prada handbags That’s just squirrellyHome

That’s just squirrelly

Homeowners rake up their live oak leaves now falling to make way for new growth and stuff them into plastic garbage bags that are stacked by the prada handbags road and eventually carted off to the landfill.

The homeowners then drive t prada handbags o the lawn and garden center of their nearest big box store and buy roughly the same number of plastic bags full of mulch.

This is pointless because, of course, oak leaves are mulch. Not only that, they are about the best mulch you can find for Florida. As the state’s dominant hardwood species, the oak has leaves that are not only free but abundant.

That they are tough shell like, even makes them a great barrier against weeds that like to sprout between rosebushes and tomato plants.

As the leaves decompose, they create a nutrient rich compost, attracting earthworms that generally have a hard time getting by in Florida’s sandy soil, said Jim Moll, the lawn and garden guru at the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service.

Worms enrich and aerate the soil, Moll said. And, because of the tannic acid in oak leaves, their compost tends to nicely neutralize Florida’s often alkaline soi prada handbags l. Several native plants, including palmettos, evolved to thrive at the base of oaks and pines and love slight acidity, said Richard Stauffer, a member of the Florida Native Plant Society. So do popular flowering non natives, such as azaleas and camellias, Moll said.

When and why did homeowners abandon the practice of simply raking oak leaves and pine needles into their gardens and flower beds in favor of buying ground up trees?

Decades ago, Moll said, and probably because they think it looks neater.

Maybe it does for a while, because who can deny the appeal of a fresh bed of cypress mulch? Soon, though, it starts to look as drab as any other dead plant material. And it comes at a steep environmental cost. Some cypress mulch is just chipped up cypress trees the backbone of vital wetlands that are harvested only for that purpose.

If you must buy bagged mulch, Stauffer said, use the stuff made from melaleuca trees, a harmful exot prada handbags ic.

Still, oak leaves are best, he said. He and his wife, Julie Wert, president of a local chapter of the Native Plant Society and an award winning natural gardener, keep an eye out for neighbors in Aripeka who have done their duty as owners of the standard Florida yard gathering up and bagging oak leaves as if they’re trash.

“Sometimes we’ll see eight or 10 plastic bags. You can always tell they’re oak leaves because they’re light and fluffy,” Stauffer said.

“We ask people if we can have them, and sometimes we even say we’ll bring their bags back. They look at us like we’re crazy.”

He and Wert have a greenhouse full of vegetables growing in composted horse manure and oak leaves. Still doubt the leaves’ nutrient power? Well, their tomato plants are 7 feet tall.

So Stauffer and Wert use oak leaves the way nature does, as fertilizer and mulch. In the process, they save landfill space, plastic bags, unnecessary car trips and an iconic wetland tree species.

prada handbags That’s a Wrap”Consumers ha

That’s a Wrap

“Consumers have less and less time, and anything you can do to make things easier, the consumer will go down that road, especially if you make it look nice,” says Bet David, senior designer at Hallmark, which produces more than 1,600 styles of gift bags for various occasions. At Hallmark’s 4,000 Gold Crown Stores, gift bags with handles will be the No. 1 choice of shoppers this year, she say prada handbags s.

John Saxtan, editor in chief of trade publication Giftware News, says bags are now sold anywhere people shop, from liquor stores to drugstores. “In the rush, rush, rush of life, people barely have time to buy a gift, let alone wrap it,” he says.

If this keeps up, the ritual of staying up past midnight on Christmas Eve wrestling with paper and tape and ribbon will become a ghost of Christmas past. (And so might holiday surprises, because bags offer no protection at all against peekers.) But in this drive by world, the lure of tossing a gift in a bag, crinkling tissue on top and signing the (now standard) pre attached gift tag is proving too great for time crunched consumers willing to pay a bit more.

“I give everything away in gift bags. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, I’m lazy and my wrapping is terrible,” says Carl Snyder, president of Yakety Sak, maker of this year’s innovation: singing gift bags that, when opened, play “Jingle Bells” or the “Dreidel Song.”

“They are easier, you don’t have to wrap and tape, and you don’t have to make a bow,” says Laverne Crabson, who was loading up on a recent buying trip to Tenleytown’s Container Store, where the designs of more than 100 vendors are on sale. “I consider the bag as part of the gift.”

Gift bags have another point in their favor: You don’t tear them apart when you open them. Regifting gift bags can make environmentalists feel all fuzzy inside. A bag can make several grand appearances (with fresh tissue paper, of course) so they stay out of landfills longer. Bags are also pressed into service as upscale lunch bags or dry cleaning carryalls. Antonia Balazs, who lives in the U Street corridor of Northwest, cuts them up to make collage style birthday cards for friends.

Figures compiled by trade publication Gifts Decorative Accessories track the $4 billion wrapping business and the explosion of gift bags in the past two decades. A few manufacturers, such as Sample House in Dallas, were making plain brown Kraft paper gift totes in the 1960s, but it prada handbags wasn’t until the 1980s that mainstream companies joined in. The first Hallmark bags hit the market in 1987. Birthday party goody bags took off in the 1990s, and bags for baby showers, weddings and birthdays were close behind. The bag became a staple in most households’ stashes of gift wrapping products.

Now the choices include teensy weensy bags designed for one gift card and jumbo bags for comforters and bicycles. There are round bags and trapezoidal bags. Wine bags are huge, elevating the presentation of even a lowly bottle of merlot.

Each year, bags get more elaborate, with gold Florentine style designs, frosted vellum dusted with glitter, Hanukkah sacks with light up menorahs. Bags are made of velvet and trimmed with fancy tassels, beads and marabou. Price tags of $12 and up sometimes cost more than what’s inside.

Mona Williams, vice president of buying for the Container Store, says that in years past holiday bags were typically snapped up very late in the season. “It seemed like the last minute shopper would rush in and get the bags (priced at $3.25 to $9.99) after they had purchased their gifts, especially the men.” These days, she says, bags start selling briskly in November, because shoppers want the biggest selection.

The sheer variety and elaborateness has spawned a new category of collector: “I love my gift bag collection, it goes so well wi prada handbags th my gift box collection,” says Elaine Lynch of Annandale, who confesses to hoarding bags. “I have been known to use my favorites for immediate family members since I know they won’t leave the house.”

Bags have never been top sellers in Europe, according to Lisa Fingeret, president of Caspari, maker of upscale gift bags in lush papers with gold cord handles. “They are more serious about wrapping there,” she says.

While some traditionalists sniff at their casualness, more and more consumers can’t resist the convenience of bags. Betsy Mandel of Chevy Chase uses them for teacher and hostess gifts. “They’re perfect for when you’re running out the door and y prada handbags ou can grab a bottle of wine and stuff it in a pretty bag.” She is careful not to put tape or stickers on them so they can be reused.

Of course, some occasions still call for a more painstakingly wrapped gift, such as presents that will sit under the Christmas tree for a while. Snoopers might find it easy to squeeze between the tissue and discern the shape of an iPod or a cashmere sweater.

Then there’s the anticipation factor. Opening a gift bag can be too quick, too easy, a cheap thrill. As Hallmark’s Bet David puts it, “It’s hard to make up for that excitement of ripping the paper off the packages.”