Is it too early to be thinking about Valentines day chocolate?

Yes, I know it was only yesterday that I said I was getting around to the healthy eating and fitness regime that most people are already two weeks into, but you know how it is, you can’t rush a good thing and I’m hardly known for being early for pretty much anything, and I’m easily sidetracked.

I start off with good intentions, make a plan and then often somewhere along the way get derailed. But this year I’m hoping that will happen less often as with the tenacious attitude I’ll be adopting, there’s a chance that this year I’ll be buying Valentines day chocolates earlier than my usual night before the big day.

Photo by  Jesse Goll  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jesse Goll on Unsplash

But even I know that if I spend the next month looking forward to and drooling over the Valentines day chocolates that I might buy, or even the ones that I’d leave large hints for MOH about, then January would be even a duller and longer month than usual.

So instead I’m going to be wondering about the history of the day and I’m sharing 5 facts that you might or might not already know:

  1. Valentines Day is linked back to not one, but two, early Roman saints, both named Valentine but the connection to romantic love came later.

  2. The first Valentines Day was in 496, so quite a while ago, and is thought to have originated from a Roman festival, called Lupercalia held in the middle of February, and the official start of their springtime.

  3. Its first link to a romance appeared in the ‘Parlement of Foules’ poem by Chaucer in 1382, which contains one of the earliest references as St Valentine’s Day as a special day for lovers.

  4. In Queen Victoria’s reign exchanging small tokens of affection or handwritten notes became common for friends and lovers of all social classes, as did the Cupid-themed gifts and cards.

  5. The first Valentines day heart-shaped box of chocolates was sold in England by Cadbury in 1868 and was known as the Fancy Box, which as you might have guessed was a huge success.

So know you now, fascinating hey? There’s so much more to our romantic box of chocolates than you first thought, I bet.

And in answer to my original question, is it too early to be thinking about this, I think not. I mean January is well known to be the longest month in the calendar, with at least 91 or so days, so we definitely need something to look forward to.

* This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own.

Happy Valentines - and beyond - from HomeSense

When HomeSense got in touch recently and shared details of their faux flowers, I knew that I could hold out no longer. I've seen an increase of Spring blooms in the shops, including some in a snowy Munich and as they say, resistance was futile. So after work on Monday, I headed off to the Homesense in Tunbridge Wells on a mission.

I didn't realise though quite how much of a challenge I'd set myself. I mean, just look at what I was confronted with.

rows upon rows of all kinds of flowers at Homesense
rows upon rows of flowers in Homesense

Price-wise the stems ranged from £2.99 to £7.99 and while there was obviously no scent, that was the only difference to real blooms I could see. That and the fact that I'd unlikely to find such a wide array of blooms in a flower shop at this time of year. I was very tempted by the hydrangeas, their colour was good and realistic but they weren't quite what I was looking for.

faux hydrangeas that were so realistic at Homesense

And then I saw the pink peonies. Immediately I was transported back to our wedding day in 2017, where my surprise bouquet was, yes you've guessed it, pink peonies. I say surprise bouquet as I'd left the choice of my bouquet to our wedding planners (I guess that's a story for another day). They knew I wanted a modern style, I didn't want roses and that my dress wasn't conventional (it was bronze) and I trusted them to come up trumps, which they did. I hadn't realised until then, how much I liked peonies. 

Faux peonies that brought back instant memories of my wedding bouquet

So once I spotted the peonies it was more about how many and what colour, and what else would go alongside them to make the bouquet less wedding-y and less pink. It's not that I don't like pink, I do, but having a solely pink bouquet in the house full time could, I think, get a little wearing and a bit twee. 

But I'd made my choices and I quickly went to pay before I added another armful of these stems to the bouquet, they really are that good.

