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For a romantic, sensual Valentine's Day experience, press the bedsheets

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ay it with flowers. Say it with candy. • Say it with your iron. • You read that right: Get out the iron for Valentine's Day. • You're going to iron the sheets for your beloved, a romantic gift like no other. • Sinking into a bed dressed with ironed sheets is one of life's great luxuries, one of the few that costs you nothing. It's a completely unexpected one, too, created entirely by you. And unlike other sybaritic pleasures, the experience is more than fleeting.

You're probably thinking: My sheets aren't fancy enough for that treatment.

Any sheet benefits from a hot iron.

You're probably thinking: I don't know how.

The only thing easier to iron is a napkin. Just think of a sheet as a big napkin.

You're probably thinking: Where's the iron?

Stop stalling.

Here's what you do.

Set up the ironing board and turn the iron's temperature gauge to cotton or linen. Put a clean towel on the floor where the sheet will arrange itself as you iron down its length. If you don't have a steam function on the iron or don't know how to use it, get a spray bottle of water. (If you really want to splurge, get a bottle of scented water, found at most stores selling bed linens.) Or just sprinkle the sheet and pillow cases with water. They need to be good and damp but not soaked.

Turn on the TV and find a show that has no redeeming value (reruns of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, for example) and you will still feel virtuous while you watch.

Fold the top sheet in half lengthwise. Lay it flat and start pressing, making sure the fabric is damp. A timesaver is to place the fold on the wider end of the ironing board to get more surface area on the part of the sheet you actually sleep under. The parts that get tucked into the mattress aren't as important.

When you get to the top of the sheet, called the foldover, you may have to work the iron a little harder depending on what kind of foldover your sheet has. Then flip the sheet over and give it a quick press on the other side.

Fold the sheet neatly.

You're done.

Except for the pillowcases, which are obvious.

Ironing the bottom sheet is nice but unnecessary to the overall delirious effect you are creating. Remove it from the dryer while still warm, stretch it over the mattress and it'll be smooth.

Now make the bed. The only rule to a nicely made bed is attention to detail. You ideally will have an ironed top sheet, pillows in ironed cases, a blanket and a decorative covering.

Put your top sheet down and line up the folds so it's centered. Add the blanket, its top edge several inches below the sheet's, and fold the sheet over it.

I was going to explain how to do a hospital corner but don't want to scare you, so tuck the end and sides into the mattress as neatly as possible.

Looks good, right?

If you have a bedspread or duvet, fold it in half or thirds at the end of the bed so it looks fluffy. Add as many pillows as you can.

You can stop here, but continue for more points.

You are at the stage, if you were cooking, that would be called garnishing the plate.

Borrow a shawl, wrap or cool piece of fabric (maybe a tablecloth) from the closet and drape it alluringly across the bed.

Obvious garni are rose petals, fresh or silk. Also consider a few lavender sprigs. Failing either, go to your back yard and cut something. Anything. Put it into a small container — vase, shot glass, teacup — and put it on the nightstand.

Light one of those candles you bought for a hurricane (not the citronella).

The rest is up to you.

Happy Valentine's Day. You have earned it.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at (727) 893-8293 or lennie@sptimes.com.

For a romantic, sensual Valentine's Day experience, press the bedsheets 02/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 6, 2009 3:30am]

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