Heart Shaped Meals for Valentines Day

We set a day aside for sweethearts to express their love for each other, which sometimes devolves into a "how much will you spend on me?" test. Don't fall into that trap! Real lovers know and understand each other's financial situation. You can express your Valentines sentiments with a little more effort and less money spent by sharing a meal at home. Heart shaped food will tell him or her that you really care. Or at least you'll both have a laugh!


Let's start with breakfast. Just about any breakfast food can be made into a heart. Fried eggs are easy with a mini heart shaped frying pan. I found this particular pan in prices ranging from about $5 to $71! If you're going to get one, Cancer Research UK is selling them at a decent price (£5.00) and the profits go to cancer research. You can also use an egg mold set into a standard frying pan. Special pans to make heart shaped poached eggs are also out there as well.


The egg mold can also make heart shaped pancakes. Or you can use a cookie cutter to make heart shapes out of pancakes you've already cooked. Keep that egg mold around to shape potato cakes for dinner.


Waffles are a sweet breakfast for your sweetie. Make heart shaped waffles with a special waffle iron that gives you several hearts in one waffle. Cut them apart to make the heart obvious, or when it's not Valentines Day, leave them all together. Make this a project for next year, as most vendors are sold out of these gadgets right now.


Brand your breakfast bread with a message of "I love you" with a toast stamp. Then there's this one, which is a little more direct.


I once wrote about techniques for growing vegetables in unnatural shapes. At least one Japanese farmer has perfected the art of growing heart shaped watermelons, which cost around $160 each. The watermelon may be unobtainable where you are, but if you thought of it months ago AND live in the tropics or the southern hemisphere where it is now late summer, you could serve a salad with heart shaped cucumber slices you grew yourself in a mold.


Valentines Day falls on Sunday this year, but plenty of people still go to work. If you're packing a lunch for someone you love, you can still dress it up with heart shapes, like Flickr user amanky. This lunchbox includes jello with heart shaped apple slices, a polenta heart for the meatballs, heart shaped cheese for the snack mix, and candy of course! These clever ideas don't have to be served in a box, either.


A few chains and possibly your local pizza parlors offer heart shaped pizza in February. If you want to make your own, here are a couple of techniques for shaping the crust just right. Even if you can't get the crust right, a little pepperoni rearranging will do the trick.


A blgger made a heart shaped meatloaf for Valentines Day, and said it "didn't turn out as romantic as I envisioned." I think it's wonderful, because I know how much trouble meatloaf is. Here's a recipe for heart shaped meatloaf. Of course, when you cut it, the loaf will no longer be heart shaped, so you might want to serve heart shaped potato cakes on the side.


If you know your way around the kitchen, you might want to try this heart shaped vegan ravioli, stuffed with spinach on a bed of Italian tomato sauce. The recipe is at Vegalicious.


Make a heart shaped cake for dessert! There are a variety of pans available. As a matter of fact, heart shaped cake pans probably predated any of the other gadgets on this list. But you can make a heart shaped cake even without a special pan. Or do it the easy way and use piping to decorate your cake with hearts, or set candy hearts into the icing. Image by Flickr user r_dawn_dew.


Even easier than baking a cake, get some cherry or strawberry flavored Jell-O and create a heart shaped gelatin dessert with molds that come in all sizes. You can also get a mold in the shape of a real human heart, with which you can make some anatomically correct desserts, but only if your valentine can handle it. Smaller molds made of silicon can be used for both jello desserts and ice cubes to make your drinks match the rest of your Valentines Day meal.

Happy Valentines Day! Bon appetit and don't forget to floss.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


More from mental floss studios