A Change of Heart on Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Confession: I used to be a bit cynical about this day.  Wasn’t it just all about big corporations selling more greeting cards and gross plastic heart-shaped trinkets?

However, I’ve had a change of heart. 

I decided to take back the day!  Rather than seeing it as a hyped-up, over-marketed day of pink, I decided to look into the soul of the day and make it about a collective show of love. It doesn’t have to be about buying more greeting cards! It’s about your own expression of love.

So to start a new love for V-Day, and to share this love with my girls, we set out to create a big collective hug and express how grateful we are for all the lovely people in our lives.

Ok, that’s enough of the cheese. Where’s the chocolate? Hold on, it’s coming. Oh yes, it’s coming …

Here are a few ways I did an eco-friendly, personalized, DIY Valentine’s Day. 

Warning: I’m not a crafty person so when I say DIY I mean really low-maintenance DIY. There was not even a visit to a craft store – just using stuff around the house.

 

Home-made cards

 

My older daughter Jade was all over the Do-it-yourself card plan. The kid makes little cards with “I love you” messages on a regular basis. So to do them for her whole class, what joy!

As per my disclaimer above, this was a pretty simple project.  We took some red construction paper. Then some pink construction paper. We cut hearts out of the pink (used a cookie cutter for the stencil). We cut squares out the red. Some glue. Some stickers. Hand-written notes to each of her friends and teachers. Topped off with a Yummy Earth Organic lolly pop taped on the back of each card.

These are lollies packed with Vitamin C and all natural. And really YUMMY. A win-win.

Voila …

 

These are one-of-a-kind cards that she is so excited to hand out to her teachers and classmates.

 

Extreme Chocolate Goodness

 

Nothing says I love you like chocolate.   And by chocolate I mean the ooey-est, gooey-est chocolate brownie ever.

This is my go-to, fool proof, always a winner, make in less than an hour brownie extraordinaire. I make it with as much organic ingredients as possible. Organic eggs, sugar, and of course, Camino organic fair trade dark chocolate cocoa.

Camino is a Canadian brand of fair trade and organic food products, owned by the Ottawa-based La Siembra Co-operative. La Siembra works directly with 18 producer co-ops, supporting more than 36,000 family farmers in 9 countries.

I found this recipe on Epicurious. It’s called the Best Cocoa Brownies. Yup, and the easiest.  Recipe below. NOTE: Instead of melting the butter the way described below, I just melt the butter in the microwave and add it to the sugar and cocoa mixture. Give it a good stir. Plus I usually bake it for a bit longer than it calls for … usually 30 minutes. I’m telling you, these are SO EASY. And SO DELISH.
 
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. <NOTE, for lazy bakers like me, just melt the butter in the microwave>

Stir in the vanilla . Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. <NOTE: I find it needs to bake longer, more like 30+ mins>

Lift up the ends of the parchment and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Chocolate note: Any unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder works well here.

BitterSweet

 

Check it out … how awesome is this …. 

 

To gift or not to gift? 

Really, Valentine’s Day isn’t about the gifts.  But since I needed to get a couple of things for the girls, I saved them up for this day, put them in re-gifted gift bags (from my huge stash) and voila, V-Day surprise. We may be setting a new precedent here. Got to remember to manage expectations for the girls and not make this day about big gifts.

For the hubby, experiential is best.  So I lined up a babysitter for tomorrow night, made reservations at a local restaurant, and then it’s a night of dancing. But shhhh, it’s a surprise.

 

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day as a day of expressing love and appreciation for loved ones, I’m wishing you and yours a day full of love, fun, and of course, chocolate!

xo Shelley

Owner and Chief Dreamer,

Dream Child Organics

 

 

 

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