Host a Single and Loving It Valentine’s Day Party with Recipes for Party Food

In case you haven’t noticed lately, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful excuse to pamper yourself or to celebrate with friends, indulging in things you might otherwise save for a special occasion. If you are single, celebrate yourself on Valentine's Day! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)Celebrating a singles Valentine’s Day is a great way to have fun and join in the excitement of the feted February 14.

If you are single this Valentine’s Day, why not throw a Singles Party to celebrate and socialize with your pals? You can keep your Singles Party for just the girls, just the guys, or coed, depending on your preference. You can cook a gourmet meal, complete with appetizers, and then finish it off with dessert, music, dancing, cocktails, the works. Your imagination is your only limitation here, friends!

Your best bet would be to plan a little bit ahead of time and ask each of your guests to pick up a few ingredients at the store so that you can all cook together and then enjoy the fruits of your efforts. To follow are a number of special recipes from Celebrity Chef Todd English

How to Throw a Singles Party
If you and your pals want to celebrate being single on Valentine’s Day, why not?! It is the perfect occasion to recognize your status and availability, but more importantly your choice and your freedom. You can gather with your friends to throw a “Single and Loving It Party”, as recommended by Lavalife, a top Web site for online dating. Lavalife recommends gathering with friends and co-singles to throw a “Single and Lovin’ it” Valentine’s Day bash.

To make the most of your singles Valentine’s Day activity, consider creating some of Celebrity Chef Todd English’s delicious recipes, including: Artichoke Guacamole, Fried Oysters, Shrimp Tacos, and the famous Olives Crab Cakes.

“I normally like to give my party guests a wide selection of small bites to enjoy while they socialize,” says Chef Todd English.  “I like to put a twist on traditional favorites- such as my artichoke guacamole- to get the crowd buzzing.  I make it a point to ensure that all the food is bite-size and not too messy.”

Consider these fabulous recipes from Celebrity Chef Todd English:

Artichoke Guacamole Recipe

Artichoke guacamole is best served as a condiment, scooped onto crostini or grilled chicken, steak, or salmon.

MAKES ABOUT 1 and 1/2 CUPS

6 large fresh, frozen, or canned artichoke bottoms, including stem except for ½ inch
1/2  small red onion, finely chopped
1 large beefsteak tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup chopped scallions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2  teaspoon black pepper

Place the artichoke bottoms in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the artichokes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain.   When they are cool enough to handle, finely chop the artichokes and place in a medium-size mixing bowl. Add the onion, tomato, lemon juice, olive oil, sesame oil, scallions, cilantro, salt and pepper and gently mash with a fork.

Fried Oysters Recipe

1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and
1 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2  cup olive oil
24 oysters, freshly shucked (see above)

Beat the buttermilk, eggs, and mint together in a small bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in another bowl.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and when it is hot, add the oil. When the oil is very hot, dip the oysters, a few at a time, in the egg mixture and then in the bread crumbs and gently place in the oil. Fry the oysters in batches, making sure the oil is hot prior to each addition, until they are golden brown, about 1 and 1/2 minutes per side. Drain well on paper towels. Serve immediately.

12 Shrimp Tacos Recipe

36 6/8 size shrimp (large)
12 cloves garlic peeled
3 cups olive oil
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 whole jalepenos
Puree all ingredients into a marinade.  Pour over shrimp and refrigerate for 2 hours

2 heads iceberg lettuce
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Finely shred the lettuce and toss with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

12 flour tortillas
extra virgin olive oil to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle tortillas with oil, salt and pepper.  Grill 1 minute on each side.

2 large heirloom tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Finely dice the tomatoes and toss with oil, salt and pepper

Cook shrimp 3 minutes per side.  Assemble tortillas with 3 shrimp each, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, guacamole.

Crab Cakes and Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipes…


Dinner and a Movie Date Alternative – Cooking a Meal Together for Valentine’s Day

Sometimes the same old thing can be a comfortable and relaxing thing. But sometimes it just gets even older. In truth, the dinner and a movie date is a classic, and it really never could go completely out of style – even for Valentine’s Day. It’s a great standby and a wonderful evening out – but sometimes you and your sweetheart may feel the urge to do something besides dinner and a movie. And Valentine’s Day is an excellent time to take that plunge.

Instead of heading to the cinema and a nearby restaurant for Valentine’s Day this year, why not go for a spinoff celebration of love? We’re talking about a romantic evening cooking dinner together. What’s more fun than getting a little messy in the kitchen with your loved one?

To start, the two of you could take a trip to the market and select fresh ingredients – main course, vegetables, cheese, seasonings, etc. Then, when you get home, don aprons and let the fun really begin!

Celebrity Chef Todd English has partnered with Lavalife, a leader in the singles industry, to create Valentine’s Day recipes for couples who are seeking more than just dinner and a movie this Valentine’s Day. Chef English recommends “creating some steam at home by making Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread, Spaghetti with Truffle Mascarpone, and who could forget the ultimate aphrodisiac, Oysters!”

A Romantic Dinner For Two at Home

Chef English and Lavalife recommend making delicious dishes for two, including: Baked Oysters, Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread, Spaghetti with Truffle Mascarpone, and Fallen Chocolate Cake.

“Oysters are an aphrodisiac and this dish is a great way to start the evening,” Chef English says. “I think that the Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread is a fun dish to make together. Pizza is very interactive and this recipe puts an upscale twist on a traditional favorite. The best way to end an evening is with chocolate.  The falling chocolate cake with raspberry sauce is a sexy dessert that can be shared with one spoon.”

Chef English recommends the following recipes that you and your sweetheart can cook together at home for Valentine’s Day:

Baked Oysters Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:
10 Each Wellfleet oysters
Kosher salt as needed
4 oz. Mascarpone
2 TBS. Shredded Radicchio
1 TBS. Balsamic vinegar
1 Tsp. Chopped scallions
1 oz. Heavy cream

Directions:
First shuck the oysters opening each one, discard the top half of the shell and keep the oysters on the half shell.  Layer the bottom of a baking pan heavily with kosher salt.  Place the oysters on the salt pressing them down so they are sturdy.  Put aside and start the stuffing.  Place the mascarpone, Radicchio, balsamic, scallions, and cream in a mixing bowl.  Mix ingredients together well.  Evenly place all of the filling on the oysters.  Bake in a 425-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the top is brown.  Remove from the baking pan and serve immediately.

Copyright: Todd English

Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread Recipe

Flatbread dough
Makes four 8- to 10-inch flatbreads

**You can pick up fresh pizza dough at your local bakery or grocery store as an alternative to making the flatbread from scratch.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
2 teaspoons (¼ ounce) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 & 2/3 cups lukewarm water

Directions:
Place the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a mixer fitted with a dough hook.  While the mixer is running, gradually add the oil and water.  Kneed on low speed until the dough is firm and smooth, about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into four balls, about 7 & 1/2 ounces each.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Place two balls on a sheet and cover with a damp towel.  Let them rise in a warm spot until they have doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

To roll out the dough:  Dab your fingers in flour and then place 1 ball on a generously floured work surface and press down in the center with the tips of your fingers, spreading the dough with your hand.  When the dough ha s doubled in width, use a floured rolling pin and roll out until it is very thin, like flatbread.  The outer border should be a little thicker than the inner circle.  Pick the dough up with a spatula or the back of a knife, allowing it to fold up almost like an umbrella and transfer it to a paddle.  Do not worry that the dough is not round; you are looking for an 8- to 10-inch shape, a cross between an oval and a rectangle.  If you get a hole, simply pinch the edges back together.  Repeat with the remaining balls and proceed with the following recipe.

Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread  
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
2 flatbreads (see above recipe)
Cornmeal for sprinkling
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup Fig Jam
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled into pea-sized pieces
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 scallion, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish

Directions:
One hour prior to cooking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees.

Roll out 1 flatbread dough as thinly as possible.  Place it on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal.  Cover the surface with 1 teaspoon oil, ¼ teaspoon minced garlic, 1 pinch each salt and pepper, and ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary.  Be sure to leave an outer lip of 1 inch all the way around.
Evenly dot ¼ cup Fig Jam and 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese on the flatbread.  Top with half the prosciutto.  Shake the paddle lightly and slide the flatbread onto the baking stone.  Bake until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes.  Transfer to a firm surface and cut into slices.
Serve immediately, garnished with half the sliced scallion.
Repeat with the remaining dough.

*A pizza or baking pan may be used instead of a baking stone.

Spaghetti with Truffle Mascarpone Recipe or Fresh Margherita Pizza Recipe

Express Your Love on Valentine’s Day and All Year Long

February 14th – a day of love, lust, or loneliness – characterized by some as a “Hallmark Holiday,” by others as the most romantic day of the year – is surely a love it or hate it holiday. Show your love how you feel all throughout the year! (Photo courtesy of Jane M. Sawyer.)But the truth of the matter is that the feelings many share on St. Valentine’s Day can and should be expressed all throughout the year.

Here you can learn about Valentine’s Day and a few tips on expressing your feelings now and all throughout the year. Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is here to stay, so you might as well make the best of it!

Show your love how you feel all throughout the year! (Photo courtesy of Jane M. Sawyer.)As its origin is veiled by mystery, Valentine’s Day is not as easily defined as Christmas, Easter, or most other holidays. Several legends contend for the actual namesake of this passionate holiday, yet Valentine’s Day itself has been a recognized celebration of love and adoration for as long as any can remember.

Today, billions of wallets become thinner as countless greeting cards, flowers and chocolates are purchased for loved ones in honor of the nationally proclaimed day of love. Day of love… why compress all of our sentiment into one single day and not 365 days, or 366 in leap year’s case?

 

Couples who share that special connection hopefully express their love for each other every day of the year. One year I felt as if I were betraying womankind, when I wrote in my sweetheart’s Valentine card: “I don’t need a special holiday to tell you how much you mean to me or how much I love you.” The funny thing was that he said he had been thinking about expressing the same to me, but felt bad doing so on Valentine’s Day.

Whether you have a special someone or not, Valentine’s Day is not and should not be your only chance at expressing how you feel about someone. Unattached but intrigued by someone? Slipping a secret admirer note never goes out of style. It plays up the mysterious thrill while also giving you control of the situation—and you don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to let this person know someone is thinking of them!

For those of you with blissful romance already in bloom, you likely know that even the smallest amorous gestures keep the passion alive all year long. I love to slip little love notes in places where my sweetheart will find them when he least expects it. Putting a smile on someone’s face is an invaluable expression of your feelings for them.

Show your romantic side! (Photo courtesy of Andrea Church.)You may already be engaging in romantic behaviors without realizing it. Pet names for each other- honey, baby, sweetheart, darling-express an intimacy that you share with your partner alone. Do you ever see something in the store that you know they would absolutely love, and pick it up as a surprise? Bake special goodies or meals, keep a picture in your wallet or at work, or call just to say they were on your mind?

We often share our affection with our mates subconsciously. In other words, we are so in tune with our emotions that we don’t even think about how we act. It eventually comes as second nature when we do those meaningful little things to let our partners know how we feel time and time again.

Most likely, you have your own way of expressing your feelings in your relationship, thus keeping the spirit of Valentine’s Day alive all year. And to be honest, that will only help your relationship to flourish and grow!

Things you can do to keep your love alive all year long:

• Call at random, just to say they were on your mind or you miss them.

• Surprise them with love notes or send a love letter through the mail if you do not live together.

• Do things together that are not customary. Find new places to go together… a playground, a pumpkin patch, the zoo, the park…

• Be supportive of each other—be a good listener and know that you have a shoulder to cry on, too.

• Don’t just think about how much you care about your partner—tell him or her. Sharing your emotions verbally can strengthen your relationship.

Romantic Things to Do for Your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day being the feted day of love, it’s the perfect time to do sweet, romantic, and wonderful things for the one you love. Valentine's Day = romantic time with your sweetheart (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)You can plan an exciting or romantic date for your sweetheart, set up a special night alone together at your home, or simply do sweet things throughout the day.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day – or any special day with your sweetheart, for that matter – place some extra time and thought into your plans. Keep your sweetheart and his or her favorite things in the forefront of your mind as you craft a special and memorable Valentine’s Day together. Valentine’s Day offers couples an automatic date night, so why not make the most of it?

Paul A. Falzone, CEO of The Right One and Together, a well-established personal introduction service, suggests doing something original for Valentine’s Day that your sweetheart will be sure to remember. “Creating a wonderful Valentine’s Day is not rocket science,” he says. “By concentrating on the little things, you’ll ensure romantic fireworks.”

Sweet and Romantic Things to Do for Your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day or Any Day
Falzone suggests these sweet and romantic things that you can do for your sweetheart or with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day or for any romantic reason:

•    Wake your partner with fresh brewed coffee and breakfast, at the table or in bed.

•    Burn a CD of his/her favorite songs.

•    Start your sweetie’s car on a cold morning or, better yet, clean it for him or her.

•    Open doors for your love and help him/her carry briefcase or other belongings.

•    Write a poem or love letter to your significant other.

