Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap, 2022

The annual Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap is a tradition I’ve participated in several times now, in which children, adults, and families living in the “Hidden Hills” of the Berkshires make and receive homemade Valentines.

I first joined the fold in the “adult” category, before Juli was born; but it’s become a favorite art project for us to work on together.

Last year, we made magic wands and flowers with heart-shaped petals using Avery labels, foam hearts, wooden craft sticks, and ribbon.

We took a cue from Avery (the company’s blog and weekly inspo eblast is a great one) again this year: As it happens, 3/4″ diameter round labels (dots) are the same size as the bottom of a Hershey’s Kiss, and Avery offers a printable template to turn your Kisses into home-made conversation hearts.

We had some perfectly sized Valentine stamps in-house, though, and chose to manually stamp our labels instead of using the template. The stamps were a gift, but similar to these, and I found a red ink-pad via 2000 Plus office supplies.

Three Kisses in a baggie looks a little bit like a heart, and a festive enough with some Valentine-ribbon. I found both the Kisses and the ribbon in bulk on Amazon.

Then, we paired them with Juli’s handmade Valentine cards to mail to her list of recipients (10 other kids of varying ages, living in towns across western Massachusetts). She chose to make a different card for every person this year, as opposed to assembly-line style (which also has its merits).

Juli started receiving her handmade Valentines the first week in February, but I hoarded them until our traditional heart-shaped pizza feast on Valentines Day to see the spoils. As usual, it’s a great haul, including some newspaper art, an original pen-and-ink illustration, a clay coaster I’m using right now, and a sassy flamingo.

Breaking Down the Scrap: Monthly Intro Page

I’ve been documenting life in scrap-form steadily for many years, with varying degrees of creative oomph.

Sometimes, it’s simply enough to just get the photos into the pockets and call it a day; other times the crafty bug strikes, and layouts turn into paper-based celebrations of mundane errands. It really depends on how your week is going.

That said, in an effort to flex my creative muscles more regularly and incorporate some more journaling type scrapping into the mix, I’m trying a new thing in my Project Life album: an intro page for the month.

A scrapbook layout with a lot of black and pink colors and a photo of a woman with black hair pulled back making a kissing face.
layout jcs 2022

This layout for November was meant serve as one-part vision board, one-part nod to my two favorite geographic states-of-mind (if you will): the mountains and the sea. It’s an 8.5×11 collage in a 12×12 album.

The featured focal point is musician / cosmetics maven Qveen Herby, as I repurposed packaging from a recent purchase from her company, and have been vibing on her music for months.

Elements, clockwise:

– SHEIN Stationery stickers

Original art-card, art by Ron Ragusa

– Repurposed eyeshadow packaging and coupon postcard, Qveen Studio

Apothecary stickers, Amazon

– Miscellaneous scrap paper and glitter tape

A Bitingly Weird V-Day Gift Round-up

When searching for any Valentine gift, weird or otherwise, it’s hard to avoid the culinary component. We’ve already established that there’s a chocolate representation to be found out there for just about anything, and a Valentine representation for all sorts of foods: pickles, jerky, and ketchup among them.

But the annual Weird Valentines Gifts post has never been fully food-themed, so here we are — with two items inspired by snacking, one designed to help get the nosh on, and a fourth that spotlights a new entree to the global dining table.

I Love Cheesy Poofs, You Love Cheesy Poofs

Who wouldn’t love this multi-purpose plushy? It’s a pillow. It’s a toy. It’s a village of adorable Cheesy Poof People. You can’t go wrong, and could pair the puffs with an equally cute plushy boba tea for double the awwww.

Spotted at: Angleliu

Loafing Around

These bread slippers come in baguette, butter, and “bread b,” which looks like challah to me, so missed bread-branding opportunity there.

The perfect gift to keep toes toasty on a February night, loaf pillows and tortilla blankets are also options for the carb-obsessed couch potato in your life.

Spotted at: The October Elf

A Whirlwind of Emotion…

A clear mug with hot chocolate in it and a black and white cow spotted sleeve is over half of it - a black lid is next to it

This self-mixing, portable mug swirls your chocolate milk for you, which is adorable and unnecessary—just like any self-respecting Valentine gift should be.

Perfectly paired with a hand-made Nesquick tumbler.

Spotted at: The Science Toy Store

…and Edible Manchurian Scorpions.

Since the world is slowly ending and we’re moving toward eating bugs anyway, why not make it fancy? The Entomarket — just one leg of Entosense LLC in Lewiston, Maine — is a clearinghouse of culinary-grade creepy crawlies that extends far beyond your standard chocolate-covered grasshopper.

In addition to the Manchurian morsels, which incidentally glow naturally under a black-light, the Entomarket also offers Cotton Candy Crickets, Pizza-flavored Superworms from Thailand, and the very impressive-sounding Chapulines Sazonados from Mexico (grasshoppers with lemon, salt, garlic, and chile flavors).

Spotted at: Edible Insects

2021 Weird V-Day Round-up

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