James and I have always been pretty elaborate gift givers when we exchange gifts with each other. We started dating around Christmas time, which preceeded Valentines Day only by a few months. It's a bit strange to start dating at Christmas because the big question is do you buy each other gifts or not?! I think I opted for the super generic no string attached gift. I bought him a copy of my favourite book - The Alchemist, with a nice inscription in it about how glad I am the our paths crossed, etc. etc. James took a chance. He bought me jewelry. Which for a number of reasons unbeknownst to him was a risk. I'd received jewelry as gifts before, but I had genuinely liked all of none of it. I have super particular taste and while I had been impressed receiving my first necklace from Tiffany's at one point in time nothing was anything I would have chosen for myself nor did I feel like myself wearing it. Cut to Christmas and James bought me a necklace that I freakin' LOVED. I wore that necklace with absolutely everything all the time. I wore it until the string broke and I admittedly held onto the beads and gems it was comprised of and still have them in a bag in my jewelry drawer. So, with Valentines Day following Christmas he'd set the bar pretty high. That was the most romantic and fun valentines date we ever had. Newly in love we went to a fancy-shmancy restaurant for dinner. We shared a bottle of wine and didn't want the night to end so we spent the rest of our evening at a downstairs, down-town jazz club. On top of it all he gave me a bracelet from Tiffanys that was straight out of my dreams. One of my favourite memories from that time.
In the years following those firsts James and I continued to spoil one another and he continued buying my pieces of jewelry that I loved. (Actually to date most of the jewelry I own he has given me) But, I think we both reached a point of feeling like it was all getting a little out of hand. So, this last Christmas we agreed not to buy gifts for each other but instead to spend the majority of Christmas Day just the two of us. I guess that was too much to ask because we both completely ignored the no gift rule. Christmas morning we both woke up to sneakily wrapped gifts under the tree. We had been aware of buying something we weren't supposed to be buying for the other though and somehow it felt more thoughtful and neither of us went over-board. It was my favourite Christmas together. It felt like we'd somehow gotten back to the sentiment and meaning of gift giving. Full circle to the intention and the element of surprise.
Valentines Day has never been as elaborate as the first one. Not because we lost those loving feelings but because honestly neither of us are super into the holiday. I think any excuse to celebrate love is good. And sometimes having a reminder to date is wonderful. But, we both really hate being in busyness and crowds of people and so every single time we'd choose to avoid the craziness of dating that day particularly and instead schedule dates often throughout each month. However, in the spirit of the lovely Christmas gifts we just exchanged, and avoiding crowds and being reminded to celebrate ANOTHER (our 12th) valentines day together I wanted to do a little something special.
With special and intentional in mind a few things seemed like a natural fit. First we have some really talented people in our lives who make some really beautiful things that either of us would be thrilled to receive and own. Secondly, a cozy night in, just us, enjoying each others company and celebrating love together seemed fitting. And lastly, how could you ever go wrong combining the two? Here's a peek into our Valentines Day date plans..
James loves craft/micro brewery beer, and I heart wine. Having something to toast with seems necessary don't you think? These are a few of our favourites. How great are these wine labels? Honestly the wine is even better than the labels although they are pretty freakin fun.
Our friend Mark is a woodworker. He creates the most beautiful pieces that perfectly capture being both intentional and special. I am always extra aware the things we bring into and fill our home with. I love to think that the handmade goods that took time, attention, energy and are made by the most wonderful of humans bring some magic and good into our home. Mark's latest creation are these beautiful wood + brass bottle openers. Mark + his wife Kaihla came for dinner recently and came bearing this lovely gift. Go check out his shop, everything is special.
Letters are my love language. Writing them and receiving them. Two things have always been important to me when it comes to giving someone a card is that the card is beautiful and unique and blank inside. None of those Hallmark sentiments over here. Elise is an artist. I recently met her for coffee and she walked in wearing a bright floraly top, a white skirt and bright coral lipstick. Seeing her walk in the coffee shop in her floraly brightness instantly made me smile. Her artwork feels the same - cheerful, beautiful, happy, and made ever so lovingly. Taking a little time to write a letter in one of these gorgeous cards seems like the perfect gift to receive Valentines Day or any other just-because occasion.
And finally: Chocolate covered strawberries and time. Chocolate covered strawberries are the quintessential Valentines Day treat, and honestly they're SO simple. I melted 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler and then rolled each strawberry in the melted chocolate. Make sure to cool them on a tray covered in parchment paper. Then enjoy. That simple, and impressive every time.
Regardless of how anyone feels about Valentines Day (and I know there are some very strong sentiments towards Feb.14) it's a really good day to take some time and love on the humans in your life. Community, connection and love are what it's all about. I find that unless we actually schedule in a date or intentionally set aside time it's easy to get busy doing other things. Dating never has to be extravagant to be meaningful. Honestly lots of our date nights include take-out sushi and some good ole Netflix. Love is worth celebrating. Make sure you do just that!