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Sunday, December 25, 2022

Grump Tree

Nate's Notes: This review was originally posted Christmas Day 2020. I mentioned that the tree could be planted outside but never followed up to let people know the fate of our Grump Tree. See below for additional info.

We usually don't post on Christmas Day here. I guess the assumption has been that people are doing, you know, Christmas stuff. And I still assume that this year. But just in case you're lonely, locked down, or down and out, here's a special post just for you.

The Grump Tree. Heard about 'em for the past couple years. Saw them at Trader Joe's last year. To my surprise, the wife showed up at home with one this season. This would have been perfect for RV living. I mean, we had a little Charlie Brown tree for when we traveled full time. But this would have been just as good. 

The other day Sonia offhandedly remarked that she'd have to water the Grump Tree. I was like, "Wait, why would you water that little decorative tree? Unless..." 

Probably most of you are well aware of this already...but this is a real tree. Mind = blown. You can plant it in your yard in the spring time and it will grow "up to 30 feet tall." It's a Lemon Cypress from California's Monterey Peninsula. Sonia and I stopped there on our honeymoon on our way up to Napa Valley, so it's even more special to us. 

Apparently, it can thrive in temperatures ranging from 0°F to 105°F. It comes with a Grinch-inspired red and green sack, a red ribbon, and a red Christmas ball decoration that you can use on your big Christmas tree once you've planted your Grump Tree outside. It retails for either $7.99 or $8.99, probably depending upon your proximity to its origin in California. It just screams, "This is a great Christmas gift!"

The font they chose for the info card, the color scheme, and the skinny, frumpy appearance of the tree all seem so perfectly Dr. Seuss-ish. When Sonia and I hit the road again and live as nomads, we'll probably pick up another one of these for our RV or camper van. I doubt it will be as soon as this time next year, but someday it'll be time again to wander and explore, and a Grump Tree will be perfect for our home on wheels. 

Hopefully this one we already have will thrive in our yard and won't fall victim to our "black thumbs." Can't really think of a reason not to purchase this product, unless you lack the space to plant it after the holidays are over. You could always just transfer it to a bigger pot or give it to someone who does have the space. 

Anyway, even if you're Mr. Potter, Ebenezer Scrooge, Hans Gruber, the Krampus, the Grinch, or a Grump, we wish you a very merry Christmas!

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Hey, at least we got to keep the ornament.
Hey, at least we got to keep the ornament.

The Exciting Conclusion: Through the first few months of 2021, we kept the Grump Tree in our living room. After the Christmas season, we removed the ornament and ribbons from the tree to let it breathe and stretch as it pleased.

Neither Sonia nor I was keeping track of whether the other was watering the tree or not. Turns out we were both watering it. Though the soil was just damp on the surface, not saturated or muddy, I think we still over-watered it.

Throughout those winter months, about once a week or so, tiny black worms or millipedes would crawl out of the Grump Tree pot and wind up on our hardwood floors. Yuck! Apparently this is common with many houseplants..?

As March rolled around, the tree wasn't looking particularly vibrant. It was getting brown and drooping over even more than when it had the ornament attached to it. We tried talking to it and putting it in areas with more sun, but to no avail. I told Sonia hopefully, "As soon as April rolls around, it'll be warm enough to plant it outside. I'm sure it will recover once it's out in nature."

Well, April rolled around and I planted Mr. Grump Tree with soil right up to its base in an area with nearly full sun. I made sure it was secure and steady in well-drained earth and we crossed our fingers.

Our male dog, Alfred, decided that the struggling little tree was his new favorite place to do his business, so I'm not sure if that played a role in its demise or not. The tree steadily declined and eventually keeled over and gave up its last breath by the end of April 2021. I won't change our score or anything like that since any problems with the poor plant were most likely due to our aforementioned "black thumbs." Hey, at least we got to keep the ornament.

The moral of the story is: don't over-water your Grump Tree.

And on that cheerful note, I bid you all yet another very merry Christmas! Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Trader Joe's Holiday Bow-Wow Brunch

So this stuff is basically rawhide-less rawhide. Our little monsters have only had real rawhide a couple times in their lives. Alfred was always a tad more partial to it than Sadie, but neither dog went crazy for rawhide like they do certain other treats.

Seems like they tried to simulate the appearance and texture of actual rawhide with an unusual amalgam of flours, starches, beef gelatin, and vegetable glycerin. While the product looks and feels vaguely like rawhide while dry, once your dog starts eating it, bits of Trader Joe's Holiday Bow-Wow Brunch break off fairly easily for the dog to chew and then swallow, unlike rawhide which tends to stretch out like a piece of slobbery chewed gum. Also it doesn't smell nasty like the real thing, which is nice.

The package says it's "egg, cheese & bacon flavored." Nothing screams "Christmas" like bacon, egg, and cheese, right? Well, our dogs go nuts for any and all of those ingredients, so not surprisingly, they were quite interested when I opened the pack of treats. There's a smell somewhat reminiscent of bacon, egg, and cheese that wafts from the non-resealable bag once it's opened. It's not a smell that would make a human start to salivate—that is, there's still something dog treat-esque about the scent. But hey, our dogs went nuts, and that's what counts, right?

Alfred immediately began devouring his Holiday Bow-Wow Brunch upon snatching it out of my hand. Sadie ran into another corner of the room and just kind of stared at hers for a while, not sure what to do with the unusual texture. Eventually she began licking hers like a candy cane before nibbling little pieces off. Once she got used to the texture, she wound up loving it and finished her treat just seconds after her brother.

I've decided that since Alfred and Sadie have four paws each that they should score treats on a scale of zero to four paw prints each, for a total of 0-8 possible paw prints, based solely on each of their reactions to the treat. Since everything else on this blog has been scored on a scale of 0-10, Sonia and I will give out one or two extra paw prints based on the presentation, practicality, and overall value of the product.

In the end, this is definitely a four paw print affair from each of our mutts for Trader Joe's Holiday Bow-Wow Brunch. We'll throw out one extra paw print for the festive Christmas theme and clever marketing. About $4 for five candy cane-shaped dog treats.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

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