How to Survive February

What is up with this month? It can never seem to make up its mind. How many days should I have? it wonders. And every four years it decides to toss in one more. Should I dump two or three feet of snow–yeah, why not. And why not follow that with temperatures in the 60s, just to tease everybody before I throw out some ice, more snow and drop that temp to freeze butts off.
February’s a sociopath.
I deal with it by staying home, out of its chuckling way. And if I have to go out, I simply count down the time until I’ll be back inside. And in that way, I use February’s mad ego to get lots of stuff done.
I write, I cook, I workout, I finish my full-house purge, I read, I watch TV. While I might think wistfully of spring, of digging in the dirt, throwing open the windows, I remind myself I don’t have to go out there to get things done. I’m thinking that right now as the chilly rain’s pounding outside in the dull, gray February gloom.
When I finish this blog, I’ll go out to my little gym and for about 90 minutes, I’ll be too focused on me–the sweat, the doing–to care about the stupid rain or the lumps of snow that have yet to melt.
I did the same yesterday–I run on routine–then (as Laura predicted) I spent a big chunk of the day in the kitchen. If it’s got to be winter, you might as well spend some of your Sunday making a good, rich beef stew–and drop in some dumplings. [Note from Laura — there’s no recipe, Nora just went with the flow on this one.] I had, for some reason, a surplus of eggs, so made my man very happy by deviling some.
Stew with dumplings
Deviled eggs
Today, I may fuss around the house. I might bake some bread. Since a rainy day provides the perfect backdrop, I may sit in front of the fire and read. February, for all its smirking smugness gives us all the opportunity to reflect on what we like to do in our own snug spaces. Surviving it just means allowing ourselves to do just that before spring comes and we throw open the windows again.
If I choose the fire and the book today, it will be To Kill A Mockingbird. We lost a literary luminary in Harper Lee. For me, Mockingbird is as close to a perfect book as ever written, and its beauty, its power, its voice lives on. I’ve read it countless times, and each time it grabs my heart, engages my mind, enlightens and entertains me.
As does the movie adaptation. Every time I’m told: No, no movie from your books–they’ll ruin it, they always do, I think of the brilliant film based on Harper Lee’s masterpiece. Again, for me, as close to perfection as it gets. There are other adaptations that hit that mark for me, but this is the standard. Yes, it can be done, and done beautifully. In fact, I may pull out my DVD and watch the movie again, too.
Thanks, February, you crazy bitch, for giving me a crappy Sunday to do just exactly what I want to do.
Now, just a little note. As often happens when a new In Death comes out, we revisit the calls for babies, kindly grandmothers–and Brotherhood’s no exception. I’ll repeat here Eve is NOT pregnant, not getting pregnant, and will not find some loving blood relation. I won’t get into all the reasons as I’ve done so before. But I also realize there are people new to the blog and/or FB who may not have read the previous blogs where I explain those reasons.

Enjoy your countdown to February’s inevitable demise, and take a day to do what you most want to do.


45 thoughts on “How to Survive February”

  1. YES, February is a fickle, crazy bitch indeed! LOL. I think we should take the whole month off! Your beef stew with dumplings looks so yummy! I’ve never had dumplings in beef stew. Please Nora, share the recipe with us ! Thanks! ?

    1. Love your books with food in them I look on the internet for recipes when February hits food books and a fire are the reasons to carry on.

    2. february for us is HEAT and MORE HEAT love your books and for god’s sake no babies for eve and rourke!! but also love the dark series I am currently reading . I have only one request that you keep writing so I can keep reading.
      sue Mansfield
      Sydney australia

  2. The beef stew with dumplings looks delicious.
    Would you consider sharing your recipe, please?

    1. Hi Donna,

      As Nora replied just above, she doesn’t really do recipes. Blog about that coming soon.


      1. I have found out one thing about not using a recipe that you should not do. Never try to tell a non user’s recipe to a recipe user. I got the ” Well how much?” which is really frustrating because I’ve seen my dad make it but never knew the quantities.

  3. I laughed as I read the post in my email. I had to log in and check out the comments because i just knew , after so much about the hot chocolate, that someone was going to ask for a recipe.
    Stew and a good book does sound like an inviting way to while away a long-lingering winter Sunday.

  4. Nora, I couldn’t agree more with your rant about February! My grandmother use to say that February might be the shortest month of the year, but it sure as hell feels like the longest!! And what is beef stew without dumplings, I say. I did dig out my DVD of To Kill A Mockingbird, and will watch it today. The book truly is a masterpiece, and the casting of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch was pitch perfect, IMO! Wondering if you read “Go Set A Watchman” and if you did, what did you think. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m I sure I will eventually. RIP Harper Lee.

