Does Valentine’s Day Complicate Relationships?

At the risk of sounding like a hater, I admit that I’m not big on Valentine’s Day the way it is often celebrated in my great big beautiful USA. What’s not to like?

Does Valentine's Day Complicate Relationships? {}

Here are the Valentine’s Day biggies that rub me the wrong way:

  1. Crowds of “last-minute” men in the 20-items-or-less aisle hoping their tinted carnations and cheap chocolates show enough “love” to appease their significant others, but knowing they’re probably in for a fight. 
  2. The false belief that the obligatory expression of affection on that day is, indeed, affection.
  3. The thought from far too many women that if a man doesn’t open his wallet on Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and Sweetest Day (if you’re in the Midwest), the love and commitment he shows the rest of the year is negated.
  4. The thought by a normally-negligent man that a pink bear and a $4 box of Russel Stovers will cover his backside.

Grrrr. Yes, I growled. Out loud.

Let’s get one thing straight right here, right now: Valentine’s Day the way it is celebrated today is a complication, and no relationship needs complication.

A Simple Valentine Tradition that Stuck

Does that mean we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day? No, it doesn’t. At The Simple Home, we keep it simple and fun…no unrealistic expectations!

This year we are having a Post-it note party. Each family member gets a pad of Post-it notes to write (or draw) on and exchange. It’s simple, heartfelt, creative, and a ton o’ laughs!

The Post-it exchange is a tradition that started accidentally the year my husband and I forgot the date (a regular occurrence) and hastily scratched out our feelings on Post-its. It was my favorite Valentine ever, and it stuck…no Post-it pun intended there.

Perhaps the main reason it stuck is because the simplicity of it fits our relationship.

Does Valentine's Day Complicate Relationships? {}

Keeping Simplicity in Our Marriage

One thing my husband has always appreciated about me is my lack of expectation…about some things. I don’t demand (or expect) a big deal made out of Valentine’s Day. I don’t demand (or expect) a big to-do on our anniversary. (Truth be told, I don’t expect him, much less me, to even remember our anniversary!) I don’t expect my birthday to be fussed over.

I do expect effort to be put into the relationship itself, however.

He appreciates that lack of focus on ceremony…and so do I.

We have always focused more on the marriage than on ceremony. The planning we put into our wedding was nothing, nothing compared to what we have whole-heartedly poured into the marriage. We place more emphasis on the days than the dates, on the day-to-day marriage than on the “Hallmark” occasions. We always have, we always will, even if that means a Post-it note instead of roses and restaurants on Valentine’s Day.

How to Not Complicate Your Relationship {}

Does this sound utterly unromantic to you?

Romance in the Real World

Life is dirty. It’s gritty. It’s real. We are two very real people in a very real life loving each other in a very real, raw way. That’s not romantic in and of itself.

Or is it…?

I see young love, which is nice…and young…and lovely…and idealistic…and romantic, maybe, but the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen is the old couple, scarred with years of raw gritty love, still standing by each other, still grumping and fussing and  pestering and nagging and laughing and crying and holding on tightly. Still living together, still loving, still forgetting anniversaries and laughing about it, still hurting and forgiving. Knowing each other so well…so very well…but still learning about each other.

How to Not Complicate Your Marriage {}

That’s romantic in my book.

And that’s simple love.

Simple love does not mean it’s easy. Simple love means it’s uncomplicated.

How do I Know if I’m Complicating my Marriage?

I have to, from time to time, look in a mirror and ask that crazy lady a few questions:

  • Am I complicating my marriage by focusing on dates more than days?
  • Do I put too much emphasis on appearances and dreams rather than on the raw grit of reality?
  • Are my expectations based on a movie or a friend’s (not necessarily accurate) portrayal of her marriage?
  • Do I hold my man up to the standard someone else has set (say, my grandfather, his dad, Mr. Darcy) instead of encouraging him to be the man God intended him to be?
  • Do I forgive and accept him the way I want and expect and need to be forgiven and accepted?
  • Am I loving my man out loud for who he is every day, or scorning him because today, on Valentine’s Day, he didn’t follow the script I wrote in my head?

