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Giddy Up & Go for a Sleigh Ride Near You

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Can you think of a better way to get into the holiday spirit than to go for a sleigh ride? Just imagine what it would be like to ride in an open sleigh through a winter wonderland—sleigh bells ringing, snow glistening, carolers singing… Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Below I’ve rounded up a few places for you to go this winter. So whether you’re planning a family trip or want to surprise your sweetheart with a romantic outing, throw on your winter coats and go on a sleigh ride!

Lake Placid Sleigh Rides – New York

Lake Placid, New York Sleigh Rides
While enjoying a fun-filled winter holiday in upstate New York, head to Lake Placid for a sleigh ride. Gliding through the snowy countryside will be an experience your family will never forget. Three different sleighs are available to accommodate groups and couples, and they are even equipped with heated seats and thick blankets to keep you warm! Go here to make a reservation online.

Lake Placid Sleigh Rides
2830 Wilmington Road
Lake Placid, NY 12946
518-241-3388

Ma & Pa’s – Ohio

Ma & Pa's Sleigh Rides | Cleveland, Ohio
Just 45 minutes outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Ma & Pa’s sits in the heart of Amish country. Pa hitches up the sleigh and drives you through the woods before bringing you back to the cabin for cookies, hot cocoa, and coffee. After you’ve had your fill, stop in Ma & Pa’s Gift Shop and pick up some of their delicious maple syrup (made in-house!). Call ahead to reserve your ride, but keep in mind that reservations can only be made a week in advance based on snow conditions.

Ma & Pa’s
15161 Main Market Road (Route 422)
Burton, OH 44021
440-548-5521

Mill Iron Ranch – Wyoming

Mill Iron Ranch Sleigh Rides | Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Whether you live in Jackson Hole or are visiting for winter vacation, stop by Mill Iron Ranch for a sleigh ride. As you ride through the picturesque Wyoming scenery, you’ll be in awe of the impressive mountains and numerous elk. At the end of the ride, you can enjoy a hearty dinner at the Mill Iron Ranch lodge. Call the ranch to make reservations.

Mill Iron Ranch
3495 Horse Creek Road
Jackson, WY 83001
888-808-6390

Mountain Springs Lodge – Washington

Mountain Springs Lodge Sleigh Rides | Leavenworth, Washington
The crisp winter air and snowy scenery add to the wonderful experience of sleigh rides at Mountain Springs Lodge. Sleigh bells jingling, snow crunching under the horses’ feet, and the snow glistening in the sunlight all add to the magical experience of riding through the frosty countryside. They offer a few different packages: sleigh ride only, sleigh ride with breakfast, or sleigh ride with dinner.

Mountain Springs Lodge
19115 Chiwawa Loop Road
Leavenworth, WA 98826
800-858-2276

Mt. Hood Adventure – Oregon

Mt. Hood Sleigh Rides | Portland, Oregon
If you’re near Portland, Oregon, then you’ll want to drive over to Mt. Hood Adventure this winter season. Climb aboard a sleigh and take the village tour which guides you through historic Government Camp where you’ll enjoy the glowing holiday lights. Click here to purchase tickets.

Mt. Hood Adventure
88661 Government Camp Loop Road
Government Camp, OR 97028
503-715-2175

Nordic Sleigh Rides – Colorado

Nordic Sleigh Rides | Breckenridge, Colorado
The fine folks at Nordic Sleigh Rides in Breckenridge, Colorado offer a few different sleigh rides. Reserve a private sleigh if you are planning to pop the question or want to enjoy time alone with your sweetie. For a family affair or an outing with friends, you can ride in the large red sleigh driven by two Belgian draft horses. Click here to make your reservation today!

Nordic Sleigh Rides
6061 Tiger Road
Breckenridge, CO 80424
970-453-2005

Yosemite Trails – California

Yosemite Trails Sleigh Rides |  Fish Camp, California
At Yosemite Trails in California, you’ll enjoy a fun-filled experience as you ride through the snowy trails in a sleigh driven by a cowboy. The sleigh stops in Skidders Camp where you can toast marshmallows and sip a cup of hot cider. When you’re ready, you’ll hop back in the sleigh to return to the lodge. As weather conditions vary, they may substitute the sleigh with a wagon if the snow levels are too low. Call ahead to verify the sleigh is running.

