Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day



LUCY BURDETTE: Sometimes I think Valentine’s Day is a hokey, trumped up way to sell limp roses infused with too many chemicals, and mediocre chocolate. And jacked up restaurant prices for prix fixe menus that make married people swallow hard and single people feel lousy. 

On the other hand, John proposed to me on Valentine’s Day 26 years ago so that’s a super special memory. He wrote a poem for the occasion and ordered a bottle of frog’s leap wine to celebrate taking the plunge. 

This year we doing something unusual – we’ve become small-scale sponsors of the new show going up at the Studios of Key West. Undying Love, written by local musician/writer Ben Harrison, tells the quirky Key West story of Count von Cosel, a radiologist at the Marine Hospital who x-rayed the chest of the lovely Elena Milagro Hoyos and fell madly in love. In 1933, almost two years after her death, the count removed Hoyos' body from its tomb, and lived with the corpse at his home for seven years until this was discovered by her relatives and reported to the authorities in 1940. 


Is that a Valentine’s Day story or what? We can’t wait to see what he’s done with it!

Reds, how do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Will you be doing something special?


INGRID THOFT: I hate to sound cynical, but I definitely think that Valentine’s Day is a holiday made up by greeting card companies.  My husband and I have never celebrated it, but this this reflects our approach to marriage, which is that you should make your spouse feel special every day in small ways.  What’s romantic in my book?  When I made passing mention of the pain of tending my hardboiled eggs (first world problem, I know), and the next day a Dash Egg Cooker showed up on our doorstep.  I love my egg cooker!  Romance to me is paying attention to my hubby every day and doing things to make his life easier and more joyful. We’re not perfect at it, but we’ve been together 26 years and married for 17 of those, so we’re doing something right!

HALLIE EPHRON: Oh, I love Valentine's Day. I used to send candy (red hots, candy hearts with sayings on them BE MINE and LOVE YOU... ) in the kids' lunch bags, a big deal because we almost never had candy in the house. I get a homemade card from my husband which I cherish more than any flowers or cards he could give me.

I'm awful at giving, much better at receiving. But a few years ago I bought him a pair of bright red fleece bedroom slippers and left them on the floor on his side of the bed on Valentine's Day morning. Here's the card I got the next Valentine's day.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, you all, I have no idea. We did a story once about how much the prices are pumped up for Valentines', and the results were so dramatically gouge-y that I was incredibly dismissive of the whole idea. But, little candy heart with sayings on them? Yeah, I like those.  Still, the holiday always reminds me of grade-school trauma, when it was all about who go the most cards from classmates, and I was so stressed about it. And yeah,  Ingrid, I agree. Every day should be Valentines Day.

You see how wishy-washy I am about this. Because, yes, it's manipulative and stressful. But if there's a day that reminds people to love each other, or that gives people (like Lucy's John) a platform to do something romantic, what's not to like? 

JENN McKINLAY: Well, I love chocolate so it goes without saying that I love me some Valentine's Day See's Candy - soft centers, if you're asking. The Hub and Hooligans usually make the trek to pick out the box (and get free samples) and then they splurge for a plant (I love plants) and they each give me a card. I have to say they are all very good at writing a heartfelt sentiment, so those are saved because I think they have a competition going to see who can make me cry (happy tears). In return, for the Hooligans, I give a card and candy and some cash and for the Hub, a card and a gift card to whatever his bookstore of the moment is. So, we keep it simple and maybe Hallmark is the generator of it, but I do love my box of See's and my plants (I haven't killed any yet except for one very uncooperative orchid), and my cards, which I cherish.


RHYS BOWEN: We've never really celebrated Valentine's Day in a big way. Certainly not eaten out as you don't get good service. I expect we'll cook a lovely meal at home: filet mignon and lobster tail sounds good at the moment. But as I posted last week we have this ongoing Valentine's joke in which John brings out the same balloon and roses from the dollar store every year. Amazingly the balloon still hasn't gone down after ten years.

