Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Be Mine, Valentine

Traditionally, I've never cared one way or another about Valentine's Day. It ranks well below Halloween and just barely above St. Patrick's Day on my radar. Yes, it's nice to acknowledge and to receive acknowledgment from your significant other, but the commercialism has always been a bit of a bother. This year, though, I felt inspired to embrace the season, in a major "do it yourself" way!

I love my husband. I mean, I'm really crazy about him. I risked arrest (or at least a fine!) in Italy a few years ago by, as tradition dictated, clamping a Todd-inscribed padlock onto a structure on the Ponte Vecchio and tossing the key into river below, ensuring that we'd have true love forever.

So far, so good (wink wink)!

This year I decided to make Todd a little book filled with expressions of my love. It took a while to make, but wasn't too difficult. I gathered a stack of same-size envelopes and cut two pieces of cardboard to size...

Then, with a nod to tradition, I stitched various red, white, and pink buttons in a heart shape onto a piece of neutral-colored fabric.

Once completed, I wrapped the fabric around the first piece of cardboard, secured it with pins, and embroidered a quick border.

Then, I did the same thing with the other side. Book cover and back completed!

Next, I determined how many envelopes I wanted for my book and laid them edge to edge, securing them with a piece of scotch tape.

I had quite a stack! If you decide to make these, make sure your envelopes aren't overfilled...I learned that the hard way. They won't lie flat and your book will be very untidy.

Now, to fill those envelopes! I filled mine with lots of little things. Some miniature cards...

...and some homemade ones. This one was so fun to make. Make concentric cuts into a heart shape, with a little "pull me" tag in the middle...

Secure the heart to your card. When the recipient pulls the tag, your message is revealed!

One envelope was filled with haikus I'd written in the traditional 5-7-5 meter. These were so fun! The paper I chose made the envelope too thick, however, so I ended up typing them out and filling my envelope with small slips of paper.

What's a celebration without confetti?

Since Todd and I have a great love of board games, I decided to use the ones we played most frequently to stage messages, which I then photographed and printed off on small 2 x 2 pieces of paper for one envelope.



...and Boggle!

Many other little things filled the pages of my book, and I felt really happy when I surveyed my filled envelopes.

To finish off the book, I attached both covers by stitching a wide ribbon onto their edges.

I covered up the frayed fabric edges and the cardboard with card stock. If I would've had more time, I would've made it look a lot nicer, but I was on a deadline!

With his Valentine's Day card tucked into its front, this was a really happy little book that brought a lot of joy on the big day!

It was really fun.

Gift done, I had to decide what to make for "the big meal." Todd and I don't go out to eat very much since I really love to cook, and we didn't want to compete with Valentine's Day crowds. I decided to make something warm and filling - our favorite chicken noodle soup with homemade french baguettes and salad.

But it was Valentine's Day, so...carrot hearts!

I got this idea from last month's Martha Stewart Living. It didn't take much time at all. Peel and slice your carrots normally, and then you can use a cookie cutter to make the top of the heart on each carrot...even the really small ones!

Use a knife to chop off the sides and even up any sharp edges.

Then I decided, on the spur of the moment, to cut my potatoes into hearts, too.

It made a really warm, delicious meal, and it was so much fun to eat. Todd was absolutely amazed!

I'd been planning the dessert for about two weeks. It was a big project, inspired by I Am Baker's wonderful site. I was initially afraid to make this, thinking that I didn't have enough experience or that it would be just too much. I don't ever want to be afraid to try, though. I decided that I could whip up some quick molten chocolate cakes if this was a bust.

First, I made plain white cake and vanilla cream cheese frosting...four of them. When I had two stacks of layer cakes with a layer of icing between the two layers, I used these broken skewers to measure out identical circles on both stacks of layer cakes.

With one layer cake stack, I hollowed out the center in a cone shape, carefully saving the crumbs.

With the other, I made the same cone shape, but with a little upside-down 'v' shape in the center.

I combined the crumbs from both cake stacks, dyed them red with food coloring, and patted them into place securely.

Then I stacked the "v" cake on top of the cone cake. I gave it a crumb coat...

...and put it in the freezer until Valentine's Day.

When the big day arrived, I made another batch of cream cheese icing and fully iced the cake. It was meant to be all white, but I couldn't resist a few sprinkles along the edge of the cake.

Here it is, fully iced and ready to go...

And here's the surprise! When you cut into it, a heart appears!

My uneven sawing (what is the proper way to saw through 4 layers of cake?!) caused some cracking around the top of the heart, but overall, I was really pleased with how it turned out.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day! These are fun ideas that aren't just limited to February 14th...they'd be great for birthdays, anniversaries, or other special days.



  1. Absolutely AWE....mazing ideas!

    Thanks too - I snuck one of your ideas and used it for my own special Valentine :)

  2. lovely ideas.. Lucky Todd! :-) you make me wanna come live with you! ;-)