  5. Here in Shelbyville, Ky. Rainy morning with some thunder thrown in. Love mornings like this. I’m one of those people who enjoy rainy days. Movies sound like a good deal for the day! Maybe an old Stephen King classic. My favorite. 🙂

  6. First, Congrats on Brotherhood being #1 on the best sellers list!

    I love rainy and/or cold days. As you said the perfect reason to do so many things indoors. Chicken soup (cuban style) is on our menu. After I get everything in the pot, I’m going to indulge in a reread. Haven’t had enough of the sweetness that is Dennis Mira.

  7. It is breakfast time here and yet you, with your stews and chicken soups, are making me want to go straight to Sunday dinner. Isn’t it crazy how just the words can make you smell the food, bring up warm, comfortable memories? I’m off to cook something…

    Laura – thanks for the delete; glad you like the name.

  8. I love February despite all the flaws you listed. I am a hardcore NASCAR fan and today is the start of their season. YAY!! I only have about 2 more hours to wait for the Daytona 500.

  9. Thanks for the Mira’s!!
    I am almost thru reading it, but in Texas it is 75 degrees, but I am making my mother’s Chicken n Dumplings and cornbread with a glass of ice cold Sweet Tea. Enjoy the rest of February!!

  10. Even living in Florida, February can be fickle. Maybe we don’t have ice and snow but we do have days of rain, crazy chilly winds (as I live by the ocean) and then temperatures all over the place. We usually have lots of company in January and February, as friends escape the cold, ice and snow of the north. This year most of our company, for various reasons, were not able to make the trip. So I find myself reading more, doing my own cleaning out of closets, cabinets and draws and experimenting with some recipes and of course reading. Have to tell you that Brotherhood was an exceptionally great book for me. As in all continuing series, you find some that really grab you and this one did for me. I laughed and cried and just really enjoyed! Looking forward to the next one, as always! Enjoy your February!!!

  11. I have to smile, reading about the recipes, remembering my mom asking her mother-in-law how she made fudge. The real stuff, from the tin of cocoa. Every time Grand made it, she poured it out of the sauce pan onto the plate with barely a skim of chocolate left in the pan. Immediately it would set up perfectly on the platter. No matter how often Mom (and later I) tried, we always ended up with either cutting half of the set fudge from the pan or dealing with the never-setting chocolate goo on the platter. We followed the recipe on the tin, Grand just threw the ingredients in. Gran tried, she really did, to give Mom a credible recipe for making the fudge. Then they got to butter. Gran said “a walnut” of butter. Mom just looked at her. Finally, Mom asked, “Is that a big walnut or a small walnut?”. I’m still laughing, and over the years I’ve gone to Gran’s way of cooking. It’s all about practice.

  12. To this day, when someone asks me what’s my favorite movie, I answer, To Kill a Mockingbird. That movie had a huge impact on my life. Rest in peace, Harper Lee.

  13. There always has to be one voice of dissent, doesn’t there? Guess today it’s my turn. I LOVE February. Of course, I live in Arkansas. February to me means easter lilies showing their green with barely a touch of yellow peeking through the buds, the return of robins, and flowering trees showing the first hint of spring.

    I’m with you on the recipes, though. Every time someone asks me how I made something, I have to stop and review how I made it, and decide if the person I’m talking to can possibly understand a smidgen or a pinch.

  14. February is like a bad tooth that stops aching as soon as you sit your butt in the dentist’s chair!

    Finally able to walk on the sidewalks here…who knows where the sidewalk plows were…but it enabled the dog and I to do some much needed long walks!

    Now back to binge reading the Walt Longmire series during the day…and finishing up the last of the Quinn books at night!

  15. I’ll know Friday if I got Brotherhood for a birthday present! If not, you better believe I’ll be at the store buying it Saturday morning! But today is the Daytona 500 and the start of the Sprint Cup racing season so my butt will be parked on my couch for the next 5 hours!! Then horse racing is winding up for the Kentucky Derby! Hopefully a trip to Kentucky to visit my favorite horse retirement farm Old Friends! (Part of my bucket list) February can be downright frigid here or semi passible with rain, cold, snow, and sometimes a beautiful day thrown in . All I know is re-reading Nora’s books gets me through a rough winter, always on the edge of my seat waitng for the new ones to come out! Bless you Nora for your humorous insight and blogs. They always brighten my day!

  16. Unfortunately the fickle February weather messes with my already chronic allergies! Because mother nature is so bi-polar this month, I usually end up with what my mother calls the ‘crud’. So off yo the the clinic to get a steroid shot in my back end. The only good thing about my being there is that I got to read The Brotherhood uninterrupted for 4 hours and that was before I was put in an examining room to wait yet again. I, like Eve, have a soft spot for Dennis and I love how you spin the plot. As with all of your books it was wonderful! I have 2 things that are the top of my bucket list. One is to meet you, and the other is to see Ireland as I have so many times through your eyes in your books!

