Hug Your Cat!

I’ll be out for a couple of days for a wedding (not mine, my sister’s), so I’ll leave you with the important reminder that Friday is Hug Your Cat day so be sure to give ‘em a good squeeze!  Just for fun, drop in on this site in case you don’t have one at home to love on and squish and sneeze over.

Riddle me this: why, when I searched for “cat” on our shopping site, was the first item up a purple feather??  I guess that would be classified as a cat accessory, maybe? 

Have a great Almost Friday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  I would like to reassure everyone that I do understand why the feather came up in the search for “cat.”  More proof that the human brain does not think in 1 and 0 like the electronic brain!  For our new shopping site (currently under construction) we’ve been refining search engine properties so that actual cats will show up first in a search list for the same.  I just happened to find it particularly amusing that an item that would so well entertain a cat appeared in my earlier search….had a fishing rod also appeared, it would have pushed me over the top!

 

Summer reading

I love to read all year round, but on a warm afternoon when you’re barely maintaining consciousness, with a cold lemonade and a stack of saltines at hand – mmmm…..  NPR has done its first installment on summer reading, which drives me crazy, because I am compelled with every story to immediately go out and find all these books.  I enjoy haunting second-hand book shops, and I recently discovered an on-line book swapping service which I hope to use to my advantage.  At least I do eventually read all the books I pick up, unlike CDs – which I like to buy but don’t necessarily have to listen to…doesn’t make sense, I know, but there it is.

Anywho, you can go to www.npr.org/booksto find all their recommendations.  I’m going to finish off a light Maeve Binchy and then pick up “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner to start my summer reading.  I may need to add a hammock to my shopping list for this weekend…

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”  ~ Frederick Douglass

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”  ~ Groucho Marx

“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”   ~ Mark Twain

 

I got to watch the race!

It started later than I expected (and ended later, thanks to the yellows) but what a good excuse to sit in front of the t.v. all afternoon.  I guess we can thank the late start on Indiana recently being forced to adopt daylight savings time.  [For over 20 years, we never had to change our clocks, and life was good.  okay, not getting sidetracked….]  By the end, I wanted every racer to cross the yard of bricks first, but really enjoyed Scott’s win.  Looked like a great day to be on the track in Indy!  The new 360-degree cameras were crazy and the passes in traffic had me on the edge of my seat. 

Not quite as good as being there, but, all in all, “the greatest spectacle in racing” ~ I definitely agree!

~ Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Found this very sweet porcelain night light of the manger scene – just a few touches of gold highlight the forms.  This would be great for a child’s room or any room in the home.

On the whimsical side, a glittering butterfly to highlight a unique tree or decorate a girl’s room or even a garden party ~ for fun!

 

~ Janet @ The Christmas Place

Good food and fast cars, it’s a long weekend!

I hope you’re anticipating good food in large quantities at some point over the long weekend ~ and that you get to enjoy an extra day or two of leisure.  Here are a few recipes that I frequently cook for summer parties.  And winter.  Oh, spring and fall, too.  I was going to share one for my Triple Layer Chocolate Cheesecake, but it’s four pages long…

Let me know if you try these, and how you like them.
Note:  T = Tablespoon.

Key Lime Cake (hmm…why did I start with dessert??) – really refreshing on a warm day and a good sweet bite after a heavy meal.  It has a lovely tart-sweet glaze.  (This is the cake I bake myself to celebrate another trip around the sun.)
Bake in a 13″ x 9″ greased and floured pan, 350 degree oven, for 35 minutes or until clean toothpick stage.
Lemon cake boxed mix (Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme is best)
Lemon INSTANT pudding boxed mix
4 eggs
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup Key Lime juice
1/2 Cup oil
Mix these ingredients together at medium speed for 2 minutes; pour into pan; bake; cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Glaze:
2 Cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 Cup Key Lime juice
Mix and drizzle over cooled cake.
I like to add a little green food coloring to the cake and glaze so that everyone knows it’s lime.  One year, I got it to a lovely shade of acid green toxic waste – but everyone gobbled it up!

Oriental Cabbage Salad – this is really fun and tasty, and I usually bring the elements separately and mix them on-site for maximum freshness.  It’s also fun to toss in a bag of (defrosted) frozen peas.
Base:
1 Bag coleslaw mix
1 Bunch green onions, chopped
Mix in a large bowl, set aside.
Toppings:
1 stick butter or margarine
2 bags Ramen noddles, crushed (we will not use the seasoning packets)
1 small bag slivered almonds
1 T sesame seeds
Melt better in a skillet over medium heat; add the remaining ingredients and toast until golden, stirring frequently.  Drain and cool on paper towels.
Dressing:
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup vinegar
2 T soy sauce
3/4 Cup oil
Combine sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small pan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Add oil.
When you’re ready to serve, add toasted toppings to the salad base, shake the dressing well, pour over the salad, and toss everything together.

Cornbread Casserole – this is The Easiest Dish in the World and is always the first empty pan at a meal!
In a greased, 1-quart casserole, mix the following ingredients and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, uncovered.
1 Box cornbread mix (about 8.5 oz)
1 Can creamed corn (about 16 oz)
1 Can kernel corn, drained (about 16 oz)
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 Stick butter or margarine, melted
1 Cup sour cream
1 T chopped onion
I’ve made this one using all low-cal ingredients and it tasted just as great as the fully loaded version.  Some friends claim they save it for dessert.

All you need is someone with a grill and your favorite protein, a large, ripe watermelon, some salt and pepper shakers, and you’ve got the kind of pic-a-nic to which I’d like an invitation.  See you on Sunday (at Bob’s with the pool and the figure-eight waterslide, I hope).  I’ll be rooting for the number 10 car, go Danny!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

(It’s almost Monday ~ in a really good way!)

Speaking on Memorial Day

NPR had another great StoryCorp entry this morning, about a man who learned about his father’s life through helping him tend the graves of his community.  Go here to listen to the story.

A few quotes in honor of our service men and women this weekend:

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.  ~ Francis A. Walker

The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.  ~ Randy Vader

These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty – they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~ Robert G. Ingersoll

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.  ~ Thucydides

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Memorial Day reminded me of Christmas Wreaths

Memorial Day is upon us, and I have been reminded of a wonderful way to memorialize veterans at Christmas – Wreaths Across America.org.  Over 15 years ago, Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, began a tradition of placing wreaths on headstones in Arlington National Cemetery during the holidays.  Over the years, volunteers have placed over 90,000 wreaths in memorial.  In 2007, almost 300 locations participated in Wreaths Across America ceremonies, placing over 30,000 wreaths.  The 2008 ceremonies will take place on Saturday, December 13th, at 12 noon EST.  Give a donation today or mark your calendar so you’ll remember to participate later this year.

Here’s a beautiful wreath created by our professional designers.  They create seasonal, stock, and custom arrangements all year long.  This one is loaded with feathery ferns and glittered fronds, ribbons and glass balls.

It’s almost Friday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Here are some really neat ornaments I found in the store today, great for honoring service men and women – we personalize these free of charge (while you wait if you’re in the store).  Although we traditionally celebrate fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, I find myself thinking of active and former service members, too.  We have several styles of military ornaments, including more formal glass ornaments like this.

 

Okay, I’m so not sure about this – would we go with “Rudolph’s Revenge”??  Over in Santaland, I found a tree decorated for sportsmen, with fishermen, fishing lures, shotgun shells, hunting and fishing ornaments, and a couple of rifle-totin’ reindeer like this plucky fellow!  What a hoot!

Have a great day!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

I get to watch the Indy 500 live this year!!

Memorial Day Weekend is almost here, and I’m so very excited to be living in a city this year from which I can watch the Indy 500 race live on t.v. for the first time in a couple of decades!  For a glitter girl, I do love to watch the Indy cars go fast, really REALLY FAST.  Too fast to see if they’ve been glittered at all.

When you actually live in Indy, and don’t have friends with a big screen t.v. in the next viewing market over, mere mortals like me have to wait for the taped replay (after listening to the radio broadcast).  Actually, I always tape the replay so I can run the wrecks as often as I like.  The race itself can run in as little as three hours, if the weather is good and the drivers are safe (where’s the fun??).

Of course, if you’re willing to battle the crowds (larger even than the entire population of the nation of Iceland) and attend in person, it is The. Biggest. RUSH. you will EVER. FEEL.  except maybe a space shuttle flight or possibly one of those drop-out-of-a-helo-with-a-parachute-and-ski-to-the-bottom trips.  But you don’t need as much gear, just some sodas and sunscreen and a seat cushion and an umbrella and sandwiches and money and a program and a camera and a radio and money and a hat and sunglasses and chapstick and money and band-aids and money and you might want a roll of toilet paper just to be on the safe side if you’re “a delicate flower”.

My first race was 22 years ago, seats in the second turn at the top of the short shute, about 12 rows from the fence.  Thank you for the fence.
Dum, de dum, celebrity goes around in the pace car.
Dum, de dum, some wailing music for a number or two by the underfed vocalist of the year.
Dum, de dum, Jim Nabors sings “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
Dum, de dum, “gentlemen, start your engines.”
Dum, de dum, pace laps, cars go weaving by (they warm up their tires that way) and gradually form into rows.
And then, HOLY COW, the green flag!

You’re on your feet for at least the first 10 laps ( no kidding, my heart is speeding up even now just thinking about that first green lap!) as the cars go by in a blur.  You don’t know fast until you’ve been 30 feet from a car passing at 200 miles an hour.  Whew, what a rush!  It’s not quite Mach, but it sure takes a few laps for your eyes to able to see the cars as they speed by.  As fast as you can focus on one, it’s gone.  Then there are red flags, and yellow flags, and rain delays, and sunburn, and drunks.  And then, after 200 laps on the 2.5 mile track, there’s a winner.  All this takes about 5 hours.

And then, there is 45 minutes of walking to the car (if you’re lucky), followed by four hours in the parking lot trying to leave the track, followed by an hour and a half on the interstate to get home.  That’s when you forget about the rush of that first green flag lap and think to yourself “I’m not coming again until I can helo into the infield!”

Once back on the couch in the air conditioning, though, you’re sitting there, watching it all over again on t.v., heart pounding, wishing it wasn’t a full year until the race is back in town again!  Only 11 months and three weeks more until we’re all back “on the bubble” with the next 33 cars and drivers…

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

I’m not tailgating, you’re driving too close to my front bumper.

Artists Visiting The Incredible Christmas Place

As with any collectible, the artist’s signature on a piece measurably increases its value.  We have already scheduled several signing events for the summer and fall.  These events present a great opportunity for you to purchase the newest collectibles in a line and have them signed by the artist who was inspired to create the piece.

Often, there are presales of new items ~ so you can order ahead, have your piece signed during the event, and we’ll ship it directly to you after the event.  If possible, wouldn’t it be more fun to come on down to the store and meet the artist in person?  I haven’t experienced one yet myself, but I hear that it’s a kick to meet and talk with them in the store.

  • Friday, July 18, 2008 – Mark Roberts, creator of Fairies and Santas ~ there are new, exclusive pieces which may be preordered by calling the store and will be shipped to you after the event.
  • Saturday, July 19, 2008 – Charming Tails signing ~ there will be a piece or two sold exclusively during the signing event.
  • Saturday, October 4, 2008 – Kristi Pierro, Department 56 and Snowbabies ~ the spring releases have just been announced, and we’ll be preselling several pieces in both collections.
  • Saturday, October 4, 2008 – NeQwa ~ one of the artists who creates these exquisite, hand-painted ornaments will be in the store.
  • Saturday, October 18, 2008 – John Satterfield, San Francisco Music Box

Of course, mixed in with all these signings, we’ll also have the usual summer exclusive happenings here at The Christmas Place.

  • June 14-15, 2008 ~ Garden Party, with face-painting for the kids, fun and games, and general merriment throughout the store and courtyard.
  • June 15, 2008 ~ Father’s Day celebration.
  • July 1, 2008 ~ Singing Santa is available for individual and family photos in the store.
  • July 4, 2008 ~ Uncle Sam is in the house.
  • August 30-31, 2008 ~ Annual Labor Day Sidewalk Sale (bargains all over the place).

We do keep things hopping around here, even before Santa and the elves are back from summer vacations!  Come on by and stop in for a visit.  What better way to cool off in the heat of summer than with a trip to the North Pole?  (We have one here, uh-huh, I’ve seen the sign!)

~Janet @ The Christmas Place