Two for Tuesday – in two parts…

I spotted this tiny nutcracker among the branches of our antique white Christmas tree, a very elegant little fellow for only six inches tall!

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Second item to follow.  This site is not treating me right – I cannot get the photos to work!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Three reasons you need a tree bag

So, I’ve been around the store for about a year now, and I’ve heard people talking about Christmas tree bags, but I never really thought about what a tree bag is or why they are so popular.

Yes, in my family, if it comes out of a box, it goes back into that same box.  Then a new layer of tape is added.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Finally last week, like a bolt out of the post-Christmas sky, the concept of the tree bag clicked in.  My brain just took its own sweet time figuring this one out.  You need a Christmas tree bag because:

  1. You don’t have to fight with the tree to make it small enough again to fit back into the original box.  Take the tree apart as you normally would, but simply lay all the branches and parts into the comfortably spacious bag.
  2. When you pull your tree out next year, there is a much higher probability that the bulbs will still work properly.  In the process of stuffing your tree back into its original box, there is a great likelihood that you will either crush a bulb or stress the wires and sockets to the point that something will stop glowing.
  3. HANDLES.  The Christmas tree bag has very convenient handles, making it easy to carry into and out of storage.  No more trying to balance an unwieldy box while going up and down stairs or through doorways.  No more box bursting open and spilling its contents at untimely moments, and branches poking you in uncomfortable places.  (Like there is a comfortable place to be poked by a random tree branch?  Hmm.)

I have to find out if they make one that will accommodate my 30″ model!  It has very painful poke-y rice lights on its branches, let me just tell you.

 The bad thing about having this Christmas tree bag epiphany just last week is that sales have been good and we are out of stock right now, so I can’t show you a picture today.

However, they make the same magical conveyance for Christmas wreaths and garland, too, so here’s a picture with a link to buy one:

306049_l-wreath-keeper-garland-bag1

See those magical words at the bottom ~ “Convenient carry handles.”  I’m just saying.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Appalachia Fest

On Tuesday, January 13th, the 3rd Annual Appalachia Festwill take place at Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge.  This one-night music fest is on the official 75th anniversary calendar of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Featuring pure, traditional mountain music, the headliners for Appalachia Fest are Tim O’Brien, Riley Baugus, and Dirk Powell.  Tickets for the evening are only $15, and proceeds benefit Friends of the Smokies and Public Radio WDVX.  Make your reservations now at 1-800-792-4308.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Don’t forget!

Wilderness Wildlife Week begins tomorrow ~ in fact, registration for limited-seating sessions has already begun at Music Road Hotel, goes until 5:00 p.m. today.  Morning, afternoon, evening, weekend sessions ~ I know everyone will find something of interest on the schedule!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Early Winter

I really love early winter, when trees are newly bare and you can see the skeletons of the hills, like the backbones of the planet, especially here in the foothills of the Smokies.  Perhaps after the riot of fall and the bright lights of Christmas, the eyes enjoy a bit of rest on a more barren landscape ~ tree limbs slinking up into the cool blue sky, fields of resting brown earth like a soft blanket below. 

It’s also a great opportunity to discover features that are hidden in leafier times ~ homes, barns, follies, cars on blocks, tumbledown outhouses and such ~ some of which definitely ‘show’ to better advantage behind a curtain of green, covering our warts.  I’m seeing houses on hilltops that I never knew were there –  how did they get up there??

In barren earth times, I imagine the struggles of the earliest settlers in the area, clearing rocky, forested land and gathering supplies to build that cabin far up in the valley or on the hilltop.  On foggy mornings particularly, I try to imagine  the lives of those who were here even before the Europeans ~ Cherokee, Catawba, Shawnee, Yuchi ~ how they lived in these hills and hollows.  I wonder what the country sounded like before modern civilization took over ~ we sure make a lot of noise these days!

porchJust before Christmas we had a really lovely morning, and I sat on the porch in my green plastic Adirondack chair, the most comfortable chair on the planet, enjoying peace and warmth and silence.  It was wonderfully quiet, so quiet that I could hear the amazing sound of the wind rising from the west and sweeping down the little valley in which the house is situated.  A huge wind blew up, dropped a few branches from the big tree, and died down again as I sat there.

That was a great moment of imagining earlier peoples traveling through, what birds and other animals might have sounded like centuries ago right there in the valley, what plants were around.  Later, much later, neighbor got out his Harley and spun around the cul-de-sac for an hour.  Thanks for giving me that morning!

By the end of January, of course, I’ll already be watching closely ~ in vain ~ for the next budding.  The beauty of bare earth only lasts me for so long before I want leaves again, and the changing of the seasons is one of the real joys of East Tennessee.

I have visited and enjoyed the dessert, and have visited and enjoyed southern California, where the weather never seems to change.  Give me 12 months of weather and four seasons, please!

Hope you enjoy a barren winter day, and hold the immutable arrival of spring in your heart!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

20% Off All Internet Orders!

C6 Blue LED Lights

C6 Blue LED Lights

Now through February, we are offering 20% off all Internet orders only!  It’s a great deal, and a great opportunity to pick up those items you wanted but Santa, um, forgot to drop off.  It’s also a great time to get started for next year – pack away some new decorations that you’ll have forgotten about when you pull out the boxes in another 320 days – plant a few surprises for yourself!

Shop now for savings.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

I’ve been looking everywhere for this recipe to share, and I’m so glad I finally uncovered it.  It’s from my old friend Marilyn in Indiana.  Don’t overcook this one, and it’ll be lovely and juicy (and it’s not too sweet)!

Cranberry Bars271850_l-cranberry-spray-copy

Crust and topping, mix together and divide evenly:
1-1/2 C oatmeal
1-1/2 C flour
1 C brown sugar
3/4 C butter, softened
1/4 t soda powder
1/4 t salt
Pat half of the mixture into an 8×12 inch pan.  (Best not to use a 9×13 pan as it will be too thin and tend to be too dry.)

Cranberry filling, mix together and pour over crust:
1 lb can of cranberry sauce with berries
1/2 C crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 t vanilla

Top with remaining oatmeal mixture.  Bake at 300 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares.  Yummy!

C = Cup
t = Teaspoon

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

(I must say, it was nice to go home on Christmas day and not have to worry about wrapping or baking anything for a few days!)

Do I say Happy New Year again?

I feel that, since it is the first post of the new year, I should start again with “Happy New Year!”  We had a lovely and chilly first day of 2009, followed by a gloomy and damp second day of the year ~ but we’re traveling in hope! 

We are taking our first poll on the blog today.  When does your Christmas tree come down??  I’ve known people who keep a tree up year round – some in pleasure, some out of sloth.  This year, although I purchased a selection of ornaments, and I really wanted to see the ice blue ones on display, I never got around to the part where you actually hang them on a, you know, Christmas tree.  Well, it makes the post-holiday cleanup a breeze, and I have enjoyed visiting other people’s Christmas trees instead.  I faithfully turned on my little ceramic tree every morning and evening, so I was not entirely without glow.

Wow – we have some fantastic pricing on Christmas trees right now – as I am writing about them, I just checked the shopping site, and it looks like they’ve all been marked down twice- I think they’re only this way online, not in the store. 

I hope your year is off to a splendid start!  We have exciting plans for 2009, and hope you’ll check in to see what’s happening both here and in the area, and get involved in some of our new adventures.

Life is good in 2009!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place