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As the economy inches its way to recovery, consumers can do their part by shopping local, especially for special holidays such as Valentine’s Day.

Sweets for the Sweet

There is a new player in the competition to satisfy the sweet tooth. Tiny Dog Cupcake sells the yummy confections for humans, not dogs, as the store’s name might imply. Located at 616 Davis St. (847-563-8680), the shop has a sumptuous menu featuring cupcake varieties such as dark chocolate minty, red velvety, carrot cake, barking blueberry and toasted coconut.

Fraîche Bakery Café, a popular spot at 815 Noyes St. (847-475-5467), also features a display case filled with tempting baked goods. Cupcakes, cake slices, éclairs and other delicious sweets may be purchased.

If dietary restrictions are a concern, Rose’s Wheat Free Café at 2901 Central St. (847-859-2723) is a great option. The bakery specializes in wheat/gluten-free goods, and carries some dairy-free and egg-free items as well. Try one of their gift baskets with a selection of healthy baked goods.

For those who believe that chocolates are the only proper Valentine’s gift, Evanston is home to Belgian Chocolatier Piron, 505 Main St. (847-864-5504). From Grand Marnier to truffles, even the choosiest chocolate lover will love the huge selection of exquisite confections handmade in the European tradition.

DIY Cards and Handmade Gifts

Creative types might want to make their own Valentine’s Day cards. A visit to Paper Source at 2100 Central St. (847-733-8830) can provide everything from paper and colored pens to heart-shaped stamps and red ink with a few colorful stickers thrown in. The store even sells card-making kits well-suited for busy little hands.

Nearby is Beadazzled, at 2002 Central St. (847-864-9494), where supplies for a custom-designed necklace, bracelet, earrings or other jewelry item can be purchased. Another source for beads, gemstones and jewelry findings is Ayla’s Originals at 1511 Sherman Ave. (847-328-4040) in downtown Evanston. Both stores also offer jewelry-making classes and make repairs.

Knitting is once again a popular activity and two local shops stock supplies for serious and novice knitters. Montoya Fiber Studio at 2566 Prairie Ave. (847-869-1089) sells needles and yarn in every color of the rainbow. Close Knit at 531 Davis St. (847-328-6760) in downtown Evanston is another source for knitting supplies.

For the all-around hobbyist, there is Tom Thumb Hobby & Crafts at 1026 Davis St. (847-869-9575). From beads to baking and candle-making to miniatures, this store has the largest selection of craft and hobby supplies in Northern Illinois.

Arts & Entertainment

The Baroque Ensemble will perform at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 at at Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Rd. (847-467-4000). Also performing on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. is the Anubis Quartet at Lutkin Hall, 600 University Place (847-467-4000).

The Society for the Preservation of Art & Culture in Evanston (S.P.A.C.E.) at 1245 Chicago Ave. (847-492-8860) offers a Valentine’s Day Spectacular. It features Club Zumba with Suzy Crawford and Iida Borges and begins at 7 p.m. on Feb. 14. The program combines Latin rhythms with easy-to-follow moves.

By choosing to shop, dine and play at local venues, one makes green choices and shows love for Planet Earth on Valentine’s Day.

Contact Eco Gal at ecogal247@yahoo.com or read her blog at http://askecogal.blogspot.com.