romantic http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/770/all en-US Beat the Clock with Frugal and Simple Valentine's Day Ideas http://www.wisebread.com/beat-the-clock-with-frugal-and-simple-valentines-day-ideas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beat-the-clock-with-frugal-and-simple-valentines-day-ideas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/roses.jpg" alt="Roses" title="Roses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>That sweet, gentle ticking isn't the beating of your loved one's heart.</p> <p>It's the clock, cruelly counting down the minutes remaining until another paycheck-draining Valentine's Day (ah, romance).</p> <p>OK, so it isn't quite that bleak, but the average consumer is projected to spend $116 this year on V-Day gifts, up 11% from last year, according to the <a href="http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&amp;op=viewlive&amp;sp_id=1075">National Retail Federation</a>. All told, Americans will shell out more than $15 billion on Valentine's Day items. But the reality is that couples don't have to empty their pockets in order to have a memorable, romantic day. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/weird-things-you-didnt-know-about-valentines-day">Weird Things You Didn't Know About Valentine's Day</a>)</p> <p>There are myriad inexpensive alternatives that are likely to generate the same kind of spark and memories as that <a href="http://www.gemvara.com/Really-Romantic-Gifts/jewelry/l/romantic-gifts/">heart-shaped bling</a> or a multi-course meal at a heralded restaurant. Here are just a few ways you can have an unforgettable Valentine&rsquo;s Day without breaking your budget:</p> <h3>Disregard the Calendar</h3> <p>Since Valentine&rsquo;s Day is on a Monday this year, it may be inconvenient to celebrate at the beginning of the work week. Likewise, most couples will probably make plans for the preceding weekend. Ask your significant other if it&rsquo;s OK to make plans for the following weekend. Also, after February 14 the corny gifts &mdash; chocolate, roses, teddy bears &mdash; hit the sales shelves.</p> <h3>Remember: The Little Things Count</h3> <p>Just because Hallmark and Zales advertise extravagant gifts doesn&rsquo;t mean you need to go big or go home. Pepper the romance throughout the day by writing notes and strategically locating them in your lover&rsquo;s pocket, car, purse, or lunch. Gifts can be cheap, especially when they reference inside jokes or show what you know. Mix CDs, scrapbooks, and photo collages are easy, thoughtful alternatives. For the less crafty and more traditional types, send a love letter via snail mail.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Use Coupons</h3> <p>Seriously. No one needs to know. Use an online portal like <a href="http://www.rateitall.com">Rate It All</a> to hunt down great deals on, um, <a href="http://www.rateitall.com/t-8914809-victorias-secret-coupon-codes.aspx">personal apparel</a>.</p> <h3>Show Off Your Culinary Skills</h3> <p>Breakfast in bed is always a great choice. Try prepping a nice lunch that you can deliver to your partner&rsquo;s workplace on your lunch hour. Then, wow him or her with a stellar dinner. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-affordable-ingredients-that-add-gourmet-flair-to-any-meal">Gourmet food at home</a> is guaranteed to be cheaper than going to a restaurant and comes without the hustle and bustle. Turn on some romantic tunes, dim the lights, and encourage nice attire to make it special.</p> <h3>Don't Forget Technology</h3> <p>It doesn&rsquo;t take tons of creativity to start a blog, and it&rsquo;s free. From now until February 14, post one or two sentences each day. Nothing needs to be poetry, but keep it genuine. Try by simply listing a little thing you adore each day. Come Valentine&rsquo;s Day, you&rsquo;ll have a list of sweet things to present to your lover. If you&rsquo;re willing to spend some cash, look for a digital picture frame. You can use a memory disk to load memorable photos.</p> <p>No matter how appealing and convenient those commercials portray expensive gifts, put forth a little energy to save some scratch and deliver a romantic, meaningful gift.</p> <p>Cliché it may be, but it's true nonetheless: So often, it is the thought that counts. Mimicking an advertisement doesn&rsquo;t require much thought, just more money.