In a past-life she was an all-seeing romantic. In a blurry, fuzzy kaoledocopic universe, where she seemed to be an outsider looking in. Couples waltzing around her with laughing eyes giggling. Stolen kisses in the shadows of night, declarations of love. Romance lived in happy hearts, her own aching for even a glimpse. Carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, stuck in a cycle of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. A found it hard to let go of the demons that clung onto her so hungrily. So how could she find someone, when she was hurting? How could she manifest her soulmate, when her body was frozen in trauma? But even in her deepest, darkest moments, she found someone. The love of her life. Goofy, happy, good energy. Someone who made her smile and showed her that she was worthy of love. Deserving of being swept off her feet. It was OK to be single. She didn’t need a partner to feel fufilled. She felt the same being on her own, as she did in a relationship. She always was independent. Yet, finding ‘the one’ in an age conditioned by digital technology seemed like a secret reward. At last, she had found the type of partner she had always deserved. The person who inspired her Quirky Valentine’s gift guide, who was unique in his own way.
A person who within moments of her meeting him, had changed her life. Could it be that a partner this nice existed? She wasn’t used to compliments, found it hard to accept praise as truth. But somehow with him, she could see it was from the heart. A genuine, kind soul, who truly adored her with every soul of his being. She had never felt this way, never felt this safe. Sure, every relationship had their ups and downs. Theirs was far from perfect. But it was as close to perfect as it could get. A relationship built on love, friendship, mutual understanding, and adoration. Honeyed kisses laced with something more. She would always love him. The person who changed her life. Who continued to change her life. Who got her in ways that noone else could. Together, they had built the life they had always wanted. Three beautiful cats, purring satisfactorily with gleaming eyes. A warm flat, in her favourite area of London. Loving family, and friends. They had a long way to go, but as a team? Unstoppable.
She remembered their first Valentine’s day together, and their last-minute plans. Just before COVID-19 hit, unaware that they would be ripped apart for months to come. Families seperated, marriages breaking down. People waiting in line to receive the first injections, desperate to protect themselves against the virus. The nights were silent, and the restaurants were out of service. Slouching in loungewear, wearing blanket dresses. Peering at the world from the comfort of the window. People in quarantine, removed from their loved ones. People lost, she succumbed to grief. Death toll high, she lost a few, grieving even now, after it was all over. But she was getting ahead of herself. The first Valentine’s day, the one that inspired all her quirky gift ideas. A tale of good food, heartwarming drinks, and a whole dash of colour.
They had been together nearly a year at this point. Lovelocked, with eyes for noone but each other. Holding hands with sweet affection, cuddling up on the sofa, the TV on in the background. Their passion was clear for all to see. Bright bushy eyes twinkling conspiratorily, mouths turned up impishly. A dimple in rounded cheeks, flushed with a rosy glow. He picked her up from fashion-week in style. Him in a pale-blue shirt, tucked into dark chinos, her in a navy blue assymetrical ballgown, emblazoned with flowers. A floral red crown in her curly brown hair, red strappy heels on her freshly painted feet. A late September evening, scurrying into Shoreditch from Central. The land where Valentine’s dreams had come into fruition. She would write a story across his heart, unveiled memories. A narrative that embraced hope, and celebrated laughter. A self-care Valentine’s date that embodied who they were. They would stroll into Barrio, their favourite hangout at the time. Awash with blues, greens, reds too. A symphony of tropical murals, fused with colour. They would play games here. Cards Against Humanity, screeching like buffoons. Bursting into streams of racocous laughter, hands over their mouths.
Exploding Kittens, the epitome of a quirky Valentine’s day, and game night. A kitty-powered version of Roulette, trying to avoid the Exploding Kitten. Squealing every time they hit the unlucky card, whooping joyfully when they hit the jackpot. It was random games that united them, so it came as no surprise that their Vday, would be a game night/ food. She slurped on mojitos, crushed ice enveloping mint, poured back into her eager mouth. Him with a pint of cider, slurping his golden nectar, as it dripped on the table. Several drinks later, they scurried into the night, a sea of sepia yellow, oranges, blues, and greens blurring before their eyes. Mind the traffic, steady on. Waiting for an Uber that would take them to Needos, their next stop. An authentic Indian, Pakistani and Punjabi restaurant in Whitechapel, that A had introduced D to.
Aromatic spices wafting underneath their noses like an aphrodisiac, she could almost taste it. Lahori Chana with explosive chickpeas, soaked up with Zeera rice. Infused with ghee and cumin, deep fried vegetable samosa pastries a-top. Deep-fried with carrots, green beans, and potato, served with a simple salad. The crackle of wafer thin poppadoms dunked in mint raita, a bottle of rose wine that they had brought from home. A BYOB eatery, with flavour like no other. Washed down with a mango lassi, just like she had growing up. It wasn’t that their first Valentine’s date was completely out of the ordinairy. But it was something that resembled them completely. It emodied their interests perfectly. Colour, good food and drink, inviting interiors. Making your own fun. Bright and vibrant vibes that left them energized. Completely in love.
This date, set the cornerstones for other dates, big and small. No matter what they did, even in lockdown they made their relationship work. And so inspired by her first Vday, she wrote, looking back on the memories with fondness. Imprinted in her mind, conjuring up romantic, sentimental, quirky, and colourful gift ideas for couples. Something silly, something unexpected, gifts that would work just as well for singletons as it would for couples. Married, first dates, and everything in between. Galentine’s gift ideas that were budget-friendly. Luxury, mid-range, noone was left out/. Gifts that were small, medium, extraordinairy. Simple or grand. Elegant or casual. She was never one who was concise. She truly in her heart believed there was something for everyone.
And so the journey began; vegan beauty, fit for a monarch, reigning proudly on a Valentine’s throne. Shea butter, she knew it well. Rubbed into parched skin, weather-whipped. Stiff in the cold, numb to the touch. Coaxed into life, with an invigorating massage, letting the smell of royalty wash over her. A self-care ritual of platonic love, or a teasing apertif in a couple’s game. Beauty that transcended all occasions. Her partner had his own self-care ritual. A beard trimmer that tamed his ginger scruff into submission. Bristled hair swirling down the plughole, a shock of orange. A bristling moustache that joined onto a fiery carpeted beard. She smiled, coaxing him out of the bathroom, their train was almost here! For they were off on an adventure to a secret country hotel, in manicured green grounds. Stark trees waiting for spring, a slate greyish yellow building breathtaking in the extreme. A glimpse of a wedding, a clock into the future of what life could be. Silky white a-line dress, so stark to her own wishes. Yet admittedly, the bride looked beautiful.
She looked down at herself, in a favourite pink and red combo. A red ruffled heart handbag perched on her shoulder. Accompanying a retro heart print coord, with a splash of baby pink. A red pearl beret covering a multitude of sins, despite the hair that was trying to escape. Fuschia pink heart open toe platforms, a little wobbly on grass. They shared a kiss, love’s elixir, her freshly painted hands ruffling his hair. Glittery Barbie pink nails, glossy and sparkly. Shining in the morning winter sun that was crawling into Durham. They were joined as one, a small romantic picnic packed in a whimsical hamper basket. Quaint china cutlery and matching forks, an array of treats awaited. Chilli jam, in the shape of a heart, slathered onto fresh loaves of bread. Plump strawberries engulfed in cream, blueberries floating. Vegan ‘milk’ chocolate, Peruvian blend, smeared around hungry mouths. Sandwich pinwheels, and pastries too, a chocolate croissant, with a hazelnut filling. A quirky Valentine’s day that combined food, travel, and nature.
All too soon their adventure had come to an end. But Valentine’s day wasn’t over just yet. Wait, what was this? A bouquet of rainbow dyed flowers, waiting on the bed. A stark contrast to the tropical palm print bedding, a sea of green. Blue roses, and yellow too, a hint of orange in one breathtaking bundle. Petals scattered on the bed, cats sniffing gingerily. She would clear them out with an apologetic simp, this moment was all theirs. Talking into the early hours of night, swept up on a wave of heated passion, and seduction. Toys that seemed innocent, and assuming. A symbol for something more. An uncoded secret, rose buddies if you will. A flick, lick, simulated touch. Devilish alone, magnetic in a couple. Adult toys bursting with love, passion and excitement. Gadgets that had them coming up roses, gasping for air. Crackling frissons of heat like electricity between them, re-awakened longing.
The fun didn’t stop there. Couple themed sex-games for something different. Rude card games that made them laugh. Sex IQ quizzes that tested their intimate knowledge, navy blue cards. Slapped down onto the bed triumphantly, a precursor to their next game. F**k, Marry, Kill, a classic growing up. A game that made them weep with laughter, tears streaming down their faces. Ridicolous explanations and surprising revelations, games that made their relationship better. At last, they sank into the dreaminess of night. Sleeping oh so blissfully. In their comfort zone, where their love went from strength to strength. Morning awakened, the weather gloomy. A rare rest day, where time was free. Freedom from the shackles of workling life, burn out dissipitating. For their quirky Valentine’s day gift ideas were fashioned from their idea of fun. Vegan beauty, and love-themed books. Heart-shaped food, and romantic drinks. Novelty card games, and something for their feline friends. Personalized gifts with heart and soul. This was their prophecy. Spreading love, joy, and hope around the world.
Vegan Valentine’s Beauty
It all began with beauty. Vegan cult classics with a 100% date night success rate. Peering in the smeared mirror, fingerprints visible, staring at her reflection. Newly prepped eyebrows fluffed up with eyebrow gel. Striking dark brown groomed catterpillars wiggling. Lips marinated in smooth lip balm, like jelly. Cracks smoothed out. Fuschia pink lipstick outlined with pencil. A kissable pout glossy yet matt, a simple dash of mascara sweeped across dark lashes. Blush massaged into cheek contours, a flush of pink. Highlight dotted on the cheekbone, in shimmering brown. Freshly painted nails, in pillarbox red, glinting under the bathroom light. She surveyed her reflection with contentment. Peering down at the etheral pink printed wrapover dress, with red stilettos, and a crown. When it came to quirky Valentine’s day gift ideas, colourful beauty was A’s forte.
Even in a sea of faces, she would choose D again and again. The love of her life, who made her feel like no other had before. A gentle giant, with a child-like sense of wonder. A silly, fun sense of humour, that never failed to make her laugh. Even now, four years on, it felt like the first moment they had met. She didn’t believe in love at first sight, but by God did she believe in soulmates. He was her other half, the person who could unlock the key to her heart. Who shattered her wall-like prisons that she barricaded herself in, who loved her for all her vunerabilities. He deserved the world, and she intended to give it to him. After all, there were countless times where she was a prisoner of her own mind. Fuelled by extreme anxiety, that coursed through her veins. Restless body, and overwhelmed mind. Stuck in a cycle of overthinking, uneasiness and erratic fear. With his hands, he would help her breathe. Massaging her tense back, neck and shoulders that were anxiety-ridden.
