I love Valentine's Day - because it is an opportunity to tell someone you love them, and frankly there are never enough opportunities to show and share love.
I've heard the complaints. The bitterness, and the despair. I've listened to the rant about commercialisation. I take all points on board and disagree entirely.
YOU CAN NEVER TELL SOMEONE YOU LOVE THEM TOO MANY TIMES
Of course we don't need a day where we have to do this - we should be doing it everyday. But we are stuck with Valentines, so rather than being a hater, I say to you embrace it, but embrace it on your own terms and from a position of LOVE.
It doesn't have to be all about couples either. I have heard the single rant, and as someone who is single this year, again I completely disagree, and I say to everyone bemoaning the fact they aren't sharing love with a partner today - Get Over Yourself. Go out there and share the love with your friends, your family, your connections. Don't make it all about 'the one' there's plenty of love to go round.
Sometimes on Valentines day I gather all my single friends together, and we have a five course dinner, we laugh and joke, and generally just love on each other.
This year I am spending Valentines with one of my best chums and we are going to laugh, drink bubbles, and eat copious amounts of deliciou food. I am excited. I will never have the opportunity to hang out with her on this day again. Once its gone, its gone. I celebrate our friendship.
This heart shaped box of chocolates from Marks and Spencer is one of my favourite gifts. Gifts don't need to be lingerie, or diamonds, they can be chocolates and a cuddle. Can you think of anything better than snuggling with loved ones and sharing these delicious morsels. With flavours like mint and raspbery, praline truffle and duche de luche, they are downright delicious. If you are going to eat chocolate, I always say, eat it well.
I shared this box with family and friends just the other night, I made a fuss of them, told them I loved them, and we had fun eating the chocolates as we planned a wedding.
I haven't told you yet have I - I am up to my eyes in wedding preparations for my brother and my beautiful sister in law - Sarah. We are organising a Vietnamese Irish celebration that is all about love.
Live in the moment, don't put things off for one day, enjoy a box of Marks and Spencer Chocolates for Valentines with your friends or your lover.
This week in preparation for Valentines, I called into Marks and Spencer and stocked up, on possibly the most fun and funky chocolates. These little bars come in packs of around 25 bars, each with a gold wrapper and paper label, some with great words on them. I have bought several packs and sent groups of the individual bars to my friends.
Scattered over a dinner table, or a coffee table, they make a romantic and delightful addition to your table. Whether you are eating four courses or just eating chocolate and watching romantic movies, do it, while you are enjoying eating little mouthfuls of chocolate.
Celebrate love all year round.
Marks and Spencer do fantastic 'Dine in for Two' meals all year round. These are exceptional bargains, and the quality of the food and wine, is that of a regular restaurant. In fact one of Belfast's Michelin Starred chefs told me just the other day - 'Its not other restaurants I have to compete with, it's Marks and Spencer, dine in for two. That's my competition. And those meals are brilliant.'
We started with roasted cherry tomato and Camembert tartlets, which has the lighted flaky puff pastry, which I cooked to a real crisp encasing creamy cheese with the tomatoes adding a sweet sharpness to the rich flavours.
For mains there was beef Wellington, served with green beans, peas, and crunchy cabbage. The meat had a rich flavour, that sat nicely with the freshness and spring aromas of the veggies.
There were lots of other options for mains and puddings, including a main course of whole Seabass, and fennel which my brother and his finance are buying for themselves for tomorrow, as they celebrate Valentines over a Marks and Spencer, Dine in for two.
The dry fizz of the cava that ended with a sweet taste and some slightly sour top notes, gave me a sparkling wine that worked perfectly with chocolates. Marks and Spencer have put a lot of thought into planning this meal, to make every part of it enjoyable.
There were triple chocolate mousses that had a sweet, then bitter taste, then milkly taste. Each chocolate actually tasted as it should of chocolate, and not just sweetness. The lightness of the pudding perfectly accompanied the richness of the Beef Wellington, and the Camembert Tartlet.
To finish we had a gooey chocolate brownie that had been covered in a thick layer of chocolate and some sparkly hearts. There was a really rich chocolately flavour, with an intensitity that brought a smile to my face, as so often chocolate desserts disappoint. This one was perfect served cold. But we also warmed it up and then drizzled some double cream laced with baileys over the top.
In this time of nail biting recession, eating at home has never been more popular. I have always preferred eating at home to eating out, because I love to cook and entertain. Plus on Valentines, you want to be alone with either your lover or your friends and family, you don't want the fakeness of a restaurant setting. But you do want restaurant quality food, and Marks and Spencer have this in abundance.
Eating a delicious dinner with the Dine in for Two deal especially for Valentines from Marks and Spencer, means your Valentines day has never been easier. Light some candles, decorate your table, and enjoy the fact you are loved, and share your love.
They say those that love the best, love the most.
That's it for now...
Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable