December 16, 2014

Smells Like Christmas!

There are certain scents that I associate with Christmas which evoke strong memories when I smell them. I am sure that many of us have similar scent memories, but here are mine.

Pomander balls made out of oranges and cloves and dusted with a little cinnamon. image

Years ago, I realized that the secret to making these is using a Citrus Stripper/Zester to carve decorative channels in the orange peel, like the image above. You can be very creative with the stripper and it won’t kill your fingers to push all of those spiky cloves into the tough peel. You’ll thank me.

Another scent I adore is the piney smell of Thymes Frasier Fir Candle which smells like an actual tree and not a bunch of chemicals. imageI buy one or two of these candles every year and keep them lighted in the evenings. Since I usually don’t get a Christmas tree, these work perfectly!

When we were children, my father made traditional English Christmas cake, using a recipe that he’d gotten from his father. The smell of all of the dried fruits, nuts, spices and booze takes me back to watching him make the cake in a huge yellow-ware bowl, listening to the Texaco Presentation of the Metropolitan Opera. The cake was made about four weeks before Christmas and doused with booze during the intervening weeks.image

On Christmas Eve Eve, he’d cover the top of the cake with a smooth layer of marzipan and let it cure overnight. On Christmas Eve, he’d make a Royal Icing and decorate the cake, sprinkling Silver Dragees across the top.image

At our Annual Christmas Night Party, we always had a roaring fire in both the living room

10410and library fireplaces.

1049At the end of the party, when the fires were burning down, and just a few old good friends were left, we’d sit in the quite rooms, chatting and reflecting on our luck over the past year.

1044I think that this was the year that it was warm over Christmas, and all of the fruit rotted and then dripped!

What are the scents that evoke the festive season for you?

17 comments:

  1. I am also a Thymes Frasier Fir addict and give them regularly as gifts. They are the best! I envy you these wonderful scent memories, Meg, as I grew up in a home where little attention was paid to the holidays. As writer Tom Robbins said, it's never too late to have a happy childhood so I work at surrounding myself with lots of visual and tactile holiday stimuli but aside from the candles don't do much in the way of scent. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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    1. The best thing about being grown up is that you can make your own memories... even if you are on your own!

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  2. Meg, ditto!! I remember my grandmother making a similar cake that she would wrap in cheese cloth and periodically pour some hard liquor over it weeks before Xmas. I so relate to the scents and memories effect,




    and mine are much the same: that smell of the tree and greens, a roaring fire, and the smell of spice from the pomanders. Isn't it amazing how simple pleasures evoke that festive spirit and a sentimental mood! Have a wonderful Christmas full of delights!!!

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    1. I forgot about wrapping in the cheese cloth.

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  3. Sorry about that typo - I don't know what I did!

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  4. as a child growing up in Miami--- no fireplace no sleigh rides, no ice skating The pictures say it is so-- but vivid holiday memories the one spent visiting my husbands parents up in Charleston SC. The candlelight Christmas eve service in a massive sanctuary from the 1800s or earlier was wonderful--- but I will say ,we would go camping in a tent during the winter break, as it did cool off a bit weather wise in Florida, hot chocolate at the foot of the campfire, and when back home if my father prepared a meat entree he placed it on a rotisserie spit over the grill and the sound of the motor dutifully rotating the entree is a memory I have. Now as an adult, a garden club member, a retired florist demonstrated the technique to create a center piece with greenery from your yard that was nice to look forward to, excuse me I need to run outside and find some flora and fauna Merry Christmas

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    1. Charleston looks so gorgeous at Christmas. I think that period is especially beautiful when decorated. But that's what I am used to. I should have added incense from Midnight Mass to the list of scents.

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  5. I love the orange pomander balls too. In years past, I used an ice pick to poke a pilot hole of sorts. It helped a little but I will try your idea. When I was first on my own, I found the cloves a bit expensive a skimped on the number I put in the oranges. Yuck! It turned into a moldy, gross mess and that it not a scent that reminds me of Christmas.

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    1. EWWW! I have had that happen a couple of times, and other times they've just dried out nicely.

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  6. We have made the orange and clove pomanders all of my life; however the zester is a new tip! Thanks so much Meg! Traditions like this mean so much to our families at the holidays!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. Use the stripper side of the zester and you will get the nice long strands of orange skin.

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  7. I like to make citrus pomanders, too. The scent of piñon is winter to me after spending some time at the Grand Canyon many years ago, though I can only find that scent in incense in Southern California :)

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    1. I love that piñon scent. I found some small incense cones in Arizona a few years ago. They smelled fabulous!

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  8. I love making these pomanders and use wooden skewers to easily poke the holes into the oranges for the cloves. Your cake looks scrumptious. Nothing like an English Christmas cake with a steaming hot cuppa to sooth the soul (my American husband, however, is not so convinced).

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  9. I also love the orange and clove pomanders. I also make miniature ornaments out of cinnamon and applesauce, after drying, I attach them to a fresh balsam wreath with red ribbons. I had the idea after seeing a similar wreath on display during a holiday visit to Williamsburg. My sister-in-law gave me a Thymes Fir candle at Thanksgiving, the scent is heavenly!

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  10. I've never tried orange pomander balls... but I'm going to! Great idea! My favorite yuletide smells from childhood - the pine tree, the fire in the fireplace, freshly baked gingerbread cookies, and - weird but cool - the plastic smell of the vintage decorations that had been in the attic all year.

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