How will your 2018 Valentine’s Day be remembered? Good, bad, or, worse yet – indifferent!?

Fear not – there is a way of attaining the best outcome this Feb. 14, which is just around the corner.

Abandon old traditions and do something to sweep her off her feet with these five steps:

oneBefore the big day, drive her wild with anticipation by telling her that you have the most amazing surprise for her. This promise will keep her guessing and make her think about your evening.

twoKnow her favorite flowers. If you don’t, don’t panic. You can find out by making a comment, like “I’ve noticed plants blooming early this year …” and steer the conversation from there. In a beautiful vase, arrange an exotic bouquet and hide it somewhere in your home on the special day. She’ll like that you created the presentation.

threeGo to your local chocolate shop and select her favorite kinds of chocolate. Have it boxed and nicely wrapped to prevent her from knowing what it is when you present the chocolates to her.

fourCreate a dish and name it after her. For example, if her name is Anne, you might call the dish “Tournedos Princess Anne.” This step is the most important. I can assure you that after having spent time in some top-notch restaurants, food that is named after a person is a special honor. We all know how women love it when their men do the cooking. What I do is cut and precook the vegetables, and I even make the sauce beforehand to make sure I get it as perfect as I can. Leave everything in the fridge. Then, on Valentine’s Day, I set the table before I start the cooking part. On both plates, place a fresh RED ROSE. The single rose is just part of making her think that is all the flowers she will be getting (but we know differently). When she gets home, make sure to get her to promise you she’ll stay out of the kitchen. Tell her not to spoil the surprise!

fiveWhen everything is ready, plate the food, cover it and take it to the dining table, and then ask her to come and sit. Before you uncover the lid, have her close her eyes. Retrieve the hidden bouquet, place the flowers on the table, and ask her to open her eyes. Pay attention to how she responds. Tell her what you’ve named the dish.

But that’s not all – after the meal, take her by the hand, walk her to the living room and sit her down. Bring out the boxed chocolate, go on one knee and tell her, “This is for you,” or, “You make me feel whole,” or, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world and I love you.”

Overkill? – Not at all. Remember, you don’t have to know why this works, but only that it does work.

About Ernest Quansah

Ernest Quansah (www.relationshipadviceforsuccess.com) is a love relationship success expert with more than a decade of experience. He is the president of Relationship Advice for Success, and founder of Online Dating, Relationship, and Marriage School (ODRMS). After much research and experience with heartache – divorce, breakups and the devastating consequences – he has discovered the keys to finding and maintaining meaningful, long-lasting romantic relationships. He is also the author of Do’s and Don’ts of Relationships: Nine Steps to a Deeper, Richer Love Relationship, 2nd edition.


This year’s the year: Organizing your home will help you purge the items you don’t need and locate the ones you do.  And who knows? You may even be able to park a car in that garage.  Image courtesy HouseWall Garage System

This year’s the year: Organizing your home will help you purge the items you don’t need and locate the ones you do. And who knows? You may even be able to park a car in that garage. Image courtesy HouseWall Garage System.

Get a jump on home improvements and decorating changes that will help you enjoy your house throughout the coming year

As you look over your list of New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget what should be at the top, since it may be your biggest asset: your house.  It, too, needs tender-loving care to look and function its best.  We’ve rounded up a baker’s dozen ideas.  But before you get going, heed another one from Kathy Passarette, owner of Creative Home Expressions, Long Island.  “Remove your holiday decorations by the second week in January.  Nobody wants to see icicle lights or reindeer on your lawn, whether they’re your neighbors or prospective buyers.”  Here are others:

