Friday, November 26, 2010

Ti ti and Bruno Play

My kitty is no pussy! He held his own with Brrrian's dog Bruno, who is 10x his size! It's pretty funny.
Go Titi!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Christmas Light Pros of Atlanta: At Your Service!

The Christmas Light Pros want to help our customers enjoy the season by not having to deal with the hassle of Christmas lights.  Lights are cut specifically to their home and professionally installed.  After each installation, timers are set up so the customer doesn't have to touch anything all season.  In January we come to pack everything up neatly for the next year.

Going on our 7th year in Atlanta, our customer base is growing at a steady rate (thanks to a great business manager, thank you very much).  I can't take all of the credit though, our great customers have given us so many referrals.  Referrals don't just happen either.  It helps that Ernesto is just so darn likable and easy going that people trust him (as they should)! The friendly customer service that he has provided over the years has built strong relationships.  That has been so important in building our business and our reputation.  A big thank you to all CLP customers! 

I have a few pictures (albeit not great pictures) to share of some houses we have done.   I will work on getting more, and taking them with good camera and tripod.  (very important for pictures at night)
Although the majority of our customers use white lights to decorate, some go bold and I really love the color.  Its Christmas Vacation fun!
Wrapping trees with mini lights is highly requested with our customers.  On this job below,  6 trees in the front yard were wrapped up to 40 feet.  Notice how high the ladders are leaning.  The crew was up there like monkeys.  I will have to get a picture of these in the dark, they are showstoppers. 

Above, the crew outlined the gutter line, gables and the dormers on this house and it looks spectacular, don't you think?  Sometimes though, customers don't want lights on the roof, like this house below. The homeowner opted for pre-lit wreaths in most of the window and wrapping a few trees. It turned out beautiful, but again Ill have to show you a picture at night so you can really get the effect. 

Here is another house that did just wreaths and trees.  It looks so welcoming and festive.
How are you decorating your house for the holidays?
Contact the The Christmas Light Pros if you are in Atlanta if you need help this year!

Monday, November 22, 2010


WHAT???  Yes, you read that correctly!  Earlier this week there were rumors of TJMaxx (and/or Marshalls) carrying Apple Ipads for $100 less than Apple retailers ($399).  This is just one more reason why I love these stores!  I guess the sale was supposed to be for Black Friday shoppers, but TjMaxx tweeted about the promotion saying they are in [select unadvertised] stores NOW!

Needless to say I went to several stores searching for this ipad deal.  At $100 less than retail, how can I NOT buy it??  I was just telling Ernesto the other day that we NEED one for the Christmas Light Pros.
Yes!  It's a business need. (and a business expense!)

One store in Atlanta confirmed that they did have them and sold out (shocker!) but will be getting more.  Im sorry I can not tell you which store for fear that you will go and buy it and I won't get one.  I know where I will be bright and early Friday morning!!! Check your local stores!

The IPAD was already on my short xmas list, and if I buy it for myself before Christmas,  Ernesto can just get me the other small item on my list.  A VitaMix. The Rolls Royce of blenders.  They are about the same cost as the ipads @ $500.   Look at this beauty.  The motor is unstoppable and worth the money for how often we use our blender.  It will last a lifetime!

OK, back to TJMaxx.  You know that I have been a faithful Maxxinista for over 15 years!  That is a long time! There is no other store that satisfies my "love of the hunt" more.    I must make the rounds every time I visit.  Bags, jewelry, shoes, toiletries, lounge wear, gourmet food, housewares and then on to the clothing!  Whew!  Maybe that is why it takes me 2-3 hours to get through the store. 

"Never the same thing twice."  I have learned that the hard way over the years.  If you like it, you better buy it.  Chances are it will be gone when you come back later.

Over the past month, I have got some unbelievably great finds at TjMaxx / Marshalls.  Would you like to check them out?  Ok, the first thing on my list [even though it was on clearance] was not really a good deal [to me].  Im sure if you are a woman who spends hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a bag, it would seem like a steal.  To me though, it was a total splurge, and look how gorgeous!
Big enough to hold anything and everything:  ipad and kitty?  What else do I need?
 TJMaxx and Marshalls are carrying a ton of Cynthia Rowley lately.  My birthday boots make the list.
Ever since Treffry bought me a cute little mercury glass votive, I have seen it everywhere.  I have started a little collection.  The Christmas trees and ornaments will be packed away with other holiday decor, but the candle vases and orbs will stay on our shelves year round.  The candlelight glow shining through is beautiful.
MERCURY GLASS $3.99 - $12.99
I even found this owl ornament of the mercury glass and it reminded me of my Grandma Eve (born on Christmas Eve).  She loved owls.

I may be a little late on the decorating bandwagon with these fu dogs, but when I saw them there was no question that they were coming home with me.

Besides being a beautiful color, they are supposed to neutralize any harmful element from entering the home or office and bring luck.  I had no idea about the good fortune they are sure to bring until I Googled them.  Im not going to turn down any extra good luck, that's for sure.

This beauty is for ........all the parties I have??  I just love it and it makes me want to entertain.   Can't you see stacks of pretty Christmas cookies here. The white Mexican wedding cakes (or snowballs as my mom calls them) would really look pretty against the silver.  Who wants to come over?
Won't the tray look really nice on my new silver and gold tablecloth?
Although the clothing is on serious clearance right now, I haven't been buying too much.  (If I was still working in an office I would be going hog wild)  But alas, I am a lighting pro and dress a bit more casual.  I do however like to look chic and nothing helps that happen like a cashmere scarf in a bright color.
This graphic print shirt looks great layered under my black wrap cashmere sweater. 

This dress was a birthday gift from Smita and I am in love with it.Stretch lace with a nude color slip underneath.  Perfect to wear out for a nice dinner, which is what I did on my birthday.  Hotty-hot!
This last piece is really fun, and must be worn for a fun holiday party or happy hour.
You can run your hands along the sequins and make them either silver or black, how cool is that?
What great finds have you guys found at TjMaxx and Marshalls lately?

Ps.  Wish me luck on my ipad search!

Friday, November 19, 2010


I though I would pop in to say hi this week while I have a free minute. 
I have just finished up my 3rd week of the INSANITY workouts.  9 more to go.  9 more weeks and 6 days a week?!  UGH! That sounds horrible.

It is about the only "Cindy time" I can squeeze in lately. Ernesto and I are starting to get crazy busy.  My phone is ringing off the hook and I'm driving all over Atlanta giving estimates for Christmas light installation.  We have already surpassed last year's sales and we have another 4 weeks to go! woo-hoo! 

For me, the best time to do it is in the morning of course, before I start getting Christmas Light Pro calls for estimates. 
 My review of the INSANITY videos is the same as week one:  it's a great workout!  I am always drenched in sweat and feel good afterward.  I have to say though, that Im getting a little bit bored and quite sick of that feeling that my workout is hanging over my head all day.  I liked my old way.  If I didn't get my workout in, I didn't get it in.  But for some reason this workout, with the calendar prominently staring at me from the refrigerator, MUST. BE. CHECKED. OFF.  EACH. DAY.   I do love how the videos concentrate on your core.  INSANE RESULTS!  That is what Im shooting for. We will see what I look like in 6 more weeks!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Birthday Dinner at Holeman and Finch

You KNOW I have been busy this last week.  I haven't even had time to blog my birthday!!
What a nice birthday it was too!  Nothing too crazy, I mean, Im 37 now, ha!

I woke up Monday morning to freshly brewed coffee and my dear husband cooking breakfast.  This  tradition started several years ago and I love it.  Not only does he wake me with delicious smells, but with wonderful sounds.  He always plays "Las Mananitas" by Pedro InfantePedro Infante is quite frankly one of the most romantic Mexican singers ever.  (You can hit play and listen to a sample of this song here) Without fail, when I hear this song, I start crying.  It is so sweet.   Ernesto's parents always played it on the morning of his birthday and now he does it for me.  (Incidentally, Ernesto's dad can also sing this song like a pro)

Unfortunately, Neto had to run off to work that morning which left me all alone.  Boo-hoo!  I did have some xmas work to complete, but then I was able to hit TjMaxx with my girlfriend Livini.  I wanted to get my black leather birthday boots!! (Also a reward for a great show at Chastain Park Arts Festival over the weekend)  They are pretty awesome, right?
Cynthia Rowley leather boots
Ernesto said he was taking me to a new [to us] restaurant for dinner, a surprise.  God, I love surprises!  With my new black lace dress (thanks Smita!) new birthday boots on, I was ready to go!  I even dried my hair with a hairdryer (1st time in a year I believe)!  It is always a special treat to go out to eat.  We don't eat out too much - and Im not complaining- but when we do, it needs to be somewhere good.   

Enter Holeman & Finch.

I had never even heard of this restaurant.   Situated in the lower level of a high rise on Peachtree St in between Midtown and Buckhead, this place is a hidden gem.   Yes, Atlanta is a big city and has a ton of unbelievable restaurants, but this one really felt more like New York.  Maybe it was due of the tiny quaint dining area,  Im not sure exactly, but it has that cool factor.  

It was Monday night and it was full of patrons.  Like i said before, it is a small place, but lots of people is always a good sign.  Plus, I enjoy the constant hum of a chattering crowd. When you walk in, you are facing a glass wall that offers a view into the kitchen where cured meats hang from the ceiling.  Since we didnt have a reservation we headed to the bar until a table became available.  Love it.  Its the experience, right?  We weren't in a rush and I like to have a drink and appetizer before hand.
How about some duck prosciutto, sorpressata and hungarian boar served with a bleu gouda cheese, persimmon spread and house made pickled onions?  
There are only about 12 dining tables and ours was no bigger 12x15 table.  This could explain the portion sizes.  Luckily they way we always eat at any good restaurant, is by ordering several things and sharing so we can taste more of the dishes.  We started off with the tuna tartare, something I must order if it is on a menu.  My favorite is from Serpas (and I had it the following night when Smita took me there for my birthday) but this tuna gave it a run for it's money.  Served with shoestring fries on top, it was scrumptious.
Something that Holeman & Finch is known for is "burger time" at 10pm every night. 
"Each night, 24 exquisite, double patty cheeseburgers are assembled on house-made buns and served alongside hand-cut fries and homemade ketchup, mustard and pickles—only 24.  Some nights they sell out in under a minute. "   This picture says it all.
(**All above photos from Home & Finch website)

After all those beautiful food pictures, I hate to post my own, but it has to be shown.  This is the most unusual dish we have ordered in a while.  On the menu it is called " schnitzeled lamb frieswhich could be a bit deceiving since what they really are serving is lamb testicles
The persimmon glaze was wonderful, but I must say I was not a fan of the gritty, game tast of the testicles.  Ernesto ate all of it and proceeded to tell the waiter "she likes my balls better" ...what???

