You need to try this stay at home date idea
How my date nights began
Let me set the scene:
The year is 2020, in the UK the season is gradually turning into Spring, there’s talk about some virus taking hold, but here we are told not to panic it’ll all be fine. Until it wasn’t. And overnight we (like the rest of the world) finally shut shop. This was meant to only last 4 weeks. That’s fine, we can do 4 weeks, most people were glad of the break. A time to relax, practice self care, and get round to all the Netflix binging we have been meaning to do.
4 weeks came and went and before you know we were told this was going to last longer than first anticipated. Peoples mental health (including mine) started to take a hit, and so I needed to think of something quickly to help me get through this.
So what do I enjoy?
Travelling! – Ah shit the world is shut that can’t happen
Wine – Pubs are shut so home drinking it is
Going out for meals and trying new foods – Restaurants are shut so that’s a no no.
And then I discovered I had some tapas bowls I had forgotten about. Amazing Tapas is my favourite food, let’s have a Spanish themed night. The sun is shining, we can eat alfresco and why not get dolled up to make ourselves feel extra special.
Having just started Bursting my bubbles I of course posted the photos on social media to show our dinner together. And it blew up! People loved it, we loved doing it and so it was decided:
A stay at home date idea where we are going to travel the world each week.
So why is this stay at home date idea so important?
Honestly it’ll save you!
My above statement is not an exaggeration either.
It honestly saved my mental health:
Each week we had a fun date night
We spent quality time together
We had incredibly yummy food
Trying something new
Learnt about new cultures
And all from the comfort of our home. It gave us something to focus on, look forward too, plan for and even gave us a form of routine.
And it gives us a break from our jogging bottoms
Our stay at home date idea, became a staple in our weekly routine. Each week we took it in turns to cook for date night, we would choose a country to ‘visit’ for the night, find alcohol (if possible) from said country
I’ve got to be honest the wine tasting part of our date nights was also something I was particularly fond of-
And then have date night that Saturday.
The rules of home date night
Now for those of you who are going to be travelling using our stay at home date idea, here are the rules:
- Each week you must visit a different country / state/ province
The whole point of this date night idea is a way for you to still travel without actually leaving your house. Craving the views of the Swiss Alps? Cook Swiss food. Love Italy but can’t get there? Cook some pasta from scratch. Always wanted to go to Iceland but can’t afford it? See what their most unusual dishes are and search for the ingredients. It’s about trying new things, ticking dishes off your bucket list and for a much cheaper price!
- You must choose authentic recipes – the more unusual the better
What’s the point in going to all this planning and effort to just cook the same Tacos you had last week? I mean come on, the whole point of this date night is to discover new flavours, try something you’ve never even heard of, learn about these different places and explore them through their food. In all honesty it’s one of my favourite things to do when I am physically travelling, find a local restaurant and have an authentic meal.
- You must cook the recipe (as much as possible) from scratch
It’s all about challenging yourself. Anyone can go to the shop, pick a ready made Lasagne, Pierogis, a French breadstick etc. but where is the fun in that? I promise you it will taste so much better once you’ve cooked it yourself. My partner had never really cooked before we started our date night ideas, and now you can’t get him out of the kitchen. He is so good! Also for me it is a huge stress relief, bang on your fave music and just focus on what you are creating.
Don’t know where to look for recipes? Here Pinterest is a fountain of knowledge and is my number 1 go to website!
- You have to get dressed up
This is MUST! It’s about making an effort, making these home date ideas feel special. Whether it’s your trusty LBD, a slinky red number, your fave jeans and a nice top, a ballgown. Anything, as long it makes you feel good, confident, happy, excited, a million dollars. That’s the aim, to feel good, and actually take the time to make yourself feel good.
Though pro tip – if you’re wearing white, pop that on after you’ve cooked. As many times I’ve ended up with food splattered down my lovely outfit and then been gutted about it!
- You must try everything that is cooked – no matter how small a portion
It’s just like when you were younger and your parents would say go on… just try a little bit! Treat it the exact same. As there’s really been some stuff that I’ve thought… ew really?! And now it is part of my day to day dishes. So far we have visited 19 countries and we have only disliked ONE dish out of everything. Which I think is pretty incredible! So make sure you give everything a try, you never know, you might surprise yourself with your discoveries at your stay at home date idea!
- Take photos but then afterwards no phones!
