Rockin’ Valentines


Gratitude to all of you who venture here to read about our trials and jubilations as we journey toward a lower impact life. These little rocks were gathered down at our nearby beach and turned into missives of love and positive affirmation by my daughter for her classmates and friends.


A few stones and some scrap yarn brought smiles to 26 fourth grade students, proof that the simple things in life can still be perceived as beautiful and grounding. We wish you a happy Valentines Day, a day of love and kindness, and a break from it all.


Love and gratitude,

Liesl, Pete, Finn & Cleo

Valentines: The Original Folk Art Scrap Hack

Handmade Paper Valentines, An Original Folk Art. Photo © Liesl Clark

I remember having to make valentines cards in elementary school for each of my classmates. The handmade cards tended to come from whatever scrap paper, lace, and paper doilies we had around our home. Each valentine was different, a scrapper’s attempt at making beauty from what was available.

Scraps of Paper. All You Need to Make an Original Valentine. Photo © Liesl Clark

And then things changed, and there was a new ethic afoot: Skip the handmade valentine and buy a mass-produced version for your friends, complete with a stash of sweets. All you had to do was fill in your name, the recipient’s name, and add a packet of hearts. It certainly was a time-saver, but these so-called valentines felt like a cop-out and an opportunity for some not-so-creative folks to make money off of us. I’m still a big fan of the hand-crafted valentine. You might say the valentine is an original form of folk art, and some still practice it today.

Our kids, over the past few years, have been assigned, at school, to make valentines for their classmates from materials found in their home. Alas! We could bring back the tradition. Here are a few examples I’ve pulled from our photos over the years:

1) The Traditional Scrap Paper Valentine:  We first gathered our scrap paper and cut out traditional hearts on card stock we had rescued from the landfill. We also save pretty scrap paper from magazines and junkmail so we have plenty of colors and textures to choose from for projects like this.

Cutting, folding, and gluing paper is all it takes to make a valentine. Photo © Liesl Clark

2) A Scrap Fabric Valentine:  Then we found some pretty scrap fabric and cut out hearts to glue to the reclaimed card stock. Those felt a little more 3D and folksy.

Add a fabric scrap to your valentine for a more 3D effect. Photo © Liesl Clark

3) Bookmark Valentines:  Cut long strips of paper about 2 inches wide by 6 inches long.

Paper strips from handmade paper. Photo © Liesl Clark

Punch a hole (we punched a star, really) into one end of each strip.

Punching a hole in the end of your strip. Photo © Liesl Clark

Tie a little ribbon or scrap fabric through the star, and you’ll have bookmarks ready to decorate as useful valentines.

Bookmark Valentines are Useful. Photo © Liesl Clark

4) Valentine Heart Wands: In our pantry, we found some pie tins and colorful plastic straws we had found on the beach, saved, and washed. These would become our raw ingredients for heart wands we made for several of the students:

Heart wands are easy. All you need are pie tins, straws, and a glue gun. Photo © Liesl Clark

Cut a heart out of your pie tin and glue it to the end of a straw. They work with pretty sticks, too. And if you want to embellish your silvery pie tin heart, you can glue a smaller heart to your tin heart.

Hearts of Paper and Hearts of Tin. Photo © Liesl Clark

The Tin Man would be proud.

Heart Wands From Pie Tins and Straws. Photo © Liesl Clark

We've been making these for years. Photo © Liesl Clark

5) Wire and Yarn Hearts:  We often craft wire hearts from scavenged wire and then wrap them in yarn. The children love hanging them around the garden. The little heart below was made by my daughter when the deer ate her bleeding hearts. She was so saddened by the loss of her hearts, she placed a fence around them and crafted this wire heart on the outside for the deer to eat, still leaving them something to enjoy. The sweetness of a 6-year-old is undying.

A wire and yarn heart to help protect the bleeding hearts from the deer. Photo © Liesl Clark

6) Classic Hand-Stitched Valentine: My daughter love to sew by hand. These hand-stitched valentines took her a month to make, but she poured her love and talent into each one. She left a little pocket in each to be filled with organic jelly beans, her favorite treat we buy in bulk at our local store. These are pretty easy to make so long as you have felt. We asked for felt on our local Buy Nothing group, and neighbors had plenty to share! She cut out hearts in varying sizes with my pinking shears and then layered them and sewed them together, leaving a pocket at the top.


7) Produce Sticker Heart:  This one might be a bit of a stretch, but for those health-conscious sweethearts in your life, why not craft a produce sticker heart valentine? It was a cathartic exercise, for me, because those plastic stickers to announce that we’ve bought organic produce bother me greatly. No tutorial necessary, right?

Produce Stickers are Pink and Perfect for this Healthy-Heart Valentine. Photo © Liesl Clark


Send in a picture of your own homemade valentines. We’d love to share them with all our sweethearts.

Easiest Prettiest Ornament You’ll Ever Make

As we’re just two days to Christmas, I’ll keep this brief. But suffice it to say, this is a great children’s activity in the days before Christmas.

Items Needed:

1 Plastic Lid

Non-stick cooking oil or spray


Leftover beads, sequins, glitter, sparkly stuff

We even used some beach glass and small shells from the beach

Piece of ribbon or yarn

All you need is to pull a plastic dairy tub lid out of the recycle bin, like a large yogurt container lid. The 4″ wide version works well but you can use a small one, too, for a smaller ornament. Spray or lightly oil with non-stick cooking oil. Then pour glue into the lid. Start placing your items in the glue spaced nicely around and don’t be shy just throw it all in there. Be sure to also stick a loop of yarn or ribbon at the top to act as your hanging ribbon. Wait for a couple of days for the glue to dry. If you place your lids in the sun or in a warm place the drying time goes faster. When it’s dry, just flex the lid around a bit and the ornament will come off easily! You end up with a pretty ornament that glows and sparkles with Christmas lights behind it. Easy!

Easy Peasy Pretty Ornament From a Plastic Lid Mold

Easy Peasy Pretty Ornament From a Plastic Lid Mold