Christmas Lighting Tips to Keep Your Home Safe

Can you believe that Christmas is less than 10 days away? My how the time around the holidays flies by. If you are like many than you plan on decorating your home for the holidays. While decorating your home it’s important to take safety and not just “looks” into consideration. Hundreds of homes are damaged by holiday decoration electrical mishaps every year.

-Avoid using the larger seven-volt light bulbs. Sure, they are bigger and brighter, but they also burn much hotter than mini Christmas lights. One of the most common causes of holiday-time house fires results from these bulbs being too close to gutters filled with dried out leaves.

– Make sure that the strings of lights you are using outside have built-in fuses on the lines. Sometimes, these fuses are located in the actual plug.

– Make sure to use Christmas lights that are designated for outdoor use only. If you use indoor-rated lights, they may not be able to withstand the weather conditions which will cause them to break down much faster.

– You should only use Christmas lights and electric equipment that has been tested and verified by a reliable testing laboratory. Two reputable laboratories are UL and ETL. Any equipment or lights that have been tested safe will have one of their logos on the packaging. If it doesn’t have it, don’t use it!

– If you have a string of lights with a blown bulb, be sure to replace it with a bulb of the exact same wattage.

– Never tap into your home’s feeder line to power your outdoor Christmas lights or hang decorations on the line.

– Avoid using nails, tacks or metal staples to secure your outdoor Christmas lights. Use insulated hooks instead, and be sure your lights are strung tightly to avoid damage from the wind.

– Use only outdoor rated extension cords. Plus, avoid connecting more than three strings of lights to a single extension cord.

– All plugs should be plugged into a GFCI protected outlet when used outside.

– When it comes time to take your Christmas decorations and lights, never remove the strings of lights by pulling on the wires. This causes the wires to break free from the sockets and the bulbs to break.

Source: DoItyourself.com

Stoney Ridge Farms- A Wonderful Fall Destination.

CIMG0032If you or your family have never visited Stoney Ridge Farms in Everson, this is the year. After 25 years this will be the family farms last Fall season. Open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in October Stoney Ridge Farms has Fall Activities for everyone. They boast the largest pumpkin patch in all of Whatcom County, hay rides, farm animal viewing, corn maze, cafe with fresh apple cider and so much more.

My family has made Stoney Ridge a yearly tradition and we often spend the whole day at the farm. We love to walk in the barn and check out the piglets, goats, horses and donkeys. There is an abundance of animals to see and some that you can even feed. The pies from the cafe are wonderful and I highly recommend the carmel apple pie. We also purchase all our fall decorations from the farm each year including a large variety of small gourds and large pumpkins, they have it all.Stoney Ridge House

Every year we visit the farm we leave with wonderful memories, stomach’s full of fresh baked pie and a whole bunch of pumpkins and gourds to decorate our home.

During the month of December the farm will be open  to the public and is the go to spot to pick out your fresh cut Christmas tree from there large farm.  The barn is also home to a live animal nativity, holiday crafts and baked goods.

If you are interested in heading out to Stoney Ridge Farms they are located at 2902 Van Dyk Rd in Everson. From Bellingham head North of the Guide Meridian, East on the Pole Rd, and then turn left onto the Van Dyk Rd. Stoney Ridge  Farms will be on your right hand side with parking on your left. Opening day is Thursday October 3rd. I will do another post about the farm with more photos after my annual visit this year.

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Holiday Home Safety Tips

Our Christmas tree this year

Our Christmas tree this year

The holiday season is well upon us and no matter what holiday or tradition your celebrate it’s always important to remember some helpful safety tips. Fire is a common concern during the holidays and the two most common culprits of holiday fires or lighting and the Christmas tree.

Below are some tips from local home inspector Jefferson Livingston with Pillar to Post Home Inspection Services on keeping your Christmas Tree and Holiday lighting safe this season.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips:

  • If you’re buying a live Christmas tree, buy a freshly cut one that is not already dried out.
  • Place tree away from ignition sources like fire places, heaters, candles, radiators and combustible materials.
  • Water your tree regularly to keep it fresh.
  • Buy fire resistant tree. Remember that fire resistance does not mean that the tree won’t catch fire, it only means that the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • Avoid lead-based materials when cutting or decorating your tree – they are hazardous when ingested by children.
  • Avoid sharp objects when decorating your tree.
  • Avoid tree decorations that may break.

