It’s been almost a year of living in isolation. If you are like me, it’s been a blur of home-cooked meals, tackling projects, binging Netflix, to-do lists (that often fall by the wayside), writing, invigorating walks outside with my pups, zoom calls, painting, working with flowers, DIYing…well…everything, photographing and an endless parade of boring yoga clothes. There is a significant amount of pining for my “old life” and yet I am firmly rooted in gratitude for my health and the health and safety of my loved ones. There are few events to mark days, as we while away the hours between sunrise and sunset. That is, until we stumble upon a holiday.
I love holidays of any kind. Some would say I’m an enthusiast! It’s an opportunity to set a beautiful table, make a lush bouquet, conjure up irresistible smells in the kitchen, decorate a room and elegantly wrap a thoughtful gift. As far as Valentine’s Days go, I’ve celebrated a spectrum of love-inspired efforts – ranging from rooms filled with roses, chocolate and champagne, to extravagant trips to a quiet meal by the fire for two. I remember each quite fondly.
I was recently reminded of one of my favorite romantic stories during a zoom meeting about my new book – my first official date with my beloved beau. After a morning of skiing in a winter wonderland, he surprised me with an outdoor lunch at the sweetest table and chairs carved out of snow, beautifully set, adorned with an adorable bouquet of roses, plus an additional dozen red roses (needless to say, he had me at the flowers). It was one of those grand gestures, where I felt slightly swept off my skis and overwhelmed with the potential of love. This would be a wonderful surprise celebration for any winter occasion – an anniversary, a birthday or any holiday, really! I tell people that story often to highlight how deeply thoughtful and imaginative he is. What a beautiful beginning we had.
We often say that those initial grand gestures of any great love story wane over time – this is just a reality of any long-term relationship! And aspects of quarantine are not always romantic. I often wonder how we will leave this quarantine as significant others and I can assure you that the answer is: bonded. This year has been such a scary, difficult one for all of us. I sadly also endured the loss of my mom and one of our beloved pups. For every person who makes if to that glorious second vaccination is a person behind them who has wiped away more than a few tears, held a hand, offered a shoulder to lean on or talked us off a ledge. They have kept us safe and told us to keep going when we’ve hit a quarantine wall. They’ve encouraged us and quieted our fears when days were dark. They’ve distracted us, made us laugh, and given us a reason to get out of bed each day. And for me, my person (whether he has been near or far) has made sure I’ve been kept as safe as humanly possible (because of my compromised immune system). This has been no small feat (especially with distance) and he has done this with love, grace, humor and mild threats every single day. Perhaps this is a different version of romance, but one that has been the most meaningful to me and maybe the grandest gesture of all.
We all owe a lot to our quarantine support system. For some, this support has come from a significant other. For others, it may have come from a friend, a family member, a neighbor or even a pet. Wherever you have received your will to put one foot in front of the other, it’s worth some celebration! This Valentine’s Day is a good time to celebrate all we have meant to each other and the kindnesses and words of encouragement that have truly made a difference in someone’s life this past year. Because the only thing that has sustained anyone in these trenches is love and support, which has been blooming and profoundly thriving under our roofs or via zoom in one way or another.
And on any day that celebrates love, I would be remiss if I didn’t honor my pups in some special way! My Lockets of Love (an additional, feature piece from The Birds & The Bees collection I produced with Ciner), are heirlooms that capture our favorite snapshots in time, and keep our most valued memories close to our hearts. In two sizes (both on a 17 inch chain), these were created with an accessible price-point in mind, so they are the perfect gift for any occasion! A purchase of this locket supports my Going to the Dogs initiative, as 100% of the proceeds benefit shelter animals in need).
A very Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! May love continue to lift you up and keep you strong!
You have blessed us with unlimited physical beauty in fashion, flowers, decor and now your beautiful spirit blesses us with loving inspiration.
A Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
Ann – thank you so much for your kind words – they mean a great deal. A very Happy Valentine’s Day to you as well! Hope you find a way to celebrate. Stay safe and be well!
The days continue into nites & back again…the beat goes on…I watch my flowers do what they do and then my dearest says, “ready for a cuppa”….& the beat goes on…franki
Franki – as long as we stay healthy, that’s the most important thing, right? Until then, a cup of tea can fix quite a bit! Hope you are safe and well!
