Last evening Mayor Catherine Pugh welcomed the Sweet Silver Bells at City Hall to be part of Baltimore's tree lighting celebration. But as you can see in the news broadcast below, the evening was about much more than lighting a Christmas tree.
As I was journaling this morning it occurred to me that if you don't have an attic, or even if you do, creative storage for seasonal decorations is an alternative to adding more boxes to an attic, basement or garage that are over flowing with clutter. hese are a few examples of how some of my decorations are stored. They are attractive all year long and easily accessible when I need them.
When I was in eighth grade my friend Jan and I started two holiday traditions. One was to make a Croquembouche, a French cream puff tree. We made our first in her mom's kitchen for a party for our French class and the tradition continued. Another was to make jeweled Christmas balls. Sadly, Jan died years ago, but I think of her every Christmas. Over the years we made hundred of the balls. Many were given away as gifts.
For most of the year, these ornaments are stored in a china cabinet, but during the holiday season they are placed on the tree and the bowl is perfect for my grandmother's snow ball cookies - a future post.
Bowls, Dishes, Tureens
Other decorations are stored in hat boxes prominently displayed all year They are a lovely way to store seasonal treasures while brightening an otherwise unnoticed corner.
Bulletin Board Storage
If you have followed my blog, you know I am obsessed with bulletin boards..I have six - two over sized and three small cork, and one French.. Some of my favorite ornaments are displayed and enjoyed year round.
After two months of choral practice and hours at the sewing machine, let the festivities begin! Our four part harmonies are awesome and the mayor of Baltimore has invited us to sing at one of the city's events - pictures to follow.
Last year my heart wasn't in participating since the songs reminded of singing with my brother who had passed in early November. Time helped heal the wounds. This year my Christmas spirit has returned and I'm feeling blessed to be in two choral groups.
Yesterday i made my Mrs. Santa Claus hat. The faux fur pompom and trim were much too stark white to go with my ivory cape so I removed and tea stained them and cut a new hat out of the red velvet I used to make my skirt and top. I decorated with fabric roses, stars, feathers and a Christmas ball. The hat is light weight and has a hidden velcro closing in the back to ensure a good fit.
One of the challenges when studying herbs is the confusion that arrises from folk and common names. The nightshades are a perfect example. In this post we will look at two, Both are from the Solanaceae family, as were the previous Deadly Halloween Herbs, excluding Aconite.
The lesson from this is that it is critical to know the latin name when studying herbs. For that reason I'll list the latin name first, with the paintings, and additional folk names below. Also, please beware of what you find on the internet. I've seen sketches with black berries on the bittersweet night shade and I have never seen the plant or a photo of the plant with black berries. They can be green, yellow, orange or red, but I've never seen black.
Both of the herbs are poisonous and all parts should be avoided.. They have both been attributed to enabling witches to fly. "Bella Donna" means beautiful lady in Italian and at one time women were rumored to use the herb to enlarge their pupils so they would look more desirable. Sadly as with many herbs, the amount needed was almost the same as the lethal dose so there were accidental deaths as a result. I'll stick with eyeliner and mascara for my eye make up. If that's not good enough, the guy can take a hike!
When the Deadly Nightshade flowers,
open their lids
for their lovers;
Maenads fall upon men
dripping with dreams;
& children die
from the sweetest
of inky fruits.
wine of the Bacchanals,
you are indeed the witch’s berry,
I look into your open eye & see
women in love with death,
dying with the widest
& brightest of eyes.
Have you no shame at all
The other herbs
pretend to be angelic,
but you freely play
the Devil’s part.
Dwaleberry, Sorcerer’s cherry,
your sweetness bursts
on the tongue,
the lungs relax,
& death comes
Jimsonweed - Dratura Strimonium
© Mikell Y. Worley, Jimsonweed, Watercolor, 5" x 7"
Today's herb is Jimsonweed, also called devil's trumpet, Hell's bells, thorn apple and moon flower, from the genus Datura. It belongs to the Solanacease (nightshade) family. Its toxic ingredients include tropane alkaloids, including atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine, and it is particularly dangerous because the amount needed for a high is nearly the same as the lethal over dose which greatly increases the chance of accidental fatal overdose.
There are times I simply must pause when I do herbal research. These are the kinds of things that have guided me to avoid deadly herbs for so long. I've been sharing information on haunting herbs for years and it has all been in fun, using only herbs found in the gardens of the white witches. But there can be a dark and serious side to herbal use. The lists of illness and most often death associated with this herb are readily available on the internet so I won't list them here.
That being said, I have been in awe of the gorgeous Jimsonweed for years and would not be anymore inclined to eat it than I would poison ivy. I can enjoy it at a distance and as with all the deadly herbs, I strongly advise you look but don't touch!
Bliss, M. (2001), Datura Plant Poisoning, Clinical Toxicology Review
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
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