12 02, 2024

Valentines Say I Love You

By |2024-02-10T07:59:52-06:00February 12th, 2024|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Valentine cards say the words we sometimes find difficult to voice.

When I was in grade school – not Little House of the Prairie days, but close – we had Valentine’s Day parties at school and gave our friends homemade cards. We made mailboxes from shoe boxes or decorated envelopes to collect our cards.

Those years helped form my love of Valentine cards and began my Valentine card collection. And, yes, I still have a few cards from that era. For sure, I’ve collected cards from those days.

Vintage valentines can be very valuable, especially Victorian-era pop-up honeycomb ones. Value varies and can range from the hundreds of dollars up to thousands. Check Kovels Valentine’s Day collectibles Pinterest board for examples and values.

Interested in becoming a Valentine card collector, here are some tips on how to start.

What to look for

  1. Cards that relate to the news of the day
  2. Valentines signed by someone known
  3. Older homemade cards
  4. Victorian three-dimensional valentines
  5. Postcard valentines
  6. Die-cut school-type valentines from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s
  7. Mechanical valentines with moving parts

Hairstyles, clothes, cars, or trains pictured in older valentines will help date the card.

Where should you look?

  1. Old scrapbooks
  2. Keepsake boxes for sentimental ephemera
  3. Old heart-shaped candy boxes
  4. Flea markets or ephemera shows
  5. House sales, garage/yard sales, and thrift shops

Are contemporary valentines worth collecting?

The simple answer is yes. According to Terry Kovel of Kovel’s Antiques, Inc., look for cards with certain characteristics:

  1. Current news, pop culture, and/or historical events.
  2. Cards depicting characters from Disney, children’s books, cartoons, movies, and television shows.
  3. Be cautious about modern technology cards. Those record-your-own-voice cards will stop talking as they age.

Learn more about Valentine collecting from these sites:

The Ephemera Society on Facebook:

National Valentine Collectors Association on Facebook:

National Valentine Collectors Association. Marketplace on Facebook:

Here’s a peek at some from my collection. I love displaying them for Valentine’s Day each February.

15 01, 2024

Blue Monday

By |2024-01-14T16:17:49-06:00January 15th, 2024|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

You’re probably somewhere cold right now. Winter storms and a polar vortex have prompted weather advisories in every state in the lower forty-eight over the last four days.

We’ve been hearing warnings for days, which has sent flashbacks of the cold snap of 2021 (when the Texas power grid collapsed for four days) to so many here on the Texas Gulf Coast. So many lost their homes.

Space City Weather, the most reliable weather forecasters I’ve found, encouraged: “… let’s look at the current forecast for low temperatures …for Tuesday since that will be the coldest morning for the vast majority of the state. If you compare the (2021) record lows …, most locations will be solidly 5 to 10 degrees warmer than that cold snap.”

Reassuring, yes. But, if you lived through the ice apocalypse of 2021 without electricity for four days, still not comfortable. Temperatures in the twenties for days are way too cold!

It’s unnerving and it’s happening on what’s known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, the time of year when most everyone feels a letdown.

Christmas has come and gone with all the twinkling lights, good food, and fun. The days are dark, dark, dark and most of our well-intended resolutions have flown out the window. It feels like a lot of work to simply face the day.

Never heard of Blue Monday? Blue Monday was originally dreamed up by psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall in 2004. He devised the formula for the bleakest day to help a travel company sell holidays, with the first Blue Monday on 24 January 2005. Arnall says it was “never his intention to make the day sound negative,” but rather “to inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions.”

Truth is, none of us gets a pass from winter. It’s part of a natural life-cycle system that moves through four seasons. We must all go through winter to get to spring, and winters can be bleak. That’s for sure.

Blue Monday may seem like a cold dreary day but there’s hope. December 22 was the shortest day of the year. That means every day after Blue Monday is a day closer to the lighter, brighter (and warmer) days of Spring.

If wintry weather has you in its grip, please stay warm and safe. Remember this too will pass.

