‘They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.’ -Bil Keane
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And it seems that everywhere you look there’s a flurry of red and pink, hearts, flowers, chocolates, and balloons.
At home, we’ve been giving lots of extra hugs and kisses. I’m keeping the atmosphere sweet and cozy by keeping our fire going, lighting more candles in the evenings, playing lots of romantic French cafe tunes, and perusing my romantic poetry books. I keep going back to the pocket sized pale pink booklet my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day several years ago.
For many, Valentine’s Day is focused primarily on romantic love. And this certainly is a wonderful time to reflect on your sweetheart’s charming qualities, as well as plan a romantic evening alone together if at all possible.
But as a family, we also try to create a celebration of love and togetherness for all those who hold a special place in our hearts. Of course, we want to include our romantic partner in our Valentine plans but we also want to include time for our parents, brothers and sisters, and other esteemed family and friends.
Here are a few of the things we’ve been enjoying together in anticipation of Valentine’s Day:
On February 1st, we began our 14 days of love countdown by hanging our Valentine advent calendar. I stock it daily with small essentials such as pencils, erasers, and notepads. (We try to save the sweets for Valentine’s Day.)
We’ve been reading through our small but treasured collection of Valentine’s Day books. We have a few lighthearted picture books the boys ask to read over and over, such as Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George. but the book I most look forward to reading each year is Saint Valentine retold by Robert Sabuda. I had a passion for children’s books long before I had children. In fact, I often prefer to educated myself about a subject of interest from high quality illustrated children’s books whenever possible. Saint Valentine is such a book! Beautifully illustrated in mosaics, Saint Valentine tells the story of Valentine, a physician, and how he treats and heals a blind girl. It explores the history of modern romantic Valentine’s Day customs and explains how they’re based on both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. I don’t want to spoil all the fun so I’ll leave the rest for you to discover.
We’ve been having a blast working on our favorite Valentine’s Day crafts. We like to keep our crafting projects pretty simple. I do enjoy going to the craft store. However, my trips are fairly limited these days, as it’s not as easy with three young children in tow, ha! Hence, most of our crafting projects consist of materials we have on hand.
For the last several years, the boys have enjoyed making their own heart shaped crayons.
The boys gather old crayons lying around the house and then I use an X-acto knife to remove any remaining paper. The X-acto knife, be careful not to cut yourself, is really quite helpful. Scratching that paper off one itty bitty piece at a time is irksome! Trust me! (We even tried soaking the crayons first to no avail.)
The boys fill each little silicon heart mold. Then, I put them in the oven to bake at 230 degrees for 15 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and allow the crayons to cool and harden. Then pop your new crayons out of the mold!
Birdseed Wedding Cakes:
Another Valentine’s Day legend holds that February 14 is the day that birds choose their mates. We try to remember our feathered friends each year by scattering a little wedding feast. Sometimes, we merely sprinkle the bird seed but a simple craft we enjoy is making up heart shaped birdseed ‘wedding cakes’.
To prepare the mixture, cook three small packets of Knox gelatin as directed.
Pour over 2 & 1/4 cups of birdseed. Stir the mixture until evenly coated.
Spoon your mixture into heart shaped molds and flatten. Allow the cakes to harden and dry.
You can add string or tie your cake with a ribbon to hang but we’ve been leaving ours out on a stand like real wedding cakes. The kids are getting such a kick out of watching for visiting ‘lovebirds’.
For more detailed instructions, here’s a great tutorial. We tripled our batch and used our hearts silicon mold instead of a cookie cutter. (Also, some people mentioned problems with mold. We made sure to allow our cakes dry well and are storing them in the refrigerator until setting them outside.)
The third craft that we’ve been enjoying for a couple of years is making our own Valentine puzzles. I first saw these puzzles on Pinterest several years ago and knew the boys would love them! Plus, it’s so easy and makes a lovely, personalized gift too! You just need Mod Podge, a brush, popsicle sticks, a photo, an X-acto knife, and a pen (if you want to write a secret message on the back).
Simply apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the back of your photo and lay popsicle sticks across it. Then, flip the whole thing over and apply another thin coat of Mod Podge to the front of you photo. Allow it to dry and write your secret message on the back if desired.
Finally, use that X-acto knife again, very carefully of course, to cut between the popsicle sticks and you have your very own puzzle!
For one of our new DIY projects this year my oldest wanted to make a family tic-tac-toe board.
He painted the board on a slice of birch and added all of our names. So sweet!
We used this Sculpey oven bake clay to shape our Xs and Os.
Then, we baked our playing pieces in the oven at 275 degrees for 15 minutes. And voila! We have a new family board game!
We’ve still been having our healthy hot chocolate a couple times a week. And we’ve made our chocolate covered cherry smoothies with coconut whipped cream several times as well.
But what’s really getting the boys excited for afternoon snack time is our heart egg-in-a-holes, made with hearty 8 grain bread from Boulevard Bread Company! YUM!
To make heart egg-in-a-holes just turn your burner on medium-low heat and lightly butter a pan. Use a small heart shaped cookie cutter to remove the center (for toasting and dipping) if you are prepared or use a knife if you couldn’t find your cookie cutter when you already had the butter in the pan, like me, lol.
Break an egg into the heart center of each bread slice.
Flip each slice to the other side with a spatula and fry until the egg is cooked. Remove and serve to your eagerly awaiting little Valentines!
Heart Cinnamon Rolls:
We often use our own recipe to make cinnamon rolls during the holidays. But when we’re trying to slow down a bit and still want a special breakfast, I like to pick up the Immaculate Baking organic cinnamon rolls.
Last weekend we shaped these scrumptous cinnamon rolls into little hearts for a sweet breakfast that brightened everyone’s cold February morning!
These have been our Valentine happenings over the last week or so. I’ll be posting part 2 soon. It’ll be full of what we’ve got planned for this week, leading up until Valentine’s Day. Can’t wait to share!
What have you been doing to get ready for Valentine’s Day?
Hope you are taking care! Lots of Love! & Happy Valentines Day!