Category Archives: Holidays

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Tips

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Tips

It is the time of year when the leaves start to turn a palate of different colors, the days get noticeably shorter, the air takes on a hint of coolness, and our minds begin to turn to the essence of the holiday season: Outdoor holiday decorations! Here are a few Outdoor Holiday Decorating Tips:

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Tips

I am not a designer, I have my preferences, but I refuse to get caught between those who prefer simple, traditional and elegant versus those with slightly more flamboyant tastes. That is entirely up to the homeowner and his neighbors. Having said this, I can now say that your taste and style will largely determine the methods, tools, and hardware you will need to get the job done. In other words, I can’t say much about the process, methods or tools for the job.

A few basic tools

It is safe to say that you will probably need a few basic tools for either type of installation. A hammer, a screwdriver, and a ladder are almost always appropriate for such work. Before you get started do remember to keep safety in the forefront of your mind.

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Tips: Safety

Before you start untangling spaghetti-like strands of Christmas lights, before you run to the hardware store for the latest in home holiday decoration technology, before you do anything else at all, think about safety! An accident this season could make your holiday a lot less happy, and a lot more costly so follow some basic safety guidelines.


Check your ladder to make sure that it is safe! Are the rungs secure, are the legs even, is it long enough for the task at hand, did you gain an extra 30 pounds during last years holidays that make the ladder unsafe for your new weight? If not, don’t move forward until it is properly repaired, or a new one of the right dimensions and weight class purchased.

Before you set your ladder up to climb on top of the house to put up your four times life-size Santa and sleigh scene, be sure that you know the location of any above-ground power lines, and keep the ladder clear of them! Make sure the ladder is properly extended and properly placed. Having to stretch to reach something when you are on top of a ladder could cause a holiday ending injury.

Hand tools

The same should be done for your hand tools. Make certain that you have the right tools for the job, and that they are in good repair. Don’t try to make a screwdriver do the job of a hammer, and don’t use a hammer with a loose head.

Electrical safety

It should go without saying that electricity can kill you, but not just the high energy lines coming into the house! Before you decide to splice a couple of strands of light, or a power cord together, ask yourself some questions: Will this be a potential shock hazard for children or adults? Will this be a potential fire hazard? Would it be smarter, simpler, and safer just to buy a new one? If you decide to do it anyway, make certain that you are not breaking any laws or codes, and that the power is off before slicing into something that might lite you up like a Christmas tree! Make all connections secure and according to code.

Really, just follow basic safety rules, and use common sense. You don’t want to wind up in the emergency room for the holidays.

Another method of decorating

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Tips: An Alternative to all that work!

If you lack the expertise to work with the tools and materials for your exterior holiday decorating project, or if you are not sure that you have the tools and equipment needed to perform the job safely, there is another way. Many lawn and landscape companies will install your holiday decorations for you for a small fee. It is sort of a natural fit for them. During the holiday season, there is much less lawn care work, and lawn and garden companies try to keep their crews occupied by doing this sort of work to keep things going till the grass starts growing. Such crews are normally bonded and insured. You can simply sit down with a cup of hot cider or eggnog while your home gets its magical holiday makeover.

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe: Taste The Potato!

There are so many foods we look forward to during the holiday season, and I wanted to offer my take on a Southern classic, Sweet Potato Pie. This is my favorite recipe for sweet potato pie offered to you just in time for the holiday season. I hope you like it. At the bottom of the page you will find a list of more articles on the sweet potato, including information on growing, curing, and baking them.

You will need:
1 pound of sweet potatoes from your local farmers market
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pie crust (unbaked)

Boil the sweet potatoes whole in their skins for about 45 minutes or as long as it takes to soften them up.
Remove skins. Tip: If you dip them in cold water the sweet potato skin will be easier to remove, and it will be easier on your fingers.

Homeade Sweet Potato Pie

Chop or break the sweet potatoes into a bowl.
Add the butter, and mix it in.
Stir in milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Continue to mix until smooth.
Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.*
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until a knife poked in center is clean when removed.

*For a variation on the standard pie crust, try this:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Mix the ingredients together and press into a pie plate.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Use in place of the standard pie crust for a special variation.

You have probably noticed that the standard nutmeg and or cinnamon that most folks use in a sweet potato or pumpkin pie are absent. Before you go and dump a bunch of spices in, at least try it. You will probably be surprised at just how delicious the pie is without them! The natural flavor of the sweet potato has subtleties that are missed when spices are added. If you simply must add something, try crushing 1/2 cup of pecans and spreading them over the top.

If you enjoy sweet potatoes, you might be interested in the following articles on this site, including my favorite way to cook them:

Growing Sweet Potato Slips

Curing And Storing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes The Curing Process

Cooking Baked Sweet Potatoes

Live Christmas Trees | Living Christmas Trees

Happy Holidays From Home And Garden Press

What is the difference between “live Christmas trees”, and “living Christmas trees”?

Live or Living?

When you read an ad for “live Christmas trees”, what the advertiser usually means is that the trees were once alive, that is, that the trees were once living until the chainsaw came down the row. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is another type of live Christmas tree that is really a living Christmas tree, and not a cut tree. These are trees that are planted in a container, and you will probably have to buy them from your local nursery, and not the tree lot or hardware store.

Living Christmas trees

Depending on where you live, there is probably a perfect living Christmas tree that will grow well in your area. Some great things about using a living Christmas tree are:

  • The tree will not dry out because it is alive, and you will be watering to keep it alive.
  • Cost. You will not have to buy a new tree for several years. The tree will be there for the next year.
  • When the tree becomes too large to use as a Christmas tree, it will be an attractive addition to your landscape.
  • You will be improving the environment.

Live Christmas Tree Type

In my part of the world, Virginia Juniper is a very common evergreen. These dark green, naturally cone shaped evergreens grow wild in most parts of the southeastern United States. Don’t worry if they don’t grow in your area, there is always some evergreen that grows native to your area that will provide an excellent alternative. It is important that you choose a native plant for several reasons, but the most important one is that you want it to survive from year to year in your climate.

Most nurseries supply container trees in many varieties, and you will probably want to purchase one in a 5 gallon container or larger. After the first year, check to see if the plant is becoming root bound, and if it is, transplant it into the next larger size container. Do this as soon after the holidays as possible, so that the tree will be well rooted into the new mix by the next season. Continue to check and up size if needed each year until the whole thing is too big for your indoor space, By that time, you will have decided on a suitable outdoor spot to plant the evergreen, and you can start all over again.

Climate and transition

Depending mostly on your climate, you may need to allow your tree to become acclimated to the weather conditions outdoors before removing it after the Christmas season. It can be moved into a less heated room, like a garage, or an unheated greenhouse in most areas, although in some areas, it may need to spend some time in a heated greenhouse, before moving into an unheated one. You know your climate, and probably have a pretty good idea how to make the transition in your area.

Living Christmas trees might be just the thing to liven up your holiday experience, and eventually, even your landscape!