  • Get organized. Yup, everyone promises that the New Year will be the year they really do, but this year be sure you do. Before you start, make a list of what needs organizing in every single room in your house, which may include throwing out or giving away.  Jeff Davidson, author of “Breathing Space: Living & Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society” (Mastermedia, 1999), suggests donating anything you haven’t worn in the past two years.  Don’t forget your garage, which often is a dumping ground but fortunately has become the latest place to spiff up.  HouseWall Garage System, Hialeah, Fla., has developed a software program that sketches your garage and maps out how space can be maximized.
  • Go green. Sustainability is no longer for a small fringe group of architects, builders, contractors, and homeowners. Plus, it’s an easy way to help save our planet.  Danny Seo, eco-stylist, author and host of the TV program “Simply Green,” suggests choosing low-VOC paints, which contain no ozone-depleting chemicals, buying only enough paint for what you need to minimize waste (online paint calculators are a quick resource), choosing green hardwoods like bamboo, and donating reusable building materials to an organization like Habitat for Humanity, so they can be used for new projects.
  • Become more energy conscious. Turn off anything that you’re not using, whether its lights, TVs, or computers, says Don Whaley, CEO of Choice Energy Services Retail, Houston, Texas, an institutional energy brokerage consulting.
  • Make your house safer. October may be National Fire Safety month, and June may be Home Safety month, but there’s no reason not to be safe all year. Among suggestions from the Home Safety Council: Install smoke alarms and test them monthly; stay in the kitchen while you prepare food; post emergency numbers next to every phone; keep your water heater setting at 120 degrees F or less; install four-sided fencing with self-locking and closing gates.
  • Keep your house well. Don’t let your house lock in pollutants and get sick due to super-energy efficient building techniques. Ventilation fans, like Panasonic’s WhisperGreen vent fan, help flush out pollutants and keep indoor air quality at its best.  John Brennan, an environmental consultant in Summit, N.J., advises checking that your house has no asbestos, radon gas, lead or mold.
  • Get more fit. You’ll enjoy your home more if you like how you look. Find a corner or extra room that you can dedicate to a home gym – many treadmills, ellipticals, and bicycles can fit into these spaces, and some fold up for easy storage.
  • Keep everything in good shape. RepairClinic.com’s handy Appliance Maintenance calendar reminds you what to inspect and repair when. Many repairs require less than five minutes.  Example: Improve your refrigerator’s efficiency by cleaning its condenser coils with a condenser cleaning brush and your vacuum cleaner.
  • Add color. Even if you’re not up to repainting your entire house, add color to improve its curb appeal, says James Martin, an architectural color expert and founder of The Color People, a design color firm in Denver. Paint the shutters, front door, and some front-facing flower boxes using a high gloss.  To decide on the color, look to the roof, masonry, and landscaping; use one color for consistency.
  • Have the title checked. With fraud and ineptness, you never know if the title for your home is clean unless you’ve checked. Title-protection companies can offer an inexpensive check through your title’s history to see if there are any defects that could plague you at a later date.  You need a clean title before you sell.
  • Save funds on furnishings. Let your artistic side shine by buying unfinished furniture and decorating it yourself. For tips on decorating and where to find a store, go to the Unfinished Furniture Association’s Web site at www.unfinishedfurniture.org.
  • Create a sleep sanctuary. Homeowners are putting lots more money into their master bathrooms, but how about the room where they sleep? Many bedrooms could use sprucing up, especially since most of us spend one-third of our life sleeping.  Invest in a new bed, mattress, and lighting.
  • Retrofit for the booming boomer generation. More folks want to age in their homes and make them welcoming and safe for fellow boomers. AARP suggests installing handrails on both sides of all steps, securing carpets and area rugs, using brighter bulbs, nightlights and lights in closets, and switching to lever handles.
  • Meet your neighbors. They may become wonderful friends and may help watch your house when you’re away. Before the New Year ends, host an open house and invite everyone over.  They’re likely to ooh and aah over your beautiful, organized home, says April Masini of the column AskApril.com.


HOLIDAY GOOD-TopPicShoppers flock to the area for holiday browsing in these historic towns.  The sidewalks shine brightly, welcoming residents and visitors to explore and experience all they have to offer.  There are many unique boutiques and novelty shops along luminescent corners specializing in the perfect gift.