Think about it.

Periodically I revisit a 14-day series I wrote on building strong families. When the nation is focused on the mush and gush, I like to build up my family’s foundation a bit, and remind myself (because I need reminding) what really matters in a marriage and on Valentine’s Day…and…I can’t believe I’m saying this…it isn’t chocolate.

Love in Action - Building Strong Families {}


I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Happy Valentine’s Day.



How To Mail a Hug – A 10-Step Picture Tutorial

Today I welcome four charming guests sharing their 10-step picture tutorial on How to Mail a Hug.

How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children

This idea originated at Tons of Fun. Her adorable version of a long-distance hug uses paint and ribbon, neither of which we have in our travel trailer. Therefore, we embraced creativity and frugality to create our own versions using what we had on hand. We spent no money (apart from postage) and added no “stuff” to our lives. (See how you can apply simplicity to every aspect of life, saving money, having fun, and avoiding clutter in the process!)

Now I will turn the stage over to my delightful guests, four of my seven children, as they explain in pictures how to mail a hug.

How to Mail a HugHow To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children How To Mail A Hug - 10-step picture tutorial from The Simple Homemaker's children

Pop it in an envelope and you’re all set! Simple, sweet, and suitable for any time of year!

Do you know anybody who could use a hug in the mail?

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas from Around the Web and Inside my Head

I’m sharing some simple, candy-free Valentine ideas with you today. Some are links, some are my own ideas, some are both, my versions being ultra simple, mildly to intensely cheesy, and leaning heavily on Sharpies and Post-its. My Valentine motto is “If you can’t say it with a Post-it note, you talk too much.” It’s kinda catchy, don’t you think?

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

Lunch box ideas:

Pop one or more of the followings items in a lunch box. Write on the items with a Sharpie or add a Post-it with a cheesy one-liner. (Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is the king of cheesy holidays.) Click through the links to see the classier ideas that inspired my simple Valentines:

The first three ideas are inspired by the lovely Melissa at Bless This Mess, who has many terrific, doable ideas at her site.

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

Orange: Orange ya gonna be my Valentine?

Cheese stick or beef jerky stick: Let’s stick together. Stick with me, Valentine. I’ll stick with you!

Fruit strips (the pure fruit varieties fit the candy-free theme):

    • grape: You’re grape, Valentine! Have a grape Valentine’s Day. (Cheesy alert!)
    • strawberry: I’d be berry happy if you’d be my Valentine. You’re berry sweet!
    • apple: You are the apple of my eye. (I can smell the Limburger!)

This clementine idea is a simplified version of a much classier Valentine treat found at Tutto Bella Blog (All Things Beautiful):

Cutie: You are a real cutie! Be mine, Cutie Patootie!


35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

(Yeah, that boy needs a bath. Keepin’ it real!)

This banana idea comes from Twig and Thistle. She sells sweet lovin’ fruit stickers from her Etsy shop, which are a great idea for lunch boxes throughout the year. My version uses a permanent marker…and a banana…and isn’t quite as chic…but then again, neither am I.

Banana: I go bananas over you! I’m ape over you.

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

I could totally go for this trail mix idea from A Spicy Perspective. Make (or buy) a trail mix as healthy (or unhealthy) as your family prefers.

Trail mix: Follow the trail to my heart. (Cheesy? I dunno? I’m thinking it’s got a Hansel and Gretel charm to it. You could also say “I’d trail you anywhere,” but that’s kinda got “stalker” written all over it.)

Nut Mix: I’m nuts over you.

And, of course, there’s always the classic heart-shaped sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter, which beg the question, “What do you do with the rest of the sandwich?” Duh–breakfast for Mom!

To Pass out at School:

The orange, cutie, and fruit strip Valentines from the lunch box section above would work great if the classroom allows food. Or send the cheesesticks in a small collapsable cooler.

For non-food Valentines, pass out any of the following and attach a little tag (or hunt online for printables) with any of these cute (a.k.a. cheesy) sayings.

Ruler: You rule, Valentine! You’re the ruler of my heart! (CHEESE!)