•    Arouse your lover’s attention by sending a gift basket of lotions and potions to her/him at work.

•    Leave your sweetheart a romantic voice or text message on his/her cell phone.

•    Bring home a movie, whether romance, comedy or something more feisty, that you know you will both enjoy.

•    Serve your sweetie their favorite home cooked meal complete with candlelight and his/her favorite, scrumptious dessert.

•    Turn the lights down, light some candles, put on some mood music and slow dance.

•    Find “your song” on the Internet and e-mail the MP3 file to your special someone.

•    Craft a romantic note (dab with your cologne) and slip into his/her jacket pocket.

•    Run a bath for your love, complete with scented oils and candlelight.

•    Give him/her a massage.

•    Do your partner’s daily chores (i.e., walk the dog, empty the dishwasher, pick up the dry-cleaning, etc.).

•    If you have children, take them out for an hour or so to give your partner some quiet time.

•    Open a bottle of champagne or offer delectable chocolates (a known aphrodisiac).

•    Do you sing or play an instrument?  Serenade your love.

•    Place a single red rose on his/her pillow.

•    Hug and kiss your Valentine.

About the Expert:
Paul A. Falzone has helped hundreds of singles find a sweetheart. The Right One and Together Dating and Singles Station affiliate comprise more than 300,000 members at over 50 locations throughout North America, as the largest brick and mortar dating services in the industry. For more information about Together Dating and The Right One, please visit online at www.togetherdating.com and www.therightone.com.

Valentine’s Day Date Ideas on a Shoestring Budget

With the unsteady economy and many people switching over to “save” mode, planning holidays like Valentine’s Day on a shoestring budget is probably a wise decision for many people. A romantic picnic is a great idea for a low budget Valentine's Day date. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)But just because you cut your spending back for Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t still have a special and romantic date together.

With a little creativity, you can discover countless romantic, exciting, and memorable ways to spend your Valentine’s Day with your significant other, even on a shoestring budget. Open your mind to the possibilities and you’ll probably be surprised with the great Valentine’s Day date ideas you find or create.

Whether you have a little bit of money to spend or nothing at all, don’t give up. You can still have a fabulous Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart. Consider these low budget date ideas – and free date ideas – for Valentine’s Day dates on a shoestring budget.

Stacy Francis, president of Francis Financial, Inc. and founder of Savvy Ladies® (a nonprofit group dedicated to empowering women through financial education) is well versed in money smarts and financial issues, and she doesn’t hesitate to share her tips with consumers.

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday of love – Valentine’s Day – Stacy Francis shares her favorite romantic date ideas on a shoestring budget below. These Valentine’s Day date ideas originally appeared in her article, “Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day without Breaking the Bank.”

Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day without Breaking the Bank
Stacy Francis shares these tips below for a low budget or a free Valentine’s Day date. Keep in mind, some of these Valentine’s Day Date ideas may depend on the weather and the climate where you live. If you live up north and it is cold outside, for example, you may not want to be outside for an extended period of time. Check out these budget friendly Valentine’s Day date ideas or come up with your own!

Free Valentine’s Day Date Ideas:
•    Pick wildflowers together.

•    Go for a bike ride, hike, or run together.

•    Browse in a bookstore together.

•    Read aloud to each other from a favorite novel, poem or short story.

•    Go to a playground and play on the swings.

Low Budget Valentine’s Day Date Ideas:
•    Eat a simple, nutritious dinner at home, and then go out for a truly decadent dessert.

A romantic picnic is a great idea for a low budget Valentine's Day date. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)•    Pack a picnic lunch and go to the park or the zoo.

•    Take a class together in something fun and creative: glass blowing, pottery, drawing, creative writing, or photography.

•    Attend a local high school or college sports game.

•    Take a road trip to a nearby town, or even another neighborhood in your own city. Stroll around, talk with locals, have a drink at a local café.

•    Attend a theater performance put on by your local college or community group.

•    Go to a flea market or garage sale.

•    Attend a local lecture on a subject of interest to both of you.

•    Send the kids out to someone else’s house and stay in and cook together.

•    Have a water balloon fight in the park.
About the Expert:
Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA is an expert in the financial field. She offers tips on money smarts and financial issues as a speaker and an expert resource. Learn more about Stacy Francis online at www.francisfinancial.com and www.savvyladies.org.

Valentine Gifts for the One You Love

With the most amorous holiday quickly approaching, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends begin the ultimate quest of the year: the search for the perfect gift. For some, it’s off to the mall. For others, shopping outlets, independent merchants and superstores like Wal-Mart, Target and the like. For still others – the lazier, or more time efficient, whichever way you look at it – the Internet plays a key role.

As you plan your shopping for your sweetheart this year, some careful thought and anticipation are necessary to ensure that you find an appropriate gift. Below are some suggestions for him and for her – consider them for a special treat or use your imagination and start searching the stores!

For Him: A holiday treat for the one who still gives you butterflies…
1. For the sports fanatic, get him a warm and cozy blanket of his favorite athletic team so the two of you can snuggle while you watch the game together. See, everybody wins.

2. Nothing says “Happy Tailgating” like a case of beer, snacks and a delicious dinner for two, all packed into a brand new thermal cooler. Do some research and you will find that some have both heating and cooling capacities so you can bring your meals along for longer road trips.

3. Make him a calendar to kick off the New Year with photos of the two of you throughout the year, or simply with photos of yourself that you know he will enjoy.

4. Pay attention to what he talks about on a daily basis – does he want something electronic? A new gadget for his car? A couple of new movies or CDs or video games? Start to think like a guy and you should have a much easier time finding the perfect gift!

5. Books, magazines and board games may also appeal to him if you know his particular tastes. Try to link his hobbies with the publications and print items you select.

For Her: A special gift for the one who never ceases to dazzle you…
1. A silk robe is a sexy yet sophisticated gift for a woman of any age. Adding a bottle of bubble bath or a bath-related gift set is a nice touch. To follow up with the theme, you can give her slippers and a book you know she’s had her eye on since last Valentine’s Day!

2. Scented candles, if she likes them for burning or decorative purposes, are a wonderful gift because of their diversity. Based on her tastes, candles are designed in a wide array of shapes, sizes and fragrances. Aromatherapy candles make nice gifts for someone who likes to relax while candles with a hurricane votive are great for those who share a love in interior decorating. Couple them with massage oil (that you intend to use for her aching muscles), pajamas or a snuggly stuffed animal and you should be in her good graces for months to come!

