Friday, February 14, 2014

What says I LOVE YOU in your house?

HALLIE EPHRON: One of my favorite things about Valentine's Day is that it I can cut out hearts. Like snowflakes, even for the coloring-within-the-lines-challenged, hearts are hard to screw up.
When I was little we used to make our own valentines. This involved buying doilies (do they still sell doilies?) and construction paper and glitter. Lots of glitter. And I'd make -- a mess. But oh, was it fun.

Then I went through my crocheting period. (Like Picasso's blue period?) For Valentine's day people I loved got long, narrow (never have had a great attention span) scarves with long fringes (I was good at fringes).

These days, Valentine's Day finds me in the kitchen where it doesn't matter if you can cut straight or color within the lines. What says I love you quite like duck a l'orange and pineapple upside down cake?

How have you evolved as a valentine giver?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, heart-cutting. what a team--yes, I can do it to perfection. (I forgot about that on Monday, when we were listing our skills. I can also do basic origami.) 

ANYWAY.  I was big on Valentines Day in college, I used to make incredibly elaborate Valentines, envelopes full of HUNDREDS of tiny hearts I had cut out, with instructions to hold the envelope by one corner, and flip the contents into the air.

Very effective.

I love Jonathan but I am not big on Valentines day.
Why is this?  ("Each day is Valentine's" know the song.)

RHYS BOWEN: Valentine's day was not big in England. Maybe that was because most of us went to single sex schools.

I remember getting a valentine's card from a boyfriend and that was lovely. But as for crocheting anyone something--I don't think so. And I'm married to a hopelessly British and unromantic male. About now he'll say "Oh, I suppose you'll want a card or flowers or something."

But we also have evolved to food. A good home cooked meal--rack of lamb or lobster and champagne. This year John doesn't have to do anything, as I'm speaking at a conference in San Francisco.

(Hallie here: I hope that card doesn't offend anyone. I think it's so funny. And of course it's from ages ago...)

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, are you sure we aren't sharing a husband? Rick doesn't like being "made" as he puts it, to do anything, especially by greeting card companies.  He's only ever bought me flowers under duress, so I learned years ago to buy them for myself so my feelings wouldn't be hurt.

Usually I cook a nice dinner for the two of us, but this year we celebrated an early Valentine's Day on Tuesday by going to see a movie at our favorite theater (which includes a yummy dinner, served to you in your reclining seat with your very own snuggle blanket.) Tonight I think we will do our usual Friday night date--Chinese/Thai takeout and movies at home in front of the fire.

I suppose when you think about it, that's more romantic than flowers and a card once a year...

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh my gosh, I hope you aren't sharing a husband! What a rhubarb that would be if one of you finds out...

Hallie, I'll take the pineapple upside down cake too! We never go out on VD--because it seems like the same thing they do on New Year's, raise the prices and decrease the quality.

This year we've already celebrated with food too--upstairs at Louie's Backyard, which is a lovely, but expensive restaurant that has a second floor serving tapas. You would swoon over the truffled French fries with a cheese dipping sauce! And Asian short ribs to die for...and roasted cauliflower...and lobster pot pie.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: The only Valentine's Day card I really want is season two of Netflix's House of Cards.

The husband is teaching three weeks of puppetry masterclasses in Australia, but even if he were around we'd keep in low-key. My view on V-Day is that it's a commercial holiday used to guilt people into buying flowers and chocolates and overpriced meals. However, I'm not completely anti-Cupid — a fun part of being a mom to a younger kid is helping make the homemade valentines and decorating heart cookies with pink and red frosting. (A few of which I will be eating during House of Cards...)

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I am the unromantic one in the family. If it were up to Ross, Valentine's would be flowers and dinner out, but my attitude tends to be "I know we love each other, why do we have to spend money (plus the extra places and florists charge for the holiday) proving it?"

I'm writing this while sitting in our mechanic's waiting room; I think I'm going to tell Ross he's getting a tie bar replacement and alignment for Valentines. Nothing says "I love you" like a well-maintained car.

In past years, I would be sitting in the kitchen helping Smithie/The Boy/Youngest with their cards for classmates. We didn't do homemade cards - I'm not that kind of mother, I'm afraid - but there were always stickers to stick or candy to tape on. I recall one year when I picked up this...cardboard contraption...that folded into a box into which you put a Hershey's kiss. Of course, it was too complicated for the kids, and I wound up folding 40+ tiny boxes all evening. Maybe that's what killed the romance for me?

Oh, and Hallie, I think "One of my favorite things about Valentine's Day is that it I can cut out hearts," would make a GREAT opening line for a serial killer book!

HALLIE: ICK! Wouldn't it, though!?

Are you a heart cutter or a card maker... or do you say it with flowers and a nice dinner out? (Love the card on the right - perfect for mystery authors, yes? It's from


  1. We always did the Valentine card thing when the children were small . . . I can cut hearts with the best of them; doilies and glitter were so much fun . . . . Now I send the grandbabies a Valentine because they enjoy the card thing . . . .

    We don’t celebrate the day in a big way [probably because we’ve just done the whole anniversary celebration thing] . . . I will cook something special, there are usually cards [he likes funny ones, I lean toward the schmaltzy ones[ and flowers, but it’s a low-key sort of thing . . . .

  2. As a Valentine gift to Jungle Red Writers, I am going to pass on all the incredible set up lines above (the car work offered several) and say only that the wife and I will share a kiss on the cheek this morning and a Valentine Day greeting.

    Nothing is more important than love.

  3. We're kind of low key, but there is always an exchange of chocolate. I fondly recall Valentine's Day parties at school, both for myself and my kids. For my two, my dining room table would turn into a card signing operation. One of my sons wrote what he liked about each person on the back of the card. "You are very funny!" I remember him agonizing over what to say to a few not so likeable kids in his class. My other son would sign his name with a flourish and be done with it.

    My grandmother died on Valentine's Day. (Her nickname was Miss Tit. Long story.) I always cook something that reminds me of her on VD. Today, I think it'll be Shrimp Creole.

  4. You are the soul of discretion, Jack. And we do appreciate it.

  5. Hugh is another unromantic man, but since we met on Valentine's Day, we always go out to a nice dinner. He gets me flowers and I get him fabulous dark chocolates. Today is our tenth anniversary!

    [Is everybody's captcha "chocolates" today?]

  6. Congratulations, Edith!
    Dark chocolates are the only kind in this house... And no, my captcha word is not chocolates. I wish. Captcha is getting entirely too creative for its own good, if you want my opinion.

  7. WHERE DID YOU FIND THAT PHOTO? Amazing, Hallie.

    And hey--my captcha word is a graphic of a cute teddy bear and the word is "chocolates."

    Really? It would be wonderful if captcha were fun...

  8. OH, I should have read the comments first--now my captcha word is "valentine!"

  9. Shrimp creole--oh my, what a way to remember someone!

    If you're bursting later Jack, just spill the lines!

    Happy anniversary Edith and Joan!

  10. Debbie Downer here - I am not a big fan of Valentine's Day. It probably has something to do with being single on nearly every V-day of my life. Today I am "celebrating" with anti-Valentine nail art, a grungy zombie prom queen look. I may go see a local production of the Vagina Monologues, part of a national V-Day project to raise awareness about worldwide violence against women.

  11. Sandi, sounds like an excellent way to 'celebrate.'

  12. My captcha is "Love"!

    I should have known, 35 years ago, that my husband was not very romantic, when he sent me an Easter card from his lecture tour. Inside it said "Happy VD!"

    Which freaked me out, until I realized he meant Valentine's Day.

    Our anniversary is in two weeks, and I usually just start reminding him now. But we rarely do much more than go someplace for a nice dinner. I cook nearly every night, so it's much more of a treat for me to eat elsewhere.

    Google's search page today is cute, by the way.

  13. I'm still swooning over Lucy's lobster pot pie, oh my.

    Yesterday was Donald's birthday and we always combine the two with a dinner celebration (there's that food thing!). Usually right here at home - tonight's steak au poivre night. We're big on cards, so there's that. And chocolate, we're big on that too, so right now there's a few dark chocolate caramel sea salt Lindt bars scattered about the house sorta like hidden Easter eggs.

  14. OH!!!!

    This is for Julia!

    LOVED finally meeting you this past weekend at Murder in the Magic City - wasn't it fun?! And you are even cuter and funnier than I imagined! <3

  15. I don't usually get flowers for special days. My husband prefers to get them "just because" on random days. And we're not card people. We don't even buy birthday cards. =)

    When the kids were little they had valentines. But not any more.

    For years, our standing event was fancy chocolate truffles and the new car show. Because nothing says "I love you" than sitting in a car we have absolutely no way of affording.

  16. Love that thought: nothing says "I love you" than sitting in a car we have absolutely no way of affording.

    I guess that's why I used to 'shop' at Tiffany's.