She wanted to return the favour. He lay on his back, his pale skin smattered in Shea Butter. Gently massaged into dry, irritated skin. 100% pure highest grade unrefined Shea Butter, rich in essential fatty acids. From Aviela Beauty, whose Shea Butter knowledge knew no bounds. The Queen of natural skincare, whose products were intensely hydrating. Vitamins A, and E infused, with a beautiful light and airy texture. He sighed, content. His eyes rolled back in bliss. Her marvelling in wonder, as she expertly kneaded tight knots. Sumptous butter absorbing into his skin, a thin layer on the surface. Warm in the palm of her hands, she worked her magic on his sore joints. Feeling the stress leave his body, watching his muscles relax. It gave her great joy, a total escape from reality. Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, the scent of nutty smokiness permeating the air. A colourful pink small box, encased with a surprise within. An amber glass pot, with white smooth cream.
It was a miracle cure, a multi-purpose vegan Valentine’s beauty hack for a couple’s massage. They took it in turns to massage each other, soft lilting music in the background. Turning the lights down low, watching the shadows waltzing on the walls. The dim light caressed their flushed cheeks. The cats pounced on the remennant flickers. With open arms they massaged each other. Massaging away weary time, thanks to its softening, moisturising and inflammatory properties. A beauty staple that had been used for centuries in parts of Africa. A natural remedy to protect, heal, promote skin renewal, and help control skin inflammation. Even natural skincare could be quirky, one of a kind. She danced in its essence. Breathed in its perfume. Drifting into the underworld of sleep, blissfully sweet.
Brows by Sarah
It was a self-care ritual, an act that made her feel good about herself. It wasn’t that she needed it. But it added colour into her life. It transformed the way she dressed, acted and felt. A confidence booster, that was perfect for a quirky Valentine’s look. She would hush the naysayers, the ones who believed makeup was worn for others. A load of horse s**t, she wore it for herself. A meditative, relaxing routine that brought elation to her life. Playing with colours, ombre reds mixed with sunset yellows buffed out into feline flicks. Mascara amplified, highlighting dark brown eyes. Even under the thin layer of foundation and gloss, she felt like herself. Not a mask to cover insecurities. But a weapon of self-love. That accentuated not hid the natural beauty others said she possessed. She never believed it herself. She never conformed to society’s ideal of beauty after all. But it didn’t matter. Makeup made her feel confident, sexy, and seen.
Though she had the ability to paint on a smile. She didn’t need to. She felt radiant, glowing in perfumes, creams, and oils. Freshly threaded brows the centrepiece of the face, espresso brown. A cross between chesnut and black, an in-between, much like the curly waves that cradled her head. She was content with her partner, with quirky Valentine’s day gift ideas that would suit them both. Yet this was a singleton’s treat. A Wow Brow Duo, with brow products that would take her makeup to the next level. Hacks that she could use whether she was going au’ natural, or fully glam. A fluffing gel, and a brow pencil. A regrowth brow product. She had only one person to thank. Brows by Sarah, an elite permenant makeup artist, who had worked with the best. Vegan and cruelty-free products that gave brows the wow factor.
Even in her darkest moments, when she wanted to turn and run, makeup gave her purpose. She wasn’t a makeup artist, far from it. But she loved experimenting with colours, techniques and products. It brought her joy, and her eyebrows were no different. The redness had gone down, and her skin was clear again. Eyebrows that were thick yet sparse at the same time. Dark black with hints of brown, gappy spaces that needed to be filled in. She would trace her brows with a path of dark brown, adding Wow Brow for instant colour. Immediate definition with a built-in brow sculpt. A rich dark colour for strong coverage, that was still natural. She added it to her brows with the mascara wand, gently brushing in an upwards direction. Starting at the bulb of the brow, making her way to the tail. A natural brow look for a more laminated effect, that was just as stunning on its own, as it was with makeup. Bonus? It was a 3 in 1 brow product that would condition and reactivate brow growth to weak or sparse areas. Far and above it was her favourite product.
Yet there were two other brow essentials for a Quirky Valentine’s day. In a world where thick, defined brows were flavour of the moment. She remembered when she was younger how people would tease her for her thick eyebrows. Preferring the overplucked 90’s arch. Yet, how times had changed. Lusting after naturally thick eyebrows with jealousy. There were moments where she would be bare-faced, a simple dollop of moisturiser massaged into her skin. Glowing, soft, bare from makeup save from eyebrows, and lip balm. The ‘Fluff it Up Gel’ was her saving grace. A super lightweight, and strong clear gel that would lift, fix, and sculpt brows instantly. With anti-aging benefits to hydrate and firm the skin. A complex combination of plant extracts to improve skin elasticity, encouraging collagen production. Rather than ‘fluff it up’ like the name suggested, she simply used it to coat the brows. Revelling in its fullness, with long-lasting hold.
One hero product remained. A Wow Brow Pencil, for those special moments. A tool that would help her have the right eyebrow shape, that would lift, define, and flatter her whole face. As Sarah said ‘brows are extremely personal-it’s not one size fits all’. She was right. Eyebrows, hers included were unique. It was important to ‘honour her natural eyebrow shape’, albeit tricky to do. Though there were many eyebrow trends, she went with what suited her. The most natural, that would boost self-love. With the Wow Brow Pencil, she would transform her brows. A highly pigmented signature pencil for precise hair strokes and powder strokes in one. Brushing her hairs upwards with the spoolie brush. Using the angular side of the pencil to mimic brow hairs to fill in her sparse areas. Unruly hairs tamed, layered colour for definition. A date night essential, even her partner was impressed.
She remembered sitting on her childhood bed, surrounded by blue walls that were immediately comforting. Perched, with her legs half-crossed, forehead furrowed in concentration. A bag of makeup spilled on the duvet, lipsticks, eyeshadows, and eyeliners too. A rainbow of colours even then, albeit not as colourful as she was now. The time where she was just coming into her own, natural at first. Browns and nudes, earthy colours that complimented her skin. Save for the black that coated her eyelashes, liner around her eyes. Not even an eyebrow filled in, or foundation on her skin. A sweep of brown eyeshadow, and the infamous eyeliner flick. A lipgloss on her lips. How times had changed. Her face a rainbow of colour. But why were all the makeup poems disillusioned? Tales of makeup to ‘cover insecurities’, to mask mental health woes. Why couldn’t makeup be seen in a positive light? How joyful it was.
Makeup was exploratory, and her quirky Valentine’s day aesthetic was no different. Heart printed denim jeans with a matching jacket, hung nochalantly over a red t-shirt. A heart shaped ruffle handbag, with red patent boots. A red pearl beret, hair hung loose, cascading down her shoulders. As for the makeup? Bright flamingo pink eyeshadow, with irridescent pink glitter. Dark brows, even darker lashes. Fuschia pink matte lipstick, a pop of colour. Cherry pink blush, with an undertone of brown, icy highlighter shimmering on cheekbones. A change-up from the nude, natural look she needed for work. Creamy brown on eyelids, a swirl of beige on cheeks. A spot of chestnut on lips, with a sheer shimmer, lined with gloss. She had one brand to thank, 3INA. A vegan cruelty-free brand built on confident aesthetics. Playful, exhilirating, bold.
The feeling of getting ready, Valentine’s or not was incredible. The touch of eyeshadow like a gentle breath on her eyelids. The blush that brought her cheeks to life. A glimmering face filled with love, a dimpled smile radiating joy. Her skin was prepped, and primed, glowing foundation on her skin. Made dewy with drops that brought a taste of summer into winter. Refractions of light on glittering skin. But the standout? The fuschia pink Longwear Lipstick in the shade 334. A Barbie approved colour, that brought colour into winter. Creamy, transfer-proof, a matte lipstick that lasted eons. Filled with hyaluronic acid spheres for a hydrating formula. Though it was drying, it was more moisturising than other matte lipsticks she had tried. Highly pigmented, applied onto prepped, and lined lips. The ergonomic applicator embracing her lips, for a natural boost. Smooth, mess-free application. It wasn’t a mask covering who she really was. It was a weapon that she used for confidence. Incandescent in its brightness.
Then, there were the ‘easy days’, where she deviated from her usual colourful joy. The 3INA 503 No-Rules Stick, that was 3-in-1. Lips, cheeks and eyes, with a creamy, easy to blend shade. A natural hue for A, that her partner loved just as much as the ‘bright look’. Nudes that reminded her of the palette she used to frequent so long ago. An earthy brown, a striking monochromatic look. A Quirky Valentine’s day, where there were no rules or boundaries. A flush of brown on bare cheeks, a soft sheer effect on her eyelids. Built up for a more intense colour on her lips, with an extra special hero. Longwear Lipstick in the shade 302, the antidote to 334. The natural one, wearable, versatile, easy-breezy makeup. Beige brown with a hint of rose pink, a secret smile waiting. He turned, two looks before him, mesmerized. The glam party maven vibrant in pink, and the workhorse. Both striking in their own way. She laughed, leaping into his arms, bushy-eyed. Their screeches of laughter echoing around them in a delicious trance.
Ninety Ninety Nine
Anyone that knew A, understood how she played by her own rules. She was never one to follow trends, nor was she swayed by other people’s opinions. She was a passionate animal-rights advocate, with a passion for creative writing, colourful fashion, and vegan food and drink. She blurred the boundaries constantly; whether it was with makeup, fashion, or her personal life, she was never afraid to try something new. She couldn’t help but be drawn to brands who were revolutionairy too. Who said a big F**k you to societal standards, who were unapologetically themselves. When 19/99 Beauty came about, she was drawn into its bold and wonderful world. After all, age was just a number. Why should it define how you look, dress and act? She would read people’s comments, reeking of discriminatory ageism. Unwanted opinions. Be fearless, and fabulous, that was her motto.
Their colourful, yet monochromatic makeup wasn’t just ageless but clean too. Vegan, cruelty-free, no synthetic fragrances. Sustainable ingredients, and ethical packaging, a greener tomorrow, where anyone could join. Young, old or anything in between, a company with a deep love for cosmetics. A brand that was inclusive of all ideas of beauty. She would begin with the precision highlight pencil, in the shade Lustro. A cool Champagne, satin-pearl, shimmering in splendour. A fine tip highlighting pencil that she could use all over her face. She wanted to have some fun with it. After all, quirky Valentine’s day gifts were all about the unexpected. Stepping outside of your comfort zone. She convened with her partner, let him take the reins. He knew nothing about makeup, she wanted to see what he would do. He glanced at her face with furrowed concentration. He had seen her do this before. His automatic reaction to draw out a line on her cheekbones. Rubbing it into her skin for a subtle shimmer. She asked him inquisitively, whether he wanted to apply it anywhere else. Again, the concentration.
