[ The Scents of The Season ~ Henna and Other Helpers ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company

[ The Scents of The Season ~ Henna and Other Helpers ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company
Autumn signals a return to the dark part of the year, when cooler temperatures bring us indoors and it becomes necessary to turn on the lights a bit earlier each evening. As we put away the beach towels and pull out the bulky sweaters, we long for the rituals that ease our transition into the season. The sight of changing leaf color and the sound of rustling wind invigorates, but nothing says “fall” like the scent wafting from a basket of rosy red apples, a freshly baked loaf of pumpkin bread or a bowl of fragrant spiced potpourri.

Merchandising at your local market changes with the season as well. Everything from scented candles to baked goods flaunt alluring smells and flavors laced with apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and other spices at the end of every isle and at the start of every checkout lane. But these seasonal items are usually pricey and full of artificial ingredients. Instead, you can fill your home with fall fragrances naturally, without sacrificing your budget or your health.

[ The Scents of The Season ~ The Science of Scent ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

the science of scent

Sense of smell is the only sense fully developed at birth in humans. This is one of the reasons why the aroma of freshly baked bread or rotting fruit evokes such a strong emotional response every time it's encountered, no matter where we are or what our chronological age. Our earliest memories are entwined with our sense of smell, so whether pleasant or foul, certain fragrances will bring early life experiences to the forefront. It’s the reason one sniff of a ripe, juicy apple triggers a memory of mom baking pie, or why the scent of pine cleaner reminds you of the time the kid in the seat behind you on the school bus lost his lunch.

It’s all in your head, really. The process starts with the olfactory bulb in the front of your brain, which receives information about odors from specialized cells in your nose. This structure is connected to your amygdala and hippocampus, the areas of the brain involved with emotional response and memory, respectively. Imprints made early in life about certain smells have to do with matters of survival and, as such, may invoke comfort or fear. For most of us, hopefully, the scents of fall are all about comfort (unless you count the smell of buttery, cumin-spiced popcorn nibbled while watching classic Halloween horror flicks).

"Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” "

— Lauren DeStefano


[ The Scents of The Season ~ Put Out the Potpourri ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

put out potpourri

Potpourri is literally a mixed bag of fragrant items that range from dried flowers and herbs to pungent spices and aromatic essential oils. Ironically, the word “potpourri” originates from the French term for “putrid pot.” Although the word is used to mean a medley of fragrances today, it first referred to a Spanish stew as described in Randle Cotgrave’s A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611) as a “...dish of many severall meates boyled, or stued together.” By the mid-18th century, the word “potpourri” shifted in meaning to refer to a mixture of dried flowers.

Not everyone was a fan of potpourri, it would seem. While some ladies enjoyed strewing potpourri about the bedchamber, one Henrietta Knight, aka Lady Luxborough, made her feelings clear in a letter to William Shenstone, dated November 29, 1749:

“Lords, Gentlemen, Ladies, Flirts, Scholars, Soldiers, Divines, Masters, and Misses, are all authors upon this occasion, and also the objects of each other’s satire: it makes an offensive medley, and might be called a pot-pourri; which is a potful of all kinds of flowers which are severally perfumes, and commonly when mixt and rotten, smell very ill.”
We hope you’ll appreciate the merits of sweet-smelling potpourri more than the good lady, either placed in a decorative dish, tucked into a sachet or simmered on the stovetop.


[ The Scents of The Season ~ DIY scented candles ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

basic formula:
DIY scented candles

Candlelight lends a warm and welcoming ambiance to our homes, and provides an opportunity to scent the air at the same time. Making your own is as easy as melting wax (soy wax is recommended) in the top of a double boiler, pouring it into a mold and leaving it to harden with an anchored wick inserted in the middle. For fragrance and unique visual interest, add a pinch or two of crushed dried flowers or leaves to the melted wax just before pouring. Don’t stir – some of the herbal material will float to the bottom, creating a dappled effect.

Essential oils may also be added to melted candle wax, either alone or in combination, and with our without dried botanicals, before pouring into molds. In this case, you do want to stir, but after the melting pot has been removed from the heat and allowed to cool for a minute. If you have a candy thermometer, the ideal temperature should be around 120’F before adding the oils. Stir well after adding the oils to disperse them evenly throughout the wax. Add dried herbs, if using, but don’t stir a second time. Finally, pour and “cure” the candle as usual. In terms of volume, plan to use 12-24 drops of essential oil for each 4-6 ounces of wax.

basic candle making HOW TO list:
  • MELT SOY WAX - using a double boiler melt wax
  • ADD FRAGRANCE - after removed from heat (cool wax to 120°F) stir in essential oils drops for fragrance
  • ADD VISUAL TEXTURE - sprinkle in botanicals for aroma and visual aesthetic, don't stir
  • POUR INTO MOLD - receptacle suggestions: milk carton, frozen orange juice container, or one of our tins
  • PLACE WICK - insert an anchored wick - available on amazon or at craft shops
  • LET COOL - let wax thoroughly cool, if mold is disposable and for shape only remove before using

  • [ The Scents of The Season ~ Warming Oils ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

    basic formula:
    warming oils

    Choose 4-6 essential oils and place several drops of each in a 1 ounce amber or cobalt glass bottle with a dropper top. Plan on 20-25 drops of oil for your top (dominant) scents and 10-20 for your base scents. Cap the bottle and roll it between your palms a few times to distribute, but avoid shaking. Place the bottle in a cool, dark place for a day or two before using to allow the scents to "marry."

    If using an essential oil diffuser, add 5-8 drops to the water reservoir. If using an oil burner, fill the upper dish with 2 tablespoons coconut oil and light a tealight candle underneath. When the coconut oil has melted, add 8-10 drops to the dish.

    basic warming oil HOW TO list:
  • CHOOSE FRAGRANCE - pick 4-6 essential oils
  • PICK GLASS BOTTLE - use 1/2 ounce amber or cobalt bottle with dropper top
  • ADD TOP (DOMINANT) SCENT - add 20-25 drops of your dominant scent(s) to the bottle
  • ADD BASE SCENT - add 10-20 drops of your base scents to the bottle
  • MIX - AVOID SHAKING, roll capped bottle between palms
  • REST - let scents "marry" for a day or two before using
  • USE - 5-8 drops in essential oil diffuser water reservoir OR 8-10 in 2TBSP coconut oil on warming dish with tealight
  • warming dish

    [ The Scents of The Season ~ Aroma Spray ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

    basic formula:
    aroma spray

    It’s easy to make homemade aroma sprays to scent any room. In some cases, you might even want to wear the spray as a personal body fragrance (not recommended for pine-based scents, however). For each ounce of witch hazel, plan to add 15-50 drops of essential oils, depending on the specific scents you’re working with and what your nose says about the final product.

    Fill a small spray bottle with a mister top with witch hazel, leaving 1/4 inch head-space at the top. Add the oils and gently invert a few times to combine. Label and store in a cool, dark place.

    basic aroma spray HOW TO list:
  • CHOOSE BOTTLE - small spray bottle (suggested: amber or cobalt with mist sprayers)
  • ADD WITCH HAZEL - fill bottle leaving 1/4 inch headspace, note ounces used
  • ADD FRAGRANCE - add 15-20 drops of essential oils, to desired strength
  • spray pine
    spray citrus
    spray pine

    [ The Scents of The Season ~ Wake up to Warm Flavors ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

    one more aromatic idea:
    wake up to warm flavors

    Is there anything better than waking up to freshly baked apple-cinnamon muffins, or pumpkin bread on a cool, crisp morning? Of course, someone in the house has to be the one to leave a warm bed to get things going in the kitchen to make this a possibility before work, school or wherever the day plays out for your tribe. Tip: Mix the batter up the night before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, let the batter come up to room temperature for about 10 minutes -- or as long as it takes to make coffee and dress. Then just pour/fill your loaf/muffin pans and bake. The scent will linger long after the last crumb is eaten.

    Speaking of coffee...why not juice up your java with a shake of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and/or ground cardamom seeds? Other eye-opening fall-like flavors to consider adding to your “cuppa” include dried orange peel, rosehips and vanilla extract. These options work for tea drinkers too, although dried lemon peel is another good choice. Tip: Save time flavoring your baked breakfast food and beverage with our make-it-yourself Pumpkin Pie Spice Set made ahead of time. You’ll find yourself using it for (almost) everything this season, from cakes to cookies and, believe it or not, potpourri and candles!

    coffee and spice

    try these TITLE-try-these-aromatic ESSENTIAL OILS for seasonal scent making

    some favorite SPICES and BOTANICALS for seasonal baking

    Use the whole "peppercorns" in potpourri and the ground spice in baked goods and in other cooked foods.

    Sweet and spicy, this classic fragrance belongs in baked goods, potpourri and candles. Use the ground spice or the essential oil of cinnamon leaf, or both at the same time.

    Whole cloves create a woody fragrance and visual appeal in potpourri blends, while the powdered version adds spice to baked goods and the essential oil warmth and character to candle wax.

    ginger root
    Use the crystalized root in baking, the powdered spice in baking and the essential oil to scent potpourri and candles.

    orange peel
    Add the dried, chopped peel to baked goods and hot beverages, as well as potpourri.

    orris root
    A must for potpourri! The starchy powdered root of the bearded Iris smells sweet on its own, but also acts as a fixative to extend the fragrance of all of the ingredients.

    check out these PINTEREST BOARDS for inspiration

    an some of our other NEWSLETTERS that might be of interest