My Favorite Christmas Present Ever

Another list from our store elves.  (I hope they haven’t noticed that they’re doing the heavy lifting for me…)  

  1. Ernie – In 1963, a cassette player
  2. Ginger L. – My first sewing machine, from my husband and mom
  3. Karen S. – My second daughter, born on December 19th
  4. Diana – World Book Encyclopedia, when I was 10 years old!
  5. Ann C. – A new red coat ~ from my teacher
  6. Rochelle – My first stereo, when I was 10
  7. Phyllis – At age 10, my first gift from my dad, a small stove and refrigerator
  8. Laura E. – A record player – it ran at both 45 and 33rpms!
  9. Laura A. – An April Showers Baby with bathtub
  10. Brittany – My bicycle with stereo
  11. Zahira – A pretty doll
  12. Anthony – Little red bumper train
  13. Anon. – Jesus
  14. Dee – When I was 6, I received a 144-piece dish set AND a merry-go-round
  15. Cindy – a Scroll saw =)
  16. Julie – a Bichon Puppy
  17. K-kin – a collage from my daughter and a bookmark from my son
  18. Penny – a Ring from my hubby
  19. Dawn – The only present my father ever gave me, a pair of deerskin gloves he had made from the skin of a deer he had shot
  20. Janet – I best remember a pair of footed pajamas that I received when I was about 16 or so – I was so excited that they fit me because I’m a little tall and things were usually too short

How about adding to our list?   We’re going to need some creative ideas for this year (besides lower gas prices).  I’m personally jonesing for a reciprocating saw.  Don’t get nervous, I don’t have anything that needs sawing … they just look like a whole lotta fun.  And they’re noisy.  And I can put my name on it in glitter glue.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, and …

Here’s a funny little bunch – it’s a bit hard to see in the picture, but their skinny, streeetched legs are actually separate from their bodies ~ they dangle and swing about in a most amusing way!  Add whimsy to your tree with a collection  of these dancing Santas and Snowmen.  Me, I’ll hang them from hooks, doorknobs or cabinet knobs around the house (please, not from the rear view mirror, just say “NO” to objects dangling from a rear view mirror).  These fellows in their fanciful tights are begging to dance around your house.

Here’s another take on red and green ~ have a look at this lovely ginger-haired lassie – her name is Frog Girl, and she’s sporting an embroidered frog on the front of her corduroy jumper, the collar of her blouse, and the tops of her shoes.  Who can resist those  adorable, smiling eyes?  I had to check to see if she was wearing real baby clothes, but I understand the outfits are custom-made for this collection of realistic dolls.  There’s a Frog Boy companion doll, and a whole host of other babies in the Adora group, each as charming as she.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Hey, if you’d like to save a few bucks, don’t forget to check out Santa’s Basement (which is kind of funny, because here at the store it’s actually located in the attic) for great bargains on closeout merchandise.

Monday Sparkles

After last week’s reign of the sun, we’ve been given a rather dull, overcast Monday, and the forecast for tomorrow is Unspeakable.  What about something bright and sparkly to brighten up the place?  Our Floral Department creates these fantastical, imaginative boxes filled with lights and bursting with wild and crazy, glitter-encrusted ribbons, sprays, fruits, and flowers in rainbow colors.

Now that puts the cheer right back into the day!

“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.”  ~Thomas Tusser

“The April winds are magical, And thrill our tuneful frames; The garden walks are passional To bachelors and dames.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Oh the lovely fickleness of an April day!”  ~William Hamilton Gibson

“A gush of birdsong, a patter of dew, A cloud, and a rainbow’s warning.  Suddenly sunshine and perfect blue – An April day in the morning.”  ~Harriet Prescott Spofford

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Blooming Dogwood

A week of sun and warm weather have brought out of profusion of deep pink and bright white dogwood blossoms for which East Tennessee is so well known.  Enjoy a few pictures from my parents’ front yard.

The Dogwood Arts Festival has just wrapped up this week.  One of the festival highlights is driving a dogwood trail through a Knoxville neighborhood.  Here’s a picture taken along the Sequoia Hills trail.

My mother contributed the photos today – Barbara is just great with her digital camera.  In fact, I’m spilling the beans – the trail picture above was actually made through the windshield of the car!  (I had to crop out the passenger side support strut.  Seriously.)  Buck prefers slides, and is, in fact, even this morning giving an armchair tour of gardens around the world to the local garden club (on his dual-deck slide projectors with 7-second fade).  Between them, they have thoroughly documented the flora and fauna of East Tennessee and places around the world for the better part of the last century…come count the slides and files if you doubt me…

Woo hoo!  Here comes Monday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Went with the breeze…

Oh, sorry, that’s what my dad always calls “Gone with the Wind”, that epic film that turns 70 years old next year.  Scarlett actually uses the line in Margart Mitchell’s book, wondering if the Tara plantation was still standing or if it was “also gone with the wind that had swept through Georgia.”

