Valentine’s Day, a brief history

When I decided to write about Valentine’s day, the first thing that came to mind were the cards received by dear ones from their sweeties. Then it was the old, vintage cards I love to see on ephemera pages. That called forth the decorations I’d pile on a shoe box every year, in hopes it would outshine other classmate’s and be brought home bursting with cards.

Yep, I was a sucker for Valentine’s Day. But I’d never really researched its origins. And there are a few stories about it. The most popular was one I ran across on several websites, one being The History Channel’s. Legend tells of a third century man in Rome. Claudius, the emperor at the time, decided single men made better soldiers so he made a decree that no soldier could marry. Valentine (or Valentinus) secretly married soldiers and their sweethearts. Once found out, he was executed for defying the emperor’s orders on February 14th and became a saint thereafter. Another tale tells of Valentine, imprisoned for either helping Christians escape Rome or for marrying the soldiers, writing a letter to the woman he loved (the jailer’s daughter, no less) and signing it, Your Valentine. While the legends are steeped in mystery and will never be confirmed, it’s clear St. Valentine’s actions took hold of the imagination of the world.

While Valentine’s Day is celebrated on different days worldwide, it’s on February 14th here. If you have a Valentine, give them a kiss and a hug, instead of or in addition to the candy or flowers. And don’t forget the card! I’m enclosing one for all of you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Image result for vintage valentines

As viewed on Pinterest and for sale on

Food, Glorious Food!

While working in my kitchen I ran across a slim volume cookbook entitled, Recipes for Romance. The book, an effort by our local romance writing chapter to fund a conference, was published in 2005 and barely made a splash in the world of cookbooks. However, we had a blast finding or developing recipes, naming them in a “very romantic” manner and then seeing them in print.

I love recipes, though I rarely follow them word for word. I’m one of those cooks who will substitute a spice for one I don’t have rather than go to a grocery and buy it. Needless to say, I have some winners and some stinkers. But these recipes were tested and approved by members, sometimes repeatedly.

I’m going to share a recipe every now and then from the book and hope you enjoy! This month, since we’re still in the midst of cold and dreary weather, I’m sharing a soup recipe that Carolynn Carey posted in the book. While we used some recipes we’d had passed down or found in magazines, we generally tried to make them our own. I hope you enjoy this one!

Black Bean and Rice Soup

1 medium onion, chopped                                          1 14 oz. can tomatoes with chilies

2 14 oz. cans vegetable or chicken broth                  8 oz. medium salsa

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed           1/2 cup uncooked rice

1 11 oz. Mexican corn, drained

Cook the onion in a medium saucepan in broth for about 10 minutes. Add all ingredients to the onion and broth mixture, cover and simmer about 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.


Happppy New Year!

It’s that time of year. New things can begin, old things can be discarded, renewed or scrubbed up for another try. Are you a resolutionist? I am but my resolutions have changed over the years. I used to have very definite goals, like lose thirty pounds, exercise every day and so on. Now, I’m a bit more realistic. I resolve things like eat healthier choices of foods, move more and so on. Hey, if nothing else, I know myself.

One thing I always disliked about New Years, eve in particular, were the expectations. I always wanted to go to parties like the ones on tv. Boisterous, hearty and so on. And any get together I went to always fell short, maybe because, at heart, I’m a recluse and big celebrations also make me a little nuts. As I grew older and tried to find those celebrations, I grew to dread New Year’s Eve. Then I realized, I was making myself unhappy on a day when I needed to celebrate another beginning. So, now I celebrate the new year in a quiet manner. I read, write, drink something I enjoy (hot chocolate, spiked coffee, wine) and enjoy my own company or the company of a few friends and family. And guess what? I have a wonderful eve and a great New Year’s Day.

However you celebrate, whether you are a social animal and party hearty all night, or you are like me and enjoy quiet celebrations, I hope you had a wonderful eve and have a wonderful day!

Happy Christmas!

I love the British way of saying Merry Christmas. I suppose it’s the uniqueness of it but it’s also the feelings it evokes. Happiness, merryment, joy. I’ve always found Christmas magical but to be honest, the magic is getting more difficult to capture as the years go by and life interferes. Work, busy home schedules, and reality serve to try to interfere with the joy of the times. I think that may be why movie channels like Hallmark and Lifetime and their never ending movies are so popular. For me, movies like this are refreshing to a point, but I love the music. Every year, I have to listen to Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song. It connects me to my long past father, who loved jazz and Nat in particular. I listen to Christmas hymns like Oh Holy Night, which is my fave inspirational song. It never ceases to send chills down my spine. And I sing silly songs, like Rudolph, Jingle Bells and so on. When I do this, the spirit of Christmas returns, sneaking up on me or flowing over me like a warm breeze. I’m so thankful for the talented lyricists and musicians who wrote these songs over the years.

May the joy of the birth of Christ and all the trappings of Christmas bring you and yours joy and warm breezes of feelings!

Little Nothings

I’ve noticed a few things readers and writers have in common. A love of books is obvious, the smell, the magic of words. But there’s something else that is so much fun! It’s the little trivial things that we find in reading. Ever time I get together with avid readers and other writers I hear phrases like, guess what I found or, I was looking this up and… We love trivial or not so trivial facts and figures. I routinely pull up the google feature of my computer or phone just to answer a question like when toilet paper was developed or who the writer of a particular song that is running through my brain is. I have always been super interested in finding the little things in life, even back to when I used to get to read the dictionary and encyclopedia when my  class work was done. I know, I’m a nerd! But proud of it. Now, with the internet making facts and interesting tidbits so easy to find, I am wallowing in the pleasure of triviality. Don’t be surprised if I start spouting facts, fiction and other nuggets of interest (or not) on my page in the future. Oh, I have to go look up something!

Wonderful article!

I’m not going to blog today but share this article about finding the time to write. I admit it. I have a problem with using excuses about working during the day and having job related things I have to do at home. This article is one I’m saving and going to reference now and again. It’s chock full of ideas of how to find the time! So, here goes, the link to the article is below.

Sheesh! Writing Every Day?

What was I thinking? Sorry, small rant here. I work a day job that often entails home based evening report writing. After eight hours of work, followed by two or three of report writing, I really hate the idea of sitting in front of a computer even to write my stories, which I love. So, I’ve been trying other things, such as composing long hand, dictation while driving in the car and doing other “writerly” things such as editing, researching and so on.

First to the idea of writing long hand. I have several friends who write their first draft in long hand and then use the time they spend transposing it to computer as their first read through and edit time. It doesn’t work for me. I’ve found through this test that I think faster than my hand writes. I’ve ended up writing some in long hand when away from the computer but when I transpose it, I end up having something different. I spend way too much time editing my long hand for it to be successful. Next!

The attempt to dictate the story into my phone while driving was not successful. Thank goodness I didn’t have a car accident but I quickly found that if I’m concentrating on driving, which is highly recommended on the interstate and in the city, I don’t concentrate on my story, and vice versa. That experiment lasted all of two minutes before I declared it a failure. On to the next idea. That of using my writing time in other pursuits.

I’ve been able to research, further outline and attend to my story in other ways but it doesn’t result in words on the page. That’s my goal and it looks like that will still be my weekends and the odd evening I’m not spending the majority of my time addressing my day job stuff. My friends and I have a history of meeting in a chat room and sprinting for a couple of hours two to three times a week and that helps with my writing a lot. We’ve started this practice again after several years’ hiatus and I’m hoping to carve out those nights and dedicate them solely for writing on my projects.

So, dear reader, I’m not going to be able to follow June Faver’s excellent example of writing every day on my fiction. I will, however, spend every day addressing some aspect of my writing, whether it’s to write in this blog, work on my newsletter, write fiction, or try dictation in the comfort and relative safety of my own home. At least it I wreck, it’ll only be over my sofa!