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beat-the-clock-with-frugal-and-simple-valentines-day-ideas" class="sharethis-link" title="Beat the Clock with Frugal and Simple Valentine&#039;s Day Ideas" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/frugal-living/shopping">Shopping articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Shopping cheap gifts romantic Valentine's Day Thu, 10 Feb 2011 14:00:10 +0000 Chris Birk 489465 at http://www.wisebread.com Cheap and Romantic Ideas for Valentine's Day (And Any Other Day of the Year) http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-and-romantic-ideas-for-valentines-day-and-any-other-day-of-the-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cheap-and-romantic-ideas-for-valentines-day-and-any-other-day-of-the-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/love.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="375" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have always loathed Valentine&#39;s day because everywhere I went I would see gaudy pink and red balloons and roses and men who are literally suckered into buying the useless things out of &quot;tradition&quot;. I also had a <a href="http://baglady.dreamhosters.com/2007/09/18/my-super-cheap-ex-boyfriend/" target="_blank">pretty darn cheap ex-boyfriend</a> , and I rarely received a Valentine&#39;s gesture from him. I think once he did buy me a day old strawberry shortcake that was half off at the Safeway bakery. Anyway,today I shall list some ideas for Valentine&#39;s that aren&#39;t gaudy or expensive. This is for the frugal and practical guys and gals out there who want to express love anytime without participating in a commercialized fluff of a &quot;holiday&quot;.<br /><strong><br />1. Write a love letter or poem </strong>- It costs practically nothing to put your feelings on paper. It may not be easy to write down emotions, but practice makes perfect. You do not have to be a great writer to just recount a great date you have had with your lover and describe how happy he or she makes you. As long as you put some effort into crafting a message that expresses your adoration for your mate, whatever you do will be appreciated. My husband once wrote a whole journal about himself and what led to our relationship and gave it to my birthday. I thought that was a really romantic gift.</p> <p><strong>2. Take a walk or hike together</strong> - Once my husband and I walked for a few hours on the beach and collected seaglass, and we turned it into a bit of a competition to see who found the biggest piece. When you walk together you see the world differently than from your TV or your car and I think it is romantic because walking makes the world and your lover seem more real and tangible. </p> <p><strong>3. Cook a favorite meal at home </strong>- Instead of going to an expensive restaurant, it is fun to dress up a favorite meal cooked at home. You can light candles on the dinner table, dim the lights, and put on some mood music. It is also possible to duplicate expensive meals at home at wholesale costs if you are adept at cooking. </p> <p><strong>4. Creatively use free flower petals</strong> - Usually florists throw away the outside petals of flowers to make the flowers they sell look perfect. Each day if you just go by a florist they will probably have a lot of free flower petals for people to take. You can take these petals and do many things with them. For example, you can decorate the dinner table, bed, or float the petals in a bath. </p> <p><strong>5. Surprise your significant other at times you usually do not see him or her</strong> - If you work in different places then it would be fun to have a surprise lunch date set up for your mate. Of course, do not do this if your partner does not like to be bothered at work or if they are embarassed by you. <br /><strong><br />6. Take photographs together and of each other</strong> - After being together for a bit you may find that you do not actually have that many photographs of each other. It is fun to just set aside a time to pick up the camera and take pictures of each other. You can also go to a photobooth and take pictures together. Photographs are always good reminders of the good times you have had. </p> <p><strong>7. Do something that your partner likes to do but you do not necessarily appreciate</strong> - No matter how compatible