Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baked Potato Soup

Yummm baked potatoes! Potatoes are by far my fiance's favorite starch so we generally have them hanging around our house.  I like them too but I know they are not the most nutrient rich food so I don't eat them too often.

When I found this recipe for a Baked Potato Soup it intrigued me so I decided to give it a try.

Having made it a few times I still vaguely follow the original recipe with a few changes of my own

2 russest potatoes
1 head of cauliflower
1.5 cups milk (I use 2%)
1.5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
A couple of palmfuls of chopped chives
1/2 a package of bacon (you can also use turkey bacon)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the potatoes in the microwave but make sure stab them with a fork or you will have a microwave full of exploded potato.  I usually put them on for 5 minutes, flip them over and put them on for 5 minutes and then continue on 2 minute increments until they are cooked

While the potatoes are cooking roughly chop the cauliflower and put them in a big soup pot with about an inch of water to cook.  Steam the cauliflower with the lid on for about 15 to 20 minutes and then drain the water.

Cook and drain the fat off of the bacon while the potatoes and cauliflower cook.  You can also chop the chives while things are cooking.

Roughly chop the potatoes and add them to the pot along with the milk and the chicken broth.  The original recipe says to peel the potato first but I never do.  I like the texture the skin gives the soup.

After the soup has come to a boil let it boil for about 5 minutes and then turn it off.  Use an immersion blender to blend the soup.  Add 1/2 the chives, the greek yogurt, the salt and pepper to the soup and cook for another 10 minutes.

Top the soup with the chives, bacon and a bit of cheddar cheese.  This soup really does taste like a baked potato but since it is half potato and half cauliflower you are getting some extra nutrients as a bonus.

I know this looks like a winter recipe (and it probably technically is) but I had a craving for it the other day and since we have had pretty much no winter here I have no good occasion to make it I decided to just go for it before it got too hot.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Favorite Accessories

Ok I just have to start out by saying that obviously and by far my favorite accessory is my engagement ring.  I love the ring and the person who gave it to me and all that it symbolizes of what is to come.

All mushy stuff aside I have to say I love a good headband.  Generally the bigger the better.  I don't usually go for a subtle look when choosing a headband.  I have long swoopy bangs so headbands are great on days my bangs are not cooperating or are in need of washing.

I have quite a few bows from Ruby Blue who has a shop on Etsy.  My favorites are the lace ones but I have few other ones too.  As much as I don't try to be subtle in terms of the size of the bow on my head I tend toward more neutral colors for my everyday bows since they go with more outfits.  I have off white, grey, black and purple.  Yes, I consider purple a neutral in my wardrobe. 

In addition to my everyday bows I have a few bows that probably won't get too much wear except at Disneyland but I couldn't resist dressing up for Disneyland. I am all for sparkles but I just can't quite justify wearing these at home.

My other favorite headbands are these Zella headbands that can be found at Nordstrom in the Activewear department.  Depending on the length of my bangs, most of the time they don't stay back on their own when my hair is in a pony tail without either a head band or a ton of hairspray.  I wear these headbands to the gym and I have 3 or 4 of them in rotation.  Since I wear them to the gym I am really glad they are machine washable otherwise I would have some smelly headbands.  

I also love statement earrings and long necklaces but I decided to stick with one favorite type of accessory for the day.  Stay tuned for a future post on my favorite jewelry and where I get them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

More Wedding Planning

This Friday I am thinking about Hawaii and our wedding. We leave for Hawaii with my family in just under 2 weeks!  We have 3 churches that we want to look at while we are there but our first choice (from the pictures) is this Little Blue Church.

In case you can't tell that window over the alter looks directly out onto the ocean.  This church is so cute and I love the idea of being literally steps from the water but as you can tell it is not a very big church.  We are planning on having a fairly small wedding with probably less than 50 people in attendance but it looks small.

This size of the church is our biggest concern so we are also looking at two other churches while we are in Hawaii in case this church is really just too small.  Cross your fingers but I am confident that even if this one is too small that one of the other two will work.

I have wanted to have my wedding at the Mauna Kea for years so we have decided that is where we will have our reception.  We know we want to have it there so on our trip we just have to meet with their planners to choose where at the resort to have it and work on other details.

