“What do you think it is?” I asked Gabe as we talked about the lack of connection we had both been feeling lately.
“I’m not sure.” He replied solemnly and with an exhausted sigh.
Our marriage had been moving smoothly just a couple weeks before this conversation. In fact we were better than smooth. On a recent trip away I had a moment standing next to my husband where I felt that there was no one else I would rather be with. I squeezed his hand a little tighter, looked up at his face and said, “You’re my favorite person.” “You’re mine too.” He said.
Then we came home and life settled back into a hectic routine. Even though we were only gone two days it seemed like it took us two weeks to get back into a rhythm.
“I’d like to think it’s because we haven’t had a date night in two weeks.” I said sort of jokingly. For one reason or another we pushed our at home date night’s aside. Well, I know the reasons. One of the weeks we went out on an actual go-out-of-the-house-date – to a fundraising dinner with a bit of schmoozing that I’m so terrible at. It was a wonderful evening of great food and wine for a cause that we both feel passionate about. And the other reason I hesitate to even mention because it’s ridiculous and almost a little too honest, even for me. But the truth is that I felt ahead on the book, you know, the one I’m writing about the importance of dating my husband. So I spent that week retesting a few recipes but never had an actual date night. The truth is, the book is keeping me incredibly accountable to actually dating my husband, which is an incredible gift but when I felt ahead on the book as a project, I failed to make our date night the priority it needs to be.
We had been going through our days feeling like the other would rather not have the other around. Little biting comments filled our conversation and pulled us further apart. But that night I was planning a date. A little reluctantly as I didn’t want to continue to face our awkward and at times painful conversations. When we let too much time slip in between the dates it is sometimes hard to establish that routine again but we did it.
Sitting down to dinner our conversation was like starting up an old car. It chugged, sputtered and smoked before the engine revved and purred. We cleared the table of our dishes then settled back onto the couch where we continued to talk until 1 am. It was a great conversation but that’s not really the point. We just talked, connected and felt like best friends again. I chose him over sleep the way I used to when we were dating and staying up way too late just to be near one another.
I fell asleep in his arms feeling hopeful and incredibly connected to him.
“It really does work.” I said to him the next morning.
“Our date nights.”
Of course I know they are good for us and I know that I enjoy indulging in the food that accompanies our date nights at home but to see us go from weeks of frustrating disconnection and feeling distant and against one another then after one night feeling completely connected – well, it gave me even more passion for the book we’re creating.
So this week, even though our date night falls on the night America will be blowing things up and we’ll be driving 4 hours in a day to celebrate the blowing up of things with my family, and photo shoots, hanging out with friends and all the other stuff that fills up a week, I knew we needed a date. I kept it simple, which I’m not always known to do. We put the kids to bed in our too hot house and made ourselves a drink – well, more like a dessert/drink hybrid.
He plopped a still soft scoop of nectarine sorbet into my glass and splashed the bourbon and lemon juice that pooled in the bottom of the cup onto the table. Immediately the rose colored sorbet began to melt into the drink infusing the bourbon with its fragrant sweetness. Little specks of vanilla bean floated to the top while Gabe twisted a ragged piece of lemon peel over the glass misting it with a citrusy and floral perfume. I quickly snapped a few pictures of our cocktail before I whisked it off the table to enjoy it and my husband while the evening sun, still warm, set behind our neighbor’s house.
When we build the date nights into our weekly routine I find us eager to seize other opportunities to connect. A drink in the evening with my husband becomes a moment to build on intimacy. Even quick conversations throughout the day become easier and help build on our friendship. We send one another texts throughout the day – pictures of the kids, funny things we see, or just checking in on the other. Little things that add up to big things in the course of a lifetime together.
At the root of it all we both desire to be one another’s person. He wants to see me as his best friend and I long for him to be the one that I want to hang out with if given a choice of anyone. And when we both feel that then we are happy in the marriage. If something feels off it’s so often because our friendship is off.
