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This Valentine's Day, skip the flowers and the chocolates

It's true, we girls like to get flowers on Valentine's Day. The sad part is, they die within about a week, and if we get chocolates, well, we only feel worse after eating them. It's time to ditch the "traditional" demonstrations of love this Valentine's Day and do something that will last forever (and won't break your budget).

1. Make it an experience. Sure, we might not all be able to go out of town or go on a romantic cruise, that doesn't mean around town can't be a fun evening, or weekend. If your sweetie likes the outdoors, dedicate a full day to activities with Mother Nature. Start out with a breakfast in the patio, follow it by a "love" walk with the dog. Take a road trip to your favorite hiking trail and pack a picnic lunch. You could end the night with enjoying some glasses of wine by the fire pit, gazing at the stars and enjoying a romantic meal by candlelight.

2. Create something. A lot of us like special creations, personalization or simply things that mean a lot because someone we love made them. There are many places where you can make pottery together or try out sculpting, painting, glass blowing or wine making. Cooking classes are also a fun way to get to know someone you're just dating or to explore a new activity you haven't done. Those activities could become a ritual you do yearly or even more often, while building memories along the way.

3. Back to basics. A handmade card means so much more than one you buy at the store. A handwritten poem will be cherished more than one you get off the Internet. A homemade meal can be the most perfect love potion of all. A photo collage will recall memories of happy moments together every time you both look at it.

4. Family fun. A lot of couples feel celebrating Valentine's Day is a challenge when you have kids. Hassles of finding a babysitter or a pet sitter can often crush the hopes of a romantic night out or a magical getaway. If having some alone time is very much needed, recruit your friends or family to help step in to give you the night off. Offer to return the favor on another holiday in exchange. Or, including your little ones into the love equation can also be fun. Creating a special handcrafted cart of a macaroni hearts will guarantee tears and smiles from a happy mom. Special heart cookies baked by the most adorable member of the house will also surely be enjoyed.

5. Gift something else. Jewelry, gift cards and candy have all been done before, millions of times over. Chances are, you've gotten all three or a variation of them from multiple people over the years. To stand out, find something unique that truly identifies with your sweetheart. Go to small, trendy shops where you'll only find one-of-a-kind items. Or, browse antiques shops that can bring a touch of the past to your future.

These are all simple ways to tell the person you love it's about you and your story together more than it's about the necklace you got for Valentine's Day.

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About the Author

Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.


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