A Surprise Valentine Breakfast

I’m glad you guys seem to love me so much, because, after blogging for 3 years, one thing is very clear: there is no rhyme or reason to this blog.

And speaking of love, while I’m plugging away at writing up some memories from Gid’s 7th birthday, I thought it would be a good time to FINALLY share the pics from our Valentine celebration.

You know, the one from last month.

Pinterest is laughing at me right now, isn’t it? Valentine’s Day is so last season.

But that’s okay because, honestly, I’m behind in every area of my life right now, and this has actually led to something GREAT.

As I usually have the house decked out for V-day on February 1st, I felt pretty much like a miserable failure when the week of love arrived and my house was not dressed for the occasion.

Rebekah was throwing up all week long, and things just weren’t working out for me; there was no possible way I could have the house cleaned up and decorated by the 14th.

Something had to be done.

If only I had a completely empty room just sitting around that I could put ALL of our Valentine stuff in…

well, I did.

The sunroom!

Recently emptied of all of its furniture and cuteness to become Jake’s temporary dog-home, it was the perfect place to hold a little party for the kids.

The sunroom is separated from our kitchen by an antique door, and what excited me the most was that, by covering the door’s large window, I could completely deck out the room and have it ready without the kids ever seeing it.

The entire day before Valentine’s Day, they had NO idea that there was a party waiting for them just beyond that door.

But I knew. And I was pretty giddy about it.

There was nothing really spectacular about this party. I already owned all the decorations, the books, and the games, and the breakfast menu was our typical pancakes and bacon.

The fun was in the surprise and in taking a moment in our day to celebrate a holiday together.

Take a look!

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I hid out in the sunroom and took pictures of the kids when they saw the party table…

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Mr. Gore pretended to be surprised, too. Please notice the completely trashed-out, non-decorated room behind him that matched the entire first floor. But NOT the sunroom. :) Sigh. I love the sunroom. And Mr. Gore.

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I say this every time, but I think this was my favorite party ever…

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We ended up our breakfast by reading our little collection of Valentine books together. (The Day It Rained Hearts is our favorite!)

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And then we opened our valentines to each other. The night before, Mr. Gore and I made handmade cards for each kid with pictures of us and them, and they were a huge hit.

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I would show a picture of Rebekah with her valentine, but she threw up on it right after this, and all over our party table.

But, still. It was a great morning.

And best of all, it completely inspired me to keep the sunroom empty, so that, during these crazy years with little ones underfoot, I’ll always have a safe place to celebrate our holidays.

Did I mention that I love the sunroom?…

~

Coming next to a sunroom near you: a Nursery Rhyme party! (maybe).

A Sock-Hoppin’ Valentine Party

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and you know what that means…

party time!

If you’re new to Mrs. Gore’s Diary, let me fill you in on the past 10 years. Since becoming a grandmother, my mom has made it a practice to host fun “class parties” for her grandkids. It gives the kids – all of whom are homeschooled – a chance to celebrate with their cousins, and it is such a blessing to their mamas who usually just have one job: show up!

The parties vary. We’ve had Easter parties, Halloween parties, a Christmas baking party, a 12-12-12 party at 12:12 p.m….

but we always have a Valentine party.

I think it must be one of her favorites, and I can’t remember a Valentine’s Day growing up when my mom didn’t deck out the table with special candies and gifts; because of her, I’m a pretty big fan of February 14th myself! Especially now that I have children of my own.

Last year, she decided to give Valentine’s Day a twist and hosted a simple and fun 1950′s-inspired party. The celebration was at my house, and the children were instructed to dress in whatever 50′s-style clothes we could come up with in our closets. And Mom took care of the rest!

~

Before the party started, we took a few family pictures in the dining room. Gideon’s “costume” was easy: jeans and a white t-shirt. Rebekah (left) wore a shirtdress with a pink cardigan, and Betsie (in the middle) was the perfect size for her cousin Abigail’s poodle skirt from a Halloween long, long ago…

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I have to show this one, too, because when Rebekah saw it as I was going through pictures for this post, she laughed a little and said “Oh, my hair is always flowing like that…”

Confident, much?

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and Amy’s crew (Abel, Anna, Kate and Abigail) looked so precious with their neck- and hair-ties and cardigans!

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Anna and Gid, Valentines for life…or at least until they realize they’re too related to get hitched. 

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“Best fweinds” Kate and Rebekah.

