Design this Valentine’s Day with ease and inspiration

It’s not that he doesn’t adore you. It’s just that dinner at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day holds about as much appeal for him as a day spent shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The mental anguish, the spoon-fed guilt heaped upon him by advertisers — not to mention the 90 minute wait for a meal prepared by a harried chef on one of the busiest nights for the year — skip it. Stay home.

Gentlemen, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for pampering your girl on the day ordained for lovers. You just need to customize a night at home for her. Make it fun for you. And orchestrate an experience that is for the both of you.

Face it. Valentine’s Day is a product of consumerism and we are at the mercy of advertisers. That doesn’t mean you have to fall prey though — take control by doing something thoughtful, affordable and inspired.

Dinner and a movie is not as cliché as it sounds.

Pick a movie that says something about her. If your mate is a take-no-prisoners kind of gal then you need to appeal to that with a movie like “Girl Fight” starring Michelle Rodriguez as a boxer. Whatever you choose it needs to capture the woman on top — speaking of which, “Woman on Top” starring Penelope Cruz is a raucous and sexy movie.

Think of her and what she likes. Tell her why you chose the movie. Be specific. She needs to hear your thoughts. If you have a funky, artsy kind of partner consider “Chocolat,” starring Juliette Binoche or “Amalie,” a French film with the irresistible antics of Audrey Tautou.

Outdoorsy is she? No horse-loving woman can resist “Man from Snowy River” set in New Zealand.

You’re covered on the movie — or at least have a few ideas. You have 24-hours to pull this off so call your movie store and reserve, reserve, reserve.

Now for her appetite — which, if handled right will leave her with a yen for romantic sustenance. The meal will be take-out but not served in the to-go container. Presentation is like location. Say it three times. It may be the first and foremost selling point.

Keep it simple. Easy for you means prepared by a pro. Consider your favorite deli. In Lihu‘e there’s no contest for local seafood at Fish Express. On the Eastside there’s Windward Market or for gourmet grab-and-go, Costco has a fun selection of cheese, fruit and shell fish.

At Windward though, delicacies like smoked duck — marinated and smoked on the premises — are available, not to mention their generous crab cakes with lemon aioli, Maine lobster claws, wild Mexican jumbo shrimp and cheese spreads for their homemade crostini. Think finger food but elegant.

Don’t use those chipped plates in the cabinet. There’s still time to drop into the kitchen section of one of the box stores or Macy’s for two pretty porcelain plates. Five to ten bucks and you have something memorable and new. New is important because it elevates the dinner dramatically and considering you may be sitting on that tired couch in the living room, the new plates are critical. Be sure to clear those muscle magazines off the coffee table and grab a few candles.

Champagne, the iconic choice for a special occasion can be taken to the next level if you pick up a flavored liqueur like Pom or Creme de Cassias to turn her cocktail pink. Remember, you are tailoring this for her so these suggestions are merely examples. If she’s a cola girl then by all means get maraschino cherries. The point is to take the next step up in tailoring a few intimate hours at home.

Dessert should be small but intense. Sweet Marie’s in Kapa‘a has chocolate coconut macaroons that will make her swoon. If you’re on the Westside, Kaua‘i Chocolates has giant Maui chocolate dipped strawberries, but those are only available on Valentine’s Day. Whatever you do though, do not skip on the sweets, even if it means just picking up some decadent ice cream or mochi balls.

If it isn’t raining — not likely — but on the off-chance, consider a picnic. Picnic tables dot the coastline of Kaua‘i. Just bring a sarong to toss over the top and a couple of those glass candles with the saints on them. All the grocery stores carry them — they’re a couple bucks and won’t blow out in the wind.

If you must go to a restaurant then for goodness sakes make a reservation — like right now — stop reading and go pick up the phone. But if you blew that already, bring a little something to hold her over while you wait an hour for your table. Toss a cooler in the backseat with one or two treats — peeled tangerine slices and a glamorous cheese, plus her favorite adult beverage. You’ll have her purring like a kitten, which is much sexier then her stomach growling like a tigress.

All your bases are covered now. Time’s awaistin’ so get moving.

Love stories in every shape and color

• “Amalie” — hot French chic woos lover in Lone Ranger mask

• “Chocolat” — seductive single mother plus chocolate shop equals love

• “Girl Fight” — tita takes up boxing and excels at fighting and relationship

• “Harold and Maude” — Cat Stevens’ sound track, faux suicides and true love

• “Hitch” — Matchmaking gone amuck

• “It Had to be You” — couple meet on a weekend and ditch their betrothed

• “Like Water for Chocolate” — Mexico, aphrodisiacs and heart break

• “Love Actually” — set in England, eight couples with intertwining story lines

• “Man From Snowy River” — Hot kiwi paniolo on horseback; what’s not to like

• “Never Been Kissed” — Undercover reporter returns to high school; seduces teacher

• “Princess Bride” — Fairy tale for adults with humor, swordplay, pirates and monsters

• “Simply Irresistible” — Square department store exec falls for sales girl

• “The Sleeping Dictionary” Malaysian tutor to an Englishman delivers more then English lessons

• “Woman on Top” — Brazilian chef teaches her husband a lesson in love

• “The Secretary” — A kinky love story about an emotionally challenged boss and his newly hired shy secretary


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