Resident Feature

Love in the time of Covid

Valentine’s Day is coming soon and if you are like my husband and me, you have already spent a LOT of time together and may not feel like celebrating a holiday focused on your relationship! While Valentine’s Day is often called a made-up “Hallmark Holiday,” marking the occasion is a positive way to break up the monotony of stay at home orders. Research indicates that having rituals for holidays offers structure that can positively affect our mental health, which is an area we all could use a little help with in these difficult times. All it takes is a bit of creativity to make your stay-at-home celebration romantic and fun: 


Most people don’t decorate for Valentine’s Day-maybe because they have just finished getting their December decorations put away! A few touches including a heart-shaped wreath on your door or a sign board that says “love” that you picked up at a home store can show the neighborhood you are celebrating Cupid’s special day! Purchase red or pink flowers at the store for your loved one(much cheaper than delivery) and place them in vases in several rooms for a dramatic display. Hearts are easy to cut out, so kids can get in on the act with homemade heart garlands and giant paper candy hearts stuck to windows. 


Strawberry milk is a special treat for the kids, and they will love pink heart pancakes. Add a bit of red food dye to your pancake mix, then pour into a greased heart-shaped cookie cutter on your hot griddle. Top with strawberries cut across into heart shapes. 


Skip the expensive cards and write valentines to each member of your family. You can even create valentine envelopes for others to stuff with their cards. Parents can use this as a time to write to their kids about what they really love about them. 


Throw down the picnic blanket in front of the fire, send the kids to their rooms, and tell Alexa to play the romantic classical station! A perfect picnic requires a platter loaded with finger nibbles. My favorites are dried meats like prosciutto and salami, a soft cheese such as a brie and a firm Manchego cheese, french bread, Mediterranean olives, crudités, and rosemary almonds. See’s dark chocolate raspberry hearts are the perfect finish! Pair your picnic with your favorite bubbly (Roederer and Schramsberg are great choices). If you prefer red wine, the choices are unlimited, but I’d recommend to spend at least $30 on a Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. 


Sur La Table offers online date night cooking classes that are fun and easy to follow for $29. On Valentine’s Day there are several classes to choose from including Surf and Turf and Cooking with Wine. If you find this too structured, then develop your own romantic holiday meal and cook it together! and have dozens of simple Valentine’s menus to choose from. No Valentine’s meal is complete without a sweet ending: Ina Garten’s recipe for panna cotta with balsamic strawberries is light and delicious. If chocolate is a must have, I recommend the Three Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake on Ghirardelli’s website. 


If having your kids out of the picture is difficult, then perhaps let them serve you dinner ala “The Parent Trap!” The kids can also help you bake the dessert in advance, and if you go with an easier dessert like chocolate covered strawberries, they can make those for you too! Children are naturally creative, so putting them in charge of decorating the table is a fun way to get them involved. Sandra Lee of Food Network has splendid “tablescapes” that can be a great inspiration for their designs. They can create menus, cut out placemat hearts and light votive candles for your special dinner. 


Pamper yourselves with a spa night. You can each take a long bubble bath with hydrating face masks. Give each other a relaxing massage with oil scented with lavender or rosemary-both relaxing for the senses. You will both have a Valentine’s glow! 


Does all that sound like too much work? Put your feet up and support your local restaurants! Get your takeout dinner orders in early – you can preorder meals up to 5 days ahead on Doordash. Oprah Magazine online has posted 40 movies perfect for Valentine’s Day, including light-hearted favorites like Four Weddings and A Funeral, or innovative love stories like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Change it up with black and white classic movies like Roman Holiday or Casablanca. 

Valentine’s Day at home is a wonderful time to remind the special ones in your life how much they mean to you. Enjoy your night in and Happy Valentine’s Day! 

By Kristin Shopp, Resident since 2014