When dust bunnies blow like tumbleweeds through the living room and the refrigerator’s “accidents” dry up in nanoseconds on the floor, the house is dangerously dry, in my opinion. One careless stride through the bedroom while wearing friction-prone yoga pants could send the place up in smoke. To prevent this from happening—and to make the whole house smell like a Hallmark store that also bakes pies—I make some steam. The recipe for this steam comes from the steamiest member of the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks Team: Nate. Since at least 2002 (which is when Alex was born), Nate has been bringing the steam to the kitchen.
I’ll explain: When Alex was a baby, Nate and I obsessed over him. (We still do.) When Alex developed some kind of nasally congestion, we panicked because you can’t give a baby any medicine for that kind of thing—at least not back then. But then Nate told me that we could heat some water up on the stove and make steam in the house, which would help Alex with his breathing. And, while we were at it—the steam could smell like something—something delicious. So, on that late fall day, back in 2002, “the steam” was born. I went to the store, and when I came back, the house smelled wonderful. Nate added handfuls of ground-up cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and whole orange peels to a big pot of water, which he boiled periodically throughout the day on the stovetop.
We carry on this tradition now. If the house is getting that “sweaty sock” smell, and we’re too tired to clean, we just throw some cinnamon in a pot. Or, if we want to smell something festive for a while, we make “the steam” and breathe it in—believing a delicious set of pies will burst from the oven, while humming a Disney tune. But there aren’t any pies—just a slurry sludge of spices that collect on the bottom of a very magical pot.
Your Turn: Do you have a favorite scented candle or spray that you like to use in your home?