Two for Tuesday

I just have to show off our newest Department 56 display ~ our designer, Kristy, has been working on it for several days.  Three tiers and a grand double staircase lead up to The North Pole Palace, and an upside down tree filled with icicles is suspended above.

Department 56 North Pole Village

Dept. 56 North Pole Village 2009

I also recorded a short film that shows the flashing lights and animation of the scene ~ see if you can spot the skiers enjoying a day on the slopes!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NDzhCuISeQ]

If you happen to have an attractive wooden étagère like this one in the store, you need to add this striking sleigh to your holiday decorations. It’s positioned right under a spotlight where it catches my eye every time I pass by. I long to fill it with some red and green decorations ~ or maybe something in light blue and cream and gold. Very handsome!

Santa's Sleigh

Santa's Sleigh

It’s about 2 feet wide and 18 inches tall ~ it could hold an array of gifts or party favors for a special gathering.

We’re continuing to enjoy an onslaught of spring break guests in the store this week ~ if only the spring weather would return, too!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Questions from Readers

I received a couple of questions last week that I’d like to answer here for the benefit of all our readers.

Where do I leave general Christmas info….I have some neat Christmas ideas to share but can’t figure out where to publish these???          ~Lilly

Lilly, we have a Christmas forum on which we’d love to hear your ideas for Christmas!  You can join from our site www.christmasplace.com, click on the Community link and then on the Forum header; or directly at http://forums.christmasplace.com.  We sure look forward to meeting and talking with you there. Please join us!

Nice recipes.  Where do I add to your recipe page?          ~Dawn

Dawn, I enjoy going through our cookbooks at the store as well as sharing my own favorites from friends and family.  We have a recipe board on The Christmas Place forum, and would love to have you adding recipes for our readers there.  As I told Lilly, you can join the forum from our website or directly at http://forums.christmasplace.com. I hope we’ll see some of your recipes there soon.

The forum also offers a place for asking decorating and gifting questions, sharing pictures of your own Christmas celebrations, and a kid’s area for jokes and letters to Santa.

Hope you join us on the forum for a little Christmas fun and sharing!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday – Elf Approved!

Today’s recipe was recommended to me by not one but two of our very own elves, Dee & Beth.  It’s from Granny’s Taste of Christmas, by Dianne C. Evans (Item 276003).

This delightful holiday cookbook is illustrated throughout with photographs of the author’s family and favorite Christmas treasures such as ornaments and decorations.  Geared toward the beginning cook (with warm memories for the experienced chef), it is packed with extra hints, cookings tips, and insights from Granny, who is clearly very experienced in the kitchen!

“How come a 2-pound box of candy can make you gain 5 pounds?”

Each chapter starts with a list of the recipes included ~ what a great idea.  Chapter titles include Yuletide Menus; St. Nick’s Nibbles, Bites, & Nogs; Visions of Sugarplums, Cookies; and Desserts Yule Love.  Most of the chapters end with a reprint of a traditional Christmas carol ~ you can cook and sing your way through the holidays!

Here’s the recipe our elves are singing about.

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Shopping Day Casserole

4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 oz. jar chopped pimientos, drained
10-3/4 oz. can cream of celery soup
16 oz. can french-style green beans, drained
1 C mayonnaise
1 C grated sharp cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together (except cheese) in a large bowl; pour into a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish.  Scatter cheese evenly over top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  Makes 6-8 servings.

You can prepare this the night before, refrigerate it overnight, and pop it into the oven for an easy one-dish meal when you get back from a day of Christmas shopping .

Sure sounds yummy to me!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. There is even a picture of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor in the book!  You’ll have to get your own copy to find out why.

More changes!

The remodeling binge continues here at the store.  I wondered why all the industrial sawing noises yesterday….they took down another wall!  The Christopher Radko, Mark Roberts, and RJ McDonald collections will be open to the main store floor ~ you recognize that black-and-white tile, don’t you?

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Porch construction is complete, and now it’s up to the decorators and merchandisers to put it all together – take a look at this neat new feature.

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As soon as they have shingled the roof to Singing Santa’s new performance area, I’ll post an update.  We’re very excited about how his new area is going to be completed!

Tree relighting continues – they start at the bottom, and wrap each branch from trunk to tip and back, finishing off at the top.

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All I have going on at my place is spring – no, all-year-long – cleaning.  New wood and paint and lights and trees are so much more interesting!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Sights and Sounds of Spring

This is my first attempt at uploading a video to the blog.  Please enjoy a few seconds (a very few – 9 seconds) of the sights and sounds of spring in my little valley in East Tennessee.  Sometimes moments of  joy happen when I don’t notice that the camera is set to video instead of still!

