I'm a romantic and proud of it. Romance isn't about being sappy or giving the occasion bouquet. Romance, to me at least, is the outward display of focused attention one pays to a particular person. But more than that rather clinical description, I like the unpredictability, the genuine surprise, and the heartfelt appreciation for the effort it takes to give or do something special for someone special. Romance is about giving, and I'm all about that.
It's always a gamble when you set out to do something nice for someone, you never know how she or he will receive it. My record on such things has not been great, I never seem to get it right, which, if you're like me, induces a lot of stress, a cloud of uncertainty, and a flood of questions when you plan a romantic evening.
Is it too much? Not enough? Does she/he think I'm being stupid and sappy? Does she/he have any idea what I had to go through to look this good?
And on it goes until we wind up so stressed that we goof up what would likely have been a nice time. (Been there, done that more times than I care to count.)
You'd think with my track record I'd be gun shy (or is that bow and arrow shy?). I'm not because I've learned one thing: Doing something nice for someone is really its own reward.
Don't bother wondering if your efforts are worth the effort. A great man once said, "If you love life then don't waste time, for that is the stuff life is made of." (Benjamin Franklin). Don't waste time wondering about it, relax and just do it.
OK, Valentine's Day is coming and you want to do something nice for the object of your affection, but you really want it to be memorable (in a good way). You need not break the piggy bank to show that special person how you feel, you just need a plan, a little imagination, and some free apps from the App Store.
If you've decided to celebrate Cupid Day at home then there are all sorts of possibilities open to you, but there are three major areas you need to tackle to make the evening a success: Set the mood, nourish the body, entertain the mind. Let's see what we can do...
Home Depot Style Guide [14.4MB, iPad only, iOS 5 or later, Developer: Home Depot Inc.]
Setting the mood can be easy, especially if you maintain a decent living area. But if you feel your home could use a bit of sprucing up before the big day then you might want to get a few ideas from The Home Depot Style Guide.
Tips and how-tos abound In Home Depot's Style Guide
Yes, this app is a big ad for Home Depot, but there's nothing that says you can't look through it to get some decorating ideas and tips that could turn your homestead from, "oh. Sigh." to, "Oh my!" (Geez! I sound like Martha Stewart!)
The app offers a selection of e-zines that are delivered quarterly. In them you'll find articles by famous designers, decorating tips, and how-tos. It's a pretty impressive app that I think you'll come back to whenever you need home improvement ideas. I guess that's what Home Depot was looking to accomplish. I'd say they did a bang up job.
Great interaction gets the ideas flowing
It's got a great interface, big bold photos, and lots of touch interaction. This really is a good app.
Download Home Depot Style Guide and give your hobbit hole a makeover.
Jamie's Recipes [40.2MB, All iOS devices, iOS 5.1 or later, Developer: Zolmo]
OK, you've got your place looking somewhat habitable again, now you need to show off your culinary skills. You say boiling water is a challenge for you? Not to worry, Jamie Oliver will save your bacon (and instruct you on how best to cook it).
Jamie's Recipes is a really nice collection of cooking how-tos, presented in a slideshow format, but it's no ordinary slide deck. Each step has a photo that clearly shows what you need to do, and it's slides, not videos, so you can control the pace. Smart!
Easy-to-follow recipes in the free Jamie's Taster Pack
But that's not all. Getting the deck to move along with swipes is standard fair, but what if your hands are covered with chicken guts? Surely Jamie isn't suggesting that you smear your beautiful iPad screen with hen entrails. Of course not! The app includes voice commands for controlling the slide presentation. Activate it by pressing the little mic icon in the lower left corner of the screen and you can say, "Next," or "Previous" (or something close to it) to navigate through the slides. More smart!
The mic icon in the left corner give you voice control
There are several great recipes for free and you can buy more if you want. I'd just pick one of the freebies and break out the pots.
TuneIn Radio [9MB, All iOS devices, iOS 4.3 or later, Developer: TuneIn]
Now you've got a great looking place, the smells of a (hopefully) tasty dinner fills the air, all you need is some music to complete the mood. Do you play some light Jazz, classic rock, classical?
I suggest easy familiar tunes you can just listen or slow-dance to. For such sounds you could fire up a radio and tune in local channels, but why limit yourself? Grab TuneIn Radio and get a world full of free radio and podcasts chock full of every type of music imaginable. Enjoy Jazz? Move to Mamba? Sashay to Salsa? Cuddle to classical? TuneIn Radio has you covered.
Huge list of stations to pick from
I'm a huge fan of the interface, which is easy to navigate through. If you have AppleTV or an AirPlay compatible speaker system then you can throw your tunes over to your big system and fill the room with sound.
These are radio stations so they will have commercials, but since your choice is so wide and varied you're bound to find a station that plays what you like with the minimum of chat or ads. And when you do find something you like you can save it as a favorite. The app is ad supported, but this is radio, you don't have to see the ads.
You may be too busy to see what's playing, but it's there is you need it
There you have it. You've got the place and set the mood, the rest is up to you. Good luck you romantic devil.
That's a wrap for this week. More free stuff right here next week.
If you're into space games then you'll love this week's free App of the Week; Galaxy on Fire 2 HD.