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Adding Fragrance to the Home

Holiday Fragrance I do a lot of “talking” here about gardening, plants and all the ways we can enjoy those plants (through food, flower arrangements, spa treatments, etc.). But there is another way to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden ingredients…


You know how the heady aroma of an apple pie or the woody scent of a Christmas tree can instantly bring back memories or warm-fuzzy thoughts? The power of fragrance is a strong one.

As the holidays approach, we are going to be having more family events in our homes. Adding a bit of fragrance to the event not only can evoke these wonderful memories, those scents can relieve some of the stress as well. It all depends which fragrances you choose to fill your home. (Hint: The fragrance of lavender is known for it relaxation qualities.)

Simmering Potpourri is one way to do this. Just fill a saucepan with water and your choice of fragrant ingredients. Put it on the stove to simmer, set a timer for 15-20 minutes (so you don’t forget and boil the pan dry) and walk away. In just a few minutes steam will carry the fragrance everywhere throughout the home.

The easiest ingredients to use are the ones you already have in your kitchen. Things like citrus peel, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, vanilla bean. But I like to also include garden ingredients such as rose petals, rosemary, lemon verbena, lavender, or juniper. If you have a favorite fragrant plant growing in your backyard, snip a few tips and bring it in for the potpourri. At first, use ingredients alone or just combine a few to see how you like it. If they smell wonderful mixed together in your hand, they will smell wonderful simmering in the pot. (A favorite combination is rose petals with a piece of vanilla bean.)

Another option is to use pure essential oils. You can find then at the health food store, craft store or on line at places like Mountain Rose Herbs or Lavender Lane. Only use pure essential oils – NOT fragrance or perfume oils (which are so artificial they can give you a nasty headache). Just add 5-10 drops of pine, juniper, bergamot, or any other enjoyable oil into the water. You can add them to your other ingredients or just use them on their own with the water. You can mix two or three different oils to create your own scent. Then just steam as usual.

Here is a simple recipe to get you started:

Holiday Simmering Potpourri:

3 cups water

2 small sprigs of rosemary

2 small sprigs of juniper

2 small sprigs of pine

2 whole cinnamon sticks

1 tsp. whole cloves

5 drops pine essential oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes to release fragrance through the house. (Set timer so you don’t forget). You can add more water and reuse several times if you wish. Discard when you are done.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.