Sunday, September 19, 2010

Scents of Autumn -- On a Budget!

I'm noticing a trend that I love to see -- more and more of my fellow bloggers are longing for FALL! Some of this autumn action is taking place here in my corner of Boomtown, too! I've got my fall wreath on the door, my pumpkin doormat ready for visitors, and a cute flag on my porch to round it out. I can't want to buy pumpkins and set up an outdoors vignette with some mums and a cute scarecrow family!

One aspect of fall decorating that we shouldn't forget, however, is the lovely aromas associated with this time of year. Apple cider, pumpkin bread, warm vanilla from sugar cookies, the crisp, earthy scent of colorful leaves -- all of these things can also be represented in our "scent decor," too.

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Your options are vast: candles, room sprays, plug-in scent distributors, potupurri, tart warmers, and so on. My personal favorite, however, is the oil effusion lamp. Some of you know these as "Lampe Bergers," which is a trademarked name of one type of these lamps. I received my first, this purple beauty here (a Lampe Avenue lamp) as a wedding gift along with a bottle of La-Tee-Da fragrance.

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At first, I was clueless and a little scared to use it, but I did a little searching and found several videos on YouTube that taught me all about it. My first time using it -- WOW. I could not believe how quickly and thoroughly my house was filled with the delicious aroma of spicy orange, and I was completely in love! I learned that effusion lamps also purify the air, instead of just covering odors up, and this was a huge bonus for me because I want the air quality in my home to be as clean as possible.

However, the day soon came that I ran out of fragrance. I trotted down to buy a new bottle, and was shocked to learn that my new love was $12 a pop at my local Hallmark store!

uh oh Pictures, Images and Photos

I felt sad that I might be limited to only using my effusion lamp for short periods of time or on special occasions, but then I snapped out of it and hit up the search engines in hot pursuit of a budget friendly alternative.

Here's where Christy's Thrifty Decorating, a blog I love, saved my skin! Christy did several posts on using effusion lamps and even cracked the code on how to make your own fragrance. Here's her recipe:

16 fl. oz. isopropyl alcohol, 91% (I buy mine @ Walgreen's and Wal-Mart)
0.5 oz. of essential oil (about 1/2 of a 1 fl. oz. bottle)
0.5 oz. of distilled water

Mix right in the rubbing alcohol bottle and use as you would store-bought fragrance. I label mine with a Sharpie and keep them under the cabinet along with my tiny funnels. Do not fill your effusion lamp more than halfway, because it will not burn properly.

** Please note: I am not taking credit for this recipe! All praise should go to Christy :-) Please check her blog out, because she does some amazing things on a dime with Mod Podge and Goodwill finds!

I make my fragrance without the distilled water, because I generally cannot fit it into the rubbing alcohol bottle. I bet some of you might be wondering where the essential oil is purchased. Christy suggested Bramble Berry, and I can confidently recommend them through my own personal experience also. I buy the scents listed under "Fragrance Oils" on their website. But what, you ask, is the difference in price between making your own and buying it? I'm so glad you asked!

16 oz. 91% isopropyl alcohol -- $1.56 @ my Wal-Mart
1 oz. fragrance oil from Brambleberry -- scents range from $2 - $4
Shipping -- $8.50 (FedEx)

But don't forget that you only use half of a 1 oz. bottle of fragrance oil per bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol! I order 8-10 fragrance oils at a time (because I love me some variety!), so my shipping averages out to be about 0.85 to $1.06 per fragrance. Assuming you order 10 oils, with each oil costing you about $3 average, the grand total for each bottle of prepared fragrance is ... $3.91. MUCH better than $12 a pop! Can I get a WOOT WOOT?!

Fragrances I love for fall include Arabian Spice, Applejack Peel, Kumquat, and Vanilla Vanilla.

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I'll soon be trying some new ones, like Amber, Buttercream & Snickerdoodle, Pumpkin Pie, and Wassail!

So tell me, visitors -- how do you like to scent your homes for fall, and what methods do you use to get the yummy fragrances in the air?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Lamps

After my success with the beachy-chic lamps I remade, I was on the lookout for a pair of lamps for my den, too. My only requirements were that they were inexpensive, 
a good size for a side table, and that they matched. 

I didn't have any luck in my local Goodwill, but my hubby and I found a pair of brass lamps in the Conway Goodwill store on our way home from Ft. Smith back in the spring, and for $6.50 each, I felt they were a good deal.

