A guide to living local in Southern New Hampshire

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How Do I Love Thee?

Express Valentine's Day Devotion by Buying Local

Story and photos By Tom Long and Stacy Milbouer
Fiddlehead Contributing Editors

We know there’s a lot of pressure to express your love for your honey each year in the middle of February. But here at Fiddlehead we like to keep all our holidays local. Below find some suggestions that not only will expresses your devotion to your significant other, but also your devotion to community artisans, artists and businesses.

Say it Artfully

McGowan Fine Arts has plenty of abstract and representational works by an accomplished stable of artists at its new location on Phenix Street in Concord. Yikes! American Craft Gallery, 23 Main Street, Center Harbor, and The Nashua Artists’ Association ArtHub Gallery on Temple Street all have one-of-a-kind gifts as does the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Galleries in Concord, Meredith and Nashua. Hexagon 101 at Salzburg Square in Amherst, and Vynn Fine Art, 30 Main St., Meredith, offer gifts of beauty and future heirlooms.

Ah. Love is Puzzle

Piece Time Puzzles in Northwood not only has hundreds of puzzles of various sizes and prices but they also make custom puzzles from photographs. Just send in a pic and they’ll turn it into a fractured picture.

You could also up the ante. “Some customers have even used a puzzle to propose marriage,” said Rose Stevens, co-owner of the store. She explained that one customer scratched out a heart in sand at the beach and wrote “Will you marry me?” in the middle. He took a picture of his handwork and sent it to Piece Time where it was transformed into a puzzle. He then presented it to his beloved who didn’t know his intent until she put it all together so to speak.

Stevens said it generally takes about two weeks to get the puzzle after ordering it.

Really Get Cooking

You can have your cake and eat it, too, by giving a gift certificate for a cooking class or two. The Culinary Playground in Derry has classes for all levels of culinary expertise. The Colby Hill Inn in Henniker holds classes one a month. Those with a sweet tooth can satisfy their cravings at the hands-on classes at Dancing Lion Chocolate in Manchester. Chez Boucher Culinary Arts Training Center in Hampton also has a number of classes, including cooking for couples.

Upcycled Vintage

Fiddleheads love repurposing clothing. Gilford-based Smittens are handmade mittens crafted from recycled sweaters – cashmere and others – and are sold at craft kiosks in various malls including the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester. And, yes, they will make specially ordered mittens out of a loved one’s sweater if you like. Check them out at smittens.webs.com or facebook.com/Smittensmeanlove.

Roll Out the Barrel… or at Least a Stave or Two

When Joshua Boisvert, vineyard and facilities manager at LaBelle Winery, is not overseeing production he creates candelabrum and other home décor items out of staves from $1,500 French oak wine barrel. He said the containers can only be used three times for wine. Instead of throwing them away or just using them for storage, he turns them into objects d’art.

He also has makes coat hangers and lazy Susans out of the casks.

“I’m thinking of turning others into dog houses or pet beds,” Boisvert said recently. “The wood is just so beautiful.”

And Speaking of Wineries

The Gilmanton Winery will celebrate an early Valentine’s Day Feb. 9 and 10 with five-course dinners in the establishment which is the former home of “Peyton Place” writer Grace Metalious (see story here). Song stylist Cat Faulkner will perform songs by Berlin, Gershwin and other composers of the American songbook, and sleigh rides may be held if the snow gods cooperate. Reservations are required. Call early, the dinners usually sell out. 267-8251.

Be Your Special Someone’s Fairy Godmother, or Father

At the Silver Branch Studio in Wilton, “where art and magic meet,” Melanie Chouinard has created Alula the Hummingbird Rider, pigs that fly and other ethereal elfin creatures as well as dragons and masks of polymer clay and papier-mâché. Visit thesilverbranch.com

MC - Square

Dozens of New Hampshire makers have now set up shop at M&C Clothing and Gifts, 135 NH 101A, Amherst. They include Rosaries by Melissa, provider of hand-crafted rosaries and shadow boxes by Melissa Boisvert; hand-drawn maps of the White Mountains hiking trails by SherpaArt of Wilton, on which to mark your progress in climbing the 4,000-footers; and Nashua’s Heavenly Creation, seller of hand-crafted wooden earrings, to name a few.

Love on the Rock

Tell him or her love is forever with an ammonite fossil from the Quartz Source rock and mineral shop in Milford or a fossil fish from Broader Concept crystal, gem and mineral shop in Hooksett.

Do it By the Book…

Nothing is more ennobling than a good read. Not sure what title will bring a smile to your loved one? Check out the employee’s choice racks at Toadstool Bookshops in Milford and Peterborough, Gibson’s in Concord, the Water Street Bookshop in Exeter or the Book Cellar in Nashua.

Breakfast in Bed and then Some

Calef’s Country Store in Barrington has a display of food items made in the New Hampshire, including a Calef’s country store breakfast box with buttermilk pancake mix, half a pint of New Hampshire maple syrup, two pieces of maple candy and three Lindt chocolates. They also have a display of Granite State goodies, including White Heron Tea, Black Water Mustard, Camp Mix seasonings, dark chocolate Granite Rich Live Free Stones, maple-pecan Suss caramels and so much more.