Pencil: Write on, Valentine! You’re the write stuff! You’ve written on my heart. You’re all write. (Oh, the cheesiness slays me.)

Bookmark: You’re #1 in my book. Are you booked, or can you be my Valentine? (Ugh.)

Toothbrush (find cheap multi-packs at discount stores, drugstores, or dollar stores): You make me smile, Valentine! Or snag these Barry Manilow/James Taylor ideas from Jac o’ Lyn Murphey, ‘cuz what grade schooler isn’t a JamesTaylor fan? Seriously, mine are.

Homemade clay or a mini playdough: You’re shaping up to be a great Valentine! (Does it get any worse?)

Chapstick: Let’s stick together. Stick with me, Valentine. You’re the balm! (I can hear my kids gagging in the background.)

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

Grandparent (or Parent) Valentines:

How about a simple photo Valentine for Grandma and Grandpa?

This adorable blowing kisses photo idea is from Pinterest. (If the linked photo is yours, please let me know so I can credit you.):

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

We used red dry erase markers on a white board, because it’s what we have. See how you can take a great idea and make it your own without busting the budget or adding still more art supplies to your over-stuffed art cupboards!

This one screams I LOVE YOU, don’t you think?

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

Again, the magic of dry erase and a little cropping.

Or there’s the classic Eye Heart U photo.

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

A little bit of cheesy, a whole lotta lovin’! I’m particularly fond of the teen in the background. She’s saying, “Sure, I love you, but not enough to get involved in another of my mother’s crazy photo shoots.”

Grandma and Grandpa might also enjoy these crafty Valentines:

This idea of a long-distance hug comes from Tons of Fun:

Send a Hug in the Mail and 35 Other Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

We used two hand cut-outs and yarn, because, again, it’s what we have on hand, to create this hug to mail across the miles. Just for you, we even created an ultra-simple 10-step photo tutorial on how to mail a hug. (No cheese…or not much anyway.)

I found this adorable footprint Valentine card that you can make with your littlest littles over at Lil Sugar. I would have made my own, but painting my baby’s feet seemed counterproductive to what I want to accomplish in life, which is to not have paint all over my entire wardrobe and travel trailer. But your life goals are probably different than mine, so you…you can try it.

Lil Sugar also inspired this hand cut-outs idea.

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

Trace and cut out the child’s hand and add a cute saying, or just let the child decorate it. What? You want my ideas for cute sayings, even after the “You’re the balm!” line? Uhhhh, no, but here are some ideas from Lil Sugar:

    • Hold my hand, Grandma!
    • Forget me not. (with a string tied around one of the fingers)
    • You’re “hand” some. (Okay, so that one hints of cheesy.)

For your girl:

Give her cute hairpins and tag them with “I pinned you to be mine!” (I’m sorry. That’s a groaner.)

Pick out a cute pair of socks and add a tag that reads, “We make a great pair.” There is a printable available at Saltwater Kids where this cute idea originated.

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

For your boy:

Meck Mom has some cute manly Star Wars printable Valentines. Nothing says I love you with a macho, manly kinda love like a mind-controlling half human in a black helmet. I don’t know, ladies. Just go with it.

A matchbox car with a tag (i.e. post-it) that reads “You’ve raced your way into my heart.” Okay, my son would totally not get that, but he would like the car.

For your teen:

A poem written especially for the teen in your life:

Roses are red.
Get out of bed.
Give your mama a squeeze.
No you can’t have my keys.

It’s inspired, really. A-hem.

Here’s my favorite Valentine for my own teens:

A rock with the letter “U” on it. Come on…you get it, don’t you? U + rock…you rock! That’s borderline genius there.

For your man:

What hubby wouldn’t like to know he’s still your stud muffin after all these years! This idea, as well as a “one hot mama” idea can be found at Tutto Bella Blog:

35 Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

A bag of nuts and bolts: Don’t bolt, cuz I’m nuts about you! (Whoa. That may have won the cheese of the day award!)

For your lady:

Chocolate. What?! Chocolate’s not candy! It’s not!

