Dear Readers: Lots of holiday celebrating can mean lots of pretty plants around. They are pretty, yes, but some are pretty poisonous. Here’s the lowdown:

These plants are poisonous and should never be ingested:

● chrysanthemum

● daffodil

● holly

● hyacinth

● ivy

● mistletoe

● mountain laurel

If your pet chews on any of these plants, contact your veterinarian immediately. Remove any remaining residue from the mouth, and rinse with water. You can also call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA.org/poison). The phone number is 888-426-4435. A consultation fee may be assessed.

Dear Readers: Meet Madison. Madison is a frosty-faced, 12-year-old female golden


Madison, who’s 12, is the pet of the week. (Family photo)

retriever. She enjoys hanging out (and drinking water) in the backyard with her owner, Bruce A.

To see Madison and our other Pet Pals, visit Heloise.com and click on “Pet of the Week.” Do you have a furry and funny friend? Send a picture and description to Heloise@Heloise.com.

Dear Heloise: My family has saved all of our baby rattles, blocks, shoes and socks, and they actually make really cute tree ornaments. We jazz them up with a water-based sealer, glitter, confetti, beads, etc. We have fun decorating them each year. We have a big family — usually a new addition each year!

Becky T., Harrisburg, Pa.

Dear Heloise: I ran out of plastic bags for my kitchen trash basket, so I'm using plastic bread bags and putting them into a 2-gallon plastic pitcher and placing it into the trash basket.

John B., Long Beach, Calif.

Dear Heloise: Tons of pie baking is going on this weekend at my house. We have borrowed a couple of hints from my dear grandma. She had the flakiest crusts because she brushed the pastry (pre-baking) lightly with, get this, MILK!

Also, to make a prettier pie, a garnish is in order: a handful of blueberries, raspberries, apple slices or a twirl of lemon rind all increase the pie's looks!

Susan S. in Florida

Dear Readers: Redoing your floors anytime soon? Save old, clean scraps of carpeting, along with clean throw rugs, scraps of cloth, blankets and towels. The city pound and the Humane Society can use them. Call to arrange a drop-off. Let’s keep the animals warm and snugly this holiday.

Dear Heloise: When I'm shipping a package, I like to use packing material that can do double duty. Toward that end, I pack kitchen sponges around items in the box; the recipient appreciates the little extra "gifts."

Gloria W. in New York

Gloria W. in New York: Kitchen towels, paper toweling and, depending on how well you know this person, toilet paper can work too!

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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