Category: Debra R. Messick

Learn to allergy-proof holiday desserts, deliciously

By Debra R. Messick Feeding those we love with sweet holiday treats often involves equal measures of stress and bliss. Bustling to shop for ingredients, mixing, then baking sometimes drains our last ounce of energy when we’re most pressed for time. But the heavenly aromas and over the top taste are such a vital part of the season it’s well worth the effort. Now try imagining the stress level involved when tried-and-true recipes you’ve relied on turn out to be unsafe for you or a loved one. Main stay ingredients such as wheat flour, butter, cream, milk, peanuts, and more,...

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Perennial poinsettias possible!

 By Debra R. Messick Like many people, I once believed poinsettias were preordained to last only as long the Christmas season. A few hardy specimens might linger briefly into the new year, but once the holidays were gone, so too were the iconic flowers identified with them. Thanks to two patrons of Hurlock Library in northern Dorchester County, I learned that a little luck and a lot of care can keep poinsettias thriving far beyond one brief annual interlude. Just prior to Christmas 2016, a frequent library visitor was suddenly gifted an enormous poinsettia. Concerned for the safety of her feline friends at home (the plant can be toxic if ingested by cats) she donated the supersized specimen to Hurlock’s library branch, brightening the lobby through December and well into January. Staff and visitors were resigned to the eventual day it would wilt away, but that day never came. On Valentine’s Day, the plant remained hardy. As the Spring Equinox arrived, though its size had gradually diminished, its overall vigor remained intact. With Easter rapidly approaching, staff began fielding questions about what the poinsettia was still doing there. As murmurs began about the possibility of decorating the “overdue” poinsettia’s pot with bunnies and eggs, another patron mercifully stepped in with a solution. While checking out a book early last spring, Shirley Edwards was taken with the plant’s fortitude, and...

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