I did a bit more advance planning this holiday, as Grace’s due date was 2/15. I figured Nick and I might well be ringing in the sweetheart’s holiday in a labor and delivery room… but instead we’ll be at home with a very happy, teeny, tiny baby.
While I’ve had a gift stashed away for my husband for a few months, some of you may be scrambling (as I usually am), so I thought I’d share a few inexpensive, last minute ideas.
You can’t go wrong with flowers and chocolate
You just can’t. I think a simple bunch of white tulips is perfect for any occasion. Including Tuesdays. Which is to say, you don’t need an occasion to give someone (or yourself, obvi) flowers. Same goes for chocolate.
Tea for one
I love sharing my favorite teas. Pair a few tea bags with a cute mug (try Homegoods for inexpensive, fun mugs) and you’ll have your Valentine warmed up in no time… quoth the lady in Boston presently wearing a bathrobe over a sweater.
Spruce up something ordinary
I am forever trying to justify the extent of my washi tape collection by embellishing any and everything I can get my hands on. I found these cute notebooks at Target and added friends’ initials to the covers.
To know me is to love me to be semi-concerned with my nail polish obsession. At a few bucks a pop, however, a new polish or lip gloss makes a fun little gift for a friend.
Get a little messy crafty
I love making things, but hate cleaning up the ensuing mess. And cleaning glitter off Clark’s snout days later. If only Pinterest (click here for my Valentine-inspired board… side note: my account was hacked by some dude in France, and I created such an airtight new password that even I can’t figure it out… ) had a messiness rating for each project I pin. Regardless, I love homemade gifts.
Then again, the best gifts (hugs, kisses, and telling it like it is)… are free. So maybe just skip the shopping, baking, and crafting altogether? Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy Valentine’s Day!
I alluded to a Valentine’s Day and early birthday surprise last week, and then sort of forgot to tell you what it was. Rude, I know. Welp, ready your best Price is Right voice, because I am currently driving a newwwwwww carrrrrrrrrrrr! Nick lied and said he needed to take my car to FedEx/Kinko’s last Wednesday. I knew he was lying (with a pretty weird lie, at that), but had no idea that he was actually selling my old car and buying a new one. I am a human lie detector, but not a psychic apparently. Needless to say, I am beyond grateful. And drivin’ around with a giant trunk permasmile, enjoying that new car smell.
I’d had my old car since 2005. It survived three years of commuting to Rhode Island, the time I rear-ended a visitor fresh from Japan (he was driving a rental car and had just left the airport… welcome to America… BAM!), and several breakdowns (or things breaking, like the frame). After serving us so well, it was bittersweet to say goodbye, but man… was I excited to get behind the wheel of our new ride. Before I put the pedal to the metal though, we had to clear out the Ford. Eight years makes for quite a bit of junk in the trunk. And in the glove compartment.
With the exception of the aforementioned bumper tap, I kept pretty good care of my first car. I was religious about oil changes and kept record of all work done on the car over the course of its 130,000 mile life. I think someone must have told me to do this. I also kept all of its inspection reports. And car wash receipts. And parking tickets and traffic violations I must have been saving for my non-existent scrap book. Who knows. It helps to have a little document pouch, complete with a stock photo of your car, to keep all these things tidy.
The new car is much lighter on stuff. For one, there are fewer important documents. Mostly because nothing has happened yet. There are no dented wiffleball bats in the trunk, no Motorola flip phones in the glove compartment. Just the necessities: plenty of quarters for parking meters, the code to our storage facility gate (I cannot, for the life of me, remember secret codes), a paddle ball set (you never know when you might need to have fun), Clark’s travel crate, and a lightning cable for our iPhone jams.
I love Valentine’s Day. Always have. Except for the time I was a foreign exchange student in Italy, and gave chocolates to everyone in my host family. And was then informed that Valentine’s Day is only for lovers by one of the older, slightly scary brothers. Mortifying. (Related: Who refuses free chocolate? Rude people. That’s who.)