The point is, these nights work. Dating your husband, your wife, whoever you doing life with, really works. I’ve seen it again and again in our marriage and the more I date my husband the more excited and passionate I become to spread this message. I feel like that 90 year-old juice fanatic, “If it works for me it can work for you.” And I guess I’m okay with that because we’re talking about marriages and relationships here – it’s a big deal. Just as we strive to feed our bodies foods that nourish and help our bodies thrive we need to feed the friendship in our marriages.
A relationship is built on friendship and friendship takes time. If you want to have a good friend you have to make the time.. If you want to be a good friend, that takes time too. And if there happens to be a bit a bourbon alongside that friendship building, well, I’m okay with that.
Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet
It turns out Gabe and I have a thing for cocktails. The original plan for the book was to include a few but we just can’t stop ourselves. We are just having too much fun coming up with new ideas and all the “research” that goes along with that. This is one of our current favorites. Seattle is experiencing a bit of a heat wave currently and this grown-up float/slushie-type drink does good work of chasing away the heat. If you prefer peaches you can easily swap those in. I was also thinking plum might be nice.
If bourbon isn’t for you, go ahead and make the sorbet anyway. It’s good one to have around. The presence of alcohol in the sorbet is needed to prevent the sorbet from freezing too firm but you can use something other than bourbon if you prefer.
2 pounds (4-5) nectarines, pitted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split
2 tablespoons bourbon (or other alcohol)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, water and vanilla bean and bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Carefully stir in the bourbon and cook for 30 seconds more before removing from the heat. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean (wash it off and set it in your sugar container to flavor your sugar with vanilla).
Puree the nectarines in a food processor. Carefully add the warm sugar syrup, lemon juice, zest and salt.
Strain this mixture and chill.
Process in your ice cream machine according to the instructions.
If this is destined for a cocktail you could just use the puree to flavor it or stick it in a freezer-safe container in the freezer and drag a fork all over the surface every 20 minutes or so. After a few hours you will have a fluffy granita which would make for a great bourbon slushie.
For the cocktail:
Place 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon in your cup along with 1-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Add 1 scoop of sorbet to the cup and finish with a splash of club soda. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the cup before gingerly tossing it in. Enjoy. Preferably outside with someone who you are quite fond of.
I appreciate your honesty and candidness. The topic of relationships–especially marriage–is vital, and I think it’s fantastic that you’re sharing your gifts of writing, photography, and cooking to help inspire and encourage thousands of readers in their own relationships. Keep up the good work!
I always enjoy reading your ‘dating my husband’ posts. They are such a good reminder of the importance of making the time and nurturing a relationship. Busy schedules and lack of sleep among, other things have left my husband and I at each others throats lately. When I asked him what we could do to fix it his reply was simple “stop getting at each other all the time”. Oh the simplicity.
Oh yes. I have been feeling this and more recently with my relationship. Work, other commitments, friends have kept us apart and what time we do have together, our minds are elsewhere. I keep saying that I’ll get things back on track and make an effort ‘tomorrow’. I don’t think I can wait until tomorrow. Thank you Ashley xo
What a sweet post! I believe that honesty and transparency makes for a great blogger, writer, and all around PERSON. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings.
I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes time alone – special time, can make all the difference in a marriage or partnership even when you’re together every day anyway! Lovely sorbet and post, as always 🙂
I get this. I love how honest you are, and I love the way you’re setting an example to prioritize time together, even when it’s harder or you don’t feel like it. We all need this.
I’m so thankful for your honesty. You inspire me to continue striving to be best friends with my husband. We both love to cook, and though I’ve been following your blog for a while, it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe WE should try a once-a-week cooking-in date. I can’t wait for your cookbook release, but in the mean time, I’ll pitch the idea of more regular cooking dates in our life. Many thanks.
I love everything about this post – bourbon and nectarine sorbet? Um, yes please.