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My mom (a child of the ’50′s) whisked Gideon to the back to give him a real 1950′s ‘do. Here’s the front…

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And here’s the back.

(I was already in love with this boy but this hairdo got me all shook up!)

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The kids congregated around the dining table…

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where Amy (playing waitress) came to take their burger orders.

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On the menu was heart-shaped hamburgers (you have to admire a woman who can make shapes out of raw meat), french fries…

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and yummy, beautiful strawberry milkshakes!

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 The meal was served ’50′s style in burger baskets lined with Valentine tissue paper.

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And now a few pictures of children happily eating and slurping…

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When lunch was over, it was time to play some games.

First, the limbo…

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then, a rockin’ rollin’ dance party…

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then a hilarious, knee-slappin’ game of spin the bottle…

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and then we played Valentine Bingo.

Each child was given a Bingo card (free printables here!) and a pile of mini marshmallows to mark their numbers…

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whoever won got to pick a toy from a prize table my mom set up. And, although this isn’t always our game-playing philosophy, each child won TWICE, until all the prizes were gone. It was, after all, a holiday!

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After Bingo, Amy gave a bubble-gum-blowing demonstration…

IMG_0025Then all the kids were given a piece of bubble gum to experiment with…

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after some perseverance (and maybe a few tears?), Abigail succeeded in blowing her first bubble! Obviously, my mom’s parties are as educational as they are fun.

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And then we wrapped the party up with some more fun pictures…

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Pinterest is full of breathtaking and professional parties, and while they are inspiring, they can also be kind of intimidating; I hope this encourages you to remember that laid-back and fuss-free parties still exist and that you don’t have to empty your college fund to celebrate with the children in your life. Come to think of it, I think I prefer my mom’s parties to the professionals’..

maybe because they remind me of growing up, safe and happy, under her nurturing wing.

Can’t WAIT to see what she comes up with this year!

~

For more Valentine inspiration, click on the Valentine tab in my blog’s menu or visit my Pinterest Valentine board.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Love is in the air…

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Our house is ready…

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Papa is ready…

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Gideon is ready…

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Miss Sunday is ready…

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and Baby Betsie is ready!

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and although this week has been nothing like I planned, I am so ready to spend some time with my family and enjoy one of my favorite days of the year.

And I’d be so happy if you’d consider this your first Valentine of the day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friends, from Mrs. Gore and family. No matter where you are in life (or how you feel about Valentine’s Day!) I hope your day is filled with the sweet contentment of being partakers of life and life abundant.

~

Today, our life abundant will include lots of sprinkles, chocolate, and sweet nothings, which is exactly why I love Valentine’s Day so very, very much.

Mrs. Gore’s Valentine Prep Page

A passerby might walk by my office window and think that I am being a lazy good-for-nothing this Monday morning, but what they wouldn’t know is that I am very busy, indeed, pinning away in preparation for Valentine’s Day.

Pinterest can admittedly be a playground for a girl like me, but it is also a work hub where I can brainstorm and plan and prepare for our biggest days of the year.

And one of the biggest of our big days is definitely Valentine’s Day.

I thought I’d take a minute to share with my fellow holiday-planners some of my favorite gifts and ideas for Valentine’s Day this year, just because I love you. Especially on Valentine’s Day…

~

A few months ago while perusing the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart I noticed something new: Quaker Hearts Cereal. And it claimed to taste even better than Cheerio’s! So I bought some. And yes, they are precious and delicious and we’ve gone through about twenty boxes since then.

I was thinking that a little clear pouch of Quaker hearts would make a fantastic Valentine for the tiniest loves in your life, and if they choke on them, they will be able to breathe through a heart-shaped hole. On Valentine’s Day! How appropriate!

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~

{In this section, you can arrive to the original links by clicking on the photographs}

Here are my favorite Valentine ideas for Miss Sunday to give to her friends:

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and for Gideon to give to his friends:

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and for me to make for my little friends (there is no individual page for these – you’ll have to scroll to the very last page of these crafts on the link):

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(on second thought, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of finding those instructions, here they are: Snip candy hearts for an entire class in a snap. To make, cut a heart from a strip of candy dots, and glue it to a piece of construction paper. With scalloping scissors, cut construction paper to create a border around the heart).

I like this color palette for our party this year ~ soft blues, red, white, and I’m sure I’ll throw some pink in there too:

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~

Goodie time!

