Flowers? Candy? How Islanders Celebrate Valentine’s Day

— by Ayn Gailey —

Love is priceless, yet Valentine’s Day nationwide is notorious for dollars spent. A new survey from the National Retail Federation projects that U.S. consumers will spend a total of $18.2 billion on their Valentines this year. Over $4 billion of that will be spent on jewelry, with another $1.7 billion on chocolate and candy and $2 billion on flowers. By the way, according to Statistic Brain, 14% of women will send themselves those flowers on Valentine’s Day and, no pressure significant others, but 53% percent of women reportedly end their relationship if they don’t receive something for Valentine’s Day.

After talking to a random sampling of islanders of all ages, new and old residents, from different parts of the island, we are proud to say that Valentine’s Day is decidedly less commercial on the island than the mainland. Here is how a few of your fellow islanders are celebrating the holiday plus a few of their favorite ways they’ve spent the holiday in the past. Maybe they’ll inspire you to try a new tradition. Or, if you need more ideas, we’ve listed a few of the restaurants open for Valentine’s and a licensed babysitter resource should you need one at the end of this article.

Amanda Wright, who grew up on the island and is now raising her kids here, has booked a babysitter and she and her husband are going out for a special Valentine’s Day dinner at the Rosario Mansion Restaurant. Her favorite Valentine’s Day gift was a handmade gift made by her husband. He typed sweet messages on strips of paper and hid them all over the house. “I found about half of them on Valentine’s Day. But for the next few years, they kept popping up and I loved that,” says Wright. “I’d open up a book and one would flutter out! It made me smile and laugh every time I found one.”

Nita Couchman, in charge of Children’s Programs & Materials Acquisition at our library, will be spending the holiday on a plane flying from Hawaii to Seattle after two weeks in the sun, “Wondering how vacation can be over so soon.”

Angela Saxe, originally from the Portland/Vancouver area, moved to Deer Harbor after marrying her husband, Andy, in January 2004. They are owners of AS Tech Professionals. According to Angela, “As a kid, my dad always made me feel special on Valentine’s Day. He’d give my mom a big box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers and he’d always give me a small box of chocolates and bouquet of flowers. As a parent, I feel it is important to build memories and fun traditions that my son, Calvin, who is 10 years old, can take with him into adulthood. So a few years ago, we began our Fancy Valentine’s Day Dinner tradition. Each year, we make a meal of steak and lobster, side dishes, wine (sparkling cider for Calvin) in stemmed glasses, and a dessert—usually my grandmother’s cream puffs or, this year, crème brulee. My son helps set the table with my grandmother’s china and plenty of candles. And I don’t forget the chocolates for the boys. We look forward to it each year.”

Ellie Wright, a 5th grader on the island, made “Chocolate Lovely Pops” from a recipe by Wondermint Kids, which is a D.I.Y. blog written by a fellow islander. She’s wrapped them and will be giving them out to her friends at school on Valentine’s Day.

Emilie Gincig, who was raised on the island and is the Program Director at the Funhouse Commons will be in Dallas, Texas, this year for work on Valentine’s Day. However, she has fond memories of a Valentine’s Day tradition she had growing up on the island: “My best friend, Makala, and I would make crepes shaped like hearts, and dye them pink every year for Valentine’s Day.”

Pastor Brian Moss of the Orcas Island Community Church (OICC) and his wife Stephanie Quill Moss, traditionally celebrate Valentine’s with a homemade dinner by Brian. However, this year, she shares: “We will be dining at Rosario Mansion restaurant, thanks to some very generous folks from OICC, who gave us a gift certificate for Christmas.”