I love the way you write about your relationship and cooking with your husband. It’s so genuine and honest. Cooking with my husband is one of my most favorite things on earth. It feels like ‘our time’ and like nothing else can intervene.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful post on your blog.
Absolutely adore your point of view and your honesty. What you guys do is adorable and every time I hear my friend saying they are hardly spending time together, I refer them to your blog and ask them to read your date night stories. Happy 4th of July, you guys 🙂
Isn’t it wonderful in life when you have the answers? When you find something that works for you and your partner? My husband and I just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary (been together for six years) and as our schedules get busier and our time together more sporadic, I find we both get a little nuts if we don’t get some free time to just enjoy one another. These floats sound heavenly. We are both huge nectarine fans…
So thankful for your honesty. And for these bourbon floats which is needed in our life, now!
Happy 4th, you lovebirds 🙂
I was planning about organizing a day for a date with my hubby for a long time now. It is so important to keep reminding ourselves how special we are one to another. Thank you for this post, I’m going to talk to my hubby.
I’m so looking forward to your book! Do you recommend a bourbon?
Its so important to focus on the positive, personal aspect of any marriage. The less time you spend the harder it gets. Silence is a curse.
Looks amazing! I think I would prefer it to be nectarine ice cream 🙂 but I guess sorbet is pretty great too…
Hi there! I run a blog called Floptimism, and I’ve started a weekly post called the Weekend Wrap-Up where I feature some of my favorite web finds from the past week. I wanted to let you know that I loved this post and the cocktail recipe both so much that I included it in my round-up. Thank you for such a great post, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!
such a beautiful, writer, my dear friend. It’s fun knowing you two, and having your words play out in my head in your actual voices 🙂 Two cheers for all the cocktail testing. What a FABULOUSLY well rounded book you’ll have. Can’t wait.
I’m a new reader, and I love this post. The recipe looks absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to hear more about the book you’re writing! It sounds right up my alley. Thanks so much for sharing this part of your life with us!
I have always thought that pain shared, is pain lessened. When you feel that you are the only one in a particular situation, it’s often the isolation of it that makes you feel so much more sad and sorry for yourself. It’s like when you’re a new mother, everything is new, you can feel so insecure in your choices, coupled with the hormonal changes, it can be a very lonely time. I’ve been married 15 years, together for nearly 19 years and my marriage is still a revelation to me, how it ebbs and flows, peaks and troughs. We’ve had really crappy times and amazing times. We’ve made a conscious decision to get through the crappy times, compromise and make each other always number 1. We don’t always get it right, far from it, but we always WANT to. He’s still my choice, always will be, and although we may not always get it exactly right, we will always keep trying and putting it to the front because it’s so important. Date nights are one really easy way of showing how important you are to each other and it’s so utterly achievable x
This is one of the loveliest posts I have seen on the internet lately. Thank you so much for sharing the ups and downs of marriage. As a newlywed, it helps so much to have honest posts like this! Thank you!
you’re the cat’s pajamas. never forget.
Fantasic + so honest. Not much else to say…except this drink/dessert looks like perfection. Thank you!
hi ashley, I’m a great admirer of your blog but this is probably the first time i’m commenting. Reading this particularly post touched me with your honesty, and reminded me of how I have to “date” my boyfriend, even though we’ve been together for more than 5 years.
thanks for your honest posts and inspiring attitude. Have a great day!
Really nice post. Relationships are work and I think it is great when we can be honest about them and admit that its not always easy and beautiful. The hard moments bring you closer and make you more thankful for that person you are with. Thanks for sharing!
Farmers Market Kitchen
This drink/dessert looks yummy and refreshing…we will definitely enjoy one sitting by the lake as the fireflies come out at night.
Your post really warmed my heart. My husband and I have had our ups and downs…but whenever we take the time to reconnect, the love we have for each other is clear. I’m so glad to know that we are not alone and that we are on the right track. Thanks for being so honest and sharing about your experiences.
