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O CHRISTMAS TREE

Our Christmas trees are so personal to us that they are almost sacrosanct! The family memories of each ornament are part of the charm of the season, so let’s not mess with tradition!

Why not add another tree or more if you have the space and budget to do so? Maybe a small tree in your child’s bedroom decorated with their current craze? It could be Disney themed, ballerinas, a nautical beach theme, anything they choose! Nowadays, you can get ornaments for almost any theme. The little tree also makes a perfect nightlight.

How about a little gingerbread themed tree for the kitchen? Tuck it back on the counter out of the way if you are short on space. If you have a large island just put a small tree there. No electrical source? Small battery operated light strands would be perfect and are often on timers.

Let’s assume your home can accommodate a bigger tree and go from there!

After you have chosen your theme, it is time to choose a color scheme. It could be traditional red and green, red and gold, silver and red, aqua and turquoise (for the coastal, beach theme) or multi-colored. Non traditional holiday colors such as bronze, plum and even navy blue can add an updated, designer look to your tree.

Do you buy fresh trees every year? At today’s prices, you could pay for an artificial tree in 2 or 3 years! But if it’s only fresh for your family, Hooray for you! The thrill of the hunt for that perfect tree is a tradition some families would not think of giving up. The smell is divine but there are some negatives to the fresh option. First, they dry out so quickly, you MUST water them every day. Secondly, there must be some type of protective surface under the tree skirt or you could put your floor in jeopardy from possible leakage. (I suggest a trash bag) And finally, they drop dozens of needles per day as the season progresses. If your response to these cautions is, “Who cares?” then fresh is the option for you!

After you have chosen your tree, before you purchase it, pick it straight up in the air from the top and bang it on the ground. Some needles will naturally fall but if tons of needles fall off, keep looking, that tree is past saving. If possible, saw an inch or so off the trunk to give it a fresh surface for water to be absorbed. Some growers suggest taking your newly purchased tree to the car wash! Spray off all the little critters you don’t want to bring into your house. If a family member seems to be allergic to the tree, this washing will get rid of the allergens that may be causing the reaction! Often it is the pollen left on the tree.

Your hose in the driveway would work just as well, methinks!

After it is dry, put your tree in a sturdy tree stand and let’s get to work decorating it!
I think one of the main draws to an artificial tree is it usually has the lights already incorporated. Not so for fresh trees! This job can make a grown man cry! However, there are some tips that can make this task easier.

Start by taking your green extension cord up the trunk to the top, (hidden, of course). Starting from the top, string the lights in towards the center of the tree trunk and out towards the tips of the branches, trying to hide the cords as best you can. This gives depth to your tree. The rule of thumb is 100 mini lights per foot of tree. This is only a minimum suggestion so feel free to add as many that can safely be put together without becoming a fire hazard. These instructions can be found on the boxes of lights. Lighting options are endless. Twinkle, white lights or colored lights, every family has their favorite. You may choose just one color or maybe 2 colors to tie in with your color scheme. You can also choose these colors exclusively for your ornaments. A tree done in simple red and gold, for example can be quite elegant, while red and white can give way to a more casual look with candy canes or snowmen.

The ornaments definitely cement the theme of your tree. For your budget’s sake, purchase multi-pack ornaments but not all the same size, color or shape or texture. Typically, it is best to opt for slightly over-sized ornaments, especially if your tree is over 7 feet. 10 large ornaments per foot is suggested. If you don’t happen to have large ones, wire 2 or 3 smaller ones together and treat that as 1 large ornament. Don’t forget to put some of the ornaments tucked into the tree to give it further dimension.

Of course, purchased ornaments are not the only source of tree decorations. Try using all natural elements such as pine cones, berries, feathers, twigs, grape vine or even birds and butterflies. Half the fun of decorating a new tree is the hunt for the items to fulfill the theme. Don’t forget to visit your craft store to get floral picks that coordinate with the theme. They are great for filling in holes and add another shape to the tree.

If you choose (and many people do NOT) you may like to add a garland to your tree. This could be actual purchased garland or ribbon tucked in about every 2 feet or so, starting for the top on an angle. Try not to have a garland that contrasts so much with the tree that you only see the garland when your look at the tree. Choose a color that compliments the other ornaments.
What about a tree topper? It could be a traditional star, Santa, a sail boat, a top hat, a huge bow, an angel…..anything that will match your theme. Think outside the box. You could even use 5-10 floral picks as a topper!

My Goodness! There are just too many ideas to try to fit into one small newsletter! I hope this gets your holiday creative juices flowing to add something new to your family’s routine.

Please celebrate each magic moment with your loved ones and have a blessed holiday season.

LET’S EAT OUT!

I have just left the Farmer’s market and am wondering where I should have my Saturday morning breakfast before heading to pottery. It’s about 9 am. I take a chance and head to Koko Head Cafe in Kaimuki. Typically, the line is long and I hate to wait even for a little bit! Today there was no wait and I saunter in with a smile. Koko Head Cafe is the brainchild of Chef Lee Anne Wong. Lee Anne is a true celebrity chef who both trained and worked the French Culinary Academy in New York. She worked for many famous chefs and was on Season One of Top Chef, subsequently serving as a Culinary Producer on the show. Honolulu is so lucky she decided to make the move from New York in 2001.

The restaurant serves brunch every day except Thanksgiving, New year’s Day and Christmas and what a brunch it is!

Regular and special items stand out along with an extensive cocktail program and her selection of bourbons.
Today I chose the dumpling of the day: Beef dumplings with coconut curry reduction. Every day she offers a different dumpling and even has a cookbook entitled, Dumplings All Day Wong! Choosing your dish is challenging, from the daily fish special, kitchen sink salad, cornflake french toast, Reuben frittata, breakfast bibimbap or any of her offerings for that matter, you will not be disappointed.

Open daily 7 am to 2:30 pm
1145C 12th Ave.
Honolulu
808.732.8920

WHAT HAPPENING THIS MONTH ON OAHU?

SHOPPING AND CRAFT FAIRS

Dec. 2 (8-3) Alii Shores Handcrafters Fair Nahiku Place, Kaneohe
Dec. 2 (9-3) Kailua Craft Fair Mokulua Drive, Kailua
Dec. 2 (4-9) Mililani Winter Craft Fair Rec Center, Mililani
Dec. 9 (10-2) Le Jardin Holiday Fair Le Jardin, Kailua
Dec. 9 (9-3) Honolulu Winter Fair Moanalua High School
Dec. 10 (8:30-3) Windward Craft Fair Heeia Elem. School
Dec. 15-17 Honolulu Craft Fair Blaisdell Center

SPORTING EVENTS

Dec. 3 Xterra Trail Kualoa Ranch
Dec. 10 Honolulu Marathon Ala Moana Blvd.
Dec. 16 Makahiki 5K Challenge Kualoa Ranch
Dec. 17 Jingle Rock Run State Capitol, Honolulu
Dec. 22-25 Diamond Head Classic University of Hawaii
Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl Aloha Stadium

ENTERTAINMENT

Dec. 2 Honolulu City Tree Lighting Honolulu Hale
Dec. 15-17 Nutcracker Ballet Blaisdell Concert Hall

Kind regards,
Cathy, Mary and Jeff