Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Story Time

Being busy helps cut through the mundane bore of the daily grind, and I've always managed to find things to occupy my time, which is how I fell into soapmaking, and subsequently, natural botanical perfumery. I learned most of what I know about busy-ness while living in the wilds of Northern California, with sketchy electric, party line phones, and PBS as the only option on the television. Baking served its purpose for quite some time, with berry and apple and stone fruit pies filling the pie safe; bread baked to perfection after the 200th time trying, and making delicious bran muffins without a recipe. I learned about hanging dressed wild game in the pump house to "age" before cutting pieces for dinner, how to sew and mend clothes, when to pick blackberries and gooseberries, and how to make elderberry wine. You'd think that this would be where I'd learn to make soap, but that wasn't until years later, when I was back down here in the flatlands, in civilization. One of my favorite things to do was to make pine cone fireballs for the holidays. I'd gather the fattest, roundest pine cones I could find all during the months of Fall, then in late November I'd doll them up with spices from the cupboard and a precious bottle clove oil and some vanilla extract. The process was never the same, but the results usually were ~ delicious smelling resinous pine cones tossed into the fireplace (with the fire screen firmly in place) to crackle and scent the whole house. No aromatherapy candle or room spray could ever compete with that scent. And I've made a few this year ~ with more essential oils and loads more spice and they've turned out beautifully! Though, I have no fireplace to toss them into. But I do have an oven . . .

Pine Cone Fireballs

10-12 slightly larger than fist-sized pine cones, rinsed and dried

2 TBLS star anise powder

1 TBLS allspice powder

5 TBLS cinnamon bark powder

4 tsp green mandarin eo

6 tsp pink grapefruit eo

2 tsp cinnamon leaf eo

1 tsp clove bud eo


OPTIONAL: frankincense hydrosol (or a few drops of frankincense eo in a little water, shaken well)

Mix dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside; blend the essential oils together and pour by teaspoonfuls onto each pine cone until the eo's are gone and the cones are nice and stinky; lightly spray each cone with water or hydrosol, then dust the dry spice blend over the cones until completely covered; spray with water or hydrosol again and let the mess dry. Store in plastic bags until ready to use ~ just toss one in the fireplace, but watch out for the popping and crackling of the resins in the cones. Put a firescreen up.


  1. Fist sized pine cones???? HAHA, baby fists maybee but these are cultivated pines, normal pine cones are appr. 3-4cm. Well what to expect, this is still Sweden ;-)

  2. I forget I live in the land of plenty (o' pines) ~ there's Torrey, bristlecone, foxtail, western white, limber, Ponderosa, knobcone, Monterey, Jeffrey, bishop, coulter, lodgepole, and my favorite, sugar pine with it's nearly foot and a half long pine cone (50.8 centimeters) Yow! You can make 'em with little bitty cones -- just make more!



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