3. A bottle of wine and a nice set of wine glasses make for a classy gift while some chocolates or desserts will likely earn you extra favor. (Or save the chocolates as an escape hatch in case you need one…)

4. Anything handmade will really get her heart going. If you do wood crafts, make something special just for her. If you like art, paint or sketch something that you know she loves. If your talents are more within the realm of words and music, compose a song for her or write her a poem. Frame it or give it to her as a scroll, loosely tied and penned on parchment paper.

5. Take her to see a show, a concert or the orchestra, or for a romantic walk through one of the holiday locations. Many public gardens and some theme parks are decorated especially for the holidays, encouraging couples, families and friends to stroll through the winter wonderland.

6. Though we may try to hide it sometimes, most women adore jewelry. From earrings to necklaces to bracelets and rings, it is pretty hard to go wrong with a sparkly, as long as you have a general idea of her style and know whether your love prefers silver or gold. If you want to be different, get her a jewelry box for safekeeping. Just don’t be surprised if she expects you to fill it! (You can lovingly tell her that you’ll have a long time together in which to fill it.)

For Anyone:
1. Preserve the memories by putting together a nice photo album, scrapbook or collage. Include pictures from events long past that he or she might smile with surprise upon seeing. If you wish, include movie ticket stubs and sporting event stubs, or other memorabilia from dates you have shared.

2. If it realistically fits into your collective lifestyle, a puppy or kitten will melt their heart on even the chilliest winter’s eve. As a word of caution, do not attempt this gift if you are not 100% sure that your sweetheart would be completely thrilled with the pet and able to take care of it. (Keep their work schedule in mind as you make your decision.)

3. A brand new watch can instantly become a favorite new possession – as with the jewelry, keep in mind the preferred color of the metal and size, etc.

Expressing one’s love is far more important during the holidays than the gift beneath all the bows, ribbons and wrapping. The spirit of Christmas may be the spirit of giving, but giving does not always have to relate to money. Be sure to give of your time by visiting those who are most important to you – parents, grandparents and those you know who could use a shoulder to lean on if times are tough. It’s not the price tag but thoughtfulness and love that create the best gifts.

Sweet Nothings – Romantic Things to Say to Your Sweetheart in Foreign Languages

Whisper sweet nothings into your lover's ear for a romantic evening! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)Few things are more romantic than whispering sweet nothings in your lover’s ear, or having your sweetheart whisper sweet nothings in your ear. But when it all comes down to it, what kind of things can one say as sweet nothings?

For starters, you want to share intimate, sexy, or amorous thoughts and feelings with your sweetheart. Throw in the element of another language – especially one of the romance languages – and your sweet nothings will be hard to beat.

Mark Frobose, aka: the Language Guy, is the author and creator of Macmillan Audio’s entire ‘Behind the Wheel’ foreign language line, which offers Spanish, French, Italian, German, Arabic, Portuguese and more.  The ‘Behind the Wheel’ series compact disks feature an English speaker and a native speaker of the foreign language.

“You must know how to say
‘I love you’ in three languages.”

Ti amo (Italian)…….
……Je t’aime (French)
………Te quiero (Spanish)

“Languages are romantic,” Frobose says. “They are also perceived as being romantic by most Americans. The most popular languages of romance are French and Italian. Very sexy.”

Frobose himself speaks five languages fluently and actively encourages others to learn foreign languages as a guest language expert and through various media efforts as well as his free podcasts. This compact disk learning system could be especially beneficial for commuters – after all, if you’ve got to be stuck in the car, you might as well do something worthwhile and interesting with your time!

Frobose shares the following romantic sweet nothings in Italian, French, and Spanish:

TIP: Make sure you practice your romantic words and phrases that you plan to whisper before you actually plan to say these sweet nothings. Make sure you’ve got your pronunciation right, and consider brushing up on your accent and your speaking skills with a good CD course like Behind the Wheel (which does include this ‘good stuff’).

Love
Amour means “love” in French.
Amore means “love” in Italian.

Greetings
Ciao bella – “Hello beautiful.” (to a woman) Italian
Ciao bello – “Hello good looking.” (to a man) Italian

Romantic and Sexy Words and Phrases – Sweet Nothings to Whisper
Try whispering these sweet nothings to your lover in French, Italian, and Spanish for a new thrill on Valentine’s Day or any day. Arouse your sweetheart’s emotions and spend some quality time together whispering back and forth with romantic words and phrases you can say on a special night together.

Whisper sweet nothings in your sweetheart's ear for a romantic and seductive twist. (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)“Give me a little kiss.”
Fais-moi un bis-bis (fey mwah uh bee bee) – (French)

Dame un besito (thaw may oohn bay see toe) – (Spanish)

“Hug me.” / “Hug me a little more.”
Serre-moi (sayre mwah) – “Hug me.”  (French)

Stringimi un po’ di piu (steegeeme oohn poh dee peeooh) – “Hug me a little more” (Italian)

“I’m passionately mad about you / You turn me on”
Estou apaxionado por voce (ishto ahpayshonahdoh por voceh) – (Brazilian Portuguese Man to Woman)

Estou apaxionada por voce (ishto ahpayshonahdah por voceh) – (Brazilian Portuguese Woman to Man)

“How about making love?”
Si on faisait l’amour (see own fey zeh lah moor) – (French)

* * *

“The ability to speak a few words of love to one you love in more than one language heightens the senses and resembles a lovely soft and personal music which emanates from the mouth of your lover,” Frobose says.

Frobose shares this special, romantic Valentine’s Day Hint: “Spend time together huddled before a warm fire with wine and Brie and mutter sweet nothings to one another in French and Italian.”

“In closing…  You must know how to say ‘I love you’ in three languages in order to be a great hit with your lover.  Here they are…”

Je t’aime (French)
Ti amo (Italian)
Te quiero (Spanish)

About the Expert:
Mark Frobose, aka: The Language Guy, is author and founder of Macmillan Audio’s ‘Behind the Wheel’ foreign language series. His free podcasts and downloads are available at: www.macmillanaudio.com.

To Buy: You can buy the ‘Behind the Wheel’ series at Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores or online at http://us.macmillan.com/Audio.aspx or directly from www.macmillanaudio.com. You can also download from Audible or buy ‘Behind the Wheel’ at Amazon.com: Mark Frobose ‘Behind the Wheel’ Selection at Amazon.com.

Top Ten Fun and Exciting Winter Date Ideas for Couples

Winter brings with it an inherent desire to stay inside where it’s warm and toasty, to relax, eat, and sleep. But for many fun couples, this sedentary mentality would never last a month, let alone an entire winter season. When the weather is colder, when the nighttime comes sooner, when we feel less active and sleepier most of the time, we must break out of the mold and consider our options for fun and exciting winter date ideas.

Enjoy a winter wine tasting excursion! (photo courtesy of morguefile)Depending on your personal preferences and interests, you and your sweetheart may already have a long laundry list of date ideas you’ve always wanted to do. Even if you don’t have something in mind, finding a fun or exciting date idea to spice up your love life can be easy with a bit of research. And better yet, many of the winter date ideas below cost very little or nothing at all.

Consider these top ten fun and exciting winter date ideas for couples:

1. Go ice-skating, sledding, or snow tubing. This winter date idea works wonderfully as a double date or group date activity.

2. Plan a ski trip. From hot chocolate in the lodge in front of the fireplace to showing up your significant other on the slopes, this winter vacation getaway is great if you can spare the expense.

3. Attend an ice hockey game.Where you live may determine whether you are able to catch a professional ice hockey game or a college or high school ice hockey game. Either way, you’re sure to be in for a great time.

4. Stay at a Bed & Breakfast for a night or two. Nothing else spells romance quite like getting away from it all for a little while.

5. Visit a local winery or plan an entire wine tour. This event would work well either by yourselves or with your favorite couples. Don’t forget to secure a designated driver if you plan to indulge in more than a couple of glasses of wine. An even better idea – just enjoy a small sampling of a few varietals and bring home a few bottles of your favorite blends to enjoy in the privacy of your home.

Enjoy a winter wine tasting excursion! (photo courtesy of morguefile)

Make special desserts together during your date. (photo courtesy of Roswitha Schacht, morguefile) Put together a puzzle. (photo courtesy of morguefile)

6. Bake holiday cookies or special desserts together. Baking and cooking together can be tasty and even adventurous. Making a mess in the kitchen has never been this much fun!

7. Work on a jigsaw puzzle together. Even lazy and low key kinds of days can involve a simple winter date idea without even leaving the comforts of home. Grab some snacks or holiday cookies (see above) and enjoy a slow paced day.

8. Enjoy the traditional dinner and a movie. For some reason, this date idea never gets old during any season. Unless of course it is your only date idea. But let’s hope not! Enjoy the classics.

9. Take an art class together, such as pottery, ceramics, or glass blowing. Unleash your creative minds and see how much you can learn, experience, and enjoy together. These are just a few suggestions for art classes, but you can definitely add on more and more programs as you accomplish each.

10. Snuggle up in some blankets and watch a movie at home. There’s nothing wrong with spending some quality time in each other’s arms. Relax and enjoy.

Remember, while these are ten fun and exciting date ideas for you to consider this winter, this list is just a drop in the bucket of all the possible date ideas you could enjoy as a couple. When kicking around winter date ideas with your partner, discuss your favorite things, your interests, hobbies, and dreams. You’ll be sure to come up with even more enjoyable winter date ideas in no time!

How to Live Like a Romance Novel Heroine

Have you ever wanted to indulge in the finer things of life, embark on adventure after adventure, and find yourself in a romantic caper that works out for the absolute best in the end? Living like a romance novel heroine can seem like a fantasy and something out of a true fiction novel, but the truth is, every woman has the ability to live like a romance novel heroine.

Live like a romance novel heroine! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)To live like a romance novel heroine, you can immerse yourself in romance novel after romance novel, or, you can make up your mind to pick the most important factors and apply them to your life. Romance novel heroines seem to be showing off qualities and characteristics that would be easy enough for the modern woman to add to her own life. Read on for tips from best-selling author Loree Lough on how to live like a romance novel heroine.

 Q. – Life Love Beauty: What does it mean to Live Like a Romance Novel Heroine? Aren’t those just fictional female characters, perfectly created to live out a fantasy lifestyle that never happens for any of us in real life?

A. – Loree Lough: Living like a romance novel heroine is the direct result of being a strong, smart, savvy, self-possessed gal who’s proud of her hard-working nature and independent spirit.  Family, friends, neighbors and coworkers respect who you are and what you’ve accomplished, and the man in your life is at the top of that list. And those who don’t have you on their People to Admire list are few and far between.

Q. – Life Love Beauty: What are the top qualities most romance novel heroines possess?Romantic heroines have interesting hobbies! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)

A. – Loree Lough: Long, long ago, romance novel heroines were weak’n’whiny clinging vines who needed a man to feel complete. Their major accomplishment in life was that long walk down some white-carpeted center aisle, where they filled all their missing parts by linking arms with a guy in a tux. These days, no self-respecting publisher would print a book featuring a character like that…because readers of romantic fiction can’t stand weepy, needy, spineless females!

Q. – Life Love Beauty: What kind of talents and skills and interests do romance novel heroines typically have?

A. – Loree Lough: The heroines in today’s romance novels, whether the stories are set in contemporary times or some period in history, are tough-and-together gals who can take it on the chin, figuratively and literally. They’re survivors, not victims. They’re go-getters, not absorbers. They’re doers,  not watchers. That means they succeed at life and love. They’re doctors and lawyers, teachers and nurses, CEOs and entrepreneurs. They can mete out discipline without making excuses…but they’re just as likely to dole out hugs and kisses to those who need ’em.

Q. – Life Love Beauty: What kind of men do romance novel heroines tend to go for? Should we go for the same kind of men?

A. – Loree Lough: Because romance novel heroines are made of sturdy stuff, a namby-pamby guy just doesn’t appeal to them. These gals like guys who are at least as strong as they are, who’ll give ’em a run for their money, who won’t ‘cave’ and give her her way if frustration or fury drives her to tears. She can’t respect a guy who’ll do as he’s told, but she does admire a fella who’ll listen to reason, and even change his mind or behavior…for the right woman…or the right reasons. Gone are the days when all romance novel heroes are tall, dark, and broodingly handsome. You won’t find a bully or a brute among ’em, and when he makes love to a woman, it’s because she wants physical and emotional fulfillment as much as he does. These men don’t do anything half-way…so when they give their hearts, they do it in a big, bold way, so yeah, by all means, set your sights on guys like these!

Live a sexy life full of romance! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)Q. – Life Love Beauty: How can a married woman live like a romance novel heroine?

A. – Loree Lough: Personal experience (and the confessions of married girlfriends) asks married gals to think back to the days when they were busy, wooing the man of their dreams. They wore mascara and teased their hair. Took showers before every date and shaved above their kneecaps. They listened to their favorite guys at least as much as they talked. Their actions said “Babe, you hung the moon in my sky!”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: How can a single woman live like a romance novel heroine?

A. – Loree Lough: I see absolutely no difference between the single woman and the married woman…except that the unattached gal has a list of fellas to choose from…so she needs to figure out which guys are worth ‘going the extra mile’ for!

