Valentines – the mirrors of romance

Next Sunday will be Valentine’s Day.

You may feel the greeting card companies, jewelers, and florist have forced the holiday upon us. The day has certainly been commercialized. Consumers are predicted to spend close to nineteen billion dollars this year.

As a romance writer, I prefer to believe we celebrate the day because we value what a day emphasizing love and romance can do for relationships. Having such a special day focused on love and loved ones provides the opportunity to:

~ ignite new relationships with romantic gestures
~renew an old love gone stale with a dose of romance

Many of us use valentines to express our feelings. That’s why I say, valentines are the mirrors of romance.

Supposedly, Saint Valentine began the valentine practice when he cut hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians to “remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians.” He’s the saint that defied Emperor Claudius’ edict forbidding priests to marry couples and ended up in prison. A prison guard’s daughter formed a friendship with Valentine and on the day he was martyred he left her a note signed, “Love from your Valentine.”

Source: valentines begin appearing in the 1840s. Esther A. Howland is considered the Mother of Valentines in America. Inspired by an English Valentine she received, she created elaborate cards from scraps of real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures.

You’ll find a large collection of her valentines in The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester.

Postcards with romantic scenes and messages were also popular in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, the tradition of sending Valentine postcards died as the use of postcards for personal correspondence faded.

These are samples from my collection of vintage holiday postcards. valentine postcards

A modern day variation of postcards is found in the cute valentines schoolchildren share on Valentines’ Day.

In my opinion, of all the commercial choices of valentines, the homemade ones are the most special.

YOUR TURN: Will send a valentine to your sweetheart this year?


Chickens Don’t Do Change

Sara avatarA blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Rachel has decided to do what she calls a “color project” with her bantam chickens. She has built six separate runs and has put specific roosters with specific hens to try to get certain colors of birds.

This would make a great 4H or FFA project however, we have never participated in any farming organization. I believe Rachel would have excelled at it.chicken pensThe weather here has been unseasonably warm and Rachel was able to spend one afternoon building the runs. It took longer than she had anticipated but she is pleased with the results.

The chickens, on the other hand, are less than impressed. After chasing them around and gathering the predetermined groups, Rachel went inside to shower. The chickens then began escaping from their new homes.

One rooster flew up to the fence. fleeing rosterI guess he was checking out the other runs to see if he had the best accommodations.

The oldest bantams left their run altogether and have returned to their old coop. They even laid their eggs under it. Apparently some things are not meant to change.hens at old coop

The weather turned cold again so Rachel left well enough alone. This weekend, however, she and Beekeeper Brian will try to reinforce the runs and convince the chickens that change is good.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

February Words of Love

love2And I would add that LOVE should be the loudest voice every day.

Love You Forever, a Book Review

Book reviews are subjective because our feelings about a book are very personal. Two people can read the exact same book. One will love it. The other totally dislike it.

Will a book review influence either to change their opinion? Probably not. Some readers ignore reviews altogether. Still book reviews are important and worth taking the time to write, if not for yourself, for the author.

That’s why I’m sharing my review of Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. bookI love this picture book. It’s well written and beautifully illustrated. It’s not a new book. The original publication date is 1986, but it has a timeless theme – love. My favorite topic for February blogs.

The story begins with a mother holding her newborn and softly singing:

love forever1I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.



The little boy grows and he does all the things little boys do. (Check out the cover if you can’t remember what little boys can do.)

He drives her crazy, she wants to sell him to the zoo, but at night, she rocks him and sings the song – even when he is way too big and too old to be rocked.

Then life happens.  He moves out. The mother gets older and older. The words of the song change:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living my Mommy you’ll be.

That’s not the end of the story. I won’t give away what happens next except to say that Love You Forever crosses all generations.

The story and its message of enduring love have an extra-special place in my heart because my son gave the book to me years ago when he was in one of those drive me crazy stages of our relationship.

I’ll always cherish my copy. And him.

If you’re looking for a perfect gift this Valentine’s Day, consider Love You Forever.


A Blog by Chicken Wrangler SaraSara avatar

 Winter can be a dreary time – particularly in Texas. We don’t get the pretty white scenes, at least where we live.

Everything just turns brown.chicken 1


The closest thing we have to snowy white is Rachel’s new frizzle. He makes a stark contrast to all the brown. chicken 2

It makes me smile.

In my quest to find beauty amidst all the brown, I made a pleasant discovery.

blue ears The partridge-colored silky bantams have blue ears.

So now when others are enjoying beautiful snow with contrasting cardinals or other wonderful scenery, I can enjoy our blue-eared chickens.

As I always say, there is beauty all around. You just have to look for it.

Winter’s Rest – John Geddes

calm of winter 2Winter will end before we know it. Spring is lurking on the horizon. Days are lengthening.

I hope you’ve found rest this winter.

3 Ways to Exercises at Your Desk

As a writer, I spend hours at my desk. These days too many jobs require much of the work day to be spent sitting in an office at a computer.

exerciseThat’s a problem because, to be fit and healthy, we have to get moving, to exercise.

The web offers lots of advice on exercise. Problem with most of those website suggestions is they involve going somewhere to exercise. We’re stuck at a desk all day!

The ideas are also excellent if you live in a warm climate. Not so easy if you live in the mountains of the Rio Grande Forest.These days my Fitbit step goals remain unmet.

Once the temperature rises above freezing and the snow melts, I do participate in many outdoors activities. The forest outside my office window calls to me frequently. Sometimes, too frequently.

Even in the winter months, my two four-legged children demand to go outside. Unfortunately,  the sub-zero temperatures are just not inviting enough for us to linger outside. Our ventures out doors are short. Very short. Other times road conditions make getting to a gym or indoor pool or even walking impossible and our trips outdoors are even shorter.

So how do I get exercise these cold winter days? I follow the advice of Josh Vogt, fantasy and freelance writer, in his Write Strong series on fitness strategies for writers. Most of which are readily adaptable to any desk job. You don’t have to be a writer.

I use these three ways to keep in shape:

barbells1. Keep weights on my desk. During breaks or while I’m reading on the computer, I pick up the weights and do some basic arm lifts.stretch
2. Stash resistance bands in a desk drawer. Quick and easy way to do simple resistance training.
3. Stand and stretch. I find it helps refocus and gives an energy bump.

If none of these suggestions works for you, check out Vogt’s other strategies here.

Or develop your own fitness plan using this online fitness plan generator that lets you input your skill level, available gear and time and the part of the body you want to focus on.

Whatever it takes — get moving! You’ll find you’ll be healthier and more productive.