Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A bowl of bacon, my take on Thanksgiving sales, and peeing on sticks.

1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week...what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?
Blokus.  We love this game, and if it weren't for the fact that I'm carting our luggage around NYC today in the rain/snow, I'd be bringing it with us. We splurged on it while in Seattle ($27 for a board game!?), and haven't pulled the trigger since. Board games have gotten way expensive in the recent years. 
2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?
Emergency room. I've gone there a few times, and each time I'm glad we have a place to go when we have something go wrong. Don't know what I'd do had I just needed to 'make it through the night' to wait for the shared doctor with the rest of  my neighborhood in the morning.

3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores...which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? For those of you playing along who aren't in the US, answer as it relates to any big holiday meal.
Hit the stores. We don't buy Christmas gifts though, opting instead for more expensive items that we hope to get on sale. 2 years ago we bought our TV for $200, and last year we bought winter coats. This year, we don't really need anything but I know we will be picking up some holiday decorations.

4. Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal?
Wedding chicken. I sent this recipe to our caterers for our reception, and it was amazing. And, since it came from Internet, I can recreate it.  Check out the "stuffed chicken breast with parmesan and basil filling" recipe at
5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?
NOT the Aeroknife. I hate that thing. It scorned me. But, the As Seen on TV Perfect Bacon Bowl does seem ridiculously wonderful. A bowl made of bacon. I didn't know I wanted one until I saw it existed.

6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?
I'm done with gifts for the women, but not with the men. Tom needs to help out here, since I've no clue about what men really want. As for stores being open on Thanksgiving Day, I'm not going to be up in arms about it. My mother is working Thanksgiving, and we plan on having dinner Saturday. Being a nurse, she's never been guaranteed ANY holiday off, and I grew up understanding this. If you take a job working in retail, this shouldn't be a shock and will likely be an expected job duty.

Black Friday hasn't always been popular either. Wiki states that the term was 'coined' in Philadelphia in 1961, where a public relations newsletter from 1961 stated "Resulting traffic jams are an irksome problem to the police and, in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday. Hardly a stimulus for good business.." But people got over it. They just didn't drive or go to the stores/downtown on that day to avoid the crowds. Since the whole 'stores open on Thanksgiving' controversy only began 3 years ago, we haven't grown accustomed to it just yet. Give it time, and we'll adjust. Capitalism isn't a beast anyone can tame.

7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?
Makeup. which is shocking to even write (I should've answered this question with family, right?) I never wore it much until after college, I'm only now getting used to the idea of lipstick vs. chapstick. Contouring and makeup brushes are still new concepts to me, but I'm making great strides, thanks to YouTube. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Certain things, like implantation-type cramps last Tuesday and Wednesday, sore breasts (and an "oversensitive nose" as mentioned by my sister) suggest that I might be pregnant, but none of my tests have come back positive yet.
And then this week, I began having monumental breakouts on my chin, cheeks and even a few on my forearm. The last time this happened was when I had miscarried the second time and my hormone levels couldn't figure out where they wanted to stay. And, as I had written in March on this very subject, I will quote myself here: "my skin is just on a angry woman hormonal rampage". Only swap out the "angry woman" with "angsty teenager" since it's not yet to the level of my January breakouts.

So tell me...

Any boardgames that you'd recommend? What do men in your family like for gifts? 
And why are pregnancy tests so expensive?

Monday, November 24, 2014

This Week in Review

Did you all see E.T. phoning home?

My massive finger has only just been unwrapped from it's original dressing, but before it was, there were a ton of "you have a question?" "Eureka!" and "save your questions until the end of class" jokes from Tom.

Fancy new gloves. Showering has been fun. Everytime I come out, I want to say 'put em up, put em up!!' in true cowardly lion fashion.

So, I bookmarked this back in September, so you might've seen it. But, wow. The Amish have the whole barn raising thing down. Only 10 hours to build this barn? Astounding.

Do you have a phobia?
This article from Cup Of Jo had me cracking up! Take a minute to look through the 300 comments, the irrational fears will have you snort coffee out your nose (wait, I think that's one of the fears mentioned...) Of course, I already wrote on my irrational fear of poor knife handling, and we all know where that got me this last Thursday. Not so irrational after all I guess!

Tom found a recipe he likes. Cornbread casserole. He came home with ALL the corn products the other day. Looks like he expects it to be a staple around here, right?
So tell me...
What are your irrational fears?
Are you married to a person who does everything possible to overdose on a recipe they try once and like?

Friday, November 21, 2014

O Thanksgiving Tree..

