Holiday and Game Day Fun with Hormel Gatherings Party Trays!

I received free product in exchange for my honest review. I love this time of year- We go to and host so many events: Holiday Parties, Craft Play Dates, College Football and NFL Watching Parties, and of course Coupon Meet Ups!

Snacks are a huge part of any event, so I was stoked when Social Insider and Hormel asked me to review Hormel Gatherings Party Trays. If you’ve never heard of them before, it’s basically a party in a tray! They are an easy, stress-free appetizer option.

IMG_7110.jpgThere are three varieties: Hard Salami & Pepperoni Party Tray, Honey Ham and Turkey Party Tray, and Supreme Party Tray. They all contain Sargento Cheeses and Hormel Meats.

I chose the Honey Ham and Turkey Party Tray for our recent dinner party. We got together to play games and hang out.

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The tray is super sturdy, which is definitely a plus. Each component is packed up in the tray. All you do is open each sealed bag, and arrange the tray in a manner that suits you. Because of the tray and great snap-on lid, I think this would be a great addition to any tail gating event or potluck! Super easy to transport and store any leftovers- But who am I kidding… There won’t be any leftovers.

If you are feeling fancy, you can set out condiments that would go with the meats and cheeses. I mixed up some honey mustard and opened a jar of spicy stone ground mustard.

IMG_7116.jpgHere is the plate that Henry made for one of our guests. For a 6 year old, I’m impressed- He also took the picture with my phone. I love having the kids help with holiday events. It helps them get into the spirit too, and reminds me that these kind of events should be low stress.

Bitty Bird “helped” by stacking up paper napkins and announcing when guests arrived (“Mommy and Daddy, Peoples is in our HOOUSSSEEEE!!”), and Henry helped me by picking up the toys in the living room, taking coats, and getting drinks. He pretended he was a waiter. It was pretty funny. He refused to let me take his picture, but at one point he had a kitchen towel draped over his arm. He has asked that we serve PB Sushi at our next “fancy grown up party”.

Hormel Gatherings Party Trays are available at Walmart, so you can pick one up on your next visit while gathering other party supplies.

I’m giving one reader a chance to share Hormel Gatherings Party Trays at their next get together! One lucky reader will win a coupon for $15 off the purchase of any one Hormel Gatherings Party Tray 28 oz. or larger.

Entering is easy: Just leave a comment with your favorite holiday beverage to serve at parties. I’ll choose one winner on December 5, 2017.

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11/27/17 Meal Plan Monday!

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Thank goodness Thanksgiving break is over! Henry is back at school, but, Bitty Bird is sick. We’re both a little cranky today,

I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos usually have a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit.  Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.

Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.

Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!

Monday:

  • D:Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Tuesday:

  • D:  Salsa Chicken with brown rice, salad

Weds:

  • D: Spaghetti with homemade marinara, steamed brocolli

Thursday:

  • D:   cheese and veggie enchiladas (1 dish meal)

Friday:

  • D: Date night!

Saturday:

  • D:  Leftover fiesta (I think we’ll have lots of leftovers this week)

Sunday:

  • D:  breakfast for dinner

The menu may change, as  I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first).

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Bacon!

IMG_7046.jpgBrussels Sprouts have a bad rap… Stinky, weird texture, gross. All of these things can be true if you boil them whole.

I’ve got a great recipe to share than turns our poor, stinky, vilified veggie into a tasty side dish! I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a HIT!

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs yellow or white onions, thinly sliced
  • 4T. Butter
  •  1/4 c water or white wine
  • 2 lbs cleaned and chopped Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped
  • Salt and Pepper as needed
  • 1/4 C shaved parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

IMG_7047.jpgCook the bacon- I bake mine at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Then I drain it on paper towels. Once it has cooled, I take my super sharp knife and chop it up.

IMG_7045.jpgCaramelize the onions. Cook onions in butter on low for several hours, stirring occasionally. Scrape the yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pan, adding water or wine to help loosen the brown bits.

