Department 56 2011 Collectibles

We’ve added all the new Department 56 collectibles to our web site for pre-sale – the items won’t arrive until later in the spring, but you can make sure to get just what you want by placing your order now.

Seems like I might be turning into a Winters Frost collector myself.  I just love the new church, Holy Night Church, with the nativity scene on the lawn, and the new cottage with a happy little snowman in the front yard.  The “Hidden Pond Warming House” is quite charming, too – I’m picturing hunters or ice fishers stretching their legs in front of a blazing fire inside .. yes, I know there’s a fire pit outside, but I’d still rather be INSIDE on a cold night!

Hidden Pond Warming House

Cottagewood Bungalow

Holy Night Church

Did you see the Snowpinions collection last year?  Cutest little snowmen ornament series – had to get one of each, of course … we have a lot of new styles this year, and some accessory pieces – mugs, cookie jar, and a set of four mini plates that are the best!

I see seven new houses in the Dickens’ Village collection – that’s enough for a whole new street, isn’t it?

There are many more new pieces in the line, and you’ll enjoy browsing our site for all the “New!” tags.  Also, we’ve added a Facebook “Like” button to all our items – so you can spread the word to your friends about the pieces you want to put on your wish list this year.

As always, we’d love to see photos of your own village display – share them on our forum or Facebook page, please!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Did you know – we’re 25 years old this year!

Yes, it all began Memorial Weekend 1986 on the parkway in Pigeon Forge.  The Incredible Christmas Place opened, and the owners stood and watched all the cars streaming by, waiting for them to start turning in at 2470 Parkway.  How we’ve grown since then!

The Incredible Christmas Place, circa 1986!

That first year, several of the shops were leased to other business owners, and now it’s all under one family.  We’ll tell you more about the life and times of Christmas Place Properties as the year unfolds, of course.

But first, we’d really love to hear from you…

  • Do you have a first memory or a best memory or a crazy memory of a visit to Christmas Place?  You know, we’ve had more than one wedding in the courtyard – where’s your wedding photo?
  • Do you have the first photo you or your children took with Santa at Christmas Place?  You have to share it with us again – even if Junior was screaming his head off!
  • How would you like to celebrate our 25th year with us?  (Well, of course we’d like to give everyone a 25% discount on everything all year long, but c’mon now!)  We’re planning weekly activities and entertainment, but we’d like to hear from you on this, too.  Personally, I’m really jonesing for a special totebag and a t-shirt, but maybe you want something different to remember this special year.  Tell us what it is!

Please either leave a comment here, or visit us on Facebook or our forum and tell us about your memories of Christmas Place.  I’ve got an enormous pile of photo albums on my desk, and I hope to find more goodies to share throughout the year.  Past and present employees, prepare to be embarrassed as we explore the fashions and hairstyles of years gone by .. those of you who remember when you {had} hair, especially.

Happy Birthday, Christmas Place!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

View from the Kitchen

I’m so excited to introduce my first guest author, Chef Aaron Ward from The Partridge & Pear Restaurant.  I’m looking forward to hearing about food, cooking, and presentation from the perspective of the professional ~ and he’s a really fun guy, too!

Chef Aaron Ward

Take it away, Chef Aaron…

Another busy season in the books! Now it’s time to rekindle the culinary fire and prepare for the first full season at the Partridge and Pear.

Having lived and worked here in the Smoky Mountains most of my life, I was prepared for the drastic drop in business that always follows the New Year’s Eve parties, and after a much-needed week of lying around the house I am beginning to get that feeling again!  The feeling that is only shared between professional cooks and rock stars!  It’s like reaching the point of burnt saturation, worn thin from the repetitive nature of the beast.  Bam, it’s over! Now what?

Then, as it happens every year, Valenine’s Day rolls around and we kick off the fast-approaching season, usually with beef tenderloin and possibly lobster tails!  And I get paid for this?  C’mon!

All right men, listen up.  To have a successful evening you must always start with a great meal!  Let’s say shrimp cocktail, a crisp salad of winter greens and passion fruit, the previously mentioned filet and lobster, followed by a champagne toast with chocolate dipped strawberries.

My job is done here.

For Valentine’s Day reservations call 865.868.0575,  toll-free at 800.917.4263

Chef Aaron

Partridge & Pear Menu Updates

If you’ve had a chance to eat at the restaurant since it opened in July of 2010, you’ve hopefully enjoyed an amazing gourmet meal.  My favorites still include the Sweet Potato Ribbons, Andouille Sausage & Corn Chowder (which is a feature, they don’t offer it every day), and the Partridge & Pear Salad – which I attempted myself at home, but then forgot half the ingredients – but my guests seemed to enjoy it anyway!  The best thing about using pears in a salad is that they don’t brown in the way of some other fruits.

Oh- and the Fried Chicken Salad – they use a cornmeal coating that is so light and crispy, it really cuts down on the fat and keeps the meat tender and juicy.  And still the Pecan Crusted Rainbow Trout – the orange-cranberry beurre blanc makes me lick my plate clean.  No really.  It’s embarrassing .. for everyone around me.

We made a few additions to the menu both before and after Christmas, and I thought I’d list them for you here.

