…Just another Manic Monday…

I wish it were Sunday, ’cause that’s my fun-day, my I don’t have to run-day….

Are you singing yet?  I have always related so well to this song, we probably all have at some point.  I mean who doesn’t wish it were Sunday or better yet-Saturday?  But, here we are…another Monday.  To boot, the gloomy, soggy weather doesn’t seem to help the spirits.  It seems everywhere around me, everyone just seems to be somewhat lethargic and down.

So, let’s change up the mood a little.

 

5 Tips to get you through this Muggy Monday:

 

1. Blissful Vacation Spot: Google an image of your ideal vacation spot and set it as your background screen on your desktop.  Visualize that heavenly haven, rather than look out the window.

 

2. Spread the Love: Write a happy note/text to someone you love.  I guarantee you, this will bring an instant smile to your face.

 

3. Happy Jamming: Open Pandora and jam to some music as you work…Beats whistling while you work 😉

 

4. Look Ahead: Make weekend plans- You will have something to look forward to on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday…lol.

 

5. Create the Mood: Be extra nice to your co-workers…your friendly mood is sure to be contagious and create a more pleasant atmosphere.

 

So here’s to the weekend Ladies and Gentlemen…Let’s will it to come fast!

Nicki G., The Blissful Wife

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Love Story

For as long as I can remember, I had a “love story plan”.  Being a hopeless romantic and the occasional planner, I had a “detailed – whimsical plan” as to how I would meet my soul mate.  All possible scenarios were thought up thanks to the thousand hopeless romantic comedies I spent many lonely nights obsessively watching.  Never did I think I would meet my best friend, my soul mate, my husband in such an unconventional fashion- an Internet dating site.

As I look back now, it makes sense…everything about Javy, my husband, and me makes sense.

…It was a Sunday afternoon and I had stopped searching my matches; truth be told, there were too many to look at.  However, recognizing my membership would soon expire, I decided to navigate the “sea of available men” who, hopefully, like me, were on the search for “the one”.  That is when I saw him, this incredibly handsome man with the most soulful eyes I had ever seen.

Our eyes didn’t meet across the room at a quaint coffee shop; neither of us reached for the same tomato at the grocery store; rather, the first time I laid eyes on my husband was via the computer, in eHarmony’s ocean of men.

Our story unorthodoxly continues, when I made the first move!  Upon reading his profile, I knew I had to give it a shot; I, at least, had to try and see if perhaps, at most, I could get a nice date out of the whole online experience.

So, I don’t send Javier Garcia your typical five questions, no- I did something so out of my shy and timid character: I wrote him a short and sweet e-mail.  Talk about taking a risk.  I put myself out there and since then I have been re-paid with an outrageously unbelievable love story.

Javy and I soon were talking every day and in a short week, we fell into a pattern- he would wake me up with a sweet morning text, call me every day after work, and four days into getting to know each other on the phone, we planned our first date-The baseball game.

I went home from that date in a daze…butterflies, smiles, and the occasional giddy “laugh out loud” encompassed the entire drive home.  I knew at that moment I would marry this man…no doubt about it…

We soon became inseparable and found out how many crazy things we had in common- from driving the same exact model and color car, to having picked the same wedding song in high school, 12 years before we even met (there is evidence to prove this)!

Six months later, on Christmas Eve, 2010, he proposed to me among family and friends, giving our parents the best gift possible, their children’s happiness.  December 10th, 2011, I married my soul mate.

I had to re-define my love story.  From taking a risk trying online dating to mustering up the courage to make the first move; I learned so much about myself and found the love of my life in the process.  Somehow I came full circle, combining the “bigger plan” with the courage it took to make my love story happen.

Countless times I told God the way I wanted to meet “the one”, and I am sure He had several good laughs on my account.  But His sense of humor certainly matches His creativity because our unconventional love story puts any Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy to shame.

P.S….My husband doesn’t like coffee or tomatoes, so my original plan would have never worked 😉

Tasty and Simple Appitizers are ALWAYS a Hit!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved celebrating birthdays!!  I mean who doesn’t like rockin’ parties, delicious food, and making the birthday queen/king feel absolutely and whole-heartedly loved?   Sure, there is the pesky-little idea of getting older, but that detail can certainly be eased with a great celebration!