For that special someone…you know the person:

Love Hurts...and 35 Other Simple, Candy-Free Valentine Ideas |

I can think of all kinds of Post-its for that one, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.

For a Special Valentine Meal at Home:

Find a tutorial to make heart-shaped carrots over at the beautiful blog Recipe By Photo. Toss them in a soup or serve them as a side dish.

Fruit kabobs are just one of three fruity ideas over at Life in Wonderland.

These cherry tomato hearts are precious for someone old enough to not put his eye out with a toothpick, so, that’s, like 40, right? Thanks to Eye Candy for the idea.

Check out these dark chocolate strawberry-bananas from Multiply Delicious. Okay, I know, I said candy-free, and chocolate has shown up twice, but is chocolate really candy? I like to think of chocolate as more of a digestif. Don’t know what a digestif is? Good, then maybe you’ll believe me.

Valentine Idea from Dayspring

It may be too late to get these in time for Valentine’s Day, but encouraging notecards for your friends are suitable year round, as are any expression of affection, appreciation, and love…although never is the cheesiness as acceptable as on February 14.

More ideas:

I have loaded my Pinterest Valentine’s Day board with oodles of (what appear to be) simple Valentine ideas. If you haven’t had enough cheesiness and want to check out other people’s cheese, pop on over

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Please share your ideas in the comments below. I’m sure they’re not half as cheesy as mine!




Love in Action: Building Strong Families

Monday marks the beginning of a 14-post series entitled Love in Action. This series encourages all of us to express love through simple actions that will work toward building strong families.

Love in Action Series: Building Strong Families (

I first posted this series last February around Valentine’s Day.  It’s easy to show a little mush on Valentine’s Day, but the kind of love we’re building extends beyond a one-day holiday.  It’s the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty, baby-puke-in-your-hair, morning-breath kind of love.  It needs work, nurturing, and effort…more than once a year.  It is for that reason that I have chosen to revisit the Love in Action series. (Plus I need a little kick in the pantaloons, myself.)

Love in Action: Building Strong Families Details

There will be 14 Love in Action tasks.

Love in Action: Building Strong FamiliesWe will focus the first half of Love in Action on loving actions toward our husbands (or wives, for my male readers).  The second set of Love in Action posts will focus on loving actions toward our children.

Now, please don’t do your loving action for the day and check it off your lifelong love list.  Practice each day’s tip from the day you read about it throughout the rest of the Love in Action weeks. I’m sure your family won’t complain if you make these loving actions a habit for life.  (I know. I’m a pest. I get that a lot.  A lot a lot!)


Don’t be. These are simple, common sense (but unfortunately not common practice) ways to express love. You may well be doing all of them already. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ll be actively participating in all Love in Action tasks.

A simple home is a home where love is a priority. Let’s put building strong families back where it belongs–at the top of the to-do list.

Love in Action Building Strong Families

Love in Action Series: Building Strong Families

For my spouse:

For my children:

And the closer, Love in Action: All Wrapped Up.

Will you join me for Love in Action: Building Strong Families?

Love in Action Building Strong FamiliesHelpful tool: I received Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages from someone who had alienated most of his children and three ex-wives, so I read it only out of an I’m-afraid-you’re-going-to-call-me-and-see-if-I-read-that-book-yet sense of a duty.

Wow!  The basic premise is that, essentially, if you parlez vous francais and your loved ones sprechen sie deutsche, you won’t understand each other, no matter how fervently you exclaim “Je t’aime!” or “Ich liebe dich!” Mr. Chapman does an excellent job of explaining the importance of learning how to say “I love you” in the language of our loved ones. Highly recommended!

Read more reviews here.

Amazon Prime members can read The Five Love Languages free on Kindle.

Disclaimer: I in no way accept any responsibility for damages incurred by my creative use of foreign languages.  If you’re confused, get a dictionary here or here. Yes, those are my affiliate links.  I earn a small commission on anything purchased through them, and I will not be using the money to travel to a foreign country to impress the locals with my mastery of foreign languages.

Linked to Better Mom Mondays,  Weekend Whatever, and Marriage and Mommyhood.