Yosemite Trails
7910 Jackson/Big Sandy Road
Fish Camp, CA 93623
559-683-7311

Additional Sleigh Rides:

There are so many more places to go for a sleigh ride! While I would love to tell you about all of them, I must return to my other elfy tasks. After the jump you’ll find a list of some more sleigh rides across the continental U.S.

Special Etsy Holiday Promotion

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We elves love all of the handmade goodies on Etsy so much that we feature one unique item from them here on the blog every single day during the holiday season. From felt ornaments to knitted goods to ceramics and more, Etsy has gifts for basically every person on your list, as well as loads of holiday decor items to make your home nice and festive. If you’ve never purchased anything from Etsy, now’s your chance because if you spend $50 or more on your first purchase, you’ll get $10 towards your next one. This offer ends next Monday, 12 December, so click here to peruse the crafty wares.

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

Raymond Around the World: La Grande Avventura Cibo Italiano

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Over the past couple of years, Raymond and I have visited Rome and Venice, Italy. On both of these wonderful trips, one of things we enjoyed most was the food. Italian cuisine is one of my favourites, and Raymond is quite partial to it as well. As vegetarians, we both love all of the food options we have when in Italy.

Well, at the beginning of this year, Raymond and I had a hankering for pasta, pizza, and the like, so we travelled down to Italy for a few days to nosh and relax. We walked quite a bit each day, which was good since we ate a lot, too!

Warning: You might want to grab a snack because if you aren’t already hungry, you sure will be by the time you finish reading this post ;)

On our foodie excursion, we spent most of our time in Venice. As soon as we arrived in this ancient city, Raymond and I popped into a pizzeria where we shared a pizza topped with spinach and egg.

Pizza Con Spinaci e Uovo
Raymond about to dig into pizza con spinaci e uovo

While walking around the town, we kept seeing these giant cookies in bakery windows, so we grabbed one to nibble on back at the hotel. It turns out these cookies are called pan dei dogi, and they are unique to Venice. They come in different flavours [ours was pistachio] and are topped with almonds or hazelnuts.

Pan dei Dogi al Pistacchio
With our pan dei dogi al pistacchio

There are no roads or cars in Venice; therefore, everyone gets around either by walking or via vaporetto, which is a waterbus. So the following day Raymond and I took a vaporetto along the Grand Canal to our next delicious destination.

Grand Canal in Venice
Enjoying the ride along the Grand Canal

Hidden down a side street, Friedland offers pasta and other dishes in take-out containers. Don’t let the unassuming appearance fool you—Friedland’s handmade pasta is extremely tasty and served piping hot.

Friedland in Venice
Walking into the tiny space occupied by Friedland
Pasta al Pomodoro
The yummy pasta al pomodoro from Friedland was only €3.99—a steal!

Raymond and I then walked around, just exploring. We figured we needed some exercise since we were planning on eating a large meal later. And we may have stopped at GROM for gelato, but we were too busy enjoying our ice cream and forgot to take a photo.

Later on when dinnertime rolled around, we hopped on a vaporetto to visit another restaurant.

Riding the Vaporetto
Peering out the vaporetto window

For dinner, we ventured to Spaghetteria-Pizzeria 6342 A Le Tole. We had seen this restaurant on a previous day and promised ourselves we would return because they had gorgeous fresh pasta on display in the front window. Raymond and I are so glad we made sure to go back because the food was incredible!

Maccheroni al Pomodoro
Maccheroni al pomodoro at 6342 A Le Tole

We must’ve been going through a pomodoro phase since we had it twice in one day, but it’s just so good. After cleaning our plates, Raymond and I could not figure out what dessert to order because they all sounded mouthwatering. But why decide when you can just split 2 different desserts, right?