There are plenty of other holiday events, festivals, tree lightings, parades, holiday feasts, caroling and other seasonal activities.  So bundle up, gather friends and loved ones, and be sure to keep it local in our beautiful region this holiday season.


HOLIDAY GOOD-MilfordThere is plenty to do throughout December for people of all ages from holiday open houses to train rides.  Shop till you drop and then head to these businesses for festive fun.

*The 26th Annual Holiday Open House at Highlights for Children: December 9th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., complete with treats, entertainment, storytelling, an art show, craft room, puppetry, and more.

*22nd Annual Ornament Hunt: December 9th at 10 a.m.  Children can “hunt” for ornaments for a chance to win prizes.

*Holiday Craft Fair: December 9th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Ladore Lodge, Ladore Pavilion and Carousel & Staff Lounge Building in Waymart.  Enjoy handmade items, baked goods, maple products, homemade soaps, jewelry, refreshments, and more.

*Holiday Artisans Market: On December 12th from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., over 30 talented artisans from the Upper Delaware region will showcase unique, handmade gifts, live music.  Hot lunch and snacks.

*Annual Chorus and Band Holiday Concert: On December 19th at 7 p.m., the Honesdale High School Chorus and Band will perform holiday favorites in the high school auditorium on Terrace Street.

*Luminaries on Main: On Christmas Eve, enjoy 300 luminaries lining historic Main Street.

*Throughout the month, Santa Express train rides on the Stourbridge Line will be available.  Kids will receive a present from Santa and candy cane.   Call (570) 470-2697.

For more information about these and more December events, contact the Greater Honesdale Partnership at (570) 253-5492 or visit www.visithonesdalepa.com.


HOLIDAY GOOD-BethanyThe quaint village is three miles north of downtown Honesdale on Route 670.

*Annual Christmas in the Village: This free event, held on December 2nd, features holiday open houses from 2 to 4 p.m. with seasonal food and beverages at the James Manning House, the Bethany Public Library, Bethany United Methodist Church, and the Mansion at Noble Lane.  At the James Manning House, the Honesdale High School Chamber Choir will sing carols, and local author Will Wyckoff will be available for book signings.  The Methodist Church will offer a bake sale and ornament making.

In addition, starting at 2 p.m. at the Bethany Public Library, Mrs. Claus will visit from the North Pole to help children write letters to Santa.  Tours of the library and historical society are from 2 to 4 p.m.  The library will hold a raffle for an antique quilt with the winning ticket drawn at 4 p.m.

Enjoy a tree lighting at 3:30 p.m. at the Bethany Village Senior Living Center and a tricky tray with drawings at 4 p.m.  Information for a self-guided walking tour to see Bethany’s historic architecture will also be available.

*On Christmas Eve, luminaries will be lit along Bethany’s streets.

For more information about Christmas in the Village, call Janet at the James Manning House (570) 253-5573.


Hawley#1-1Hawley is decked out in holiday splendor resembling a Victorian town.  Historic inns, bed and breakfasts, candy shops, novelty stores, a historic company playhouse, a yoga studio, boutiques, and antique shops line the streets, beckoning shoppers with the promise of warmth and wonder.

A must-see landmark is the historic Hawley Silk Mill, a large bluestone structure built in the 1800s.  Once an operating silk factory, the Mill is now open to the public featuring a community college, a fitness center, Art on the Edge, the Mill Market with locally sourced produce and other items for sale, art galleries, clothing boutiques, and more.  When visiting the Hawley Silk Mill, be sure to stop in the Cocoon Coffee House situated in front of the building for a steaming beverage and gourmet treats ranging from luscious quiches to mouth-watering muffins.

*19th Annual Hawley Winterfest: December 8-10th.   Get ready for winter and the upcoming holiday with an old-fashioned festival celebrating the pre-holiday season and Hawley’s historic roots.  The town twinkles with holiday cheer, and the cold, fluffy snow provides the perfect backdrop for cookie decorating, holiday theater, horse and carriage rides, author book signings, live musical entertainment, a living nativity, train rides, open houses, holiday feasts, arts and craft shows, historic house tours, a beer tour, and art exhibits.

