Big Love 4 Little $

You don’t have to break the bank to show how much you care this Valentine’s Day
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Have a love interest but lacking in the funds this Valentine’s Day? Don’t lose heart.
With a little creativity, it’s not too tough to find ways to keep the spending down while still expressing your feelings for that special someone.

Love letters
Perhaps one of the greatest, and cheapest, gifts you can give for Valentine’s Day, or any other day of the year, is a written expression of your feelings. Don’t leave it up to a pre-printed note card to do all the talking.
Michelle Johnson, professor of English at Sierra College, said the misconception about love letters or poems “is that it has to be really big and cover, ‘my love is wide and vast as the ocean,’” she said.
“The best, I find, are person-specific … the way they flip their hair, or the way they make a joke when they’re nervous,” she said. “Instead of saying, ‘My love is like a red, red rose,’ what is it that the person does that you love? It can be as intimate or silly as you want.”
Whether it’s written in a card, typed out or scribbled on a cocktail napkin, as long as it’s personalized and expresses how you feel about the recipient, that’s all that really matters.
“Even if it’s on a piece of scratch paper, it’s the piece of paper they put away, that they save,” Johnson said.

Cupid’s helpers
The youth group at Sierra Grace Fellowship (1260 Wesley Lane, Auburn) is offering free babysitting at the church from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Parents are welcome to drop off their children, as long as they’re 10 or younger, and then head out to have a kid-free Valentine’s Day.
Scott Carroll, junior high youth group leader, said this is the second year the youth group has planned the adult-supervised, student-organized night of babysitting.
“The church believes in serving the community,” Carroll said of the service project. “We’re calling it Project Valentine.”
Parents are welcome to call ahead, or just swing on in Saturday.
Call (530) 889-9089 or (530) 591-5796 for more information.

He loves me, he loves me not
Long-stemmed roses are beautiful, but perhaps not the most original floral expression of love/passion/infatuation.
Dennise Groves, owner of Petals & Sweets in Auburn, said a dozen long-stemmed roses goes for $75 at her Auburn shop this time of year.
Get rid of some of the stem and you’ll save about $25, as a bouquet of 12 medium-stemmed roses, in a vase, runs for just under $50, she said.
“It’s definitely the better deal,” she said.
Planning flowers around your valentine’s preferences, instead of what might be expected, is a way to cut costs while also potentially earning extra hugs and kisses.
“We always get asked what we like. If you ask any of our designers, none of them will say ‘a dozen roses,’” Groves said. “There’s so many more designs and styles.”
It’s also good to keep in mind that roses are probably the only flower marked up in price around Valentine’s Day, Groves said.
Other ways to incorporate roses into Valentine’s Day include the just-as-beautiful single rose — $2 at Petals & Sweets — or rose petals. Start with a box for $5 or upgrade from there, depending on your plans.
“You can do a nice table or a bath with a box,” Groves said.

Sweet tooth
Boxes of chocolates are great, but there’s something to be said about quality over quantity.
Aunt Flo’s Chocolates (675 High St.), Petals & Sweets (1145 Highway 49) and the Chocolate Shoppe & Gift Emporium (823 Lincoln Way) are among local businesses where you can pick and choose, and mix and match truffles, chocolate-dipped strawberries and the like.
If your honey has a serious sweet tooth, start with a couple special, hand-selected chocolates and sweeten the deal with store-bought candies such as Red Hots, conversation hearts or a couple of their favorite candy bars.

Message in a bottle
A nice bottle of wine rounds out any Valentine’s Day celebration.
Gary Moffat, owner of Carpe Vino (1568 Lincoln Way, Auburn) is currently excited about St. Amant Mohr-Fry Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel, which goes for $18 at the Old Town wine spot.
“For people who like big, spicy, fruit-driven Zin, this is one of the best I’ve tried,” he said.
You also can’t go wrong with a bottle of port, Moffat said, including local bottles by Mt. Vernon, Fawnridge and Green Family wineries.
“For chocolate lovers, it enhances the flavors of chocolate exponentially,” Moffat said.

Love in
While a five-course tasting menu might sound wonderfully romantic, dinner for two on Valentine’s Day could get your heart pounding, and not in a good way.
A special meal at your favorite restaurant on Valentine’s Day is a great way to feel pampered, but it’s also OK to save your dining-out dollars for another night.
Order a petite filet at a steakhouse on Valentine’s Day and it’ll cost you at least $30 a la carte.
For that same price you could buy a nice cut from a local butcher — get filet mignon for two from Longhorn Meat Co. (13131 Lincoln Way, Auburn) for roughly $20, says Ashley Coughran, meat cutter. A porterhouse big enough for two goes for $15 to $20.
Cruise Web sites like, and for a side-dish recipe, pick up a favorite bottle of wine, light some candles and stay in for a special evening together.

That’s amore
On the subject of staying in, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza (2566 Highway 49, Auburn) is once again selling its Heart-Shaped Pizza. The pepperoni pizza goes for $6.99 and can be pre-ordered by calling (530) 823-7272. The pizza’s size roughly matches Papa Murphy’s 14-inch large.
The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at