I am so glad you have someone who loves you so very much. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both.
Heather – thank you so much. We all have people we have leaned on during this difficult time. Those are our people:). Hoping you are staying safe and well!
Thank you for all the beauty you have shared with us over the years. Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.
Eve – the same to you! Hoping you find some time to celebrate or just relax!
Dearest Carolyne, what a lovely and inspirational post you grace us with again today… So many lives are touched and transformed by your wonderful example, I know mine is… Your spirit is subhine.~
Maria – I am humbled by your kind words, so thank you. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day! Wishing you all the best.
Oh Carolyne, you are so right about the cup of tea! It has gotten so far for me that if my phone rings when I am preparing my tea I just cringe…..
Regards from snowy Munich
Maria – we all have our comforts that are getting us through this time! And remember, that phone can always go to vibrate only;). Enjoy the snow and stay warm and cozy.
what a chraming story – but I have to ask – how did all those beautiful bounty and china/crystal etc. get up the mountain? I did not see any St. Bernard tracks,. Your words are inspriational.
Lawrie – Ha! You know, I’m not sure I even asked! A St. Bernard would have been an adorable addition to the day, though, so I like where you are going with that! Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Stay safe.
Am I correct? Did you say you are working on a new book? I hope so! I own every single book you’ve created and constantly refer to them. Thank you for all the beauty and inspiration you have given me.
Barbara – it’s in the fledgling stages but yes, that is the hope! Thank you so much, though. It’s the highest compliment that you own and enjoy all of my books. I’m humbled by the space I’m taking up on your shelves! Stay safe and Happy Valentine’s Day!
So sweet Carolyne, Loved your outdoor Valentine Table in the snow bank. Very creative.
Happy Valentines Day!
Liz – That was a surprise from by beau – so I cannot take credit there. But I loved the surprise and the creative idea! I thought a good share for COVID because it’s outdoors and quite possible in the Northeast, with all the snow we have now!
What an absolutely beautiful post. Uplifting and supportive. Thank you for sharing! Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
Donna – thank you so much! We all need a boost these days, so I’m happy you found it uplifting. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and stay safe!
Reading your Valentine essay just made me realise that most of our daily routines during these challenging times are full of love and joy … as Wordsworth said … “and then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils “ Happy Valentines Day
With hearts love
Joanie – I have always adored that quote! We have all learned so much more about the simple joys and finding beauty, grace and even some fun in our small, humble routines. I think there is little we will take for granted going forward. I’m focusing on the lessons I may learn from this time at home.
What a beautiful story and inspiring post! Thank you. ♥️Losing my hubby and being alone has been a life changing journey during this time! Grateful for so many that support through the curtain of distance & love.
Bless you and your great losses … may this Valentine’s Day be filled with memories and feelings of their love for you.
Beth – I am so sorry to hear of your devastating loss. I cannot imagine what strength it has taken you to move forward during this unpresedented time. Please know you are in my thoughts. Sending you all my best as you continue down this road. I very much admire your positivity. Stay safe!
What a great story and inspiration 💕
Rosemary – thank you!
I think, in the end, the only thing that really matters is love. And thank you for expressing that in so many ways, not the least of which is the beauty with which you surround yourself and share so generously with others.
Susan – you said it! It is certainly the thing that matters most – especially during this difficult time. It sustains us and propels us. Hoping you find time to celebrate with your loves today!
Thank you for always sharing such beautiful memories. Throughout the years, I have appreciated your strong sense of design and fabulous taste in all things of beauty. Still have some of your wonderful ribbons and mini violet bouquets from your CR Presentations. At this time of year, the scent of Daphnes in my garden make me smile and remember Valentine Day’s from the past. May you enjoy this weekend with your loved ones💕
Sent from my iPad
Charlene – thank you so much – your kind words mean a lot! I hope you are enjoying this weekend as well and finding time for some fun and relaxation with those you love!
My sincere sympathy to you in the passing of your mom. I remember throughout the years that she was often photographed with you–most of the time in the kitchen baking goodies with you or in the garden admiring your flowers. .
