As fall comes into full swing and winter is just around the corner, we begin to look forward to the holidays for many reasons: spending time with loved ones, sharing food, good memories and laughter, days off from school or work, taking part in unique traditions, and a change in the weather. After we think of family, gifts and carols, fragrances may not be the first thing we remember during the holidays, but they can have a lasting impact on our celebrations and memories. The smell of fresh pine, warm cookies right out of the oven or a favorite family dish at dinner instantly evokes pleasant feelings. Engaging all of your senses, including smell, is a great way to create lasting memories.
Making orange and clove pomanders and making cinnamon spice decorations are two aromatic activities to include in your holiday traditions this year. Though neither of the ornaments is edible, both are fun and easy crafts to do with your family. They also provide attractive home holiday decorations and give off lasting spicy, citrus and sweet scents.
ORANGE AND CLOVE POMANDER
What you will need:
Toothpick or thumbtack
Mixture of ground cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger
Decide on a design that you would like to make -- stripes, crossing lines, stars or any other motif. Lightly poke shallow holes into the skin of the orange, using a toothpick or thumbtack. Push the cloves into the holes, spaced closely together, until a good portion of the orange is covered. This, along with the spice mixture, will help prevent the orange from rotting.
On a plate, mix ground orrisroot with ground cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger, depending on what scent combination you prefer. Roll the orange in your spice mixture, and shake off the loose spices. Place the oranges in a cool, dark place, such as a dry closet, for about a week. Then display the oranges on a plate or in a glass bowl, or tie and knot a thick ribbon twice around the orange and hang them in the house. Martha Stewart Living magazine suggests stacking "the pomanders in a pyramid, using clear plates between the layers and tucking in greenery, such as ... mountain laurel, as you go."
You can make orange and clove pomanders weeks or months before the holidays commence in order to enjoy the fragrances longer.
CINNAMON SPICE ORNAMENTS
What you will need to make 16 ornaments:
About 1/2 cup ground cinnamon (more or less, depending on preference)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon cloves
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg; include dashes of allspice and pumpkin spice to enrich the scent
1/4 to 1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 teaspoon orrisroot (to preserve the ornaments)
Toothpick or thin skewer
16 whole cloves (optional)
In a small bowl, mix the cloves, nutmeg (and other spices) and most, but not all, of the cinnamon. Add the applesauce, and then mix the dough by hand for about 2 minutes, combining the ingredients well. A recipe from The New England Unit of The Herb Society of America's Rhonda Haavisto suggests adding small pieces of dried orange peel into the dough mixture for a hint of fresh citrus. Dough should have a consistency similar to pie crust dough. Cover it with plastic, and let it rest for 1 to 2 hours. Dough may be refrigerated overnight, but it must be brought to room temperature before you use it the next day.
After it rests, briefly mix the dough, and then break off a small piece. Roll the piece into a ball, about 1 inch in diameter. Haavisto suggests making the ornaments into different cookie-cutter shapes instead of only spheres. Fill any small cracks with applesauce, and then roll the ball in ground cinnamon. Stick a small skewer through the ornament, and thread the ribbon through the hole for hanging. Alternatively, fold a ribbon in half; place the middle on top of the spice ball; and poke a small hole through the ribbon. While the spice ball is still hardening, push one whole clove through the hole in the ribbon and secure it into the ornament.
Dry the ornaments on a rack or plate at room temperature for up to a week, turning to allow for even drying. Tie the ribbon. These ornaments can now be hung individually or in bunches of three in windows, on the branches of a tree, on cabinet handles or on doorknobs. They will last for several years.