Two for Tuesday

If you share my whimsical take on life and on Christmas, too, you will surely want to browse our upcoming collection of Patience Brewster decorations.  This designer really puts the whim in whimsy  ~ with no reservations!  Figurines, Christmas ornaments, tiny stockings with fantastical details, even accents of fur and feathers ~ it’s all here.  We’re taking pre-orders now for delivery when the new items arrive later this summer. 

If there is a dog-fancier on your Christmas list, take note of the selection of figurines and ornaments featuring various breeds in colorful holiday costumes – quite delightful.

For a limited time, we’re offering free freight on all Patience Brewster orders, no minimum order required ~ be sure to take advantage of this special!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

Yay!  It’s almost Monday!  Are you excited about that, too??  Well, I plan to watch me some basketball this weekend – Go Butler Bulldogs!  They pulled off a big win (upset!) last night, and I sure hope they can continue in the NCAA  tournament.  Oh, and of course, the Tennessee Vols are playing tonight.

I was thinking about all the game-watching that will be happening this weekend, and the volume of chips and salsa that are likely to be consumed .. which sent me in search of a quick recipe for homemade salsa.  I have a couple of friends, a brother & sister, who like to compete on the quality of their homemade salsa ~ the trick being that they get to use ingredients they’ve grown fresh in their gardens!  I am hoping to learn about gardening this summer from Sam & Marie, but until then I’ll have to use my local grocer instead.

Already thinking about summer gardens, I found this Gooseberry Patch volume down in the gallery:  Farmers’ Market Favorites.  Of course, it includes ideas for everything from Sunny Starters for the Day to Sprouting Sandwiches and Fresh Baked Desserts.  I pulled this recipe from Farm Kitchen Snacks & Beverages.

Quick & Easy Summer Salsa

Farmers' Market Favorites

10 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 C red onion, chopped
1 T vinegar
1/2 C olive oil
juice of 2 key limes

Combine all ingredients (except chips) in a bowl.  Stir to blend.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Makes 2-1/2 to 3 cups.  Serve with tortilla chips.  It’s also terrific if you can’t wait for the chilling ~ enjoy it warm from the garden.

Here’s a Gooseberry Patch note:  Almost any fresh veggie can be added to a favorite salsa recipe.  Try stirring in chopped peppers, green onions, minced garlic and sweet corn.

If you’ve got a hearty supply of chips, you might also want to try Lynda’s Spinach-Feta Dip, made with Greek yogurt, feta cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and fresh spinach and dill weed.  Or, Veggie Mini Pizzas made with pita rounds for the crust, topped with fresh spinach and plum tomatoes.  Yum!

Good luck to your team if you have one in the running, and I’ll be waiting for the farmer’s market.  I have a feeling that Sam & Marie will just be starting me off with weeding in that garden …

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Restaurant Update

We have a copper roof!  Check out the beautiful installation on the tower of The Partridge & Pear Restaurant ~ as it develops that lovely green, aged patina, it is going to be even more spectacular.

I can’t wait to see the stonework go up next on the outside of the grand chimney and tower stacks.  It is really going to look like the drawing!

Work continues on the inside, too ~ here’s the gold-leafed tray ceiling in the Nutcracker dining room.  This room, which is styled for family dining, may be reserved for private functions as well, and will seat 12 to 14 diners.

The walls have been faux-finished in the main dining room and a hand-painted border is coming to life.  I didn’t want to flash on the artist at work, but here’s a snippet of the stylized leaf-and-berry pattern she’s designed.

The large Bavarian Room has its own fireplace, and, judging by the fireplaces at The Inn, I know our carpenters will be installing an amazing mantel and surround.  This room may be reserved for private functions, and will seat between 45 and 55 people, depending on how it is staged.

Here’s a slightly fuzzy picture of the grand hall!  The light really streams into the space during morning hours.  The hall serves as a waiting area, and guests will be able to relax on comfortable couches by the fire or at a window seat, enjoying a glass of wine or other beverages while waiting to be seated for lunch or dinner.

Finally, the Conservatory ~ I think this might be my favorite room just because of the windows!  This dining room will have an indoor gardens feel,  and may also be reserved for private functions.  It will seat up to 30 people.  I can see a lot of birthday and bridal and baby shower parties happening here!  My pictures were taken at about 10:00 a.m., so this room is going to host some wonderful, sunny lunches.

 I don’t know if I’ve yet mentioned that we’re also restructuring the parking lot to incorporate a drive-up and drop-off traffic pattern.  There will be a new walkway across to Christmas Place as well.  In case you missed it on Wednesday, the courtyard was THIS beautiful!

 I enjoyed my Mrs. Claus’ Candy Kitchen specialty, chicken salad sandwich, under an umbrella, and the scent of these blooms was heavenly, with the warm sun on my back and the sights and sounds of birds chirping from the holly trees.  We’re expecting another day like this on Saturday .. you won’t want to miss it!

Speaking of lunch .. when you come to eat with us this summer, please accept my recommendation:  be sure to order our Waldorf Salad.  Chef served it to us at the Christmas party, and it was fantastic.  It is made with pears and either cranberries or tart cherries, and I can hardly describe how delicious his unique dressing is as a finish.  Just, WOW!  You’ll have to try it.

Can’t wait to have you join us for lunch or dinner in a couple of months!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Okay, this will mark two weeks in a row when I actually do have just TWO pictures for you!  I can’t help getting carried away when I find such fabulous stuff in the store, but I’m trying to mend my ways and keep it quick.

I even found a theme this week – cute piggies!

We’ve just added a new collectible line of hillbillies that can definitely be called, without exaggeration, a scream!  No, we don’t mind poking a little fun at ourselves here in East Tennessee.  Most stereotypes are earned, don’t you know.  Check out the crazy mad hair on these characters!  The lad in front is holding a cob of corn on a fishing pole in front of the pig to keep it moving.

Hillbilly School Bus

Other figurines in the line include an homage to moonshiners,  a hillbilly wedding pair, the hillbilly tractor that’s really a family affair, and a commemoration of plumbers that spells out the situation for you .. you’ll have to come see for yourself, I don’t think I can show it here. 

Continuing the cute piggy plan, a figurine from Charming Tails in the form of a pull-toy piggie with a couple of passengers.  If you know a pig collector, this would be a great addition to their obsession.

Notice it even has a cute little mini-piggy charm on the back!  What could be sweeter?

So much pink cuteness!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Spring Break hours here at the store now, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. all week long.

Food for Friday

While looking through an old collection of recipes last week, I came across one that a friend from Indiana shared with me some years ago.  It’s been so long, I don’t even remember which friend, but I remember that it’s delicious.  This take on cabbage salad has an interesting twist ~ it does include Ramen noodles, but you toast them for an extra crunch and snap of flavor.

Oriental Cabbage Salad

Salad Base
1 bag coleslaw mix
1 bunch green onions, chopped
Mix together in a large bowl.

1 stick butter/margarine
2 bags Ramen noodles, crushed (do not use spice packets)
1 small bag slivered almonds
1 T sesame seeds
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add remaining ingredients and toast until golden, stirring very frequently.  Drain and coll on paper towels.

1/2 C sugar
1/4 C vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2/3 C oil
Combine sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small pan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Add oil.

Keep all your elements separate until just before serving.  Add the topping to the salad base; shake the dressing well and pour over the top.  Toss all together and serve.

C = Cup; T = Tablespoon

Keeping the ingredients separate and mixing single salad servings makes for better leftovers with this salad.  I know this is one I’ll be serving again and again this spring – I’m so glad to have rediscovered it!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place


Two for Tuesday

We’re gearing up for spring break around here .. although we don’t have much to offer in the way of beach front property.  Maybe you’re headed to a sunny, sandy shore.  Here are a pair of new ornaments to remind you of vacation days!

Let me tell you, our associates know their stuff so well that even out of the many thousands of ornaments we have around here, when I asked what was new this week, they pointed me right to these two.  I am amazed!  These will be available on the web site by the end of the week.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Newly Irish

All my life, my family claimed a Scottish heritage through the McDonald clan on my father’s side.  We’ve been to Scotland many times, proudly collected the McDonald tartan (it’s much more attractive than the Dress Stewart you see so often), even stayed in the village where the Campbells massacred the McDonalds hundreds of years ago.  (They are a lot nicer to us now!)

Last year, however, in further pursuit of our genealogical history through DNA testing, we discovered that we’re Irish!  This is my first year as an Irish McDonald, so I’m entirely new to celebrating St. Patrick’s day.  Fortunately, my favorite show and chef came through for me this morning over on National Public Radio ~ Nigella Lawson came onto Morning Edition with recipes for Irish Stew and Chocolate Guinness Cake.  I’ve tried several of her recipes, and they are always quite wonderful.  I’m not sure I’ll have time to make both tonight, but at least now I don’t feel like I’ll have to add green coloring to everything I eat tomorrow.

So, top o’ the mornin’ and Happy Saint Patty’s Day to all my fellow Irishmen!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. On Mother’s side, we’re pretty sure we’re distant relatives of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury.

Food for Friday

I’m sure you’re mostly out there gleefully spending your tax refunds on the most delightful things this year .. but for those who owe, there’s another way to go.  Dinner$ on a Dime, from Gooseberry Patch, offers frugal recipe options for feeding the family.  Chapters include Shoestring Suppers, Cent-sational Sides,  and Cheap Sweets.

By the way, I just noticed that on their website,, they accept recipes, tips, crafts, and memories for possible inclusion in future publications.  Kind of fun!  No surprise that they always have the best stuff in their wonderful books.

Have you got a party coming up on the calendar?  Here’s a cute recipe from the Budget-Friendly Gatherings chapter.  I just love the name:

Texas Cowboy Caviar

15 oz can shoepeg corn, drained
16 oz can black-eyed peas, drained & rinsed
16 oz can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
16 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1 C celery, shopped
1 C green pepper (or red/yellow/orange), chopped
Optional:  4 oz jar pimentos, drained
your favorite corn chips (Janet likes blue corn chips, fyi)

1 C oil
1 C white vinegar
1 C sugar

Combine all ingredients except corn chips in a serving bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling.  Cook until thickened; remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Drizzle  dressing over beans and vegetables, toss to mix.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour to overnight; drain any liquid before serving.  Serve with corn chips.  Will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Sounds like an easy and fun way to feed a crowd!

Well, the rain has finally arrived, just in time for the weekend – and the Holly and Shamrock Parade tomorrow in Gatlinburg!  I hope St Nicholas and St Patrick  can agree to share an umbrella – I’m sure it will be great fun, whatever the weather.

Have a great weekend – and don’t forget to check out the 16th Annual A Mountain Quiltfest here in Pigeon Forge, too.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Sounds of Spring!

If you really want a treat, take yourself to Sevierville and make your way around to the back of the post office, across the parking lot from Food City (on Dolly Parton Parkway).  There is a reed-filled bog there that is resounding with the most delightful sounds of frogs loving the warmer weather!  Yesterday, I could hear their music over the sound of the radio .. with all the car windows rolled up.  Today, they were even louder.  What a wonderful cacophony of spring!

None of those bog frogs are as laid back as these colorful characters, I’m sure!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

University of Alabama Ornament

One of our former associates (Hi Susan!) asked if we have the Ne’Qwa Art ornament for the University of Alabama ~ we sure do!  Here are pictures for you.  We only have the smaller size in the store.

Another reader asked if we have the University of Maryland, and I’m sorry to say it looks like we do not have that one.  If I find it somewhere else, I’ll let you know!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place