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Valentine’s Day gifts can span the spectrum from unique to unusual

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Catherine W. Idzerda
February 2, 2008

Valentine’s Day is a minefield.


A gift that says “I love you with all my heart” might not be best for Mr. Skittish.


On the other hand, a gift that says “I was purchased at a gas station,” also can get you into trouble.


Stuffed bears are just right for some women; to other women they say, “it was the last minute and I was out of ideas.”


Give a man flowers, and he might be touched by the gift-related role reversal—or he might feel his manhood called into question.


When buying a Valentine’s gift, consider the gift recipient’s personality. It’s an embarrassingly obvious piece of advice yet it’s rarely followed.


Every February, men who subscribe to Maxim magazine get poetry anthologies when they’d rather have a couple of packages of beef jerky from Sorg’s in Darien.


Every February, women with darkly ironic personalities get boxes of nasty, cream-filled chocolates when they’d rather have a book of Rilke’s poetry—or at least a novel by Garrison Keillor.


But you, now promise, are going to make your loved one’s personality a priority, so consider these choices:


-- If you’re going with chocolate, make sure it’s quality. Fudglies, 1901 Holiday Drive, Janesville, is a local favorite for chocolate-dipped strawberries, homemade truffles and fudge. For Valentine’s, Fudglies orders the very best strawberries and coats them with a delicately rich, high-end chocolate. It’s crucial to pre-order because the strawberries go fast. Call (608) 755-5199.


-- Nothing says, “I care deeply about you” like an armadillo. For Valentine’s Day, the Milwaukee County Zoo is encouraging people to sponsor its armadillo couple, Zorro and Earth Mover. The sponsorship package, which is $30, includes a 12-inch, plush-toy armadillo, suitable for hugging; a certificate of sponsorship; information about the armor-platted animals, a chocolate heart and a variety of other goodies.


In order to receive the package by Valentine’s Day, you must order by Feb. 4. Go to www.zoosociety.org or call the Zoological Society at (414) 258-2333. Or, you also can pick up your package at the zoo, turning the gift into an outing. All the zoo’s buildings are open in the winter, and many animals, such as polar bears, love a good romp in the snow. Stop in at the zoo’s warm and colorful aviary—it’s like a trip to summer.


-- Jewelry is good. Original jewelry is better. Local antique shops and the better quality consignment shops carry vintage jewelry. An elegant pin or antique locket says, “I gave this gift some thought.”


-- His and her socially minded gifts. Every year, ECHO, the church-sponsored charity, sells packs of 10 postcards for $10. The cards are for sale at ECHO, 65 South High St., Janesville.


Another choice is the YWCA of Rock County, an organization that helps the victims of domestic violence. Yes, it’s sort of a grim present for Valentine’s—but it could help another person out of a dangerous relationship and into one as beautiful as yours.


Or, consider a donation to a local conservation club. Choices include the Rock River Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever, one of the local chapters of Ducks Unlimited or the Lake Koshkonong Wetland Association. Your favorite hunter or angler will thank you for it.


-- Beer is good. Local beer is better. Buy a six-pack of Gray’s or a sampler of Gray’s best. Even better, combine it with a tour of Gray Brewery, 2424 W. Court St., Janesville. For tour information, call (608) 752-3552. Honey ale would be a good choice for Valentines. Gray’s line of sodas includes root beer, cream, strawberry, orange and orange cream, which tastes like a dreamsicle.


-- All you need is love—and tickets. American English, the critically acclaimed Beatles cover band is performing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Janesville Performing Arts Center. The group covers songs from the Beatles’ early, middle and late periods, with costumes changes for each set.


The lobby opens at 6:30 p.m. Come early, enjoy a drink and look at lobby exhibit of local artists. Tickets are $22 for adults. For more information, call (608) 758-0297 or go to www.Janesvillepac.org.


Other show choices include “Footloose” at the Armory and John Prine with Iris De Ment at Young Auditorium in Whitewater.


-- And finally, if it must be flowers, let it be flowers that last for at least seven months. Get a bouquet of flowers, add a membership to Rotary Gardens and make a promise to spend time at the gardens sometime between April and October. What could be more romantic that a stroll in the gardens?


Memberships start at $35. For more information, call (608) 752 3885 or go to www.rotarygardens.org.



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