Since we were in Venice during Carnival, not only did we get to see all of the amazing masks and costumes, we also were able to try a dish that is only served during this time of year: frittelle di Carnevale. These donuts come with a variety of fillings, but ours were filled with custard cream and came with warm chocolate to dip them in. Delizioso!

Frittelle di Carnevale
Raymond eyeing the frittelle di Carnevale

The other dessert we shared was—of course—tiramisù. Despite not liking coffee, I LOVE tiramisù. Raymond had never tried it before, but he’s definitely a fan now.

Tiramisù
6342 A Le Tole’s tiramisù

After a few tasty days in Venice, we travelled farther south to Rome. We were craving pasta, and we knew our first meal in Italy’s capital had to be cacio e pepe. This Roman specialty is a very simple dish of spaghetti, Pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper.

Cacio e Pepe
Raymond says, “Mmm…”

If you are ever in Rome, don’t walk—RUN—to Pinsere. This award-winning pizzeria serves the classics as well as some unique flavour combinations. For our final meal in Italy, Raymond and I shared a gorgonzola, walnut, pear, and honey pizza, and we agreed that it was one of the best [if not THE best] pizzas we’ve ever had in our lives. The delectable crust and balance of flavours took this pizza to a whole other level of yumminess.

Pizza at Pinsere
This pizza was a thing of beauty

Raymond and I had so much fun eating our way around Italy. We may have to take more food-centric trips in the future. And I should’ve heeded my own warning and gotten a snack because writing this post has certainly made me hungry! I think I’ll wander on over to the Kitchen and see what Mrs. Claus is baking.

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

Etsy Item of the Day: Ceramic Basset Hound Ornament

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As I mentioned when writing about REI and Subaru’s partnership to support the ASPCA, my basset hound is my best friend. With their long ears and droopy faces, bassets are just the cutest! So I immediately fell in love with this adorable ceramic basset hound ornament. Available with red & white or tri-colour markings, you can purchase whichever handmade ornament best matches your dog’s colouring.
Basset Hound Christmas Ornament

Etsy Seller: Beachwood Street

Celebrate Christmas with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra 2016 Winter Tour

If you’re a long-time Trans-Siberian Orchestra fan, you may already know about their 2016 winter tour. And those of you who are familiar with their music—but have yet to see them in concert—you’re in for a treat! Between now and the end of the year, TSO will be performing dozens of shows across the United States. Titled The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, these concerts will feature some of TSO’s greatest hits, clips of The Ghosts of Christmas Eve TV special, and a live narrator.


Eeee! After watching the preview above, I really want to go! :) My favorite part is the very end when the choir sings “Christmas Canon.” (Click here to view a full video of that song.) The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is performing from Jacksonville to Seattle and many places in between. To see if they will be performing in your city and to purchase tickets, visit the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s website. When you purchase your ticket online, you’ll also get a digital copy of TSO’s new album!

Etsy Item of the Day: German Shepherd Dog Christmas Card

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Having grown up with German shepherds all my life, they are one of my favorite breeds. And since my own sweet puppy is a shepherd/lab mix, I naturally like this card. :) I love the whole scene: the snow, the cottage, the stocking, and especially the dog’s festive scarf. If your favorite pup is a different breed, check out the many other Christmas cards sold in this shop, such as bichon frise, schnauzer, basset hound, and more!
Boxed Set of German Shepherd Dog Christmas Cards

Etsy Seller: Judzart

Give to a Local Food Bank This Holiday Season

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For some, the holidays are filled with potlucks, cookie swaps, and big family dinners, but at the same time other families struggle to simply put food on the table. Living in a state of food insecurity where one doesn’t have consistent access to enough affordable, nutritious food would be distressing any time of year, but I imagine it’s especially difficult during what is supposed to be a joyful season.

Ottawa Food Bank
Image via Ottawa Food Bank

Each year millions of hungry people turn to food banks for meals and pantry staples, and this Christmas you could lend a helping hand by donating to your local food bank. Whether you decide to pick up a few extra items at the grocery store or host a food drive at the office, your donation would assist those who need it most.

What Food Should You Donate?