a couple is, two people will have different interests. For example, if he loves fishing and you do not, maybe you can accompany him on a fishing trip. If she loves poetry readings and you do not, maybe you can read her some poems. Doing something you normally would not do for the sake of your mate can be very romantic. </p> <p><strong>8. Shower or bath together </strong>- Cleaning each other in the tub or in a shower is great fun because you can touch each other everywhere. It could also conserve water. If one person rinses while the other lathers then it is possible to use the same amount of water one person usually uses to clean two people! </p> <p>I am sure there are many other ways of being romantic and frugal at the same time. The key is to know your partner and his or her preferences. For example, my husband knows that I think bouquets of roses are stupid because they die after three days so he no longer buys them, but he knows I love food so he always cooks to cheer me up. As long as you make an effort to make your mate feel loved, you can be romantic without becoming a spendy <a href="/couplehood-avoiding-the-valentine-cliches" target="_blank">Valentine&#39;s Day cliche</a> . </p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-and-romantic-ideas-for-valentines-day-and-any-other-day-of-the-year" class="sharethis-link" title="Cheap and Romantic Ideas for Valentine&#039;s Day (And Any Other Day of the Year)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Frugal Living General Tips Lifestyle cheap Cooking frugal love romantic valentine's walking Mon, 11 Feb 2008 10:45:55 +0000 Xin Lu 1777 at http://www.wisebread.com The Way to Your Honey's Heart Is Through the Kitchen http://www.wisebread.com/the-way-to-your-honeys-heart-is-through-the-kitchen <p><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/15/22080314_b5ae801d6c_m.jpg" alt=" " width="240" height="182" /></p> <p>They say a way to a man&#39;s heart is through the stomach, but on Valentine&#39;s Day, our men take no pains to take that very route to their ladies&#39; hearts as well: call every restaurant in town for a last minute reservation. Finally have the host at <strong>Chez Exorbitante</strong> tell you the only table they have is at 5:30 pm, but you&#39;ll love sitting next to Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Atric -- they have great stories to tell. Pay an appalling markup on a bottle of bubbly (had you only consulted the <a href="/pop-that-corkage-a-cross-country-byo-roundup">lists</a> earlier). Suffer through a meal at a restaurant where every single customer expects personalized special-occasion service, from a waitstaff made of <a href="http://waiterrant.net/wordpress2/?p=271">mere human beings</a>. Avoid the risk of driving home full of boozy bubbles, by shelling out more cash to take a cab home (in rush hour traffic no less). Isn&#39;t it romantic?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>No. </p> <p>Why put yourselves through this? Why not forgo the drama and make a simple, impressive meal at home? She&#39;ll love that you did the work and created such a charming spread, and when she lavishly showers you with appreciative affection, you&#39;ll be beaming for more reasons that one -- after all, you were able to steer clear of the theatrics, the traffic, and the hefty check. Here are some tips and instructions to prepare a sophisticated meal from fresh ingredients (plus a few secret shortcuts), without breaking the bank. And I&#39;ve posted all the recipes for the ideas below <a href="http://tannazie.blogspot.com/2007/02/way-to-your-honeys-heart-recipes.html">right here</a>, at my food blog, <a href="http://tannazie.blogspot.com">All Kinds of Yum</a>. </p> <p><strong>First, some general tips:</strong> Avail yourself of Trader Joe&#39;s! it&#39;s the number one not-so-secret weapon for faking fancy. Great wines, decent cheeses, olive oil, all can be found here. Improvise based on what you and your date like -- you can never get that sort of personalized menu at a restaurant. Substitute favorite vegetables, fruits, herbs and seasonings, to suit your fancy. <strong>Go seasonal!