Cheryl St.John: Love is in the air!

valentine-chocolateMy favorite holiday is fast approaching! I’ve been seeing the cards and candies, the red and white hearts and pink flowers since the day after Christmas, and I’m sure you have too. Yes, the commercialism is a bit much, but I still love Valentine’s Day. I love boxes of chocolates, sparkling jewelry and red roses, so shoot me. I’m a hopeless romantic.

And let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day is all about the right gift!


There are three kinds of men when it comes to gifts:
* the men who know exactly what to select
* the men who don’t have a clue and don’t know that they don’t have a clue
* the men who don’t have a clue and don’t CARE that they don’t have a clue

So how did those special few excellent gift-givers get that way? Do they possess a gene the rest of the male population is missing? A really good instruction book I don’t know about? Here’s the problem: Letting the guy know what to get you without making it obvious that you’re hinting. Just telling him outright takes away the romance, does it not?

valentine-vintageMaybe we’re too subtle. Or demanding. We want them to know exactly what we want without us having to say a word.

If he knows me, if he really loves me, then he’s in tune and knows what pleases me.

Am I wrong here? So I drop hints. I leave catalogs around. I make lists. I mention stuff. I point out things I’d like. If the big day comes around and he says he didn’t know what I wanted, is it time to hit him over the head?

He should KNOW what kind of woman I am. Perfume or allergies. Chocolate or diet phobic. Real flowers or silk. If he pays attention, he knows this stuff, right?

And here’s a real biggie. I want to receive a gift that’s something *I* would like, not something he wants me to have. If I’m a flannel jammies gal and he gives me a revealing Victoria’s Secret number, I know he has a motive. And his motive wasn’t pleasing ME. Worse–what if that gift makes me think I wasn’t sexy enough for him in my T-shirt and lounge pants? See what I mean? He could get himself in real hot water here. On the other hand, what if I am a sexy lingerie gal, so I love that kind of stuff? I’m probably not a perfect size, so do I want him to know my size? Will I be insulted if they’re too big? Crushed if they’re too small? No wonder guys find gift-giving so complicated.

valentine-cowboyWhat about a gift card so that I can buy whatever I want? Does that show his lack of interest? What about a certificate to a spa? Would I think he thinks I look haggard and need a day of pampering, or will I just accept it at face value and know he wants to pamper me? So many questions. So little time left. Do you feel the urgency?

Are there any gifts sure to please? Anything fail safe?

I guess for me it’s the thoughtfulness of the gift I appreciate. I want something that says he was thinking only of me. Jewelry always says it. Chocolate is a pleaser, too.

And no cords, please! Okay, that’s just unromantic. 99% of items with cords involve work. “I love you more than life, baby–and now here’s your new toaster.” See what I mean?

Love is in the air….

…and nothing says love like something from the kitchen, right?

Here’s something you can make for him!

Every year my Valentine’s Day cookies are a huge hit. The kids all know I’m going to make batches for them, and these are their favorites. I often have enough to take a tray to a booksigning. They freeze really well.

heart-cookieMany years ago I got the recipe from my husband’s grandmother who called them Aunt Myra’s Cookies. Since none of us know who Aunt Myra was, we call them Grandma Violet’s Cookies. I’m sure that one day they’ll be known as Bama’s Cookies. (I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but my grandchildren all call me Bama. It started with #1 and never changed. Sometimes I’m The Bomb. Perhaps I never mentioned grandchiildren before either. It gives me a whole wrong image, doesn’t it? Forget I said anything.)


Make sure your soda and spices are fresh. I always sift my flour before adding.


Cream together:
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, lard or margarine

add 1 cup molasses
2 egg yolks (save the whites for frosting)
1 tsp soda dissolved in 2/3 cup boiling water
flour for stiff batter: about 5 cups

Mix and chill dough for several hours.
Roll out thin and cut with cookier cutter. Grandma claimed that the rectangles cut from a Spam can made for less re-rolling of the dough. I use heart shapes, of course.

Bake in 375 degree oven about 5 minutes.
Watch closely because they will burn easily.
Frost when cool.

1 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water, boiled together to soft-ball stage
Pour slowly over beaten egg whites and beat until stiff
Add a pinch of soda and 1 tsp vanilla
Add 3 – 4 marshmallows after adding the syrup

The frosting sets up firm and shiny and so pretty!

What would please you this Valentine’s Day?

What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you ever received?  

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32 thoughts on “Cheryl St.John: Love is in the air!”