Highlight on her mouth, a sheer yet pigmented colour, with a creamy matte formula. Smooth and versatile, even for beginners like her partner. He examined her critically. She needed some colour, he cried. Coming from the man who frequented muted palettes, it was nice to see he appreciated her colouful aesthetic. The ‘Precision Colour Pencil’ in the shade Rozsa next on the table. A pink shade that was Vday approved, bursting with brightness. Bold, lasting colour, that could be used on the eyes, lips, and cheeks. He seemed more confident with this shade. Buffed on her cheeks, for a rosy flush. Like the blush she coveted, he told her with an impish smile. Where else? A wash of colour on her lids, a deep pink that glided on effortlessly. A layer on her lips, to define the highlight, a maximalist option. Makeup to accentuate, not to hide. She hid her bemused grin with surprise. Somehow, he had knocked it out of the park. Turns out he wasn’t quite as clueless as he made out…
Earthy Nail Polish
She was a firm believer in colour psychology. As much as her partner disputed her theory, colours attuned into her emotional state. Red that swirled into love, passion, and danger. Pink, that personified kindness, tenderness, and sensitivity. Two colours that were polar opposites, but worn together? Unstoppable. Colours, particularly bold, bright and beautiful hues made her feel good. Strong, powerful, self-assured. Confident, embracing self-love for the first time. For a quirky Valentine’s day wasn’t just about couples. It was about joy, self-care, and being kind to ourselves. It was about what made us happy, all fuzzy and warm inside. Having a colourful vegan beauty routine was a part of that, with a strong focus on ‘reds’ and ‘pinks’. Stimulating colours, traditionally associated with ‘feminity’. But in A’s eyes, gendered language wasn’t needed. They were non-binary, un-labelled colours that could be worn by all. Regardless of age, or gender, identity or otherwise. Sure, the colours screamed ‘romance’. But to A, red and pink together meant individuality.
Being unique, was something that Earthy Nail Polish knew all too well. A brand whose natural, vegan, and non-toxic nail polishes saw power in colour. A chance to treat ourselves, and embrace who we are through colour. She would start with ‘Passion Red’, with high-shine that was long-lasting. Biosourced, with natural origin ingredients. Clean, ethical nail polish, whose red colour was striking. A hue that attracted attention, whose energy aura was compelling. A deep dark red, with burgundy undertones, worn with a favourite red floral midi dress. A 50’s style skirt, with her signature red flower crown. Red tassel earrings in her ears, accentuated ribboned heels. A monochromatic look, with a small splash of green, peeking through. Then there was Pink Petunia, her favourite Valentine’s shade. A fuschia, flamingo pink that was commanding. A dominant hue, that screamed girl boss. Though her partner’s favourite shade on her was red, even he agreed how much pink suited her skin tone. Especially this fierce shade. Worn with a pastel pink power suit, with fuschia accent colours. A fuschia turtleneck, matched with clunky lace-up boots. A bright pink patent baker boy cap, with a loud pink teddy bear coat.
She was always one for ‘matchy matchy’ looks, and ‘Jaipur’ was no exception. A glittery, sheeny pink, that was illuminating. Sparkling in the inky darkness of night, with all but the moon to spotlight it. This time, her look was inspired by Barbie. A style icon. A maximalist fuschia pink ruffled tulle maxi dress, that was off the shoulder. A sparkling pink necklace that accentuated the nails, matching platforms on her manicured toes. Dangly chandelier earrings in rose quartz, a large pink headband in her coiffed hair. She was never a minimalist, that much was true. Playing with colours, textures, and prints. There was one last look. Maya’s Rose, a creamy light baby pink, that was soft, and subtle. Worn with a champagne pink, 90’s style slip dress, with rose gold strappy heels. Small rose gold hoops in her ears, a matching crown on her head. She felt like royalty, pared down makeup. Playing on pinks, satins, and champagne hues, with a hint of rose gold. 4 striking quirky Valentine’s day shades that inspired a date-night lookbook.
Into the glowing abyss she peered, catching a rare sight of constellations in London’s night sky. Breaking past the city’s murky light pollution, painted in the deep-dark night. Stardust in her eyes, dazzled by Orion’s Belt. Its brightest stars the blue-white Rigel and the red Betelgeuse. Three bright stars in a line, seen without a telescope. Could there be a more poetic or quirky Valentine’s day sight? She thought not. The navy-bluish sky, lit up with glowing stars that she didn’t recognize. It was rare to see the stars, she cherished this moment. Hand in hand with her love, reading the skies. It was there that she learned the skincare secret of the stars with By Terry. A celestial, vegan-friendly beauty brand whose mission was to celebrate healthy and radiant skin. An award-winning luxury French brand who had read the stars, in honour of skincare. Powerful ingredients that seemed out of this world, that transformed her skincare routine.
It was the Baume De Rose Lip Care, that stole her heart. A multi-functional balm that gathered a cult following on Earth (and in space) for those in the know. Soothing, protecting on application, rich and thick. Rubbed onto cracked, parched lips in desperate need of hydration. They reached into the skies, searching high and low for ethereal water. Stumbling across water vapour, invisible to the naked eye. Careful to avoid the otherwise beautiful stars that masqueraded as big exploding balls of gas. Tracing the path of the skies, for a hydrating lip balm, that was just at home on her face, as it was on her nails! Yet the scent was inspired by nature. The sweet scent of roses, formulated from rose flower wax, pastel oil, and nourishing shea butter. Fortified with Vitamin E to offer protection against the elements and the environment. Her lips felt rejuvanated, flaps of dead skin, rubbing away. Cracks healing, mouth restored, infused with the power of space.
Kissable lips, that her partner couldn’t keep his hands off. Soft cuticles, that he massaged with glee. Soft, floral, delicate. A scent that was clean, minimalist, yet packed an impact in its functionality. A rare breed, whose usability spoke louder than its scent. A minimalist in an astrologers golden salve. They looked up at the sky again. The stars had disappeared. The inky darkness that they knew replacing celestials. Personal constellations erased. Echoing quietness, all was still. Yet, her balm served her true. Antioxidant rich, for instant moisture. Her lips soothed for hours to come. A healing salve for combination, dry, oily, and sensitive skin. With regenerative properties, that whispered secrets into the universe at night.
This was the part of the quirky Valentine’s day story where she handed over to her partner. Lovingly, with a conspiratorial nod. For a brief time, holding the romance baton, a slight smile peeking out from a lucious beard. He twirled his moustache, scratched his bristling beard. Running his fingers through his thick hair, a contrast to the thinning hair on his head. He often joked that biology had got it all mixed up. It should be the other way round, he jested! He shampooed and conditioned his beard in the shower, the water running through his fingers. Moisturising, teasing each strand, and follicle, with tender loving care. The heat of the water, caressing him in a tender hug. It was almost time. His favourite time of the week. Grooming his beard, taming it into submission. Coaxing its wildness into a manageable state. A freshly groomed beard, without harsh bristles. Soft, smooth, yet decidedly him.
But who or what could help him achieve his bearded dream? It would be WAHL, the grooming specialists. With a stainless steel 9-in-1 multigroomer in titanium finish. Granted, it was suitable for total body grooming, but it showed his beard the most love. Lithium Ion technology for up to 240 minutes cordless run time, from a 60 minute charge. Four interchangeable cutting heads for handling his unruly beard. For a well-groomed look in the comfort of his own home. While there was the option for an ultra-close detail shave, he opted for complete beard grooming. A magnificient russet beard that the Vikings would be proud of, laced with strawberry-blonde. Thick, glinting hair, that was lustorous in the January sun. Rare, to see the sunlight streaming in through the windows, his beard a golden glow. Yet a welcome sight, beaming, as the grey days of weeks past, disspitated as he groomed.
With 12 guide combs, offering 17 trimming lengths, there was even a 6-position beard guide comb for stubble, medium or full beard. The options were endless, with even a 1 minute quick charge offering three minutes of continual use. At times, he would use thedetail shaver head, for when he wanted a super close shave. Maintaining his beard in all its fullness, with a shorter cut than before. His beard reminded his beloved of something unusual. Ragged mountains and rough terrains. Withstanding storms, and heavy rains. Imperfect, yet perfect in its flaws. Interesting, nuanced, it told a story. To A, it gave it him gravitas. Yet touching it felt soothing. Like cuddling up with a teddy bear, a promise of tummy tickling at night. But it was a surprising mix of analogies. Framing his chin like a striking Lion’s mane, crowning glory. She turned and kissed him, taking over the baton. Marvelling at his freshly trimmed beard. Twiddling it between her fingers.
Vegan Valentine’s Bags
She was never one to suit minimalism. Even from a young-age, where she wasn’t able to dress herself. Drawn to bold, bright colours, prints, and textures. A memory of herself, roughly aged 3 and a half. In a red check dress overall, layered over a red and white gingham dress. Red scrunchy in short curly/wavy hair, half-up, half-down. White tights tucked into black shoes, gazing at the floor, surrounded by birthday balloons. A love of bags already from a young age. Out of sight in the picture, a mound of clutches, purses, handbags, and totes on the floor. Favouring reds and pinks, florals, and bold monochromatic colours. Unique shapes, and novelty bags, a love she still held nearing her thirties. Smiling wistfully at the two bags she had for Valentine’s day, a heart belt bag and a Flower Shop handbag. Whimsical, playful, colourful, the perfect addition to a quirky Valentine’s day gift guide.
A handwritten letter, waiting in a beautiful black and white box. A treasure lurking inside. What could it be? Angel-spread, sent from the vibrant city of Barcelona. A land where world-class cuisine, breathtaking archtiecture, and sandy beaches united. She paused, contemplatively, her lips between her teeth. With a breath, she opened it, a satin embossed drawstring bag inside. Carefully, she unravelled it, nestled in gossamer tissue paper, wafer-thin. A bag awaited, she caught a glimpse of the colour. Deep red, sumptously glorious, like the hue of the UK telephone boxes that she coveted. She paused, setting it aside. It could wait, she wanted to savour the moment. Opting for a white envelope with her full name, curious what secrets it would unveil. She gasped, a handwritten letter from the designer herself. Her eyes welled with gratitude. Not an automatic note, but a letter with feeling. Written by Gina Madi, whose bag waited to be explored.
Her heart was full, ironic given the anatomical structure of the bag. Setting aside the letter carefully, her stomach fluttered with butterflies. The XOXO Belt Bag, that wouldn’t be amiss with the childhood gingham dress she described earlier. A vegan bag, born from a personal vintage aesthetic. Yet comfortable, practical, and adorable. Worn as a handbag, shoulder bag, and belt bag. She adjusted the strap, smiling at the high-quality gold-plated chrome buckle and clasp. Made in a soft vegan leather, that had the REACH standard certificate. Gina’s heart bag was exceptional, tugging on her heartstrings. A novelty bag for others, an everyday classic for A. Who in more ways than one, wore her heart on her sleeve. With that first look, she was captured. Captivated by its colour. A small but mighty accessory, that was unisex, loving to all. Old memories drifted by. She welcomed them with open arms. Though the air outside was fragrant with frost, she remembered joy. Sun rays enveloping her in a golden glow, bouncing off her skin. Plump red strawberries with green tops, plunged into double cream. Lying down in velvety green grass, interlinked with her love, feeling his heart beating. Wistful memories that had her regarding her bag with elation.
She felt good when she wore the XOXO, dressed up or down. By day in maximalist loungewear. A heart-print coord; baby pink maxi cardigan, with a red plain crop. Matching wide legged culottes with a tie-up waist, accentuated by patent red boots. A plain red beret, letting her bag do the talking. A casual Valentine’s outfit that had her shouting with joy. By night, a love affair brewing. Date night ready. An abstract pink and red heart print mini dress, with red knee high boots. The XOXO worn as a shoulder bag, accentuating a unique Etsy beret, half pale pink, half fuschia. With recycled felt hearts. Two looks inspired by the power of hearts, vintage with a modern twist. Like Gina Madi, whose collection of clothing, and accessories were inspired by Art Deco. Cocktail bars, and film noir females too, rare artifacts found in flea markets. Underwater treasures found in the coastline of Girona, old pictures of grandmothers in their best attire. Like A, she too harkned back to the past. Retro yet contemporary. Enchantingly delicate, while being strong.
It was a handbag that released a perfume of memories into her mind. Visions of teen years holidaying in Madeira, where flower gardens were rife. A green banana gently waving its long leaf in the balmy wind. An aged cypress nearby. Silence broken only by the squawk of the parrots in nimble flight. A green recess, with manicured lawns, a treasure trove of flowers bright and unique. A trip to Jardim Botanico da Madeira, passing from glade to glade. Two thousand species of plants, and flowers in Funchal, a riot of colour. Next to Monte Palace Garden, a succulent garden, true cacti dominating. She wandered past the Palheira (Madeirian traditional cottage) flanked by frangipani trees. Slipping into the small maze of topiary shapes, Italian style, in a sea of green. And then, there it was, a red and green floral carpet. Offering a panorama of the South Coast of Madeira.
Outside of the garden, she remembered a trip to Funchal’s infamous markets, surrounded by flowers that were breathtaking. One flower to tick off her to-buy list, for someone special. The Strelitzia reginae Ait, known to many as the Bird of Paradise, Madeira´s signature flower. Blooming in the mild Gulf Stream air. Wrapped in a bouquet, held tightly on the plane. She gifted it to her ‘Foster Nan’ with pride, knowing Madeira was her favourite place in the world. A holiday she went on, with her beloved late husband. Recently joining him in the afterlife, after passing last year. But still, she held onto that floral memory, staring at her foster nan’s order of service. Displayed proudly on her mantlepiece, trying to fight back her tears. Three months more, and it would be a year since she passed. Nevertheless, it was her she thought of, with love. Madeira’s floating flowers weren’t like the quintessential rose gardens you would find in the UK. Trawling across trellises like red and green wreaths, thorny in disguise. Roses, another memory. In her foster Nan’s garden, she cultivated for many years. A hidden slope, with a Koi fish pond , surrounded by roses, freshly clipped.
The sea of roses, a lingering memory. Making her gravitate towards Vendula London, and ‘The Flower Shop-Pink Edition, vegan handbag collection. She would opt for the Grace Bag, with floral themed artwork and hearts galore. Printed and embossed vegan leather, adorned with the most glorious sight. A pink and red bag unlike no other in her wardrobe. A pale pink spotted bag, with flurries of red hearts, with the most mesmerizing storefront image. Vendula’s ‘flower shop’ with a whimsical pink bicycle outside. Cottagecore at its finest, flowers scooped into pots and baskets. Whites, reds, and greens too. A splash of pink, just like her nanna liked. She smiled, having a quirky Valentine’s day wasn’t just about ‘romantic love’. Platonic, family love was just as important. She wore this bag for her. A handbag that brought her joy, and happiness, even though her Foster Nan was no longer here. It was just a bag, she heard her readers say. But it wasn’t not to her. It kept her memory alive. Fleetingly sad at times. But mostly joyful, worn with care. A rose embroidered gown, that hit the floor, off the shoulder. A sweet red denim ruffle coord, with all the trimmings. A fuschia bold pink power suit, with knitted boots. No matter what she wore the Grace bag with, her heart was full.
Quirky Valentine’s Experiences
She treaded carefully into a new world seperate from their own. Two quirky Valentine’s day experiences that would turn love on its head. The echoes of relationships past a distant memory in the shadows. This one was fresh. Healthy, happy, radiant. A non-toxic relationship built on love, trust, and joy. Even with the wintry whisperings that threatened to topple her over, her love kept her steady. Guided her through the darkness and into the light. A glowing orb, a torch in winter. Making her way through gnarly caves, and wild woodlands, into the brand new. Two alternate universes which one would she enter first? A country house hotel, in the heart of Durham. Glowing fireflies buzzing nearby. Roots tracing back to the 13th century. The other, where they headed to the skies. Overcoming fears on high ropes, and a zip trek.
Beamish Hall Country House
A hotel borrowed for a night. A bathroom not her own. An unfamilar bed. A trip into the unknown. But the familuar fear wasn’t there. Replaced by a sense of sultry calm. The sheets enveloping her in a gentle caress, in a stunning double room. For they had journeyed to Beamish Hall Country House Hotel, for an escape with dinner for two. Gifted by the Goddesses at Buyagift, who bestowed the reward of joy and happiness. At first glance, their mouths dropped. A hotel once a stately manor, family-owned, with a stunning vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurant. Traditional yet oozing modern charm and character. A four star hotel, set in 24 acres of wooded parkland. Away from the hustle and bustle of London, they stood transfixed. The warmth of a peppermint tea in a travel mug pulsing through her hands. Aromatic greenish-clear liquid touching her dry lips.
Picture perfect like a postcard. An award-winning hotel serving up Northern hospitality. Their mouths agape, an imposing Grade II statuesque building. An entrance porch with six ionic order columns, harkening back to its ancestral roots. Traced back to the Norman Conquest, translated as a ‘beautiful mansion’. That much they could agree on, striding towards the hotel with purpose. Swept into a world with rich sumptous rugs carpeting wooden floors. Family paintings in gold gilted frames, sparkling under the light of beautiful chandeliers. They made their way to their double room, furnished with antiques from around the world. Traditional interiors, that felt comforting. But at the same time, it was romantic; a deep wooden headboard with stark white bedding, a chandelier lampshade on a table top. Nothing about it was modern, a good thing in A’s eyes. She was never one for glass buildings and skyscrapers, instead preferring the rustic nature of traditional decor.
They took time to revel in their surroundings, her silhouette casting a shadow over the window. Getting ready for dinner, her signature red lipsticked grin, with a hint of gloss. Dark eyebrows, strong features, long tumbling hair, left to dry naturally. Cascading like a waterfall down her back, in her new favourite ootd. A lime-green tailored blazer, and trousers, paired with cobalt blue. Satin blue blouse tucked into trousers, an aqua beret perched. Chunky teal boots, with a cobalt blue vegan suede bag, a riot of colour in traditional surroundings. Him in a light blue shirt, tucked into stonewashed denim jeans, a dinner jacket, surprisingly smart. A departure from his favoured ‘comfy-casual aesthetic’.
Down to dinner they went, for a two course meal. In the hotel’s Stables Restaurant, an ambient space, lovingly restored. Original stone floors, and exposed beams. Antique furniture, and roaring winter log fires. Mozarella pesto bruschetta with beef tomatoes and roasted peppers. A nut-free pesto drizzled on garlic foccacia with a balsamic glaze. A trio of Asian sliders filled with five bean and potato Vada Pav bhajis. Layered with creamy avocado, punchy salsa, raita and mint. Paired with fresh coriander salad, with a hint of pepper. A vegan lemon swirl cheesecake to finish, with seasonal fruits and purees. Him, the non vegetarian, feasting on fillet steak, cooked medium rare. With a piquant peppercorn sauce, paired with sticky spicy lamb croquettes. Candlelight blazing, sepia tones wafting. Drifting into a dreamy reverie, where the world around them ceased to exist. That night, they lay in anticipation of what tomorrow would bring. A full- English breakfast, vegetarian for her. Before they set out into the quaint world of Stanley, to explore.
A foray into Beamish Museum, where the past came to life. They could almost see, hear, smell and taste Beamish’s history, with its hands-on-approach. The story of the people of North East England in the 1820’s. 1900’s, and 1940’s. Tasting traditional food from a coal-fired range. Boarding a tram or steam train. Reliving their childhood youth, playing schoolyard games together, and popping into the shops. Hours passed, their suitcases in tow. Not minding the inquisitive glances that came their way. One more stop, before they went home, they agreed. Discovering the beauty of Chapman’s Well Local Nature Reserve in all its glory. A tranquil green space with a small lake, and rolling hills, views that stretched for miles. Wandering around heathland, wetland and woodland, as they went bird-watching. Mallards, and Tufted Ducks in the water gently drinking. Birds of prey hunting overhead. As far as she was concerned, Beamish was a quirky Valentine’s day gift idea where you could expect the unexpected. Nothing was ever as it seemed. She was grateful for the intrigue.
Her partner turned to her bemused. This is not what he had in mind. Terrified of heights, scared of what lurked beneath. She didn’t blame him. It wasn’t a fear of hers, finding the rush exhilirating, but she had other fears. Knew how it felt. Still, she had made this her year of yes. Inspiring herself to step outside of her comfort zone, and do what scared her. She urged him to do the same, albeit respectively. To her surprise, he agreed, curious. A reminder of the time when they reached that park in the middle of the night. A like the adventurer she was climbing high-ropes, right to the top, feeling the wind rushing through her hair. Him on the low-ropes, hesitant, unsure. She wanted him to feel sure. It was OK to say no. But like A, he too wanted to make it his own year of Yes. To take on new challenges and test his own personal boundaries. So when Red Letter Days reached out to them with a mysterious offer, they knew they couldn’t resist.
