Tree Classics Christmas in July: 5 Simple Ways to Spread Cheer

Christmas has always been a season of giving. Whether you’re handing out gifts at an orphanage or helping out at a local soup kitchen, you know there is nothing more satisfying than being able to make other people happy. Celebrating Christmas in July allows you to continue spreading the joy of the holidays. Join Tree Classics as we list down ways you can turn your Christmas good deed into a year-long tradition.

1. Hold Storytelling Sessions with Kids

Audiobook
Photo from LibAmanda via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Reading is a great way for kids to enrich their imagination. There is a tale of adventure and awe locked inside every page of a good book. But reading can be very difficult for a child who has dyslexia or is visually challenged. Remove this obstacle by lending your voice in an audiobook production and holding a storytelling session with kids.

By using well-loved storybooks and textbooks that have been transformed into electronic recordings, children with learning disabilities can enjoy the lessons that these wonderful literary treasures have to offer. Visit Learning Ally to find out how you can sign up as a volunteer reader.

2. Visit Homes for the Elderly

Elderly
Photo from ryanrocketship via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Time has a way of making us forget the things that really matter. We won’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the people who came before us. Let’s not wait until the Christmas season to check up on Grandpa and Grandma and make them feel appreciated. Drop by your grandparents’ house or your local elderly home and bring back their smiles. You can share a meal, tell stories, and even play fun games with them. Check out organizations such as Little Brothers to learn more about how you can help bring cheer into the lives of our beloved elderly.

3. Become a Red Cross Volunteer

First Aid
Photo from Fort Meade via flickr. CC BY 2.0

If you’re looking for a long-term commitment helping out, you can never go wrong with the American Red Cross. Always ready to help where there is a disaster, the organization has come to symbolize solidarity and care. For decades, it has given aid to those situated in the most dangerous corners of the world. The Red Cross has diversified its volunteer work into different functions. Aside from helping in disaster relief efforts, you can also be a volunteer at blood drives, become a health and safety instructor, or even a social media advocate.

4. Rescue Animals with Your Neighbors

Animal Rescue
Photo from Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Animals have the right to be safe. Sadly, not everybody is aware of this fact. We often find pets neglected or mistreated by their owners. Groups such as Sanctuary One and The Humane Society of the United States try their best to care for these poor critters, but they also need the help of other animal lovers. Sign up for their programs such as rescuing and protecting these pets from cruelty and providing them a loving home.

5. Build Homes for the Homeless

Habitat
Photo from Rob Swystun via flickr. CC BY 2.0

And, yes, there is no place like home. This has always driven the volunteers of Habitat for Humanity. They have dedicated their time and energy to providing homeless people everywhere a shelter where they can be safe and warm. You can join hands with family and friends and turn home-building activities into a time for bonding. With every brick you lay and every beam you hammer into place, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped create a better tomorrow for your fellow.

You don’t have to wait until Christmas to spread holiday cheer. Now is as good a time as any other.

Tree Classics Favorite Recipes: 7 Delicious Smoothies that Detoxify

Summer inspires people to get healthy. Just think of all the luscious fruits and mouthwatering veggies bursting with color and flavor! They’re not only tasty. They also cleanse your body. But if you’re looking for something other than your usual summer salad, you can switch things up. Count on these thirst-quenching smoothies that also work as a complete meal, light snack, or summer drink that takes all your worries away.

Summer Smoothies
Photo from Andrew Michaels via flickr. CC BY 2.0

1. Carrot, Mango, and Herb Smoothie

Sip your way to good health with this carrot, mango, and herb smoothie. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene and vitamin A, which promote good eye health and slow down the aging of cells. The falcarinol and falcarindiol in carrots also reduce the risk of lung, breast, and colon cancers. Meanwhile, mangoes prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, promote good eyesight and help alkalize the body. The fusion of mint, tarragon, and basil helps with its digestive and anti-oxidant properties.

Enjoy these amazing benefits with the carrot, mango, and herb smoothie by Whole Living. Combine two cups of frozen mango chunks, one cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, one cup of fresh carrot juice, 1/4 cup of fresh herbs, such as mint, tarragon, or basil, and blend until smooth. Super easy!

