It's official. Winter is here. The calendar may not indicate that this is the case, but the bone chilling temperatures and the frost on our windows says that it is so. When the temperatures plummet, our heating systems go into overdrive. When this happens we can feel it, in our bodies and in our homes.
Our homes and our bodies need a certain amount of hydration to for both comfort and health reasons. Here in New England, and in many parts of the country, maintaining proper humidity can be difficult. During the summer months, we spend a lot of time and energy trying to remove excess humidity from our homes to prevent mold and mildew issues, and during the winter months, we're scrambling to keep our homes well hydrated.
Dry air can act like a sponge, soaking moisture up from everything that it touches. It affects our bodies - our skin feels dried and chafed. Our hands sometimes crack. Our lips become chapped. Our nasal passages and our eyes can become very uncomfortably dry. It has been said that viruses and illnesses linger longer in dryer air. Lack of humidity affects our homes as well. Artwork and woodwork like wood floors and furnishings need a certain amount of humidity as well. Whether your furniture is old or new, you need to protect it, and proper hydration helps.
Humidifiers help a great deal. There are portable as well as permanent models available that can be connected to your heating units. Adding moisture back into your home will not only make you feel better, and more comfortable, but did you know that humidity traps in heat and makes your home feel warmer? This in turn will allow you to lower your heat setting in your home.
When it is particularly cold out I love to keep a large pot of water simmering away on the stove. This not only adds much needed moisture back into my home, but by placing things like citrus peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, slices of apple or pear, pine needles, into your water you will add the most warm and welcoming seasonal aromas to your home. The added humidity is good for your body and your home and the wonderful aromas released is good for your mind and soul.
Cinnamon sticks and pine give off a lovely aroma in the steam.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add cinnamon and pine, turn heat to simmer.
Make sure to check water levels to ensure there is always water in the pot.
Oranges, apples and cinnamon give the house a lovely festive aroma. Don't toss your turning and over-ripe fruit! Keep citrus and apple peels in a Ziplock bag in the fridge until you are ready to use them. In addition to cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, add a dash of vanilla extract to the boiling water. Note that it is important to check your water levels as you don't want the fruit burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. What a mess that makes!!