And last but not least, NO PHONES! You can have them for the first couple of minutes so you can take photos of your masterpieces, and of yourselves (obvs for memories and not for the gram). NOW hear me out, I know phones have become a standard tool within our everyday lives, but tell me, how can you have a romantic date night if you spend the entire night on your phone?! It’s impossible. This home date is a way for you guys to spend time together, quality personal time together. Where all that you focus on is each other, eating incredible food and a banging glass of vino. A time where you talk about your days, forget about everything that is happening around you and just focus on the here and now. As let’s face it it’s quite rare for this to happen on a daily occurrence.
- Try the local booze
Now I know it can be difficult to do this, but for as much as you can try and get a sample of the local tipple (or non alcoholic if you prefer). I tend to try and get a local wine though I struggled with a couple of countries such as Mexico so got tequila and Scotland so got Whisky. This whole date idea is about trying to feel as much as possible like you have gone to this country, replicate the atmosphere and experience as authentically as you are able too.
Ok Char, so you’ve given me the rules now… how’s about some stay at home date idea
Right everyone, the main event, the part you have all been waiting for…..
Here are some pictures and ideas of our themes, fave and worst countries! As let’s face it it’s always easier to do these things when you have visuals and a step by step guide to help you through. As once you have inspiration and see what can be achieved, it’s a lot harder to stick to your pj’s, netflix filled nights not talking to each other.
Spain: Where it all began:
As I mentioned previously this stay at home date idea was created completely by fluke. I had been sat on my backside complaining about not spending
‘Quality time with my partner’
Despite the fact we were with each other all day every day. The novelty of having relaxing time at home had worn off and I needed some form of normality back. Cue finding my tapas dishes LIGHTBULB Ima make some tapas. I’ve never made it before and everyone was trying new things: this could be mine. But oh no I wasn’t going to stop there, no this was officially our date night. Firstly I insisted we got dressed up and honestly it felt amazing to put makeup on and find a cute dress. It also lifted my spirit tenfold. I cleaned our outdoor furniture, put it in prime sun position and off I cooked. Once everything was ready I called my partner, set up the table, made some sangria AND even treated us to some Spanish music.
Did I feel extra?! Of Course!
Did we have a great night?! You betcha
And so our new tradition was born.
New Zealand – this one was inspired by my coach Anita whose a born and bred kiwi
So in an ode to Anita off we popped to New Zealand. Now I’m going to be honest this date night nearly didn’t happen. I was having a really bad mental health day and spent the majority of the day hiding under my duvet. As let’s face it having mental health sometimes has us feeling like that, it’s perfectly normal. It was only as I laid there and thought about how much we love our stay at home date idea that I gathered myself together, went to the supermarket, got the ingredient and off I trotted.
What was on the menu I hear you say?
We for my recipes I coincidently found a blog post on Pinterest that Anita had written and from there I took my inspiration (if you’re reading this thanks girl)
So for starters we had Scampi – Now I know this isn’t very New Zealandy but I couldn’t find any whitebait and this was the next best thing that we liked.
Next up – Kiwi burgers and Kumara fries, and no, A kiwi burger isn’t a burger made of Kiwis. It’s basically a burger with a fried egg and beetroot. Now in all honesty we were dubious about this dish but it was actually incredible! How had we not thought about this before?! So good!
And finally Lolly Cake – Real talk guys: I fucked this up so so much! It didn’t set. I couldn’t find the sweets that needed to go in it and so it ended up as a sweet, beige sloppy mess. At this point I’d like to refer you back to rule number 5:
You must try everything no matter how small a portion
And I kid you not, it was fucking incredible! It tasted soooo much better than it looked. And both of us couldn’t get enough of it.
South Africa – Family date night
Now don’t get me wrong this stay at home date night idea started because I wanted to spend more quality time with my partner. So as they became a weekly staple in our schedules it also became a time where we would gather as a family with my step son, my mum, friends and spend quality time together with our loved ones.
One of our biggest successes was when Michael took us to South Africa, a trip down memory lane for him, as he had visited in 2013. The food was incredible and completely out of our comfort zone in terms of recipes. It was also pretty complex, but since we started these date nights Michael has strived to push himself when it comes to cooking, and boy does he!
He cooked us:
Lamb and apricot kebabs – and I kid you not they were so good! Who knew that lamb and apricot went together so well!
Bobotie a traditional South African pie, which took a lot of time and effort and was well worth the wait.
And for dessert – Pampoenkoekie, these were so fresh, light and tasty. Once we have laid down the food we always explain what is in what so that we know what we are having. When Michael told me the main ingredient for these you could’ve knocked me down with a feather. The main ingredient was Root mashed veg! It’s meant to be Pumpkin but they were out of season when he was cooking, so we went with the next best thing.
