DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: November 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010


   In spite of the use and abuse of ultra modern engineering and the rushing hullabaloo of the 21st century, people often seem to become nostalgic when it comes to home decorating for Christmas.  Norman Rockwell's creations-marvelous pictures of Victorian villages under the snow, children eagerly waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus while carolers walk around the villages singing Christmas carols.  Thinking to families decorating a beautiful Christmas tree and drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows, makes our hearts feel merry.  These "old world" visions are the reasons why a lot of us desire vintage Christmas ornaments for decorating our homes.  However, truly old vintage ornaments can be difficult and expensive to acquire.

   Not so long ago the nostalgic desire for items from the past has caused a boom in the artistic creation of vintage hand crafted Christmas ornaments in the last 10 to 15 years.  A lot of online and regular retail outlets specializing in vintage items now offer hand crafted classic Christmas ornaments made of silver or tin with that old days flavor.  Hand-blown, gorgeous glass ornaments to dazzle the eye, vintage twenties looking tin ornaments engraved with the early renditions of jolly old Saint Nick, and softly shining bubble lights in an array of beautiful colors.

   Maybe gold and silver glass ornaments shimmering in the soft light of the Christmas tree, whose top is adorned with an old fashioned tin star or a painted angel, looking like it came right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  Some homemade garland of popcorn and cranberries, strung around the tree along with crystal "icicles" glistening from the reflections of the Christmas lights.  Tiny "gift" looking ornaments and other metallic pieces of tin shapes.  Cotton or cardboard shapes of cutout fruits, birds, and an assortment winter scenes.  There was a time when people would put tiny candles in reflective holders all over the tree.  Their use was highly risky as it cause many a home fire.  Nowadays, it's possible to have the same kind of old world candles without the open flame.

   Current trends are moving towards old wreaths that are made of foil and tin with pearls or angels attached,  as well as traditional wreaths made out of pine and holly with gold ornaments and dried flowers.  Modern Christmas garlands are not as beautiful as vintage garlands made out of small pine limbs tied with natural bonding materials like hemp,  and decorated with colored berries and pine cones.

   For many of us, the Christmas holiday is a  time to relax and think of Christmas's in our past.  Where things weren't harried and busy.  Nostalgia creeps in and makes us wish for when things were much simpler, a time to reminisce.   When  we were kids and didn't have to worry about all of the other things that happen in our life.  When we looked forward for school being out for the Christmas holiday, going down to the department store to see Santa (before they had malls), loading up into the car to check out Christmas lights,  looking at the brightly wrapped presents under the tree and guessing which ones are yours.  Decorating with all of those wonderful old decorations and ornaments kind of brings us back to that time, even if it's just for a moment. 


   The upside down Christmas tree is one of the strangest trends seen in a while.  There are some people who probably like the idea.  An upside down Christmas tree is just a matter of personal preference, some people love the newest trends while others prefer traditional decor.  How long will the upside down Christmas tree be popular?  Only the consumer knows for sure, after all, we do determine such trends.  If people stay fascinated with the upside down Christmas tree, then it will become a mainstay.  If the upside down Christmas tree is ignored by consumers because it is just too bizarre,  then it will go away just like any fad.  I am a traditionalist myself.

   Every retailer that is selling the upside down Christmas tree is quick to point out that the tradition came from the 12th Century in Central Europe.  They would hang the Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling instead of right side up.  The meaning behind using an evergreen tree was the triangular shape symbolizing the Father, Son and The Holy Spirit.  No matter which way the tree is placed, a triangle is a triangle.  The tree can lay on the floor if someone prefers, it's still a triangle.  You can't blame the retailer for going with the current trends if it  makes them a little extra money and makes someone else happy to have found it.

   Some people believe the reason behind the upside down Christmas tree is possibly sinister, and the only explanation for its resurgence must be an evil one.  Placing a Christmas tree in the upright positions points toward the heavens, so if the Christmas tree is upside down, the tree top is obviously pointing in the opposite direction.  Why would anyone purchase an upside down Christmas in the direction of perdition?  I just think it will be something trendy or chic, for people who want to be different. There is nothing wrong with being different and not conforming to everyone elses picture of a Christmas tree.

    Retailers who are selling the upside down Christmas trees state the benefits of placing a tree this way as:  It's simple, with the wide part of the triangle up in the air, it makes more room available for presents, and it also let's those prized ornaments and other decorations hang out instead of into the tree.  The artificial upside down Christmas tree is more expensive.  A decent one goes for anywhere between 350 dollars and all of the way up to over 600 dollars for an averages sized 7 1/2  foot tree.

   Retailers are also proclaiming the space saving commodities of the upside down Christmas tree.  If you're worried about room just get a slim tree.  I can also see the good points to someone who collects ornaments as a hobby, it lets them hang down better, because of the triangular shape of the upside down Christmas tree getting smaller as you go down the tree.  This would be very good for showing off that prized  collection you couldn't hang before.  Whichever direction your Christmas tree is pointing, it's all about the spirit and the enjoyment of the holiday season,  everyone makes his or her own choices and preferences whether other people like them or not.  Like I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with doing something different, maybe it will become a new tradition in your family for many Christmas's to come.


   Eggnog is the starter of that wonderful holiday season.  It's what reminds us that the wonderful time is about to begin.  That time when peppermint mocha's, presents, family, friends, carols, Christmas movies, decorating trees, and eggnog is abound.  It's that time of the season already.  It makes you think when something like eggnog was invented and how.  Did it begin as something special just for the holidays or was it begun in a whole different way?  The creamy richness of that powerful drink is something well worth the effort of looking into and that is just what we are going to do.  So before you begin your holiday season take a look at this and become enriched in all the flavorings of Christmas.
   The history of eggnog is a bit shrouded.  A lot of people believe that it was brought from England to America which in a way could be true.  After all, the word is related to a lot of wine punches and milk drinks that were made in the English tradition.  When brought to America however, it was not necessarily what the old world had in mind.  Instead, Americans brought rum into the equation and took out the wine.  So, the idea is that rum was traditionally called "grog" so goes the term "egg-n'grog", after that it was shortened to  eggnog.

   Now on to another story.  There are people that believe that the word "eggnog" comes from the term "noggin", which was what they called a certain type of wooden mug.  Along with that story comes the belief that eggnog was originally sherry and milk (not the wine and milk as the above story stated).  There are many that believe that the stories should run together.  Meaning that the drink was actually called "egg'n'grog in a noggin".
   Through Colonial America it was considered a great wintertime drink and very popular indeed.  It was rich, smooth, spicy, and alcoholic.  It was the perfect combination for those early Americans.  In the 1820's, a man named Pierce Egan put a recipe in his book taking out the rum and adding brandy which further increased the popularity of the drink.  In the 1800's it was a social drink.  It was drank at every party around that season and was considered not to be in good spirits if you did not serve the drink or even drink it.

   Believe it or not, it was not only a Christmas drink.  It was a tradition for all the men to try to finish numerous drinks of the stuff on New Year's Eve.  It was a test of one's manhood.  George Washington loved eggnog.  He had his own concoction which involved rye whiskey, rum and sherry.  It was very powerful and it took some type of person to be able to get past a glass.
   While debatable as to its sources we know one thing, that eggnog has been enjoyed in many traditions.  While most of us enjoy the flavor of eggnog without the liquor, we can at least all be thankful for that one person that helped our wonderful tradition be born.  With the first glass of eggnog poured, the holiday season begins.  May many more glasses be passed around and the feeling of the holiday spirit with it.
   Here's a little recipe for non alcoholic eggnog, if you like it, don't be afraid to pass the recipe onto someone else!

