It’s February 14

What does that mean to you?

Notice I didn’t call it Valentine’s Day. 

Or Galentine’s Day. 

Or Single Awareness Day. 

Or International Quirkyalone Day (Yes, that’s real. I saw it online. It’s been around since 2003 and is for singles and those in platonic relationships.)

Or Let’s Make This Day Go Away Day.

Tell Someone You Love Them and Forget Them the Rest of the Year Day.

Pretend You’re Still in Love Day

Try to Impress Her Because You Really Screwed Up Day. 

A lot of people “celebrate” it that way, you know. As our daughter says, why the big fuss over Valentine’s Day? If you love someone you should tell them all the time. Not just one day a year. She’s always felt that way, even after being married for almost seven years with two kids. 

She does have a point, you know. We should tell those we love how we feel a lot more often than we do.

Of course, she makes sure her daughters have Valentine gifts, and helps them make cards for their friends and grandparents (us), and buys them valentine themed shirts for pictures. One year she even had a valentine photo shoot with them.

Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy Valentine’s Day. My husband and I exchange cards, sometimes balloons or flowers, and go out for a great dinner. 

I’ve even started decorating a few areas in our house for Valentine’s Day; our kitchen table has a Valentine centerpiece collection, our foyer table has a few little valentine nuggets, and since I still work remotely, my home office has Valentine gnomes spread around. (I really don’t like gnomes but these are cute!) It’s fun and gives a bit of color and whimsy that’s so needed after all the glittery Christmas decor is put away.

A lot of women authors are beginning to recognize that Valentine’s Day is also a holiday that needs to be explored a bit more. I recently read a novel called “The Holiday Plan” by Emma Lynden about a woman who totally wanted to avoid Valentine’s Day and everything involved with it. She wanted to avoid it so much she booked a weeks’ vacation during Valentine’s week at a resort away from everyone. Except unbeknownst to her, there was a huge week-long event there for singles in honor of, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it. Whether you’re in a relationship or not.

The thing is, no matter how you feel about it, how you celebrate it, or not, it’s a day that’s here to stay. 

So if you’re not in a relationship spend the time with other friends in the same situation. Send each other flowers. Go out to dinner together, or arrange a private dinner at someone’s home. Or maybe even do a “chick flick” movie night/pajama party.

And if nothing else, just remember all that leftover valentine chocolate will be half price on February 15!

An Unconventional Valentine Treat

I’ve been searching for something to make that’s different (and easy) for Valentine’s Day. Yeah, I know we can do brownies from a box mix and add white chocolate and pink M&M’s to the batter, and then maybe put frosting with sprinkles on them after they’re cooled. We can even bake them in a heart shaped pan.

Or the traditional chocolate chip cookie, again possibly with pink M&Ms or white baking chips rather than the traditional chocolate chips, but that’s still a bit too commonplace. Yes, they’re delicious but I kept thinking there had to be something a little more unique. And easy.

I do like to bake, as I think you all know, but that doesn’t really give me much leeway to improvise, since for me, baking has to be sort of precise or I’ll screw the whole thing up.

Now my husband really likes rice krispies treats. You know the ones made with marshmallows and such. But I’m really not a fan. One of his clients actually gives him a couple of the pre-packaged ones each week, because they know how much he likes them. Works for me.

And the other day she surprised him with a bag of heart shaped rice krispies treats that’s she’d dipped in chocolate and added red sprinkles.

Which was good, since I didn’t have to do it!

But still, there had to be something else unconventional I could come up with.

There are always the traditional pretzel sticks drizzled with chocolate or white chocolate tinted pink, but neither of us are really into pretzels.

Then I came across several recipes for Valentine’s Chex mix snacks. Well, I like sweets as much as anyone, but I also like salty as well, so this sounded like a great combination to please everyone.

So why not?? Anyway, I’m sharing the recipe now, and I think I’ll get my husband to make this one with me. With the Super Bowl this weekend, it sounds like a great addition to our junk food snacks that we’re planning, so why not see what happens?

Let me know if you try it as well. It’s always interesting to compare notes!

Valentine Snack Mix

  • 2 cups corn chex cereal
  • 1 cup mini pretzel twists
  • 2 cups rice chex cereal
  • 2 cups Honey Nut Cheerios
  • 1 bag valentine M&M’s
  • 3 cups white baking chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Valentine or colored sugar sprinkles.

Prepare large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a very large bowl combine cereals, pretzels, and M&M’s. Stir to combine well.

In medium bowl combine 3 cups baking chips and vegetable oil. Microwave 30 seconds; stir and microwave another 15 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth. If needed, microwave another 15 seconds, stirring for 10 seconds between each time. Pour over snack mix.

Working QUICKLY gently stir until all ingredients are coated and then quickly transfer to prepared baking sheet, spreading into one even layer. Immediately add remaining M&M’s on top and additional sprinkles. Add a bit of additional melted baking bits if desired. Allow chocolate to firm up and harden either on counter or in fridge. Break into pieces and serve.