Last year, my Mom purchased this little tin of Valentine cards and were they ever cute! I love anything by Cavallini and Co. and this set comes with 24 assorted cards and envelopes, 3 rubber stamps, a red stamp pad, and 100 assorted labels. If you are like my Mom and have learned to hate crafting, this is the Valentine set for you – easy, fast, and wayyyyyy cuter than even the craftiest could probably make. When my daughters get old enough to send these out without ruining them, I will be the first in line! Click here to find them. Or here.

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I, on the other hand, used these Valentines for my preschool-aged children last year. They had that precious vintage look like my Mom’s, but were super cheap and so easy. Just pop them out! I think the envelopes might have been a little tricky, but…I forgave them. These are published by Little Golden Books, after all, and they’ve done so much for me over the years…

Find them by clicking on the picture below.

Oh! And I have two gift ideas to share with you…

1. Have you seen the Little People lift-the-flap books? We have the Halloween and Christmas versions, and I noticed on yet another shopping excursion to Wal-Mart that there is a Valentine version! These books have occupied all of my kids for at least tens of minutes, and are so great for quiet church activity. Click on the picture to find it at Amazon!

2. And this tiny little book is quite possibly my favorite Valentine gift ever. My Mom bought it for me one year, and it is so quirky and delightful and somehow expresses the most lasting and loving relationships that you have, between lifelong friends, or moms and daughters, or sisters…anyone you really, really like and who really, really likes you. Find it by clicking on the picture.

Here is a little excerpt from the book:

I like you because when I tell you something special you know it’s special

and you remember it a long long time

You say remember when you told me something special

and both of us remember

When I think something is important you think it’s important too…

~

Ah...Valentine’s Day. What’s not to love?

~

p.s. you can find all of the links and products – and more! – on my Pinterest Valentine board. Happy planning!

Her Very Valentine Homeschool Party

She done it again.

My Mom just has a way of ministering to the ones she loves, and the Valentine party she hosted for our little ones was no exception. The funniest thing about the entire day was her apologetic stance when we first entered in. “You guys, I’m so sorry…” she said. “I just couldn’t get it together this time.”

I forced my level of expectation to lower to a reasonable level. And then she started pulling out the party food…

Spaghetti with “X” and “O” shaped garlic bread. Miniature cherry cream cheese parfaits. Chocolate dipped glasses filled with pink milk. Homemade heart-shaped pecan sandies rolled in powdered sugar. Chocolate covered strawberries. Gifts and handmade Valentines for everybody.

I can’t imagine what her parties would be like if she was able to “get it together”! Take a look…

Mail bags that the kids made at our Valentine-making party were lining my Mom's mantle. (Conveniently, her Christmas stocking holders were still up and provided a perfect means to display their goodies).

We were unsure of their relationship at first, but "Baby Kate" and Miss Sunday are becoming quite good friends. Especially on Valentine's Day!

Each child received a strawberry Crush soda, a treat box of Sixlets, a coloring book, a sticker book, a Valentine card and a cupcake liner filled with assorted treats.

A Valentine for each child - even Baby Betsie - from their doting Grandmother

My favorite thing about her parties is the table - it is always like a wonderland. For the kids AND me.

I made her take this picture - but I'm so glad I did. What a beautiful woman my Mother is!

her homemade Pecan Sandies - I kid you not, I could eat 10 of these a day and never grow tired of them. Maybe someday I'll add the recipe to Mrs. Gore's Book of Cookery.

3 years apart, but the best of friends. These two have too much fun together...

Me and Betsie Fair. (sidenote: Betsie is the 5th little girl in our family to wear that red hoodie with the heart-shaped pockets. We had no idea when Mom bought out Baby Gap when Abigail was born that the investment would pay off!)

Miss Sunday wasn't the fastest at the conversation heart stacking game, but she sure worked hard at it.

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my little heartthrob since 2007 - love this kid like crazy.

chocolate dipped frosty glasses with pink milk - a treat for the eyes as well as the tummy!

and on Valentine's Day, slurping and/or bubble-blowing is most certainly allowed.

or guzzling. Whatever floats your boat. (and guzzling most definitely floats Miss Sunday's boat).

delicious spaghetti with hugs and kisses toast

it may have been messy, but they ate every bite!

especially this one. (that's my GIRL!)

cherry cream cheese pie in a little dessert glass

there are about 20 pictures of us in this chair trying to get one decent photograph together. I think this one is my favorite (poor Betsie).

Valentine party SUCCESS!

It feels so good to be loved, on Valentine’s Day and every day. Many thanks to our dearest Grandmother for another lovely and memorable day spent together at her house in the woods.

