Happiness · Love

Cute Valentine’s Day Ideas To Show You Care

51% of women believe the main purpose of Valentine’s Day is to show you care according to a recent survey and quite right to. There’s enough hate and disruption in the world around us, why not take any excuse to show the love? Perhaps you always celebrate 14th February, perhaps you and your partner let it breeze by without so much as a card. Whatever your Valentine’s Day style, these cute Valentine’s Day ideas are sure to shake up your Valentine’s Day traditions and have you smiling about your memory of Valentine’s Day 2017 for years to come.

Spoil Him

Did you know that in some Asian countries Valentine’s Day is focused on the man in the relationship, and the woman has to buy the man presents. According to the same survey, only 41% of men believe Valentine’s Day has a point, but you can convince any man of its purpose with the right approach. Sure a snuggle in the morning might get him a touch more excited about things, but why not spoil him rotten all day? What would he most love to do on Valentine’s Day? Maybe you can set up a gaming den and play his favourite computer games with him for a couple of hours. What about an activity he loves you have always refused to try – surprise him and book both of you in to do it. Maybe he is a big foodie – plan a food tour of your local city, accounting for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You might even want to go Big Bang Theory AKA the Valentine’s episode in season 6, where Amy plans a completely no pressure, no romance evening for Sheldon because she knows he hates Valentine’s Day. Only you know what would tickle his fancy, but he will probably be very surprised to find the focus on him this  February the 14th.

He’s got all of the Valentine’s Days for the rest of your life to spoil you, so why not this year, make it all about him?

Who Doesn’t Love Holidays?

A holiday is the most popular valentine’s day gift or, at least, the most wanted gift anyway. Clinking coconut cocktails on a sunny beach somewhere tropical, sharing a bag of hot chips and a cold can of pop on a blustery UK coastal town, stargazing from a hot tub in a remote lodge as it starts to snow – sigh – even we want a holiday for Valentine’s Day now! Escapism is always a romantic prospect, whatever the occasion, the only problem is, it can be extremely costly to go away for Valentine’s Day because everyone else is.

The solution? Give a holiday for Valentine’s Day. Don’t start remortgaging your house just yet, it doesn’t have to cost the earth. This could be one night in a hotel somewhere a couple of hours drive away, or two weeks somewhere tropical. There is a trip to level out against the amount you usually spend on perfume, flowers and a meal out. This prolongs the joy of Valentine’s Day because it gives you both something to look forward to.

Food Is The Food Of Love

Food, relates all of us because we need it to live and to thrive and everybody has certain dishes they get excited about. Food also brings people together, creates a shared experience and it adds to the occasion and atmosphere of any event. Cooking for your partner, is an age old Valentine’s Day tradition, but, that doesn’t make it irrelevant or dated. If anything, with all the amazing ingredients we have access to, the social media sharing of recipes and presentation and the embracing of taking our diets into our own hands, it is the best time to be cooking and sharing that experience with a loved one. There are endless ways you can share the foodie love with your significant other, here are just a few great ideas:-

  • Make homemade truffles and gift them in a pretty chocolate box. Try out this easy chocolate truffles 4 ways tutorial.
  • Make breakfast in bed complete with naked apron attire, rose and an incredible breakfast spread. This ultimate pancake recipe guide should come in handy.
  • DIY sushi rolls – lay out all the ingredients and then make the rolls together. There’s a lot of fun to be had with chopsticks, sticky rice and a shared experience. This how to make sushi guide is a great starting place.

Why go out for food, when you can have so much more fun at home?

Give Love To Others

On Valentine’s Day we focus on our love in our relationships. This is a wonderful thing to do, but when you think about all the different places where love is lacking, you might feel inclined to take this day and spread your love a little further. A lot of people volunteer at Christmas, but Valentine’s Day is just as fitting and you will both feel so good about yourselves sharing the experience of giving. Some ways you could spread the love could be:-

  • Spending the money you would spend on gifts for each other on food for a local food bank, on blankets for a local dogs home, or as a donation to your favorite charity
  • Spending an afternoon volunteering at your local dogs home
  • Spending the morning chatting to local elderly people who may have lost their significant other/s
  • Gifting a hot breakfast to a homeless person
  • Buying a Big Issue
  • Spending some time with a single friend you know gets down in the dumps during this holiday
  • Cheering up somebody you know who is spending this Valentine’s Day alone for the first time in a long time
  • Volunteering at a charity shop for the day

In a world that seems to be so full of hate, why not share the love? Use this charity database to find a charity near you.

Hopefully, these Valentine’s Day ideas have given you some inspiration so that you can have the most incredible 14th February this year. Whether you’re feeding each other, walking dogs without a home or excitedly planning your next adventure together, just remember to enjoy yourself, as there is never a bad reason to celebrate and share the gift of love.

Review

Book Review: Nightingale Woods by Kathryn Brown

I’ll be honest with you; I’ve not reviewed a book since senior school, so this may not be the most polished of efforts, but do bear with me!

