Friday, March 27, 2015

Breaking News- 2015 A-Z Theme Reveal

It's that time again....

The month is approaching where I join 1700 other bloggers to write every day for the month of April.
We write based on a different letter, A-Z, every day except for Sundays.

And this year the theme is....
I've compiled a list of places, A-Z, where you should visit when you visit NYC this year. Or next year.
Or when you decide to be a hometown tourist (as we often do).

The places will be:
Well-known- Grand Central Terminal
Off the 'beaten path'- Highline
Somewhat Obscure- Manhattanhenge

Each post will include:

  -History Lesson- Information about the place
  -Tips and Tricks- from when I've gone or what I've heard from other travellers
  -Basic Info- website, hours, phone and Tripadvisor link
  -Directions- Public Transit... because when you are here you should get the whole experience. Including the subway!

Many who visit this site either live in the Northeast and regularly make their way to the city, or are from further away (Georgia, Texas, Washington, etc) and are always interested in the photos from around the city. And this month (due to sickness, migraines and a large period of time without a phone/camera) I'm featuring work some amazing photographers based in NYC that I found on Instagram.

Follow one (or more) of the following so you don't miss out!

    Blogger icon photo facebook_zpseef9d1da.png       Google+ icon photo gplus_zpsa51d23ec.png      
Facebook     Google+     Twitter
So tell me..
Have you ever traveled to NYC, and wanted an insider's guide?
Where do you live, and what places would you recommend?

Are you participating in the A-Z challenge? You can sign up here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All About Candy and Commercial Easter

1. This coming weekend is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Do you celebrate Easter in your home? What was your favorite Easter tradition as a child?
As a child we didn't do much in terms of celebrating Resurrection Day, but I remember returning from church to look for my Easter basket. My parents decided that hiding the basket ensured more time spent preoccupied, and they often hid it very well. I remember dying Easter eggs and my mother would make homemade coconut, jelly and peanut butter "eggs". My mother used to sew my dresses and I remember some frilly ones during the Easter season.
2. George Weinberg is quoted as saying, 'Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.' Agree or disagree? Share your own thoughts on the word hope.
Um... I'm not sure how a feeling can abandon it's owner, but I do think you can either give up on it or just flat-our change your mind. Sounds like something a wise old man would say to encourage a teenager in a feel-good movie.

3. Weigh in with a yay or nay on the traditional Easter candies. A solid milk chocolate bunny? Cadbury Creme Eggs? Peeps? Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs? Jellybeans? Coconut Cream Eggs? Of the candies listed, which one would you most like to find in your Easter basket?
I do not like solid-chocolate anything, can only eat so many Peeps or jelly beans, but I love anything that is filled with peanut butter. Those, plus the Whoppers "Robin Eggs" always left me in a happy sugar coma as a kid.

I don't think I've ever really had a Cadbury Creme Egg, but remember the commercial well. We had recorded "The Wizard of Oz" on videotape during Easter one year, so ever 10 minutes you had a bunch of random animals in bunny ears trying to be the new Cadbury bunny. Since this was the movie I chose to watch on repeat growing up, this commercial is ingrained in my mind as much as those terrifying flying monkeys and the lollipop guild.

4. When did you last feel 'like a kid in a candy store'?
When Tom and I took my friend and her little girl to Dylan's Candy Bar. The entire place is modeled after Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and just smells like sugar. I can't imagine any of the workers ever enjoying sugar after being in the place 8 hours a day, but you do get an instant contact sugar high when you walk in. They have some crazy decor, such as this lollipop sculpture:
5. What's something you know you do differently than most people? Does that bother you? Does it bother other people?
I was just reminded the other day how different I am from my husband, this time because of grocery shopping. I oftentimes get frustrated when we go to get items for a meal, and instead of having a plan to get in and out, he prefers to wander around until he decides what he likes to cook. That drives me insane, but I think that we've resolved to shop separately from now on :)
Farin: "List complete."
Tom: "Oh, ribs are on sale."
Very different shopping styles

6. Palm Springs CA, Palm Beach FL, or the PALMetto State...of the three mentioned, which sunny spot would you most like to visit right now? Which have you visited at one time or another?
I would take any of them at this point, but I guess I would prefer Palm Springs.

Maybe it's because I've been to Florida several times but California just once. That, or maybe since we've been toying with the idea of visiting the west coast again this year so it's on my mind already.

7. If you could change the length of a day would you lengthen it or shorten it? Tell us why.
Lengthen it. I'm guessing most people would agree, but only as long as our bodies wouldn't need even more sleep to function. What good would a 30 hour day be if we still needed 10 hours of sleep to function? Sounds good in theory but I'm sure we'd still get less than the recommended amount, be dragging ourselves, and crave an even longer day. Good thing we aren't in control of these things!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Since the questions this week mostly all revolved around Easter (the commercial side anyway), my mind has switched over to Easter mode.  Growing up, we sang this song in church every year, in the weeks approaching Easter.

Ev'ry morning is Easter morning from now on!
Ev'ry day's resurrection day, the past is over and gone!

Good-bye guilt, good-bye fear, good riddance! Hello, Lord, Hello, sun!
I am one of the Easter People! My new life has begun!

Daily news is so bad it seems the Good News seldom gets heard.
Get it straight from the Easter People! God's in charge spread the word!

So tell me..
What is your favorite Easter candy?
Any Easter traditions (God-centered or worldly)?
Do you have a song that just brings back a childhood holiday?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Is This Real Life?

Sometimes I feel like Dorthy, waking up in Oz. 
I expect to wake up from this weird city life, and wake up in rural Pennsylvania. Things sometimes seem weird here.
Yesterday I was at the DMV, updating my license and I skipped a huge line because I made an appointment online. I only spent 10 minutes at the DMV, which is unheard of, and the people I passed coming in were glaring at me as I walked out with my paperwork in hand. 
I was never the super-organized person, the one to have all their ducks in a row and be able to skip past all the other people in line. I would be the person to show up late, and have to fill the documents out there, and return to the back of the line. 
I had about 2 hours to kill, so I enjoyed a almond pretzel from Auntie Anne's and found some flats for $7 in Old Navy. I browsed around Marshalls at all the home decor and planned to return when I could actually spend time looking around. 
In high school I had never even gone to a mall, until my best friend brought me one weekend. It was all too much. Even in college I bought all my clothes at JC Penney and everything else from Walmart. I could never imagine being the type of person to just go shopping, how extravagant. 
I left for work and saw a troupe of 'dancers' the next car over. So, when the train stopped and the made their way to my subway car, I got up and went to their old one. Got a seat, and looked into the car I just left at all the people trying to ignore the blasting music and contorting school-skipping kids. Then a family of tourists asked for directions and after helping them I was profusely thanked. 

When the subway reached my station I was already positioned at door that let the staircase I needed to make a quick exit. Because it feels pretty awesome to walk up a staircase alone in front of the 40 people behind me attempting to squeeze up it all at once.
I am still shocked that I am living in a large city, navigating it and knowing where I am going. Knowing to avoid that block because all those people are just leaning on the buildings. Never will you find a group of 'strangers' casually doing that... unless maybe this is in Midtown, and they are waiting for a ticket line to something open up. Knowing the tricks on the subway to avoid the smelly subway car, the dancing kids and how to make a quick exit to street level, I feel almost like an expert. 

I never used to feel like an expert. 

I never used to have confidence in my ability to live on my own, let along here. I still often have 'out of body' experiences, where I am running to catch my train and I realize that the old me would've been shocked. How do I even know where I am going? Know not to walk down that block? How did I learn all this? Well, I guess the short answer would be that Tom is a great teacher, but the better answer is that I just never thought to try new things. This real life still surprises me.

I'm sure that this is normal.

When someone becomes a parent I'm sure that they remember back to when they were praying to become pregnant, shell shocked when the child they longed for was placed in their arms. How do they do this, be a parent? Then they suddenly are doing it, and doing it well.

Maybe you were hired at an amazing job and are shocked that your minimal qualifications got you there,. Maybe you think that the suit you borrowed from your roommate is fooling the person hiring you. But then you say something useful during a meeting and everyone looks up, and your realize that you can do this.

Maybe you are like me and moved somewhere very different, the one place you never planned to live and even told others you would never move to.

So tell me...
Something that you are brand new to, that feels overwhelmingly different?
Is there anything that you feel like you've conquered?
Did you ever get flashbacks to how it was?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On Confidence and Green Acres

1. Share a favorite song, book, or movie title containing the word green?
So, Green Acres immediately came to mind.
Upon listening to the lyrics, I laughed at how exactly opposite this song is from my life.
Here, the husband drags the ritzy wife to the country. In my case, the exact opposite happened.
Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.

2. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, 'Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.' Would you agree? Are you a believer in luck?
In certain things, silly things. We tend to stay away from that word since we believe that most things that happen to us were set in motion for our good by God's glory (and we don't want to take any importance away from that and give it to luck). But if we're playing a game and and you get a good hand, you're lucky. Or, if you drop a buttered piece of bread and it does that mid-air spin (in slow motion, of course) to land faceup on the plate.... you are lucky :)

3. Spring water, Hot Springs, handspring, spring fling, spring break, spring fever, offspring...which 'spring' word best applies to something in your day, week, or life right now?
Spring fever. I've gotten to the point where I am disappointed when I see that the temperatures are below 50. I've been spoiled.. just last month it was a heatwave it if got above 40. But I miss flowers most of all, anyone else with me there?
 4. What's something you do to make yourself look or feel more confident?
Put on some makeup or dress up a bit. Not something I grew up knowing how to do, but once I figured out that it was okay to take some pride in your appearance I realized that it's a definite confidence boost. Putting your best foot face forward and all.

5.  It's National Celery Month...are you a fan? If so, what's a snack or dish you enjoy that calls for celery?
I am a fan, and our favorite way to use them is for holidays and parties. Mix together cream cheese and Lipton Onion Soup Mix well, until it tastes right (you know, oniony). Spread onto 2 inch pieces of celery and munch. And, because it's celery, you can almost fool yourself into thinking they are a healthy alternative to chips and dip.

6. What's one thing you wish you'd learned sooner?
I guess to be confident in my choices. They may have been bad ones, but I used to second guess myself a lot and look to others for their input. Since college I've gotten past this, and am a pretty decisive person :)

7. Would you like to own a second home? If so where would you want that home to be?
Sure- one in the country with room for a cow, some chicken and room to garden. I would love to have a small homestead where I could live, and make this NYC apartment our second home, to visit family and host visitors.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.
My aunt arrived on Friday, right on schedule, but this morning I woke from a pregnancy test dream. No- I don't believe in dreams 'telling' me anything or as a message from God- but I do believe in my preoccupation with figuring out my cycle and when I ovulate. I woke for my early morning shift, logged onto Amazon and placed the order for some ovulation prediction strips. Hopefully I can figure this out!

So tell me...
Are you more like the husband or the wife in Green Acres?
Have you ever done a handspring? I don't think I've advanced past somersaults, despite gymnastics class.
Where would you build your second home?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Things Might Not Go According to (My) Plan

Sometimes I feel behind schedule in life.

My 10 year high school reunion is supposed to be in a few months, which we all know is about seeing where everyone has ended up. Did the jocks make it pro like they aspired? Did the cheerleader end up with the perfect life as we all expected? And..... how will I answer the questions "what have you done in the past 10 years?" I have plenty to say, about going to college and more so about moving to New York, but needless to say, I'm stumped on how to explain our current stage of life.

Considering how New Yorkers are known for fast talking and fast walking pace of life, they tend to put family and relationships after their career, getting that set up and established first. Many of our friends will not likely settle down until their early 30s due to education demands or career advances.

In contrast to now being one of those faster talkers/walkers, the country side of me feels behind schedule. It seems as though my friends in the country are on their 3rd or 4th baby, buying a house, or selling their first. We were the first to get married in our NYC group, but I'm sure many of our Pennsylvania guests have been tapping their watches.
And now, with this delay in a baby. I understand that we look like we're enjoying a comfortable lifestyle on purpose.

We're the perfect DINK (dual income no kids) couple. And, as the Wikipedia page describes (yes, DINK really is established, having it's own wiki page)...
It describes a high-earning couple who do not have children yet and are therefore able to afford a more expensive consumer lifestyle.
"When are you going to settle down and have kids?" we're asked even now, and immediately I feel like replying that we are working on it. Which is creepy, because it's telling people what goes on in the bedroom. I guess a better way to put it would be to say that we go on trips and out to dinner as a way to be a couple while we are childless. Or, we would rather sit at home and watch our child drool instead of going on vacation. Would rather host playdates at our house instead of game night/dinner parties. And, immediately following God and our relationship with each other, children are what we desire most.
But it's a hard thing to understand, not getting what you want when you want it. This is America, in the 21st century. Immediate gratification and if not..... how do we fix it? The belief that we will see our plans come into reality is such a modern day belief, we even try to find some reassurance that things will happen from scripture.

I'm sure everyone will be quoting Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And again... this was written to NOT telling you that God desires you to have an easy life. You have to take every verse in context. and this verse was written to Israelites in Babylonian captivity. Not you.

But there are verses to help me understand that things might NOT go according to my plan.
He tells me they are going to go by His plan, and that if I seek him first, and find shelter in his grace, I will be satisfied in any outcome.

Psalm 18:30
As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This is a hard thing to explain to the "when are you settling down and having children" crowd, but it's enough for me.

So tell me...
Have you ever gone to a reunion and encountered this?
And have you ever dealt with explaining infertility to others?
What did you say/do?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring Flowers and Ikea Furniture

1. What's the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word 'spring'? Which phrase best describes the season of spring where you live right now (today)-sprung! almost there, or still waiting?
Daffodils. Then crocuses, tulips, and the smell of wet dirt. Obviously flowers are the best part of spring for this farmer's daughter. Still waiting for that weather, but the temperature is going to reach 60 today!
2. Bed, couch, stapler, garage door, computer mouse, recliner, flashlight, door knob...which household item containing springs most needs replacing in your home? Speaking of springs...did you ever own a Slinky?
Our couch. Besides the fact that our cat sometimes claws the corners, it has lost its 'spring' in the main cushion. We owned nothing but a television prior to marriage, so when we moved in after the honeymoon we went to Ikea. And bought every piece of furniture that that is in our house from there (except mattress).

This summer I plan on doing a 'how did they hold up' review on all the Ikea pieces. Short story: we love our bookshelf and bed frame but you should avoid buying their kitchen chairs. They wobbled after a month, and are semi-hazardous to sit in.

The first blog post I wrote was about moving, our Ikea mega trip and the scary stuff we found on our fire escape

3. March is Women's History Month. Share a favorite quote by a woman.
We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.
Lynn Hall, Where Have All the Tigers Gone?, 1989

4. What's a question that looms large in your mind right now?
Will I get a positive test this weekend. Starting to think that this is a recurring question, in which case I'll offer another.

Wondering if I'll be able to pull off my A-Z challenge, since it requires a lot of photography in the next 3 weeks, and the weather isn't the most accommodating.

5. Are you a sugar freak? By that I mean how much do you love sugar? With all the bad press sugar gets these days, have you made any efforts to reduce the amount of sugar you consume?
I am, and I can't say that I've made a strong effort to cut back. I have moved towards coffee without sugar, but sometimes Dunkin Donuts coffee just needs some syrup. I do like hot lattes without sugar though. This does not sound very impressive, but I do drink a lot of coffee. So there's that.

6. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?
I'll take either. To have work that you love would be optimal, but seeing as how I am not at all dependent on that for happiness of fulfillment, I'd happily spend less time doing something I don't love (which opens up time for other ventures that I might). Like drinking coffee and daydreaming about daffodils.

7. Ever been to Texas? Of the top ten Texas tourist attractions which would you most like to see-The Alamo, The San Antonio River Walk, The State Capital, Dallas World Aquarium, Padre Island National Seashore, Houston Space Center, Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Moody Gardens, or Galveston Island?
Can't say I have, but we did consider a Gulf Coast/Padre Island honeymoon until we really sat down and thought about it. A lot of travelling and running around. We took a cruise instead.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Made some more homemade bread, which always makes me happy :)

So tell me...
Do you dream about the flowers that spring will bring?
Have you ever made homemade bread, and what is your recipe?
If you're doing the April A-Z challenge, do you have your posts written/photos taken?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In like a lion, in NYC

March definitely came in with a roar, but as I was walking home last night with the temperature at 45 degrees, I realized we've had our last snowfall of the season. On March 1st while Tom and I were out gallivanting around Manhattan, I was able to gather some photos from around Times Square. And then on this last Thursday, a snowstorm fell on NYC and made for some pretty photos in Brooklyn. Since I'm a sucker for beautiful snow photos, this is a post about pretty snowfall in NYC.

So tell me...
Is is snowy where you are? Where are you?
Do you find snow to be beautiful, or just a nuisance to be dealt with?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Gathering Together in Church

I mentioned last week that we're gearing up for a busy season of traveling and being visited in our home. One person mentioned that it sounds like we run a tourism business out of our home. And, this is true. We love having people over and showing them places they either haven't seen before or spending time with them in our home. And, because most come on Saturday and leave late on Sunday, we take them to church.
Bet you didn't expect that huh? Neither do they, usually. Despite getting an itinerary with "Church" written on it.
Like we're joking.

Some of our guests don't like this, saying they came to see Manhattan, not a pulpit. A few love it, and then there are the majority who are fine attending as a novelty. A one-time fee they pay us for free room-a-board in a place where a hotel room is expensive. But since most of our visitors say that they are Christians, (they tend to be of the non-practicing, non-fruitbearing variety) it's not surprising they don't attend services, hear the preaching of the Word, or have church family. And they defend this tooth and nail, telling us all about how church membership is not required, and they are happy to be homeless Christians.

You might not believe you are sinning by being a homeless Christian, but you are being unwise and not heeding the Word on this matter.
Ephesians 5:19 
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
Colossians 2:2 
that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ
1 Corinthians 12:12 
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
Going to church on Sundays, attending bible studies, meeting with other women for coffee and even having them as Facebook friends has drastically improved my walk with the Lord. Before finding a church family to worship with- I had only a few areas in my life dedicated to God. Bible reading in the morning, prayer before meals and before bed. But when you are enjoying the company of other godly women and listening to biblical preaching- it's a support network, a blessing we are given from God, to help us be comforted in our Christian walk.

For those who attend with us and are not regenerated, we pray that God reaches them that day or in the future. 
And for those who are homeless Christians, we hope to instill a sense of longing. A desire to have a loving family of believers, where at least once a week we can run and seek refuge. This is not a Christian world, and while you can't 'loose your faith' once you truly have it, you will be severely limited in your growth by being a homeless Christian.

So tell me....
Were you ever a homeless (and proud) Christian like I was?
Do you have guests over, and take them to church?
How have you seen personal growth since finding a church family?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Unexpected "Top 10" Photographs, and Officially A Vazquez

1. 'In like a lion, out like a lamb'...does the first part of this saying describing March weather ring true  where you live? 

This was March 1st in Times Square. In like a lion was accurate.
And how about this fool standing in the middle of the street for the perfectly aligned Times Square photo?
2. March 4th is National Grammar Day. What common grammatical error bothers you the most? 
Literally. Also, its vs it's.

3. William Arthur Ward says- 'The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.' Which one are you?
I suppose I'm an optimist. I would have said realist in the past but this has changed since becoming a Christian. In trusting God, I know that any unfortunate situation (sickness, job loss, barrenness) does not mean that it's time to start scrambling to fix it myself. It's time to pray, hand it over to God, and yes, then be proactive. Understanding that God works all things for his glory reminds me that I'm blessed to have anything at all. 

4. What's something you need to 'march forth and conquer' this month?
I suppose that would be saving money. We're at the point in the year where we start planning out the big vacations, in addition to trips, outings and a schedule of friends/family visiting the city. This weekend my best friend from Pennsylvania is coming with her daughter, and a NYC trip during the winter means that money will be spent. But I'm taking a break from buying all non-essentials until April.

5. An ongoing debate around you dust first, then vacuum or vacuum first, then dust? Of the two routine household chores, which do you dislike the least? How's that for wording? 
Floors are always first, especially since I have to leave dishes out to dry and sweeping would stir up the stuff into the air. And everything I dusted would be dirty again. I've realized that I have very specific reasons for doing things the way I do, in the order I do them in. I enjoy dusting, and usually wipe down shelves and tables each morning.

I hate mopping especially, and anything that requires smelly cleaning solution will be done right before I leave the house (or sometimes I just hide behind a closed bedroom door until it dissipates). I hate the smell. Tom doesn't think about it before starting, and will pour Fabuloso or Mistolin our trash cans while I'm eating something a room away. I'm incredibly picky about scents as well, especially floor cleaners. Tom loves the brand Mistolin, while I prefer Fabuloso (but not the purple one). I will settle for Gardenia (the only acceptable Mistolin scent) but gag on the Apple scent.

6. According to, the ten most photographed sites in the U.S.A. are-Cinderella's Castle in Orlando, Southernmost House in Key West Florida, The Space Needle in Seattle, The Site of the Boston Massacre in Boston, The Bellagio Lake/fountains in Las Vegas, The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Coit Tower in San Fransisco, The Art Institute of Chicago, Niagara Falls, and snagging the number one spot-The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. 

How many on this list have you photographed? Which on the list would you most like to visit and photograph?

6/10... The ones I haven't seen are in cities I haven't visited- Las Vegas, Chicago, Key West.... and NYC? Wait... I live there. I've no desire to see the art inside the Guggenheim Museum, and am not impressed by it really. I am shocked that the top photograph isn't the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge or Times Square. Also, Southernmost House? What is that? And I've never even heard of Coit Tower until we were planning our trip there last May.
7. Fifty years ago Monday (March 2, 1965The Sound of Music premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in NYC. Have you seen the film? Do you own a copy? On a scale of 1-10 how much do you love it (or not)? Ten=best movie ever. If you're a fan, what's your favorite scene or song from the movie? 
I don't remember it other than knowing my elementary music class dedicated a week to watching this movie. And instead of watching the movie I'm pretty sure I was passing notes.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I'm officially a Vazquez! Remember when I mentioned that I was a fraud? I'm not anymore :)

So tell me...
What is your favorite floor cleaner (and which scent)?
Where you shocked by the places on the Top 10 list as well?
How long did it take you to OFFICIALLY change your name, or complete any type of paperwork?

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