Bringing Christmas home

 

 

 

At the Tree Lot: Once you’ve picked your tree, ask the seller to saw off at least one-half inch from the trunk. This fresh cut helps the tree absorb more water and last longer. Make sure he or she shakes off and lose needles before wrapping the tree in netting.

The Ride Home: Before loading the tree onto your car’s roof, lay down a tarp or blanket to protect your car’s paint for scratches. Trees are netted with the branches pointing up. Position the top of the tree over the rear of the car so branches don’t meet air resistance and break as you drive. No roof rack? Open all the doors and tie the tree to the roof before shutting them for the drive. If a tree hangs off the back of the car, tie on a reflective flag to alert other drivers.

The Set Up: Direct heat can dry a tree out making it both an eyesore at a fire hazard. Park yours away from radiators, heating vents, fireplaces and holiday candles. Place an oversized garbage bag beneath the stand. This will help catch falling needles once it is time to take the tree down sparing you a big vacuum job. Be sure to use a stand made to accommodate your tree’s height. You’ll also need one with the built-in reservoir that holds at least a gallon of water. Have two people place the tree in the stand – one to hold and steady the tree, the other to tighten the screws around the trunk. Be sure to keep the netting on as it will make the tree easier to handle.

Shaping and Caring: If your tree needs a trim, use pruners to snip away any small branches that are sticking out. To cut larger branches, use a handsaw or lopper. If your hands get covered with tree sap, rub them with olive oil or baby oil to help remove the residue. Or better yet, wear gardening gloves before you start the entire process.

Garlands and Lights: The best way to put up lights for even twinkle-filled look is to plug a set of three connected strands into a surge protector. Then string straight up the tree, as close to the trunk as possible. Once at the top, start wrapping the strands down around the outer branches. When you need more, plug another strand into the surge protector. Run the lights up the trunk and start wrapping again where the last lights left off.

Perfect plants for chilly and wintery weather

When the winds are a’blowin, your landscape can keep a’growin with these beauties.

Cabbages and Kales

Ornamental kale and cabbage are some of the most popular winter annual plants. They lend a completely different texture to a winter landscape bed. Once the plants are hardened by cooler night temperatures they can survive most cold winters.

 

 

Camellias

Camellias prefer acidic, moist yet well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. They flower in the fall and winter when their display of colorful blooms is most appreciated. The waxy-petalled flowers linger long on plants, displaying shades of red, pink, coral, white and bicolors. Plants are evergreen, growing to form shrubs or small trees. Once established, camellias are drought-tolerant.

 

Winter Jasmine

Jasminum nudiflorum or winter jasmine is an exceptionally trouble-free plant to grow.

Holly Bush

Hollies bring an eye-catching display of evergreen leaves that is often punctuated with bright red or gold berries.

 

Native Serviceberry

Native serviceberries also earn rave reviews for snow-covered branches. Watch for white blossoms in spring, followed by tasty berries in June. Birds love the berries, so if you want any for a pie, net trees. Fall color features shades of red and orange.

Outdoor Holiday Lighting Ideas That Dazzle

Create a sparkling light display each night during the holiday season with these tips and tricks from HGTV for bringing envy-worthy curb appeal to your front yard.

Colorful Holiday Lights on Antique Sled

Bring rustic appeal to your yard or interior by wrapping weathered architectural relics with lights. The contrast between the dulled, organic surfaces and the boldness of colored lights results in a conversation piece that truly pops.

Sophisticated Lawn Art

Bring a playful glow to your lawn with oversized ornaments made from globe shades, food storage bowls and string lights. For more curb appeal, cluster them together in odd numbers and choose extension cords that blend in with your landscaping.

Lighting Walkways

Since holidays often attract more guests to the home than other times of the year, be sure to keep walkways brightly lit. An easy way to do this is to take advantage of any smaller trees or shrubs along or around the walkway and outfitting them with just a few strands of lights. Although they may be too small to properly read from the street, the subtle glow cast onto pavers, trails or concrete walkways will help guests make their way up to the house safely.

Click here to see additional ideas.

Winterize water features before the cold hits hard

Winterize Water Features

Water features are of particular concern during the winter. Small features will freeze, despite the running water produced by the fountain, and that can ruin the pump and the pot. So make sure you drain them and store the pot and pump in the garage or garden shed. Depending on where you live, larger water features and ponds may freeze over somewhat, but if they are deep enough or have a waterfall rapid and large enough, they shouldn’t freeze solid. Consult a pond installation expert on how to properly winterize your water feature.

