Thursday, April 28, 2011

For the Love of Candles


mmm. love these.
I love good candles.  I think they are essential to every house that wants to be a home.  And, yes, I am the girl standing behind you in the check-out line at Anthropologie with 5 candles when they go on sale.  And why shouldn't I?  When I invite friends into my home I want them to be greeted with the smell of Baltic Amber as I serve them a hot cup of coffee with a splash of Bailey's--perfect for secrets among friends.

And I'm not the only one.  While looking through articles on smell I found this from

"Perhaps you can be more proactive as you design. Instead of letting the scent within your space just sort of happen as a by-product of all your other design decisions, you can instead think about what effect you want to have with your space....did you know that some hospitals are beginning to design for the olfactory sense? Patients in some facilities are already benefiting from aromas (circulated through the air systems) that are more soothing, anxiety reducing and calming....Think of what you want your occupants to experience within your architectural space, how you want them to navigate though it and where you may want them to stop and engage in activity. As a designer, think about ways to tap into the olfactory sense — use it to spark occupant behavior, thought, emotion and intellect."

Now! The moment you've been waiting for; the moment where I tell you where to find amazing candles at amazing prices!  Nope.  Sorry.  I don't think you can buy amazing candles for amazing prices.   This is why we upcycle what is left of them.  Follow these simple steps for a full, prolonged, and resuscitated life out of your hard-earned candles.

You'll need the following: Candles with no more wick to burn them, a darling glass or metal container in which to contain your new candle (and you can get creative.  Use an old candy tin, tea cup, anything metal or glass), a wick, which can be purchased online or at Michael's, and a pot of water on a stove.

candles in water
1. place the candles in a pot of water and turn on low/med.  If you have pillar candles you can put the remains into an aluminum can. Be careful not to let any water get into the candles (and if it does, pour it out in the trashcan, not the sink--trust me).

2. Place wicks into your container.  If you buy a spool of wick, make sure you dip it into the wax so it can stand upright on it's own.  Also, attach an anchor to it (like a nut or bolt).  Then wrap the top of the wick around a pencil and let the pencil lie on the top of your candle container.  However, you don't need to do this if you buy the wicks to the right. (if you only have a tiny bit left, take a tea candle, remove the wick from the wax, and use it for the little remains of your beloved candle)

3. Dip the anchor into the wax and attach to the bottom of your container.
candle wicks

4. Pour the hot wax into your container with the wick and allow to sit until hardened.

Voila!  More candle!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Entertaining on a Budget: Ethnic Eating, part 1

When it is possible, I like to enjoy as many of my favorite things as I possibly can at one time. Really, why take just a bubble bath when you can take a bubble bath with Cabernet, Voluspa candles, lavender oil, salts, Erik Satie (the music, not the man), and my bath time book of choice, Pride and Prejudice. Furthermore, I've read Pride and Prejudice so many times that I don't even bother with the entire book anymore.  I merely choose my favorite parts and read them to my delight and at my leisure.  Then I soak, detox, and enjoy.

So, in the spirit of enjoying everything at once, I present to you, traveling, entertaining, and spending as little money as possible.  Unfortunately, we are going to travel in our kitchens, but if we spend a small amount of money doing it, then we can put more in our actual travel fund.  Greece, here I come.

Try these ethnic desserts and impress your guests, while spending 3-7 dollars:

1. Turkish Sutlac
2. French Petit Choux (this recipe does have not the filling recipe, but it's a good choux recipe--you can fill them with any kind of cream or custard--whipped cream is the easiest.)
3. Ukrainian Vareniki 
4. Polish Paczki 
5. Thai Mango Sticky Rice (Khao Niaow Ma Muang)
6. Japanese Daifuku 
7. Spanish Churros 
8. Mexican Flan
9. Norwegian Pannekakes 
10. Indonesian Burbur Ketan Hitam 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday giveaway: a SCOBY of your very own

Kombucha: the fancy way to stay healthy.  Ok, so I realize this is the newest health fad.  However, I've been drinking this stuff for a month and my energy levels have nearly doubled.  Unfortunately, at 5 bucks a pop, I can't afford it.  This is why I make my own.
Buying Kombucha vs. Making It: being fancy and poor isn't all glamour.

You'll need the following:
filtered water (don't use distilled), 4 tea bags (either black or green tea.  No herbal teas, ladies), a giant pickle jar (if you don't want to spend the $5 on a jar, go down to your local deli and ask them for one of their left over jars), cheese cloth, 1 cup of sugar, 1 c. kombucha, and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).