Ashley, this is the sweetest. Date nights are so incredibly important, and it’s so great that you and Gabe make time for them, despite life sometimes getting in the way. This looks absolutely gorgeous! xoxo
What a beautiful post. Your honesty is endearing and the loving advice is one that i need to take up. Date nights are so important, whoever they’re with. To pause, to breathe in another’s conversation, to communicate fully in that present moment without the day to day stresses clawing at the door. It really reignites relationships. Thank you for sharing
I love this post unconditionally. Thank you for sharing and I am delighted to hear about the book coming together. I cannot wait for it. This cocktail might just make my love for bourbon even stronger.
Hi Ashley! Your post was so inspring! I love the idea of dating your long-time partner, and I definitely agree that relationships are something that have to be worked at every day to make them the best they can possibly be. I personally like to leave my boyfriend a note every day listing a reason I love him, sometimes I hang them on the bathroom mirror, or leave them in his car, or even just email one to him. Each time I take a moment to think about a reason I love him it makes me love him even more!
I love the idea of a bourbon float!!
I immediately sent this post to my husband when I got about half way through reading it. it’s so important to date your significant other and yet it’s the easiest thing to push to the wasteside. I’m working on getting these dates back but both parties have to participate. Can’t wait for your book to come out!
What a lovely website!
Been loving your blog – and just found out your connection to Boone! I know him through my work with Commonwealth! Small world!
This recipe looks especially delicious; going to try it this summer 🙂
What a great reminder. My husband and I have a 9 month old and have made an effort to have a bi-weekly date night. We don’t have family that live near us so our friends love us enough to come babysit our babe while we go on a date. It’s been over a month without dates because of travels and a teething, feverish baby the nights we had planned it. So this Tuesday we are finally getting our date and we couldn’t be more excited. It is much needed!!
Oh, and bourbon is always a good idea!!
I very genuinely love your blog. It’s more than the recipes and beautiful photography; the personal notes make your posts feel like reading a novel or talking to friend. Truly inspiring…thanks.
I love your words, Ashley and always your unique and wonderful recipes. These floats look tremendous! And the pictures! You know what’s up, lady.
The floats look beautiful and yum. love what you write, you have described your feelings amazing well..Thanks
What a beautiful post, a lovely drink, and sumptuous photos! This post really hit home for me – my husband is my best friend, and after 20 years of marriage (this August!), we feel fortunate that we feel even more connected than ever. The times when we feel like we are drifting apart are always painful, and I’m always eager to “fix” what’s causing the rift. Thanks for sharing your story!
What a beautiful story, a lovely cocktail, and sumptuous photos! This post really hit home for me, thanks for sharing.
This post – and your blog, which I now can’t stop reading – is just what I needed to stumble upon today. This series is a comforting reminder that cultivating a long-term, loving relationship is both a decision we have to make, and an ongoing commitment/challenge; it’s a challenge we all face, and not one that is reserved for those of us who have ‘failed’ in some way. This probably sounds obvious, but I really, really appreciate the sense of relief and solidarity that I gained reading from your post today. Can’t thank you enough, truly… and Not Without Salt is now one of my must-reads.
What a well written post! This is something my husband and I are working on, so I really enjoyed reading this….and of course dreaming of making these floats!
A lifetime of little things really does add up to a big thing. Thanks for sharing. I love the perpetual challenge of making someone else a priority when you are married.
Beautiful post and beautiful cocktail. Thank you!
The sorbet looks phenomenal and it’s great date nights are so helpful for your marriage. It’s important to know what works for you.
Love this post! Really beautiful. Just a quick technical question – when you puree the nectarines, you leave the peel on?
Looking forward to more posts like this (cocktail dates with the huzz) – combining my two favourite things!
For ease, I don’t peel.
You’ll be happy to know that we are working on several cocktails for the book. It’s been rough research. 🙂
Ahhhh… so good. I’m really excited for your book. Not just for the recipes but for the story and inspiration to love and connect with hubs. Great post, Ashley