S urprise dates are one of the best things on earth. It doesn’t matter if Bobby takes me for a smoothie down the street or to a Broadway show – as long as it’s a surprise then I’m in love.

Earlier this summer, he took me tubing down the White River in Vermont. Rope swings, sunshine, and mountain views to die for. It was the perfect surprise and such a good day.

To ensure that our marriage has a healthy, continuous stream of surprises, we’ve made a deal. Whomever initiates cooking dinner on Sunday has a free pass for the week. The other person is in charge of planning a surprise date.

That’s win-win if I’ve ever heard it (oh yeah, I’ve definitely read Stephen Covey. One of my faves.).

Last week, Bobby swooped in to take the lead on dinner and I got to work on brainstorming for how to surprise him. A few things I considered:

  • The hours he’s working are insanely long. Since it was his first week of work and we have both been going full steam, I wanted to do something that was more on the cuddly side than the adventurous side. Night in? I think YES.
  • People must be celebrated. And if anyone deserved being celebrated last week, it was Bobby for completing his first full week.
  • Celebrating means champagne.
  • It also means fancy dessert.
  • Throwing a fort into the mix would definitely kick things up a notch.

In my head, the fort was going to look something like this dreamy thing from A Subtle Revelry.

You know how they say you’re always learning new things about yourself? Here’s a brand new insight I had about myself: making forts is NOT my strong suite…ready to see my first attempt at a dreamy fort?

Even Graham was unimpressed.

In order to keep up the center portion of the blanket, I needed to put Bobby’s mini-ironing board in the middle. Eating dinner and dessert with an ironing board separating you is not quite the height of romance…

It was also extremely cramped in there. If you examine that above photo closely, you’ll see that the blanket was still sagging down, right where we would have been sitting. Not great for posture.

Another thing I learned? Making forts is EXHAUSTING. How do parents do it?!? But I was determined, so I completely de-constructed Fort #1 and tried again, this time moving downstairs.

I’ll freely admit it. This is not the most glamorous looking fort. I kept on comforting myself with “it’s the thought that counts, right? Right???”

Look, though! Instead of an ironing board in the middle, I now had an actual TABLE! Am I some kind of fort-making GENIUS?!?

I taped this little “date card” to the door so that Bobby would see it when he got home from work.

He finally got home and we feasted! I made the fanciest grilled cheese, recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker.

We also drank champagne out of mason jars and toasted to his first work week now in the books.

We thoroughly enjoyed our feast in this Morocco-ish blanket fort!

Then in was time for dessert and a movie! (Homemade apple pie tacos drizzled with fresh salted butter caramel sauce – oh my word, so good. Recipe to come in a future post! Find the recipe here!)

All in all, the night was a huge success.

Epilogue: after starting the movie, we decided to move up to our bed instead, whereupon Bobby promptly fell asleep. Guess the 5 a.m. – 7 p.m. work days caught up with him…

P.S. We’re always on the lookout for new date ideas, so let me know if you have any good ones! (Oh, and I’m also taking any and all fort-building tips…any pros out there?)