House of love: Six ways to keep romance year-round
It's a big weekend for romance, and while some of us might pull a face at the thought of dishing out hard-earned euro notes on the obligatory box of chocolates and obvious roses, we can all agree that a little more romance at home wouldn't hurt anyone. Chocolates and roses won't last until Tuesday, but these six tricks will have you prepared for romance whenever the mood or occasion arises.
From sweet new bedding to a fiery red pot ready for a batch of warming soup, a vase just waiting for a weekly bunch of fresh flowers or even a pretty tea towel to bring spring to your kitchen, you'll find romance in every corner of your home.
How many of us go to sleep each and every night on boring or just plain worn bedding? Too many. Nothing brings daily romance like a new set of sheets, and this double duvet set from Harvey Norman adds an obviously sweet touch.
Buy it: Double duvet set, €43, Harvey Norman
You can never have enough candles on hand for any romantic occasion - whether for an early evening with a bottle of wine or a balmy summer night outside. This candle set from Debenhams can be re-purposed as tea light holders when the candles burn down.
Buy it: Julien Macdonald candles, set of two for €30, Debenhams
Tea for Two
For the number of cups of tea and coffee most of us consume, we really ought to invest in a few perfect cups for those special occasion cuppas. Had a tough day or got soaked in a storm on the way home from work? These Ted Baker cups will cheer you up much faster than your old stained mismatched crockery. In fact, just the thought of sipping from them might help you hop out of bed a little faster in the morning.
Buy it: Set of two Ted Baker cups, €32, amara.com
A flirty floral print brings just the right touch of romance and a hint of spring to any space, especially in a modern, colourful design. Hang this Amrapali peony tea towel, designed by Ulster Weavers and the Designers Guild, on the press and you'll add instant cheer to your kitchen.
Buy it: Designers Guild tea towel, €10, Ulster Weavers at ulsterweavers.com
There are few more thoughtful gestures than cooking someone you love a home-made meal. But really, it ought to be a pleasant experience for you as well! I always find that starts with the right equipment. Investing in a high quality cast iron pot means soup is just a few steps away. Keep in mind, most cast iron pots shouldn't be doused in cold water when they're still hot because the enamel can blister or crack. Let them return to room temperature before washing, and remember to dry them fully before storing to ensure they last for many batches of soup.
Buy it: Red Heart of House cast iron skillet, €30, Argos
There are great deals to be had on fresh flowers these days (although perhaps not this weekend!), and the perfect vase can make all the difference in getting the most for your money. Keep an eye out for beautiful bunches of ranunculus and anemones, or even classic pink tulips, as spring creeps in. And of course, if you drop a few hints at what a lovely vase you now have waiting for new floral friends, you might just get a new present or two to fill it up!
Buy it: Blue heart vase, €8, Tesco
In the mood for a little DIY project as a Valentine's gift? You can whip these gilded plant pots up in time to surprise a special someone tomorrow! Plant them with little succulents for a quirky little gift.
You'll need terracotta plant pots, craft paint and brushes, a gold foil kit (available at selected art stores such as KM Evans, evansartsupplies.ie), tiny succulents (often found at floral shops) and soil.
First, paint your pots with the craft paint, making sure to let it fully dry before applying the gold foil. Next, use a clean brush to paint on your letter or design. Carefully apply the gold leaf, using a dry brush to swipe away any excess. Apply the kit's sealer before planting the succulent with a little extra soil.
These would make great decor for a Valentine's lunch!