To Use or Not to Use?

Violet Days CartoonWhen I saw the “Violet Days” comic strip about keeping untouched decorative soap, I couldn’t help but relate. Thanks to a childhood passion for collecting and parents who haven’t moved, I was able to dig up my own collection of unused, dusty, nearing-antique-status decorative soaps. The whole menagerie, from the l’Occitane bar that was a party favor at my friend Susan’s birthday to the partially deteriorated Aunt Jemima Puddleduck, are pictured here.SoapsAs attested to in the cartoon, decorative soaps can be pretty confusing! Are they soap? Are they toys? Are they decorations? As a kid I clearly thought they were some combination of the latter two, since they are (mostly–Snoopy is missing part of his face) intact after more than 20 years. It reminds me of something I heard once about fingertip towels–you know, the doll-sized towels that you see in guest bathrooms that are almost always decorated with kitschy embroidery or lace of some kind. It’s said that almost no one uses these because they are, like decorative soaps, confusing. Does your host intend for you to actually use them, or are they meant to be looked at and admired while you shake your dripping hands and then pat them dry on your dress pants?

I once had this dilemma while a house guest in Switzerland. The only soap available in the guest bath was a completely untouched, wrapped l’Occitane bar as if I were in a five-star hotel. Almost wincing, I forced myself to peel open the crisp paper and mar the pristine surface of the smooth soap with water. “You are the guest,” I pep talked myself through the harrowing experience. “They want you to use this.”

Why do we have resistance to using nice things? Is it our upbringing when we were taught that the good silver only comes out on holidays and not to nibble on the dessert until the guests arrive? We deserve to use nice things. Like Chris Monroe says in the comic strip, “I should have just used it in the first place.” We are deserving of the fingertip towels and the good soap. So I’m going to put Snoopy in my bathroom right now and go use him to wash my han–on second thought, never mind, I can’t quite seem to bring myself to do it.

13 Vintage Valentines That Didn’t Age Well

Funny Vintage Valentines

The good people over at the online Vintage Valentine Museum acquire and painstakingly catalog vintage Valentine cards. Their work is commendable, and without them we would not be able to enjoy these gems from the past. For every innocent and cherubic retro Valentine’s card though, is one that didn’t exactly age well. The messages and images might have been cute in the 1930s, but today…well, see for yourself. This collection of mildly horrifying vintage cards may give you Valentine’s Day nightmares so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Funny Vintage ValentinesNothing says true love like calling her your Valentine Ho.

cupid“Say you’ll be mine!” Uhh…do I have a choice? This cupid looks positively homicidal.

bearI’d really rather you didn’t bear me any tidings at all. The only thing I wish for is to go back in time and have never seen this.

bear 2And when I thought it couldn’t get worse, this happened.

token catWhy do I have a sneaking suspicion that this cat’s “Token of Affection” is actually a giant turd left over from taking a dump somewhere in your house?

cat 2I think this cat loves her tuna, not you. Typical.

dog canningThe dog meat trade is illegal…right?

elephanttrunkNowadays, we’ve watched too much CSI to find living in a trunk with your stalker, I mean, Valentine, to be a selling point.

monkeyThis kid is understandably concerned about how this monkey got into his bedroom.

typewriterOh look, we found Don Draper’s childhood Valentine’s card.

pushedaroundvalentineWell, that sounds like a recipe for a healthy relationship.

car1Looks like she’s on the road to rehab and jail time rather than everlasting love.

watchyouThis card comes with a free restraining order!

Head over to Vintage Valentine Museum to see the entire cataloged collection–they’re not all weird!

Twin Cities Valentine’s Day Picks

Twin Cities Valentine's Day Date Ideas

Updated February 2017

Twin Cities Valentine’s Day date ideas

Need some ideas and inspiration for Valentines Day in the Twin Cities? Here is the Valentine’s Day round up of the gifts to give and places to go for Twin Cities Valentine’s Day date ideas in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding area. Whether you’re a local or visiting MN for a special trip, here is some of the best of what it has to offer.

