Our Favorite Carolers

December 20 is Go Caroling Day! So put on your warmest coat, do some vocal exercises and prepare to drink plenty of eggnog to wish your friends and neighbors a merry Christmas through songs. Caroling is a tradition we don’t see too much anymore. In fact, outside of TV commercials, you may have never experienced getting together with friends and going door to door to sing good tidings to your neighbors. Here are some of our favorite carolers to remind you of why we should keep the tradition going on Go Caroling Day!

caroling-minionsMinions Who can resist the sweet one-eyed faces of minions with delightful voices to match? Even if you can’t understand what they’re singing, this video will not fail to make you smile.

Random Acts of Caroling A few ladies in Detroit tried to bring the tradition back last year — with their own twist. They got in a car and picked out businesses around Detroit to spread holiday cheer.

caroling-britney-spears-ellen-degeneresBritney & Ellen In its prime, caroling was a surprise act of good cheer to your friends — carolers knocked on an unsuspecting neighbor and they’d open the door to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” or “Do You Hear What I Hear?” What’s surprising than that? Britney Spears and Ellen Degeneres appearing at your doorstep to sing Christmas songs.

Flash Mob Caroling Flash mobs and Christmas caroling aren’t new, but it never gets old. One of the Internet’s favorite is from 2010 at a Redondo Beach, CA mall. It’s not quite the same as a group of people showing up at your doorstep unannounced, but if spreading joy is the purpose, it did the trick.

Caroling-Magical-TruckMagical Christmas Caroling Truck If you live in Southern California, you may know about the Magical Christmas Caroling Truck. Since the mid-1980s, carolers have been hitching a ride in a 62-foot trailer draped with in a Christmas light display that would make Clark Griswold jealous. It’s a delight to everyone on the Toluca Lake and North Hollywood route. It’s not traditional caroling, but it works magic.

The tradition of caroling doesn’t get as much play as it used to, but it’s a custom we don’t want to forget. If you have a warm sweater, a good hat and friends with musical talent, restore the old tradition on Go Caroling Day!

 

 

Holiday Indulgences: Our 5 Favorite Holiday Treats

Tis the season for indulging in everything sugary and rich! We don’t eat this way all year (nor should we!), but as long as the holidays are here we may as well eat the best of the best. This week The Lakeside Collection is having a cookie swap so we’ve been scouring Pinterest for the cutest and tastiest recipes we want to try and trade. Here are our 5 favorite holiday treats from Pinterest.

donut-hole-snowmenDonut Hole Snowmen How adorable are these? This one comes from Danelle at Let’s Dish Recipes. They actually look like little snowmen! But the best part is, there’s no baking required! So even if you’re not a master baker, you can bring these to your next holiday gathering. Everyone will be impressed and all you have to do is build a snowman with sugar.

Cheesecake-BitesGingerbread Cheesecake Bites These tiny cakes have all the tastiness of cheesecake with a holiday accent! This recipe comes from Diane at Created by Diane. These are easy to make, but the recipe does require that you turn on your oven — if you can do that, you can make these tasty treats.

Reindeer-TreatsReindeer Treats From the crafty minds at Lil’ Luna, we have no-bake Reindeer Treats! This one might be a fun project for the kids — all you need are salty pretzels, sweet Rolos, red candies, and time for crafting. Whether you’re going to an adult party or you’re entertaining children, these treats add just a little more joy to the festivities.

wreath-cupcakesWreath Cupcakes Turn on the oven and break out the mixing bowls for these cupcakes! Cake, frosting, fruit by the foot and a few M&Ms are magically transformed into a wreath! This one comes from Your Cup of Cake where they know a little something about cupcakes. They’re simple to make, but it make take a little extra time to make these sweet treats.

reindeer-chowReindeer Chow Forget Chex Mix this season — Reindeer Chow is the snack of choice for crowds this season! The Budget Savvy Diva is the brains behind this brilliantly festive treat. If you have can run a microwave, you make this recipe!  Or, if you want to pass the activity on to your kids, it’s easy enough for them to make with just a little bit of guidance.

There are so many treats we are dying to try at The Lakeside Collection! Check out our Pinterest page for more ideas for fun treats and easy eats this holiday season.

The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

When the cold winds of winter blow, there is nothing better than snuggling up in a comfy shirt or relaxing loungewear. Not only does The Lakeside Collection have a wide variety of cozy gear, we also have wonderfully scented candles to fill your home with fragrance. If you must head outdoors, don’t forget a toasty coat. Here is The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

The Women's Feminine Fit Flannel Shirt is a laid back style made just for you.

The Women’s Feminine Fit Flannel Shirt is a laid back style made just for you.

He'll be in the mood to kick back and relax with these Men's Licensed 2-Pk. Boxers.

He’ll be in the mood to kick back and relax with these Men’s Licensed 2-Pk. Boxers.

 

Sweet Treat Aromabeads™ Candle Jar makes your smell like a bakery or candy shop.

Sweet Treat Aromabeads™ Candle Jar makes your smell like a bakery or candy shop.

Girls' Hooded Toggle-Front Peacoat will keep her warm and looking stylish all winter long.

Girls’ Hooded Toggle-Front Peacoat will keep her warm and looking stylish all winter long.

 

16 Fascinating Facts About Christmas Trees

Christmas-TreeThe Christmas tree is the centerpiece for holiday decor in homes across the nation. We put it on a pedestal — just about every community has an official tree-lighting ceremony and we have multiple ceremonies for the whole country to participate in, even if they can only watch it on TV. It’s a holiday symbol with a history dating back centuries, with interesting facts surrounding them that we want to share with you. Here are 16 fascinating facts about Christmas trees.

  1. For every Christmas tree cut down or harvested, three seedlings are planted in its place.
  2. It can take up to ten years for a tree to be big and mature enough to be harvested as a Christmas tree.
  3. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the Christmas tree industry provides about 100,000 jobs.
  4. Statista.com reports that 33 million farm-grown Christmas trees were sold in the United States in 2013.
  5. Christmas trees are farmed in all 50 states.
  6. 93% of real Christmas tree consumers recycle their tree and, in the United States, there are more than 4,000 Christmas tree recycling programs.
  7. Recycled real Christmas trees are used to make mulch for paths and hiking trails.
  8. An acre of Christmas trees provides enough oxygen to sustain 18 people for a day and the trees can remove dust and pollen from the air.80616547
  9. In the 19th century, Germany introduced the first artificial Christmas trees to the United States. They were made of goose feathers dyed green. Later, in 1930, an American brush company re-tooled the artificial Christmas trees using brush bristles similar to toilet brushes.
  10. Aluminum artificial Christmas trees were first manufactured in Chicago in 1958.
  11. According to History.com, it was allegedly Martin Luther’s idea to light Christmas trees with candles to resemble the stars in the sky. It wasn’t until 1882 that people started using electric lights.
  12. The New York Times attributes the idea of the Christmas tree lot to woodsmen Mark Carr who opened a lot in New York in 1851.
  13. Time Magazine credits construction workers during the Great Depression for erecting the first Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center in 1931.
  14. According to WhiteHouseHistory.org, President Franklin Pierce erected the first White House Christmas tree in 1856, but the first official tree lighting ceremony was held in 1923 when  President Calvin Coolidge was in office.
  15. During Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency, he banned the Christmas tree from the White House because, as an environmentalist, he didn’t approve of cutting down trees for decoration.
  16. In 1979, to honor the American hostages in Iran, the only light on the National Christmas Tree was the top ornament.

Whether you cut down your Christmas tree yourself or you bought an artificial tree from The Lakeside Collection, the Christmas tree is an essential part of the holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

3 Holiday Gift Ideas For Dogs

Dog-BallThe holidays are the best time of the year, and it is important to include your pets and the pets of friends and family. Every dog from a teacup pup to a big and rowdy retriever deserves something under the tree or tucked in a stocking. Here are our favorite gift ideas for dogs.

Toys For so many owners, pets are part of the family. It makes sense to delight them the same way you would a child—with toys! In addition to being fun, toys stimulate your dog’s mind, promote exercise, and discourage destructive behavior. Go big with a Giant Ball Dog Toy, or give them something to really chew on with a Set of 2 Rope Head Dog Toys. There are even holiday-themed toys for extra seasonal fun.

Dog-treatsTreats Humans know the holidays are a time of special foods—many of which are not safe for dogs. Give your pet a taste of the festivities with fun treats made just for them. Look for something from a dedicated canine bakery. This box of
gourmet dog treats
features snacks that look like cookies, as well as sophisticated “puppy fours”. If you prefer the homemade approach, make some special snacks at home with a Bake-a-Bone™ Dog Treat Maker. Whatever you decide to treat your puppy with, make sure it is safe for dogs and does not include ingredients that are dangerous for dogs.

Dog-Calm-CoatCold-Weather Gear While they may seem like pure whimsy, sweaters and coats for dogs are functional, as well as cute. Many short-haired dogs of breeds created in warm climates live in cold places. Winter’s chill can be as uncomfortable for them as it is for you. It makes dogs reluctant to go outside for exercise. Don’t forget booties to protect delicate paw pads from frozen sidewalks and irritating ice melter. Although dogs cannot see what they look like when dressed to go outside, they surely will love the attention they will get wearing adorable winter clothes.
Having dogs in your life is something that makes every day of the year a little brighter. Make the holidays shine for them with a thoughtful gift and a scratch behind the ears. It is a wonderful way to show them how you care!

23 Ways to Get on Santa’s Nice List

SantaWe’re just three weeks away from Christmas! While Norad is tracking Santa’s super sleigh, Santa is tracking who has been naughty and and who has been nice this year. December 4 is Santa’s List Day and if you’re not sure which column you’re on, here are 23 ways to get on Santa’s nice list so you can get everything on your holiday wish list!

  1. Say good morning to a stranger.
  2. Wave and smile at the driver stuck in traffic who clearly hasn’t had his coffee yet.
  3. Write a nice letter to slip into the Christmas card you’re sending to your aunt or uncle who you rarely see.
  4. Bring your elderly neighbor a casserole.
  5. Post 5 things you are grateful for on Facebook.
  6. Leave a generous tip for the barista who got up at 4am so you could have your morning cup of ambition.
  7. Compliment the next three people you talk to.
  8. Call that good friend you don’t talk to anymore to tell her how much she means to you.
  9. When someone does something you don’t like today, don’t get mad and don’t dwell on it.
  10. Invite your new neighbor over for coffee.
  11. Hug your kids.
  12. Let someone go ahead of you in line at the grocery store.
  13. Hold the elevator door for that person who is running late to the meeting.Santa
  14. Tell the people you love why you appreciate them.
  15. Call your mother-in-law.
  16. Give your employees small gifts as tokens of your gratitude for all their hard work.
  17. Make someone’s day easier.
  18. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk.
  19. Ask your child’s parents over for game night.
  20. Pet the next dog you pass.
  21. Pick up litter you see on the street and don’t mention it.
  22. Bring donuts to your local fire station.
  23. Back a project you believe in on Kickstarter, even if it’s only $5.

You don’t need Santa’s nice list to be an incentive to do good deeds, do nice things because it’s the season of giving. Everything you do affects someone — make it a positive effect.