Emma Heikkinen, Editor of the Viking Voice at Orcas Island High, tells us “I plan to complete my Catch-22 essay in the least romantic way possible, writing on Heller’s demonstration of the inherent fallibilities of institutions — largely capitalism — fortifying essential absurdist themes. Shoutout to Joseph Heller, who likely cursed Valentine’s Day every day of his existence for capitalism’s commodification of romantic relationships.” As for last year, she added, “I think I made a watery quiche, if that counts. “

Uma McMurray is a 7th grader and the first place winner in the all-schools Scripps Spelling Bee this year on the island. “I’ll actually be off island for a basketball game. We’ll be travelling to Darrington, which is a notoriously long, cold bus ride. We look forward to competing against Darrington, however are less enthusiastic about spending the greater part of the day on the ferry and freeway, exhausted after a hard-fought basketball game.” In the past, she adds, she’s “enjoyed spending the day with friends and family and people I love.”

Theresa Harris and husband Bret Harris, met at Doe Bay years ago and have been vacationing on Orcas for over a decade. They recently made the plunge to move here full time. After getting a head start on their Valentine’s Day celebration this year with a champagne toast at Doe Bay Cafe on Saturday, Theresa tell us that on Valentine’s: “We plan to hike up Mt. Constitution with picnic treats from Roses while our kiddos are at school exchanging Valentines with their friends. We’ll cozy up in the evening as a family with a big bowl of beef stew, grateful to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day on the island.

Lila Speed Richardson, a homeschooling mom, ​shared the following: “Leading up to Valentine’s Day was unique this year, as our family started crafting the day we received a record amount of snowfall on the island. Feeling festive, we trekked over to my Mom’s house to decorate sugar cookies and make handmade valentines. Determined not to let the snow stop us, we hauled a sled full of supplies down her steep, snow covered driveway. Since my children were born, Valentine’s Day has become more of a family holiday where we express our love towards one another versus a romantic holiday. This Tuesday, the kids and Ezra will wake up to a little Valentine note, a gift, and eat a special breakfast together. The kids will spend the rest of their day engaged in lessons at a friend’s house.​”​

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Below we list some of the Valentine’s Day Dinners and other Resources on the island. If you would like to add another to the list, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

Need a babysitter? Kaleidoscope offers babysitting on Valentine’s.
Hours will run from 6-10pm. All ages accepted.  Minimum participant requirement.  Reservations required.  Please call 376-2484  or email to sign up.

If you have to miss celebrating on the 14th, you can still show your love at the Valentine’s Dance at Odd Fellows Hall with Orcatrazz on Saturday, February 18, 7:30 pm. The dance is by donation with monies received going to the Odd Fellows Scholarship Fund and the Music Advocacy program. For further information, call Bill at 376-8857.

Aphrodisiac Dinner at the Barnacle
(Tuesday, February 14; seatings at 5:30 and 7:30 pm)
The Barnacle is hosting its first annual Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac Dinner. Four course prix fixe dinner is $54/person; $30/optional cocktail pairing.

Valentine’s Special at Madrona Bar & Grill
Featuring a 4 course dinner with or without wine pairing. $50 per person, $70 with wine pairing. Please call for reservations: 360-376-7171

Valentine’s Dinner at Catkin Cafe
Seatings at 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Three course prix fixe menu; $75 per person; vegetarian options. For reservations or questions, leave a message at 376-3242 or email

Valentine’s Dinner at Roses Cafe
As of the writing of this article, only one reservation was left for their 6 course menu. $85 per person. For reservations: 376-4292.

Valentine’s Day Dinner at The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario
Enjoy a four-course à la carte Valentine’s Day menu by Executive Chef Raymond Southern. $65/person; $40/person optional wine pairing menu. Served 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Reservations: 376-2222

New Leaf Cafe Re-Opening
(Make reservations now)
The New Leaf Cafe will be re-opening on Friday, February 10th for dinner from 5-9pm and will be serving dinner on Valentine’s Day.
Call for info: 376-2200

Random House Open for Valentine’s
Offering a special Valentine’s dinner with Piano Joe and friends.

Kathryn Taylor’s Chocolates
Special handmade chocolates and Valentine’s-themed chocolates will be available.

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Flowers? Candy? How Islanders Celebrate Valentine’s Day — 1 Comment

  1. My husband cooks my favorite dinner and I bake his favorite dessert and we watch something from AcornTV.