What to Give

I’m a gifts person, so obviously I’m gonna start with this one. One of the fun things about the Twin Cities is the abundance of makers and small businesses.  These are some made in Minnesota gifts they will love:

Twin Cities Valentine's Day date ideas and gift guide

What to Send

Write your love notes on handcrafted cards from Raindrop Paperie.  Made in the Twin Cities, the modern take on handmade paper craft is something unique and heartfelt.

Twin Cities Valentine's Day date ideasWhere to Eat

For a more casual celebration that needs no reservation, drop in to your local cupcake shop. My Twin Cities favorites are Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe (I’ve been a fan since I attended the grand opening) and Nadia Cakes. Both offer gluten free options and aesthetically pleasing (ahem, instagrammable) spaces  to sit and chat.

What to do

In the city: Enjoy one of the many theatre shows in the Twin Cities. The Guthrie Theatre has weekday matinees, and a local arts blogger recommended The Royal Family which is playing there this week.

Outside the city: I’m going to let you in on the most amazing secret: Swan Park, an area on a lake in Monticello, attracts thousands of swans in the wintertime. Visitors ready for a romance overload can view and photograph the swans.

If you’re not local, you can still get the swan experience with your sweetie–grab a blanket and hunker down in front of the Swan Cam. To access the Swan Cam and information on Swan Park, head to Monticello Chamber of Commerce’s website.

Twin Cities Valentine's Day Ideas

For more ideas on how to personalize your Valentine’s Day, make a cake banner, personalize your own artsy envelopes and get inspired by vintage Valentine card messages from the past.

Twin Cities Valentine's Day Day Ideas for Minneapolis and St. Paul

Pretty & Professional

Hopkins Center for the Arts I was on my high school’s mock trial team (as if being in art school wasn’t nerdy enough), and I wasn’t very good at it. In fact, the only positive thing to come out of that extracurricular was the realization that nothing can elicit the feeling of power and professionalism like a polished outfit finished off with a blazer. But sadly, I’m not a fan of wearing suits. They’re not very comfortable and they’re pretty boring! So I’ve developed techniques to put together outfits that are professional yet still have both personality and comfort. If you work in a creative industry or an office with a business casual dress code, it’s absolutely okay to play with the balance of personal and professional style. My favorite techniques for putting together a comfortable, pretty and office-approved outfit are pictured here: low-heeled boots, a skirt with fun flair, a blazer in a stretch fabric, and eye-catching jewelry.

Hopkins Center for Arts Feminine details like gold jewelry and a layered lace pencil skirt balance out the semi-tailored jacket. This is my current favorite marriage of office-appropriate tailoring and artsy, feminine touches. You can forget the matchy-matchy suit sets as long as common colors and harmonious patterns/textures bind the pieces of your outfit together.

Necklace: Modcloth; Blazer: Carlson (bought at Nordstrom Rack); Skirt: Modcloth; Boots: Franco Sarto

Location: Hopkins Center for the Arts

Quirky Homemade Postcards

PostcardI made this as a housewarming note for a friend of mine who lives in another city. I took a large format postcard that was actually an advertisement for a catering company, pasted it on cardstock, trimmed the cardstock to match the size of the postcard, and then covered the address with a blank label. I printed my own caption, then cut and individually pasted the words. On the back (which was solid cardstock), I had plenty of room to write a long message. My friend loved it (duh), even though she didn’t get it for a few weeks because she didn’t know where the mail slot was in her new building.

To make your own postcard, you will need the obvious tools such as scissors, glue and card stock. The hardest thing to find is source material–I was lucky to find such a cute and quirky advertisement. If nothing suitable arrives in your mailbox, you can always print something that you find yourself online. As for the caption, try to channel the ever-witty Anne Taintor, who popularized this retro, self-mocking style of humor with her popular line of gift items. Put aside your inner perfectionist–this is essentially a collage project, so layered paper and uneven edges are part of the charm! Before I mailed my homemade postcard I covered it with a laminating sheet to protect all the layers. One last word of caution–make sure to use enough postage and make sure your creation abides by USPS’s postcard guidelines. Make something cute? Share your creation on The Pink Paperdoll’s Facebook page.

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