I have very mixed emotions about Valentine's Day. My hubby and I show our admiration and respect for each other (and consume chocolate) all year-round, and don't exactly appreciate the Hallmark-ification (I'm a writer so I can make up words) of a feeling we express on a daily basis.

That being said, we have to eat, right? So just like any other ordinary day, I planned Feb. 14th's dinner menu. When we saw our favorite Italian market ran out of heart-shaped lobster ravioli, I was instantly inspired to make my own. As I'm sure you know by now, I embrace opportunities to dive head first into new culinary challenges, especially for someone who means the world to me.

Besides, I felt comfort in knowing that even if it didn't turn out as desired, the fact that I tried would be good enough. Appreciating each other's efforts certainly attributes to a happy marriage and, in our case, it often really is the thought that counts.

Sure, I could've easily chosen to make reservations instead of dinner, but the process wouldn't have been as rewarding. While I was cooking, I could literally feel the energy running through my veins as I incorporated ingredients, and gingerly folded delicate sheets of pasta that I formed with my own polished fingers. It was an exhilarating experience creating something out of nothing, and I couldn't wait to share my accomplishment with my husband.

This ravioli dish involved many layers, which I found to be very symbolic of a relationship. A coating of sauce shielded the pasta, encouraging me to pass through the surface. Next, a sheet of cooked dough represented a semi-tough exterior that proved to be fragile when I cut into it.

Underneath it all was a soft, yet hearty center revealing its true flavor. The various components united together to form an everlasting symmetry. Each great on its own, but once joined, they bonded as a unit greater than the sum of its parts.

Just like a marriage.

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And so, on Valentine's Day, as cheesy as it may have been, I couldn't help but light a few candles and share a home-cooked meal with the man I love. If nothing more than an inspiration to try a new dish, I suppose it was OK to acknowledge the occasion. In my heart, I knew I would adore my husband just as much, if not more, on Feb. 15.

Jenn Press Arata is a food writer and blogger. Visit her blog at www.thatsojenn.com.