Please note: I found this recipe online at chelseasmessyapron.com. So it’s not my own creation.

The Flamingos’ Valentine Creations

So you’ve read about the flamingos’ pink chocolate baking party, so now it’s time to post some of the winning recipes. After all, how could we really select just one winner from all the goodies?

And if you haven’t read about the party, which was published on January 27, be sure to read it here before you go any further!

We had a tough time deciding which desserts were the best. All of the flamingos did a great job. In fact we didn’t realize that flamingos were so talented when it comes to baking! (We may have to hire them if we’re ever able to have another one of our flamingo pool parties!)

The pink flamingo cakes were gorgeous and beautifully decorated. It was a lot of work, but we decided we’ll have a cake decorating party one of these months and we won’t have to cut them to taste them and mess them up!

So it was a difficult decision, and required quite a bit of tasting, but….someone had to do it!

Here are the top three winners. We’ll let you decide which one won first prize.

Hint: all the flamingos agreed as to who the winner was!

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Fudge (The flamingos borrowed this from Taste of Home Magazine)

  • 10 oz package white baking chips
  • 1 tsp softened butter
  • 3 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Place while baking chips in single layer on small baking sheet; freeze 30 minutes. Line 9″ square pan with foil; grease foil with butter.

In large microwave safe bowl combine dark chocolate chips and milk. Microwave uncovered on high for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave in additional 30 second intervals, stirring til smooth. Add liqueur and salt. Add white baking chips and stir just til partially melted. Spread into prepared pan and refrigerate one hour til firm.

Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Remove foil and cut fudge into 1″ squares. Decorate with pink sprinkles or pink sanding sugar (very important). Store in airtight container in refrigerator. They won’t last long!

Pink Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1 pouch sugar cookie mix
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (Noite: you can also use white chips or a combination of the two)
  • Red food color gel

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter til smooth, not soft, Using toothpick add food color gel, one dab at a time until it reaches the right shade of pink. Add cookie mis until well blended; add powdered sugar and beat til blended. Note: dough will be crumbly, not smooth. Stir in chocolate pieces by hand.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven when slightly brown around edges but not squishy in the center, Cool 1-2 minutes on cookie sheet and then remove to wire rack for final cooling. Serve on plate decorated with pink hearts.

French Macaroons (borrowed by the flamingos from AllRecipes.com)

  • 3 egg whites
  • 6 tbl superfine (caster) sugar
  • 1 cup finely ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely ground almonds for garnish
  • 1 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • Food coloring

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mat.

Whisk egg whites in a clean metal mixing bowl until thick, about 5 minutes, Whisk the superfine sugar into egg whites until thick, glossy and mixture holds soft peaks, 5-8 more minutes. Place a sieve over the bowl containing egg white mixture. Gently fold the almond meal and confectioners sugar into the egg white mixture, retaining as much air as possible.

Tint dough the desired color of pink and add a drop of flavored extract, if desired. Spoon meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 3/8 inch tip. Pipe 1 inch disks of meringue onto the prepared backing sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies, (This wasn’t easy for the flamingos, but they did it!)

Let the cookies stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to form a thin skin on top. Pick up the baking sheets and let drop fromseveral inches above the work surface to adhere cookies to the baking sheets. Yes, that’s what they did!

Bake in preheated oven til tops are dry, about 15 minutes; let cool completely on baking sheets before peeling off the parchment paper. Stick together with a small amount of raspberry jam, if desired.

How Did Valentine’s Day Become a Thing? Part Two

Yesterday I started writing about what I’d found on line about how Valentine’s Day started and became what it is today. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d actually suggest that you do before you continue.

From what I discovered, it certainly didn’t start out in a very romantic way. Not when people were being imprisoned and beheaded.

So let me continue the story.

I had mentioned Chaucer writing that poem “Parliament of Fowls” for King Richard II, which evidently caused romantic ideas to become more popular. And no, I haven’t read it. Chaucer and other writers of the time celebrated romance between knights and their ladies, many of noble lineage, who could never marry. (Which was usually because the lady was already married, but that’s a whole other subject.) And by the 1400’s these nobles had begun writing poems known as “valentines” to the ladies who were the subject of their attention.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a guy write me a poem, and based on some of the writing I’ve seen from that era, I don’t think I’d want one. But that was a different time. Plus, since the literacy rate wasn’t real high then, could the subjects of their attentions even read them? And did those knights actually write them themselves or pay someone to do it for them? Food for another blog.

But the holiday slowly developed and evolved, with traditions that are still around today.

