What Else Have We Been Up To

Christmas Place Store Tour, Part B…more pictures, this time from Santaland and our new Smoky Mountain room.  Like I said, we’ve been having fun!

We started here:

Coming soon

And we ended here!

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As the sign says, Welcome to our neck of the woods!

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This being the mountains, we have to acknowledge our historical traditions, of course…good thing there are a couple of bears on the lookout for any untimely visits by the revenue men.

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Where do you keep your red canoe?  Ours is being taken for a joy ride by a pack of pic-a-nic-ing bears!

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I’d better go find out what they’ve changed today!

~Janet @ Incredible Christmas Place

Christmas Time Capsule from My House to Yours!

My father handed me a folder of papers on Saturday that had suddenly surfaced from a drawer or a box or a cabinet somewhere.  Let me tell you, you just never know what scraps from your past your parents have tucked away, and when they’ll appear.  This folder includes my high school transcripts (B+ in typing), some ancient achievement tests (College Board Admissions Testing Program, wherein I am rated well below average for pursuing a career in the field of science), SAT scores (English, fine; Math, not so much), college transcripts ( I DO NOT remember getting a B in bowling!), and – wow – a bill for a hospital room visit for a couple of stitches, total $87.29, my share was $17.40.  Now that’s a true blast from the past!  Sometime after 12 October 1980, I filled up my car with nine gallons of gas for a whopping $10.60 – over $1 a gallon.  Those were the days…

Behind all that stuff (including a few school compositions and my first-ever typed resume, no job experience at all), is the stuff I’m here to talk about.  Yes, this is it, possibly my first letter to Santa – and it’s a poem!  Check it out:

Janet's Poem

My mom wrote my name on the saved slip of paper.  (Don’t ask me about the burn marks along the edge, I don’t remember the fire.)  To go along with it, here’s my dad’s handwritten reply:

Dad's reply

Dad has played piano all his life, and composed his own music and songs, so there is always scoring paper around the house.

But wait, it gets better!  Here’s another poem I composed around the same time, I’m guessing, as my handwriting is very similar.

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I know you’re thinking, “wow, that girl was quite the poet laureate of her family!”

However, there is one more gem of a poem in the folder, this one by my younger sister.  And you’d better believe I’m wasting no time in teasing her about the churches feeding “the poor people and the pheasants.”  Pheasants??  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Girl, you messed that one up good!  (Yes, we’re sisters, what did you expect?  Loving support?  Pffft.  Have you met me and my sisters?!)

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I don’t know about you, but I think these need to be framed and hung in a place of honor, on display year round.  Rarely do you see such genius word-smithing in ones so young.

Well, anyway, they will be a treasure for my family, at least, for some time to come.  Do you have a collection of your children’s masterpieces tucked away somewhere?  We’d love to see them.

Christmas is all about the memories we make with families and friends.  Be sure to cherish your own collection!

~Janet @ Incredible Christmas Place

What’s Been Going On Around Here, You Ask?

You know we take our winters very seriously here at Christmas Place – no, we don’t get to go on vacation along with Santa!  It’s one of the busiest times of the year for the elves, when we get to work play in the store, making everything new and different and fun and better for your next visit!  We’ve taken out old carpet, put a lot of fresh paint on the walls (and even the ceilings), moved the stairs, moved trees, moved shelves, moved … more things than we can count.

Knowing you, you really don’t want to have to wait until you’re here to see the results, do you??  Lucky day – I’ve been taking lots of pictures around the store, and … here we go.  Incredible Christmas Place Store Tour 2015, Part A.  (There are so many more photos to show, I’m going to have to add more parts than I thought. And, no, we’re not even finished yet, I have more photographs to take, too.)

Spring

Spring Garden Shoppe – yes, this is a repeat, but it’s right inside the front door so I thought I would start here!

