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The Romance of Learning

I love fall. As the weather cools and the leaves start to change color, my need for creative change and new information also kicks in. Maybe it is back to school syndrome. Every year our family goes to the Minnesota State Fair at the end of August. Soon after, we begin looking at Community Education Classes, Adult Education Courses at local colleges, new classes offered at local craft stores… We love the romance of learning new things!

Ephesus LibraryWhen was the last time your inner romantic nudged you to learn something new? Sometimes people get in a rut and begin doing the same things over and over. Days become routine and life gets boring. Has this happened to you? Does the romance of life feel hidden away in a closet somewhere with your old textbooks or that half finished sewing project you started four years ago? Let your romantic self out of the closet. Go find something new to learn or try.

Maybe you aren’t a crafting type of person, so go to an evening history event at your local library. Book stores host events with great authors reading from their books and sharing their own story. Go be inspired. Maybe you love to cook simple things but wish you were more confident and daring in the kitchen. Take a cooking class through community education, a cooking store or check out the offerings at your local co-op.

Co-op’s offer really fun classes in unusual skills. A quick look at one of our local co-ops, Mississippi Market, shows classes as diverse as making home brewed root beer to mastering the art of creating homespun yarn for your winter knitting. Maybe you need to start with something simple, like sampling new coffee. Find out why a freshly roasted bag of beans makes a better tasting cup of coffee than that big plastic tub of ground coffee you have been buying.

If you are a reader, head to the library shelves and find a book on a topic that intrigues you. Love the computer, find an online course. Want to learn how to raise chickens or make cheese? Head to a store like Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply.

I am a firm believer that when it comes to opportunities for learning, there is something for everyone. Dust off your romantic self, take a deep breath of the cool fall air and find a new opportunity just waiting out there for you to join in the romance of learning!

Yours along TheRomanticWay,

Holly

Cabin Fever Got You Down?

Cabin fever is a common malady this time of year. So, get out of the cabin! Have the winter doldrums caused you to misplace your romantic? It’s time for a little romantic living to warm things up.

Saint Paul Winter CarnivalIn addition to our wonderful winter sports, here in Minnesota we have a lot of fun stuff to go see and do. Here are a few of our great outings to get you thinking about what might be fun to do near you.

One of my favorite places to go is the Como Conservatory. I love going through the ferns exhibit, then the tropical garden and on into the sunken flower garden to see the current seasonal display. I was there just last week to see the gorgeous poinsettias. There is nothing quite like seeing all those beautiful plants and flowers and the koi in the pond while watching the snow fall outside the glass surrounding you.

For a great dose of color and artistic stimulation, I head to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Museum. It always stirs up the creative juices to see works of art from cultures all around the world. If it is the third Thursday of the month, there will be a fun program in the evening that is free to all and has live music and a fun theme. Sometimes they even do a little matchmaking by providing color coded bracelets so you can let others know you are looking for that special someone!

Coming up later in January, our Saint Paul Winter Carnival will be in full swing. Events range from hot air balloons, the treasure hunt, a Snow Snake Tournament, ice sculpting and the crowd pleasing Vulcan’s overthrow of King Boreas immediately after the Torchlight Parade. There is something for everyone and no excuses allowed for sitting home bored.

What’s happening in your town? Tackle your cabin fever and head on out!

Yours along TheRomanticWay!

Holly

The Best Romantic Valentines Day Ideas are Simple

I love Valentines Day and I love great romantic Valentines Day ideas. While I resist the commercial influences associated with other holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, I appreciate the fact that Valentines Day enjoys the loyal help of greeting card publishers, restaurants, and gift shops.

Are the world’s lovers mindful of the cost of life to the Roman saint from whom our holiday takes it’s name? The history books tell us that during the third century, Roman Emperor Claudius II struggled with the fact that his young army recruits would rather make love than war and concluded that the best solution was to eliminate one of their options. Hence, and I’m sure to horror of all sweethearts, the emperor outlawed marriage for soldiers.

Enter the hero, Valentinus, a priest and it would seem, a hopeless romantic himself. He had his own romantic ideas and out of compassion for the celibate plight of young soldiers and their would-be sweethearts, he opened his own underground wedding chapel. The emperor got wind of Valentine’s clandestine matrimonial meetings, and though he admired the priest’s verve, he was obliged to execute the poor cleric.