I even tried some Quirky Bird wine with my mum – Now this is a big thing for my mum as she is strictly White Australian Chardonnay girl, anything else and she will point blank refuse. But as is the rules of date night she gave it a try. She wasn’t keen, but the fact she gave it a try is what is important!
Turkey – My own masterpiece stay home date idea!
Turkey is a place that holds a place in both our hearts, though we’ve never travelled there together it is such a beautiful country with incredible food! Never to be one to be out done, after all these weeks of Michael cooking up these fancy pants, complicated recipes with enough food to feed the 5000, I thought right! I’m going to give it a go.
I can safely say after this night, as incredible as the food was, I will be going back to my usual prep consuming but left alone to cook kind of dishes. As I went hard, and after emerging gloriously from the kitchen with my Turkish feast, having prepared and cooked food for 5 hours straight. I set the table with my blood pressure raised and a glass of wine being poured, as Michael sauntered into the dinning room cool, calm and collected.
It entirely depends on what experience you want, cooking for me is relaxing, a coping mechanism and something I enjoy. That date night was not enjoyable. I but it down to deciding to cook
2 different types of kebabs – Chicken and kofta both homemade
Homemade bread – which was a terrible idea and I need help from Michael for
A spicy prawn and tomato dish
And a homemade Tahini dip
I was meant to do a rice dish but that went down the shitter when I ran out of over space – and in all honestly got that stressed I completely forgot, that is until I sat down and go FUCK I’VE FORGOT THE RICE, I know we’ve all been there.
But despite being caused so much stress I think that the air in my kitchen was blue from my language. The meal was a success and everything tasted incredible!
Greece – So beautiful but my one and utter fuck up
I have visited Greece a lot, and it is one of my favourite countries. People who live there are so friendly, the different islands are so beautiful, great weather and the food is incredible! It’s also where:
My mum and dad first met
Where my cousin got married
Where I saw my first turtle in the wild
And where me and Michael were at the same time in the same place in a tiny town, yet did not meet for another couple of years on Tinder!
So going to Greece I did a ‘picky’ starter with Kalamata Olives, Chicken Souvlaki, halloumi, Tzatziki, Taramasalata and hummus (which I’m aware isn’t Greek but is super tasty) fresh warm pitta breads and Greek white beans. Absolutely incredible and one of my favourite kinds of meals.
I then went straight onto the main ( I didn’t bother with a pudding as we’d be too full). Now for main … Stiffado… It was VILE, the first time I’ve ever followed a recipe to the letter in my life and it was the most disgusting thing I’ve put in my mouth, nothing like the tasty ones I’ve had in Greece. It was more like a beefy mulled wine – which yes is as disgusting as it sounds. I was gutted, my first date night failure and this was pretty early into our stay at home date night idea. But not to let myself get defeated by a bad meal back we went to the starter, drank Ouzo (obviously) and had a great time nonetheless. And at least it was presented nicely!
A special themed date night
Back in October it was a very special celebration for me and my partner, and as we were in lockdown with nothing open except for takeaways, we figured that we’d just make the entire day date night. Watch a film, eat our favourite foods, start drinking at dinner time then listen to our favourite music the rest of the day.
In this instance we didn’t actually have a specific county in mind, as we were just having easy prep comfort food followed by a liquid tea. So instead we had
Naked Date Night
Where we raided the yummiest bang in the oven and leave food, didn’t get dressed for the entire day, watched Doctor Sleep and just relaxed. It was wonderful. You see these stay at home date ideas are about spending time together as well. Clothing is optional!
There you have it your very own stay home date idea
And there you have it lovelies, my step by step guide to a stay home date idea, complete with rules, photos and inspiration so you have no excuse not to do it (you can thank me later). I know it’s difficult right now and trust me everyone’s mental health has taken a hit recently. And it’s not ok that it has, but it is normal that it has. Doing these date ideas has honestly saved both mine and my families mental health, and made us spend time together instead of a night in front of a screen. It enables us to make wonderful memories and enjoy a stunning night in the comfort of our own homes.
And hey I’ve got plenty more ideas for travelling without leaving your house here!!! So you can do things as a family, couple, by yourself or virtually with friends. It’s all about making the best out of our current situation.
Just a quick reminder:
When or if your mental health takes a hit it is incredibly important to keep yourself safe and healthy. Reach out to people you are close too, reach out to me, make sure you eat and drink.
You got this boo, I believe in you x
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