How to Valentine’s Day

four picture panel collage from left to right: sunflowers growing wild, a white and pink cup with little red hearts being dropped into it - the one facing the viewer says 'I love you,' A clear glass heart against red confetti and a pick background, and tree in front of the sun with a glint from the sun passing from under the branches. A bottom border of candy hearts and from left to right they read 'charm me' 'kiss me' love you' 'be mine' get real' 'you rock' 'cutie pie' 'love you' 'you&me'

For Valentine’s Day, The NAU Review reached out to Lumberjacks across campus for advice on how our campus community can have the best, most successful Feb. 14. So, whether you’re spending it alone, with friends, that special someone or want nothing to do with the holiday, the below tips may just provide the secret ingredient to the perfect day.

How to communicate your Valentine’s Day expectations so no one is let down
By Mike Bouck, counselor, Employee Assistance and Wellness

Last year my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. In preparation for our silver celebration, we planned a long weekend getaway to a remote mountain town. A hotel was booked and travel plans were solidified. We were excited to celebrate our relationship and reconnect away from our children, jobs and other responsibilities. Then something unexpected happened. We both got sick. I assumed she didn’t want to go. Plans were cancelled.

I was wrong. She was hurt.

In an oft-repeated, if not misattributed, quote, William Shakespeare is purported to have said, “Expectations are the root of all heartache.” They certainly were in my case. So why didn’t I just communicate what I hoped for with my wife and ask her to do the same? Because I was uncomfortable and maybe a little nervous. If I’m being honest, I was scared. Not scared of my wife—she’s a lovely person. But scared of revealing myself to her. Of being rejected. Seems we have some work left to do.

One of the things we’re working on is saying things to each other that scare us. Standing up to each other and learning to soothe and validate ourselves. Allowing ourselves to make the vulnerable choice to be seen and heard as we are. To listen and see and understand one another. This has created tension, discomfort and sometimes difficult conversations.

In his book Passionate Marriage, couples therapist David Schnarch argues that conflict forces us into what he calls the “two-choice dilemma:” 1) Destroy the relationship by placating, pleasing and lying to your partner about what you think, feel and need or 2) do the necessary things that scare you. Risk disappointment, disillusionment and/or temporary discomfort by being honest, speaking up and self-soothing in the process. And don’t mistake me to mean you forgo kindness. Author Brené Brown says clear is kind. So, this Valentine’s Day, get clear on what you want and communicate that to your partner in a fair, unapologetic and open manner. You can expect discomfort, but only on the front end. You can also expect greater intimacy, sexual passion and feelings of security and self-worth.

Hear more from Mike at an event scheduled for today:

pink background with paper hearts strung across top: title read "What Makes Love Last: The Art and Science of Intimacy and Connection" "Facilitated by Graylynn Hudson, PhD and Mike Bouck, LCSW" a frame of little hearts with this event summary"Join us to learn more about research-based skills to improve intimacy and friendship in your relationship and help you manage conflict in a healthy, positive way. All are welcome to participate, regardless of relationship status." "3:30-5 pm Thursday, Feb. 9" written at the bottom

How to not break the bank on Valentine’s Day
By Cynthia Gerber, communications coordinator, NAU Communications

Valentine’s Day—a time for love and affection, but also a time for breaking the bank. With all the heart-shaped balloons, boxes of chocolate and raspberry-flavored lattes, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and spend more than you bargained for. But fear not, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and you can have just as much fun being frugal.

  • Get crafty! It’s not quite Valentine’s Day without a sweet nothing on a card. Try making your own cards with some paper, markers and a little love. Don’t have crafting supplies? Visit NAU Cline Library’s makerspace or IMQ’s Love is Love event to create something beautiful with their bountiful supplies. You can also go the NAU themed e-card route.

    numerous homemade cards strewn about a table with a rose off to the side and red and white candies strewn about and in the shape of a heart.
    Years of saved homemade cards become a present in and of themselves.
  • two white and yellow cereal bowls filled with risotto and topped with scallops
    Two cereal bowls filled with risotto and topped with scallops, because buying special fancy dishes defeats the frugal Valentine’s Day plan!

    Ditch the fancy restaurant and cook or bake at home. Get creative with ingredients you already have and impress with your culinary skills. My go-tos for a special meal include Gordon Ramsey’s scrambled eggs for a lovely brunch—most have never had eggs like this and I’ve never gone back!My favorite fancy meal (I can make myself) is scallops over risotto, also guided by you guessed it, the great Gordon Ramsey. Thankfully, my husband is on protein and I take care of the carb and dessert. For dessert, you can’t go wrong making your own chocolate-covered strawberries, but my go-to is carrot cake; it’s my Valentine’s favorite and thanks to the carrot shavings this cake is almost impossible to dry out and ruin. Any recipe will do – did I mention this cake un-ruinable?

multiple layer pistacio raspberry cake with raspberry pink frosting on top.
A homemade multi-layer pistachio-raspberry cake tastes all the sweeter for not costing big bucks.

I’ve also made a pistachio-raspberry layer cake based on macroon we shared in Paris – save money and create a more personalized experience!

