Spreading the love in North Kitsap

When treating a sweetheart right on this upcoming Valentine’s Day, most like to do it best with the sweetness of chocolates and fragrance of flowers.

When treating a sweetheart right on this upcoming Valentine’s Day, most like to do it best with the sweetness of chocolates and fragrance of flowers.

Throughout North Kitsap, a handful of businesses shared their advice for fulfilling top-notch holiday expectations.

Janie Marquiss of La La Land Chocolates in Port Gamble suggested the best chocolates are made with 70 percent grade of cocoa butter solid.

Many residents in North Kitsap and even folks as far south as Port Orchard and Gig Harbor, crave her truffles and order them by the box before they are even whipped up, she said.

Her latest truffle is Mayan Hot Chocolate, which Marquiss converted from her drink recipe into solid truffle form.

Another way to enjoy the romantic holiday is to “take tea” — as in a chocolate high tea — at Marquiss’ shop. She emphasized that her high teas are not the formal, dressy and elite ordeals most people think they are.

Marquiss also said she welcomes anyone and everyone to enjoy the three-tier food affair, which includes three types of tea sandwiches, cranberry pecan scones with homemade jam and chocolate fondue with fruit. This is La La Land Chocolates’ first Valentine’s Day as a business and Marquiss has openings for teas times on Feb. 13, 14 and 16.

“What we’re representing here is the nostalgia of fun and laughter with sinfully good food,” she said.

Boehm’s Chocolates has seen nearly 20 Valentine’s Days in downtown Poulsbo and manager Karen Suther said seeing people purchase chocolates for their sweethearts is always a charming affair.

“Just that they’re remembering to get something sweet for their special one, it’s nice for us to see,” Suther commented.

While the chocolate seems to fly off their shelves year round, Suther said there’s a definite mad dash on this special holiday. She suggested that for the best selection and the least hassle, folks should come in before Feb. 10 (But of course they’ll try to accommodate everyone, even on Feb. 14) and generally know how much they want to spend (you can spend anywhere from $2 to $75 on a single item) and the kind of sweets they want.

For this special time of year, the store stocks a special assortment of the coveted heart-shaped boxes in varying sizes. While the heart boxes are cherished by some, (some people even bring them back every year to be refilled) Suther said they do tend to be a little more pricey than the store’s regular assortments. One cost-saving tip she suggested, was to buy one of their gold-boxed chocolate assortments tied with a red ribbon, and garnish it with a single red rose.

And besides the typical red or pink varieties, there are also tuxedo and shirt-and-tie boxes that are geared toward men as the recipients.

“It’s a pretty frilly holiday, but more and more women are buying sweets for their men,” Suther explained.

Of course, if the chocolate-buying neophyte isn’t sure what their loved one’s sweet tooth aches for, Suther says guys go gooey for rocky road, nuts and caramel concoctions and malted milk balls. And as for the gals:

“Truffles always do really well, they’re a really elegant chocolate. Buy that and a bottle of champagne and you’re in like Flynn,” she said with a smile.

Florene Wynn, of Cut and Dried Flower Shop in Kingston said roses are the best to give on V-day, “because they stand for love.”

While it’s up to each individual on what kind or how many, most people like to have a dozen roses for their sweetheart, she said.

“It’s just a fun day, a love day,” Wynn explained. “Flowers say a thousand words.”

Red is the most popular color but she said people are going for mixed arrangements as well. Customers can chose from a variety of options for arrangements or have them custom-designed.

To make them last, Wynn and her staff give each bouquet a packet of Floralife, which is food for flowers. She also recommended changing the water every other day and giving the flowers a new cut every time the water is changed. If the flowers are out of water for even a minute, they will almost become too dry to drink up the water, she said.

Wynn suggested 7-Up does the same job as the Floralife because the carbonation helps prevent molding or rotting of the stem. She also said putting the flowers on top of the TV or in front of a window is not recommended, as the heat each emits shortens the arrangement’s life.

Some roses are more less fragrant than others, she said, but that can be a plus.

“The less fragrant the rose is, the longer it will last,” she explained, noting there are various types of roses out there. Flowers bloom best in the afternoon, but they can be preserved long after they have lost freshness by drying them and making potpourri.

With 15 Valentines Days under her belt, Jacqui Armstrong of Jacqui’s Florist in Poulsbo agreed that red roses are it for most people on this romantic holiday.

“They’re the flower of love, so sometimes nothing else will do,” she commented.

And while she’s more than willing to oblige, at least until her red rose supply runs out, Armstrong said she often tries to steer buyers toward equally romantic flowers that are less expensive. As a small, family-owned flower shop, the emphasis is on making a connection with the customer and Armstrong said buyers can get more bang for their buck and make that special someone feel much more pampered with a little creativity.

Not only are red roses in short supply on Valentine’s Day, but they also tend to fetch a pretty penny. Armstrong suggested that buyers who are set on roses consider the wide variety of other colors available like pinks, lavenders, yellows and even hues of white. She also pointed out that by not insisting on red and being open to mixing flowers, the sender can pack a lot more gorgeous roses into an arrangement in their price range.

And if you’re willing to move out of the rose rut, Armstrong suggested lily varieties like stargazer lilies (with a hot-pink streak inside) and white lilies. Armstrong said she feels lilies, with their intoxicating aroma, embody the romance of the day.

“We try to steer them toward a mixture so that the senses are alive,” Armstrong explained. “Scents, sights and chocolates for taste and you can’t go wrong.”

Armstrong also suggested flower buyers shop as early in February as possible. She said she’ll take orders until she just knows she can’t get the delivery there on time, but says ordering early ensures you’ll get the flower you want and also get the pick of delivery dates. And Armstrong’s suggestion for delivery is actually Feb. 13.

“We encourage early shoppers to take delivery the day before so that they have more time to enjoy the flowers and so they’ll get their delivery when they want it, not just jumbled in with all of the last minute shoppers,” Armstrong said.

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