Food for Friday

Seriously, I really don’t know why I’m trying to make it summer already, when the kids have at least a month more of school (the World’s Greatest Niece graduates in exactly 30 long days!) and summer doesn’t come scientifically until way, way on over in June (the 21st.  at 7:23 a.m.).    It’s just so warm and sunny today (81 degrees) and we’re expecting that summer storm stuff tomorrow (hail, wind, tornadoes, cats & dogs from the sky, etc.).  Oh well .. you’ll just have to work with me.

Summer in the Country, from Gooseberry Patch, has the stuff I’m jonesing for, from  Sweet Summer Mornings and An Old-Fashioned Picnic to Come By For Pie … & More!  I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my blueberry crop this year, so I’m thinking an award-winning cake might be a good choice for today, especially one that incorporates my love of lemon, too.  Check out my blueberry blossoms – looks like a good harvest is on the horizon!

Blueberry Citrus Cake

Ingredients
1 package lemon cake mix
1/2 C plus 2 T orange juice
1 C water
1/3 C oil
3 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 C fresh or frozen blueberries
1 T orange zest
1 T lemon zest
1 C powdered sugar
Garnish:  lemon and orange zest

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, 1/2 cup orange juice, water, oil, and eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.  Increase speed to medium; beat for 2 minutes.  With a wooden spoon, gently fold in blueberries and zests.  Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt® pan.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool completely in pan on wooden rack.  Turn out of pan.  Blend remaining orange juice and powdered sugar until smooth; drizzle over cake.  Sprinkle with zests.  Serves 10 to 12.

Wow, that sounds so light and refreshing and delicious!  I think I’d serve that as a special side bread with a light chicken salad (the kind you make with grapes and pecans, or maybe a curried chicken salad) just for fun!  (Okay, now I’m going home to make myself some chicken curry.)

I’m willing to stretch summer out as long as you’ll let me this year, especially on days like today.  Tomorrow, I may be making a hearty stew to combat the rain, but today .. today is for a slice of cake and a frosty lemonade on the patio at the end of the day .. enjoy!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

The Inn’s Mother’s Day Weekend Special

The Inn at Christmas Place has announced a special offer for Mother’s Day Weekend!

Bring your mom to The Inn for two nights over May 7-9, 2010, to celebrate Mother’s Day and Dollywood’s 25th Anniversary.  When you book two nights, either Friday & Saturday or Saturday & Sunday, you’ll receive 25% off your room rate both nights, plus a special treat for Mom.  Those same days, our concierge will have Dollywood 2-day passes for the price of a 1-day pass.

This offer is valid for two nights May 7-9, 2010 only, and not valid with any other discount or offer.

What a wonderful opportunity to treat Mom to a truly special and luxurious experience, both a stay at The Inn and a visit to Dollywood during their anniversary celebration.  Click here or call (toll free) 888-465-9644 now to reserve your room!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Vera Bradley Bag Giveaway!

In celebration of spring, or summer, or new Vera Bradley, or maybe just Thursday ~ we’ve got a sweepstakes going on!  Click here for the entry form, and enter once a day through April 29th.  We’ll select the winner of our free bag on Friday, April 30th.  The Saddle Up bag in Poppy Fields is a wonderful, bright choice for spring and summer!

We’ve got lots of new Vera bags and gifts in stock at Christmas Place.  Take a look at this sophisticated turquoise, tan, and black line – you can mix and match bags and accessories and ramp up your chic quotient.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner (May 9th!), how about a beautiful floral apron packed in an equally beautiful recipe box for your favorite chef ~ or take-out order-er??  The new apron is wonderfully styled for comfort and functionality in the kitchen.

Are you headed to the beach or the pool this summer?  A mesh tote could be just the thing by the water, and these are extra-cute with their flower-power tags!  (We’ve stuffed them with tissue paper for display.)  The paisley bags on the left are colorful enough to go with just about any outfit.

Don’t forget to visit our Vera Bradley page and snag the 10% off promo code before you call to place your order – take advantage of the savings!

Hoping you’re having a colorful Friday Eve!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

On a theme of two .. Department 56 has just released “the best accessory Christmas tree set in the history of Department 56″, to quote our D56 lead.  So, I took a video of them.  And they ARE cute and colorful and brilliant!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prwA3x0KDBQ]

See what I mean?  According to the expert, though, it’s not the changing colors and cute spiral design that make them brilliant, it’s the fact that they have really long, separate (but attached to one plug) cord leads – so you can easily position them in two distant locations within your village display.  There’s an easy on/off switch on the cord, too.  I just covered it up with some artificial snow for the movie.