The History of the Brownie

BrowniesNational Brownie Day is December 8th — it’s a day on which we should all take a moment to honor one of the finest chocolate confections ever invented. There are many versions of the brownie — they come topped with frosting, sprinkled with powdered sugar, filled with nuts, or swirled with caramel — but the alleged original recipe wasn’t quite like what we eat today. Because The Lakeside Collection is based out of Chicago, we hold a special place in hearts for the brownie as Chicago is the birthplace of the brownie, according to legend. Here’s a little history of the brownie.

The original brownie was conceived by a pastry chef at The Palmer House Hotel in Chicago’s Loop during one of the most significant events in the Midwestern mecca’s history — The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (The World’s Fair). This particular World’s Fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World. The fair lasted five months and attracted more than 27 million visitors. The fair introduced major innovations in the world that we still use today: spray paint, fluorescent lights, the moving walkway, the Ferris Wheel, and Juicy Fruit Gum among others.Brownies

As legend has it, Bertha Palmer, the wife of dry goods salesman and owner of the Palmer House Hotel, Potter Palmer, was a legendary socialite in Chicago in the late 19th century. Every day was an event for the World’s Fair and Bertha needed a portable sweet snack to fit in boxed lunches for her lady friends as they attended the fair.

What the hotel’s pastry chef came up with is what they still serve at The Palmer House today.

Here is an updated twist on the original brownie recipe:

BrowniesBrownie Ingredients

  • 9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups chopped walnuts

BrowniesCherry Glaze Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cherry preserves
  • 2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder

BrowniesInstructions

Preheat the oven to 325℉.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (except the walnuts). In another bowl, combine butter and chocolate and mix well. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture.

Brownies

Pour the brownie mixture in a prepared 8”x8” pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the walnuts over the batter. Let them sit on top — they will sink during baking. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. It will be bubbly. Slide a paring knife around the edges and let it cool a little bit while you make the glaze.

browniesFor the glaze:

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water, cherry preserves and gelatin. Bring to a boil and let it bubble for two minutes. Remove from heat. It will be runny. Pour the glaze over the brownies while the glaze is hot. Cool completely. Place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours or until it’s completely frozen. Let it thaw slightly before slicing and serving.

These brownies aren’t like the brownies we know today — they’re not as chewy, but they are certainly as delicious and they’ll satisfy a sweet or chocolate craving. But whether you want to know what 19th century socialites were eating at The World’s Fair or you just want to indulge in something chocolatey, Brownie Day is as good of an excuse as any to bake up sweet treats.

Brownies

Pinteresting Picks for November

As the holiday crush begins, the impulse to organize our homes and make extra room becomes a strong one. Our Pinterest followers have been spending a lot of time this month looking for new and decorative ways to make their spaces function better. After the organization is done, don’t forget to add some new decorative touches to renew your home before holiday guests arrive. Here are The Lakeside Collection’s Pinteresting Picks for November.

Carry just about anything in this Oversized Utility Tote!

Carry just about anything in this Oversized Utility Tote!

 

Shot Glass Display Shelf organizes your collection with ease.

Shot Glass Display Shelf organizes your collection with ease.

Organizing your bags in the Over-the-Door Purse Storage may help extend the life of their straps while utilizing space behind a door.

Organizing your bags in the Over-the-Door Purse Storage may help extend the life of their straps while utilizing space behind a door.

 

A Set of 2 Window Tie-Backs creates a different look for your existing curtains.

A Set of 2 Window Tie-Backs creates a different look for your existing curtains.

6 Personalized Presents to Fit Just About Anyone on Your List

Coming up with the people to put on your holiday gift list is easy; making those gifts unique is a different kind of task. We’ve come up with a few items to make each of your gifts exceptional and personal. Here are 6 personalized presents to fit just about anyone on your list.

Personalized-pet-furniture-coverFor the Furry Friend The Personalized Pet Furniture Covers gives a dog or cat owner peace of mind when the pets jump on the couch. The furniture cover protects upholstered sofas, couches and chairs from soil, pet hair and scratches with the personal touch of their beloved pet’s name. The quilted, throw-style cover fits almost any size and style chair, loveseat or sofa.