</strong> These recipes have very few ingredients, so quality is key. Produce is always at its tastiest when it&#39;s in season, and has the added advantage of saving you cash. Google can help you find out what&#39;s in season in your part of the world now, or just visit your local farmer&#39;s market. Now then, onto the meal: </p> <p><strong>The room:</strong> If it&#39;s dark enough, even the bacheloriest bachelor pad can be evocative and romantic. Buy some flowers (<a href="/flower-power-a-guide-to-frugal-valentines-flowers">wisely</a>), both for your girl and for the room, and get yourself some candles. You can find a huge selection of candles at Target -- go with a single color (i like white, but all different pinks or reds could be very pretty too), and be cautious of too much scent. Don&#39;t be too concerned about the lushest amenities -- a kitchen table works fine, as does floor pillows around a coffee table. Even a picnic laid out on the bed can be unexpected and romantic.</p> <p> <strong>The Bubbly:</strong> Abandon Champagne and visit the neighbors. You can still <strong>get champagne&#39;s European ooh-la-la appeal from Prosecco or Cava</strong>, Italy and Spain&#39;s sparkling wines, respectively, but at a significantly lower price. Don&#39;t expect them to be exactly like champagne -- the distinct geology and climate of each region leads to unique flavors. But both are festive and delicious, and will introduce you to a little corner of the wine world a bit more esoteric than the old French standby. </p> <p><strong>The Appetizer:</strong> French Kisses are a three-ingredient recipe with massive appeal. These bite-sized nuggets of puff pastry with a melty brie center, each kissed with a single saucy cranberry, are irresistible. But if you don&#39;t feel like baking, serve cheese. </p> <p><strong>The Cheese:</strong> Traditionally, cheese is served as a dessert course, but it&#39;s not unheard of to have it before the meal. There&#39;s no need to go crazy: there are only two of you, and no one wants a belly full of cheese on <strong>the canoodliest night of the year</strong>. So, pick a couple favorites, or even just one. Then, accessorize. Alas, figs are out of season -- their, ahem, feminine appearance, makes them a Valentine&#39;s day natural. But what is in season, at least here on the west coast, is Asian pears. As is honey, which happens to be a folk aphrodisiac. Pair them with blue cheese or another strong-flavored cheese of your choice, and try this pretty presentation: Place the cheese on a small wood cutting board, or even a pretty, or simple, plate. Slice the pear into rounds, discarding the core, and fan out the slices beside the cheese. Serve honey alongside in a small, pretty dish (a teacup or small bowl would work great here) with a teaspoon, or just drizzle it right on the cheese. </p> <p><strong>The Main:</strong> A simple broiled fish recipe is light and delicious, and you can prepare it with whatever fish is on sale at the market. Fresh herbs and lemon juice perk it up. Choose your favorite herb, and you can use it for both the fish and the vegetable (and if you choose mint, you can use it to garnish your dessert as well). </p> <p><strong>The Veg</strong>: You can certainly quickly boil your favorite cruciferous vegetable (any of the broccoli family, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.), then top with some butter, salt, and pepper. But I think roasted cherry tomatoes are perfect for Valentine&#39;s Day -- bright red and blistered from the heat of the oven, they really look, and taste, flirty.</p> <p><strong>The Starch:</strong> Crusty bread is effortless, but pasta is pretty easy too, and can be made ahead. </p> <p><strong>Dessert:</strong> I believe there are 2 keys to Valentine&#39;s Day dessert: chocolate, and raspberries. You don&#39;t have to use both, but it is a stellar combination. You can achieve either one with an extremely-easy-to-make, fancy-French-name-having, lusciously delicious sauce: chocolate ganache or <a href="http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/104664">raspberry coulis</a> (rhymes with &#39;Julie&#39;). Pour some in a plate, then place a slice of store-bought poundcake or semi-homemade dark chocolate fudge cake over top, and garnish with a couple stray raspberries. Or, try a fun idea with a different berry: get some pre-made chocolate cookie dough, a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and some strawberry ice-cream, and make <strong>heart-shaped ice cream sandwiches</strong> (Tip: Build the sandwiches in the cookie cutter to maintain the heart shape, and re-freeze before