A Tree for New York City

Last year, I wrote a post about the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Matt works near Rockefeller Center and on November 12th when he was walking to work, he passed by the Christmas tree that had just been brought in for the holiday season. I used this pictures in my post where I wrote about the history of this famous tree. That day my blog was Freshly Pressed and a few thousand people visited “The Little Things” that day to read more about the holiday festivities of New York City.

As I  wrote last year, many Rockefeller trees are given to Rockefeller Center by regular citizens (I know, I was shocked too when I learned that there wasn’t a giant tree farm outside of NYC that supplied giant Christmas trees). Members of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center, scout in a helicopter for the desired tree in areas including Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, upstate New York, New Jersey, and even Ottawa, Canada. Once a suitable tree is located, a crane supports it while it is cut, and moves it to a custom telescoping trailer that can transport trees up to 125 feet (38 m) tall, although the width of New York City streets passing through Rockefeller Center limits the height of the trees to 110 ft.

Most New Yorkers don’t learn the history of the tree until the night of the tree lighting when the commentators tell its story. Thankfully, I have an “in” to this year’s tree – my amazing Grandfather!

This year’s Rockefeller Christmas tree hails from a small town in Pennsylvania called Mifflinville. This town is just 5 miles from the little town that my grandparents, aunt and uncle home. So you can imagine their excitement when they learned that the very tree that brought me blogging fame and glory last year, would be coming from their neck of the woods for this year’s holiday season. My grandfather diligently cut out the newspaper articles and mailed them over for my blogging purposes!

A crane jockeys the 75-foot, 10-ton Norway spruce from the yard of Nancy Keller in Mifflinville PA on Wednesday November 10th.

This year’s tree was nearly cut down by its owners 30 years ago; however after giving it a little pruning, he decided to keep in on his property. Thankfully he did. While driving along Interstate 80 last march, Rockefeller’s head gardener spotted this 75-year-old, 75 foot tall Norway spruce and knew it would be the perfect tree for the world’s most famous tree stand. After months of preparations and frequent visits to tend to the spruce, the official decision to send this tree to New York City.

The South Center Township Police were hired to watch the property on Halloween weekend and 24 hours a day starting on November 2nd. And as a thank you to the tree’s owners, they have been invited to visit New York this holiday season as guests of Rockefeller Center. And in the spring, the center gardening team will return to Mifflinville to plant an umbrella pine in the tree’s place.

On the morning of Wednesday November 10th, camera crews, radio personalities and approximately 150 locals gathered to watch the chain saw make quick work of the soon-to-be famous tree. In about six minutes, one man sliced through the 5-foot-wide trunk. A crane slowly lifted the tree and loaded it onto the 115-foot “tree trailer” and made to drive to the big city.

The crane that lifted the massive Norway spruce was able to lay the tree on the 115-foot trailer specially made, and only used for, transporting the Rockefeller Christmas tree to NYC
Each branch on the 46-foot-wide evergreen had already been carefully wrapped and tied in place
Children inspect the stump and count the rings

The tree branches will be covered with more than 30,000 lights and topped with the Swarovski crystal star, a 9.5 foot diameter creation made from 25,000 crystals and another 720 lightbulbs. The lights will be lit for the first time during the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Wednesday November 30th and the tree will remain up through the January 7th for the thousands of tourists who visit New York over the holiday season.

But what is most interesting about this story is what happens to the tree afterwards. After the holidays, the tree will become lumber for Habitat for Humanity and any remnants will be ground into pulp for paper to be used in printing of “The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree.”

Thank you grandpa for providing this incredible story. It could not be more fitting that he sent me this story; my grandparents love Christmas more than anyone I know. Not the material aspect, but the joy that comes from decorating their house (they have made hundreds of homemade holiday decorations over the years!) and the beauty of a well decorated tree. Thank you for passing down your love of the holidays to my mom, and now to me. I can’t wait until next Sunday to send you pictures of my tree!

Visiting my Grandpa in Florida
So glad my grandparents made the trip for my wedding!

