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Etsy Item of the Day: Christmas Tree Soap

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Handmade in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this soap is created with pure goat milk, balsam fir essential oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and soy oil. Goat milk helps maintain skin’s proper pH balance, and it is gentle and moisturizing—plus it’s produced by cuties like the goat below!

With its Christmas tree scent and design, this 4oz. soap would be a great stocking stuffer. Mountain Farm also has plenty of other scents to choose from, such as peppermint, oatmeal & lavender, and clove orange cinnamon.

Etsy Seller: Mountain Farm

Raymond Around the World: Blue Ridge Mountains

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A couple months after we visited NYC, Raymond and I went out of town again to celebrate another birthday. This time we went to the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, NC for my best friend’s birthday. All of us enjoyed relaxing while surrounded by nature, as it’s very peaceful in the mountains. While there, Raymond pointed out that the crisp mountain air was almost as refreshing as the air at the North Pole.

Enjoying the sunshine and blue skies
Taking a big whiff of the fresh mountain air
Raymond loved the gorgeous sunsets from atop the mountain
One happy reindeer

Where else do you think Raymond went this year? Stay tuned to find out! :)

All Aboard the Polar Express!

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Photo Credit: B4bees. License: CC BY 2.0

Experience the wonder and excitement of Christmas when you board the Polar Express! The whole family can participate in this magical holiday activity at select train stations across America.

Children are encouraged to dress in their pajamas just like the kids in the book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Aboard the train, you’ll hear a reading of that famous book as you enjoy yummy cookies and cups of hot cocoa. You’ll also get to see Santa—who will give each child a special souvenir, a silver bell.

The round-trip ride to the North Pole generally lasts around 60–120 minutes, but varies by train line. See a list of participating railroad stations below. For a comprehensive list of Polar Express train rides, click here. Don’t wait too long to get your tickets, as they sell out quickly.

Grand Canyon Railway


Passengers on this train can expect lively entertainment from Santa’s elves and chefs. Remember to bring your camera, and come prepared to sing along with classic holiday songs.

Williams Depot & Ticket Counter
233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd.
Williams, AZ 86046
928-635-4253

Adirondack Scenic Railroad

On this train ride, passengers in the first class car will be able to spend time with Mrs. Claus! If you’re not in first class, don’t worry because Santa will meet each family on the return trip.

Utica Union Station
321 Main Street
Utica, NY 13501
800-819-2291

Saratoga & North Creek Railway


The vintage train cars of this railway are festooned with holiday decorations, providing a nice backdrop for memorable pictures. As you snuggle into your seat, make sure you have your ticket in hand because the conductor will be coming by to punch your ticket. Oh, and one other thing—don’t be alarmed if you see the Hobo, as he has been known to appear from time to time.

Saratoga Springs Railway Station
26 Station Lane
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
877-726-7245

Edaville Railroad

Edaville USA has 2 different Polar Express train rides: one in Hopedale and one in Carver. Please take note of these two locations when purchasing your tickets.

Edaville USA
5 Pine Street
Carver, MA 02330
508-866-8190

French Lick Scenic Railway

The Polar Express train ride at this station is already sold out! Because it’s so popular, you may want to go ahead and purchase your tickets for 2015.

French Lick Scenic Railway
8594 West State Road 56
French Lick, IN 47432
800-748-7246

Looking for a Polar Express experience that isn’t listed above? Click here for a more comprehensive list of participating train lines.

Etsy Item of the Day: Narwhal Holiday Card

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Since I am thoroughly amused by clever puns and word plays, it is no surprise that this narwhal holiday card caught my eye. I really love this artist’s illustration style and her lighthearted designs. Make sure you check out all the other cute card designs in this shop to find the perfect holiday greeting for your loved ones!
Narwhal Holiday Card ~ Etsy Seller: Nightly Doodles

Etsy Seller: Nightly Doodles

IKEA Holiday Events

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IKEA stores all over the world are hosting several events this holiday season that will put you in the Christmas spirit. As you may know, IKEA was founded in Sweden, and therefore, many of their events are inspired by Swedish traditions. The whole family can enjoy a variety of activities, such as julbord, breakfast with Santa, gingerbread house decorating, and more!


