Julie Mulligan, lifestyle expert for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, is here to share her ideas for creating a romantic, indoor Garden of Eden for Valentine’s Day! Scroll down for lots of fun tips from Julie, plus an Easy Chocolate Fondue recipe, a Valentine’s Day playlist by R&B singer Robin Thicke, & a discount code for Valentine’s Day flowers.
DINING IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Isn’t it wonderful that Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the winter? It’s such a great excuse to shut out the rest of the world and create a sanctuary where you and your love one can reconnect.
One of the most romantic ways to do this is to create your own indoor Garden of Eden. While this can be pulled off at the last minute the more prepared you are in advance the better it will be in the end. Here is a list of items that will make for a smooth romantic evening set in your very own Garden of Eden (fig leaves optional).
• Picnic basket
• Oversized pillows
• Champagne or wine
• Ice bucket
• Sensuous finger foods
If you are going to set this up in your home and you have children make plans to have them spend the night at grandma’s! Of course in front of the fireplace works nicely but if you have the space in your bedroom that works too. You really don’t need much space at all because you’ll want to have the feeling of being in your own little cocoon.
Following is an outline to help you get started and to provide some inspiration. This is all about you and the person you love so personalize as you go. Choose foods that turn them on. For example you might not think that chicken wings are romantic but if he loves them then they can be!
Pull together all of the house plants that you already have into the area that you have selected for your Garden of Eden. Use various size plants to form the perimeter of the space. If you don’t already have plants in your house this is the perfect excuse to buy a few. Growing and caring for indoor plants gives many a sense of pleasure, tranquility and peace. It connects us to mother nature in a desperate attempt to escape the chaos that we call life, but not only do plants calm our souls, they also bring us good health by improving the quality of the air we breath.
Next you’ll want to layer on the blanket and pillows where the wining, dining, and games will take place! Use as many pillows as you can in varying sizes and pleasing fabrics.
A picnic basket filled with delicious fingers foods that are perfect for feeding to each other comes next. Because you are setting this up in advance and don’t have to worry about carrying it to an outdoor space any kind of basket or decorative box will work fine. The idea is to have it filled with special treats that can be discovered through out the picnic. Remember to include a tray, plates, and any utensils you might need.
Set up your wine or champagne close to your food basket. Include the appropriate glasses, wine cooler, and ice bucket.
Music will help to set the mood. Making your own romantic play list ahead of time is ideal so that once you hit play and your set for the night. Click here for some romantic music suggestions
If games are your thing consider adding some to the night’s activities. A little variation to standard games can give them a whole new life. Some examples would be Strip Poker and Sexy Scrabble. Another fun one is to blindfold your partner and feed them various foods and see if they can guess what they are!
The last step will be adding a few special Valentine décor elements. These should include as many candles as possible and of course no romantic setting would be complete without flowers.
WHAT TO EAT
Finger foods are definitely the way to go. And you’ll want to keep things light – the last thing you’ll want to feel is full! Have a tray prepared in advance to start with so that you can begin to nibble as you are settling in.
Suggested items for your starter tray:
St.-Andre Cheese – or other triple-cream cheese such as Explorateur
Crostini with Tapenade
Stuffed grape leaves
Crusty bread – ready for breaking apart and dipped in:
Herb infused extra virgin olive oil
An iced tray of iced oysters with a spicy cocktail sauce would be a great addition to this decadent mix.
Moving over to the sweet side I would go for a chocolate fondue. They are so easy and so much fun. Fondues come in various sizes from a sweet version made just for two to an over the top bubbling fountain and all are affordable. There are many wonderful recipes online for making your own chocolate fondue sauce or you can make it really easy and buy a package of melting chocolate and your set to go. Bite size pieces of fresh fruit, marshmallows, and pretzels are just a few foods perfect for dipping. Have additional bowls filled with crushed graham crackers, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, and whipped cream for your additional dipping pleasure!
Easy Chocolate Fondue
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, reserve 1/4 cup to thin if fondue begins to thicken
4 bittersweet chocolate bars, chopped, 3 1/2 ounces each
2 tablespoons Frangelico or Amaretto liqueur, optional
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds, optional
Heat 1/2 cup cream in a heavy non-reactive saucepot over moderate heat until cream comes to a low boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add chocolate. Let the chocolate stand in hot cream 3 to 5 minutes to soften, then whisk chocolate together with the cream. Stir in liqueur and/or chopped nuts and transfer the fondue to a fondue pot or set the mixing bowl on a rack above a small lit candle. If fondue becomes too thick, stir in reserved cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.
What to Listen to:
Robin Thicke created a custom playlist of smooth, romantic sounds for HWTM readers! Here are his picks:
1. You’re My Baby
4. The Sweetest Love
5. Hard On My Love
(all of the above are from Robin’s album “Something Else”)
6. Lost Without You
7. I Need Love
8. Can U Believe
(all of the above are from Robin’s album “Evolution of Robin Thicke”)
Log on to www.robinthicke.com/discography/ or listen to or buy Robin’s music.
Thanks for the great info, Julie & Robin. To get more of Julie’s ideas, you can read her blog at www.1800flowers.com/julie
HWTM readers can enter HWTM14 to receive 15% off the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Valentine’s Day Collection through 2/15/09!