serving). Or for the ultimate in free and easy dessert, do as the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&amp;location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FSurreal-Gourmet-Real-Pretend-Chefs%2Fdp%2F0811801217%2Fsr%3D1-2%2Fqid%3D1170831687%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks&amp;tag=allkindsofyum-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325">Surreal Gourmet</a> suggests, and <strong>have sex instead</strong>. </p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-way-to-your-honeys-heart-is-through-the-kitchen" class="sharethis-link" title="The Way to Your Honey&#039;s Heart Is Through the Kitchen" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tannaz-sassooni">Tannaz Sassooni</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink chocolate Cooking dinner recipes romantic Valentine's Day Fri, 09 Feb 2007 15:08:03 +0000 Tannaz Sassooni 242 at http://www.wisebread.com Couplehood: Avoiding the Valentine Clichés http://www.wisebread.com/couplehood-avoiding-the-valentine-cliches <p><img src="/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/nerdflowers_sm.jpg" alt=" " width="298" height="197" /></p> <p>Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, and you know what that means: lots of people are going to buy lots of dumb crap. But you are above and beyond that, because you read Wise Bread. I’m not saying that Wise Bread readers are smarter than everyone else, but I’m definitely implying it.</p> <p>I didn’t realize that people still bought crappy Valentine’s stuff until I was at Walgreen’s the other evening and saw these huge, red, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. My lord. People must buy them, or they wouldn’t sell them… right? There might be a few people out there who don’t know how much better it is to be original, or slightly outside-the-box for obligatory holidays like Valentine’s Day. </p> <p>First and foremost – know your target. Are you celebrating with a spouse, long-term significant other, or a newer love? You should know a bit about them by now – if your powers of observation are terrible, ask someone else who knows them well. “I just want to express how much I care about him/her” is a good way to phrase it (use him <strong>or</strong> her, don’t say “him/her”).</p> <p>If you’ve been married a long time, and you think you know your spouse, please read this <a href="http://www.theonion.com/content/news/amazon_recommendations_understand">very serious cautionary tale</a>.</p> <p>Anyway, here are some common V-Day clichés that should be avoided at all cost. Well, not at <strong><em>all cost</em></strong>, because this IS supposedly a site about frugal living, but you get the idea.</p> <p><u>Cliché #1: Chocolates</u></p> <p>Chocolate is a lovely, lovely thing, as long as your recipient likes chocolate. Does your date like Skittles better? More of a Sour Patch Kids kind of guy? Consider these things before buying. If you settle on chocolate, then a huge box is unnecessary and tacky, and let’s face it, the chocolates suck. You’re much better off buying a small box of exquisite chocolates than a big slab o’ yuck.</p> <ul> <li>Reasonable: <a href="http://www.recchiuti.com/cgi-bin/recchiuti/115.html">Recchiuti Gilded Collection</a></li> <li>Midrange: <a href="http://www.franschocolates.com/catalog/product-detail.asp?pid=88">Gray Salt Caramels</a> from Fran’s Chocolate</li> <li>Pricey: <a href="http://godiva.com/catalog/product.aspx?id=1484">Heart Truffles from Godiva<br /></a></li> </ul> <p>If chocolates aren’t the thing, consider other sweets. Fresh mochi is good, although probably better arranged on a nice platter. If you have someone who is very Japanorama, Pocky is always appreciated. Aforementioned Skittles look super-cute in a pretty glass jar.</p> <p><u>Cliché #2: Roses</u></p> <p><a href="/flower-power-a-guide-to-frugal-valentines-flowers">I’ve already expressed my feelings about roses</a>. Find something more interesting and less expensive. Arrange them yourself.</p> <p>If your recipient has a green thumb, you might consider a live plant. Something cool, though, not a chrysanthemum from Albertson’s. Think about a small banzai, a gardenia, lemon tree, pretty cactus planter, or a Venus Fly Trap. (You could totally do a “Venus” theme if you went with the flytrap. You could also give a card shaped like the planet Venus, show up in a toga, and lip-synch “I’m your Venus”.)