’t really had much time for dating.  And what do I think of that?  It was no excuse.  We still haven’t mastered the make-up date just yet, but that’s ok…we’re still learning.

You see, its bound to happen…you have a plan, and set DateNight, and things come up every so often that knock you off schedule.  But that’s no excuse not to date.  Not to connect.  And what Penny and I have gotten to practice over these last 3 or 4 weeks is how to connect and keep our own relationship strong in the midst of a lot of busy-ness and family time.  Sometimes we did well, sometimes we didn’t.   It’s part of our growth.  And part of my own growth as the one entrusted to lead this marriage.  It was tricky trying to discern the times when it ok that we fore-go’ed? (fore-went?) our time together for time with the family, and when we really needed to steal away and just have time together.  It’s not really something I have ever had to do before.  But I was fully aware of it the entire time.

All that aside- here we are- back home, back on a regular schedule, and its time to get back to Dating!  We are definitely ready for another season of Dating and learning how to grow in and through relationships.  Today I want to share a thought on Dating in the New Year.

Here’s my big thought- Be Freakin’ Intentional this year.  Be intentional about having regularly scheduled DateNights.  What that doesn’t mean is being laxidasical and waiting until the day of the date to think about what you’re going to do.  When you wait till the last minute, its a recipe for the M word: MONOTONY.  Monotony is the biggest killer of a dating life.  Mostly because it takes all the fun out of it.  But how do you avoid it?  How do you avoid the Rut?  The best way I have found to plan out what you’re going to do is simple.  It’s an old school method. Create a Calendar.

Create a schedule for DateNights.  This was our DateNight schedule from last fall.  Its simple Excel-type spreadsheet.  And below are 6 steps to creating an excellent season of Dating here at the start of 2011.

1) Get a night of the week that will generally be a scheduled night for the two of you.  For Penny and I, it’s Friday nights.  For a lot of my friends, it’s Monday nights.  Maybe its a rotating night.  However it works for you, get a night when you will intend to go out.  Keep in mind, it won’t work every week- things will come up.  But at least it gives you something to shoot for.

2) Go ahead and block out the times when you know things will interfere.  What are the big weeks you know are coming up that will disrupt your dating schedule.  For me, I color code those times.  Orange represents times when I know that Friday Night will not work.  Yellow represents weeks where Friday may work, but other things could creep in and we may have to be flexible (like the Friday after Thanksgiving).  Doing this will allow you to have a heads up and create a back up plan- a make up date night.

3) Plan an activity for each DateNight. This is where the real work and fun comes into planning these things.  You’ll see the times when the same ole thing keeps coming up- and it will allow you to move them around.  Penny and I will often go to Cincinnati or Louisville for our Dates, so for me, this lets me see when we are going out of town several weeks in a row- then lets me adjust it so we aren’t leaving all the time.  This will also allow for you to check the local theaters- what plays or sporting events or concerts are coming that you need to go ahead an get tickets for (and gives you time to get good seats 🙂 )  The key here is variety.  Revisit the old favorites, and get some new things going on as well.  One final tip: Try not to schedule too many movies over the season.  If there are some big movies coming out that you both want to see, then by all means, but otherwise- keep it changed up.

4) Schedule Food for each DateNight. Sharing a meal together is a time-honored tradition, but more than that, it gives you great time to talk.  Scheduling the food will allow you to keep a variety of restaurants on tap.  If you’re like me, you’ll see a restaurant as you’re driving around town…and think, “We should try going there sometime.” But then you never go back… sound familiar?  The Calendar will help make that happen.  And what I think you’ll find is that pairing your restaurant selection with your activity is a bit like pairing a fine wine with just the right cheese.

5) Think through the added bonus. In other words, what makes this DateNight special?  What is something that you’ll both get out of this night that doesn’t happen on too many other nights.  It could be many things: a long drive with lots of talk time.  Homemade meal.  A special surprise or gift.  Time with another couple or loved one.

6) Take Good Notes. This was a lesson I learned after making these calendars our a few times.  Let’s face it– sometimes a well planned DateNight just turns out to be a stinker.  Sometimes its really great.  Sometimes you’ll hear her say something that you want to remember.  Sometimes you’ll want to remember if you two liked a particular restaurant or if there was a lesson learned from a certain experience.  This helps you to grow and get better at creating memorable DateNights.

So go for it!  Kick off 2011 the right way- with a strong season of Dating.  Get it planned out.  I suggest start small- if you’ve never done this before, try from January through March.  As for Penny and I, my calendar this time is planned through the end of May.  We’ll move into Summer after that.

When you do it, come back and leave a message, let us know how your schedule is working out.

Gift Idea:: The 12 Daytz of Christmas


I ran across this idea earlier today and I just had to share.  Our friends over at the Dating Divas have come up with a rather unique idea for a Christmas gift this season that could really mean a lot to your spouse or dating partner.  While I’m not a big scrapbooker, I absolutely believe in the idea of PLANNING and getting your date nights scheduled, so much so that its part of The Fifth Commandment of Dating.

Now, generally speaking, I hold to DateNights happening at least once a week and are usually planned by the guy.  For that, I believe this gift idea can be utilized by either Men or Women and here’s how:

MEN:: I realize that sometimes once a week can be tough to go out on the town, especially if you have kids or funds are really tight- or both: to which I say, get creative and make it happen.  But if it can’t, at least once a week, make sure you’re grabbing some couch time for a couple hours and spend that time with the TV off and the kids not around, and be connecting.  Here’s the kicker- those can count as DateNights.  If that’s the situation you find yourself in, then perhaps you would benefit from a Special DateNight once a month- you know, those times when you get a babysitter, save up some cash like you did in high school, and then go out.  So how about for Christmas, you plan out 12 dates, one for each month. -OR- If you already have a weekly DateNight, how about 12 of those become “special” DateNights, and I’ll let you decide what the word “special” means to you in your context.  But You’ll have to go to the Dating Diva’s site how to make the gift.

WOMEN:: It is no easy task to be the one who is always planning out the DateNights (not easy, but still a joy).  How about giving your man the gift of a break, when you step up and take the reigns once a month to plan the DateNights.  There are so many benefits to you planning the DateNights, but mostly it gets you involved in this aspect of the relationship and even gives you a bit more investment.  It would be a great gift.  And again, you’ll have to head over to the Dating Diva’s to see how to make the gift.

Give the gift of Dating this Christmas.  And if you have any ideas how to tweak this or customize this for yourself, be sure to leave a comment and share with the class!

And show some love to our friends at Dating Diva’s by visiting their site : www.thedahlingdatingdivas.blogspot.com