The julbord is an all-you-can-eat Swedish feast that includes traditional dishes like herring, smoked salmon, meatballs with lingonberries, and more. To finish off your delicious dinner, you’ll enjoy some sweets and glögg (mulled wine). In order to nosh at this spectacular smörgåsbord, you will need to purchase your ticket(s) in advance, so contact your local store.

Santa will be making public appearances at several IKEA stores this year! Children of all ages can meet Santa and even take a photo with him, so be sure to bring your camera. In some stores, Santa will be in the restaurant, so you and your children can even sit and eat breakfast with him.

Try your hand at piping icing and adorning a gingerbread house with candies at IKEA’s gingerbread decorating contest. If you win the prize for the best decorated house, you can brag to your family and friends!

One of the other events that you may be able to attend is the St. Lucia procession—a Swedish Christmas tradition where Lucia leads a procession of lights as Swedish Christmas carols are sung.

Please note that events vary from store to store, so you’ll want to check your local store for a list of events. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.

Atlanta, GA

  • Gingerbread House Decorating Contest:
    Friday, 12 December: 4–8:30pm
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: 4pm, 5:30pm, 7pm

Birmingham, UK

  • Meet Santa:
    Every weekend until 22 December: 10:30am–4:15pm
  • Julbord & St. Lucia Celebration:
    Thursday, 11 December: 6–8pm

Brooklyn, NY

  • Gingerbread House Decorating Contest:
    Friday, 12 December: 12pm, 2:30pm
    Saturday, 20 December: 12pm, 2:30pm
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: Contact store for dining times.

Göteborg Bäckebol, Sweden

  • Julbord:
    Every day until Christmas: 12–2pm
  • Meet Santa:
    Sunday, 7 December: 12–3pm
    Sunday, 14 December: 12–3pm
    Sunday, 21 December: 12–3pm
  • St. Lucia Celebration:
    Saturday, 13 December: 2–4pm

Miami, FL

  • Breakfast with Santa:
    Sunday,14 December: 9:30–10:30am
    Sunday, 21 December: 9:30–10:30am
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: 5pm, 7pm

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Breakfast with Santa:
    Saturday, 13 December: 9:30–11am
    Saturday, 20 December: 9:30–11am
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: 5:00pm, 7:00pm

Seattle, WA

  • Julbord:
    Thursday, 11 December: 4:30pm, 6:30pm
    Friday, 12 December: 4:30pm, 6:30pm
  • St. Lucia Celebration
    Saturday, 13 December: 9:30am

Again, this is not a complete list of events at IKEA stores. To find events and activities at the store nearest you, check online. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.

Raymond Around the World: New York City

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Over the past few years, Raymond and I have had a lot of fun travelling together during the elfy downtime. We’ve been all over the world to places like San Francisco, South Korea, and Brussels. And lucky for us, we were able to travel together again this year.

This past winter I was heading down to New York City for the birthday of one of my best friends, and I invited Raymond along since you know it’s simply not a birthday party without Raymond there!

Raymond had never visited the Big Apple before, but he loved it, especially all the different modes of transportation that we took. Plus, it was rather cold while we were there, so Raymond felt right at home.

Excited for his first ride on the New York City Subway
Emerging from the subway station
Going for a brisk walk on the High Line
Enjoying the view from above the busy streets
Raymond hailed a cab like a pro
Raymond telling the cab driver where he wanted to go

Where else in the world do you think Raymond went this year? Stayed tuned to find out! :)

Etsy Item of the Day: Doggie Christmas Tree Pullover

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Just look at how adorable this French Bulldog is in her Christmas tree pullover sweater! Made from plush fleece and adorned with a cheery tree, this pullover will put any pup in a festive mood. And you will feel your own warm fuzzies, as all profits from your purchase will go to helping dogs in need.

Etsy Seller: Rosie’s Clothes

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