Christmas trees and fire safety

mc-btbonfire-1-013114-nn-tifA North Jersey site published a story today about an annual Boonton Township celebration involving a bonfire of burning Christmas trees, complete with a chili cook-off.  That’s a great way to safely enjoy a tree on fire, under the supervision of the local fire department.  Unfortunately, Christmas trees can be the fuel of much greater disaster.

Closer to home, we read about the recent devastating fire that destroyed a beautiful Annapolis mansion, and, more important, the lives of a loving family, was made more sad when fire investigators determined that the catastrophic blaze was caused by an electrical problem that ignited the 15-ft. Christmas tree skirt and tree.

The key is hydration.  A dry Christmas tree can ignite and burn much more quickly than a well-watered tree.  When a tree begins to lose its needles, that’s when it’s time to take it down.  The National Fire Protection Association demonstrated the very real danger with a video contrasting a fire started with a dry tree vs. one that is hydrated.

PBS News Hour produced a segment about Christmas tree fires that explores a much more scientific explanation about why a tree fire can happen so quickly and be so dangerous.  The video illustrates that tree can ignite and spread in 18 seconds.  Although only a tiny percentage of trees (about 250 of the 30 million sold anually) are involved in fires each year, the cost of the property damage is in the millions of dollars.

All of the safety tips emphasize that trees do not spontaneously combust.  There must be a heat source.  In addition to keeping the tree watered, it should not be set up near a heat source–like a fireplace or heating vent.

When Roger and I light our Christmas tree on fire in the fire pit sometime this summer, the same enthusiasm that I have for the 20-foot blaze will be tempered with my memory of how this same uncontrolled fire can wreck lives.

Overwhelmed with possibilities: Christmas Mania

All that we have been waiting for is here:  Jeremy and I want to post several times a day to cover everything we are seeing and doing for the holiday season.

Here’s a mish-mash of what I’ve been thinking about for the last 48 hours:

  1. Changing my cover profile.  Who knew?  OK.  Everyone knew but me.  There are many, many beautiful cover photos to dress up your Facebook wall.  I went to this article to get some ideas, but that launched me into a general search for more cover photos.  I settled on two photos (one for me and one for The Yule Log)–both of beautiful shiny Christmas ornaments.
  2. Improv Everywhere did a very funny spoof of Black Friday shopping.  They set up outside of a New York City dollar store.  The volunteers camped out in a long line and then stormed the business when it opened Friday mornings.  Check out the YouTube video.  I subscribed to their email feed so I can get up-to-date notice of their humorous behavior.

3. 12 Ways to Nerd Up Your Christmas Trees:  This Mashable article has 12 photos of truly crazy Christmas trees.  While I’m partial to the first (a Christmas tree made of books), check out the third Christmas tree–a Lego tree 33 feet high that was installed in London.  Jeremy’s dream come true, for certain. (The bacon tree in this article is really creepy.)

4. Gold Christmas Tree?  This one is in Tokyo, created by a jewelry store.  It’s worth $4.2 million.  I can just picture Eartha Kitt purring over this one!

5.  Don’t even get me started on Pinterest.  Everything is Christmas–idea after beautiful idea.  I created a Yule Log 365 Pinterest page today.  I’ll be loading it with this and that from today forward.

Speaking of shiny objects, that’s just what’s wrong with me.  Christmas is distracting me–everywhere!


Book Christmas Tree and More Unusual Evergreens

My sister Susan posted this great photo of this book Christmas tree, first built by employees at the Richard A. Gleeson library in California in 2009.  Obviously, it made such a great impression that it’s been Tweeted, Facebooked, Pinned, and more for the past three years.

This got me started thinking about unusual trees.  This summer, I saw a great one made out of wine bottles, and there’s another one made with bottles of Mountain Dew (appropriate because they’re green).

Still, what trees would make you stop in your tracks?

One of my co-workers has promised a visit to her friend who has several Christmas trees each year, including an upside down tree.  I went on line, and these are out of my price range $250+), but look amazing.

I’m not ready to say, though, that the upside down tree is the “ultimate” in unusual.

The bicycle Christmas tree is a great outdoor display.  I’ve included a link to a website that celebrates several trees from around the world.  I encourage you to check out a few more links–like the Pinterest of Christmas Trees.

Unusual Christmas Trees

Top Ten Christmas Trees

Usually, I don’t care about having a bigger house, but if I did, it would have a tree in every room!

The best recycled Christmas card ornament

My mom responded to my call for Christmas cards, and tonight, she presented me with a box of them that most likely represents her entire mailing list from the past five years.  Armed with fresh cards, I’m ready to construct.

