Cooped up indoors in winter, I dream up ideas for making my confines more interesting. One of the most primal ways is with scent. It’s easy: I just dry-roast spices in an incense burner or in a cast-iron pan set over a low flame, stirring them occasionally to get a balanced roast. I asked aromatherapist Fannie McWatt of Ever Brooklyn to help me decipher the mood-enhancing properties of some of my favorite seasonal blends.
“Citrus and cinnamon combat the blues,” says McWatt. Mix ½ teaspoon fennel seed with ½ teaspoon licorice root, ½ teaspoon dried orange peel, and one stick of cinnamon for a sweet whiff of happiness. Ground spices work, but whole ones are prettier and release their scent more slowly.
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“In its purified form, coriander is associated with antibacterial and antiviral properties,” says McWatt. It has a lemony, cleansing aroma. Refresh your space for the new year by toasting ½ teaspoon of the ground spice with one teaspoon kukicha (Japanese twig tea), and ½ teaspoon each allspice and cloves. (Check out these 6 other surprisingly easy ways to freshen the air in your home.)
“Black peppercorn is a wake-up,” says McWatt. “Lavender is its opposite.” Balance stimulating and calming scents by roasting one teaspoon each assam tea and star anise with ½ teaspoon each black peppercorns and lavender (and check out 7 cool things we never knew lavender could do).
nutmeg and cloves
Make your guests feel comfy with a warm and optimistic blend of one teaspoon rooibos tea, ½ teaspoon cloves, 5 green cardamom pods, and a pinch of nutmeg, a spice that McWatt says is great for filtering out negative energy.