Or­anges, Span­ish moss

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - HOBBIES - Joy Wal­lace Dick­in­son can be reached at jwdick­in­[email protected]­link.net, Find­ingJoy­inFlorida.com, or by good old-fash­ioned let­ter at the Sen­tinel, 633 N. Orange Ave., Or­lando, FL 32801.

Dur­ing one hol­i­day visit, the do­cent who led my tour group through the house pointed out the nat­u­ral hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions made of pal­metto leaves, dried orange slices and bits of Span­ish moss — the kind of dec­o­rat­ing Florida set­tlers would have whipped up in the ab­sence of the holly and ever­green.

Near the door­way, pic­tures of the Water­house fam­ily put faces on the names of the folks who were get­ting ready for a Florida Christ­mas there more than 100 years ago. An­other photo, taken in the house in 1896, showed the fam­ily’s son, Charles Water­house, re­splen­dent in a han­dle­bar mus­tache.

At the Water­house fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions, gift pack­ages were prob­a­bly wrapped in brown pa­per and string to wait for Christ­mas morn­ing, and dec­o­ra­tions might in­clude home­made gin­ger cook­ies, which I re­mem­ber fes­toon­ing the kitchen one year at the Water­house while other baked goods waited on the iron stove.

Spicy fra­grance, no cans

The home­made dec­o­ra­tions and gifts spurred child­hood mem­o­ries of mak­ing po­man­der balls with my mother. These were or­anges stud­ded en masse with cloves, rolled in spices and hung from rib­bons through­out the house — a time-hon­ored way to add a spicy fra­grance long be­fore re­searchers and Amer­i­can com­pa­nies worked hard to man­u­fac­ture good smells and put them in a can.

The di­rec­tions our fam­ily used to make them are still pasted in the black ledger book my mother used to col­lect recipes in the 1940s and ’50s.

A lit­tle on­line re­search also turns up plenty of di­rec­tions for mak­ing po­man­ders from fruit: thin-skinned or­anges, lemons, limes or ap­ples.

Ba­si­cally, you make holes (say, with a small nail or knit­ting nee­dle) all over the fruit, put whole cloves in the holes, roll the ball in a mix­ture of pow­dered cin­na­mon, nut­meg, cloves and or­ris­root and dry it.

The or­ris­root acts as a fix­a­tive. Our old di­rec­tions say to get it from a drug­store, but a call to Wal­greens con­firmed years ago that such ad­vice is out of date. A health-food store that sells bulk spices is a bet­ter bet, as are on­line sup­pli­ers of herbs and spices.

Some di­rec­tions for mak­ing po­man­der balls of­fer a quick al­ter­na­tive to dry­ing the fruit for three to four weeks: Bake it at 300 de­grees for about four hours.

Out and about

For more about the Water­house Res­i­dence Mu­seum, 820 Lake Lily Drive, and the other Mait­land Art & His­tory mu­se­ums, visit Ar­tand­his­tory.org or call 407-539-2181.

In ad­di­tion to its reg­u­lar tours, the Water­house mu­seum will also of­fer Can­dle­light Tours on Dec. 1, 5 to 8 p.m., to co­in­cide with the city of Mait­land’s an­nual tree light­ing.

Hol­i­day his­tory in San­ford: This time of year brims with op­por­tu­ni­ties to cel­e­brate the hol­i­days his­tor­i­cally, in­clud­ing the San­ford His­toric Trust’s 30th Hol­i­day Tour of Homes on Dec. 1, 3 to 9 p.m. This year’s self-guided tour will pay trib­ute to the pi­o­neers who came to San­ford decades ago and be­gan restor­ing the city’s his­toric homes. Tick­ets are $30. Check in first to get wrist­bands and a tour guide­book at ei­ther the His­toric San­ford Wel­come Cen­ter, 230 E. 1st St., or the All Souls Catholic Church, 800 S. Oak Ave., San­ford. For de­tails, visit san­ford­his­toric­trust.wildapri­cot.org.

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