I Love You (Without Breaking the Bank)

I took this from www.dummies.com (my apologies to dummies.com and I do hope that you go out and buy a dummies.com book) which I found useful for the cash strapped lover. Whether it's Valentine's Day or the anniversary of your first date, here are ten simple ideas for expressing your love . . . without taking out a bank loan!

Baking heart-shaped food items
Preparing a heart-shaped anything is a romantic gesture. Make heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast, heart-shaped crispy rice treats for a snack, or a heart-shaped pizza for dinner. You can also use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the crust off sandwiches. How romantic — heart-shaped PBJs for that special someone!

You can bake a heart-shaped cake without any special pans. Just make a cake recipe for a double-layered cake. Bake one layer in an 8-inch round cake pan and the other layer in an 8-inch square cake pan. After the cake is cool, cut the round layer into half-circles. On a large serving platter or cookie sheet, place the two half-circles along two adjoining edges of the square layer. Surprise — a heart-shaped cake! Covered in frosting, your loved one won't even realize the secret. (We mean when the cake's covered in frosting, not your sweetie, although that may be fun, too.)

Making a "100 reasons why I love you" list
Does he always put the toilet seat down? Does she remember your birthday? Does he wash the dishes regularly? Does she maintain the yard's appearance? Anything and everything can become an item on this list. Have some of the reasons be funny, some just plain silly, and some sentimental and romantic. Just make them all true!

Reading love poems together at a local bookstore
Browse a local bookstore that has a coffee shop, grab a latte and a stack of books of love poetry, and read quietly to each across a small, intimate table. Don't forget to play footsie under the table, too!

Sharing romantic greeting cards
Making cards for each other is simple and inexpensive. Use a card-making program on your computer or draw your own cards on scraps of paper. If drawing your own designs is beyond your artistic abilities, glue on magazine clippings, pressed flowers, dried leaves, photos, ticket stubs, or any other meaningful or romantic items.

Bringing chocolate
Even one single, elegantly wrapped, hand-dipped bonbon makes a heart-felt gift and shows that you care. And besides, nobody ever shot someone bearing chocolate.

Leaving love notes in unexpected places
Write "I love you!" in the fog on the bathroom mirror while your sweetie's in the shower. Pack a love note in his or her briefcase. Set one on the car seat while your honey is at work. A note is a tangible way to remind your loved one of your devotion.

Sending a singing love-o-gram
You may want to hire a real singing telegram company to serenade your dear one, but we're supposed to be talking frugal tips, here. How about hiring a group of neighborhood children to sing a love song to your sweetie? Have the kids ring the bell, hand Sweetie-Pie a note stating who the song is from, and then let them belt out the song. On-key or off, the song is a touching expression of your love.

Make a scroll-of-love
Use either a receipt roll from an office supply store or a paper roll from an adding machine. Start at the loose end of the roll and then write down romantic quotes, loving thoughts, or any number of favorite feelings you want to share with your loved one. Take your time. You can make your writings an ongoing project while you watch television or keep it by your computer so you can jot down ideas while you're browsing online (just make sure you work on it when your honey isn't around). When you finish, wrap each end of the scroll around a dowel cut to size, and then, when you give it as a gift, plan on reading through it together. Don't forget to bring a box of tissue if your honey's a sop for the emotional stuff.

Get sentimental at a wedding
Next time you're invited to a wedding, hold hands with your honey through the entire ceremony. Every time something sweet, moving, or romantic is said during the ceremony, squeeze your loved one's hand meaningfully. Try to catch your sweetie's eye and smile shyly at appropriately mushy times, too.

Say "I love you!"

The most frugal way of all to say "I love you!" is just to say the words. Some people think their love goes without saying, but you need to express your love in as many tangible ways as possible — through looks, small attentions, personal nuances, but especially through the actual words. Say it. Say it every day for the rest of your life. You won't regret it.

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