She’s Funny That Way, and other reasons to celebrate today

You will figure out that I like to look for funny dates on the calendar to celebrate, and this one seems just right – today is National “She’s funny that way” Day.  Here in the South, we might tweak it to be “Bless her heart, she can’t help that she’s funny that way” Day.  If you have a great “funny lady” in your world, send me a note about her.

It’s also Tater Day in Benson, Kentucky, celebrating the sweet potato.  Now, and this is important and you need to remember it, according to a story I heard on The Spendid Table, a wonderful radio program about food that is broadcast on NPR, we only have sweet potatoes here in the U.S., not yams – yams are grown in Nigeria, a place I happened to live in my youth, and other parts of Africa and Asia.  Yams are white.  Yams are different from sweet potatoes.  Whether they are more red or more yellow, here in the States they are all sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas).  Ignore any signs to the contrary in your local grocery store, and enjoy them in any color.  You’ll find some wonderful recipes at The Splendid Table.

And, in a seemingly unrelated note, though I’m not so sure, it is also Bunsen Burner Day, a day to celebrate the birthday of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen, who invented the little plastic caps on the end of shoe laces.  NO, of course I’m kidding, he improved the design of the Bunsen burner, used by scientists and bored school students around the world  to melt ink pens.  Really,  I don’t believe I ever used a Bunsen burner to create any heat or chemical reaction other than breaking down plastic particles.  Could this be why I am not today nor have I ever (yet) been a rocket scientist??  I have, however, found some funny e-cards you can send to your friends in celebration of Bunsen Burner Day.  Sweet!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  I learned this on the radio yesterday – the plural of “y’all” is “all y’all.”  I really should not be allowed to tune my radio away from NPR.

You should hear this story.

I really wanted to send you to this StoryCorp story last Friday, but it wasn’t yet available – please go here and listen to Julio’s story.   I don’t know if I would have had the presence of mind to step outside the situation and to recognize and address the deeper need, but Julio surely did, as you’ll hear in his story.  It’s my hope that you’ll be as encouraged and inspired as I was by his experience, and perhaps think a little differently about the next tough person or situation you find yourself up against.

I’m a huge National Public Radio fan (geek, groupie, buff, enthusiast, devotee, proponent, etc.), and stories like this are just one of the reasons I am an addict. 

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

The Boutique

Are you ready for shorts and flip flops?  I sure am!  I know some of you probably just wear socks with your flip flops through the winter (they do make socks just for that, you know, yes, they do).

Anyway, I just took a walk over to The Boutique, our newest shop here at The Incredible Christmas Place, and they have the neatest flip flop line – “Switch Flops.”  The sandals switch-flops.jpghave hook-and-loop tape along the straps and you can purchase 30 or so different colored and decorated ribbons to attach to the same pair of sandals – change the color or style of your shoes every day – so cute!  Some have crystals or pearls at polka-dot-ribbon-with-flower.jpgthe toe cleft, some shells, buttons or embroidered flowers.  The ribbons are striped, dotted, lace, all sorts of textures and patterns, some with touches of gold or silver shot through the design. 

To go along with the Switch Flops, we have new boxer shorts and pajama lounge pants from Vera Bradley, in her customary selection of colorful, flowery fabrics!  The shorts and towel.jpgpants are packaged in individual matching fabric pouches, too – another tote to use for suncreen and sundries.  What fun you can have designing a pair of sandals to match your shorts.  We also have new beach towels, can coolers, and iPod covers from Vera to complete your trip to that sunny destination.  (They have matching umbrellas, too, but I don’t want to jinx anyone.)

As I mentioned before, we also carry the Crabtree & Evelyn line, including luxury skin care products for both women and men.  They have great travel sizes, and the scents are delicate and complex, not overwhelming – great stuff!

Here’s a list of some of the other cool stuff in The Boutique: 

  • Swarovski crystal figurines and jewelry
  • Egyptian perfume bottles
  • Novelty hand-painted wine goblets in patterns like Shopaholic
  • Bearington Bears in the most adorable clothes and styles – both boy and girl bears, along with frogs, duckies, and sheep
  • Heritage Lace Brocade hanging lanterns – not only are the fabric shades beautiful themselves, they create wonderful patterns of light throughout your space
  • a collection of picture frames and albums that scrapbookers and artists will love – the frames have tons of dimensional highlights and ephemera (if you know what I mean by this, you know these are for you)
  • ceramic frames and plaques with titles like Mother, Grandmother, Sister – I’m already thinking Mother’s Day
  • Two new collections of journals, pocket notebooks, and mini sketch books – one that is particularly unique – the bindings are by famous artists, living and dead, and each design is described in the back of the journal.   Rembrandt, Mozart, and Laural Birch were some that I noticed.  The bindings are almost jewel-like in color and style, richly embossed and decorated, with metallic fastenings.

Sad for me, I had some money in my back pocket when I strolled over to the store – have to stop doing that, because I tend to leave the cash behind and come away with lovely treasures in exchange – but since I usually give my treasures away, let’s say I’m doing my part for both the business and social economies today.