Florida Grapefruit

Every year over April vacation, Abby, my mom and I would visit my grandparents in Jupiter, Florida. My grandparents were incredibly smart for moving to Florida when they did. Although Florida is not very close to New Hampshire, limiting the number of times we actually saw them each year, the draws of Florida – the beach, warm weather and super cute boy who lived next door to their house, were enough to keep us coming back year after year. If they had stayed in Ohio, I must admit, I wouldn’t have been as excited to visit. Instead of body surfing at the beach, we would have been shucking corn and tipping cows.

Some of my favorite things about visit my grandparents were things that we did nearly ever year. We would always go to the Palm Beach Mall and have a mini-shopping spree at The Limited Too. Later, when we entered high school, we would get our prom dresses during this trip. The local school had their prom the week before our visit, so we were able to score amazing deals on some pretty nice dresses.

Abby and I ate many meals aboard our grandparent’s boat, “JeBo.” We would make sandwiches, PB & J for Abby, PB & banana for me, and sit aboard the board munching away. It was like the boat was our very own club house, almost making up for the fact that my dad never built us the treehouse he promised. Every year, my grandfather would take us for a ride in the boat to see the new developments around the intercostal. During one trip,with the boat nearing the end of its life, the engine died in the middle of our ride and my dad and grandfather were forced to paddle us back to their dock. But that was not nearly as adventurous as the time their neighbor’s massive yacht became untied from their dock and started drifting towards our dock. For some reason, I remember Abby swimming over to the boat and climbing aboard – I am not sure what happened next, or if this actually happened. I did have a wild imagination as a child…

Abby and I spent a lot of time swimming in the bay in front of our grandparents house. We would blow up rafts and inner tubes, and see who could stand on them the longest without falling in the water. At the end of the bay, there was a mangrove island, no more than 150 yards away. When Abby was 7 years old, she decided she was going to swim out to this island. My dad jumped in the inflatable row-boat and paddled along besides her as she bravely made her way out to the island and back. When she returned, my grandfather gave her a sliver dollar for accomplishing this feat. Year after year, when we returned to their house, my grandfather would ask me if I was ready to make the same swim. Not until I was 21 years old did I actually do it; and I was freaking out the entire time. Sadly, I never received a silver dollar for my feat of bravery…

The memory that stands out the most in my mind was the time we spent every morning during breakfast. When we came to visit, my grandfather would go out and buy fresh Florida oranges and grapefruit. Every morning we had the choice of a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, or a small glass of OJ and half of a grapefruit, pre-cut and ready to eat. Abby and I ALWAYS took the second option. We would take a few sips of the juice, then scoop away at the grapefruit, and then squeeze the juice into our 1/2 empty OJ glass creating a mixture of OJ and Grapefruit juice. It was a morning ritual that I wouldn’t give up for anything.

It wasn’t until I was probably 14 or 15 that I realized grapefruits didn’t come pre-cut. It was a sad reality to learn than in order to enjoy this delicious treat,  I had to spent the time cutting around each and every section of grapefruit. It goes without saying, that because of this, grapefruit isn’t something that I have incorporated into my daily diet.

Last night, while shopping for my quinoa at Whole Foods, I spotting some big and delicious looking grapefruit. I decided to buy a few and try my hand in preparing this fruit as a mid-morning snack. Well, after 15 minutes of cutting, slicing and scooping, my desire for the sweet fruit was realized. I finished with sticky hands and grapefruit juice running all over my desk. Was it worth it? Yes… but I would give anything to have my grandfather live next door and deliver a perfectly sliced grapefruit to my door every morning.

What do you say grandpa? I think there are some one-bedrooms open in my apartment. Ready for life in the big city?

It’s All in the Family

Wikipedia defines family as, “an exclusive group of people who share a close relationship —a unit typically (or “traditionally”) composed of a mated couple and their dependent children (procreation) in co-residence. Families create generations —each of which gain in maturity and self-sufficiency such as to create and provide for subsequent generations.”

