Princess or Drama Queen?!

Don’t we know that the hearts of little girls absolutely beat pink and purple?  Here is their dream tree!  Start with a white base; load on the sparkles in pink and purple; fill in with ballerinas, feathered tiaras, cell phones, and princess dolls; and finish with a sprinkling of red, green and gold ~ a tree to melt every girl’s heart.

Purple and Pink Tree

Pinks 1

Pinks 2

Pinks 3

Pinks 4

Pinks 5

Pinks 6

Pinks 7

We added a couple of hot pink LED light balls to the ceiling and a swath of pink satin as a tree skirt for a shimmering finale to this spectacular fantasy in pink, purple, white, tulle, satin, and spun glass.

I’ll find a tree for the boys, too, don’t worry!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Okay, I have two for this Tuesday, and barely five minutes ago I spotted a customer carrying one of my two for next Tuesday, already!  And the warehouse has been overwhelmed this week with incoming boxes of bright and shiny NEW that I just can’t wait to see and share with you.

I just love the artistry of these wonderful ornamental birds, painted with Christmas sayings.   There are three Canada goose poses, both standing and sitting, and different sayings.

Christmas Bluebird

Christmas Redbird

Christmas Swan

Just beautiful, and they would be noticed anywhere around the house at Christmas – on a side table, a mantle, tucked onto an open shelf.

There are treasures everywhere you turn in the store!  (Thank goodness we have a lot of turning space…)

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

From the yard…

Just a little something I discovered in the back yard this summer (yes, that yard that is the object of my mowing woes and brings me closer to my lovely neighbors…) .. in spite of my less-than-gruntled attitude, it has rewarded me with a peck of blueberries this summer!  As there were no berries last summer, this bush was a wonderful surprise when I noticed the fruit at the end of June.  Enjoy a few pictures, and later I’ll describe the fresh blueberry ice cream and cobbler.  Feel free to share your recipe suggestions, too!

Blueberries 3

Blueberries 1

Blueberries 4

Blueberries 2

And, a blackberry bramble under the pine tree has served up one berry so far – there must be some competition for these in the yard.  I ate this one immediately after photography, and it was warm and juicy and sweet!

Blackberries 1

Finally (for today), a tree that brushes the eaves at the end of the house and is loaded with these hibiscus-like blooms.  There are always far more discarded on the ground than on the tree.  In my youth, the hibiscus around us were of a variety with stems long enough to place in a vase, but these are too short.  Hibiscus only bloom for a day, so you don’t have to place them in water, and it’s delightful to enjoy fresh blooms every day.  If only these were a winter-blooming variety, wouldn’t they make a wonderful Christmas arrangement?

Flowering tree 1

I have four glorious, blue hydrangea blooms brightening the kitchen counter right now.  Pictures to come!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Look at me, rockin’ the Photoshop special effects!  Ha!

Food for Friday

I just found a cookbook in the Christmas Gallery that was illustrated by the famous wildlife artists R.J. McDonald.  We carry his delightful Christmas prints, and he visits the store often in the fall for signings, but I did not know he had participated in this community cookbook project. 

Favorite Recipe Press has produced a volume entitled Cooking Up a Classic Christmas, Santa’s Secrets for an Unforgettable Holiday.  It includes essays by a variety of writers on topics related to celebrating the holidays, packed in between with dozens of delicious recipes that would be276000 A Classic Christmas great both at Christmas and all year round.  I’m sure it’s alright if you try a few for Christmas in July, too!

The volume fell open on my desk to an Open House recipe with the intriguing title of:

Mississippi Sin

1 baguette French bread
1 8-oz. container French onion dip
2 C (8 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles, drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the top off the bread and set aside.  Scoop out the bread from the center of the loaf and discard or reserve for use as bread crumbs.  Mix the onion dip, Cheddar cheese, cream cheese and green chiles in a bowl.  Spoon into the hollowed-out bread loaf and replace the top.  Wrap in foil and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove the top of the bread.  Serve with corn chips; 8 servings.

From Take Five, a Holiday Cookbook, by Debbye Dabbs.

Doesn’t that sound delicious?  The recipes in this cookbook all sound wonderful – What the Dickens? Bread Pudding, Christmas Pie, Hot Pepper Peach Dip, Polish Sausages WOW!, The Official Miss Forbus’ Squash Casserole, and more!

Yes, it’s a good time to be thinking about Christmas celebrations – you have to practice, you know, no sense waiting until December to try dishes you could be enjoying today.

It’s almost Monday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Christmas 2009 – Let the Decorating Begin!

Time to start showing off the fantastic work of our buyers and decorators for Christmas 2009!  Trees are starting to come together, and you can follow developments here.  I will show you some of the highlights of our designs for decorating your trees, selecting ornaments, and using unusual materials in creative ways to achieve a unique theme.

