Winter is flying by, and suddenly we're making plans for Valentine's Day. If you are planning to go out to dinner to celebrate, I suggest you make your reservation immediately. Since it is on a Friday this year I think a lot more people will be going out that night.

You might do better reserving for Saturday or Sunday, especially since Monday is President's Day and many people have the day off. Tersiguel's and Cacao Lane get my vote for being the most romantic places to dine in the historic district.

If, like me, you prefer to fix an intimate dinner at home for your love, you can find your props on Main Street, too. Go to Wessel's Florist for a sweet bouquet, Sweet Cascades for decadent chocolates, and the Wine Bin for the perfect accompaniment to your dinner. By the way, congratulations to the Wine Bin on five years in business. They are a great asset to the historic district community with their outdoor movie series in the summertime and their support of so many events.

For other special gifts, try Discoveries, at 8055 Main St. It is having a "blowout sale" with 20 percent off a large selection of gemstones and silver jewelry. They have lots of Ravens jewelry and photos as well. Sounds like a good place to shop for Valentine's Day.

History supper

The Elkridge Furnace Inn is hosting a history supper on Sunday, Feb. 9, from noon to 2:30 p.m. Guest speaker is Helen Mitchell, director of Women's Studies at Howard Community College. She will offer a presentation on Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps, the renowned head of the Patapsco Female Institute during its heyday in the 19th century.

Phelps is an important figure in Ellicott City history as well as in the progress of education for women in the United States. She rejected the idea that women need only learn etiquette and deportment and offered her students biology and math as well.

Reservations are required for the three-course supper, which costs $32.50 plus tax and service. Reservations can be made by calling 410-379-9336.

Historical society speaker

The Howard County Historical Society is featuring guest speaker Philip J. Merrill at the Miller Library on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 2:30 p.m. Merrill is an expert on African-American historic memorabilia and culture, and is an appraiser on the Maryland Public Television show "Chesapeake Collectibles." He is also the author of two books, "The Black America Series: Baltimore," and "The Art of Collecting Black Memorabilia." This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Call 410-313-1950.

Winter to Spring

As I said before, the season is moving right along, and one of our favorite local artists is recording this progress. Wiley Purkey is spending the winter at Perspectives Art Gallery, 8191 Main St., creating 24 large studio paintings depicting Howard County landscapes as they transform from winter into spring. He will paint at the gallery every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March 2.

Restaurant Weeks

Winter restaurant weeks are over now, and my husband Tom and I enjoyed the offerings at several local restaurants. Planning for the next offering this summer, I hope participating restaurants consider a few things.

First, it would be great to be able to see the special menu offerings in advance. Not all restaurants posted their offerings on line, and we tended not to go to those where we didn't know the menu. Also, I wish more restaurants would offer a lunch special in addition to the dinner one.

I would like to give a shout out to Grille 620, and to Baldwin Station (they participate even though they are in Carroll County) for offering very creative, original and reasonably priced special menu items during this time.