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.

Film Noir: Five photos given the Horror-movie treatment

It hasn’t been a good year for photo field trips for myriad reasons, but I was able to explore (as much as my broken limb would allow) an empty campground this weekend — a prime spot to capture a few images of desolation and edit in a horror-movie cue or two.

Here are five favorites, captioned with film dialogue for good measure.

Marty: It was the pioneer days. People had to make their own interrogation rooms. ~ The Cabin in the Woods, 2011
“There’s a legend around here. A killer buried, but not dead. A curse on Crystal Lake; a death curse.” ~ Friday the 13th, part VII, 1988
Noah: I can’t imagine being stuck down a well all alone like that. How long could you survive?
Rachel: Seven days. ~ The Ring, 2002
Amelia: Well, I’m not scared.
Samuel: You will be when it creeps into your room at night. ~ The Babadook, 2014
Louis: That morning I was not yet a vampire, and I saw my last sunrise. I remember it completely, and yet I can’t recall any sunrise before it. I watched the whole magnificence of the dawn for the last time as if it were the first. And then I said farewell to sunlight, and set out to become what I became. ~ Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, 1994

Photos taken at Camp Bonnie Brae, the nation’s longest continuously operating Girl Scout Camp, in East Otis, Mass.