1. Place tea and sugar into a separate bowl. Pour 1 quart of boiling water over tea bags and sugar and let sit until room temp.

2. Pour tea/sugar/water into your giant pickle jar

3. Pour 2-3 more quarts of water into the mixture

4. Pour in 1 c. of kombucha and place your SCOBY on the top with the dark side facing down.

5. Cover with cheese cloth and allow to sit, untampered.

6. Your kombucha will be finished when it is fizzy (5- 10 days).

7. Bottle and refrigerate.

8. Drink 1 cup every day.  You can also mix kombucha with your favorite fruit juice (I mix mine with lemon juice)

Ok, now for the fun part.  I have in my possession an extra SCOBY, which I will give to one lucky lady.  I want to hear about a fancy poor moment you had this week.  I'll draw a name at random from the comments below.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Buy this, Not that.

I heart Anthropologie; I do not heart their prices.

Don't think for a moment that I am telling you not to shop at Anthropologie.  However, there may be a few things that are better purchased at another store.  Since many stores import their goods, there's a chance they may be buying from the same countries or even vendors.  Take a look at these (and try to see past the poor quality of Pier 1's pictures):

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pretty Skin!!!

I want to dance with vanity and still have the gumption to stand when it's over.  And I want to have good skin doing it.  Unfortunately, my favorite products (i.e. the orange sugar exfoliant by Fresh) cost upward of $50.  I thank my mother, my grandmother, and my Aunt Patti for my expensive taste.  However, it can't be helped. My taste may be expensive, but who says you have to spend a fortune on goodness?

this is a portrait of Erzsebet Bathory, the Countess
    who bathed in the blood of young maidens to retain her youth. 
Little did she know she could have used a sugar scrub.
I love the Fresh products because they are comprised, primarily, of things I can buy at my neighborhood grocery.  But since I can buy the ingredients at my grocery then I should just make it myself, right?  And the answer is yes.  After a short trip to the grocery, all you'll need is a bowl, a spoon, and a pretty little air tight container that you love to open and close (I'll admit, I do love the sound the Fresh container makes when you close it--the glass is so thick that the sound it makes is most substantial and satisfying.  Do you know what I mean?)

Granted, my Fresh exfoliant that I love so has many more ingredients, so know we're not making the exact scrub.  But this exfoliant works like a charm.   Use it one to 2 times per week.

1 tablespoon cane sugar
2 teaspoons of oil (try olive, avocado, macadamia, sesame, jojoba, or coconut oil. you may have to try a couple before you find the right oil for your skin)
1 teaspoon of orange juice
Citrus zest
(the citrus is optional for those of us with dry skin.  If you do leave the citrus out, add another t of oil.  However, if your skin is extra dry, throw some oats and honey into the mix.  Wear it for 10 minutes--eat it if you'd like).

Wet your face with a warm cloth.  Gently message the face with your sugar scrub.  Let it sit for 4-5 minutes.  Then rinse and moisturize (I moisturize with olive oil).  Pretty skin!!!!  

Monday, April 11, 2011

You want Fryes with that?: Guerilla Shopping

There are few things more satisfying than digging through junk and uncovering a treasure.  This is why I love the Goodwill outlet.  And let's face it, the Goodwill has just gotten too expensive (kidding--sort of).

Vintage Fryes from the 80's
The Goodwill outlet is open every Sunday from 11-6.  Not only do they sell clothing for $1.34 per pound, but people from all around the globe happen to show up at this little hub.  It's quite the cultural experience. 

And most weeks it really is just junk....but not last week!  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, my vintage Frye's, purchased for the low, low price of $1.34.  (this is also where Brandon and I got our $10 wrought iron antique bed--I'll post pics later).

These are the rollable bins of glorious things
Following are the rules for the Goodwill Outlet.  It is crucial that you obey each one:
1. Your buggy is fair game until you put something in it.
2. You may not touch anyone's shopping cart.  Even if it's blocking the path it would be better to go out of your way than get into a fist fight with the pusher of the cart.  Trust me.  It will happen.
3. The Goodwill Outlet doesn't have any shelves--it merely has rollable bins full of glorious things.  When they roll a new bin out everyone clusters around it.  You may look, see who's eyeing the same purse you are, then calculate your first move--to dive or not to dive, that is.  Then when the kind lady in the blue vest says, "Go!" you may dig.  But don't be surprised if someone accidentally hits you in the side of the head with a tennis shoe.  Trust me.  That'll happen too.
4. Hold your friends close and your enemies closer.  That is, be nice to the lady who dove into the shoe bin and got to the cowboy boots before you did.  Next time you see her looking for the match to those cute vintage heels, say, "What shoe are you looking for?"  When she shows you tell her you'll keep an eye out.  Then hold up the shoe you're looking for and ask her to do the same.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

3 dozen things you can do with 3 dozen eggs

"Necessity....the mother of invention" -Dear Plato.

So, the big barter mentioned previously has taken place.  I now have in my possesion 3 dozen, organic, farm fresh eggs from chickens who have names.  And I'm excited.  No one was interested in bartering for any of them so Brandon and I are going eat all 3 dozen (baring in mind that we can freeze most things).  

Not only are eggs cheap, but they have the ability to be decadent.  Following are 3 dozen fancy things you can do with 3 dozen eggs by adding a few additional ingredients:

1.Meringue Cookies
fancy egg
2. Chocolate Souffle
4.Sponge Cake
5.Gruyere Souffle
6.Terragon Egg Salad
7 Eggs in a Basket 
8. Eggs Benedict
9. Quiche Lorraine 
10. Frittata 
11. Souffle Omelet (for dessert)
12.Oeufs a la Neige
13. Creme Caramel
14. Egg Custard
15. Zabaglione
16. Cold Tangerine Souffle
17. Deviled Eggs
18. Sweet Potato Souffle
19. Egg Curry
20. Egg Fu Yung
21. Egg Drop Soup
23. Flourless Nut Cake
24.Meringue Nest with Ricotta 
25. Creme Brulee
26. Vanilla Barvarois
27. Angel Food Cake
28. Choux Pastry
29. Chocolate Ganache Meringues 
30. Baked Eggs with Basil-Mint Pesto
31. Croissant French Toast
32. Baked Eggs Florentine
33.Baked French Toast
34. Egg and Rice Scramble
35. Almond Coconut Flan
36. Huevos Rancheros 

If you have any, please list your favorite use of eggs.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Oregon Trail (dysentery not included)

I'll trade these English beads for some of that fish you skillfully caught.  What's that, brother?  Ma has dysentery? Oh no!....Wait, what else?...we broke an axle, too??....Repeat, brother!  I can't read the text because I'm in 4th grade and don't know I need glasses!  And what part of the body is the axle in? ....What's that, brother? ....Are we going to have a proper burial or leave her while on the Oregon Trail?  Is this the fun game?

So, I learned a few things from The Oregon Trail.  One being that I needed glasses, two being that everyone used to die of dysentery, and 3 being that you can barter for just about anything.  I love to barter.  And it's a good thing.  My taste is too fancy for my pocket book.

If we still lived in the world of guilds, and Robert Smith was actually the blacksmith, I suppose I'd be Crystal Cheesecake.  I make cheesecakes.  And people give me money for them.  But tomorrow someone is giving me 3 dozen eggs from her farm for a 6" cheesecake.  And I am excited.

This leads me to my next question: What am I going to do with 3 dozen farm fresh eggs?  Well, I could eat them.  Or I could trade a dozen of them for another commodity.

So, I pose the question, is there anything you guys would like to trade for a dozen, organic, farm fresh eggs?  Please leave the item you'd like to trade in the comments below.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The B-word.

The last time I ordered a decaf coffee the entire staff behind the bar stopped what they were doing and looked at me, their mouths agape, their eyes wide.  The girl had a twinkle in her eye as she exclaimed excitedly, "A decaf??!"  What she really meant was, "Are you and Brandon expecting??!!" And the answer was no.  I just didn't want to stay awake for the rest of the night because, unlike most people my age, caffeine effects me in the most wonderful and devious of ways.    However, I do understand how she may have thought this, as Brandon and I just got married in October.  Also, we took a break from the world for the 5 months following our wedding, returned, and realized everyone had had a baby.  So, the natural thing to think is that, during the Nashville flood of 2010 the water supply was contaminated with things like trash, sewage, radiation, and sperm.  The mix of these things created what is technically known as SuperSpawn (i.e. radiated sperm), which swam into the Cumberland and came through the East Nashville faucets.  Once in your water glass, they were ingested, infiltrated the blood stream,  swam to their destination, and implanted.  Thus happened the influx of East Nashville babies in January, 2011.  But, no.  Not me.  I drink bottled water.

I'll tell you what that means to you in a minute.

So, you want to go out.  But you don't have the money.  But you want to go out.  And you don't have the money.  Ah!  But you want to go out!  And you should.  But only if it's in the budget.

You heard me.  Budget.  I'll say it again if you don't stop whining.  If you just cringed when I said the word "budget," you're thinking of it all wrong.  A budget is not there to deprive you.  It's there to allow you to spend your money on things you truly want (note that I said spend your money and not someone else's. i.e. your credit card company's money).  What's that you say?  You don't have enough money to make budget?  Ok, just bare with me.

How to make a budget:

1. make a list of your expenses, including your debt.
2. order your expenses from most important to least important (food is most important.  next is lodging.  next is everything else).
3. make a budget that includes the minimum payment of your debts.
4. Always budget for savings
5. Though you have to be smart with your money, don't forget to be generous.  Fancy girls are saavy, saucy, and frugal, but never are we cheap.

So, lets say Molly Sue makes $500 every 2 weeks.  Her rent is $300.  Here's what her 2 week budget might look like:

1. Charitable donations $50 ($450)
1. Food: $40   (balance $410)
2. Lodging: $150 (balance $260)
3.utilities: $75 (balance $185)
4. Cell phone: $50 (balance $135)
5. Fancy Soap: $10 (balance $125)
6. Fun: $30 (balance $95)
7. student loan $50 (balance $45)
8. gas $20
8. Savings: $25

It's very important to give yourself money for fun.  If you don't you'll blow the budget.

If, however, you find that you don't have enough money to make your payments, make sure you call the company who's not getting paid.  They may be able to adjust your payment to fit your income.  Trust me, they want to help you give them your money.

So, when the girls call you up to go to dinner, you look at the budget and see how much you have budgeted.  There you go.  Guilt free fun.  To stretch your $30 of fun, stick to Happy Hours, free movies in the park, and things going on in your city.  And if you find you're down to your last $2 you can always just order a cup of decaf.  But don't surprised if everyone thinks you're pregnant.  Happy budgeting!  

click here to see what Dave Ramsey says about budgeting.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's pronounced like "Louie"

"Mother? Must we always be grownups?"
"Mother?" I asked, after a long day at work.  "Must we always be grownups?"
"Yes," she replied solemnly. "Unless you marry rich!  And then I'm coming too!"
My mom buys me a Coach purse every year.  Last year's was a lovely, little, blue tweed bag.  It's hanging in the special place in my closet.  I do appreciate a good purse.  However, I find that I bang them around so much that I only carry the ones I find at the Goodwill.  I'm not sure, but I think this is why my mom buys me one every year.  
So, as fancy girls, we want to carry a nice purse.  As poor girls we don't want to [can't] pay for it.  So, you have 4 choices: 1) go vintage 2) carry a knockoff  3) carry a no name purse or  4) buy your purse at a garage sale or consignment shop (my last find: a vintage Burberry for $5.  Sorry, ladies, you won't find it at the Goodwill--they consign designer things now). 
If you go with a knock-off choose a nicely constructed Coach or Burberry.  They won't give you away like a Fendi, Louis Vuitton, or Chanel knockoff would--Burlington Coat Factory is notorious for their Fendi and Louis knockoffs. 
However, if you go the garage sale route, you've got to know how to spot a fake because I find more knockoffs than I do legit purses.

Answer the following questions:

First, does it feel good?
Second, is it real or faux leather?
Third, is the stitching straight? Even? Neat?  
Fourth, check the emblem.  Do you see any glue?  Does it look like someone just tacked it on there?
Fifth, check the lining and zippers inside the purse.  On fakes the zippers and lining inside the purse are generally poor quality. 
Sixth, check the hardware.  Is it nice?  

These purses are luxury purses.  If any of these are even slightly amiss it's a fake.  If you even have to wonder if the stitching is straight, stop being hopeful.  It's a fake.  However, if your heart answers yes to these questions then you must check the purse brand by brand.  And, really, if you still find it's a fake, but answered yes to the above questions, it might be so nicely constructed that you wouldn't mind carrying a knockoff.  

How to spot a fake Louis Vuitton (these do not all apply to vintage pieces.  Oh! The complicated lives we lead!):
1. The Louis Vuitton pattern will always continue flawlessly past the seam
2. The straps will tell you a lot.  The Louis Vuitton leather begins to oxidize within about 3 weeks of purchasing it.  As it oxidizes it turns darker.   
3. Look at the fonts on the emblem.  the "o" will be very round.  If it's an oval it's a fake.  
4. The pattern, hardware, and handles create a picture that is symmetrical.  Should any of it appear messy or haphazard it's a fake.

For more information on these bags click here

Click on the following links for more information on how to spot a fake.  Also, Ebay has some great articles on how to spot legit designer bags.