Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and it’s not just for lovers. Sure it’s an excuse to indulge your romantic side (and in lots of chocolate!), but there are plenty of things to love whether you’re celebrating solo, with friends, or with your significant other.
The 8 things I’m currently in love with:
1. Orin Swift Locations – Let’s start with wine. Lately, I’m obsessed with Orin Swift Locations, especially Italy. Seduced by Italian wines while studying abroad in Florence, winemaker Dave Phinney returned to the US and eventually created Orin Swift Cellars, most famous for its flagship ‘The Prisoner’ bottle. In the Locations series, Phinney throws out the rules and doesn’t limit himself to regions. Instead, he goes to a country and picks the very best grapes, regardless of region, and then creates a delicious blend. The Italy bottle, for example, contains grapes from Piedmont to Puglia, and it’s fantastic. Plus, the labels mimicking EU license plates are so fun!
2. Oh Happy Day – Thanks to Instagram (follow me!), I found Oh Happy Day, a DIY lifestyle and design blog from event planner Jordan Ferney. The entire site is, well, happy. And fun and inspiring even for those of us who are usually DIY challenged. Just check out these adorable Valentine’s you can make for your coworkers! (I bet if you deliver them next week they’ll still be appreciated).
3. Climate Coalition – Now onto something a little more serious, but still in the creative vein. The Climate Coalition, a group of more than 100 organizations in the UK, is asking people around the world to declare their love for the planet this Valentine’s Day. Specifically, they’re asking people to participate in the ‘For the Love of…’ campaign, by sending in photos of things they love and fear losing due to the effects of climate change. From seasons to clean air to the honey bee, the submissions so far are varied, and all both touching and terrifying. What would we do without those the honey bee? Love these things while they’re around, and do what you can to keep them.
4. The Big Roundtable – I love the Big Roundtable in general. It’s a platform for non-fiction narratives that connects the writers to their audience through research and forums. The writing is consistently excellent and the stories compelling. I was especially moved by Damage, one woman’s quest to understand FGM, her mother, and herself. It’s long, but very worth the read, and especially relevant on a day dedicated to love and sex.
5. Same-Sex Marriage – Possibly one of the most exciting things to love this year, same-sex marriage is now recognized in more than 30 states in the US! Is it an ideal number? No. But most of these states have hopped on board over the last year or two, so it’s just a matter of time until we reach 50. This Valentine’s Day let’s raise a glass (of Orin Swift?) to same-sex couples getting married this year.
6. Travel – Obviously. And especially with friends. Here’s a gorgeous list of ‘unpredictable’ places to travel in your 20s, though I bet they’re equally enjoyable at any age. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world with some of my best friends, including a ‘galentine’s’ trip to Malta last year on Valentine’s Day (pink cocktails were involved). This month I’m headed to Costa Rica for an adventure-packed romantic getaway, and next month I’ll be visiting Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia (which happen to be on that list). Travel always teaches you something, whether you’re learning about ancient history or the amazing love letter project, and you rarely (hopefully never) regret it.
7. Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes – If you’re still looking for something to whip up for your lover, look no further. These are by far the best cupcakes I have ever had, and nothing else is even a close second. Moist, with an unexpected ganache filling, these cupcakes aren’t too heavy, and the bitter chocolate saves them from being overly sweet. Cupcakes took the country by storm a few years ago, but I could never get into the craze because they were just too much, even for a sweet tooth like me. These change everything, and put Magnolia Bakery or Georgetown Cupcakes to shame.
8. Rumi – Oh, Rumi. If there ever was a day for poets, Valentine’s Day is it, and no one muses on the mysteries of romance and love better than this 13th-century Persian mystic. Just take this one:
“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”
Or this conundrum:
“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”
Or in honor of this season’s biggest box office hit, 50 Shades of Grey:
“I want to see you.
Know your voice.
Recognize you when you
first come ’round the corner.
Sense your scent when I come
into a room you’ve just left.
Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.
Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.
I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
Forgive me for loving Rumi more than Christian Grey.
And finally, my favorite: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!