</p> <p><u>Cliché #3: Lovey-dovey Hallmark Card</u></p> <p>If you want to express your feelings, a Hallmark card covered in cupids, puppies, and pink hearts is a dumb way to do it. The oversize ones are even worse.</p> <p>You can make your own card, but only if you have some sort of artistic talent, or if you TOTALLY AND UTTERLY LACK ANY ARTISTIC TALENT WHATSOEVER. Somewhere in between won’t cut it. I once saw a flip-book Valentine that was given to a friend by her crush. He used stick figures, but the simple little cartoon featured him handing her a heart and then getting a kiss in return. Super cute, and it only cost him a couple of bucks for the index cards and markers. And an hour of his time, but that&#39;s the point. Effort.</p> <p>One time when I was totally broke, I surprised my romantic mark by covering their doorway with paper hearts. I stole the scrap paper from my workplace, so it was really, really free. But it was a pretty good set-up, if I do say so myself.</p> <p><u>Cliché #4: Candlelight Dinner &amp; Champagne</u></p> <p>If you are <a href="/the-way-to-your-honeys-heart#comment-2521">doing this yourself</a>, then awesome. If you are going out, then more power to you. I like a smaller venue for romantic dinners, but sometimes the wacky places can be just as fun. I actually prefer jazz bars for a truly romantic moment – the ones that allow dancing are even better. But figuring out something different or unusual shouldn’t be too hard – been wanting to try Ethiopian food? Give it a shot. You can giggle nervously together while eating with your hands. Dress appropriately and make reservations ahead of time if you can.</p> <p>Champagne is great. I’d rather enjoy it at home after dinner. It’s a great prelude to other things, like… Scrabble.</p> <p><u>Cliché #5: Lingerie/silk boxers</u></p> <p>It is so, so difficult to pick out lingerie for someone else. I don’t even recommend trying it unless something VERY specific has been pointed out to you and you are completely secure in your knowledge of what size is needed. She will not be happy to receive a size 16 nightie if she’s a size 6. Likewise, he’ll look stupid drowning in XL boxers if he’s 5’6” and 120 pounds.</p> <p><u>Cliché #6: Stuffed Toys</u></p> <p>In a word: no. That goes double for candy hearts and glitter stuffed into envelopes. Unless you have managed to find someone who genuinely loves stuffed toys (and if you have, think twice about the mental acuity of this person), then leave the childish stuff to the children. Or, if you must, don’t don’t don’t get a teddybear. Get a Valentine’s Day <a href="http://www.letusteachkids.com/puppets/dragon.htm#Large_Red">dragon</a> or something. </p> <p><u>Cliché #7: Jewelry and/or Perfume</u></p> <p>Jewelry is pricey. I’d avoid it altogether. Yes, there are cheap, chintzy gold necklaces to be had at great prices in malls across America. But unless you’re dating K-Fed or Lady Sovereign, it’s just a messy idea. The real stuff costs a lot, and there are better holidays on which to give it. If V-Day is your special jewelry day, well, then, I can&#39;t help you, except to hint that vintage jewels are hot right now, and a sapphire kicks more butt than a diamond could any day.</p> <p>Ditto perfume. I love perfume, but men and women have different senses of smell. Unless you’ve been given specific directions by someone in the know, don’t bother. If your love has a signature scent, you can always buy some related product, like a body lotion or a powder, but let’s face it, that’s just not very romantic. I say nix it.</p> <p>Mind you, if you are really talented and super-loaded, you could pull a <a href="http://www.theonion.com/content/columnists/view/smoove">Smoove B</a> and do all of the clichés in one night. But your date will have to have a great sense of irony, or post-irony, or whatever it is that we have these days.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/couplehood-avoiding-the-valentine-cliches" class="sharethis-link" title="Couplehood: Avoiding the Valentine Clichés" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks candy chocolates flowers gifts giving hearts lingerie love romantic roses shopping stuffed toys teddy bear Valentine's Day Thu, 08 Feb 2007 23:55:51 +0000 Andrea Karim 260 at http://www.wisebread.com Flower Power - A Guide to Frugal Valentine's Flowers http://www.wisebread.com/flower-power-a-guide-to-frugal-valentines-flowers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/flower-power-a-guide-to-frugal-valentines-flowers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/valentine_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="308" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone knows that Valentine's Day can be pricey. Flowers, dinner, gifts (if you're that type) easily put a dent in anyone's wallet.