There's still time for your 'inner Cupid' to take flight
Some would argue that there's no more romantic date on the calendar than Feb. 14 — Valentine's Day.
For generations, lovers of all ages have marked the occasion with cards with cards, flowers, candy and twinkling bits of bling.
The economy (and wallets) may have taken a hit this past year, but Cupid - the winged son of Roman deities Venus and Mars - refuses to be grounded. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the way you feel about that special someone. But if the budget is a bit tighter this year, take heart: The Bay Area Community Center is hosting a Valentine Ballroom Dance from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, compete with ballroom music by The Night Session.
The center is at Clear Lake Park, 5002 E. NASA Parkway in Seabrook. Tickets are $8 per person. For more information, call 281-326-2955
Following is a sampling of area businesses offering various ways to express your love:
The Italian Café, 4622 NASA Parkway in Seabrook, offers an intimate setting for romantic meals.
The restaurant, normally closed on Mondays, will open at 4 p.m. Valentine's Day.
Menu highlights include grilled Italian sausage and mushrooms; Sicilian stuffed artichoke; and pasta Isabella, which is penne pasta sautéed in olive oil, garlic, crushed tomatoes and fresh basil.
Desserts include Italian cream cake and tiramisu, along with the restaurant's signature sand tart cookies.
Details: 281-326-1618, www.theitaliancafe.com or search for The Italian Café on Facebook.
Amadeus Italian Restaurant & Bar, 700 Kipp Ave. in Kemah, will have a special menu for Valentine's Day. Reservations are required.
The restaurant seeks to combine the flavors and aromas of its food with surroundings of art and music.
Details: 281-334-3311, www.kemahcitylimits.com/amadeus or find Amadeus Italian Restaurant & Bar on Facebook.
Sundance Grill II, 800 Mariner's Drive in Kemah, offers sweethearts a dramatic view of the Waterford Harbor Marina. The interior features a fireplace, candles, flowers and white-and-red tablecloths.
This year's Valentine's dinner costs $34.95 per person and includes a choice of appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert.
Entrees include poached salmon with fresh dill sauce, hazelnut crusted snapper filet and French grilled veal chops.
Details: 281-535-5350 or www.sundance-grill.com.
For a more decadent gift, a number of packages are available at Akoya Spa, 2402 Bay Area Blvd. in the Clear Lake area.
Spa services were developed by the Akoya staff and are intended to recharge body, mind and spirit.
"Harmony & Balance," for instance, includes a facial, revitalizing eye treatment, the Akoya massage and a revitalizing leg treatment for $185.
Details: 281-488-8797 or www.akoyaspa.com.
Herbana Natural Concepts Day Spa, 16933 El Camino Real in Clear Lake, will be open until 9 p.m. on Valentine's Day for couple's massages and champagne.
The package costs $160.
If you're down to the wire, you also can create personalized Valentine's Day gift certificates on the Spa's website and print them or e-mail them to your sweetie.
The spa offers facials, spa baths, massages, waxing, "feet treats" and more.
Details: 281-461-8532 or www.herbanaspa.com.
Clear Lake Flowers & Gifts, 907 El Dorado, offers an extensive Valentine's Day selection from traditional roses for sweethearts to customized flower arrangements.
The shop can pair flowers with chocolate truffles, balloons and plush animals for a more personalized touch.
"A major suggestion is to deliver early," operations manager Beverly Bradshaw said. "You can still go out on Valentine's Day and have the flowers a little longer to enjoy."
Details: 281-488-3838 or www.clearlakeflowers.com.
la Mariposa Flowers, 17322 Texas 3 in Webster, can work with all budgets and tastes on Valentine's Day, owner Jackie Hutto said.
"A dozen roses is always a classic choice," Hutto said. "We're doing two and three dozen, too, and that really makes a statement."
But red roses aren't essential: Consider a different color for the roses. Lavender signifies affection and yellow means joy and affection.
Or try another flower altogether. Hutto said her staff enjoys talking to customers about their tastes and preferences. "Our favorite thing to do is let our designers go to the cooler and do something special that matches what our customer is looking for," she said.
Popular now are glass cube vases, which lend a more contemporary look to arrangements, Hutto said.
For low budgets, she suggests painted flowerpots with Gerber daisies or a single rose in an elegant vase.
La Mariposa is an independent family owned shop that has been in the community for more than 30 years.
Details: 281-316-0088 or www.mymariposaflowers.com.
The Naked CupCake and Coffee Café at 4611 18th St. in Bacliff is all about creativity, said Angela Fanos, who co-owns the specialized bakery with Pria Butler.
Guests match bare cupcakes with the frostings and sprinkles of their choice.
Some of the most popular selections are French toast and bacon, chocolate-covered cherry and red velvet.
The staff also accepts requests for special flavors.
"Our concept here is if you can dream it, we can create it," Fanos said.
The Naked CupCake frequently provides goodies for special events including "skinny-dipping" parties, where guests dip strawberries, and cupcake-and-cocktails celebrations.
Additional baked goods are available, too, along with specialty coffees and teas.
Visit: www.thenakedcupcake.com or find The Naked CupCake and Coffee Café on Facebook, where daily flavors are posted.
For something more intimate, gifts from Nancy's Bra Boutique create win-win situations for gift givers and recipients, owner Nancy Picou said.
The boutique at 613 E. Main St. in League City provides expert fittings and carries more than 100 sizes.
The inventory ranges from practical to more on the fun side.
"We have corsets, which are wonderful," Picou said.
The French corsets by CJ Grenier sell for $110. "They're made well, hook up in front and lace up in the back," Picou said.
Another fun option could be leopard-print panties, said Picou, who recommends wearing them beneath a little black dress.
Details: Call 832-932-5167, or visit Nancy's Bra Boutique on Facebook.
The Gumbo Bar, now open at 1615 FM 646 in League City, features a vast selection of gumbos, from traditional seafood recipes to prime rib, for a Valentine's Day night out.
The gumbo is prepared in front of the customers.
This eatery is a good spot for romantic meals, said Liz Rogers, marketing and public relations director for the Galveston Restaurant Group, which owns the new restaurant and the original Gumbo Bar location in Galveston.
"There's nothing that says love like sharing a bowl of gumbo. It warms your soul, and it warms your heart," Rogers said.
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