  17. Yes February is very fickle. I also live in Maryland (just outside of Annapolis). Looks like we’re in for lots of rain this week. Now all of a sudden I’m in the mood for some deviled eggs (I love them).

  18. Sorry to hear about your crappy weather but it sounds like you have good remedies in place! Finally it is sunny in Ohio but the backyard is a swamp. When I heard that Harper Lee had died I decided that I will read To Kill A Mockingbird again. I am undecided about reading Go Set A Watchman. I loved reading about the Mira’a in Brotherhood. Knowing more about them makes me love both of them more.

  19. Having to wonder if people actually read your blog when they ask for your recipes and it states that you didn’t actually have a recipe. Too funny…
    As for me here in my corner of Texas, (Austin) It is cloudy and over cast with occasional water falling, (spitting actually here and there) I bought the ingredients for a beef stew yesterday and it is all in the pot simmering to perfection. I don’t use a recipe either, just throw what ever I have on hand in and let it simmer. I can’t do the dumplings because I ran out of flour and forgot to pick it up at the store, but I am going to make a nice big pan of cornbread.
    I can’t agree more about Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird. Sadly I lost my book and my dvd in the flood that took most of all that I ever owned. But it all can be replaced a little at a time. This time around I am only replacing what I truly loved. I have ordered both, the book and the movie. I truly marvel at Harper Lee and her talent.
    My son and fiancé drove in from Wisconsin and arrived yesterday. They are on their way over to indulge with me a movie that I haven’t seen. San Andreas. Then later on we will share a meal. I really want to spend as much time with family today and so I will.
    February isn’t really giving us too many problems lately other than the unusual mild weather. January and February are usually the coldest of the cold with snow and ice, but not this year. As I look out my window, I have new leaves budding out on my trees, our wild roses are blooming along with the little sprouts of other tender flowers. Not once this year did I ever dig thru my winter clothes and pull out my favorite jammies and robe. I would have loved just one day to have been able to light my fireplace and just sit in front of the fire and read. Maybe next year.
    Have a wonderful Sunday and I will look forward to reading your next blog! Beth

  20. I agree February is a sociopath one more week to go. This week had temps in the beginning 20’s & 30’s. Next was in the 50’s back to high 20’s with snow, then up to 60 with very high wind gusts, back to 30’s this week with snow flurry’s. Can not wait for spring but have been reading more books lately. I read To kill a mockingbird many years ago will need to get a copy and reread it.

  21. Mockingbird is my favorite book in the world. Just doesn’t get any better. I agree about the movie as well… Mr. Peck is amazing.

  22. Again, another lovely blog entry. I just love your writing style. Reading even simple things like a blog, so much like your books. I am drawn in. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful talent. You remain my absolute favorite writer. Your words just do it for me.

    Feb is a bitch. Sitting here in Pgh on a strangely for Pgh sunny day as we rarely have much sun, I am saddened you have a cold rain pelting your windowpanes. Brrr.

    Enjoy the Harper Lee book and/or movie, a great loss indeed.

  23. I totally agree about To Kill A Mockingbird! Both the book and movie. It is one of my favorite books ever. Also, February has been very strange in Minnesota also. Thanks for writing everything. I enjoy your writing very much.

  24. We are having a “climate change ” February in Southern California. Last week in L.A. the temps were in the mid to high 80s — then a little cool down for 2 days while we had a “little sprinkle” — now warming up to 70s then 80s again. As a transplanted New York City gal, I do have vivid memories of February and great chicken soup days. Today, out here in LA-LA land, the taste buds go to shrimp cocktails and Lobster Fest at Red Lobster. As I look out my office window at this balmy “Spring” day, there is the slightest breeze — you have to really look to see a stirring leaf. So-o-o-o where is
    El Nino???? They tell us “wait until March.” OK — we’ll wait.

  25. Arizona unseasonably warm and sunny. Must be up at the crack of dawn to get the dog walked before the sun pops up. Air conditioning running at least during the day.
    You are right, February is a Sociopath.

  26. I changed my attitude about February. Living in New England we have a saying up here if you don’t like the weather now, wait a bit it will change. February is not so bad it gives us Valentine’s Day. After last year in the New England area I do not hear many New Englanders complaining . this weekend was decent at least 50 degrees but the coming week may be a snow/ rain mixture. I will live with it because it will change. I enjoy the blogs thank you to both Nora & Laura for doing it. Nora your cooking looks good, thank you for sharing another one of your talents. I am looking forward to The Obsession. I loved Brotherhood in death, if Dennis Mira is in his 60’s was he born in 1991?

  27. I love reading your blogs. The beef stew with dumplings looked tasty. I’ve never read To Kill A Mockingbird, but I have seen the movie. great movie. I also wonder if some people really read these blogs, because you have said many times that when you cook, you don’t usually have a recipe for what you’re making. Though, everything I’ve ever seen, that you’ve cooked looks fantastic. can’t wait for the recipe blog lol cause you and I both know it’s coming. Have a great Sunday!

  28. I couldn’t agree more. Cooking and books are a good way to spend a February/winter day.

    I am one of those people who have to have directions to follow when cooking, especially if it is the first time for a dish. Don’t have enough experience cooking complex dishes to do without a recipe.

  29. I think January is worse than February. When it snows, sleets and freezes in February, I can tell myself that March and spring is right around the corner. Last sunday, we had a record low here in Eve & Roarke’s town- NYC- it was -1 below zero, with -20 below wind chill factor. It set a record low for 100 years. I was out for 5 minutes, bundled up like an eskimo, but my eyeballs were not covered, & even they felt cold. I was scared the pipes in my house would freeze. It happened all around the town.

    First of all- my hat’s off to Nora. With all the writing you do, not to mention the cooking ,purging, etc- to carve out 45 minutes to exercize, when you are in such great shape- is just the height of discipline. I must have been absent when they gave it out.

    The adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” does give me hope- that they can do a great job filming the In Death world. Providing, of course, that Nora is the screenwriter, with full cast and story approval, etc. To me, the hardest part is finding a quality, gorgeous actor to play Roarke. Good Luck on that one!

  30. February is a cold, cruel month of craziness ’round here. She’s taken a young friend and some old ones I didn’t get to meet that others’ loved. It’s difficult, at best; paired with school’s morbid poetry I must read as I wonder if my purpose in life is to provide my boyfriend with yet another fan(he usually buys them). and await the February version of IN DEATH, which I’m reading now. I do love a gruesome death. And I’d love a blog on the cooking, it sounds like the way my boyfriend cooks…some nights. Other nights, we combine two or three recipes…but you hit a note with us, and thank you, for letting Eve focus on her work instead of going the traditional route everyone screams for her to take to make their surprises a little “less” accidental;-)…

  31. I really don’t care that much for February. Janueary I don’t mind as recovering from holidays, parties etc etc.
    But February? Let’s move… faster… please?… 😀
    In my Country it gets Springly in February, but not enough to go putter around the garden and that’s what I really crave after the worst of Winter.
    And don’t mess with Nature – I could spend my cabin fever hours doing a sign with this saying for the Garden 😉 – because I know by experience that if I force nature it will be a waste of effort, money and time…
    Not that desperate to hit the kitchen though 😉

  32. February has long been my least favorite month, nasty weather that never seems to end. Even though it is the shortest month, it goes on forever. I think I need to take your approach , Nora, and devote myself to inside purging and some garden catalog shopping.
    I never share my recipes, as I am a seat-of-the-pants cook who creates with a pinch of this and a little of that. People give you that accusatory look and say “But mine didn’t taste like yours at all!” when you are bullied enough into sharing!
    I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” when I was in high school and the book first came out (I still have that book, falling apart and reread multiple times). I can point to it as life changing for me and it never disappoints on a reread.
    I am very happy that there are no babies for Eve and Roarke and what would Eve need with more blood kin? They could be just as disturbing as the two she knows. She has her kindly and supportive family right now with her widening circle of friends.

    Thank you , Nora for “Brotherhood” and all the “in Death” books. They are wonderful!

  33. I am a HUGE Nora Roberts Fan and love everything she writes. I especially loved Nora’s books that take place in Ireland. Finally, I will be lucky enough to make my first trip to Ireland this March. Cannot wait to see the beauty that has been described in her books. I am even going to be brave and experience a “hawk walk” at Ashford Castle! I have wanted to do this since reading about it in the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy. Cannot wait!

  34. Somehow I missed this post. You are so right on about Februrary! But as my husband says, he works so that he can have things around him that he likes. When he has time off or is stuck inside, he enjoys being around those things he has. (Let’s assume I am one of those things.)

  35. Call me crazy I love February. I used to snowboard during that month. Ah, nice memories. I get a lot of reading in and just finished Homeport and loved it. I’m snugged in editing, cooking and reading. I love to bake more than cook but do both. There’s nothing like quite like homemade chicken tortellini soup to take the chill out.

  36. only blessing about February; the snowdrops & snow crocus are up & blooming here in SW Ohio. I should be seeing catkins on the pussy willow very soon, and if it hadn’t been raining so hard this morning, I might have seen them this morning. The branches looked a bit “bumpier” than they had the last couple days, but hard to really look in a blowing rain!

    and, Spring Training has commenced! Another sign of Spring on it’s way! Now if the Reds would just quit trading off all their good players while bleating “rebuilding”!

  37. February-such a dichotomy of emotions. Football is ended, but then, joy of joys, SPRING TRAINING. Oh yeah, good weather is coming – sometime.

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