By Kate Iverson & Jahna Peloquin
Happy Love Week, Twin Citians! It's definitely not too late to do something thoughtful for the friends and lovers on your list. Use our sappy sweet guide filled with suggestions on gifting, entertaining, crafting and more to ensure your Valentine's Day has a happy ending. Pun intended. This year we've teamed up with our pals at Secrets of the City to present you with our Guide to Getting Lucky 2010!
xo-l'étoile + Secrets
This is novelty gifting at its cutest. SOOVAC's gift shop is offering "Smittens" ($30) this year. What's a Smitten, you ask? Well, it's a pair of cozy red mittens that come with an extra piece that you and your beau can wear at the same time as you hold hands during a romantic winter stroll. Think three legged race, but with hands. And romance. Probably not the most sound purchase you'll ever make, but the (likely) one time you use your Smittens will probably be pretty memorable (whether that's weird memorable, or cute memorable, we're not quite sure). If you're not down with Smittens, SOOVAC has plenty of other artsy knicknacks worthy of V-Day gifting. (SOO Visual Arts Center, 27th & Lyndale, Minneapolis)
Karin Jacobson Felt Heart Jewelry
With her new mini collection of felt heart jewelry, local jewelry designer Karin Jacobson is letting you wear your love on your wrist - and ears. The laser-cut pink and red wool felt earrings and cuff bracelets feature pop art-inspired heart shapes. And not only are they cute, priced at $14 to $22, they're also affordable. We'd surely delight in these stylish little trinkets (hint, hint). The collection is available at www.superkarin.com.
Alexander McQueen Lips Scarf
We swooned when we first heard local boutique OPM had begun carrying the ubiquitous Alexander McQueen skull scarf. Now they've stocked a new sure-to-be-favorite McQueen scarf, this one peppered with juicy red lips. Launched just in time for Valentine's Day, we think it makes the perfect accessory to your Valentine's outfit - and it's sure to add a super-sweet pop of color to any outfit come spring. A little pricey, but we guarantee your lady's glee over this one will be worth it, even if you don't understand why AMQ is such a big deal. ($315 at OPM, 3700 Grand Way, St. Louis Park. 952-567-7399.)
Ok, so you don't have quite enough to buy new Alexander McQueen. It's okay. Designer consignment boutique, & Again in Wayzata is a fantastic resource for designer goodies your gal will certainly covet. With up to 70% off like-new goods from the such brands as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs and more, this spot is a treasure trove of fashionable goodness. For those who are in the market for jewelry, & Again has real diamonds and pearls too -- at a discount of course! Friendly shop proprietress Marla Lyons will be glad to help you pick out something special, but if you're still not sure, a gift certificate for this great new boutique will definitely score you a gold star! (& Again, 217 Minnetonka Avenue, Wayzata. 952-476-2050)
This little specialty boutique in St. Louis Park is truly a one stop shop for Valentine's shoppers! Snap up sweet confections from all over the world, including truffles filled with port wine and figs, black current ganache, lemon marzipan, chocolate covered cherries infused with vodka, and much more. Or peruse Max's fantastic selection of artisian jewelry from independent designers, unique housewares and adorable gifts. Most definitely the perfect place to find something for the connoisseur of cool on your list! (Max's, 3831 Grand Way, St. Louis Park. 952-922-8364)
Sweethearts All Year
Theater always makes the heart grow fonder if you ask us! Presented by Secrets of the City, Theater All Year ticket vouchers offer you an easy and affordable way to enjoy a variety of Twin Cities theater offerings throughout the season. Use the vouchers in any combination for ticket reservations to hundreds designated performances by some three dozen theater groups. Packs of 6 ticket vouchers are on sale for a mere $99, and it's certainly a gift you can enjoy along with your honey. Theater All Year packages are available at Play by Play Bookstore, Max's, and Sorella Wine. Or, purchase online at www.theaterallyear.com.
Give the Gift of Tempo!
What's more romantic than the Opera? Not much, say we. Give your love a gift you can share this V-Day by purchasing a membership to Tempo, the Minnesota Opera's young professionals group. Priced at a mere $40 for an annual membership, this gift will not only score your giftee opportunities to snap up cheapie $30 tickets to any opening night opera throughout the season, but they'll get info on all sorts of exclusive soirees, after parties and intimate receptions with cast members. For more info and to purchase a membership visit www.mnopera.org/tempo.
Aveda Valentine's Gift Sets
Romance should smell good, no? Well, Miyagi Salon has just the ticket. The Northeast scissor ninjas are offering sweet deals on Aveda product packages perfect for those who don't have good decision making skills. Choose from the comically named deals such as the "She Meant Nothing to Me" package, the "I Totally F*cked Up" package, or the “Please Forgive Me" package. All are sure to put a smile on your loved one's face. Toss in a gift card for beauty services and you're golden. (Miyagi Salon, 411 East Hennepin, Minneapolis. 612-331-1912)
l'étoile Valentine's Shopping Sales Guide
Still looking for something more? Check out our updated guide to shopping and sales in the Twin Cities and pick up something for your sweetie (or better yet, for yourself). Our fashion editor has plucked off-the-radar sales at stylish boutiques and businesses all over the Twin Cities and served them up just for you. Check back weekly, as this guide is constantly being updated with great savings at unique spots. Click HERE for the guide.
SWEETS FOR THE SWEET
How Sweet! A new candy boutique has popped up in South Minneapolis! Sugar Sugar is as whimsical as the name suggests, and offers a plethora of fancy candies to satisfy even the elitist of sweet tooths. Snap up pretty treats such as hand-painted French chocolate, lavender candies, Limoncello salt cordials, fancy macaroons, hand made passion fruit-coconut marshmallows and all manners of V-Day themed candy -- you can even have your sweets packaged in adorable vintage boxes! Bonus: Get your V-Day shopping done in a quick swoop by bringing your receipt from Sugar Sugar to Petersen Flowers (410 W. 38th) and receive 10% off your flower purchase through February 14th. (Sugar Sugar, 3803 Grand Avenue S., Minneapolis 612-823-0261)
Cupcakes a la Cake Eater
Glorious cupcake makers Sheela and Emily of the soon-to-be-opened Cake Eater Bakery invite you down to Mitrebox Framing this Saturday morning for a special V-Day edition of their weekly cupcake market. Get your sweets and your sentiments all in one shot by purchasing letterpress cards and delectable cakes for your friends and lovers. Enticing flavors such as Rapturous Red Velvet, Dreamy Mexican Hot Chocolate, Scrumptious White Chocolate Raspberry, and Sweetheart Chocolate Strawberry Balsamic will be available. Pre-orders are encouraged to 612-676-0696. (Saturday, 10am, Mitrebox Framing, 213 Washington Ave N., Minneapolis)
WINE & DINE
Valentine's Day at Ginger Hop & Honey
We've recently fallen in love with the new Northeast Minneapolis Asian fusion joint, Ginger Hop, and its underground companion lounge, Honey. Honestly, we kind of want to eat there every day. On Feb 13th and 14th enjoy killer deals on food and drink of the tastiest variety. Upstairs in Ginger Hop go for the $40 per couple deal that includes one appetizer, two entrees, two glasses of wine and dessert (add on another $10 for a whole bottle of wine). If you'd rather kick it in the hip underground lounge, a slightly pricier but rather fancy pre fixe menu awaits. For $69 per couple you'll be treated to such options as Chicken Breast with Brandy Cream Mushroom Sauce, Coffee-Rubbed Petit Filet, Seafood Gnocchi, Roasted Beet Salad, and more. A bottle of wine and one of Honey's famous "Chocolate Flights" round things out. Live jazz music (7-9pm) and DJs (After 10pm) will entertain you both evenings at Honey as well. (Ginger Hop/Honey, 201 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. 612-746-0304)
A Bit o' the Bubbly?
Make your way to one of our fave wine shops in town this Valentine's Weekend and pick up something sparkly to impress your lady or fella. Sorella Wine and Spirits offers a great selection of sparkling wines (and every other kind of wine) at all price points, and their friendly, experienced staff is ready and willing to give you advice on everything you need. If you show up between 2pm and 7pm on Friday or Saturday you'll be treated to samples of Sorella's current favorites broaden your palate. Show up with something classier than Andre Spumante for once, eh? Strawberries not included, you romantic cliche, you! (Sorella Wines, 1010 Washington Avenue S., Minneapolis 612-339-4040)
STAY IN AND CUDDLE
We "Heart" Pizza
Who says you have to be a 4-star chef to prepare a romantic and tasty meal for your sweetheart? Certainly not us, the masters of toasting bagels! A homemade pizza is quite easy to prepare, and you can even make a party of it as you customize personal pies for yourselves. Since it's V-Day, we recommend making your pizzas heart shaped (duh). If you are fancy, you can follow a crust recipe like this, but if you're challenged in the kitchen (like us) you can just get a pre-mixed packet at the grocery store and just follow the instructions. You can put whatever you'd like on your 'za, but we're big fans of the following:
Spicy Spinach & Garlic Pizza
Brush unbaked crust with olive oil mixed with minced garlic and a little bit of cayenne pepper (to taste)
Sprinkle on a bit of sea salt
Layer fresh organic spinach (cut off the stems) over the crust
Add lots of fresh mozzerella (the real kind, not the kind in a bag!)
Cut more spinach into thin strips and place over cheese to make it look pretty.
Bake for however long the crust package tells you to, or until it looks good and wha-la!
UV Pink Flamingo Cocktail
We're all about themes, and V-Day is clearly a "pink" holiday. Keep you holiday from clashing by serving up this sweet and sassy cocktail conjured up by our pals at UV Vodka!
2 parts UV Lemonade
2 parts cranberry juice
Splash of triple sec
Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass.
More recipes at www.uvvodka.com
Don't get us wrong, we're totally down with epic romance tales like Titanic and Ghost but on V-Day we tend to squirm at the cliches and instead opt for something a bit more ironic. Our suggestions? '80s slasher flick My Bloody Valentine or perhaps the cheesy 2001 horror flick Valentine (which stars David Boreanaz aka Angel, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, yes!) Speaking of Buffy, why not just have a Slayer-a-thon? Now that's a V-Day experience we can fully get behind.
GET AWAY WITHOUT ACTUALLY LEAVING
Valentine's Weekend at the Saint Paul Hotel
The Saint Paul Hotel is hands down the classiest hotel in the Twin Cities. The historic landmark is architecturally stunning and marvelously maintained, the accommodations are charming, and the service is impeccable. We can't think of a nicer treat than to be whisked away on an overnight excursion to this delightful spot. This Valentine's weekend, the Saint Paul Hotel is offering a myriad of package deals for love birds: Valentine’s M Street Dinner Package: $249.00, includes an overnight stay in one a Deluxe Room and Dinner for two in the M St Café. (Dinner is on Saturday, February 13th only). Valentine’s Day Bed & Breakfast Package: $229.00. Includes an overnight stay in a Deluxe Room and a special Valentine’s Day Brunch for two in the M St Café. (Brunch is on Sunday, February 14th only), overnight stays can be on either Saturday or Sunday. And last but not least, the Romance Package: $259.00, includes an overnight stay in a deluxe Room, Tuxedo Strawberries and Champagne upon arrival, and a $30 credit towards breakfast/Brunch in the M St Cafe. We'll take any of those! For more info or to make reservations visit www.saintpaulhotel.com or call 651-292-9292.
What's sweeter than a nature stroll with your favorite person? Slap on your "smittens" (see gift section), bundle up tight and don your big winter boots for a leisurely expedition to an area park. Our favorite? Crosby Park in St. Paul. This beautiful nature reserve right on the Mississippi may as well be Narnia, for all the gorgeous landscapes and whimsical nooks and crannies it holds. Winding trails take you through woodland, marshland, and along the river itself, and this time of year the billowing blankets of crisp white snow with be sparkly and undisturbed amongst the trees and reeds (the paths, however, are cleared for easy strollin'). A magical and romantic excursion any time of year, we expect Winter is the probably the most serene. (Crosby Park, 2500 Crosby Farm Rd, St. Paul)
Lavender & Limes blog has the right idea. Conversation Heart candies are cute, sure, but why not make your own personalized hearts that will last forever? The comedic options are endless, if you ask us. All you need is some felt, an embroidery hoop, some colored thread and a needle to complete this fun n' easy project. Trace the shape of a heart onto some felt, secure it in your embroidery hoop and stitch a slogan for your sweetie (we like the idea of writing funny things like "Nice Butt," "U R Stalkable" or "One Night Stand"). After you stitch, cut out your heart and another identical blank piece and stitch together, leaving a small opening to stuff a bit of batting in before you sew it shut. These could be a fun project to do with the kids, or as a cute garnish to any V-Day gift wrap. Go ahead and add a pinback to your heart to create an instant Valentine's Day accessory!
We've got big nostalgia for the handmade Valentines from our childhood. You know, the kind where you cut out construction paper hearts and glue them over paper doilies? Cheesy yet adorable. These whimsical, easy to make sentiments are as charming as it gets. Find a short n' sweet love poem to write on your heart (or get someone with good hand writing to do it for you) and glue-stick together a silly, but sure to be appreciated, ode to your lover. You can embellish the original idea with patterned paper, ribbon, what-have-you as well. We suggest hitting up Litin Paper in Minneapolis for all your Valentine-making supplies. They've got everything you could possibly need, and then some. We expect you could do this project for under $5, and even have enough supplies left over to make them for your favorite friends as well!
Check back this Thursday for our Weekend event listings which will include a slew of lovable V-Day events, including our own Valentine's part, "Paper Hearts" at the Rogue Buddha on Sunday!