This is the open air lobby of the hotel and the rest of the hotel is equally gorgeous.  Even though we are not staying there I am sure I will come back from our trip with tons of pictures of the hotel.

Imagining this view from my wedding reception just makes me smile.  I can't wait to go and get more details of the big day planned!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One More Disneyland Post

You have heard about my outfits and a restaurant review but here is a brief (ok maybe not brief) recap of my trip.

My fiance dropped me off at the airport and I met up with my friend and we were off!  We stopped by our hotel, put our bags in our room, changed clothes and caught the shuttle bus to Disneyland and were in the park before noon.  We had decided that we would spend Saturday in California Adventure so that is where we headed.   

We grabbed a Mickey shaped pretzel for snack and started riding rides.  We went to Hollywood Land (or whatever it is called) and Bug's Land and rode most of the rides and then headed to Carthay Circle Lounge for our late lunch.  It is just about the slowest, shortest ride in the park but both of us have a special place in our heart for the Heimlich's Chew Chew Train so of course we had to ride it.  Hollywood Land has pretty much been taken over my Frozen but I love Frozen so that was ok with me.  There were a couple of different places to take pictures with various Frozen characters but we left those long lines to the people with small children and decided to come back later to do the other Frozen activities we wanted to do.

After lunch we wandered around Cars Land and ended up getting delicious soft serve ice cream cones from a place shaped like a giant orange traffic cone.  I wasn't going to stand in line for the Radiator Springs Racers (the line was massive) and the other rides in Cars Land were under construction so we headed over to the Boardwalk area to ride some more rides.  My friend can't ride many of the "fast" rides (she has a back issue) so I took full advantage of both the Fastpasses and the every awesome single rider lines.  

After we made our way around the Boardwalk area we stood in line for Midway Mania.  This is the only ride we were willing to stand in line more than 30 minutes for because it is pretty much the best ride ever.  After that we had dinner reservations at the Wine Country Trattoria which included reserved tickets to the World of Color show.  We finished dinner around 7:30 and both looked at each other and decided we would rather go do a few Frozen activities and then call it an early night instead of staying for World of Color.  

The Frozen activities were much less crowded at this point and we went into the building and saw the snow!  We also saw some pretty adorable Olaf foods.  I don't know if they were delicious or not but they were pretty. 

We ended up on with a room on the 9th floor of our hotel with a view facing Disneyland so we actually got back to our room about 15 minutes before the fireworks started and were able to watch them out our window in our pajamas.  We woke up fairly early the next day and were in Disneyland within 30 minutes of the park opening.  We took this opportunity to ride every ride in Fantasyland (except Peter Pan which was closed) including the Casey Jr Train where we pretended to be monkeys like all adults do.  They had added some new effects to the Alice in Wonderland ride that were very cool so we had to ride that one more than once!

We made our way around the park in a logical order in order to end up in New Orleans Square for our lunch reservations at the Blue Bayou. After lunch we did the rest of that area before heading back to our hotel for a mid-afternoon rest.  That evening we had dinner in Downtown Disney before heading back into the park to do Adventureland and then the fireworks.  I love fireworks!

On Monday we again got up and to the park within 30 minutes of it opening so we headed to try and do Midway Mania one more time before the line got too long again.  The line was only about 20 minutes so we were happy!  After a few rides in California Adventure we headed over to Disneyland to ride a few rides that we really like for a second time.  After riding a few rides we shopped our way out of the park and had a late lunch (and some ice cream) before heading to pick up our stuff at the hotel and head to the airport.  

We got to the airport quite early since we weren't sure about the traffic at 4:30 on a weekday but it ended up being a non issue.  Our trip home was non-eventful until we got back to San Jose and discovered that my bag wanted another night in Orange County. I got it back the next day and they gave me a $50 voucher so it really was not that big of a deal.  That voucher and I are already trying to figure out when I can go back!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How I Got My Name

Before I was born my parents didn't know if I was a boy or a girl so they had to have names prepared in both cases.  If I were a boy my name would have been Robert Charles Taylor III or Christopher William Taylor.  My parents didn't have to decided between their two chosen boy names because I was a girl.  Actually they never had to make a decision because I have two younger sisters!

My first name of Catherine is after my dad's grandmother on his mother's side.