High Ropes and Zip Trek for Two at Gripped London. Something different, something unique. A quirky Valentine’s day out in Hounslow, that noone was expecting. Him, in his infamous tracksuit combo, a kelly green Fila combo. Her, in her own ‘casual attire’. A light blue Slazenger tracksuit with contrasting piping detail. With a tie up waist peeking out underneath a zip up sweatshirt. Blue and white trainers with grip, a light blue sporty headband to keep her long hair back. They headed to the skies, to Gripped. A family-friendly adventure park, where endless possibilities awaited their every move. They began with a small climb to take on the challenging high ropes course. Feeling the wind blow through their hair. Tendrils escaping from A’s messy plait, threatening to break free. They navigated the high-ropes, A reassuring D, that it would be OK. She was proud of him, trying something new, even if it scared him. Seeing the triumphant grin, that lit up his face.
An impressive 650m long, it was the perfect day out for thrill seekers like A who wanted to up their fitness game. High up in the trees, as they swung, crawled, balanced, and zipped among the beautiful heights of Hounslow Heath. She felt blisters forming on her fingers, despite the blue gloves she had on. But it did not matter. Seeing her partner transform from sheer panic to giddy elation, was the greatest present she could have. Making their way through the route, tackling the tricky obstacles as they went. They clung onto the ropes with an exhilirated squeal, it was like a dream. Careful not to fall, nimble like Ballerina’s on the platform. It was the moment they had been waiting for. Strapped into a harness nice and snug, launched into a zip trek. A one-kilometre zip line that flew over the whole park. Side by side they sped, through the voluminious trees. Down into the green valley or over the Mining Village of Hobbledown Heath. Long zips and ariel bridges over the green surroundings of the heath. Short, but sweet. The views and adrenaline rush that made the trip to Hounslow worth it.
Vegan Valentine’s Food
It was stormy outside, the wind howling. Liquid sunshine disappearing down the drain, replaced with the crackle of thunder. Their picnic plans dashed. Or so they thought, disappointed that their quirky Valentine’s day picnic was no more. That’s when the indoor picnic was formed. A feast at home. Imagining they were surrounded by freshly cut green grass. The sun blossoming in the morning sky. Caressing their muscles and joints with tender love. And so their banquet began. Fresh chilli jam sandwiched into doughnuts with a twist. Powdered sugar infused with heat. Granules sprinkling across the floor like an Ant’s dream trail. Personalized vegan chocolate with a sweet Valentine’s message, embossed with flowers. Melted vegan Peruvian chocolate slithering into wholesome brownies. A contrast between sweet and salty. Spicy and mild. Vegan Valentine’s food that was romance personified.
Her eyes gleamed, watching its advances. The jar who spoke volumes, creeping cheekily into her heart. Like a red Ant it waited, sneakily glancing around the room. Determined to frolick in her indoor picnic, and fly into her mouth. It was hard not to see it. It commanded attention. An award-winning heart shaped sticky-sweet chilli jam that personified Valentine’s day. Smouldering with gentle heat from fresh red chillies. Grown in fertile soil across the river Avon. Still, it was sneaky, wafting into her consciousness, lid unopened. It wasn’t her who opened it. Somehow, it had a life of its own, a fiery feast to keep her cravings at bay. Powerful, punchy, to liven up her palette, it was little wonder that it had won so many awards. From the Great Taste Awards, to the Taste of the West Awards, Tracklements chilli jam was sublime. Homemade doughnuts, fried and glazed, with a surprise filling. Chilli jam, with simple ingredients yet delicious taste.
Addictive, and sticky sweet, it felt like a spicy samba in her mouth. That explosion between sweetness, and spice, oh so versatile. Useful beyond the indoor picnic, slathered into a favoured Buddha Bowl. Hunks of creamy ripe avocado, cut into slices, not the only rainbow on the plate. Cinnamon sweet potato wedges, and garlicky butternut squash chunks. Stewed kale, and roasted sweet peppers. Tender pearl barley infused with roasted crunchy chickpeas, a dollop of chilli jam on the side. She usually paired it with a lemon-herb mustard dressing, but this was just as piquant. Thick consistiency, textured taste. Even D whose aversion to jam was well known, found a special place in his heart. He sought a gentle kiss, his red-rose lips meeting hers, slightly brown. Her dark hair falling across his face. Tenderly touching, hands interlinked, lost in the picnic moment.
One more recipe crept into her thought bubble. Her take on a vegan doner kebab. Vegan Shawarma pieces marinated in crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, sprinkled with pepper. A dash of sea salt, the pieces carefully laid onto a chilli-jam slathered flatbread. A smooth, tangy sauce infused with plant-based yoghurt, vinegar and smoked paprika. Whisked into soft and velvety foam that she lovingly drizzled into the flatbread/ vegan kebab hybrid. Topped with a spoonful of slaw, red cabbage, grated carrot, and rocket leaves swimming in deliciousness. She closed her eyes, sighing in anticipation. Marvelling at how Tracklements jam’s creativity knew no bounds. The indoor picnic was only just beginning. What would she have next?
Gift & Graze
How easily they forgot their sunshine smiles. Radiantly beaming across a wide expansive face that told all. Impish, with a side helping of debauchery, in cahoots for a quirky Valentine’s day. Craving something special, a personalized gift for her beloved. An artisans dream come to fruition, a tale of art, chocolate, and sweetness. In the warmth of love, she could feel her ice cold heart melting. The shackles that built a wall around her, mercifully broken. Her eyes shone when she talked, glowing brown chesnuts. The way they did, when she was talking about something she loved. Oh how she adored him, a gentle giant with a kind heart. Even when wind and frost had come to bite their red tinged noses, they smiled. Unwrapping the pink and blue box with care. It was even more beautiful in reality. A Vegan Chocolate Personalized Flowers Artisan Hibiscus Gift Box, from Gift & Graze.
It was a quirky Valentine’s day gift that had plenty of heart. From an independent marketplace that supported small businesses and artisans. Hooked at first glance. They gazed into the gift box together, marvelling at its beauty. Happy Valentine’s day written in calligraphic gold embossed letters, layered on vegan milk chocolate. Hibiscuis flowers lovingly adorned, pink, white and roses too, fondant green stems. Chocolate mendiants, handmade filled with freeze-dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. Her favourite, a vegan white chocolate round, emblazoned with strawberries and edible flowers. Sprinkled in magic fairy dust, a love potion with good heart. The rain had cleared, the storm over, sun breaking through dull-grey clouds. A pop of blue. Surely it was a sign she cried! Aromatic in scent. Not an everyday chocolate but a souvenier of adoration. A love token, laced with cranberries, mango, and pistachios. A hint of coconut peeking out.
When it touched their lips, they couldn’t contain themselves. Rolling dried berries and fruit across their lolling tongues. Savouring the moment. Sugary sweet bliss. Not like the honeyed kisses that caressed sweet buttercream frost. Not like the soft lushness of silky chocolatey cake. And you best believe it didn’t taste like bitter dark chocolate shavings. It was textured, a symphony of flavours. Deep brown chocolate, each bite a surprise. Before they knew it, the chocolate had disappeared. An empty pink and blue box, with a dismantled ribbon, waiting for its next chocolatey guest.
What’s your heritage, a question people would ask often. A fading posh accent Londonized, with tanned skin, and dark features. Striking dark eyebrows, and hooded eyelids. Small, dark brown eyes inquisitive and searching. A larger than average nose, turn to the side, a bump in the middle. One dimple, permeating plump round cheeks. A medium sized rose-brown mouth, unveiling a crooked smile. Dark brownish black curly brown hair, with frizzy waves. Born in the countryside in the UK, to Portuguese parents. Hailing from Madeira, a beautiful subtropical island. With a mix of Asian and French family in her genelogy. She was often mistaken for being Greek, Arabic or Spanish, yet she was Portuguese. Proud of her roots, inspiring her diverse cooking, laced with flavour, spice, and warming aromas. The cuisines she frequented the most? Indian, Italian and Mediterrenean. She had a soft spot for Ethopian, one of her favourite cuisines to eat out, while her partner was obsessed with Mexican. But number one? Always Indian.
And so she went on a culinary journey, sniffing, tasting, eating. In search of spices that would transform her dishes in the kitchen, invigorating her palette. Spice Kitchen was a worthy contender, with the vegan edition of the World Spice Blends and Rubs tin. Allowing her to travel the world without leaving her kitchen, adding magic to her vegan and vegetarian dishes. Chinese, Indian, Carribean too. Mexican, Jamaican, Tunisian too. Middle Eastern and Sri Lankan, spices that were heady. Authentic flavours from around the world, expertly blended for adventorous meals. An Indian meal first, something she enjoyed often as a child. Veganized, for her current palette. Tandoori Tofu Masala, laced with Spice Kitchen’s Indian Tandoori Masala and Garam Masala. A guilty pleasure dish with juicy chunks of puffy tofu, a smoky tandoori marinade and creamy vegan curry sauce.
Albeit not authentic, yet delicious anyway. Tofu puffs like sailboats drifting in a coconutty yet spicy cream. Marinated with lime with fresh coriander to garnish. Served with garlic basmati rice, infused with ghee. Together, their quirky Valentine’s day vegan feast was coming into fruition. A perfect blend of spice, creaminess, and comfort food with an Indian twist. For the next dish, they wanted to dry something different. Inspired by aromatic Morrocan and Tunisian flavours, a simple Chickpea Harissa Soup. Loaded with fresh veggies, smoky fire-roasted tomatoes, canned chickpeas, and a blend of fragrant spices. Healthy, easy to make, flavourful. Shallots infused in a rich tomato broth, carrots and bell peppers added to the mix. A vegan chicken stock for a meaty flavour, fire-roasted tomatoes adding smokiness. Harissa seasoning added, laced with cumin, paprika and tumeric. Large chickpeas simmering in tomatoed broth, sweetcorn bobbing.
One last dish, they were hankering to try. A fusion between Middle Eastern and Italian. A quick and easy romantic yet quirky Valentine’s day meal with a twist. Za’atar Garlic Spinach Spaghetti, tossed in olive oil sauce. Flavored with lemon, za’atar, red pepper flakes, and a generous sprinkle of vegan parmesan. A bounty of spinach enveloped in tendrils of spaghetti, seasoned liberally with sea salt. A pinch of rainbow peppercorn grinded finely. Aromatic, fresh parsely from a herb garden to garnish. Washed down with a non-alcholic wine that tasted like the real thing. Tart plums, with spiced cherries coming through gloriously. They turned to face each other, toasting another day around the sun. Smiling with glee. Like they had uncovered an award winning secret. Oh wait…
She would pucker up for chocolate kisses, creamy smooth. Smeared cocoa around her mouth, her eyes sparkling. She was in a mischievous mood, craving double chocolate brownies. Liquidy hot chocolate poured into a mixing bowl. Melting salted butter, a splash of hot water. The heated chocolate added into the pan. A swirl of yellowish brown, that would soon be a squidgy chocolate bake. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Making her way through the Brownie magic manual, humming under her breath. A sprinkle of love potion dazzling bright, slipped into each square. Who would be able to resist? Soft, squidgy, melt-in your mouth dark, and milk chocolate vegan brownies. Topped with Vanilla tonka bean ice-cream, laced with a splash of coconut. Just as she suspected. Idyllic perfection.