If you would like to donate food, it would be best to call your local food bank to find out what their specific needs are, as that can vary from region to region and month to month. Food banks prefer to receive nonperishable, nutrient-dense foods, especially those that are low in salt and sugar. If you plan to scour your pantry for items to donate, make sure to check the expiration dates because food banks will not accept items that are past their expiration. Do not give glass containers [they are harder to transport and store], and canned goods with pop-tops are best since some of the people receiving the food will not have access to a can opener.

Below you will find a list of some items that are many times in need. I’ve also created a printable list that you can take on your shopping trip to make things extra easy for you :)

Grains:

Dry whole wheat pasta
Brown rice
Grits
Quinoa
Couscous
Plain oatmeal
Whole grain cereal
Whole grain crackers

Vegetables & Fruits:

Canned vegetables [low sodium]
Pasta sauce [low sodium]
Canned fruits [no sugar added]
Dried fruits [no sugar added]
Shelf-stable 100% vegetable juice
Shelf-stable 100% fruit juice

Proteins:

Canned tuna
Canned salmon
Canned chicken
Dried beans, lentils or peas
Canned beans [low sodium]
Canned soups, stews, or chili [low sodium]
Peanut butter or other nut butters
Unsalted nuts
Trail mix

Milk:

Shelf-stable milk [cow, soy, rice]
Evaporated milk
Dry milk

Cooking Oil:

Olive oil
Canola oil
Coconut oil
Vegetable oil

Other Food Items:

Spices
Coffee
Tea

Other Items:

Paper products
Diapers
Baby formula
Pet food
Toiletries
Bottled water
Cleaning products
Disaster supplies [MREs, emergency kits, etc.]

Donate Holiday Food Items

Besides the more essential donation ideas listed above, since we are in the Christmas season, you could also donate holiday food items so that even those who are food insecure can enjoy a festive meal. Remember, these items should still be nonperishable and low in salt and sugar.

Holiday Food Items

Canned yams
Canned vegetables [low sodium]
Cranberry sauce
Boxed stuffing
Dry macaroni
Boxed mashed potatoes
Canned gravy
Brown rice
Canned pumpkin
Canned pie filling

Donate Money

Food banks will also always appreciate monetary donations. The volunteers at the bank will best know that their needs are at any given time, so that takes the guesswork out of deciding what to purchase at the grocery store. Plus, many food banks have food industry partners that are quite generous, so every dollar they receive has 5 times the buying power. That means every $1 you donate equals $5 worth of food.

Find a Food Bank Near You

There are food banks all across the United States and Canada—in both large metro areas such as Ottawa and NYC, as well as in more rural areas like Western Michigan.

If you live in the United States, you can locate your nearest food bank by visiting Feeding America’s website. For those of you in Canada, you may check out the food bank locator on Food Banks Canada’s website.

Etsy Item of the Day: Peach & Gold Patchwork Stocking

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Featuring a mixture of peach, gold, ivory, and black, this quilted patchwork stocking would be eye-catching hanging from any mantel. With the cloud, deer, and arrow patterns, this stocking has an abstract woodland quality about it, and I really love the colour palette—even though it’s far from your classic Christmas colours. This Etsy shop has a variety of other fun, atypically coloured stockings, such as this burnt orange, grey, and black stocking or this blue, mustard, white, and grey stocking.
Quilted Patchwork Christmas Stocking

Etsy Seller: Fern Leslie Baby

A Very Merry Modern Nutcracker Performance

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Hip Hop NutcrackerEvery holiday season, I indulge myself in watching my favorite Christmas movies and listening to my favorite festive songs. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without them! And although I have my “must-have” list of holiday classics, I enjoy adding new favorites into the mix. So if you’re like me and want to spice up your Christmas traditions, you may be interested in the Hip Hop Nutcracker.

A unique spin on Tchaikovsky’s classic score, this thrilling performance combines rap music and hip hop dance into a modern holiday show. The Hip Hop Nutcracker tour kicked off last month, and it will continue traveling across the United States during the month of December. Ticket prices range from $10 to $95. Check the dates below to catch a show near you!

2016 Performance Dates:

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