Q. – Life Love Beauty: Is it possible to live like a romance novel heroine when our lives are super busy?Dress up, spoil yourself once in a while, and live every day to the fullest! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)

A. – Loree Lough: Do you make time to get your hair cut, have your fingernails manicured, catch that amazing sale at Macy’s? Do you make time to watch your favorite shows on TV? Call your best friend to share a tid-bit of good news…or bad? I guess my point is…busy or not, we all make time for the things that are truly important in our lives. And what could be more important than the guy who’s gonna love you long after your hair’s gone white and ya can’t read a romance novel without magnifying lenses!

Q. – Life Love Beauty: What kind of dates would romance novel heroines most enjoy?

A. – Loree Lough: Romance novel heroines are appropriately grateful when rich handsome dudes usher ’em onto private jets, and wings ’em off to exotic locales. But they’re just as happy when their Prince Charmings stumble around the kitchen, putting together a barely edible meal. They’re adorable in aprons, endearing when they burn their fingers, taking overcooked casseroles from the oven, and downright handsome when they pour wine and say “Keep me company while I do the dishes.”

Wear some makeup, pucker up, and spice up your love life! (Photo courtesy of Krystle, morgueFile)Q. – Life Love Beauty: What kind of flirting or seduction techniques do romance novel heroines employ?

A. – Loree Lough: rong> Romance novel heroines are not manipulators! They’re smart, savvy women, remember…so they don’t need to resort to strategies such as deliberate flirtation or seduction. These capable gals can wheel and deal with the best of men…and they know how to do it without emasculating them. So any seduction that results from their flirting comes from the heart, and the reward is fulfillment and satisfaction that covers all the ‘bases’!

Q. – Life Love Beauty: Anything else you would like to add?

A. – Loree Lough: To the rare gal who believes romance novels are trashy, time-wasting, exploitive tomes, I’ve gotta point out some important statistics: Romance novels (which include sub-genres like thrillers, action-adventures, suspense, mystery, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and inspirational) are history-making in that they are the all-time top sellers of the publishing industry. Yep…that’s right…of all paperback fiction published every year, romance novels top the charts.

Don’t take my word for it. Visit www.rwanational.com to see for yourself how it out-sells all other paperback fiction! That tells me (and publishing big whigs) there’s big money to be made from this slice of the industry pie, because it’s rock-solid evidence that more than half of all fiction fans love romance better than all the other stuff available!

About the Expert:
Loree Lough is a best-selling author who has written countless works of fiction and nonfiction, won a number of awards, and even taught writing –related courses. She is also a very upbeat, friendly person with a knack for gripping and inspiring love stories, among others, and is an avid wolf enthusiast. Read more about Loree Lough at www.loreelough.com.

Tips on Planning Your Second Wedding

Planning a second wedding can be just as stressful as planning a first wedding. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. From cutting costs to selecting vendors to finalizing all the teeny tiny little details, you can still have a fabulous wedding without all the stress and hassles you went through the first time around. Just keep these tips on planning your second wedding in mind, and consider getting a wedding planner involved if you’d like.

Certified Wedding & Events Planner Trina Myers, of Baltimore, Maryland, has been in the planning business for quite some time. She’s also a soon-to-be second time bride herself. Myers offers the following suggestions to planning your own second wedding, and tips that would help just about any bride.

Q. – What are your thoughts on your own upcoming wedding and how you’d imagine it?

A. Trina Myers – “I have been a planner for so long, that I don’t know how to be a bride, believe it or not. Our final plans, although very romantic and elaborate, are very different from the initial construction. After I called anyone that would listen to tells them the story of my proposal and to describe my ring, I gathered tons of magazines from my office and tons more from the store racks. I imagined and began to plan a very spiritual, romantic, tear-dropping ceremony on the Chesapeake Bay here in Maryland. With a bridal attendants in long, sleek gowns and carrying parasols down a very decorative aisle. Follow by a trendy cocktail reception in a draped tent, with lots of friends, family, food and fun.

Taking the advice that I so often find myself giving to my clients and recommend that everyone planning an event, wedding or otherwise follow; we set a realistic budget and began to make a list of NEEDS vs. WANTS. We also examined our future goals as a couple: purchasing a new home (the same year as the wedding), expanding our family to accommodate a new little one, and most important, having our day as ‘stress-free’ as possible. We did not want the distractions of guests lists, bridal party fittings and all of those individual facets that come together to make a wedding event complete. Our honeymoon was just as important to us. Not wanting to compromise location, comfort, or the length of time that we planned to be away, we began to chip away at the wants.

In the end, it became more of a show for our guests and not the intimate setting that we desired. The planner in me would not have allowed the bride in me to enjoy this, as a BRIDE. We came to the conclusion that I only want to focus on each other, so we decide to take our nuptials to an island; collectively choosing five locations, from Aruba to the British Virgin Islands. We made our final selection based on a number of factors. Still being a planner and an event designer, I won’t give up my décor. I have designed my backdrop based on the logistics of the island and have shared them with the planner that we’ve hired. Although we have altered our location and guest count, my choice of décor is a must have.
I’m relaxed and confident that my location designer will implement my design and that leaves me free to get my hair and makeup done – not a bad deal.

Q – What types of weddings (day vs. night, destination, cocktail and appetizer vs. buffet vs. sit-down, etc.) work well for second weddings?

A. Trina Myers – “Just as retail has its holiday season, weddings have a peak season also. The months of June – September are considered ‘Peak Wedding Season’, though the months of May and October can now join the list. So the time of year that you plan to host your event has a huge overtaking of your wedding events.”

•    “Saturday is the most expensive day of the week to get married, even during off-peak wedding season. Some vendors charge even more for a Saturday evening; I suggest a Friday evening, if you desire a more romantic, adult friendly celebration. A Sunday brunch is also a good way to keep a cap on your budget and allow the younger guests to attend. If using correspondences such as Save-The-Dates or wedding newsletters, that should give guests enough notice of your wedding date. But if travel plans for out of town guests are not accommodating and a Saturday is must, then I would recommend a morning ceremony followed by an afternoon reception.”

•    “Sit down dinners and huge buffets are being replaced by cocktail receptions, with specialty food stations, such as Sushi & Pasta stations; heavy hors d’ oeuvres and colorful drinks in swanky glasses.”

•    “Destination nuptials are my favorite and not just because I’m having one. I love transforming a ballroom or tent into a wonderland through the use of fabrics and signature colors, but traveling to a place that is considered paradise, in one form or another, provides a natural backdrop that the average venue cannot provide. Reciting vows, as the ocean plays its own melody in the background; taking in the color palette that nature has provided… for no additional charge and having your guests sample authentic cuisine, will leave your guests talking for years to come.”

