We can’t get the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” out of our heads. No wonder. Whether at work, the grocery store or out holiday shopping; people are humming holiday tunes with a smile on their face. We just saw a YouTube video of a stellar soprano who broke out in “O Holy Night” in the middle of a crowded mall where the throngs of shoppers actually joined her in song. Womp womp. Could you please pass the tissues?
This is exactly what is so special about this time of year. The season seems to bring out the best in humanity. Open hearts and open minds equates to giving, love and compassion for all. People volunteering their time and efforts to assist those less fortunate. Rimed barrels filled to the brim with donations of toys for tots. Extra donations being made to stock the local food pantries. The compassion shown by the dropping of change into the buckets of the bell ringers. Our hearts are lifted in unison by these simple acts of kindness.
And what rings a bell for us over here? Sure, we love the holidays for all these reasons too, but as you might expect – we also get excited about the “scensational” scents of the season!
As you’re whistling that Andy Williams tune think about all the wonderful aromas you associate with this festive time of year. Already feeling a bit nostalgic? You don’t even have to celebrate a holiday to be able to enjoy some of the scents that accompany it. For instance, you may not put up a Christmas tree in your home, but starting around Thanksgiving you are usually greeted with the fresh smell of pine when you walk into your grocery store. Peppermint smells deliciously refreshing whether it is wafting from a mug of hot chocolate or hanging on the tree. And who doesn’t love the smell of a kitchen that is filled with the scent of vanilla?
With visions of these delightful scents dancing in our heads – we sprang to our sleds as our team gave the whistle (sorry…couldn’t resist that one.) Okay, so what we really did was come up a list (and checked it twice of course) of our favorite holiday scents and then “cooked up” some fun ways to help you refresh naturally - while you indulge in the spirit of the season. Full disclosure – we might have gotten into the “spirit” a little ourselves…
So, during the hustle and bustle of this holiday season – we encourage you to take some time to be good to yourself! Here are some seasonal scented treats that we hope will indulge your senses and soothe your soul, too!
How about treating yourself to a mug of hot peppermint tea. And guess what? Peppermint tea is also a delicious and refreshing way to boost your overall health! The list of benefits includes improving your digestion, as well as relaxing both the body and mind, reducing pain and aiding your immune system. It even helps freshen breath – and with all that mistletoe hanging around, well, you know… What’s better than adding a cup of peppermint tea to your daily routine this holiday season? How about adding a peppermint stick or slice of orange to your peppermint tea!
Gingerbread Sugar Scrub
Our next suggestion has all the yumminess of a gingerbread cookie without any of the calories! Score! Here’s an easy DIY recipe for a “scensational” gingerbread scented body scrub.
1 C. dark brown sugar
1/4 C. coconut oil (solid)
1 T molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1/3 tsp dried ground cloves
16 oz. glass jar (sterilized) with secure lid
1. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a large bowl.
2. Add coconut oil and molasses and stir to combine. You may need to use your hands to make sure it is well mixed.
3. Spoon scrub into jar.
To use simply:
1. Wet skin and apply a little body scrub.
2. Use hands gently exfoliate skin.
3. Wash off completely.
This scrub is so indulgent that you may be spending a lot of time in the shower this holiday!
Pine Scented Cones
Essential pine oil will not only make your home smell naturally fresh, but it also doubles as a mood elevator – refreshing your spirits, too! And here’s a way to enjoy that wonderful pine scent without all those messy needles to clean up afterwards.
Collect unscented pine cones from the woods or craft store. If you chose the first option you will need to wash them first, then place on a cookie sheet and dry them in an oven (200 degree for an hour.) Be sure to keep a close eye on them while in the oven for safety.
Pour a little pine essential oil into a small spritzer bottle. Give cones a good spritz and place in a zip- lock bag. Let the cones absorb the oil for 24 hours. (Take care to not sit cones on things that could be affected by the oils.)
We came up with the idea for our pine scented cones from those cinnamon scented ones. So you might consider mixing up a batch the same way using cinnamon oil.
Vanilla Cream Wafers
This recipe comes from one of our own Citra Solv “elves.” We look forward to them every year and hope they become one of your favorites too.
1 C. butter, softened
1/3 C. heavy whipping cream
2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. butter, softened
1-1/2 C. confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. In a small bowl, combine the butter, cream and flour. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
2. Divide into thirds; let one portion stand at room temperature for 15 minutes (keep remaining dough refrigerated until ready to roll out). Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a 1-1/2-in. round cookie cutter. Place cutouts in a shallow dish filled with sugar; turn to coat. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Prick with a fork several times. Bake 7-9 minutes or until set. Cool on wire racks.
3. For filling, in a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Spread about 1 teaspoon filling over half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. Makes: 4 dozen.
Still need a little more scent of vanilla wafting from the kitchen? You can always add a couple spritzes of Vanilla Air Scense to fill the air with more of that yummy scent! Just saying…
Orange Pomander Balls
Speaking of Air Scense, this next treat might remind you of our naturally refreshing Orange Air Scense! Here’s a DIY crafty project that will fill your home with the deliciously fragrant smell of oranges and spice all season long.
2 oranges (works better with thin skinned oranges)
Toothpick to ease the cloves into the orange (we also discovered corn cob holders work great)
Whole cloves, at least 1/4 cup, depending upon your design.
Spice mixture (see below)
For the spice mixture:
3 Tbs. ground cinnamon
3 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbs. orris root powder (the dried and ground root of certain iris used as a fixative)
With a toothpick (or the prongs of a corn cob holder) pierce the skin of the orange and then push whole cloves into the holes.
Get creative! Arrange the cloves in diamond, circular, or other patterns. You can also use a zester to create a raised pattern in the orange skin.
For a stronger aroma, cover the entire orange with cloves, and then roll in the spice mixture. You can also add ribbon for decoration – or for hanging. As the orange dries, it will release a delicate, spicy fragrance.
Our last recommendation for a “scense-ational scent-filled season” is really going to help get you in the “holiday spirit.” Mix up a batch of winter sangria – flavored with cranberries, oranges, limes, lemons, sprig of mint – and “sugar and spice!”
6 C. sangria or red wine
1 C. cranberries
1 orange, sliced in half and then sliced
1 lemon, sliced in half and then sliced
1 lime, sliced in half and then sliced
1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 T. sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1. In a large pitcher, combine sangria and fruits. Mix well with a long-handled spoon and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
2. To rim the glasses, rub a lemon or lime wedge along the edge of a glass. On a small plate, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Then rub the wet part of the glass in the sugar. Shake off the excess and put aside.
3. When serving, carefully pour sangria in to rimmed glasses. Fill halfway. Using the long-handled spoon, spoon some of the fruit from the sangria into the glass. Top off the glass with ginger ale. Then garnish with some of the cut-up fruit and a spring of mint.
So close your eyes – open your minds – and inhale the scents of the season! Let cranberry and citrus, peppermint and pine, ginger and vanilla invade your space and push out the stress of the shoppers. The to-do lists. The baking. The cooking. The relatives. Allow goodwill toward all motivate and inspire you day-to-day. Vow in the New Year to be a person of peace and savor all the season has to offer! And don’t forget to put your two cents in the red kettle this year =)