Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Tips: Finding the Right Tree & More

This morning I've been sharing a few Christmas tips that I've found this week.  Here's a recap of what we spoke about, and a few extras that I wasn't able to mention on-air.  Ps... Don't forget the 12 Days of Cookies starts today.  Check out the previous post for today's recipe. Don't forget to check back tomorrow for another great cookie idea!

Fresh Christmas Tree Shopping Tips:
I mentioned that Ceci has been sharing that she and her family are purchasing a real Christmas Tree this year.  I've steered away from them for the past few years because of all the sap, but Ceci and I have some great tips to help with that I'll share later in this post.  First, here are a few tips I found on Southern Living to make sure your beautiful choice is the freshest tree of all.

Know your Maximum Size:
I know this seems like a pretty obvious step, but sometimes the excitement of the holidays cause us to forget a few things... like making sure the tree will fit.  To calculate your maximum tree size, measure the height of your ceiling and then subtract 1 foot.  This will give you plenty of room for the star or other tree topper.  Also, don't forget to keep the girth of the tree in mind too.  The smaller your room, the skinnier the tree should be, unless there is very little furniture.

How to check for freshness:
Even with diligent care, cut trees only last about 10 days so your best bet in finding a fresh tree is to cut your own from a farm or purchase one from a store/lot that offers trees harvested within days of delivery.  High prices don't necessarily mean the tree will be fresh.  Before you buy, run your fingers down a tree branch.  All of the needles should stay intact, and your hand should smell like an evergreen. Also, gentle shaking and or moving of the tree should only make very little if any needles drop.  If the needles are falling off, the tree will probably not last through Christmas.

Recut the Trunk:
Once you find the perfect tree, don't forget to recut the trunk on an angle.  You will need to cut the trunk about 1 inch above the end to help the tree absorb water.  If you don't have a saw, most places will do this for you.  Just make sure you get your tree into a bucket of water within an hour of cutting or the pores will seal and you will have to start over. If the tree is fresh-cut from a farm, then go ahead and put it in the stand.  Otherwise, soak it in a bucket of water outside overnight.  You can also spray the tree down with a hose to help remove debris and hydrate the needles.

Holiday Stain Removal Tips:
So now that you've found your perfect real Christmas tree, what do you do with all of that sap?  Or  for that matter, what do you do with all of the other holiday stains?  Here's some tips I found on Real Simple Magazine to help keep the merry in your Christmas.

Christmas Tree Sap:
  • From your hands - Ceci shared a great tip on her Pinterest board a few days ago on how to remove tree sap from your hands with olive oil.  Simply pour a tablespoon of olive oil onto a cloth and rub until clean.  Not only will it remove the sap, it will leave your hands soft.
  • From fabric - With a cloth, dab dry-cleaning fluid onto the stain (Real Simple recommends Guardsman); let dry.  Then immerse the stain for 30 minutes in 1 cup bleach-free liquid laundry detergent with a dash of ammonia (Careful with this - it's strong).  Wash in the warmest water safe for the fabric.
  • From the rug - For a wool rug, scrape off what you can with a spoon, then use a dry spot remover like WoolClean Dry Spot Remover 2.  For a synthetic rug, Real Simple suggests applying Goof Off then blot with diluted dish soap.  Wait a few minutes, then rinse with hot water using a spray bottle.  Blot dry.
Candle Wax:
  • On Table Linens - Scrape off what you can with a spoon.  Place several paper towels on an ironing board, lay the stained area on top of the paper towels then place a few more paper towels on top.  Press with a warm iron.  The paper towels will absorb the wax.  You may need to replace the paper towels a few times to avoid transferring the stains back to the table linens.  If any wax remains, sponge with a Pre-treat spray, blot, allow to air dry, then wash.  Use bleach if fabric allows.
  • On the rug - For wool, cover the wax with a brown grocery bag (one layer) and press with a warm iron.  To remove any wax that remains, use a Wool-safe Dry Spot Remover.  For a synthetic rug, follow the same advice for the wool rug, but Real Simple recommend treating the remaining wax with Goof Off with a dry cloth then rinsing with a damp cloth.  Blot dry with paper towels.
Cranberry Sauce or Apple Cider:
  • On Table Linens - Remove anything solid with a spoon and run the fabric under cold water—do this as soon as you can. Spritz with a Pre-Treat spray, then wash in the warmest water safe for the fabric, using bleach if the fabric allows.
  • On the Rug - Use a spoon to scrape off anything solid. For wool, use a cloth to blot with cold water, then treat with Wool-safe Spot Remover  For a synthetic rug, apply diluted dish soap; let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. If the stain is gone, rinse, then dry with paper towels. If the stain is not removed, blot on a solution of ½ cup hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon ammonia (You may want to try this on a test area first). Let stand for 2 to 3 hours, covered with plastic wrap and weighted with something heavy. Rinse with water, then apply white vinegar to the place the stain had been and blot with a damp cloth; dry with paper towels.
Gravy, Butter, or Salad Dressing:
  • On Table Linens - If the stain is still wet, swipe it with a  instant-stain-remover wipe. If the stain has dried, spritz with a Pre-Treat spray and (for wet stains, too) wash in the warmest water safe for the fabric.
  • On the Rug - For wool, use a clean white cotton cloth to blot with Wool-safe Dry Spot Remover, then dab with diluted dish soap. Follow with a fresh damp cloth. For a synthetic rug, apply Goof Off to a cloth and blot onto the stain. Then dab on diluted dish soap and use a damp cloth to rinse. Dry with paper towels.
Coffee or Tea:
  • On Table Linens - Soak the stain in cool water for 30 minutes. Spray with a Pre-Treat solution, then wash in the warmest water safe for the fabric, using bleach if the fabric allows.
Soot or Candle Ashes:
  • On Table Linens - Hold the fabric taut and use the vacuum's hose attachment to remove as much soot as possible. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain to absorb it. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then vacuum again. Apply Pre-Treat Spray and wash in the warmest water safe for the fabric.
  • On the Rug - Vacuum with the hose attachment. Then, for a wool rug, blot with Wool-safe Dry Spot Remover, using a clean cloth. For a synthetic rug, apply diluted dish soap. If that doesn't do the trick, blot with Goof Off, followed by diluted dish soap. Wait 3 minutes, then rinse by dabbing on hot water. Blot dry.
For more tips, check out the entire article at this link

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