The rest is legend but makes a great love story. While Valentine contemplated his last days in the Emperor’s Roman dungeon, the jailer asked him to pray for his blind daughter, Asterius. Valentine’s prayers were answered, and young Asterius was able to read his farewell note to her with her own eyes, those words of love which would linger on lips of lovers, and their cards for centuries, “From Your Valentine”.

Now you know the story, but what are some romantic Valentines Day ideas? Shopping centers, gift and card shops, florists and on-line retailers are eager to help you with your quandary, but I recommend a little thought first. Our hero Valentine reminds us of the reason for the season: “Be Mine!” My tradition is to think of how many ways I can say “I love you!”

Exactly one week before Valentines Day on February 8th, I remind my one and only of my undying love by giving her a gift of something red each day. I know that Holly really likes to be remembered often. She enjoys lots of little things and looks forward to receiving them.

Simple Romantic Valentines Day Ideas You Can Use

  • Sometimes, I’ll put a little gift someplace where she’ll find it like little chocolates wrapped in red foil, or a unique or funny card I bought or made.
  • Sometimes the red gift is a treat to eat like a carton of cherry-nut ice cream or a frosty glass of strawberry soda served over ice.
  • Maybe I see some flowers that catch my eye or a simple little special gift.
  • I seldom fail to buy a bag of those little candy sweethearts with the messages.

What is my advice on the best romantic Valentines Day ideas? Pause, consider, and go for the simpler choices. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to say “I love you.” If you’re going to celebrate Valentines Day with tickets to a play or a reservation for a nice dinner out with champagne and red roses, be sure to allow time to talk and simply be together. You know the most romantic Valentines Day idea is to spend time alone together. Let your lover know you love her and that you love to be with her. The best way to do that is…. well, to be with her.

Yours along TheRomanticWay!

Rod

Candle Light – A Romantic’s Glow

Foremost in anyone’s romantic thoughts is warm candle light. Candle light is one of the most time-honored ways of setting a romantic mood. Adding the romance of candle light to your setting does not have to be difficult. The fact is there are many easy and inexpensive ways to add that special touch.

Romantic Candle Light is Easy!

Candlelight

If you haven’t got a beautiful pair of matching silver candle holders with lovely elegant tapers, try looking around your kitchen cupboards for a bunch of glass jars. Yes, jars! Save those jelly jars, mustard jars and any other jars you may use that have a wide opening at the top and an interesting shape. Keep a package of those inexpensive little tea light candles on hand for instant romance. Just put a candle in each jar, using several different shapes and sizes together to make an instant centerpiece on your table or to set around the room to add that soft candle light that sets a wonderful, romantic mood.

Tea light candles can be purchased in economical, large packages at Ikea, Walmart, craft stores, etc. If you like scented candles, those are available in small tea lights too. (Just be sure the person you are sharing the romantic moment with doesn’t have perfume allergies like I do!)

If you want to add a little extra touch to those jars, string a few beads on craft wire and tie them around the neck of the jar.

Jar candles are a great way to add the romance of candle light to a patio picnic as well since they help protect your candles from any breeze as you enjoy being outdoors.

Another fast and easy way to set up an elegant and romantic candle lit scene is to hit the thrift shops, like Goodwill and Salvation Army stores and purchase an odd number of different shapes and sizes of brass candle holders (or silver if you don’t mind the polishing, or better yet, go for the tarnished look!) If you want to protect your table top from wax, just grab a pretty tray or plate while you are there to arrange them on. Don’t be afraid to mix fat and skinny candles together or even a tea light holder too. Mix things up and enjoy a fun and inexpensive way to light up your life with romantic candle light!

Yours along TheRomanticWay!

Holly

Melodee’s Date Bars

Date bars are naturally exotically sweet. Images of desert colors and silence, setting sun over the dunes and you and your sweetheart on a desert oasis feasting on dates and other desert delicacies. Try it. It wouldn’t be a “date” without them!

Melodee’s Date Bars

Filling

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chopped dates
2 cups water
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Blend together in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Crust

Cream together in a bowl:

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened

Really… what’s a date without a date?

Add and mix well:

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Press half of crust mixture into a greased 9×13″ pan. Spread with filling. Top with remaining mixture, pressing lightly.

Bake 25-35 minutes. Cut while warm.

Yours along TheRomanticWay!

Rod & Holly