Once the onions turn a lovely brown (about 3-4 hours on low), add in the cooked chopped bacon and combine.

IMG_7051.jpgAdd in the chopped Brussels Sprouts and cook on medium for about 10-15 minutes. Season with Salt and pepper as needed. Pour into a serving dish and top with cheese.

We had this for Thanksgiving, but it also is great any time. If you end up with leftovers, it’s also great on a homemade pizza crust, topped with some extra mozzarella and parm baked at 450 for about 10-15 minutes.

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Tie Dying: Family Fun!

I love to tie dye! It’s a great way to give clothes that may have been stained a new life. Since I get most of our clothes from clothing swaps, I often find really cute light colored kids clothes with minor stains.

Well, and when you’ve got kids, a lot of stuff ends up with stains, and not just their clothes, I have several shirts that I had to tie dye to cover little people stains from dirty hands and faces rubbing on my during hugs.

There are a lot of tie dye kits available at your local craft store, but what they don’t tell you is that the dye in those kits doesn’t last.  We used this kit last year and the remaining shirts we have have faded to very light pastels. So, if you want to do some awesome, vibrant tie dyes, I recommend using Procion Dyes like the ones Dharma Trading sells.

I also have cultivated an Amazon Store with all the stuff you will need , including a kit that contains Procion Dyes- All you need is a bag of Urea and the kit is ready to dye! Procion dyes are best for Cotton, ramie, hemp, rayon- Natural plant based fibers (not linen- that stuff is a bear to dye).  If you have blends with synthetic fibers (like polyester, acrylic, lycra), the color will not be as vibrant. Anything less than 50% natural fiber will end up being pastel.

Since Tie Dying can be a little intimidating, let’s break it down. In addition to your dyes and chemicals…

You will need:

  • A big open space (We use my parents backyard)
  • 2-3 6 foot tables covered in protective plastic (tarps or trash bags work well)
  • 1-2 Large Buckets (5 gallon buckets from Home Depot are great)
  • Access to warm water
  • Measuring cups and measuring spoons (I recommend plastic ones)
  • Plastic bags or plastic wrap (to cover up /wrap up garments after they have been dyed)

Here is my pinterest board with tons of great folding techniques and patterns. You are ready to fold and tie once you’ve selected your garments and laundered them without fabric softener. I love incorporating marbles, canning jar lids, clamps  to make tie dying more interesting.

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Folded, tied, and zip tied!

Once everything is folded/tied and secured (either with rubber bands, zip ties, or cotton string), it’s time to mix the washing soda and hot water. 1 cup of washing soda per gallon of water.  Mix together in the buckets, and soak the tied garments for 15 minutes-1 hour. The washing soda raises the pH of the garments allowing the dye to be more readily absorbed.

Washing Soda is NOT BAKING SODA.  Washing soda is caustic and will hurt you if you submerge your hands in it. Wear gloves when you handle it. Wring out the garments after soaking so they are damp, not dripping.  You can keep using the same water for your entire session.

While your garments are soaking, mix up your dye.  The most dye will come directions, but remember to mix your water with Urea. 1/4C of urea to 1 quart warm water. Urea helps the dye dissolve and remain mixed. It also helps the colors stay vibrant.

TIME TO DYE! Once your soaked garments are wrung out, it’s time to apply the dye. If you aren’t sure which colors will look good together, Get a color wheel. It will help you with color placement too. When you tie dye, colors will run together, so using complementary colors will help your garments look better when they are finished.

Remember to apply dye all sides, and if your garment is bunched up a lot, you may need to squirt dye between the folds to make sure the dye penetrates all of the layers.

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Bags and bags of baby onsies!

After the garment is dyed, place it in a plastic bag, or wrap it up in plastic wrap. You want to lay the item flat.  Let the garments sit for 24 hours (or over night), rinse the garments one at a time under cool water until most of the water coming from our garment is clear or a very pale. Then remove the binding (rubber bands, zip ties, string).