*For more info, see the full length feature article in this issue and visit www.hawleywinterfest.com.

*Holiday Pop-Up Restaurant: On December 8th in the Boiler Room within the Hawley Silk Mill, people can indulge in a special holiday dining experience.  Seatings are at 6 and 8 p.m.  Call for reservations. (570) 226-1337.


MilfordpicStroll along the streets and alleys and step into antique stores, unique restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, a historic theater, and specialty shops.  There are also historic architectural structures including Grey Towers, the former home of America’s first forester Gifford Pinchot; and The Columns Museum, where the Pike County Historical Society is with historical artifacts and memorabilia including the famous “Lincoln Flag.”  Both buildings are open to the public.

Other than its historical claims, Milford is considered a destination based on its shopping and dining alone with eateries satisfying every palette from authentic Vietnamese to gourmet French dishes.

*Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony: Milford resembles something out of a picture book as the entire downtown twinkles with lights and the big star on the cliff glows from a distance.  The free event is held December 2nd at 5 p.m. on the lawn of the Community House at the corner of Broad and Harford Streets.  In addition to the tree lighting, people can enjoy a visit from Santa, cookies, and cocoa.

*Craft Store Holiday Open House:  On December 8th, the Pike County Developmental Center hosts an open house from noon to 2 p.m.  Find hand-crafted gifts for all occasions.  Enjoy complimentary refreshments.  The center is at 107 West Ann Street.  For more details, call (570) 296-6319.

*Girls’ Night Out:  December 10th from 5 to 8 p.m., Milford Presents hosts another event with downtown businesses open featuring sales, refreshments, and fun. For more information, visit www.milfordpa.us.

* Holiday Tours at Grey Towers National Historic Site: Beginning December 4th through the 20th.  Guided tours of all three floors with each room beautifully decorated for the holidays are available at 1 and 3 p.m.

*Holiday Art Exhibit and Sale at Grey Towers: In addition to the tours, enjoy plein air paintings and a juried show of photographs, all depicting Grey Towers and the surrounding landscape.  For more information on Grey Towers, visit www.greytowers.org.

*Winter Lights Festival/Celebrating the Arts: This 10th annual event takes place Saturday, January 20th and Sunday, the 21st 2018.  The festival celebrates the beauty of winter, as well as the opening of the ice rink in Ann Street Park for the season.  Some of the highlights include the anticipated Mac-n-Cheese and Chili contest at the Dimmick Inn from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by the featured performance, Merlin Awakens, on ice in the park from 2 to 2:45 p.m. This free ice show will feature skaters, actors, and puppetry.  During intermission, the winners of the Mac-n-Cheese and Chili contest will be announced.  Following the show, the rink will officially be open to the public for free skating and will remain open, weather permitting.  On Sunday, enjoy a repeat of the Merlin Awakens performance.  For additional information and updates, “like” the festival on Facebook.


Fire-GoodstuffBy Gary Ryman

The kids are excited.  It’s time for the long-awaited trip to Grandma’s town.  Or maybe it’s that meeting or conference in an exotic city.  Holidays, vacations, business trips; they are all times when a hotel stay may be part of the equation.  Enjoyment and convenience are the first two items we hope for when we check in, but fire safety should be right behind them on the list.

Annually, there are approximately 3,900 hotel or motel fires which result in 15 deaths, 150 injuries, and $76 million in property damage.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that on an annual basis, one out of every twelve hotels report a structure fire.  They tell us that when sprinklers were present, they were effective 91% of the time.  The fires, caused mainly by smoking, cooking, malfunctioning electrical equipment, or arson, can turn a carefree trip into a night mare.  There are a few ways to help reduce the odds of being on the bad side of the statistics.

Before your visit is the time to conduct the simplest and most important check of the hotel you plan to stay at, and it takes nothing more than a phone call or check of the Internet.   When making the reservation, find out if the facility has complete sprinkler protection and smoke detection.  If not, you may want to reconsider your choice.  These alone swing the pendulum of safety in your direction.