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It’s as if we have all the ornaments on the tree, and now we need to add garlands and ribbons and fluff.  There is so much more to come – we’re moving the tree forest, moving the lights .. you name it, we’re figuring out how/where/when to move it.  Hmmm.  You might want to plan some extra time for you next visit, because as we used to say in my house growing up, “don’t sit down in a dark room because the furniture’s been moved!”  (Thanks, Dad.)

~Janet @ Incredible Christmas Place

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Pop-Up Spring Shoppe at Christmas Place

Because it’s been a hard winter for so many around us, I thought I’d add that extra “pe” on the end – put a little zing into Spring at Christmas Place!  Look at all the lovely blooms and baubles we’ve brought in to brighten up the place for a little while.  You can find many of these items in our “New” or the “Christmas Floral” selection on the web site, or click here.  We hope you’ll enjoy these photos for now.

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And somehow, the aqua bunnies and the Morning Glory mini-jar came home with me after this photo session .. funny how that sort of thing can happen.  Happy Spring, y’all!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Quick & Easy – Easter Chicks!

Easter is upon us, and guests at The Inn at Christmas Place on Saturday will be treated to cookie decorating before the 5th annual egg hunt on the lawn.  Here’s a sneak peek at the cute cookies guests will be decorating (and eating, of course):

Pilsbury Bunny Butt Cookies

Hmmm.  Something must have slipped when I cropped that last picture.  Guess you’ll just have to come and be our guest this Easter to see the rest of that cookie story.

Anywho, on the way to deciding on the cute cookie idea, Kristy came across another, equally cute idea – it just takes a little bit longer to create, so we suggest you try this at home.

Easter chicks

The basic idea is shared on the site Sweet Simple Stuff, and it’s pretty easy.  You need (emphasis provided by Kristy):

  • FLAT candy sticks or coffee stir sticks – round ones are just trouble, nothing but trouble
  • Nabisco® Nutter Butter cookies
  • Yellow candy melts
  • Reese’s Pieces®
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Orange Tic-Tacs®
  • Parchment or waxed paper

Melt the candy.  If you have the patience, you can split the Nutter Butters open and add a dab of melted candy in the middle to secure your flat stick; or, you can just insert the stick between the layers and go on.  You’ll get better results if you use a spoon or spatula to coat the cookie with yellow candy – dipping can lead to an unfortunate and messy loss-of-cookie situation.  While your candy coating is still good and melty, place two chocolate chips for eyes, a Tic-Tac for the nose, and two orange Reese’s Pieces for the feet.  To complete your chick, add a yellow Reese’s Piece on each side of the cookie to make wings (not pictured here, you can see them on the site if you use the link above).  Cool on your food-safe paper of choice.  Place on the BREAKFAST TABLE (my emphasis), and quickly devour eat .  (I have been told it’s not polite to devour at the breakfast table.)  (I didn’t have a whole bag of Reese’s Pieces to use for my display picture .. but I did quickly devour the samples, not at breakfast.)

Don’t you just love using The Google to look for all kinds of fun and easy ideas to brighten your holiday table?  Hope you’re planning some fabulous treats for your Easter weekend!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Up next, pictures from our pop-up Spring Shop at the store – Christmas first, but we have to get past spring (and summer and fall) to get there, don’t we?!

Food for Friday

Now that the chill of winter has set in, I want something hot and hearty for dinner – but I don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking when I get in at the end of the day.  Me?  I want to get under a warm blanket as soon as I can!  I found this fantastic Gooseberry Patch cookbook – One-Pot Meals.  What could be more simple?  “Flavor without the fuss …home-cooked dinners your family will love!”

http://www.christmasplace.com/shopping/ItemNumber/66071

The recipes cover most every cooking method you might use, including range-top, crockpot, microwave, and even campfire entrees, as well as cold salads and desserts.  As I set the book down and randomly flipped open the pages, what did I land on but a personal favorite of mine all year round – Potato-Corn Chowder!  The publishers allow me to share a recipe with you occasionally, so here it is:

Potato-Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

    • 2 – 10-3/4 oz cans potato soup
    • 2 – 14-3/4 oz cans cream-style corn
    • 8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled (substitute ready-cooked bacon if you’re short on prep time)
    • 1/2 to 1 C milk (for extra creamy soup or chowder, replace milk with evaporated milk)
    • salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste
    • Optional: 1 to 2 T bacon drippings
    • Garnish:  fresh parsley, chopped

Blend soup and corn in a slow cooker; add bacon along with bacon drippings if desired.  Add milk until soup is of desired consistency; add seasonings to taste.  Heat on low setting in your slow cooker for 8 to 10 hours.  Sprinkle individual servings with parsley.  Serves 6 to 8.

Imagine coming home in the evening to the scent of a steaming pot of this chowder!  Better hope you’re the first one in the kitchen!

My recipe short-hand:  C = cup; T = tablespoon

Hmmm….now what do they have in here that will work for a hungry crowd that’s coming over for some big event I’ve heard is happening this weekend?  You know, the one where everyone gathers around giant T.V. screens to watch a whole bunch of commercials, periodically interrupted by some bits of guys running about a field, chasing after an odd-shaped, punkin’-looking thing?

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Check out some of the other yummy cookbooks from Gooseberry Patch – they’re the best books you’ll find anywhere!

 

Two for Tuesday

As Valentine’s Day approaches, thoughts turn to romance, and to romantic spots on the planet.  Spots like Paris – I haven’t been since I was quite young, but I hear it’s aging well! I noticed this distressed-look fabric ribbon printed with iconic French images and text, and found a glittering Eiffel Tower with which to pair it.  I’m also intrigued by the chocolate brown spruce I used in this photo.  It’s such an unusual – but gorgeous – color choice for Christmas!  Pair it with a white tree and either pink or blue – yummy color palette for a tree. Eiffel Tower & Ribbon My second Tuesday find is – here I go with chocolate again – a rich, brown glittering poinsettia.  I just realized my theme – I must be anticipating Valentine chocolates coming my way!  This could be a problem on the calorie frontier .. maybe I’ll just stick to a little eye-candy instead.  (No fudge for me.  No truffles for me.  No M&Ms for me.  I can do it.  I can do it.) Brown poinsettia What’s on your schedule for romance this February – Paris or chocolate?  Or both?

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  For a truly romantic holiday, book a get-away for two at The Inn at Christmas Place – pick your package, with choices including a gift basket, arranged roses, and more.  Why not add some chocolate-dipped strawberries from Mrs. Claus’ Candy Kitchen, or a gourmet Valentines apple to share?  We have a lot of ways to help you celebrate!

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Two for Tuesday!

On the day!

What we love today – lots of hammering and sawing and banging .. and the stairs have moved!

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Can you believe it?  The elves are hoping they’ll leave us the little cubby underneath – just the right size for a few elf bunk-beds, don’t you think?

Love the beautiful and wild garland choices we have – some with lights, some with red berries and leaves, some with frost and snow.  What’s your favorite?

Garland

Santa may be way up north or down by the beach for a few months, but there’s still plenty to enjoy as you stroll through Christmas Place, Second Nature, and The Partridge & Pear Boutique.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Oops!  Did I forget to mention Mrs. Claus’ Candy Kitchen?  Now would be a great time to pre-order your fresh-dipped strawberries – Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it!

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Two for Tuesday (no, really! well, maybe…)

Okay, yes, I know it’s Friday!  Such a busy week with inventory counting of everything in our warehouses and on the sales floor and in my office, working on projects, and going to the elves’ Christmas party.  So I didn’t get my two pictures up on Tuesday.

As a reward for your patience in waiting for a post, I’m sharing “Five for Friday” — but I won’t give the post that title, because then you’ll probably want more.  Again.  Like, next week, and the week after that, and the week after that!  :o  So enjoy this one-week bonus, please.

