If I were a betting man, I would place my money on hearts, roses and chocolate to appear on the upcoming day we celebrate love. Their popularity always gets a boost as we get closer to Valentine’s Day. These traditional ways of expressing our love never seem to disappoint. Who can go wrong with chocolate any time of the year?
This day we set aside to honor love allows crafters the perfect opportunity to express their creativity. Just mentioning Feb. 14 conjures up swirls of red, pink and white in my mind. It is definitely one of my favorite times of year to heat up the glue gun.
Back in my grade school days, thick white paste offered the bond we needed to construct our valentines. I can still remember those plastic jars of school paste. The lid held a “spatula” of sorts to retrieve the thick, white glue. It was rumored that it was made of horses’ hooves, so I always used mine with caution. Once I attached the pieces of paper together, it took days for the paste to completely dry and it left a raised up hump and a discolored stain where it had been applied.
I would spend hours cutting red and pink hearts out of construction paper to give to my classmates. I could never just leave mine plain — I had to embellish them! Our class even created special cardboard mailboxes to sit on our desks to hold our valentines.
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Someone’s mom always brought in goodies for the whole class on Valentine’s Day. These treats usually came in the shape of iced cookies or cupcakes piled high with pink icing. My personal favorite was the time Mother and I made chocolate fudge, placed a few pieces in small bits of plastic wrap and tied off each one with red or pink curling ribbon.
Fast forward many years and you will still find me crafting and baking things for Valentine’s Day. I don’t use that thick paste anymore. I have actually graduated to a “big boy” hot-glue gun, but there was one project when I wished I still had my thick school paste instead.
A friend of mine enlisted my help to make a Valentine’s Day wreath. I had created several for myself years before, and she wanted to make one. It is a heart-shaped wreath and involves all three of the Valentine’s Day staples — hearts, roses and chocolate.
I know you must be wondering how I incorporate chocolate onto a wreath. Well, to be completely honest with you, the chocolate wasn’t real.
Having this unexplained fixation with chocolate, I have devised a way to make hot glue look like real chocolate. I melt a whole bunch of glue sticks in an old electric skillet and use a wooden paddle to apply the molten hot glue to a Styrofoam shape. Sometimes I create chocolate cakes using round Styrofoam discs. Other times, I cut Styrofoam into small squares to resemble brownies and fudge.
I know many of you are thinking this is a little weird, but these chocolate props are beautiful on platters and cake stands in your kitchen or on your dining room buffet. It appears you always have something sweet and yummy to eat when, in reality, what you have is totally fat free and sugar free!
My friend and I were “icing” a large heart-shaped piece of Styrofoam to resemble a big chocolate heart. It is amazing! The glue even runs and drips like real chocolate. When the glue is completely dry, all you have to do is spray paint it a beautiful chocolate brown color. Adorn your “chocolate” heart with ribbons and roses, and you have a gorgeous heart-shaped wreath to hang on your door.
Everything was going like clockwork until I coated one of my fingers with “chocolate” by accidentally dipping it into the glue-filled skillet. I screamed as I jerked my hand back and threw whatever I was attaching to the wreath while trying not to say a curse word. I used to be scared of the thick paste made of animal by-products when I should have been more concerned about the skillet full of hot glue.
In the next few days, you will see more red and pink roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate than at any other time of the year. We use these things to express our love. I leave you with just one suggestion: Make absolutely sure your chocolate is real!