Short and sweet post today. I cant use my left hand to type due to a knife mishap last night. Ironic, right?
You'd know this of course if you followed me on Instagram ;-)

As November arrived, I found myself thinking about Christmas decorations and dinners already. Realizing it was a tad early for all that, I got to wondering what we could do to make the house feel like Thanksgiving this year, with stuff we already had on hand.

Meet our Thanksgiving Tree.
I drew a tree freehand and kept adding branches until it looked semi-realistic. I was trying to make it perfect at one point, then stopped because we'd be covering most if it with leaves anyway.
I had some maple leaf tealight candle holders, which made the perfect outline for my red/pink leaves. Why red and pink? Because I had the most of those colors and didn't want to spend any money in this quick project.
I drew some veins onto the leaves and we wrote things we were thankful for on them. Things like really good guacamole. God's provision, Dora, and an "easy and uneventful commute".
I was planning on making more leaves, but with slicing my finger, I'm going to just assume the top branches are empty because the wind swept the leaves away. 
Also,scripture and a turkey that live in our kitchen. His name is Butterball.
So tell me...
Are you decorating for Thanksgiving?
If so, link your Thanksgiving decorations in the comments!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Unexpected gifts, why I'm not a feminist and... the 2 week wait?

1. What's something you take for granted, that when you stop and think about it you feel truly grateful for?
I too often forget how blessed we are to have Tom's parents in the same building as us. When we get home from work, they oftentimes have food waiting for us, or have ordered something. With our odd evening schedules, this is such a God-send. Otherwise, we wouldn't be eating dinner until 10pm. They also come spend time playing and taking care of Dora when we are away or visiting my family, and we can always run over for a cup of sugar :)
2. The color brown-love it or no? What's your favorite shade of brown? Most loved something in your home or closet in a shade of brown?
Generally, I'm not a brown person. I guess my favorite thing we have in our house that is brown would be my hope chest. An old piece of furniture that my mother found when I was a kid. Now it houses our towels bathroom soap. Is it still a hope chest if it houses our toiletries and toilet paper?

3. What's something you're looking forward to today?
Returning to bed. Which sounds horrible, but I work a split shift so it's my remaining 3 hours of sleep.

4. The word 'feminism' is not new, but it has been generating all kinds of headlines in recent days and months. What do you think/feel when you hear the word? If you're a woman, do you want to be described as a feminist? 
I do not like the word feminist, and not because I'm a down-trodden wife. Feminism is defined as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” but this isn't what the Bible teaches. Since the Bible says that women are to be their husband's helper and under the general leadership of men, and that's where I'm going to be. It's not a popular thing, going against secular worldview (or easy, for that matter. I am a woman too and I want to be in charge!) But I won't disobey God's word because of what I want. He saved me, so of course I will follow his word (specifically 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 14, and Ephesians 5).

Additionally, when that word comes up, it often means abortion. Abortion is not a right. Becoming pregnant and a mother is a gift, and if you choose to end it, that is a choice. Not a right. And while I'm all for equal pay and stopping violence against women I think that we can still try and break the glass ceiling without lumping it in with murdering children.
5. What's something you personally can't eat without making a mess?
Food. Mainly though, crackers, chips, anything that crumbles.

6. When did you last surprise someone with a little gift or when were you last surprised by someone with a little gift? What was it?
My mother-in-law gifted us some 'real' silverware. But I think that was also for her, because she wasn't a huge fan eating with the Ikea silverware that we got for $4.99. Though, I have to say, it's a nice upgrade :)

7. Share a favorite quote, saying, song lyric or scripture relating to gratitude.
Without a doubt, Come, My Soul, With Every Care. I tried to find a nice, modest congregation rendition, but came up with soloists and large men's choirs and some very different renditions (country version, different words, new verses, etc) that just didn't do it for me. But here are the words:
Come, my soul, with every care,
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He himself bids you to pray,
And will never turn away.
You are coming to your King,
Large petitions with you bring;
For his grace and power are such
None can ever ask too much.
When we sang it for the first time, I remember welling up with tears. I was fresh off my first miscarriage and this song perfectly said what I needed to hear. If you sing, you'll know what I mean when I say that this song just fills you up. You feel full afterwards. And, did you know, it was actually written by John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Two-week wait. We started 'trying' this month and should have an idea if it 'worked' around Thanksgiving. I put the quotes around those words because they just seem so ridiculous. Pray for us, that we're blessed again :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Great American Smokeout '14

Back when I was young, every adult I knew smoked. Granted, they were mainly farmers, farmers wives and the crotchety bus driver. I mean, if anyone had a (completely bogus "life is just too stressful") excuse to smoke, were you really going to argue with those guys? Rural farmers loved to smoke. Everyone I knew, really. All my siblings and even my sister, who was and still is the most health conscious person I know, smoked.

The Great American Smokeout challenges smokers to stop smoking cigarettes for 24 hours with the hopes that this decision will continue on forever.
The Study That Helped Spur the U.S. Stop-Smoking Movement
The Surgeon General made the announcement in 1964 that smoking was in fact, bad for you, and according to the CDC, "more than 45 million American adults still smoke, more than 8 million are living with a serious illness caused by smoking, and about 438,000 Americans die prematurely each year as a result of tobacco use". This year marks 50 years since that report was first issued.
And then, here I am. 
I've never smoked one cigarette but have trouble catching my breath when walking, reaching for things on shelves and when it's chilly outside. I'm currently fighting a cold (thanks Tom), which I get advance warning of when I feel the congestion starting in my lungs and throat. And every year I come down with at least one cold which leads to bronchitis (always followed by laryngitis), which has severely damaged my voice in the process. I used to be able to sing well and speak without my voice cutting out. Now I find myself having to cough and clear my throat every few minutes and my voice has audibly changed due to loosing it for three weeks in 2010. I sometimes get pains in my chest for no reason where it hurts to breathe. I know it's because I grew up in a dense cloud of smoke for 16 years. Secondhand smoke is not a rumor that was made up to convince parents to quit.

This day means a lot to me.
I know these Smokeout event still take place, but I can't seem to find any stickers or pamphlets being distributed or cardboard cutouts of a diseased lung displayed next to a healthy one. I know that it probably because it's more likely you'd find this event in a school, college or hospital- where I am not. So that means, for everyone else who isn't a school or employed as a medical professional (or sick) you're missing this day as well. So here it is, my plea. Call or text the smokers in your life and urge them try one more time. For their kids, for their health and to hopefully kill this horrible habit. Put it on Facebook. Tweet it and if you're going to try quitting, look for some buddies to do it with you.

So tell me...
Anyone else have family and friends who still smoke?
Anyone grow up in a cloud of second hand smoke?
Anyone taking the Great Smokeout challenge?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Escape to Treasure Island

This past weekend, Tom and I ran off to Florida. We were hoping to relax on the beach and enjoy some beautiful warm weather. After all, the Nov. average in the St. Petersburg/Treasure Island area is in the high 70s to low 80s.

To start things off right, we quickly learned that we had the 'tour director' pilot who took a nice loop around NYC for an aerial view. I love those guys. Much like the pilot who few us down to the Grand Canyon in May. They must love their jobs.
Beautiful Blue Ridge (we think?) Mountains.
Atlanta, in all it's sprawling glory.
The photo doesn't do it justice, this city had so many 'arms', stretching in all directions.
When we arrived, we went to the Spaghetti Warehouse (which we kept calling the Lasagna Factory- a much better name in my opinion). The food was delicious, and in the center of Ybor City, Tampa. The buildings in this area were incredibly beautiful, and full of character. I would definitely recommend coming for the spaghetti, and walking around afterwards.

We then made our way over to the Manatee Viewing Center, at the TECO electric plant near Tampa. The electric plant takes in the cold water in the bay and uses it to cool the machines, releasing warm water back out. The manatees typically show up in early November to stay the cold months, and the busiest time of the year is in January, when you can see tons of manatees, sticking their nose above the water and swimming around.
Beautiful Spanish Moss was growing everywhere. This, in my mind, is the iconic tree of the south. I'm sure this is due to Steel Magnolias and Forest Gump, which I might have to watch again. It's been a while.
Quick selfie before church. Because I've realized around this point that we have about 1 photo together, for every vacation we've gone on. Anyone else fail to document themselves actually on vacation? I could very easily be stealing some stranger's photos, since we are rarely in them.
After church, we drove to Sawgrass Lake Park (and their resident alligators). Of course, we made several back stories for the alligators, who were being taunted by the fish and birds (who would swim over their tails or would land right next to them). Or, maybe they were full after eating tourist that morning. Or, they became vegetarians, due to the evil looking squirrels that inhabit the swamp (judging from signs warning us to not feed them.)
That evening it was pouring down rain. So, we went to dinner and movie.
But, it was the best movie. Go see Big Hero 6. Best movie we've seen in the longest time.
 And, the next day, still rainy. But we had tickets to Typhoon Lagoon, and nothing was stopping us. Except that the park was closed for the season, meaning we were directed to go to Blizzard Beach. Still fun, though this park was definitely more geared to smaller kids. The slides and tubes were fun, but they had a lack of Disney characters, only a goofy gator on skis. It didn't really feel like a Disney park, but we didn't mind. Especially since no one was there. It was pretty surreal experience, with zero lines to stand in.
We've always loved the Waffle House, located on the way to my mother's from NYC- but this one was right across the street from our hotel. Of course, we became honorary regulars for those 4 days. I'm sure they were heartbroken when we didn't show up on Wednesday. Maybe I should write a letter to explain...
Finally, on our last day, we got beach weather (and here's some proof that we were there)!
We only went into the water up to our stomachs before getting out. The water temp stayed around 65-70 degrees, which is definitely not comfortable. Tom said that he wished he would've booked for the summer instead since we never really got to swim. I told him he was nuts, this turned out to be a great vacation. The time spent goofing around a new place made up for any botched beach plans we made. The entire vacation reminded us of why we love to travel together, making the best of what some would call a 'ruined' beach vacation. 

