Frustration!

::frustration:: … is that we have the most stunning trees, wreaths, garlands, and decorations around here … and I have so far found it impossible to take pictures that effectively show their beauty and class …  I’m going to make you look at these anyway, but just imagine them a bajillion times better in real life, rich colors, elegant designs, whimsical light strands and all.  The trees (some of which are still under construction – we are getting in container-loads of new design materials these days) are so loaded with ornamentation there is no way to capture the full effect digitally, so I went in close on a variety of items I found tucked amoung branches.

       

I hope you can tell from these snaps how we load our trees – and the best part is that we generally provide a full kit list for each decorated tree, so you can purchase the whole enchilada and recreate it in your own home or office!

Now, here’s a staggering picture of strands of garland laden with clusters of lighted grapes and filled with birds’ nests, pussywillows, berries, and greens, reaching up to a regal wreath suspended nine feet above.  See why I say photographs really cannot do justice to the work of our professional designers and decorators?

Here are a couple of close-ups that capture the details (and source of my frustration) a little better.

 

Ya gotta come in and see for yourself!

Happy Almost Monday,

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

coming next week…decorating the tree with weasels, ducks, frogs, pandas, flamingos, buffalos, and more ~ and it all works!

Gatlinburg Fine Arts Festival

Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18, 2008, Gatlinburg is hosting the fourth annual Fine Arts Festival of the current century.  The Southern Highland Craft Guild first held a craft fair event in Gatlinburg in 1948, but moved it to other locations over the years.  They have recently brought this juried art fair back to Gatlinburg, and at least 10 exhibitors are members of the prestigious Guild.

Staged on River Road and at Ripley’s Aquarium plaza, there will be demonstrations and sales of a variety of fine arts and crafts in traditional and contemporary styles, ranging from sculpture, painting, and photography to basketry, fiber and leather crafts, ceramics, jewelry, and more.   Singing, dancing, storytelling, kids’ activities, and food add to the fun.  Local artist Jim Gray will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a pre-festival event.  (We display several of Jim’s prints in our decor at The Inn at Christmas Place.)

Admission to the event is free – can’t beat that – and benefits the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts and the Sevier County Arts Council.  Visit www.gfaf.net for additional information.  This a wonderful opportunity to support the local arts community, meet talented artists and discuss their work, and purchase original creations.  Hope I see you there.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Puffy, round things!

From Old World Christmas, a blown glass Mr. Jack O’ Lantern pumpkin ornament (note GLITTER highlights).  This happy little haunter will be happy to hang around from Halloween right on into the hallowed holidays.

Here’s a hunky trio of frosty bliss, snuggled into felt wraps and caps, with pink cheeks and enviably-long lashes.  About 18 inches tall, these guys are weighted to stand up on their own on a mantle or table, and soft enough to hugged and lugged along.  Too adorable!  Call us at 800-445-3396 to order; they’re only $19.99 each.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Children’s Book Week

Do you remember the last time you had the joy of reading with a child?  If not, this is the perfect time to grab a kid you know, pick out a new or favorite title, and remind yourself what a special gift it is to share a book and encourage a child to read – it’s Children’s Book Week.  Here are some popular titles, courtesy of Time magazine and Amazon.com.

  1. When Dinosaurs Came with Everything, Elise Broach
  2. Today I Will Fly!, Mo Willems
  3. Motherbridge of Love, Xinran
  4. Iggy Peck, Architect, Andrea Beaty
  5. Great Joy, Kate Dicamillo
  6. Diary of a Fly, Doreen Cronin
  7. The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County, Janice N. Harrington
  8. Smelly Bill, Daniel Postgate
  9. City Lullaby, Marilyn Singer
  10. Cherry and Olive, Benjamin Lacombe

Just type “Children’s Book Week” into your favorite Internet search engine and you’ll find pages of great ideas for individuals, teachers, classes, schools, and communities.  We have a good selection of Christmas books for children in our online store.

 Read to a child this week – it may be the most valuable hour you spend!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Limerick Day

Miz. Santa was in quite a snit
‘Cause old Santa’s suit did not fit.
She bought him a girdle,
Which was quite a hurdle,
‘Cause her Visa was at its lim-it.

You look, you find.  Christmas Limericks ~ these were built by a bunch of folks contributing lines in turn.  What a fun idea – today is “Limerick Day”.  Okay, wait wait wait, you don’t think they mean the original Limerick?  Hmmm…  If you have a Christmas limerick you’d like to share, please send it along.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Committed to green practices at The Inn

Green. Green. Green.  Carbon footprint (as in, minimize it).  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Is paper or plastic worse for the environment?  Printing paper content and green manufacturing of same – what are your standards? 

I am one who is delighted with the renewed and growing focus on protecting our environment and resources – I’ve brushed my teeth with the tap off for decades.  I took my own shopping bags into every store – even Wal Mart – long before it became so popular (yes, that was me, holding up the line).  In high school, I researched and wrote about solar energy.  My Hondas have given me 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway for years – I’ll get a hybrid when my current car wears out, no reason to give it back to the environment just yet.

Over two years ago, while the Inn was still in the planning stages, the owners were already thinking green, too ~ and to spectacular effect.  Take a look at the ponds area in front of the Inn.  Even though we border  the main street in town, when you are on the Inn side of the ponds, flowers, and trees, there’s the surprising feel of relaxing in a luxurious oasis of earth, color, and sky.  It’s quiet charm will delight you.

The best aspects of our pond installation are not visible, though.  Together, the small pond on the right and the larger pond on the left manage up to 31 cubic feet per second of storm drainage in an environmentally responsible way.

