Monday, December 12, 2011

Oh Pomander Ball, Oh Pomander Ball!

* Currently listening: Run Rudolph Run by Reverend Horton Heat
*Currently wearing: Brown Sugar and Fig by Bath and Body Work

My husband's birthday was this weekend, and out of respect to him (and I little of his request), I wait to jump into full blown Christmastime mode until his birthday has past! it's on!

I was intending to write something completely different today, but then this popped into my head: I should stash some pomander balls around the apartment for Christmas scenting. Let me rewind a tad. We're trimming the tree tomorrow, and when I say tree...I mean a 2 foot pre-lit, retro-tastic silver tree that will go on top of our coffee table next to the couch. I'll decorate it when pink ornaments only (a la my Grandma Byrd's tree from the early 80's), using some pink tulle for the "tree skirt", and something equally as clever for the tree topper. While we decorate (I'm thinking this is going to take all of 15 minutes, but still), I'm trying to institute some little Christmas traditions for myself, Al, Harley and Ezra. (Who am I much do cats care about Christmas!?! Asides from Ezra who tried to eat the tree when I was testing out the lights.)  We're never actually at home for Christmas, we're always in the South, making the grand tour of North Carolina to visit both of our families. Mom and Allison came to Boston the first Christmas we lived here....but, I feel that's mainly because they wanted our of the FEMA-trailer-hell-on-wheels (LITERALLY) existance they had been living in since Hurricane Ike hit in early September of that year.

Being that Al & I have a small nuclear family of two, we can have fun designing out own little traditions. So, I had the thought of decorating as we enjoy fresh home made gingerbread and some piping hot Gluhwein. Gingerbread because I ADORE gingerbread, and Gluwein to embrace the German part of both of our heritages (Hoffman for him & Wiltz for me. The French homage shall come on the 18th, it was supposed to be on the 8th...oops!) If the gingerbread that I try turns out well, I'll share that recipe; but I'll go ahead and share the Gluhwein recipe - as I'm sure, if nothing else, it will scent your space for the season wonderfully!
Gluhwein (courtesy of
A 750ml bottle of inexpensive dry red wine (no need to splash out on something expensive, but it should be drinkable. I usually just use whatever red wine is on sale at the supermarket.)

2/3 cup of raw cane sugar or white sugar, or non-artificial sweetener of your choice

juice and peel of one small lemon

2 cardamon pods

4 whole cloves

2 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

Put everything in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir to melt the sugar. Heat the mixture over low heat, and leave of for about an hour - it should never boil, just sort of seethe. Serve in small mugs (straining out the peel and spices, with optional shot of brandy, kirsch or other liquer.

I had Al pick up the cardamon, cloves and cinnamon sticks on the way home so I can have the Gluhwein simmering when he gets home from work tomorrow; scenting the air with boozy, tannin, spicy, holiday goodness! I got very excited opening and sniffing the spices as I always do (especially the cardamon - we've never needed to purchase cardamon PODS before), and I thought to myself, "What in the world are we going to do with a FULL SIZED bottle of whole cloves? OOOHHH!!! Pomander Balls!" I had been toying around with the idea of buying some Christmas scented candles soon, why not just make the real thing!?!? Orange, cloves put on in a pretty (or if you don't care not so pretty) pattern, hung somewhere with a decorative ribbon. (I'm thinking pink of silver to go with my tree!) Plus, when it dries up you just make another - it's not like oranges are a break the bank item. The candles that I would gravitate towards, however...WOULD BE!

Looking further into the history of the pomander, I came across this fantastic article on School of the Seasons' site. Not only does it talk about the pomander, it also outlines many food/scent related holiday notions & their histories! (Now I have 1/2 a mind to buy some walnuts, spray paint them pink, coat them with glitter and tie them to my tree instead of tracking down teeny-tiny pink ornaments....and my husband's going to read this and shake his head and roll his eyes...) 

I promise once I have both my pomander ball done and hanging I will post a picture, as well as the tree (no matter what ornaments I decide to use!).
Modern Christmas Pomander Ball (

Queen Elizabeth I holding an exceptionally gilded pomander attached to her waist. (

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