P.S. January 15 is also Martin Luther King Day. And it’s falling on his actual birthday this year. How cool is that?

8 01, 2024

It’s a Holiday Wrap

By |2024-01-07T07:20:52-06:00January 8th, 2024|Holidays, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Our holiday was a whirlwind that became a tsunami with twenty-three gathered before Christmas Day to celebrate and have a first-ever all-of-us picture taken, including our OES who was the best behaved.

Dealing with that many personalities was a challenge. The photographer had her hands full and did a fantastic job. Considering the drama surrounding it, it turned out well.

We all survived and the whole event provided writer me with lots of characterization and conflict ideas for future protagonists.

The tree is undecorated, bundled, and stored in the barn shed to await another year.

The treasured pinecone people and tiny village houses from my grandparents’ home are nestled all snug in their box and stored away in the closet to await next Christmas’s unveiling.

January 1 is the clear-cut start for another trip around the sun. Another 365 opportunities — 366 this year since it’s a leap year — to pause and think about how we can best use our time in this new year.

That usually means making resolutions or setting goals.

According to, New Year goals include quit smoking, fitness, finances, mental health, diet,  work-life balance, more time for loved ones, learning a new skill, drinking less, meditating more, and traveling more. All of these are admirable goals and intentions.

The sad fact is most goals and resolutions will fail miserably and fail quickly. Statistics on how long New Year’s goals last do not put the New Year tradition in a favorable light.

Most goals will fail within 3-4 months. Only one percent of goals last twelve months. So, you’re not alone if your intentions peter out.

Give yourself grace when you do fail, “The beauty of goal setting is you don’t need a ball drop or cannons of confetti to signal a fresh start—you can recommit to your resolutions at any time.”

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again, to paraphrase a song lyric.

Me, I’m going simple for 2024. Only one goal. Finish my new romantic suspense, DEAD BODY GIRL.

Frankly, I’m more than ready to settle into an imaginary world where the writer is in charge. 2023 is good and well gone, holiday stress is over. Time to move into 2024 with all its promise and clean pages.

What about you? Any goals or resolutions?

18 12, 2023

A Charles Dickens Christmas

By |2023-12-17T20:45:03-06:00December 18th, 2023|Holidays|0 Comments

These words are from an 1843 Christmas novella written by Charles Dickens. His Christmas short stories include: “The Chimes”, “Cricket on the Hearth,” “The Battle of Life,” “Haunted Man,” and his most read, “A Christmas Carol”

“A Christmas Carol” was by far the most popular having never been out of print. It’s also been adapted many times to film, stage, opera, and other media.

Dickens divided his novella into five chapters, labeled “staves” or song stanzas or verses, in keeping with the title of the book.

The short tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s strange night visitors continues to send a message that cuts through all the trappings of the season and straight into the heart and soul of the holiday.

Dickens defined Christmas as

“a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

This description became known as the “Carol Philosophy” and Dickens strove to live accordingly for the rest of his life.

Charles Dickens has probably had more influence on how we celebrate Christmas than any single individual in human history … except the One whose birth we celebrate.

Wouldn’t honoring Christmas by “opening shut-hearts and thinking of others as fellow sojourners on the same path” be an excellent way to celebrate this holiday season and begin the new year?

~~ This will be our last post for 2023. New blogs will begin again after the holiday season.


15 12, 2023

Ugly Christmas Sweater

By |2023-12-13T14:55:54-06:00December 15th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Holidays, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our school is doing a dress-up theme every day this week. Thursday is ugly sweater day.

I have the perfect sweater. And it has a story. The story first appeared in my December 2014 blog.

Twenty-one (now thirty) years ago, my parents gave me a Christmas sweater. It was something they knew I would never buy for myself but would love.

They were right. I wore that sweater for many years starting with our daughter’s first Christmas. This very same daughter has borrowed the sweater not once but twice to enter her “tacky Christmas sweater” contests. This year she’s loaning it out.

I would be offended except for two years running, my sweater has won.

I think I deserve at least some kind of prize for having held on to that sweater long enough for college kids to think it is tacky.

