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For me, February has only two redeeming qualities: the fact that it is a few days shorter than the rest of the winter months, and the appearance of Valentine’s Day halfway through. After weeks of unrelenting cold and gray outside, I am happy to warm up my studio with bright pink paper and red foil hearts, and I certainly don’t mind an excuse to eat chocolate. :)

I have always loved this holiday. One of the highlights of my elementary school years was sorting through my Valentine’s Day “mailbox” (a.k.a. my shoebox covered with an improbably thick layer of glitter) and examining all the tiny cards. I was thrilled to see my name written by so many different hands, to open dozens of little secret messages, and then sort them by cartoon character and color. In a tidal wave of zeal for the day, I even ate whole handfuls of Conversation Hearts, even though they taste more like chalk than candy.

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It is a shame that Valentine’s Day often creates such a vortex of angst and commercialism. Life involves quite enough pressure and uncertainty without adding worries over buying the right gift, making the right reservation, or finding the right partner on a deadline. I much prefer the old days, when you gave a valentine to everyone in your class because that way no one got their feelings hurt. I appreciate February 14th because it is a day to say “I love you” to the people I care about, to remind my friends and family how much I appreciate their sweet selves. I’ll take construction paper hearts and a hug over diamonds and a teddy bear gift basket any day.

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I had a lot of fun making my own valentines again this year. They wound up being more like miniature books than cards, a melange of all the papers, fabric, stickers, and ribbon that caught my eye. I made a dozen, but no two were alike — partly because I don’t see the point in making something by hand and then turning it into an assembly line, and partly because I have a little trouble reigning myself in when I get excited about a project. :)

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The end size of my valentines was about 2″x3″, much more reminiscent of vintage valentines than a traditional greeting card. They are small, detailed, have lots of texture and color: all my crafting loves. In addition to several papers, I used red plaid fabric from kitchen curtains I made a few years back and some pink and white toile from my daughter’s toddler bedroom. (She’s almost twelve now — always keep your fabric scraps is the lesson here.) The finishing touch was some translucent plastic, Valentine-themed die-cut shapes, perfect for tucking in tiny envelopes or dangling from pink embroidery floss. Valentine’s Day is one of those times when I indulge in all things girly, dainty, and pretty.

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One final caveat: even though I really enjoy making my own valentines, I offer not a whit of condemnation if you don’t. As long as what you give comes with genuine thought and feeling, you really can’t go wrong. May you have a sweet, loving day this Valentine’s Day and every day. :)

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