Christmas Markets of the United States.

Christmas Markets have become a popular place to visit during the Christmas season. What does a Christmas Market entail? And when did it begin? Widely popular all throughout Europe, Christmas Markets have had a long tradition of being an important aspect of the season. Taking a look back at some history, Vienna, Austria, was first to have “December Market” in 1298. As for the Christmas Markets opening in Germany, there have been different answers: Munich 1310, Bauzen 1384 and Frankfurt 1393. From there the Christmas Markets spread across Europe and beyond. Below is a photo from the Christmas Market in Nuremberg.

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Christmas Markets are also known as Christkindlmarkts, otherwise known as Christ Child Markets. This dates back to the days of Martin Luther where he wanted to take focus away from the Saints Nicholas and Martin. Before the 1530s, gifts were exchanged on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) or November 11 (St. Martins Day). Martin Luther’s children received gifts on the 24th of December, from Christkindl or Christ Child, and as that continued some of the Christmas Markets called themselves Christkindlmarkts.

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I’d like to make sure we give credit to German Girl In America for a lot of the data and information that I shared here with you all.

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Christmas Markets have spread all across the United States and have gained popularity among larger cities. Just take a moment on Google and you can search the many markets across the States. I’ll list a few here:

Note that all the Christmas Markets have different operating dates, times and such. Do check out their websites prior to visiting and research what is available and open during certain times of the holiday season.

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These Christmas Markets offer a variety of seasonal treats, foods, candies and an assortment of gifts, festivities and fun for families and friends to enjoy. Have you been to a Christmas Market? If you have, what are your favorite things to do, to see, or to buy?

If you are searching for a Christmas Market near you, try looking at ChristmasMarkets.com to help you with your search!

The photos that are seen throughout this post are all under Creative Commons CC0 and were obtained by Pixabay.

 

Run, Run… As Fast As You Can…

Run, run… as fast as you can, but no one can stop the demise of Mr. Ginger, the DSC_0013Gingerbread Man! As I was shopping in one of the local stores in town, I passed by Mr. Ginger, the cute and friendly gingerbread man who brings holiday cheer all the way from Belgium’s Belfine chocolate factory. I couldn’t pick up just one, I had to pick up several. We have friends and family visiting later this month and he makes the perfect little addition to any gifts or treats we will be passing out or having on hand when company arrives. He’s super cute, made of chocolate and he appears to be a friendly little fellow. Unfortunately I could not save him from the demise of my youngest son. And what can I say, I suppose it was entertaining to watch Mr. Ginger see a cruel and horrific fate!

But before I share the downfall of Mr. Ginger, I’d like to also share this little gift package I bought the other day that was sitting right next to Mr. Ginger! It’s the cutest Santa with his sleigh and some reindeer! It’s the perfect gift for any child, young OR old, boy OR girl! It’s currently sitting on my kitchen counter, and there have been several eyes lurking at the prize inside! Sadly, this little gift package is NOT for my children, it will be given away to company visiting later this month! It’s actually torturing my youngest child who cannot wait for his friend to visit! He keeps asking me if it’s Christmas yet, I sadly let him know that it is not. He keeps asking me if his friend is arriving soon and if he’s in town already, I sadly once again let him know that it’s just not time yet. SOON! Very soon!

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I have to admit, I have come close to opening this package of Santa and his reindeer myself… I keep thinking to myself that it would be fun to nibble off the antlers on those four-legged sleigh transporters. But seriously? How cute is this? Anyone would love receiving this little box as a gift for the holidays!

I am seriously impressed with these gorgeous Belfine chocolates – I just love the designs they come up with and I love how they package their products. Belfine seems to be a really creative and fun company to work for! I did write about their process of chocolate character making earlier this year in this blog post. It’s really neat how the chocolates are all made unique and have their own name. What I also espeically like about these chocoloates are the bright colors these treats have! They are made well and you can tell just by looking at them that these are a quality product! Let’s also not forget – they are GMO free!

I told my mom about the cute Santa and his reindeer for gift giving ideas, when she actually saw the package on my counter she was pleasantly surprised even noted how cute the set was! I kind of think that she would have rather been the first one to see it and buy it herself for gift giving purposes! I beat her to it!

And now… I bring your attention back to poor Mr. Ginger. Someone had waaaay too much fun chomping off his head… the poor little gingerbread dude never stood a chance! At least it was quick?!?! 😉

Nibble, nibble!

 

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Enjoy National Chocolates Day!

Happy Wednesday! According to Foodimentary.com, today is National Chocolates Day! What chocolate are you nibbling on today? I am going to share my chocolate(s) that I am celebrating today, and that would be Butlers Chocolates. They are a favorite of mine! I even want to say this blog has some early roots in sharing the love of Butlers Chocolates in one of the first posts made here!

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It’s true! I have bars hidden in my cupboards and I always forget that I stash them from the children. When I find a bar hidden amongst the items in my cupboards it’s like I have hit jackpot! And then… I hope… that a child is not near by when I make my discovery… because yes… I really don’t want to share! I’m so bad!

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And do we all know that Butlers Chocolates originates from Ireland? So, really, I suppose I am celebrating “International” Chocolates Day!  Butlers Chocolates isn’t all chocolates, they make a variety of products:

In addition to luxurious milk, dark and white speciality chocolate assortments, Butlers Chocolates produce creamy toffee, soft fudge, deliciously moreish chocolate filled and solid chocolate bars, enticing milk chocolate truffles delicately flavoured with famous liquors, hot chocolate and enchanting seasonal collections at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter!