This is her at her 100th birthday party.  Yep that's right she lived to be over 100 years old which means I got to meet her and attend her party.  I am not in the picture but I am sure my cousins are thanking me for posting this picture of them in lovely late 80's children's fashions.  She is my only great-grandparent that I got to meet and I can only hope that my children will be fortunate enough to meet one of their great-grandparents too.

My middle name is Lacey which was the maiden name of my grandmother on my mom's side.

I love this picture of my mom, her parents and her siblings.  Doesn't my grandmother look so elegant in that dress.  I don't know how it got saved but the dress my grandmother is wearing in this picture is hanging in my closet today.  I don't wear it very often but every once in a while I have an occasion to bring out this dress and I feel glamourous every time I do.  My grandmother died when I was about two but I think she is where I got my love of fashion from.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Favorites-Carthay Circle Lounge

Another Disneyland post!

I have talked about how I love to go and sit in the Carthay Circle Lounge and have a late lunch so of course I had to do it on my latest trip.

We ended up at Carthay Circle the first day.  This is a great place to head to when the weather gets too hot but we lucked out completely with the weather this trip and the highs all three days we were there were in the mid 70s. We got to the park around noon and had a Mickey pretzel for snack, did a few rides and then headed to Carthay Circle around 2:30.

There are so many yummy looking drinks on the menu I try to have different one each time I go.  I decided to go with Pimm's Punch (on the right) and my friend had a non-alcoholic blackberry lemonade.  Both of the drinks were delicious and a perfect little treat.

The last time I was in Disneyland I had this Queso Fundido and I remembered it being really good.  We ordered it to share and it didn't disappoint this time either!  If you take a look in the picture below you can see in the background how much we liked it.  

In the past there has been a shrimp sushi roll on the menu that was really good but it has been taken off the menu apparently.  After ordering our drinks and deciding to share the Queso Fundido we asked the waiter for recommendations.  He recommended the Salmon Roll and the Mediterranean. Flatbread.

Well...everything we picked out was delicious but we didn't end up really liking either of his recommendations.  The Salmon Roll was ok and I ended up eating about half of it before starting to get full but there was some sort of sauce on the flatbread that gave it a really bitter off aftertaste.  We both took about 2 bites of the flatbread and left the rest on the plate.

Even though we didn't end up like all the food this time we still had a really nice time relaxing, drinking pretty cocktails and people watching.  A great start to a great trip!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Disney Outfits

Sorry for the long blog absence but I have been away having Disneyland adventures.  As usual I was not the best at taking pictures but I did manage a few of my Disney inspired clothing and bows.

When it comes to favorite Disney characters Minnie Mouse is not one of the first to come to mind but this trip I ended up kind of having a Minnie Mouse trend in terms of outfits.

I bought this bow to wear as part of my Halloween costume and actually have not worn it since but I figures if you can't wear a sequined bow to Disneyland than where can you wear it!

I bought this bow on Etsy specifically for this trip.  It is not quite as big as I imagined it to be so it gets a bit lost when my hair is down and going everywhere but it actually ended up being perfect to hold my bangs in place when my hair was in a ponytail.

Our second day there was our only full day in the parks and we took a break in the middle of the afternoon to rest and change our clothes.  That morning I bought a Minnie shirt with bows and polka dots to go with my bows.  You can't see it too well but it looked really cute with my bow!

Stay tuned for a full recap of my Disneyland adventure and all about our meal at Carthay Circle Lounge.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Decorations

Now that Easter is over I magically tuned my Easter decorations into Spring decorations.  Ok maybe it wasn't magic but it was pretty easy.

I took out all of the eggs and replaced them with fake flowers.

I added an extra little grass on our bar and used the rest of my flowers there.  I also threw in a vase of nice springy real flowers.

My door hanger is not terribly large but it too has springy flowers.  I found this in the dollar section of Target.  Gotta love Target!

My spring banner decorates the empty wall across from our dining table.

Speaking of spring, we had a very warm winter and my fiance and I figured it was only going get warmer from this point on so last week we turned off our pilot light. Of course as soon as we did that the weather got quite a bit cooler.  Not cold by any means but colder than it had been in at least a month or two. It actually rained on Sunday and last night for the first time since January. We need the rain so I was happy about that but it was just ironic that as soon as we turned our heater off for the year we could actually have used it.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Show and Tell-My Favorite Vacation

What!?! You want me to try and pick my favorite vacation I have been on?  Not happening!  I love planning trips in fact I have been known to offer to plan trips for other people even if I am not going on the trip.