DEBORAH CROMBIE:  So, my hubby being of the "hokey holiday" opinion, I decided years ago to buy myself flowers, which works out just fine--especially now that we have a Trader Joe's nearby and I buy myself flowers every week! He is, however, not averse to a little home-made celebration, so I usually cook something special but easy, and if I make to our local La Madeleine, I buy us a mini heart-shaped cheese cake. I couldn't imagine a nicer Valentine's Day--and I certainly can't imagine wanting to fight the restaurant crowds!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Fortunately, Ross and I were never big on Valentines Day, so it's not going to be one of the hard-to-bear holidays for me this year. I recall a few memorable ones - when my first college boyfriend brought me a big pot of white chrysanthemums instead of cut flowers, because I could enjoy them longer. What a sweetheart he was. With Ross - I hate to say this - the most memorable VDay was a decade or so back. I was trying to lose weight, and he gave me a big heart-shaped box of sugar-free chocolates. My friend Mary dropped in that day and we opened up the box and proceeded to gab and drink tea and stuff ourselves with the excellent chocolates - until one of us happened to turn the box over. "Consume in moderation," the underside warned. "Chocolates may have a laxative effect."

Boy, did they. Ross's romantic Valentines evening turned into me in the bathroom with a glass of water and a stack of magazines.



LOL Julia! And Reds, we want you to know that you are all our Valentines! No sugar-free chocolates, either. xoxo

Flora Church is the winner of Susan Meissner's book last week--please contact Rhys to make the exchange. And Margie Bunting is the winner of Tina Kashian's ebook--she will send this when the book releases on 2/27!

50 comments:

  1. Oh, Hank, I remember those days of worrying about whether or not you’d get valentines from your classmates. Pure, unadulterated torture.
    Like Ingrid, we’re more about the every day things rather than the once a year fuss, but usually I’d make something special for dinner [with chocolate dessert] and I’d hunt up a reasonably decent card. Definitely a low-key sort of thing and since we’ve been married for thirty-nine years, it seems as if it just might be working for us.
    This year, we are spending the day on the road as we are going to Virginia to spend a couple of days with our youngest daughter and the grandchildren. A house full of people we love --- it’ll be a perfect Valentine’s day . . . .

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  2. I used to love Valentine's Day. I was the kid who gave every person in my class a Valentine I'd made myself. Warren started off grumpy about it, having proposed to a former wife on VDay, but I pointed out that he was with me now, so former relationship baggage should be chucked. Once we got that, and the relative ranking of flowers sorted out--roses are better than carnations, and many are better than none--we had lovely Valentine's Days and, hey, he was generously rewarded for his efforts even though we, like Ingrid, tried to make every day special for each other.

    After Warren died I worried that Valentine's Day would be hard to face, so I made plans with a single friend to enjoy dinner and good conversation at the least romantic restaurant we could find. Over the years we had splendid evenings at a taco joint, a burger joint, and a pizza joint, among other non-romantic places. There was even a BBQ joint where their idea of a cheese plate included Kraft American slices. Since I moved to the big city, I've most often spent VDay in rehearsal or running a concert. Talk about unromantic! Good-bye lingerie and poetry; hello basic black and "Band Onstage!"

    It all must have worked some kind of magic because this year I have no plans, other than reading at home, alone with the pets, and that's just fine with me.

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    1. Gigi, wish we could see those homemade valentines! And I love how you trained Warren. But honestly, your night sounds completely lovely. and we all love you here!

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    2. The homemade valentines involved lots of cut up paper doilies and construction paper. As an adult, I cringe for my mother's pinking shears.

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    3. Gigi, that's my plan for today. Since it's also Ash Wednesday, I'm meting up with a friend for the noon imposition of ashes, and then we're going out to lunch at a cool new vegetarian restaurant. And then hitting up the bakery outlet, because nothing makes my heart beat like multigrain bread for only $.89.

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    4. Sounds fab, Julia! And multi-grain bread for $.89? Who needs chocolate? (Okay, well, I do, but I have a stash so all is well.)

