Corrections or additions?
This article by Diana Wolf was prepared for the February 7,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
For Lovers Only: Valentines
Valentine’s Day approaches. Couples are kissing,
arrows are flying, and you are stressing to find the best way to show
your beloved how much you care (really). While roses and diamonds
never go out of style, there are other lovable gifts out there for
those of a creative turn of heart.
Legend has the first valentine originating from St. Valentine,
for his religious beliefs, who left a farewell message to his jailer’s
daughter signed, "From Your Valentine." The tradition of
handwritten messages of affection, using that very phrase, continues
today. You can make a unique impression by having your valentine
with a postmark cancellation from Loveland, Colorado. The program
began in 1946 by postmaster Elmer Ivers and Chamber of Commerce
Ted Thompson along with his wife Mabel as a gesture to share the
romantic name. This remailing program continues today with Loveland
volunteers averaging 300,000 valentines remailed worldwide each year.
All you need to do is mail pre-stamped, pre-addressed valentines in
a larger first class envelope to: Postmaster, attn: Valentines, USPS,
Loveland, CO 80538-9998. To ensure domestic delivery by Valentine’s
Day, the mail must be received in Colorado by Friday, February 9.
Roses are a long-standing symbol of Valentine’s Day. Grown in Asia
5,000 years ago (where fossils of wild roses date back some 35 million
years), the color of the rose you choose expresses a meaning as strong
as the flower itself. Red roses boldly proclaim "I Love You,"
yellow roses smile with Joy, pink roses mean Grace, orange roses
your desire, and white roses (my personal favorite), indicate Purity.
A single rose displays simplicity, and sweetheart roses are for
couples, while white rosebuds suggest you are too young for love.
If you’re more creative than traditional and want other flowers to
express your desire, red chrysanthemums or carnations also speak
Love You." The daisy and cala lily communicate your love’s beauty.
A lilac goes only to your first love, gardenia is for shy, secret
love, and violets express affection.
For a variation on a flower bouquet, you might try a cookie bouquet
from the Cookie Cottage (3697A Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square,
"Everybody likes cookies, so give the gift of good taste,"
says Geralyn Jiras, co-owner along with partner Joan Wilson, who has
been making cakes and cookies and a variety of gift baskets for the
past three years. The cookie bouquets are an annual tradition,
bunched together and customized with helium balloons, stuffed animals,
or coffee and tea products. A favorite cookie for Valentine’s Day
is their White Chocolate Cherry, and for very good reason. Everything
is baked fresh on-site. And there are no day-old sales. Say Jiras,
"We donate our leftovers to Mercer Street Friends and other local
places. We find a good thing to do with them."
If chocolate is your gift of choice, you can go one
step beyond Godiva and give the gift of handmade chocolate. Carl
Candy (Business Route 1 and Texas Avenue, Lawrenceville, 609-882-5566)
is known for its tasty vanilla buttercreams. Eileen Karluk, co-owner
with her candy-making son Patrick, took over the family business back
in 1982 and says, "We are busy two days before Valentine’s Day,
and even the day after — for those who forgot." The novelties
are well-priced, especially the heart-shaped boxes made completely
of chocolate (even the lid), and filled with your choice of
It’s easy to see why Karluk describes that as "good eating."
If you prefer privacy when purchasing chocolate, you can go to
Among the holiday and event-related novelties available, you can turn
an ordinary photo into an 8" x 12" chocolate picture, replicated
a solid chocolate frame. Under the banner Adult Gifts, the chocolate
handcuffs and red licorice whips look especially tantalizing. Let
your creativity run wild.
As an appetizing alternative to chocolate, imagine feeding a slice
of cake to your sweetheart with the impression of your loved one
the icing. Many bakeries can create a photo-cake from any picture
you provide. If your cake tastes run more exotic, Farnsworth Pastry
Shop (314 Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown, 609-298-8880) can create
anatomically-specific pastries of male or female body parts.
You may want to surprise your sweetie after work on Wednesday with
a homemade gourmet meal without ever touching a pan. Culinary
(434 Route 206 South, Hillsborough, 908-281-3894,
will prepare a choice of appetizer, salad, and entree courses in
containers with instructions for reheating, along with rolls,
covered strawberries, and a rose. Andrew Pantano, co-owner, executive
chef, and catering consultant, has been a chef in various New Jersey
establishments for 15 years and has been doing these dinners for the
past 5 years. He expects to prepare over 100 meals at $39.99/person,
with some available from the restaurant on February 14. His partner
and pastry chef Antonia Manzi will have desserts, pastries, and mousse
for two available in-store.
