No More First Dates

Our first telephone conversation:

Him: “Would you like to meet for lunch?”

Me: “Sure, that sounds good.” (Lunch for a first date is a good idea. After an hour, I’d have to get back to work)

Him: “How about this coming Monday?”

Me: “What are you, crazy?”


(Oops. I should explain)

Me: “I mean, this Monday is Valentine’s Day. That’s a lot of pressure for a first date.”

Him: “Would Friday be better for you?”

Me: “Yeah, Friday works.”

And so we met for lunch on the Friday after Valentine’s Day. No pressure. And this time, after countless bad dates and failed relationships, this time it took. Twenty years after that first date, each day is (still) Valentine’s Day with him.

photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

Book Signing this Saturday!

I know this is a locally-directed post, so I’ll keep it short.

This Saturday, February 8th, from 11:00 to 1:00, I’ll be selling and signing copies of my four novels at SWEET TWIST in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

The Murphy sisters, as I call them, were very gracious in inviting me to their lovely boutique to sign my books, and the Chocolate Trilogy will be front and center. Yes, I’ll also have copies of Bits of Broken Glass, which I can now label an Amazon #1 best-seller, as it held that lofty position this past weekend in three separate categories on Amazon.

Martha Reynolds - books
Martha Reynolds – books

Stop by if you’re in the area, and while you’re there, check out the fabulous assortment of gifts at Sweet Twist. Besides Vera Bradley accessories and John Medeiros jewelry, they have delicious chocolates for Valentine’s Day. You know, there were many years that I was single and Valentine-less, and I never once denied myself something sweet on February 14th. Indulge! Life is too short to skip chocolate. And I hope to see you on Saturday!

Hearts and Flowers and 72% Dark Chocolate

My husband had a dozen red roses delivered to me about a month after we started dating. It was a sweet, romantic gesture that I’ll always remember. And on many Valentine’s Days after we were married, he’d have a dozen red roses delivered to me at my office. While I appreciated the beautiful flowers, I also paid the bills. And the following month, when I saw the outrageous price he’d paid for roses on Valentine’s Day, I’d cringe. He wouldn’t be deterred, but now that I work from home (and earn far, far less than I used to), I’ve convinced him to curtail the rose deliveries. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have chocolate?

According to a new study, eating chocolate can help you stay thin. What? Is this an early April fool? Nope, researchers at the University of California-San Diego found that people who frequently eat chocolate have lower body-mass indexes than people who don’t. Other evidence suggests that chocolate can ward off strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes. So here are ten reasons to indulge tomorrow (unless you gave it up for Lent, not realizing that Lent starts today – oops).

1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk. A Swedish study found that eating more than 45 grams of chocolate per week—about one and a half ounces—led to a small decrease in stroke risk among women. Chocolate contains flavonoids, whose antioxidant properties help fight strokes, according to the study’s author.

2. Chocolate reduces the likelihood of a heart attack. Other studies have shown that eating small amounts of chocolate prevents blood clots, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attacks. Blood platelets clump together more slowly in chocolate eaters, the studies say.

3. Chocolate protects against blood inflammation. Eat one small dark chocolate bar per week, and your risk of heart disease will decrease, according to a 2008 study. About a quarter-ounce of dark chocolate per day keeps the blood inflammation-inducing proteins away.

4. Chocolate helps with math. This is true! Flavanols (a class of flavonoids found in chocolate) helped people with their mental math. The findings suggest students who eat chocolate before an exam may gain a real benefit from doing so, according to the British Telegraph.

5. Chocolate may prevent cancer. Cocoa contains a compound called pentameric procyanidin, or pentamer, which disrupts cancer cells’ ability to spread. When researchers from Georgetown University treated cancer cells with pentamer back in 2005, the proteins necessary for cancer growth were suppressed and the cells stopped dividing.

6. Chocolate is good for your skin. Remember when you were a teenager and everyone thought chocolate led to acne? Well, not only does it not cause breakouts, dark chocolate is actually good for your skin! Flavonoids found in dark chocolate protect women’s skin from the sun’s UV rays, according to German researchers. But that doesn’t mean you should skip the sunscreen.

7. Chocolate can control coughs. One of chocolate’s chemical components, theobromine, seems to reduce the activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers coughing fits. Next up? Chocolate cough syrup – way better than that orange stuff my mother forced down my throat.

8. Chocolate may improve blood flow. In 2008, test subjects of a Harvard study ate large amounts of chocolate for two weeks (oh, poor things). Fourteen days of pigging out on chocolate, they found, sped up blood flow through the subjects’ middle cerebral arteries. In other words, more chocolate means more blood to your brain.

9. Chocolate strengthens your brain. Researchers found that dark chocolate shields cells in your brain, and protects the brain from damage caused by stroke. Epicatechin, a compound found in chocolate, significantly reduced the brain damage in mice who suffered strokes and that same compound improved mice’s memories.

10. Chocolate makes you live longer. Jeanne Louise Calment lived to the age of 122. Supposedly, she ate two and a half pounds of dark chocolate each week. So if I follow Madame Calment’s example, I could be around for my 100-year college reunion.

But don’t just buy any old chocolate. Most of the chocolate you buy in the grocery store is heavily processed, which means that it has lost many of its healthy chemicals. Buy the good stuff. A small amount of good, dark chocolate (look for 72% cacao or higher on the label) is best. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Each Day is Valentine’s Day

My husband and I first met on a blind date.  We were fixed up by a mutual friend (someone who, ironically, is no longer a friend).  He had telephoned me on this day in 1994, and, after the dreaded obligatory small talk, asked if I’d like to have lunch with him.  Lunch is good for a first date, much better than dinner, in my opinion.  Lunch meant I would have to get back to work within the hour.  So I agreed.

“How about Monday then?” he asked.  I didn’t say anything right away.

Then I said, “You’re kidding, right?”  Silence.  “I’m not having our first date on Valentine’s Day!  Too much pressure!”

I laughed it off, but really, I’d experienced plenty of miserable Valentine’s Days in the previous twenty years, and I wasn’t about to risk yet another.  And he didn’t realize it was Valentine’s Day.  So we agreed to meet for lunch in downtown Providence the Friday after Valentine’s Day.  Four months later we were engaged, and four months after that we were married.

Since then, Valentine’s Day has offered us both sweet and heartbreaking memories: violent stomach bugs, flu, a disastrous getaway, a new puppy, miscarriage.   February 14th is really just a day.  Show some love (to anyone: a parent, child, pet, stranger!), try to avoid the nonsense, make dinner reservations for the 13th or the 15th.  Seriously.

Make every day Valentine’s Day.