Exchanging cards didn’t become popular until the 1840’s when the first mass produced cards were made in the U.S.  Now, did you know that these first cards were sold by Esther A. Howland, known as the “Mother of the American Valentine”? She is evidently credited with commercializing Valentine’s Day cards here in the U.S. Although I’ve never heard of her, and probably you haven’t either, my source says she is remembered for her elaborate, crafty cards made with real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures she called “scrap.” So, Hallmark, you have Ms. Esther to thank for a lot of your success! According to the last figures I saw, 145 million valentine cards are exchanged every year, not counting the homemade ones.

Which brings us to Cupid. I’d always wondered about that little guy and how he came to be associated with Valentine’s Day. After all, who goes around nearly naked with a bow and arrow shooting people, and that’s supposed to be a symbol of love?

Well, Cupid actually evolved from the Greek god of love named Eros, who was said to be a handsome immortal man with the power to make people fall in love, although I’m not sure it involved a bow and arrow. Sometime in the 4th century BC the Romans adopted Eros into their mythology, re-named him Cupid, and made him into the image of what we know today. And because he was originally known as the god of love, it sort of figured he’d become associated with Valentine’s Day, even though that didn’t happen until around the 19th century.

What about red roses? Giving flowers didn’t become a popular custom until the 17th century, It’s said that King Charles II of Sweden learned about flowers being paired with specific meanings on a trip to Persia, and when he returned home to England he introduced the tradition to Europe, and the act of giving flowers on special days, including Valentine’s Day became popular. And of course, red roses with their rich deep color, were sent to symbolize a deep love for the recipient.

Then there’s chocolate. Everyone I know loves it, and it’s especially important for Valentine’s Day. But did you know the first heart-shaped box of chocolates was created by Richard Cadbury who was the son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury. How did he come up with the idea? To increase sales, of course. The first heart shaped box of chocolates was introduced for Valentine’s Day in 1861, and today more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year.

Guys, are you paying attention here?

Now one more important item to discuss; those cute colorful little valentine conversation hearts. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t either received them or given them for Valentine’s Day. But do you know their history? It’s not really romantic.

It all started when Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase invented a machine that simplified the way throat lozenges were made, which also resulted in America’s first candy-making machine when Chase decided to shift his focus to making candy instead of the lozenges. He founded the New England Confectionary Company, today known as Necco. Sound familiar? And in 1866 the first messages were printed on Necco sweetheart candies. Although those were bigger than the version we have today it sure started a trend, didn’t it?

And one of the first messages? “Married in white you have chosen right.” Well, it was 1866.

So now you have all the information you’ve possibly wondered about Valentine’s Day.

But you can also research all of this yourself as well, and if you find anything different, it’s most likely because you’re looking at a different website. Let us know if you find something else.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How Did Valentine’s Day Become a Thing? Part One

I’ve always sort of wondered about that, so this year I decided to do a little research on it. Nothing in depth, though, but I was able to find a lot of information on line.

The problem? A lot of seemingly conflicting articles that may or may not be that accurate. Or that romantic, for sure.

Now I’ve heard of St. Valentine, but really didn’t know much about him. I figured he probably was someone who spent his life bringing couples together, marrying them in romantic settings for a happily ever after. As a writer, I was hoping for a truly “A-hah!” moment that would tell the perfect story.

Well, I was wrong. Sort of. And I also discovered several different sites (Good Housekeeping, Wikipedia,  and History.com) that told different stories, so I’m going to try and condense what I came up with, but please don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. This is a blog, after all, not a history book! And I did at least name my sources,

Here’s some of what I found out.

There were actually three Saint Valentines, but the one seemingly associated with our V-Day was a 3rd century Roman priest and physician who secretly married young couples against the orders of the authorities. (Of course the marriages were illegal in the eyes of the state.) The reason? The authorities were afraid married soldiers would be distracted from their duties if they had a wife and family. He was caught and imprisoned, and eventually beheaded on, you guessed it, February 14. 

There’s also a story about another Saint Valentine during that same time period who was the Bishop of Terni. He also was said to have performed secret marriages and eventually beheaded. Then there’s possibly another Valentine who was imprisoned supposedly for attempting to help Christians escape Roman prisons where they were beaten and tortured. This Valentine was also imprisoned and supposedly sent the first valentine greeting to a young girl he’d fallen in love with (supposedly the jailer’s daughter) and signed it “from your Valentine”.

History.com says there isn’t necessarily a lot of proof to substantiate which story is true. Evidently Valentine was a popular name during those times. Real person? Three real persons? Or a myth? Your guess is as good as mine! Either way, it’s not very romantic, at least in today’s standards.

Evidently several centuries later the idea of putting romance into the St. Valentine’s feast day evolved through the writings of the English author Geoffrey Chaucer, who write a poem called “Parliament of Fowls” which contained the line “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.” Wow, romantic sayings were sure different then! I’m not sure what that means or even has to do with love, but it was believed back then that lovebirds began mating on that day, so I guess that’s one reason. (And that’s also why we use the term “lovebirds”)

Chaucer’s poem was supposedly written to celebrate King Richard II’s engagement to Anne of Bohemia on that date. She was 16 and his second wife. It’s unclear if it was originally a love match because in those days, traditionally royal marriages were arranged for strategic purposes.

