Select seasonal items for can’t-miss gifts.
A New Year
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Thursday, November 29, 2007
Select seasonal items for can’t-miss gifts.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.
Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.
If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.
To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.
Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.
Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.
Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree.
Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.
Do not overload electrical circuits.
Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is dry, remove it from the house.
Go to www.realchristmastrees.org and type in your ZIP code to find a recycling program near you.
Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
WHITE SPRUCE: The White Spruce is excellent for ornaments; it’s short, stiff needles are ½ - 3/4 in. long and have a blunt tip. They are bluish-green - green in color, but have a bad aroma when needles are crushed. They have excellent foliage color and have a good, natural shape. The needle retention is better in a White Spruce than it is among other spruces.
COLORADO BLUE SPRUCE: Often used for stuffing pine-pillows, these sharp needles are 1 - 1 ½ in. in length. This species is bluish-gray in color and has a bad odor when needles are crushed. This Christmas Tree has good symmetrical form and has an attractive blue foliage. It also has good needle retention. CONCOLOR FIR: These small, narrow needles are around 1 - 1 ½ in. in length and occur in rows. They have good foliage color, good needle retention, and a pleasing shape and aroma.
BALSAM FIR: These needles are 3/4 - 1 ½ in. in length and last a very long time. This tree has a dark-green appearance and retains its pleasing fragrance throughout the Christmas season.
SCOTCH PINE: Approximately 1 in. in length, these needles don’t even fall when they’re dry, providing excellent needle retention. The color is a bright green. The most common Christmas tree in the U.S., the scotch pine has an excellent survival rate, is easy to replant, has great keepability and will remain fresh throughout the holiday season.
NOBLE FIR: These needles turn upward, exposing the lower branches. Known for its beauty, the noble fir has a long keep ability, and its stiff branches make it a good tree for heavy ornaments, as well as providing excellent greenery for wreaths and garland.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Be sure you know what size (height and width) you need before heading to the retail lot.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Try to use the cooler-burning "mini" Christmas lights as opposed to the traditional larger bulbs. The older style burns much hotter.
Only use Christmas lights that have fuses in the plugs.
Inspect each set of Christmas lights - old or new - for damage. Return or throw out any set with cracked or broken sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
Replace burned out bulbs promptly with bulbs of the same wattage.
Want Christmas lights outdoors? Use outdoor Christmas lights. The packaging will note whether the lights can be used indoors, outdoors, or both.
All outdoor electrical decorations should be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). You can buy portable units for outdoor use, or you can have them permanently installed by an electrician.
Use extension cords properly. Outdoor cords can be used inside or outside. Do not overload extension cords - they can get hot enough to burn.
Stay away from powerlines or feeder lines (these go from the pole to the house).
Secure outside Christmas lights with insulated holders (never use tacks or nails) or run strings of lights through hooks.
When you leave or go to bed at night, turn off your Christmas lights.