Travelin’ Man.

Well, Christmas is almost here and I have to say some fun has been had leading up to the big day! Between sharing stocking stuffer and gift ideas with you all here, our Riegelein #TravelingSanta, all the way from Germany, has been having some fun of his own on Twitter. He’s been seen all around our lovely Mitten State and he’s taken residence in my home, car and lodging wherever my family goes! He refers to my family as his host family, which really is kind of cute. While he’s fun to travel with, he can be a little difficult at times as he doesn’t care much to be in the sun too long, nor does he like to be near heat.

So as we all prepare to get our final holiday to-do lists complete and shopping done, I thought it would be fun to recap a little bit of what #TravelingSanta has been up to and then maybe share what’s up next for #TravelingSanta.

#TravelingSanta had some reflecting moments in Cadillac, Michigan.

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#TravelingSanta got to learn the game of hockey during his stay with us. Although we are NOT a travel team, we still do travel quite a bit. This time he was in Holland, Michigan with us at Griff’s Ice House West.

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#TravelingSanta in Holland, Michigan at Griff’s Ice House West.

#TravelingSanta is having a good time in the car with us, his host family, on the way to St. Ignace, Michigan where yes, again, hockey! This was the Battle at the Bridge hockey tournament.

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During Thanksgiving break, #TravelingSanta went for a hike, did some chores around the house and gave some advice to those who needed turkey help.

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#TravelingSanta celebrated National Gingerbread Cookie Day.

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#TravelingSanta helped us pick out our Christmas tree this year.

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#TravelingSanta enjoyed our first big snow storm of the season!

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And #TravelingSanta asked me to share some photos of him and our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy. They’ve been talking with each other quite a bit lately. They are good friends and they are keeping very close tabs on my boys, making sure they are behaving!

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And last but not least, only seen here, #TravelingSanta wanted me to share these photos of him with some of our many ornaments from our White House Christmas Ornament collection from the White House Historical Association.

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So what’s next for #TravelingSanta? I’m not sure yet, I guess we shall just have to wait and see what Christmas holds for all of us! Stay tuned to Twitter and see what happens! So far he’s been a really great guest and he’s kept my kids occupied, however, one child in particular keeps giving him some kind of crazed look… so not sure what that is all about!

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#TravelingSanta enjoying some chocolate and cookie samples.

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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Festive Fun in the Freezer!

Time to get creative and time to add a little fun to the holiday festivities this year! Are you planning a holiday punch or trying out a new cocktail recipe for your adult beverages? Why not add a little fun to your drinks by adding a little splash of flavor and, well, a little shape?

To help me out with this post, a little friend that’s been hanging out from time to time on Instagram, the one and only, #InTheKnowMan, was in my kitchen as my assistant. I think he was also there to make sure I was doing things properly and not goofing off. But uh, I think really it was *he* who was goofing off! In case you aren’t aware, #InTheKnowMan is all the way from the chocolate factory of Riegelein (located in Germany) and is helping Gourmet International out with some holiday tips and advice.

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In the past few years, silicone baking molds have become super popular in kitchens across the globe. They are super easy to use, super easy to clean, and most of all – super easy to pop out the molded items that have been set inside! These silicone molds have been used for cupcakes, brownies, ice cubes, candy – and for myself, I actually use these silicone molds to make homemade soaps! Last Christmas I tried to make little gingerbread soaps – but these guys are pretty small, so I gave up the mold to be used for ice cubes or candies.

Soo… speaking of ice cubes. I had an idea. Helllllloooo Hero Nectars! Why not freeze that nectar in a cute, festive, holiday silicone mold and add it to my favorite beverage? A peach flavored gingerbread man would be great in prosecco or champagne.

And talk about easy to do… just place your silicone mold on a flat surface. I suggest placing it on a cookie sheet so that it will be easier to transfer and place into the freezer. Pour the Hero nectar in a smaller Pyrex measuring cup so it’s easier to pour into the molds. Take care while pouring into the mold cavities, try not to overfill.
Once they are all filled, stick them in the freezer and let them FREEZE!

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As you can see below, #InTheKnowMan was more than happy to help me pop the tray into one his favorite places in my kitchen, the freezer!

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*insert a few hours of wait time here*

And finally we can take the tray out of the freezer! The nectar is all shiny and pretty! Check out the frozen little fellas in my glass!

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So I don’t have an exact recipe to provide for you, but here are some ideas… you don’t need ice cubes, since you have your nectar cubes. You have the flavor already, packed in those little cubes of fun. Think of your favorite beverages and how you can ratio your cubes of flavor to alcohol and mixer content. This may require some trial and error. And… well, there’s no harm in that, just be safe and responsible. If you are not home and you drove yourself somewhere and are sharing this fun idea, we please ask you to call a cab, Über or find a designated driver to help you home. Please do not drink and drive.