On another note you are speaking to the choir in missing your old life of entertaining: cooking up a storm, planning the
tablescape, selecting the lighting for the room, arranging flowers from the garden, and of course providing some wonderful background music during cocktails. I have already planned my parties of the future in a notebook where I keep inspiring ideas.
And speaking of inspiring ideas, thank you for all your beautiful photography and enticing texts! I have looked forward to your books and posts over the years. Waiting for the next book to be published!
All the best,
Robin – I love that you have a notebook of parties you want to plan! What a great way to stay positive and looking forward. I think when the time comes, we will truly savor those moments of connection. Thank you for those kind words about my mom. She lived a beautiful life and I have so many memories that bring me comfort. It’s just a very difficult time to say goodbye to the ones we love the most. Stay safe and wishing you all the best!
A beautiful heartfelt share! Thank you! Be Well and Happy Valentine’s Day!!
Kady – and the same to you! Hope you have a wonderful day!
Sending Valentine blessings to you and yours in 2021. Loving and showing love to others is a gift that we should deliver on a daily basis.
Patricia – absolutely! It’s the constant that should never change, regardless of the circumstances. We are truly lucky to be able to do so. Stay safe and healthy!
I truly enjoy each and every posting you ever make and I often refer back to your older lovely posts too. The design and love you put into your design world, your talent shines in your paintings, your lifestyle, and your big heart of kindness.
My husband and I never accepted the CV19 propaganda and viewed it as bad flu. Sadly for people with autoimmune disease, it is another story. We are healthy and active and haven’t skipped a beat. Recently we moved from Southern California ( we actually escaped the insanity) and moved to a peaceful, loving environment in Franklin, Tennessee which is truly God’s country. We feel fortunate to be able to enjoy this state and its many pleasures. Although we do not vaccinate with this plandemic, we wish you health and continued love and happiness. I truly admire you for all your gifts and your kindness to share with us.
Thank you so much for your kind, generous words. I am touched by them. Enjoy your new home – sounds like you have landed in the exact right spot! Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Wishing you all the best.
Carolyne with so much sadness in the world and anxiety in the world right now this is a a hopeful and powerful reminder that life goes on. That no matter what comes our way to we must pick up our head , catch our breath, and continue to look forward to the little things. Those are the touches in life that make the rough moments more tolerable. May God bless you and Simon and your animals ( extended fam) . Pray for beautiful reminders of your beautiful mom to make you smile or laugh out loud as if she is near. Much love ,
Ps my book is coming out next month !😍🙏🏻
Lisa – congratulations! Yes, life does go on and what we do to hold each other up and inspire each other along the way means everything. Wishing you all the best. Stay safe and stay healthy!
In the spirit of St Valentine’s Day, i love you!
Thank you, yet again, for a wonderful post.
Deb – thank you! Sending love your way as well! Have a wonderful day.
A beautiful capture of what we are all going through. So much loss along with an awakening of appreciation, experienced alone making it seem like a dream. Happy Valentines Day! Looking forward to better times.
Christine – there has been so much loss. But we are in it together and lately, there is also hope and a light at the end of this tunnel, I pray! Wishing you continued strength and moments of gratitude. It’s what keeps us all moving forward! Stay safe!
Carolyne, love your posting for Valentines Day since a it made me feel grateful for all the wonderful things I have and at times take for granted. I am most grateful for my husband of almost 22 years, my sisters ( I am one of 8 girls, no brothers!) and all my friends. I am especially grateful to Mother Nature who constantly enriches my life and has sustained me in innumerable small moments and reminds me that I am watched over even in this very strange time. Whether it’s looking out right now on a misty Manhattan skyline from my bedroom or gazing into the deep red petals of a rose on my nightstand, I never feel alone. Here is a link to a special Valentine photo of Mother Nature for you and your readers.
Tracy – thank you for the beautiful picture! 8 girls – that’s amazing! Your house must have been so joyful and busy growing up together. I love that you are finding moments of beauty and peace in nature – that has been my safe haven and daily inspiration as well during this difficult time. It’s there for us, we just need to pause, breathe and take it all in. Enjoy the day with your husband! Wishing you both all the best!
