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Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Valentine's Day display of vintage cards at The Country Bookstore, in Plainfield. Photo by Mara Brooks

Local businesses offer unique, creative ways to help celebrate the most romantic day of the year

If you’re looking for romantic, thoughtful ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget, local businesses offer a variety of ideas to help celebrate without leaving home — or breaking the bank.

Romantic Dinner for Two — At Home

Instead of making reservations at an expensive, crowded restaurant, why not bring home a hot, organic, locally-sourced meal for an intimate dinner with your loved one?

“Hunger Mountain Co-op’s prepared foods department provides a range of offerings that can help get dinner started, be the featured item on your plate, or the side dish that ties it all together,” said Stephani Konanan, Community Relations Director of Hunger Mountain Co-op.  

“In the Grab and Go case, you’ll find wild-caught salmon and grilled chicken breast raised with vegetarian-feed and no antibiotics. Another excellent option for your special meal is Ginger Garlic Tofu. It’s one of the Co-op’s most popular items, and is available daily on the hot bar or packaged in the Grab and Go case.” 

The Co-op’s hot bar offers vegetarian options along with meat-based choices. Popular hot bar items are macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and pulled pork. The weekly hot bar menu is posted on the Co-op’s website.

Hunger Mountain Co-op is located at 623 Stone Cutters Way and is open 8 am-8 pm daily. Visit hungermountain.coop

Vintage Poetry Books and More

If your loved one loves to read, and appreciates original, one-of-a-kind treasures, you can surprise them with one of the most romantic gifts of all for less than $10.

“Special edition books and vintage cards are perfect Valentine’s Day gifts for people who are special to you,” said Genese Grill of the Country Bookshop in Plainfield. “They’re very personal and romantic.”

The Country Bookshop offers a vast selection of beautifully-preserved, antique postcards, love poems, and first and special edition books with titles such as “The Arabian Manual of Love,” and “First Love Stories” about Greek gods and goddesses. Antique hardcover books from eras gone by are available in the $6.00 to $35.00 range.  

“We also have a large variety of vintage Valentine cards, stickers and postcards,” Grill said. “And many books that are love-themed, with beautiful marbleized covers.”

If your better half is a classical music nerd, Word War II buff, or just loves collecting vintage magazines, you can also find unique, out-of-print, and affordable books and other publications on just about any topic at the Country Bookshop. 

“If your person has a special interest, you can get them something unique that almost nobody else has,” Grill said. 

Gift certificates are also available, if you’d rather let your paramour choose their own vintage gift. 

The Country Bookshop is 35 Mill St, Plainfield, VT 05667 and is open every day from 10:00 am-5:00 pm. Visit https://www.thecountrybookshop.com/

Romantic Candlelit Massage and Bath

You don’t have to be a professional masseuse to offer your loved one a sensual, full-body massage. After all, no one can relax your soulmate the way you can. All you need to turn a typical night romantic is soft candlelight, massage oils, and a little imagination.

“Essential oils are perfect for the couple who wants to spend an intimate evening at home,” said Lauren Andrews, founder of AroMed Essentials. “AroMed Essentials offers soul and skin nurturing bath and massage oils, with organic CBD, and pure aromatic oils.” 

Soy candles made with organic essential oils and infused with resins and gemstones are $14.95, and artisanal incense made from roses, lavender, sandalwood, palo santo, and more are $7.95 at AroMed. 

AroMed also offers all-natural CBD bath bombs for relaxation, for $8.95.  

“And absolutely no artificial colors or synthetic fragrance oils,” Andrews emphasized.

Essential oil perfumes are available for $14.95, and organic Lavender and Rosemary lotion for $14.95. For those who want to experience a truly unique massage, gemstone massage stones are available for $12.95. 

AroMed Essentials is located at 8 State Street in Montpelier and is open Monday – Friday 10:30 – 5:00, Saturday – Sunday 11:00 – 3:00 pm. Visit https://aromedessentials.com/

Competitive Games for Two!

With the recent surge in popularity for board and card games, many couples are choosing to bond through evenings spent at home battling it out — or working cooperatively —  in imaginative, two-player games. 

“Rivals for Catan ($35.00) is a classic Eurostyle game where people build settlements and trade resources,” said Brad Carey of Book Garden. Along with building settlements, roads, and cities, players construct buildings where their subjects work. As they build, they also do their best to create obstacles and challenges for their opponents.

“It can be competitive, but it’s certainly peaceful,” Carey said. “It involves a lot of trading and trying to do things that are mutually beneficial.”

Another popular two-player game is Patchwork ($30.00), where players compete to create patchwork quilts on a 9×9 board. 

“The gameplay is absolutely phenomenal,” Carey said. “You have a series of tiles that are different shapes and you try to build the most complete and aesthetically pleasing quilt.” 

While the game is intended for two players, the dynamics are far from cutthroat, Carey said. 

“You’re both drawing from a communal set of tiles, but it’s not really competitive,” he explained. “You’re just trying to do the best you can do.” 

For fans of trick-taking games, Carey recommends Fox in the Forest ($15.00). 

“It’s a very traditional style card game designed for two players,” he explained. “This game is unique in that some of the cards [e.g., the Fox and the Witch] have special abilities” allowing players to jump ahead even after losing a trick.  

Players score points by winning the most tricks. But win too many tricks, and darkness may befall you. (Which might be a good time to break out those romantic candles.)

The Book Garden is located at 50 State St, Montpelier and is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Visit https://www.facebook.com/thebookgarden