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Raymond Around the World: London

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During our elfy downtime this year, Raymond and I have enjoyed our travels together. So far we’ve told you about our adventures in New York City and the Blue Ridge Mountains, but we also journeyed to other spots in the world outside of the United States. Any guesses? Here’s a hint: We went back to a place we visited in 2012 during the Olympics…

Yep—London!

London is one of my absolute favourite cities, and Raymond had a blast when we went there a couple years ago, so we decided to go back so that Raymond could explore some more.

One evening we headed over to Knightsbridge to pick up some biscuits and chocolates at the Food Halls at Harrods. What can I say—Raymond and I both have a sweet tooth.

Hey, double-decker bus, you’re in the way!
Excited to visit the amazing Food Halls at Harrods

The next day we went for a walk along the River Thames so that Raymond could take in even more sights, both historical and fun.

Scoping out the London Eye
Pausing on Westminster Bridge for a quick photo
Checking the time on Big Ben

Raymond liked riding on the subway in NYC so much that I knew he would really love riding the Tube, which we took to get all over London.

Raymond heeding the warning
London Underground train approaching on the Circle line
Hopping on the Tube

After traipsing around the city, Raymond and I were parched, so we popped into a shop for a cold drink. Raymond was so excited to see his friends’ names on the Coke bottles!

Christmas Reindeer Coke Bottles - London
But where’s the ‘Raymond’ bottle!?

I think Raymond might love London almost as much as I do, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the two of us visit there again! In the meantime, where else do you think Raymond went this year? Stay tuned to find out! :)

Catch a Hot Deal at Your Local Ice Rink

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Photo Credit: Georgio. License: CC BY 2.0

Ice skating is a fun winter activity that has been enjoyed for many, many years. In fact, ice skating has been traced back to Finland more than 3,000 years ago! People of all ages continue to love ice skating during the holiday season.

Perhaps it’s the brisk air rushing across your face or maybe the sensation of effortlessly gliding across the ice that makes ice skating a delightful experience. Whatever inspires you to throw on a pair of skates and hit the ice, you’ll enjoy it even more when you can save money.

That’s why we are happy to share some great deals on Groupon ice skating discounts in your area. With most of these deals, you will save around 50%! You can purchase an ice skating package for yourself or for a loved one—it’s perfect for a romantic date night or a fun family outing. Remember that all of these deals are available for a limited time only, so grab them while they are hot!

Atlanta, GA

Chicago, IL

Los Angeles, CA

New York, NY

Portland, OR

If your city isn’t listed above, please search for deals in your city on Groupon. We just didn’t have space to list every city here. Happy skating!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure here.

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Holiday Special

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Established in 1992, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is devoted to helping find adoptive homes for children currently in foster care. Dave Thomas himself was adopted, so throughout his life, Dave spread the word about adoption and encouraged folks to consider foster care adoption. Unfortunately Dave passed away in 2002, but his legacy lives on with DTFA and Wendy’s. [Yep, Dave Thomas was also the founder of Wendy’s!]

There are many ways you can get involved with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, such as by donating money, starting a DTFA kickball team, or supporting them at Wendy’s. [Psst… most of the ways to support DTFA at Wendy’s involve a Frosty—yum!]

Another way you can get involved and learn more about adoption this month is to watch the CBS special “A Home for the Holidays.” Presented in association with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network, this show features heartwarming stories about adoptive families, along with performances from popular artists. The 16th annual “A Home for the Holidays” will include entertainment from Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth Wind & Fire, Rixton, Katharine McPhee, Ashley Monroe, Dan & Shay, and Jillian Michaels. Tune in on Friday, 19 December at 9pm ET/PT to catch this uplifting television special. Perhaps watching this will become a new holiday tradition for you.

“A Home for the Holidays”
CBS
Friday, 19 December
9–10pm ET/PT

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.

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