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February 11, 2009 > The heart of the matter

The heart of the matter

Valentine suggestions for variety of loves, lovers

By Rhonda Rigenhagen

Valentine's is a day to celebrate love - whether you're man or manatee, passionate or pen pals, pet or plastic. If you're seeking a novel way to show affection to those you love, consider the following ideas.

Does your sweetheart have a sweet tooth?
Chocolate isn't just a Valentine staple - it's practically mandatory. Your love can be translated into mouth-watering confections designed to please the senses of your sweetheart. It is said that Saint Valentine showed his devotion to his love by sending his beating heart, but you don't have to go that far. A thoughtful token will do and chocolate is a universal expression of culinary delight! Chocolate is even available as "organic," certified Fair Trade and/or sold in Earth-friendly packaging. It has been suggested by some that politically correct calories don't count.

Interested in a romantic role model?
You can't do much better than Ken and Barbie, who started dating in the '60s and - despite a temporary separation in 2004 - will soon be celebrating 50 years together (see related story). Of course, it helps when your loved one has been wearing the same size for half a century and still looks like a teenager.

A child you love may appreciate a 2009 Valentine Glam Blonde Barbie. Impress the guy or doll in your life by scouring collectibles stores or the Internet for a Valentine Barbie from the year you met, or commission a one-of-a-kind Ken and Barbie dressed to resemble you and your honey.

Are you more traditional?
If you're just looking for a new place to eat, see our STARR-rated restaurant reviews on page 24. You'll find recommendations ranging from family dining to white tablecloths, from Milpitas to Hayward, and from sandwiches to sushi.

Is the economy cramping your romantic style?
What could be dreamier, and more cost-effective, than sharing a popcorn and soda while watching 7th Heaven, 20 Minutes of Love, and Limousine Love at Niles Essanay's Edison Theater? It costs only $5 to see all three silent films, and you can whisper sweet nothings into each other's ears without missing any dialogue. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 37417 Niles Blvd., Fremont.

It's a Date, on the front page of Section 2, also has a number of low- and no-cost entertainment alternatives.

Need to start loving yourself more?
Local hospitals offer classes open to the public, such as Heart Healthy Exercise for Women from noon -1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19, at Washington Women's Center Conference Room, Washington West, 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont.

The broken hearted may want to check out Kaiser's Mended Hearts Inc. If you or your Valentine suffer from a heart condition, call (510) 784-4357 to register. Hayward's St. Rose Hospital teaches Heart Basics. Find out more by calling the Community Education Department at (510) 264-4068.

Looking for a selfless way to celebrate?
Donate to a cause you both love. If you're a fan of singers or sea mammals, for example, a $25 tax-deductible contribution let's you adopt a manatee (see photo). The gift comes complete with adoption certificate, biography, color photo, newsletter subscription and even a personalized Valentine's Day manatee card. This choice is especially appropriate for Jimmy Buffett fans, since he co-founded Save the Manatee Club. Visit www.savethemanatee.org or call (800) 432-5646.

Perhaps you have love to spare
... and crave unconditional love in return. If so, consider adopting something furry and companionable from one of the local animal shelters or rescue organizations. Visit www.petfinder.com to find one near you.

No matter how and with whom you choose to observe this day of love, have a lovely Valentine's Day.

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