This cake is brought to you just in time for Valentine’s. It’s special for three reasons:
It’s my Aunt Margie’s recipe, who is now gone, but I have her cake and think of her whenever I make it.
It has a very special ingredient that makes me laugh.
It represents so many things I love about my husband.
Sometimes we don’t want to share our favorite recipes because then they won’t be special, but boy am I glad Aunt Margie didn’t keep this one all to herself – life is so much better with this cake in it.
If you want only the recipe, skip to the end. If you’d like the love story, keep reading…
Aunt Margie and Uncle Warren raised my father after both his parents passed away when he was young. He grew up on a dairy farm in my most favorite place ever: Bear Lake, Idaho. When we visited in the summer Aunt Margie cooked, and boy was she a good cook!
Aunt Margie was a farmer’s wife and made everything from scratch which is why this cake’s very special ingredient makes me laugh. Are you ready for it…the very special ingredient is…a…cake mix! When I showed surprise she whispered, “you can make the cake by scratch if you want, but it’s just as good with the mix.” I had a new admiration for a busy woman who knew a good thing when she saw it. I have the original cake recipe, but Aunt Margie was right – the cake mix is just as good and so much easier!
As for my husband? Well, way back when I was going through a sad time in my romantic life. I wanted to make a very special cake for a boy who had kind of broken up with me. But he kept coming around. To show him what a catch I was, I figured all he needed was a bite of this very special cake that I had made from scratch (hey, I was young.)
I biked to the grocery store on my green Trek bike and discovered that I hadn’t brought the recipe with me. Did the frosting call for evaporated milk or condensed? Oh well! What’s the difference (said the clueless bakerella)? I bought the condensed milk.
I baked the cake mix (even I could do that) and began the frosting. Stirring it on the stove, I could not get it to thicken. Doubt began to fester. I stirred and stirred until I figured it was good enough – and dumped the frosting onto the cake. It vaguely occurred to me that maybe there was a difference between condensed and evaporated milk.
It was a soupy mess. But I optimistically hoped it would miraculously thicken and be as delicious as Aunt Margie’s cake.
Then I went and did my hair.
The boy was late, not showing up until 10 o’clock. I had grumpily gone to bed (party animal way back then, too). My roommates followed me as I ever-so-glamourously carried out my very special cake and presented it to the boy. (um, this is beginning to sound like an embarrassing 50’s story but I assure you I was a feminist in other ways 🙂
The boy took a look at my cake, put his hand on his stomach and said, “Oh, I’m so stuffed. I really couldn’t.”
Before I threw my cake AT the boy my roommates ushered me into the kitchen where they assured me it wasn’t me or my semi-disturbing-looking cake, it was him.
This moment, I sadly realized, was THE END of that boy.
The next day I was quite ill. I had a cold and a broken heart was miserably missing Anatomy class to go lay down thinking I was going to fail out of school for missing class, a baking failure and no one would ever marry me (not dramatic at all, not me.)
As I passed a condo out popped The Professor who I had just met. Rather than walk toward campus he surprised me by walking me home. There are many funny details to this story, but I’ll cut to the most important part: he walked into my apartment and saw my cake on the table.
The Professor you see, has always been a man who appreciates good food. “Mmmm,” he said, eyeing my cake.
“You can have some,” I said, feeling very sorry for myself. “No one else wants any” (boo hoo…)
“Thanks.” And then he did an audacious thing: he didn’t politely wait for me to open the utensil drawer and hand him a fork. He opened every drawer in the kitchen until he found a fork and then rather than wait for a plate, he stuck his fork in the middle of the cake and took a huge bite. Oh my. This professorial boy who used very big words, was excessively polite, and infuriatingly sparse with his compliments was eating my cake.
It was rather horrifying.
And then he said the only words I needed to hear: “Mmmm, tasty!” And proceeded to take another large bite.
Oh, I could have cried. Which I did. After he left.
And maybe it was then that I knew I had finally found the right boy.
It’s the small things, isn’t it?
And so, on the eve of this Valentine’s, I’d like to give you my very special, most favorite cake recipe. Passed down from my dear Aunt Margie who knew when to substitute, and has been made with love every since, all these years later.
I had to take the picture with my iPhone due to computer problems. My photography, as with my baking skills, is always a work in progress.
German Chocolate Cake by Aunt Margie
For the cake:
1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (devils food works fine, too).
Bake and cool
1 stick butter
3 egg yolk, whisked
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1-2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Mix and cook butter, eggs yolks, evaporated milk, and sugar on low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and coconut and walnuts. Spread on warm cake between layers or on top.
May you bake it with love, eat it with love, and enjoy it through the years, just as we have.
Want more energy? Want to feel good? Want to make your skin glow with goodness? Inspired by Laura at abeautifulplate.com, I jumped at the chance to blend me some orange ginger-splashed magic just in time for love day. Start with juicy oranges A beautiful yellow beet (much sweeter and more mild than red)
1 carrot plucked fresh from the garden…or the grocery store will do
1 Braeburn apple – yum!
A hunk of ginger, 2 inches thick
Orange Ginger Splashed Smoothie:
2 navel oranges
1 medium golden beet, peeled
1 carrot, scrubbed
1 Braeburn apple, cut
2-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 to 1 cup water + handful of ice
Blend it all together and have a gulp of goodness (you know I fancy the vitamin for its superior blending capacity.) Who needs caffeine when you could have a smoothie to get going?
This recipe was inspired by pressed juice, meaning all the juice was squeezed out of the fruit and vegetables. But I prefer smoothies for several reasons: smoothies keep you full longer, they contain more nutrients especially fiber, there’s less waste, and they are much less time consuming to make than juicing. In addition, because of the fiber (the bulk), smoothies don’t hit your bloodstream so hard and fast like juices do, which means you have longer-lasting and more steady energy.
Convinced? Give it a try!
On Facebook, a friend asked, “isn’t that a lot of ginger?” Yes, it is! There is definitely a “zing” to this, which I like, but I’ve also acquired it. Ginger is terrific for gut health which is why I eat/drink so much of it. If you’re not a ginger fan, try less of it.
Looking for more valentine treats? You might like:
What a weekend. Cold temps, much chocolate, giggling cousins (!), a magnificent play, a photography class, and coughing fits, all made Valentine’s extra special.
At this time I’d like to pay my yearly homage to the mailbox. Despite previous blizzards this year, piled up snow, and multiple plow drive-bys…it stands proud and free:
And now for your weekend report:After months of rehearsal, Cope transformed into feisty Ms. Jean Louise aka Scout Finch for her school’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird. I love it so. When interviewed, Cope said, “One of the main themes of this play is that two children learn the world isn’t what they thought it was…and that is something we all have to face at some point in our lives.”
Scott Allenby, Communications Director wrote: While the performance is powerful, the impact of the journey for this group of young actors is perhaps even more impactful. On-going conversations around race, equality, and civil rights in today’s world have been an important part of the community this year. Proctor’s student organized Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration set the stage for open, honest conversations about where our society is, and where we need to be, and this play has allowed those conversations to continue in a productive way on campus.
So proud of these kids.
On Friday, the kiddies came home from school with loads of valentine’s. Paige and I had made these valentine cows. She said some of the boys in her class laughed. Hold on to these moments, mamas, cause there’s only so long you can make valentine cows with your wee ones!
This weekend we also did our annual heart attacking of the house. Some of ours were…interesting…as usual: The “not” was written after Cope annoyed her sister. Charming children, aren’t they?Even doggy got heart attacked. My kids are extremely observant when it comes to my hair color and I’m just sayin’ that getting it right is not easy! They just think they’re so funny. 🙂Oh, melt my heart, darlin’! Nelson has a small birthmark above his lip. He would not have found this funny a few years ago. Now he rolls his eyes, chases and catches his prey (sisters), and wrestles them to the ground. Win-win.The morning of Valentine’s began as early my sister-in-law and I trotted to the little local library for a 4-hour photography class. It was excellent. My head is spinning with words like “F-stop, aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.” Exciting times! That night it snowed and snowed and snowed. The temperature dipped into the negatives, -30 with windchill. After multiple attempts to get up our steep hill, we finally did (whew) and were snowed in for the rest of the weekend! I pretty much stayed in bed trying not to cough while sweet cherubs fetched me food. It was quite blissful and since we had a sweet cousin in the house, there was minimal fighting! Company is good for a family that way, isn’t it? These girls couldn’t be kept from the snow for long! But they didn’t last long either, coming in with red cheeks and begging for hot cocoa.And I had such high hopes that this would be the year the mailbox stayed put…
Courtesy of my mother-in-law, this chocolate is dark and decadent. It tastes expensive, but is cheaper than any box of chocolates.
It’s mighty serendipitous that this tasty confection came just in time for Valentines Day as we are still trying to repent of our holiday gluttony.
You only need three ingredients:
Cocoa Powder, Coconut Oil, Maple Syrup
Put ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until melted. Pour into bowl (glass or metal). Freeze for an hour of so. Done. No candy thermometers or complicated instructions.
Break up chocolate and eat.
I wanted heart molds for Valentine’s so I bought this one from Amazon. It worked beautifully. The candy pops out and the silicone is easy to clean – even dishwasher safe. I’m already dreaming of all the other little molds I must make..bunnies, groundhogs, four-leaf clovers, chickens…oh dear.
This chocolate is so dark (a major heart healthy benefit) that at first Paige (age 7) didn’t like it as much as the sugary Hershey’s, but I tell you, she’s come around. “Mmm, mom, can I have another one, please, please, please?”
For quality nutrition, the cocoa should be at least 65% cocoa. Most chocolate is very low in cocoa. This recipe also has coconut oil (a healthy fat that is easily used for energy) and maple syrup. Maple syrup is obviously a sugar, but pure maple has some health benefits. In addition, as the baker, you can control the amount used.
The first time I made this chocolate I didn’t add enough syrup and it was just too bitter. So I lazily poured a drop into the individual molds after the chocolate and coconut oil was in. Don’t do that. You’ll end up with this:The darlings didn’t mind. “Mmmm, it’s chocolate filled with maple syrup!”
Excited? Oh boy, I am!
Homemade Dark Chocolate:
1 Cup Cocoa Powder (high quality)
1 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup (use less or more depending on taste)
Heat Cocoa Powder, Coconut Oil, and Maple Syrup on stove over medium heat until combined. Stir constantly. Taste (but be careful – it’s hot!) for sweetness factor. Pour into glass or metal bowl. Freeze. For molds: first pour melted chocolate into liquid measuring cup, then into molds. Freeze. Done. Eat!
Helpful hint: Put the molds onto a baking sheet before you pour chocolate into it. Trying to move it later with hot liquid chocolate…is a disaster.
Today my son asked me if we could watch the Super Bowl this weekend. There’s a super bowl this weekend? I had no idea. All the hot wings, soda, and chip sales should have tipped me off. When I asked him who was playing, he told me (I can’t remember now) and looked aghast at my ignorance. So, in honor of the Super Bowl, I’m dishing up a Valentine post…read on, lover boy.
I’m keeping Valentine’s simple, just making a sweet little breakfast
And since I already made it, I guess I’m already done! This was tastiness. It just so happened that the baked apple took the shape of a heart and then I knew that I had accidentally made the perfect Valentine’s breakfast. Don’t you just love when that happens?
Puff Pancakes of Love (German Pancakes)
4 Eggs, beaten well
2/3 Cup Flour or Whole Wheat White Flour
2/3 Cup Milk
A dash of salt
1 Tablespoon Butter (but don’t add it yet!)
Directions: Preheat oven to 450. Oil your dutch oven well. Mix the ingredients all together EXCEPT for the butter. Pour batter into well-oiled dutch skillet. Using a knife, drop tablespoon of butter on top of the batter in little bits, evenly spaced. Bake for 15 minutes. It will puff! (like the lub dub of your heart). Turn oven temp down to 350 and bake about 5 more minutes, until top is golden brown.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Add a taste of maple syrup.
Adapted from a Susan Branch cookbook (darling), I decreased the butter from 3 tbsp, to 1 and it still tastes delicious.
For added valentine loveliness, sprinkle pomegranate seeds and a dollop of plain greek yogurt. YUM.
Wash apples, cut off top. Spoon out seeds (scraping sides a little bit), making a little well. Put a teensy bit of brown sugar and cinnamon inside. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or so, depending on how crunchy or soft you like to eat baked apples. These are SO good. Don’t bake too long or EXPLOSION happens in the oven. Perfect after school snack and valentine love breakfast.
Put a ripe banana in the oven (in its skin) and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes (do at the same time as you baked your puffed pancakes) until the banana skin turns black. When you open it, you will have yummy, mush divine. Remember this for your next ice-cream fudge sundae.
Another way to eat puffed love: Strawberries and whipped cream. Can’t go wrong.
Another idea: Warning, we are now veering sharply into the land of sugar. However, surprising your kids with ONE of these is quite delightful. Then give the rest away to the neighbors who will love them so much, they’ll plow you out for life.
There’s always the idea I used in college. 1 bag of hershey kisses, sprinkled on dorm boy’s room floor. 1 note reading: “Now that I’ve kissed the ground you walk on, will you be my valentine?” Don’t gag. It worked!
I loved this post by Jeff Goins. It doesn’t really matter what form your valentine takes, a little note wrapped in love makes anyone’s day.
May your valentine’s be full of love and sweetness. xoxoxo.
I never realized how much Darth Vader and I have in common. My children often view me as the evil empire. Me and Darth Vader, hand in hand to wonderland. It makes the heart sing, don’t it?
However, I’m trying to be less Darth and more Yoda-like. Wise. Fewer words. Calm. Perhaps short and bald with cute pointy ears, is my destiny?
The last few weeks I’ve been making an effort to bring out the love in this house.
And along comes Valentine’s and cupid to get us all in the mood for love. I love Valentine’s Day, even the tumultuous ones. Because love is hopeful, it can always be just around the corner no matter the circumstance.
I went to a beautiful funeral on Tuesday, for a really great man, Paul “Benny” Benson. Everyone loved him, and the biggest reason was this: He loved them first.
I want to be more like Benny.
Two days later was Valentine’s, and I thought of Benny’s widow. All day she came to my mind. “Widow” sounds like such an old woman’s word, doesn’t it? But Cindy is only 56, and that sounds might young to me now. She has many more Valentine’s days ahead of her.
It’s hard not to be with the one you love, the one you think you love, the one you lost, the one who doesn’t reciprocate, the one who “got away,” the one you haven’t even met yet.
And so we must feel lucky and wonderful to be with the ones we have. Husband has been trained to honor the “contrived holiday” of the money makers. Dearest husband.
Of course love does not need to be crafts or chocolate (thought that always brings out the love in this house).
I decided I would try one new valentine craft with the girls. ONE. Not TWO. NOT FIVE. For you see, I am reading Katrina Kenison’s Mitten Strings for God, Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry. Read it. It’s already changing me, helping me feel more love when I’m not so HURRIED. So on Valentine’s, it was one craft.
Even if you are not crafty, creating bootiful works of art with your children is quality time, I tell you. Glue on fingers, tissue paper squares, markers, and glitter. And the best thing is, whatever you make, they will think it simply the most amazingly beautiful thing they ever saw. And that will make you feel loved.
thesunnysideupblog will tell you how to make this. She had the patience to make 10. I had the patience for one.
I have to write myself notes so I won’t be a snapping beast. Love at home is not an accident. I don’t think it’s easy either.
I don’t know how this really happened but Paige’s 100 Day project left us with leftover dye. And opening your fridge in February to find Easter eggs makes winter feel lovely!
We had a family night where we talked about having more love for each other. This goal on the wall comes from Cope’s Young Women’s program where the girls work on qualities such as Divine Nature, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability. We made it into a poster and signed it if we agreed to participate. There were some pretty miraculous things that happened this week between the kids. It made my heart feel soft.
Brynne’s pot holder, made with love for her mother. I will love it forever 🙂
This was Paige’s first school valentine experience. It’s hard to write all those names. “I know how to spell FROM,” she now says.
Lot of red and blueberry fruits makes for a delicious valentine’s smoothie. The green is bonus.
Staying up late the night before Valentine’s left me thinking, “Amy this is overkill.” But the sugar cookie is just.so.mmmm.
Heart attacking each other all the way up the stairs helps remind us why we love each other.
Paige has learned how to spell Brynne. This is the first thing she has made at school that she didn’t make for M-O-M. It still melted my heart. to pieces.
Perhaps not specific, but I’ll take it over Nelson’s last year’s heart, “I like mom because she cooks good. sometimes.”
Today I am breaking my own blog rule. There is nothing healthy about what I’m about to reveal. But I do hope you’ll forgive me once you take a bite of this most decadent Valentine’s dessert.
Blessings and cursings to my friend, Kate, who introduced me to the chocolate-covered oreo truffle. Every time husband and I take a bite, we look at each other and say, “That’s sooo good.”
This year, instead of buying that processed candy in the store, you can make your own processed valentine gift with me! And then we shall run.
Ingredients: 1 package Oreos (generic works fine), 1 package cream cheese (generic and low-fat work fine), dark cocoa and/or white chocolate candy melts (can find in Wal-mart or craft store.) Strawberries optional, but give a beautiful Valentine red color!
Food process your oreos. I accidentally gave my food processer away, (losing it, I tell you,) so I used the Vitamix. Blend into a fine powder.
Looks like my beautiful compost dirt 🙂 Now pop that cream cheese on top.
Stir together. After a little while I used two butter knives to criss cross it all together. Post-Script: Kate tells me to use the Kitchen-aid and she’s right – dump crushed oreo and cream cheese in and let it swirl together. Works beautifully.
Take your cookie scooper (mine is a medium-sized pampered chef scooper I love) and drop on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
Using my scooper I got 28 truffles
Then roll into little balls with your hands (all of this goes very quickly.)
Cover with saran-wrap and pop in your cold garage or fridge while you melt your candy melts.
This can be done in the microwave but ours is broken. Yes, we’re having appliance issues. Melt candy melts over low heat and stir. Takes just a few minutes. This can be done using chocolate chips, but candy melts melt and stay melted much longer. Chocolate chips are thick and don’t give that nice lite candy-coating that you’re going to want.
Ready to roll. Pop two truffles at a time and flip once or twice to cover. One bag of candy melts was plenty to cover all 28 truffles and then some.
Oh no, now we’re in trouble….
We covered most in dark chocolate and a few in the white chocolate, sprinkled with chopped peppermint candy.
I’ve never used candy melt before. I shall never use anything else. It works wonderfully.
A neighbor gift for Mr. Goody who plows our driveway every time it snows
Bring this out for a late-night Valentine treat and your lover will swoon. It’s guaranteed.
That one is mine. Hands off.
A Lover’s Ultimate Valentine: Chocolate-Covered Oreo Truffle
1 package Oreos
1 8 ounce package Cream Cheese
1 package Dark Cocoa Candy Melts
1 package White Chocolate Candy Melts (optional)
Food process the oreos into fine dirt. Stir in cream cheese. Shape into balls. Refrigerate. Melt candy melt. Dip and roll. Let cool. Eat and swoon.
Have yourself a most Happy Valentine’s Day. And let me know if your treat works it’s intended magic.
I told myself that I was decorating early for Valentine’s. I wanted to make a tissue paper rose wreath for the front door, hang hearts from every window, heart attack every room. And now it’s already February 2nd and one minute ago I just took down the Christmas cards.
I have always loved Valentine’s day, even when I didn’t have a special valentine. I like occasions that require giving something to someone else. This is where Gregor will pounce…require being the operative word… You can hear him saying that, can’t you? When I first met him I was appalled at his talk of “contrived holidays,” that are solely promoted to earn millions of dollars. I seriously wondered if I could love someone who didn’t love valentine’s day. Would he even get me something? This simply would not do.
He comes through though, every year. Because he plays like a champ. I turn a deaf ear to any contrived talk, choosing instead to live in my own perfect world where Disney is still pure, Vanilla is still ice, and Valentine’s day holds endless hopeful possibilities. (He won’t admit it, but he does too. I know it.)
And for heaven’s sake, what else do we have to look forward to in February?
My Valentine years have been tumultuous.
Fourth grade, elementary school. Monte gives me a golden locket and ring. I shine with pleasure all week. Until we break up, the bad news delivered by my best friend. I reluctantly give back the ring. But I keep the locket. Sorry, no prenup!
Sixth grade, elementary. I share a kiss with my valentine, then turn around and spit off the small covered bridge at Toll Park. “Ew,” I say. I’m sure it was super attractive.
Seventh grade, junior high. The big hair and newly acquired training bra is obviously a hit. My valentine and I can’t even look at each without blushing. I have to break it off through a note passed in the hallway through another friend. I don’t feel too bad as he had his friend ask me out over the phone. I still can’t remember if we ever said one single word to each other. He had this nickname I cannot say out loud or even write. My brothers however, still can’t let it go.
The in-between years are nothing spectacular. Might have been those braces, who knows.
Senior year, high school. I slam my thumb in the door of my car (my parent’s car. They don’t believe in pre-marital cars, part of the reason they approved of Gregor. He rode a bike). I try to just shake it off but the pressure builds up so quickly I am rolling around the floor in pain. Instead of delivering “kiss-o-grams” wearing red lipstick, for student council, (something I was greatly looking forward to) I am at the doctor getting a small hole drilled into my thumb. I never thought I would so enjoy that experience. When I went to school the next day, Valentine’s, is over. My friend grabs my thumb and says, “Now no one is going to marry you!” Interesting perspective, don’t you think?
Freshman year, college. Bad breakup. Oh, I still want to climb under the covers to even think about how I cried in front of that boy. I’m still so embarrassed. No Valentines.
Sophomore year, college. Writing to a missionary. Love cannot be sufficiently shared with scrupulous and chaste letters to a missionary. I dream of the day I will have a proper valentine…
Junior year, college. I am dating a boy who tells me he loves me. I deliver a valentine early in the morning (a “big hunk” under his pillow) and wait all. day. long. for reciprocation. It is 10:30 at night before the doorbell rings and I am in bed, in a huff, and can only give a vapid smile in return. The relationship is all down hill from there.
Seniro year, college. Cue the music here... I meet “the one!” I will finally have the valentine’s day of my dreams! I make plans and though he speaks of this, “contrived holiday,” he admits that he’s never had a great valentine’s day either and that he always wanted one. I finally understand why he doesn’t like this day. It is time to show the love.
This beautiful day turns into our first fight. Oh the remembered horror.
My friend from the “pre-Gregor” days needed a date for his work party the night before Valentine’s day. We were friends for years before I ever met Gregor. I do admit I felt slightly conflicted because it was kind of a date, but on the other hand, we were only ever friends.
In typical Amy fashion, I did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings by trying to explain why I couldn’t go to the dinner party, so I said yes. In further typical Amy fashion, I did not tell Gregor about this dinner date because I was afraid I would hurt his feelings.
Okay, by now I know that this was a mistake. And I’ve really tried to work on this well-intentioned, but doomed, part of my personality. Either I should not have gone on the dinner date and explained my lover’s jealous ego (kidding!) or run across the street to jealous lover’s apartment and explained the situation. Maybe added a kiss or candy heart to quell sting. Instead, I stewed over it, said nothing, and hoped I wouldn’t get caught.
My unrealistic hope was that I could go to this function without Gregor even knowing about it. Thus, I wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Everyone would be happy as pie!
This was clearly (now) a stupid and naive plan.
When I got home from the dinner party, my roommates told me Gregor had come over. They had even told him where I was. At first I was so mad they told him! But then I was just mad.
I went over, fretting, tip-toeing, hoping for the best.
It was not the best. The question was posed, rather incredulously, Why didn’t you just tell me? I could not articulate my stupidity. I ended up looking untrustworthy and feeling like a big fat liar. Yes my dear, honesty really is the best policy. So we adjourned for the night, with a Valentine’s Day hanging precariously in the balance, those bad feelings sitting heavy between us.
I made a cheesecake that night, the first one I ever made.
It was delivered in the morning as I watched my valentine leave for class. It was a rather frosty encounter. I dropped chocolate kisses all over his bedroom floor. He reciprocated with flowers and chocolate, but the frown was indicative that I was clearly not forgiven. That took a few more days. And to this day, it still comes up. Though by this time I try and laugh.
Love it just not always easy. This year, however, all will be well because I am not going on any dinner dates and I’m going to make that tissue paper wreath, gosh darn it! Paige and I are making elephant valentine’s. Brynne and I are are making ipod valentines, “you rock!” Cope giggles thinking about the big day, and Nelson pretends to throw up. My husband no longer says, “contrived,” out loud, just sometimes under his breath and I pretend not to hear him.