The husband’s birthday is coming up this week. We stopped celebrating our birthdays a long time ago, including purchasing gifts for each other. This year, we went through something together that has proven life is short! I’m not quite ready to write about it yet, but the event has taught us to love each other even more and not to take one another for granted. We should celebrate one another when we can!
Having special experiences together has definitely taken a higher ranking than material gifts as we get older. We generally buy whatever we want for ourselves, but I can’t say that we spend enough quality time together to commemorate special occasions. Raul’s birthday lands on a weekday this year and is coming up fast! It got me thinking about doing something somewhat low-key but special together. After a bit of brainstorming, here’s what I’ve come up with for a mid-week celebration:
1. Culinary Cooking Class
image by Sait
Raul has always said he would have thoroughly enjoyed a career as a professional chef. I have to admit, he does make fantastic scrambled eggs! And while he’s preparing them, he’s all business chopping the vegetables, crumbling the cheese and plating his creation. It’s rather cute.
As a team-building activity, my group took a cooking class at the SAIT Culinary Campus in downtown Calgary. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had! I’ve always wanted to go back to the campus and complete a course with Raul.
The Culinary Campus happens to have a class available this Friday called Date Night. The class runs from 6pm – 9pm and costs $75 per person. After you learn to cook the meal together, you get to sit and relax in the dining room to enjoy your meal served with a glass of wine. I can’t think of anything more practical and special than this!
Total Date Cost = $150 + GST
2. Dinner and a Movie
This is Raul’s favourite thing for us to do together – a classic dinner and movie date. We’re huge movie buffs and one of the most memorable dates we went on when we first started dating was a cinema marathon! We spent the entire afternoon and evening inside the movie theatre and watched movie after movie.
Our favourite place to have a meal lately is Double Zero Chinook. We are both creatures of habit, so we always order the EXACT same thing every time we dine here.
- Marinated Local Beets Salad
- Speck Pizza
- Bacon & Egg Pizza
- Linguine Vongole
image by Double Zero Pizza
This place never disappoints! The food is amazing, the atmosphere is great and the servers are always super friendly and accommodating. After dinner, a short stroll down to the other end of the shopping mall puts us at the Scotiabank Theatre to enjoy the latest blockbuster.
Total Date Cost = $99.50 + GST and Tip
3. Netflix and Chill
I actually do mean to watch something on Netflix and relax at home. I recently found out from someone of the younger generation that “Netflix and chill” means something else entirely!
It would be lovely to cook a romantic meal together and sink into the couch to catch up on the latest shows. I created this easy to make menu on Epicurious. Unfortunately, their Create a Menu app is not working (so annoying!), so I will just post the recipes here. All recipes below have been adjusted to yield for 2.
Green Leaf Lettuce, Pomegranate and Almond Salad
- 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- dash of salt to taste
- dash of black pepper to taste
- 1 1/4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, trimmed and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
- Seeds from 1 large pomegranate (1 1/4 cups), bitter white membranes discarded
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (2 1/4 oz), toasted
- Whisk together lime juice, salt, and pepper until salt is dissolved, then add oil in a steady stream, whisking until combined.
- Combine lettuce and half of pomegranate seeds in a large serving bowl. Toss with just enough dressing to coat, then sprinkle with almonds and remaining pomegranate seeds.
T-Bone Steak with Thyme and Garlic Butter
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (2-pound) T-bone steak (about 1 inch thick), trimmed and at room temperature
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over high heat for 1–2 minutes or until the butter starts to foam. Sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper. Add thyme, garlic and steak to the pan and cook for 4–5 minutes on each side, spooning the butter over the steak. Drizzle the steak with the butter to serve.
- 1/4 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1/3 tablespoon sugar
- scoop of vanilla ice cream for each glass
- scoop of coffee ice cream for each glass
- 3 savoiardi (Italian crisp ladyfingers), coarsely crumbled
- 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
- small piece of bittersweet chocolate
- Beat cream with sugar until it just holds stiff peaks.
- Divide vanilla and coffee ice creams among glasses, then top with ladyfingers. Pour hot espresso on top and dollop with whipped cream. Grate chocolate on top.
Total Date Cost = ~$50 for groceries (plus $8 monthly subscription to Netflix)
4. Relaxing Day at the Spa
image via Inner Balance Spa
For ultimate relaxation and connection, nothing can beat a day at the spa. Even better if the facility can accommodate a couple’s massage. A spa day can be quite costly, but if it’s something we do together regularly, so I’m going to say that the splurge can be rationalized. We’ve visited few spa facilities over the years, and here is a list of some of our (local) favourites:
The Spa Ritual: This is my favourite spa within the city. We don’t make it here often because the drive is SO FAR from where we live – complete opposite end of this sprawling city.
The Spa Ritual offers 1-hour couple’s massage lessons for $175 per couple. I think this is an awesome twist on the typical couple’s massage. Included in this cost is a massage candle that produces a warm nurturing oil for you to take home and put your newly found skills to use. This idea really appeals to me!
I might consider upgrading to the Royal Thai Suite for $50 which will allow us 30 minutes to enjoy private changing and shower facilities. I can’t shower and dress in 30 minutes, so the next available upgrade is for $100. It includes 60 minutes in the Suite and also throws in a nourishing Lemongrass and Sea Salt soak in the room’s Bali Moon Tub.
Newbury Spa: I visited this spa for the first time last summer while everyone was out Stampeding. It turned out to be such a smart thing to do to get away from all the wild hustle and bustle and relax instead.
Couple’s massages are performed in a private suite which includes a two person steam room. I love this extra feature! The couple’s massage will run me $256 for a 60 minute massage.
If I’m feeling like splurging even further, the spa offers the Fenway Package for Couples. It includes a 60 minute Swedish couple’s massage in the private suite, and signature spa pedicures for each of us for $434. That’s actually not a bad price for a 2.5 hour experience for two people.
Riverside Spa: This spa was one of the first ones we visited way back when. Because we hadn’t been to a lot of spas, we were in awe of the facility’s raindrop shower head. It was probably our favourite thing about the spa back then. Haha, how easily impressed we were.
A bit on the pricey side, a 60 minute couple’s massage will run me $280. I know that only sounds a little bit more costly than the couple’s massage at Newbury, but there are no extra features such as a personal steam room included at this price point.
Inner Balance Spa: I love that this spa focuses on natural and alternative therapies. It is a much smaller facility compared to other offerings in Calgary, but you can tell the owners care very much about providing a top-notch experience to all their patrons. I’m impressed by this place and recommend it to anyone looking for a no-frills spa that pays attention to detail.
Couple’s massages are booked in the spa’s couples room and will run me $190 for a 60-minute experience. I think I would book the Couple’s Wellness Package, though. It is $275 for a 2-hour experience and includes a 60-minute massage, personal sauna and detoxifying aromatherapy wrap with Indian head massage. That’s worth it to me.
Total Date Cost = $175 – $434 + GST and Tip
Hmmm…choices, choices, choices. I think it is ultimately going to come down to whatever I can schedule on such short notice. Such a bad wife leaving my husband’s special birthday plans to the last minute! For more local YYC date night ideas, check out the It’s Date Night guide. I stumbled upon this site while Googling for ideas but haven’t had a chance to peruse through it yet! I’m headed there now to see if it can offer some more unique and memorial ways to celebrate Raul’s birthday.