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28 Experiences to Create This Valentine's Day Instead of Buying More "Stuff"
Valentine's Day. Do you love, detest, or feel indifferent to it?
Me? I swing between rolling my eyes at the extra money stores want us to believe we need to spend, and still wanting to spoil an extra special someone on this day.
The truth is Valentine's Day doesn't have to be about gift buying and adding more things to a pile of stuff we don't need. And a planet that struggles to know what to do with those things once we're done with them.
Instead, why not make it a day you show a significant someone how much they mean to you by creating a unique experience for just the two of you. Where the time you spend together is what will create memories that last a lifetime.
And of course, that someone special does not have to be a romantic partner. It can also be a friend, parent, child, sibling, or making Valentine's a day you show yourself a little extra love.
Here are 28 ways to spend time together that feel a little "extra" this Valentine's Day, no matter who you share it with:
- A drive to a scenic outlook, with chilly-bin cooled drinks and nibbles, music that's special to the 2 of you, and the time to chat. Or perhaps a thermos full of hot chocolate and a bag of marshmallows, candy or chocolate, is more your style.
- A carpet picnic with lots of pillows, cushions, and a duvet on the lounge-room floor. Together with a plateful of cheeses and that bottle of wine you've been saving. And perhaps an old B&W movie playing in the background.
- A daytime walk or bike ride, with a few yummy treats, snuck into a back-pack.
- An afternoon spent roller-blading, ice-skating, bowling, or playing arcade games.
- Attending a lecture on a topic you're both interested in, a comedy show, or an "improv" session.
- Buying a copy of the ultimate love book (The Five Love Languages) and reading it together. No matter the stage or type of relationship, understanding someone else's (as well as your own) love language will always improve it.
- A day spent pretending you're tourists in your own town or city, discovering a few back-streets together, a new cafe, museum, or art gallery.
- Time spent taking a new class together. Think dance, yoga, photography, meditation, wine-tasting, or a cooking class.
- Tickets for 2 to their favourite band, concert, opera, or theatre piece.
- Enrolling in a lesson or 2 in a racing car driving school.
- Taking them tandem sky-diving or hot-air ballooning.
- A half-day wellness package to a bathhouse, that could include steam rooms, sauna, hot tubs, and perhaps a side-by-side massage.
Or perhaps you're leaning toward is a cosy dinner at home, for just yourself, or together with a special someone.
SWEET N' SPICY ROASTED NUTS
Perfect with a little pre-dinner drink and can be made weeks in advance when kept in an airtight container.
Just be sure to buy unsalted, raw nuts for this recipe, and mix and match to your taste of nuts.
INGREDIENTS (Makes approx. 5 ½ cups mixed nuts)
- 2 cups whole almonds
- 2 cups pecans or walnuts
- 1½ cups pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (or make this recipe dairy-free by using olive oil)
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce or omit if sensitive to spice)
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, so the maple syrup doesn't get stuck to the pan (this is important). Pour the almonds, pecans and pepitas onto the pan and set it aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the optional rosemary (or any other added seasonings), maple syrup, melted butter, salt, vanilla, and cayenne (if you using). Gently whisk until blended.
- Pour the mixture over the nuts on the prepared baking sheet. Stir well, until all of the nuts are lightly coated. Spread the mixture in a single layer across the pan (the maple syrup will pool on the bottom of the pan, but that's okay).
- Bake, stirring after the first 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes after that, until almost no maple syrup remains on the parchment paper and the nuts are deeply golden, approx. 25 minutes. (The maple syrup coating will be a little sticky right out of the oven, but will harden as the pecans cool.)
- Remove the pan from the oven and stir the nuts one more time, spreading them into an even layer across the pan. Let them cool down for about 10 minutes, then, while the nuts are still warm, carefully separate any large clumps (this may or may not be necessary).
- Let the nut mixture cool completely on the pan. These will keep for up to 2 months in a sealed bag at room temperature.
INDONESIAN RED RICE SALAD
This is delicious served warm or at room temperature. Easy to prep in advance and makes divine left-overs.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 2-3)
- 1 cup red rice, rinsed and soaked
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 red chilli, seeded and chopped (or use a sprinkling of chili flakes)
- 1 inch piece ginger, grated
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 small head of broccoli chopped into florets (or 250g green beans, chopped)
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ tsp maple syrup
- ½ cup Thai basil, shredded
- ¼ cup macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped
- 1 large lime, quartered
- 1 ripe mango, diced (works well with a ripe pear too)
- Cook the rice, depending on brand anything between 30-45mins. Set aside.
- Heat oil and add green onions, garlic, chili, ginger, coriander, carrots, beans/broccoli. Stir-fry until veggies are crisp-tender.
- Add the coconut milk, soy sauce, and maple syrup to the veggies and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 mins.
- Add the rice and toss it all through on the stove-top so it all warms through again.
- Pour all onto a platter, scatter basil, mango and macadamias on top.
- Serve with lime wedges on the side.
RASPBERRY COCOA BLISS BALLS
These pretty little things are the perfect sweet finish to this Valentine's Day meal. They also make a perfect afternoon pick-me-up any ol' day of the year!
INGREDIENTS (Makes approx. 24)
- 2 cups pitted Medjool dates (19-20 dates)
- 1½ cups raw almonds
- ½ cup freeze-dried raspberries
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for rolling
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons unsalted almond butter
- 1-2 tablespoons warm water if the mixture is dry.
- Add the dates, almonds, raspberries, coconut, and cocoa powder to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is thick and crumbly.
- Add the almond butter and continue to pulse. Take a small amount of mixture and press it between your fingers. If it sticks together easily and can roll into a ball shape, it's ready. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing in between, until mixture is sticky enough to hold its shape.
- Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll in shredded coconut or cocoa powder, if desired.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Hold those you love close to you. Tell loved ones often what they mean to you. And show them and our planet some love by gifting a "Valentine" your time and an experience, rather than more "stuff", this February 14.
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