2. Avocado-Apple Smoothie

Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that help the body absorb vitamins A and E important for maintaining the smoothness of skin. This fleshy green-skinned fruit can also lower cholesterol, fight eye disease, and prevent oral, breast, and prostate cancers. Anti-oxidant and fiber-enriched apples, meanwhile, fight the effects of aging on the brain, providing protection against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Make the avocado-apple smoothie from Incredible Smoothies by blending together one green apple, 1/2 avocado, one tablespoon of lime juice, and 1/2 to one cup of water. This is one yummy anti-aging recipe that you’ll never get out of your mind!

Continue reading “Tree Classics Favorite Recipes: 7 Delicious Smoothies that Detoxify”

Tree Classics Christmas in July: Tips for Caring for Your Christmas Tree

After six months of stashing away your Christmas tree in the attic or basement, it’s time once again to take it out for some much-deserved cleaning and fluffing and celebrate Christmas in July. To help you along, Tree Classics runs down basic steps as you display your beloved tree this summer.

Tree Classics Christmas Tree
Photo from wolfsavard via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Dust off the Tree

Just like any item stored in a box for months, your Christmas tree may have accumulated dust – and dust often sticks deep within the bristles and branches. Cleaning it can get frustrating. To make things easier, you can either use a handy vacuum or go old school with a whisk broom.

  • Vacuums can be used on newer and sturdier trees. When using one to clean your Christmas tree, make sure that the vacuum is not too powerful for it. Attach an upholstery bristle to your vacuum and test it out first on the base of the tree. If your tree can handle it, go ahead and proceed with the vacuuming. Once you get to the needles and branches, keep the vacuum about an inch away from the tree so that it won’t suck in the foliage.
  • When dusting old and delicate Christmas trees, it is better to use a soft whisk broom. Carefully brush the dust off the tree, paying close attention to the branches and needles. You can also use a damp rag for a more meticulous cleaning of the foliage.
  • For the trunk and larger branches, a bucket of warm water and some mild dish soap will do the trick. Soak a rag in the bucket and start wiping the tree. You can also use shampoo.
  • For pre-lit Christmas trees, avoid using any liquid cleaner to prevent short-circuits.

Check the Detailing

Once you’re through getting rid of all that muck from your tree, the next thing to do is to check all of its parts. Sometimes in our haste to store our tree right after Christmas, we tend to leave out some of its pieces.  We wouldn’t know until the next season when we’re about to take it out again.

  • Familiarize yourself with each part of your Christmas tree when setting it up and disassembling it. Also, keep the manual for the tree handy to have a complete list of its pieces.
  • When working on a pre-lit Christmas tree, double check it for loose connections or busted bulbs before plugging it in.

Ask Help Early

If you find that some parts are missing or that there are damages to your Christmas tree, you should notify your tree company’s customer service right away for parts replacements or appropriate repairs. Inspecting your tree’s condition as early as July will save you from further troubles during the busy holiday season.

More than just being a mere summer holiday, Christmas in July is a convenient reminder of how to properly take care of your beloved Christmas tree. Add this to your family tradition and you can be sure of a happy and stress-free yuletide season.

Tree Classics’ Summer Reading List

Tree Classics Pride and Prejudice

The slower pace of life in the summer allows you to take time, relax, and delight in a good book. As you make the most of your summer holiday, Tree Classics recommends titles that will help you unwind and pull away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life:

1. The Classics

There are novels that you wish you had read thoroughly back in college. Enjoy some of these old favorites. The classics take you back to the early times, giving you a greater perspective of the way people used to live and the ideas that had once influenced our world. Reading books written decades or even centuries ago not only increases your knowledge of literary references, but exposes your mind to different viewpoints. With some written in old English, and others representing the beginnings of modern English, classic books also improve your vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Tree Classics Recommends: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen; Les Misérables by Victor Hugo; Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy; and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

2. The Bestsellers

Don’t shy away from the bestseller rack. Reading something popular once in a while allows you to check out mainstream literature. Many bestsellers have, in fact, received good reviews. Whether fiction or non-fiction, these titles can explain much about the present world we live in. They especially give us ideas of the latest trends both in literal and literary terms. Since most are written in modern English, popular books are easy to understand, but this is not to say that you won’t pick up any new words from them.

