Merry Christmas > warm wishes to all

We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May the Spirit of Christmas be with you bringing you and your family and loved ones, the gifts of Health, Happiness, Prosperity, Peace, Friendship, Love, Brotherhood to all the people on planet Earth.

Have a Safe and a Merry Christmas!

the Christmas Spirit Blog | a proud member of the Homeboy Media Network 

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Seasons Greetings from The Christmas Spirit Blog and The Homeboy Media Network

 …… and a Happy New Year 2010!

Christmas Spirit and the Homeboy Media Network wishes you a Happy New Year 2010!

Christmas Trees care tips

So, you shop for your perfect Christmas Tree, if you haven’t done so already. All you need now is just a little guidance to help you choose the right one.

As you shop, keep in mind that the right tree will feel pliable and soft, even on varieties with stiff needles, such as spruces.

  • Bang the bottom of the tree on a solid surface once or twice to see if the needles are ready to fall, it’s okay if some brown or yellow needles drop, but the tree shouldn’t shed any green ones.
  • Bring your tree stand to make sure the trunk will fit.
  • Freshly cut Christmas trees generally hold their needles the best, so cutting your own is the only way to guarantee its freshness.
  • For a list of farms in Maryland and Virginia where you can cut your own tree, check http://www.marylandchristmastrees.org or http://www.virginiachristmastrees.org.

Frazier firs have open branching, allowing easy decorating.

  • After you bring the tree home, use a bow saw to cut two inches off the bottom of the trunk, and place the tree in water in your garage or another location close to the house.
  • When you are ready to bring the tree indoors, make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk.
  • Introduce the tree to room temperature one day before decorating, allowing its branches to open completely.
  • Set it in a stand that’s big enough to provide stability and large enough to hold water for the tree’s daily needs.
  • Use a hand pruner or pruning saw to shape the tree for a balanced appearance and to make room underneath for gifts.
  • Make sure to cut away from your body and from other people while pruning.

There are several important safety tips for homeowners to remember.

  • Trees should be kept well away from fireplaces and at least three feet from any heating sources, and they should not be placed near exits.
  • When using decorative lights, use only those that carry a UL approved tag, and be sure to turn off the lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Local fire marshals also recommend strongly that trees be kept indoors for as brief a period as possible.
  • More information on holiday safety is available at http://www.kate.net/holidays/christmas/holidaysafety.html

The American National Christmas Tree Association, which represents growers of holiday trees, says that homeowners should not add products such as fertilizer, bleach or aspirin to water to make trees last longer.

“Research has shown that plain tap water is by far the best” according to their web site. “Some commercial additives and home concoctions can actually be detrimental to a tree’s moisture retention and increase needle loss”.

A Christmas tree can take, on average, six to 10 years to mature to a suitable size. Each year 73 million new trees are planted, according to the tree growers association. But if you’re worried about the impact of all those holiday trees on the environment, take heart: Christmas tree farming does bring some benefits. A renewable resource, the trees boost air quality by generating oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide and particulate pollution. Tree growth also helps to stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife.

Once the holidays are over, homeowners face a new question: What to do with the tree? Local jurisdictions typically schedule pickup for discarded Christmas trees, which are chipped and added to Municipal leaf piles for compost. Most trees, in fact, end up providing a rich source of compost material. Many unsold trees also enter the chipper thus contributing to enriching the soil.

You can do your own post-Christmas composting in a few easy steps >

  • First, prune the limbs off the main trunk.
  • Then strip the smaller woody stems off the main branches, putting the needle-rich stems in your compost pile. The needles will add nitrogen, while the wood stems will add carbon.
  • The trunk and main branches can be placed curbside for pickup.

If you find a cone on your tree, remove it and allow to dry outside over winter. Peel back its “armor” in the spring to reveal the seeds hiding behind each woody scale. Plant the seeds in sunny spots. In 6 to 10 years, with proper soil, sun, moisture, pruning and temperatures, you may have a homegrown Christmas tree or two.

Your old Christmas tree can also be used to create a wildlife habitat >

  • Lay the tree in the back of your garden, slightly out of view.
  • Allow it collect leaf litter and plant debris.
  • Place a hollow log or a dead shrub behind it. Squirrels, rabbits, foxes, toads, turtles and birds depend on this type of protected area for nesting and shelter from predators.
  • As the tree decays, it will provide food for insects and worms that will in turn be eaten by birds.

Evergreen limbs can also be used as protection from wind or freeze damage for plants such as rosemary, loropetalum, or the roots of tender perennials and bulbs such as canna and dahlia. Lay the branches lightly, just one or two thick, as blankets over the desired area. Remove branches as growth resumes in the spring.

Some people are brave enough to bring home a live tree that can be planted in their yard. If this is what you have in mind, go to a garden center or tree seller that has experience with growing them. Live trees can be planted right after Christmas, but now is the time to dig and prepare the hole and put soil for planting the tree in an area where it won’t freeze. The trees adapt well in humus-laden, well-drained soil, with sunlight. Of course, until you plant the tree, cover the pre-dug hole with thick plywood, for safety. Keep the root ball moist and take the live tree out of the house within a week after the holiday to keep it from breaking dormancy.

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol tops Christmas charts

Waterstone’s last week reported that the fourth book by Dan Brown, “The Lost Symbol”, clocked up the most sales this month making it the number one Christmas read.

The book, which broke every record when it was released, beat the Guinness World Records 2010 and Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse.

Brown’s first book, “The Da Vinci Code”, which was later made into a film, was top of the Christmas book chart back in 2004.

Waterstone’s fiction buyer Janine Cook said: “The Lost Symbol has not been far from the top of the charts since publication, and it’s a great gift, which is why it’s back on top”.

In other news, rock band Rage Against the Machine ended the X-Factor’s four year dominance of the Christmas number one spot following half a million people supporting an online campaign to get ‘Killing in the Name’ to the top of the charts.

Charles Dickens toothpick sold at auction in New York

An ivory and gold toothpick once owned by Charles Dickens was sold at an auction in New York City for the amount of US$9,150.

The item is engraved with the English author’s initials. It was sold by heirs to the Barnes and Noble family. The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auctioneer, Bonhams, said the buyer did not want to be named.

The toothpick has Charles Dickens's initials and a retracting mechanism.

An authentication letter from Dickens’s sister-in-law says the author of “Great Expectations” and “A Christmas Carol” used the toothpick up to his death in 1870.

The author, also known by the pen-name of Boz, created some of the most memorable fictional characters of all time. Dickens’s work, which also includes “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield”, has enjoyed enormous popularity in America since the author’s own lifetime. Charles Dickens visited the country and wrote the travelogue “American Notes”.

Related Links > http://www.bonhams.com

Source > BBC