Potato Skins featuring Hormel Black Label Bacon

Potato skins are often known to be appetizers or party food for sports events and such, but they can also make a fun family dinner, too. Recently, we made potato skins with Hormel Black Label Bacon, shredded cheese and sour cream and paired them with a nice salad for a complete meal. I bet kids will think these are fun!

1. Scrub the potatoes to clean. We used small-medium Russet baking potatoes.

2. Pierce each potato with a fork several times and rub the skins with olive oil.

3. Place the potatoes on a baking rack and bake on 400 degrees for about an hour until soft.

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4. Let cool enough to handle.

5. Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides, leaving about a quarter of an inch of potato inside.

6. Brush both sides with Canola oil and sprinkle some salt on the skins.

7. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes on each side.

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8. While the potatoes are baking, cook the bacon as instructed on the package. Place cooked bacon on paper towels to soak up the extra grease and dry a bit. Cut up the bacon into smaller pieces.

9. Pull the potatoes out, then place some shredded cheese, then bacon, then more shredded cheese on each skin. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until melted.

10. Put some sour cream on top of each one.

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Enjoy!

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For more Hormel Bacon Recipes, visit their recipe list here!

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

 

5 Secret Tips to get Empty Disney Park Photos

One question we get asked a lot is how we get photos in Walt Disney World without anyone in them.

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People that visit WDW often probably know some tricks, but there are many that don’t, and this post is for you! Some people have asked for our “secret” (hence the title of this post), and others may even shake their head at me for sharing their “secret” and ruining it, but honestly, none of this is secret. Also, given the outrageous number of guests attending a park on any given day compared to the small number of people that read this post, I’m 100% certain these “secrets” will remain as such.

Since we’ve only been to Walt Disney World (one day we’ll visit the other parks!), this post is tailored around WDW, but many aspects could apply to other parks too.

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1. Book a breakfast inside the park.

This is our #1 trick to getting daytime photos without anyone else in the photo. Our favorite? Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom! I salivate thinking about Pooh’s Puffed Toast with whipped cream and strawberries. Before this post turns into a food post, let me continue. Go onto the Disney World website and look for a breakfast before the park opens (be sure to check the park hours first so you don’t book during morning extra magic hours, because then everyone will be let in early…making this trick useless). Arrive early for your reservation, allowing yourself enough time to take photos before your reservation.

It takes quite some time to get to the gates at Magic Kingdom (parking + tram/walk + monorail/ferry = 20-30 minutes or more), so be sure to factor that into your wake up time. When you get to the gates, there will be a Cast Member with a clip board to the left, check in there and then you will be allowed to enter the park. Then, have fun taking photos! There will be some people walking around, undoubtedly others doing the same as you, just wait for them to pass before taking your photo.

Please don’t try to cheat the system or be late for your reservation, as this could potentially ruin it for others. ;)

Your little ones may even enjoy having the extra room to run around!

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2. Arrive super early to be one of the first in the park

If you weren’t able to book a breakfast, or just don’t want to spend the money for a sit-down meal, you can still try for some empty park photos. Arrive super early so that you are in the front of the crowd at rope-drop. Disney doesn’t allow you to run anywhere ahead of the Cast Members that maintain the crowd line; they do a pretty good job of limiting the madness knowing that crowds have been known to run to certain attractions, becoming a safety issue. But if you are towards the front, you can head to certain areas to quickly snap a few photos before anyone gets there.

 

3. Go Left

One trick we always use is the “Go Left” rule. People, especially Americans and anyone from countries that drive on the right side of the road, tend to go right when traveling. At Magic Kingdom, this means when the crowd hits the Hub, a large majority of the crowd will go right. When everyone else goes right, you go left to have less people to block your photo. Also, think about where the main attraction is for that park and go the opposite direction (i.e. don’t go towards Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios).

This trick works for more than just photos, but I’ll save that for another post. ;)

 

4. Find hidden photo opportunities

There are many places and nooks to explore in all the parks. Some areas are just always crowded, mostly around main attractions and walkways, but there are plenty of spots that get a break from crowds. This is especially true at Epcot. Just wait for the random group to pass by and then snap away!

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5. Stay late

This one is for the true die-hards (and the people without little kids lol) because I’m not talking 15 minutes after the park closes. It takes a long time for everyone to clear out the parks at night, especially because Disney doesn’t tell anyone to leave. Since guests are allowed to enter a ride line up until the park closes, it can take a long time for rides to be finished for the night. When the park closes, make sure you’re at the back of the park or on a ride in the back of the park, then slowly meander around the increasingly empty park taking photos as you go. Just know that as an area “gets cleared” of guests, a cast member will walk a bit behind the last guest until they make their way toward the front of the park. Once that happens, you can’t backtrack. The Hub stays busy for quite some time, but if you are willing to wait the crowd out, you can grab a few photos before the final “sweep” – I don’t know if that’s the technical or Disney term, but that’s what I like to call it.

This trick doesn’t work as well after special events, like the Halloween and Christmas parties, because the cast members seem to sweep much faster after the party ends (at least that’s what we’ve experienced).

This also doesn’t work as well if you get super nervous about Cast Members or security watching or following you. They won’t tell you to leave, but they will be 15-20 feet away, nudging you with their proximity and authoritative influence. Don’t be rude or annoying or push back, just get your photos and continue on your way out. They want to go home too!

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Happy snapping!

 

You can read more of our Disney posts here:

 

Netflix The Adventures of Puss in Boots Mask Craft

Kids find it amazing when they see a character on tv or in the movies and then meet them in real life. It’s like they are meeting a celebrity! I would say that it’s sad that we grow out of it as adults, but I still get excited meeting characters and hope to always keep it that way…I’m still just a big kid. ;)

Well, Trent didn’t realize that we actually have a famous character in our house…

Nugget

Puss in Boots!

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Our cat Nugget looks just like Puss in Boots, just like every other orange and white cat, but when I saw that Netflix had a new original series featuring the dashing feline, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, I just had to show Trent and make him think Nugget was our own Puss in Boots!

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And just like I said before, I still enjoy meeting characters, and Puss in Boots is no exception. We met him on our Royal Caribbean cruise!

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Our new HP Envy printer came with a large library of printables, and we found one to make a Puss in Boots mask!

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I just printed the project, gathered some supplies, and then cut out the mask.

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Trent couldn’t help much with the cutting, but he made sure to supervise my work. ;)

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All done!

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Trent’s hair almost blends in!

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Nugget was not thrilled…doesn’t he know he is obligated to take photos with his fans?!

 

In addition to the Adventures of Puss in Boots, Netflix also has other shows & movies featuring four-legged stars!

Four-Legged Stars to Stream on Netflix

For your little kids:

Pet Party
Clifford
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***

For your big kids:

Puss in Boots
Annie
Step Dogs
Jumanji
***

And for teens and parents:

Anchorman
Frasier
Family Guy

 

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

 

December 2014 Walt Disney World Trip Report Day 1

For this trip, we decided to go the non-traditional route with our Magic Band names ;)

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Also, when you get your Magic Band box, don’t forget to lift out the insert and get your Passholder cards. This is what you’ll need for discounts and parking. I, sadly, forgot to do this and couldn’t get a discount when we were shopping at Downtown Disney. I wish Disney would put the discount ability into your Magic Band :(

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Our first day, we woke up and headed down with our first stop being the Contemporary Resort. As much as we don’t like spending the money, we just can’t resist the convenience and ambiance. It’s not very well themed, but there’s so much about it we love.

We especially do a happy dance when they have a room ready for us when we check in. We like checking in first so we can get our parking pass and unload all of our stuff in the room so we can get the vacation started. We were also excited because we got a slight upgrade to our room view and they honored our request to be on the first floor. The elevator in the Garden Wing is a nightmare and not something I wanted to deal with when transporting two kids back and forth, so I was extremely grateful for that. We had a nice, slight view of the water and we could see the ferry boats going back and forth, which led to Trent yelling “BOAT! BOAT!” whenever one would float by. He especially loved our little patio area…we let him go outside on his own a few times while we left the door open and watched. It was so nice. High fives were in order.

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We then headed over to Magic Kingdom.

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First stop? Food! Lunch at the always reliable Cosmic Ray’s. It was quite busy since it was lunchtime, but after scanning for a spot, we quickly snagged a table from someone that just got up. You really have to be strategic when you have a double stroller….you can’t just plow your way through!

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We then headed to Frontierland to find a spot for the Festival of Fantasy parade.

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We made it just a few minutes before the parade started. We chose a spot in Frontierland so that we wouldn’t have to wait long before the parade reached us. I saw a small opening and Brett didn’t think it was available for someone to stand, but I was already heading that way with the stroller.

I got to the spot and there was plenty of room for us. Score! Except the sun was shining right at us and it was quickly getting really hot…small price to pay for a quick parade spot without having to wait.

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I really don’t think you could ever take a picture of the characters in this parade without them being truly in character and having lots of fun…they are just on-point the entire time….so happy and fun!

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Of course, both kids slept through the entire thing.

I had a few Fastpasses, so Brett and Trent rode some rides while I stayed with Aubrey, who was still sleeping. She was like little Sleeping Beauty this trip.

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We then brought the kids back to the hotel room. I wanted to watch Wishes that night, so a break was in order…breaks are too hard to resist when your hotel room is so close!

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We hung out by the splash area so Trent could play for a bit and then headed back to MK for the nighttime festivities.

Can you spot Olaf?

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Trent looks so grown up in this next photo.

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Him and Brett rode It’s a Small World while Aubrey and I hung out outside….she was sleeping when they first went in, but then woke up shortly after, or else we all would have rode together.

I wanted to watch Wishes anywhere but Main Street (with a double stroller, I did not want to deal with the crowds and standing thisclose to anyone), and luckily, Brett had plans to take photos with Beast’s Castle in them, so we stood on the bridge by Be Our Guest.

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Watching fireworks from New Fantasyland is such a different experience compared to watching them from Main Street or the Hub. It’s exponentially louder and fireworks are everywhere. I love it and would watch from there every time if it were up to me.

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The kids, however, were not pleased with any of it and “whined” the entire time, but the fireworks were too loud for us to hear them most of the time…MWUAHAHA! You can see this in the video around the 4 minute mark.

As we slooooooowly made our way out of the park, Trent was looking tireder and tireder. We got him a balloon as repayment for the fireworks torture, but he was so out of it that I don’t even think he knew he had it until the next morning when he woke up and saw it in the room. Nonetheless, he passed out while holding it.

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Thanks for reading Day 1 of our trip report! Stay tuned for Day 2!

 

You can read more of our Disney posts here:

 

Always Ready with Victoria Jackson Cosmetics

It happened just the other day…it’s halfway through the day and I realize I didn’t finish putting on my makeup. Of course, I end up having an impromptu meeting that day and feel the opposite of “put-together.” Sure, no one probably noticed, but my skin isn’t the best and I just feel much more confident when my look is complete. Plus, makeup is fun!

I try to always keep lip gloss and face powder in my purse at all times and not much else from my makeup routine because I don’t want to carry too much around. But on this particular day, I didn’t even have those two things because I had taken them out to use the night before. Before I decide to go buy two of everything, I was happy to try some items from Victoria Jackson Cosmetics…including something I can always keep in my purse!

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Victoria Jackson’s motto is that it’s “The ‘No Makeup’ Makeup.” When you look better, you feel better. And when you feel better, you can change your life. They believe that makeup shouldn’t be a mask, but rather to let your beauty shine through and be amplified.

I can dig that, especially because if I add any more time to my routine in the morning, I most certainly will be fired for being late…then I won’t need makeup at all! I like feeling and looking put-together, but in the most efficient way possible.

I was able to try 3 Victoria Jackson products: the Foundation Duo, Survival Kit, and Gentle Eye & Face Makeup Remover.

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The Foundation Duo is sheer, light and oil free, so you can conceal, correct and camouflage without caking or clogging your pores. It comes with two skin perfecting shades that can be used alone or blended to perfectly match your complexion. This is amazing for me because I am just as bad at picking my skin tone from a hundred bottles/compacts as I am at picking paint colors (hint: I’m terrible at both).

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The applicator sponge has it’s own compartment underneath the foundation, so you don’t have to worry about it messing up the mirror or sitting in the makeup all the time.

 

Here is the item I was super excited to try…the Survival Kit.

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It comes with:

  • 10 Eye Shadows in Ice White, Rose Pink, Neutral Brown, Warm Dark Brown, Iridescent Olive, Gold Flecked Warm Brown, Silver Gray, Gray Blue, Gold Flecked Cool Brown and Steel Gray.
  • 5 Lipsticks in Clear Gloss, Rose Pink, Berry Mauve, Fiery Red, and Deep Pink.
  • 2 Blushes in Mauvey Pink and Copper Berry.
  • 2 Liners: 1 lip liner in Dark Nude, 1 eye liner in Deep Black.
  • Mascara in Midnight Black.
  • 3 Applicators: a blush brush, a liner brush, and a shadow brush.

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So much in one convenient package!

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I love love LOVE! that it comes with a white eye shadow! I use that to highlight or lighten darker colors and almost every other palette I’ve had was missing a white shadow.

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I really like all of the colors it comes with…nothing too outrageous and they’re able to bland together to create an entire look. It also lets you change your look from day to night if you’re going somewhere without stopping back at home!

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Super bonus on the included brushes, so I really don’t have to carry anything else!

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Here’s a video showing how to create a look using the Survival Kit. :)

I plan on keeping both of these babies in my purse so that I am prepared at all times. Sometimes a mid-afternoon refresher is required…it gets hot in Florida!

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At the end of the day, you can take it all off with the Victoria Jackson Makeup Remover. It comes in a pretty large bottle that should last quite a while.

 

To learn more & shop, visit the Victoria Jackson Cosmetics website.

Bag yourself a beauty bargain! Victoria Jackson® is offering an exclusive 25% discount off the entire site using promo code LOVEVJCValid until 4/4/15.

 

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I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of Victoria Jackson® and One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.