Thanksgiving Shortcuts from Hormel

hormel thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Shortcuts: Have no fear! The preparation for the “big feast” this Thanksgiving does not mean you have to spend hours slaving in the kitchen. We’ve listed some tips for taking shortcuts on prep time, giving you more quality time with family and friends at the dinner table this year.  

  • Know your numbers: Make sure you know how many people are attending your dinner, that way you know how much food to prepare and what to get at the grocery store. Whether you’re making turkey, ham or another main meat dish, make sure you’re choosing a size that fits your party – a 1/2 pound (eight ounces) per person is a good rule of thumb.
  • Hand out assignments: If you’re short on time, help in the kitchen or cooking space – there’s no problem for asking for a little help! Items like side dishes or appetizers are quick and easy for guests to bring, like HORMEL GATHERINGS® Supreme Party Tray or HORMEL® Bacon Ranch Mashed Potatoes from Hormel® side dishes. The extra help will give you more time to focus on dishes with longer prep times, like the turkey or ham.


  • Prepare food the night (or days) before: Cleaning the salad greens, chopping up all the necessary veggies or even preparing entire dishes a day or two beforehand can save you a lot of time. In fact, stuffing, casseroles and marinades can actually taste better when they’re made a few days in advance because their flavors have more time to blend, like this Herb Marinated Pork Filet using HORMEL® ALWAYS TENDER® Original Pork Loin Filet – which you can refrigerate overnight and prep quickly the next morning.


I personally am a big fan of the Hormel Gatherings trays. They helped us make the Meat & Cheese Skeleton at Halloween twice and would be an easy appetizer to enjoy so you’re not starving while waiting hours and hours for the turkey to be done!

What’s your go-to dish for Thanksgiving?


This post was written by me as part of my involvement in the Hormel Family Blogger Program. Thanks for reading!

Just 5 More Minutes Mom!!

Ok, it’s about to get crazy up in here….family, food, shopping, business-running, cleaning, decorating, etc. Our kids are late night party animals, so the earlier I can get them to sleep, the more I can accomplish…or sleep. It’s the same routine every night for us. I will say “Ok, let’s go to sleep” and before I can even finish the sentence, Trent screams “We’re not going to sleep!!”

I guess I can’t get mad, seeing as he said WE, which means he is fighting the fight for Aubrey too. Isn’t he so thoughtful?

Recently, Netflix gathered from it’s viewers some of the funniest excuses from kids as to why they absolutely cannot go to sleep. Wow, kids sure are creative…I wonder if I can use any of these as an excuse to stay home from work?


Since we can all use as much productive time…or sleep…as possible during the holidays, just as they did for New Year’s Eve, Netflix, along with DreamWorks Animation, launched Dinotrux 5 Minute Favorites, new episodes of the latest hit, all in a nice little 5-minute package — letting your little negotiator think they’re getting away with the age-old ‘just five more minutes’ ploy. In a mere 300-seconds, your kids will be speechless as they march themselves up to bed knowing they got exactly what they wanted. You: 1, Kids’ stalls: 0.



Trent’s stalling tactic is to just get right to the point…no excuses for him. “I’m not going to bed.” Tell me how you really feel? Hahaha :) He used to say he was hungry, in which case we would totally cave in because he hardly eats enough as it is, but thankfully he hasn’t used that excuse in a while.

So what kind of “staller” do you have? Use the infographic below to counterattack those bedtime struggles!



So when I hear “I’m not going to SLEEP!” I can say “Ok, you can watch one more show and then we go, ok?” I know I’ll win because he likes DinoTrux already. It’s also always so funny when he falls asleep so quickly after saying he’s not tired. Not tired? Riiiiiiiiight.



P.S. Netflix, I need some excuses for my boss to let me watch shows during the day. Let’s get started on that too, mmm’kay? 😛


stream team

This post was written by me as part of my membership in the Netflix Stream Team. Thanks for reading!


North Florida Fair 2015

Last week, we had our annual visit to the North Florida Fair!

This year, we decided to go during the day, instead of in the evening like we usually do, since we felt it would be better for the kids with more time to play before it gets dark. It worked out so much better and we ended up staying there for 6 hours!

Our first stop was to feed the goats!

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Aubrey didn’t want to actually feed the animals, but had fun watching Trent do it.

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Baby goat!