Last month they added three regular features to the lunch menu:

  • Christmas Cobb Salad ~ not your typical cobb salad!  Sliced turkey, spiral ham & three cheeses served on crisp romaine with boiled egg, cucumber, red onion & bacon, drizzled with our signature cranberry vinaigrette & topped with dressing croutons
  • Cordon Bleu Sandwich ~ 8-ounce chicken breast stuffed with country ham & Gruyère cheese then baked in Mornay, served 0n a toasted ciabatta roll with lettuce, tomato & cranberry mayonnaise.  8.99
  • Christmas Monte Cristo ~ thinly sliced turkey, country ham, & aged Swiss cheese grilled in raisin bread French toast garnished with cranberry mustard.  8.99

You can add cranberry to just about anything for an extra zing of flavor!  I need to sample the cranberry mustard.  (I have a thing for mustards ~ my favorite ever was a key lime mustard (not sauce), but I have never been able to find a second jar of it.  If you have a source, please share!)

Last week, we made more changes to the lunch and dinner menus:

  • Corned Beef Reuben ~ house-made corned beef brisket served on marbled rye with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese & red pepper aoli.
  • Grouper Po’ Boy ~ delicately flaky white fish in a cornmeal batter, served on grilled rye with Swiss cheese, coleslaw & a tangy remoulade.
  • Flat Bread Pizza ~ flat bread baked with marinara, spinach alfredo, mozzarella & Parmesan cheeses, served with a Caesar side salad.
  • Crab-Stuffed Tilapia ~ this feature dish has been so popular we decided to add it to the dinner menu permanently!  Tilapia is stuffed with crab meat & herbs, baked in a Mornay sauce, and topped with a panko & cheese crumb (served with 2 sides).

And now, I most sincerely apologize, but …..  {{desserts!}}  We just added a whole new range of cakes & pies.  I know it’s January, and the very air around us is shimmering with the infusion with exercise & weight loss resolutions .. but if we have to see these, then you have to see these!  (and while I was editing these photos, the folks in the next office were having an in-depth discussion about diet & exercise.  Thanks a lot.)

Coconut Creme Pie

California Cheesecake (not just cake!)

White Chocolate Raspberry - cake or cheesecake, not sure yet

We’re not sure what this cake is, but the order called for a “7 Sins” cake – what do you think??  There is also a Tiramisu, and Reese’s Mousse Cake, Hummingbird Cake, and Oreo Cookie cake.  Saving the best for last:  Key Lime Cheesecake!!  (I’m typing, I get to declare which one is best.)  Okay, who got the first two pieces?!?

So, when you’re ready to reward yourself, or celebrate an anniversary or a birthday or Thursday, be sure to save room for dessert!

Looking forward to sharing more great food and Christmas spirit with you all year long!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Titanic Ice Carving Contest

On Saturday, January 22nd, the Titanic is hosting a first-ever, free ice carving contest at the museum attraction – cool stuff! Check out the details at http://www.pigeonforgepr.com/templatePR.aspx?id=5080&terms=Titanic+ice+carving.
~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Train Rides at Christmas Place!

This just in .. train rides at Christmas Place on Thursday & Friday, January 6th & 7th!  The owners of the mini train have laid some track at the front of the courtyard and are giving mini rides.  Bring the kids down!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

And more snow ..

We’re starting 2011 just like we ended 2010, in a blast of white.  Here are a few pics from around our block.

Last night, it was as if we were existing inside a giant snowglobe that someone had given a good shake – the flakes were falling straight down, thick and beautiful .. and fast.

Here’s an interesting image – can you see the ghost tree in the background through the flashing snowflakes?  Taken in my driveway last night.

Here’s the adjusted image – the tree is not really floating in air!

This morning, every twig and branch and blade and stone was coated in a thick layer of frosting – I’m sure the world would have been twinkling quite grandly had the sun decided to rise with us.  It slept in ..

(Pay no attention to the branches still on the ground from the last storm ..)

Frosty Caroler

I wish I could capture in pixels (yes, I started to type “on film”, then had to stop and think about it) the lights glowing on those trees under the snow – trust me, it’s gorgeous and wintery and lovely!  Now here’s me being all interesting and artsy with the camera.  Amazing, I know.

Snow on rocks

Snow on orange bush

Snow on evergreen

At least I didn’t have to walk too far to capture this triptych in the snow.  What a wonderful day to stay by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate.  More white flakes on the way tonight and through the weekend.

This Saturday through next Saturday, it’s time for the 21st Annual Wilderness Wildlife Week, check the details here.  Photography exhibits, classes, hiking & field trips – it’s an amazing time both to explore firsthand and to learn from experts about the variety and beauty of the mountain habitat we share here in the Smokies.

Stay warm!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

TOO Cute – do you like chocolate??

I realize I’m a day (or more) late, but just today I noticed a bag of the CUTEST Santa chocolates on display with our food mixes and jam gift boxes and chocolate covered cookies.  Why didn’t I see these before Christmas??  I would have tucked one into every package I wrapped this year!

Santa Chocolate

I hope that maybe if I seal them in a zippy bag and store them in a dark corner and put a note on my calendar to remind me where I have hidden them, they might still be fresh for next Christmas.  Either that, or I’ll just have to eat them now.  Each Santa is about 1″ tall.

And they’re just killer cute, am I right??

~Janet @ The Christmas Place