Not only is my family bonded together by marriage and genetics, but we are also bonded together by freakishly similar looks, the same exact mannerisms, and of course, fair superior DNA! This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting with people who not only look and talk like me, but ones that share my love of crafting, organizing, eating, and dominating life. Abby and I drove to Pennsylvania to visit my Grandparents and my Aunt and Uncle for the weekend.

I truly appreciated my change of scenery for the weekend. I traded my 7th floor apartment for a “log cabin” style house. I traded city side walks for trees. I traded bars and restaurants for home-cooked meals. Lastly, I traded going out to bars with Matt’s friends to look for “beautiful babies” for conversations with my 92-year-old, World War II veteran grandfather (who is a frequent commenter to my blog!), a grandmother who rivals Martha Stewart in both her crafting supplies and skills, and my Aunt and Uncle who, on one hand raise chickens and on the other, are two of the smartest people I know (and that is saying a lot). While I love my life and friends, sometimes it is nice to shake things up; and what better way to do this, than hang out with your own relatives.

When Abby and I arrive in Pennsylvania on Friday we were welcomed with hugs and a delicious spaghetti casserole. Sitting around their little table in the kitchen, I was instantly brought back to my own childhood, where family dinners were a nightly occurence.  The food was great and the company even better!

Saturday morning we had NYC bagels that Abby bought and eggs that were hatched by the chickens that live just outside of the house. Their coop, built by my Aunt and Uncle, is close to the same size as my apartment! We then spent a large portion of the morning discussing various DIY wedding projects, as I am hoping to tap into my Aunt’s unbelievably creative skills. After that we had a serious adventure; we piled into the car and drove down “the Bridal Chateau.”

I have looked at wedding dresses a few times with my parents and my sister, but I still haven’t found “the one.” I thought it might be fun to look with my relatives and was shocked to find a bridal salon in their small town that looked like it had a great selection. At first my grandfather wasn’t going to come but he wasn’t too hard to convince! We took over a section of the store and Abby and I walked up and down the racks of dresses pulling plastic bags, that I hoped might contain the perfect dress. I tried on countless gowns, many of which looked good, a few of which looked great; however, I liked the dress best, that immediately got “boos” and disgusted faces as I walked out of the dressing room. My family has never been one to hide their true feelings! In the end, I found two dresses to add to my list of possibilities, but no dress that made me think, “this is it!” After watching hours of “Say Yes to the Dress” I might have unrealistic expectations for the whole process. I am starting to think that not everyone has that feeling, especially those of us who over think every decision!

After our adventure, we came home and I helped my Grandma organize some of her crafts. She has a craft “loft” that I could probably spend months in. Plastic drawers lining the walls, organized with various stamps, glitter, glue and paints. Unfortunately, when she looks for things she has to open and close numerous drawers because she can’t always find what she is looking for. After reading one of my previous posts she asked me to bring my label maker to solve this problem. I felt as if she gave me my organizational “fix” for the weekend!

That evening, after another delicious dinner, my Grandma has a special project for Abby and me. When my grandparents lived in Florida, we would visit them every year over April vacation. When we were there we would do a craft project, taking advantage of her talents and craft supplies. Over the years we made gym bags, scrunchies, greeting cards and much more. We sewed, stamped and colored until we had a wonderful creation to bring back to NH with us; and this trip was no different. My Grandmother is an excellent painter and creates wonderful decorations for her home. Sprinkled all around her house are numerous gourds that she painted to resemble snowmen and birdhouses, and ones that were decoupaged with different pictures of flowers and butterflies. She set us up with gourds, paints and a book full of ideas.

I modeled my gourd after one of the snowmen that my grandmother had sitting above the stairs. Abby was a bit more creative with her craft and painted her gourd with the New York city skyline.

The weekend culminated this morning with waffles and bacon. My uncle ground the wheat himself before my Aunt made the waffles. To say that were delicious would be selling them short. And clearly, my family had REAL maple syrup from New Hampshire – a perfect ending to a great weekend!

“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”
— Erma Bombeck