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Thanksgiving, Take Two

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In keeping with the theme of the last 5 months, which deserves a depressing blog post of its own, I expected this Thanksgiving would be a disaster. A depressed person does not make a great party host.

Still, we borrowed tables and chairs and made plans for a large family gathering. Menus were printed.

I bought these plates on clearance at Macy's last year. Aren't they delightful?
The little pumpkins are from Cost Plus World Market.
This year, the menu doubled as a place card.

(Side note: I put extras aside for next year...and just now realized they say 2019. Whoops!)
Keeping an eye on the news, it seemed many people across the country were having their holiday plans affected by storms. We were no exception. Half of our overnight guests arrived. SN's parents were able to make it through the wintry weather but his brother and our sister-in-law had to cancel. The drive from Nebraska was too treacherous.

 As far as an excessively wiggly Olive was concerned, the most important…

HelloFresh Scam - Warning!

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Update Since posting this yesterday, here is a message I have received:

"I did order from HelloFresh previously and was not charged what I was originally told (or thought I was told). Also, the food from them was anything but fresh and they refused to do a refund, only doing credit - even for the overcharges! So basically I ended up being out of money thanks to them."

Original Post

Hello, my bloggy friends. I want to warn you of a Black Friday and Cyber Monday scam that is currently being run by HelloFresh. Yours truly came *this close* to falling for it. 

Maybe scam is too harsh of a word. Sneaky? You can decide for yourself.

HelloFresh currently has a discount for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (Actually, the special is available well into 2020 if you go to hellofresh.com/cmjessica and use promo code GT-HO8T9, but I don't recommend it because I think it's a rip off.) 

To summarize, you receive 9 free meals with free shipping and your credit card is charged $10.95.
Why I T…

Instant Pot Thanksgiving - 36 Best IP Recipes

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My husband thinks I'm crazy for having two Instant Pots. (If you've watched my Instant Pot explosion video, you may agree.) With a large crowd for Thanksgiving this year, including a pregnant vegan (!), I've been researching the best Thanksgiving recipes that can be cooked in an Instant Pot.

From turkey to pumpkin pie, it seems there is nothing the Instant Pot can't handle. So my husband is right that my growing Instant Pot collection makes me crazy - crazy like a fox.
Instant Pot Recipes for Thanksgiving You don't want to take the chance of having a Thanksgiving disaster when serving guests, so I have strict rules for a recipe to be included in this compilation: the dish must have at least a 4.5-star rating and a minimum of 30 reviews. We're going to be eating well during this year's game of Thanksgiving Bingo!
Most of these holiday recipes can be made in advance. If you don't have an Instant Pot, put one on your Black Friday shopping list and patient…

Free Thanksgiving Printables

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Three years into hosting Thanksgiving, SN and I have learned a few strategies for making the holiday meal (and the time spent before and after the meal because, let's face it, there's a lot more to a family gathering than just the meal) a success.

I print elegant menus like the ones at my favorite restaurant. I print funny and interesting food-related quotes and facts, which I scatter along the table. (Julia Child has some great ones. “Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?”)

My most popular Thanksgiving printable has to be Thanksgiving Bingo cards. Featuring gems such as "Was part of a prolonged awkward silence," "Played bartender," and "Forgot someone's name," it's the perfect conversation starter. The first person to complete their card wins a prize.

When the table has been set, I place a Bingo card on each plate, accompanied by a little pencil. (These…

It's Time For a Walk - Funny Puppy Videos

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After years of enjoyment from Pica Hates the Train, which still makes us laugh, we wondered if little Olive would ever have a hilarious video of her own.

We didn't have to wait long.
10-week-old Olive VS 15-year-old Biscuit:
Olive is such a silly weirdo. After she drags Biscuit on a walk, she's going to eat your foot with those super sharp puppy teeth. Watch out!
For some reason, this plays in an adorable loop on my Facebook, but only an awkward single time on my blog.

It's a Girl

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After the sudden, unexpected loss of the best dog ever, Pica, I was lost. I'm pretty sure my boss was worried I was going to kill myself. You can't kill yourself over a dog though, right? Everyone knows dogs don't live forever.

After several dark weeks, SN insisted we go look at puppies. Ridiculous! Still, they did look awfully cute online. We would only get one if it was from a shelter, so it would be like we were saving a dog's life...and isn't that what Pica would have wanted? Maybe we could even find another Jack Russell. 

Funny enough, we always insisted when Pica was alive that we would never want another Jack Russell, which should really be called a Jerk Russell. She was a stubborn, jealous, destructive handful. There was no stopping her from barking. (At nothing!) She was such a greedy little piggy that we had to feed her with a jar inside her food dish, as it was the only way we could stop her from swallowing the entire bowlful in one gulp. And she shed like…

Best Halloween Costume Ever

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Happy Halloween! I'm super boring this year, with no costume, no decorations, and (gasp!) no candy. Here's a throwback Halloween post from a few years ago.

Until 6th grade, I was a cat every year. I finally switched things up when I saw a picnic table costume in an American Girl magazine. That's right. For Halloween, I went trick-or-treating as a picnic table, complete with paper plates and baggies of chips hot glued on.

Wanting to outdo myself, the next year I was a mama cat trying to sell her babies. Sure, it sounds horrible now, but I remember it looking so cute in that 1997 American Girl magazine.
I'm pleased to declare that 2012 was the year of my Best Costume Ever! Unbeknownst to her ahead of time, I went as my Halloween-loving coworker, Marie, complete with blond wig and her stolen name tag. It must have been meant to be, because she came in wearing the exact same pair of Halloween socks, purely by coincidence!
Now I just need to figure out a way to top this next ye…

NM Fermentation Festival - Funny Name, Fun Time

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Move over, Balloon Fiesta. Albuquerque has another up-and-coming event that you won't want to miss. 
My husband and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that the New Mexico Fermentation Festival, in its 4th year and the first of its kind in the Southwest, is popular with locals and tourists alike. It's sponsored by edible New Mexico and is held at the GutiĆ©rrez-Hubbell House, which is dense with cottonwood trees and is a lovely place to spend a Saturday with or without a festival.
What the heck is a fermentation festival? You know we're big fans of New Mexico wine festivalsbeer festivals, and even green chile cheeseburger and wagyu beef festivals. (Yay, NM!) We'd never been to a fermentation festival though and weren't sure what to expect.
Although you might think a festival dedicated to fermented foods and drinks sounds a little odd (we did), so many irresistible treats fit within that category. In addition to kimchi and kombucha, the New Mexico Fermentation Fes…