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  3. We're not big VDay celebrators either. Seems to be more hype than holiday. Hubs (who thinks sugar is food of the devil) did surprise me over the weekend with a tiny chocolate cake. That was a first for him. I think he likes me....

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    1. That's adorable Kait! He thinks sugar is the food of the devil?? Of course technically and body-wise it is, but I don't know anyone else who puts it that way, aside from my naturopath...

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  4. I'm perpetually single over here, so I've never worried about Valentine's Day as an adult. The worst has been when some adults (and I am obviously going to use the term very loosely) went out of their way to point out that I was single on Valentine's Day. Thank you so very much - NOT! (Seriously, what she thought she was doing is well beyond me.)

    As a kid, we had a rule that if you brought in Valentine's to the classroom, you had to bring them in for everyone. I can remember selective the boxes of Valentine's and then choosing which of the four variations in the box went to which member of the class. It was hard work, but there weren't any hard feelings since we always got one from everyone.

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  5. Hugh and I had our first date on Valentine's Day fourteen years ago, so it's double special for me. We went out to a nice dinner last night instead of tonight, and when the server heard it was our anniversary celebration, she brought a second complimentary dessert! For today I ordered a dozen dark-chocolate dipped strawberries from a local candy maker - and she delivers.

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    1. Oh perfect on the strawberries Edith, and I'm a big fan of going out the day before or after. Happy anniversary!

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  6. Meh on Valentine's Day for me and mine, although I love Deborah's mini heart-shaped cheesecake. I think that will be my shopping mission today. I love the Undying Love story! 7 years with a corpse....well, we know who got to control the TV clicker.

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  7. Single guy here, so I have no use or desire for Valentine's Day.

    Although I was out to dinner with a group of friends last night and our regular (and extremely attractive) waitress received a big giant kiss from me...a big Hershey's Kiss. She loved it!

    See, I have my moments.

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    1. Yes you do Jay! and we'd all like one of those kisses please...

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    2. Jay, the big benefit for singles is that all that delicious candy is on sale half-off tomorrow!

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    3. Roberta, I'll work on that for next year.

      Julia, tell me about it, I've got the stores staked out and scouted for what they have for leftovers so that I can make my purchases tomorrow. Extra candy never hurts.

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  8. My granddaughter has spent the last week making valentine cards for everyone in her life. The kids at school, her parents, her little brother, us. It is the sweetest thing. I saved every Valentine's Day card my kids ever made for me and I look forward to adding hers to the stash. Did I mention what a brilliant artiste she is?

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    1. She comes from great artistic stock Hallie, there's Jerry and both of her parents, right?

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    2. Right you are! Her mom's an architect and her dad's a robotics engineer. Plenty of visual talent there. She certainly did NOT get it from me. Powerpoint is my artistic medium of choice.

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  9. I loved Valentine's Day as a kid--we spent the day before making boxes or decorating bags at school--then, like others here--it was expected that each child would bring valentines for the entire class. Plus parents brought goodies--so it was an afternoon party! At home, a non-event--except for the boys when they were younger--home-made cards rule!

    And Lucy, I'm waiting to hear how the show goes--the subject seems ripe for some dark comedy!

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  10. Julia, I'm still chuckling! You poor thing. That was an unexpected way to lose a little weight, wasn't it?

    My husband isn't a gift-giver in general, so Valentine's Day is usually a bust here. I always try to find a funny card to give him, though. This year's asks on the front: Will you be my Valentine? And inside it says: Not that you have a choice, since we're married. He'll love it.

    When we were dating, and Steve was on a long lecture tour this time of year, he sent me a card with a bunny on the front, which looked more like an Easter card. Inside it said "Happy V-D!" It took me a few minutes to realize he wasn't announcing bad news.

    A friend and neighbor, a locally popular blues singer, is playing at another friend's Cajun restaurant tonight, so we have rare V-Day reservations. Half-price wine and free chocolates!

