As the weather is decidedly turning, recently we’ve taken the hint to slow down a little, spend more time indoors and make sure the blankets and throws are ready for a chilly evening on the sofa.
This feeling of Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hi-gie), as the Danes have nicely coined is used when acknowledging a feeling or moment as cosy, charming or special. Now I don’t know about you but being at home, with my family and pets, feeling cosy and content is pretty special to me.
However, you can’t buy a ‘hygge living room’ and there’s no ‘hygge foods’ to eat. It literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present. That’s why so many people distill ‘hygge’ down to being a ‘feeling’ – because if you don’t feel hygge, you probably aren’t using the word properly.
So how can we invoke this feeling? Firstly, go outdoors for some fresh air! Grab the children, dogs or unsuspecting friend for a dose of the open countryside before heading home feeling like the cobwebs are well and truly blown away. Believe me, you’ll feel the benefit. Once home (and sans wellies), I like nothing more to pull on a sweater, choose a book and curl up in front of a roaring fire. Whatever your preference - open blaze or a toasty woodburner - there really is no greater pleasure than listening to its crackling of wood and watching the flames dance while the rain falls outside and the nights draw in.
But add a subtle fragrance to the mix and you’ve just reached another level of cosy domestic bliss.
So how do you add a little aroma to your fire or stove? Read on to find out..
Oven-Dried Orange Slices
Burning oven dried fruit slices or peelings is a great way to clear odours (we’re looking at you, wet dogs) and add a clean, sweet-smelling scent to the air. Plus, dried orange slices also make superb natural firelighters - two birds, one stone! Here’s how to do it…
To make a batch you’ll need:
A sharp knife and chopping board
Some kitchen roll
A wire rack (for cooling)
Pre-heat your oven to 100c or gas mark 4/5.
Chop your oranges thin slices, ideally no more than 1cm thick. The thinner the slice, the quicker it will dry and the more opaque it will become. Using a fork to secure the orange makes the job easier and safer!
Place your orange slices between two pieces of kitchen roll and blot to remove as much juice as possible. The more juice you remove, the more quickly and effectively they’ll dry.
Next place your orange slices onto the wire rack and place in the centre of your oven for 2-3 hours. Be sure to check and turn the slices regularly to prevent them sticking to the rack.
Your orange slices will slowly shrink and darken in colour. When you’re satisfied that they’re ready, remove them from oven and allow them to cool.
Store your dried slices in a basket, or pop them into a jar to preserve the aroma for longer. Your orange slices will continue to darken over time, but shouldn’t go mouldy.
Use them: Simply add 2-3 slices to a roaring fire. Hey presto!
Scented Pine Cone Firelighters
Pine cones add a wonderful crackle to your fire. They’re actually pretty effective dried and burnt plain but for something extra special, try making these scented pine cone firelighters.
To make 12 you’ll need:
12 pine cones (dry)
12 paper cake cases (just a little larger than your pine cones)
An essential oil of your choice
Start by pre-heating your oven to 100c and giving your pinecones a little brush to remove any debris.
Next, place your cake cases into a muffin tray, remove your tealights from their metal cases and place one candle in each cupcake case. Place them in the oven and keep a careful eye. Remove the tray as soon as the candle wax has completely melted.
Using tweezers, shift the wick right to the edge of your cupcake case - this will ensure you’re able to reach it to light your firelighters. Then add 1-2 drops of essential oil to each melted candle.
Gently place one pinecone in each case; the wax should rise naturally to hold the pinecone in place. Leave to cool and reset – about an hour should do it.
Finally, peel back the paper case carefully to reveal your beautiful homemade pine cone firelighter!
Use them: Place 1-2 firelighters amongst your kindling, light and enjoy the fragrance.
Scented Kindling Bundles
These delightful little bundles smell wonderful and gain extra points for looking stylish in your hearth basket.
For each bundle you’ll need:
A newspaper page (the whole double spread)
2-3 kindling sticks
2-3 small pinecones
3 sprigs of dried rosemary
A small handful of dried lavender
Twine or raffia to secure
Place all your items on the newspaper, roll to make a sweet wrapper style shape and secure each end with twine or raffia. Done!
To use: Add one bundle to your kindling before lighting or place a bundle on the fire just after lighting.
Do you have your own technique for creating a scented fire? I’d love to hear them. Do share your ideas in the comments below.