…and so you now know this weekend’s plan!  You see April 27th kicks off birthday season in our family…today is my beautiful auntie’s birthday, tomorrow, my veijita’s- Granny Gracie’s B-day…and this list continues throughout May with over 10 significant celebrations of life- including Yours Truly who will be embracing the big 3-0 on the fifteenth of May.

My cousin, Kristy, and I thought a delicious get-together is in order to commemorate Gracie’s 95th birthday, as well as my aunt’s ____ birthday ;).

With that said, I decided to share some appetizer recipes that are sure to explode insanely good flavors on our guests’ taste buds, taking them on the ride of a lifetime!

Cheesy Onion Dip:

2 cups of diced yellow onions

16 oz of softened cream cheese

½ – ¾ cup of mayo

15 oz of finely shredded Swiss cheese (I use Sargento)

2-3 Pinches of brown sugar

2-3 Pinches of ground mustard

1 round King’s Hawaiian Bread

Time to get creative:

1-      Pre-heat oven to 375˚

2-      In an oven-friendly mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayo, brown sugar, ground mustard and mix well.

3-      Add onions and mix

4-      Here is where your ‘arms’ work-out’ for the day comes into play-  Gradually add the shredded cheese, as it will be A VERY GOOD USE OF YOUR UPPER ARM STRENGTH to thoroughly mix it in.

5-      Put dip in for about 25-30 minutes-ovens vary- HOWEVER, DON’T GO FAR- YOU SHOULD BE MIXING YOUR YUMMY CONCOCTION EVERY 7-10 MINUTES!

6-      As the cheese melts, it will be much easier to stir- similar to the cool-down period in your work out ;)… Here is where you can grab a sip of wine as a reward for your strenuous efforts!

7-      The bread will serve as your bread bowl and hold the dip, so cut a BIG circle in the center.  Cut the piece you just removed into smaller serving pieces.

8-      Decorate to please, as I am known for great food, but poor presentation-so I am no one to give advice on that! 😉

9-      Once your dip is CREAMY and the cheese is completely melted, you are ready to transfer to bread bowl and serve!

Tomato- Mozzarella Salsa with Home-made Pita Chips

This one is a favorite because you get to taste as you go…no true measurements, just go slow and moderate and give it a taste-OFTEN.

2-3 cups of diced tomatoes

2-3 cups of diced Fresh Mozzarella

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar- My ABSOLUTE favorite is the Rozzano brand- I have only found it in BJ’s-but it is worth the membership because there is a certain sweetness to this particular brand I have never found in other Balsamics

Garlic Powder

Salt

Pepper

Dried or fresh parsley

Garlic Tandoori Naan Bread (find at the Publix Deli)

Tasty Part:

  1. Set oven at 400˚
  2.  Mix tomato, mozzarella and olive oil together-This helps all the other spices blend better.  You do not want the salsa drenched under no means-however, you are looking for a moist look.
  3. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley-again, taste as you go…This is going to be eye-balled.
  4. Add Balsamic and taste….refrigerate salsa
  5. Cut the Naan bread into triangles
  6. Generously douse triangles with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  7. Cook in oven until crispy- Serve and Enjoy- The warmer the chips and cooler the salsa is the better the flavors.

Remember, cooking is fun and you need to laugh and love while you are doing it!  You will taste all the difference in the food if you add those special ingredients!

Blissfully enjoy every second of it and e-mail me pictures and/or post comments…this is as much your blog as it is mine!

Here’s to Blissful Cooking and Sensational Celebrations,

Nicki G.

Meet Our Baby, Our Happy Addition, Our First Venture into Parenthood

This past Valentine’s Day my wonderful husband gave me a precious gift- our first child, Molly Marie Garcia.  This four-pawed fawn-colored delight has since become the sunshine of our lives.  A two pound teeny-tiny Chihuahua, Molly is spunky, quirky and immensely lovable.

Javy and I toyed with the idea of a pet for a while.  Condo-living and puppy-loving didn’t mesh well in our opinion, so we had fish!  But, when we found our blissful first-floor flat, we knew it was time to scratch the itch and take the plunge!

Meeting Molly for the first time was simply delightful and I immediately decided her beauty and personality merited a fitting middle name-hence Marie.  Molly Marie is for the most part potty trained, apparently though, until today…

Upon my arrival from a tedious, stress-ridden work day, I decidedly choose to go for a walk with my pup. As I attempt to slip on some comfy Havaianas, I find a pleasantly unpleasant surprise sitting plot-center in the middle of my flip-flop- a puddle of first class Molly Marie pee.

