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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Valentine Dog

 Have you been thoughtful and loving this past year? Will the Valentine Dog visit your home?

One year, when I was a girl, my mom "invented" the Valentine Dog. There's the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, so shouldn't there also be a character who brings trinkets for Valentine's Day? In our house, the Valentine Dog brought something small to those who'd been loving and thoughtful throughout the year. Perhaps this was a ploy to get my brother, sister and I to stop our bickering and begin cooperating. I'm not sure.

Or, maybe, my mom just wanted to add some fun to a holiday that seemed commercially motivated with store-bought candy hearts, boxes of pre-printed cards, flowers from the florist (you'll notice that Valentine's Day is a winter holiday when flowers from your own garden are not possible, and one "must" buy flowers from a shop), and small vials of pricey perfume.

The gifts that I remember. . .

One year, my mom stayed up late into the night, sewing smocked nighties, one for myself and one for my sister. We could hear the sewing machine downstairs, whirring along as we laid there trying to fall asleep. Quietly we whispered to each other, trying to guess what it would be.

Many years I received a little something, like cologne spray (anyone remember Love's Baby Soft, or Love's Lemon Scent?), or a pot or stick of lip gloss (Bonne Bell Lip Smacker anyone?).

I still have one of the items that my mom (the Valentine Dog) gave to me. I was away at college, and she sent me a piece of her jewelry that she was given as a teenage girl. I was very touched by that gift. Her parents had taken a trip to Mexico City, and they bought this "amethyst" and silver bracelet from a vendor on the street. They knew the stones were not real amethysts, but they bought the bracelet anyways. When my sister and I were in college, my mom had two of the stones made into pendants for us. I treasure that. It's a piece of my mom's teenage years, as well as my own.

the pattern and fabric for pj bottoms for my two daughters

Our house continues with the Valentine Dog. Some years, I bake treats, wrap them prettily and place at each person's spot at the kitchen table. Other years, the Valentine Dog brings red and silver foil-wrapped candies (bought on clearance after Christmas), and maybe a very small and somewhat useful gift.

These pj bottoms won't have
an easily identifiable front or
back. I'll sew these fabric
flowers (scavenged from
baby clothing) to the
center-front of the waistband.
This year, I have it on good authority that the Valentine Dog will be bringing a small pouch of candy, and a gift.

I picked up the fabric (using a 50% off sale) for two of the gifts this past week. I'll be sewing pj bottoms for my girls. I've used this pattern for myself a couple of times and will scale it down in size for them.

If you sew a lot, then you know that pj bottoms are a relatively easy project. If you don't sew much at all, this is a good beginner's project -- no zippers, buttonholes, sleeves, plackets or any of the other details that used to give me an enormous headache when I was in middle school Home Ec.

I'm still working on ideas for the men in the family. Suggestions for what I (I mean the Valentine Dog) can do for them?

Be thoughtful and loving to your family, and the Valentine Dog may just bring you a treat!

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  1. I love the idea of the Valentine Dog, but I think it would be the Valentine Cat that would visit my house. I don't know about the men in your house, but the men in my house would be happy with chocolate of any kind. They wouldn't need a homemade gift.

  2. Hi live and learn,
    The Valentine Cat for your place, then. Actually my mom was a true cat lover, so it's odd that she picked a dog for this. I'd never thought about it that way before.

    So your guys would be happy with chocolate. That's a good suggestion. Mine would enjoy that too.

  3. Cute idea! And yes ... I had both Love's Baby Soft as well as Bonne Bell lip smackers--are we showing our age, or what??? :)

    When the kids were preschoolers, I would skip the valentine and pick up a dollar store stuffed animal, which was more fun for them, anyway. Now I hit the Target dollar area for a small box of chocolates; I also buy chocolate milk straws (straws filled with stuff, mostly sugar, I'm sure, to make their milk taste like chocolate milk) as a treat. They like cards so they'll get one of those, too!

    My husband and I skip dinner out--the restaurants are so crowded that it really isn't much fun--and instead we cook a nice dinner, pull out the tablecloth and china, and have a "fancy" meal. I will bake my hubby a pie because that's what he loves most. This year I'm also giving him a photo collage of our family (8"x10"--Walgreen's was having a buy one/get one sale). He already has one framed at work but the pictures are outdated so I'm hoping this will be fun for him.

    And I agree with Live & Learn, a valentine cat would be coming to our house, too!

    This is related to nothing in your post--but we have snow! It's bitterly cold (which resulted in a snow day from school yesterday) but we still bundled up and went sledding yesterday. Woohoo!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Your Valentine plans sound very nice. I think your kids and husband will LOVE what you're doing for them. Pie, hmmm, my husband loves pie as well. There's an idea for me -- his favorite pie.

      We skip the restaurants, as well. They are way too crowded, the servers and kitchen staff are stressed out, so the meal suffers, and the value for the money spent is just not there. But some years, we do get take-out. That may sound tacky, but it means an easier night for me.

      Oh, a snow day, how fun! I hope you had a great time sledding. I have been hoping we'd get a snow day here, so I could go down the street to the little hill and sled some myself. No such luck, so far. But I'm hopeful!

  4. I didn't realize you can get enough snow for sledding. The winter is still young--maybe you'll still get snow.

    While I can grow winter-weary when ALL we get is snow, I find occasional snowy days give me a mental excuse to slow down. The highways are treacherous here (it's too cold for the road salt to work) so I'm not picking up days at work this week and therefore can hang out at home more and "nest".

    1. The usual is once per winter we get snow that makes national news. Everything grinds to a halt, no school, no work, some downtown city streets are closed. The area only has a handful of sanding trucks, so a lot of roads are quite dangerous. The snow will usually last 2-3 days, which is just enough to get excited about it, but not too much to be tired of it.

      Last year, my kids got a 6 day weekend, because of snow. The downside to a snowy week here, for kids at least, is they have to make up those days in school. Last year they lost their spring break. Bummer! But we're still remaining hopeful for some of the white stuff. Like you said, there's still time!

  5. I would treasure the pendant made specially for you as well. I never thought about Valentines day having a figure of it's own, but it has my mind filling with ideas. Don't know about your men, but around here the men like their coffee, so a special blend (cinnamon is a favorite as is hazelnut) would be something they would love.

    I get small bags that make a few cups for $1. at the store and can pack a variety when I need a simple gift.

    1. Hi Lois,
      Great ideas for the men around here. My husband is a coffee lover, my son enjoys cocoa, both of which I could find some nice packets of. Thanks for the idea.

      I hope the Valentine Dog is good to you this year. (I'm thinking your creative grandkids will make you a very nice Valentine card to treasure.)

  6. Your mom was very creative (which she obviously passed on to you)! My spouse is from the UK and he misses certain foods so if I was ambitious, the Valentine Dog would bring him a steamed pudding! And yes on the Love's Baby Soft and Lip Smackers :)

    1. Hi anexacting,
      A steamed pudding, now that would be a very well-received gift, I'm sure. As an American, what I first think of is Christmas pudding or plum pudding, but I've seen recipes for a wide variety of flavors of steamed puddings. Have you made steamed puddings for him before? I've only done the Christmas ones, but would like to try a treacle one.

      When I mentioned the Love's Baby Soft and Bonne Bell Lip Smacker, I was also thinking of a cologne popular at the time, Wind Song, and I cannot get the their song out of my mind now "I can't seem to forget you, your Wind Song stays on my mind". Now I'm showing my age, eh?

  7. How sweet! My mom didn't make up anything fun like that but she always left us chocolates or a note in our lunch kits.

    1. Hi Daisy,
      That was very thoughtful of your mom to leave a note in your lunch, or some chocolates. Kids (and adults) do appreciate those things. We all want to be thought of and have someone do something for us.
      Thanks for dropping by.

  8. Wow this is so sweet. What a cool thing for your mom to do.

    1. Hi Alicia,
      Yes, my mom was a really wonderful woman. She was a fun mom, full of surprises, and always compassionate. She just had a way of making everything in life feel special.
      Thanks for visiting!

    2. Hi from the UK. I love the idea of a Valentine Dog, but as the mom to two teenage boys I'm afraid he/she won't be visiting.
      anexactinglife can I suggest you google the recipe for microwave sponge pudding. I would post it, but I work in pounds and ounces and don't know how to convert. The recipe means you get something close to a steamed pudding, but without the hours of boiling the pudding. Hope that helps.

    3. Thanks for the suggestion on a microwave version of sponge pudding. If you want, you can email or post in the comments, and I can convert it for you. Just offering.

      Thanks for visiting.

  9. Hi Lili, me again. I think I might have figured it out. I hope that this works. I used a 1 1/2 litre pudding basin.
    Grease the basin and put fruit jelly or marmalade or choc sauce in the bottom of the basin, a couple of tablespoons. Weigh two large eggs and mix with the same weight of flour ( I use self raising, but you can use flour with no raising agents and add in a teaspoon of baking powder instead), butter/margarine and sugar. This can flavoured how you wish. If you can make a cake in that flavour then you can make a pudding in that flavour.
    Cover the basin with microwaveable film, pierce it a few times and cook on high. I have a 900W machine and it cooks for 4 minutes in that. Leave to stand for a minute and then eat with custard or cream or ice cream. My family likes raspberry jelly with vanilla sponge, lemon curd with a citrus sponge and a chocolate version of course.

  10. The pounds and ounces version is 2 eggs, 4 ounces of butter, 4 ounces of caster/fine sugar and 4 ounces of self raising flour. Mix and cook as above

    Love, Diane x

    1. Hi Diane,
      Thank you! I'll convert this recipe for UK, Canadian or US. And I think I know what we'll be having for dessert tomorrow night. I don't have a pudding basin, but I am guessing that any microwaveable casserole dish will work. I'll have a converted recipe up on Sunday's blog post.
      Again, thank you so much for this!

  11. Hello Diane and Lili, Thank you so much for posting this for me! My mom makes a traditional plum pudding once a year and it seems like an intimidating process, so this will be perfect. I can't wait to try it! BTW, my spouse says he usually got puddings out of a tin back in the UK :)

    1. Hi anexactinglife,
      I hope you and your husband enjoy this.


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