Arranging a Christmas Wreath

Arranging a Christmas Wreath


Follow these simple tips to make a beautiful and festive holiday wreath

  1. Use appropriately sized branches, and be consistent throughout the wreath.
  2. Be careful when placing bunches so the shape remains circular, otherwise you may end up with a football shape.
  3. Use a soft-touch ring. That way, if you don’t like the way your wreath is looking you can always open up the pins and make adjustments. When making the wreath, layer greens in the arrangement of your choice. Lay them along the soft-touch ring, pinching the pins along the side to secure the greens. It is critical that the malleable pins be wrapped tightly around the greens so they do not fall out. Also, each successive bunch added to your wreath should cover the cut ends of the previous bunch.
  4. And, of course, be creative! Do what you want and like for a wreath that is uniquely suited to you.


Caring for Your Wreath

To keep your wreath beautiful longer, don’t place it between a storm door and your regular door. Don’t leave the wreath inside for more than a few days, and keep it away from fireplaces and heating vents. If possible, keep the wreath out of direct sunlight and do not hang it on a south-facing wall. Occasionally mist the wreath with water.

Christmas Tree Care Tips

Christmas tree Care Tips


Cut Trees

  • Refresh the tree by making a straight cut, taking one inch off the butt and immediately placing the tree in water. This will improve water uptake.
  • Place the tree in a stand that can hold at least 1 gallon of water. You should expect the tree to take up additional water. Water the new tree until the water uptake stops.
  • Always kept the base of a tree in water. If the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end and the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out quickly. You don’t need anything other than regular tap water – drying out deters future water uptake and will require a new cut.
  • Commercially prepared mixes like aspirin, sugar and other additives introduced into the water are not necessary. Research has shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh.
  • Check for worn Christmas tree light electrical cords and always unplug at night. Use UL approved electrical decorations and cords. Using miniature lights produces less heat and reduces the drying effect on the tree or any chance of fire.
  • Take down the tree before it dries out. Many fresh cut trees if properly cared for, should last at least 5 weeks before drying out.
  • For easier watering, buy a funnel and a 3 to 4 foot tube. Slip the tube over the funnel outlet, extend tubing down into the tree stand and water without bending over or disturbing the tree skirt. Hide this system in an out-of-the-way part of the tree.


Living/Dug Trees

  • The tree should be stored in an unheated, sheltered area such as a garage or porch, out of the wind and sun. Do not expose the tree to freezing temperatures at any time.
  • The tree will need adequate water. The root ball or soil should be kept slightly damp but not flooded. Wrap the root ball of a balled tree in a plastic or place in a tub while it is in the house.
  • Live trees may be decorated, but with care. If lights are used, they must not give off any heat.
  • Do not remove the tree directly from a warm house out into freezing temperatures. Instead, move to a sheltered area first for several days. If the ground is unfrozen, the tree may be replanted. The spot to be dug should be mulched to prevent freezing. Plant as soon as possible after the holiday season.


Christmas tree Care Tips


Do not remove the burlap and strapping (unless it is plastic). This keeps the root     ball solid and secure. In the instance of a plastic cover, cut the cord and roll down the plastic at least half way prior to planting. Tap the tree container of a potted tree and remove prior to planting. Do not attempt to remove soil from the root system. Earth removed from the original hole should be backfilled around the root ball. Mulch heavily over the top of the planted root ball to prevent it from freezing. Water only as needed: a flooded tree may not survive.

  • Stake the trees to prevent the wind from tipping or damage during the first growing season.


Renewable Resource

It takes 4-15 years to grow a tree to a height ready for sale. During this time, the tree creates a thriving habitat for small ground creatures, birds and insects. Christmas tree farmers are responsible land stewards, planting 2-3 seedlings for each tree harvested.


Environmentally Friendly

  • One acre of Christmas trees makes enough oxygen for 18 people.
  • Trees help filter dust and smog from the air.
  • Root systems prevent erosion by holding soil in place.


Poinsettia Care Tips

  • Choose a plant with small, tightly clustered buds in the center.
  • Look for crisp, bright, undamaged foliage.
  • To keep your poinsettia blooming, water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch, discard excess water in the saucer.
  • To prolong color, keep a temperature range of 60 degrees for night and 72 degrees for day.
  • High humidity is preferable.
  • Keep your plant away from hot or cold drafts.


Christmas Tree Recycling

Town of Leesburg


Christmas Tree Recycling

CSI will collect Holiday Trees on the following days:

  • SE/SW (includes S. King St. & West Market St.) – Thursdays, January 7th & 14th
  • NE/NW (includes N. King St.) – Fridays, January 8th and 15th 

After Last Day of CSI Collection the Street Division May Collect Trees
Trees with a trunk size of less than 6″ in diameter may be set out on Monday night for pickup by the Street Maintenance Division during their routine brush collection schedule.  The crew circulates through town with the chipper truck on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and will collect trees curbside if they are out by Monday night.  

Please keep the following in mind when preparing your trees for collection – these guidelines apply to both CSI Recycling and Brush Collection pickups:

  • Remove all decorations from trees – please check carefully for items hidden behind thicker branches or limbs
  • Remove tinsel, fake snow, angel hair, etc.
  • Remove all lighting from trees
  • Remove all twine, metal or plastic ties and string
  • Place tree at curb the night before recycling day or Monday night for brush collection
  • Do not place in plastic bags or “Christmas Tree Disposal Bags”
  • Remove stands and bases from trees

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle this Holiday Season

Plan your holiday shopping and events with a less-is-more approach.  The less material that ends up the in the landfill, the more you help the environment.  Look for bulk packaging for holiday party supplies and food staples.  Reduce the use of disposable dinnerware and silverware than can’t be recycled.  Look for recycled products that you know can be recycled and won’t end up in the trash.  A little extra planning in the beginning will lead to an easy green holiday this year!

Consider reuse as another means of preventing items from stacking up in landfills.  Could the decorations you grew tired of be of use to someone else?  Outgrown clothes can be donated to charities to make room for new holiday or winter apparel.  Leftover scraps from craft projects?  Perhaps a daycare, school or shelter could use those materials for some projects of their own.  Comics from the Sunday paper can be used as a fun (and economical!) wrap for kids’ presents.  Holiday cards can be used for craft projects to decorate with for the season. If you’re cleaning out closets from last season’s styles or sizes, check with local organizations – many run coat and winter clothing drives at this time of year. Before putting an item in the trash, consider if it could possibly have a new life somewhere else or with a new/different use.

Make the recycling symbol a part of your seasonal plans.  Look for natural products and products packaged in recycled materials – this helps to ensure they can be recycled after their use.  Before throwing food scraps in the garbage can, consider starting or adding to a compost pile – vegetable peelings and organic matter can help work with the dried leaves from the fall.  Hang on to those boxes and tissue paper – they’re all recyclable!  Fall and winter decorations?  Pine boughs, pumpkins and other decor can be recycled with compost – wildlife may enjoy the extra food source this time of year.  Look for food and beverages that come in recyclable containers. 

Protect Water Lines from Freezing

Protect Water Lines from Freezing

Ruptured water lines can cause extensive damage to a home. During the winter, home owners should take precautions to prevent water lines from freezing. Here are some simple tips to protect your home.

  • Turn off the water to outside hose bibs, disconnect and drain the garden hose.
  • Shut the main water valve off if leaving your home for vacation or holidays.
  • Seal cracks in doors, windows, and foundations.
  • Open cabinets and closets that contain water lines to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Allow cold water to drip through faucets. Running or dripping water can help prevent water lines from freezing; however, even running water can freeze in sub-zero temperatures.
  • Consider installing water pipe insulation. Local building supply stores carry a number of products designed specifically for this purpose. If you decide to use a heat tape, be sure it has the UL seal of approval.
  • Check pipe insulation periodically to make sure that it is dry. Wet insulation can be worse than no insulation.

Storage or Winter Materials

Sycamore Hill Homeowners Association


Please make arrangements to store snow shovels, sleds, etc. out of open view and not in your driveway, lawn or on your front stoop.


The HOA thanks you for your cooperation in taking the time to store these items in a proper place.



If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the onsite HOA office at




Tips for Snow and Ice Removal

Tips for Snow and Ice Removal


A fresh blanket of snow is a pretty sight. Maybe just for a few minutes, in a photograph, if you are a kid and you’re getting a snow-day. But if you are a homeowner, removing this blanket is no cozy chore.


Snow Blowers

Everyone knows about snow shovels, of course, but an alternative worth considering if you live in a heavy snow area is a snow blower. There are three basic types, with differing uses and capacities.

Single-stage snow blowers are good for most urban and suburban uses. They are lightweight and maneuverable; have a rubber edge auger that gets very close to the pavement; handle wet, heavy snow very well. But they will not handle the hard, icy accumulation left behind at the end of your driveway by the snowplow, and are not suitable for gravel.

A two-stage snow blower is good for larger driveways or drifting snow. It has an auger that breaks up the snow and an impeller that throws it. Its skids adjust the height and therefore are good for gravel. Most are self-propelled.

If you have a lawn tractor, it may have a snow blower attachment. Check with the manufacturer.



Often, removing the snow is just the first step in the process of making your driveways and walkways snow and ice-free. Dealing with the ice left behind is the next challenge. Ice does not just freeze on the pavement, it freezes to the pavement. Breaking that bond, or keeping it from forming in the first place, is the task of chemical de-icers or anti-icers.

A de-icer is a chemical agent that is spread on snow or ice. It does not melt all the snow; it seeps through to the surface of the pavement and melts the ice there, breaking the bond and making it easier to remove the snow.

The anti-icer is a chemical agent that is applied before the snowfall begins. It prevents the bonding, thereby facilitating the removal of snow down to the surface of the pavement.

There are many chemicals and chemical blends available to use as de-icers and anti-icers. While the chemistry is simple, the choice of which to use is not. Many factors must be considered and much of the information is confusing or even conflicting.

For many years, the most common de-icer has been rock salt. The indirect damage and environmental concerns were offset by its cost-effectiveness. Today, more environmentally friendly and considerably more effective chemicals are available.

Any de-icing chemical has the potential to harm the environment if misused. Some will chemically attack concrete. All must be used strictly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Over application of any can damage vegetation; even those products claiming to be made from fertilizing ingredients can cause harm.

If you apply the chemicals as precipitation begins, their effectiveness is increased and the amount needed is diminished.


New Technologies

If snow falls on warm surface, it melts. Problem solved. So the question is how do you warm the surface? There are three basic choices electric, hydronic and infrared.

Electric snow-melting systems used buried cables to heat surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways. They must be laid before concrete is poured and could require upgrading the electric service panel but can conform to any shape. Lower installation and maintenance costs may be offset by higher operating costs.

Electric heat-conducting rubber mats are a less expensive method and need no modifications to melt snow. These easy-to-install rubber mats provide many years of use.

Hydronic systems use flexible pipes buried under concrete to circulate heated fluid that warms the surface. They too must be laid before concrete is poured. It is possible to tie them into your existing heating system so that higher installation and maintenance costs could be offset by lower operating costs.

Infrared systems use quartz lamps on poles targeted to warm up desired surfaces. These systems are good for spot applications or remote walkways and require little time for warm-up. They are more easily installed and good for retrofitting, but they consume more energy making them more expensive per square foot to operate when compared to the other systems.


Severe Winter Weather: Preparing for the Storm


Be Informed

Determine your severe weather insurance eligibility now. Find out more now by contacting your insurance agent.

Or call the Insurance Information Institute at (800) 331-9146.

Call the National Insurance Consumer Helpline at (800) 942-4242.

Learn how your town handles emergencies by contacting your local Emergency Management Agency (EMA).


Be prepared

Pay attention to local weather reports. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio and sign up for the Weather Channel’s alerts for your mobile phone and email.

Develop a Family Preparedness Plan that includes the following: Decide where to go if at home, school, work, outdoors, or in a car when a winter storm warning is issued. Update these plans every school year, and as places of employment and residence change.

Designate a friend or relative outside your town as your contact in the event you are separated from family members during a severe winter storm.

Agree upon a place where family members can meet if separated.

Your Family Emergency Supplies Kit. These contents can be assembled over a five-month period on a weekly basis, and all perishable items should be changed or replaced every six months.


Prepare Your Home

Make your home safe for the winter with insulation, weather stripping, and storm windows.

Set up emergency heating equipment, such as a fireplace with wood or coal or a camp stove with fuel.

Be sure you know the proper usage and provide proper ventilation for space heaters. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from furnishings, drapes, and all flammable objects. Turn them off when you leave a room.

NEVER drape wet clothes, gloves, hats or socks over a space heater to dry.

Insulate pipes with layers of insulation or newspaper wrapped with plastic. Let faucets drip and learn how to shut off water valves.


Driving in Snow and Ice

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.

Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared (TIPS), and that you know how to handle road conditions.

It is helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you are familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner’s manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you are likely to find the road in front of them worse that the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.


If your rear wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they are sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as your recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse – this is normal.


If your front wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.


If you get stuck…

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first – it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you are in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.


Severe Winter Weather: Precipitation

The type of precipitation that falls with a winter storm often depends upon the storm’s path.

Since cold air is usually found on the north side of a storm and milder air on the south side, wintry precipitation generally falls in areas north of the track of the storm’s center.

Freezing Rain

Freezing rain is caused by rain droplets that freeze on contact with the ground or objects near the ground, leaving a frozen glaze. The temperature of the ground must be below freezing, and the rain droplets must exist in a liquid state at temperature below freezing for freezing rain to occur.

Freezing rain can glaze roadways with ice causing extremely hazardous driving conditions.

Bridges and overpasses typically freeze more quickly than other surfaces and are particularly dangerous.


Sleet falls to earth as ice pellets. These ice pellets are formed as snowflakes melt into raindrops as they pass through a thin layer of above-freezing air. The rain drops then refreeze into particles of ice as they pass through sub-freezing layer of air near the ground.


Snow is frozen precipitation in the form of six-sided crystals. Snow is produced when water vapor condenses onto airborne particles and forms into crystals, which remain frozen as they grow and fall. When temperatures remain below freezing from the cloud all the way to the ground, precipitation reaches the ground in the form of snow.

Blowing snow can be snow that has already fallen and is blown from the ground by the wind, or snow that is blown as it falls.

Blizzards occur when blowing snow and/or falling snow reduces visibility to less than a quarter mile and combines and sustained winds of 35 miles per hour or greater for at least three hours.


Winter Storm Warning Guide

Winter Watches and Warnings — Winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories are issued by local National Weather Service Forecast offices.

Winter weather advisory — When a significant winter storm or hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent, and is an inconvenience.

Winter storm watch — Significant winter weather (i.e., heavy snow, heavy sleet, significant freezing rain, or a combination of events) is expected, but not imminent, for the watch area; provides 12 to 36 hours notice of the possibility of severe winter weather.

Winter storm warning — A significant winter storm or hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent, or likely, and is a threat to life and property.

Blizzard warning — Winds that are at least 35 mph or greater, blowing snow that will frequently reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less for at least three hours, and dangerous wind chills are expected in the warning area.

Wind chill index — The calculation of temperature that takes into consideration the effects of wind and temperature on the human body. This is not the actual air temperature, but what it feels like to the average person. This wind chill chart shows the difference between actual air temperature and perceived temperature, and the amount of time until frostbite occurs.

Winter Weather Advisory Tips

Winter Weather Advisory Tips:


Winter weather advisory has been issued for Loudoun County, LCSO offers Winter Weather Driving Safety Tips:


The agency is advising motorists to make sure their vehicles are equipped with a well-stocked winter driving kit. A winter driving kit should include the following items:


  • Properly fitting tire chains.
  • Bag of sand or salt (or kitty litter)
  • Traction mats (broken down cardboard works well).
  • Snow shovel (they make collapsible ones)
  • Snow brush
  • Ice scraper
  • Booster cables
  • Warning devices such as flares or emergency lights.
  • Fuel line de-icer (methanol, also called methyl alcohol or methyl hydrate)
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Flashlight and a portable flashing light (and extra batteries)
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing, including hat and wind-proof pants and warm footwear
  • First aid kit
  • Snack bars or other “emergency” food and water
  • Matches and emergency candles (only use these with a window opened to prevent build-up of carbon monoxide_
  • Road maps
  • “Call Police” or other help signs or brightly colored banners.



The Loudoun Sheriff’s Office reminds motorists to stay safe in the winter by also following these driving safety tips:


  • Always keep the gas tank topped off. When it gets to half, fill it up.
  • Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make the trip, ensure someone is aware of your route of travel.
  • Carry a cellular phone. Your cell phone can be used during emergencies and for notifying those expecting your arrival in case there are weather delays.
  • Always buckle-up. Your seat belt can be the best protection against drivers who are tense and in a hurry because of weather conditions.




Winter Weather Advisory Tips:


  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights – even the hood and roof – before driving.
  • Pay attention. Don’t try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Leave plenty of room for stopping.
  • Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows – stay back a safe stopping distance and don’t pass on the right.
  • Know the current road conditions:; for statewide highway information 24-hours-a-day, call the Highway Helpline at 1-800-367-ROAD or check local traffic incident information at ( via your web browsing cell phone).
  • Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Watch for slippery bridges, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridges will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.
  • Don’t use your cruise control in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won’t help you stop any faster. Many 4×4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stop. Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle’s traction. Your 4×4 can lose traction as quickly as a two-wheel drive vehicle.
  • Do not pump anti-lock brakes. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump brakes in attempting to stop. The right way is to
    “stomp and steer!”
  • Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second extra time to react safely.
  • Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second extra time to react safely.
  • Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
  • Go slow!


Please be aware of your surroundings and take the extra time and leave early if needed.


9 Ways to Save Your Food From Freezer Burn

9 Ways to Save Your Food From Freezer Burn

When freezing foods, it is important to note the different shelf life of foods and the pre-freezing prep needed. For example, most fresh vegetables need to be blanched in boiling water before they are cooled for freezing to ensure that enzymes, which cause nutrient breakdown, are inactive.

While freezer burn won’t make you sick, it will make foods tough, tasteless, and just that much less enjoyable. Luckily, freezer burn is preventable with these 10 easy steps that will keep your frozen meals, leftovers, and relics of the summer growing season as fresh as the day they arrived in your kitchen.


  1. Chill Foods Before Freezing

Placing hot or warm foods in the freezer just raises the overall temperature of the freezer itself, causing frost to form more quickly on foods. To prevent this, cool foods in ice baths on the counter before storing them in your freezer.

  1. Consistent Temperature

If you find your frozen foods develop freezer burn, try using a thermometer to monitor the temperature. Foods that are taken in and out of the freezer will develop burn more readily.

  1. Deep Freeze

The colder the better. Keeping your freezer at or below 0 degrees F is necessary for proper food safety and storage. Above 0 degrees F, the quality of your food will deteriorate at a much faster rate.

  1. Humidity Control

Minimize the number of times you open your freezer door. Every time the door is opened, more humidity is introduced into its environment, and moisture causes frost to form on your food.

  1. Keep it Airtight

The less direct exposure to the air, the less likely your food is to develop freezer burn. Vacuum sealing foods you plan to store for a long time in the freezer will protect the quality and taste.

  1. Pack the Freezer

You may not know this, but a full freezer stays colder. The frozen foods work like a giant ice pack helping to keep temperatures consistent and very cold.

  1. Don’t Use Store Packaging

Unless you are buying an already frozen item, chances are the store packaging was not designed for freezing. To keep your food at its best quality, repackage store-bought items in appropriate freezer-safe containers before freezing.

  1. Use the Right Size Container

A tightly packed container will minimize foods’ exposure to the air. However, there is one caveat, to do with liquids. Liquids, such as soups, will expand in when frozen, so leaving a little extra room in your container is crucial. However, to minimize exposure, you can cover your freezer container with a piece of plastic wrap before sealing with a lid.

  1. Wrap Everything Twice

When it comes to freezing food, two layers are better than one. Use a moisture proof wrapping, like plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or plastic freezer bags.