Tree Classics Recommends: Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser; Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld; The Peripatetic Coffin by Ethan Rutherford; and Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon.

3. The Beach Reads

Languorous afternoons on the beach set the stage for light, escapist reading. Let’s face it: no one actually reads something as heavy as The Brothers Karamazov while out in the summer sun! Summer books or beach reads should not be as challenging or heart-wrenching as the classics, but they should be interesting enough to keep you entertained while you’re swinging on a hammock or lounging under a beach umbrella.

Tree Classics Recommends: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick; Heat Wave by Richard Castle; Summer Sisters by Judy Blume; and Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult.

And the list is complete. Happy summer reading!

Create a Sprawling Garden: Summer Flowers for Beginners

After highlighting summer crops in last month’s edition of Create a Sprawling Garden, Tree Classics will now take a look at four lovely flowers that are perfect for beginners. Not only are these blooms easy to grow. They also handle the extreme heat of summer very well.

1. Red Valerian

Most other plants wither under the summer sun, but the red valerian thrives in such conditions. In fact, this drought-resistant plant can exist in just about any condition except for wet climates. Originally from the Mediterranean region, red valerians are now commonly found in most western states such as California, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, and Hawaii.

Depending on how you look at it, the self-sowing seeds of the red valerian can either be a convenience or a nuisance. If you don’t want them to overpopulate your garden, make sure you deadhead your red valerian before the next bloom. A bi-weekly watering schedule and some bone meal placed in the soil should also be enough to take care of this summer bloom.

Let red valerians cascade from an elevation or grow along paths, rough slopes, and steep banks. Their lasting blooms enliven any dull and listless garden.

Red Valerian
Photo from M Hillier via flickr. CC BY 2.0

 

2. Moonbeam Coreopsis

The moonbeam coreopsis flourishes even in the brightest of daylight. You can plant this perennial flower in average or poor soil and it will still blossom radiantly. Because of its endurance, the moonbeam coreopsis is ideal for gardens in humid states, such as Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas.

As with most summer plants, this coreopsis cultivar does not require too much attention. One thing to note, though, is that for the moonbeam to bloom without hassle, you must regularly prune the flowers right after they fade. You can do this for a few times during the summer, and then allow the plant to go to seed at season’s end to reproduce new ones.

The pale yellow bloom of the moonbeam coreopsis adds contrast to the large leaves typical of perennials. Use the moonbeam coreopsis to balance the rich purples and blues of other blooms.

Moonbeam
Photo from F. D. Richards via flickr. CC BY 2.0

 

3. Daisy Fleabane

Native to the West Coast, fleabanes are considered one of the most durable summer flowers. It regularly blooms all throughout the harshest conditions of the season, from June to September.

In planting your daisy fleabanes, keep an eye out for “legginess.” It is a condition in which the plants do not get enough sunlight. They grow long thin stems that do not stand upright. When this happens, cut off these plants and remove them from under the shade.

If you’re looking for flowers to place in front of stone walls, then daisy fleabanes are for you. The slender ray petals give a splash of vibrancy to the naturally bland color of stone. Also, the long stalks make these cultivars a classic choice for flower arrangements.

Daisy Fleabane
Photo from wackybadger via flickr. CC BY 2.0

 

4. Goblin Blanket Flower

Also known as the kobold, the goblin blanket flower can withstand arid climate and, with enough leaf mulch, remain in bloom through winter. Similar to other summer flowers, it can survive even on low-quality soil as long as it has good drainage. If you plant them in moist garden loam, the stems tend to grow too far apart.

True to its namesake, the goblin blanket flower has an unusual way of growing. Unlike other plants that develop better in rich soil, this flower benefits more from thriving on poor earth. It is not advisable to enrich the soil by adding compost or other fertilizers. Goblin blanket flowers also do not grow properly in heavy clay.

The dark maroon center and golden yellow tips of the petals give the goblin a sunny appeal. Baring some striking resemblance to the sunflower, it also has a wide bloom that ranges from three to four inches. When planting the goblin in a group, you can place it beside taller flowers with warm tones.

Goblin
Photo from Sarah Korf via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Flowers have a unique way of enlivening any space. Try planting these colorful summer blooms to help you define the aesthetics of your outdoors.