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
Can you believe that the big day is almost here? If you still have a few things to wrap, then these printable gift tags will come in handy. After you complete your purchase, you’ll be able to download the file and print these To/From tags in a flash from the comfort of your own home. They’d look rather professional printed on sticker paper or cardstock, but if you’re in a pinch, regular paper will do just fine.
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.
If you recall my posts about Christmas tree lightings and holiday boat parades, you may have gathered that I’m quite fond of Christmas light displays. Simply looking at some glowing, twinkling lights gets me feeling the warm fuzzies of Christmas. I also love all things nature: trees, plants, flowers, you name it. So, what do you get when you mash these two interests together? A gorgeous, glowing garden extravaganza! If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy immersing yourself in a spectacular holiday light experience at a botanical garden this winter.
Garden Lights have returned to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for the sixth year. Among the various light displays, you’ll enjoy walking through the Tunnel of Light and watching the Orchestral Orbs. If you plan on visiting the garden with your kids, nieces, or nephews, make sure you check out the model train. The holiday light exhibit will be on display until January 7, 2017.
Click here for tickets and here for transportation info for the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Located just outside of Charlotte in Belmont, the plethora of holiday happenings at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden will give everyone in your family a boost of Christmas cheer. More than 600,000 lights illuminate the gorgeous grounds, transforming trees and fountains into a twinkling wonderland. Some other festive activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, marshmallow roasting, live holiday music, and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Click here for tickets and here to see the live music and food truck schedule at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.
If you’re in Wilmington, DE or Philadelphia, celebrate the holidays at Longwood Gardens with enjoyable activities both indoors and outside. As you walk the grounds, your senses will be engulfed with sights and sounds of the season, such as twinkling lights illuminating the night sky, songs of strolling carolers filling the air, and tunes from daily organ performances. If you start feel chilly, simply stop by a fire pit to warm up!
Garden Glow has decked out the Missouri Botanical Garden with millions of Christmas lights that will be on display until January 1, 2017. As you stroll through the garden, there are several spots for you to stop and strike a pose with your loved ones for a festive photo. To get a glimpse of the dazzling lights, watch the video above.
As the holidays approach every year, Bellevue Botanical Garden transforms into a colorful and magical wonderland. Critters are hidden throughout the grounds of this garden, so children will have fun spotting them among the lights. (For example, see Charlotte’s Web in the image above.) Garden d’Lights is on display until December 31, so make plans to visit before it closes for the season.
Click here for tickets and here for transportation info for Garden d’Lights.
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.
A holiday activity that will leave the young and young at heart filled with awe is a trip to see a model train display. At first sight, it’s quite impressive to see the trains, buildings, and various miniatures. Then when you consider how many hours it takes to construct each set and the skill required to wire the circuits, it’s really amazing. I’ve rounded up a handful of train displays for you to visit, and since words cannot adequately convey how grand these various exhibits are, there are videos for you to enjoy!
EnterTRAINment Junction is home to a humongous model train display and other interactive activities for children. After oohing and aahing over the life-like trains, structures, and landscapes, kids can head over to Imagination Junction and play. You might even get to say “Hi” to Santa and Mrs. Claus while you’re there. EnterTRAINment Junction is open year-round, but the holiday fun will end on January 1st.
Click here to purchase tickets and here for EnterTRAINment Junction’s hours of operation.
What began as one man’s hobby turned into a local tradition, and in 1961 the Choo Choo Barn opened its doors to the public. Fast forward to the present, the crew at Choo Choo Barn transforms their giant model train display, Traintown USA, into a wintery wonderland each November. Miniature houses and buildings are donned with holiday decorations, and the surrounding landscape gets a dusting of snow. While you’re there, try and see how many hidden Santas you can find in the display. (Hint: There’s a Santa for each year the Choo Choo Barn has been open.)
Click here the Choo Choo Barn’s rates and hours of operation.
The holiday trains at Homestead Gardens are a Christmas tradition that locals eagerly anticipate every year. Whether you want to share the experience with your out-of-town guests or pass the tradition on to your children, your trip to Homestead Gardens will be a memory you’ll cherish for years to come. The trains are set up in the Davidsonville store and will continue to be on display through the end of December.
Click here for Homestead Gardens’ hours of operation.
If you live near Blackstone, Virginia, then you’ll want to head over to Bevell’s Hardware to marvel at their holiday train display. Admission is free, so this Christmas outing is budget friendly! The trains will be rolling away for the season soon, so make sure you visit before January 8, 2017.
Click here for the hours of operation of Bevell’s Hardware.
With over 1,000 trains, 9 miles of track, and 250,000 figurines, it’s no wonder why this fascinating exhibit attracts more than one million people each year. Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model railway in the world and is still growing. The exhibit currently has 9 completed sections that include: Italy, Scandinavia, USA, Middle Germany, and more! In the video above, you’ll get a glimpse of the marvelous model displays, but it doesn’t do justice to how amazing Miniature Wunderland is. Something this spectacular necessitates a visit! If you’re unable to go to Miniatur Wunderland this year, click here to enjoy another video.
Click here for tickets and here for Miniatur Wunderland’s hours of operation.
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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