Safe and Happy Holidays

Give a Kitchen for Christmas
December 15, 2014
When It’s White Outside, Think COLOR!
January 29, 2015

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The holiday season can be both happy and frantic as we all scurry around to find the perfect gift, decorate the house, take in the new movies and seasonal specials, and cook for holiday gatherings. Due to our area of expertise, we’re aware of some hazards that become more likely this time of year, and we thought we’d mention them so the your holiday cheer stays cheerful.

Have Someone Hold the Ladder
If you plan to decorate the outside of your house with lights, don’t try to do it alone. This is doubly important if you’ll be stringing lights or hanging decorations along the eaves or on the roof. Have someone with you to steady the ladder and stay on the ground just in case you need help.

Make Sure the Lights Are Grounded, Too
If you’re plugging in lights outside, you should be using grounded extension cords with outlets that are ground-fault protected. These outlets have something like little circuit breakers built into them to trip off the power if there is a fault in the ground line. (The ground line diverts power away from you if there’s a short somewhere in the circuit.) If you don’t see two small buttons (Test and Reset) on the front of the outlet, have it replaced by an electrician. It doesn’t cost much to have done and it could save your life.

Keep the Walkways Clear of Ice
With the cold-again-warm-again weather we’ve been having, we’ve seen the buildup of ice on walkways and steps. Use a shovel and sand or a sand/salt mixture to make sure you and your holiday guests don’t need crampons and safety lines to get from the car to the front door.

Watch Out for Falling Ice
We’ve talked about this before in terms of protecting your roof and preventing leaks (https://home-partners.com/articles/ice-dams-quick-fixes-cure), but it’s also a safety issue. If your house is susceptible to ice dams and icicles over the entryway, clean them off before the guests start to arrive. If there’s another sudden warm-up, the ice could let go and fall on your walkway or front stoop, creating an icy obstacle course or even landing on some poor, unsuspecting visitor.

Practice Safe Plugmanship Inside
If you have lights on your tree, be careful how you plug them in. If the light cable doesn’t reach the outlet, use a sturdy extension cord and run it on a path that people won’t be walking on or across. You don’t want to risk tripping someone or having the cord get broken. If you have a cord with a switch on it or a switched outlet, you can save yourself a lot of bending and groping. You’ll also eliminate one more potential risk from plugging and unplugging the tree lights every evening.

Protect the Tree from Tots and Pets
If you have toddlers or pets, make sure the top of your tree is fastened to the ceiling or wall. Use two lengths of strong but thin twine that run to a pair of cup hooks, each screwed into the molding over a window or door. The angle between the lines should be anywhere from 45 to 90 degrees to keep the tree from toppling if someone tries to grab a tempting ornament.

You can find more safety tips online by googling holiday safety tips.

Back to the cheerful side of the holiday, here’s a great variation on a tried-and-true recipe for a tasty dip.

Warm Artichoke-Olive Dip

Warm Artichoke Olive Dip
The original recipe mixes spinach with artichoke hearts. This variation uses olives instead of spinach. (But you could use both!)

1 8-oz package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (or 1 14-oz can, well drained, plus a little bit more of everything else)
¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves or ¼ – 1/3 cup dried
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup green-olive tapenade (or your favorite kind of pitted olives, chopped coarsely with a tablespoon of olive oil)
About 6 ounces of Boursin or a similar soft herb-and-garlic cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Coarsely chop the artichoke hearts and basil in a food processor or by hand in a bowl.
Mix in the Parmesan, soft cheese, and tapenade (or chopped olives).
Scrape into a 2-pint baking dish.
Bake until hot and gooey, about 30 minutes.
Garnish with chopped fresh basil.
Serve with bread or crackers. (The dip itself is gluten free, so will go well with gluten-free bread or crackers, should the need arise.)

Have a happy, tasty holiday!

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