I hope you enjoyed your January – it always goes by so fast! Getting the holidays packed away and working on New Year’s resolutions seems to fill the month! How are you doing with those?
This month’s newsletter is a nod to the theme of this month: love! So, I’ve included a few stories to help us remember the things that are important to us:
- A heartwarming story highlighting the power of community spirit and the importance of connection.
- A simple yet elegant Valentine's Day dinner menu for a perfect cozy night in.
- And a few quirky riddles about love!
If you notice a friend, family member or neighbor who is no longer in love with their home and has buying or selling a home as a goal this spring or summer, call me now and we can get that ball rolling!
Cupid Of Roselake
Clarence, well-known in the picturesque town of Roselake for his exceptional matchmaking skills, was affectionately called “Cupid” by the locals.
However, the townspeople were unaware of a significant detail: Clarence secretly held a profound love for Eliza, the town's florist. Eliza was known for her delicate touch in creating beautiful arrangements at her store, Bloom's Haven.
As Valentine's Day neared, Clarence noticed a shift in the town's mood. The air, usually abuzz with excitement, felt tinged with a sense of longing. People seemed to crave genuine connections, not just grand romantic gestures.
On the night before the holiday, Clarence was sitting by the river, deep in thought, under the stars. He had an epiphany: True love isn’t about grand gestures; instead, it’s about the genuine moments and sincere emotions shared between people. Taking this to heart, he told everyone in town to do small, kind things for one another on Valentine's Day.
The townspeople liked this idea and shared nice notes and stories, which made everyone feel more connected and a part of a real community.
As the day ended, Clarence, with newfound courage and a single, beautifully imperfect rose in hand, approached Eliza. Standing in the midst of her floral creations, he presented the rose as a symbol of his true, unadorned feelings.
In that moment, as Eliza's smile brightened the dusky shop, Clarence realized his true role as Cupid was to inspire authentic love, starting with his own. The day ended not with the conclusion of a successful match, but with the beginning of a love story rooted in the genuine connection he had always championed.
Understanding The Gluten-Free Trend
The rise of the gluten-free diet has many people wondering why this dietary choice has become popular. Here’s a brief exploration of what gluten is, why some people avoid it and how to determine if it's right for you.
What is gluten?
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, gives bread its elasticity and chewiness. It's also found in various other foods and sometimes in surprising places.
It's important to understand the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes intestinal damage when gluten is consumed. Gluten intolerance, also known as nonceliac gluten sensitivity, involves discomfort after eating gluten, but without the intestinal damage caused by celiac disease.
Why go gluten-free?
A gluten-free diet is essential for individuals with celiac disease. Others might find that eliminating gluten reduces digestive discomfort, inflammation or fatigue. However, it's not a universal health solution and should be considered carefully.
What are the signs of gluten intolerance?
Common signs include bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, fatigue and skin issues, such as rashes or acne, after consuming gluten-rich foods. If you experience these symptoms regularly, then you might want to explore a gluten-free diet. Before you eliminate gluten, consider consulting with a healthcare professional, who might recommend an elimination diet, in which gluten is removed from your diet for a specific time frame and then is reintroduced to notice if symptoms reappear.
Feb. 2, Groundhog Day: A popular North American tradition in which a groundhog's behavior is believed to predict the weather.
Feb. 9, National Pizza Day: A day to celebrate one of the most popular and most versatile foods globally, with pizza restaurants hosting various events and promotions. Pick your topping!
Feb. 14, Valentine's Day: A day to celebrate love and romance, commonly marked by exchanging gifts and cards between loved ones.
Feb. 29, Leap Day: Occurring every four years, this day is added to the calendar to keep it aligned with the Earth's revolutions around the sun.
Valentine's Day Menu for Two
This Valentine's Day, create a special evening at home with an easy, yet delicious dinner menu designed for two. Whether you're a kitchen novice or a culinary enthusiast, these straightforward recipes will set the mood. Tie on your apron, and enjoy a night of culinary bonding with your loved one!
Starter: Caprese Salad
Ingredients: Fresh mozzarella slices, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, extravirgin olive oil, balsamic glaze, salt and pepper.
Preparation: Alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella on a plate. Tuck basil leaves between them. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Season with salt and pepper.
Main Course: Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta
Ingredients: Pasta (like linguine or spaghetti), shrimp (peeled and deveined), garlic cloves, butter, olive oil, dried chili flakes (optional), parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Preparation: Cook pasta according to package instructions. In a pan, sauté garlic in olive oil and butter. Add shrimp, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook until shrimp are pink. Toss in cooked pasta, a squeeze of lemon, and chopped parsley.
Dessert: Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
Ingredients: Fresh strawberries, dark or milk chocolate chips, and white chocolate for drizzling (optional).
Preparation: Melt chocolate chips in a microwave or double boiler. Dip strawberries into the melted chocolate, place on a parchment-lined tray, and let them set. Optionally, drizzle with melted white chocolate for a decorative effect.
Beverage: Easy Raspberry Mocktail
Ingredients: Fresh raspberries, lemonade, sparkling water, and a lemon.
Preparation: Muddle a few raspberries at the bottom of two glasses. Fill the glasses with ice. Pour over lemonade and top off with sparkling water. Garnish with a lemon slice and a few whole raspberries.
It's Always A Great Time To Take A Class
Maybe you're worried that your professional skills are falling behind. Or perhaps you've wanted to learn woodworking, knitting or conversational Japanese and have no idea of where to start. Or maybe you're recently retired and considering ways to keep your mind and body active while you make new friends. The solution can be simple: Take a class. Here are a few ways to return to the classroom, whether virtually or in person.
Check your local craft store.
Big chains, such as Michael's or Joann Fabrics, usually have single-session and multi-session crafting and sewing classes available. Mom-and-pop quilting and sewing shops might provide advanced instruction or even blocks of unstructured time to socialize while you work on your own project.
Visit your public library.
Most public libraries offer activities and classes for people of all ages. Your library card also might provide access to online courses and webinars for everything from business to languages to university-style STEM classes.
Research community colleges.
If you want a more traditional academic experience or want to work on a degree or certificate, then research community colleges near you. Several states have drastically reduced or eliminated community college tuition to make it more accessible. Check with your state's education agency for more information and eligibility requirements. Go virtual at your own pace.
Although such e-Learning platforms as Udemy, Skillshare, Coursera and LinkedIn Learning don't offer accredited degrees or certificates, they can be great and cost-effective ways to pick up new skills at your own pace. Course quality can sometimes vary, so read reviews and research the instructors before you select a class and dive in.
Love Day Humor
Why did the banana go out with the prune on Valentine's Day?
Because it couldn't find a date!
What did the stamp say to the envelope on Valentine's Day?
I'm stuck on you!
What do you call two birds in love?
What did the light bulb say to the switch on Valentine's Day?
You turn me on!
What did the paper clip say to the magnet on Valentine's Day?
I find you very attractive!