We hope that each and every one of you are having a fabulous Christmas. All of us up here at the North Pole are enjoying spending time together and eating lots of cookies.
We wanted to take this moment to say thanks to our corporate sponsors who have helped tremendously with the cost of developing and maintaining northpole.com. So, thank you very much to our Diamond Deck-the-Halls Sponsor, RTI, Inc., and our Platinum Poinsettia Sponsor, SimTrain! (Interested in sponsoring Northpole.com? Click here for more information.)
Also, thanks go out to YOU for spending part of your Christmas with us! We appreciate every single one of our visitors, and we are so happy that you came to visit Santa’s Secret Village. We do hope that you’ll spend part of next Christmas with us as well.
So, tell me… What was your favourite Christmas memory this year? Did you spend time with loved ones, try a new yummy recipe, go sledding with friends? Let us know in the comments!
Enjoy the rest of Christmas Day, and from all of us at northpole.com, we wish you a very happy and healthy 2017!
After the adorable, festive videos and photos I posted earlier today, I have bassets on the brain. Although—let’s be honest—when do I not? Of course I adore this sweet Christmas card featuring two basset hounds under the mistletoe. This card does leave me wondering one thing: When doggies meet up under the mistletoe, do they slurp or sniff each other?
Happy Christmas Eve! I hope you are finished shopping, wrapping, and baking—and are now ready for some merrymaking! Today I will be spending time with my husband, my basset hound, my parents, and their 2 bassets. In honour of the furry, festive fun, I thought I’d share some adorable doggie videos and photos to put a smile on your face and help you pass the time while you count down the minutes until Santa arrives 😉
How many of you do a lot of holiday shopping online? If you have boxes from Amazon or other retailers piling up at your home, wait a moment before you simply toss those boxes into the recycling bin. With the Give Back Box platform, you can fill a box with items for donation, print a prepaid shipping label, and then ship the items to your nearest Goodwill. Donating unwanted items has never been so easy!
Raymond and I had such a wonderful time during our trip down to Atlanta, seeing the sights and eating various local treats. This Georgia highway Christmas ornament show that all roads lead to Atlanta! Laser cut from birch plywood, this ornament is delicate and would make a nice gift for the Georgia peach in your life. [Psst… Looking for another state? Maplanta has highway ornaments for all 50 states.]
When we arrived in Atlanta, we were pretty tired, so Raymond and I took a nap. When we woke up, it was 3am—darn jet lag! Our tummies were rumbling, and we knew just where to go. With more than 100 locations in Atlanta alone and open 24 hours, we headed to none other than Waffle House. When in Atlanta, where else would you eat in the middle of the night, right?
Raymond perusing the giant menu
There we shared a waffle, eggs, and hashbrowns that were scattered, smothered, and covered, which is Waffle House talk for hashbrowns that include sautéed onions and cheese.
Scattered, smothered, and covered
Well-rested the next day, Raymond and I set out to explore. We had heard about something called the Big Chicken, which locals actually use as a landmark when giving directions. We were rather curious, so we had to check it out, even though it’s in the suburbs. Standing more than 17 meters tall, it is indeed a big chicken!
Yup, that is a big chicken
Curiosity satisfied, we headed back ITP [“inside the Perimeter,” which is the ring road around Atlanta] for a bit of history. Thankfully the clouds had parted when we went to view a sculpture titled Homage to King. Atlanta is Martin Luther King Jr.’s hometown, and this simple, yet lovely steel sculpture honouring MLK overlooks the city.
In front of Homage to King
From there it was a short walk to the Jackson Street Bridge where we were treated to the quintessential view of the Atlanta skyline. The cityscape from this spot was really fantastic. If Raymond and I ever travel to Atlanta again, we’ll definitely have to go back to this bridge for the sunset!
Raymond in ATL
Enjoying the view of the Atlanta skyline
Next Raymond and I decided we wanted lunch, so we went to Ponce City Market, a huge mixed-use development that was originally a Sears, Roebuck and Co. building when it was built 90 years ago. Nowadays Ponce City Market features a food hall, shops, event space, and even a carnival-esque park on the roof.
Raymond in front of Ponce City Market
About to enter Ponce City Market
Some wayfaring signage at Ponce City Market that is also good life advice
We filled up on yummy salads from one of the food hall vendors, then we wandered outside to go for a walk on the BeltLine. This former railway corridor has evolved into a multi-use path, and the eastside trail runs right beside Ponce City Market. It was the perfect place for a post-lunch stroll as the sun beamed down on us.
Hoofin’ it along the BeltLine
As we walked along the BeltLine, Raymond and I noticed that there is a lot of art dotting the trail. We learned that Art on the Atlanta BeltLine is a juried, public art exhibition, so the art changes each year. What a great idea to incorporate temporary art amongst the urban and natural beauty of the BeltLine itself! We enjoyed looking at the different murals and sculptures as we made our way down the path.
Art on the Atlanta BeltLine
When we were walking back to Ponce City Market, we came across a small door. [Raymond knocked, but no one answered.] Turns out that there are a number of tiny doors all around Atlanta! Next time Raymond and I visit Atlanta, we might have to go on a mission to find all of them.
After our walk, Raymond and I were ready for a snack. What can I say—we like to try local grub when we travel. We went to The Varsity, the iconic restaurant that perches above the Connector [the freeway that runs through Atlanta].
At the iconic Varsity
What’ll ya have?
Learning about the history of the Varsity
We were impressed to find out that The Varsity is the largest drive-in fast food restaurant in the world. When we walked in, we understood why The Varsity has this honour, as the space is absolutely massive. Welcomed by the traditional “What’ll ya have?” greeting, we ordered a Frosted Orange, which tastes like a creamsicle. In between a milkshake and a slushie, Raymond and I agreed that the Frosted Orange was a tasty treat.
Mmm… orangey goodness
The next morning before we left Atlanta, Raymond and I stopped by Sublime Doughnuts. Sublime has quite the variety of flavours, such as Fresh Strawberry ‘N Cream, Orange Dream Star, Salt & Vinegar, and much more. We opted to order an A-Town Cream, which was fabulous. Since Sublime is open 24 hours, it’s probably good that Raymond and I don’t live near it 😉
24-hour doughnuts? Dangerous!
So many delicious options
Raymond impatiently waiting to eat his A-Town Cream
Overall Raymond and I had a fun [and yummy] time in Atlanta. Where should Raymond visit next year? Let us know in the comments!
In this original watercolour painting, the gift giving octopus is definitely feeling the holiday spirit with his Santa hat, Christmas lights, and candy canes! Full of detail and awesome linework, this piece of art would be a perfect present for the cephalophile in your life. Giclée archival prints of this design are also available here.
Who knew sharks could be so adorable!? Handmade with polymer clay, this wee shark charm is sporting a Santa hat and holding a tiny prezzie [presumably a box of chum for one of his mates]. This carnivorous cutie could be clipped to a zipper or bag, and it’s also available as a necklace.
Between now and the end of the year, I’m sure many of you will be going to Christmas parties with friends and family—or perhaps hosting a holiday gathering yourself. A couple of days ago, I gave you some tips on how to put together a fabulous cheese board for your fête, and today I bring to you six seasonal drinks for a flavorful Christmas party. What’s your preferred holiday beverage? Let us know in the comments!
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When planning my holiday party each year, I have some standard party dishes that are my go-to recipes, such as a variety of quinoa salads, edamame dip or hummus, stuffed mushrooms, crostini topped with veggies or fruit, and of course some type of dessert. Since folks are nibbling on food for several hours at my parties, I like to balance these lighter, mostly veggie-centric dishes with a lovely and hearty cheese board.
Not only is the cheese board always popular with my friends, but I just adore cheese! I enjoy trying new fromage, and a cheese board is a fun way for you and your guests to sample new cheeses without having to purchase a whole big piece or wheel for only yourself. Plus—and maybe I’m just a cheese nerd—it’s fun to experience and discuss new cheeses with loved ones.
To select the cheeses for my board, I usually stick to 3 or 4 farmstead or artisan cheeses, and I try to have a variety of flavours and textures. If you’re serving a few options, it’s a general rule of thumb to have one soft, one semi-hard, and one aged cheese. If your crowd enjoys the veined stuff, you can also include a blue cheese. When picking your fromage, you can also have diversity by selecting cheeses made from different milks [cow, goat, sheep]. And if making the cheese selection yourself seems overwhelming, talk to your local cheesemonger! They are very knowledgeable and would be more than happy to help you choose some delicious and interesting cheeses.
Here are a few cheeses I’ve been savouring recently to give you some ideas to get started:
Fresh Mozzarella [And it would be too messy for a cheese board, but I also highly recommend mozzarella’s creamy sibling burrata—it’s amazing!]
Photo: Whole Foods
If you aren’t used to purchasing farmstead or artisan cheeses, you might have a little bit of sticker shock at first since nicer cheeses are pricier than your regular ol’ supermarket brand cheese. But trust me, they’re worth the higher price! If you’re wanting to venture into the world of artisan cheese, head to Whole Foods between now and 24 December, as they are currently celebrating 12 Days of Cheese. [That’s my kind of holiday!] During this event, a different artisan cheese will be half-off each day. Today’s fromage is Pheasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company, about which Whole Foods says: “The only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best of Show, this cheese has a sweet, broth-like flavor with notes of butterscotch and fruit.” Yum! Tomorrow’s cheese is Le Gruyère, and Monday’s is Cypress Grove Chevre’s Truffle Tremor, so Whole Foods is highlighting quite a range of delicious cheeses. To see the full list, read descriptions of the different cheeses, and find beer/wine pairing notes, see here.
There are loads of different options for the actual board itself, from a marble slab to a wooden ampersand to even a slice of acacia. However, my favourite platter for serving cheese is my slate board from Brooklyn Slate. A unique serving dish, the slab of slate is as striking as it is beautiful. Plus, you can write the cheese names or festive messages on the board with the included soapstone pencil.
Honeycomb [Try a small piece with spicy cheese and a slice of green apple—divine!]
Mixed olives, such as Kalamata, Castelvetrano, and Cerignola
Assorted crackers, crostini, or sliced baguette
You’ll want to base your accompaniments on what cheeses you’re featuring, so perhaps membrillo and Marcona almonds with manchego or cornichons and slices of baguette with Gruyère. And don’t get upset if a guest uses the “wrong” accompaniment with a cheese—they’re just experimenting and could come up with a delicious new flavour combination!
This wonderful cheese knife guide from Castello is an easy reference for which type of knife you should use with which cheese. For even more information, see here.
It’s rare, but if you have any cheese left over after your party, I recommended wrapping each cheese separately in cheese storage paper or placing each cheese in a cheese storage bag from Formaticum. The paper used for these items is specifically designed for storing fromage, and they allow cheese to breathe while at the same time retaining humidity to keep the cheese from drying out.
What is your favourite cheese? If you have a recommendation, please let me know in the comments, as I’m always looking for new cheeses to try!