Food for Friday

Good ole’ family-favorite comfort food – this is the easiest spaghetti sauce, and adored by every kid that has ever tried it.  They don’t throw this on the floor or at their siblings or share it with the furry family freeloaders.  Best of all, when do you ever not have these ingredients in the house??

1 lb. ground beef
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can condensed mushroom soup
1 t chili powder (or more!)
1 t salt
dash of pepper

Brown the beef in a large skillet, add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Cook your favorite spaghetti noodles to go underneath and enjoy.  (t = teaspoon)

That’s it.  Thanks, Mom!  Later I’ll share the recipe for Chicken Curry that we picked up years ago in Tanzania, but it requires the preparation of at least 10 and preferably 20 fruit and veggie toppings, so you’ll need a long weekend.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  We didn’t do onions or garlic in my childhood home, but I add both now – a package of onion soup mix added to the beef is delicious.

checking in…

So, you remember a month ago when I reminded you that it was less than six months til Christmas?  And I sent you that gift list form to get started?  to keep that whole panic-ing thing from hitting in the middle of December?  The one where you just can’t remember what Aunt Bee said about that scarf with the fringe and the thing in the middle – did she love it?  did it clash?  How are you doing on your list?

for Mom

I will continue to hound remind you about this.  I only have your best interests at heart. 

Dad (legend in his own mind)

You could just hand a copy to each loved one to list their requests – no effort required on your part except to remember that you’ve handed them out and need to get them back.

Keep the kids busy

Don’t forget those family members that don’t have opposable thumbs – and any orangutans that happen to be around the house.  Santa’s usually got something in his bag for them, too.

As you’re putting away all the gear after vacation, leave enough crawl space to get to the decorations in December, and think about some new elements for this year to keep it fresh.

 I’ll be back next month.  You could save me some time by letting me know how far along you are already…

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

but first, Whoa!  When I crested the hill early this morning there was a tsunami cloud bank backed up against Chilhowee Mountain – spreading out fully as far to the west as the mountain extends.  From that aspect, the cloud bank was perfectly level and dense and preparing to roll across the valley swallowing everything in its path.  It must have been spectacular as it lifted from the foothills through the morning hours.

Although snowmen are my favorite theme, I know there are plenty of folks who would choose to pack up and spend their Christmas holidays in a warm and sunny place that would allow for the accumulation of sand between the toes.  Here’s how you do it in spirit if it’s not possible in reality: 

White tree – not just flocked, fully white (not of nature, of course) with white lights.
Various shades of aqua and turquoise interpreted in sparkling leaves and coral branches.
Ornaments reflective of a seaside setting – brilliant fish, seahorses, Santa in Hawaiian attire and convertible, light houses.
Hang a few fish and some coral from the ceiling.

Add an inflated palm tree, slip into your swimsuit, scatter some beach towels in front of the fireplace, stick a tiny umbrella in your eggnog, and you are there.

Finishing touch: a wreath above the fireplace.

Now, go find yourself some sand……….

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. I can count, but I felt this tree deserved the full-on theme treatment, not just two lonely pics!  New trees and decorating themes are appearing daily now.

Two for Tuesday

Okay, yes, I know it’s Thursday…but sometimes life happens, you know?  Thanks to a terrific storm in the area and the downing of neighborhood trees, I had no power on Tuesday (for about 23 hours) and when I made it to the store yesterday we had been struck by lightning and lost a few of those critical systems without which modern life and, you know, the taking in of other peoples’ money in exchange for the good stuff, simply cannot proceed.  People, keep a land line in your home, just one – you already know that my cell phone was begging for re-juicing right when the power went down, natch.

Anyway, on Monday before the storms the air was so thick and it was so hot that I was thinking about ice cubes already, so here are some frosty things to keep you thinking Christmas.

Snowman Music Box

Snowman Music Box

Cuddly Snowman Pillow

Cuddly Snowman Pillow

Sassy Snowman

Sassy Snowman

Snowman Choir

Snowman Choir

 Yes, it’s more than two – I’m feeling bad about missing a day, though.  Got to keep on Santa’s Nice list – besides, snowmen are my favorites!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Signing successes!

Yippee! Our two artist signings on Friday and Saturday were great!  I hope you were able to come by the store and meet Mark Roberts and Dean Griff in person, because they were each a delight to host here for their exclusive product signings.  These were the first such events I have experienced, and it was terrific to meet the creators and their collectors as well.