I can’t wait to wear it on Thursday. I hope people are ready to hear the story. It is what makes the sweater the most interesting ugly sweater on earth!

~Read the original blog here:

11 12, 2023

What is an Advent Wreath?

By |2023-12-10T21:05:49-06:00December 11th, 2023|Holidays|0 Comments

Advent comes from adventus meaning “coming” or “visit” and includes the four Sundays before Christmas ending on Christmas Eve. Advent also serves as the beginning of the liturgical year for churches.

Modern-day Advent services feature a garland wreath with four or five candles.

The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting. Many churches are beginning to use blue candles in Advent wreaths. Why blue?

Blue symbolizes hopefulness. Using blue candles emphasizes the difference between Advent and Lent.

The Season of Advent anticipates both Bethlehem and the consummation of history in the second coming of Jesus Christ. That’s hopefulness whereas Lent’s purple emphasizes repentance with a mood of solemnity and somberness.

Traditional liturgical churches light the first candle of an Advent wreath on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, or the Sunday, which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24. Each candle has a specific significance.

1st CANDLE is the PROPHECY CANDLE or Candle of Hope. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold the Messiah’s arrival. Isiah 7:14

2nd CANDLE is the BETHLEHEM CANDLE or the Candle of Preparation. The prophet Micah foretold the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2

3rd CANDLE is the SHEPHERD CANDLE or Candle of Joy. Angels announced the Christ child’s arrival to shepherds. Luke 2:7-15

4TH CANDLE is the ANGEL’S CANDLE which signifies peace. The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace. Luke 2:10-11

5th CANDLE is the CHRIST CANDLE reminds us Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God and is lit on Christmas Day.

Lighting the candles of an Advent wreath in church or our home is a sign of watching and waiting in joyful hope for the coming of the Savior. Our home Advent wreath is a simple wreath with purple candles. Next year we’ll probably use blue. Advent wreaths are a wonderful way to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Do you or your church use an Advent wreath?

4 12, 2023

Christmas Card Time

By |2023-12-03T12:56:03-06:00December 4th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Writer's Life|0 Comments

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is receiving Christmas cards from family and friends with newsy letters. I bundle the cards by year with a ribbon and store them in baskets. The baskets then become part of our holiday decorations.

I like to take a packet from the baskets, look at the photos, and read the letters. It always sparks memories. Some sad knowing the original writer is no longer with us. But mostly the cards trigger good thoughts. It’s almost like having the senders here with me again.

I’m not alone in my love of sending and receiving Christmas cards. As outdated as the practice may seem to some, others cling to the tradition along with me. Americans buy approximately 1.6 billion Christmas cards a year!

The tradition began in the 1800s. As printing techniques improved, and costs dropped, Christmas cards increased in popularity. Read a detailed history here.

When postage dropped to half a penny, more people were able to send greetings. I collect those vintage postcards. Some date back to the 1900s. I love reading through the handwritten notes and looking at the intricate designs.

Many people today send handcrafted cards or order family picture cards. Handcrafted ones are extra special. So are the ones with family pictures.

What is it about this old-fashioned tradition that appeals to me and so many others?

The Greeting Card Association research suggests: “The tradition of giving greeting cards is a meaningful expression of personal affection for another person…”

Some question whether that appeal will be compelling enough to survive the conveniences of the digital era.

I believe it will.

If you want to start the tradition yourself, create a Christmas card list. Gathering addresses is as easy as gathering email addresses and holding a card in your hand beats reading a screen, in my opinion.

My list is on a spreadsheet that I update every year. It’s an easy way to correct addresses and keep track of cards sent and/or received. Because I prefer holiday-themed stamps, I order seasonal stamps online

To make the task less daunting, I use address labels and newsy letters. Some don’t like newsletters. I love them. Makes me feel like I’ve been a part of my friend’s world.

Christmas cards – sending and receiving – will always be a favorite part of the holiday season for me. They are a way to stay in touch, to share our lives even though we may live an ocean apart.

What do you think? Do you send Christmas cards?

Go to Top