~

Personalized t-shirts and many of the photographs on this post were contributed by my generous and talented sister-in-law, Amy. Thank you, Amy for all the wonderful things you  do for our family!

Weeklies: the Valentine edition (February 12 – 18)

*So I was going through some old papers tonight and found the letter that I wrote – but thank God, never sent – to Justin Timberlake wherein I shared the gospel with him and then gave him my number in case he wanted to “talk about it”. I sincerely wish I could say I was in middle school when I penned that letter.

*Which brought to mind something that makes me laugh everytime I think of it – my Mom was showing me her old scrapbooks one day from when she was a young girl in elementary school. She had cut and pasted pictures of her classmates on a page and had written their names underneath. Right between two 2nd graders was Robert Mitchum, his name written carefully underneath his beautiful head. Boy craziness at a very young age runs in the family.

*Gideon came downstairs whining/crying “Rebekah said she doesn’t like my smile.”
“Rebekah!” I chided, my voice carrying up the stairs to her crib. “You need to be nice to Bubba!”
“But…” she weepily replied, “Gideon said he was going to throw me in the hot lava.”
And I could not stop the smirk that turned into a smile that turned into a laugh. My kids are kind of mean.

*Gideon has a new arsenal of adjectives: mysterious, jealous, ridiculous. But he doesn’t always use them correctly: when I picked out some books for us to read, he said “Hey those aren’t the books I picked out. Ugh, this makes me jealous!” True to form, I did NOT correct him.

*I stuck my hand into our empty Kleenex box, hoping to find one last tissue at the bottom. Instead I found a large potato.

*And then there were a few things this Valentine holiday that made me chuckle and grab my camera…

The “gluestick” that I put on the table for our Valentine-making party. Also known as sunscreen. Whatever.

The not one…

but TWO heart-shaped suckers that were stuck like super-glue to TWO of my tables.

The huge pile of construction-paper hearts that Gideon (the hoarder) made but refused to use on any cards that we would be giving away. Which means that I will have them in my kitchen until…probably forever.

The heart-shaped dust pile that Mr. Gore noticed before it was swept up into the dustpan. Even the dust celebrates at our house!

And last but not least, the conversation heart that was in my 2-year old daughter’s little baggie of Valentine treats that read “Shake It.” Keep it classy, conversation hearts.

What a week!

Twas the Night Before Valentine’s Day

…and I am positively covered in icing and sprinkles. (And no, that isn’t part of Mr. Gore’s Valentine’s gift…he doesn’t like icing OR sprinkles).

My house already looks like Valentine’s Day threw up a little. This, of course, is not my usual preference for holiday ambiance; I love to wake up to a tidy and nicely decorated house that says “Top of the holiday mornin’ to you, Mrs. Gore!”

But the icing dripping off of my kitchen island, the sprinkles littering the floor, the kitchen table completely overtaken by Valentine card-making supplies, the heart-shaped suckers STUCK to the table (I finally had to pry them up with a metal spatula!)…they all proclaim that we’ve been busy living around here. Spending nearly 2 weeks homebound with my sick children while contemplating my beloved daughter’s upcoming surgery has put me in a very loving and focused frame of mind, and I’ve had the time to reevaluate what I do here as the matron of Gore House….

And I’ve realized again how much I adore these children and how grateful I am to have the freedom to be a homemaker. When our health finally allowed us to have our Valentine-making party last Friday, my heart was soaring as we basked in the blessings of life abundant, living with one another in love and kindness (when we’re not fighting), making memories and tasting those glimpses of Eden that are available to us in Jesus Christ. Take a look…

my Valentines, for life...

this was the first day we had seen our sweet nieces for DAYS...it was so nice to be together again!

even Betsie enjoyed the reunion/party, sharing a happy hug with her May 30th birthday-pal Abigail

a true sentiment of love

heart-shaped watermelon, loads of strawberries, strawberry cake ~ fuel for our Valentine-making labors

heart-shaped pepperonis taste WAY better than their circular counterparts

Pioneer Woman's cherry limeade was a crowd-pleaser, from the 2-year olds to the 60-year old

and Paula Deen's strawberry cake is pink perfection...especially the icing part

my little Strawberry Shortcake

and it was so nice to finally treat my Mom to a party ~ although she did insist on helping me clean up.

Ah, yes…VALENTINE’S DAY is upon us, y’all.

I don’t know about you, but Mrs. Gore is excited.

