Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reed It and Weep

If you live in an old apartment building or house like me, you might not be able to use candles. I love candles, not only for decoration but also for--of course--the scent. Unfortunately, they aren’t allowed. But there is an alternative that functions both as decoration and aroma: reed diffusers. They are great because unlike candles which have to be lit, they release scent constantly and last for months. I have compiled a review of a few different kinds of reed diffusers and my personal favorite:

Best decoration: Pier 1 Imports

This one gets my vote for best design. The tear drop shaped glass vase with a long, slender neck is the perfect compliment to the striking twisted reeds that reach a height of 17 inches. It comes in most of the classic Pier 1 scents like Asian Spice, Buttercream Vanilla, and Island Orchard. While the design is beautiful, these reed diffusers are better suited to smaller rooms because the scent isn’t as strong as other brands. At $23, they are a little more expensive than others, but the unique curled reeds make it worth the price.

Best scent: Beauty Bureau Stick Scents

For only $12, this diffuser puts out a powerful aroma. Scents like Morning Dew, Sea Petals, Orange Blossom, and Fresh Air are light, but definitely noticeable. And at only 11 inches tall, it is small enough to fit on some bookshelves. But given the cheap price you don’t get as much oil, only four ounces, so it will probably only last a couple months.

Best overall: Henri Bendel Fragranced Reeds

These diffusers make the grade on both design and scent. The shallow, frosted vase is a contrast to the clear, tall cylinders that are used for most reed diffusers. Scents like Firewood and Lemon Verbena offer complex aroma combinations that are lovely. You get the least oil for your money, $28 for 3.5 ounces, but the unique fragrances and beautiful, understated vases set these diffusers apart.

To check out these diffusers and others visit these sites:

Monday, October 8, 2007

Where did you get that fountain? I made it!

Having moving water to your home can be very beneficial, and I don’t mean the kitchen sink or the toilet. In fact, feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of achieving harmony through the manipulation of objects and energy in your environment, is translated as “wind-water.” Followers of feng shui believe that having a moving-water element in your home can increase the flow of positive energy, especially in the areas of wealth and career.

A good way to add a moving-water element to your home is by having a fountain. There are plenty of fountains, both outdoor and indoor, out there, ranging from the low $20s to $200 or more. But if you can’t find one that exactly fits your tastes—try making your own.

It is very easy, and pretty cheap to make your own fountain. First start with a bowl, preferably copper or ceramic, and definitely not porous. It can be as big or small as you want, but not so shallow that a two or three inch tall pump will stick out over the edge.

Next, choose something to fill the bowl with. Putting in small stones or marbles will make the trickling water sound more interesting and will also help hide the motor. Choose something that complements the color and style of your bowl.

Then you need a pump. Small fountain pumps can be bought at most stores that have home and garden sections for usually less than $20. You will also need to get a small amount of clear plastic tubing to fit around the opening of the pump so that you can control and direct the water flow.

Now you are ready to assemble. Put the pump in the bowl first and cover the opening with about an inch of the tubing. You can adjust the length of the tubing until the water flows as high or low as you want it to. Then pour in your rocks or marbles around the pump, covering it the best you can. If you are having trouble hiding the very top of the pump, consider using a small decorative incense holder in the shape of a leaf or shell to sit on top of it.

Then fill the bowl with water. Too little water will strain and possibly damage the pump, but too much water will make your fountain very splashy. Ideally, the motor of the pump should be completely submerged and there should be at least ½ inch between the water level and the edge of the bowl. But experiment until you find the perfect depth.

And there you have it: your own home-made fountain, easily assembled for under $50. Enjoy the peaceful trickling water sound and hopefully wealth and luck will flow into your life!

For more information, see these Web sites:

Monday, October 1, 2007

Go Green!

If you are living in a small space, such as a one bedroom apartment or a studio, sometimes it can start to feel a little stuffy. During the cold winter months when everything outside is dying, you might start to feel a little low. Then you should consider the advantages of keeping plants in your home.

One of the most basic benefits of plants is that they are natural air purifiers. Instead of filling up your air with “deodorizers” or “purifiers” that are really just adding more chemicals and buildup to your air, try keeping a few plants around. Actually, plants are capable of absorbing some pretty nasty stuff, such as trichloroethleyne, a chemical found in lacquers, varnishes and adhesives—and a known carcinogenic. This isn’t saying that your recently refinished armoire is going to give you cancer, but why have those potentially dangerous chemicals floating around the air if you don’t have to? Plants can also help with the build-up of naturally occurring irritants such as molds and bacteria. Of course, some plants are better purifiers than others. A few that are particularly good are spider plants, chrysanthemums and ficuses.

Going back to elementary school science, plants also give off oxygen. The addition of plants can help you feel more energized and add a spark of life to your home, especially during the long winter months.

If you have no plants, a spider plant may be a good place to start. They are very easy to maintain, and grow incredibly fast, allowing you to start enjoying their benefits sooner. They also do very well as hanging plants, good if you are working with limited table or counter space. And they don’t need to be watered everyday. Plus, they’re fun to watch grow! They grow upward and outward, and well, look like spiders. Personally, I am also a fan of bamboo plants; they are exotic looking, low-maintenance and are supposedly lucky.

So if you don’t have any plants, try one! Not only will your air quality improve, but living things can brighten up and add a more positive energy to any living space. And if you take good care of them, they could last years. I have had one my bamboos for more than four years, and I plan on having it around for many years more.

For more information about the benefits of plants, try these sites: