Category Archives: Holidays

Sharing a Thanksgiving Meal with Your Pet?

Flickr Creative Commons: geraldbrazell

Flickr Creative Commons: geraldbrazell

Holidays are fast approaching and it is time for many holiday dinners. It is such a fun time for the whole family, but we all know that our little companions will be begging for some table scraps and we won’t be able to resist, but let’s make sure we are careful and avoid giving them harmful foods.

If you feed your pet some turkey, make sure it is well cooked and boneless. Cooked bones splinter, so it is better to avoid giving them poultry or fish bones. Also, turkey should be skinless, since the skin is very fatty and is hard to digest.

This might be a surprise, but onions are toxic to cats and dogs. Eating even 1/4 of a cup can make can make them sick. Eating onions can cause small clumps and red blood cells and might lead to anemia.

As many know, chocolate can be fatal to cats and dogs, but grapes and raisins are toxic to them as well, and can cause kidney damage. It is better to keep all the sweets out of their reach.

If you still give your pet Thanksgiving leftovers, make sure it’s a very small amount of safe food like skinless/boneless turkey, plain carrots, mashed potatoes, or gravy that is free of onion and spices.

All photos are used under this license.


Best Places to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when people go and visit their family and friends and have at-home dinner together. Maybe it would be a good idea to change things up and have a Thanksgiving weekend getaway. Many cities offer Thanksgiving events, such as festivals, parades, and a variety of festive activities.

Chicago is known for its McDonald’s Thanksgiving parade. It is an annual event that is broadcast live where you can see marching bands, balloons, performances, and celebrity guests. It makes a great event for the whole family. Also, downtown shops make a great place for Black Friday shopping. Here is more information.


Flick Creative Commons: Randy Escalada

Another city that throws a grand parade is New York. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade also has marching bands, clowns, balloons. Many TV, music, and stage personalities perform, such as Cirque du Soleil, Mariah Carey, and of course there is plenty for shopping and dining.


Flickr Creative Commons: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Grapevine,Texas is known as the “Christmas Capital of Texas”. Thanksgiving starts off holiday celebrations. Here you can see the Light Show Spectacular and the North Pole Express. There are many other things to explore and enjoy in Grapevine. Here is more information on different events and places to go to.

Plymouth, Massachusetts is where America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade happens every year.  Various events and activities happen on Thanksgiving, from concerts, performances and historical reenactors to the new England Food Festival. Also, Plimoth Plantation is a great place to experience history and learn about early colonists. Here you can have Thanksgiving buffet or dinner. For tickets and more information click here.


Flickr Creative Commons: Scott Robinson

All photos are used under this license.

Thanksgiving in Minneapolis

Thanksgiving is coming up and everyone is preparing to spend time with their families. There will be a lot of fun activities happening Thanksgiving weekend.

1. Holidazzle is a famous holiday event in the Twin Cities. Parade starts November 27th at 6.30 and runs until the week before Christmas in Minneapolis along Nicollet mall. It is a colorful and cheerful event; it is free and anyone can participate.

2. Wells Fargo Winter Skate is another fun event to go to. This is free and open to everyone to enjoy. The ice skating rink is located in downtown St.Paul. Click here for more information.

3. Taylor Falls Lighting Festival and Parade is an annual lighting festival with art and raft exhibitions, Santa parade, free horse and wagon rides. It starts November 27 through November 29.

4. Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt is a three-day Christmas Festival, where you can enjoy the Grand Parade, delicios German treats, gift shops and more. Don’t miss this fun family holiday celebration that starts November 26. Here you can find the daily event schedule and any additional information.

Here are some great restaurants to check out on Thanksgiving weekend.

1. Located in St.Paul, Faces Mears Park is a combination of French cuisine with Moroccan, Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. Great thing about them is that they use local, organic ingredients. Check out their menu.

2. Jax Cafe is a great place for steak and seafood. It is located in an old building on University Avenue, Minneapolis. It is quaint and charming, with a great patio. Click here for the menu.

3. Basil’s Restaurant has a great selection of American cuisine entrees and desserts. They also have a full bar and an espresso bar.

4. St.Paul Grill located in downtown offers classic American food. It is an upscale place and can get a bit expensive. Also, their menu has options for those who are gluten intolerant.




Top Places to Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in the USA


Flickr Creative Commons: Umberto Salvagnin

The United States has many different St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.  However, not all celebrations are the same, some cities are better than others.  To make sure you are not steered wrong this Saint Patrick’s Day,  here is a list of the top four places to celebrate!


1) Chicago, Illinois 

Without a doubt, Chicago is our top choice! This city not only offers the most spirit (note the dyed river above) but also the most family friendly options, all of which were suggested by timeout magazine.  For starters, there are three different parades available, one downtown, one on the south side and one more in the northeast.  Secondly,  Chicago has an Irish American Heritage Festival, which offers Irish music,  Irish food, and good drinks.   Lastly, Chicago also has a sightseeing river cruise, which will take you around the city, showing you all of its wonderful history.

Even with all of these wonderful options,  the atmosphere of Saint Patrick’s Day is incredible.  Supported by a Irish American population of over 10%,  this city knows how to be party!  In addition, it has many different Irish pubs, that have great food and drink! Chicago has it all whether you are young or have a family!


2) Boston Massachusetts 


Flickr Creative Commons: Bert Kaufmann

Even though Boston is the most Irish American spot in the United States, it comes in at a close second on our list. Supporting a population of about 20.4% Irish American,  this city knows Irish Pride.  If you choose to celebrate in Boston, there are several activities to choose, all of which were provided by About travel New England.   The first is a parade on the south side.  Secondly, the House of Blues will be hosting a popular Irish band,  Dropkick Murphys!  They have wonderful punk/ Irish music, that will sure to get you dancing! Lastly, Boston also has Irish Culture Center Celebration, that offers music, food, drink, and dance.  Finally, and most importantly, there are also many  Irish pubs, offering good food, music and drinks!

Now, if you are thinking, well why isn’t Boston the number one place to celebrate? It is solely because it is not as family friendly as Chicago.  While it does have some good options, most of the events are made to attract an older crowd.


3) New York City, New York

Yet, another east coast representative, tops our charts! New York City, the big apple, the city that never sleeps, has a lot to offer any St. Patrick’s Day celebration.  Having personally experienced the events of a New York City, St. Patrick’s Day, I can testify as well as that it is a good time.  Following the advice of Timeout Magazine, New York City offers guests three different parades, one on fifth ave, one is Queens, and another in Brooklynn, visitors are given many different opportunities for entertainment.   In addition, there is also over  70 different Irish pubs and a little Ireland food tasting.

The only thing holding this city back from reaching a higher spot on our list, is that it lacks in the Irish culture department.   With such a diverse landscape and attractions, the Irish celebration and pride is divided. Unfortunately, If you are not near the parade or at an Irish pub, you feel very out of place. However, knowing that you are in New York City does make up for it!


4) Savannah Georgia


Lastly, our unexpected fourth place winner, Savannah Georgia! Having topped several other Saint Patrick’s Day celebration charts, I decided to give them a chance.  Home to abut 7.5% Irish American population, this Savannah, has created a lot of fun activities for its visitors. It has a parade that goes through downtown, as well as a Tara Feis Festival, which celebrates Irish Heritage with dance, food, and music.  In addition, to all this fun,  Savannah is home to several Irish pubs, that will be playing music, offering food and drinks all night long.  Even though Savannah is geared more towards a younger crowd, there are plenty of family options.  So give this southern city a try, and express your Irish pride!


Note from the author: I hope you found this post helpful and enlightening.  Please remember to have fun and celebrate your Irish pride responsibly!



Best Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas

If you’ve been extra busy at work lately and haven’t had time to make Valentine’s Day plans or if you just can’t decide what to do with your significant other, we’ve made your life simple and gathered a few ideas that you can enjoy with your partner or a group of friends.  Either way, it’ll work for both!


1. Stay in!

As simple as that. Odds are the restaurant you’d like to go to is booked, but your living room won’t be. Prepare dinner, order in, watch Netflix. It’s your night off and you deserve some relaxing time, be it with your significant other, alone, or with friends.


2. Prepare a simple meal together.

Cooking can be fun! Be creative and look up some simple recipes you both will enjoy making and eating. There are several out there. Here are some you we’ve gathered for you: Chicken Parmesan,  Mushroom Steak, Pasta with Mushrooms, Spinach Fettuccine Primavera, or Porterhouse for two. Let us know if you liked any of these!


3. Play a board game.

For some, this might seem like a terrible idea. But many people enjoy game nights. If you think your friends or other partners might like to join you, invite them over! Have a party, celebrate the holiday that’s dedicated to friendship and love!

4. Watch scary movies.

Yep, we said it. Go the other way and think outside the box. Watching scary movies can be a lot of fun and you’ll be closer than ever, especially hanging on to each other’s clothes in sheer panic waiting for the murderer in the movie to come through the door. We recommend Insidious, but there are many more out there!


5. Escape to a B&B.

If saving money is what you want, then this idea might not be for you. But some couples love to spontaneously take a trip somewhere and going to a B&B seems about right. Hopefully, the one you have your eyes on won’t be packed. If this idea seems too extreme, then just driving somewhere nearby should be just as fun! Go on a hike, walk around your favorite hiking places, and enjoy spending time with the one you love!


What are your favorite things to do with loved ones on Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments!

Different Thanksgiving Traditions Around the U.S.

1. The Turkey Trot

It’s possible that most of us will be in a food coma after Thanksgiving dinner. Yet, there will be a few ambitious people out there who will want to enjoy a good run before the evening festivities even begin. Lucky for you the Turkey Trot is held nationwide. You have two options to either run the 5K, or if you’re feeling extra sporty you can choose to run the 10K. If you live in the Twin Cities and you’d like to burn those extra calories for the night’s upcoming feasts, then sign up here for Minneapolis or here for St. Paul!

2. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 

Now in its 88th year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become one of the most televised and most anticipated events of the holiday season. Held in New York City and attended by more than 3 million people, it is certainly one of the most popular events of the year. Worry not reader, if you can’t make it and join the other 3.5 million people in the Big Apple, there will be over 50 million tuning in to watch the parade on TV alone!

3. Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, Massachusetts)

Serving as fun way to learn about history, the Plimoth Plantation offers various options from workshops for kids and adults alike to showcase what the 17th century celebrations might have resembled. We think a nice trip down memory lane would be an exciting new Thanksgiving tradition!

4. 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade

Parades are huge during Thanksgiving, both literally and figuratively! The 6abc- Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade is the oldest parade in the U.S., and has been widely known to have Disney stars performing in it. Can’t wait to see who’s performing this year!

5. Jamestown Settlement, Virginia 

If you’re all about history, you’ll love this place! The Jamestown Settlement has historical reenactments and shows, but also takes time to highlight the importance of the military’s involvement through U.S. history. Not to mention they have exact replicas of the settler’s ships – pretty cool!

6. Volunteering

This is of course a nationwide occurrence. Many philanthropists and do-gooders around the nation celebrate Turkey Day by either donating or volunteering to charities and special causes. If you’re one of them, then we have one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

7. Blessing of The Hounds  (Aiken, South Carolina)

Aiken’s century long tradition is filled with history – the annual event dates back to almost the 8th century! This tradition gathers hundreds of foxhounds and huntsmen that are all blessed under one priest. It’s definitely different than any tradition we’re familiar with – let us know what you think!

8. Wine County Thanksgiving  (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

Are you all about that wine? Then you should definitely take a trip to Oregon! This vineyard opens its doors to families and friends, all gathered to celebrate the completion of another harvest!

9. Uptown Holiday Lighting  (Houston, Texas)

Are you a fan of pretty, twinkling lights? Then this is the place for you! This ceremony combines all the Christmas and Thanksgiving sprit in one big event. Fireworks, live music, and an exclusive Santa appearance makes this a great new potential Thanksgiving tradition!

10. The Hollywood Christmas Parade 

Want to be starstruck? Then you have to come to this event! This parade takes place the Sunday after Thanksgiving. So after all your Black Friday shopping is done, take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard in your new outfit and you might get to see some of your favorite singers!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? We’d be thankful if you share them with us in the comments! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

20 Best Cities for Trick or Treating 2014

Housing giant Zillow has done it again, and released it’s 6th annual “Trick or Treating Index”, which ranks the top 20 cities in the US for collecting candy. Ratings are based on where to find the most candy, the safest streets and the least amount of walking between houses. While San Francisco may have stolen the spot for #1, our very own Minneapolis ranked #14, beating out Phoenix, Columbus and Milwaukee! Woohoo! For a deeper look into this madness and breakdown of the hottest neighborhoods, the full article from Zillow can be found here.

20 Best Cities for Trick or Treating

  1.  San Francisco                   11. Denver
  2. Los Angeles                       12. Pittsburg
  3. Chicago                             13. Washington
  4. Philadelphia                      14. Minneapolis
  5. San Jose                            15. Virginia Beach
  6. Honolulu                           16. Phoenix
  7. Boston                              17. Columbus
  8. Seattle                               18. Milwaukee
  9. San Diego                          19. Las Vegas
  10. Portland                            20. Baltimore

In addition, they even took the guess work out of finding exactly where to go and ranked the hottest neighborhoods within each city. How sweet is that?! So before you and your brood hit the pavement on Halloween, check out the list below for the go to neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Ambitious trick or treaters may even embrace this challenge and try to hit up all five neighborhoods. If that is the case, consider using the route developed by City Pages to ensure you make it to them all before bedtime hits!

Top 5 Neighborhoods in Minneapolis

  1. Linden Hills
  2. Lynnhurst
  3. Cedar-Isles
  4. Fulton
  5. Tangletown

So there you have it readers, a list of the top 20 cities for trick or treating. With Minneapolis weighing in at #14, and a list of the best neighborhoods to hit, we can bet that our pillowcases will be overflowing with treats by the end of the night! Again, for more details check out Zillow’s entire ranking at “20 Best Cities for Trick or Treating“. Happy (almost) Halloween!

6 Countries You Didn’t Know Celebrate Halloween

While Halloween as we know it is predominately celebrated in the US and Canada, many other cultures around the world also celebrate Halloween. As a result, it shouldn’t be surprising that all of our Halloween traditions are adapted or borrowed from other countries. In fact, many of these traditions derive from celebrations that honor the dead. Thus, Halloween today has evolved from a mix of these rich customs and traditions. If you are looking for more information, find a full list of all the Halloween traditions around the world from the original article here.



Believe it or not, Ireland is actually the birthplace of Halloween. It all began with the Ancient Celtic Festival, Samhain, that signified the end of the harvest. It was believed that on this day, the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped. Acknowledging this, children and adults alike dressed up as witches, goblins and ghosts to confuse the spirits lurking about. Additionally, children would go out trick or treating.People also carved turnips to prevent unwanted spirits from entering their homes. (However, pumpkins were later adopted in North America because they are softer, larger and easier to carve.) Afterwards, all would gather for a bonfire to ward off spirits and play games such as bobbing for apples. Today, the festivities hold strong in Ireland. Each year over 30,000 gather to attend the world’s largest Halloween Festival in Derry where festivities include a bonfire, parade, fireworks and of course, bobbing for apples.



Transylvania brings to mind spooky images of vampires, wear wolves and dark menacing castles. This makes sense because the infamous Bran Castle, where Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula lived. This menacing castle set among the rocky hills with a dark past provided the perfect setting for Bram Stoker’s famous book Dracula. After Hollywood popularized Transylvania in the movie in the 1940’s, it became notorious for vampires, werwolves and other creatures that go bump in the night. As a result, Halloween enthusiasts from around the world flock to Romania each year during this time. The biggest party takes place in Sighisoara, the citadel where Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula) was born. Thus, it goes without saying that celebrating Halloween in Transylvania was listed by Fodor’s Travel Guide as a “Top Ten Must Do Adventures”.



In Mexico and other Latin American countries, they celebrate Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. This includes constructing alters with their ancestors favorite foods and drinks, clean up and decorate the graves. Skeletons and skulls are a popular motif and can be found in bread, candy and other foods. At the end of the celebration, candles and incense are lit to guide the deceased back to the afterlife.


4). England & New Zealand

On November 5th, people in England and New Zealand celebrate Guy Fawkes Night to commemorate the execution of the English traitor Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes Night aka Mischief Night is celebrated with fireworks, a bonfire and a ceremonial effigy burning of Guy Fawkes.



In China they celebrate The Hungry Ghost Festival. Similar to Day of the Dead in Mexico, on this day it is believed that gates of hell are opened and spirits come back to earth. Tradition holds that if the ghosts are happy in the afterlife, good fortune will come to the living. As a result, offerings of water and food are placed in front of pictures of dead relative to please them. At the end of the celebration, they light a lanterns to guide the spirits back to the afterlife.



Lastly, in the Philippines Halloween is referred to as Undas, or All Saints Day. On October 31- November 2nd Filipinos honor the dead with candles, flowers, prayers and visits to the cemetery. Oftentimes, it ends up resembling a family reunion as they gather to eat, drink and tell stories about their departed loved ones. Even more, entire families  camp in cemeteries and some even spend the night near their relatives’ tombs. Moving on, the origin of trick or treating stems from the Philippines as well. Derived from the tradition of Pangangaluluwà, children would dress in white sheets and go door to door singing and saying prayers for the dead. In return for their efforts, children are given soul cakes. Filipinos believe that when these cakes are eaten, a soul is set free from purgatory. Sadly, this rich tradition is being pushed out by an Americanized Halloween and trick or treating.


Bam! So thats the roundup of Halloween celebrations and their traditions around the world. While some of these customs may seem strange, the source of our present day Halloween traditions are apparent. If you want more, be sure to check out the full article, Halloween Traditions and Celebrations Around the World, on Happy Halloween!