For it was PLAYin Choc who inspired her to create vegan brownies. A joyful, health-focused dairy-free chocolate brand that made sense. A welcome addition to a bustling Quirky Valentine’s day guide, gift ideas galore. Sustainable, organic, yet exciting. A brand that was just as much for children as it was for adults. Children transfixed by ‘toy chocolate boxes’, creamy coconut sugar slipping into their tummies. Yet, it was adults who were in charge here. Mouth salivating, settling on two ‘JustChoc’ Boxes. Organic Peruvian Cacao M•lk Chocolates, creamy, velvety, smooth. A strong coconut taste, a grown up version of ‘toy chocolates’. Yet it had that same nostalgia. A whimiscality that had her yearning for brownies. An undertone of vanilla peeking through, accentuated by the melting ice cream on her plate.
It was a shame that there were only 6 individual chocolates per pack. Given her craving for brownies, the Peruvian chocolate would have been divine. Still, it inspired her future brownie. As she travelled into a world reached only by her imagination. Learning, exploring, on a journey of delicious taste. No refined sugars, chocolate that was sustainably and fairly sourced. Brownies that would follow after, inspired by the natural world. Simple, divine flavours, coaxing her into sugary bliss. She closed her eyes, in the land of chocolate dreams. Leftover brownies waiting in the fridge, sitting sweetly in perfect squares. She didn’t get how the chocolate dissolved on the tip of her tongue. The abstract boxes empty, no more chocolate to be had. The sweet mound no more. Slipping down her eager throat.
Vegan Valentine’s Drinks
She held onto one. A red balloon, the words ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ embossed in silver writing. Floating into the sky, fluffy clouds parting. Drifting closer to the sun’s throne, a burning ball of gas. A nursling of the sky. She thought she’d melt, but she escaped unscathed. Surrounded in a golden aura, swept into a secret workshop. A deity of the sun, with flaming wings, serving drinks at the gaseous bar. Sweet bubbly Cranbellini in an ethereal flute. Fine like silk, toying with her tongue in a senseous trance. Vegan, laced with blood orange, like orange red lipstick branded on her skin. It felt like a beehive, a swarm of bees without its sting. Energized buzzing heightening her senses. The bartender swiped her another, vegan beers this time. Non-alcoholic. Bavarian Helles Lager. Crisp, clean, fresh. Golden nectar in a hovering pint glass. She peered into it, biscuit notes creeping through. Gurgling in her mouth, awash with flavour. It felt like strips of the sky had fallen down into her glass. At last, the drinks she had been waiting for. Lined up in succession. 1,2,3.
She bathed in the bubbles, watched the fizz rise to the top. Deep orange bubbles, packed with personality. Sweet, balanced, delicious and smooth. She floated in it, letting her thoughts drift away. A knock at the door breaking her out of her reverie. She cocked an eyebrow, her partner at the door, stripped to the waist. Extended an invitation, the scent of blood orange permeating the room. Teasing and taunting, the way she knew would drive him mad. Twisted curls winding down her face, slathered in bubbles. She blew a kiss, imploring him to come closer. Whispering a secret in his ear, making space in the bath. They turned to face each other, legs clutched to their chests. Giggling, breathing in the scent of an orangery in their very own bathroom. With a cheers, she pulled out a glass. Handmade, engraved with each other’s initials. A sign of love, a happy memonto. It had been a while since she drank, being on medication. But she was willing to make an exception. Just this once. To mark a special occasion. On this quirky Valentine’s day, where the boundaries between fantasy and reality blurred.
Sweet, bubbly, packed with personality. Snatched kisses between measured sips. Feeling the liquid course down her throat with heat, hint of orange rind. For she had discovered a secret. The perfect Valentine’s day drink for sensual seduction. She nibbled on his ear lobe, a challenge in her eyes. Caressing touches, slipping on sopping wet skin. Letting him bathe in those orange bubbles, a knee trembler. Laced with cranberry, tart yet sweet. Her eyes told him yes, imploring him to come closer. Notes of prosecco, a heady combination. For she had poured Cranes Ciders Cranberry & Blood Orange Liquer into her bathtub. Watching it fill with fizz, blood orange and cranberry. Versatile, double-award winning liqueur. One sip told them why. Lovingly handcrafted from the highest quality cranberries sourced from Wisconsin USA, infused with natural blood orange juice and orange rind. Perfectly balanced, the perfect top to prosecco.
A Cranbellini, one of a kind. A sanguine sunrise floated past the window, merrily, merrily. Gradient violet purple slipping into vibrant red. Fading out into mustard yellow, she sighed in delight. Together, in a romantic bath, they peered out into the sky. Basked in its beautific smile. The water cooled, the drinks needed topping up. Stepping out the bath, red and giggly faced. Hands over their mouths. She almost slipped on the mat, clumsy as she was. A classic case of her goofy, extroverted nature that he so adored. They complimented each other well. Trailing up the stairs, kisses along the way. More drinks in bed, a night to remember. Passions that coursed throughout, an intense roller coaster of emotions. Exhausted, they fell into each others arms, a peaceful sleep awaiting. Smiling even in dreams, on a euphoric high from Cranbellini’s.
They shared a sweet embrace under the silvery sliver of moon, illuminating the navy sky. Drips shimmering over the garden nights. Despite the cold, their hearts were warm, filled with a thousand memories. Remembering when he lived in Greenwich, sitting on a manmade beach in summer. Scooped brownish gold sand, littered with pebbles, legs outstretched. Playing silly games on their phone, collapsed in heaps of laughter. Watching the reflection of the sun send ripples through the water. Wishing it was somewhere hotter, the water clearer. Imagining themselves in a hot terrain, slathering sunscreen on their tanned backs. Him swigging his favourite cider from a glass bottle. Her slurping on lager, light, smooth and sweet. Encased in an amber bottle, watching the nectar glow in the light of the midday sun. Even now, she had a soft spot for beer. A reminder of memories that she wanted to remember. With her beloved, playing games, watching the world go round.
So when she received a package delivery from Nirvana Brewery, the nostalgia came back. Picturing moments in gaming bars, squealing in uncontrollable laughter. Nights in before they lived together, in their own oasis, blocking out the people around them. Lounging in a small garden, under the summer roses. The spiders weaving gossamer webs, catching bugs in their lair. Silvery, blowing in the balmy wind. A wooden deckchair and table, looking out onto the River Thames. A bundle of low alcohol or alcohol-free beers, in a rainbow of colours. She wished they did a subcription service, hardly believing her eyes. The flavour, the profile, the scent so similar to alcohol beers.
Each beer releasing a different memory. Bavarian Helles Lager, crisp, clean and balanced. Her personal favourite standing heads and shoulders above the rest. A smooth golden nectar, oh so light. With natural carbonation, and pleasant biscuit notes. The winner of the Great Taste Award 2020 it was easy to see why. Like drinking lager straight out of the tap, that golden liquid far from insipid. Her favourite type of beer, it was hard to believe it was 0.3% ABV. Could it be that she had found ‘the one’ just in time for a quirky Valentine’s day? A Dark & Rich Stout a surprising contender. Dark roasted malts, that were oh so rich and chocolatey. Bold, yet light, with hints of addicitive vanilla. But it was the Hoppy Pale Ale that was a close second. Like molten maple syrup straight from a bottle. Heaven’s malted Ale, nature’s true sap. Using fruity mosaic hops, tasting fresh summer rain. Intermingled with tropical and floral aromas, with a surprise dry and bitter finish.
A Classic IPA, was an immediate crowd pleaser. Amarillo hops packing a punchy hit. Reminding her of hot summer days, when she was carefree, and wild. The wind running rounds through her curly hair. She paused, let the flavour wash over her. Romancing her tongue with a lithe amber body, citrus aromas teasing her senses. Hoppy notes of pine and spice, a surprising combination. Two more beers waited for her avid inspection. A Traditional Pale Ale, a timeless classic. A mindful twist for a holistic beer drinker. It reminded her of a modernized version of cask ale. A light roasted barley colour, with smooth caramel malt body. With a crisp and balanced hoppy flavour that was effortlessly unique. One contender waiting in line. An Organic Pale Ale, that was worth every penny. First Gold Hops and British Malts, in a certified organic beer. Balanced hints of spice and tangerine, a surprisingly gentle toffee finish. She smiled, a pyramid of colourful beer trophies without the hangover. The aftermath, without the conclusion.
Quirky Valentines Books Bundle
Drifting into wonderland she had found her calling. A tale of a love affair, her greatest and oldest love. Books, glorious books, spanning romance, mystery, fact and fiction. Perched on her well-used wooden bookshelf, crying out to be read. Years spent curled up on the sofa, train, on the go. Delving into a world of fantastical intrigue, a reality far removed from her own. A book for self-love and happiness, worshipping oneself in glory. A book that bordered on the absurd, yet imminiently readable. Books that healed a broken heart, peeling back the layers of love within us. A self-help read to attract meaningful relationships. A novel that subverted history, spanning conspiracy theories, and Science. Her head was spinning. But in the best possible way. Lying in a bubble bath, scented with orange blossom and Neroli. Breathe in, breathe out. It was time to rewrite the rules.
She glanced at her felines bemused. Even in the early hours of morning, their spirit was invigorating. A black moggy with sleek groomed fur. A white tuft of hair on his chest, majestic and broad. Piercing green oval eyes widened with love. Three cats, but this one was mummy’s boy. The one who followed her everywhere she went, young kitten in tow. Ah, the kitten, a sweet tabby. Burnished brown-silver fur, streaked with spots and stripes. Amber eyes, in a petite body. Small but mighty. The third, the ‘Angry’ (albeit cute) One’. A long-haired tortoishell with inquisitive green eyes. Ginger, white and greyish black fur, puffed out like a Lioness. Did she ever wonder what her cats would be like if they were human? All the time.
So when Felix Unbound slipped into her hands she couldn’t resist. Written by Cathy Gunn during the pandemic, her first novel. A tale as old as time. A classic case of a cat gone rogue, with a romantic twist. When feisty Tiffany lost her temper with boyfriend Anthony, and accidentally toppled a set of inherited Egyptian figurines, ancient forces take their mischievous revenge. Oh how she wished that men were more like her tabby cat Felix. She couldn’t help but agree. People lamented cat’s for being selfish, manipulative, and self-serving, but her cats were loyal as could be. Still, her cats being human? She wasn’t sure she could stomach that. She settled into the story, drawn into its hypnotic narrative. Oh, it was fun at first for Tiffany. Felix gleefully launching himself into her social circle. Yet the charismatic Felix was trouble with a capital T. The ‘human cat’ that many were drawn to. Yet he had his enemies too. Despite winning rapid success as a talented artist, the suspicious Elders are watching. Ozzy and Iris waiting for Felix to fall, rubbing their hands together in glee with every descent.
Felix was the character that interested her the most. The embodiment of a Tom Cat. Lewd, full-on, at times predatory. A cat-human whose relationships with some of Tiffany’s friends was a little uncomfortable for her to read. But she didn’t shy away from it. Reminding her of men she had dated in the past, who had been a real cad. Sure, they had been charming at first, but the guise very quickly wore off when the red flags came through. Exactly, what Felix was like. Relationships forming not always for the better. The more she read on, the deeper she fell. Tiffany, another interesting character, meeting a promising new love. Unsure whether to wash her hands of the ‘sofa surfing’ Tom Cat Felix, or to help him evade Ozzy and Iris’s sinister grasp. Then, the shocker. Not the choice she made. That was written in the stars. But the bizarre opportunity seized by the fading but predatory, cunning Felix. Whose story continued to haunt even when she had closed the very last page.
Bordering on the absurd the cross between comedy, fantasy, crime, mystery, and even history was compelling. Twists and turns that she didn’t quite see coming. It wouldn’t be a novel for everyone that much was true. Written in the third person, with third person thoughts, an ever-expanding list of family memebers. A family tree at the beginning of the book would have been handy to have. Yet, the more she read Felix’s story, the more she was captivated. On board with Cathy Gunn’s unique writing style and perspective, woven with glorious segments about Ancient Egypt. Given her obsession with the era, it was clear that Cathy’s novel was well-researched. The perfect amalgamation of magical realism, adult fiction and fantasy. Her cat-turned human- taking shape through the medium of Egypt’s mythic past- into the modern day. A narrative that took hints from the opera Akhenaten by Philip Glass, the dramas of the past seeping through the veil of time. She was surprised how much she enjoyed Felix Unbound, then again she shouldn’t have been. From Felix’s career as an artist, the Egyptian Panoply of Gods to alluded references to Mau’s cunning, she was captivated. An unmissable read.
For the longest time, the concept of love seemed alien to A. After all, when the people that she was meant to rely upon, let her down, it was hard to trust. Not only to love others, but to let her love herself. She was cruel in those days. Only to herself, swept into a path of desperation, heartbreak, and self-loathing. The way that she gave love to others was kind, loving, nurturing. But to herself? Her own worst critic, berating herself, if she was anything short of perfect. A perfectionist who was rough around the edges. Yet in time, she would find real love. Not just with her beloved partner of nearly four years. But also for herself. Self-love, self-joy, self-happiness. Finally, she found her love destiny. She couldn’t be happier. Yet, she wasn’t perfect. She still had a lot of growing to do.
The ‘Seven Destinies of Love’ taught her so much. Soul Love, that showed her to listen to her body. To understand its limitations and be kinder to it. It seemed like the agreement between body, mind and spirit didn’t acknowledge or live by her inner knowing. Sure, she had wisdom. But did she heed her own advice? Not often. The second, ‘Embodied Love’, the sense and understanding that all things are alive so that we may see, experience, and participate in the world through a multidimensional lens. Sure, she treated others like they were royalty. But to herself? Guilty of not treating herself like she ‘had a life’. Better than before, but still very much on a long journey. Three was Connected Love. Surely, she had this down? Yet she didn’t. She had an unhealthy relationship with herself, albeit better than in the past. Often felt disconnected in relationships and was reactive. Was it any wonder that she needed to work on leaving her heart open?
She was getting into the swing of this self-love lifestyle. Learning how to date herself with joy, confidence, and a greater sense of self. Choosing to shower herself with positive words of encouragement. Turning back the years, where she enveloped herself in unkindness. Where she didn’t understand the power of self-worth. Letting the judgemental comments of others cloud her opinions. Internalizing negativity. At times, she felt like she was unworthy of love. Yet, look at her now. In a loving, healthy relationship where she was shown everyday just how much she was adored. Still, she didn’t need a relationship to attract love. Nor did she need a man to be happy. Her relationship wasn’t her self-care currency. After all she was in charge of her own happiness.
It was a guide that felt like she was talking to a friend. Something that even if she was single would have been helpful. What she liked most was how inclusive, kind, and mindful the discussion was. A queer friendly guide, geared towards people of all sexualities. Given that many dating books she read alienated the LGBTQIA+ community, it was a refreshing change. After all, it was written by a highly respected Gay Clinical Psychologist, who had created a supportive and non-judgemental environment. Respecting pronouns, identity, and personal journeys, to see what and who shows up. After all, the truth path to love never was clear. Each person reading #IsHeHereYet taking away a different message. For A, it allowed her to explore the personal blocks and self-limiting blocks that were stopping her from attracting the right energy. About learning techniques to ‘date herself’ and her partner simultaneously in a healthy, and respectable way.
She remembered her first love. The moment she discovered reading. The fresh scent of a newly turned page, yellowing at the edges. The slight smell of must, dusty old classics. Reading books beyond her years. Drawn into a world where she was free to live in a fantasy, removed from her own harsh reality. Going through phases, each era heralding a favourite genre. The child years, pre-teen, reading Enid Blyton, in sleepy isolation. Caught in a web of trauma, deceit, and heartbreak, her beloved books, and the journals that ensued her only escape. Oh, how the books sustained her, saw her through big moments. The teen years, undoubtably fantasy oriented, with a hint of romance. The werewolves, the vampires, the demi-gods, and the shapeshifters. The YA novels, adapted into films later down the line. Twilight, Divergent, The Hunger Games. Juxtaposed with the classics she needed to read at school. To Kill a Mockingbird. Of Mice and Men. The Scarlet Letter. Sometimes there was horror. A far change from what she would read now. The Goosebumps series, Stephen King’s IT. Treasure Hunt Novels, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code rang a bell.
It seemed that history was not as it seemed. Then again, conspiracy theories weren’t all they seemed either. She was unsure whether Martin would strike the balance between ‘the absurd’ and reality, yet he struck the right note. Given her own personal cynicism for things ‘that couldn’t be explained’ she was surprisingly intrigued. Entranced by the writing style that seemed part travelogue, part history book, with a splash of contemporary pop culture. A new novel that would give Dan Brown a run for its money, she was lured into its captivating web. Sure, it was heavy on the astrology front, but she didn’t mind. She was open-minded, and felt like the transition between history, Science, travel, and mystery was seamless. The protagonists had her clutching her stomach with laughter, though it was hard to believe they were 30. Mind you, she couldn’t say anything. She sometimes acted like a teenager herself.
Quirky Valentine’s Day Gifts
She had come to the last embers of her quirky Valentine’s day guide, the candle light flickering. Colouring in her own rainbow, even though the day had drifted into darkness. Discovering self-love, joy, colour, and optimism, in a powerful exploration of romance, and love. Yet, there was one more creature who hadn’t yet been uncovered. Quirky Valentine’s day gifts that encapsulated who she was. Colourful, unique, one of a kind. Gifts that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Even her beloved felines would get in on the action, mewling at their very own ‘love themed’ packages. Gifts that were romantic, a rainbow bouquet. Setting out in a leafboat, collecting her prize. Petal and stem, blue, purple, orange, and yellow. A fading gradient like the colours of the sunset, mixed with the surreal. An impressionist painting if she knew her art. It hardly seemed real. Another type of flower. Rose Buddies. Not everything was it seemed. Adult toys simulating pleasure, new senses awakened in a heavy love-making haze. Rude card games setting the mood. Reach out and feel her, corrupted mind. On the other side of the spectrum. Something pure, something innocent. A personalized micro-scooter, rainbow and white. Scooting along Shoreditch High Street, abstract walls.
Flowers that were wilted, the memory she had before. Flowers that never turned up. Scattered decaying roses, trashed in the bin. A reminder of the toxicity she had in the past. But that was gone now. Replaced with grandeur and romance. Fresh roses on the bed. Spiraling petals arranged in a heart. Pressed against a gentle river of bedsheets, interwining with rapid heartbeats. A contrast to the winter flowers small and hardy. Ostentatious blooms in defiance of the cold and the dark. Not quiet or timd by any stretch of the imagination. A rainbow bouquet, glistening with droplets of fresh rain. Cobalt blue fading into Kelly green. Ochre yellow swirling into violet purple. Orange petal folds, juxtaposed with green filler flowers. Even when it began to droop, and lose its shape, its petals still faced the sun. Until at last, it had faded. But not forgotten. A single flower bud pressed into a scrapbook of colourful flowers. A memory of a quirky Valentine’s day, in 2023.
For Euroflorist had changed the flower game, and turned it on its head. Rainbow Roses, in a floral dozen. Arriving in a white rectangular box, encased in a bouquet wrap. Unravelled, stems poking through, trimmed and groomed. Placed in the vase that her Aunty gave her, a special breed. Woven glass, filled with fresh water. But not too much. That would be overkill. Lovingly dyed with rainbow colours, the most unique roses she had the fortune to see. Alluring, petals chiming with glee. Even when it began to wilt, the petals still smiled, the bright colours shining through. A gift for Valentine’s day and beyond. Birthday’s, Easter, date nights, Christmases too. The perfect present for any ocassion. No longer was her memory of roses tainted with bad relationships past. Instead, like Miley once said ‘she could buy herself flowers, and hold her hand’. Relationship or not, this was a self-care gift that brought joy to her heart. Lighting up her home in a rainbow aura, the cats fixated. Watching the colours of the rainbow bounce off the ceiling,
It had a clean, slightly neutral scent that was immediately comforting. A beauty that drew the eye, even when it was falling apart. She imagined owning a garden, with a spread of rainbow roses. Picturing the joy it would bring her, and the guests who entered her home. Sitting on a cobalt blue rustic bench like one you would find at the seaside. A trellis of green weaving around in the background, dotted with roses in every colour imaginable. That was the dream. A colourful garden, where there was never a dull moment. Striking the balance between ‘tranquility’ and colourful ‘exuberance’. She sighed, at her stark reality. A long way off from owning her own house. Nevertheless, the dream lay dormant, waiting to spark into action. Love at first sight.
Skin Rose Buddies
Lust tasted sweeter from this angle, the blushing red of kisses and bites. Blossoming with the language of love, told through a series of orgasms. An intense throbbing aching lust of love, like a pair newly dating, discovering each other for the first time. For she was never one to shy away from talking about sex, it was perfectly natural, important to create a healthy discourse. No shame in exploring sexual needs, and being vocal about it. After all, having a quirky Valentine’s day wouldn’t be the same without sensual seduction. Understanding each others love languages, falling in love again and again. Each inch of their bodies explored in a tangle between the sheets. Sandalwood candles and a hint of musk, mixed with the perfume of sweet, permeating the room. There it was, the pleasure package. The two adult sex toys that would turn their world upside down. Skin Rose Buddies, a kiss from a bloom. The Rose Lix, and The Rose Flix.
20 different love languages that were whisper quiet, in a discreet design. The first, ‘the Lix’, mimicking the rapidity of a tongue darting. Clitorial stimulation, in one singular silicone tongue. Emerging from the ‘pleasure’ rose, as it moved and vibrated with ease. With the right setting, she (and her partner), would be screaming all the way to O’ Town’. She fell in love, the red ‘clitorial rose’ a real treat. Powered by a magnectic pad USB charger cable, to kickstart the fun. A vibrator with a difference. She clicked the bigger control button twice to start, running through the speeds and variations that she preferred. The upper, smaller control buttons activating ‘the tongue’. The petals of the rose spreading the vibrating sensation across the whole vulva, shuddering with desire.
The Rose Flix was just as powerful. She liked to nickname it the ‘floral finger of fun’, with its devious ways. Fingering motion, that flicked and rotated until your eyes rolled back in glee. Sensual stroking, from a fuschia rose. Bursting with bridled passion, her cup really did ‘spill’th over’. It was like it slipped under her skin, pervading the depths of her pschye. A pool melting in between her legs, a frisson of excitement like goosebumps. Alone, it was sensual. But in couple play, it was powerful, taking charge of her own sexual destiny. He liked to watch, enjoying the dominance that she exerted. Self-assured in what she wanted. She wasn’t afraid to ask for what she needed. She was vocal in her demands. Taking back the power, energized with the sensuality of roses. Confident, even when wet and glistening. Vunerability sexy, she wasn’t afraid to be who she wanted.
I WOOT (I Want One Of Those)
As a couple, their minds were raw and twisted. Some said it was ‘always in the gutter’, but she never saw anything wrong with owning your sexual prowess. An advocate for body positivity, sexual wellbeing, and sexual freedom, she saw nothing wrong with being the most authentic version of herself. Someone whose humour was ‘lewd and crude’, who found the funny in ‘sexual jokes’. Who played games until the early hours of the morning with her partner, the more bizarre the better. Rude Valentine’s day gifts, that had them clutching their stomachs, eyes streaming. After all, it was card games that united them. On that meeting nearly four years ago. The third place on their ‘first date’ a games bar in Dalston. Colourful, emblazoned with every game they could think of. Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, Unstable Unicorns. A date that would keep the spark going.
All these years later, their humour was very much the same. Nearly 30 years old yet a sex joke would make them cry with laughter. And who could blame them. A trio of quirky Valentine’s day card games that would leave them with crimson cheeks. The mood was set, the TV fluttering in the background. Cats gallivanting around the house, stealing cards. The little one especially determined to join in with the fun, bounding with endless energy. The first, to be played with other couples. First Dates Adult Party Game, that was definitely not for the super sensitive. A dinner party gone wrong, a pretend date with awkward questions. If anyone was wondering ‘who would give a better lap dance’ everyone agreed it would be her. A game not to be taken seriously, reminding her of Mr & Mrs. They began with the starters deck, the trio of couples deciding (without conferring) who would win. Winning two points if they both agreed on the same name. Main course cards especially awkward, yet nothing compared to the painful questions in the Dessert deck. A riot a minute, it came as no surprise that they were the winning couple with the most points.
The second, a trivia card deck. Sex IQ cards, that really tested their knowledge. Did they know how long the average sex session lasted. Or when the Karma Sutra was invented? How about the surprise of knowing which animal solicited as a prostitute? It would test them down to the mettle. Was she a ‘sexpert’ or just blowing hot air. Turned out she wasn’t quite as clued up as she would have liked to have thought. Bamboozled by some of the questions, that seemed impossibly hard. A mixture of true, false and multiple choice cards. Yet the third? It appealed to their inner immature side. F**k, Marry, Kill. The card version of what they used to play when they were younger. Like the ‘Snog, Marry and Avoid Game, with a sexual twist. A NSFW game, where each player would pick three cards at random. I mean really. A choice between ‘your friend’s grandmother’, Gordon Ramsay, and Homer Simpson seemed impossible. And don’t get her started on Spongebob Squarepants, The Joker, and Steve Jobs.
Jollyes Valentine’s Selection
The clouds had parted, and the genre had changed. Something a little different, unexpected. A treasure hunt bundle for her feline friends. Soft little shadows, with purrs that would dry tears. For a Quirky Valentine’s day applied as much to furries, as it did humans. Three cats with their own personalities. The original, Loki, a sheeny, shiny black, green eyed feline. Short-haired moggy, rescued from a life on the street. Not a lapcat, but kind, gentle and loyal. The one who was expressive, a grounding force. The next, just turned a year old. A silvery brown stripy/ spotty tabby, with piercing amber eyes. Small yet highly intelligent. Vocal, charismatic, always cheeky. The third, a long-haired tortoiseshell, ginger, white and greyish black. The firey one who had a temper. The one who sat outside the group, who preferred her own space. Yet playful, energetic, cuddly on her own terms. They were here now, lounging in the living room. Ears cocked, as they heard the intercom go. The postman was here, what would he bring.
Sniffing, licking, and batting the box, they couldn’t wait to see what was inside. A surprise delivery from Jollyes, what could it be? Their legs outstretched, like voluminious broomsticks, nibbling their own wrists in pause. Tails wagging in an S shape, curious, locking wide eyes on you, expecting more. A trio of nestled treats that would have the felines begging for more. Salmon Smooches, pillows of fishy goodness. Sniffing at it inquisitively, desperately trying to claw it open. She made it easier for them, a few trial pillows laden into each of their bowls. A high level of Omega 3, and 6, to keep their fur healthy, shiny and sleek. In a hot pink packet, slightly muted, brown nuggets desperarately waiting to be eaten. They didn’t have to wait long. Wolfed down, from her palm face up. Sandpaper tongue gently scooping pieces into their mouths, dragged into their throat.
Nala was most pleased. Her bushy multicoloured tail, puffed up with pleasure. A new bowl for her critical inspection. Pale pink, dotted with polka dots, in the shape of a heart. A ceramic pet bowl that stole her heart, her green eyes half-closed in pleasure. A large bowl, with just the right capacity, with her new favourite treats, glistening with her saliva. After all, she always found that the key to a ‘happy pet’ was through a nourishing mealtime. Not just the food that would line their belly, but the utensils used to sustain them. Bright feeding and drink bowls, to lure them ever closer. Vivid colours, prints, and cartoonish images, just like they would use for themselves. After all, their cats were very much part of the family. One last treat remained, their fangs drooping lazily, in satisfaction. A soft, plush catnip toy, that would drive them wild. A Kong Refillable Rat with fresh catnip. Their favourite treat. The one that had them spinning out, racing laps around the houses. Yet each cat was different. Loki conked out on the kitchen floors, lying flat on his back with his paws in the air. Looking for attention. Luna running around like a lunatic. Nala’s aggression intensified, biting down on the toy, batting it with sharpened claws.
She felt like she was a child again, on the back of a scooter. Racing down Allen Gardens, like she was possessed by something more energetic than herself. That pure innocent smile, laced with a smirk, scooting into hidey holes out of the wind. Side glances, bemused, laughing with her as she tumbled onto the pavement. Perhaps a bit braver than she thought, leg outstretched in the air, toppling over. Not traumatized in the slightest. She wore her cow print bucket hat, covering her red ears, tilted slightly, hair in a messy ponytail. Riding the two wheeled white scooter, with a hidden surprise. Personalized with her blog name ‘Faded Spring’ embossed in a colourful geometric pattern. Coincidentally matching the abstract wall in the background. Intense blue, mirrored by sage green. Pinks, oranges, and reds too. Almost a perfect mirror of the scooter she was riding.
Met with amused expressions, cameras the ready. A flurry of budding photographers capturing quirky Valentine’s joy in the making. The subject with her cow bucket hut, a leopard print crop top layered underneath a crop cow print jacket. Matching oversized trousers lengthened with black perspex boots, with a transparent heel. A beigeish brown lip, with red and yellow sunset eyeshadow, a splash of pink, with intense highlighter. Eyes crinkled in fits of laughter, sprinting past colourful street art. Gaining more control, with each practice. She forgot to be cold, lost in the moment. Like a sherbet flying saucer had exploded in her mouth. A sugar high, fuelled by adrenaline, in the morning air, gravitating into the afternoon. Though her hands were blue, and her feet were numb, it didn’t matter. Scooting in a world free from adult responsibilities, that nurtured her mind, body and soul. For the Micro Scooters were feel good. Releasing endorphins into her brain. She couldn’t stop smiling, small creases under her eyes, laughter lines finely etched.
A low impact way of building strength, endurance and stability, it was her new favourite thing. A hobby that would go beyond the ‘season of love’. This was for herself, not for anyone else. Bringing joy, elation, and happiness to her heart. Her breath ragged, her cheeks flushed with red, her mind cleared. A green way to get around, surrounded by all her favourite things. Bustling street food, Indian, Ethopian, Chinese. A treasure trove of flavours, the wind carrying the scent of aromatic spices. Street art murals, on every street corner, graffiti, slogans, stickers too. Urbanized city scapes, that had personality in spade. Art galleries down long-winding roads. Secret pop ups, discovering something new. Vintage shops, with sweet little berets, in a rainbow of colours. On her scooter, she discovered the world, sustainability baked into its DNA. Designed with replacement parts so they were fit for a lifetime of scooting, rather than ending in landfill. A planet-friendly journey, that championed green behaviours.
The world moved rapidly around her, but she was slow-treading in treacle. It felt glorious, to slow down, and take time out. To make her quirky Valentine’s day, a period of self-care. Lessons that she would use beyond the season. To slow down, and take stock. To do what made her happy, and stop caring what others thought. After all, self-care wasn’t selfish, and anything that promoted ‘ excercise’ and fresh air, was a win win. A mood-boosting activity on the personalized white classic scooter with personality. It even had an adjustable handlebar, a kickstand, and was foldable, making it accessible for journeys on the go. Though it was fresh now, at -1, she knew the scooter would be just at home in summer as it was in winter. The bees suckling lazily at the golden nectar, thirsting flowers begging for fresh showers. Strips of blue sky, with a small mass of clouds, blossoming heat. A fat cat with his belly pooched out, purring in the heat of the midday sun. She closed her eyes wistfully. Still, Valentine’s day wasn’t half bad either.
What Quirky Valentine’s Day Gifts Would You Like This Year?
Please note I was gifted these products in exchange for this blog post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by gifting. I would love to know what your favourite quirky Valentine’s day gifts are.