So tell me...
Have you ever taken an off-season beach trip (and was it warm enough to swim?)
Have you ever gone to a Disney park and had no lines to stand in?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanking our Veterans, Gilmore Girls, and avoiding the 'empty' subway car

1. We celebrate Veteran's Day in the US of A on November 11th. When did you last interact with a member of the armed forces (either currently serving or retired)? Have you ever written a letter to a soldier, bought a meal or coffee for a solider, said an unprompted thank you to a soldier you encountered out and about somewhere? If you're not in the US, comment on a similar holiday in your own country.
I really don't have anyone close to me who is a veteran, but I send messages to those I know on Facebook on Veterans Day. And, yesterday, the Delta flight crew we had returning from Tampa made a big announcement and applauded those on board who might be or have once served us in the military. That was nice.
2. You can have fifty pounds of anything at all (except money)...what would you choose?
I've no idea, good thing no one is really offering? I might say something like 50 pounds of weight loss, but that seems a bit extreme. Maybe 50 pounds of apples? Or perhaps bananas. Fruit is obviously a big motivator in my life.

3. When did you last receive an invitation in the 'real' mail? What was it for and did you attend? When it comes to RSVP-ing, are you an 'early responder' or a 'last minute, barely-under-the-wire' kind of guest?
I am a 'early responder' but, my husband is a last minute person. We got an invite to a special dessert talk with Ken Ham, when he came to Long Island a few months ago. And despite having this invite a month in advance, he forgot it, and then the night before wrote an email asking if we could still go. No reply was sent back, not surprisingly. In general, my husband handles his own appointments, but anything that pertains to me goes into Google, with an invite to Tom, with email reminders set up for us 3 days in advance, 1 day in advance, and a text 6 hours before.

4. What's something you really don't like to waste?
Shampoo/conditioner/soap in the shower. We have a refillable wall dispenser, and when a bottle is almost gone, I spend about 20 minutes trying to get every drop into the wall dispenser. Any benefit given by the wall dispensor is probably overshadowed by my efforts of getting all the product out of the bottle.

5. Cheers, Friends, MASH, Seinfeld...of the ones listed, your favorite long-running sitcom?
Can I say non of the above? I am currently going through Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and have always loved King of Queens. Do those count as 'long-running'?

6. What decision are you glad you made?
Um, today I am glad that I chose to give up my seat on the subway when that person came on and cleared the car out. An empty subway car is empty for a reason.

7. In this month of 'Thanksgiving' what is one thing that's different today than it was a year ago that you're grateful for?
This Thanksgiving Tom and I will have been married 1.5 years, and have definitely grown much closer. Also, last year this time we were still 'winging' it, trying to figure out a routine and how to live with someone else. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I year ago today (the day after Veterans Day) I started working my morning split shift. 6-9am, from home in my pjs, answering phone calls and sending emails. I then have the late-morning to afternoon off, and commute into the office from 2-7pm. This has been the best thing to have happened to my job, since it allows me time to be caught up on all the household chores, make us breakfast and spend time with Tom watching the news. Weekday mornings, incidentally, have been the best part of my day since starting this shift.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I'm a fraud. This blog is a fraud.

This morning, I was greeted with a nice reminder of things to come:
In three days, we're flying down to Tampa to track down summer for one last hurrah. Back in June (as soon as we returned from the West Coast) Tom booked this trip and achieved genius status because he somehow knew we'd need it. It's cold up here, and in precisely three days, I will be past my current 'oh joy, its's fall!" mindset and move into the next phase of "where's all the heat??!". 

