27 December 2010

Holidays, Twilight, and Forest Treks

"winter forest . deer" by Zi De Chen
This time of year is filled with a lot of familial obligations for me, as I imagine is the case for many others. In fact, I spent more time sitting through a Catholic mass to please the family than I was able to devote to my personal celebration of Yule. Even though my family is aware of my faith, and the fact that I'd been secretly practicing in high school and only decided to go "public" with it about a year ago, they expect me to go to church with them when I'm home. I got out of it last Sunday, but there was no way I could miss the Christmas Eve mass. So I went. And it wasn't that bad; I know the service inside and out (in my earlier days, I was an altar server, and I've done a lot of time singing in Catholic choirs). Of course, my heart isn't in it, nor has it been for years. Nevertheless, I enjoyed people watching and spending time with my brothers and father while mama sang in the choir. They have the same priest I grew up listening to, and although his homily wasn't quite as inspiring as it might have been if my faith still leaned that way, he's always a classy orator. I spent most of the mass trying to stay awake through the heat and the closeness and the presence of my youngest brother clinging ever to my side. Still. I made it through. I even made it through having drunk considerably less wine at dinner before mass than I had intended.

Even though Christmas Eve mass took up more of my time than I would have liked, I did have a nice little ritual on the night of the solstice, beneath a full moon lunar eclipse no less. One of my friends who also enjoys stargazing (not, incidentally, Stargazer) alerted me to the phenomenon, and so I worked it into my ritual and my altar layout. I set out my silk snowflake scarf, and, straying from my usual habit of bright scented votives, I lit a simple, spherical, white floating candle. To me, the display of the white wax suspended in a pear-shaped cup was quite evocative of the moon. I also have two crystal balls which I occasionally—not nearly often enough, as just holding either one in my hand, I can feel the power waiting to be unleashed—use to scry; one is of labradorite, which I use during the New Moons, and one is of clear quartz, which I use during the Full. For this, I set out both. I didn't do any scrying per se, but I did display the lovely spheres on my altar, corresponding with my two matron deities representations, as well as tokens for my totems, Raven and Wolf. The theme I focused on was the full moon eclipse, and so everything was a balance of dark and light. I've always considered myself to fall somewhere in the gray areas between, treading ever on the edge of light and shadow, in the twilight of dusk and dawn. As a warrior and as a huntress, the shadows are my place; as a priestess and a scholar, I require light for my work. Thus, I am the gray between.

Although I believe firmly that magic and mystery and power and love and all the forces I work with and produce come from within, I love the aesthetics of an altar, of my little Pagan tools and toys, of the wooden dagger hand-carved by a beloved old friend that I use as my athame. Even though I don't consider the material aspects of my practice integral to it, I like having them. I like making them. I make dream catchers and statues and jewelry and even the robes I wear. For the solstice ritual, I rocked a silver-set cabochon of rainbow moonstone dangling from snowy ribbon on my throat, and two matching moonstones suspended from my earlobes, with silver Celtic knots in my second ear piercings. To balance the light of the moonstones, I wore a jet cabochon ring and a bracelet of blackstone nuggets. Everything in balance. Light + Dark = Gray. Twilight. Dusk. Dawn. The in-between spaces of Spirits, and warrior-mystics who don't really know where, exactly, they should tread. I walk ever with one foot in and one foot out, and perhaps that is my destiny: to be always on the brink.

I won't go into details about the ritual itself. This Yule was a deeply personal one for me. I made my offerings, and I meditated, and I communed with my deities. A few days later, I went to the woods and finally communed with my trees. I didn't see my satyr friend from the dream when in the woods, but that was expected. I did see plenty of other wildlife, or at least evidence thereof. I sang pretty much the whole time, so apart from some lazy squirrels and birds smart enough to realize I wasn't carrying a gun, nothing went near me. There's still nothing like a day-old snow to prove that the forest is not remotely dead in winter. I followed deer tracks and fox trails, but I'll admit I paused when I saw the coyote footprints, and when I got to the prints of the black bear, I turned around and hightailed it to the trail that would take me back home. The crows, brothers to my Raven, warned me away from that one. However, ever curious soul that I am, I pressed further after their warnings…until I saw those bear prints and figured I should listen to my brother Crows after all. At first, having spent enough time in the woods to know that humans tend to be the most intrusive things there, I assumed they were just cawing at me. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. It doesn't matter either way.