Upon arrival, there are some additional safeguards you can check and preparations you can make.  Check the escape plan guidance, which should be on the back of the door to your room.  Go out into the hall and find the exits.  Count the number of doors between yours and the exit.  Check the exits.  Fire doors blocked open are a significant problem.  Worse yet is if you find them locked.  Make sure the exit lights are illuminated.  Report any problems you find to the front desk.

If the fire alarm activates during your stay, treat it as real; don’t assume it’s a false alarm.  Check the hallway and if safe to do so, use the exit route you planned.  Don’t use the elevators. These can fail, trapping occupants, and shafts can fill with smoke.  Take your room key with you, but don’t stop for your bags or possessions.  If you can’t exit, create an area of refuge within your room.  Seal the cracks around the door with wet towels.  Don’t break the window.  Fire and smoke can enter from the outside.  Open it a crack if you need air, and hang a towel out to show the room is occupied.  Call 911 and report your situation and room number.  If smoke does begin to enter your room, stay low and get down on the floor beneath it.

Never disable or cover the smoke detector in your room, and don’t use the sprinkler to hang your wet bathing suit or anything else.  If you break the bulb or link on the sprinkler, you’ll get a very wet surprise.  No one expects a fire when they travel, and hopefully, it will never happen to you.  With these basic safeguards and a few minutes of groundwork, you’ll be much better prepared if a fire does strike.


Silver Birches Resort, PAFrom Farmer Chefs to Sustainable Seafood,

Millennials Drive Today’s Culinary Trends

Chefs become farmers, eggs are more edible than ever, the drinks of the ‘20s roar again, onions appear in jams and desserts, while the demand for sustainable fish is rising like the tide.  It’s largely driven by Millennials with adventurous tastes, disposable income, and a good bit of nostalgia for the foods they may have missed growing up.

Among the trends spotted across the US are:

Trend #1  Millennials Are Making It Happen

Food trends are driven by informed and open-minded millennials.  This demographic is dining out more than previous generations, and they want healthy, sustainable, and original dishes based on natural ingredients, responsibly sourced.  Growing up in a more diverse society, they have been exposed to a variety of ethnic foods and are far more likely to try new dishes.  Technically savvy and issues-oriented, millennials do their research and are informed consumers.  They are interested in food, environmental issues and natural, healthy ingredients, as well as animal welfare, and America’s chefs are responding.

Trend #2  The Farmer in the Kitchen

Custom farming is the new path to sustainability.  Contemporary chefs are taking the farm-to-table movement to new levels as chefs become more involved in the growing of the food they serve, right down to planning what seeds will be cultivated for new menu development.  Chefs have partnered with local farms, purchasing plots of land where hotels’ and restaurants’ produce will be grown.  But the process does not stop there.  Plans are underway for these 21st Century farmers to provide staff training to culinary teams, and farms also host exceptional events and dinners on site, moving dining to the farm.

Trend #3  What’s Old Is New Again

Iconic food is trending with updated versions of American classics.  Consumers long for the food they grew up with, but with less fat, fresher ingredients, and greater depth of flavor.  Many of America’s most popular foods evolved from regional specialties, such as nachos, Buffalo wings, barbecued ribs, chili and pizza, that are now national favorites.  Classic sandwiches like BLTs, Reubens, and Grilled Cheese have evolved into innovations of homemade bread, artisanal cheese, smoked meats, and food produced in-house, including fermentation, pickling, and curing.

Trend #4  Incredible Edible Eggs

Eggs are not just for breakfast anymore.  From burgers, salads, and even entreés, eggs are appearing well after breakfast and brunch. Baked, boiled, fried, scrambled or deviled, eggs are finding their way into frittatas, in soups and atop meat, rice and grains. Incorporating an egg to a favorite meal gives the food another dimension in flavor and texture.  Quail eggs, a delicacy in many parts of the world, are appearing on American tables as exquisite little canapés, in salads, and with smoked fish.  Duck eggs are becoming increasingly available at farmers markets and offer a heartier, more flavorful option. Guests increasingly demand eggs that are organic and free range and not produced in “factory farms.”