And finally I'd made my choice

Back home I piled the armful of flowers onto the table and realised again how realistic they looked. And how unlikely it would be for me to have a bunch of fresh flowers quite this large. And on Valentine's day too. Not that MOH wouldn't buy me flowers, but I disagree with how the prices are inflated at this time of year, so I always say to him another time of year will be fine. It's a bit like going out for a meal around this time of year, set menus come out and that annoys me too.

faux flowers piled onto the table with a realistic feel

But back to the flowers and celebrating Valentines. I decided to arrange them in a handheld bouquet, which gives the modern style I like, but also is quite hard to do - or at least I find it hard to do - as I find I need at least three pairs of hands to do it well and tie the ribbon around the stems without them rearranging themselves. 

But I'm pleased with the result.

My Homesense faux Valentines bouquet

It's such a large bouquet that as you can see I struggled to get the bouquet and myself into the same shot.

Peering out from behind the faux flowers Valentines bouquet from Homesense

You might have already realised I'm impressed with these blooms, and while they're slightly unseasonal - peonies are usually out in June - it's nice to see such blooms right now. And to know they'll last too, so I'll be enjoying them for many months to come.

A close up of my Homesense Valentines bouquet

What do you think, will you be tempted by faux flowers this year?

 

*This is a collaborative post with HomeSense, however all views and opinions are my own.

A Valentines card that's close to my heart

I can hardly believe it's almost Valentines Day. This year once again I'm making my card to MOH and this year I'm sharing it early - and he's under strict instructions not to read this post until after the event!

For all of my cards I like simple and strong designs and this card is no different. The part of it that's close to my heart, is that I've reused old magazines and made them into something pretty special.  Throughout this post I'm also going to share more about my new craft light from Iconic Lights. It's brilliant.

GETTING STARTED

GETTING STARTED

1. I started with some colourful pages from an old magazine and cut them into oblongs around 5cm x 12cm - just large enough to cover my heart die.

rolledscrapsofpaperoncard.jpg

My plan was to roll these pieces of paper up and stick them onto a piece of backing card, and then use my die cutting machine to cut a heart shape.

If you don't have a die cutting machine you can follow a similar approach but you'll need to draw a heart template and cut that out by hand.

2. I used a small amount of PVA Craft glue as I rolled each piece of paper up to stop it unrolling as soon as I'd turned my back, and then attached them to some scrap backing card using the same glue.  

Already you can see how the pattern is building up, and while you only see part of the magazine page I think it's interesting watching the pattern develop.

Before we carry on with the card, let me tell you more about my new light from Iconic Lights. I am clearly using it as a craft lamp, but it's more regularly known as a 'Stell' LED Telescopic Adjustable Desk Lamp. It comes in black and white and folds flat when not in use - so a mega-plus if you're using it for a specific purpose, like me and don't have room to keep it on show all the time.

It gives out a decent amount of light and really helped me focus on the close work. At £18 I think it's very reasonable and am considering buying some as presents for fellow crafters.

iconiclightsadjustabledesklamp

Here's a few photos of it fully extended, unextended, tilted and folded flat. What I especially like about this lightweight light is the telescopic bits which remind me of telescopic aerials we used to get on radios - perhaps they still exist, but I don't have those any more.

FULLY EXTENDED

FULLY EXTENDED

UNEXTENDED

UNEXTENDED

TILTED

TILTED

AND FOLDED FLAT

AND FOLDED FLAT

Right, back to the card.

3. Once you have stuck sufficient rolled paper pieces to cover your die or template, it's time to leave it to dry. If you're using a die cutting machine you can place it under a large book (or something equally heavy) while it dries, but if you're cutting your shape by hand be careful about how much weight you add, or you'll flatten your rolls of paper.

The rolls of paper will flatten in the die cutting machine which is why it is less important to keep the shape at this stage.

valentinescard

4. Now all that you need to do is to attach your newly created heart to a blank card. I've chosen a brown card to reflect the recycled nature of my card, and I think it shows off the heart well. 

completedheartsvalentinecardfromscrappaper

It really is as easy as that.  And as with my other cards, the possibilities are endless - who knows how else I use this technique. I'm pretty sure I'll be using it again though.

What green Valentines crafts are you planning this year?

 

I was sent the Stell LED Telescopic Adjustable Desk Lamp to review as part of my role as one of Iconic Lights' approved blogging ambassadors, but all views and opinions are my own.