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,

Cupid’s

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,

imprisoned

for his religious beliefs, who left a farewell message to his jailer’s

daughter signed, "From Your Valentine." The tradition of

exchanging

handwritten messages of affection, using that very phrase, continues

today. You can make a unique impression by having your valentine

hand-stamped

with a postmark cancellation from Loveland, Colorado. The program

began in 1946 by postmaster Elmer Ivers and Chamber of Commerce

president

Ted Thompson along with his wife Mabel as a gesture to share the

town’s

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

symbolize

your desire, and white roses (my personal favorite), indicate Purity.

A single rose displays simplicity, and sweetheart roses are for

nickname-prone

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

"I

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,

609-631-8225).

"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,

cookies-on-a-stick

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

Fischer

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

chocolates.

It’s easy to see why Karluk describes that as "good eating."

If you prefer privacy when purchasing chocolate, you can go to

www.fantasycandy.com.

Among the holiday and event-related novelties available, you can turn

an ordinary photo into an 8" x 12" chocolate picture, replicated

inside

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

gracing

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

Creations

(434 Route 206 South, Hillsborough, 908-281-3894,

www.culinarycreations.com)

will prepare a choice of appetizer, salad, and entree courses in

microwavable

containers with instructions for reheating, along with rolls,

chocolate

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

together.

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

customers

"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,

609-259-9797,

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

Gentleman’s

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

candlelight

and soft music, beverages and hors d’oeuvres to polish off a relaxing

evening together.

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,

couples

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,

www.stonetherapy.com)

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

include

both an aromatherapy massage and a detoxifying body wrap.

If you’re looking for a massage to share, eight-session massage

instruction

classes are taught at Breath Awareness Center (26 Bridge Street,

Lambertville,

609-397-3808, www.breathaware.com). "You’ll get plenty

of hands-on," says instructor and owner Gene Dillman. Gift

certificates

are available for singles or couples, who receive a 10 percent

discount

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

techniques.

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

still.

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

competitions.

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,

Princeton, 609-924-9499).

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,

alexianile@hotmail.com). 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

intimidated

or self-conscious of their body because bellydancing "has nothing

to do with the size of your belly." This Woodbridge Township

native

has been performing for 11 years. Leary describes Belly Dancing as

"mysterious and exotic, and when people do it they find out it’s

hard work."

Has your partner ever wanted to zip around a racetrack like a Nascar

driver? Flemington Speedway (150 Route 31, Flemington) is not

operational

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

instructors

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

experience

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

center

will create a photo-a-month calendar personalized with your special

dates and anniversaries for around $30. In addition, most photo

developers,

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

puzzles.

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

sponsorship

includes visits to the observation area to view your sponsored wolf,

where you will also be educated about wolf social structures and

eating

habits. The preserve is open year round, and you can visit the

preserve

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

bottle

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

flights

and group flights over Hunterdon County near Spruce Run Reservoir.

They also offer dinner flights in conjunction with the Coach n’

Paddock

Restaurant, as well as Overnight Getaway Packages with local bed and

breakfasts.

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

an experiment.

"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

apparel

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

possibly

some displayed novelties. All this effort attempts to ease anyone’s

nervousness at the imagined stigma of entering a lingerie store.

"In

addition to all the sensual apparel and toys," Beihl says,

"they

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

surprise,

which any thoughtful lover knows makes the best gift of all.

— Diana Wolf


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