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Category Archives: Merry Miscellaneous

Scoop Up Some Holiday Cheer with These Festive Ice Creams

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Whether it’s 30°C or 0°C, I absolutely love eating ice cream. When Raymond and I travel, we have such a great time sampling local frozen treats, such as patbingsu in South Korea or Ghirardelli ice cream in San Francisco. When the seasons change, some ice cream purveyors release special edition flavours just for the holidays. Two of my favourite things—Christmas and ice cream—brought together? Yes, please!

For my fellow ice cream enthusiasts, I have compiled a list of some shops and restaurants that are featuring festive flavours this holiday season. While some of these icy indulgences might seem pricy compared to your typical supermarket offerings, trust me, they’re worth it, as nothing quite beats artisanal ice cream.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Columbus • Cleveland • Nashville • Chicago • Atlanta • Charleston • L.A. • St. Louis • Online

Jeni's Splendid Holiday Collection

On any number of occasions, I have had ice cream from Jeni’s, and I can vouch that it is indeed splendid! Jeni’s Splendid Holiday Collection features complex, unique flavours, such as The Matterhorn [wildflower honey ice cream with white chocolate flakes and smoky almonds] and Spiced Sweet Cream: Holiday Notes [cardamom, Peru balsam, fenugreek, and vanilla]. The whole collection includes:

  • Blackcurrant Lambic Sorbet
  • Dark Chocolate Peppermint
  • Mont Blanc Buttermilk Frozen Yoghurt
  • Sweet Potato Éclair
  • The Matterhorn
  • Spiced Sweet Cream: Holiday Notes

Purchase an individual pint online for $12 or the entire collection for $68.

If you live in—or will be visiting—Columbus, Cleveland, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston, Los Angeles, or St. Louis, you can also visit a Jeni’s scoop shop to pick up a pint or try a trio on a handmade waffle cone. Find your nearest scoop shop here.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Edinburgh • London • Norwich • Bath • Liverpool • Glasgow • York • And Many More Cities

With 4 scrumptious vegetarian burgers on the menu, Gourmet Burger Kitchen is my favourite spot to grab a burger when I’m in the UK. What’s more, they have really tasty milkshakes, including a gingerbread cookie dough and clotted cream ice-cream milkshake [£4.75]. Find a GBK location near you and enjoy this seasonal shake.

Salt & Straw

Portland • Los Angeles • Online

Salt & Straw Gingerbread Ice Cream

Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw is offering a December Seasonal Pints Pack. Taking inspiration from the Christmas season and Portland, this pack contains the following flavours:

  • Peppermint Cocoa
  • Apple Brandy & Pecan Pie
  • Gingerbread Cookie Dough
  • Congressman Blumenauer’s Fruitcake
  • Fennel Five Spiced Eggnog

Order the pack online for $65 or try the flavours at one of Salt & Straw’s Portland or Los Angeles scoop shops.

Shake Shack

NYC • Chicago • Los Angeles • Boston • Philadelphia • Washington, D.C. • And Many More Cities

Shake Shack Holiday Trio

From humble beginnings in Madison Square Park to now a global empire, Shake Shack has introduced a trio of holiday shakes that are available through 1 January. Choose between Chocolate Peppermint, Christmas Cookie, or Pumpkin Pie [$5.79]. On sale at all U.S. locations except stadiums and JFK airport, find your nearest Shack here.

King of Pops

Atlanta • Athens • Charleston • Charlotte • Greenville • Nashville • Richmond • Savannah • Online

King of Pops Gingerbread

The mission of Atlanta-based King of Pops is “to introduce the community to frozen happiness on a stick,” and they do just that with their artisan popsicles, which are quite tasty. This year you can grab their pack of exclusive holiday flavours: Gingerbread, White Chocolate Peppermint, Eggnog, and Apple Cider. This pop pack is available online for $15 or at their locations around the Southern U.S.

If you live near Atlanta, you can also stop by King of Pops Bar & Good Grub at Ponce City Market. Here you can get pop dipped in chocolate or a poptail, which is exactly what is sounds like—a cocktail with a pop in it. Yum!

GROM

Rome • Venice • Milan • Florence • Turin • Verona • Siena • Brescia • Parma • And Many More Cities

GROM Gelato

Selling gelato that is 100% natural, GROM has locations all over Italy, and on my trips there, I have been known to visit GROM more than once, as gelato is most definitely a requirement during any holiday to Italy. This Christmas season, they are serving several festive flavours, such as Panettone, Marrons Glacés [candied chestnuts], and Caramello al Sale [caramel with Himalayan pink salt]. If you’re in Italy or will be visiting Italy this December, check out Il Natale di GROM for their fun advent calendar, and find a location to enjoy some gelato yourself.