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUuP_oYLwaA]

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

I’ve been watching changes taking place at The Boutique ~ they are setting things up to bring in a new line of fun pajamas and accessories, and today they were hanging some wonderful picture frames.  Here’s one that I really like.  The frame is 20 inches x 20 inches, and is very striking hanging on the wall.

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I really want to go wherever this colorful collection is headed!

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We carry lots of Vera Bradley bags ~ you have to call to order them ~ just look at the colorful patterns for spring 2009.  Is it time to treat yourself to a fresh look?

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Have a colorful day!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

more blooming moments

Early spring in East Tennessee offers an interesting variety of colors in flora and fauna – there were six spectacular blue jays around the bird feeder on Saturday morning, and who flew in but a Red-bellied woodpecker – as brilliantly-colored as the painted illustration in this web link!  He was really sporting his Tennessee orange.  Sadly, I didn’t have the camera with me, but I hope to capture some pics if I see him again.  I also enjoy evening visits from three pairs of doves, along with several cardinals and the usual assortment of songbirds.  They are emptying the bird feeder about every 30 hours right now!

Here are just a few more blooming pictures I couldn’t resist – if you can identify them, please comment for me.  I’m hopeful that I might see a tulip or two – a few leaves have poked up through the earth, but no sight of a bloom yet.

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We are amazingly close to the time of the Dogwood Arts Festival ~ can hardly wait!  NO MORE FROST, PLEASE.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

Hey, it’s the first day of spring here in the northern hemisphere, and we couldn’t be happier!  It’s been a lovely, sunny day – just a bit nippy, still, frost expected overnight – but we’ll take it!  Since we’re coming up on longer days, days when we’ll want to spend more hours out of doors, not hanging around a hot kitchen, I grabbed the Gooseberry Patch Fast Fix Meals cookbook this afternoon (ask for item 722025).

cookbookFrom the Speedy Sides section, here’s a really easy side dish from Keersten Jensen, Idaho Falls, ID.  Let me quote her introduction:

One day while I was in college, I tried this recipe because I didn’t have the ingredients to make fried rice.  When I took a taste, I couldn’t get enough of it!  I have been making this rice for over 20 years now.  It’s especially good with chicken…we like it hot or cold!

Good enough for me to share with you…

Colorful Rice Toss

2 C instant rice, uncooked
2 C boiling water
1 to 2 T butter
1 onion, chopped
8 oz bottle zesty Italian salad dressing
1 tomato, chopped

Stir rice into boiling water; cover and let stand for 5 minutes, or until water is absorbed.  Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat; cook onion until translucent.  Add rice to pan; pour salad dressing over, stirring to coat.  Remove from heat and stir in tomato.  Serve warm or chilled.  Serves 4 to 6.
C = Cup, T = Tablespoon

When I was in college, I just had one of those single-eye heating units and an immersion heater to boil water in a cup for instant soup.  Keersten sure ate better than I did!

From the Christmas Place gardens

From the Christmas Place gardens

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.           ~Charles Dickens

Happy First Day of Spring!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Take a stroll through our garden…

It’s such a lovely day here in East Tennessee, I decided to take a stroll through the garden here in the store.  These flowers will not soon loose their blooming beauty.  Enjoy with me…

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rose-topiary

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bird-arrangement

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Remember that silver box you bought at Christmas time?  Here it is again, re-envisioned for spring!

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This delicate blush carnation is one of my favorite stems.

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It is apparent that our talented custom floral staff is having a wonderful time with our spring bloom selection!   Hope you can soon come by for a stroll.

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.
~John Ruskin

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
~Iris Murdoch

Earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralp Waldo Emerson

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

After seven days of rain, the sunshine has been glorious today!  We’re celebrating a week of spring break here at the store with 9 am to 9 pm hours all week, so it’s a good time to take a little drive ~ and take a break from the world ~ and experience a little Christmas cheer in time for the first day of spring on Friday.

We have a few new things in the store already, though it’s just a beginning for the new season.  Here are two items in a wild animal theme.

First, an ornament for the Christmas tree – mom and babies have a very realistic look for being only about 3 inches tall.

Polar Bear with Cubs

Polar Bear with Cubs

If you’re not yet thinking about the Christmas tree, here’s a cuddly fellow that might tickle your fancy!  Who’s a vicious killer!?  Who!?  You are!!

Jazzy Lion Stuffed Animal

Jazzy Lion Stuffed Animal

I couldn’t resist those orange spiral curls, myself!

Have a great week ~ hope you’re in the lucky crowd enjoying spring break, and if not yet, your time is coming.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place