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By Cathy Kirkman

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About this blog: This blog explores life in Palo Alto with our dogs, cats and other pets, as well as the urban wildlife around us, the title being a reference to Sharon Creech?s lovely story, "Love That Dog." I grew up in Palo Alto surrounded by ...  (More)

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Basic recipe for a quiet Valentine's Day

Uploaded: Feb 6, 2014
Here's an idea for a lovely Valentine's Day, namely a quiet evening spent at home. It's for anyone thinking of staying home for the evening, be it couples, families, or singles.

Valentine's Day is on a Friday night, so if you plan ahead there are probably a few folks who are in the same mood as you. This recipe calls for some sort of companionship, so if you're not looking for company, then do you have a pet? If you don't have a dog or cat, why not go to PetSmart over by REI on Charleston and get a fish. That's a good place to start. Anyone can handle taking care of a fish, really! If you're feeling more ambitious, try a hamster. You can tame them to sit in your lap, etc. A bird would be the next step up. And I'm not being facetious about this -- it's actually nice to have a little pet around to talk to when you're flying solo.

Now that you have your company planned, let's talk about things to do. You could watch Netflix with a "House of Cards" binge, as the second season premiers that Friday, with all thirteen shows available. Or you could record the Westminster Dog Show on Monday, and watch it Friday night for a dog show binge. Or pick something like Alfred Hitchcock, Audrey Hepburn, or other classic movies. The main thing is to plan it in advance, so you can get in the spirit of things.

With the entertainment selected, the next thing to consider is Valentine's Day traditions. For your pet, buy him some sort of food treat he can enjoy right then. For other company, keep it simple and have an old-fashioned Valentines card-making station as part of your evening. Go out and buy some construction paper, doilies, glue sticks, magic markers, and stickers, along with some little candy treats. And why not make a card or two for an older relative or neighbor.

If that's not enough, imagine something you really want to start doing, and buy the first step of that new project for yourself. For example, buy a cookbook on how to make bread, and some yeast and flour, and make that part of your activities for the evening. Or buy some seeds and little indoor starter pots and get a vegetable garden started for the spring.

Now for the meal. For the price of dining out, you can buy the very best cuts of meat or a lobster dinner or whatever, and prepare it at home to your taste. Your dogs will vote for something with a nice bone in it. Likewise in terms of the cost of wine or cocktails, you can buy the best champagne or port for evening. Or if you don't feel like cooking, how about a take-out feast from Ming's -- they deliver. Also, if you're in the mood, dress up the table with some china and glass, or if not, just relax and eat in front of the TV. Buy a couple packages of brownie mix, and make brownies together as part of the evening. And home-made cocoa with whipped cream makes people very happy.

Finally, since I have been happily married for over twenty years, it's easy to say just relax and enjoy the day. But I think the principle here is derived from when we were young and just starting out -- expensive restaurants and little blue gift boxes are nice and have their place in life, but really the best times are just the simple, togetherness times.

PS: If you really want to get out of the house, try the Frank Capra festival at the Stanford Theater -- "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "American Madness" are playing on the 14th. If you do, why not be the Valentine's Day fairy -- go to CVS and buy a big bag of Sweetheart candy hearts and hand them out at random!

Update: I forgot to mention that another good home entertainment option is the Sochi Olympics, that night on NBC they will have figure skating: men's gold medal final; alpine skiing: men's super combined gold medal final; freestyle skiing: women's aerials gold medal final; skeleton: women's gold medal final runs. Here the LA Times lists what happens each day.

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