Today a certain peace has descended as I've pretty much finished work now until the New Year (which seems like a long way away). I still have a few loose ends to tie up, but don't have to go anywhere. All can be done from home. Bliss!
This afternoon I made some more fragrant firelighters - easily done in half an hour.
pinecones - you have a liitle stash, don't you?
wax granules, old candle remains, or ordinary household candles
essential oils of your choice - I used sweet orange and clove
a double boiler, or glass or metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water
Note: wax and essential oils are flammable. Take care! If you're a messy worker, protect your work surface with old newspaper
Put the wax in the double boiler or bowl over pan of water, and slowly bring the water up to a simmer. The wax will melt slowly. No need to stir. Once melted, fish out any old wicks if you're using candles. Take off the heat.
While the wax is melting, shake the pinecones so any loose debris falls out. It's best to use pinecones that have really opened out. If you have closed ones, put them in a warm place for a few days and they'll open. I've had a pile of wet, closed pinecones sitting on top of the boiler for a week - they've slowly 'blossomed', making little cracking and creaking sounds as they've dried out.
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a wire rack.
Choose your essential oils and put about 15 drops of each in the melted wax, and swirl round a bit to mix in.
Now test your wax with your first pinecone: hold at the tip (top) and dip in to the wax, then gently shake off the excess. If the wax is at the right temperature the pinecone will look slightly 'frosted'. Too hot, and you can't see the wax on the pinecones, too cool and the wax goes all gloopy. It takes a bit of trial and error.
Line up your pinecones on the greaseproof paper as you go. They'll harden in seconds.
And there you have it! Fragrant firelighters, ready to scent an open fire or to get the woodburner going. Pile into an old terracotta pot and wrap with brown paper and string, and you have a quick present.
And talking of fires, I'm off to an outdoor christmas barbequeue. It's freezing out there. Lots of layers are required I think! And mulled wine...