Fall Forward into Potpourri

No doubt a few of you have read some of my posts from this blog, while thinking, "Man, she is really old school." Yes, I plead guilty. However, even in my 20's and 30's, I always thought "old school," so the truth of the matter is I do not know any difference. I must have been born with an old school soul.

Sure you could buy some of those new waxy dots and put them in the cutesy warmer to smell up your house, but give me a large jar candle, potpourri, or incense - - yes, you read that right - incense. It is a hard habit to break from my days as a youngster of "peace, love, and hippie beads." I have not detoxed from keeping a box of Nag Champa around. It could be worse, I suppose. I could still covet a box of Patchouli.

Now potpourri is a concept I can get behind. It is natural in many ways,  - - and also interesting. A bowl of potpourri in the middle of a coffee table, not only smells good, but can be engaging. I advocate that you make your own, and especially potpourri with an expression of autumn is easy to do. So, how do you make your own Fall potpourri? Certainly there are "recipes," but they may keep your imagination restricted. I prefer not to use a recipe. How to start? Go take a walk.

That's right. Grab a bag and go for a walk in the park, on a tree lined street, in the country, or even in your own garden. What to look for on your walk in the park or country? Pods, twigs, acorns, bark, dried moss, lichen, teasel weed, and of course pine cones. In your garden collect pretty, but durable dried tree leaves, herbs, and rose hips. Go through your spice cupboard and add to your mixture cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, pepper corns, bay leaves, whole star anise, and even pecans or filberts still in the shell. You can keep a theme using items from the forest, or a fruit and baking theme, a rose and herb garden, or just keep it "potpourri!" One may also "cheat" and buy the dried items at your friendly neighborhood craft store, but why do you want to do that when you can enjoy the lovely fall weather? 

Check out your fruit basket and when you peel that orange, save a few of the peels to dry. Dried cranberries add a pop of color. (Don't use "craisins," too sticky. Dry your own.) Dry orange peels or thin slices or oranges naturally or in the oven, or you may speed up the process in the microwave. Place peels on a few sheets of paper towels and cover with three to four more paper towels. Microwave at 50% for around five minutes (rotate if you do not have a carousel). Remove peels.

Apples are also easy to dry. Slice paper thin, and slice using the whole apple with the seeds showing. Dip sliced apples in lemon juice and place slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes in a 150 degree oven.

Other ideas to add to your mix: a few fragrant wood shavings from your friendly woodcrafter. Bake up a few small cookie cutter shaped or primitive hand cut "cookies" from non-edible salt dough or non-edible cinnamon applesauce craft dough, and tuck a few here and there in the potpourri mixture. 

Now comes the fragrance - the oils and extracts. When choosing an oil or extract, look at your mixture and how it would relate. The scent of pine for a potpourri that is dominant of cones, and dried twigs of spruce and arborvitae. Vanilla, cinnamon, and almond oils and extracts for the scent of baking and fruits.  There are no rules to how many drops of the oils or extracts to use. The only rule is to "let your nose rule," so start with a few drops. Store the potpourri in a dry area in an open container or use immediately. As the fragrance softens through time, you can always add more oils or extracts.

Now place your potpourri in your desired bowl, whether it is a patinaed copper, tin, or silver bowl, woven basket, wooden box, or a crystal bowl. If you'd like place on top of the mixture a few "un-natural" items - just a few - a few small glass ornament balls, a charm from an old earring that lost it's partner, a few large beads, a jingle bell, or even a pretty shiny rock or crystal. Enjoy! 

*Photos from Pinterest


  1. Love this article! That is so me too. A natural gatherer since I roamed the Blues with grandma. Later as a florist I still had the habit of collecting "roadsidia" and including grasses, reeds, twigs, mosses in my arrangements. Just this morning I had a yen to plow into a teasel patch because ohhh the Christmas ornaments I could make. Bringing the woods inside with natural potpourri is a year round thing. Helps to keep us grounded. I add a few drops of cedar or lemon verbena or some other natural scent to boost it once a week.

  2. Thank you for checking in. It must have been a popular thing roaming the Blues with grandma. I did as well, and she also picked plenty of teasel for various wreaths, ornaments, and centerpieces. You're so right - it helps keeps us grounded. Thanks again.


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