So far I’m not seeing a real romantic story here…at least nothing I’d use to suggest flowers, romantic dinners, and boxes of chocolates!

But I did find a few more less-gory tidbits in my research, that I think you’ll find interesting.

This somewhat fractured Valentine’s Day history continues tomorrow, including some interesting facts about the cards and candy we traditionally see at this time of year, with Part Two of “How Did Valentine’s Day Become a Thing?”

Flamingos and (Pink) Chocolate

Just a few days ago the flamingos came to me with a dilemma. A very serious one, at least to them.

You see, they were trying to figure out what to do for Valentine’s Day and they were really not sure what they could do that would be extra special. And lots of fun. Because as you know, flamingos are all about fun!

But they also wanted it to be something different. Something they’d not done before.

Of course they had to have their special pink flamingo cocktails like they always do at their parties, but they wanted to add a special touch. It couldn’t be just any old Valentine’s Day party.

They needed a theme. Something pink of course, and something to fit in with the sweet theme of the day.  

I promised them I’d come up with something perfect. Fortunately, my best friend Karen is an event and party planner, so who better to talk this over with than her! Plus, she also loves flamingos!

And she quickly came up with a perfect idea. A chocolate treat baking party. Only everything that was prepared had to be in shades of pink as well as having chocolate as the main ingredient. It IS for Valentine’s Day, you know.

So the Flamingo Pink Chocolate Recipe Party was planned and scheduled! The flamingos would select their recipe in advance, buy their ingredients, and then pair off in my kitchen to create their pink chocolate masterpieces! 

While being served pink champagne and pink Valentine martinis, of course. 

You may remember they’d taken over my kitchen once before, turning everything pink and even bringing in little pink ovens and other appliances to use for preparing their food. But they cleaned up really well after themselves, and everything was back to normal the next day! And they pinkie promised they’d do it again.

How can you resist a flamingo giving you a pinkie promise?

Now the party plans were in full swing. Karen designed a beautiful party invitation on creamy pink card stock with fancy cursive fonts and using embellishments of tiny feathers and pink crystal hearts. Definitely suitable for framing. The flamingos loved it and quickly distributed them to their friends, who immediately said they wouldn’t miss this event for anything!

They quickly got to work, searching through recipes and even borrowing a couple of my cookbooks for their very best ideas for the perfect pink chocolate treat! After all, as part of their participation in the event, they had to submit their selected recipe to Karen who was making a flamingo pink chocolate recipe booklet to be given as party favors…after the contest was over, of course!

The big day finally arrived. I walked into my kitchen that morning and it had already been transformed into a pink wonderland of pink kitchen equipment, from mixers to pot holders to small pink ovens, set up at individual baking stations. There were even pink mixing bowls and Valentine utensils set out for the participants to use. How they did it so quickly and quietly I have no idea, but they ARE flamingos, you know….

Of course on the party day, the guests arrived perfectly on time, carrying their (pink) bags of ingredients. They were greeted by my husband, wearing his best pink and white tuxedo, and he presented each of the birds with a specially designed flamingo valentine party apron, and of course a flute of pink champagne!

Let the party fun begin!

You should have seen them! Pink feathers everywhere, squawking and whistling to each other as they worked, sipping pink champagne and pink martinis, flour and sugar flying all over the kitchen!

Maybe this wasn’t the best idea??

However, it was all worth it when the flamingos presented their final creations to us for judging. They’d certainly gone all out, not only in making their desserts, but in their presentation of the finished creations, adorned with shaved chocolate, strawberries, raspberries, and even pink roses!

It was a sight to behold! There were pink cookies, pink flamingo cakes, chocolate and raspberry desserts, pink chocolate fudge, even pink macaroons!

And the winners? Well, it was definitely a difficult decision, and required quite a bit of tasting each entry, just to be sure we selected the right one.

To find out who won, and even get a copy of a few of the recipes, be sure to read “The Flamingos’ Valentine Creations” to be published on February 5,

And believe it or not, the next morning when we came downstairs, my kitchen was back to normal, except for a big plate of Valentine goodies the flamingos had left us as a gift for letting them use our kitchen. Oh, and the last bottle of pink champagne!

I guess we’ll let them do this again. As long as we still get to be the judges!

Hey, Cupid! It’s Been Another Year!

“Did you forget something?

Like that certain person I’ve been waiting for? I didn’t have him/her last year, and you said just wait. Next year will be different. Trust me, you said.

So Valentine’s Day is almost here. And guess what!? I’m still single. Still by myself. And there’s no one on the horizon. Again.

Cupid, I really, really don’t like Valentine’s Day. And I’m starting to really not like you!”

Is that you? Are you feeling that way? Again?

It’s been a long year since last Valentine’s Day. You were so glad when it was over last year. And you really thought this year would be different.

But it’s not.

You still cringe when you walk by the huge display of cards with all the red hearts in the stores, each one seeming to be yelling at you and saying, “You still can’t buy me, can you?!” And you want to go over and grab a bunch of those cards and rip them in half.

Or you go to lunch or dinner with friends and see all the signs advertising valentine dinner specials for two, and decide you won’t go back to that restaurant again, at least for several months!

And yes, there are all those florist ads and diamond commercials reminding everyone if you’re planning on proposing to your special someone this Valentine’s Day, there’s still time to get that amazing ring……

You really don’t need that reminder, do you?

This is the time of year that constantly reminds my single friends that they’re just that. Single. By themselves. Alone. And most of them hate it.

I know how that feels.

I was in that same place for several years. I hated it. I hated being alone. I was lonesome. Valentine’s Day was one of the worst days. It seemed everyone around me was getting flowers, cards, and talking about all the great things their special someone was doing for them that day and how they were celebrating that evening.

It hurt. It stung. And it made me feel terrible, unloved, embarrassed, unworthy, and miserable. Which caused me to make mistakes with dating, and actually resulted in a disastrous marriage to an abusive man that fortunately lasted less than a year.

Why? Because I became desperate. And desperate people make poor decisions. I ignored warning signs. I thought they’d go away, or I could live with them. I changed as much about myself as I could to conform to what I thought he wanted. Just to not be alone.

Boy, was I wrong!

Fortunately I got away before things got really bad, and I realized there were things a lot worse than being alone, being single. And I decided it was better to be single and happy with my life, than married and miserable.

If that decision had been made around Valentine’s Day I would’ve bought myself my own valentine card, reminding me I really loved myself. Probably bought my own bouquet of flowers. Maybe even a box of candy. And celebrated finally loving myself and being happy to be me, and not trying to change myself to become someone I’m not, just to be in a relationship. If he didn’t care about me the way I thought I cared about him, well, he wasn’t worthy of me!

I’d wait for someone who was. I stopped looking. And discovered who I was.

And shortly after that I met my husband, and the rest is history.

Now I know you’re thinking, “but you don’t know how I feel. You don’t understand.” Yes, I do. So re-read what I wrote a few paragraphs ago.

Interestingly enough, both our daughter and her husband refuse to celebrate Valentine’s Day. According to them, why should we be forced to show someone we love them on only one certain day a year? Shouldn’t it be every day? It’s just a holiday made up for card stores and florist shoos to make money!

Something to consider….

Don’t let one day make you miserable for a month. It’s one day. Tomorrow it’ll all be forgotten. The Valentine cards will be replaced with leprechauns, bunnies, and colored Easter eggs.

And quite possibly a lot of those celebrants who looked like their Valentine’s Day was perfect…they resumed lives that really aren’t all that perfect, and all that happy. Many of them threw away those cards because they really didn’t mean what they said.

Think about that for a few minutes. Maybe the valentines in someone else’s home aren’t as loving aNd heartfelt as you think.

I know you thought this year would be different, and I’m truly sorry it isn’t. But I’m also here to tell you that when you least expect it, it’ll happen. All in its own time.

Don’t try to make it happen. Don’t force it. Life is too short to be unhappy, and too short to waste it with the wrong person because you settled for second or third best.

Cupid, Don’t Remind Me…

When I was single I have to admit I didn’t like Valentine’s Day. In fact I hated it! It was just another reminder that I was alone.

No boyfriend; not even anyone I was remotely interested in. No husband. Just me and my dogs. And they didn’t send flowers or candy. I’m sure they would’ve if they’d known about it, and had any money, but they were…well, dogs.

I dreaded it. Every store I went in was decorated with hearts and Cupids and valentine balloons. Valentine cards were everywhere. Cute-sy sayings, rhymes, valentine cartoons….ugh. And all kinds of valentine decorations for that “someone special.”

Restaurants advertised special meals for couples. Florists advertised flower deliveries by tuxedo-wearing delivery men in limousines. Jewelry stores advertised special deals on diamond engagement rings, or other diamond jewelry as a valentine gift for your wife or sweetheart.

It just got to be too much sometimes.

Until I wanted to scream. Run away and not come back until February 15. When it was all over.

Which would’ve accomplished absolutely nothing except running away. Nothing would’ve changed except the date on the calendar.

At least by then Cupid would have already taken his arrows and flown away, and been replaced by a smiling drunken leprechaun. Who fortunately doesn’t remind anyone of their being alone.

Still….who wants to be reminded of how single they are? How no one seems to care for them? It causes us to lose hope, feel sorry for ourselves, and give up on our dream of ever having that special person in our life.

Cupid, please stop reminding those who aren’t in a relationship how much they’re missing out on. Because as we know, romantic relationships aren’t all romance 24/7.

Yes, it’s wonderful to have someone you love to share your life. And the ups and the downs as well. It’s great to have someone to go out to dinner with, to a movie, or to any number of places. To be with you when you don’t feel good, and support you when you’ve had a bad day.