 Have a great weekend – it’s almost Monday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Don’t forget about our garage sale for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  It’s going on right now down at the owner’s garage at the back of the store.  I know I still have a few bucks in my pocket, so I’m headed that way for an even better cause.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

white-trillium-gsmp.jpgApril 23-27, 2008

The 58th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is coming up at the end of next month, and you need to register here now.  On-line and phone registration close on April 14th, after which it’s on-site registration only starting on April 23rd.

This annual 5-day event hosted by the Park and several other groups in the area includes walks, hikes, motorcades, armchair tours (love that!), art classes, and seminars on the wildflower, flora, fauna, and natural history of the area.  While most events take place outdoors in the Park, some are presented at locations in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  In addition to short hikes and walks, there are also backcountry tours for more seasoned hikers- I’m not there yet.

From my research:  Registration is $25 for one day or $40 for two or more days.  Some events may charge an additional fee.  When you register, if the event number you want is not listed in the drop-down list of numbers, then that event is full.  I missed getting into wildflower sketching – I’ll have to be faster next year!

Here are some of the topics that will be covered over the five days of the Pilgrimage:  (deep breath)  birding, moth and insect walks; wildflower walks and hikes; fern walks; trees of the area; wildflower photography; black bear and wild hog hike; Seasons on the Trail; moss walk; native plant propagation; salamander blackbear-gsmnp.jpgforay (slippery?); Smoky Mountain Spring; backcountry wildflower hike; tree and shrub identification walk; featured wildflower artist reception; Herb Lore of Appalachia; Ecosystems of Insect-eating Bats; nighttime natural history walk; nighttime spider walk (ooo, creepy!); morning bird walk; motorcades; wildflower sketching (full already…); wildflower identification for beginners; Forest and Foods Pharmacy; reptiles and amphibians; bugs and butterflies; fungi and lichens; An Appalachian Evening of Music, Songs, and Storytelling; animal tracking and signs; aquatic insects; exotic plant and wildflower walk; Armchair Tour of Cades Cove. 

See what I mean?  You simply must register now and sign up for some events.  Sure hope I see you there!

Janet@ The Christmas Place  

turkeys-wild.jpg

I just had to include this picture of wild turkeys – on my drive in to work this morning, one of these flew across the road right in front of my car as I was about to cross the bridge below Douglas Dam.  Aren’t they beautiful?

we almost missed celebrating Make Up Your Own Holiday Day

I almost forgot to remind everyone that today, March 26th, is “Make Up Your Own Holiday Day!”  Please, if you’re reading this, send me a note and let me know what your holiday would be…I think mine will be “On This Date in History, Mistakes Were Made.”  That’s it.  No more will be said about this holiday. 

And if you’re not reading this and yet feel compelled by a strange, unnamed force to send me a message, that’s okay…know that, sooner or later, all will be revealed.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Garage Sale with a heart!

It’s time for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life 6th Annual Garage Sale at The Incredible Christmas Place.  Each year, store owners donate gifts and decorations and staff bring in personal items for a big garage sale, with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.  This year, the goal for the employees of Christmas Place is $4,000.

If you are in the area on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, March 28-30, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., come around to the back of the store and check  out the bargains to be found in the owner’s garage – yes, there really is a garage here, so you can be sure that this is indeed a genuine garage sale.  The variety of items for sale will amaze you, and includes toys, ornaments, figurines, decorations, household items, and maybe even some fixtures from the store.  Please come to shop and help us reach our goal – this is one more way we are able to share the spirit of Christmas all year ’round.

Hey, it’s almost Friday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

almost Wednesday…

I thought I’d better be thinking forward today!  Easter may have slipped by already, but spring is just beginning – especially considering that there were plenty of  white flakes here in the valley again today, though nothing that stuck.  

Here at the store, we’ve almost finished recarpeting the sales floors, and the displays and bins are filling up with sparkly new things – though not everything 105532-js-santa-birds.jpgsparkles.  There are some delightful folk art items in the store, too.  The Jim Shore collection showcases his style, incorporating intricate quilt-like patterns in warm country colors into a collection of pieces that reflect his down-to-earth personality.

Elaborate Santas carved with ornamental embellishments, 4005351-js-3-kings.jpgwoodland creatures, elves, reindeer, snowmen, and angels are among the inhabitants that populate Jim’s vision of Christmas, along with a whimsical cat and dog or two.  In addition to figurines, we carry ornaments, candle warmers, plates, crosses, snow globes, and even a couple of flags.  Mickey and friends 4005628-js-mickey-snowman.jpgappear in Jim’s collection as well.

New this year, we’re adding a collection of whimsical dogs in intricately carved patterns, including a Scottie, Chihuahua, Poodle, and the beloved Lab.  If country is your Christmas style, we have plenty to suit your taste!

Janet @ The Christmas Place

Almost Monday!

For many years I worked with a crazy gal (we’ll talk about what kind of crazy she was some other time) who, in her own way, taught us to anticipate days, not dread their passing – on Monday, she’d declare “it’s almost Wednesday!” with a sense of wonder….on Wednesday, “it’s almost Friday!” with expectation….and on Friday, “it’s almost Monday!” with excitement.

