Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Smell of Christmas--Guest Cynthia D’Alba--plus giveaway!

Before you begin reading this blog, shut your eyes and take a couple of breaths through your nose. What did you smell? Last night’s liver and onions? The vanilla candle burning beside you? The lemon in the furniture polish you use? In full disclosure, I’m writing this sitting next to a Sparkling Cinnamon Yankee Candle so I have the wonderful aroma of cinnamon affecting my writing today.

Research shows that the sense of smell is one of the most important elements in evoking memories. And I’ve found that each season has its own unique scent.

In Spring, the aroma of flowers—maybe roses or that out-of-control jasmine along your fence—fills the air with scents designed to pull us outdoors and back into the sunshine after a long winter’s nap.

In Summer, it’s the smells of fresh mowed grass and hot asphalt that make me smile. You may be wondering about the hot asphalt smell because after all, it’s kind of stinky. But when I was going up, my parents would take my sister and me to Six Flags over Texas every summer. All the paths in that park are—or were—paved with asphalt. In the Texas heat, the asphalt would give off its characteristic smell. So my brain associated hot asphalt with pleasure.
In the fall, the crisp air carries the smoke from fires, either in fireplaces or from someone burning leaves in the yard.

But I think the scent of Christmas has the greatest potential to arouse the pleasure centers in our brains. What does Christmas smell like? For me, it’s cinnamon and cloves and vanilla, mixed with a citrus tang, like an orange. It’s the smell of a hot, gooey pecan pie as it’s pulled from the over. Cedar from the fresh cut Christmas tree tints the air in the living room as the proud tree stands guard over the pile of presents at its base. It’s my grandmother’s homemade yeast rolls as the brown in the oven.

Words cannot begin to capture the fragrances that make me smile. But a recipe can. I found a wonderful recipe on www.food.com that I think captures my Christmas.

The Scent of Christmas
Add orange and lemon slices to dry mixture of spices. Put in a small sauce pan with 4 cups of water. Simmer on low to release the fragrance. (NOTE: You might try other liquids instead of water for simmering, such as apple cider, to give your own personal twist.)

IF you simmer it for a few hours, you will need to add more water or liquid occasionally so it doesn't boil dry. Store in refrigerator when not in use to prevent molding. It can be simmered over and over again! Always add more water to equal 4 cups before each use.

So that’s how Christmas smells to me. Tell me about your favorite Christmas scents.

To celebrate the season, AND to celebrate the release of Texas Two Step in print on January 1, 2013, I’ll give a digital copy of Texas Two Step: The Prequel to the first TEN people who write me via my website contact page. I’ll  pick one lucky person to win a digital copy of TEXAS TWO STEP. Occasionally I’ll have some swag (pens, jar openers, magnets, etc) just for the asking! Send a note through my website contact page for swag.

Cynthia D’Alba began writing after a long career in both the medical and academic worlds. Her debut novel, Texas Two Step, was released by Samhain Publishing in digital format on February 28, 2012. It comes out in print on January 1, 2013. Want a taste? Here’s an except from Chapter One.

A BOY, A GIRL, AND A TIGER in the Wild At Heart Anthology, Vol. 1, available now in Digital and Print formats.

Learn more about Cynthia D’Alba at her Website, Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Cynthia, thanks so much for visiting today! I love the way you evoke the *all* the senses. It really gets me feeling the spirit of the season!

    Thank you so much for the lovely scent recipe--and the link to your great giveaway!

  2. What a great scent recipe. I'll definitely try it.

    Congrats on your upcoming print book. It's exciting to hold your book in your hands.

  3. Dear Cynthia, Thanks for the recipe! I can't wait to try it. Your give away is a great way to celebrate the season! Happy Holiday to you and your family!

  4. Hi Cynthia,

    Love the trip through the year. I often put mulled wine in a slow cooker and fill the house with the scent of Christmas. Nothing quite like it.

  5. Yum! What a great idea. I need to do this.

  6. What a great idea to scent a room with Christmas. Because I'm in NZ my Christmas is full of BBQs, fresh strawberries and tomatoes. I've been using cinnamon and cloves in my burner. Great post :)

  7. Good blog, as usual, and interesting recipe!

  8. Great idea for scenting a room - for me the smell of Christmas is always associated with baking - I'll have to add this to my holiday ideas this year:)

  9. Hi All! Thank you for stopping by. I've been without internet since last Saturday...so someone who is used to sitting with a computer in her lap for hours at a time, it has been a little stressful!

    I do love the smell of Christmas! I tried making Apple-Cinnamon ornaments this year so I could hang them around the house. Did okay but I think I need to tweak that recipe for next year. Scent wasn't strong enough, IMHO. But work pretty good in the car!

    Sorry for the late reply but I do appreciate you guys dropping by.