Nick surprised me with a rather incredible Valentine’s Day and early birthday present last night… but I will save that for later.
(c) 2012 Henry Photographers [www.henryphotographers.com]
Instead, something less exciting: My favorite love songs. These songs are perfect to play while dancing with your sweetheart, down dog-ing on your mat, strolling with a friend (if you’re the same height, maybe you could even share an ear bud), or cuddling with your favorite French bulldog.
My favorite love songs
Someone Exactly Like You – Van Morrison
The Luckiest – Ben Folds
Love Your Love the Most – Eric Church
My Life Would Suck Without You – Kelly Clarkson
Painting By Chagall – The Weepies
Shower the People – James Taylor
Sending you all my love (and love songs) and wishing you a very happy Valentine’s Day.
Truly. I saw it with my own eyes on a doorstep in the South End this morning. Chivalry may be dead (who knows?), but romance is alive and well.
If that’s not enough to melt your heart, welp… you just may be a lost cause. Just kidding. And yes, it did occur to me that these petals could be a sign of a bouquet gone wrong, but I am fairly certain this was intentional. And incredibly sweet.
Also On Tap for Today:
Take care of your heart, and score a really cool GoMotion Sport Runner 100 light set. What a bright idea… get it? Register today for a Reach the Beach relay!
Even if they’re possibly expired and carnations, respectively.
On Saturday, my domestic life partner and I kicked off the Valentine’s Day romance by nearly collapsing a lung or two. That may have been an overstatement. Anyway, nothing says I love you quite like Spandex, sneakers and snot rockets. As we drove north to Bradford for their 20th annual Valentine’s Day race, Nick and I hoped the course would be flat. Especially me, whose Spirit Name at the time was Dances With A Total of Three Runs Since the Marathon a Month Ago.
As a fellow runner aptly pointed out, Bradford is part of Haverhill, and Haverhill has the word hill in it. In other words, we should have been wearing hiking boots and wielding ice picks. Though this race had a few factors working against it (the freezing temperatures, the hills, and the random icy patches), I had a ball!
The race is open to individuals or teams, with overlapping 5 mile and 6k courses. Nick ran the 5 miler, and I ran the 6k whilst trying to do math in my head and determine what that equals in miles. I am not kidding when I say the entire course is uphill, save for the last 100 yards or so. I went into this race figuring I’d come out with a good gauge of where my body is post-marathon. I worried I had broken a tinsel-sized bone in my right foot, or worse, lost all fitness in the month I’ve spent sitting around like an amorphous blob. Fortunately, my wee foot feels perfectly fine and (this calls for an exclamation mark!), I haven’t forgotten how to run. How awesome!
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] This was arguably the most difficult course I’ve ever run, but the change of scenery (not to mention, all that love in the air) helped move things along. Bradford itself is positively charming. We passed colonial and Victorian houses with snow covered lawns, an idyllic town common and the soaring steeple of the church that hosted race registration. I felt like we had stepped back in time (minus the Spandex, which I don’t think existed in 1672).
After checking in at registration, we received bright red water bottles, long sleeved technical tees (modeled by Nick below), a box of chocolates (you’re speaking my language, people) and carnations handed to us by the most adorable Girl Scouts on the planet. We didn’t stick around after the race, but they were serving piping hot bowls of stew from the church’s kitchen. It was a wholesome experience, through and through.
I loved running as a team. It felt incredible to run fast and not think about pacing, to take one hill after another, and to cruise towards the finish with a big ol’ grin on my face. Dear running, I’m baaaaa-aaack.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day from me to you. With a ribbon on it. And a paper rose. And some glitter. And a heart-shaped doilie. And two of these little ginger snaps.
