I've decided that Valentine's Day is my favorite. I have been looking forward to the beloved day since, well, last February. This year did not disappoint!
I think there is something so special about celebrating true love. I don't believe it always has to be romantic love, either (although we do love the romance. 'Tis the season for rom-coms and roses, friends!) Valentine's is a wonderful time to write letters and send cards to friends and family and tell them how much you love and appreciate them. It's a good reminder to be glad for all of the people God put in your life- no matter what season of life you are in!
My love for the holiday was likely birthed in elementary school, when we decorated shoe boxes with stickers and heart doilies and everything pink, red, and white. It was absolutely thrilling when my classmates put little folded up valentines in the "mailbox" slot for me to open later. When it was my turn to pass out valentines, I carefully picked which princess card I thought each person would like and had the time of my life dropping it in their boxes.
In high school, I remember pulling out a few pink decorations I had tucked away and putting them artfully about my room. I ran to get my brother (he is such a good sport to always listen to what excites me!) and showed him the design I pulled off. "Look, Josiah, I decorated my room for Valentine's!" I squealed with delight. I will never forget what he said- "Annika, your life is Valentine's themed. But cool, I'm happy for you!" What a guy.
Since coming to college, I discovered the wonders of the "Galentine's" event at our local coffee shop the Thursday before the true date. The shop does all sorts of events throughout the year- but Galentine's is by far the best and the most anticipated of all. The whole place has the most uplifting, cheerful vibe- girls and women of all ages spending time together, celebrating one another, and having good, clean fun! There is always some impressive photo area (which, my friends and I never made it to! There was SO much going on this year, and I had bible study right after!) Several vendors come for pop ups: boutiques with the softest and loveliest clothing, eye-catching jewelry, lightly scented candles. A walk-in pastel blue truck holds hand-picked vintage clothing that is SO unique and fun, and one of my favorites (and the vendor that is sure to ALWAYS get my business) is our darling local little blue flower truck. In tall, slim galvanized buckets around the bed of the truck, there are various flowers and greenery sorted by type. It is done in "build your own bouquet" fashion, which I think is the most dreamy thing. I always get the 5-stem bouquet, with wild greenery and pink flowers. (Pro-tip: Before an arrangement starts to droop, tie a string around the base and hang it upside-down to dry. My flowers from last year are still preserved in my kitchen and look amazing!)
Another aspect of the holiday that I love is dressing up! I love a good occasion, and this one happens to be in my beloved color scheme of pink and white, so it is never hard to put something together. This year I was torn between a few options, but after trying everything on a dozen times and consulting a dear sister-like friend, I went with this fun little combo.
If you know me, you know I love a good deal- and everything about this outfit was a score! I paired a cream colored, puffed short sleeve sweater top (with frills about the neck! *swoon*) with a light colored denim skirt. The top was from J. Crew a while back, I found it on clearance for around $6. (I should have bought two at that price! It goes with everything.) The denim skirt was from Target's sale rack in the middle of winter for $8. I had a hard time deciding to buy it at the time- it is hard to think of pleasant-weather clothing when it is so chilly still! My family liked it and I was convinced to keep it- and I am glad I did! I found the pink belt for $1 on clearance at H&M a few years ago (for my petite sisters- H&M is a great option for waist belts that actually FIT!). The nude T-strapped heels are a staple that I have had for years- I am not even sure where I got them. The pearl bracelet was a gift from a friend, the ring was my mom's (she wore it in high school and passed it on to me when I was about 17) and the necklace was costume jewelry I got from a set in an antique store- my grandma has the earrings, and I have the matching necklace!
I've always wanted to host a Galentine's gathering, too- so this year, I did! It ended up being just a few of my Worship Studies ladies and me, and it was relaxing, simple, and sweet. Just what we needed!
It was an afternoon event on this chilly Sunday, as to make it in time to our respective Super Bowl activities. We had a small but yummy fare: fresh strawberries, cream puffs, and pigs in a blanket. I set out the crystal glassware for their inaugural appearance (I won them at an auction for $3... funny story!) and my friend Abby provided the sparkling strawberry daiquiri. (Non-alcoholic, we keep things Baptist-school approved!) Rose lemonade tea packets were a take-home treat!
We spent time watercolor painting and talking about life while Frank Sinatra serenaded us on a record player (and the Sound of Music soundtrack later! Tell me you're a music major without telling me you're a music major.) After various individual stresses and life-events, I think it was a blessing to each of us to just be in one another's company and be still.
We are now coming upon the actual Valentine's Day, and my heart is already so full, I could not ask for more! I am so grateful to have gotten to spend quality time with friends, do and decorate festively. Good and hard days alike- God is so good.
"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." Proverbs 3:3-4