There are also the times you neither one want to talk to each other, much less be in the same room, or even the same house; the times you just want to be by yourself and not have to entertain anyone else. When you don’t feel like eating dinner at all, much less cooking it for someone else. When you just want to look comfortable in your grubbiest, most comfortable clothes, not caring how you look; not wanting to have to impress anyone.

Then there are the times as parents when the kids are irritable, crying, argumentative, and just downright rude, and neither you or your spouse has the energy to deal with it. But one of you has to, and whoever ends up being “the bad guy” gets not only a set of frayed nerves, but sometimes has to listen to your spouse telling you how you handled it all wrong….

Cupid, are you listening?

This is what love really is.

These are the real life issues involved in a loving relationship. The issues that aren’t a part of Valentine’s Day, because they’re not the romantic ideal that this day celebrating love and romance, flowers and candy and candlelight dinners, is all about.

These are the real life loving situations, the ones that Cupid disappears from when they start to happen.

Because Cupid only shoots the love arrows into hearts; he doesn’t stick around to watch that love mature into a lasting relationship, with all the ups and downs; the good and the bad; the fun and the not-so-fun.

Cupid doesn’t mention the parts of a relationship that are real, and not the romantic idealized Valentine’s Day promoted by card stores, jewelry stores, florists, and restaurants. That’s not his job.

Those difficult parts of a relationship which make that relationship endure, are yours. There’s romance, which is certainly important, and there’s also the reality of day to day life. Which is the largest and most important part of that relationship.

So when Cupid keeps reminding you what you’re missing, just remember that what he’s promoting is only a tiny part of the story. A story that’s not for the faint of heart, and a story you have to be ready for.

It’s not all romance with candlelight dinners and walks in the moonlight. In fact, it’s the everyday routine, coupled with the reality of life, which makes those candlelight dinners and moonlight walks all the more special. They really don’t happen that often, but when they do, you both really appreciate it.

Cupid, you’re good at what you do. But maybe you should stick around a bit longer once your arrow has found its mark, to help your couples through the really tough times that are part of every relationship.

And please stop reminding those who haven’t yet been hit by one your arrows; who haven’t yet found that relationship, that they’re missing out. The right relationship is worth waiting for, and sometimes the longer it takes, the more lasting it will be.

And by the way, Cupid, where’s your special someone? I’ve never seen you with anyone. So maybe you actually know what we’re talking about here!

When the Valentines Don’t Come

How many times have you seen February 14 referred to as “Single Awareness Day”?

How many times have you gone in a store when it’s getting close to Valentine’s Day and wanted to turn around and leave because all it did was remind you that you’re not part of a couple? That you have no one to buy those mushy, sugary cards for? That you have no one to give you candy or flowers or even a card on Valentine’s Day?

How many times have you wanted to take that silly Cupid and just throw him against the wall, or maybe even run him over with your car? Because his bow and arrow haven’t been working for you, and at this point you’re not sure they ever will.

How many times do you feel like calling out sick from work on that day, because you just know all the other women will have flowers, or candy, or balloons, or other reminders delivered to them at work, and you won’t?! And you’ll feel like everyone is waiting for something to be delivered for you, and when it doesn’t you can just imagine what they’re thinking.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Why doesn’t she have a boyfriend/husband?”

“Poor thing, I feel bad for her….”

How many of you have felt like that? How many of you still do? How many of you feel like having flowers sent to yourself, just so you can fit in with everyone else?

Surprisingly, our daughter never liked Valentine’s Day since about the time she entered high school. She always said, and still does, that Valentine’s Day is just a day designed for card stores and flower shops to make money. “Why should we have to have a day for everyone to remind someone they love them? They should do that every day.” And she didn’t say that because she didn’t have a boyfriend at the time. Because she did.

She’s even told her husband that same thing, ever since they started dating over ten years ago. She means it. And no matter what her dad and I tell her, she won’t change her mind.

However she has a good point. Why do we concentrate on showing how much we love someone just one day each year?

What about the other days? They don’t count?

Don’t get me wrong. I like Valentine’s Day. But there were many years I was that woman who felt out of place on February 14 because I didn’t have a special relationship in my life. I was one of those who dreaded the day and was glad to see it over.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day that reminds those who are not in a relationship that they’re alone. But unfortunately it does.

So for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, instead of hiding or feeling depressed, make an effort to show your love to someone who’s important to you. I don’t mean try to enter into a romantic relationship; that’s something that just happens on its own, and usually when you least expect it. I’m talking about good friends, family members.

Why not reach out to someone else who may be feeling the way you do.

You may actually brighten each other’s day in ways you never imagined. Send a card to a neighbor or someone else you know who’s lost a loved one recently; Valentine’s Day is hard for them as well, perhaps even harder than it is for you, because there are so many reminders of what they’ve lost.