</p> <p>Well, preparation is the best prevention... or something like that. Want to save a little this Valentine's Day? Get ready now.</p> <p><strong>Buy a vase before you buy your flowers.</strong> Sometimes, florists will offer really nice vases for cheap. A simple clean vase is great; if you know where you are going to order your flowers, call ahead and ask how much they charge for a vase.</p> <p>Avoid vases with the frilly, lacy-looking tops or too much in the way of decorative cuts - they're tacky and out of date. If possible, buy a cheap vase at Wal-Mart or Target ahead of time.</p> <p><strong>Use the little packet of flower-preserving powder.</strong> They really do work.</p> <p><strong>Steer clear of roses.</strong> Red roses are tired and expensive. Be creative. And if you are going to buy carnations, make sure to pair them with something unusual, like <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/allison_wonderland/165935482/">belles of Ireland</a>. Don't be hell bent on putting together the world's most picture-perfect bouquet. The sweetest bouquet I ever received was a Snapple bottle filled with <a href="http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=RUHI2">black-eyed susans</a> from a boyfriend's yard.</p> <p><strong>Nix the baby's breath, ferns, and additional greens.</strong> That's all I have to say about that.</p> <p><strong>Buying in season is best, but tough.</strong> Depending on what kind of weather your area is experiencing, buying flowers in season may be tough. Where I live, you can usually get hyacinths right about this time of year, and they are beautiful and fragrant.</p> <p class="sub-heading">Some floral recommendations:</p> <p><em>Lilies</em> come in a wide variety of colors, but the most common are the star-gazers, which are pink and white, with magenta dots (the yellow ones don't seem to be fragrant at all - avoid them unless you just love them to death). These can be pricey, too, but they smell glorious, and you don't need more than two stems, usually. Hint: try to remove the pollen pods with a pair of scissors. When these drop, they are extremely messy and can leave stains on fabric.</p> <p><em>Wildlflowers</em> are often cheaper than other options, and are charming.</p> <p>Cut <em>orchids</em> in a simple asymmetrical vase are striking. There are such a wide variety of orchids that I don't know which one to recommend, but there are some small yellow orchids that are often sold at Trader Joe's and other places for something like $4 a stem. They often last for over a month. I can't keep a potted orchid alive for the life of me, so this is a nice way to get a temporary orchid fix.</p> <p><em>Daisies</em> are fresh and cute, and feel like summer.</p> <p><em>Tulips</em> are fresh and spring-like, and usually affordable. Choose an unusual shade, like orange, or striped, and put them in a vase with a wide, matching colored ribbon taped around it. Chic.</p> <p>Dating a foodie? Consider a vase full of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/photofarmer/1435800054/">fresh herbs</a>.</p> <p>Another thing that shows up at farmer's markets fairly early are <em>flowering branches</em>.&nbsp;Cherry blossoms are a beautiful thing to behold.</p> <p>If your beloved has a green thumb, consider buying a <em>living plant</em>. I personally think that a cactus is more romantic than a single red rose. I'm also a sucker for <a href="http://www.designspongeonline.com/2010/02/litill-terrariums.html">terrariums</a>, which last, and are beautiful to behold.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flower-power-a-guide-to-frugal-valentines-flowers" class="sharethis-link" title="Flower Power - A Guide to Frugal Valentine&#039;s Flowers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Shopping flowers gifts romantic savings Valentine's Day Fri, 26 Jan 2007 21:46:34 +0000 Andrea Karim 226 at http://www.wisebread.com