Crafts Fair

The 61st Annual Craft Fair of the Southern Highland Craft Guild takes place this Thursday through Sunday, July 17-20, at the Civic Center in Asheville, North Carolina.  (The second half of this bi-annual event is October 16-19.)  Over six decades, the Craft Fair has grown from a marketplace into a true embodiment of the mission of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, bringing together the crafts and craftspeople of the Southern Highlands “for the shared benefit of education, conservation, and marketing.”  The Guild is one of the strongest craft organizations in the country.

This juried event features over 200 artists engaged in a wide variety of skilled craftsmanship, from ceramics and glass to fiber, leather, paper, wood, and jewelry.  Only about ten percent of the applicants in each jury group are accepted, so you know you’ll be seeing the very  best this region has to offer.  Entertainment by local musicians, demonstrations, and hands-on projects will engage attendees of all ages.

Closer to home, here at the store we are hosting two unique artists for exclusive signing events this weekend – Mark Roberts on Friday (4 to 7 p.m.) and Dean Griff on Saturday (1 to 4 p.m.).  Come and meet these two artists ~ and take advantage of this special opportunity to add a signed work of art to your home collection ~ a Santa, an Elf or a woodland creature to brighten your home at the holidays or all year round!









~Janet @ The Christmas Place

After the rain…

…the most beautiful mists on the mountains this morning, drifting low into the valleys.  Unfortunately, the wonderful back road I navigate to work is so narrow that there is no spot wide enough to pull over for a photograph.  But I insist on talking about it anyway, don’t I?  Just picture with me dark green mountains and soft white drifting mists, with the glow of yellow morning sun just warming the tops of the clouds.

Yippee!  Another book list from Nancy Pearl on Morning Edition at NPR ~ “Carry-on Books to Take You Up, Up and Away” ~ in which to lose yourself on an airplane, but not lose your place in the story when the masks drop down and you have to ‘secure your mask first before securing those of children traveling with you’ ~ or when you go to pay the additional fee to get your bags back from the carrier….just kidding, haven’t heard about a pick up fee yet (hope the wrong people aren’t reading this).  I might start with “Metzger’s Dog” and “Chester (Place my award here)”.  Here’s a link to the gianormous complete list of 2008 summer book recommendations from six different reviewers – a great selection to browse.

Just learned about another Vera Bradley bag give-away.  Come by The Boutique before August 8th to enter your name into a drawing for a Puccini Gift set ~ a Morgan handbag and an All-In-One wristlet.  Puccini has been a very popular new color this year.

Since it is almost Monday, I’m feeling rather random today.  Here are some shots I snapped in the courtyard this afternoon:

Ring-neck Parrot - this guy is really teal in person, too!

Ring-neck Parrot - I am continually amazed at the colors of these guys!


Chili Chilies

Chili Chilies

Sunny flower and butterfly in the middle of the Chili Chilies

Sunny sculpture of a butterfly

It’s going to be a warm weekend in East Tennessee, so if you like the heat, I hope you get out and enjoy, and if you don’t, I wish you a well-running air conditioner.  In either case, I believe a frosty cold milkshake should factor into your next two days somewhere!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

Wow, we had a real gully-washer in town today, right at lunch time – we were taking off our shoes to run to the car, it was coming down so hard and rushing so deep.  Roof gutters filled up and overflowed right over the door, natch.  Anyone driving too close to the sidewalk came in for some abuse, too!  It has been so dry around here ~ though nowhere near California-drought-dry ~ that no one is complaining – what a lovely sound rain makes, beating down on a dry landscape, and how refreshing to see some of the dust of early summer washed away……………..oh, for cryin’ out loud, this means I will have to mow again in the near future, doesn’t it?!  Rats rats rats.  There goes my silver lining……………..

A fellow elf remarked that rain like this is good for staying in bed under the covers ~ perhaps with a bowl of warm gruel?  Here’s a recipe for a great summer soup which I enjoyed courtesy of Mom on the Fourth of July.  Scrumptiously flavorful!

Golden Cauliflower and Cheese Soup

Courtesy of

1 medium head califlower, separated into florets
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery and leaves, finely chopped
4 C chicken stock
2 C light cream (ah ha!)
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 C grated cheddar cheese
Salt, pepper to taste
Chopped chives to garnish

Put cauliflower, onion, carrot, celery, and chicken stock in cooker (crock pot).  Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.  Force the mixture through a sieve or puree in blender (or food processor – this is from an older cookbook).  Return to cooker.  Blend in cream, Worcestershire sauce, and cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to mix well.  Turn control to High and heat through.  Garnish each serving with chopped chives.  Makes 8 servings.
Note:  for a thicker soup, use less liquid.

The Crockery Cookbook, by Marie Roberson Hamm, ©1975

(Remember, C = Cup, t = teaspoon)

The soup has a lovely golden color and the richest and smoothest taste going down.  You will not be disappointed ~ and I haven’t even had it with the onion, yet.

Okay, and just found a website entirely for cauliflower –!  What a wonderful world.  Unlike some people (you know who you are), I am unafraid of cauliflower – in any form.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Sadly, I could not find a cauliflower ornament in the store.

Two for Tuesday

Just yesterday while strolling walking briskly and purposefully through the store, I noticed these cute little snowmen earrings.  They look like they were carved from a tiny bit of wood, but I am sure they are resin.  I love the folk art style of these little guys – and they will show up against my dark hair, which is important – why adorn oneself if said adornment will not be visible to be appreciated by all, ya’ll know what I’m sayin’? 

How about this gorgeous sprig of light teal hydrangeas – does this say summer or what?  A full-on arrangement or even just a single sprig tucked into a vase will surely brighten your space.



~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Charming Tails Signing Event!

Take a look at these cute wittle faces – how can you not say “awwww!” –  and who would not want to make these mice feel right at home??  They are from the Charming Tails collection.

On Saturday, July 19th, we will be hosting Dean Griff, the artist who crafts these charming critters, in the store for an exclusive signing from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Titled “Today Is Special Because I’m With You,” these two characters, sitting on a calendar page for “today”, are from a limited-edition collection of six figurines released this year.  You may call to order any of the six specials for the signing event and we will be happy to ship to you the following week.  The limited collection is not currently available in our on-line catalog.

You may order other pieces from the full collection for signing in advance of the event by calling Guest Services.  (There’s not a place on-line to ask that the items be held for signing, so you need a human being to handle this properly.)  There is also a collector’s club for fans of Dean’s work, The Leaf & Acorn Club, and members will receive a special gift for attending our event!

Of course, wouldn’t it be the most fun to come and meet Dean in person and pick out a special piece by which to remember this unique occasion?  I think that’s what you need to do, I really do…

 ~Janet @ The Christmas Place




Food for Friday

This being a summer holiday weekend and all, one of the big ones that traditionally features sparklers and grills and watermelon seed spitting and weak paper plates and bugs and sunburn, it seems a good time to share a recipe from a coworker that is my new and most favoritest dish of the year.

She served this at a Relay for Life dinner ~ at which I decided that it was delicious enough to be counted as dessert ~ almost as tasty as a Key Lime pie ~ and I then served it at my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner.  I made two huge pans of it, and they were both absolutely licked clean…the pans I mean, not the wedding party… (it still wasn’t pretty to watch).  This is the perfect dish for your weekend extravangaza, whether indoors or out, so grab a BIG SPOON and enjoy.

Recipe shorthand:  T = Tablespoon; t = teaspoon; C = Cup.

Rancho Beans, courtesy of Laura Elkins, Kitchen Goddess

2 1-lb cans of pork & beans, drained
1 lb ground beef
1 C brown sugar
1 C ketchup or catsup, your choice (I’m just listing it the way it was given to me!  Ha!)
2 C diced onions
1 T vinegar
2 T prepared mustard
1 t salt
Optional:  4 to 6 slices of cooked bacon, chopped

Brown the beef and onion together in a skillet.  Place this and all the other ingredients into a crock pot and cook for 2 to 3 hours.  Optionally, you may bake the mixture in a 325- to 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

I did the oven bake option, which was good because I forgot to drain my pork & beans so they were kind of soupy.  However, when we reheated the dishes several hours later for dinner, the extra juice kept everything just right.  Also, feel free to vary the ingredients to your taste – I think a few shots of Tabasco sauce would be a fun addition.

Laura, you rock the beans!  These are for you, babe: 

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.  ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Artist Signing at the Store ~ Mark Roberts

Throughout the year, we have the opportunity to host in the store some of the delightful artists whose work we carry.  For collectors, these are wonderful times to meet their favorite designers and purchase signed works, increasing the value of such pieces and enhancing their enjoyment of a collection.

On Friday, July 18th, we are excited to be hosting Mark Roberts, the designer of a truly unique collection of  whimsically designed and intricately detailed Santas, Fairies, and Elves.  He will be in the store from 4 to 7 p.m.  Mark will be making a special introduction during this visit of his “Fairy of Miracles,” sales of which will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, one of the recipients of Mark’s charitable donations in 2008 and 2009.

We are currently pre-selling his items in the store and online, and will hold them for signing and pick-up or shipment to customers after July 18th.  You can see his product line here in the store and in our on-line store.

A couple of other elves, from among the many styles we offer:

Come join us on Friday the 19th to meet Mark and view the collection through the eyes of the designer!  Take advantage of the pre-purchase for signing offer, too.  We’ve just received a new 2008 collection of fairies and elves that are the cutest yet.

 ~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Here is a funny little ornament – Santa peaking out of his tent – not worried about the bear that is keeping him company!  I guess that old black bear is on the Nice list this year.

I think we have about 28.14 miles of ribbon around here, give or take a yard, not counting all that has already been incorporated into our amazing trees and arrangements – how about some red, white and blue styles for the 4th of July?


Counting an ornament as one and ribbon as two, here are pics of more gorgeous ribbons:


We have every shade under the sun, from sunset purples to sunrise golds and every color of the rainbow in between!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place