I tried a paper ball ornament that I found on a blog, “More Time Moms Musings.”  The ball is made out of strips of Christmas cards fastened together with a paper fastener at each end.  I was skeptical about the simplicity of it until I unfurled the fan of strips.  Voila!  I had a beautiful little ornament. What I like most is that the strips make the same picture that was on the card, except now it is in the round.  The photo here is from the blog site I found, but my ornament was equally pretty, with a blue-green forest of Christmas trees.

I demonstrated my craft to a co-worker, and when I fanned out the strips, I felt like a magician.  She was appropriately impressed.

After this post, I’m going to get down to business making a dozen or so.

More on Trees!

As I shared on Tuesday, I have become more interested in knowing about the business of Christmas trees in the US.  I have started doing more research into the subject and I am hooked on the specifics!  On Monday during our interview at Gaver Farm Laura shared a little about the differences between firs and pines.  Blue Spruce, White Pine, Douglas Fir, Scotch Pine.  If you’ve shopped for a real Christmas Tree you’ve heard or seen these names.  I wanted to know what all my options were for trees so I turned to the web.  Some of the best information I found came on the website Christmas Trees and More created by the University of Illinois Extension office.  Guess how many types of Christmas Trees are grown in the United States- 8? 10?  There are more than 20 varieties produced here in the US.  I’ll share just a little about that with you now.

The first group includes Deodara Cedar, Eastern Red Dear and Leyland Cypress.  These are more popular in the Southeast and the Cypress is a really good choice for those with allergies.  Next up are the Pines.  Afghan Pine (big in Texas), Austrian Pine, Red Pine (it’s actually green and bushy), Ponderosa Pine (may have 10″ needles!), Virginia Pine (strong aroma), and White Pine (largest pine in the US and state tree of Michigan and Maine).  The Scotch Pine rounds out this group and is the most popular tree in the states.  The Spruces are a third group to consider and include Black Hills Spruce (stiff needles), Norway Spruce (watch out for falling needles), White Spruce (state tree of South Dakota), and the Blue Spruce (state tree of Utah and Colorado and might live to be 600 years old!!).  The final group is the firs made up of Grand Fir, Fraser Fir, Nordmann Fir (very popular in the UK), Concolor Fir (strong citrus scent), Balsam Fir (this tree’s resin was used to treat Civil War wounds), Noble Fir (sturdy and used for wreaths, swags, and garland), and the popular Douglas Fir (great scent and can live to be over 1,000 years old!).


So Many Christmas Trees!

Yesterday we visited a local tree farm and discussed many parts of the Christmas Tree industry.  The discussion we had with Laura really got my interests going.  I wanted to know more about the Christmas Tree business in the US, so I did a little reading to find out more.  It is quite interesting stuff!  Here’s some of what I learned:

The first commercially sold Christmas Trees were purchased in 1850 and the first Christmas Tree lot was set-up in New York in 1851.  Today in the US trees are grown in all 50 states, even Hawaii.  Oregon sells the most trees with over 6.5 million trees going out each year.  There are over 21,000 tree growers in the US and over 12,000 cut-your-own farms operating.  These growers have over 1/2 billion trees growing on their farms and will plant over 70 million new trees in a year.  The Christmas Tree industry employees over 100,000 people.  About 25% of homes in the US are expected to have a real Christmas Tree in 2012.  These trees are purchased from retail stores, tree lots, and the actual farms.  I was surprised to find that last year around 150,000 people ordered real Christmas Trees online and had them shipped- sight unseen!  I love having a real tree in my house but not too sure I would trust a site to just bale it up and ship it to me.  I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who has purchased a tree this way.  Was it a good experience?  I will be sharing more that I learned about trees later this week.  Did you know there are 21 varieties of Christmas Trees grown in the United States?  More on that later!

Podcast #32- 125 Days to Go!

Podcast #32- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- A Visit to the Tree Farm!

This week we sit down for a talk with Laura Gaver House.  Laura is a member of the Gaver Family that owns Gaver Farms.  One of the many facets of their farm operation is the Christmas Tree business.  Natalie has been dreaming of visiting with Laura since we started the Yule Log.  We caught up with Laura at the farm during a particularly sever thunderstorm.  Laura talks about the planting and care of the trees and the excitement of running a large Christmas Tree farm.  Find out about the types of trees and so much more.  The tree farm is open for business starting November 23, 2012.  Check out the website for all the details on how you can get your very own fresh-cut 2012 Christmas tree at the Gaver Farm.

Laura preps to drop a new tree into the trench made by the tractor.

Laura gets one of the saplings ready for planting.