Trend #5  Innovate with Onions

The humble onion packs a powerful punch of flavor and nutrition.  Onions have been a culinary staple since the first cave dwellers threw some wild onions into a pot.  Cooks today are realizing that in their infinite variety, onions are emerging in an array of new and exciting ways – even in jams and desserts.  Today’s menu items feature onions:  Sage & Nutmeg Onion Gratin, Corned Beef & Onion Sweet Jam, Onion & Cockle Chowder, the classic Beer Battered Onion Rings, and a singular Balsamic and Onion Ice Cream.  Onions have long been used to treat various ailments, and new research shows how these can provide essential nutrients and antioxidants and can contribute to cardiovascular health.

Trends #6  Doughnuts

They’re Not Just for Dunking Anymore.  While we cherish the ritual of dunking a doughnut into a hot cup of coffee, doughnuts are bringing a new dimension to America’s favorite sandwiches.  Get ready for Doughnut Burgers, Glazed Doughnut Cheddar Burger, and Jalapeno, Pork BBQ Po’ Boy, and a Raspberry Bismarck Reuben.

Trend #7  Eat Your Veggies!

Vegetables continue to get new respect as plant-based diets grow in popularity.  Not too long ago, vegetables such as chard, kale and daikon were trending – now they are staples on menus and grocery shelves while new varieties of squash, tomatoes, cabbage, and potatoes are becoming available.  Chefs are taking vegetables to new levels by replacing animal proteins on menus with plant-based ingredients that include sea vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains.

More imaginative use of these ingredients is making them popular among diners – who are sampling delicacies such as a Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Sweet Pea-Hazelnut Pesto & Fricassee of Foraged Mushrooms.

Trend #8  Good Libations

Jazz Age Cocktails, Bourbon and Beer Cocktails are trending nationwide.  Consumers of all demographics are driving trends in cocktails with a resurgence in Prohibition-era drinks, such as French 75s, Whiskey Sours, Manhattans, and Southsiders.  During Prohibition, these retro cocktails, made with fruits and syrups, were developed by creative bartenders to hide the harsh taste of bootleg alcohol.  Today, fresh and often more exotic fruits, a variety of tonics and garnishes, and top-of-the-line liquor, combine to make new and dynamic cocktails.  Bourbon consumption continues its meteoric rise with carefully crafted and exclusive Bourbons.

Microbreweries are having their creations transformed into beer cocktails, made by mixing with a distilled beverage or another style of beer.  In this cocktail, the primary ingredient is, quite simply, beer.  Mix with a beverage that contains a soft drink and you have a Shandy.  From the Michelada to a Raspberry Snakebite (featuring a raspberry lambic), to a Dublin Iced-Coffee (Stout, Irish whiskey, iced-brewed coffee and heavy cream), beer cocktails are rapidly becoming cult favorites.

Trend #9  Fish to Fork

Sustainable fishing gains new importance.  As fish becomes more expensive and scarce, chefs, fishermen, and fisheries are looking to encourage consumers to look to farm-raised fish and less pricey and more plentiful seafood.  Today’s diners are aware of endangered species and growing concerns about the impact of global warming on ocean waters, lakes, and streams.

Trend #10  Food Theater!

Expo Kitchens are kicking “food theater” up a notch, or two or three.  Exhibition kitchens have been around in some form since the invention of Brunch.  But today we’re talking full-blown food theater.  Driven by Food TV in all its incarnations and the prevalence of social media outlets that are ideal for everything food and beverage, restaurant kitchens today offer a front row seat at a dining performance, and guests are crowding around to take in the aromas, flavors, cooking tips, and high energy of the stars of the show–the chefs!  It’s a visual and sensual spectacle that entertains, nourishes, and satisfies everyone in the entire dining room.

Tips provided by BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company.