"Holiday Eggnog"


-12 egg yolks

-5 whole cloves

-4 cups of milk

-4 cups of cream

-1 cup of sugar

-3/4 cup of Splenda

-2 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

-1 tsp of ground cinnamon

-3/4 tsp of ground nutmeg


   In a saucepan over low heat, blend the milk, cinnamon, cloves and half a teaspoon
   of the vanilla.
   Keep stirring while the mixture heats, and remove from heat just before boiling.
   In a bowl, mix together sugar, Splenda all egg yolks.
   Gently add a little at a time, pour in the milk mixture while whisking.
   Transfer mixture to saucepan over medium heat while continuing to stir.
   Keep stirring until mixture starts to resemble custard.
   Don't let boil.
   Pour and strain the mixture into a pitcher.  Making sure to remove cloves.
   Let pitcher stand in refrigerator for approximately 1 to 2 hours.
   Gently stir in the cream, vanilla and ground nutmeg.
   Let stand in the refrigerator overnight.
   Spread some holiday cheer all around.



   When we think of diamonds, colored diamonds aren't usually what come to people's minds.  The fact is however, that fancy colored diamonds are not unusual; they come in almost every shade and hue imaginable, and in many cases, are more valuable than "colorless" diamonds.

A Glorified Lump of Coal?

   Diamond-known to the ancients as adamantine-is what is known as an allotrope of carbon, and in chemical terms, is identical to common forms of coal and graphite.  The difference lies not in the chemical composition, but rather in how the molecules are arranged.
   Diamonds form far deeper beneath the earth's surface than coal or graphite; the carbon ins subjected to extraordinarily higher pressures (up to 440 tons per square inch) and temperatures (as much as 2300 degrees Fahrenheit).  This causes the molecules to be bonded to each other in a tetrahedral arrangement, accounting both for the hardness of diamond and the eight-sided shape in which they occur.

Blue-grey diamond that sold for over $30 million dollars

   Shades of Difference

   Colored diamonds are ones in which this molecular arrangement has been contaminated by a chemical reaction with some other element.  A diamond that is made from pure carbon and has no structural flaws would be as perfectly transparent as pure water ice.  However, no such 100% flawless diamonds have ever been found in nature.
   Colored loose diamonds range in color from pale blue and storm gray to dark amber and even black.  Pink, purple, reds, and oranges have also been found.  The color depends on the nature of the chemical impurity; amber and brown diamonds result from nitrogen; when internal flaws are present, they may be pink or red.  A grey coloration is caused by boron, whereas a deep blue diamond may be the result of hydrogen.

Are They More Valuable?

   Colored diamonds are not necessarily more valuable than clear or colorless ones, although they may be.  If a collection of loose diamonds includes gemstones with a yellowish tinge, they may have less value; jewelry retailers often discount the price of such gems.  On the other hand, pink and red diamonds are exceeding rare, and command high prices on the open market when they are available at all.
Grading Colored Diamonds
   Like their clear counterparts, colored diamonds have a unique grading system used by gemologists when analyzing and evaluating such stones.  These range from "faint on one end, to "fancy" in the mid range, and "fancy dark" for those with the most intense coloration.

Famous Examples

   The Hope Diamond is a blue diamond that is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute.  One of the most valuable diamonds on earth (and the inspiration for a series of comedy films featuring a bumbling French detective) is the Dar-l_Nur, an enormous pink diamond that is part of the Persian Crown Jewels.

   Colored diamonds of many different shades-including a "chameleon" diamond that changes color-are part of the Aurora Collection, which has published photo images of their gems and can be seen at the London Museum of Natural History.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


   Where did tinsel come from?  Its origins are murky, but it was apparently first made in Germany during the 1600's.  It was made by hammering out a paper thin silver alloy and then cutting that into strips.  It's unlikely that this first version was as thin as what it is today.  It was used, not only on Christmas Trees (which were just catching on in Germany) but also on any other decoration that needed a little shine from statues to fireplace garlands.  Since candlelight, lanterns and fireplaces were the primary method of lighting homes, reflective surfaces were often used to maximize the light.a
   The early stuff was meant to be reused, carefully gathered from the trees and decoration to be used again the next year.  Unfortunately, silver-based metals tend to tarnish when they aren't used or aren't kept next to the skin (some claim it was the candlelight that tarnished them, but simple disuse could do the same).  Cheaper alloys were introduced that also had the added benefit of not tarnishing, but were too heavy for their function.  Early tinsels were all made out of metal and were expensive and fragile to use as decoration.  Until the early 1900's, using the glittery decoration was a status symbol.

