Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Valentine's Day

Today we celebrated Valentine's Day at home and at the nursing home where we volunteer. It was a very nice day, and a meaningful one, as we celebrated it with family and friends.


We started the day with cinnamon rolls that were intended to be shaped liked hearts. The idea came from a pin on Pinterest that led to Poppies at Play. Poppies at Play made heart-shaped cinnamon rolls using homemade dough.

Since I didn't have that much time this morning, I opted to follow the idea on Life is a Party which adapted Poppies at Play's idea by using pre-made cinnamon rolls.

To make heart-shaped cinnamon rolls, simply unroll each cinnamon roll and then roll each end into the middle. Pinch the bottom of the roll a bit, and it will look like a heart.

Cinnamon rolls before baking.

Cinnamon rolls hot out of the oven.

It seems simple enough, yet for some reason I struggled with getting the cute little hearts that the other two ladies seemed to effortlessly make. Further, once the rolls are baked they became even more distorted.

So much for heart-shaped rolls. At least they tasted good and were a change from what we normally eat for breakfast.


In the afternoon, we volunteered for the Valentine's Day party. The dining room was filled with residents and some family members.

The dining room was filled with residents and some family members
for the Valentine's Day party.

There were treats for everyone - including cupcakes with pink frosting and a lollipop decoration.

Cupcakes with pink frosting and colorful lollipops.

I shared a recipe with the volunteer director that I found on Pinterest that led to All Recipes for Party Punch VI. The nursing home made the punch so we were able to serve it to over 30 people who attended the party.

Party Punch VI. 
It was delicious, and everyone seemed to enjoy it!

Here's the recipe:

1/2 gallon strawberry sherbet (they used a combination of lemon and orange sherbets)
2 (64 ounce ) bottles fruit punch
1 (2 liter) chilled lemon-lime soda.

Put sherbet in bowl. Add fruit punch and lemon-lime soda.


I saw a pin on Pinterest that led to Sweet Tidings for a cute idea for Valentine's Day cards. Simply use a paper to cut rectangular sheets of paper (they used Kraft paper). Embellish the front with Valentine's Day-themed fabrics cut in hearts. Then hand stitch onto the card or use a sewing machine. Tie a bow at the top of the heart.

Because I was pressed for time - plus was making 20 cards for the senior-residents at the nursing home, I cut the hearts out of scrapbooking paper instead of fabric. I attached a bow onto the heart using a small bit of glue from a glue gun. On the inside, we included a Valentine's Day wish and signed our names.

Handmade Valentine's Day cards that we made
for the seniors at the nursing home.

Each of the seniors who attended the Valentine's Day party received a card. Many seemed genuinely happy to get a handmade card.


We also passed out booklets and binders to the seniors who participated in the "Grandfriends" program - an intergenerational program that 18 of the residents (over 1/3 of the residents) did. 

Three of the booklets I made for the residents.
The one on the far left is for Iva, 
a resident who experienced a heart attack six days ago.

There were four sessions that the seniors and youth volunteers participated in during January and February. Some of the residents participated in one session, while others participated in multiple ones. 

These two binders are for gentlemen who did the most sessions,
and who had the most pages in their binders - 
from interviews and artwork.

There were some residents who were very engaged and interested in participating in all four sessions which made it particularly rewarding for both the seniors and youth.

An example of what the pages look like in a binder.

Many of the residents enjoyed looking at their booklets and binders. Some spent a long time reading what they said during the interviews and looking at the pictures that I chose to accompany what they said.

Rita reading what was captured during an interview
about her early childhood.

For those with family members at the Valentine's Day party, the booklets were an insight into the activities that their loved ones had done during the past month. They were able to see what their loved one said and/or created (if they did an art project at the sessions).

Joan's husband takes a look at her artwork and
what we did at the session she attended.

The value of these personal history booklets was very apparent today when I was told that one of the residents (Iva - a woman I enjoyed visiting with during the past year)  had a heart attack this past week. Currently, the resident is in the hospital and is not doing very well. Iva had participated in two of the sessions; and had done two interviews and two art projects. One of those interviews was one that I was fortunate to be able to have done.

It's hard to believe that just six days ago, at the last session, I was encouraging her to do watercolor painting and Sophia was interviewing was doing an interview with her. I truly hope she pulls out of this. However, it doesn't sound promising. I'm just very thankful that I was able to assemble a booklet that her family can enjoy that features her artwork and her interviews.  


For dinner, Sophia wanted to make the meal. So, I looked at different recipes on Pinterest that I wanted to try. I found a pin that led to Richly Blessed Richardsons for Baked Pesto Alfredo Ravioli. The recipe it is based off of it is from a pin that leads to Betty Crocker for Easy Ravioli Bake.

Baked Pesto Alfredo Ravioli that Sophia made.
It was absolutely delicious!!
We all want to have this again.

The recipe makes enough for 6-8 servings.

1 (25 oz.) bag of frozen ravioli (we used fresh ravioli and just shortened the baking time)
1 (26 oz.) jar of spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 (15 oz.) jar of alfredo sauce
3 T. pesto
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Dried parsley, for sprinkling (we didn't use this)

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 9×13 rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
Mix the alfredo sauce and pesto together.

Spread 3/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce in baking dish. Arrange half of the frozen ravioli in a single layer over the sauce; top with half of the remaining spaghetti sauce, half of the alfredo sauce and pesto, and half of the mozzarella cheese.

Repeat layers once: ravioli, remaining spaghetti sauce, remaining alfredo sauce and pesto, and remaining mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and dried parsley.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes (20 minutes for fresh ravioli). Remove foil; bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot in the center. If you prefer cheese that is a bit crispy, turn on the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: A person left a comment on Richly Blessed Richardsons that suggested that sauteed garlic and mushrooms in olive oil be added to the spaghetti sauce.)

On the Betty Crocker site, there were these suggestions:
=> Use meat-filled ravioli instead of the cheese-filled variety for families who prefer eating meat.
=> Add one of the following on the first layer of ravioli: 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 1 package (9 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain, or 1 1/2 ounces sliced pepperoni.
=> To make this super-easy recipe ahead of time, layer the ingredients in the baking dish, cover tightly with foil and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Bake as directed.

My place setting that was set by Sophia.
The chocolate rose was from her and on my plate when I came downstairs for dinner.
She had Cherry 7-Up in the water glass, and 
mandarin oranges and an apple to go with the ravioli dinner.
For dessert: ice cream with whipped cream on top.
She even pulled out the fine china and sterling silver for the dinner!


This year is the first year in several that I didn't use the little Valentine's Day bags that I hand-embroidered many years ago.  They are stored in the hobby shed which is inaccessible thanks to a lot of snow and ice in front of the door. 

Embroidered Valentine's Day Bags
Hand-embroidered Valentine's Day bags I made many years ago.

I also couldn't get to the storage bin with the origami boats - the ones that I can put little candy hearts in. I'm waiting for warmer weather so I can get into the hobby shed....maybe before the next holiday that we celebrate: St. Patrick's Day.

Origami and Felt Valentine's Day Boats
Origami boats I made several years ago.

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