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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More For Less: Valentine's Celebration for under $30

Since this weekend is Valentine's Day, I thought I would talk about how to celebrate without busting your budget.

It doesn't matter what the occasion is, if you want to make an impression, it's all about what you put into it. If you dash off to the 7-11 for a box of cheap chocolates and half dead flowers you might as well give her (or him) the $30 you spent.

But you can spend that same thirty bucks and make it an evening to remember. Here's how.

Guys:
Instead of long stemmed roses, buy a little potted plant of tea roses. They used to be about four bucks at our local Walmart. They last for years and she'll have something to remember you by long past the holiday.

Go to the BEST chocolate shop you can find and buy a small box of four chocolates. In a pinch, Godiva will do. Average price: $10

Make a card. Yes. Make it. If you have a computer and printer, half the work is done for you, but I've gotten some beautiful hand made cards from Greg. He always adds a love note from our current dogs too. (That always makes me smile.) Believe me, the homemade cards are much more precious to me than the store-bought ones.

Make dinner. Recipe follows at the end of this post. Total price: $15

Send the kids to grandma. Watch your favorite romantic movie at home and I promise you will be sleeping in each other's arms all night.

Ladies, if you're the one doing the planning:
My hubby's not much into plants, but he does love chocolate—especially good chocolate. Like the list above for guys, I can't stress enough how important it is to get the best. When we lived near Grapevine, TX, there was a chocolate shop called Schacolad. It was so sinfully good. I swear we would close our eyes and savor each decadent bite.

Pretend it's your first Valentine's Day. Remember how hard you tried to impress each other back then? You put on makeup, nice clothes and even perfume. Same idea. The goal is to show him how important he is to you.

Help him cook. In our house, Greg is the better cook. But he doesn't like to clean. (I think there must be a bylaw about cooks not cleaning. I don't know.) On days when we cook together, I chop up the veggies and do the clean up, while he does his thing with the pots and pans. We spend the evening together, talking, making jokes and maybe slipping in a glass of wine. Life is good.

Kids: We don't have kids, other than the four-footed kind. If you're used to doing things as a family, include the kids. But if you want just a few hours with just the two of you, I'm sure the kids won't mind being elsewhere. They hate it when you get mushy in front of them. *grin*

Other FREE things you can do with each other:
• full body massage, complete with oil
• take a bath together
• read to each other (really, it's more fun than you think!)
• go for a walk in the woods (easy for us since it's just out the door.)

Valentine's Dinner

You know me. It has to be fast and it has to be easy. This is a dish I like to serve.

Baked Salmon with cilantro

1 lb fresh salmon
¼ cup butter
½ bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp rosemary
¼ tsp celery seed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon

Salt and pepper the salmon. Mash the butter with the minced garlic, rosemary, and celery seed, then dot the fish with the mix. Finely chop the cilantro and layer on top. Put fish in heavy aluminum foil and squeeze the fresh lemon over the entire fish. (I like LOTS of lemon. *g*) It gives new meaning to the term: lemon butter.

Wrap completely in aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until fish is flakey.

Wild Rice: I use Uncle Ben's. If you want to go cheaper, fluffy white rice is just as good.

Asparagus: Steam asparagus until tender. Drizzle with butter and salt to taste.

Dinner rolls: I'm not much of a baker, so I almost always buy commercially made croissants. If you bake your own, this will be even cheaper.

Average cost for ingredients in north Texas:
Salmon: $10
Asparagus: $2 a pound
Croissants: $1.30
Wild rice: $1.92

Total cost: Around $15 without wine.

That's it! Go forth and create a Valentine's Day you both will remember.

Other More For Less posts.

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I don't normally blog on Thursdays, but there will be a post tomorrow.

It's gloomy though. Thought I'd warn you first.

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