"Greeting cards are flying off the shelves, florists are slammed, and your single friends are crankier than ever. It"s beginning to look a lot like Valentine"s Day, and, this year, area retailers are feeling the love.
"We"re real busy, it is busier than last year," Log House Florist owner Linda Greer said. "Roses are No. 1."
And they"re not the only way to your Valentine"s heart. Jon Greene of Black Bear Books recommends poetry. "Poetry is such a wonderful way to express love and beauty," he said.
But, while poetry collections are always popular, he"s seeing a new mushy trend in Valentine"s Day purchases this year. ""Princess Bride" by William Goldman, it"s popular," he said.
And with a personalized note on the cover (all you need is an ink pen and some inspiration), it"s a gift your Valentine will treasure even after the grandkids are born.
Not at the sappy book phase yet? No problem.
Peabody"s Kevin Burnette has a simple answer to your Valentine"s Day gift-giving woes: Wine. "It"s romantic," he said.
And it"s exactly as romantic as you intend it to be. From intimate dinners to a champagne engagement toast, wine is a good-for-any-occasion treat that both your palettes will appreciate. "It"s a celebratory thing," he said.
His recommendation? Wine Guerilla Zinfandel from Sonoma County. Think dark, fruity with a spicy kick.
Not feeling monetary drive for gift-giving? Here"s some cheap, thoughtful, yet able-to-be-constructed-at-the-last-minute ideas that will have your Valentine walking on clouds. Remember: It"s the thought that counts (unless it"s made of duct tape).
"1. Mix tape. Never under estimate the idea of a mix CD. And it doesn"t have to be Marvin Gaye to get the Valentine"s Day point across. We recommend some sultry Fiona Apple thrown into the mix. How about a song that reminds you of that beach weekend? "Island in the Sun" by Weezer will heat things up, both on her morning commute and on the drive to you. Use your colored pencil skills to create a cover out of typing paper. She"ll admire your artistry, even if you"re not exactly Vincent Van Gogh.
2. A picture frame: Not just for photos. Try a poem, song lyrics, or even an original creation. With a few words in that careful cursive of yours, she"ll be batting her eyes. Try a store like Michael"s for a cheap frame so she"ll have something to show off at the office. And speaking of frames, why not a picture collage? Print out a few from her Facebook page, clip them together and stick them in a frame.
3. Pressed flowers. Pressed flowers are easy: Just take a few blossoms and stick them in the back of that old family bible for a few days. Pile up some books for good measure. Paste the flowers to a blank note card for a unique Valentine.
4. Home economics. Pick up a spatula. Google "easy" baking and you"ll find dozens of recipes that don"t require Martha Stewart spectacles. Line the box with colorful tissue layers, and you"ll have a personal creation that"s as sensual as it is professional.
5. Scrapbook. Show her/him you care by admitting to the fact that you kept that first movie ticket stub. Use colorful backgrounds from construction paper, and print photos with witty captions about how you were feeling on that first date. It"s something the two of you can build on and show to your kids (or pets) someday.
Savvy savings for your Valentine (and wallet)
"Can you afford to BE MINE?" may not fit on heart-shaped candy, but it"s a question more and more would-be Valentines are asking, if only inside their heads.
While affection might be free, dating certainly isn"t. Here in the High Country, we"ve compiled some wallet-friendly ways to treat your Valentine, heart-shaped candy not included.
A Walk in the Woods
With the Boone Greenway and Blue Ridge Parkway a short drive away, a picnic might be all you need to make the day perfect. Bundle up and take your sweetheart"s hand for a casual walk, just you, your Valentine and Mother Nature.
Hate walking? Why not take a romantic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway? Be sure to check on closures before you trek out by calling (828) 298-0398.
The Artsy Side
Why not paint your Valentine? Whether you"ve got the artistic bug or not, moving the paint on canvas (or the back of an old pizza box) gives you an excuse to observe your Valentine. Just grab a few tubes of paint, some brushes, and take turns playing Picasso.
Hit Love Hard
Cozy up while watching the Appalachian Roller Girls duke it out. Check out the ARG Facebook page to find out about open practices so you can watch them battle it out on the rink. Maybe your Valentine will want to give it a try! Just be the supportive partner with plenty of aspirin and a few shoulder rubs. We hear it can be brutal.
Your date isn"t the only one worthy of affection. What better way to bond than over man"s best friend?
Try hitting the dog park, located along Don Hayes Road between Rutherwood Baptist Church and the Boone Stockyard, about 4 miles from Boone off Old U.S. 421 South. What better way to show your sensitive side than romping across 3.5 acres with your best dog and best Valentine?
Dogs must be members of the park and rabies certified. Memberships cost $50 per year or $3 per visit.
Be sure to leave the picnic at home. For more information, visit http://www.wataugahumanesociety.org.
Don"t have a dog? Watauga Humane Society does, and they"ll let you and your Valentine take a romantic stroll on the Greenway, Fido in tow. For information on walking Humane Society dogs, call (828) 264-7865.
A Snowy Adventure
A sled and a Thermos of hot chocolate may be all you need to capture the spirit of the season and your Valentine"s heart, especially if winter continues on course. Area college students are known for making it even cheaper by skipping the sled and using a cafeteria tray to speed down the hills.
Be sure to wrap up with a blanket big enough for two!
Outdoor activities are a way to check out your date"s adventurous side.
Couples who cheer together stay together.
What better way to bond than to watch the Red Sox smash the Texas Rangers on opening day, April 1? In the meantime, you may find some bonding opportunities through basketball and hockey. Invest in a hat with your Valentine"s team logo. It might get you more than candy this Valentine"s Day.
Movies for Free and Other University Tricks
Appalachian State University is a perfect tool for dating on the cheap. Not only are there always cultural events, but APPS has loads of wallet-friendly dating options, like free classic movie screenings at Greenbriar Theater on campus.
"Tangled" plays Feb. 17 and 19 at 7 at 9:30 p.m. at I.G. Greer Theater, and "Benny and Joon" plays Feb. 11 in Greenbriar. Try "Top Gun," playing Feb. 16 and 18 at Greenbriar.
For more information on what"s playing, visit http://films.appstate.edu, and check out the cultural events calendar on the sidebar of http://www.appstate.edu.
For more events, check out the events calendar in your Mountain Times. Happy Valentine"s Day!
Top (or Bottom) 10
We asked High Country residents and MT Facebook fans where NOT to take a Valentine"s Day date in the High Country.
1. An STD Clinic
2. A laundromat
3. The county morgue
4. Fast food
7. Your ex-girlfriend"s house
8. A car wash
9. A sporting event
10. Your office
Where to Go
"Valentine"s Day is Monday"and your Mountain Times has a round-up of some High Country ways to say "be mine." Plan ahead! Most choices require advance reservations.
"Cafè Portofino has plenty of specials for the big day and is expecting a crowd. Call (828) 264-7772 for reservations. "
Canyons (8960 Highway 321) is offering a complimentary dessert with its entrees for Valentine"s Day, Sunday, Feb. 13, and Monday, Feb. 14. Call (828) 295-7661 for reservations.
Casa Rustica (1348 N.C. 105 South) is offering its menu with a list of specials. Call (828) 406-7085 for reservations.
Char (179 S. Howard St.) is taking reservations for its four-course $29 prefixed menu. A highlight? The Chocolate Mousse Napoleon with phyllo dough. Call (828) 266-2179 to reserve your spot.
Coyote Kitchen (200 Southgate Drive), will have food specials for you and your Valentine. Call (828) 265-4041 for more information.
Crave World Inspired Tapas & Martini Bar (203 Boone Heights Drive) will have a prefixed menu for you and your Valentine. Call (828) 355-9717 for reservations.
Crestwood Lounge (3236 Shulls Mill Road) will be open for dinner with specials and a live pianist. Call (828) 963-6646 or visit http://www.crestwoodnc.com for more information.
Crippen"s Country Inn and Restaurant (239 Sunset Drive) will be open Friday through Monday serving dinner and has rooms available. Call (828) 295-3487 for reservations.
The Custard Depot (228 Howard St.) will be open Valentine"s Day and feature "chocolate truffle," the Depot"s "richest, most decadent chocolate variety."
Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub, 8180 Valley Blvd., has a host of specials for you and your Valentine. Call (828) 295-7262 for more information. "
Frasers Restaurant (108 S. Jefferson Ave., West Jefferson) is serving a special dinner menu. The pre-fixed menu is $40 and includes a special dessert and your choice: A glass of champagne or the house wine (tax and gratuity are not included). Call (336) 246-5222 to make reservations.
Hearthstone Tavern and Grille (3990 N.C. 105 South, Banner Elk) will have plenty of aphrodisiac food specials (think oysters, strawberries, filets). Call (828) 898-3461 for reservations or more information. The Valentine"s celebration happens Saturday and Monday.
Jackalope"s View at Archers Mountain Inn (2489 Beech Mountain Parkway, Banner Elk) has plenty of specials (think 2 for 1s) and a great view. Call (828) 898-9004 for more information or to make a reservation.
Makoto Seafood and Steakhouse of Japan (2124 Blowing Rock Road) will be open and has a special drink for the occasion: A Valentini! Call (828) 264-7976 for reservations.
Meadowbrook Inn (711 U.S. 321 Bus) is hosting the ASU Jazz Ensemble Sunday night, part of the Blowing Rock Jazz Society"s concert series. Call (828) 295-4300 for more information."
Melanie"s Food Fantasy (664 W. King St.) will be open with food specials, perfect for a lunch with your Valentine. Call (828) 263-0300 for more information.
Our Daily Bread (627 W. King St). is debuting a new beer on tap called "Sexual Chocolate." Call (828) 264-0173 for more information.
Paolucci"s Italian Grill (783 W. King St.) is having a special beer dinner with the Hickory Brewing Company. Expect a three-course meal paired with beer at $25 per person. Call (828) 268-7525 for reservations, which are recommended.
Primo"s (1180 Blowing Rock Road) has Valentine"s Day weekend specials and will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. on the big day. Call (828) 355-9800 for reservations.
Rowland"s at Westglow Spa (224 Westglow Circle) is taking reservations for its Valentine"s Day weekend. Expect a fixed price menu and 10 percent off of certain day packages. Call (828) 295-4463 for more information.
Six Pence Pub (1121 Main St., Blowing Rock), along with its food specials, has drink specials your Valentine will go tipsy for: 50 percent off bottled wine and a special martini called the "Cupid"s Kiss." Call (828) 295-3155 for more information.
Vidalia Restaurant (831 W. King St.) will have a prefixed four-course dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 14 for $55. A menu is available at vidaliaofboonenc.com. Call (828) 263-9176 for reservations.