Turn off water to irrigation systems and set automatic timers to the “off” mode. You may not want to turn the controller box off completely so you don’t lose the watering schedule and have to reprogram it next season. It may be necessary to drain or blow the water out of the pipes. Consult your local irrigation specialist on recommendations. If any pipes, valves or the backflow preventer are above ground and exposed to the elements, wrap them with protective insulation, like insulator tape, to keep them from freezing. But don’t insulate or block air vents or the pump motor.

Grilled Stout Stuffing

With more people than ever turning to their outdoor grill to roast their Thanksgiving turkey, we wanted to share this grilled stuffing recipe from Mike Lang, police sergeant and Weber blogger.

“Growing up, Thanksgiving was not Thanksgiving without stuffing. While I can’t recall the last time Mom stuffed a bird, I know that whenever we have turkey, we have stuffing. Even if it is July. While cooking stuffing inside a turkey is traditional, I find it much easier, and even better, to grill it separately. Every year, we alternate the major holidays between our homes.  

Knowing full well I will be grilling a turkey before the year is out, I’ve decided to put my spin on stuffing. Not surprisingly, I’m adding beer. It is fitting the month of November is home to International Stout Day. The stout is one of my favorite beer styles. It’s full of roasted malt, often balanced by notes of chocolate and dark fruit. Not only is it great to drink, it is great to grill with, as this stuffing recipe will prove.”

Grilled Stout StuffingThe Recipe

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

½ cup butter (1 stick)

1 leek, white stalk removed, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 12 ounce bottle of stout beer, like Guinness

2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

2 eggs, beaten

6 cups of dried bread cubes, approximately 1 – ½ square

¾ cup dried cranberries

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat (350F).

2. In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat on either a stove top or side burner. Add the leek and celery. Cook until lightly brown, stirring occasionally, for approximately 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the bottle of beer, followed by the sage, parsley, chicken broth, and eggs.  If you want to do some quality control testing before pouring the beer, you certainly have my permission to do so.

4. Turn off the heat and stir the contents of the skillet.  Add in the bread cubes, cranberries, salt and pepper.  Stir the bread into the liquid and combine evenly.

5. Using indirect medium heat (350 F), grill the stuffing for approximately 30 minutes.  Remove and serve.

Meet that backyard shed that can live like a guest house

There are sheds, and then there are “sheds.” Wayfair has one that especially caught our eye – and if you haven’t purchased from Wayfair before, you should. Their customer service is extraordinary. I had two occasions where there was a performance glitch with the products (not Wayfair’s fault) and money was refunded without asking in a split second, with respect and pleasantry.

Sunshed Wooden Storage Shed

$5355

12 feet 9 inches wide by 12 feet deep

Additional features include:

• Minimum tools required

• Naturally resistant to decay and insects

• L-shaped full wall workbench, reversible roofline and polycarbonate roof window panels (one side)

• Western red cedar shingles already attached to shed roof panels

• Accepts a wide range of finishes

• Can be used as a small guest house

• Hardware included (screws and nails)

• Concrete slab foundation recommended

• Can accommodate a small car

• Can be heated and insulated

• Workbench extends along the back wall and one of the side walls

• Windows can be used with an air conditioner

• Polycarbonate panel skylights

• Ten windows

• No dangerous and time-consuming cutting required

• Manageable panel sizes

• Floor included

• Weather resistant

• Water resistant

• Product warranty one year for defects in manufacturing and workmanship

Merry and bright cordless Christmas garland

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grandinroad is dreaming of a bright Christmas, and their Merry and Bright Cordless Garland is helping to make it all come true. Glowing lights, lush faux evergreen, and all the brilliant bulbs of a well-curated Christmas tree, wrapped along a staircase, over an entryway, even snaked along a dining table… without the hassle of stringing lights or bothersome electrical cords. Ornaments are shatterproof and lights operate with an optional 6-hour timer function (so you set it once for the season and don’t have to touch it again). Less time fussing means more time eating cookies and unwrapping fabulous gifts. Like Christmas magic. $129. Length: 6′. Width: 8″. Depth: 8″. Weight: 4 pounds.

 

Fall into the aromas of the season.

There’s nothing quite like the clean and crisp outdoor scents of autumn. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Using these simple recipes, bring those olfactory delights indoors with these all-natural simmering-pot recipes courtesy of Angie Holden of The County Chic Cottage.

For all of the recipes below, just add the ingredients to a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer on your stove.  Add more water as needed to keep this simmering for as long as you would like.

TIP:  Try this method in the crock pot as well!  Remember to use caution with these recipes and never leave your home with something on the stove!  Who needs chemical air fresheners when you have these all natural versions to try?

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Spiced Citrus Blend

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 apple (cut into large slices)
  • 1 orange (cut into large slices)
  • 1 lemon (cut into large slices)
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

Apple Pie Scent

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 apple (cut into large slices)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Spiced Orange Blend

  • orange rind
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups of water