Garden Party Fun

As announced briefly on Facebook, we had a great Father’s Day weekend here – a little steamy, but we kept the air conditioning going, and were able to give away all 14 door prizes this year – yipee!  We gave away a prize each hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it’s so much fun that the folks were here to claim them – we only had to use one back-up name. 

Here are some pictures of the card-making, face-painting, and cookie-decorating fun we had on Saturday.

Kids of all ages enjoyed making Father’s Day cards!

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toddler card

card making 2

card making 3

card making

And then came cookie decorating.  Choose your icing color and your topping favorite first…

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Then get to work…

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Cookie girls

And somewhere in between, add a butterfly or a bear paw to your face.

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The associates in Department 56 decided to get in some fun with a 50s theme – Root Beer Floats for only 5 cents!  They raised over $60 in donations for our Relay for Life team.

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A genuine poodle skirt, pedal-pushers, and a jaunty, polka-dot neck scarf set the stage for the day!

We also made bows and wreaths, demonstrated setting up a small village with your Department 56 houses, and had guests racing around the store answering our Scavenger Hunt questions – where do you go at Christmas Place to create your own beach?  Good question!  Evelyn Smith from West Virginia, winner of the Scavenger Hunt, can tell you.  I will tell you that you must go to Mrs. Claus’ Candy Kitchen for a really refreshing ice cream cone on a hot summer day…

Hope you enjoyed a marvelous weekend and Father’s Day, and that you’ll be able to join us this time next year for more fun and prizes!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday ~ and a hot weekend!

The weather man is giving us a heat index of 97 degrees today, and the only thing on my mind is a cold bowl of homemade ice cream!   Fortunately, I found a recipe for just such a treat in one of our cookbooks.

From the Gooseberry Patch book Summer In the Country, a cherry ice cream to cool your day.

Easy Cherry Ice Cream722011 Summer In the Country

2 12-oz cans evaporated milk
4 C cherry red pop
2 C sugar
1 pint whipping cream
10-oz jar maraschino cherries, drained & chopped
2-3 C milk

Mix together all ingredients except milk.  Pour into a 4-quart ice cream maker.  Add milk to the fill line.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions as instructed for your ice cream maker.  Makes 4 quarts.

I never thought you would use cherry pop to make ice cream!  That’s just too fun.

In looking through this cook book, I found two other recipes that are summer-y fun and I just have to share them, too – mostly because I love the names so much!

Bucket-of-Sand Cake

8-inch yellow layer cake, prepared
24-oz jar applesauce
1 C vanilla wafers, finely crushed
Garnish:  seashell candies, gummy fish & sea creatures
1 new 8- or 9-cup plastic sand pail
1 new plastic shovel

Cut cake into 1-inch cubes.  Arrange cubes in layers in the sand pail, alternating with layers of applesauce.  Sprinkle wafer crumbs over the top for sand, and garnish with candies.  Serve with plastic shovel.

Bee Sting Cake

2 eggs, beaten
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla
1 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 C milk
2 T butter

Topping:
1/2 C plus 2 T brown sugar, packed
1/4 C butter, melted
1/4 C whipping cream
1 C sweetened flaked coconut
1 t vanilla

Beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl; set aside.  Bring milk and butter to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat; mix well.  Add to egg mixture; pour into a greased, floured 8″ x 8″ pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Spread topping over warm cake.  Broil until topping is bubbly and warm.

I don’t know that Easy Cherry Ice Cream works as a topping for either of those two, but I think the kids would love to try Bucket-of-Sand or Bee Sting cake!

Be cool – and come to our Garden Party tomorrow!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

YIPEE!  New stuff!  I love new stuff!  It’s so shiny and bright and Christmas-y.  Here are two-plus-one new things from the floor today. 

This is the cutest idea yet – take a look at the bottom of the mug – there’s a place for the cookies to hang out.  Is that clever or what?   (The mug on the left has an intentional golden glow around the lettering – it looks great in person, but I wasn’t very successful at capturing it in pixels.)

Milk & Cookies Mug

Milk & Cookies Mug

Staff have already declared this cardinal tea light tree their favorite.  We did not have one lit today, but it really glows when you place a tea light in the base.  The tree is a new addition to our very popular ceramic cardinal collection.

Cardinal Tea Light Tree

Cardinal Tea Light Tree

Today’s plus-one item is another new ceramic piece, this fun and funky reindeer cookie jar!  It’s clear he’s more than happy to share.  No way will you be able to keep your hands off the cookies stored in this container…just try to save a couple for Santa, okay?

Reindeer Cookie Jar

Reindeer Cookie Jar

 The bad thing about new is that I’m ahead of the shopping site – they haven’t posted pictures yet – but soon, very soon.  New is still a wonderful, wonderful thing, though.

Merry Christmas!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Courtyard Flowers

I am tempted to take photos of flowers in the courtyard every day, but sometimes the blooms are gone before I get down there with my camera.  This morning, I got lucky – all the blooms were still on the plants.  Enjoy these beautiful specimens – and they smell wonderful, too!

Earth laughs in flowers.
  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blush roses

Yellow and pink rose

Variagated roses 4

variagated roses 2

Pink rose 2

Pink bush roses

Lipstick pink roses 2

Lipstick Red roses

Dark red rose 2

Lavendar rose 1

Lavendar rose 2

Brown-Eyed Susan Vine

Decided to end with something different.  The Brown-eyed Susan Vine is new to me, but so very charming.

We don’t hide all our beauty on the inside of the store ~ we like to share it outside, too! 

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. I should mention that, aside from the vine, I have made up the names of the rose varieties based on their color, I don’t know their official names.  I can find out, however, if you are interested in a particular bloom.

Food for Friday

It being a warm-and-steamy early summer weekend (let’s not think about what this means for August), how about a lovely spinach and strawberry salad, the kind that’s popping up on restaurant menus all over the place just now.

Published by the Junior League of Johnson City, Tennessee, just north up 276010 Treasures of the Smokies Cook Bookthe interstate a-ways, this week’s cook book, Treasures of the Smokies, offers a collection of members’ favorite recipes.  It’s still waiting to be added to our website, so if you’d like to sample more of the temptations it holds, call us and ask for item 276010.

Berry’s Green Salad

2 bunches fresh spinach, washed & dried
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, & halved
{{Okay, at this point, I think you just have to add some slivered almonds (toasted) and a couple of baked chicken breasts, sliced, hot or cold}}

Dressing:
1/2 C sugar
2 T sesame seeds
1 T poppy seeds
1-1/2 t minced onion
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t paprika
1/2 C vegetable or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C cider vinegar

Arrange spinach, berries {and my suggested additions} on individual salad plates.

Put the sugar, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire (can’t believe I had to type that word TWICE) and paprika in a blender.  With the blender running, add oil and vinegar in a steady stream until mixed and thickened.  Drizzle over salad.  Serve immediately.

A few slices of fresh avocado, spritzed with a little lemon juice, would be a creamy addition to this salad.  Delicious and not too bad on the calorie count – I would use Splenda instead of sugar for a healthier dressing.

C = Cup, T = Tablespoon, t = teaspoon.

Add a tall glass of strawberry lemonade and a thick slice of watermelon, and finish off with some mini butter cookies – what could be more summery!

I’m looking forward to attending the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 75th Anniversary Concert in Cades Cove, performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, tomorrow afternoon.  I can only hope the weather stays clear and sunny as it is right now…because the instructions say we are not allowed to bring an umbrella.   I suppose they are guaranteeing blue skies – which is just fabulous!

Have a wonderful weekend!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Father’s Day Garden Party Next Weekend

Early announcement that we’ll be hosting our annual Father’s Day Garden Party – on Father’s Day weekend!  You knew that! You so smart!

Saturday and Sunday, June 20th and 21st.

We’re really looking forward to all the fun ~ face painting, cookie decorating, wreath-making, bow-tying, building a small Department 56 village scene, and of course, last year’s most popular event, making a card for Dad.  More than one dad was seen wiping a tear on a sleeve upon receiving a hand-made, heart-made card. 

Free stuff!  Hourly prize giveaways!  A weekend grand prize giveaway if you play our Scavenger Hunt game!  We love exclamation points!

On Sunday, dads will receive a free cookie and a small drink at the Candy Kitchen.  We’ll have strolling entertainers in the courtyard, and the Parrot Mountain exotic birds will be on display.

Really, fun stuff all weekend to kick off our summer celebrations.  Come join us!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

But first – as I write today, there are only 199 DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS!  That’s just around the corner!

We’re beginning to see a lot of new things around Christmas Place ~ timed to be shown off  to best advantage in our shiny new surroundings, as new displays are created each day by the design team.  Christmas may be a few months away, still, but it’s never too early to get excited about it!

I am lovin’ on these tiny little music box lanterns!  There are two styles, one with kids throwing snowballs and my favorite, this one with two horse-drawn sleighs circling a fiber optic-illuminated Christmas tree.  A simple wind-up mechanism starts the action ~ lights, motion, and the tune “Let it Snow.”  The top of the lantern includes a chain, so you could hang it on your Christmas tree or from a stair rail, mantle, shelf, or ornament display stand.

Lantern Music Box

Lantern Music Box

 You know you want to see it in action!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5x1OmPR0wc]

And now for something very similar…well, with the lights, at least ~ two ways to add a festive flashing snowman to your holiday decor.  Wall-mounted or tabletop, which one works best for you?  One of each??  I LIKE THAT!   Real knit caps and scarves accessorize each snowman.

Festive Flashing Snowmen

Festive Flashing Snowmen

Here’s the flashing action:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGpsJ6r7G1c]

Speaking of flashing things, it’s time once again for the annual display of synchronous fireflies, visible late at night in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The park is again offering shuttle service to a popular viewing area at Elkmont.

What’s new and flashing in your neck of the woods?

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

Being Dead Is No Excuse – how is that for a book title?  First released in 2005, it has since been a constant favorite among book lovers and food lovers alike.  Combining Southern life and death with appropriate recipes, it’s an entertaining read on all levels!

Each chapter addresses a Southern ritual, such as dying tastefully and the competition between local churches, and includes several recipes to suit each happenstance.  From Chapter 5, Comfort Foods:  There Is a Balm in Campbell’s Soup, I’d recommend “Broccoli Squares,” and not just because the recipe only takes up one page ~ it sounds delicious, and I want to know where you buy square broccoli?  Whole Foods?

Broccoli Squares285030 Being Dead Is No Excuse

Ingredients
2 c cooked broccoli, mashed
1 c Kraft mayonnaise
1 c evaporated milk
3 eggs, well beaten
1 T butter
1 t flour
1/2 t salt
Tabasco to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together.  Pour into a lightly buttered 8-inch square pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Serves eight.

Easy and delicious – and the kind of recipe you just might take a notion to top with some crushed corn flakes and shredded cheddar-jack cheese….

Hope you find an excuse to cook up something easy and delicious for your living ones this weekend!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Oops, forgot to add C = cup; T = tablespoon; t = tablespoon.

Two for Tuesday

I guess because we’ve been having such lovely weather, the kind you’d usually experience at the beach but without the humidity and the sand and the salty air, I’m thinking beach this week.   It’s surprising me, because I’m really a mountain girl.  My idea of a good week at the beach is to lie by the pool and look across the grass or even the parking lot at the ocean.  Really, I’m okay with that.   I seriously don’t like grains of sand lodging in uncomfortable places; give me chlorine, and give it to me slightly chilled.

So, I found these fabulous glass fish on a foamy white Christmas tree downstairs by the front porch.  (You probably have to come to the store to understand all that.)  They’re so colorful and fun – I’ve seen fish very close to this in nature.

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Around the corner, I found a collection of starfish and shell ornaments called Maui Christmas.  These are really pretty creations, all crafted from natural materials collected on Hawaii’s beaches.  I particularly love the natural colors on several of the angel ornaments.

Shell angel

147008 Starfish Santa

Well, Santa has been embellished just a little bit…anyway, hope you’re having a beachy-keen week!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place