Disclaimer: other than buying tiny bar shampoos, this has by far been the most fun post to write, so far... so I've turned it into three posts I'm rolling out over the holiday season. Brace yoself, DIY lovers! This one would also be so much fun to do with older kids!
This time of year, more than any other, I get excited about my house smelling great. It's not that I don't love coming home to that quintessential wet dog smell in July after Gatsby wallows in the putrid drainage ditch in front of my house, but there's just something special about the holiday season and nostalgic scents greeting you as you walk in the door. Also, who wants a naughty, mysteriously damp Aussie?
I've never been a big air freshener girl. I'll get down with a scented candle, but plug in things or creepy gel towers on the back of the toilet weird me out. First, can we all acknowledge that they smell nothing like spring rain? And everything like cloying sweetness to cover up poopy stink? Never have I heard someone get excited about that smell. Unless maybe you have teenage sons, because boys are gross. And second, what is IN those? What are they putting into the air that you're absorbing through your lungs? Finally, that is a ton of non-recyclable plastic that you're plugging into a wall.
Here's the answer to that second question: Plastic. Those things are blowing really gross chemicals used to create plastic water bottles. For a full list of the other grody things in chemical air fresheners, that may or may not be screwing up your thyroid, hormones, and endocrine system at large as well as giving you cancer, click here.
So what are our alternatives? Just as I was asking myself this question and making a To Do list for this post, the lovely and ever-inspiring June over at Slip into Savor did a really beautiful post on stove top potpourris (which you should read, along with all her incredible recipes and perspective on life), so that's where we'll start this three part endeavor.
This journey started at the Charleston Spice and Tea Exchange. I can't rave about this oasis in the tourist district enough. Not only has their staff unquestioningly fulfilled my plastic-free agenda as a customer with enthusiasm and without so much as batting an eye (LOOK at those adorable reusable bags they sent me home with!), they also have AMAZING spices and it's easy to lose yourself among their sea of delightful and exotic jars.
My stovetop potpourris are a new, simple go-to in my home, it adds so much to my quality of life, and the Charleston Spice and Tea Exchange helped hook me up with ingredients for the following recipes:
Holiday Stove Top Potpourri
Take ingredients. Dump in pot (or crock pot, which I haven't tried). Cover with water. Simmer and relish amazing scent! Top off water, repeat.
Mulling spice mix
I love the brightness the citrus brings to this rich holiday mix! It was also super easy, because the mulling spice is pre-mixed. We happily enjoyed this one for two days, until it turned to absolute goop in the pot, just as June warned me it would. Then we dumped it in the compost box in the freezer.
Splash vanilla extract
Several anise stars
Sprinkling of whole cloves
3-4 slices of entire apple, including core
There aren't words for how much I love this one for the holidays! It feels like you're living inside an apple pie with whipped happiness on top. I got giddy every time I came home to the lingering scent of apples and vanilla, and DO NOT underestimate those lovely anise undercurrents. This one is the boyfriend's fave!!
*This gallery contains affiliate links. This means that if you click through and give the product a whirl, I get a tiny fee for spreading the news at no extra cost to you. This helps me offset the enormous amount of time that goes into Compost & Cava.
The problem with this one is that you are going to be plagued with intense blackberry cobbler cravings, which happens to be one of my all time favorite desserts. I think I ate 6 chocolate chip cookies over two days while testing this one. And while my skinny jeans look way more like a Kielbasa casing, I'll definitely be doing this one over and over.
This one will be making a comeback for the spring. It has a lighter, fresher scent than the others, which will be perfect to come home to after a scorching Charleston summer day!
There is nothing, NOTHING in this world like coming home to the fresh smells of real, fragrant ingredients. But it doesn't have to be complicated or involve buying special ingredients! Since I started gathering ingredients and writing this post, I've played around with... welp, let's be honest here, leftover scraps from dinner. Does it smell good? Awesome. Toss it in a pot with some water while you do the dishes to get rid of that baked fish smell. Here are some of the easiest and loveliest stove top potpourris I've made from things destined for the compost so far:
Lime/Lemongrass (Throw the whole stalk in, leafy part and all! This one is bright and cleansing.)
Lemon/Rosemary (Crisp and savory, no heavy sweetness to this one.)
And finally, when you've got a headache and it's been a long day, try good ole vanilla extract and some water