  1. The cookies sound yummy Cheryl. Sounds like love is in the air at your house.

    The best Valentine gift I ever got was this piece of advice, which I’ll pass on. If you’re flying solo, as I am, don’t grump about the day. Be your own valentine and do something lovely for yourself.

  2. I remember the year my husband got me blue silk thermal underwear.

    Now, let me defend the poor man for a second. 🙂
    I’m a cold person…okay that sounds wrong…I mean at night….no, ignore that, I mean in bed….no, no stop that…I mean cold like

    this is exhausting….

    cold like FEET. I wear slipper socks like they were air and water. I need them to survive because my feet are just cold all the time.

    If I don’t have my slipper socks on at night I cannot get to sleep, the coldness in my toes-ies is just awful. So I wear warm pajamas and slipper socks and sometimes leggings. And I will add this, we were both raised by parents who remembered the depression. Nebraska farm parents, a conservative bunch.

    So we’ve been taught to turn lights off when we leave a room, keep the door shut when the air conditioning is running and


    My husband has perhaps learned this lesson better than I. So we keep the house cool (okay cold, freezing stinking cold) and my feet suffer.

    So, one year he bought me thermal underwear. It was actually pretty sweet. He knows I get cold. How could he NOT know? He has brand marks on his legs from where I’ve attempted to warm my feet.

    Silk thermal underwear because he is an outdoor guy and he knows silk is the good stuff, the really warm stuff, WAAAAAAAAAY better than cotton, which is nicknamed in cold weather gear communities….the DEATH fabric.

    I tried on the silk underwear (that sounds so much better if I leave the word THERMAL off) while he wasn’t around and it was too tight, wearable but barely. I stood in front of the mirror, looking for all the world like a bright blue natural casing weiner.

    I never wore it. I just couldn’t. It hurt his feelings too.

    I’m sorry.

    Just call me Mary ‘Oscar Meyer’ Connealy.

  3. I’ll add another note here, because I live to write…….

    Every year (we live in a really small town, keep that in mind) the local grocery store, run by a lady named Karma that I just love…a shirt tail relative and very funny….gets flowers for the men I would call LOSERS in my hometown. The men who, sure, wanta get their wives a Valentine, but they don’t actually want to THINK about it. PLAN for it. Go SHOPPING for it.

    So, Karma has this list of men…my husband among them…that she brings in flowers for. This is a TINY grocery store, no tidy florist department, trust me.

    She personally drives somewhere, picks up the flowers for the afore mentioned loser husbands and brings them back to her store on Valentines Day, then PHONES the husbands and says some version of, “Get your butt in here and pick up these flowers.” (My husband one year actually phone me at work and asked me to swung by and grab them for him)


    So, God bless her, Karma gets me a Valentine every year…usually three red roses. I’ve heard my husband is one of the big spenders. Lots of the guys only will spring for ONE.

    I’ll add here that these men are a cut about the REAL loser husbands who don’t get their wives anything. So, I’ve learned to love those flowers. Even if I have to pick them up myself and you know, I think he’d get me a dozen except that gets hard for Karma to carry. So in a way he’s giving Karma a Valentine’s Day present, too.

  4. YES, wonderful advice, Elizabeth! My other single friends don’t agonize over the holiday either! We exchange cards and sweet little gifts.

    Mary, I think silk thermal underwear is an incredibly thoughtful gift – because he was thinking of YOU! Bummer it didn’t fit. 🙁

    If you’re feet aren’t warm, it’s difficult to fall asleep–it’s a fact. If I’m too too cold, I plug in the heating pad and put it under my feet so I can fall asleep! LOL It shuts off automatically.

    I have a hard time falling asleep with socks on, but my daughter Kristin wears socks and a SWEATSHIRT to bed when it’s too cold!

  5. Mary, has anyone ever done anything thoughtful for Karma? This lady deserves something for doing her part to keep romance alive in small town Nebraska!

    How about you privately send her address to the Fillies and we’ll each send her a Valentine?

    There’s a story in there, somewhere….

  6. The best Valentine’s gift I ever received was a poem written by my husband. It wasn’t that it was all that good. In fact, it was goofy and didn’t rhyme very well. But knowing how hard he worked and how much effort it took, the poem tugged at my heart. I was deeply touched by the sentiment in a way that a box of candy or a dozen red roses wouldn’t have. And now that he’s gone, the poem is even more cherished. It’s a lasting reminder of his love for me. Makes me warm all over to get it out and read it again.

    Your Valentine cookies sure makes my mouth water! Yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  7. Best gift: My husband gave me a tiny little composition book with reasons he loves me on every page. Sample: I love you because we laugh at things no one else gets.

    Mary: I love the slipper socks! I am also an addict. But I can’t sleep with anything on my feet, so I climb into bed and kick them off. Then my husband gathers them into a little pile and shoves them out the side. He says this annoys him, but he also says he misses my abandoned socks when he’s on the road.

    If you don’t have a feather comforter, buy one now. It’s on my top ten lists of the greatest things that have ever happened to me!

    It’s impossible to get what I want from my husband. He is TOTALLY immune to hints. He’s also stubborn. If I TELL him what I want he digs in his heels. I’ve learned to enjoy whatever he thinks I need. He usually does great 🙂 usually.

    Second best gift, he supports my writing. When I went to a retreat, he sent me flowers to show how proud he was of me.

  8. Cheryl hubby always buys me wonderful gifts and if he thinks I even look at something he will buy it for me as a surprise and if I get upset because he spent to much money and tell him to take it back he will be really mad… So I have learned to love everything he buys. I did get something early for Valentines Day and it has a plug but it is a good thing it is a cricut machine (people not knowing what that is it is a scrap booking machine) that is the only thing I would want with a plug.

  9. P.S. oh yeah I think I have had one of those cookies if I remember I think you brought them to one of your signing wished you had one coming up soon. Hint

  10. Hi Cheryl – fun post today. I have a great hubby, a real dreamboat, but at times men do really need a clunk on the head. We usually don’t do gifts anymore, but we like to do things like dinner or concerts. My friend is directing a muscial, sort of a small theatre in Hollywood and I love small theatre and I love musicals. This guy wins awards with his directing and stage production. I asked dh if we could go there on Valentine’s Day (it’s opening day for the play) He said no, he doesn’t like plays. But then he offered to take me to a museum dinner costing $145.00 for Valentine’s Day. I said no way, too expensive … the play was less than one quarter of that price and I would have enjoyed it.

    But we are going to see Brooks and Dunn and I love them, the following weekend and we decided that we’ll say that’s our gift to each other.
    Men! I just don’t get them at times. But I do appreciate my hubby. He’s written poems, made me wonderful videos and is there always when I need him.
    BTW – I’m going to the play with a girlfriend, just not on V Day. 🙂

  11. Hi Cheryl,
    I can’t wait to make the heart cookies with my two-year old grandson! Yum.

    Hubby (I never can call him Dh because my last headmaster was a horrible man we called DH for –sorry about this…edit if needed– DickHeadmaster] is pretty romantic but I usually leave giant hints. This year we decided on the Brooks and Dunn concert (see above LOL) because his last three Valentine’s Days were pretty horrible–knee surgery 06, colonoscopy 07, chemotherapy 08. Praise God, my guy is totally well now!

    I still like to give our grown kids Valentines. These days it’s usually a Starbucks gift card.

    Ps. The Bomb is a HUGE compliment, Cheryl. For two years, hubby supervised a fire crew in the Malibu mountains and all over California consisting of fourteen female felons! How about that for alliteration? When he left for the regular fire station, they all wrote him a letter calling him The Bomb. They loved him, for good reason. He’s a gem. 🙂

    Goodness, how I blathered on today. Sorry.

  12. Sherri, your hubby is a definite keeper! Thoughtful, good with the kids! writes poems and know computers – wowza! The flowers were such a thoughtful gift – I’m sure everyone there was envious.

    Aren’t you allergic to feathers?????

    Brenda, you have a great guy! I mean he built you a master bedroom getaway besides all that other stuff! And yes, there are a few gifts with cords that are welcomed!! I didn’t know you are a scrapbooker.

  13. Charlene, there are some things my husband doesn’t like too, and he’s glad for me to do them with my girlfriends.

    For years he said he didn’t like Chinese food and always told me to go with the girls–and I did! But then a while back we went with friends after church and he loved the place that just happens to be my favorite. Now he likes Chinese!

    I enjoy small theater and musicals, too; I just never keep up with what’s playing.

  14. Hi Cheryl! The cookies sound yummy! I had to laugh at all the different scenarios for guys trying to buy a gift…the best gift I like is when he makes me dinner.

  15. Tanya, we love it when you are chatty! I am laughing over the mean DH and we have all probably called *someone* that name. LOL

    I’m excited to hear you’re going to make the cookies. It’s a fun dough to work with – I’ve refridgerated half and it does well, too.

    I love to give Valentines!

  16. Dinner would be an awesome gift, Kate! One anniversary when our kids were small, my husband arranged for them to go to my mom’s for the evening. The he bought and grilled steaks and served me dinner on the patio. It was so kind and thoughtful and I’ve never forgotten it.

  17. Hey, Cheryl, I bet you could come up with a lovely story based on a Karma-like character. That really is a sweet story about one woman working to keep romance alive in her town! You could turn it into a western historical.

    My husband and I had our first date on Valentine’s Day 33 years ago! We met on Feb. 11. He already had a date for Feb. 14, but he broke it so he could go out with me. He told the poor girl he had to go out of town!

  18. Karma-lady is definitely a character! I can’t wait to see her pop up in a story.

    If I was allergic to feathers, I would take Benedryl everynite. The down comforter is that wonderful. Luckily, I’m not 🙂

    That is one thing my man could never do – cook. Not even grill. When we were first married I had him grill for a party. I thought all men grilled. Nope.

    I understand your aversion to ‘DH’ Tanya! Great story.

    I do some work with Opera Omaha and my hubby HATES opera. He did sit through a performance because I was in it (operas do have non singing parts on occasion). He only complained a little 🙂

    The things we do for love…

  19. I find Mary’s benefactor’s name to be interesting. Karma. She’s defintely helping the karma for those guys!

    Even when I was involved, I don’t remember valentine’s day ever being real whoopie. But the ex was good at giving prezzies–he liked jewelry even more than me. Yeah, sometimes that was right–he did like jewelry more. 😛

    This year my most important valentine is going to my grampa–who is 101 1/2. I always try to find a ‘kid’ type card for him. Those usually say what I’m feeling without getting too mushy. And the print’s bigger so he can see it better. 🙂

    And I usually get some valentines from the kids at school. Those are the best!

  20. I will tell you about my favorite Valentine from my husband.

    One year, we had three of our four daughters at the time, very young, the baby was in a carrier still…He brought me a bouquet and a single rose for each of the girls. It was very sweet.

    The only bad thing was, the girls were being baby-sat for the day by a neighbor, and my husband bought a rose for the baby sitter, too. He picked up the girls and thanked the lady and gave her that single rose.

    The reason that was bad???? Her husband didn’t get her anything. So she got her nicest Valentine from the neighbor…NOT a good situation.

    Her husband heard about that for YEARS. 🙂 He was NOT thankful for my husband’s thoughtfulness.

    But those flowers, he just kept handing them out to each of the girls, very, very sweet.

  21. And I am totally getting Karma a Valentine this year. That is such a great idea. I’m ashamed of myself for not thinking of it. She’s had a tough year. Her house burnt down last summer.

  22. Cheryl, what a wonderful memory to have had a first date on Valentine’s Day! Sounds as though it all worked out. 🙂

    Yikes on the neighbor lady, Mary. Your husband was very thoughtful to get her a rose!

    Don’t forget to send us Karma’s address.

  23. The cookie recipe sounds nice. May have to try it. loved the cake picture on your home site. I was there at first.

    What would I like for Valentine’s day? Anything is fine just to show he thought of me. I think in the 23 years we’ve been married I can count on one hand the times he’s gotten me something on V.Day. It’s just not my hubby. I try to get him a little something just because.

  24. Cheryl, I loved all the flowers, candy, jewelry,
    and varied gifts which I received over the years.
    (Can you hear the “but”!) BUT the gift Honey and I
    gave each other on the first Valentine’s Day after
    we were married is still the best ever. Our first
    child was born at 3:22 AM on February 14, 1961!

    Pat Cochran

  25. Lyn, if I have extras, they’re all yours.

    Abi, I think that cake is so much fun, too.

    Pat! A Valentine’s baby! And on your 1st Valentine’s Day. That’s a terrific memory.

  26. Mary – to me, blue silk thermal underwear sounds heavenly!

    Cheryl – I love your post and I’m copying your cookie recipe. I have a baking day coming up where I bake for the Valentine Youth Fundraiser at the church. If I have time, I’ll squeeze a batch of your cookies in, too.

    The best Valentine gift I rec’d was the surprise I had when I walked into the kitchen one morning and found a large heart outline with an arrow running through it on the kitchen island. It was made from the 1″ red foil covered chocolate hearts. Hubby had done it after I went to bed and he totally blew me away that year.

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