Q is for Quality Time

by Pauline Reneaux

One of my favorite months has arrived! February, the month that we often associate with chocolate, hearts, and red roses. Often you will find people fall into one of two categories, pre-Valentine candy sales and post Valentine candy sales, but I would like to add more than candy hearts with words to your inbox. Q is for Quality Time is such an appropriate topic this month. While at times it feels like I have turned being single into a vocation, and most singles aren’t fans of the day, I love, love, love Valentine’s Day and the overall mood that it places on the month.

As an empty nester, having any opportunity to spend time with my kids is a gift. Since I frequently bake and incorporate my beautiful cakes into the pieces I write, I thought this would be the perfect time to do that again. I am in the process of teaching my boys to cook, so that they can truly be helpmates to their wives one day, so I thought that I would also teach them to bake. My daughter and I adore the British pastry chef, Paul Hollywood, so over all, my plan was going to be a win-win.

I inquired with my boys’ girlfriends to find out their favorite cake. Needless to say I was beyond excited when both girls responded to my text, “red velvet.” My baking hobby had not led me to a red velvet cake as of yet, so off I went to Pinterest for inspiration. When you bake a cake from scratch there is such an incredible difference in the final product. So I set out with three different Pinterest pins as inspiration to create a red velvet cake, with cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate ganache to drizzle across the top, sprinkling semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolates as garnish. I had everything to create my perfect culinary work of art.

Last month the magazine had an article, Expect the Unexpected and though I read it, I never dreamed I would be putting Jennifer’s words of wisdom in place this month with my own piece. This was THE first time one of my bundt cakes had not turned out perfectly. In my disappointment, I couldn’t help but laugh with my kids because I knew it was not Paul Hollywood worthy; but I was on a mission. I had a photo to take, and quality time to spend with my kids. It wasn’t like a Chevy Chase scene from the movie Vacation, but trying to save my red velvet masterpiece became the mission. While some would say I needed to bake a second cake, something more important came to mind.

In today’s society, people have become so obsessed with the perfect photo and selfie that they are missing out on precious moments and quality time with those they love. We had so much fun as a family trying to salvage this cake. And watching my youngest son’s girlfriend as she ate her favorite cake, that I had constructed with love, from scratch, as she closed her eyes and savored every bite was a delight.

“This is the best red velvet cake that I have ever eaten.”

She was embracing the moment.

She was not concerned with the outward appearance.

She was enjoying our family time … our quality time.

And that, my friends, is what I had set out to do all along. In embracing the unexpected, we were able to enjoy laughter, an amazing cake, and, yes, quality time.

So this month, share some quality time with those you love. I can promise you that your heart will be filled with love when you do.


To learn more about Pauline Reneaux, visit her blog at She welcomes email at

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