I have been on quite a few trips and pretty much all of them have been fabulous so I can't pick just one.  I decided to pick a location I would go back to over and over again and two jumped to the top of the list of places I have been to more than twice.   Disneyland and London (and England as a whole) are both locations I have visited multiple times.  I am going to Disneyland on Saturday and have almost 30 years worth of pictures from Disneyland so this week Disneyland is my favorite vacation

My very first trip to Disneyland was in October of 1987 when I was almost 4 years old and my love of Disneyland had begun.  This trip was just my mom, my dad and me (my little sister was about 1 and stayed home with my aunt and uncle).  I am not sure what their logic was but one of the first rides my parents took me on was The Matterhorn.  I was having a perfectly fine time and not scared of the fact that the ride was a roller coaster but as soon as I saw the Abominable Snowman I freaked out.  Fortunately this did not scar me and I rode many other rides that I enjoyed.

I went once with my mom, dad and my little sister some time around 1989 but I don't have electronic versions of any of these pictures.  The first time we went as a family of 5 sometime around 1992 we took along my youngest sister's godparents.  Just look at those fabulous early 90's outfits we were rocking! We to Disneyland every 2 years or so during middle school and high school but again I don't think I have electronic versions of any of those pictures.

I went to college about 35 minutes away from Disneyland so from that point on I went to Disneyland on a much more regular basis.  This picture of me with my friends and Rafiki is one of my favorites.  This was over 10 years ago and we all look so young in this picture.  This is the day I bought my first annual pass to Disneyland!

Obviously the best thing to do on the Casey Jr Train is to ride in the animal cage and pretend to be monkeys!

Goofing around in Fantasyland waiting for the rain to subside.  The good thing about going to college so close and having an annual pass is that you can just go for a partial day and not feel like you have to see everything because you know you will be back.

The next few pictures were taken on the last trip to Disneyland I took during college.  We knew we were graduating and all going different places so we made sure we took lots of silly pictures to commemorate the adventure.

Waiting in line for ice cream!  Speaking of ice cream don't these sundaes just make you want to reach out and grab them.  I have never had a bad ice cream sundae there.

I have got to say as someone who has been eating Disneyland food for almost 30 over the last 5-10 years Disney has really stepped up their food offerings.  Is no longer just expensive fast food but there are some really yummy (and usually even healthy) options.  These cocktails and sushi are from Carthay Circle Lounge in California Adventure and it is one of my favorite place to beat the heat.

While I was in college not only did I have an annual pass but my parents and sisters got them too so they came to visit pretty often.  

Now that I am an adult I don't usually bother to stand in long lines to get my picture taken with the princess but if I see one who doesn't have a long line I don't hesitate to get my picture taken.  Here we are with Cinderella (my little sister's favorite) and my favorite (Belle).  When I have a daughter (or a son) someday I look forward to taking them to meet Belle (and any other character they want to see) at Disneyland.

Now that I am a "real adult" I don't get to visit Disneyland quite as often but I have managed to make it every year or so since college.  One of my best friends shares my love of Disneyland so her we are modeling some fabulous 3D glasses before going on Midway Mania!

If these is something Disney does exceptionally well it is holidays.  I can't believe I can't find any pictures of me at Disneyland at Christmastime but Halloween is also pretty awesome.

Maleficent is my favorite villain and I have never seen her just walking around so I had to get my picture with her!

A few of my favorite rides in no particular order are Mr Toad's Wild Ride, The Matterhorn, Midway Mania and The Tower of Terror.  After my upcoming trip I promise to post lot of pictures along with my tips for having the best trip possible.  Ooooh now I am even more excited than I was before.

Show and Tell Tuesday with Andrea at Momfessionals!

2016 Update: Disneyland is still one of my favorite vacation locations.  Last year I ended up deciding to get an annual pass so I got to go to the park may times and took many pictures.  Here are just a few from my year at Disney

I am probably not getting an annual pass this year but I am hoping to make at least one trip down to the "Happiest Place on Earth"! 

2017 Update: I actually did decide to get an Annual Pass at the end of 2016 so have gone a few more times and had a few more adventures. I just got back from my latest adventure so come back next week for a full recap but here are a few recent photos: