February 11, 2017

Valentine's Day and February Snows

I'm not even going to begin to express my regrets that I haven't blogged since July. It has been a very busy time, but I wanted to catch up a little here, and ahead of Valentine's Day, which is one of my favorite of celebrations.

Coming in the middle of February, I've always been grateful to have a holiday that provides us with a warm sentiment - simply love - and also delivers a most welcome explosion of vibrant red during an otherwise frosty, often grey skies and white landscape with trees barren of their emerald leaves.  It's a reminder that life will go on, just have faith in Mother Nature to bring spring soon.

As areas of the Northeast have been blanketed with upwards of 8 to 10 inches of the white stuff in the past few days (where we previously had practically none), and the temperatures are in the 20s and 30s (and single digits at night in some areas), the good news for folks like me, who don't adore winter in the Northeast, is that it won't last  forever and the warmer temperatures and green grass will return. In the meantime, Valentine's Day is a visually colorful, as well as emotional, relief.

So last weekend, I broke out the Valentine's box filled with vermilion treasures accumulated over the years. Among them are a few bears (see the photo above), even though I'm not a massive bear fan, including one that started the collection. It's the one in the center with the enameled red heart affixed to his chest. This sweet bear was given to me by my late dad when I probably was about 9 or 10 years old. He might have made the selection for me, or maybe my mom did, but he certainly was the one who gave it to me. And I've kept it all these years...how could I not? My dad also gave me the pair of sweetly embroidered little pillow sachets...the scented disks that perfumed them are gone, but they're still charming little keepsakes that compliment the bears.

Knowing of my propensity to acquire small stuffed white bears with red ribbon collars as Valentine's keepsakes, my now late mom gave me, many years later, the largest "gift" bear below. He's a Hallmark bear holding a little red gift box with white hearts. I don't recalwhat the box contained, if anything, but he seemed a fitting addition to my small collection of Valentine's bears.

In anticipation of February 14, the bears take up residence on the mantel and are surrounded by a few other items that celebrate the holiday of Love with hearts and flowers.

I've had this cute little rocking horse ornament for many years - I think my mother gave me that one, as well, since I've been a life long horsewoman - and I originally hung it on my Christmas tree. But I decided a few years ago that he really belonged with my Valentine's accoutrements and now he comes out, with his red hearts and lace mane, for February - a perfect Valentine's pony!

This carved wooden angel ornament originally was part of a group of carved natural wood ornaments designed for Christmas, but, once again, I appropriated her for the Valentine's display. She originally came from the charming shop in Rhinebeck, New York, that was owned by dear friend who now lives in coastal North Carolina, so it always reminds me of my friend and reminds me to get in touch with her. 

At the center and just below the mantel is this small twisted twig heart. I don't recall who gave it to me, but I've had it forever, too. It originally Day. It originally hung in the bathroom of my first home in the country and was festooned with a light "country blue" ribbon and small eucalyptus branches, but the leaves became rather aged and tired looking, so I removed them. What I couldn't remove was the dried glue that kept them affixed to the heart, so I just turned that side to the wall and hung the heart this way. I was never a big fan of "cutesy country" and prefer the simple, natural look and it seems to work just fine hanging there, I think.

I painted my dad's classic old olive green Army trunk in bright white with red trim when I was a young teenager 50 (eeek!) years ago. It originally served as my very first real "tack trunk" for my growing collection of equestrian gear, but it is currently my coffee table in front of the fireplace. (I've never parted with that trunk, either. Are you sensing something of a pattern here?...lol.) On top of the trunk is a red metal tray I picked up at Goodwill a few years ago, I think, holding some stray pine cones (left over from January's mantel and hearth decor) and a sweet heart-shaped twig basket in which I placed a sweet stuffed polka-dot cotton heart ornament that my oldest and dearest friend (from first grade through high school!) made and gave me decades ago. (We've remained in touch and lately we communicate via email almost daily - it's is a lovely thing to have that kind of enduring friendship at this stage of our lives since she lives several hours north of me in northern Vermont.)

Next to the tray is a small bowl from Pottery Barn that I picked up at Goodwill a few years ago - I found its blue and white checkerboard punctuated with pale red hearts so cheerful, so it comes out for Valentine's Day, too.       

I don't usually add much to the Valentine's Day collection these days, but I was in a local thrift shop last weekend and spied a very tarnished, small, metal heart basket for just 50 cents (!) and I couldn't resist it. The label on the darkened bottom read "L'Argentiere - Italy Style" so I knew that it was, at the very least, silverplate, if not sterling. (There was no stamp to suggest it was sterling.) I didn't care either way since it was delightful and, as I suspected, it polished up beautifully.  To borrow and revise an expression from the marvelous Ina Garten, how sweet is that?!

I hope you have a few small treasures and keepsakes to remind you of beloved family and friends, and that your Valentine's Day, and every day, is filled with delightful surprises and that most wonderful of sentiments....lots and lots of Love.

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