When you've been married for double-digit years, Valentine's Day is merely Feb. 14.
When you've been married for double-digit years, every day is Valentine's Day.
And, if every day is Valentine's Day, how do you keep the romance going? Or at least be able to tolerate each other.
1. Candles. When I lived in Boston, the lower level of my building was rent-controlled and occupied by some interesting folks, like a guy who went by the name Little Sam. "The only true light is candlelight," he'd say.
Rarely were better words spoken.
I'm currently burning through Vanilla + Oak candles from Paddy Wax's "Relish" series, which come in reusable mason jars (see paddywax.com for a list of local retailers). A close second is Voluspa's French Bourbon Vanille candle. But forever close to my heart is anything on the shelves at Clarity Soaps & Candles (3022 Juniper St. in South Park), where I went last weekend to load up on votives and stocky pillar candles. Clarity's candles have a rustic look and while they're scented, the scent's not overwhelming. My go-to is the deep-red Cabernet candle. I also picked up a few mango-papaya candles, sage-and-pepper-leaf and red velvet. There was an incredible orange-chocolate-hazelnut, but it's seasonal and I pretty much cleared out that shelf. Sorry. Cool bit o' info: Bring in your used-up candles; all of Clarity's candles are at least 50-percent recycled wax.
2. Music. Nothing goes better with candles than the pop and hiss of vinyl. Sure, having to flip a record halfway through might kill the mood but, whatever. If you're currently turntable-less, hit up Warehouse Sound & Lights (8430 Production Ave. in Mira Mesa); check out the selection of Audio Technica turntables. Or, if you're willing to put in a little effort, on a weekend when the weather's good, drive to South Park, to the intersection of Fern and Ash streets and look for the sign advertising vintage electronics. Then go east on Ash and look to your left for an open garage. Inside, a guy named Ray peddles a small selection of turntables, receivers and related gear from the 1960s to present. A couple Saturdays ago, he had a vintage Onkyo turntable for $65. He says he won't sell anything that's not in working condition. If you have a turntable that needs fixing, take it to Fred Longworth at Classic Audio Repair (3401 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights)—though, it's strongly recommended that you first read Dave Maass' Jan. 16 profile of Longworth. You'll understand why once you read it.
For something to play on that turntable, go to one of our fine local record-selling establishments (Record City in Hillcrest, Off the Record in North Park, M-Theory in Mission Hills, Thirsty Moon in Hillcrest, Cow Records in Ocean Beach, Lou's in Encinitas) and browse for something old-school and subtly sexy, like Alice Coltrane's Journey in Satchindananda or Stan Getz and Astrud Gilbertoís Getz Au Go Go.
3. Rings: There's something about getting a ring from your husband—who's already given you that ring—that'll always be romantic. Currently at Taboo Studio (1615 1/2 W. Lewis St. in Mission Hills) is Put a Ring on It, an exhibition of rings by 22 jewelry designers (there's a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15). All the rings are for sale, with prices ranging from $170 to $3,000. Even if you don't have that kind of dough, these rings are worth checking out—like Donna Veverka's statement-making architectural rings, or Kristin Lora's whimsical (yet slightly creepy) use of tiny figurines. For something a little more traditional, there are April Higashi's simple, elegant "diamond slice" rings.
Not part of the exhibition, but available at Taboo, are Sandra Russell's pretty-yet-sleek, stackable heart rings ($125 to $150) that she's wax-casted in silver. For some, she oxidizes the finish, or scuffs it up a bit to push the rings beyond what you'd expect from a ring with a heart. Or, as Taboo owner Joanna Rhoades put it after telling me about Russell's work, "Nothing in our gallery is typical jewelry." You can see more of Russell's designs at sandraleerussell.com.