A Heart Shaped Weekend

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valentines day 2016 dinner party

I spent Thursday through Sunday in Michigan with my family. My sweet grandmother is making her transition to heaven after a pretty incredible almost 99 years on this planet. She never likes to miss a party so she has hung on through several days of storytelling and gatherings. At one point, there were 9 past and present staff members of her assisted living center in her bedroom; apparently there is a Hazel text message chain compromised of these kind women alerting each other to her condition and to come say goodbye. Time laughing and sharing and toasting was not in short supply and it was pretty damn special.

One of Hazel’s core values is hosting and with a Valentine’s Day dinner party planned at my house in Chicago, my mom insisted that my grandmother would have insisted I go home so I hit the road early and headed West. Several hours spent passing spaghetti and meatballs and pie around our table and really great conversation as we all curled up in front of the fire, nibbling on heart-shaped Rice Krispie treats and M&M’s as snow continued to fall outside was just the ticket. Having people in my life that I love as much as I do is my greatest blessing and an entire weekend, as all over the place emotionally and geographically as it was, to spend just loving them up…well, that is Valentine’s Day.

And I think Luna Bell was happy to host a heart-shaped party too.

Luna Bell Valentine's Day 2016

Valentine’s Day: A Little Effort Goes a Long Way

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Felt Hearts Valentines Day

It seems that Valentine’s Day is either loved or loathed, nothing in between. I stood neutral on this heart shaped holiday until my (now) husband and I had our first official date(s) on Valentine’s Day weekend. He took me to a tapas restaurant and was super excited because there were heart shaped ice cubes in the urinal (eww), I was excited because champagne sangria (yum) and to complete the romance trifecta, the restaurant has since been demolished in order to make room for a Williams-Sonoma. But we did have a blast and we did end up getting married so my Valentine’s neutrality has shifted toward festive-light, a belief that despite the hype around what Valentine’s Day is “supposed” to be, it is entirely possible to spend heart-themed time with people you love that is enjoyable and not entirely forced. Because real talk: it’s February aka freezing and waiting for a cab while wearing tights to go to a dinner where you are forced to order from a prix fixe menu that claims to contain aphrodisiacs is not what you want to do. It’s just not.

A little effort goes a long way and showing someone you care about them isn’t accomplished by some grand gesture you will never do again. Some suggestions:

Valentines Day Ideas

  1. The Murder Mystery Company hits the sweet spot of being dinner and an activity. I went with girlfriends a few weeks ago and from the second we walked in, we were a part of a theatre production aimed at solving “Whodunnit” after the host of the event is mysteriously murdered. Guests are given roles of suspects and what I loved about it is that you could be as involved as you wanted to be- people ran around asking for clues and others were spectators, both being equally as fun. Drinking wine and laughing with friends is always good too…and we totally won “Detective of the Night” for solving the crime. Thumbs up.
  2. Two words: Dive Bar. Having fun and not taking things so seriously is always romantic and there’s nothing more fun than eating tater tots while hurling pointy objects at a dart board (even if you are as terrible at it as I am.)
  3. Gummies are the new chocolate and the same rules apply as they did in the 4th grade- heart shaped anything for the win.
  4. Coco Chanel said “I only drink champagne on two occasions: when I am in love and when I am not.” So there you have it, the answer is champagne.
  5. Going for a run and helping others always makes me feel good and Cupid’s Undie Run achieves both. At 2pm this Saturday, run in your undies (really) through Wrigleyville to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Cocktails before and after optional but probably necessary.

Link Love

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Girlfriends always make the best Valentines- who else would appreciate a “What Would Beyonce Do” pencil?! (If you’re looking for Vday goodies, Michaels was the jackpot for my little packages I sent- garland, cocktail napkins, cheese-y but fun heart necklaces…and they are always on sale + coupons!)

The Saint Bernard in this list of dogs who have no idea how they got on the counter just killed me!

I am absolutely in agreement with this list of 5 restaurants in Chicago that are perfect for various occasions. (Recognize Erica from 5 Questions With…?)

Speaking of 5 Questions With…if you’re in Vancouver, go to Hearts of Gold on Valentine’s Day. All proceeds go to supporting Megan’s Runser‘s fight against Hodgkin’s. Stateside like me? You can still buy a ticket to make a donation.

“Brave means listening to the still small voice inside and DOING AS IT SAYS.” – this post from Momastery is the best thing I read this week.

I think this tea towel is perfect.

Plan B

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And sometimes, you go with Plan B.

Pretty much nothing went accordingly to plan yesterday with either of our respective days. By the time I made it to Whole Foods, that place was entirely wiped out. Not a shrimp or rose in sight, man. After reconvening in our kitchen, making a plan for how we are going to get the massive desk the delivery guys refused to bring up and left in the stairwell actually into our home, it was late, we were less than thrilled and it just did not feel like a champagne and shellfish night. We asked ourselves, looking back, how would we want to say we spent the Valentine’s Day before we were married and there was one answer:

Tots. Beer.

So to the corner bar we went. Tots (cheese sauce included, because it was a holiday and all) were ordered. A beer for him, a cider for me. Solid people watching. The Olympics. Maybe another round.

It turns out that Plan B is actually pretty awesome and because we were together, absolutely Valentine’s Day worthy.