Je t'aime: Heartfelt Ways to Celebrate Valentine"s Day

I may have mentioned this before, but I adore Valentine's Day. It feels like a bright spot in the middle of dreary winter, and what could be better than that? And you certainly don't need a honey to celebrate this sweet little holiday; it is a new era and whether that means you can indulge in a little self care, celebrate "Galentine's Day" with girlfriends, or do something fun with your family.

The holiday itself is connected to several stories of danger, miracles, death and enduring love behind it, although no one seems to know its exact origins or inspiration for certain. What we do know is Valentine’s Day always falls on February 14th and that at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be St. Valentine’s Day. Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used, although in the US the first commercial valentines weren't printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love.

Nowadays Valentine's Day is often associated with things like overpriced red roses and prix fix dinner menus but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are some of my favorite ways to show my love for friends and family on February 14th.

Say It With Flowers

Jolie Le Coeur Valentine Arrangment. Photo courtesy of Olive & Cocoa.

I adore this arrangement, called Jolie Le Coeur, by Olive & Cocoa. This is actually quite easy to recreate with just a few pieces. First, get a tray with sides and cover the inside with saran wrap to protect it. Or you can use a small wooden planter box, like this one. Purchase several bunches of roses in different sizes and shades of red and pink, (I like Trader Joes for the best prices). Use florist foam squares and cut them into the shape of a heart, then soak in water. Cut and arrange the roses into the foam. Cover the surrounding area of the tray around the heart with green moss. Make sure to keep the roses and foam hydrated. Or, just order this lovely arrangement from Olive and Cocoa here! Check out my Instagram for my versions of this arrangement I made with trays I had from CB2.

Love and Bacon

Bacon Stuffed French Toast Hearts. Image courtesy of Twisted.

I mean, bacon in a heart. That's in heavy competition with diamonds, wouldn't you say?  ;) I always like to cook fun heart shaped breakfast items during February for my family, including heart shaped waffles. And who can be grumpy in the morning when you have a little scrumptious pile of Bacon Stuffed French Toast Hearts winking back at you? Serve these lovely bites with sliced strawberries or raspberries and a spot of tea from the red Smeg Electric Teakettle that you got your valentine recently while it is on sale at Williams Sonoma. ;)

Sweet Sips

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallow Hearts. Image courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Sweet hot cocoa with a marshmallow heart floating in it is the perfect way to say I love you to your favorite sweeties. You can shorten the time by using a really good hot chocolate mix, we like the Nestle Dark Chocolate Cocoa Mix, or make the Martha Stewart version, which is also quick and easy.  Purchase large or extra large marshmallows and cut them in half across the middle. Turn the non sticky side over and push the cutter into the center to cut out the heart. Float the cutout and the shape into the warm cocoa. You can find mini cookie cutters on Amazon in sets, which means you can use the different shapes for a non Valentine marshmallow cutout...and with Amazon Prime you can get them the same day!

Champagne Thursday

Photo by The Spruce / Claire Cohen

When my husband of nearly 25 years and I were first married, we decided we would host a Valentine's Day Party. To prepare for the party, we tasted a different champagne every Thursday as a way to "research" the best one. When my older brother was writing the 2006 movie "Failure To Launch" starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker he wrote "Champagne Thursday" into his script! It was very fun seeing Zooey Deschanel and SJP celebrate our Champange Thursday on the big screen! I have even seen this saying on greeting cards, but I know that it is ours originally and will always be our special thing.

We still love our bubbly, and for Valentine's Day it is fun to step it up a notch. A Kir Royale is a classic, gorgeous drink that is easy. Simply pour dry champagne in a flute and top it off with a shot of crème de cassis or chambord. Both are berry liqueurs that will turn your cocktail slightly pink and lightly sweet. Since that is the case, use a dryer champagne like a brut or a brut rose. Float a fresh raspberry or two or a few pomegranate seeds and you will be set to toast your Valentine. 

Chocolate Hearts

Image courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen

There are a lot of resources and almost overwhelming amounts of information for cooking and baking  for those with food allergies. Hands down, my favorite website that approaches food and cooking in a real life, positive and balanced approach is Ambitious Kitchen. I love all of Monique's recipes and especially her enthusiastic and genuine approach to enjoying the good things in life while finding balance. Her upbeat attitude is engaging and her recipes are fantastic! 

Her recent recipe post for Almond Flour Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Velvet Frosting is fantastic, especially since it is both gluten and grain free. These are the perfect treat for a Valentine Party or a special treat for your family. Make sure to follow her excellent directions and tips and you will be the Cupid of the month. Yum. 

Heartfelt Gatherings

Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

My sister has had these glazed stoneware heart dessert plates from Willams Sonoma for a long time and I have always loved them.  They have a softly textured edge and bright red heart against creamy white that makes a perfect presentation not just for February 14th but all year round. My mother always set a table for our family, even if we were having a simple casserole for dinner and I continue this tradition as often as I can with my own family. Whether you are want a fun espresso set, bowls or a plate set, these are a completely enchanting addition to your next meal. 

Be Mine

Image courtesy of Zadig and Voltaire

Finally, I little something for yourself. I am a big fan of the brand Zadig and Voltaire...I love their rock and roll vibe. When we were in France last summer I visited one of their shops and was mad with happiness! And I adore their fabulous collaborations, including the one with Kate Moss. I bought the silver leather x Kate Moss Croco wallet bag in New York in December and it is one of the coolest things I own. This brand definitely takes shapes like stars, lightening bolts and hearts and elevates them to the cool level. The Zadig and Voltaire Markus C Heart Pattern Cashmere Sweater proves that you don't need to wear your heart just on your sleeve to be fabulous. 

Happy February to all ~