Do you remember the excitement of classroom Valentines when you were in elementary school? As cheesy as they were, those cute little cards with an occasional Valentine candy attached always made me so happy! OK, I'll admit it...I was mostly excited about the candy. But also, in my elementary school brain, those Valentines told me that my classmates liked me enough to give me a silly card! And don't you remember that, for a few days at least, everyone seemed to get along?
Saint Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, and while I certainly have nothing against a holiday celebrating romantic love, I say we should expand the concept of Valentine's Day to include expressions of love to all those we hold dear -- lovers yes, but also friends, coworkers, neighbors, the barista at the coffeeshop...everyone! There's just something about an outward expression of affection that is so healing, so affirming. Even something as small as a classroom valentine. Or a few homemade cookies or candies (see below). After the last few years, I think we could all use a little extra love, don't you?
This newsletter has a few ideas for small gifts to make and give for Valentines Day. There are also some great gift ideas in our online shop -- bath bombs, gift bags, gift boxes, sachets, neck wraps, etc. Perfect pampering gifts for someone who could use a little extra love.
Happy Valentine's Day Friends! I hope your day is full of love!
Chocolate and lavender is another one of my favorite combinations! Chocolate lavender brownies, fudge, ice cream, truffles and of course hot chocolate! There are so many ways to use this decadent combo! Here are a few!
Lavender & Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature 1.5 sticks
- 3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar packed
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Egg at room temperature
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Cornstarch
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1.5 tsp Dried Culinary Lavender Buds
- 1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks or chocolate chips
- Course Sea Salt for sprinkling
- In a large bowl with hand mixer or in stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and lavender. Add to the wet ingredients, and beat on low until combined.
- Add in the chocolate chunks and mix to combine evenly.
- Cover dough with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Roll dough into about 1″ balls using your hands. Space about 2″ apart on the baking sheets.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown around the edges. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt once removed from oven before cooling.
- Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Recipe by winealittlecookalot.com
Lavender Chocolate Kisses
Meringue is the secret to these sweet, fudgy, lavender-scented candies. Easy, quick, and delicious, they make a perfect homemade gift.
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ cup Lavender sugar
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F, with the rack in the center of the oven
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt together until foamy
- Sift together the cocoa and 2 tablespoons of the lavender sugar and set aside.
- Add remaining lavender sugar to the egg white mixture, a tablespoon at a time. Beat well after each addition, making sure the sugar is dissolved. Continue to beat until mixture is glossy and makes stiff peaks.
- Sift the cocoa/sugar mixture over the meringue. Using a spatula, gently fold in the cocoa mixture, just until it is blended.
- Spoon the meringue mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch star tip.
- Place 1-inch meringue “kisses” onto the lined cookie sheets. (Alternatively, drop the meringue from a tablespoon onto your baking sheet.)
- Bake the meringues for 1 ½ hours. The meringues are done when they are crisp and firm to the touch.
- Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven for another hour to finish drying.
- Store, covered tightly, in a dry place.
(Recipe by Kathy Gerht from Discover Cooking with Lavender)
Chocolate Lavender Fondue
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons culinary lavender
- Seasonal fruit
- Heat the cream on medium heat in a small saucepan until warmed through. Remove from heat, add lavender buds, and steep for 20 minutes. Return to stove over medium heat until tiny bubbles show and mixture begins to slowly simmer.
- Remove from stove and quickly strain lavender from the cream Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth, fully melted, and incorporated.
- Transfer the chocolate mix to a fondue pot heated at low or with a low flame, or serve straight from the pot.
- Arrange seasonal fresh fruit on a platter or on plates around the chocolate pot and use a fondue fork regular fork, or bamboo skewer to dip.
(If the fondue begins to feel a little stiff, add another tablespoon of the heavy cream and stir.)
Perfect to hang from a doorway or a mantle -- for Valentine's Day or all year round -- these heart garlands are so easy to make!
1. Print music score onto card stock.
2. Trace hearts on printed card stock and cut out. You will need about 30 hearts for a 6 ft garland.
3. Put two hearts together and sew down the middle of the heart. Don't cut the thread but rather continue on with the next heart, creating a string of hearts.
4. When you have gotten to the desire length, cut the string and tie off.
5. Open up each heart so that there are four panels for each heart (see photo above).
6. Hang or drape in the perfect spot to add a little whimsical love to your room!
You know all of those sayings and quotes about dogs that you’ve read over the years? All of them are true. Yes all of them. Yes, dogs are our best friends. Yes, all dogs go to heaven. Etc...
Case in point: Mornings start with Henry, our white Lab, politely barking (just one short bark) that it’s time to get up because he needs to get fed. I walk out to the living room where all three dogs sleep and they greet me with barks and wagging tails, but Henry throws in his “bucking bronco” dance, bouncing back and forth, tailing wagging, tongue hanging out, because he's THAT excited about food. After we’ve all had our breakfast, I open the back door and announce that it’s “time to feed the goats!” and Rammus just about pops a gasket with his high pitched and very loud barking, acting as if this is the very best part of his day, and then runs just a little ahead of me to clear the way, running back and forth between the goats and the chickens, giant dog smile on his face. Henry trots more slowly behind us, pausing somewhere between the house and the barn because he has found something to nibble on -- blackberries, grass, goat poop…anything really. Henry lives for food; Rammus lives for his “job.” Rosie, the newest member of the pack (and oh so sweet), harasses both of her older dog brothers equally, bounding back and forth between the two -- biting Henry's collar for a minute and then running off to steal a ball from Rammus. So. Much. Energy.
As the day progresses, everywhere I go around the farm, they are right there by my side -- standing guard as I work in the field, walking right next to me as I am doing my chores, and laying right next to my feet when I’m reading or watching TV. Sometimes I talk to them about what’s on my mind, and they listen politely (and as if I have just said the most profound thing ever!), and sometimes we just hang out. And when the day is done and it’s time for bed, all I say is “OK pups, it’s time for sleeping,” and they get up and walk over to their beds.
These three sweet puppies are my daily companions, protectors, confidantes, and comic relief. How is it even possible to have a bad day with such pure, loving souls by my side? I don’t know that we deserve them, but a big shout out to the Creator, for knowing we would need such steadfast companionship on our turbulent human journey.
I hope you've enjoyed our February newsletter! Feel free to forward our newsletter to any lavender-loving friends who you think might enjoy it!