So, time to pack, clean off my desk at work, and prepare to go on vacation. In addition to preparing all my name change documents. Yes, you read correct. To be perfectly honest here, I'll have been married 1.5 years this month and haven't yet changed my name. This blog, The Newest Vazquez's is a fraud! 

I never had any intention of keeping my last name (and was/am excited to change). But, let me play the blame game here. We had to track down the pastor who married us to get a document back for our first two months of marriage, and then in July we promptly put the envelope of documents in Tom's dresser, never to be seen again. Until September 29th, when we finally found it. October 1st, with all my info filled out on the change of address forms, the government 'shuts down'. And then Tom booked our Coastal vacation tickets. And then one week after returning, he books tickets to Tampa for this weekend. And as long as there are airline tickets in my maiden name, we can't go anywhere. He seems to have this need to always have a vacation booked. He's sick, in the best kind of way. Don't get me wrong, it's a good problem to have, but I forbid him from going near Priceline or until December so I get a chance to change my name. I should consider adding a site blocker to his computer, just to make sure he doesn't sneak back on, book another trip and get his 'fix'. 

So, tell me...
Anyone out there do this name change thing? Any suggestions would be helpful!
Does your husband have an interesting addiction, like planning trips?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More Clearly Myself

We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.
Lynn Hall
Do you ever find yourself living life and suddenly realize how much you've changed from your "previous self"? It happens regularly for me, often spurred on by the most commonplace things.
I asked the waitress to change the station playing Nicky Minaj's most recent song (yup, that one) because it was foul. We were at a sushi restaurant. Whatever happened to the classics? Windchimes by the River and Pan Flute guys, on repeat? Bring those back please. Wanting something and finding nothing wrong in asking for it- that's not something I would've expected to see from my previous self. I would've just kept quiet.

When someone asks me for directions in a neighborhood I'm only passing through myself... and I give them directions like I live there. I realize that I must look like a local, since they chose to ask me out of all the people to walk by them in the past two minutes. I remember I gave my first directions out when I lived here for only a month (and barely knew how to get home myself). I called Tom all excited, and asked if I was a New Yorker yet. I think he said not yet.

Being told by my family or friends from anywhere other than NYC that I walk so fast (or talk too fast, or am so busy, etc). It's completely true, I rarely am able to find a moment of calm, everything here is so hurried. Even at home, in complete silence, the factory outside has a beeping forklift backing up, cars honking, radiator hissing and banging. At 3 am, you can still hear the train rumbling by a block away. Some of my favorite memories of the year working in the country before moving here involve a cup of coffee on the back porch, relaxing as the sun rose. 
It's still a shock to me whenever we call a cab or interact with anyone who is Mexican/Puerto Rican/ Dominican (etc) and they assume I can speak or understand Spanish. I know that this is because I no longer have that "I have no idea what is being said around me" look on my face and oftentimes laugh along because I do have a decent idea what the topic is. At least I fit in, and will hopefully have some more Spanish under my belt before we return to Puerto Rico this summer.

I look around my home and realize that I never really was the type to dream about my future husband, kids, home and domesticity. But I kind of am rocking the whole wife thing. This morning we were talking about life insurance and last night want on a date to come home and do dishes. I woke at 6am(!?!) and made breakfast. My house is usually clean and stocked, and I wasn't an especially tidy or organized person up until I moved out on my own.
But. why? These all add up to a substantially different person from who I was even 5 years ago.

Growing up I wasn't really taught to be social or confident. To be fair, there wasn't another child around for miles around, so a lot of my childhood was spent with adults or playing outdoors. In grade school, little kids can get along with everyone, for a while. But when I reached 5th & 6th grade, AKA the awkward years, I suddenly found out that I didn't know how to talk to people. In the years when subgroups were formed, I fit nowhere. I wasn't into sports, my studies, fashion or really exceptional in any way. I was just quiet. Which led to an angsty teenager that then faded into a shy "nice enough" college student that didn't have much self esteem.

How things have changed. I'm reminded of this when I run into someone I haven't seen since college, high school, and especially grade school. When someone says 'Wow- you've changed so much" I realize that I just grew up. Life happens, and while I'm sure I would be different had I lived on a farm or in a suburb, it would've happened eventually. Life's trials and triumphs- struggling to make ends meet, learning how to live with roommates (and then a husband), then making it through two pregnancies that ended earlier than they should've. Learning how to be married and budget and plan and pray- all of it changed me. And while changing usually happens gradually, this year I can visibly see the changes in myself.

So tell me...
Are you different than you were 5 years ago?
What would be the biggest difference?
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