Be joyful even though you have considered all the facts...practice resurrection. -Wendell Berry

Thursday, December 9, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...scents and giveaway #3

Batman and I lived in Old San Juan, PR for four years when we were young parents. Stewart and Lindsey were both born on the island. Being a New Englander by birth, I had mixed feelings about living in the tropics, especially during the holidays. In early December, I used to load wee Stewart up in his stroller and wheel him along the cobble stoned streets down to the port, where the big container ships would dock. I would find a spot on a bench and sit in the blazing sunshine as the dock workers opened the doors to the containers of Christmas trees, cut weeks ago in some northern forest. I would close my eyes and inhale the scent of my beloved and far away New England. For just a few minutes, I would be transported by the most ancient of our senses to another place and time.

And now, almost thirty years later, we are the stewards of balsams of our very own. Life is mysterious, is it not? In celebration of memories, scents and holiday magic, I am offering this sachet, filled with balsam needles from our "bit of earth" as a giveaway. If you would like a chance to have this sachet, please leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail. Chances for the giveaway will close at noon on Monday and I will post the winner's name on Monday afternoon.

Another nostalgic holiday scent is my GrammieLowry's mulled apple cider:
2 quarts cider
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 small sticks cinnamon
Bring cider to a boil, add the spices which have been tied in a cheesecloth bag. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove spice bag. Once the flavors have melded, I put this cider in a crock pot on low, and folks can enjoy it all day long.

Gingerbread baking in the oven, frying latkes and the scent of paper white narcissus remind me of the holidays too. How about you?

P.S. I will be taking a quick break from the blog-o-sphere, to tend to some holiday magic. I'll be back on Monday with more fun to share.


  1. I am loving your reflections on Holiday and Family this season. Thank you for your warm words.

    I would love to be entered in the drawing: Jamie Utt

  2. I just love the smell of holiday baking. Sometimes I put a little apple cider, a couple of cloves, and a cinnamon stick in a small saucepan on the stove. It fills the air with all those comforting smells that I love so much.

  3. you my dear lady have a way of touching something inside of me...this got me sniffling a bit...I can just imagine the longing of this young mom for her beloved New England..home as she knew it...and Christmas as she wanted it
    But I am certain the true Christmas spirit abides wherever we celebrate it
    a wonderful post..and of course I would love some balsam

  4. Karen, you are certainly full of the spirit of giving this holiday season! I already have my fragrant balsam sachet from your 'bit of earth', but I love that story of you inhaling fragrant NE pine needles in PR, and I love the bag you have made for the balsam sprigs. Good luck to the winner and have a nice mini-break, Karen!

  5. Lovely story about San Juan, Karen! Evergreen is my favorite holiday scent, but gingerbread & homemade cookies are close seconds. Like Judy I have a wonderful sachet from you, but if I won this it would bring that evergreen scent to my girl in her dorm (who is hosting a post Hanukah party in her wing tonight!)

  6. What a wonderful story! I'm hoping to find some gingerbread in my oven soon:)

  7. Thanks for your story.... I would love to win....

  8. That's a sweet story about the homesick young mom smelling the Christmas trees coming off the ship in San Juan. There must have been a whole lot of homesick New Englanders in Puerto Rico, to make it economically feasible to ship the trees that far! It's especially nice that you were able to smell that scent for free. I'm one of the lucky owners of one of your balsam rides in Trucklette with me all the time and there's always a nice scent of balsam, sometimes stronger if the car's been sitting in the hot sun, sometimes fainter when it's cold, but always there.

  9. I'm already a lucky winner, so please don't enter my name again....but I did want to share that we also love the smell of pine. That's why we put a small Christmas tree in the kitchen. We spend so much time in the kitchen and would miss the sight and smell of a tree in another room far away.