Q – Do you have any idea of cost (range) for second weddings vs. the first time? We would love to know how much brides should expect to spend the second time.

A. Trina Myers – Cost is pretty much up to the couple. If you are working with a budget of up to $10,000, I would not suggest having a guest count of 175, a bridal party of 20 and a buffet with open bar. Your reception costs account for about 70% of your cost. When you have an open reception, you are basically taking the amount of people present out to dinner with drinks.

Q – How can a wedding planner make a second wedding less stressful and more successful?

A. Trina Myers – A wedding professional is part of your budget, not an extra expense, as many believe. A consultant plays an essential part in your planning, helping to avoid those costly mistakes, negotiating with the vendors on the couple’s behalf to get you the best contract. As a bride and groom you should be as relaxed as possible and focused on each other, not worried about will your Aunt from London have a seat or will the flowers match the tablecloths. You’ve hired a planner, so let them worry for you.

•    No one can successfully be a bride and a coordinator on their wedding day. If, for financial reason, you’ve decided to plan your wedding yourself, hand over all the details to an experienced coordinator, so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day. In addition to ensuring that your event begins on time, a coordinator can provide directions to a lost photographer, find seats for those five relatives, who did not RSVP, repair a bridesmaid’s seam, calm a nervous flower girl, and much more.

Q – Do you see any trends in gowns / attire for second weddings?

A. Trina Myers – Colors, colors and more colors; bridal shops can’t keep colored wedding gowns in stock. Brides are forgoing the traditional white or ivory and are making bold statements as they walk the aisle.

Q – Do you think second weddings should be more intimate vs. grand scale? Why or why not?

A. Trina Myers – I think your wedding day – first or second wedding – should be a day designed with nuptials in mind. Too many couples get caught in the grand scheme of things and they forget what this day is really about. My motto that I live by is: ‘The wedding does not make the marriage’. Once the last plate is cleared and the last gift has been opened, the real work begins. If you want and afford
to have a fairy tale wedding with all the trimmings, as a bride-to be and a professional planner, I say, ‘Go For It!’. Just remember, after it’s all said and done, the road to a happy and successful marriage will not be paved by your fairy tale nuptials; you must create your own Happily Ever After.

About the Expert:

Chief Consultant Trina Myers is a bride-to-be herself, and owner of Affairs Remembered, LLC. Visit Affairs Remembered on the Web at http://affairsremembered.com.

An Exclusive Interview with Author Irene Brand – Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska

The Love Finds You™ series by Summerside Press delivers a healthy helping of the flavor of local life across the United States. The novels feature unique but authentic American towns with unusual yet captivating names that inspire romance and fun. Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska, by Irene Brand (Available at Amazon.com!)Each Summerside Press fictional story is a romantic and inspirational tale that draws on the gripping history or the distinctive charm of a real place in the United States.

Author Irene Brand sits down for an exclusive interview with Life Love Beauty, where she shares the scoop about her latest inspirational romance novel, “Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska,” as well as sharing pieces of her own life with us. Read on for details, an excerpt, and tips for your own fabulous love life.

Q – Life Love Beauty: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you enjoy most about this kind of writing?

A – Irene Brand: I’m a native of West Virginia and have lived in the same community all of my life.  Although we’ve visited all of the 50 states and traveled in 35 foreign countries, there’s no place like home. The longest I’ve ever been away from West Virginia is three weeks. I’ve been married for more than 50 years to my husband, Rod.  We have no children. I was a public school teacher for 23 years – teaching History and other Social Studies subjects to ninth graders. I retired in 1989 to devote more time to my writing.

I’m very active in my local Baptist church where I’ve been a member since I was eleven-years-old.  I’ve taught Sunday School classes since I was sixteen. I currently teach a class of young adults. I’m active in the musical program of the church and I serve as the church treasurer.

I’ve been publishing inspirational romances since 1984 and have a total of 45 published books to my credit.  Most of these are fiction books.

With my church responsibilities and writing, I don’t have much free time for hobbies at the present. We live in a rural area and we walk a couple of miles several days each week, depending on weather conditions.

Q – Life Love Beauty: Do you write from a completely creative standpoint, or do you weave in bits of truth or experience from your own life?

A – Irene Brand: I never write about my personal life. In other words, I’m never a character in the book nor do I pattern my characters after “real” people. However, I believe that all of an author’s work is a composite of what the author has read, listened to, participated in or seen during his/her lifetime. My plots are original and all of my characters are fictitious, but I endow them with characteristics that I’ve observed in people. I do, however, write about real places and historical events and use historical characters in my books.

Q – Life Love Beauty: What are the underlying themes in your book, Love Finds You in VALENTINE, NEBRASKA?

A – Irene Brand: Love is great enough to overcome any or every obstacle that would keep the hero and heroine from finding true happiness.

Before people can receive God’s forgiveness, they must forgive themselves.

Q – Life Love Beauty: Can you tell us anything about your characters? Who can identify with them?  

A – Irene Brand: One of the main characters is a dog named Wilson. He’s important enough to be pictured on the cover of the book. Wilson will steal the heart of every dog lover who reads the book.

The heroine, Kennedy Blaine, is an only child and is mourning the death of her father when the book opens. Among her inheritance is the Circle Cross Ranch near Valentine, Nebraska, which had belonged to the Blaine family over a century. Kennedy had never visited her ancestral home because of a long-running feud between the Blaines and her maternal family, the Morgans. But when she has an offer to sell the ranch, Kennedy decides to check out her Nebraska property before she settles the estate.  Kennedy has many relatives in the area, most of whom she’s never seen, including her maternal grandfather, Gabriel Morgan.

When Kennedy arrives at the Circle Cross Ranch, she meets the manager, Derek Sterling, and an immediate attraction builds been Kennedy and Derek. Up until this time, Kennedy had never encountered anything she couldn’t buy if she wanted it. Now she meets Derek, an adopted kid, who comes from an unknown background. He’s already made up his mind that he won’t marry and perhaps hand on a tainted heritage to his progeny. In spite of the fact that he loves Kennedy and believes that she loves him, he never lets her forget the wide chasm that keeps them apart. His background doesn’t matter to Kennedy, but she has little hope of changing his mind. Besides, Derek has a secret past when he was involved in questionable activities as a youth. He hasn’t forgiven himself and he doubts that God has forgiven him. He doesn’t want Kennedy to know about the past.

 (b)  Most any adult who has loved the wrong person (or who seems to be the wrong person) can understand the trauma between the two protagonists. The numerous people who are adoptive parents or those who’ve been adopted should be able to identify with Derek’s fears and concerns. Anyone who has a secret in his/her past that they fear will become known and ruin the relationship they have with others could empathize with Derek.

Those who have strayed from the biblical teachings of their parents and gone their own way only to find that God is able and willing to forgive regardless of what they’ve done.

Get your own copy of “Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska” by Irene Brand at Amazon.com.

Q – Life Love Beauty: Have you ever visited Valentine, Nebraska? Either way, can you tell us a bit about its charms or challenges?

A – Irene Brand: My husband is a native of Nebraska, and we’ve averaged at least one yearly visit to the state during our married years. We’ve been in Valentine a few times – once we went with a large family group to a trout farm in the Sandhills of Nebraska near Valentine. We caught our “dinner” in the local lake and the trout were prepared by a local restaurant and served to us in style.

Our most memorable visit occurred in April of this year while I was making final edits on my book, LOVE FINDS YOU in VALENTINE, Nebraska. Our Nebraska sister-in-law died and we went to the funeral. When we made flight plans we arranged two extra days to drive to Valentine and do some last minute research – mostly to confirm things I’d already written about. There were blizzard warnings, but we continued with our plans. We did have a fruitful afternoon and evening the first day. We went to Young’s Western Wear shop where I gleaned some information. We ate in a restaurant where I subsequently took my characters. We visited the newspaper office and went to evening services at one of the local churches.

The blizzard struck the next morning. We had 250 miles to drive to catch our plane for home the next day, so we decided to leave before the storm worsened. We drove about 20 miles and the roads were so treacherous we turned around a
nd returned to Valentine. We spent that whole day and night in the Holiday Inn. Fortunately our rental vehicle was a sturdy van with 4-wheel-drive. The next morning, we started out early and the weather was horrendous. For the first several hours, we encountered blowing snow, slick roads, and white-outs where we couldn’t see the road. Only by the grace of God did we arrive at the airport eight hours after we started from Valentine. That probably ranks high as one of the longest day of my life. And BTW, I didn’t have a blizzard in my book.

But don’t let our experience deter anyone from visiting Valentine. It’s a Paradise vacation spot. The town of 1200 residents has an Old-West flavor to it. The people are friendly. Accommodations are great. One of the interesting points is that red valentines are painted all along the sidewalks on Main Street. The Niobrara River offers canoeing, tubing and kayaking, Merritt Reservoir located 28 miles south of Valetine is a mecca for fishermen or hunters. Valentine is the county seat of Cherry County, located in the Sandhills of Nebraska, which is one of the best rangelands in the country. Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge is nearby. Historians will enjoy the Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park, which offers an opportunity to see early ranching methods

Keep Reading: Q – Life Love Beauty: Do you have any tips for readers and their own love lives…?

To Cut or Not to Cut: Planning the Costs of Your Second Wedding or Mature Wedding

We have all heard how the expenses of planning a wedding can really add up. Whether we’ve experienced it ourselves or watched a friend or family member go through it, trying to stick to a budget for your wedding can be an extremely difficult task. Is the wedding cake of your dreams worth the cost?The good news is that saving money is possible for second weddings or even for mature first weddings. Some costs are much easier to cut than others, and we’ll share the scoop.

“Gone are the days when second wedding meant: Justice of the Peace, in a skirt and blouse, followed by a cake & punch party,” said Trina Myers, chief event consultant and owner of Affairs Remembered, LLC. “Many couples are spending more on their second walk down the aisle than the first. Brides who were unable to obtain that flair and over the top design the first go round are making major sacrifices to ensure that they have it for this trip down the aisle.”

Consider the Costs and the Consequences of Cutting the Wrong Ones
When it comes to budgeting for your second wedding or mature wedding, try to weigh the costs of various elements against the desired outcome and the worst case scenario if something goes wrong or isn’t quite what you wanted. Consider the cost of each part of the wedding and try to justify if the expense is worth it.

Don't skimp on your photographer!One very important element of your second wedding or mature wedding is the photography. You needn’t spend a fortune, but it’s a good idea to book a professional photographer who’s been training in the art of capturing all the special moments – and emotions – of a wedding. As a special events planner for many years, Trina Myers recommends never skimping on the photographer. Even if you can get a great deal or free wedding photography from a friend or relative, it’s still much safer to leave the documentation of your day to a professional.

“When the rose petals are all swept away and the tuxes have been returned to the formalwear shop, your pictures are one of the only practical items that you can use to walk down memory lane and review things as they happened,” Myers said. “We all would want to remember every little tidbit about our day; however, as the years roll by and other things happen, such as the birth of a child, we tend to forget the little things. Pictures are a wonderful way to relive those memories all over again.”

If you decide to book the professional photographer, you might consider cutting back on the videographer, unless your photographer offers video services as well. You can spare the expense of the professional videographer in several ways:
•    Cut the cost altogether, knowing you may only watch the video once or twice.
•    Ask a talented friend or family member to shoot the video of your wedding instead of a pro.
•    Search for film students or recent graduates from film school who might be willing to accept a smaller payment while they build their portfolio.

Cutting back on the reception costs is another way to have an amazing second wedding or mature wedding without completely breaking the bank. The first place at your reception to consider cutting back is your alcohol tab.

“Having an open bar is also a luxury expense,” Myers said. “You can certainly have a nice reception, serving only wine and / or a signature drink.”

Is the wedding cake of your dreams worth the cost?The cost of the wedding cake is another consideration for cutting costs on second weddings or mature weddings. A frosting-covered, towering five-tier wedding cake may seem amazing as you envision it in your mind, but it may not be completely necessary in all its glory. Myers recommends opting for a smaller version of your dream cake, or using a false cake or a cake with false tiers and a sheet cake to serve to your guests.

“Once the initial cut is made, the cake is often whisked away to the kitchen to be cut up,” she noted. “The guests have no idea that they are not eating from the same cake that made everyone say ‘Ooh, Ah’ when they walked into the reception room.”

When you are planning your second wedding or mature wedding, cutting a few wedding costs will help you to spend more money on your honeymoon, your home, and your new family together. Remember to weigh out all your options and choose those items that are not critical to your happiness on your wedding day. Keep constant watch on your budget as you plan your second wedding or mature wedding so that you are always in a good position financially. Most importantly, congratulations and best wishes!

About the Expert:
Chief Consultant Trina Myers is a bride-to-be herself, and owner of Affairs Remembered, LLC. Visit Affairs Remembered on the Web at http://affairsremembered.com.