When I was sixteen, I spent Valentine’s Day in Rome as a nerdy American exchange student. I think I’ve told you this story before, but it’s too mortifying to not dig up again. In my universe, Valentine’s Day is for everyone you love– your handsome boyfriend, your parents and siblings, your grandmother, your Frenchie (obviously), and most certainly, your friends. It’s a day to be a little mushier than usual, and as James Taylor would say, it’s a day to shower the people you love with love.
I didn’t know my Italian host family before arriving in Rome, but they were generous enough to be taking care of me and that automatically made them quite lovely. My mother helped me pick out little Valentines and chocolates for each of the family members– the mother and father, the Nonna, the daughter, and the two sons. I was excited to pull these little treats from my bright red suitcase on Valentine’s Day morning and bring them to the breakfast table with me. As I handed each Valentine to its intended recipient, I was met with puzzled looks. “Valentine’s Day is only for lovaaaaaaahs,” one of the older brothers declared.
My face turned the color of a Valentine and I contemplated crying, or fainting, or pretending to speak neither Italian nor English. I’m sure I got over it eventually, but my cheeks still burn thinking of that mortifying morning. When you’re sixteen and a twenty-five year old Italian in skinny jeans is saying the word lover, it would be impossible to not be mortified. In my opinion.
I also remember this (only slightly creepy) brother was wearing a BUM Equipment sweatshirt for essentially the entire length of my stay in Italy (he kept telling me it was “very cool and American,” and I kept trying to translate the phrase “Only if you take a time machine back a decade,” to no avail), and that makes me feel better.
And at the end of the day, I’d rather embarrass myself than not let people know I care about them. Even people wearing the word bum across their chest. Point being: Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers. It’s for everyone you love. So get out there and be mushy.
Yes, you read that correctly. But no, I did not eat the wily crustacean. I did cook it though. I was ruthless. All in the name of love. And experiments. After battling through fixed menus and crowded restaurants the past few years, we had a lovely, relaxed dinner at home yesterday (if I do write so myself): baked ravioli, grilled bread with fresh parsley and garlic, corn, spring mix salad and (Nick’s) lobster. I sipped a little Prosecco. And then, I sipped a little more.
I love Valentine’s Day; always have, most likely because my parents always made us feel like it was a day for anyone who loved anyone– not just those in love. They would always have cards and goodies waiting for us at the breakfast table; besides Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day just might be my favorite holiday. I loved writing out Valentines to my classmates. Even those I found annoying. Which was most of them.
When I went to Italy as an exchange student in high school, my mom helped me pack Valentine’s Day goodies for my host family. It was the moment I handed the twenty-something host brothers their cards that I realized not everyone celebrates the day as happily and, well, platonically as we do. “Valentine’s Day is for loverrrrrs,” one of them remarked. I was mortified. After contemplating hightailing it back to the airport, I decided it better to pretend to understand neither Italian nor English.
Valentine’s Day may be over-commercialized, but I see no shame in showing your loved and liked ones how you feel. Back to yesterday: we started the morning with a romantic breakfast at an exclusive dining establishment in Southie… Mul’s Diner. Haha. I love that place.
We returned to the condo, where these beauties were waiting. Unbelievably gorgeous.
Meanwhile, Clark had a special present for Nick, hidden in his crate.
Nick and I exchanged a few pressies as well. He surprised me with tickets to see Chelsea Handler in April. I cannot wait! Her new book (which will mostly likely be as hilariously inappropriate as her first two) comes out in just a few weeks. Speaking of comedy…
I am still giggling about that card. We spent the afternoon chasing Olympic dreams at Murphy rink. We went last Sunday too, so yesterday marked the second time in a decade that I’ve been on skates. We had a blast, up to the point where I was nearly hip checked by a pipsqueak. Oh, school vacation week. I’m so jealous I may just trip the next kid I see. You’ve been warned.
Also On Tap for Today:
Enjoy President’s Day (or as my younger brother’s been calling it, Gerald Ford Day)
Bake some Olympic cupcakes
Try a new (to us) restaurant in neighborhood. Mmm… Mexican!
Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? How do you avoid making an ass of yourself abroad?