Give a card to someone who’s going through a tough time. It’ll brighten their day and remind them someone really does care!

Buy a valentine card for yourself…one that speaks to your heart. It’s not as crazy an idea as you may think. After all, who knows you better than you know yourself? And aren’t you worth it? If you don’t really love yourself, how can you expect someone else to?

And remember, Valentine’s Day is just that. A day. One day. The year has 364 more days in it. Even though you may think love has passed you by, believe me, it hasn’t.

The best is yet to come. It will come in its own time, and its own way. It will come when you’re not looking, and when you’re not expecting it. It’s not something you can rush, or force to happen.

Cupid works all year long. Not just on Valentine’s Day. Just because he doesn’t show up on February 14 doesn’t mean he’s forgotten you. He’s just waiting for the perfect time.

And then the Valentines will come.

And on more than just one day of the year.

Valentine Love…Flamingo Style

Believe it or not, flamingos are actually quite romantic birds. Oh sure, they squawk a lot, and love to party every chance they get, but when it comes their lady loves, well, they actually become quite serious. Or as serious as flamingos can be.

That’s why they really love Valentine’s Day. Not only is it a day of lots and lots of pink, along with a smattering of red hearts and roses, it’s a day of romance and beauty, which, of course, makes their feathered pink hearts go pitter patter! (That’s what they told me to say! I’d have said it a bit differently, but….)

Anyway, this year they really wanted to do something extra special for the female birds in their life. The sky was the limit! This Valentine’s Day will be a day to remember! And yes, what I’m about to share with you will be a surprise for the lovely flamingirls, because the flaminguys made them promise not to read this until the day after. And the ladies didn’t want their surprises spoiled either, so I’m sure they’re keeping their promises!

So what to do for your special lady when you’re a romantic flamingo?

Obviously, the first thing is breakfast in bed. But what to serve that would be the perfect beginning? Actually that was fairly easy. Heart shaped pancakes with strawberry syrup. A bowl of fruit on the side; strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, topped with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with pink colored sugar and a few candy hearts. A strawberry mimosa, of course, to give it that perfect pink touch. And naturally the tray has to be decorated with pink roses and a beautiful romantic Valentine card…the first of several for the day!

After such a delightful breakfast treat, the flaminguys have another treat planned for their ladies. After enjoying a warm leisurely pink bubble bath, with another pink mimosa, of course, the flamingirls will be driven in a (what else?) pink limousine to a day spa where they’ll be treated to a relaxing massage, pedicure, and having their feathers styled. All in preparation for their getting ready for a big night on the town with their favorite Valentines! And yes, I’m sure there will be more pink mimosas…good thing they have a limo waiting for them!

Of course, while the flamingirls are busy being pampered, the flaminguys are going to be busy as well. After all, they have big plans to take their ladies out on the town! But first….They arranged to have dozens of pink roses and pink orchids delivered to the house, arranged in crystal and pink vases, which will be placed in every room! Can’t you just imagine the fragrance when they walk in?

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Valentine’s celebration without chocolate, so they’ll have pink balloons, and pink heart shaped boxes of delicious chocolates sitting around as well, along with a few trays of juicy chocolate drizzled strawberries. And to greet their ladies when they get home…the flaminguys wearing tux jackets, complete with pink bow ties, as they prepare to serve their ladies pink champagne before their evening out.

And being the romantic birds they are, they made reservations for a romantic dinner at their favorite seafood restaurant. Each flamingo couple will have their own table for two, with more flowers, more champagne of course, and a special valentine gift, beautifully wrapped in pink valentine paper and tied with a sparkly silver bow.

What’s inside the gift boxes? Well, they asked me not to tell, but they did say I could give a hint. So…it’s sparkly, and guaranteed to put a smile on each lady’s beak. Oh, and they’re each just a bit different.

After a sumptuous dinner of shrimp, wine, and more chocolate drizzled strawberries, the flamingo couples will head over to their favorite piano bar, featuring a pink piano, of course, for music and dancing, and possibly a bit of a sing-along. Flamingos do have an amazing musical ability, and some have exceptional vocal talents, so I’ve heard!

Yes, it will definitely be a Valentine’s Day to remember for our pink feathered friends. Sounds like a great day to be a flamingo!

Disclaimer: All content posted here is assumed to be in the public domain. If you find one of your images here and wish it to be removed please contact me.

Photo Sources: Header: missrosedanae via etsy – 1st Row: source unknown, verybestbaking.com, proflowers.com, holidaycraftsandcreations.com, swankyrecipes.com – 2nd Row: hqlimo.com. via pinterest – 3rd Row: via pinterest, via pinterest, flowers4feelings.com – 4th Row: via pinterest, source unknown, opajoselito.blogspot.com, via pinterest – 5th Row: marthastewart.com, architectureartdesigns.com, dreamstime.com, baublestobubbles.com – 6th Row: allrecipes.com, packagingoftheworld.com, source unknown, ninorosadowine.com, bcnfashonista.com, theworleygig.com

When the Valentines Don’t Come

How many times have you seen February 14 referred to as “Single Awareness Day”?

