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My Funny Valentine

Laguna the Leopard

Laguna the Leopard

I’m not a romantic, and the trappings of Valentine’s Day are not a big deal to me. I’m in it for the long haul. A box of chocolates, a dozen roses, or a fancy dinner are not something I expect on February 14. First, I’m picky. If you want to attribute one quote to me it’s, “When it comes to friends and chocolate, I prefer quality over quantity.” So that red heart box at Walgreen’s. Yeah. No thanks. However, the half-priced York peppermint patty hearts we snagged after church. Score!

As for flowers, I’m not a huge fan. There are a couple of exceptions. My husband used to randomly bring home a mixed bouquet from this flower shop on the way home from work. I loved the spontaneity and that he hand-selected the flowers. Of course, anything my kids pick out of the yard is worthy of my table.

And the special Valentine’s Day dinners, we’ve only done that once and the kids tagged along. Before kids, we got entertainment books and picked a place that would take coupons (often not good on February 14), so we’d go out on a different night and call it good. For the past few years, we’ve lived in a small town where I telework. I’m OSHA HAZWOPER certified and since we’ve moved, the annual training has been the week of Valentine’s Day, so often it’s one of the few nights of the year we’re apart from each other.

A couple of years ago, we went out for a special Valentine’s Day dinner, and the kids came with us. It was a lot of fun but more because we rarely go out for steak dinners. Last year was just as special. We have a favorite local restaurant that’s similar to Chipotle only much better and we’ve gotten to know the owners. I was late driving home and didn’t feel like fixing dinner. My hero stopped by, and the owners hooked me up with their last order of chipotle cream shrimp. For less than $10, my husband gave me a romantic dinner of a different type.

Typically we exchange a small gift. In the past, it’s been Aveda tea for him and Nespresso pods for me. This year, I had an inexpensive request. A stuffed animal I’d seen at a local store. That’s how Laguna the leopard joined our family.

What is your idea of a romantic gift?

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Candle in the Wind

Candles are an ever popular gift. While Christmas is over, we have an entire year of birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day plus all of those random hostess, thank you, and shower gifts.
I received a Diamond Candle as a Christmas gift from my sister. I’m not one to spend money on candles or jewelry. Diamond Candles are a fun concept. You get a soy-based, scented candle. Mine is apple cinnamon.

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When you burn it down about one quarter, you get a foil pouch with a random ring valued from $10-$5,000. Here is mine. They’re various sizes. Mine fits my index finger perfectly, which is what I hoped. I have a wedding ring and a couple of other rings that fit my ring finger.

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Mom received one too.

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If you’re into more traditional candles with unique natural scents, Ellie Brook Designs makes elegant soy-based candles. We gave out several as Christmas gifts.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I love Christmas presents. Giving. Receiving. Shopping. Wrapping.

One of my fondest Christmas memories was my annual trip to the mall with Dad. I saved my allowance to buy my parents and sister Christmas gifts. We usually ended up at Osco to buy Mom a bottle of Cachet cologne. Don’t judge. It was the early 80s.

I used to make presents for my grandparents. Painted sun catchers, salt dough ornaments, and later counted cross-stitch towels. I’m pretty sure Grandpa’s nativity scene still has a lopsided, multicolored clay star sculpted by moi, circa 1979.

My love language is gifts and truly it’s the thought that counts. Over the years I’ve gotten big presents – a bicycle, opal ring, tennis racquet, SLR camera, and iPod Touch.

But it’s the sentimental ones that make me the happiest. The study Bible my parents gave me when I was in college. Last year for my birthday, Dad compiled hundreds of pictures of the first 40 years of my life, made a Ken Burns effect slideshow and burned them onto two DVDs.

My maternal grandmother gave me her mustard seed necklace. It was the one item of hers I wanted because it reminded me how she showed Jesus to others and to me. My paternal grandmother gave me an egg separator that was a promotional item from the store where my grandfather worked. It was a utensil I didn’t have, Grandma didn’t need, and tied me to the the grandparent I lost in my teens. These are two of my most-prized possessions.

One year, my husband gave me pearls for our anniversary. It was an extravagant gift but that he conspired with a co-worker to get them was what made them even more precious.

And this year we did Christmas with my in-laws early. Twice they nearly brought me to tears with their gifts. My son wanted a floor pillow like his cousin had. When my mother-in-law found out it wasn’t available, she made one.

My son's super-soft custom made floor pillow

My son’s super-soft custom made floor pillow

The other item was one of my gifts. One that spoke her love more than words. She made a binder (lime green, of course) and printed out my blog posts. Not only this one but The Scriblerians and Samie Sisters where I also blog. For her to take the time and honor my writing is better than any material gift. Although, I’m beyond happy with those gifts too.

My blog binder

My blog binder – The cover is my avatar for The Scriblerians

As we approach Christmas and reflect on the gift God gave us, His Son, think about gifts you can give of yourself to others. A random act of kindness to a stranger. Taking the time to sit down and watch Christmas shows with your family. Include your kids in your Christmas baking. Go caroling. Volunteer. Part with an item of special significance to someone.

Baking with a 5-year-old isn't efficient or tidy but it's totally worth it.

Baking with a 5-year-old isn’t efficient or tidy but it’s totally worth it.

What is one of the most meaningful gifts you have received?

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