For three years Judy Babcock and co-author Judy Kennedy collected sources to provide "helpful information for the loving but slightly baffled romantic who wants to do something special but needs gentle and very clear help in exactly how to go about it."
The happy result of their efforts is "The Romance Emporium: Hundreds of Things to Buy and Do to Help Keep Love Alive," published by Andrews, McMeel and Parker, which offers a wild and wonderful selection of imaginative ideas. Here are 10 typically fun-filled suggestions chosen from the book.
Custom Fortune Cookies: A Fortune in Ideas, 6788 Hansen Drive, Pleasanton, Calif. 94566, (415) 846-6654. Be a fortune teller when you serve up these personalized fortune cookies at your next special occasion. The cookie batter is made from fresh ingredients that make them surprisingly tasty. Your message can be funny, sentimental or profound, as long as it is no longer than three lines of 25 letters and spaces. One-hundred cookies will be shipped to you by mail with one to three separate messages of your choice. A brochure with prices is available on request.
Plant a Field of Wildflowers: Clyde Robin Seed Co. Inc., P.O. Box 2855, Castro Valley, Calif. 94546, (415) 785-0425. You can plan and plant a field of wildflowers in your own backyard to delight those you love (and yourself). The Clyde Robin Seed Co. has a wildflower mix of annuals and perennials that blooms throughout the summer and grows from 12 to 36 inches high, covering 250 square feet of land. There are 1,500 varieties of seeds in the catalogue ($2).
Buy Your Own Painted Horse: Carousel Co., 295 4th St., Oakland, Calif. 94607, (415) 465-6905. For those who have always loved the merry-go-round, here is the opportunity to bring that childhood magic into your own home. If you would like to buy a carrousel horse, this company can provide you with antique animals in several forms: completely stripped to the wood; straight off a carrousel, often with many coats of paint; in original paint or restored. You can also purchase the materials necessary for restoration.
Mr. Keane, Finder of Lost Loved Ones: Lloyd Shulman, 601 S. Rampart Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90057, (213) 380-2400. "Mr. Keane's" success rate is amazing, even if the information you have for him is sketchy. When he finds the person you are searching for, he will provide you with an address and phone number. If there is a mysterious someone in your past whom you would love to see again, this is the way to try to make contact. Here is a way to reach across the years toward a possible future with a friend from the past.
Get Married on Ship: Charter Concepts, 13757 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, (213) 823-2676. Although the captain of a cruise ship can no longer perform marriage ceremonies, you can still fulfill your dream of a shipboard wedding. Charter Concepts will make the arrangements for the big event with local authorities and have a qualified clergyman (some of whom are also ship captains) or civic official perform the ceremony on board. The company also provides yachts, chefs, flowers and staff for small parties or grand receptions.
Attention Chocoholics: Chocolate News, 60 East 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10017, (212) 682-7320. For the chocoholic in your life, here is a bimonthly publication, sometimes printed on chocolate-scented paper, that offers such fascinating information as where to buy the best bars, how to find chocolate-flavored lip gloss and how to cook an excellent chocolate chili. Did you know that chocolate beans were once used for money? Read all about it in the Chocolate News.
Adopt an Animal: Animal Adoption Office, Zoological Society of San Diego, P.O. Box 271, San Diego, Calif. 92112, (619) 231-1515. Several zoos in California offer programs where you can donate funds to support an animal, singly or in groups. At the San Diego Zoo you can choose among flamingos, springboks, blue-tongued skinks and other interesting creatures. Fees differ depending on the type of animal chosen, ranging from $50 for a snapping turtle to $1,000 for a Siberian tiger. Donations go toward the feeding and care of "your" animal for the year.
Spend the Night on a Lighthouse Island: East Brother Light Station Inc., 117 Park Place, Point Richmond, Calif. 94801, (415) 233-2385. With the sound of a foghorn in the background you can look out on a 360-degree view from the top of the East Brother Light Station and see the lights of San Francisco glimmering in the distance. Constructed in 1873, the lighthouse can only be reached by climbing from a small boat up the vertical ladder on the sheer side of the one-acre island. Included in the package trip is boat transportation from the San Pablo yacht harbor, a gourmet dinner with wine, a continental breakfast and a tour of the island and its Victorian main house.
Video Classes Together: Greenleaf Video Selection Inc., 3230 Nebraska Ave., Santa Monica, 90404, (213) 829-7675. Whatever your interest, this company will search the market for VCR tapes on the topic you want to study with someone special. Choose from the many classes available on tape covering such subjects as cooking, sports, aerobics, psychology and relaxation. To receive the company's 68-page catalogue, send them your name and address plus $3--$2 of which may be applied toward your first purchase.
Pick Your Own Grapes: Ridge Vineyards, 17100 Montebello Road, Cupertino, Calif. 95014, (408) 867-3233. Three former scientists, all Stanford Ph.D.s, are the owners of this vineyard, and they can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about wine. The winery has a waiting list of people who want to come and pick grapes for the weekend, free of charge. At the end of your shift Ridge wine is served at the tiny, chateau-sized vineyard.