Hilltown Families Hand-made Valentine Swap, part 2: The Spoils!

We crafted, packaged, and mailed our own creations, and in turn received the greetings below! Thanks again Hilltown Families!

Currently catching light in the picture window…
She loved that it was a “real letter!”
Props to Bodhi for bugs and kisses and for great name-writing!
Pretty stained-glass effect on this one…
Love the waterfall of hearts ♥️
Strong pipe cleaner crafting!!
Happy Heart Day!
Unconventional color use FTW!

Hilltown Families Hand-made Valentine Swap 2021!

Once again, we’ve thrown our crafty hats into the ring of the Hilltown Families Hand-made Valentine Swap!

This annual tradition charges local families in the hidden hamlets of western Massachusetts (the Hilltowns) with creating original Valentines and sending them to other families and individuals.

I’ve actually participated in the HFHVS several times, including before I had children, and each year we receive a wide array of greetings from people of all ages in exchange for our own offerings.

This year, our Valentines took on two forms: magic wands and heart flowers, which followed the same basic pattern. First, I bought sheets of heart-shaped labels from Avery (I used template 94603, but there were a few available sizes) and craft sticks, ribbon, foam hearts, and heart stickers from Amazon. We rounded-out the supply list with our own stash of sequins, beads, markers, glue, and paints.

From there, two labels stuck together over a craft stick created the base for any creation, and we were off to the races — making not just enough for each Hilltown family on our list, but also for family members, friends, and holiday decor around the homestead.

Heart-flower Valentines, the Tiktok tutorial!
Julia’s preferred design was magic wands with long strands of ribbon. Amazon tip: I bought 20 rolls of themed ribbon for $11 – brand name Vatin. I think I’m set on Valentine ribbon until 2025.
I made more flowers than wands, largely because layering the foam hearts as petals is very mentally soothing. We kept going with flowers and wands until all of the foam hearts were gone; a bag of 300 from Amazon was $8.
My favorite wand of Julia’s was her two-sided “Frankenstein Heart,” which had green stitches on one side and brains on the other. I’ll be sure to repost this next Blogtoberfest. 🧠
The stickers were $9 for 500; also all set on multi-design heart stickers until at least mid-decade.
I had fun with the sequins, too…🦩
Heart wands, the TikTok tutorial!

Many thanks to Hilltown Families founder, publisher, and editor Sienna Wildfield for spearheading one of my favorite activities of the year — one that creates connections that felt a little more important this year than they already had. ❤️

Local Love: V-Day Gift Options from the Berkshires

Earlier this week I found myself on medical leave in the middle of a snow storm in the middle of a pandemic, and feeling a threefold-level of boredom.

To quell the ennui, I decided to share a few cool Valentine gift ideas local to where I live on my Insta-stories, and the result is a great mix of products at various price points:

They had me at blush cheese… but this shippable gift box also includes products from other local companies.
I particularly love the names this company comes up with for their candles.
Awesome hand-made soaps, lip balms, and bath products suggested by a follower.
Vintage cuteness paired with the necessary caffeine at Dottie’s.
Shirts, hoodies, masks and more from 413shirts.com!
v1 vodka will also give you countless cocktail recipes for indoor-date-night
One of many young new companies in the Berkshires putting out cool local art and commerce!
Freebie bonus! Download these puntastic Valentines from Berkshire Museum for printing or digital sharing! I collected ’em all.

The Weird V-Day Gift List of 2021!

I look forward to compiling the Weird Valentines Day gift list each year — for the benefit of no one in particular.

It’s just fun for me to hunt for the strange and unusual and share it here, and there’s something to be said for consistency; this is year seven!

There’s no real theme to the weirdness this year; just some of the more interesting entrees into the Valentine Gift gamut. One might say the list has a pandemic-tinged flavor to it, featuring introspective literature, handmade crafts, nostalgia, and comfort food.

A Bound Collection of Pages

If you’ve ever muttered Cripes, you’re so damn literal to your loved one, look no further for an appropriate gift than Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet. This cartoon compilation depicts all sorts of conversations, but written in formal-speak: reflective of the weirdness of human behavior.

Pyle also has other Strange Planet merch for sale at his website.

Spotted at Business Insider

…But Did You Pick a Peck?

Last year, I featured a potato as a gift, so this year I’ll move on to fruit and personalized mini-pears.

Made by ArchMiniatures, these mini-pears can be singles (You’re pearfection!) or doubles (We’re the perfect pear!). They’re, cute, irreverent, and (according to ArchMiniatures) suitable for some car dashboards, which is definitely a trend I want to see.

Spotted at Etsy

Searching for a Reel Love

The vintage-lover — or any Gen Xer — will appreciate a personalized ViewMaster* and the hours of clicky joy it will bring.

* Not actually a ViewMaster, the brand-name for the Mattel toy. This is the Image3D, made by a small company in Oregon.

Spotted at Uncommon Goods

I’ve Got My Rib-eye on You

Heart-shaped steaks aren’t a new thing necessarily, but they seem to be experiencing a resurgence; perhaps because not many of us will be going out for a V-Day dinner, but still want to indulge. It’s potentially a great way to support local farms and butchers; also known as sweetheart steaks, they’re usually one cut of boneless strip or rib steak, expertly butterflied into a heart shape.

Lobel’s of New York offers the gold standard of cardiac cuts (sorry), but several grocery chains and mail-order services are also offering similar, more modestly priced versions.

Spotted at 92.9 NiN

V-Day 2020: Cultural References and All the Fixins

Huzzah and Hello, weirdos! Today marks the fifth annual Weird Valentine Gift post here at WriterJax, and this year is a good one. It’s almost as though society in general has, somehow, become more accepting of the fringe.

I kid. Still, as we head toward VD 2020, I give you five contenders for holiday gift-giving. Go forth and browse to your heart’s content!

Don’t Torture Yourself, Gomez.

Send your favorite horror-file, or least-favorite-person in general, a bouquet of Dirty Rotten Flowers this year, like The Morticia arrangement below. Bonus: the testimonial page on this website is gold, Jerry. Gold.

You Had Me at Au Gratin

For the pun-tacular person in your life who’s all ears, I give you the Potato Parcel. This item was actually featured on Shark Tank and has been sending spuds around the world ever since, including those adorned with photos of the recipient.

Couple Goals

No one knows ’til death do we part like Jack and Sally. Let’s celebrate that love with gaudy-ass jewelry.

Put Some Pink in your Drink

This is too pretty not to share: pink chai tea from Lee.

The Rest is Gravy

No Valentines Day is complete without something unctuous, and when it comes to unctuous, I always vote gravy.