   In the 1920's the cheaply made aluminum based tinsels made it affordable for everyone.  By the 50's the aluminized paper used to make it, became a fire hazard when coupled with copious lights, decorations and dry Christmas trees.  Today, it's mostly made from PVC-that's Polyvinyl Chloride.  PVC is a controversial vinyl used in many products.  It's difficult to recycle and there have been questions about the toxicity because it must be mixed with toxic additives to be of any use.
   Besides being made out of PVC, there are a host of reasons not to use tinsel today.  First, I know of none of the market today that's biodegradable.  We're talking about using something that's highly disposable in large quantities for brief decorative use.  Another reason not to use tinsel is that no tree recycling program will take trees loaded with tinsel.  You have to take all of it off.  If they are using the trees for mulch, the tinsel will lower the quality of the mulch because it doesn't biodegrade.

   Those with pets or very small children should also look for tinsel alternatives.  Cats like to eat the stuff.  Most of the time this is amusing, but it can kill them.  Tinsel can't be digested and can tear up the intestinal tract.  You also can't vacuum if there's any tinsel on your floor.  Instead you have to make sure that every stand is off the carpet before vacuuming.  Otherwise you could end up with a broken vacuum.

If you do use Tinsel

   Less is more.  Don't over do things by loading the tree down.  Instead allot yourself a small amount of tinsel and use it sparingly all over the tree.

   Reuse your tinsel.  Strip the tree as much as you can and place it in a box to be reused.  One box could last several years if used the right way.

Tinsel Alternatives

   Popcorn Strings-A classic DIY project, you just need popped corn, a needle and thread and some time.

   Glitter Spray-Use some safe glitter spray to give your tree a little glitz.

   Ribbons-A few well placed curly metallic ribbons tied to the outside of the tree will be easier to remove but can also add the sparkle you're looking for.  While metallic ribbons aren't biodegradable either, you might end up using less of them.


   Popcorn is considered a junk food but if it is it is one of the healthiest junk foods around.  It actually has some things in it that are good for you like fiber.  You can eat a lot of popcorn before it adds up calories.  four cups of popcorn has only 92 calories and only 1 gram of fat if it is popped with hot air.  These numbers are more if you pop your popcorn in oil.  The nutritional value of popcorn is 71% starch with other carbohydrates, 10% protein, 3% fat and there are a trace of vitamins and minerals and 14% of the kernel is water.  If you pop your popcorn with a hot air popper it has much less fat than if you use oil methods.
   Popcorn has a hard kernel and when the kernel dries a little water is sealed inside the popcorn kernel so when the kernel gets heated up to a certain temperature the water inside the kernel actually boils and the pressure causes the kernel to pop into popcorn.  It literally turns itself inside out when it pops,  showing off its white interior.

   The native Americans brought popcorn to the world, cobs of corn have been found that date back to 5,600 B.C.  Native Americans believed that tiny demons lived inside each kernel of corn and when the demon's house was heated, the demon would get mad and he would explode.  Or possibly the demon would escape in the explosion.  The Native Americans first introduced popcorn to the European settlers at the very first Thanksgiving meal in 1621.  Popcorn was part of the feast and in the morning some of the popcorn was left over from the feast, so the Pilgrims poured milk and sugar on the leftover popcorn and ate it for their breakfast.  That was probably the first puffed cereal.  Popcorn was called popped corn, parched corn, or rice corn.  It didn't get the name popcorn until about 1820.
   In the early 1920's, silent films were being shown and street vendors would set up their popcorn machines outside the movie houses and before going into the movie, many people would buy some popcorn to enjoy during the film.  At first the theater owners hated the mess the popcorn would make to their theaters, but soon the theater owners realized how much the patrons liked having the popcorn and they soon put popcorn into the lobbies of the theaters for the patrons to buy right in the theater.  The theater owners got used to cleanng up the mess that the popcorn would make and they made money selling the popcorn to their customers.