Side note: do any of you make it a point to visit the thrift stores when you visit larger towns? I love doing this because you get a much larger variety of items! We have a Garmin navigation system, and whenever we travel, my husband knows I love to plug in "Goodwill" as a destination and see how many pop up (patient, patient man!). We visited 6 in Houston alone! Try it sometime :-)

Back to my lamps! These were heavy, real brass. Besides being very yellow, there were some areas of corrosion that I knew would have to be covered. 
I chose to use Rustoleum's Hammered spray paint in an oil-rubbed bronze finish to both stop the rust and update the finish. I know those of you in Bloggyland love this spray paint, and it worked perfectly for me, too!

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You can see in this "before" shot that I've already taped off the sockets and cords to prep for spray painting.

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Here's a during shot. Look at the difference one can of spray paint makes! And wow, my grass was really tall! But the flowers/weeds are pretty, right? Tee hee.

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Finally, the "after" shot -- much better than brass!

To finish these lamps off, I again chose a $15 Better Homes and Gardens shade from Wal-Mart (I swear I'm not plugging for W-M, but there's honestly few other places to shop around here!), 
but this time in a khaki-colored square shape with a canvas texture.
 I debated using a drum shade again to echo the curves in the lamp base, but I wanted to try something different in this room (since I already used drum shades in the master bedroom), 
and I really like how the warm colors play off one another! 
The tassels were a two-for-$3 deal from Tuesday Morning and they are a fun accent that brings a little flair to my lamps. And honestly, I couldn't make them for a buck-fifty each, so in this case, purchasing them ready-made actually saved me money.

Would I do anything differently with these lamps? Nah, not drastically. 
I love their shape and the oil-rubbed bronze paint color, and for now, the shape of the shades is working for me. I might change 'em up later, but hey -- isn't that the fun of decorating? 
One thing I may do as time goes by is to accent the details on the lamp base with some gold Rub n' Buff, which I've never used but am verrrry curious about. 
I might also add a few charms to my tassels for a bit more personality and punch.

Here are my questions, blog readers! Have you ever used Rub n' Buff? How hard was it? Where did you buy it? Let me know your thoughts and experiences, and have a great Thursday!

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I'm participating in

Thrifty Thursday @ Tales from Bloggeritaville

Time Travel Thursday @ Brambleberry Cottage

Show and Share Day @ Just a Girl

Fall Nesting Party @ The Inspired Room

I Made It Without My Hubby @ Shanty 2 Chic

Under $100 Linky Party @ Beyond The Picket Fence

Monday, September 6, 2010

Brownies from a Cake Mix

So-o-o, I was going through the pantry yesterday (in my neverending quest to clean it out) and I found a cake mix I bought last year for my youngest brother's birthday but never used. 
I knew it was near its expiration date and didn't want to waste it (funny, I rarely have this urge with healthy foods), but there wasn't a high demand for cake at my house at the moment.
 However, brownies are always welcome! And plus, with the temps down somewhat and a fall-ish feeling in the air, I've had an itch to bake lately. 
What to do? Hmm. My motto's "Where there's chocolate, I will MAKE a way," so after a quick search, I found this recipe at www.eHow.com. Yummy stuff, people!

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Brownies from a Cake Mix

1 moist-style cake mix (mine was a moist chocolate by Pillsbury)
1 stick of butter, melted (channeling Paula Deen here ... )
1 egg
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 T. water
1 c. chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 10 oz. bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, combine butter, egg, cake mix, brown sugar, and water. Beat together with a hand mixer (trust me here, it makes a stiff batter), and then add in the nuts and chocolate chips. Dump this mixture into your pan, and press it in evenly with your hands. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a crust forms. Allow brownies to cool about 5 minutes before cutting into bars.

Notes from the cook: -- I think I added a bit more than 2 T. water, but not much.
-- I didn't use a whole bag of chocolate chips, and if I had've, I couldn't see these coming out of the pan! I used just under 1 c. that I chopped up along with the pecans, and that was plenty.
-- These turned out a bit greasy. Next time I may reduce butter by 2 T.
-- I will also cut back the brown sugar, too.

Seriously yummy in the tummy! Have you ever made something new or inventive from a packaged product? Tell me about it!

And in honor of Paula Deen, bless her butter-lovin' heart:


Happy cookin', y'all!

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I'm participating in:

Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch

Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home

Works for Me Wednesday @ We Are That Family