You do not need to have any alcohol added to your beverage at all, you can easily make a fun punch for the kids, yourself, or for those who do not drink. Silicone molds come in all shapes and sizes, and also range in holiday decor, so make your non-alocoholic punch your own! Use smaller molds for ice cubes or use larger molds for larger pieces that you would perhaps normally use as a ring mold for a classic punch. Play around with the molds and the different flavored Hero nectar! If you come up with an awesome recipe, please share with us and we will make sure to share it here and spread the word! ENJOY!

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Buttery Bliss.

The holiday season is here! With it comes time with family, loved ones, friends and DSC_0010maybe even the opportunity to meet new acquaintances. Sometimes these events and gatherings take place in the morning, maybe later in the day or evening. But one thing I can say that can be enjoyed any time of day or night is this: shortbread. Great as a dunking partner with your morning cup of Joe or with your afternoon tea, or perhaps as a side dessert item with a cordial after dinner, shortbread goes well with just about anything.

We’ve talked about a lot of different cookies, butter cookies and shortbread, and again, we have another variety to bring to you attention! Walkers Shortbread has got some awesome shortbread cookies and other baked delights. As do many of the products featured here at Gourmet Nibbles, Walkers reminds me of days growing up and visiting my grandparents house and seeing these baked treasures out on the table. They weren’t always out, they only made an appearance for special occasions.

What I love best about Walkers Shortbread is the packed butter flavor, with a dense, yet flaky finish that leaves you wanting more bites of cookie bliss even before you’ve finished your first cookie. They come in all different shapes and sizes. For instance, the package size you are seeing with Santa, the two pack, is perfect for grabbing on the go when you can’t sit down at home and enjoy a quick nibble or perfect for stocking stuffers this Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas and the holidays, giving the gift of shortbread, I think, is better than giving candy or other sugary sweets and treats. Shortbread is just a classic item to have in your house, it goes with just about anything. Shortbread is perfect for before or after any meal. Set it out with snacks or appetizers, or serve it with dessert and post-dinner beverages.

Exporting shortbread from Scotland since the 1970s to over 60 countries, Walkers used the original recipe of Joseph Walker who set out on his ambitious baking adventure to bake “The World’s Finest Shortbread”. As times have changed and new factories built, the company produces a new range of shortbread and biscuits on the following conditions: They would have to continue to use the finest ingredients of plump fruits, aromatic spices, chunks of real chocolate and wholesome nuts. (Source: Walkers Website “Our History”)

For any time of the day, for any occasion, Walkers shortbread will be perfect for just about any event. Go out and grab some and discover the rich, buttery bliss that this product has. You will not be disappointed! They also have a variety of cute holiday shapes, packaging and more! If you ever find the Scottie shaped shortbread from Walkers, that shape is one of my favorites!

By the time this post is even published, you bet those shortbread in front of my coffee mug this morning are LONG GONE! Nibble, nibble!

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The Doctor Is In… With Mousse!

This post is about two things: Dr. Oetker Mousse stuffed into Kane Candy Party Cups! Well, maybe three… It’s National Mousse Day (thanks again to Foodimentary.com)! Time to make ourselves an extravagant and simple treat to celebrate! And since the holidays are upon us, I thought it would be a great day and special way to perhaps show what we can do with some of these products to make our holiday season more festive! And maybe it’s actually about a fourth thing… I do think a doctor also needs to help ME with my decorating skills, at least my holiday decorating skills! As you’ll see in this post, I had high hopes, but I had a great attempt!

 

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Who doesn’t love a good chocolate mousse and who doesn’t love a chocolate candy cup? Put the two together and it’s a party in your mouth! Party, party my people! My youngest helped me prepare the mousse, which is super simple and easy! Just add one cup of cold milk to the Dr. Oetker mix and blend away with an electric mixer for about 3-5 minutes. I find the best way to fill the Kane Candy Cups is to just fill a pastry bag with the mousse and then fill from there. I also leave the Kane Candy Cups in their tray they were packaged in, it helps to keep everything secure while trying to add the filling!

 

What’s perfect about this combination is that the mousse is four servings and you get four cups. Perfect! So fill those chocolate cups to the top and decorate! This treat took less than ten minutes to pull together, so if you find yourself in a rush to make something, put two and two together and you’ve four! Four servings of chocolate bliss! And what’s even cool about the Kane Candy Cups is that this particular package, the Dark Chocolate Party Cups, come with chocolate shavings included – so if you were last minute on prepping the dessert to begin with, they’ve also got you covered in the decorating area as well! What a bonus!

My best work came by just using the shavings that came with the package:

 

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And if you want to see my holiday attempt, here you go! I tried to do a reindeer, but it looks like a sad form of bunny rabbit. I think I will need to use the mini-sized candy canes. The larger ones I think are too bulky, heavy and large for this size cup! So here we go, and feel free to laugh at my reindeer attempt, because I did!

 

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If you find yourself making a fun dessert or treat with Kane Candy Cups or with Dr. Oetker, share your photos and recipes with us! Share here in WordPress or feel free to drop us a photo in Facebook, or tag us in Instagram, or Twitter… post in Pinterest or wherever! We want to see what other people are creating around the world!

And by the way, just in case you were wondering… how did it taste? DELICIOUS! Nom nom nom! I am ashamed to say I had one for breakfast!! Well, no, I should say I ENJOYED one for breakfast as I celebrated NATIONAL MOUSSE DAY!! 🙂

 

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A Little Taste of Denmark.

It’s the holiday season. We have now celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States and now we are on to all the holidays that await us in December. With the holiday season also comes the holiday party season. Some parties you may need to bring an item to pass, or something to exchange or maybe you just want to bring something along to gift your host. What do you bring? The possibilities are endless, and I can suggest one for you!

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Why not bring a tin of delicious butter cookies? You can’t go wrong with butter cookies! Kids and adults enjoy a quick bite of a little butter cookie if you pass it before them! How do I know? I did just this exact thing the other day as I was thinking about writing this post! As I was visiting my brother and the rest of my family out on some wooded property in West Michigan, I brought along a Jacobsens cookie tin. Getting in the festive mood of the season, I had the cute Santa tin along with me.

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Out of 11 people comprising of 2 children and 9 adults, I passed around the cookie tin and personally offered a treat. Out of how many people do you think passed on a cookie? NONE. Every. Single. Person… took a Danish butter cookie that was offered to them! You can’t say no to a butter cookie! (And then after you have one, you’ll want to eat another! And then more!)

Jacobsens of Denmark is known world-wide for their butter and chocolate chip cookies. They are light and baked perfectly, and I have to admit, they do seem to “melt” in your mouth when you take a bite! I can never just have one!

These butter cookies, as a lot of the products I feature here, bring me back to my childhood. Along with some other cookies featured here, these Danish butter cookies were always a staple at my grandparents house growing up. I even recall my grandmother using a cleaned out, empty tin for some of her crochet and other sewing supplies! It came in handy for additional storage after the cookies were gone!

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So there you have it! You can have your cookie and then use your tin, too! Some of the Jacobsen’s holiday tins you could reuse to fill other holiday baked treats and items. You could also use it for storing holiday cards and keepsakes! A perfect holiday cookie tin you can bring to share, exchange, or gift! Give the taste of Denmark as a gift to someone you care about this holiday season! Perfect with a nice cup of tea, coffee or hot cocoa!

 

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!

Spreading Holiday Cheer!

We are so ready for December, and yes, we still have to make it through Thanksgiving, but we are anxious to start spreading the holiday cheer! We’d love to start spreading that holiday cheer by sharing the love of Riegelein chocolate! Our blog travels have sent us to Germany to where Riegelein chocolates are produced. Now we are doing a little fun traveling with one of thier chocolate Santas who came over for a visit before Christmas. Our cute little friend, #TravelingSanta, is all the way from Caldozburg, Germany!

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He’s going to be hanging around Michigan and making some travels with my family. He has decided that we will be his host family along the way! I have to tell you, he can be a little difficult to travel around with! He doesn’t like heat, and he’s not a big fan of the sunshine, but we will do what we can to make sure he’s well cared for and gets a wonderful experinece of what Michigan has to offer!

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He was seen this past weekend in Cadillac, Michigan. My family was up north for a hockey tournament and he decided to come along. He didn’t see much hockey this weekend, he wasn’t so sure about all the young children walking around with the hockey sticks in their hands. I think he was also afraid he may have gotten hit by a puck. He was out and about exploring what Cadillac had to offer while we were being rink rats. #TravelingSanta was VERY excited to see snow this weekend while we were up north. I told him if he really does like the cold, next time he’s going to have to join me at the ice rink, we definitely froze our little tushies off in there!

#TravelingSanta has somehow taken over some posting on Twitter, who knows where else he may show up. I guess you just have to wait and see what happens before he leaves in late December. He even gave us an exclusive photo below of himself at Lake Cadillac that he hasn’t posted anywhere yet! I have a feeling he will be spotted throughout our other social media channels – he’s a sneaky Santa!

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