Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Gardening: A Listy-list!

Happy Spring!
Springtime in Atlanta is my favorite! Everything is blooming and the weather warm, but not yet humid. I think we came home from San Diego just in time. 80 degrees for the next week? Yes please! The Japanese Cherry trees above are in front of our neighbors house, so I get to enjoy them as if they were my own.
I had major ganas to work outside on my garden. A container garden.
The other day I got all my pots out of the garage and filled them with soil. I took my house plants out too so they could enjoy this 80 degree weather! I love how they welcome us home.As you can see, I have a bit of an obsession with blue masetas. (planters) Over the years I have collected many. TJMaxx and Marshalls both carry planters for a fraction of the cost of a garden store. This is where the majority of mine are from. I just can't pass up a deal!
The big greenish square pot (above) I purchased this spring for $20! The bright blue one next to it I got for $4. (I bought a slightly bigger one for $6) The mosaic pot [on the stairs] was a project I did about 10 years ago with a $4 pot from a dollar store. (another great source for garden supplies) I brought home quite a few talavera pots on our recent Mexico trip, but you can sometimes find these in TJMaxx as well. (albeit randomly).

My other obsession: succulent plants. I have told you this before. I can hardly resist buying every variety I see. On our trip out west I didn't have to resist...and I didn't have to buy either. Succulents grow like weeds there, and I helped myself to as many as I could carry. The jade plant pictured above is fresh off the plane from San Diego.
Yesterday I stopped at Home Depot just to see the selection of plants that were out. I ended up buying a few plants and making a mental note of other I would like to include in my container garden this year.
Listy List: Garden Plants for 2010
1. Grape tomatoes
2. Roma tomatoes
3. Jalapenos
4. Morning glory vine (heavenly blue)
5. Moonflower vine
6. Nasturtium
(these I am starting from seed and will grow on the railing)
7. Ogden Sedum
8. Stonecrop-dragon's blood
9. Stonecrop -copper button
10. Hens and Chicks
(all are sedum and pictured below in order from L to R)
I will show pictures of everything once it is planted. I still have a few big pots to plant yet.

The house right beside us and has been abandoned for years. (pictured below) It recently went up for sale. It is more than a fixer-upper, I think it is a "tear-er downer". ** We live in a historic neighborhood (Old 4th Ward, MLK house is only one block away) and Im sure there are guidelines when fixing up a house or building a new one. It is just a thought. It would be so convenient to renovate a house while living next store. (right mom and dad?) It's intwn Atlanta and it is a duplex, so it would be a great investment. Plus we could rent it out (Brrrian!) when we are living in Mexico in the off season of the Christmas lights! (I'll never give up my dream. The more you talk about it, the more likely it is to happen)
**this picture does not make the house look so bad, but trust me, the outside is torn up. The siding (which could be asbestos) is falling off. I can only imagine what the inside looks like. We are going to make an appointment to check it out, so I'll let you know.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Western Road Trip Part 1: Sedona

I remember taking long road trips as a child. The blue and white striped Chevy van, packed with food, luggage, all five kids and whatever books/games we could fit. This was back before ipods so I remember playing the humming game and slug-bug. The other way we passed the time was by sleeping. A lot of sleeping. My parents would yell back to us, "Kids! Wake up! Look at the beautiful mountains." We would sit up and look out the window for a minute and lay back down. How could I not be impressed by these views? Silly kid.

Im not sure at what age I finally started appreciating travel, but I know it was sometime after these family trips. As far as I am concerned, Yellowstone Park, the Grand Tetons, and the Grand Canyon all must be revisited....I was just too young.

When we suggested a road trip to the Grand Canyon to mis suegros it only took a second for them to agree! Mi suegro suggested we check out Sedona too. Perfect, we will leave at 6am Saturday morning!

We were out of the house by 7am, which is pretty good considering I was traveling with 3 Espinozas. (te quiero espinozas!) Sedona is approximately an 8 hour drive from San Diego; we arrived around 2:30 pm.

Ernesto had booked a hotel on Priceline and I was pleasantly surprised with the Super 8. For $89 we had a clean room, free breakfast, great location and a killer view of, what else, some red rock.

{view from hotel room}

We spent the afternoon strolling in the center, which if you ask me, was too touristy. Unless you want chotchkies or t-shirts, I suggest you stay away from the main strip shops. If you are looking a charming shopping/browsing experience, head behind the visitors center. In that complex you can grab a coffee at Starbucks and pop into some very nice galleries and shops.

Another nice [but expensive] shopping area is Tlaquepaque, named after the picturesque suburb in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was a wonderful rendition of the original, which Ernesto and I visited last fall on our Mexico trip.

There are more than 40 shops, galleries, & restaurants for you to peruse at Tlaquepaque. The art was beautiful, but after traveling Mexico and comparing prices, I could never buy it in the U.S. (hmmm....Espinoza imports?) Instead we enjoyed the graceful arches and fountains, the tranquil plazas and shady verandas.

Sedona, also called Red Rock Country, is situated in an area of stunning natural beauty.

The towering rock formations along with the iron-rich red soil transports you to the wild wild west. (in fact, I read that many western movies have been filmed there)

The temperature was close to 70 during the day and dropped into the 50's at night. Perfect for walking and hiking. The number of trails and lookout points in this area is staggering. You could spend weeks hiking different trails. With only 2 days, we weren't sure what we should do and the helpful ladies at the visitors center gave us a map and some insight to the best spots to visit.
{trail to Bell Rock}

{sitting at Bell Rock}

{Neto y sus padres at Midgley Bridge}

{Church of the Holy Cross, built by a Frank Lloyd Wright disciple}

Sedona's main industry is tourism. Strangely enough, one of the "sights" that draws people, you can't even see. It is called a vortex. Not a vortex with water or wind, but with energy. I did a little online research beforehand about this phenomenon. It is claimed by many that there are several areas where invisible swirling energy emanates from the earth creating an uplifting, rejuvenating sensation. Some claim this energy has powers of spiritual and psychic enhancement as well. Some energy sites are masculine, some feminine. Some release upward energy, some downward. Sounds like some New Age crap? Maybe, but I was intrigued. Who doesn't need some kind of healing, right?

One vortex site is called Vista Point. Before hiking the 5 mile trail at Boynton Canyon, we veered off to the vortex in hopes of some extra energy.

{soaking up the energy of the vortex at Vista Point}

{building blocks of our fellow "seekers"}

{Neto at Vista Point, a site where the vortex may have eaten his wallet}

It was dark by the time we finished our hike that night; this is when Ernesto realized he didn't have his wallet. Maybe the energy was downward spiraling at Vista Point instead of upward as the brochure had stated.** Or perhaps it fell out of his pocket at Sally's BBQ, where we had stopped for a delicious lunch of ribs and smoked chicken. We will never know. Either way, it was gone and we were on our way to the Grand Canyon.

**I poke fun, but Im sure if anyone sits alone quietly, pensively, on these red rocks you would feel enlightenment of some sort. It happens when you really take the time to think uninterrupted, right? I can definitely see how this location can facilitate meditation and increased energy. The view alone is moving, I felt something.

For more of my Sedona pics, check out my picasa album here:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Get Fit Fridays!

What a busy week we had! We were gone for 5 days on a family road trip to Sedona & the Grand Canyon. I have been pouring through all the pictures and will tell you all about it soon!
Even though we spent much of our time this week in a car or sitting in the airport, we logged some miles hiking on our trip.

Sunday - hike 8 miles
Monday - hike 5 miles
Tuesday - hike 10 miles

How did you stay active this week?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tortas Locas

No matter where you live, you probably have some rendition of a Mexican restaurant. If you are lucky you may even have a fast food option besides Taco Bell. Rubios out in California specializes in fish tacos! Here in Atlanta we have Tortas Locas, a little joint on the north side of Atlanta that makes [just as the name suggests] crazy sandwiches!
E has taken me there a couple times and it feels like I am sitting in Mexico City. Authentic.
We make a tortas locas too. So can you. Simply because you can put almost anything on this crazy sandwich. Anything goes. Look at this stack!
Ernesto's Torta Loca

Ingredients: (makes 4 tortas)
1 stick chorizo
5 Eggs, scrambled [with the chorizo]
1 can pickled jalapenos
4 pieces smoked ham
1 avocado, sliced
1 tomato. sliced
4 leaves lettuce
4 bollilo bread rolls (or another firm bread), toasted

There is nothing precise about this torta. Stack ingredients onto bollilo roll. Add ketchup and hot sauce. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Weekly Listy List: Why Im Excited to Return to Atlanta

Ernesto and I have been out west for over a month now. Last night we arrived back to San Diego after an awesome road trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon with mis suegras (details and pics coming soon).

It's not that I'm sick of traveling; I don't think you will ever hear that come out of my mouth. With that being said, I am excited to get back to our little apartment.

Here are the reasons:

Why Im Excited to Return to the ATL
  1. Spring in Atlanta is so beautiful. It makes me happy.
  2. I have a jewelry show at St. Simon's Island this weekend (new sand too!)
  3. Ernesto and I can have some alone time (wink wink)
  4. See if house plants are alive/plant all my containers/ sow seeds for flowers
  5. Clothing variety (I am a bit sick of the selection in my one carry-on for a month long trip)
  6. Check if the new garden shop near grant park needs summer help.
  7. Verify with Public Storage if our unit was in fact broken into and the contents stolen??
  8. Check out the hiking trails in North Georgia (I want to keep this hiking roll going)
  9. Pet my little Rare-Rare
From Viva Cindy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Mexico House Tour with Michelle & Tim

A Sneak Peak in Placitas, New Mexico

One of the blogs that I love to browse is Apartment Therapy. It is my online HGTV. It delivers constant inspiration by showing a peek into a house from somewhere in the world. They great part is that accompanying the great pictures, there is always a little survey of the owners and a list of resources so you know where they got everything.

Last month while at my brother Tim's house, I was inspired to take pictures of he and his wife Michelle's home. I sat down with Michelle and we went through the standard Apartment Therapy survey that accompanies all their house tours. I just wish I would've taken more pictures to share. Like I said, it is a peek!

Michelle & Tim
Location: Placitas, New Mexico
Size: 2000 square feet

Michelle and Tim have been a mobile couple since they got married 15 years ago. They have lived in South Korea, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Florida, Georgia and their current residence in Placitas, New Mexico. Their adobe house is at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. (yes, near the HGTV Dream Home) A beautiful pebbled courtyard is planted with rosemary, lavender, ornamental grasses and other desert hardy plants. Upon entering the solid wood front door you can immediately tell you have walked into a house of a well traveled family. Even though the house is just 5 years new, they wanted to change many of the "standard features" that came with the home when they moved in. Michelle was the designer and overseer, and in some cases the DIY-er of this overhaul. In fact, they were waiting on the new granite for the kitchen while we were visiting.
Tim, a pilot in the Air Force and Michelle a Registered Nurse, have made a very comfortable cozy home for themselves along with their two boys, two dogs and two cats.

Enjoy your sneak peek!

VC Survey with Michelle:

My style: Eclectic...with focus a on Asian and rustic styles

Inspiration: I love colors of the desert. and each room starts with a special find

Favorite Element: The mountain views are amazing and the newly remodeled master bath with the custom vanity, marble counter, mosaic tile work and copper tub and sinks are luxurious.

Biggest Challenge: Finding the time and patience for overseeing a renovation while being a working mom.

What Friends Say: "Its Absolutely Amazing!"

Biggest Embarrassment: None. This house was new and very "vanilla" when we moved in and although I changed almost everything to fit my taste, nothing was embarrassing.

Proudest DIY: I laid the pebble rock floor in the boys' bath and I think it turned out great. I even included some glass tiles and a few my own sea shells.

Biggest Indulgence: The hammered copper soaking tub.

Best advice: Take your time. Let your home evolve!

Dream source: Hmmm. Really a compilation of pictures from books and other people's homes, as well as features seen in the countries we have visited.


Furniture: Hong Kong, antiques stores, Custom build, DIY painted,
Bed: Bed was custom made
Paint: Home Depot
Artwork: All our travels around the world
Window Treatments: Custom or Stores like World Market or Bed Bath & Beyond
Flea markets, antique stores, Target, other online vendors, gifts, and items picked up from traveling.

{copper tub surrounded by mosaic border and rich colored tiles}

{the little details-light switch plates of copper}

{Michelle's DIY bathroom floor of river rock- beautiful!}

{front courtyard with colorful pottery and desert plants}

{painted arch leads to renovated bathroom in master suite}

{niche in living room with native american art/textiles. lovely tile baseboards}

{one side of living room boasts this fireplace, the other a wall of windows to the mountains}

{collection of New Mexican horses above the kitchen cabinets}

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Series: Get Fit Fridays!

I have been thinking.....I am going to start a workout log. It makes me feel good/motivated to see it on [virtual] paper.

We are signing up to run the America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon this August in San Diego. I have run it twice before, but it has been about 4 years. My running workouts in the last year have been short and sweet, (via Crossfit) so I will need to do some serious training to finish in a decent time. I am not the strongest runner. Yes, I work out regularly, but nothing prepares you for a long run...except running.
I thought it would be fun if we (that is you & me) kept a log of our workouts over the next few months. It isn't necessary that we do the same workouts, or that our frequency is matched, only that you do something and share it.

This is and idea I just had this a.m. so I will add more details/design later. I would like to add some videos of our workouts and a handy calendar feature for both of us. Yes, Im including you...spring is here and you know what that means....

Here is how I worked up a sweat the last 2 weeks:

Last week:
-climbed Cowles Mountain
-7 mile bike ride
-40 mile bike ride
-hike/walk Torry Pines 2.5 hours (plus run big hill)

This week:
-ran (some walking) 6 miles
-ran one mile and did crossfit* (on the beach at Coronado. so nice)
-ran 5k and did crossfit*

Tomorrow we leave for our road trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon with mis suegras. Ernesto and I are planning to hike at both stops including hiking to the bottom of the canyon and back in one day. 14 miles. Ouch. Crazy? Maybe, but it must be done. That should cover my workouts for the 5 days we will be gone.

* Crossfit workout: sprint 50 yards and do 10 push ups or 10 squats - repeat 10 times.
**Crossfit workout: 10 burpees-10 sit ups, 9 burpees-9 sit ups, 8 burpees-8 sit ups...repeat to 1.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Madness

The NCAA basketball tournaments started today on the west coast at 930am. The ONLY reason I know this is because Ernesto was in a rush this a.m. to get our workout done before all the "madness" started. (crossfit on the beach was awesome by the way) He has 2 or 3 brackets filled out and will be watching closely for the next 3 weeks. Maybe he will win the $1 million on the yahoo bracket pull. whatever.

When I saw my friend Lauren had posted her brackets here (originally from jezebel) I decided I would get in on the fun too!
It was really hard deciding my picks. In the "final four" coffee cake vs. carrot cake and cherry pie vs. apple.
My final cake choice was carrot cake and [since blackberry pie was not in the running] cherry won for pies....and for overall champion! Im a pie girl!

If you aren't into all the hype with the basketball tournaments (or even if you are) leave your cake vs. pie champion in the comments. Im curious.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Listy List: Happy St Patty

Even though I will not be drinking to celebrate St Patty's, it was the alcohol related messages that really made me laugh from someecards. There are a bunch more here.

I decided my Wednesday listy list should be related to green.

Green Foods I love: Top 5

1. this salsa verde (green salsa made with avocados, tomatillos, cilantro, serrano peppers)

2. asparagus

3. brussel sprouts

4. granny smith apples

5. tomatillos

Others include: broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale, bell peppers, cucumbers, snow/snap peas, etc.

Ok, really, I haven't met a green food that I don't like.
What are your favorites?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Recipes on VLC- Tongue Tacos

Does this look interesting to you? Believe it or not, these are cow tongues.
When cooked, cow tongue is extremely tender and not fatty nor greasy. It is an inexpensive, easy meat to make and is muy rico in tacos.
You can find this recipe for tongue tacos on Viva la Cocina, along with many other delicious dishes.

Tourists in San Diego

San Diego is an ideal city to vacation. My parents and my aunt just left to go back to Ohio after one week and I am tired! There is a lot to cover. We didn't get through our list of "to-do's", but still covered a lot!
{above San Diego at Cabrillo Park in Point Loma}

I think my family really enjoyed their time here at the "Esposito Inn" as my mom called it. Ha!
My last name is Espinoza mom! We have some great quotes for the week too.
The #1 being:

"Where else can you stay for this price and get such a nice room which includes all meals, and nightly entertainment?"
Do you have a points program? Like if we stay 7 nights get 2 free?" - Paul Arnold

My dad had a horrible time pronouncing all the Spanish accents but it made for a lot of laughs!
Pablo, Elena and Margarita got used to their Spanish names (given to them by Neto's padres) and even picked up on some new words/phrases.

Every night (at the "Inn") we played cards. Pass the Ace and Oh Hell! We ate sopes, carnitas, fish tacos, patoles, salsas, quesadillas, carne asada tacos. We grilled T-bones, beer can chicken, hamburgers and vegetables.

Before they arrived last week, Ernesto and I made a list of all the things we could do.
Each day we picked something. This is what we did. All things I would recommend for a week in San Diego:
  1. Explore Balboa Park
  2. Tour USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
  3. Appetizers at La Fiesta restaurant downtown
  4. Visit La Jolla cove and the seal beach
  5. Grab lunch at Pacific Beach Bar & Grill in PB
  6. Visit Cabrillo National Park in Point Loma
  7. Bike the Silver Strand from Imperial Beach to Coronado
  8. Visit Hotel Del in Coronado
  9. Climb Cowles Mountain
  10. Guys golfed at Rancho Bernardo Country Club/ Girls Shopped
  11. Stroll through Old Town
  12. Shopping at the Spring Valley Swap Meet
  13. Relaxing on the grounds of "Esposito Inn" (guests enjoyed gardening/lawn mowing)
  14. Hike the trails overlooking the ocean at Torrey Pines Nature Reserve
  15. Whale watching with HornBlower
  16. Experience the smorgasbord of the weekly Espinoza cookout
{Hotel Del in Coronado}

{graveyard at Cabrillo National Park}

{the seals in La Jolla}

{exploring Balboa Park}

{at the top of Cowles Mountain}

{walking the trails of Torrey Pines Park above the ocean}

{hazy morning view of downtown from whale watching boat}

View the rest of my pictures here:
Family in San Diego


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