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    Year Round Romance

    styleWho says romance has to be tied to a specific holiday? Now that Valentine’s Day is over, why not take elements from the year’s most romantic day and apply them to your next cozy dinner for two?

    Location, Location, Location

    Romance, just like real estate, benefits from where it is located, so why not try having your next dinner someplace other than the dining room? Set dinner up in your living room, or even better, the bedroom. While it may seem odd at first, there is a reason why room service always seems to taste better…

    Keep It on the DL

    No, not “that” DL—I mean dimly lit! Use a mix of candles, lamplight and overhead lighting to create a sultry and romantic mood. If you don’t have dimmers on your overhead lights, try replacing the bulb with a 25-watt or low voltage alternative. On the table, avoid scented candles as they may interfere with the culinary experience. The smell of salmon mixing with gardenia is not a match made in heaven.

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    Melodic Mayhem

    Have you ever eaten in silence to positive effect? Exactly. Yes, anything by Barry White will get you cool points, but be more adventurous and think outside the box. Create a sexy Pandora or Spotify playlist that includes the likes of R&B divas Minnie Riperton, Angela Bofill, & Grace Jones. Sprinkle in a little Air, REO Speedwagon and the occasional 80s power ballad to give the list the right mix of the three C’s: contemporary, cool, and cheesy.

    Give to Get

    Set the table with a small token of your affection. It doesn’t need to be flashy, but simply heartfelt. A small poem written on beautiful paper, rolled into a scroll and placed on your partner’s plate is an easy, and heart melting, sentiment guaranteed to gain you major brownie points. Poems not your thing? Try framing the ticket stub from your first movie/concert/play. Again, it’s a simple gesture, but one that shows how big your heart is!

    Fresh Flowers

    Personally, I love to spend time arranging flowers, but the reality is that it isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. If you don’t have the time or the inclination, then I suggest you D-I-BUY! Yes, go seek the help of a professional, but here is the twist: bring your own vase and let the florist arrange the flowers for you. By bringing your own vase, you give the impression that you spent hours crafting the perfect arrangement. In a real time pinch? Check out the blooms from BloomThat.com—flowers to your door in 90 minutes!

    Culinary Shortcut

    If cooking isn’t your forte, don’t force your hand. For those on a budget, you may want to reach out to a local culinary school and see if they have a job board. As a former culinary student, I know that money is tight
    for many students, and any chance to get extra real-world experience is usually appreciated. The meal may not be Michelin-rated, but it will be delicious. If you have a slightly larger budget, then Kitchit.com may be your savior. You can create a budget and look through the menus of different personal chefs to get the perfect meal you desire for your sweetie.

    Now that you have a game plan set into motion, you are guaranteed some major cuddle time with your boo any day of the year!

    Courtney Lake is the interior designer and lifestyle expert behind Monogram Décor (www.monogramdecor.com) and its celebrated blog, “Courtney Out Loud.” His work and writings have appeared on television and in writing including “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Nate Berkus Show,” the “San Francisco Chronicle,” “Life & Style Magazine,” “RUE Magazine,” “Real Simple,” “This Old House” and “7×7 Magazine.”