My discovery got me thinking…what was our baby contemplating when she chose my sandal to pee on and not her father’s?  What had I done to my daughter to make her claim my sandal in such a territorial way?  Had I upset her? Neglected her? Scolded her? Nevertheless, I have done something…what it was is yet still a mystery….

Not-so-blissfully pondering…

Dear Young-Self…

Dear Young-Self,

It seems like years since I have thought of you my sweet, naïve and insecure past.  Much has certainly happened when you blinked and grew up.  But tonight I re-visit you with much fondness and some words of wisdom to help you grow into the person you are destined to be.

You were once a chubby, humble young girl, with dreams of changing the world and making it a better place.  You thought everyone was good and had no malice.  You worked hard, knowing you’d make it despite your 700 academic setbacks and you prayed each and every night, with all the faith in the world, that your knight-in-shining-armor, your soul mate, would find you and you would have the happily ever after you knew deep down you deserved.

Your feelings were often hurt and your heart spent a lot of time broken by senseless boys.  But your daddy was always there to kiss your forehead and tell you how beautifully perfect you were.  Your mom became your biggest fan and tackled each obstacle you were thrown head on, right by your side.  You had a brother who swore he would’ve picked you as a friend, if you weren’t his sister, but let’s be real- He was always way cooler and had it not been for a blood-relation, you would’ve never shared in his “coolness”. Finally, you had a family…oh did you have a family…and they thought you were the sunshine of their lives.

Then little Nicki, you grew up….and your dreams came true my sweet girl.  While you still rock your size 14 (sometimes 16, sometimes 12) jeans, you wear them better than anyone I know!  You are certainly changing the world around you- just not in the grand scale you thought.  Each and every day you wake up and stumble into the classroom-Coffee MUST be in hand- and you teach crazy, hormonal teenagers about God, English, and Reading and you change their lives and they change yours.  You are better because of it and they ARE the sunshine of your life (sometimes the storms too, lol).

You learned not everyone is good and malicious and ill-natured people exist in this world.  But you recognize you were put on this Earth to counter-act them.  You are their kryptonite (oh would my husband be proud) and you weaken them by being you.  Of course it gets hard and there are plenty of days you want to give up, but you don’t because good ALWAYS out beats evil…no question, no doubts!

You graduate with a Masters degree from a prestigious university and you do it because of your brain, dysfunctional as it is, hard work, and support.  Your feelings are still hurt on occasion because that’s life….and your dad is still your hero.  Your mom is still your inspiration and your brother is your very BEST friend and now you are equally cool because you have a kick-ass blog ;).  Your family is perfectly functional, despite the missing links smiling down from Heaven.

And here is the clincher…the happy ending… the worth reading and waiting for…the prayers answered…

The love of your life, your soul mate, your knight-in-shining-armor FINDS YOU.  On a fluke, on a whim, on a magical chance of fate, on God’s path- he finds you and proposes.  You say yes and you marry THE love of YOUR life.  The only person that can help you fulfill ALL of the best of you and helps diminish the worst of you. He saves you and becomes your salvation-your ticket to Heaven.  And HE IS SEXY AS HELL, INTELLIGENT LIKE NO OTHER, AND THE ABSOLUTE PERFECT CATCH!  AND…HE IS YOURS, ALL YOURS!!!!!

So ladies and gentlemen (who am I to discriminate)… Your dreams WILL COME TRUE and YOU WILL BECOME WHO YOU WANT TO BE; trust me!  I swear it.  Your “young selves” will be proud of who you become.  Give them credit and embrace them, they are learning and will one day look back and teach.

Blissful Living,

Nicki G.

P.S.  I credit my wonderful husband for the title to this blog!  You see, I told you he is brilliant!

 

Check out DEAR YOUNG-SELF AT DISFUNKSION MAGAZINE’S ONLINE MAGAZINE 😉

Bachelorette Weekend Tuna Pasta Salad…It is here!

I am known for being a caretaker and like any true Cuban who was taught well by her grandfather, I show my love by feeding people! Upon preparing for my beautiful cousin, Kristy’s bachelorette weekend, I decided to venture into my second home, the kitchen, to prepare some yummy-carb-filled appetizers. You see, I knew there would be plenty of Pink Champagne to go around and we classy ladies need to handle it with grace.

And so…The Bachelorette Weekend Tuna Pasta Salad was born:

12 oz Bowtie Pasta-My favorite-Ronzoni

10-15 oz (2-3 packs) of Albacore Tuna Packs- Bumblebee Tuna packs were buy one get one free the other day…needless to say, I totally stocked up!  (Canned tuna alters the taste because it can give it a metallic taste)

8 oz Cream Cheese

1-2 Red or Sweet Apples (to taste…so the sweet-hearts go crazy 😉 )

1/2-1 small minced red onion

1-3 Hard boiled eggs- Again, preference people!

Ground Mustard to taste (has a sharp, yet smooth taste…some say it works like pepper, I think it works like magic fairy dust) *My secret ingredient for all that is good in life!

Salt & Pepper to taste

…and if you want to get crrrazy- Replace salt with Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt © …Amazing ingredient and adds a kick with the flavorful parsley and added goodies. ***HIGHLY RECCOMEND***

Essentially, this is it…Again, the disclaimer with my recipes include I make stuff up as I go. Cooking feeds my heart and soul, so as the heart guides, I pour. HaHa! 😉 but….TASTE AS YOU GO.

Easy steps:

Soften the cream cheese-if worse comes to worse- stick in the microwave with a moist paper towel and nook it- HOWEVER, there is nothing like freshly softened cream cheese to do the trick!

Boil Pasta- Tip: I always add some salt and EVOO (Thanks Mrs. Rachel Ray 😉 ) as I boil- Makes all the difference.

Boil until tender and soft, I am not an al dente type of girl, but again, to each their own.

**While boiling pasta- mince the red onion- I use the Vidalia Chop Wizard © (Kudos to Sue for introducing this piece of Heaven to my life) and apples. Apples may be slightly bigger than the onions. From experience, mince onions as small as you can and apples about a pinky nail size ;).

Combine tuna,  Mixed Up Salt, ground pepper, and ground mustard.

Cut eggs in small squares with yolk, adds color.

Once Pasta is drained and while still warm mix in cream cheese.

Mix well; it will be difficult…but patience pays- 5 minutes until passing zone!

Add Tuna with seasonings

Add eggs, apples, and onions mix well.

……….and Voilà- your own Bachelorette Weekend Tuna Pasta Salad is ready!

Recommended as always to drink while sipping some yummy Brut Pink Champagne…Can be eaten solo, with girlfriends, boyfriends, family, etc.

Blissfully Enjoy,

Nicki G.

Welcome to my Vida!

~ John Barrymore

Welcome to my BLisSfUL ViDa;  a life filled with a “dream-come-true-love”, lots of ups, occasional downs, a perfectly imperfect family I love beyond words, friends that keep a girl going, and a strong faith that helps this blissful newly wed wife get through it all…

This blog sprung from “a place” many of us are familiar with.  The place where “I need more in my life” is a common mantra and fear is a monotonous set back.  I have been toying with the idea of beginning a blog for a good year or so; yet “something” always prevented me from taking the plunge.  At times, it was my lack of technological skills and the fear of the “big, bad website” I would need to start.  Time became a daily obstacle because “who has time to sit and write about anything these days?”  Of course, fear of failure was another…Would I be good enough?  There were more abstruse reasons that stopped me as well- Am I so used to “school and professional-type writing” that I will forget how to be witty and comical? “Will people want to read what I have to say?” 

Then…after countless discussions with friends, plenty of pep-talks, and perhaps a few glasses of wine, I realized I was giving these self-imagined and hypothetical fears so much power over my life.  Why not walk through that slightly ajar door, which must have opened while I was too busy being scared, and tackle my dreams and goals head on?  Undeniably, the door is bound for happiness, so here I am. 

Who knows what direction this blog will take, as I am passionate about many things: Cooking, laughing, teaching, writing, observing, learning, and loving, etc.  Prepare for surprises and start looking forward to a witty take on life, no matter the situation.  Let this become our group therapy where we become each other’s shrinks. 

So, enjoy the road to sanity as we travel through our blissful lives- each our own, each unique, each perfectly imperfect. 

Cheers and Bliss,

Nicki G.