May you have a lovely day full of clashing colors, sugary confections and sweet nothings. And please, consider this your first Valentine card of the day…from Mrs. Gore to you, Happy Valentines’ Day!

My Not So Funny Valentine

“After looking at these x-rays, I’m just not pleased with that finger. I’m going to send you to another doctor to discuss surgery.”

I gulped, letting this surprising news sink into my stomach. We stood up, Mr. Gore picked up my huge purse, I grabbed Rebekah’s hand and we followed the nurse down the long hallway to another exam room where we took a seat and waited. Soon, the doctor who had been overseeing her progress over the phone and through her x-rays on the computer walked in, introduced himself, and gave us a very clear and concise argument for why our little girl needed to undergo an operation to help straighten out her undeniably crooked finger. “Deformed” was actually the word he used and then assured us that we would not be happy with what her finger looked like as she grew.

And we agreed…

He was right. It looked terrible, even after the huge purple and black scab that had been dominating one side had fallen off earlier in the week. Her soft pink flesh was returning, but there was no ignoring the abnormal bent of that little index finger.

Soon we were meeting with a secretary to discuss and schedule the operation.

“As soon as possible” we agreed…

“There is no use delaying” we reasoned…

“Tuesdays are the days he operates? Then how about tomorrow?” we eagerly asked….

“Oh, the next week? Of course.” Mr. Gore affirmed…

I cleared my throat.

I darted my eyes to meet my husband’s while the secretary looked at her computer screen.

I whispered/coughed “That’s Valentine’s Day.

A small smirk settled around my husband’s mouth.

“Will that work for you?” the nurse asked.

Mr. Gore looked at me with eyebrows raised.

“Um…” I hedged. “I know this sounds stupid but that is Valentine’s Day….”

She blinked. Mr. Gore blinked.

I caved.

“…and that would be a great day to do it. Yes, Valentine’s Day.”

Valentine’s Day??

Not sweet, happy, pink-and-red Valentine’s Day.

But yes. Valentine’s Day.

The holiday I had spent months dreaming about would be spent in a hospital.

Mr. Gore, of course, made fun of me on the way home for being SO concerned about my daughter’s finger…until it came to a holiday. Then it could easily wait a week or two.

Thank goodness all 3 of my children came down with strep throat this week and we had to postpone her surgery. The ear infections were an added bonus.

Sure, it may have made for some chaos and sadness around here all week, but…guess what I’ll be doing on Valentine’s Day?

Valentine stuff.

My darling and me at our Valentine-making party. More to come...

1st Place in My Heart

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!

Drawing from a cupcake liner craft idea I saw on Pinterest, I decided that, instead of spending $3 or $4 on store-bought Valentine cards for the children in my family, I would spend $500 at Michael’s on craft supplies to make them a “cheap” but unique Valentine ribbon to wear on Valentine’s Day.

So I’ve never been so great at math. Or logic. Or thinking things through…

And maybe I didn’t really spend $500 or anywhere close to that…but I did buy a glue gun, a huge package of cupcake liners, a package of doily-inspired gift tags, a package of sturdy felt heart notions, 2 spools of red ribbon, 2 sheets of felt, and a box of bar pins. What can I say? Roses are red, sages are wise, I am a sucker for Martha Stewart craft supplies.

The bad news is that if you add that all up, I probably spent more than I would have on store-bought Valentine cards. The good news is that, with my leftover supplies, I can make 15 batches of cupcakes, decorate at least 8 Christmas gifts and make a couple dozen brooches should I ever have the fancy to do so. And I have a Martha Stewart glue gun with not one, but two heat settings. And its awesome. And I love it.

But the best news is that I had an unplanned moment to myself this week and I spent it pouring my heart into making something special for the ones I love. As I arranged and cut and glued and created, I prayed and thanked God for the beautiful blessings He has entrusted to us in our children. I can’t wait to share my gift with them on Valentine’s Day and display to them with a sweet little ribbon that they will always be 1st place in my heart, whether they are a son, a daughter, a niece or a nephew.

You could make these any variety of ways, but here is my take on them:

P.S. I used my supplies in the following order, from top to bottom, using my GLUEGUN: Martha Stewart adhesive die-cut felt hearts and buttons, Martha Stewart die-cut lace tags, Martha Stewart gingham treat wrappers, Celebrate It red ribbon, 9×12 piece of felt (cut into squares for backing), Jewelry Essentials Findings 1 1/2″ bar pins