  • A movie night doesn’t need to end in destitution. Check out free film screenings, like the CAL Film seriesProchnow Movie Series or IMQ’s K Drama Heartthrob-a-Thon.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, pack some snacks and go for a walk around town, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. The Flagstaff Urban Trails (FUTS) goes right through campus and all over town! You can also go rogue and celebrate a day or two late when the crowds have died down and prices have gone back to normal (or on sale if Valentine’s-themed).

However you choose to celebrate, remember to be kind to yourself. One meal won’t break the bank, so if cooking isn’t your forte, why not treat yourself to your favorite restaurant? You can always track your expenses and pay yourself back by cutting back on spending; this could mean skipping a take-out coffee for a few weeks. Ultimately, it’s not about the money spent but the time and effort spent making the day special. Happy Valentine’s Day, Lumberjacks!

How to not have a date on Valentine’s Day
By Heidi Toth, assistant director, NAU Communications

I am terrible at dating. I am, however, very good at not having a date on Valentine’s Day. AMA.

If youtall chocolate cake’re looking for plans next Tuesday but aren’t partnered up, please accept the suggestions of a middle-aged introvert who has both really wished to have a date on Valentine’s Day and who has been happy to have other plans and who now revels in having no plans. So here we go.

Channel your inner Leslie Knope and plan a Galentine’s Day. Hang out with friends, watch movies, go skiing. I have definitely leaned into the theme and watched rom-coms while eating chocolate. Or skip the rom-coms and watch a horror movie or “The Fast and the Furious” while eating the least romantic food ever, which obviously is … barbecued ribs and garlic bread? (I’m lying. Garlic bread is great date food. Don’t we all want to kiss someone who smells of garlic?)multi-layer chocolate cake with vanilla icing

Do something for you. I once baked myself a 9-layer chocolate cake, about which I have no regrets. I have never ordered a heart-shaped pizza, but hey, you do you. Make or order your favorite meal. Read a good book. Channel your inner Donna and Tom and treat yo’ self! (When in doubt, turn to “Parks & Rec.”)

Or you can just ignore the day. It’s a cold Tuesday in February. We’re not in elementary school, so it’s not a party day. I have homework and I work the next day—you probably do too. Candy hearts are not that good. Coupled or not, it can be just another day with the bonus of heart-shaped chocolate being on sale the next day.

How to have an amAZing Valentine’s Day
By Stephanie Smith, director, Alumni Engagement

Did you know that the Feb. 14 is Arizona’s Statehood Day? While every day is a great day to enjoy the magic of the Grand Canyon State, Valentine’s Day is extra amAZing when you choose to celebrate Statehood Day too.

While it would be exciting to rediscover Arizona’s “Five Cs” (if you know, you know), here are 10 fun questions to discuss at your Valentine’s/Galentine’s outing this year while also toasting the 48th state of the Union.

  1. Favorite place?
  2. One thing that sets Arizona apart from other states?
  3. Best thing about living in AZ?
  4. Favorite Arizonan?
  5. Peaceful place to be alone?
  6. Favorite pastime?
  7. Superior season in Arizona?
  8. Fun fact about Arizona?
  9. A new favorite spot?
  10. Beloved home team?

There is so much to enjoy about Arizona. Whether you are exploring it sola or with those you hold dear, seeing something new or returning to a favorite spot, there are many ways to appreciate Arizona’s wonder this Valentine’s Day—er, Arizona Statehood Day. Have an amAZing day!

P.S. Here are my answers: 1. Marble Canyon, 2. The geographic diversity, 3. It is a tie between being close to family and not having to change my clocks twice a year in most places, 4. That’s an easy one: Louie T. Lumberjack, 5. Observatory Mesa, 6. Spring training, 7. Fall in northern Arizona, 8. The State’s official neckwear is the always-classy bolo tie, 9. Yuma, 10. The Lumberjacks, of course.

How to have a sustainable Valentine’s Day
By Grace Meinema, student, president of NAU Green Jacks

E-valentine card with pink background with Louie the Lumberjack pointing axe toward viewer. 'Axing you to be mine" written at the top. "to: " and "from" written in the bottom left corner. There are SO many ways to make your Valentine’s Day more sustainable, starting with making your own cards! To be even more environmentally friendly, make cards out of recycled materials like old books, magazines or newspapers  and give new life to these items that may otherwise be discarded. Make it even more personal by using recycled materials from past dates—old movie stubs or concert tickets, brochures from attractions you’ve visited or maps of your favorite trips.

Valentine’s Day is the holiday of desserts and treats, so consider looking up produce that is in season during winter and bake a dessert centered around that. Lemons, for example, are a fruit harvested during winter that you can make for a great desert. These vegan lemon bars are TO DIE FOR (and super easy to make!). And, it’s hard to think about Valentine’s Day without chocolate. If you’re determined to go this route, make sure you buy fair-trade and rainforest-friendly chocolate. (Bonus: It tastes so much better too!)

Other tips include:

  1. Buy a long-lasting, functional present –Everyone loves getting a book, coffee mug or cute pair of good-quality socks
  2. Gift a living plant instead of cut flowers—Orchids are beautiful flowers that require little water and bloom each year
  3. Buy gifts locally—Flagstaff has a number of craft fairs, or stop by one of these Flagstaff businesses:
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