Christmas Place has been chosen to help debut in 2010 three pieces from a brand new collection they’ve created with Disney, Mickey’s Christmas VillageMickey’s Tree House, Minnie’s Dinner, and Donald Duck’s Firehouse  are available only from us ~ you might want to preorder yours now to ensure delivery this fall!  Younger children would really enjoy setting up and playing with this Disney village at Christmas time.  (Grandparents, are you looking for a collection to start with your favorite grandkids??) 

Department 56 will likely be limiting the number of pieces added to this line, which includes many accessory figurines as well.  (Note how I cleverly slipped in those two cute trees again!  They work!)

It’s a rainy Tuesday in Tennessee .. so glad I mowed the lawn yesterday ..

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Christmas Place Properties Job Fair Next Week

Monday & Tuesday, April 20th & 21st, here on the grounds of Christmas Place (look for the big white tents in our courtyard), we’re having a job fair for all three companies from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

We need lots of folks for The Partridge & Pear Restaurant, and we’re also hiring for the store and for The Inn at Christmas Place.  Bring your upbeat attitude and your winningest smile, we’ll be interviewing and hiring on the spot!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

I have signed up to bring a dessert pizza to a gathering this weekend.  Please hold while I see if I can find a recipe for the same downstairs.

Hurrah for Paula Deen!  Found a wonderful little collection titled The Lady & Sons Just Desserts.  Oh yeah!  (I happen to love her Key Lime Pie , the one that uses four egg yolks is the best.)  Simply organized into categories such as cakes, pies, cookies & bars, and “More Sweet Things,” this cook book opens with three lovely family stories and a terrific section called “Hints & Tips” that includes instructions for peeling a coconut.  Good stuff!

Best of all, there’s a scrumptious recipe that I can use on Sunday.

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

Ingredients
20 oz box Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix (plus ingredients to prepare)
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
2 T sugar
2 bananas, sliced and tossed in lemon juice to prevent browning
1 C fresh strawberries, sliced
1 C chopped nuts
Chocolate ice cream topping or chocolate syrup for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 15-inch pizza pan.

Prepare brownie mix according to directions on box.  Pour onto prepared pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until done.  Cool completely.

Beat cream cheese, pineapple, and sugar together in a bowl.  Use any reserved pineapple juice at this time if needed to soften mixture to a good spreading consistency.  Spread mixture over brownie crust.  Arrange banana and strawberry slices over cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts and drizzle with chocolate topping.  Refrigerate.

Slice like a pizza and enjoy!  Serves 8 to 10.
C = Cup; T = Tablespoon.

Yummy in my tummy, I’m thinking!

Enjoy the remaining sunshine and the crazy classic cars and have a great weekend, everyone!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Ribbon Sale!

Going on in the store right now we’re having a HUGE ribbon sale – buy 3 rolls, get a 4th roll free (of equal or lesser value).

Every roll of ribbon in the store is included – even bolts that are already on sale!

We have a wide selection of colors and styles from which to choose.  It’s a great time to plan your colors for this Christmas.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

I PROMISE, I started this on Tuesday!  It’s just been that week, you know?  But never mind ~ fun stuff to show you!

I was going to open with “summertime, and the livin’ is easy .. ” ~ but that’s not til June, is it?  You’ve probably never heard of the sticky, red earth white, sandy beaches of East Tennessee, where you can relax in the warm sun and work on your tanning bed hours tan.  Or the totally awesome speedboat waves on the Tennessee river where you can catch a fish curl and ride all the way to the next dam for miles.  We’ve done a pretty great job of keeping these treats a secret from non-Volunteers lo these many years.

Well, anyways, that’s what I was thinking when I found these two cute personalized ornaments in the middle of the Christmas store in the mountains of East Tennessee.  Actually, just about everyone around here heads to a coast for spring break, and they surf on cruise ships these days, right?  I love the bright colors and the easy, warm feel of these two ~ they would be great mementos of your special vacation in the sand, wherever you happen to find it!

You’re probably expecting something more like this for your Smoky Mountain vacation, right?

And we welcome a lot of honeymooners to the area every year, too!

Don’t forget, our Buy 3, get the 4th free ornament sale is still going on – you could order all four of these and one would be free!

We’ve added the American Expedition line to the store this spring ~ a beautiful collection of pieces of interest to sportsmen and women who love nature at its best ~ outside where it belongs.  Okay, I’m just kidding .. a little.  Take a look at these very grand wall clocks, each featuring a gorgeous illustration and a unique quote about the exploration and discovery of nature.

Just at the bottom of the photo you can glimpse some of the other products in this collection – insulated drink mugs, a pocket flask, playing cards, fine milled soaps, and several other items are available in a variety of striking images.  It’s an outstanding group that you’ll want to see on your next visit to the store (she says, having realized that they are not on the website yet)! 

The fancy cars are rolling into town for this weekend’s show – what a creative bunch we humans are!  Some crazy sights to see.  The vehicles sitting all day along the parkway with their hoods propped open remind me of crocodiles relaxing on the banks of the Nile river in the heat of the afternoon sun; they hinge their jaws open in exactly the same manner.  You know, you never see a bird picking the teeth of a crocodile .. I wonder why?

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

Well, looking out the window this week, it really appears that half of America, at least the half we can see here in the South, is on the move again for 2010!  Lots of cars and conveyances, and with spring having sprung and grass having greened, lots of campers and RVs passing through on their way to our beautiful area campgrounds.  Down in the Gift Gallery I picked up a copy of the perennial favorite Easy RV Recipes by Ferne Holmes, an excellent collection for the traveling cook.

In addition to plenty of recipes for every occasion (including both cooking with fresh meat and cooking with canned meat, the challenges of which I had never thought about before), Ferne starts off with equipment suggestions, hints for traveling cooks, menu suggestions, and a complete pantry list with supplies for two people traveling for two weeks.  How helpful is that!  Of course, I have friends who spent about 10 years living & traveling in their RV – boy, do they have some great stories to tell!

So, I didn’t realize you can buy canned roast beef & gravy, I’m going to look for it next time I’m at the market, because you can use it for almost any beef dish and quite a few chilis, too.  As the title claims, these recipes are quite easy, and the lists of ingredients say that they are tasty, too.  I think that even folks cooking in kitchens without wheels underneath would appreciate a few of these easy recipes as well.

Chile Pie

Ingredients
1 can (16 oz) Chile con Carne with beans
2 T dried onion (minced or chopped
1 C cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/2 C buttermilk baking mix
1 C milk (fresh or canned)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
Paprika

Spread chile in an 8- or 9-inch pie pan and sprinkle with onion and one-half cup cheese.  Combine baking mix, milk and egg and mix well.  Pour over chile; sprinkle with rest of cheese and paprika.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Knife should come out clean when inserted into middle of the pie.  Makes 3 to 4 servings.  [And I love that you actually cook it in a pie pan, since it’s called pie!  I never would have thought of that.]

Chicken Goody Hot Dish

Ingredients
1-1/2 C canned or cooked chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 C water
1/4 C mayonnaise
1 T soy sauce
1 T dried onion (minced or chopped)
1 T dried parsley
1-1/4 C uncooked instant rice
1/2 C cheddar cheese (shredded)
Paprika

Combine first eight ingredients and mix well.  Pour into greased casserole.  Sprinkle with cheese and paprika.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Makes 4-6 servings.  [I don’t often prepare baked dishes that have mayonnaise as an ingredient, but I’ll bet it gives this casserole a really nice zip.  I would definitely try this at home!]

C = Cup; T = Tablespoon

If life puts you on the highway this year, I hope it winds through East Tennessee ~ and if it happens in the next few weeks, please come and enjoy the dogwoods & azaleas with us!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

Now that spring has sprung, many of us are spending plenty of time out-of-doors before summer heat sets in ~ although the thermometer has officially reached 90 degrees here in the valley today!  If your bird feeder has seen better days,  how about  a new redwood feeder?  These beautiful feeders feature carved-wood detailing, and some also have etched panels like the one pictured here.

The redwood line also includes beautiful bird houses, like this example.

Did you know that we also carry high-end shoes in The Boutique?  These are a new spring addition to our exclusive collection.

Gold leather with a pink heel and sole and gold charms that shimmy as the shoe moves.  Here’s another high-fashion style in black studded with red crystals and lined in gold lame.

If you enjoy a more whimsical take on fashion, how about taking the flock out for a walk?

Perhaps you’ve guessed by now that these fanciful creations are in miniature – about three inches tall, in fact!  There are over 25 styles in the collection, from diamond-crusted wedding shoes to one with a cable car embedded in the heel!  This is the only affordable way to build a truly unique shoe collection.

Could Dorothy have managed those heels along the yellow brick road??

~Janet @ The Christmas Place