  17. Mary Sutton, that car moment belongs in a story!

  18. Ramona, I'll add it to my pile of "scenes to be used sometime in the future." =)

  19. Love the first line, LOVE the card!!!

    I almost bought myself tulips last night at the supermarket. I walked into our low-rent local store last night, where they don't usually even have a floral section, and half the store was filled with flowers. I must say it was lovely. I wish I'd taken a pic.

    Happy Valentine's Day to all our REDS, however you celebrate!

    And my captcha is "flowers". I can't believe they did something fun!

  20. Mine is a red heart and "roses."

    We started dating in 1965 . . . so many valentine's days! And the card he gave me this year is typical of the way we are. One line of "verse" - "I've been in your good graces And in the doghouse, too."

    Cartoon illustrations. I know what he means.

    He is away this week, but we would NEVER go to a restaurant on V-day. We went once, many years ago, in DC to a place I had wanted to eat -- Mrs. Simpson's on Connecticut Ave. in Woodley Park.

    They had added tables and chairs to the room; tightened the menu; doubled the prices.

    My granddaughters have been very excited of course, but school is closed.

  21. I like Valentine's Day in theory--any Hallmark holiday that features yummy chocolate is good by me. What I love are the old-fashioned Valentine's cards that we used to give out in elementary school. Every once in awhile I see them in stores--they're retro now--and I snap them up.

    I'm probably not the one to ask about Valentine's Day--my crew of friends are more likely to get together for an ANTI-Valentine's happy hour. :-)

  22. Ah, Valentine's Day. Hearts and flowers and candy and cards and Cupids! Who wouldn't, dare I say, love it? Of course, you wonderful people have reminded me of the doilies of my childhood and the importance of scrumptious food, too. Ramona, I thought it so sweet of your son to include a positive message for each of his classmates. What an exceptional child! Mary, your sense of humor is great. Hank, what a generous gift of your time to cut up all those tiny hearts for friends. Lucy, with all the great food you've talked about in your books and now here from Louie's Backyard, it's become #1 on my list of restaurants I haven't eaten at in Key West and must try. Deb, a movie theater that serves you dinner in a reclining seat with a snugglie? Were you being clever and describing your house, or does such a dreamy theater really exist?

    Valentine's Day these days means my older granddaughter's birthday. She turns 13 today, entering that Twilight Zone for parents of the teen years. There is a dinner tonight at her favorite hometown pizza place, and I'm hoping the weather permits me to attend. They live about an hour away, and forecast is calling for some snow and slick roads after dark, when I would be traveling. Waiting to see. Husband won't be home, and being on a long stretch of lonely highway in less than safe conditions doesn't excite me.

    I wanted to mention a particular type of valentine I became interested in at a vintage display of valentines at the Mary Surratt House in Clinton, Maryland. You might recall that Mary Surratt was the only woman tried in the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln trial, and she was the first woman to be executed by the federal government. Anyway, at the valentine exhibit, were sailors' valentines. These were/are typically octagonal wooden boxes filled with a display of lots of tiny seashells, sometimes in the shape of hearts, but often just in a pretty arrangement. The boxes are deep, like shadow boxes and have a glass cover. The legend of these from the mid 1800's is that sailors would make these shell designs in the boxes while on their voyages to bring home to loved ones. The truth of the matter is more likely that the sailors bought them in Barbados already made by locals and primarily sold in a well-known shop owned by two Englishmen. Either way, they are beautiful with the multi-colored shells and designs, and I was happy to shell (hehe) out a hundred dollars to buy a reproduction of one.

  23. Today our frozen kitchen pipes finally thawed after over a week of single-degree weather, so for Valentine's Day, Ross is washing all the dishes, pots and pans! That's real love for you.

    Kaye, it was wonderful meeting you, as well! Everyone, not only is Kaye a terrific photographer (I can testify to her very fancy camera!) but she's also a fashion plate. Definitely the sharpest-dressed woman at the Alabama events - and in the south, that's saying something!

  24. Nothing says I LOVE YOU quite like a guy who does the dishes. And at last I got a captcha valentine word: Love!

  25. Here is upstate New York we are chuckling about Valentine’s gifts. I ordered several kinds of chocolate candy for my husband from our favorite fudge shop on Cape Ann, MA. He disappeared with my car for the afternoon -- and had a remote started installed in it as a surprise. Sort of a car/candy role reversal, but it works for us!

  26. I must be tired: that's "in upstate NY" and a "remote starter."

    Then again, I never was a good typist.