Real vs. artificial Christmas trees: Which should you get?

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 3:35 PM

The History Of The Christmas Tree

When it comes to holiday decorating, one big question that arises each year is whether real or artificial Christmas trees are the better choice.

There are pros and cons to both kinds of Christmas trees, and which is best for you is a personal decision. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between a real or artificial Christmas tree.

For better health, real tree: Birgitta Gatersleben, an environmental psychologist at the University of Surrey, told The Telegraph that households benefit from exposure to natural environments and there was “plenty of evidence” that real Christmas trees helped people recover more quickly from stress and mental fatigue.

“Evergreen plants seem alive when everything else appears dead," she noted. "It is the depth of color of real trees and the smell that really appeals to people, as well as the notion that something alive is coming indoors.”

For minimal mess, artificial tree: “No matter what you do, there’s going to be needles falling off a real tree,” Chal Landgren, a professor in the department of horticulture at Oregon State University, told Consumer Reports. Overwatering can also damage floors or carpets, or at least require frequent mopping or steam cleaning.

Of course, artificial trees also eventually require cleaning, according to SFGate, including some sponging down and vigorous shaking at the beginning of the season. The only time it might be more difficult to clean up after an artificial tree than a natural version: when the fake tree comes pre-wired with lights that are almost impossible to clean around, since you shouldn't get them wet.

For decreased risk of home fire, artificial tree: The National Fire Protection Association determined that the risk of a fire is three times greater with natural trees than artificial ones, reported CR, adding that total number of Christmas-tree-related fires is small and burning candles are the far more common culprit.

If you want to buy American, real tree: Using 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture stats, CR reported that U.S. farmers harvested 17.3 million Christmas trees for $305 million in sales, while U.S. Census Bureau stats indicated 97 percent of artificial trees that same year were imported from China.

For improved outdoor air quality, real tree: All trees, even those planted solely to cut for Christmas a few years later, are beneficial to the environment, according to Clean Air Gardening. "Trees are like the lungs of the planet," it said. "They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Additionally, they provide habitat for birds and other wildlife."

Trees also help to reduce ozone levels in urban areas, cut runoff and erosion by storing water and breaking the force of rain as it falls, and absorb sound and reduce noise pollution.

For decorations lasting more than a few weeks, artificial tree: According to Today's Home Owner, a cut tree will last just a month before you need to take it down. Even a month may be a stretch--that figure only applies to a freshly cut tree, kept well supplied with water. "If you’re buying a pre-cut tree, be sure to ask when it was harvested," noted THO. All natural Christmas trees start losing needles as they dry, though fir, spruce, and cypress generally typically keep their needles longer than pines.

For those who aren't so great with upkeep, artificial tree: A real tree can drink a gallon or more of water per day to start, according to THO, so to maintain one you'll need to be prepared to check the reservoir several times over the first few days and at least once a day after that, never letting the reservoir dry out.

If you value reusing, recycling or repurposing, real tree: If you're responsible and maybe a little creative, a live tree will never need to take up space in a landfill, according to Lowe's, which recommended looking for local recycling centers that will chip and shred trees for use as mulch or part of erosion barriers for lake and river shoreline management.

Note, though, if you're not going to recycle your tree, the fact that it could be recycled doesn't count as a plus. Instead, it will just go to the landfill once a year, versus the artificial tree, which should last many years before you have to toss and replace it.

Lowe's also suggested repurposing live trees after you take them down, using thin slices of the trunk as canvases for next year's ornaments or coasters, for example, or sinking the whole tree into a backyard pond as a refuge and feeding area for fish. You can also stand the tree or a few of its larger branches in the yard as an organic feeder and sanctuary for birds.

For allergy relief, it's a draw. If you have sneezing fits around Christmas trees, the cause is less likely to be the tree and more likely to be mold spores on the tree, according to CR. A fake Christmas tree that's been stored in the attic or basement can collect dust or mold, too.

After reviewing all the evidence, if you're still undecided or drawn to the same decision you've made in years past, don't fret, advised CR. "It really comes down to your holiday traditions and what works best for your family," it said. "And no one said you couldn’t purchase more than one!”

New Year's baby born on freeway after South Carolina police chase

Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 5:31 AM

VIDEO: New Year's Baby Born on Freeway Following Police Chase

A South Carolina father watched his baby girl’s birth while he was in handcuffs.

>> Watch the news report here

WCIV-TV reports Carl Alewine’s fiancee’s water broke early on New Year’s morning and he was racing down Interstate 26 near Charleston to get her to the hospital.

>> On WSOCTV.com: South Carolina woman slips out of handcuffs, hijacks cruiser, deputies say

The car was traveling at more than 90 miles per hour when several law enforcement officers started chasing Alewine.

He just kept going until officers eventually boxed him in and forced him to pull over.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

They had Alewine in handcuffs when his little girl, Anastasia, came out with one push.

>> On WSOCTV.com: New section in North Carolina DMV handbook explains what to do when pulled over

"I'm sitting there, watching her born on the hood of the car, fireworks going off in the background, because it's 1 in the morning on New Year's and then they let me out of handcuffs and all the cops started clapping and congratulating us," Alewine recalled.

>> Read more trending news 

The baby was born healthy, even though the mother went through a high-risk pregnancy. 

The family said they're thankful for the first responders' help. 

Tiffany Trump rings in new year at Playboy party

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 1:35 AM

Tiffany Ariana Trump is the 24-year-old daughter of Donald Trump and his second wife, Marla Maples. She was named after jewelry store Tiffany & Company, which is adjacent to Trump Tower. She is known for her active social life and Instagram with more than 946,000 followers. Tiffany spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention on its second night.

After a week at Mar-a-Lago with her presidential family, Tiffany Trump headed to California to spend New Year’s Eve with a very different kind of group.

>> Trump golfs, meets with Florida's governor before hosting gala event

The first daughter was a guest at a Los Angeles bash hosted by heir to the Playboy throne Cooper Hefner. The 24-year-old was photographed speaking to Hefner and posing beside his fiancee, Scarlett Byrne, as well as other friends, multiple media outlets reported, including the Washington PostPage SixPeople and the Daily Mail.

>> PHOTOS: Tiffany Trump through the years

Tiffany Trump and Scarlett Byrne, @playboy #NYE2018

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@playboy #NYE2018

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Tiffany Trump has joined the @playboy party!

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The event marked the first New Year’s Eve bash since magazine founder Hugh Hefner’s death on Sept. 27. He was 91 years old.

The late Hefner reportedly had wanted Marla Maples — Tiffany’s mother and Donald Trump’s second wife — to pose in his controversial magazine just three years before Tiffany’s birth. However, the actress turned down the offer.

>> Read more trending news 

“I’m thankful for my body, but I didn’t want to exploit it,” she reportedly said. “How would I ever be taken seriously?”

Here's what Kathy Griffin did on first New Year's Eve after CNN fired her

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 6:45 AM

What You Need To Know: Kathy Griffin

Comic Kathy Griffin‘s social media post depicting a bloody image of herself posed with a prop head of President Donald Trump prompted tour cancellations and got her fired from her gig co-hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast.

>> PHOTOS: New Year's celebrations around the world

That was seven months ago.

By New Year’s Eve, Griffin had found new footing – and made some new plans with her mom and her puppy:

>> Watch the video here

Griffin posted a somber video shortly after the firestorm sparked by the image, saying, “I sincerely apologize. I’m a comic. I crossed the line ... I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny. I get it.”

>> Mariah Carey finds her New Year's tea, takes Twitter by storm

She soon struck a more defiant chord, suggesting during a news conference that anger over the image was a political cover.

“We all know what’s going on here. They’re using me as a shiny object so that nobody’s talking about his FBI investigation…I’ve had everybody turn on me. I just want to make everybody laugh.”

She went on to call Trump a “fool.”

>> Read more trending news 

“My impression is that they have mobilized their Army,” she said at the time. “It’s quite clear to me that they are using me as a distraction. I’m not going to be collateral damage for this fool. I think he’s a fool. I think the president is a fool.”

She became emotional, asked what the future holds: “I don’t think I will have a career over this. I’m going to be honest. He broke me.”

Turns out, he didn't.

10 tips for sticking with your exercise plan in the new year

Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 8:34 AM

Tips For Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

It’s the New Year’s resolution that everyone has and virtually no one keeps: We want to get in shape.

Here are 10 tips to help you keep on track:

>> New Year's resolutions: 4 tips for avoiding gym membership scams

1. Make a plan

If you made your decision on New Year’s Eve, that’s only making a decision based on your emotional state that day. Make a plan for big and small goals and particular parts of your body you want to target to help keep you focused. A health professional can help with this.

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2. Be realistic

While you might be adamant that you’ll never eat bread, meat or chocolate chip cookies again, making that one of your goals is setting yourself up to fail. Instead, go for what’s attainable: Instead of having your favorite food three days a week, you’ll only have it once. Start small and build.

>> How to keep your New Year's resolutions this time

3. Create a battle plan

Despite all your best efforts, temptation will come knocking. Try to decide in advance how you will deal with wanting to skip that exercise class or have that piece of cake. This could include calling or texting a weight loss buddy, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your “bad” will affect your goal.

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4. Talk about it openly

Wanting to live a healthier life is something to be proud of, not ashamed of. Don’t treat your resolution like a dirty little secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve.

With any luck, they’ll help you find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and can help you stay motivated.

>> Read more trending news 

5. Document your feelings

Why is getting in better shape a good idea? Write down all the reasons that are motivating you, from wanting to be able to walk up the stairs without losing your breath to wanting to look better on the beach. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.

6. Keep track of your progress

It sounds like this list has more writing down than working out, but it is important to keep track of your progress. Being able to see where you were and how far you’ve come is an important way to keep yourself motivated.

For example, instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, focus on losing the first five. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track, and reward yourself for each five pounds lost.

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7. Rewards are OK

Rewards are a good thing. Don’t think that because you’re losing weight, you have to become an ascetic. Instead of going out to eat to celebrate a milestone, treat yourself to new fitness clothes or by going out to a movie.

>> 9 inspiring New Year's resolution quotes to motivate you in 2018

8. 21 days

Exercising and working out won’t become good habits overnight. By Tuesday of the second week, all the newness will have worn off, and it’ll start getting harder to get up and get moving, especially if you’re exercising before work.

Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. Get through that first three-week stretch, and you’ll be making real progress.

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9. Give yourself a break

It’s not the day missed at the gym or the indulgence in ice cream that’ll knock you off track – it’s the obsessing about it afterward.

Negative thought patterns won’t help maintain your positive plan. Do the best you can each day, and take one day at a time.

10. Don’t give up

Maybe you hit the Valentine’s Day wall – or even the Jan. 15 wall. But that’s not a reason to give up.

Start with one meal, then one day. You can do anything for 24 hours. Once you start building on the 24-hour increments, before long you’ll be back in the groove.

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