Pantano also knows nothing bonds a couple as well as as cooking
He offers gift certificates for his two-hour cooking demonstrations,
which he describes as "like a cooking show on TV." The classes
bring together 20 to 25 participants, who range from experienced cooks
to those who don’t have a clue, are invited to bring a bottle of wine
to the class where they will learn preparation of a themed meal, have
the opportunity to ask questions, and enjoy eating the recipe results.
Spaces are available for the February 11 and February 28 classes,
with more classes in the upcoming months. Pantano says that some
"give gift certificates for any cooking class with the dinner,
and you’re off the hook."
If your Valentine’s Day celebration includes a candlelight dinner,
you can impress your guest by adding a personalized label to your
bottle of wine. Cream Ridge Winery (145 Route 539, Cream Ridge,
www.creamridgewinery.com) provides pre-printed labels
on which you can write a personalized. For an additional $12, they
will print your message onto their labels. Manager Eileen Mulligan
is available to answer any questions. Cream Ridge offers a variety
of award-winning white, red, blush, and fruit wines. The winery hosts
a special event releasing both their Red Raspberry and honey-sweetened
Red Raspberry After Dinner wines the weekend of February 10 and 11.
Women traditionally appreciate the services a spa provides, while
men are not always as open to this form of pampering. In addition
to the massages and hair styling services available, Jeanne Michel
Salon & Spa (337 Route 33, Mercerville, 609-584-5464) offers pedicures
and facials for the progressive male. The Gentleman’s Facial ($70)
massages fatigue away while increasing circulation. The $40
Pedicure is followed by a foot massage and nail buffing (no polish).
Still feeling a bit sheepish? Try the Candlelight Pedicure for Two.
For $130, a couple receives simultaneous pedicures, robed, with
and soft music, beverages and hors d’oeuvres to polish off a relaxing
With Valentine’s Day falling on a Wednesday this year,
Doral Forrestal (100 College Road East, Princeton, 609-452-7800) is
offering weekend getaway and spa packages for two successive weekends,
Friday and Saturdays, February 9 through 18. The Bed and Breakfast
package (starting at $129) is billed as "the simplest form of
luxury," a night away from home followed by breakfast for two
in the morning. At the high end of the spectrum is the His and Her
Spa Package ($595) offering a night in a deluxe Spa guest room,
massage, pedicures for two, private yoga session, and — if all
this gives you an appetite — breakfast and dinner for two.
For a massage to relax your over-stressed sweeheart, there are many
choices that indulge. Health Choices Massage School (170 Township
Line Road, Belle Mead, 908-874-0929, www.health-choices.com) operates
a student teaching clinic where soon-to-graduate maasage therapists
practice their skills. A bargain at $30, the best months are February
and September which is just before graduation when students’ skills
are at their peak. Knead To Unwind (877-286-9463,
operates a clinic in East Windsor and makes house calls. Massages
offered are integrated Swedish with deep tissue, Shiatsu in workout
clothes and no oils used, and stone therapy where warm stones are
placed on pressure points. Eva Nail and Skin Care Studio (2025 Old
Trenton Road, West Windsor, 609-448-5666) offers massages which
both an aromatherapy massage and a detoxifying body wrap.
If you’re looking for a massage to share, eight-session massage
classes are taught at Breath Awareness Center (26 Bridge Street,
609-397-3808, www.breathaware.com). "You’ll get plenty
of hands-on," says instructor and owner Gene Dillman. Gift
are available for singles or couples, who receive a 10 percent
when they sign up together. The classes are small, with six students
and an instructor. A different body part is focused on each night
in a combination of Swedish, Shiatsu, and Reflexology massage
No nudity is involved. The next class begins the week of March 5th
at $325 per person.
Dance classes offer a great way to get physical with your partner
in public. Tango is a dance for lovers, and you can get instruction
in Argentine Tango at the Actor’s Dance Studio (1012 Brunswick Avenue,
Lawrenceville, 609-882-6099, www.actorsdancestudio.com). This is the
original Tango, more interpretive with the two bodies close together,
the woman led by the man’s torso while their upper bodies remain
Both basic and advanced classes are taught, with the dance remaining
the same level for women throughout both sections while becoming more
challenging for the males in the advanced class. In the 1900s, the
Europeans adapted this dance to their ballroom style, and that is
the American Tango, the dance seen at weddings or in dance
This style is taught at Actor’s Dance Studio as part of their general
ballroom dance class. This American Tango style is also part of the
ballroom instruction taught at Broadway Ballroom (4-6 Hulfish Street,
Belly Dancing is "a dance made for a woman’s body" of any
age or fitness level, says Kim Leary, director of Alexia of the Nile
Multi-Cultural Productions (609-324-7383, www.geocities.com/lexnile,
firstname.lastname@example.org). Her classes are taught in the Princeton and
Edison areas, and she has taught students ages 14 to 70. She says
her workouts "open up a pathway into more than just dance,"
by including a history of the dance, its culture, and foods along
with the dance steps. She places a strong emphasis on body awareness,
provides the foundation of the basic hip movements, and then teaches
combinations to put the movements together. Women need not be
or self-conscious of their body because bellydancing "has nothing
to do with the size of your belly." This Woodbridge Township
has been performing for 11 years. Leary describes Belly Dancing as
"mysterious and exotic, and when people do it they find out it’s
Has your partner ever wanted to zip around a racetrack like a Nascar
driver? Flemington Speedway (150 Route 31, Flemington) is not
this year for races, but it will be available for a Nascar racing
experience. Bill Huff will operate the Flemington Speedway Stockcar
School (215-547-1007) from mid-April through September. The tuition
of $350 includes morning classroom instruction, followed by a drive
around the track with an instructor. After this training, the
exit the cars. The vehicles follow the pace car for a few test laps
before they are let loose to race full throttle for 10 laps. The
lasts half a day.
You can turn the mundane workday into memorable by using photographs
with your loved one. Most office supply stores and any photocopy
will create a photo-a-month calendar personalized with your special
dates and anniversaries for around $30. In addition, most photo
whether in a stand alone store or a drop-off booth in a grocery store,
offer photo novelties perfect for the executive or the home office,
items that range from photo mousepads to coffee mugs to jigsaw
Give a unique gift to your nature lover by sponsoring a wolf. The
Lakota Wolf Preserve (89 Mount Pleasant Road, Columbia, 877-SEE-WOLF)
has over 20 wolves with a variety of annual sponsorships. Every
includes visits to the observation area to view your sponsored wolf,
where you will also be educated about wolf social structures and
habits. The preserve is open year round, and you can visit the
without sponsorship for an admission fee.
For couples who are in a high-flying romance, a hot air balloon ride
may be the perfect complement. When the first balloonists landed in
farmers’ fields 200 years ago, they were recognized as demons, greeted
by landowners with pitchforks. After that, balloonists brought a
of wine as a peace offering. That practice is still continued today
by Dancing On Air (Hamilton, 609-587-6079, www.hot-air-ride.com),
which takes off from Lambertville. They fly over Hopewell or Stockton,
or Bucks County. Flights are at sunrise or sunset, when the wind is
calmest. Gift certificates are available. The experience lasts about
three hours, which includes a one-hour flight and champagne with hors
d’oeuvres after the landing. In Flight Balloon Adventure (Clinton,
888-301-2383, www.balloonnj.com) offers exclusive two-passenger
and group flights over Hunterdon County near Spruce Run Reservoir.
They also offer dinner flights in conjunction with the Coach n’
Restaurant, as well as Overnight Getaway Packages with local bed and
For the more liberal adults who believe couples who play together
stay together, a visit to the Secret Garden (846 Route 33, Hamilton,
888-584-PLAY, www.secretgardennj.com) is a must. There are various
flavors of leather, lace, fur, silk, plastic, rubber, metal, chain,
and feather items, and you’re sure to find something that you’ve never
seen before. The shop was a fresh flower market for 29 years until
owner Robert Beihl’s wife, Marilyn, suggested they add lingerie as
"You should never close the door to education," says Biehl,
who with his wife regularly attends workshops to educate themselves
on the products they carry. "The Garden" upstairs sells no
pornography, only educational material and instructional literature
and tapes made by doctors and sex therapists. To see some of the
on display, and to get some hints, take your partner to the lingerie
fashion show at KatManDu in Trenton on Saturday, March 3. The clothing
line will be showcased on all shapes of both men and women, and
some displayed novelties. All this effort attempts to ease anyone’s
nervousness at the imagined stigma of entering a lingerie store.
addition to all the sensual apparel and toys," Beihl says,
can still buy a box of chocolates and a rose on the way out."
With all of these options, what will my valentine receive? His gift
will be original and something I know he’ll enjoy. It will be a
which any thoughtful lover knows makes the best gift of all.
— Diana Wolf
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