What is your favourite ice cream treat during the holiday? Is there another creamery I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

Santa & Holiday Foods Around the Globe

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Whether you say “Gleðileg Jól” to the Yule Lads while eating möndlugrautur [Christmas rice pudding] or “Fröhliche Weihnachten” to Christkind while snacking on vanillekipferl [cresent-shaped almond cookies], the holiday season is full of delicious food and fun times with family and friends. To learn more about how folks celebrate Christmas the world over, check out the infographic below!
Christmas Around the World

Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via Lemonly

Holiday Kickstarter Campaigns

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Holiday Kickstarter Campaigns

All of us elves up here at the North Pole really enjoy making things both at work and in our spare time. As such, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we really love learning about creative projects from folks all around the world—whether it’s yummy food, novel products, or unique holiday cards. So, it’s time once again this year to highlight some fabulous festive projects that are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, a website whose mission is “to help bring creative projects to life.”

Christmas TreeTransporter

If you and your family cut your own Christmas tree each year, the Christmas TreeTransporter will help you easily and securely haul the tree on top of your car. This reusable carrier protects the roof of your car from scratches and sap, plus it makes the tree easy to carry.

Learn more about the Christmas TreeTransporter Kickstarter campaign here.

12 Days of Chocolate

Countdown to Christmas with a box of twelve gorgeous, artisanal chocolates from Salt Confectionery. Each box contains a dozen handmade chocolate pyramids made from premium Belgium white or dark chocolate and includes flavours such as strawberry, matcha, Oreo, and almond macadamia. Yum!

If you love chocolate as much as we elves do, back this campaign today!

ToyTree

The ToyTree is a Christmas tree designed specifically for babies and toddlers. This expandable tree is a safe, fun, and educational toy that includes lights, music, and toys, so it would be perfect for the home, Sunday school classroom, or daycare.

Get your own ToyTree by donating to this campaign.

Unique Wooden Greeting Cards

Handmade using a variety of woods—such as zebrano, oak, ash, and alder—these holiday cards feature accents of beeswax, copper, and watercolour. With 3D and movable elements, these cards are small works of art.

Back this artsy Kickstarter project here.

One for One Christmas EcoTree

Looking for a modern take on a Christmas tree? Then check out the One for One Christmas EcoTree from MIO, which has a fun and unique tool-free, hardware-free, modular design. Made from recycled, FSC-certified cardboard, the EcoTree is easy to assemble and store. What’s more, for every tree sold, MIO will donate a tree to a family in need via Toys for Tots.

There’s still time to get an EcoTree for this holiday season, so back this campaign today.

Fun Facts About British Christmas Foods

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The closer it gets to Christmas, the more I think about all the yummy foods I’ll be eating this holiday season. Surely I’m not the only one who is salivating over such thoughts, right? ;) I’m particularly excited to try out a few new recipes, such as the yule log. Depending on how it turns out (and how my family responds to it), it might become a “must-have” Christmas dessert!

I also like to keep things lively at family gatherings, so I’m going to tuck away some facts from this infographic so I can pop a few trivia questions at Christmas dinner. Speaking of Christmas dinner, did you know that 50% of people have a gene that makes Brussels sprouts taste bitter? So, if half your family hates sprouts, now you know why!

To learn more fun facts and stats about some British Christmas foods, click on the infographic below.12 Foods of Christmas

Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via The Fact Site

Think Thankful Thoughts This Christmas

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Photo Credit: Caitlyn Regan. License: CC BY 2.0

It’s Christmas Eve, and we couldn’t be more excited! The day we’ve been anticipating all year is almost here! I’m sure tomorrow morning you all will be thrilled to see what prezzies Santa brought for you and your family. After the wrapping paper settles and your gifts are stacked in glorious piles, consider taking a moment to reflect on all that you have to be grateful for.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
–William Arthur Ward

And I don’t mean the presents that you’ve unwrapped (although, certainly be grateful for those, too!), but rather the intangible things and the “small” things that we can often take for granted. This includes things such as expressing love and appreciation to your family or acknowledging the support of a special friend.

“Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.”
–Tom Hopkins

I have heard of gratitude being compared to a muscle. When not used often, it’s weak, and it might feel a bit awkward when you try to use it. But when exercised, it grows, and over time it becomes easier to flex that gratitude bicep. Plus, when we become more grateful for what we already have (or for people as they already are), we also become happier and have more joy!

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

All this talk about gratitude makes me want to start a gratitude journal—or better yet, I’m thinking I might write Christmas or New Year’s gratitude notes. Are you feeling inspired, too? I hope so, but if you still need a little nudge, here are a few prompts to get your gratitude juices flowing:

  • Reflect on the past year’s events. Does anyone come to mind? Is there a friend or mentor who has been there for you during a tough time?
  • Think back over this past month. Has a friend or neighbor extended a helping hand this holiday season?
  • Consider this past week. Has your significant other or a coworker been especially supportive as the holiday week mounts?
  • Write a thank you card, leave a note on a chalkboard, or send a text message and let someone know how much they mean to you.

Do you have any other suggestions for spreading gratitude? Let us know in the comments below!

Take a Moment to Paws This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is always so fun, but it can also be stressful, especially if you are travelling. Well, I have some good news… If you live in the USA and are flying today, you may come across some furry friends at the airport! United Paws—a program from United Airlines designed to delight customers—will once again be bringing professionally trained comfort dogs to airports. United added more airports to the list this year, and doggies will be at Chicago-O’Hare, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and Washington-Dulles. Puppies at the airport!? That would certainly delight this airline customer!

This video is from earlier in the week, hence why it says “tomorrow.”

Not only are dogs adorable, but science shows that petting a dog is actually good for you. Veterinary Consultant Dr. Walter Woolf said, “United Paws is a wonderful program that comes at just the right time for some holiday travelers who may be experiencing a bit of anxiety or stress… Research shows that just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and affection, and also decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier, and lowers our blood pressure.” I have a basset hound myself, and I can personally attest to the fact that being around a dog definitely makes you feel better :D This news clip shows that other travellers agree:

So if you are flying out of or have a layover in ORD, CLE, DEN, IAH, LAX, EWR, or IAD today, de-stress before take-off by petting a four-legged pal. Maybe you’ll even get a smooch from a sweet pup!

And if this act of holiday kindness wasn’t enough, United Airlines is also holding a contest where the winner will receive two round trip tickets. To enter, share a photo on Instagram or Twitter of your dog with a United Airlines logo or in a travel setting, tag @United, and include the hashtags #UnitedPaws and #UnitedContest. For every picture that is shared, United will donate $1 to support therapy dog organizations. [See official rules here.]

Dogs, air travel, and Christmas cheer… three of my favourite things combined into one holiday happening! :D

Rare Full Moon on Christmas Morning

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Full Moon on Christmas Morning 2015
Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Many of you might be sleeping at 6am on Christmas morning, but the rare full moon is a good reason to get up early… even if you go right back to bed for a few hours. ;) It’s been 38 years since the full moon occurred on Christmas day, and NASA predicts this won’t happen again until 2034.

The moon will reach its peak at 6:11am ET. Whether you crawl out of bed early Christmas morning or try to catch a glimpse of it before you snuggle under your covers on Christmas Eve, make plans to see the full moon. So, go ahead and mark your calendars or set a reminder in your phone so you don’t miss this extraordinary event!

Frozen Festiveness

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I’m a huge fan of Disney’s animated films, and even though I’m not a child anymore, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying movies like Frozen. The chipper tunes and clever lyrics especially bring a smile to my face! (And I’ve been known to belt out some songs, too. I’m not the only one, am I? ;) ) If you share my affection for the story of Anna and Elsa, I’m sure you too will love these videos of Christmas lights synced to Frozen songs.


What’s your favorite Frozen song? Let us know in the comments!

So Many Ways to Drink Hot Chocolate!

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I’m sure someone somewhere has already said this, but I declare hot chocolate the official beverage of Christmas! Perhaps you like a good ol’ plain cup of hot cocoa… There’s nothing wrong with that, but I often want to snazz things up a bit and treat my taste buds to a sweet mouth-watering treat. This handy infographic is a quick-reference guide for custom cocoa creations. Enjoy!

SO MANY Ways to Drink Hot Chocolate!
Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via SheKnows.com

Do you have a yummy recipe that’s not on the list? Let us know in the comments below or add your special recipe to Mrs. Claus’ Cookbook!

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