First, we filter sediments and grease out of the runoff water from the bordering street and our parking lots (yeah, I know, icky to think about that part).  Then, water flows into a basin filled with water plants that further remove contaminates before the water enters the larger pond.  Finally, overflow feeds into the city drain, but at a manageable flow rate and with much-improved water quality.  Our storm water filtration system is the first of its kind for a commercial property in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Don’t you think it’s wonderful how beautiful green can be?

Of course, we do all that other stuff that demonstrates our commitment to being good environmental stewards ~ self-regulating room thermostats, fluorescent bulbs, LED Christmas tree lights, Green Seal-certified paper and chemicals at the Inn.  The washers use an oxygenation system that virtually eliminates bleaching, and the ironing machine eliminates the dryer cycle.  Silverware, china, and glass instead of paper and plastics for food service.  We’ve even got a saltwater system for the indoor pool that dramatically reduces the use of chlorine in the water.

It’s really cool that, in addition to being the most beautiful hotel in town on the outside (and having the friendliest staff!), we’re also doing great things to take care of, protect, and improve the parts that you don’t see…for a more beautiful tomorrow.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Stop me if you’ve read this before…

but a friend just sent me this really funny e-mail about Dogs and Cats.  Full disclosure, I’m a cat person (in spite of allergies) ~ but happy dogs make me smile, too.  Plaque seen in a store last weekend:  “Cats were worshipped thousands of years ago…and they’ve never forgotten.” 

Dog Diary:

Day 218
  8:00 am – Dog food!  My favorite thing!
  9:30 am – A car ride!  My favorite thing!
  9:40 am – A walk in the park!  My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted!  My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch!  My favorite thing!
  1:00 pm – Played in the yard!  My favorite thing!
  3:00 pm – Wagged my tail!  My favorite thing!
  5:00 pm – Milk bones!  My favorite thing!
  7:00 pm – Got to play ball!  My favorite thing!
  8:00 pm – Watched TV with the people!  My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed!  My favorite thing!

Day 219
(REPEAT!)

Day 220
(REPEAT!)

Day 221
(REPEAT!)

Cat Diary:

Day 1031 of captivity.  My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre dangling objects and flashing lights.  They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or dry nuggets.  Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.  Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant in protest of their meager provisions.

The only things that keep me going are my dreams of escape and the minuscule satisfaction derived from ruining the occasional piece of furniture or stereo speaker.  In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet.  I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, as it clearly demonstrates the violence and destruction of which I am capable.  However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am.  Blind fools!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight.  I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event.  However, I could hear the noises and smell their feast.  More importantly, I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of “allergies.”  I must learn what this means, and how best to use it to my advantage.

Day 1032 of captivity.  My captors have revealed the true depths of their depravity, having devised the most dastardly torture to date – Water torture.  Combined with a burning, foaming chemical they called “shampoo,” this practice was clearly crafted by a deeply sick and tormented mind.  I take consolation in the hard-won nugget of revenge represented by the piece of flesh yet wedged between my incisors.

Day 1033 of captivity.  This morning I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking.  I must try this again tomorrow – but at the top of the staircase for greater advantage.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.  The dog receives special privileges.  He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return.  He is obviously a half-wit.  The bird is clearly a trusted informant.  I observe him communicating with the guards regularly.  I am certain that he reports my every move.  My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated metal cell, so he is safe for now…but it is only a matter of time before I discover and exploit his weaknesses.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Unusual Christmas Trees

Just for fun, go here to see a whimsical collection of unusual Christmas trees!  A little heavy on the “frat house” collection, but cute nonetheless.

At the store, we use the first one, upside down trees.  No kidding, we’ve done this one up with wild animals, miniature hot air balloons, hula hoops, and slinkies.  Hey, think outside the ornament box ~ you can get creative with all sorts of stuff already lying about the house when it’s time to do up the tree this Christmas.

Best thing about the upside down tree?  So much more room for presents and taking photographs underneath.  (Hmm…you know, I don’t know where the star or the angel goes, though…)

What this photographer doesn’t have is a picture of my parents’ first Christmas tree ~ when they stripped the fabric from an old umbrella and decorated the frame.  By the time the sibs and I came along, we had moved up to a fantastic silver foil tree ~ with spinning color wheel, natch. What a thrill for us girls to see it go up each year!

Put your colanders on your heads and come up with something clever for your trees this year – we’ll be asking for your photos in our new forum by December.  (oh, come on, doesn’t everyone use a colander on his or her head for the heavy thinking?  you know you do.)

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Tuesdays just keep coming, with very comforting regularity.  Here are my two (sort of three) finds of the day.

I love love love the gorgeous Christmas trees from Thomas Kinkade.  “Night Before Christmas” is lit from within so the windows and fireplaces and rooms glow.  As Santa and the reindeer team soar into the night sky, the story “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is narrated by Thomas himself.  We have several tree styles in the store, and they are each quite fantastic.  There are both animated and musical styles in the collection.  Another of my favorites is “Glory to the Newborn King,” a nativity tree.   I know, it sounds a little strange, camels and Wise Men and stables and sheep up a tree.  But I’m telling you, it works!  I’m saving up to get one for myself.  Okay, I’ll show you:

Here in East Tennessee there are plenty of cute (but ferocious) Black Bears roaming the mountains.  These bears fall into the cute (but not ferocious) category – anyone out there collecting salt-and-pepper shakers and holders?  Here’s the one you want from the Smokies!

  ~Janet @ The Christmas Place