Last Minute Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Valentine’s Day is a few days away and I know there are a few slackers out there. Whether you need ideas for Valentine’s gifting or you want to give your partner a few hints to make sure they’re on the right track, today is your lucky day. We’ve got a last-minute guide for all the procrastinators out there, especially anyone who is within driving distance of the Chicago metro area. All I know is that if I were to be on the receiving end of these gifts, I’d be forever grateful. This is definitely a gift guide for those who prefer experiences over things so if you’re looking for a few diamonds, keep scrolling…

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Valentine's Day Recipe: Heart-Shaped Strawberry Hand Pies

Alright all you lovebirds, Valentine’s Day is coming up this weekend so I hope you have plans set. I’m sure reservations would be practically impossible to find by now. For those of you with kids or plan to stay in for the weekend, this recipe is a scrumptious little treat that is incredibly easy to make and also adaptable to your personal preference. The reason I love these so much is because they are individual servings and super easy to eat. No dishes! They’re Heart-Shaped Strawberry Hand Pies and I promise you will love them.

I like to make my own filling because it allows me to adapt it the way I please but you can easily use jelly or jam that is store bought and in your fridge. I would choose a jam over a jelly because there are generally fruit chunks left over and that’s the best.

I chose strawberry because it’s my personal favorite but these would additionally be delicious with cherry, apple, grape, clementine or any mixture as well. Just think about your favorite pie and replicate the filling in these guys. You could even go an extra step and add in some chocolate. Now that sounds like the perfect treat.

Heart-Shaped Strawberry Hand Pies
Ingredients
1 cup strawberries, quartered
5 tablespoons Sugar + 1 tablespoon for the pies
1 long strip of Lemon Peel/Zest
I package of store bought Pit Dough (or your own homemade recipe)
2 tablespoons Butter, melted

Directions
1. Cut the strawberries into quarters and place in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Add sugar and lemon zest. Use a potato masher or fork to lightly smash the strawberries until you’ve found your desired consistency. Bring mixture to a boil and let simmer until it’s become thick and gooey. Let cool.

2. After the filling has cooled, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and unroll the pie dough lying flat. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to stamp out 8 pieces of the dough. One of the pie crusts should make four pies depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

3. Use a small spoon to carefully place the strawberries onto 4 of the pie dough hearts. Leave enough room around the edges to close and seal (about 1-inch). Place the remaining pie dough hearts on top of the dough and use a fork to seal the edges.

strawberry pie 4.0.jpg

4. Use a pastry brush to coat pies with butter and sprinkle a little sugar so that the top caramelizes lightly. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes and let cool before serving. 

The Single Girl's Guide To Valentine's Day

We are one week away from the lover's holiday. For those of us who are unattached, that can be depressing, empowering or it might mean absolutely nothing at all. One thing is for sure though, all your lovebird friends will be cheesing it up at an overpriced restaurant or activity filled date night that had way too much thought put into it. So what's a girl to do? Our Single Girl's Guide to Valentine's Day is here to save the day. From events to menus for one, we've got your solo Valentine's Day covered.

WHERE TO GO
Bohemian House (11 West Illinois) welcomes lonely hears to celebrate the single life with the special "Burger for the 'Lonely Hearts' at the Bar" served on a house-made potato bun, piled high with emmentaler cheese, sauerkraut, a fried egg and horseradish cream, alongside salt & vinegar chips. It will be available for dinner Friday, February 12th through Sunday, February 14th. 

Hydrate Nightclub (3458 North Halsted Street) is hosting their Beauties and Beaus show Friday, February 12th and Saturday, February 13th. Hot male dancers and sassy female impersonators bring the crowd to its feet (and on stage) in an interactive experience you won't forget. Discount code COFFEE will save you $10 off admission for the weekend.

J'temie Journelle (1725 North Damen) is partnering with Flowers For Dreams to make Valentine's Day shopping easy. Visit Journelle on February 13th to shop for your girls' night out (or in). Choose from a variety of garments and pajamas to make you feel fabulous regardless what your plans entail. Every Journelle purchase receives a complimentary mini Flowers For Dreams bouquet while supplies last. 

spa at dana (660 North State Street) is offering a few spectacular spa deals for a relaxing solo weekend. Try the "Berry Bubbly Mani/Pedi," a nutrient rich treatment full of antioxidants. Bask in the uplifting aroma of berries while sipping a glass of bubbly. They're also offering the "Be My Honey Facial." The ultra-hydrating facial will cleanse and exfoliate your skin before enriching it with a honey mask. Melt away stress and tension with a face, neck and shoulder massage and leave with a special glow. Sounds pretty amazing to me. Nothing beats a spa day!

GIRL'S NIGHT IN
If you're not feeling the crowds, grab the rest of the single ladies in your life and have a night in, perhaps while wearing a new pair of PJ's from Journelle while rocking a killer mani/pedi from spa at dana. I've got your Girls Night must-haves below from Netflix binge-a-thons to games and snacks.