Wash completed garments with Synthrapol. It’s laundry soap that binds the color molecules to the fabric and sheds the dye that is not bonded. Once you wash the finished garments with Synthrapol, the clothing won’t shed dye or rub off on you, you can use your regular detergent from then on out. I also throw a couple Color Catchers in the wash too for good measure.

Once your garments are dry, the are ready to wear! I use the word “garments”, but you can also dye fabric, bed sheets, even pillow cases.

Here is some of the most recent stuff I dyed:


Tie dye shirts make great gifts! You can also tie dye socks- That’s what Bitty Bird is getting in her Advent Calendar this year!

I have utilized Amazon links within this post, prices can change at any time, and I may receive a commission when you click the links to Amazon and purchase items linked. Commissions help cover the costs associated with blogging.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving! We’re spending the day with family and friends, and I hope all of you are too!

I won’t be posting tonight about Black Friday deals tonight or probably tomorrow. There are tons of deal bloggers doing that for me.

I’ll be cooking, playing, and having fun. I hope you consider doing the same. If you are braving the stores tonight or tomorrow early, please be kind. Be kind to fellow shoppers and be kind to the staff.

The down side of reviewing….

 

I love reviewing products. If you want to start reviewing products, I have a list of sites here.

Every once in a while the product isn’t awesome. When that happens, there area few steps you should take:

  • Email the company or your point of contact and tell them know there are issues. Be precise as to what the issue is- being vague helps nothing. Often times they will not ask you not to review the item.
  • Offer to ship the product back if they email or send you a shipping label (The reviewer shouldn’t have to pay to send an item back). If the company doesn’t want the item back and it is not broken, consider donating it to charity or giving it to a neighbor on your local Buy Nothing group.

Most review websites give you a timetable in which to complete your review and other social media mentions. If you can’t get an answer back from your contact prior to the completion date and you can’t get an answer, you have to post some kind of a review or risk losing your account on the platform or having a negative effect on your standing. And that is where we are right now. I don’t want to lose my account or standing with Tomoson, because for the most part I have had great experiences with their site and tried some really cool products.

IMG_7020.jpgI signed up to review InstantPeel via Tomoson. I was hired to review it on 11/8/17 with 14 days to complete all of the activities (write a blog post and share on social media).  The company was supposed to ship the item to me directly. After 12 days (that leaves me 2 days to try the product, take pics, write a review and post to social media). I messaged the company via Tomoson right away to let them know I was allergic to two of the ingredients and that I needed some advice on next steps ASAP.

That was last night.  I have not heard back from them yet, and since I only have until 12:01AM to complete my tasks, here we are… I have messaged them again, but without any other way to contact them, I’m at an impasse.

img_7021.jpgIMG_7022Yeah, Shrimp Extract. For someone allergic to shellfish, that’s not something I want to rub on my body.

And yes, I did look online for the ingredients before I signed up. The ingredients listed on this Amazon listing for the product are completely different.

And this isn’t really a peel. It’s a gommage (which is French for erase or eraser). A peel sloughs off the dead layers of skin generally by using enzymes or acid (sometimes fruit based like Alpha hydroxy acids). A gommage is treatment applied to the skin, then after a length of time, the skin is rubbed and the product balls up and flakes off the skin.

So here is my review: I don’t have one because I can’t try a skincare product that contains allergens, and given the time frame I was given, I don’t have time to find someone I can test this on.

 

11/21/17- Meal Plan… Tuesday?

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I fell asleep last night before I could hit Publish on this article. Yesterday was the first day of Thanksgiving break and I was bushed after playing all day.

I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos usually have a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit.  Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.

Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.

Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!

Monday:

  • D: Spaghetti Squash with caramelized onions, bacon, and cheese

Tuesday:

  • D:  Casserole (We’ve got  guests for dinner tonight)

Weds:

  • D: Chef salad

Thursday:

  • D:   Thanksgiving feast with family

Friday:

  • D:  Leftovers from Thanksgiving

Saturday:

  • D:  Date night for our Anniversary

Sunday:

  • D:  breakfast for dinner

The menu may change, as  I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first).