It’s that time of the year again!
It felt like Christmas and New Year was just a few days ago and now reds and pinks and felt hearts are all over the place—from malls to office spaces to schools, even on social media. You have to be living under a rock if you still have no idea that Valentine’s is just around the corner.
Despite its rather bloody origin, Valentine’s Day gave lovers the license to be mushy and oh-too-sweet even just for a day. Nothing is too cheesy or too flamboyant when it’s the season of love. All forms of expression will be (and must be) utilized to let your significant other know of your love and devotion (or lack of it).
Here are some traditional V-day activities, as well as not-so-common ones to give your love day celebration a fresh flare.
Pull out all the stops and redecorate (even just for Friday) to change the mood from “party night Friday” to Cupid’s love den.
Pop some popcorn, pull out the cooler and fill it with drinks, and fix up your backyard for an outdoor movie night for your special someone. You can even invite a bunch of couple friends to enjoy a movie or two. Plus, you can ask them to bring all sorts of goodies like wine and cheese to share.
If you’re renting and lacking in lawn space, then turn your bedroom in to a hotel room. Break out those fancy sheets, buy a few scented candles to improve the ambience, visit the farmer’s market for a bunch or two of flowers for accent and decoration. Forgo the rose petals on the bedspread, the thread count should be more than enough. For an added “room service” feel, prepare a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket and a bow of chocolate-covered strawberries or whipped cream.
Repurpose an old bunkbed by taking out to the yard and turning it into a stargazing fort. Add a few pillows here and there, a cushion, a nice bedsheet and comforter, and of course don’t forget the mood lighting in the form of candles (or ‘electric candles’) and lamps. Now, lay down and relax and snuggle comfortably with your significant other. You can also download starmap apps on your smartphone or tablet to make the most of your stargazing night.
For those who will spend Valentine’s over Skype, do make an effort to light up your background with some candles and some soft music. Why not have dinner in front of the computer together? Coordinate your meals so it feels like you’re eating in the same place. Trust us, it’s not as sad as it sounds.
Doable for the Duo
Activities for Valentine’s? We’ve got you covered.
If you’re both adventurous, why not create a scavenger hunt for each other? List down things you want each other to find throughout the apartment, house, or even your neighborhood. It would be great if you can incorporate stuff from your relationship: a menu from the restaurant on your first date, a DVD of the first movie you saw together, a picture of the spot where you shared your first kiss.
Since everything’s basically on WikiHow now, check out a few massage techniques here and there and treat your special someone to a massage. Do not forget to include candles, essential oils and/or incense, soothing music, and soft towels to give them the full experience.
Set aside some time to explore each other’s thoughts and beliefs. It is best to spend time to pray and/or meditate together. One must never underestimate the power of a spiritual connection.
If you’re in a long distance relationship, we surely hope you’ve prepared for Love Day ahead of time. Send a care package containing his/her favorite things (especially things that he/she misses from home the most)—bagels from your favorite breakfast place, a magazine, a book, notes from family and friends, and even a scrapbook of your relationship.
For some good ol’ playtime with your significant other, spray paint your lawn with like a Twister mat using water-based paint or food coloring diluted in water. Make sure you don’t forget funny body-part-and-color combinations to ensure an afternoon of fun (don’t forget to throw in a few naughty combinations in the mix). This is also a great way to burn some calories before that special Valentine’s dinner.
And speaking of dinner…
Food for the Fond
Valentine’s, like Christmas, comes just once a year so better make it count.
Here’s a V-Day menu to make you feel the love in your heart (and in your belly).
Start the evening right with a light yet satisfying salad from Heather Christo. A classic with a modern twist to fit the changing times and freshen the palate.
KALE SALAD WITH LEMONS, ALMONDS, AND PECORINO
1 large bunch curly kale
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup finely shredded pecorino cheese
For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 shallot, minced
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Finely shave the kale, avoiding the stems and add to a large bowl along with the slivered almonds. In a small bowl, combine the minced shallots and the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the kale and almonds with the dressing, coating all of the kale. Add the cheese and gently toss to evenly distribute the kale.
For a filling and fulfilling main dish, here’s a fool-proof crowd pleaser courtesy of Oh She Glows: Tomato Walnut Basil Pasta
TOMATO WALNUT BASIL PASTA
One 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, stems removed &chopped finely
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 large handfuls spinach, roughly chopped
1/2-3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Pasta of your choice cooked al dente
Chop onion and garlic. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the onion and cook over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook on low for another 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.
Add in the oregano, salt, and black pepper. Stir well. Cook on low for a few minutes. Now add in the 28oz of crushed tomatoes, chopped basil, and nutritional yeast. Stir. Bring to a low boil and then simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta.
Stir in the chopped walnuts and the chopped spinach. Cook for about 10 minutes longer on med-low. Serve over pasta and garnish with basil leaves and additional walnuts.
To end the night on a sweet note, here’s a scrumptious and unbelievably beautiful Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie courtesy of The Novice Chef.
MARBLED RED VELVET CHEESECAKE BROWNIES
For the Red Velvet Layer:
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp milk, divided
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp red food coloring
2 tsp white vinegar
For the Cheesecake Layer:
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and/or line a 13 x 18 jelly roll pan with butter or cooking spray.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla extract, red food coloring, and white vinegar.
Combine the dry and wet ingredients, until completely combined. The batter will be a really thick, almost moldable texture…but don’t worry, that’s what you want. Remove 3/4 cup of the batter and place it in a medium bowl. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk (into the 3/4 cup of batter you just took out). Set aside the 3/4 cup batter.
Pour the remaining batter into the prepared jelly roll pan. Using a spatula, smooth out the batter to reach all the edges.
Now, in your stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined and there are no lumps. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the red velvet layer and smooth mixture till it reaches all the edges.
Drop spoonfuls of the remaining red velvet batter (that you mixed with milk) onto the top of the cheesecake layer. Drag the tip of a knife through the red velvet and the cheesecake layers to create swirls.
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating half way through, or just until the center is set and it no longer jiggles. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. Use a medium sized heart cookie cutter to create the perfect Valentine’s Day treat!