Source: Butlers Chocolates (Our Heritage)

Speaking of CHRISTMAS, these chocolates make awesome stocking stuffers, host and/or hostess gifts, or a perfect gift to pass around the office during the holiday season.

Have you tried Bulters Chocolates before? If so, tell me what your favorite! My inquiring mind wants to know!

Star Light, Star Bright, It’s Pasta Night!

Today I present to you Bechtle Christmas Pasta! It’s fun for the whole family because it has different colored pasta shapes of Christmas cheer! Who wouldn’t enjoy eating pasta  with the shapes of St. Nicholas, a Christmas Tree and a Shooting Star!? My kids of course, loved this pasta. My oldest said to me, “It’s deliciously awesome!” and the youngest, “This is the ‘bestest’ pasta ever!” I haven’t seen my oldest suck down pasta so fast than he did when I put these fun shapes in front of him! And guess what? Yes… these are made with some wholesome ingredients! This pasta is made with durum wheat semolina and seasoned with tomato and spinach powders.

 

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Back the train up you say? What is durum wheat semolina? Take a look at this:

Durum wheat is a subspecies of T. turgidum. Durum in Latin means “hard”. Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheats. Durum kernels are amber-colored and larger than those other wheat classes. When durum wheat is milled, its endosperm is ground up into a product called semolina. The hard grain of durum wheat is more likely to shatter into coarse fragments and offer a high semolina yield on milling when compared to other wheat types. The durum wheat is milled to remove the bran and germ, leaving the rich yellow endosperm granules called semolina. The semolina, high in strong gluten protein, offering a bright clean yellow color is used to make premium pasta, bulgur, couscous and a range of other traditional products. Source: www.appreciategoods.com

This may have been a little more information that what you wanted to know, but it’s good to learn about the food you eat and how it’s made! Take a look at the ingredient list – short, sweet, and simple. Exactly how it should be!

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Some of the healthy benefits of durum what are: it can help with a balanced diet with its dietary fiber content, vitamins and minerals, is low in sodium and cholesterol. You get a boost of vitamin B-complex with durum wheat, specifically, folate and thiamine. Thiamin helps maintain the nervous system and your brain, while folate aids in the regeneration of red blood cells in our bodies. Products are made from durum flour can help with weight loss. The durum flour is digested slowly in the body, therefore you may feel more full for a longer period of time, preventing you from overindulging. The soluble fiber found in durum wheat also helps with slowing the digestion process, thus keeping your digestive system healthy. While there are a range of health benefits from consuming durum wheat, it does have a high gluten content, so it is not a wise choice for those who have celiac diseases, gluten sensitivity or have wheat allergies. (Data obtained from www.appreciategoods.com)

 

This pasta is packed in the perfect sized package that would be great for a stocking stuffer or placed inside a beautifully crafted food gift basket! If you are having guests over for a meal, why not add some color and shapes to your favorite pasta dish or pasta salad? The pasta is delicious and has been kid tested and approved!

 

Not Your Everyday Cookie.

Do you enjoy a tasty treat while enjoying your morning coffee or afternoon tea? Do you want a different cookie that is not like the rest? Look no further because Ambrosiana cookies are coming your way in this very post! These cookies are all the way from Italy and are GMO free! Ambrosiana also has a variety of holiday selections, perfect for your party planning! Check out the different varieties available for your holiday party below!

These cookies sure are beautiful in presentation, but how do they taste? Keep reading as we’ve got several different reviews! One from a local salon and one from yours truly and my handy cookie helper!

We thought we would ask local Rosie Bella Hair Salon to switch out their regular cookies for some of Ambrosiana’s to see which cookies they liked better. We heard that immediately upon replacing the original cookies, the Amborsiana cookies were an instant hit! Delivered to the salon were Ambrosiana’s Ferri Di Cavallo Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Fior Di Neve Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Shortbread. When pressed for a favorite, we were told, “We really can’t choose… but if our hair depended on it, we’d say the shortbread Cavallo for dipping into coffee, and the hazelnut filled Fior di Neve for… 24/7.” Thank you Rosie Bella Hair Salon for letting us share our cookies with your customers!

I decided to pick up three different boxes of Ambrosiana cookies at Kingma’s Market in Ada. As always, I had my little handy taste testing helper along with me as I dove into the set of cookies. The three different kind of cookies that were tasted: Ferri Di Cavallo Shortbread with Dark Chocolate, Pralinati Hazelnut Cream Shortbread and Fior Di Neve Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Shortbread.

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If you are looking for a cute little cookie to dip in coffee or tea, I suggest the Ambrosiana Ferri Di Cavallo Shortbread with Dark Chocolate. These cute little horseshoe-shaped cookies are the perfect bite size for a hot morning or afternoon beverage. Just enough chocolate to pair with the shortbread makes this cookie a tasty treat.

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If you are a fan of nuts, chocolate, hazelnut and shortbread, then the Ambrosiana Pralinati Hazelnut Cream Shortbread is for you. I think this was by far my favorite cookie of the three. I really like the creamy hazelnut center, plus having the chocolate covered shortbread with nuts gives it a nice little crunch!

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I think my youngest offspring had said that his favorite was the Ambrosiana Fior Di Neve Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Shortbread cookie. While I do have to admit the box shows more powdered sugar on the top of the cookie than what actually came from the box, it works well with young children! My youngest loved this cookie and kept asking for more! This cute shortbread cookie has hazelnut cream filling inside and then is coated by powdered sugar to top off a sweet little zing.

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So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself several boxes of these cookies, brew some coffee or steep some tea and get munching on these delicious treats! It’s time for YOU to get out there and NIBBLE on these cookies!