Let’s start with plenty of glitter – a show-stopper IMHO, the glitter-scape of Santa, trees, and village outline is also lighted with twinkling LEDs that give the layers sparkling definition.  Battery operated, this can easily become a Christmas focal point anywhere you’re feeling bold enough to embrace your inner glitter-fan.

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It’s the stars of Christmas, Santa and Frosty.  Love the vintage design style, and the over-the-top glittering snow coating this ornament and figurine.

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 Give me more!  Here’s a turn to glittering gold for the holidays, with these ivory-colored holly leaves edged and sprinkled in gold glitter with clusters of gold berries on the stem.

Gold-Cream maple leaf

Had enough?  Okay…how about some silly Christmas fun.  We agree ‘staches are in fashion these days – and even Santa has a good one.  Found this darling mug in the Christmas Gallery – there are a couple of other styles in the collection, but they’re not on line, in-store only, call 1-800-445-3396 to order.

Mustache mug

Have you added an ugly sweater to your Christmas tree yet?  Department 56 put together a great collection this year, including Grinch sweaters.  I’m partial to the Christmas tree with the lovely faux-fur cuffs – and I really don’t want to call it ugly, okay?  It’s cute!

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Just a few of the things I love this week.  I’ll be back on schedule next week.  If you see something on line and would like to see more pictures or see it “in use,” don’t be shy, just ask!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Deconstruction and reconstruction continue at the store – we elves can’t wait to see the final result!

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Food for Friday

Now that the rush is over, I’m discovering new publications that I missed in the store – including seven gorgeous cookbooks under the main title “The Gathering of Friends,” with volume subtitles including “A Year of Holidays at Home,” “Return to the Table,” “Celebrating With Simplicity,” and four others.  From the creators and publishers:

The Gathering of Friends cookbooks were created to introduce “food as a love language,” enhancing traditions, fortifying relationships and celebrating life!

Gathering of Friends book

Paraphrasing Brian Wansink, we eat first with our eyes – and these volumes demonstrate that presentation is just as important to the enjoyment of a meal as food preparation.  Chapters feature recipes illustrated with beautiful photographs of each dish, along with a bit of inspiration, serving and tablescape ideas, and decorating suggestions.  Also included is a complete shopping list for the chapter menu!  Though hard-backed, the pages are spiral bound, so the books will lay open in a stand or on a tabletop for easy viewing.

010715 Gathering Friends

Naturally, the one which first caught my eye, “A Year of Holidays at Home,” features a Christmas dinner table, though it includes menus and ideas for July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, a Winter Celebration, Valentine’s, and Easter!  Curated (my choice of words!) by Michelle Huxtable and Abby Jane Green, it’s “an inspiring collection of delicious recipes and memorable menus.”  There is a comprehensive index of all recipes, so you can easily pull together your own menu, too.

Here’s an easy little Christmas recipe that just might work for Valentine’s, too, especially in color.

Cranberry Coconut Squares

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 t coconut extract
  • 1-1/2 C sweetened flaked coconut, divided
  • 1-1/2 C white chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 C dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; prepare a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Beat eggs in a medium-sized bowl.  Fold in butter, sugar, flour, and coconut extract.  Gently stir with a fork until just combined.

Fold in 1/2 C sweetened flaked coconut and 1/2 C white chocolate chips.  Pour batter into the baking dish, and sprinkle with dried cranberries and remaining white chocolate chips and coconut.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Fully cool before cutting into squares.

Serve up these lovely, sweet, red-and-white squares on cut-paper doilies as a treat, any time of day!

(C = Cup, t = Teaspoon)

I’m making room on my shelf for a few of these delicious cookbooks!  What’s your favorite Christmas – or any holiday – recipe?  We’d love to expand our culinary horizons with a few of your suggestions.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  The volume pictured is available to buy; call the store at 1-800-445-3396 and ask Guest Services to arrange shipment of item 766005.  We have all seven volumes, numbered from 766000 to 766006!