I learned another interesting fact about the book today, from The San Francisco Music Box Companyrep:  Mitchell patterned Melanie after a favorite aunt, who married a dentist of whom the family did not approve, and was forced to annul the marriage.  Her aunt become a nun, and the dentist moved to Texas and became a gunslinger…Doc Holliday.  Isn’t that crazy?  Who knew?  Our 10-inch tall music box of Scarlett in her red dress plays Tara’s theme.  The attention to detail on the SF music boxes and water globes is truly spectacular.

And continuing in the theme of 70-year-old cinematic icons, The Wizard of Oz celebrates its anniversary next year as well.  Look at this cool music box with two water globes incorporated into the colorful design - a really unique and spectacular new piece, 10 inches tall, that is illuminated and plays “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

See, there’s a lot more magic than just Christmas magic around here!

 It’s almost Saturday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Next time, the rep promised to come bearing gifts of chocolate.

Cowboy Sky Off Fish Week

I participated in a youth leadership weekend recently (see Key Leader- it’s a great, great thing!).  Teams had to name themselves, and our fav was “Fiesty Baby Chipmunk Cookies” – this brilliant group of future leaders put a whole bunch of words into a hat and pulled four out – and we love love love the results.  I think this is how I will name all future posts.  [I think this could be how a lot of things should=can=do get named!  Have you seen any of the business-speak-generation web sites?  BRILLIANT!]

So, we’re half-way through Cowboy Poetry Week, Sky Awareness Week, Fish Fry Week, and TV Turn-off Week.  On top of all that, it’s Bill Shakespeare’s birthday today!  How many more excuses do we need to put on the pointy hats and eat cake with butter cream icing?  Sugar-high line forms behind me…I’ll take a corner slice, with flowers, please…

Okay, Cowboy Poetry ~ I recommend “The Night Before the Jackalopes Saved Christmas,” a rousing tale from David Althouse.  Not only will you find a wide-ranging selection of poetry at the Cowboy Poetry site, they also include a really cool selection of cowboy art and old ~ and new ~  photographs like this one.  I could spend some time here.

Sky Awareness Week ~ subtitle, “Chicken Little Was Here”?  Turns out this is serious stuff.  Now, the biggest sky of which I am aware is found in Montana, where I have many friends.  They have confirmed that yes, indeed, they are fully aware of the sky, and have particularly noted its presence above them this week.  Here’s an important take-away from SAW ~ there really is a difference between “partly cloudy” and “partly sunny.”   Take that to your next party and stop standing in the corner by the window – get out there and wow them with your clever banter and weather knowledge – you’ll be on everyone’s guest list by Christmas.  If you really want to rocket to the top of your social ladder, of course, you’d better nail your nephelococcygia.  Crucial for garden parties, weddings, barbecues, shrimp broils and what not.  I also think this is a great time to practice flying airplanes.  I mean the ones like this.

Oh, and Fish Frys, too – check out the Ultimate Fish Fry guide here.  My diligent, exhaustive,  and comprehensive search of the entire first two Google pages on “Fish Fry Week” failed to return a home site for this celebration, however – which means one of you opportunists out there can still grab “www.fishfryweek.com”, “www.fishfryweek.org” or “www.fishfryweek.net”.  Dude – fishfryweek.wordpress.com – start the blog!

As an avowed -though selective- TV-enthusiast, I cannot bring myself to say anything more about TV Turn-off Week.  Please take my actual mention of this so-called celebration in this column as the first of 431,567,908.2*{√π} steps to conquering my addiction.  Let’s move on.

Finally, The Bard’s Birthday!  I know you’ll make time today to reread a couple of plays and poems and insert a few pithy quotes into casual conversation.  It’s so easy.  “To be or not to be” “a rose by any other name” “is rotten in the state of Denmark.”  See??

“When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o’ th’ sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that.”

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Watch for it Saturday ~ Hug an Australian Day!

Two for Tuesday

A quick highlight of two delightful items I found while wondering the shop this morning:

Look at this gorgeous angel figurine ~ available for Mother, Grandmother, Sister, Daughter, Friend, and even You’re Like a Daughter to Me and You’re Like a Mother to Me.  These figures are about 9 inches tall, have a hand-carved appearance, and are painted in delicate pastels.  They have a light dusting of glitter, just enough for a gentle sparkle.  Fortunately for me, the morning sunlight was streaming in through our stained glass windows, casting a beautiful glow across the angels – what a sight for 9:00 a.m.  An angel like this would be a very meaningful Mother’s Day gift for any of the mothers in your life.

To highlight an angel on your tabletop or mantle, place an embroidered doily beneath it.  I particularly like the delicate pattern of this snowflake.  Doilies are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes, and they are so inexpensive you can afford to keep a stack on hand for many different uses ~ highlight a live or silk floral arrangment, protect an antique end table from a miniature Christmas tree, or add charm and elegance to any of your chachkis.  They deserve some lovin’!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Bird Nerds??