Personalized-sleeping-bagIndividual Nap Sack This Personalized Sleeping Bag is perfect for sleepovers, camping trips or hanging out in the living room!  Soft and warm, it is sure to keep them nice and cozy. Rolls up and easily fits in the included carrying tote making it convenient for traveling and adding a name to be stitched in makes it practical and personal.

Personalized-pendantPersonal Pendants For your spiritual loved ones, have their names added to the Personalized Cross Pendant for a unique and unforgettable present. The shimmering yet subtle pendant has a cutout cross that can be worn every day or on special occasions.

Adorable Dolls Make this holiday extra special for the little girl in your life with a Personalized Holiday Rag Doll. She’ll love playing with this adorable rag doll with her name or her favorite name embroidered on to the doll’s dress! Dressed in a holiday romper, this doll will make Christmas morning one your little girl won’t want to forget.

Personalized-babyPersonal Pajamas Personalized Infant Long Johns are a cute gift that will keep them cozy. These charming long johns are perfect for taking naps or crawling around the house on Christmas! Personalize the back flap with a name or a cute phrase like “Baby’s First Christmas” to make the season memorable.

Personalized-sibling-tshirtCollectively Cute This Personalized Sibling T-Shirt is a perfect gift for a new big sister or brother, as well as for the new addition to the family! Personalize each with either “little,” “middle” or “big” and the child’s name. It looks adorable and makes a great photo op when siblings wear these shirts together.

The Lakeside Collection has hundreds of other gifts to choose from. Whether you want to make your gift personal or you want to make it practical, we have gifts to suit any personality.

5 Things You Need to Know About Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree

Christmas-TreeThanksgiving is this week, but the festivities are just beginning! After the big meal on Thursday, get your Christmas act in gear, starting with the Christmas tree. Artificial trees are great — no mess and easy storage — but if you want a full-family-Christmas-experience, you can go a step further than shopping for a tree on a lot: you can cut one down yourself. Here are 5 things you need to know about cutting down your own Christmas tree.

Dress Appropriately Christmas Tree farms are out in the middle of the country which means you’ll be out in the cold while you hunt for the right tree, cut it down and pack it on to your car. This could take you a few hours so remember to dress for cold weather! Wear a heavy coat, outdoor shoes, a hat, and good gloves for handling a tree. A fleece jacket and knit mittens aren’t going to cut it.

Use a Saw When you think of cutting down a tree like they did way-back-when, chopping it down with an ax is a logical way to think about taking it down, but it’s not practical. It’s messy, it will take a long time for someone who’s never cut down a tree before and it can be exhausting. Bring a chainsaw or a handsaw with you. Some farms don’t allow chainsaws (the fastest, neatest way to cut a tree down), so call or email ahead to make sure you’re bringing the right saw.

Christmas-TreePacking Equipment Bring plenty of rope, twine or bungee cords to secure your tree to your car. If you’re driving a long way out to select your Christmas tree, you’ll be driving a long way back and you want your tree to be tied down tightly as you’re cruising down the interstate. If you have a tarp, wrapping your tree up will help protect your tree from drying wind and protect your car from getting scratched.

Know the Size You Need When you look for your tree, don’t guess-timate the height of your ceilings. A towering tree in your living room won’t look very big against a blue sky. Make sure you have the right size for your house — it will save you time, energy and the headache of having to adjust the size of the tree once you get home and it won’t have to become part of your outdoor holiday decor.

Christmas-TreeShake it Off If the Christmas tree farm you go to offers a shaking service, take advantage of it. A good shake gets rid of more than loose needles — it gets rid of critters, too. Farm mice won’t mind trading their tree house for your house — if you let them.

Cutting down your own Christmas tree is a big project. If you have the time and the energy, the experience will be worth it and it will make your holiday that much more memorable. Once you get it standing and decorated, you’ll want to keep it up well into the next year!