Lighting Safety Tips:

  • Check the label when buying lights to make sure that it conforms to safety standards.
  • Don’t put electric lights on a metallic surface/object – it may charge the object and electrocute those who touch it.
  • If putting lights outdoors, make sure that the light is certified for outdoor use.
  • Avoid potential shock by plugging all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters.
  • Always have smoke alarms.

Holidays from The Johnson Team Real Estate

Bellingham Salvation Army Angel Tree

Bellingham Salvation Army Angel Tree

Guaranteed to Warm Your Heart & Put A Smile on Your Face

Now you know where Santa gets his presents

Now you know where Santa gets his presents

For years it’s been a yearly event for our family to help man the Salvation Army Angel Tree at the Bellis Fair Shopping Mall. It’s always fun to see and interact with the people who stop, pick out their “Angel” off of the tree & then come back with their arms full of gifts.  Gifts for the sons & daughters of Families they will never know or see.  Their only connection is the Angel ornament with the 1st name of the child to whom the gift is to be purchased and what it is that the child would like to have for Christmas.  Maybe it will be a warm coat, a special board game or a teddy bear, but what ever it is, it’s something important in some special way to a little  person who lives in Whatcom County.

In talking to people who took Angels from the tree, their motivations vary from “It makes me feel good”, “there was a time when my kids names were on this tree & now it’s time for me to payback the gift my Family was given”, “it just makes me feel good”, “It’s something that our Family has always done” – whatever the reason, it all boils down to the fact that people care, they care a lot and there is no better time to share that feeling by opening their hearts & wallets during the magical time of Christmas and help those who for whatever reason need a helping hand.

So it makes me feel good not only to actually man the Angel Tee but also to choose my Angels from the tree, to do my shopping & come back with my gifts for children that I’ll never know or see.  But for me, there is an additional reason that makes it especially important because the Angel Tree allows me to spend a particularly special time with my wife & sons.  Time was when our “Father / Son Bonding” times were perhaps not exactly picture perfect.  The good news is that we have all managed to survive those difficult years and now look back & laugh uproarlessly at the past.  While usually I’m usually the one that bares the brunt of our “Father Son Bonding”  jokes, I do manage to remind them of times they’d prefer were left forgotten as well.

So, we’d like to thank you Whatcom County for caring & giving.  I know there are lots of causes out there and they are

Graham & I at the Salvation Army Angel Tree

Graham & I at the Salvation Army Angel Tree

 all worthwhile but if you are looking for a very special one that your Family can participate in, be sure to check out The Salvation Army Angel Tree.  It’s a gift, a gift we can all share in.

If you’d care to view some additional behind the scene photos take a look at our Facebook  photo gallery.

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Wendy Setter's The Dance Studio presents "The Nutcracker"

Wendy Setter’s The Dance Studio presents “The Nutcracker”
Dec 18th, 2010 7:30 PM, Dec 19th, 2010 2:00 PM

The Dance Studio presents The Nutcracker

The Dance Studio presents The Nutcracker

The lights will dim and the magic begins as The Stahlbaums host their annual Christmas party. This magical party includes , dancing mice, marching soldiers, the mystical Godfather Drosselmeyer, sister Clara & brother Fritz, the Sugar Plum Fairy, dancers from throughout the world, a fierce battle between the Nutcracker & the Mouse King but to mention just a few of the surprizing cast and sizzling scenes. Whether this is a family tradition or a first time experience, you will be taken by the wonderful music, dancing, colorful costumes and smiling faces – be sure to put it on your calendar as it’s something the entire Family will enjoy.  This gala event will be held at the Mt Baker Theatre this coming week-end.  You can still buy tickets on-line but this production always plays to a packed crowd so you’ll want to be sure & buy your tickets in time.

The choreography is done by Brittany, Gina and Wendy of  The Dance Studio.  To view a complete list of the 2010 cast click here.  If you are not familiar with Tchiakovsky’s classic Christmas ballet, there is an excellent online version of it on Wikipedia but for those you who would like to experience it in person, I encourage you attend the Dance Studio’s version of ” The Nutcracker” this Saturday and Sunday.

To view behind the scene photos, take a look at “The Nutcracker in the Making”.

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