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    1. That's a great card Karen! and your plans sound delightful

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  11. Julia -- LOL. What a blessing Ross was for all the laughter he brought you (intentionally or not) over the years. Debs, TJ has the best flowers. I like to treat myself, too. And, Ingrid, what a good hubby you have - I didn't even know there was such a thing as an egg cooker. Off to Amazon now! :) Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! XOXO

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    1. It won't disappoint, Jenn. Wow. It's a little sad how I excited I am by my egg cooker!

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  12. We are low-key Valentine's celebrators. We have reservations to go out to dinner next weekend or something. But we generally go to the new car show (we will this weekend) and we always get a selection of truffles from a local chocolatier.

    We should definitely show love every day, but I believe there are three occasions for going all out a bit: Valentines, anniversaries, and birthdays (and it doesn't have to be on the exact date).

    Mary/Liz

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    1. That all sounds good Mary/Liz, except for the car show part LOL

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    2. Ooh, I love car shows! (Says she who drives a ten-year-old Accord... But I like cars and it's fun to daydream.)

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    3. I vote yes on the car show, too! Anywhere you and your sweetie both enjoy going sounds romantic to me.

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    4. We enjoy the daydreaming, too, Debs. All those high-end luxury cars with the buttery leather seats or trucks (for The Hubby) that we really can't afford in real life. =)

      Mary/Liz

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  13. First re the egg cooker: for perfect hard boiled eggs every time, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the stove, put on a lid and set a timer for ten minutes for large eggs. Then plunge into cold water, cool and peel. I do this every week so Julie can take one for her breakfast. If you want soft boiled, set timer for 4 minutes, cooked whites with night hot runny center.

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    1. "Night hot runny center?" That sounds interesting, Ann, lol! Seriously, I do hard-boiled eggs exactly the same way. Brilliant. Do you start the soft-boiled in cold water, too? I usually pop them in boiling water, 3 minutes for room temp eggs, 5 for refrigerated.

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    2. "Night Hot Runner" could be a book title.

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  14. Happy Red St. Valentine's Day. We had plans, had being the watchword. We were going to go get ashes and then out to dinner. HOWEVER I had a dental incident yesterday. I broke a chunk off a tooth over the weekend, and I went in for the root canal et al. The procedure was painless, almost over, when suddenly I had a godawful pain radiating over one side of my face. It burned like the hinges of hell, closed my already droopy eye, and terrified the dentist. He stopped what he was doing, gave me some prednisone, and then sat there and didn't take his eyes off me for an hour. I had no breathing issues, and I was in no danger of dying or anything dramatic. Finally they agreed to put in a temp packing in the tooth and let me go home. I got as far as my car and stepped on some ice. Boom. Now I'm on my butt in a cold puddle of ice melt.
    I called the dentist and told him. He arrived with his nurse, and with a new patient, a nice big muscular student type. They heaved me up off the ground, no harm done except to my dignity.

    The nurse drove me home and the dentist sent uber to pick her back up. I called Julie, who stopped by the pharmacy for more prednisone and an antibiotic, and came home too.

    Other than looking like a victim of domestic violence, I'm ok today. Finishing the root canal is on hold until we figure out what happened and until the swelling is gone or the packing falls out.

    And our dinner out is cancelled. I'll also do without ashes this year. Julie is singing a 5:30 mass, then home for clam chowder if I get it made or she'll pick up a fish fry for us.



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    1. Oh my gosh Ann, that sounds like a horrible day! But that dentist's office sure treated you well (after the shooting pain, that is!) Hope you heal up quickly and get to the bottom of this!

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    2. Ann, how scary!! Makes a quiet evening sound really good, doesn't it? Glad you're okay!

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  15. My parents eloped on Valentine's Day in 1942, shortly before my father shipped off for a long (33 month) tour overseas during WWII. They always celebrated the day because it was also their anniversary, and we always celebrate the day in some way as well. Tonight we plan to have a quick dinner out and then go to a play, and this weekend a little getaway to Boston is in the works.

    But we also get to enjoy a cool Valentine's Day community thing here in Maine. For decades now, a crew of arty (and hearty) types plasters paper hearts all over Portland during the night of the 13th, so everyone who travels into the city on Valentine's Day morning gets a little rush of happiness.