You have to know that the trees we create are so packed with decorations that, as I have said before, it’s almost impossible to capture them in pixels, you really have to see them in person to appreciate the beauty of the whole presentation.  But I’m going to take full pictures anyways, and hopefully I’ll be able to attach them in a format that will allow you to look at a larger image.  I’ll also include many close-ups of decorating details.

Most everything we use in our Christmas trees is for sale in the store, but our design team also creates focal elements that are unique for each tree – they can get very creative with Styrofoam, and add unexpected pieces, such as tree branches picked up in the woods … there is no excuse for limiting your thinking when it comes to expressing your own vision of Christmas!

I’m starting with the delightful new Western Tree.  This was a popular theme last year, and we’ve expanded on the idea in colorful fashion for this season.  Of course, I don’t suppose many of us have a grid suspended from the ceiling on which to extend the theme, but that’s what we are able to do here.  A lariat coils across the ceiling and whips around the top of the tree to set the stage.  Check out the Conestoga wagon suspended near the top of the tree.

Western Christmas Tree

Western Christmas Tree

Here is the same view without flash – you can better see the clusters of chili pepper lights on the tree.

Western Tree

Close-up of the ceiling decoration:

Western ceiling copy

… and a collection of close-ups of the ornaments:

Tree detail 1 copy

Paisley ornament copy

I have mad love for these paisley ornaments!

Tree detail 2 copy

Tree detail 3 copy

Tree detail 4 copy

Tree detail 6 copy

Tree detail 5 copy

Tree detail 7 copy

Tree detail 8 copy

As you can see, we have no hesitation in mixing shiny and matte, sparkly and soft, whimsical and serious, natural and man-made elements on a tree – the variety makes each tree a feast for the senses of sight and touch.

I’m really looking forward to showing you our best and brightest for 2009, as everything comes together in the store!  Please, write and let me know if there are details you’d like to see that I may miss as I work my way through the store.

Yeehaw and Merry Christmas!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Oh, it’s a difficult time of year – so many new items are coming in to the store, and I have a hard time choosing what to feature!  I’m going to have to expand the picture show, I do believe.  Of course, there is so much in the store that it is not always easy to identify which items are new and which items are just newly-discovered.

Just yesterday, a feather tree at the bottom of the stairs was filled with a new collection of folk angels.  The ones pictured here are about 15 inches tall, but some of these are about 3 feet tall and wearing white satin and lace dresses.

Folk angels 2

Folk angels 1

Folk angels 3

So, that counts as one!

We have some very clever new music boxes.  Here is one that would look grand on your fireplace mantle – I would hang a dark green wreath above, and perhaps a miniature decorated tree and a pair of round candles to balance.  (I don’t know why I’m thinking about decorating mantles this summer!)  Although it had no power this afternoon, we decided that it will both light up and play music when plugged in.

Candle Music Box

Candle Music Box

In a demonstration of great self-control, I will stop here.  It’s fewer than six months til Christmas now.  Just saying.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

It’s a busy week and I’m running a little behind…we’ve just started a month of Christmas In July festivities for our guests at The Inn, and today saw the opening of a grand train display in our south parking lot, “Santa’s Summer Express”.  There are nine G-scale trains running through an elaborately-staged, tented area filled with trees, rocks, two waterfalls, a pond, and several elevations of track.  It’s just fantastic, created by landscaper Mark W. Fuhrman.  More to come – as soon as I get my hands on a video camera, I want to show you a little preview.  Here are a couple of still shots – the sun was too bright for me to do it justice, I need a cloudy day.

Train passing a city block

Train passing a city block

Train with fish tanks!

Train with fish tanks!

Seriously, those two tanks with orange in them are carrying angel fish around the tracks!  It’s so cool to see.

In the store, I just found this fantastic reindeer pair – bright white, ornamented with sequins, beads, and glitter, in a very stylized form – the red glass beads accenting their antlers are a brilliant touch.  Visualize with me, these sculptures on a white mantel above a white marble fireplace, with dark green pine and red holly berry garland, and a collection of silver candlesticks.  Of course, a silver- or black-framed mirror hangs above the mantle, and there is a tall, crystal compote filled with shiny red ornaments balancing the candlestick grouping.

Stylized Reindeer Pair

Stylized Reindeer Pair

Over in The Boutique (where we were snapping up the clearance lunch totes today), the latest Vera Bradley fabrics and bag styles are available.  A sampling for your viewing pleasure.

On the Go bag, Pirouette

On the Go bag, Pirouette

Saddle Up bag, Blue Rhapsody

Saddle Up bag, Blue Rhapsody

Olivia bag, Carnaby & Blue Rhapsody

Olivia bag, Carnaby & Blue Rhapsody

Island Collection, with Tiki bags, flip flops, and a straw hat!

Island Collection, with Tiki bags, flip flops, and a straw hat!

Finally, this cute cute cute leather wallet caught my eye as I was leaving – what cheerful colors and such a fun design!  The blue bird of happiness and all his friends…

Leather Wallet

Leather Wallet

Have a happy, colorful day!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Remember back when I would just show two things??