Monday, August 8, 2011

Romance at Short Notice...

When I was in second grade, we were experiencing one of our worst winters, making it impossible to go out for recess. As an alternative to all of us becoming completely stir-crazy and suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) our school chose to have Hawaiian Day. We were all allowed to wear our beach clothes (under our coats, of course), suntan lotion and sit on beach towels instead of at our desks. It was wonderful, and all these years later I still remember how much fun it was to listen to the Beach Boys in Mrs. Gaston's class while practicing Arithmetic.

So why the walk down memory lane? Well, I think we can all fall victim to BLAD, Busy Life Affective Disorder, (I just made that up) where we forget to inject a bit of fun into our lives in lieu of tackling deadlines, staying late at work or just not making time for it. It's hard to see the sun when dealing with tough commutes and overloaded schedules, and your weekends are spent tackling all the personal errands and tasks you've been putting off all week. Well, why not take a tip from my elementary school and invite the outdoors in? With a minimum amount of planning, you can turn an evening at home into a day at the park. Behold, the indoor picnic!

To set the scene, lay out a blanket that you don't mind getting crumbs on, along with some throw pillows for additional comfort. I like having a cutting board or two handy to create a more stable surface for cups, food, etc. as lumpy blankets aren't necessarily the most reliable places to set things. A little wine (don't forget the corkscrew) and some candles are a great touch, and a candle that smells like Macintosh Apples is a great way to enhance the feeling of being outdoors while in. Have lots of finger foods such as pre-cut fruit, assorted cheeses, crackers, veggies, anything that makes you think picnic. If you're with your honey, you might want to check out "Gayot's Top 10 Best Aphrodisiac Foods," to add a little more fun to the mix. Using disposable plates and cups means less clean up afterwards. I also recommend having paper towels and hand wipes handy, along with a bag to put any wrappers or trash in, so you don't have to keep getting up to go to the kitchen and disrupting the mini-vacation.

Quick note: I highly recommend putting on comfy clothes for this. Jeans can be awkward to sit in and shoes are forbidden! Also, shut down all phones, blackberries, computers, etc. You're not supposed to have cell service all the way out in the wilderness.

To enhance the ambiance, you could put on some nature sounds, like wind in the trees, a summer rain, or waves crashing on the beach, or find some of your favorite songs that invoke that sort of carefree spirit, remind you of the outdoors or just make you happy. Here's my top picks, and feel free to send me your ideas.

1. Ray LaMontagne - You Are The Best Thing (Great song and lyrics with Ray's soulful voice)
2. Bob Dylan - Lay Lady Lay (Across my big brass bed, or picnic blanket, whichever)
3. Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice (Just reminds me of that sweet early love when anything's possible)
4. Phil Phillips - Sea of Love (Perfect to imagine cozying up to your honey on a beach blanket)
5. Van Morrison - Sweet Thing (Such an easy song to listen to with romantic lyrics)
6. Joel Strummer and the Mescaleros - Mondo Bongo (If you saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith, this is the one they danced to in the rain when they first met. Swoon!)
7. Bob Schneider - Moon Song (Another great beach blanket song)
8. Van Morrison - Into the Mystic (The lyrics invoke the wind, the sea and rocking your gypsy soul)
9. Antonio Carlos Jobim - Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)
10. Norah Jones - I've Got To See You Again (Bossa Nova rhythms)

Happy In-Picnic-ing.

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