Cheers to a wonderful life that is beautifully lived. Elegance and luxury are beautifully and most tastefully displayed in everything you do. You are an incredible inspiration to many people. Please take care of yourself.
Happy Valentine !
George – thank you so much! I have been very careful and I am staying safe. Your kind words are so touching. Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Wishing you all the best.
You are an amazingly creative person with an astonishing eye. I wish you great health, joy, love and light always.
I am a Filipino architect who practices from Manila, Philippines. I’ve enjoyed watching all your videos on Susanna Salk’s Quientessence during our lockdown.
I hope to meet you one day. Your love for art, design, life and spirit is so wonderful to see.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you liked the videos – I think we all needed moments of entertainment during lockdown. Hoping you are healthy and well and that you’ve been able to carry on with your creative work at home. Wishing all the best. Please stay dafe!
You’re always a beautiful person and a beautiful woman.
You’re full of love, kindness, friendship and you’re so strong.
I sent you my admiration from France with all my heart.
Rodger – thank you so much for those kind words. I am sending you all my best as well! I hope you and your loved ones are well and staying safe. Keep going with your beautiful, positive attitude!
What a beautiful and loving story. Thank you for sharing. He must be an extraordinary man to first plan the most wonderful lunch! No wonder he is still in your life and caring for you so! I am so happy to know you have someone so loving to share life with. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both!❤️
Cassandra – thank you so much. I consider myself very lucky. I hope you are well and staying safe!
I always enjoy your posts and beautiful photos…and I have some of your beautiful books I keep on my coffee table to read. I am sad to read about the loss of your beautiful Mother, and one of your dear pups, and hope that your love and special memories help to comfort you.
In August of 2019, we moved from California to Oregon to our retirement home, leaving behind my family and many friends. We planned to have people visit us and stay in our guest room, dinner parties with new neighbors, and visiting the beautiful sights of Oregon. I was very busy unpacking and planning the layout of the garden. I was anxious to plant roses and Camellias, and a small salad garden. Sadly, my husband lost his life in a tragic car accident four months later, just before Christmas. It has been very challenging on many levels, especially the forced isolation due to the pandemic, and being away from everyone I know and love.
My goals are the same…to get my home organized, the gardens planted, continue my cooking, read my books and play music, and I am learning the guitar! I lean into my Faith and treasure life and all the beauty it offers. I so look forward to being able to spend time with family and friends as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Thank you for sharing your updates and beautiful photos with us. Happy New Year! I wish you love and many blessings!
I am so incredibly sorry for your tragic loss. I cannot imagine the pain you have been feeling. The loss of not only a life built together and all those amazing plans you had together breaks my heart. But I sense your strength and I am floored by it – your steps and will to keep going in his honor are incredible. The fact that you are learning to play a new instrument is amazing. I hope those notes become songs that fill your heart with hope. Wishing you continued strength and memories that bring you peace and eventually, a smile. All my best to you.
You reminded me that even though I have been alone a long time. I had the blessing of someone who loved me very much.
Lillie – that is one of life’s greatest gifts. The time we share with those that we love in that way is never enough, but it is unparalleled and irreplaceable. How lucky we are. Hope you are doing well and staying safe!
I’m an architect from Manila, Philippines and have enjoyed watching your videos with Susanna Salk in Quintessence. You are an amazingly creative person with an astonishing eye!
Stay happy, healthy and always in love with life
Manny – “in love with life” – I adore that phrase. We all need to stay that way, despite the hardships we have faced. All my best to you.
HE IS A KEEPER!
WE ALL KNEW THAT BEFORE WE SAW THE SNOW TABLE AND CHAIR!!!
Ha! Thank you so much! I tend to agree;).
Somehow I missed your lovely celebration of love at the snow table. What a delightful romantic relationship you have. He’s truly the perfect match for you. Glad to hear you’re doing so beautifully despite this crazy pandemic!
Sending warm thoughts your way,
Linda – we have had moments of struggle during this pandemic just like everyone else! But we feel so fortunate to be healthy and in each other’s company. Support systems are everything during this difficult time. Maintaining a sense of humor and finding the joy in the little things do not hurt either;). Hope you and your loved ones are safe and getting by OK. Wishing you time outside to feel refreshed and renewed!