I’ve finally put away all my Christmas decorations and tidied up from Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day.  An unintentional start to spring cleaning perhaps? My husband gave me a lovely card and a heart shaped Frans box filled with assorted chocolates to satisfy my sweet tooth. However you spent Valentine’s Day, I hope it was with family or friends, or just treating yourself to something fun. 

Frans Chocolates at their best.

When I was single, I cooked a romantic dinner for my parents, or went to the movies. I never mind watching movies by myself – it just means I can see the movie that interests me (even if it interests nobody else), and of course, I get all the popcorn with as much, or little, butter as I want. Sometimes I would bake something just for me, and not share it with anyone!

One of my favorite desserts is lemon bars. Not too sweet, not too tangy, something about them reminds me of spring, though naturally, I’ll eat them any time of year.

Lemon Bars

For the Crust:

10 tablespoons butter room temperature
1 ¼ cups flour
½ cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

For the Filling:

3 large eggs room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
⅓ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
½ teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×9 inch pan.
2. Make by crust by mixing the flour, powdered sugar, and salt together. Cut the butter into the mix until crumbly and then press into the bottom of the pan.
3. Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden.
4. While the crust is baking, whisk all the filling ingredients together until combined.
5. Pour over the cooked crust and place back in the oven for 17-20 minutes until filling is set.
6. Cool completely, dust with powdered sugar, cut into squares.

In between final edits on my latest book, I find myself staring out the window, planning this year’s spring planting. We’ve lived in our house for almost 40 years, and with well-established and mature landscaping, most of my planning involves container gardening. Do I want to focus on flowers or kitchen herbs this year? What colors would look best in that corner of the patio? How many hanging baskets do I plan to put out? Should I move the bird bath to a sunnier corner of the yard so I can surround it with bright blooms?

While I sometimes surf the internet for gardening ideas, a more enjoyable approach is to take a walk with Noel and Piper, and look around for inspiration. My husband wore a light jacket, and I wore a cold weather down jacket and silk glove warmers. Piper wore her winter coat, as well.

Spotted these just getting ready-to-bloom daffodils.

Mother Nature pulled a fast one earlier this week. After teasing us with warming temperatures in the low-50s early in the month, encouraging the crocuses, daffodils and tulips to start emerging from below the ground, we got a couple of days of wet, heavy snow. Nothing like the cold hitting New York, Pennsylvania, and other mid-Atlantic states, but quite cold enough for me.

While I wait for the weather to warm back up, I picked up a copy of Susan Mallery’s latest book, The Summer Book Club. Susan writes that she “wrote The Summer Book Club to bring a burst of sunshine to a dreary winter.” So far, it’s living up to its promise.

This year, the book club is all about fill-your-heart reads, an escape from the chaos of the everyday—running a business, raising a family, juggling a hundred to-dos. Even the dog is demanding (but the bestest boy).

Since Laurel’s divorce, she feels like the Worst Mom Ever. Her skepticism of men may have scarred her vulnerable daughters. Cassie has an unfortunate habit of falling for ridiculous man-boys who dump her once she fixes them. Paris knows good men exist. She’s still reeling after chasing off the only one brave enough—and foolish enough—to marry her.

Inspired by the heroines who risk everything for fulfillment, Laurel, Paris and Cassie begin to take chances—big chances—in life, in love. Facing an unwritten chapter can be terrifying. But it can be exhilarating, too, if only they can find the courage to change.

I’m having an early Spring giveaway while we wait for Spring to properly arrive (hello March 19). Enter by February 26 for a chance to win a $100 gift card, a copy of my latest novel, Reinventing Ruthie or another of my books if you’ve already purchased a copy. US only. Winner will be announced Tuesday, February 27 and has three days to respond to my email. Only by responding to my email can you win.  Good luck and stay warm!