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handmade_eco-friendly_valentine_card_2 handmade_eco-friendly_valentine_cards_3handmade_eco-friendly_valentine_card_web As a child, Valentine’s Day was one of my favorites. At home, our celebration was beautifully simple, typically a special dessert or snack or note in our lunchbox. At school, we had an elaborate celebration with baked goods and sweet drinks. Everyone brought self-decorated shoeboxes with little slits in the top, cut like a mail drop in a door. We shared notes (often generic ones with a cartoon on the front), and the very best ones included stickers or candy.

I cannot reproduce this experience entirely for my children now, but I do try to find ways to make the season special at home with small handmade projects or heart-shaped snacks. This year, we’re using supplies and materials we already own to create our valentines. It’s flexible for all ages, and just the sort of light-hearted project to enjoy as a family over the weekend or to occupy busy bees during the week. I shared more details today on the Babiekins blog.

On the same note: other handmade cards we’ve made  | the year I forgot Valentine’s Day | the year I learned the hard truth of love on Valentine’s Day

Happy weekend, friends! x

 

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I have always appreciated the simplicity of Thanksgiving, how much and how little it requires of me all at once. On one hand it is an elaborate meal, one many families take great care to celebrate with foods, people, and activities that feel meaningful to them, often handed down generationally. On the other hand, Thanksgiving is a cultural history, a connection to our country’s blended origins and a celebration of choice, of perseverance, of courage, and belief. I want my children to remember this holiday holding both parts.

As typical by this part in semester, our school routine is beginning to fall out and we’re all ready for the holiday break, BUT I’m trying to do a little school work this week to hold what little momentum we have until we pause for Christmas. I’ve scaled our work way down though. The kids will do a little math and reading each day, but we have already and will continue to spend some time doing a few other projects appropriate for the season, projects I’m quite excited about: candle-making, leaf projects, writing our gratitudes, and reading/writing/illustrating around The First Thanksgiving, a picture book from one of my favorite children’s writers Jean Craighead George. I love the more balanced perspective of this book for younger ages, that courage and hardship didn’t just belong to the Pilgrims.  It feels honest and yet approachable for a family read. If you’re interested, I recently wrote some more about how I use this book and why I return to it every year, which you can now read on the Babiekins blog

 

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I’m not sure why, but Valentine’s Day often sneaks up on me. Mark and I usually plan something small for ourselves, but I often forget about the exchange of sentimental goods kids share, too. I used to love it as a child. We’d decorate boxes and share cards and candy with one another. When my own kids were young, they didn’t really know (or care) or understand about Valentine’s Day, and I never pushed them into it–a heart-shaped cake or cookie usually did the trick. I still remember the year that changed. Since then, I make an effort to remember: they want to share on that day, too.

As I scoured the internet, laden with adorable Valentine DIYs, for ideas this year, I realized I would be doing a large amount of the work (which for me, defeats the purpose). I decided instead to just let the kids make their own. They love creating their own masterpieces to share with others and I’m always amazed at what their minds and hands can do together. I brought out the felt heart-shaped stickers and different washi tapes I found last weekend in the Target dollar section, along with several other art supplies we had on hand at home. After spreading them out across the table and introducing the materials (especially the ones in limited quantity), I let them loose to create. They cheered, literally. Meanwhile, I sat down with them, helping them spell names and creating on my own paper. The projects belonged to each of them: specific gifts handmade with love.

{materials we used–this can vary}

  • heart-shaped cookie cutters (for tracing)
  • washi tape
  • oil pastels
  • construction paper
  • red + white twine
  • felt heart stickers
  • glue sticks
  • scissors

 

 

 

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In the world of digital everything, receiving real mail (even when hand-delivered) can feel like a gift. E-mail is convenient and free, and with so many digital invitation options (Evite, Paperless post, etc.), it’s often difficult to justify the time and expense for paper. I get it. Believe me, I get it. Time is valuable, which is exactly why a handmade, snail-mailed invitation can be just the right treat for your guests, no matter their age. Of course, an invite tucked in with confetti and wrapped in twine will feel like a mini-party in itself.

I love the variation and imperfection of watercolors for this project. Although similar, each invitation had a slightly different hue and rhythm, but most of all, Blythe made each one. I helped her mix the paints (crimson, with a little white and yellow) and write, but she chose the colors and painted them herself (sadly, I only had my iphone available for that part).  It was such a fun collaboration and a way for Blythe to feel a little ownership in her event. We used them for her birthday, but you could easily adapt this idea for any event or to create a stationery gift. Below, I included the materials and steps for you to do it yourself at home. Enjoy!

{what you need}

  • watercolor paper (postcard size or cut larger sheets)
  • watercolors
  • paint brush/es
  • pen/marker
  • envelopes
  • confetti
  • twine

{steps}

  1. Decide the color/s you want to use and mix your paints. Don’t worry about it being perfect, as I said, the imperfection is part of the beauty.
  2. Fill a glass of water and begin making strokes along your paper. You may choose to cover the entire paper, creating an ombré effect (dark to light) or leave unfinished edges (as Blythe did).
  3. Let them fully dry (at least 24 hours).
  4. Use a fine-tipped marker or pen to write your invitation.
  5. Place completed invites in an envelope with a small bit of confetti.
  6. Seal the envelopes and wrap with twine. (You may skip the twine altogether if you’re sending them in the mail.)