Happy hunting, dwellers of shadow and light.

20 December 2010

Briging in the (Fake) Green

"Spirit of Yule" by Ironshod
Every year growing up, getting our Christmas tree was a huge deal. We'd wait for a weekend that neither my brother nor I had a track meet, soccer game, or some other activity, and then we'd all pile into my dad's big red truck and go to the tree farm on top of the mountain. We'd walk up and down the aisles looking for the perfect one. It used to be a white pine, but as I got older we switched to Frasier firs because they didn't bother my mom's allergies as much, and they didn't make quite as much of a mess all over the carpet. It was only later in high school that we switched to hardwood floors. We never put tinsel on the trees, because we used to have a cat who just loved to climb up inside the trees and eat tinsel. It wasn't pretty cleaning up after her. She died when I was about twelve or thirteen. Of course, after our cat died, the habit of tinsel-less trees just stuck. Strangely the fact that we've always owned big dogs with constantly-wagging, and therefore hazardous, tails has never influenced the breakability of the ornaments we use to decorate it.

I remember one year when it had snowed before we went, and so as we got closer to the top of the mountain where the tree farm was, the snow got deeper. I was maybe a freshman in high school then, or maybe in eighth grade. It's hard for me to keep straight anymore since that part of my life is pretty distant. Everyone was all bundled up since it was unseasonably cold for early December around here. I remember wearing a fluffy white coat. We walked up and down the rows of trees, looking for one that was tall enough to be impressive, but wouldn't poke through our ceiling, and fat enough to accommodate our ever-expanding collection of ornaments, but wouldn't take up the whole room. We finally found one—I think this may have been our first year with the Frasier firs—and so my dad took the saw the tree farm gave us, and slowly cut the trunk until it fell. My little brother and I helped him carry it back to where they'd wrap it in a net and help us throw it in the truck bed. My mom would have helped, but her allergies cause her skin to break out really bad wherever she touches any sort of pine. I'm glad, considering how much I love trees and especially evergreens, that I did not inherit any allergies. Once our tree was all wrapped up and ready to go, there was hot cocoa and cider in the little trailer where we paid. I opted for the cider :) I'll take apples over chocolate any day.

However, once my brother and I were both off at college, our parents switched to fake trees. As soon as I found out, I called home, enraged that they could betray our family tradition such just because two of us were out of the house. My youngest brother was still home! We just HAD to have a real tree. It wasn't Christmastime if we didn't have a real tree. In a moment of overexaggeration, I even threatened to not come home for the holidays if they insist on putting up a fake tree every year. Obviously, as I'm at my parent's house now, I decided to concede to the fake tree.

And here's why.

My mom pointed out that, as a lover of nature and a self-proclaimed tree-hugger, it should bother me that the tree necessarily has to die to bring it in for the house. Sure, real trees have a tradition with them that harkens back to the Norse bringing in of the green, but the use of a real, live, breathing tree goes above and beyond bringing in a few branches to decorate the hearth. (Yes, trees do have a respiratory system.) Of course, Western culture has long gone above and beyond to make things bigger, better, louder, faster, more expensive. Taking an old, fabulously Pagan tradition and turning it into a Christianized commercial venture is completely within character. Thus, as much as I love the feel, smell, and aura of a real tree, I do hate that the tree has to die, and for no better reason then a stupid, over-commercialized Christian-version of a Pagan tradition. Thank you, mother, for changing my perspective and reminding me of my ideals. I've made my peace with the institution of the fake tree. I think the best compromise might be Pam's idea from The Office of hiding a pine-scented air freshener between the branches so that it smells real.

When I have my own apartment (this time next year), I don't plan on having either a fake or a real tree. In fact, I plan on going back to an older way of bringing in the green and simply gathering up branches of evergreens that the wind discarded, and decorating my hearth with those. After all, I doubt I'll ever live far from a forest. Except when I'm deployed, that is. I won't have much control over that.

