Monday, January 28, 2013

Living Green: Stove-top Potpourri

I've been getting quite a few questions recently about my "green" habits.  Over the last year I've learned to eliminate most of the household chemicals we used to use as well as to trim corners off our budget.  I decided to start posting here to answer some of the questions and share some of my favorite discoveries.  I'm hoping that when people realize how easy and budget-friendly it is "go green" they'll start to make little changes that will eventually add up to a big difference.

I have a thing about smells.  If my house doesn't smell fresh it really bothers me, but that can get tricky with two dogs, a cat, a toddler, and a husband who works outdoors.  Plus, our kitchen shares a wall with our master bedroom which means that the bedroom smells like whatever I have on the stove.  Febreeze and Oust are not an option because of the chemicals.  Candles and Wax Burners (like Scentsy) make me a little nervous, too, and they can get expensive.  The best solution I've found - other than opening windows which isn't always practical - is to make potpourri on my stove-top.  If you Google the term "stove-top potpourri" you'll find several good articles and blog posts (click here for the best post I've found on the subject).  After lots of experimentation I found my favorite recipe.  If you're not familiar with stove-top potpourri the principle is that you heat aromatic fruits or herbs in water on your stove so they naturally freshen the air.  There are several advantages to this method:  no flame, not much expense (use what you have), the scent is 100% customizable and the scent is long lasting.  Once I'm finished with a pot of potpourri I put the ingredients down my garbage disposal which naturally freshens it as well - added benefit!

Here's what I use for a 2-3 quart pot:
1 navel orange, cut into wedges
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into wedges
1 handful fresh cranberries (if I have them)
1 to 2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Cloves

Cut up the orange and apple, throw in the cranberries, and add your spices.  Fill with water and set on medium-high heat until the mixture boils.  Lower the heat and let it simmer, keeping an eye on things to make sure the water level doesn't get too low.

You can use whole spices or ground.  The whole spices tend to last longer, but they also cost more.  Another good option is to bring your mixture to a boil and then move it to a small crockpot and leave it uncovered on high.  The scent won't be as strong, but you also won't have to monitor the water level as closely.

Experiment with scents that you love and see what you can create!

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