WATCH
Anti-Valentine's Day: The Break-Up
Classic Slasher Film: Scream
Comedy: 10 Things I Hate About You (we're taking it back)
Old Movie: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Psychological Thriller: Secret Window
Romance: Love Actually
Tear-Jerker: The Notebook
TV Shows: Friends, Criminal Minds, New Girl, Gilmore Girls

EAT
Delicious, decadent desserts from Inspired by Happiness. The gluten-free treat features three-layer cakes including the Dreamin' of Chocolate Dark & White Chocolate Layer Cake, Dreamin' of Strawberries White Chocolate Shortcake and Cravin' for Cookies & Cream Layered Cake. My bet is on the Dreamin' of Chocolate Dark & White Chocolate Layer cake with layers of Belgian white chocolate mousse and topped with chocolate ganache. 

SIP
Amazing cocktails such as... 

...The Raspberry Rose Royal
Ingredients
1 part Hendrick's Gin
1/5 part sugar syrup
1 fresh raspberry
Top up with champagne.

Preparation
Combine raspberry, sugar and gin in cocktail shaker and shake briskly. After just three strong shakes, finely strain into base of flute and top with champagne.

DO
Play: Heads Up created by Ellen DeGeneres.
Go: to a dance club
Stay: and have a dance party in your PJ's
Burn: photos of ex-boyfriends OR write down something that's been bothering you and burn it away. Maybe the night can become therapeutic.

SOLO NIGHT
Take advantage of the quiet and refresh. Read that book that's been sitting on your nightstand for months. Get rid of the pile of magazines collecting dust in the corner. Try that new recipe that has you questioning your baking abilities. Go to bed early. Just take the day and night for yourself to do things you never have time for. 

Plan: a vacation!
Read: Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod. You won't regret it.
Listen: to a new artist on Spotify. Or just go with Norah Jones because...she rocks.
Watch: Midnight in Paris. You can't go wrong with Woody Allen in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Clean: nothing. DO NOT WORK.
Write: in a journal. Maybe you can start a new hobby.
Make: a spectacular dinner for one. Because you deserve it. 

$600 Paypal Valentine's Day Giveaway!

It's almost Valentines Day! We thought we'd make yours sweeter with a $600 Pay Pal Cash Giveaway!

Valentines Day. Either you love it or hate it. We're hoping that this one will be a day to remember. So, we're giving you the chance to win $600 in Pay Pal cash. If you win, you can share it with your sweetie or buy some awesome gifts. Don't have a significant other this holiday? No worries. Spoil yourself. Either way you'll have $600 in cold hard cash. Wouldn't that be sweet? What do you have to do to win? See below and follow the directions. You'll be introduced to some really cool blogs and social media accounts. Want to enter every day? Tweet about the giveaway and you'll get some bonus entries. We can't wait to pick a lucky winner just in time for Valentine's Day! 

Brought to you by:  Amber Nicole BlogA Night Owl BlogBlushing BasicsBlushing NoirBudget Fairy TaleBy Sarah HalsteadCreating and Co., EmbellishmintsEmmy MomFrugal Foodie MamaGenia Be MeGetting Fit & Fab,  Inspiration for MomsIt's me, debcb!Lauren McBride BlogLife with a Side of CoffeeMama Mommy MomMerlot MommyMom's Messy MiraclesMy M0mmy BrainOne Hoolie MamaPenney LaneSandy Ala Mode, Simply DarrlingSouthern Beauty Guide, Sparkling Footsteps,  Summer ScrapsSunny Sweet DaysThe Foley Family

Enter the $600 Pay Pal Cash Giveaway now!


Terms & Conditions 
Open to US Residents 18 years of age or older. Giveaways ends February 12th at 11:59 PM CT. Winner will be chosen by random drawing through Rafflecopter. Winner will have 48 hours to reply via email to accept the prize or another winner will be chosen. All entries will be validated. Sponsors reserve the right to invalidate any entry at their discretion. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Valentine's Day Recipe: Heart-Shaped Cinnamon & Brown Sugar French Toast

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, 18 days away to be specific. Whether you're going away for a few days or celebrating at home, it's nice to have a go-to meal to prepare at the last minute. Luckily, this recipe that I've concocted for you is not only easy to make but you can probably find the ingredients in your kitchen right this second. 

You can cut the heart shapes out prior to soaking the bread in egg but I do it afterwards to save the scraps for snacking. No need to waste perfectly good food. This is great to serve for breakfast in bed. For the meat lovers out there, serve alongside a few sausage patties or slices of bacon. I served this with turkey sausages (not pictured).

HEART-SHAPED CINNAMON & BROWN SUGAR FRENCH TOAST
Ingredients
8 slices of thick cut bread (I used Challah Bread)
7 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 strawberries 

Directions
1. Heat a pan over medium heat or warm up a griddle. Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar. 

2. Dip the bread in the egg mixture soaking really well. Place on the pan and cook about 3-4 minute per side. Set aside on a warmed plate in the oven until you're ready to serve. 

3. When the French Toast is done cooking, take a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out heart shapes from each piece. (Save the scraps for snacking). Serve topped with strawberries, a side of fruit salad and a glass of juice.