Do you think there are nerds in the bird world?  Geeks?  Rebels?  Social misfits of feathered society?  I do.  I think there is one living in my neighborhood.

 

This little twit gets up at 4:31a.m.  Every morning.  In a good mood.  A Really Good Mood.  I mean a FANTASTICALLY. GREAT. MOOD.  Singing, twittering, chirping, tweeting, peeping.  I imagine his nearest neighbors are just longing to smack him up side the beak with a few stiff feathers.  The rest of the gang has the decency to sleep in until at least 5:30 or so.  What’s with this one birdbrain??  And where’s the Owl Patrol to put a beat-down on Twitternut until a more reasonable hour?  For crying out loud, Mr. Sun isn’t even up until about 6:30, what’s with the whole “HELLO WORLD!  HERE I AM!” pre-dawn siren??  (I will NOT call it a serenade)  I think maybe his egg was dropped out of the nest a few months back, or he tried to fly before he had feathers…

 

Anywho, my little Bird Nerd friend has me thinking about what the world – or at least East Tennessee – sounded like back before humans took over the landscape.  How many songs are we missing now because we’ve taken out so much forest land for farms and homes and boat ramps?  Not that there’s anything wrong with boat ramps!  I’m sure my bird-brained little neighbor might not have been singing so solitary a song a few decades back.  No wonder American Indians and the first settlers got up so early – they couldn’t possibly have slept through an entire chorus of Twitternuts!  I think that was before we had ocean wave and tropical forest sound machines, right?

 

~Janet @ The Christmas Place (not an early riser)

Top 23 Things We Love About Christmas

From all the elves here at the store, a list of favorites about Christmas, in no particular order …  though I feel I must confess to providing the first entry … yes, I’m a true glitter girl.  One reason to love the store ~  no one notices when I track in glitter from home.

  1. Sparkles.  You can (almost) never have too many sparkles.  You know, glittering, shimmering, twinkling, shining ~ all that good stuff!
  2. When it snows – at least four inches.
  3. Buying gifts for less fortunate children and families.
  4. Fresh-baked goodies.
  5. Presents.
  6. Being with family.
  7. Sweets.
  8. Lots of lights.
  9. Christmas TV specials.
  10. Gifts – giving and receiving.
  11. Kids, kids, kids.
  12. Santa.
  13. Enjoying the holiday with friends and family.
  14. Christmas music (we get to hear a lot of it in the store!).
  15. Celebrating the Lord’s birth with family.
  16. Sharing in family traditions each year.
  17. Aunt Dot’s cooking.
  18. Shopping for perfect gifts for everyone on my list.
  19. Live nativities.
  20. The Winterfest lights throughout town.
  21. Christmas parties.
  22. Having the whole house looking festive throughout the holidays.
  23. Making my own Christmas cards each year.  And making sure each one sparkles.

We’ll be adding to the list as the year goes on.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Department 56 Designer’s Magic

We had a terrific week with Bryon Shroats, the designer sent by Department 56 to dress up our village dioramas and displays – our villages are looking quite magical now!  It’s amazing what you can do with some Styrofoam, a few power tools, several strands of lights, and a big bag of snow – the kind that doesn’t freeze or melt, yay!  (Some light vacuuming possibly required.)  We finished off the week with a tea-and-cookies reception for Bryon (see, I didn’t consume all the cookies), and we say thanks to all of you who were able to stop in and watch him work ~ and discover new display ideas for yourself.

Here’s a collection of pics from the week.

 Making glaciers.  (Use hairspray as an adhesive for glitter – less fuss.)

 

 

North Pole before:           North Pole after:

      

 Power tools – see, collecting pieces and building displays is truly a hobby for everyone in the family to enjoy.

 

 And some pics of the Christmas in the City diorama, with a few spots waiting for new pieces still to come.

         

Thanks to the designer’s inspiration and the creativity and hard work of our own fabulous design team here at The Christmas Place, our whole Department 56 Gallery (including Snowbabies) is looking pretty spiffy and beautiful now!  We hope you’re inspired to share with us some photos of your own displays … or memories and photos of Christmases past.  My mom created an entire cross-stitched village that she likes to display each December.

Of course, here in the store, we carry all the accessories, trees, lights, lamp posts, figurines, fences, walls, and snow you could want for your village.  We also host a Department 56 Collectors Club, membership in which comes with rebate discounts, free catalogs, and free shipping on certain orders – and access to annual limited-edition pieces in each collection that are not sold to the public.  For as little as $12 a year, it’s a great deal for any collector.

Whether you’ve been collecting villages for many years or you’re ready to design your first one, our experts here at the store will be happy to help you decide what next to add that will make your own collection unique and special to your home and family.  It’s really all about creating precious memories for Christmas and throughout the year, memories that will last a lifetime.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place