Brief synopsis: Rachel Phillips, mid twenties, a little naive, rather gullible, has fallen for a married man. The thing is, he’s also fallen for her. In too deep, Rachel and married man Steve, begin an affair and develop intense feelings for each other, knowing what they’re doing is wrong. But after nine months of lies and deceit, Steve’s wife Olivia finds out and gives him an ultimatum. It was inevitable that someone’s heart would get broken, but Rachel truly believed it wouldn’t be hers and certainly not twice within a matter of days.

Seventeen years later, Rachel has been married, widowed and moved on to a new life in a little Scottish village in Perthshire. But one day her life comes crashing down around her when she spots Steve and Olivia in a nearby town, looking happy and very much together. So sure she’d got over Steve, she soon realises she’s never been able to move on since falling in love with him and when Steve sees her and follows her home, Rachel has to make it clear that she’s no longer the naive twenty-something he once knew.

But is she? Does the flame reignite when they meet again after seventeen years? And is Steve still in love with Rachel, or has he moved on?

Kathryn is a fellow blogger (You can find her blog, Crystal Jigsaw, here) and someone I consider to be a friend these days, so I thought it was only right to honour her hard work and read Nightingale Woods. I bought it from Amazon on my Kindle and got stuck in. Right from the off, it was one of those books that really gets its claws into you. I try to read as often as I can, but on a good day that can be limited to reading on the loo a couple of minutes here and there, but I really didn’t want to put Nightingale Woods down. It’s definitely what you’d call a ‘page turner’. Kathryn artfully gives you enough to keep you intrigued without giving it all to you on a plate, which for me is the mark of a great author.

I must say, the premise of Nightingale Woods was something new for me as, if I’m honest, I didn’t really like either of the main characters. Rachel comes across as naive and a little bit selfish and Steve is a philanderer who wants to have his cake and eat it, but their story is still irresistible in its way. You do get the feeling that there’s a love between them, even if it’s not the most traditional form of love, and that in itself leaves you aching to know how it all turns out. As the first half is written in diary form, you really get an insight into the personal feelings of Rachel and I think that’s part of what makes it so addictive.

Even when we skip forward seventeen years, despite Rachel having had life experience and being a middle-aged woman, the spell that Steve casts over her is clear to see, you get sucked into her excitement and the passion that she feels for him is palpable. If I’m completely honest, I’m not usually a fan of raunch in books – I tend to find that the authors use patronising words like “womanhood” when they really mean vagina or make it a little bit too ‘candles and rosepetals’ so that it’s adequately homogenized for the delicate female reader *rolls eyes* but the sex scenes in the book didn’t make me cringe at all, which may not sound entirely positive, but believe me, that’s a huge compliment!

The real stars of this book, for me, are the supporting cast. Rachel’s friends are great characters and even though they only feature in a small way, they offer a sense of stability and success to the story which is much needed. They’re probably the only thing that stop the book from being a truly tragic lovestory as Rachel is, essentially, a very solitary and lonely person, but her friends even out the balance somewhat.

I don’t want to say too much else as I don’t want to give any of the plot away, but I can highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the work of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Maeve Binchy and the like (it holds it’s own against any of these well-established authors, in my humble opinion), though this has a slightly more grown-up and less sugar-coated feel to it, making it accessible to just about everyone. Kathryn is as brilliant as I hoped she would be and I’ve already downloaded Discovery at Rosehill for my Kindle to read next!

I give ‘Nightingale Woods’ by Kathryn Brown FIVE stars       

(As a footnote, I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I absolutely love the cover art for the book too, pictured above)

Nightingale Woods and Discovery at Rosehillare both available on Kindle.

Humour

Alternative Valentines

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought I’d hop aboard the Hallmark bandwagon and have a peruse of The Broadway during my lunch hour and see if I could find something to surprise Husband with in the morning. I went into a shop that sells generalised Object D’Art and other pointless, middle-class tat and noticed that they had some cards, and I toyed with the idea of getting one, despite the fact that we don’t usually do greetings cards.

The offerings on display reminded me why. There was either unbridled schmaltz with “You’re my Soul Mate” plastered all over it, homogonised sexuality declaring “You’re a Love Machine!” and attempts at romantic humour with “Me Love You Long Time!” (although, quite why anyone would give a card to their loved one with a famous phrase uttered by a Vietnamese prostitute in a war film is quite beyond me). Each and every one of them made me feel nauseous. There’s no way I’d say any of the things written on these cards to Husband, despite the fact that I love him and if I believed in soul mates, he’d probably be mine.

I got to thinking that I’m probably not the only one who feels like this, so I thought I’d come up with some alternative Valentine’s Day card slogans, for those of us who like to keep our breakfast down.

“To My Husband – Thanks For Making Me Feel Sexy, Even Though My Neck Smells of Baby Sick”

 

“My Darling – I Love You (especially when you put your dirty washing in the laundry basket)”

 

“Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, You Cook a Wicked Steak and I Right Fancy You”

 

“I’ll never be as young or limber as I was when we met…but I’m a better cook now, so that makes me about even, right?!”

 

“Fuck it, Let’s Get a Bucket”

 

What would your perfect Valentine’s card say?