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The big kids went on the big kid rides while we headed to the little kid rides.

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That is one loooong torso!

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I had to accompany Trent on some rides…yes, I had fun going down the giant slide too! 😉

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He took his driving pretty seriously…he’ll be 16 before we know it.

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This was the best photo of the night…look at that face!

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The best part about the fair is the treats! Ice cream cone dipped in peanut butter…yum.

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The Princess and her wand.

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I don’t know who was more excited for Trent to be riding a monster truck…me or him!

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I guess we’ll have to get a bounce house for his next birthday party!

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My niece rode the bull…it was pretty hilarious. I hope she doesn’t find out I shared these here hahaha

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Trent rode a pony all by himself.

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Pretty girl. Aubrey was mostly a spectator this year, I’m sure she’ll get to do more next year!

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On our way out, we caught the daredevil acts.

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Another great year at the North Florida Fair!

Check out our past Fair adventures:

North Florida Fair 2014

North Florida Fair 2013

North Florida Fair 2012


HP #StickaPic Party and Magnet Craft

As a member of the HP Smart Moms Panel, I was given the opportunity to host an HP #StickaPic party to experience and share the new HP Social Media Snapshots photo sticker paper and app. As an Etsy sticker shop owner, I love stickers, especially ones that can help me document my life in my planner and such, so the fact that these are sticker paper for photos made my giddy to try them! And the fact that the pictures can come directly from your social media channels, which let’s face it, hardly ever get printed, was definitely a bonus.

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These little cardboard cutout sayings were perfect decorations for the party (almost like confetti!), as well as fun additions to our actual craft project for anyone that wanted to glue them on their photos.

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I had a basket of HP Social Media Snapshots for us to use at the party, as well as extras for everyone to take home and print to their heart’s joy!

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I love the idea on the back of the package to make a little heart collage in the corner of a room…that would be so fun for a tween!

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Each box comes with 25 sheets of 4″ x 5″ photo sticker paper.

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In love with the back of the sticker paper…old-timey cameras!

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We had plenty of craft supplies out because we didn’t have a set project…people could make whatever they wanted. Some ideas:

-Decorate clothespins with paint or glitter then hang the snapshots by the pins off of a string along a wall

-Make a photo collage or scrapbook page and decorate with glitter pens

-Place the photos in your planner or calendar to document your life and decorate with washi tape (below were just 2 of the hundreds of rolls I have!)

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For my project, I made fridge magnets! I just needed the supplies shown below:

-HP Social Media Snapshots, of course

-Foam Board

-Magnetic tape

-Poster knife

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But first, we all had to download the HP Social Media Snapshots onto our phones. The app is available for free on iTunes and Google Play. It was very easy to find and install, and after selecting Instagram and signing in, I was ready to choose photos from my feed or my camera roll.

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I considered making some family photos into magnets, but then I thought it would be even more fun to decorate our fridge with some Christmas in Disney photos from Brett (@DisneyPhotoSnapper on IG) since we have a trip coming up in December!

It was super simple to choose a photo, then select a layout (they even have a couple of Disney ones!) and edit the caption. When you’re ready to print, just click the print button, change the paper size and then click print again.

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Having the HP Envy 5660 helped make printing super simple…these 4×5 sheets fit perfectly in the separate photo paper slot!

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To turn them into magnets, just place the snapshot on top of the foam board and use the poster knife to cut the board to the size of the snapshot.

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Once the foam board is cut, peel off the backing the snapshot sticker paper and place the snapshot on top of the foam board cutout.

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Then, cut strips of magnet and place them on the back of the foam board.

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Then place them on your fridge, filing cabinet, or anywhere that a magnet works! Sheep magnet is optional. :)

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Now we can be remind of our upcoming trip to WDW whenever we walk by! Even Aubrey pointed it out when she saw it the first time.

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These go great with our other, more silly Photo Booth strips from WDW we already had on the fridge. :)

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I’m already brainstorming more ideas for these snapshots! Christmas is coming and I’m thinking gift ideas for sure.


HP Social Media Snapshots are now available at Staples.

Now through November 30th, HP Social Media Snapshots are BOGO when you use the following link and click “redeem now”: At just $9.99 each, that’s an amazing deal!


As an HP Smart Mom Panel member, I received free products in order to host the HP #StickaPic party. The opinions expressed here are my own. Thanks for reading!


