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Sweet non-chocolate gift options for the Lenten crowd on Valentine's Day

| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 8:57 p.m.
Amanda Cochrane and Yoshiaki Nakano in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake.'
Duane Rieder
Amanda Cochrane and Yoshiaki Nakano in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake.'
The lobby bar at Chateau LaFayette, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, offers a clubby setting.
The lobby bar at Chateau LaFayette, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, offers a clubby setting.

For those who give up chocolate or any sweets for Lent, this year's Valentine's Day convergences with Ash Wednesday may be a little tricky. No heart-shaped boxes of creamy chocolate for your loved ones.

But don't worry, we're here to help. Here are just some non-chocolate, non-sugary options for how to celebrate the day without breaking your fast.


Looking for some romantic tunes? On Feb. 14, there are three shows that will help set the mood.

The Spinners will ponder "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg. They'll be joined by the Marcels at the 8 p.m. show.

• R&B/soul singer Eric Roberson performs at 8 p.m. at the August Wilson Center, Pittsburgh.

Chuck Blasko & the Vogues will croon its '60s hits at the Lamp Theatre, Irwin, starting at 7:30 p.m..

• Stage Right Pittsburgh will present "Love at the Oaks," a cabaret of your favorite love songs, from Feb. 14 to 17 at the Oaks Theater, Oakmont.

On Feb. 17, the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra will present "Keys to the Heart," with guest pianist Andrew Tyson.


• Everyone's favorite ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is doing a Valentine's Day show at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Don't expect too many warm fuzzies, but it will be funny.

• With Tchaikovsky's score, evil enchantment and a mysterious love story, "Swan Lake" is the height of romance for those who love ballet. Luckily, the show will go on through Feb. 25 at the Benedum Center.

• If you and your love are feeling more daring, the newest installation of Anastasia Steele's and Christian Grey's romance, "Fifty Shades Freed" is in theaters this month. And it looks like from trailers that this time they tie the knot.


• The Carnegie Museum of Art presents "Good Lovin' " as its Third Thursday program on Feb. 15. Catch Cupid's arrow at a love-themed party featuring a Valentine's Day-themed game show, love-centric tours and hands-on making experiences.

• An opening reception for the "Art of Love" exhibit starts at 6 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center. Local jazz ensemble The Moment will play. The show runs through Feb. 28


• If the love(s) of your life come with four paws, plan to attend the 11th annual Cupids & Canines Night Feb. 17 at the Westin at the Pittsburgh Convention Center. The evening starts with a doggie wedding at 6 p.m. Camp Bow Wow and Humane Animal Rescue sponsor the event, which last year raised more than $50,000.

• The birds do it, the bees do it. Curious about the courting rituals of animals of land, sea, and air? Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium thought so, and has scheduled an Animal Instinct's Valentine's Dinner on Feb. 17. Along with dinner and cocktails, enjoy an adults-only presentation revealing the intimate secrets of exotic animal mating by Henry Kacprzyk.

• Buy two tickets to one of Greensburg's biggest parties of the year: the Westmoreland Cultural Trust's annual Party at the Palace on Feb. 24 in the Palace Theatre. Each of four areas of the theater complex will be transformed with a seasonal theme, including live entertainment, hors d'oeuvres and desserts.

Plan an overnight getaway, even if it's just down the street at a nearby hotel or at a place like Seven Springs or Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.


Make a coupon book: A little dollar store notebook will do. Decorate the front and write a little promise to do something sweet on each page, like a back rub, a foot massage, breakfast in bed, chores, a free pass for not going along next time you visit your folks.

Make up a fruit basket: It's healthy but also colorful and naturally sweet (just like your Valentine).

Buy a potted plant: Give one of these plants that are said to attract love to the home: miniature roses, gardenia, peace lily, lucky bamboo and basil.

Make some heart-shaped healthy snacks: Invest in a heart-shaped cookie cutter and go to town on some apple slices, sandwiches, pancakes, French toast or any other food that strikes your fancy.

Create a sweet atmosphere in your home: Use sachets, perfumes or incense. Scents said to arouse romantic passions include lavender, vanilla, citrus, sandalwood, jasmine, ginger and even black licorice.

Write a love letter: We mean hand written — not words in a text or email or typed — using an actual pen, pencil or even crayon.


Diamonds — they speak for themselves.

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