How many times have you gone in a store when it’s getting close to Valentine’s Day and wanted to turn around and leave because all it did was remind you that you’re not part of a couple? That you have no one to buy those mushy, sugary cards for? That you have no one to give you candy or flowers or even a card on Valentine’s Day?

How many times have you wanted to take that Cupid and just throw him against the wall, or maybe even run him over with your car? Because his bow and arrow haven’t been working for you, and at this point you’re not sure they ever will.

How many times do you feel like calling out sick from work on that day, because you just know all the other women will have flowers, or candy, or balloons, or other reminders delivered to them at work, and you won’t?! And you’ll feel like everyone else is waiting for something to be delivered for you, and when it doesn’t you can just imagine what they’re thinking.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Why doesn’t she have a boyfriend/husband?”

“Poor thing, I feel so bad for her…”

How many of you have felt like that? How many of you still do?

Surprisingly, our daughter never liked Valentine’s Day since about the time she entered high school. She always said, and actually still does, that Valentine’s Day is just a day designed for card stores and flower shops to make money. “Why should we have to have a day for everyone to remind someone they love them? They should do that every day.” And she didn’t say that because she didn’t have a boyfriend at the time. Because she did.

She’s even told her husband that same thing, ever since they started dating ten years ago. She means it.

And she has a good point. Why do we concentrate on showing how much we love someone on just one day each year?

What about the other days?

Don’t get me wrong. I like Valentine’s Day. But there were many years I was that woman who felt out of place on February 14 because I didn’t have a special relationship in my life. I was one of those who dreaded the day and was glad to see it over.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day that reminds those who are not in a relationship that they’re alone. But unfortunately it does.

So for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, instead of hiding or feeling depressed, make an effort to show your love to someone who’s important to you. I don’t mean try to enter into a romantic relationship; that’s something that just happens on its own, and usually when you least expect it.

So reach out to someone else who may be feeling the way you do. You may actually brighten each other’s day in ways you never imagined. Send a card to a neighbor or someone else you know who’s lost a loved one recently; Valentines Day is hard for them as well, perhaps even harder than it is for you, because there are so many reminders of what they’ve lost.

Buy a valentine card for yourself…one that speaks to your heart. It’s not as crazy an idea as you may think. After all, who knows you better than you know yourself? And aren’t you worth it? If you don’t really love yourself, how can you expect someone else to?

And remember, Valentine’s Day is just that. A day. One day.  The year has 364 more days in it. Even though you may think love has passed you by, believe me, it hasn’t.

The best is yet to come. It will come in its own time, and its own way. It will come when you’re not looking, and when you’re not expecting it. It’s not something you can rush, or force to happen.

Cupid works all year long. Not just on Valentine’s Day. Just because he doesn’t show up on February 14 doesn’t mean he’s forgotten you. He’s just waiting for the perfect time.

And then the Valentines will come. And on more than just one day of the year.

 

Dreaming of Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Yes, I know I already wrote some thoughts on the day, but still, Valentine’s Day traditionally means, among other things, CHOCOLATE!

Flowers are beautiful and smell wonderful. Diamonds are always the right color and sparkle. And wine and champagne, well, they’re celebratory as well.

But chocolate. Chocolate talks to you. It loves you. It really, really loves you. And let’s face it, there are really very, very few of you who don’t like chocolate. I’m sure there are a few scattered here and there, but basically, chocolate cures just about anything. Or so it seems.

You say you had a bad day? Eat some chocolate. You’re feeling a bit down? Eat a piece of chocolate. A bad hair day? Chocolate helps. Chocolate understands.

You get the picture, right?

And I’m not talking white chocolate. That’s good, in its place. But for now, I’m talking the true milk chocolate, or my personal favorite, dark chocolate.

So for chocolate lovers everywhere, for Valentine’s Day, or for National Chocolate Day, whenever that may be, here are two of my family’s special chocolate recipes to try.

Mom’s Chocolate Fudge Deluxe

3 c sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 c milk
1/2 c light karo syrup
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 c butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 c walnuts (optional, especially for me!)

Mix first 6 ingredients. Cook until it reaches a soft ball stage. Remove from heat and pour into large mixing bowl. Stir in vanilla. Cool for 25 minutes. Beat until thickened; stir in nuts, if desired. Spread in 8×8’ buttered pan; cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!
chocolate fudge
Aunt Mary’s Hot Fudge Sauce (just right for a special hot fudge sundae)

1 large can evaporated milk
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Mix ingredients and cook in double boiler until thickened, stirring constantly. Cool somewhat and pour over ice cream. Serve immediately!ice+cream+sundae

Remember, there’s always room for chocolate. And on holidays or other special occasions, there’s no calories in it!