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    1. Brenda, how lovely. Makes me want to come to Portland for Valentine's Day!

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  16. Happy Valentine's Day to all the Reds and Red Readers.

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  17. So, I got the gorgeous little heart-shaped, raspberry covered cheesecake for a Valentine's treat. Got home, opened to the box, all ready to take a photo for the blog today...

    And the box had tipped in the car. Cheese cake a little mushed, raspberries and whipped cream all a-jumble. I put it back together and it will certainly taste just as good, but definitely not photogenic!

    My Valentine's adverse hubby actually asked what we were doing for Valentine's Day. When I told him we were having little steaks from Local Yocal (our fab local butcher) he said, "Oh, great!!" The reward I expect from this is being allowed to watch the Olympic pairs skating long program tonight!

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  18. Valentine's Day meant exchanging cards with everyone in my class in grade school. Dad always bought Mom, me, and my little sister Valentines' Day cards. He continued the tradition until he didn't know what Valentine's Day was - this morning Mom and I remembered his tradition and shed a few tears in his memory. I got Mom a small box of conversation hearts she will have some later today with snack time.

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    1. That's so sweet Pauline! it's reminding me how our dad used to give the four of us little valentines signed "4-1-4". Remember when names were disguised by corresponding numbers? I miss 4-1-4!

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  19. We love Valentine's Day in this house! Although....sometimes a bit too much. To stem the tide of V-day themed stuffed animal treasures from my husband each year, I started piling them all up on the guest room bed....and one year posted a picture of the entire menagerie on Facebook. Comments were hilarious and my husband, when seeing the visual of an actual Valentine's zoo, abruptly switched to bringing me gorgeous plants! We are going out to dinner tonight but chose a restaurant that doesn't have a special inflated menu. They acted apologetic when my husband inquired, telling him " No, sorry, just our regular menu, but we will decorate nicely". He assured them that they were just what we were looking for! Happy Valentine's Day everyone !!!

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  20. With hubby having lived elsewhere for first Army and then work for the last fifteen years, we don't usually get a Valentine's Day together, but with my birthday ten days later, he usually manages to get in. I'm good with that. When my seventeen-year-old (today) came into our lives twelve years ago, Valentine's Day became her day because it's her birthday, and she is a beautiful sweetheart for us all to have. I'm driving over to meet them for dinner tonight to celebrate. And, I have always loved the holiday simply for the hearts and pinks and reds, the decorative aspect of it. Yes, I do decorate for it. Hahaha!

    Rhys, I love the ten year tradition of the balloon that won't deflate. So funny. Hallie, your husband's cards are amazing treasures. I'd buy cards created by him. Lucy, a Valentine's Day proposal is certainly a special reason to celebrate today. How sweet (pun intended). And, oh the Undying Love musical looks to be so creepily delicious. Oh, Julia, those chocolates that kept on giving. Who knew? Ingrid, it sounds like you and your husband definitely have the right idea of paying attention to the little things all year round. Debs, I can remember trying to go out to eat on Valentine's Day in the early years of our marriage, but no more. The crowds, the over-priced menu, the poor service. No thanks. Jenn, your Hubs and Hooligans and you have a good thing going.

    Something fun I've done the last two years is participate in Lisa Alber's Annual Valentine's Snail Mail event on FB. So much fun to receive a bunch of cute valentines from book friends.

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  21. Woohoo! Thank you for the Tina Kashian book--can't wait to get it on Kindle!

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  22. My husband and I give each other three carefully selected cards for each occasion--one in the morning, one during the day, and one when we're about to go to bed. Since he recently gave up his driver's license because of neuropathy in his feet related to cancer, I didn't think I would be getting any cards this Valentine's Day, but he had our son take him out to buy cards over the weekend--very sweet! I don't think we've ever exchanged gifts on Valentine's day, and we avoid going out to restaurants on that date. But our wedding anniversary is on Feb. 22 (43 years in 2018!) so we often have dinner out on that date. We already have the dinner planned for next week at a favorite seafood restaurant.

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  23. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Loved everyone's comments.

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