   Today popcorn is still a popular movie food.  We American's love to eat our popcorn while we watch a good movie.  American's eat over 17 billion quarts of popcorn a year and the average American eats about 68 quarts all by themselves.  Only about 30 percent of the popcorn we eat is from the movies or sporting events.  The other 70 percent is what we eat at home.  American's love their popcorn.  It is one snack that has lasted throughout the history of the United States.

Monday, November 22, 2010


   Are you a trivia buff?  If so, perhaps you'd be interested in knowing a little bit more about the poinsettia plant you buy every Christmas season.  This knowledge should really impress your friends and family at the holiday dinner table.
   Did you know that the poinsettia's main attraction is not its flowers, but its leaves?  The flowers of the plant are the yellow clustered buds in the center.  The colored leafy parts are actually bracts or modified leaves.
   Red is the most popular color, accounting for roughly tow thirds of all sales nationwide, followed by white, pink, marble and peppermint candy.   Poinsettia's also come in a variety of other shades of salmon, apricot, yellow and cream.  There are also unusual speckled or marbled varieties like "White Glitter".  New varieties are introduced yearly with even more variation in height and colors.

   How many poinsettias do you think are sold each year?  Would you believe over 5 million!  In Canada, Poinsettia's accounted for one third of sales of all flowering potted plants.
   Because of the plants dislike of traveling long distances, there are growers of poinsettias in  almost every state and in Canada they are in every Providence.
   In the wild, the poinsettia can reach heights of 12 feet with leaves measuring six to eight inches across?  It is actually a small tropical tree belonging to the Euphorbia plant family.  Its botanical name is Euphorbia.  A native of southern Mexico, the poinsettia blooms in December and has been used in that country to decorate churches for centuries.

   In the 14th to 16th centuries, the Aztecs used the poinsettia leaves to dye fabric for clothing and the sap for medicinal purposes, including to help control fevers.  They also considered the red color a symbol of purity, and so poinsettias were traditionally part of religious ceremonies.
   Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, an amateur botanist and first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, introduced the plant that became known as the poinsettia to this country.  He discovered a shrub with brilliantly colored red leaves growing by the side of the road in Taxco,Mexico.  In December 1828, he sent cuttings home to his plantation in Greenville, South Carolina.
   However, most botanists at that time dismissed the poinsettia as a weed.  Fortunately, Poinsett continued to study and breed this plant in his greenhouse, sharing plants with his horticulturist friends.  It soon gained acceptance as a holiday plant, despite its very short bloom time.  It wasn't until the 1960's that researchers were able to successfully breed plants to bloom more than just a few days.

Some painted poinsettia's

   True or False?  The poinsettia is a poisonous plant.  If you answered false, you're correct.  The plant has been tested repeatedly and cleared of this charge by the National Poison Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and the American Medical Association.  The POINSINDEX Information Service reports that even if a 50 pound child consumed more than 500 poinsettia bracts--the amount tested in scientific experiments--the consequences would not be fatal.  Even at this high level, no toxicity was found.
   However, this doesn't mean that poinsettia's are meant to be eaten.  If ingested, this plant can cause stomach irritation and discomfort.  Cats and children also may choke on the fibrous parts, so be sure to keep these plants out of their reach.  The sticky white sap also may cause skin irritation for some people.

