Stretching the Valentine dollar into a full day eating and hanging out in Portland, Maine.

The Hallmark-sanctioned day of romance is right around the corner and food bloggers around town are writing about love stinking and where to go to avoid the love-dovey among us. As one of the lovey-dovey, I’ve decided to diverge. Read on (if you dare) as I blather on about stretching the Valentine dollar into an all-day date.

Sure I could (and certainly have been known to) throw down a wad (say $200) for a marvelous prixe fixe dinner with pre-meal cocktails, pricey wine and tip in Portland.  But if you, like me, are both watching your nickels and wishing for more together time you’ll need to be more creative this year. So what’s a happily hitched couple to do? Well, Adam and I have set aside half that aforementioned dinner wad to spend for a full day of fun, gifts and noshing. Here’s our agenda:

1. First, we’ve postponed the celebration until March 2. Sharp-eyed folks will immediately note that is the next First Friday. We’re taking the day off.

2. After sleeping in (what would that be like?), we’ll stroll over to Bard ’round 10:00 to kick-start our day with caffeine and sugar. I’ll have an large Ethiopian drip and he’ll have a large latte. We’ll each have a Holy Donut and canoodle on the leather couch. Cost: $9.50

3. After sipping slowly and marveling at the pure heaven that is Holy Donut’s chocolate glazed, we’ll head over to Find at 11:00-ish to, well, find Adam a “new” tee-shirt. This cool vintage consignment store often features gently worn Rouges Gallery tees for between $10-$20. Projected cost: $12

4. We’ll trip back across the street to the Nickelodeon and catch a matinee. Perhaps an arty-farty flick that recently won an Oscar (remember, this is March 2). Cost: $12

5. Peckish after a movie without popcorn, we’ll amble off to the Portland Public Market and up the stairs to Kamasouptra. If it’s on the menu that day, I’ll choose the “creamy with a kick” Red Pepper Gouda. Adam the Clam Chowder. Other sublime choices: Cream of Broccoli and Veggie Chili.  Cost: $11

6. Once we’ve slurped our soups, people watched and read the Phoenix from cover to cover, we’ll continue up Congress to Material Objects. My turn for something “new to me.” As spring is around the corner, I’ll opt for a flirty skirt. Projected cost: $10

7. First Friday will be beginning to bustle as we pop out the door at 5:00. We’ll check out Rose Contemporary, Space, MECA and more before heading to Portland Museum of Art, where we’ll take our time perusing Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist, the museum’s first major Degas exhibit (February 23 – May 28). Cost: Free

8. Nearing 8:00, we’ll attempt to wedge ourselves into the bar at Enzo and order two slices of Otto and a beer each. I’ve developed a weird affinity for the ever-present Mashed Potato, Bacon and Scallion. Cost: $26

9. We’ll split a bottle of Lunch (Maine Beer Company’s herby, awesome IPA) and end the evening listening to a folk, jazz or blues artist (looks like it will be Roving Soul on March 2), and First Friday favs, Okbari at Blue. Total with tips (bartender and artists): $20

Blogger’s Note: For more Valentine suggestions, check out the round-up on Portland Food Map.