Ambience. Makes me think sunset in Italy…maybe Venice. Sitting al fresco at an out of the way cafe. Along a canal. Drinking a glass of a gorgeous red wine. And possibly eating gelato…simultaneously. I suppose I should throw the husband into the romantic mix. Ahhh…would be nice, right? Sadly, our budget doesn’t allow for many Italian evenings. Or even evenings out at Applebees. Le Sigh.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t add ambience to the status quo, dining in, evenings in our pjs kind of nights. In fact, adding ambience can be easy. And inexpensive. In this last week of the Back to Basics series, which I’m taking part of with some fantastic fellow bloggers (11 Magnolia Lane, House by Hoff, Southern State of Mind, Being Bianca and This is Our Bliss), I’m talking ambiance. *This post contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure policy HERE*. Let’s make our Ramen Noodles nights as romantic as we can, okay? Here’s how:
Adding Ambience Tip #1: Battery Operated Candles (with Timers)
These babies are a staple item in our home. I can’t tell you how much I love these things. They are real wax, and give off a warm glow in the evenings. I highly recommend the ones with timers, because you set ’em and forget ’em.
Each night, around dusk, my faux candles turn on and stay lit for four hours. It’s fantastic. I have a candlelit house without having to worry about fire around the kids, or forgetting to blow them out at the end of a tiresome day.
Adding Ambience Tip #2: Pandora
I’m sure there are lots of music apps out there, but Pandora is the one that I use. It’s free, although you can upgrade if you want to avoid the intermittent advertisements (they don’t bother me in the least). You can create your own music stations to suit your mood. My favorites in the evening for dinner time and beyond right now are my “jazz standards” station, and my “french cafe” station. It’s been a great way to get introduced to lots of artists I probably wouldn’t have otherwise found.
The kids love having the music on at dinner time, too. I think it has a calming effect on all of us. My daughter always asks if we can turn on the “fancy” music for dinner. Adorable.
Adding Ambience Tip #3: Flowers or Free Yard Clippings
Oh to have the disposable income to buy fresh flowers for my home…maybe someday. But for now, I fill my house with anything and everything that happens to be growing in our yard at the moment. Flowers, branches, leaves, you name it, I clip it. It’s FREE! Live in the city? Plant a window box or two…seeds are cheap, and the flowers of your labor are worth a few minutes it will take you to dump a seed packet in some dirt.
Something about having LIVE flowers and what have you in your home really does add LIFE! It make s big difference to have even the teensiest little bud vase filled…
You can see I’m not picky about my vases, either. I’ll use buckets, old coffee cans, whatever I have lying around. I prefer something with a little personality to a plain, glass vase any day. Plus, my kids and glass don’t play well.
Adding Ambience Tip #4: Change your Lightbulbs
The kind of lightbulbs we use in our homes can make a BIG difference in the atmosphere. When we use daylight or bright white bulbs, our homes can end up looking like factories, or government office buildings. Ick. I buy soft white bulbs for my home. They do read a bit yellow or golden, but that warm light is better than the blue/green that gets thrown from other types of bulbs.
Adding Ambience Tip #5: Stovetop Simmer Mix
A lot of the women in my family have used stovetop simmer recipes to fragrance their homes. My mom, grandma, and mother-in-law all have their own recipes. My friend Heather at Southern State of Mind shared her recipe recently on her blog if you want to check hers out as well. I love these simmers as an alternative to a scented candle. In a home with kids and all the smells that come with them, having something that can combat some of the stinky sock smell is a big help in the ambiance department! Here is my mother-in-law’s stovetop simmer recipe. It’s a great one, and many of these ingredients, you may already stock in your pantry.
Stovetop Ambience Simmer Recipe
1/2 orange, peeled
1/2 lemon, peeled
large cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup whole cloves
1 1/2 quart water
*Place all ingredients in small pot on stovetop. Simmer. Add water as needed.*
I keep a small pot with simmer mix on the stove throughout much of the fall and winter seasons. I simply add ingredients here and there as needed. When we eat oranges or cook with lemons, I’ll just throw the peels right into the mix.
So there we have it. Five easy, quick, and fairly inexpensive ways that we use here to add some ambience to our nest. It’s no dinner in Venice, mind you, but at least it may help cover the stench of sweaty sock, and give your home a soft, warm glow to mitigate the sight of toys strewn this way and that or dirty laundry lying in heaps in your living room. Overly optimistic, possibly a pinch, but let’s face it, we need more optimism (and soft white lightbulbs) in this world.
Make sure to visit all my blogging friends today for the last week of our Back to Basics series…