   Do you know the best way to prolong the life of this Christmas plant?  Avoid hot or cold drafts, keep the soil moist not soggy, and place in a room with sufficient natural light and temperatures of around 60 to 70 degrees F.  Water when the soil begins to dry.  Once the leaves begin to wilt, it's too late.
  Above all, protect it from exposure to wind or cold on the way home from the garden center.  Poinsettia's are highly sensitive to cold temperatures and even a few minutes of exposure to 50 degree or lower temperatures will cause them to wilt.  But when care for properly, poinsettias usually will outlast your desire to keep them.


   I finally got around to getting the pictures from my  camera onto my computer.  I always took pictures in the day time, but this year I decided to take them at night with just the lighting I used on them.  Some didn't turn out like I planned, it might be time for me to upgrade my camera.  Everything was hand made, the windows were covered with styrofoam boards, the ground breaker coffins were also made from styrofoam.  So without further ado here they are:


The vacancy sign blinked on and off




This is the front door where the trick or treaters would come

The ravens eye blinked on and off



   It's simpler than you think. Years ago, it was red wine with beef and perhaps a robust pasta and white wine with chicken and fish.  This is fine to use as a general guideline but the main thing to re member is to drink what you like.  Having said that, here are some good pairings.
   It's fun to pair wine with food to make a meal more enjoyable.  The light-bodied wines go best with lighter foods and the heavier wines with heavier, very flavorful foods.  The body of a wine is how powerful and weighty it feels in your mouth.
   As you pair wine with beef, wild game, barbecued meats, and/or pastas in a heavy red sauce select a heavy-bodied, flavorful red wine.  Consider there wines-a Syrah, Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon.  If you're serving light seafood dishes, poultry, ham and mildly flavored cheeses look to the lighter wines.  For a red wine, these would be Beaujolais, burgundy or a Pinot Noir.  If you prefer to serve a white wine, consider a Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc.  Rose Wines also go well with the lighter fare.

   And, sometimes you throw the rules out completely.  Pairing by regions also works well.  A nice Chianti goes well with hearty Italian dishes.  An Italian import, Bolla Soave, goes nicely with lighter chicken dishes and salads.
   For dessert you'll want a sweet wine like Sherry, Port and Muscats.  Or, even a very rich burgundy paired with very rich chocolate dishes.  Muscats are very sweet and don't pair well but both Sherries and Ports go well if the dessert is not sweeter than the wine.  A well known farmstead cheese maker, pairs Port with many of his white cheddar cheeses-delicious.  You'll often find Port served with Stilton cheese.  Sherry pairs nicely with nutty deserts also.

Here are a few guidelines about which wine goes well with what food dishes.

Steak- Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon

BBQ Meats- Zinfandel, Syrah, Chianti

Salmon- Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, Bolla Soave, Burgundy

Shellfish-Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Chablis, Bolla Soave

White Fish-Chardonnay, Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraiminer

Pasta in Red Sauce-Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chianti, Burgundy Pinot Blanc

Friday, November 19, 2010


   With Thanksgiving a little less than a week away, it means that alot of us start to think more about Christmas.  We start to think about what theme or decorations that we're going to put up and how its all going to look.  Also we've got to start thinking about putting the lights up onto the house and anywhere else that you want them to go.  Just think of how many trips we're going to take up into the attic to bring down all of the boxes filled with Christmas decorations (by yourself most of the time, because everyone else disappears during this fun filled time).
   One of the main items that we ponder on the most though, is the Christmas tree.  Whether it's an artificial tree or a real one.  The Christmas tree is usually the focal point of your inside the house Christmas decorating. Most of what we decide to do with the tree and how it gets decorated, coinsides with  what the rest of your Christmas theme or  decorating style on the inside of the house.  The Christmas tree is the showcase item, with all  of its glistening lights and the different ornaments that you love and adore.  The only thing that can turn this art piece into a nightmare is choosing a bad tree.