Friday night, we had fun “fluffing fairies” under the tutelage of Mark Roberts and his associate, Peter.  We learned to twist-twist-twist those fairy wings as well as curl their toes and caps properly.  That’s it, we have to redo all our display pieces – well, those that are left after the event!  The fairies, Santas, and elves were all gorgeous and were leaving the store at a brisk pace.

Mark, on how to display fairies on your tree

Mark, on how to display fairies on your treePeter, expert fluffer

My favorite family of the evening decided to purchase their first Mark Roberts item, one of his new elves, to start a collection of their own ~ and not only was Mark here to sign it for them, it was Number 2 in the Limited Edition, numbered collection ~ they were thrilled.  Several long-time fans and collectors came to visit with Mark, and he greeted them warmly, answered questions, and shared tips and laughs throughout the evening.Mark makes Fairies, Santas, and Elves like this Peppermint Fairy: 
On Saturday, Dean Griff, creator of the aptly-named Charming Tails collection, greeted many old friends in the store throughout the afternoon.  Some of his devoted followers even went through the line several times, they purchased so many new characters ~ and each piece was signed with care.
Waiting in line

Waiting in line


Turns out several members of staff are collectors of both artists’ works, and they took turns in the signing lines as well.  Our representative, Iris, has hopefully inspired Dean to develop a piece featuring her namesake flower next time around.  Keeping our fingers crossed with yours, Iris!

Dean’s creations include the cutest woodland characters like this Christmas Elf figurine: 

As we head into the “dog days of summer” (thanks to Sirius, the Dog Star- which doesn’t appear in our modern skies until sometime in August), we’re already thinking about October and our next signing events, including Ne’Qwa hand-painted glass ornaments, Department 56 & Snowbabies collectibles, San Francisco Music Box, and Jacquelyn Kent dolls.  Keep checking in for further updates.

Have a super week!

Food for Friday

My sister sent me this list of ingredients which, when combined, are supposed to make a fantastic turkey burger.  Teensy little problem, she didn’t send that sometimes helpful element called “measurements.”  Okay.  So, she later told me that it came from an Oprah Winfrey show, and I really tried to find the recipe on her site.  “The search feature is currently undergoing a major upgrade and is temporarily unavailable.” 

Although I managed to navigate through to the recipes section and found two other turkey burger choices, I could not find this list of ingredients.  But, sister friend assured me Oprah had encouraged viewers to enjoy and share the recipe.

Finally, thanks to the wonders of google, I found the details, and Bob’s your uncle.  Created by Jeff O’Neil and served at the private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.  Will be on the menu in New York City, Chicago, and my dinner table.  (T = tablespoon, t = teaspoon, C = cup)

1/4 C scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 C celery, finely chopped
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced*
1/8 C canola oil
4 pounds ground turkey breast
2 T salt
1 T black pepper
2 t chipotle Tabasco™
1 lemon, juice and grated zest (yay! an excuse to use my zester from Sur La Table!)
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/4 C Major Grey’s Chutney, pureed (good stuff – try it on chicken curry, too)

Sauté the scallions, celery, and apples in the canola oil until tender; drain and cool.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sautéed items and all remaining ingredients.  Shape into eight patties, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours so they’ll retain their shape well on the grill.  Season the patties with salt and pepper before grilling, about 7 minutes on each side, and make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked.   You can also bake these in an oven or even a toaster oven (saves you heating the big oven in the summertime).  The original recipe recommends serving these with a side of Mar-a-Lago Pear Chutney (yummy!) on toasted bread of your choice.

Now, don’t let the fact that old Teddie Turkey up there happens to be packing a shotgun keep you from trying this yourself.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

*from a friend in culinary school – when dicing, do your best to make sure all the pieces end up the same size to ensure even cooking – and all this time I thought it was just for the prettiness!  dope slap.

Two for Tuesday

I’m pretty sure I’ll never run out of two new things to show every week ~ prowling the shops here is the most fun!  Here are two items I spotted in – and around – Second Nature today.  First, sports mascots from regional (if Louisiana and Ohio count as being in the region) ~ here is a Kentucky Wildcat looking quite ferocious!

In contrast, sitting quietly if no less colorfully in the flower bed out front, surrounded by Chili Chilies, this cheerful rooster!  (No one will notice the presence of a weed or two or twenty if you stick one of these little guys into your beds…)






~Janet @ The Christmas Place