Sunday, June 8, 2014

12 Ways to Fill Your Home With Natural Fragrance

Nothing like the sense of smell can evoke pleasant childhood memories of sunny summer mornings or lazy afternoons in the hammock. Think of the scent of new-mowed grass (unless you were the one who just had to do the mowing or allergic)- what a glorious fragrance! Natural smells are the best, and once you get used to them you'll wonder how you stood the chemical smell of commercial air fresheners, detergents and cleaners. Fresh, clean and natural is the way to go, and here are some good ideas to bring that fragrance into your home:

1. Make sachets out of dried lavender. Go to the Farmers Market and buy fresh or dried lavender or even better, cut from your own garden. Cut the heads off of the stalks. Put 1/4 cup in a vintage handkerchief or another lightweight piece of fabric like muslin, gather up the edges and tie with a ribbon or piece of twine. It's okay if the ends are unhemmed and raggedy- more Shabby Chic that way. Tuck in your underwear or shirt drawer. Re-crush the bag with the lavender heads inside occasionally to bring the fragrance back to life. You can also tuck a cotton ball soaked with a few drops of essential lavender oil in with the lavender heads for an even stronger fragrance.

2. Put 1-2 drops of essential oil on a cold light bulb. 

Go to a natural foods store or shop online on etsy and purchase a small bottle of essential oil in a fragrance you like. Go to a lamp that is turned off and the light bulb is cold and drop 1-2 drops of the essential oil on the lightbulb. The next time the light is turned on the heat from the bulb will warm the oil and add the fragrance to your room. 

3. Have a vase filled with a bouquet of fresh flowers
Go to the farmers market or any grocery store (Trader
Joe's has wonderful bouquets at a good price) and buy a bunch of flowers. Take a sniff of the bouquet before you buy. Look for bouquets that include fragrant flowers like lilacs, lilies, roses, freesia, carnations, hyacinths, lavender, heliotrope, and tuberose, or fragrant leaves like eucalyptus. If you don't know your flower names, just stick your nose in the bouquet and inhale the scent (barring any allergies!). Change the water daily and put some of the packet that comes with the bouquet into the water every day rather than dumping it all in at once to make the flowers last.

4. Put a few drops of essential oil in boiling water
In the room you want to scent, take a glass bowl, set it on a trivet or folded kitchen towel and pour boiling water in it.  Add 1-9 drops of an essential oil you like and your room will be infused with sent immediately. 

5. Open the windows!
As long as you don't live in a dense urban area, open the windows and doors and let the fresh air sweep through the room- it helps if you have two
windows open on either side of the room or a window and door. The best days are sunny weekend mornings when people have just mowed their lawns or the sun is warming the plants in the garden. Rainy days can also bring a wonderful fresh smell into the house. 

Vogue UK

6. Boil citrus or apple peelings on the stove
If you make a fruit salad or fresh ingredient cocktails, take the orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine, or apple peelings and put them on the stove in a pan of water. Bring it to a boil and then just let it sit. The smell will waft through the room. To refresh the smell, bring it to a boil again. For a spring and summer smell, you could also add fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, thyme or sage to the water, and for a fall and winter smell, add cinnamon sticks and whole cloves or the tips of pine branches. 

7. Make your own room freshener spray
Most commercial air freshener sprays smell
overwhelming or chemical-y. Make your own by putting distilled water (or soft tap water) in a plastic spray bottle and dropping 6-12 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Spray throughout the room whenever the air needs freshening. So much better than the artificial- smelling brands like 
Febreze, Air Wick, Renuzit or Glade. 

8. Light scented candles
Scented candles are one of the easiest ways to bring fragrance into your home. When shopping for candles, look for those in the natural foods store or section rather than those made by the commercial air freshener brands above. Soy candles burn up and leave no wax reside. Handmade scented candles can be purchased at Farmers Markets, handmade craft fairs, or on etsy. Scented candles should not be used at the dinner table or during meals- let the good smell of your home cooked food do its magic at that time.

9. Make your clothes, towels and sheets smell good 
Until you switch to natural cleaning products, you don't realize the sickly sweet chemical smell of commercial laundry detergent, liquid fabric softener and especially dryer sheets. You can walk down your street on Saturday morning and smell the laundry products in the air the artificial fragrance is so strong. Instead, switch to a naturally fragranced laundry product made by companies like 7th Generation, Ecover, Method, Mrs. Meyers, Ecos, or small batch ones on etsy. The scents are things like citrus, lavender, pine, sage, rosemary or eucalyptus.  To make your own dryer sheets, put a few drops of essential oil on a damp cloth and toss into the dryer with your clothes, or buy one of the dryer packets filled with lavender available at Trader Joe's. The smell of naturally clean clothes and linens will fill your bedroom and bathroom with natural fragrance.

10. Burn high quality incense for a short time
Go to the natural food store or etsy and purchase some quality 
incense sticks and an incense burner. Light the stick and let it burn for a few minutes and then put it out- that should be plenty of time to get an exotic, spicy scent to your home. Letting the whole stick burn might be too intense.

11. Make a orange and clove pomander
This has been a winter tradition in our family for years and smells like Christmas. You need an orange, or for a smaller version, a tangerine; whole cloves and a toothpick. Pierce the skin of the orange with the toothpick and stick the pointy end of the  clove into the orange so the head of the clove still shows above the rind. You can make patterns in the orange like snowflake stars, stripes or whirls and leave some of the skin showing, then let the orange dry on a plate, giving off fragrance. You can also cover the orange entirely, which is even more fragrant and will last for years. For the most fragrant option, cover the entire orange with cloves and then roll in a bowl filled with a mixture of 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground cloves, 1 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1 tsp. ground allspice and 1/4 cup orris root. Roll the orange around in the mixture occasionally for a couple of days and then put on a plate. Ohhhhh the smell.....

12. For a long term supply of natural scents, plant fragrant plants and herbs in your garde
Gradually plant fragrant plants in your garden so you have easy access to natural good smells. Fragrant plants for cutting include daphne, lilacs,
daphne on wikipedia
jasmine, abelia, lilies, hyacinths and roses. Go to a general garden book or website that lists plants that can grow in your climate zone like Sunset Magazine. A sprig of daphne in a vase will lift your spirits like nothing else after a long winter. Perennial herbs to grow for fragrance (and cooking!) are mint (grow in a pot-invasive), rosemary, sage, lavender and thyme. Plants like basil and tarragon also smell good but usually need to be replanted annually.  

Now sip one of those fresh muddled cocktails and enjoy the amazing scent of your house. Don't know how to make a  muddled cocktail? Tune in next week!

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