Picking out your Christmas Tree

   There are two ways to go about picking your tree, one is to  go to the nearest Christmas tree lot or big box store (Walmart, Home Depot, Kmart) or you can load up the family in the car and go to a Christmas tree farm near you and cut your own.  If you're rushed, go to the local big box store, but take your time and look around, don't just grab the first one on the way to the register.  If you have children, the only way to go is to cut your own. Load the family up in the family up and make an outing of it, with sandwiches, cookies, hot chocolate and probably a change of close (things have a tendency to happen when you're in the outdoors, when it's muddy or snowing.  When you're around evergreen trees,  sap has a tendency to stick to just about anything and everything you touch.  Wiping it  off on your clothes makes it worse,  when you get back in your car and you're ready to leave sap has tendency to stick to the seats and other upholstered pieces in the car, and is a bear to get out, so bring some glove for everyone to wear.
    Whatever way you go, try to make it a fun outing.  It's not all that hard to avoid a bad tree, when you take the time to look over the tree like you would pick out clothes or furniture.  Just remember,  after picking that special Christmas tree, that you want to have plenty of room for your ornaments, lights, and all the other things that make your tree special.

   You should take some measurements of where you want  the tree to go and how much room you have around it, before you go and make sure to write them down.  You should know how high your ceilings are before you put the saw to your Christmas tree, because once it's cut it's pretty much yours.  Once you get the Christmas tree home, it often has the magical powers of growing from the time you left where you purchased your Christmas tree until the time you reach home (it must have sucked in all the wind that blew through it on the way home).  You should select a tree that is one foot shorter than your ceiling height because you need to remember you will probably be adding a tree topper to it.
   One of the best ways to see how healthy the tree is to grab a handful of needles and pull gently on it, you want to do this especially if you're buying the tree already cut (no telling how long the trip was to get to the lot from that tree farm out of state,  and if they have been sitting for a long time in the elements.  Loosing alot of needles tells you that the tree is very dry and it won't last more thank a week or two.  Also if you're cutting your own tree, look at it from all angles, especially if it's surrounded by other trees.  Look over it for bare spots and missing branches.  The needles should bend not break.

   You will want to shake or bounce the tree to check for losing needles, and it also kind of cleans the tree of leaves, bugs,  and other debris that may have accumulated inside of the tree where you can't see.  A few needles will always fall off a tree once it is cut due to the shock factor.  Fewer needles will fall from a fresh-cut tree versus a tree that has been cut.
   The tree trunk will need to have at least six to eight inches of trunk on it below the last branches, so that the tree can be properly placed in the stand and stand up straight.  Don't forget, before putting it in the stand that you should cut off at least a half inch off  of the bottom of it.  When the tree was cut at the farm or when you  cut it down sap starts leaking out of the bottom to cover up and seal up the cut.  The new cut will make it so when the tree is up in the stand it will drink up the water, so it will last longer.

Vintage Christmas tree lot

   The Caring of your Christmas Tree at Home and Safety Issues  

   One you get the tree home and and after you've cut that 1/2 inch off of the bottom of it, if you don't plan on putting the tree up right away, get a plastic bucket and fill it with water and put the tree in the water filled bucket until you're ready to install the tree into the stand.  This will keep the sap from covering the cut and will help the tree to take in some much needed drink.  Make sure any stand that you're going to be using for the tree, can hold at least a gallon of water.
   Check the water level of the tree everyday, especially the first two or three, because that's when it seems to take in the most. Make you to keep the level above the bottom of the tree, if it gets below the bottom the tree may sap back over,then you would have to take the tree back out of the stand and recut it, also watch out for adding too much water to  your tree.  It may even be a good idea to keep a towel hidden under the tree just in case water does get spilled.

City tree lot today

  As long as your fresh Christmas tree is kept with an ample supply of water, it presents little if any fire hazard.  Do not place your Christmas tree near a fireplace, heater vents or any other source of heat.
   You should use only UL-approved Christmas lights for your tree and nonflammable decorations too.  Also turn off Christmas tree lights when leaving home or going to bed to reduce the risk of fire.