Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentines, Poetry and Chocolate!

I love Valentine's Day. Call me a sap. Wine. Candy. Presents. Love.

One of my traditions is making a "yearbook" for Rick, with photos and poetry summing up parts of our year or just things we care about.

It started as a Christmas gift idea the first year we were together and I was working so close to the wire (I do work best under deadline!) that in subsequent years, it moved to Valentine's Day when things were a little less stressful.

Since then, I've written about our trip to Japan, the little lawnmowing kid, the story of how we met, chronicled the evening we saw the movie "Big Night" and went home and made pasta, and lots of moments in our lives -- very large and very small.

For a person who takes as many photos as I do, you'd think scrapbooking would be second nature, but it's probably the one paper thing I don't particularly enjoy. Yet putting these together is always such a joy!

And watching Rick read the poems is equally joyful.

Here are a few moments from our year...

I was was lucky to get a great book at Jane Rosemont's garage sale -- it's the kind when after you turn all the pages, you turn the cover and then keep turning pages -- it goes round and round!

Over the course of the year, books have ranged from handwritten with drawings and no photos (or paintings) to collage to 12x12 scrapbook format. Recently, I've been useing a color theme and choose three or four papers that work with the theme. This year, it was pretty much natural colors -- greens, beiges, tans, naturals, and one silver-gold-white sheet.

I tear the paper and use a mix of vertical and horizontal elements. After the poems and photos are down, I use ink-to-paper to add color to the pages. Later I add embellishments and texture.

The layout below focused on Greg's surgery. On the photo at the left are packing tape transfers -- the child and the young man.

This year I chose the font "papyrus" for the poetry -- it worked well with the papers.

For the first time, I did two spreads where I didn't use poetry at all. "Road Trip to Sand Lake" was a transcript of a particularly trying car trip when Kevin was driving Rick's car -- and Rick wasn't liking the speed! Greg and I sat in the back and I made a transcript of the conversation.

"Let Rick Ride" featured direct quotes from his "Let Rick Ride" website about bike safety!

One of the nice things about doing the book for Valentine's Day is that I can use photos from the whole year. "Celebrate Every Single Day" reminds us to recognize all the things, good and bad, that occur -- and celebrate them, for we learn from those as well.

He liked it.

I was lucky, too. Tickets to a terrific concert by the symphony featuring two Broadway performers singing show tunes. I love a show tune!

And he made a terrific cassoulet for dinner. The photo didn't turn out well enough to post, but it was delicious!

I volunteered to bring the dessert. I found a terrific Martha recipe I will share here (with my own embellishments!)

I'm in Love Dessert!

First, preheat oven to 350 and put in a roaster (or any pan a bread pan will fit into), filled half-way with water. (Use bottom rack -- you may need to remove the rack above)

Then prep your pan -- coat with cooking spray and then add parchment so it covers the long sides (sticking up, so you'll be able to pull it easily) and the bottom. Then coat THAT with spray.
  • These two steps are very important!
Melt 8 oz. semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate with one stick of butter. Allow to cool. (I did this over simmering water, so I could stir and not burn it.)
  • Cooking hint -- be sure you don't use a glass bowl that breaks into the water pan, making you have to throw out the chocolate and butter and aren't you lucky you had chocolate and butter left from Christmas or else you'll have to go to the store again. And shouldn't you know better?
Beat 1/4 c. heavy cream to soft peaks and set aside.

Beat 3 eggs and 2 T sugar about four minutes or till doubled or tripled in volume.

Slowly add half the chocolate to the egg mixture and fold in; then add and fold the rest.

Then add the whipped cream.

Add 1/2 t. peppermint extract.
  • (Variations: kirsch, orange liqueur, or nothing if you don't want the flavor)
Pour into the pan. Put in the oven inside the roaster and reduce heat to 325.
Bake 25 minutes till it is set and holds when you jiggle pan.

Remove from pan to cool on a baking sheet.
When cool, put in fridge for 30 minutes

Pull out and invert over serving dish. Then remove the parchment.
  • More options -- dust with cocoa or powdered sugar (I did this and it sort of sunk into the wet; I suspect if I'd done it with the leftovers, it would have been fine).
Top with truffles (the chocolate kind) and serve with remaining cream (whipped).

My extra touch -- raspberry sauce.

On stove bring one back of frozen raspberries and sugar to a boil, stirring regularly. (The melting berries will give all the liquid you need).

Start with 2 T. sugar and add a bit at a time to taste.

Push through a strainer or sieve. Discard solids. (I haven't done that yet because I keep thinking I can use them for something... maybe papermaking.)

Pour liquid into a catsup squeeze bottle from the dollar store and make pretty squiggles on your plate. (Or just suck out the raspberry goop, because it's delicious!)

When we had it on the day I made it, it was rather "moussey" and delicious (with raves like "exceptional"). The next day, after being in the fridge, it was much more dense -- more like a flourless chocolate cake -- but equally delicious.

It really is easy. The hardest part is prepping the pan. Oh, and doing the chocolate part over after breaking the bowl into it.

Here's Rick's porch on Sunday morning after a snow -- I love how the warmth of the patio stones made a different texture. Isn't it pretty?


beth said...

well aren't you just the sweetest and romantic person EVER !!!

{ummm....that's not what I did for v-day....see blog}

Unknown said...

Ohh - I love the idea of a yearbook! I never thought of that. You've given me a great idea. Our 20th anniversary is coming up soon and this would be perfect!!!

Beth said...

That is the coolest book. And so neat how you make him one every year. Do you write all the poems too? You have so much talent!

HerzBlatt said...

That is a great idea to create a yearbook!!! I know nobody full of so many wonderful ideas like you are!!!I admired all the pretty hearts you showed in your last post....we haven`t got anything like that here.

Joanne Huffman said...

What a wonderful and romantic tradition. It's a beautiful book.


paris parfait said...

Wow! That is just a priceless, special gift to be cherished. So romantic and beautiful! xo

anno said...

Your yearbook is amazing, such a beautiful gift! That cake sounds delicious, too. Kind of decadent, I expect. But that's the point, right?

Rosa said...

I love your pages!! They are wonderful!!! YUM. I didn't even look at the ingredients to the cake. Not gonna. Nope. I could almost taste it from here. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Jeanie, that is SOME book! I love the pictures, the font, the topics, the idea - all! And I love that you shared it with us.

and the sun on the snow on the patio!

Anonymous said...

Rick is very, very lucky, which I am sure he knows.
What a beautiful memoir of your year - thank you so much for sharing such a personal thing with us.
(The car trip page CRACKED ME UP!!)
Happy Valentine's Day, Jeanie.

jet1960 said...

Jeanie, you are just the most amazing and thoughtful person! That is such a special keepsake

I'll be keeping you in my thoughts as you approach your surgery. Please keep us updated as you can.

Bree said...

Oh your creativity kills me. So jealous everytime I visit your blog. I wish you could osmosis some of that to me. Your book is AWESOME!

Relyn Lawson said...

What a marvelous, wonderful gift. What a treasure! I love the idea. And the scrapbook/yearbook. WOW!

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