I Will Find My Orion

Book available on Amazon: here
I'm home for the holidays now, back in the lovely, fabulous, historical state of Virginia. Since I can't be here and not revel in the glorious message that is the motto written on our flag, "Sic Semper Tyrannis" (for those of you who have not read my older entries, this is Latin for "Thus, always, for tyrants"), I'll be gazing at the dogwoods and cardinals and tyrant-crushing Athena-esque warrior women in exhilaration over the next two weeks. I'll also be catching up with old friends from high school, drinking wine with my mama and smoking cigars and drinking scotch with my dad, wrestling with my ginormous, slobbery, adorable dog Achilles (she's a Greater Swiss Mountain dog and currently weighs 105 lbs), hiking through the snow-laden woods behind my house in search of a dream I'll likely never see, and reading way too many books. Given my bibliophilia, which I thoroughly discussed in a previous entry, this last bit especially should come as no surprise. In fact, I think I'll devote the rest of this entry to one book in particular.

I just finished reading a book that changed my life, and it wasn't the kind of book I expected to have that deep of an effect on me. After hearing my latest drama story, my cousin—recently married and therefore an expert in relationships—recommended I read the book that inspired the movie of the same title, He's Just Not That Into You, written by two of the writers of Sex in the City. I went out to B&N with my mom this afternoon, wandered through the aisles until we finally found it in the dating/self-help section (never stepped foot in there before; it was a weird feeling), and then I proceeded to devour the entire thing in a few hours this evening.

The book completely changed my perspective. I have always considered myself a very rational, practical person, and generally pretty good at being able to tell when a guy genuinely likes me and when he's just feeding me a line, but recently I haven't been so sure. I got told twice in one week that I was a fantastic, special young woman, and that I deserved to be happy and to have everything I want, but that he was just not able to give that to me and so I should find someone who could make me as happy as possible. Not told twice as in twice by the same guy, mind you. Two separate men fed me this completely bullshit line. We'll call them Atlas and Stargazer, just to keep things straight. My response to Atlas should have been my response to both, yet regretfully, I couldn't bring myself to say it to Stargazer, who actually first who gave me that crap. I told Atlas, "If you truly thought I'm so special and worth so much effort, then you would have been willing to step up to the plate yourself instead of trying to make it someone else's job." He responded by saying, "No, you are special, blah blah blah…" just more bullshit. I had not read the book at this point (obviously, as I just read it today), but I was proud of myself for not falling for it with him. It's a shame, however, that what could not fool me with one, totally fooled me with the other.
For the record, I was dating neither one of these gentlemen. Atlas had made a lot of promises this past summer, that come autumn, he just couldn't keep…and so, wise, practical, rational girl that I am, I cut my losses and moved on. Stargazer, on the other hand, was a very different story. He never made any promises. He seemed to genuinely care. He seemed like a nice guy. Having read HJNTIY, however, I now realize that I was making all of the excuses for him that I should not, covering up the fact that he was truly just not that into me with things that would hurt less. After all, no one wants to hear that at the end of the day, she's just not good enough to date. Examples of things I learned that, although I did not want to hear, were necessary for helping me to quickly cut the cord and get the hell over him already:
  1. An excuse is a polite rejection. Men are not afraid of "ruining the friendship."
  2. Guys tell you how they feel even if you refuse to listen or believe them. "I don't want to be in a serious relationship" truly means "I don't want to be in a serious relationship with you" or "I'm not sure that you're the one."
  3. It doesn't count unless he says it when he's sober. An "I love you" (or any semblance thereof) while under the influence of anything stronger than grape juice won't hold up in court or in life.
  4. You can't talk your way out of a breakup. It is not up for discussion. A breakup is a definitive action, not a democratic one.
  5. No answer is your answer.
All of these were taken directly from the book, so I can't take credit for their wittiness. They're just quotes from the "What you should have learned" section that followed each chapter, and that particularly spoke o me in light of my recent relationships and non-relationships. Number (4) was followed by a particular moment of epiphany, as I'm definitely guilty of trying to talk my way out of a breakup…and it worked. Twice. However, the third time, he put his foot down. We were going to split, and that was it, and you know what? Should've happened the first time. We were not right for each other for many HUGELY important reasons, but I didn't see that until there was some distance. The longer I spent apart from him (I'm not a fan of the "let's still be friends" bs, and so I didn't let him talk me into it, luckily), the more I realized this, and the happier I became that I was rid of a bad apple…or, in keeping with my previous theme of people as fruit, a rotten orange.

While I do regret to pour so much of my personal life into a blog that I would rather devote to my spiritual, the aftermath of Atlas and Stargazer will, despite my best efforts, permeate through to my spiritual life. I don't want that to happen. Regardless of how hard we try to not let people effect us, to not let negative experiences infiltrate our inner lives and—however slightly—weaken our core strength, it still happens. While reading this book has armed me with knowledge and the ability to see through the excuses Atlas and especially Stargazer both threw at me right and left, I know that I still hurt. It's a lesser pain now, a dull ache, but it's still there. "I don't want to be in a relationship," as I long had suspected and as this book now confirmed, really does mean it's not me that he wants. And that's fine. As much as I would prefer to just be told that, straight up, with no games and no lies, I know that won't ever happen. Now, hopefully, I'll just be able to read the signs and interpret every excuse as what it really is, a slightly nicer way of saying, "I'm just not that into you."

I'm going to finally let this rotten orange rest. I threw it out with the other bad fruit, and, pretty as it was on the outside, and as much as I'm going to miss it, I'll get over. I'll heal. I'll move on. That's just what I do, and that's what I'll keep doing, until I find the guy who will not just tell me I deserve to be happy, but actively try to make it so. We'll call him Orion. I always did love that constellation.

Goddess bless. I need all the help I can get.

16 December 2010

Dreaming of the Forest

Yes, this is also in the sidebar, but I like the
larger, sepia-version too, so deal with it.
I had another one of those dreams a few weeks back that stuck with me. It wasn’t a nightmare, and it wasn’t particularly complicated or adventure-filled as far as my dreams tend to go, but I find myself thinking about it more often than I normally would. Thus, I’ve let my thoughts dwell as they will on that dream, and see where they end up taking me. I haven’t reached any particularly profound conclusions yet, but I am not even sure those are necessary. The dream when something like this:

I was walking in the woods with a few friends, all female, and it was another time. We were all young and wearing long gowns, which felt like they were homemade of some coarse fabric. We had flowers and ribbons braided into our hair, and we were excited, on our way to some celebration or festival. We came to a clearing in the woods, full of lanterns and a bonfire and people dancing to festive flute music. The weather was mild, and everyone was so happy—and then I saw him.

He was maybe a year or two older than me, with curly, golden-brown hair and, lest my eyes deceived me, two small horns pointed forward like a satyr’s. While I knew this was the first time we had met, I recognized him. He smiled at me, and I smiled back, and then I went back to dancing with my friends.

A little later, I went off into the woods to cool off, or to be alone, or whatever my inspiration was at the time (I don’t always recall all my motivations in my dreams, at least upon waking, and I recorded this one right away in my journal). I sat down on the side of a hill, overlooking a valley. Suddenly, the horned young man appeared and sat down next to me. He held my hand. He whispered that he loved me, and that it had been too long since he’d seen me last. I put my head on his shoulder. I heard my friends calling for me back at the festival, so I looked at him, he nodded, and disappeared into the woods. I went back to the celebration alone.

Then, I was suddenly back in my own time, wearing jeans and a sweater, and hiking in the woods behind the house where I grew up. He was sitting on a log, and he looked tired, and a little older than when I’d last seen him. I sat next to him and asked if he wanted to come home. He said, “Yes,” and told me that he didn’t have the strength to move anymore, that he’d lost too much power and it was all he could manage to take physical form, so I bent down and picked him up. I wrapped him up in my arms and walked back towards my house, only he couldn’t even make it that far. “I’m sorry,” he told me, “I can’t stay here anymore. It takes too much out of me,” and so I kissed him goodbye. He faded, right before my eyes. I went home alone.

The rest of the dream was completely unrelated (I was Batman. Not Batgirl, Batman), and didn’t have the same effect on me. That part of the dream, though…I just can’t get it out of my head. I woke up feeling stronger, as if there’d been a message hidden for me that I had to decipher. I woke up with the thought half-formed on my lips that I deserve better than what I’ve been settling for. I deserve to be treated right, and to be adored and appreciated the same way that everyone deserves to be adored and appreciated. That dream partly inspired me to cut out the last remaining item of drama (note: the rotten orange, recently flushed from my life, that I mentioned in my previous post). That dream also inspired me to make a drawing, that when I’m home I’m going to turn into a painting.

In the weeks since, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and not a whole lot of time to mull things over. I haven’t meditated in over a month. I can’t remember the last time I was able to properly celebrate the full or new moon, and Samhain’s ritual was ill-defined, completely improvised, and lasted all of ten minutes while my roommates showered. The entire time I was home for Thanksgiving, I wanted to sneak off into the woods—to see if my dream-satyr-man was waiting for me, just beyond that curve of trees—but I never got a chance with all the cooking and baking and cleaning and organizing and entertaining we did. With Yule fast approaching, I’m already planning the ritual I’ll do, and this time, no matter what, I’ll make it to the woods. I’ve been away from the forest of my youth for a long time, and it’s calling me, ever more insistently, back. It’s time I take a walk beneath the poplars and cedars and oaks and maples and pines I used to know so well.

15 December 2010

Some Thoughts On Rotten Oranges

My first finished Pomander Ball! Smelled fantastic
My pomander balls have finished drying, and so last night I took them out of the closet, tied some pretty ribbon around each in a bow with a little loop for hanging, and then wrapped them up for my friends. Of the 21 I originally made, only 15 survived. The other 6 had somehow rotted and soft, despite the fact that I prepared them all the exact same way, so I’m happy I had made so many of them. This means I didn’t have enough for my friends back home, but instead I was able to give away three more up here in New York. I’ll just buy tiny bottles of wine or something for my boys in Virginia, I suppose.

While inspecting the dried oranges for soft spots, it occurred to me that the process of creating the pomander balls exemplified a pattern I had always heard, but never really experienced, with magic: no matter how well you do your spell, sometimes it just doesn’t work. My pomander balls turned out the same way. I did the exact same thing to every single orange. I handpicked the oranges, checking each one for soft spots or any blemishes before I poked them full of cloves. I put roughly the same number of cloves into each fresh orange. I rolled them in the same spice mixture. I hung them all up in the same closet for the same amount of time. I focused the same friendly, healing love into each one while making them, and inspected them daily throughout the drying process. Somehow, over the course of the last weekend, a handful had gone bad. I can’t explain it; it just happened. However, 15 did survive in beautiful, scented, potpourri-worthy condition, and now they bear ribbons and hang on display in my friends’ rooms, filling them with spicy-citrus goodness. I got lots of hugs and smiles in return, making their creation totally worth the effort. It just still bothers me that only 15 out of 21 made it. Nothing was different, so why did those attempts fail?

It makes me wonder if there was something unseen within those oranges that was already turning them bad before I even started, that all my positive energy and wishful thinking and focused effort could do nothing to change. People, I think, can be the same way. As they say, looks can be deceiving: what’s perfect and pretty and whole on the outside can conceal a rotten core. We’ve all seen it happen, seen the truth slowly unravel before us, when even the most convincing and sweet-sounding lie eventually crumbles. I know I’ve been fooled plenty of times by people who seem to have my best intentions at heart, who seem to genuinely care about me and my feelings and my welfare, and then only prove otherwise through their actions. Because I try to believe the best in people—sometimes to my own detriment, when presented with contrary evidence—I’m not always quick on the uptake; there have definitely been times when I should have smelled the rot within the orange. I finally plucked another rotten orange from the bunch in my own life, and, through deleting numbers and conversations and defriendings, managed to cleans the rotted orange from my life. I’m better off without him. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Luckily, most of my oranges—and most of my friends—are good. They possess no rotten core, concealed by a seemingly flawless surface. They’re exactly as they appear: whole. Unblemished. Those are the friends I’ll take with me as I tread ever forward along this twisted path towards truth. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to tell the good ones from the bad immediately, but until then, I’ll just have to keep waiting for the bad ones to reveal themselves one at a time. At least with oranges, you can break them open and see directly inside; unfortunately, to form something lasting out of them, that’s not an option. Same with friendships. I could poke holes and pry into all the people I know to find their weak spots, but then I wouldn’t have many friends left. Once the rind is broken, it can’t survive. The broken orange can’t turn into a pomander ball.

And on that note, I’m going to end my melodramatic metaphors, and call it a night. I have two more finals left to take, and then I’ll be home for a few weeks with my family and friends. Riotous Yule bash is on the way, and there will be lots and lots more present-wrapping in my future. Tomorrow is full of cleaning and organizing and packing and studying for my last two exams, both of which are Friday. Then…it’s the nine hour drive home. Thank goodness I have a little brother to share it with :) He’s a good orange for sure.

06 December 2010

Updates & Pomander Ball Recipe

This is what my closet currently looks
like. When they're finished drying,
I'll post more pictures.
I have one more week of classes, and then we’ll be watching Army beat Navy in Philadelphia, and then I have a week of exams, and then I finally get to go home for a few weeks for the holidays: a much-needed break. In this final week of classes, I have two papers to write and turn in by Friday, two tests to take, a design project as well as a problem set to complete and turn in for my Nuclear Engineering course, and on top of everything academic, we also have to attend a ton of mandatory “fun” events (to include watching our smartest students get demolished by our dumbest in a traditional student football game). Please forgive my utterance of a grossly over-used metaphor, but I’ve been burning the candle at both ends all semester. I’m definitely ready for a new year to shake things up and give me a chance to start anew.

To make everything all the more fitting, the drama I so carefully squeezed out of my life earlier this semester is back with a vengeance. Apparently, those I thought were successfully out of the picture have returned, desiring to suddenly hang out and catch up and see where things go now that it’s the worst possible time for me to be rekindling old relationships. It’s certainly not a good time for me to start any new ones (sorry, random dude I met at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party). I tried to de-drama for a reason. I don’t want any more of it seeping back into my life to confuse the hell out of me or make me overly emotional. If you’re confused, revisit the apparently most popular post, I Am Not Aphrodite. Not sure why that one has so many hits, of all my posts. Maybe it was the photo choice. Yeah, that must be it.

I finally finished making all my Christmas presents for my friends! Family is another matter, although they’re about half done. I would call them Yule presents, except that I’m pretty much the only Yule-celebrant around here, at least among those with whom I’m close enough to actually exchange gifts. I made pomander balls for my guyfriends and jewelry for my girlfriends, and, because I’m a good Pagan, I put a little love and a little magic into each and every one. I used to make pomander balls with my mom when I was little. As a result of the creation, my room smells fabulous. Because they’re a neat little holiday tradition, here’s a quick and easy—and, naturally, fun—recipe for pomander balls! And, you know, because there aren’t enough of these already on the internet.

(yes, “lots” and “shitton” are proper units of measurement):
1. Oranges. One orange = one pomander ball.
2. Pretty Ribbon. Fabric ribbon is better than traditional gift-wrapping ribbon, but you can use either.
3. Shitton of whole cloves (enough to stick as many as you want into each orange)
4. Lots of yummy spices (I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but ginger is a nice additive as well).
5. A bowl that is larger in diameter than your orange.
6. Some extra twine or string. Something you won’t mind pitching afterwards.

1. Preparation! First and foremost, mix your spices in the bowl. Then, pick up an orange. Admire the orange. Breathe in the citrusy aroma of goodness. That, right there, is the scent of energizing and cleansing and yummy vitamin C.

2. Stick cloves in your orange. You can make a pattern out of the cloves; you can make their placement entirely random; whatever you feel like. You can use as many or as few cloves as you want. What I prefer to do, is to make two lines bisecting the orange, wide enough apart to fit a ribbon between when the orange is complete, and then I make another line bisecting the orange in another direction. If the orange is large enough, I will have two lines bisecting it one way, and two another way, to make little runways for two pieces of ribbon. See the illustration (courtesy my artistic skills and the Paint program) below for clarification.

3. Poke your orange full of tiny holes. Using a clove, or a large pin—I use a clove if I can, although if you’re on pomander ball number 21, by that point your fingers are pretty sore—and poke holes in the rind of the orange. A little juice will likely seep out; this is fine. The holes help the orange breathe later while it’s drying. It’s kinda pointless to poke holes in the area of the orange that will be covered by ribbon. See diagram below for further guidance. You can poke these in a pattern as well, but I tend to just do it randomly.

4. Roll the orange in your spice mixture! The spices should stick in the holes you poked in step 3, and then some, as shown in the lovely picture below.

5. Tie the string or twine around the orange and hang it in a dark, cool, dry space for 2-3 weeks. The orange will shrink and dry out during this time, and when it’s done, it’ll be a darker orange color as well. My pomander oranges are currently strung up in gift-wrapping ribbon, haphazardly pieced together, in my wardrobe closet.

6. Once the orange is dried and shrunken and smelling fabulous, take it out of the closet and tie a pretty fabric ribbon around it as shown in the diagram below. For hanging purposes, if you want to hang it in a window or a doorway or anywhere in a room to freshen things up, you can add more on top to create a loop. Mine are not completely dry yet, so I don’t have any final products to display, but when I make the complete set, I’ll be sure to snap a picture of them before I wrap them up and give them away. Happy Holidays!