Saturday night surprise: Love birds, paintbrushes and red wine

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Love birds

Remember song, “Everybody’s working for the weekend?”

Saturday nights – the traditional time to get out of the house with friends or someone special – can be magical.

But first you sometimes have to get past your initial reluctance if you, like me, have become more of a homebody.

The key to enjoyment: Either have a plan, or unequivocally say yes when someone else comes up with one, and then go along with their idea with complete abandon.

Sometimes easier said than done.

But this year, I made a commitment to myself to get out more and try to do at least one new thing a week.

An ideal I shared with my husband, so I would hold myself accountable. He not only approved, but has been trying to join in.

So last night, my husband surprised me with a date night idea: dinner out and then a couples’ painting class at Ultimate Painter Art Gallery in Clermont, which he signed us up for online. (http://theultimatepainter.net)

After dinner at a restaurant near the art gallery, we arrived for the class a little early and found the place locked, so we sat in the parking lot listening to NPR while we waited, watching as the Chipotle restaurant next door did a brisk business.

A few minutes before 7 pm, the teacher called to say she’d be a few minutes late, as she hadn’t realized anyone had signed up for the class that night.

Turns out we were the only ones, so we got a private lesson.

When the teacher arrived, she set up easels and paints for us, put on some New Age music and gave me a glass of  delicious Southern Red wine from Lakeridge Winery, also in Clermont. (http://www.lakeridgewinery.com/)

We started out at the top of the canvas and worked our way down, learning to blend acrylics, and then layer on trees using a sea sponge.

You can see the result above: Mine on the left and his on the right, where he decided to add two love birds to represent us. (He’s so romantic!)

The teacher suggested we paint one tree that crossed both canvases, make sure our trees looked similar and have our mountains line up with each other.

It was a really fun way to spend an evening together, rather than sitting at home watching TV.

In fact, I plan to go back to take my oldest grandson, who loves art. It also got me interested in making a trip to the winery sometime in the near future. The teacher recommended we go when the winery holds a festival, which, according to its website, happens at least monthly.

What about you? Have you ever tried a couples’ painting class or visited a winery? And if so, would you do it again?

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Saying Yes to Pretty in Pink

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Pretty in Pink

This is one of many pretty princess dresses comprised of princess dolls at Downtown Disney, which I almost didn’t get to see.

That’s because when my son invited my husband and I to join him and his girlfriend on a New Year’s Day outing there, I really wanted to say no.

After all, it was a work night. It was a holiday.

I knew it would be unbearably crowded and tough to find a parking spot.

Perhaps impossible to get a table in one of the restaurants for dinner.

I also thought maybe my son simply invited us to be polite — that he fully expected us, perhaps even wanted us, to say no thanks.

But I said yes — mainly, perversely, because I so wanted to say no.

Because, I told myself, you can’t say no if you plan to try new things. And I do want to try new things.

So we went.

And sat in traffic for 90 minutes.

And spent another 30 minutes searching for a parking spot.

Then, luck found us. We decided to eat at House of Blues. And despite the fact that another popular restaurant at Downtown Disney had a 3.5-hour wait for a table, we got seated at HOB within 5 minutes.

On top of that, the food and service were great; the decor, which included painted shoes on the ceiling, was intriguing.

The bathroom walls in House of Blues were painted with an interesting pattern.

The bathroom walls in House of Blues were painted with an interesting pattern.

Afterward, we wandered around amid the festive crowd,

My husband (in red) heading into the Downtown Disney crowd. I love the lights strung overhead.

My husband (in red) heading into the Downtown Disney crowd. I love the lights strung overhead.

finding live outdoor musical performances scattered throughout the entertainment complex.

They included:

One guy playing both a didgeridoo and a 2-necked guitar;

Another man playing a smoking-hot saxophone to the utter, unfettered delight of a free-spirited 3-year-old girl who skipped, danced and swayed to the music;

A foot-stompingly good high school show choir from Ohio performing jazzy Christmas tunes;

And a woman belting out the blues.

This guy played a hot saxophone outside. (Sorry for the blurriness...)

This guy played a hot saxophone outside. (Sorry for the blurriness…)

It was a perfect, balmy, 65-degree night, Florida-style.

Downtown Disney features a giant sea serpent made of Legos in a pond opposite the Lego store.

Downtown Disney features a giant sea serpent made of Legos in a pond opposite the Lego store.

As magical as a pretty pink princess dress comprised almost entirely of pretty pink princess dolls.

And sometimes, that’s what you get when you say yes.

What about you? What did you say yes to recently when you really wanted to say no? And how did that turn out for you?