Roses are Red…

12 Ways to Enjoy (or SURVIVE!) Valentine’s Day

Normally when someone talks about Valentine’s Day I’m the first to retort with a “bah humbug” and a dissertation on the evils of commercialized holidays. You see, I believe that love (and chocolate) should be celebrated everyday! That being said I’d like to offer the following ways to make the day special no matter your relationship status or your political slant towards cupid.

1. Gifts: There is always the traditional notion of flowers and candy. These can be affordable even if you are on a budget and what girl doesn’t love both?! but for a really unique gift idea why not peruse the local antique stores? There are several downtown and you are sure to find something to surprise and delight that special guy or girl. Whatever your taste or budget be sure to shop local!

2. Be My Valentine: Don’t forget the card. Remember those old school Valentines you use to make and send as a kid? An old fashioned Valentine (with a spritz of perfume or cologne) is sure to be swoon-worthy, especially if it shows up in the mail. Imagine the surprise of a handwritten note among the junk mail and bills.

3. Must Love Dogs: Sometimes you just need to hug a puppy. The Humane Society is always looking for volunteers, why not spend the day helping ease the hearts of some unwanted animals? You might even find a new love there! On a related note, if you already have a dog there is a great new dog park open in Kiwanis Park. You could treat Sparky to a run and meet other dog lovers in the area.

4. Tunes for the Troops: Maybe you have a loved one that is currently deployed. Why not pop a USB or CD full of music in that care package. And ok, I’m going to show my age, we need to bring back the mixtape! You know what I’m talking about and you know you loved them! Your special mix of 80’s hair band ballads and Marvin Gaye is sure to get their toes tapping. No compilation is complete without some Miles Davis. Check out “It Never Entered My Mind”, a very romantic song indeed

5. Luck Be A Lady: The Isle of Capri has dinner specials, slots by the dozens and live music. If it’s warm enough check out the patio upstairs at Keller’s, it is beautiful and quite relaxing.

6. Lunch at First Bite: Maybe one or both of you are working the evening of Valentine’s Day. Why not meet for a lunch date? Broussard’s has a great menu and you could enjoy a walk down by the river after lunch. Don’t forget that Katy O’ Ferrells  is now open for lunch.  You could warm your heart with an Irish coffee and a shepherd’s pie.  either way you get a great lunch and then you get to think about each other the rest of the day – how’s that for romantic?

7. Play and Be Crafty: Moms, we are lucky to have several arts and crafts places in our area. One such places is Cateye Glasses Studio. They offer art classes for kids and adults. Or if you don’t think paint and your kiddo mix you could make an afternoon of fun out of the Discovery Playhouse. They have all kinds of kid-friendly exhibits.

8. Dinner and a Movie: If you are more the traditional type, Bella Italia and Rays of Kelso are sure to please. Both are a lovely choice for a romantic dinner before heading out to cuddle up during a movie.

9. Happy Hour: Cathy at the Library Bar puts on an amazing happy hour on Fridays. Relax in the upscale ambiance while enjoying a bite to eat, good music and of course great company. The Library is a very popular destination for all age groups over 21! And if you haven’t checked out her new edition, The Study, you are in for a real treat.

10. Quality Time: This is a great day to spend time with a family member. You could Netflix a night in and watch old movies or go out for something fun like pedicures or a day at the spa. Don’t forget My Daddy Cheesecake for a sweet treat.

11. Shake Your Groove Thing: Rude Dog, Rhymer’s, the VFW and Whiskey River always have something fun lined up for the weekend. Grab your boogie shoes and check out the calendar at for events and times:

12. All you Jacksonites – I didn’t forget you! For a fantastic lunch or breakfast check out the Hickory House.  Their food is simply amazing.  I’m talking made from scratch home style meals and a dessert case that will capture your heart. Also – check out the new BG’s Jackson location.

Well there you have it. With so many fun things to do in our area it is hard to narrow it down. No matter how you spend the day or who you choose to spend it with, always believe in the magic of love. (And chocolate.)

As written for


Date Night at Ray’s of Kelso

His dad said, “Give them the best you can give them and a fair shake every time. You’ll never go wrong.” Being born into that philosophy has garnered Ray Ressel of Ray’s of Kelso, much success. 2014 is a special year because it marks 10 years for Ray’s in the in the original Farmers and Merchants Bank of Kelso building. It also marks the turning of the golden anniversary, or 50 years for the Ray’s family name in the restaurant business.

So what does such a long tradition in the restaurant industry mean for Ray? It means quality first, in both food and service. It means constantly working and changing to keep up with the current trends in taste. To accomplish such a paramount task, Ray draws on his 20 years experience as a chef. It also doesn’t hurt that he basically grew up in the industry. When he was 12 years old the family opened Ray’s House of Pizza and Steaks in their family home. When asked what he thought about his home turned restaurant Ray remarks, “I didn’t give it a second thought; I thought it was normal.” Ray started helping the family when he was a young boy and has worked to instill that sense of family into his current operations. Today his grandson can be seen “helping” in the dining room and greeting guests. With a smile Ray remarks, “He’s been walking around with me since he was a year old, it’s almost like he owns the place.”
Ray and his wife, Cindy, started this endeavor over 10 years ago. He says, “Our real goal was not to open a restaurant. It was to open an arts and crafts store. That’s why all the art is on the wall.” Ray explains that there was a cappuccino area in the store that was popular. He says that all the customers were stopping in and telling him how much they missed his dads pizzas and steaks. Laughing, Ray says, “We quickly switched directions!”

And thank goodness they did! Ray and his wife started with the main restaurant and have since expanded to the Whiteford House, the Outdoor Courtyard, Ray’s Banquet Center and Catering. When asked about the expansion to the Whiteford House Ray says, “We were so busy we were constantly turning people away. I needed a way to expand without damaging the look of the building.” With the outdoor seating he felt the acquisition of the property next door made sense. Each area offers its own personality to guests while still maintaining the integrity of the dishes that have made Ray’s of Kelso famous.



When asked how he does it, Ray says he enjoys the fast paced environment and the challenge in the kitchen. He likens himself to a more demure Chef Gordon Ramsey when it comes to running the ship. When asked how he manages all the moving parts between the locations he says, ” I’ve got a lot of good people!”

When it comes to the amazing menu Ray explains that they wanted to bring back a touch of the 60’s and 70’s style with the table-side flambé. He remarks, “You had the N’Orleans and the Purple Crackle but once they were gone nobody was doing it anymore.” He says it’s like any generation cycle, “It all comes back around.” Ray says they are known for his dad’s pizza and all their flambé dishes, especially the Steak Diane and the Bananas Foster.

I was curious about the flambé experience so I ordered the Steak Diane. All I can say is that it is fabulous. The steak melts in your mouth and the lump crab meat takes it over the top. Dining at Ray’s of Kelso is a full sensory experience. The ambiance has a quiet charm. You are surrounded by interesting artwork in a historic setting. The staff is knowledgeable and attentive, like a well oiled machine. And the food is simply delightful both in taste and in presentation. As I sipped my wine and enjoyed the soft sounds of Michael Buble playing in the background, my day just melted away. Rays of Kelso is a truly a great place for a date night, or to unwind after a long day.


As written for

Ray’s of Kelso is located at 151 South Messmer St Kelso, Mo 63758

Reservations are recommended