Let’s celebrate that “it’s almost Monday!”

Today is Good Friday on the Christian calendar, and many folks will enjoy a day off.  Judging by the number of boats that I passed on the way in to the store today, I know where most of East Tennessee will be.  Me, I’m looking two-dogs-l93w-bigfoto-pg-15.jpgforward to tomorrow, and celebrating the convergence of “International Goof-off Day” and “As Young As You Feel Day.”

Sunday, as some celebrate Easter, don’t forget “National Puppy Day,” “Near Miss Day,” and “O.K. Day” – hmmm….from Puppy to Near Miss to O.K.  Think about it.

And Monday?  Somebody was pretty smart – it’s the start of “Egg Salad Week” – finally, we’ve organized ourselves around all those leftovers.  So embrace all those eggs you decorated for the kids that are piled in the fridge (hopefully!) and make something for everyone to share together!

Have a great weekend-op- almost Monday!

 ~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Snowbabies!

It might seem slightly strange to be talking about Snowbabies on the first day of 796004l-d56-babys-first-steps-sb.jpgspring – but it is babies, not bunnies… I’m sure there are plenty of folks skiing into spring this year, but it’s also time for the introduction of new figurines from Department 56, and these are the cutest!

For the first time ever, these little guys and gals – and their snowmen, penguin, and moose pals – are dressed in real knit hats and scarves to keep them warm.  It is the 2008 “Babies Got New Clothes” line, and I know you’ll find them enchanting.   The exclusive, limited edition piece of the collection, “Up, Up, and Away,” features two reindeer harnessed to Santa’s sleigh, 796016l-dp-08-sleigh-sb.jpgguided by a Snowbaby wearing Santa’s red cap and accompanied by a penguin pal.  The sleigh is filled with toys, and two more babies have hitched a ride on back.  Artist Kristi Jensen Pierro says this piece was inspired by an image from an old Victorian postcard.  The piece is 16 long and 7-1/4 tall.

In addition to the eight precious pieces in the clothes collection, Snowbabies is 795975l-d56-congratulations-box-sb.jpgoffering a new “Congratulations” recordable box that records 799634l-d56-girls-and-curls-sb.jpgyour own 10 second message.  “Girls and Curls” and “Retail Therapy” are also new, along with a Collector’s Edition (limited) “Christmas Carousel” music box, with Snowbabies riding on delicate ponies. 

 Your favorites in the Snowbabies collection are still available, including pieces like “Snow Angels,” “Girlfriends,” items that spin, and the 12 days of Christmas ornament selection, along with a new 2008 Gift from God ornament. 796006l-d56-babys-first-christmas-08-orn-sb.jpg

Best Friends visiting this year include Snow White, Ariel and 796025l-d56-marshmallow-roast-sb.jpgfriends, Winnie the Pooh, and “Mickey’s Marchmallow Roast” for Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and two Snowbabies around a lighted campfire.

Give us a call here at The Christmas Place, 1-800-445-3396, to pre-order your favorite 2008 pieces and make sure you don’t miss out on any of these special items.  While you’re at it, learn about the benefits of membership in our Department 56 Collectors Club, such as access to limited edition pieces and early notification about new releases.

796018l-d56-rudolphs-flying-lesson-sb.jpgI simply cannot resist these darling Snowbabies!

 ~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Easter and Spring Snowbabies are also still available.

Sweet Scents for Summer

Scented candles flavor any room in the house with warmth, color, and ambience – and are an easy and affordable option for rejuvenating your living spaces through the changing seasons.  Your favorite premium candle company, Yankee Candle, has just introduced three 1129749-black-cherry-candle.jpgnew fragrances for summer – Beach Walk, Black Cherry, and Berry Jam.  If those names don’t warm you up for sunny days and picnics on the lawn, I don’t know what will!  Open a window, let in the breeze, and enjoy.  Yummy!

Take care to keep your candle away from those curtains, out of the breeze, and place it on a flame-resistant surface – and never leave a lit candle alone in a room.  Firemen are cute, but they don’t hang around for long after the 1129788-beach-walk-candle.jpgblaze is out.  Here are some more tips from Yankee Candle to extract maximum burn and pleasure from your candles.  Remember to keep wicks trimmed to no more than ⅛, and keep wick trimmings and other materials out of the wax pool.  Burn candles approximately 1 hour for each inch in diameter.

Yankee Candles are manufactured using the highest-quality essential oils and fragrance accents, which infuses them with the richest, most long-lasting scents.  The Incredible Christmas Place offers popular scents and styles along with classic 1129574-berry-jam-candle.jpgfavorites. 

Now, just do me a favor.  Don’t burn scented candles at dinner – the food you’ve prepared should be the highlight of your meal, no competition needed.  And I’ll leave you with a helpful hint:  when you don’t have time to really clean that bathroom before company comes, loosen the lights bulbs and light a couple of candles – problem solved, reputation intact.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place