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Remember Valentine’s Day with a gift from the heart

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By Marilyn Jones

For some, Valentine’s Day is a romantic holiday. But for others it’s a day to remember everyone they love: parents, children and friends.

“The person I always think of every Valentine’s Day since I was very young is my dear mother,” says Vickie Ashford of Birmingham.  “I am the tenth of 11 children.  My mother always found a way to make each and every one of us feel special.

“That’s why I don’t have to think twice about making her feel special every day, and especially on a day dedicated to love,” she adds. “She loves flowers, but not cut flowers, only those that she can plant and watch grow, enjoying them longer.  Now, at age 87, she especially likes to enjoy her gifts as long as she can.”

“On Valentine’s Day I always think of how my dad would stop at a local drug store and bring home chocolate covered cherries for my sister and me, and a Whitman’s Sampler for mom,” recalls Meg Lewis of Montgomery. “Now I try to do something small for the office and my close friends.”

“I remember my husband and children,” says Machelle Steiner of Dauphin Island. “The people I love want chocolate, so I buy them candy, a card and some sort of trinket for Valentine’s Day. I’ve done this for years.

“I don’t think it’s just a romantic holiday, I think it’s about remembering the ones we love,” Steiner adds.

Valentine candy and other treats

Morgan Price Candy Company in Decatur is a great source for everything chocolate. They’ve been creating candy for Valentine Day and all year round since 1987 when Mary Morgan began a mail order candy company out of her home and a church kitchen. Because of the quality of her candy and attention to detail, her business grew until she had to open a candy store.

Today the tradition continues under the guidance of Nancy Curl. The candy, made from time-honored recipes, is available at the Decatur store and can be shipped to all parts of the country.

“Hope’s Cheesecake in Gulf Shores ships nationwide as well,” says Kim Chapman of Silverhill. “If you’re remembering someone out of town, they make it easy to send a nice gift. Just about everyone loves cheesecake.”

For the cheese lover, Belle Chèvre in Elkmont is an excellent choice for goat cheese. Belle Chèvre has produced a variety of internationally acclaimed cheeses since 1989 using European farmstead techniques.  Belle Chèvre offers individual cheese selections, breakfast spread, cheesecake, cookies and gift boxes at their store. These items can also be shipped.

 

Gift Shop Ideas

Black Belt Treasures in Camden has many handmade options available for purchase, including pottery.
Black Belt Treasures in Camden has many handmade options available for purchase, including pottery.

“My wife appreciates gifts that remind her of nature or perhaps something hand made,” says Mark Lyman of Tillman’s Corner. “That’s why I look for gift shops with handcrafted items.”

Black Belt Treasures in Camden is an exceptional place to buy made-by-hand creations. “We’re a nonprofit arts center representing more than 300 artists,” says Kristin Law, Art Program and Marketing Manager.

The sprawling store offers everything from baskets and pottery to folk art, sculptures and quilts.

“We also have a wide array of art classes taught by our regional artists — and a gift certificate to a class also makes a great gift for Valentine’s Day,” adds Law. “I have personally had couples take my pottery and hand-built ceramics class together.”

“Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment in Huntsville is the Southeast’s largest center for the arts,” says Charles Winters of Huntsville. “There are working artists, small businesses, restaurants and live performances in this building that used to be a textile mill.

Down south, several locally owned shops at The Wharf in Orange Beach, including Fish on a Dish Unique Gifts, stock works of locally created art and handcrafted items including paintings, sculpture and jewelry.

Another excellent source for unusual items is museum and tourist attraction gift shops. At the Coastal Arts Center at Orange Beach, the gift shop one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, pottery and artwork. Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore also has a spacious gift shop filled with unusual gifts including a large selection of Coke-related merchandise.

 

Romantic Getaways

Getaways are always great gifts for couples to give each other and Alabama has a lot to offer for those not wanting to journey far from home. Check out one of the bed and breakfast destinations in Alabama, such as Winston Place in Valley Head at the base of Lookout Mountain.  If skiing is something you enjoy, Cloudmont Ski Resort in Mentone offers skiing, horseback riding and hiking trails. And in Montgomery, the Harriett II Riverboat offers Valentine’s romantic cruises including dinner, roses, champagne and live entertainment.

Sure, Valentine’s Day can be construed as a “Hallmark” holiday, but isn’t it fun to turn it around and make it about the love we have for the special people in our lives?

I’m sure Saint Valentine would approve.

 

For more information:

Morgan Price Candy Company: www.morganpricecandy.com

Hope’s Cheesecake: www.hopescheesecake.com

Belle Chèvre: www.bellechevre.com

Black Belt Treasures: www.blackbelttreasures.com

Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment: lowemill.net

The Wharf: alwharf.com

Coastal Arts Center: ‎www.coastalartscenter.com

Bellingrath Gardens and Home: www.bellingrath.org

Alabama Bed and Breakfast listing: www.bedandbreakfast.com/Alabama

Cloudmont Ski Resort: http://cloudmont.com/

Harriett II Riverboat: www.funinmontgomery.com/parks-items/harriott-ii-riverboat