The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The potpourri project: first outing with my smellies to the Withersfield Christmas Bazaar

Photo: Handmade lavender bagsThis summer I became interested in scent. I’d invested in The Scented Room: Cherchez’s Book of Dried Flowers, Fragrance and Potpourri. I wanted to use scent both to enhance mood and also battle with the pests that were chomping through our clothes. The latter was a big priority.

I grew up in the era of moth balls. Ancient maiden aunts would arrive for family functions wearing clothes that reeked of these ghastly balls. It was evident that they clearly worked well on the moth population but also on every other thing that was alive in the vicinity. I would dutifully kiss the bearded cheeks and then repair to a place of safety – well away from the moth ball whiff.

I had no idea there are a whole swathe of natural moth repellents that actually smell good. Lavender, cedar wood, dried lemon peel, rosemary, thyme and mint all repel these winged creatures. Cloves, tansy, woodruff and bay leaves too.

Using The Scented Room  as my guide I started making potpourri and moth repellent mixes. I also researches natural fixatives to make the scented mixtures last longer.  Some of these also smell good too. The cost of fixatives varies hugely so it’s worth investing a bit of time to find ones that are within your budget. In my mixes I have used combinations of these.
Gum benzoin resin, sandalwood bark, patchouli leaves, myrhh , frankincense, vetiver root, calamus root, lavender, oakmoss, cinnamon and nutmeg.
And of course there are all the infused oils too. Sometimes I became a bit overwhelmed with the choices available but gradually I began too get a feel for the process and the breadth of notes needed for an attractive scent. The major learning curve was not to try and develop more than one new mix a day. The nose actually appears to numb on overload.
The past few days have been a whirl of activity preparing for the Withersfield Christmas Bazaar. Yesterday Seraphina and I drove to the Withersfield with the smellies. This was a good fair to start with as it was just an afternoon and a relaxed, fun event. And of course Celia of Purple Podded Peas fame was there – selling her prints, cards and decorations. There was also the cake stand to die for – we just had to sample several slices.
It was interesting to get feedback from the wide mix of people that visited our stand. Up until now Danny has been the ADC ‘nose’. Of course the lavender bags and potpourri sold well but the surprise hit were the Milan moth bags for men!
We will be selling our smellies on this site and gateside stand within the next few days. The photo shows a couple of the gingham lavender bags that I made using the ‘new’ sewing machine. I’m going to be experimenting with new shapes tomorrow.

  Leave a reply


  1. Homemade are special the best to give and of course to sell I do hope you have sold many and others have had the oppurnity to which these lovely hearts were created for.

  2. Heather E

    These are lovely, Fiona – they look so professional.

  3. Could you sell any of your ‘homemades’ on your blog site via mail order?

  4. alisonb43

    Good luck with your new venture, the hearts look lovely, I am sure you will do well.

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