Family Fun at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

In October, we took a weekend trip to Jacksonville, Florida for the Blue Angels Air Show at the Sea & Sky Spectacular. We stayed in a hotel on the beach from Friday through Monday and had so much fun (stay tuned for those amazing photos!). The Air Show was on Saturday and Sunday, so we wanted to find something fun for all of us to do on Monday before going home. We immediately wanted to check out Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens when we were deciding on someplace to go while on our trip. We thought the kids would love it, it would hopefully tire them out to sleep on our ride home, and Brett could use his fancy new camera lens.

Are you guys ready for a ton of photos?! Let’s go!

We went on a Monday, and the entrance was a breeze – there was one other family going through, so I would definitely recommend taking advantage of weekdays if you have little ones.

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We were greeted by this fella.

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There is a train that circles the zoo that looked really fun. We didn’t go on it because we saw it just as we were walking and wanted to see some animals first. Plus, we didn’t want to deal with the stroller fold-up with the gazillion things we had in it from the weekend.

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The rhinos had a big open field to roam around in that they shared with a handful of other animals, including a huge ostrich!

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This next photo should totally be a meme of something. Like “Pumpkin Spice is gone??”

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We spotted a bunch of turtles while walking over a bridge.

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There was so much room for the kids to run around in.

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These boys…

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There is a reptile house that had some fun little glass exhibits.

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I’m pretty sure this is the largest snake Trent has ever seen.

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He could swallow Trent whole!

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Aubrey and Trent ran from exhibit to exhibit. That’s right babies, tire yourselves out! Mwuahahaha! (in other news, my baby girl is running…make the time stop!)

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Hi elephants!

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Everyone’s looking in different directions, but still a pretty cute family photo…minus the photographer. 😉

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Aubrey was so adorable peeking through the gates to see the animals. She truly was interested in looking at each one.

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My absolute favorite exhibit was the lion exhibit…because they were RIGHT THERE!

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At Animal Kingdom in Disney World, you kind of get a glimpse of them during the safari ride, but you almost never see their entire body and it’s only for a brief moment. Here at the Jacksonville Zoo, we saw several lions together, walking around, playing, and, dare I say it, posing for Brett.

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This next one was about to POUNCE!

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Pretty kitty.

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I kept saying this one was so proper because of how he had his paws. Can I pet him?

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“Kitty says meow.”

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The giraffes were also incredibly close!

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This one was eating just 10 feet from us!

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Follow the yellow brick road?

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They were so sweet together…he would point out fish when he saw them so Aubrey would look.

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“Where’s the fishy, Aubrey?”

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We may or may not be normal.

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Bamboo forest.

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The penguins were in the Halloween spirit!

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As if they hadn’t been running around enough, then it was time to slide!

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The zoo has a fun little play area for kids with slides and a jungle gym.

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There’s 2 spots to pretend you’re either caught by a spider…

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…or a sleeping baby bird. Trent took his acting very seriously.

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While Trent was playing, we visited these guys just a few feet away.

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Aubrey made a friend. They must have been here for at least 5 minutes interacting through the glass. There was just so much cute going on.

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There is a carousel to ride to a small additional fee.

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After the carousel ride, we continued around the path to see more animals.

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This structure is a sky path for tigers to walk along. We didn’t see any walking up there, but that sure would have been exciting to see one above us!

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Dragon lizard wrangler.

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When to looked like it was going to start raining, we started to hustle a little so we could let them play in the splash area for a little bit. But it was closed :( Good thing we didn’t tell them about it beforehand!

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Another thing we couldn’t do was the Spongebob Squarepants 4D Ride since Trent didn’t meet the height requirement, but it looked like it would be fun!

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Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens has Halloween parties on certain days and we could see all the decorations throughout the zoo. One section had a Nightmare Before Christmas theme…I bet this Zero looks awesome at night!

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We love taking photos in photo booths! Maybe one day they’ll pose and look at the camera!

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We all had such a great time! The kids were entertained and super active. We drove home right from here and it was only 2 hours from the zoo to Tallahassee! This would be a perfect day trip from Tallahassee or addition to your family trip to Jacksonville. To learn more about the zoo, such as prices, maps, and special events, head to the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens website.

Also, like them on Facebook to see specials – they have a post announcing kids 3-12 are free this month!

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Thank you for having us Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens!