Top of the Morning, Feb. 13, 2014

Top of the Morning, Feb. 13, 2014

Marleen Hendrickx didn't need a phone call from The News-Gazette to remind her Valentine's Day is coming up. The buzz in her shop in Urbana's Lincoln Square gives it away each February.

"I know it's Valentine's when the line, right before closing time, is long with guys with a panicked look on their face," the owner of Rubens Chocolates said. "There are some guys who think ahead, but the other percentage is larger."

She grew up in Belgium — "chocolates are big there" — and considers herself a "chocolatier" after years in the handmade sweet-tooth business. Who better to hit up for last-minute Valentine's Day ideas? No. 1 is no surprise.

1. Chocolate

But personalize it. If you're buying for a musician, for example, I do a baby grand piano and guitars and violins and even a cello. Do something that speaks to them and some of their interests.

2. Day trip

Surprise them with something they love doing, whether it's antiquing or going for a hike or going to a spa and getting them to relax. Do something that is bonding.

3. Night out

A fine meal with a fine beverage gives whoever's cooking a break from cooking. It's a sensual thing to do.

4. Flowers

It would be more appreciated if it was something that lasts and just doesn't go away. Like a potted tree that you can have in your house and tell everyone 'That was from my husband blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.'

5. Sweet music

Go to a concert or someone's favorite band or musician or a ballet. If you can't afford that, a good old-fashioned mix tape. Definitely R&B or soul music and definitely old-school, someone like Al Green.

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