When we got home, it was present time!!! 
I am in love with my long and fluffy Turkish bath robe!  Just what I wanted. 
I will get so much use out of this thing.  If I am home, I am wearing lounge clothes and this will be worn on top all winter.  It already has some snags in it from little Titi, but I don't mind.  Thanks mi Amor for a wonderful birthday!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Paideia School's 28th Annual Fine Art & Craft Sale

I am really excited to be participating in the Paideia School's art show this year!  I dropped off my jewelry and I saw all of the great artwork that will be for sale.  All of the volunteers at the school really transformed this gym into a cozy shopping experience.  They beauty of this sale is that I don't need to be there with my jewelry.  I can actually browse leisurely and maybe get some Christmas shopping done myself.   If you are in Atlanta this weekend and would like to find some unique gifts either for yourself or someone else ...head over to Art Visions at Paideia School.  (on Ponce de Leon)
  • Saturday, November 13
    10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 14
    12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Art Lobby &Practice Gym (Near the corner of Oakdale and South Ponce de Leon)

An artist market featuring the works of local and regional artists

  • Offering affordable art during the holiday season in all mediums
  • Fine art, decorative art including Chanukah and Christmas gift items, ornaments, garden art, folk art, funky and functional art in all mediums
  • Annual fundraiser for Paideia art programs
  • Admission and parking are free

Artist Information

What is Art Visions?

A fine art and craft sale featuring work on consignment from established and emerging artists

Art Visions is . . .

A successful fundraiser for the Paideia School's art programs, grosses over $60,000 in revenue each year.

Art Visions is . . .

The perfect venue for artists to sell a variety of fine art and decorative art including Hanukkah and Christmas gift items, ornaments, angels, garden art, folk art, funky and functional art in all mediums.

Art Visions is . . .

A wide range of artistic mediums including: oil, acrylic, watercolor and mixed-media painting, wood, metal, textiles, glass, pottery, ceramics, photography, jewelry and more

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fit Fridays: INSANITY

Ok, here is the deal.  Last year when Ernesto and I started getting busy with the Christmas Lights, we didn't stick to any kind of workout schedule.  This was understandable for him, but me?  Why didn't I work out?  I really like working out in the outdoors, and when the crappy weather rolled in, I lost my desire to get out and DO SOMETHING. 

This year I am not going to let that happen!  My bother and sister and niece have been doing the 60 day challenge of INSANITY and told me it is a great workout!  I was hesitant to start it on principal alone, I mean, there is an info-mmercial for this thing.   And although I am in disbelief of any workout that promises dramatic results in a short time,  I thought this program could work perfectly for our xmas light season.  It's indoors and I can do anytime when I have an hour to spare between estimates.  Sure, I'll give it a try, why not?  The most important thing for me [regarding my 20 years of fitness] is that I feel good when I DO SOMETHING.  Laziness does not suit me.
I started on Monday Nov 1, and after 6 workouts, I must say, INSANITY is a damn good workout!  Im already sweating MAO after the 10 minute warm up. (I do sweat a lot anyway)  The workouts are about 40 minutes long, and if you are not in shape, you will struggle to keep up.  I consider myself to be in very good shape, and I fell behind with a few tough moves. (going from ski abs to in-and-outs) I will do 6 consecutive days of workouts and one rest day....for 60 days!  The question is:  Will I get ripped like the hot-ass instructor Shaun T?  Only time will tell. 
Ok, after saying all of the above, I have to let you know that I did not have pay for the set of DVD workouts, nor would I ever pay $130 for any workout.   Convenience is key for a life of habitual fitness and walking into my garage for Crossfit, or out on the street for a run for this last year has convinced me I don't ever need to pay for a gym membership.  

Will INSANITY work for you?  I don't know.  Do you have the discipline and motivation to workout 6 days a week for 60 days? If not, then no.  No, you won't see results.  But if you stick to it, Im sure that 40 minutes of cardio, 6 days a week will yeild some kind of change.

Im sure so many people buy this program and never ask themselves that question, before buying.  And that, my friends....that is why we call them suckers.
 **In addition to the workouts, I have been drinking a gallon of water per day and have cut down on sugar [or eating sweets]. Maybe I should take a before and after body shot so I can be one of the next testimonials in the info-mmercial.

Chastain Park Arts Festival This Weekend!

Zafiro Jewelry will be at the Chastain Arts Festival this weekend and I have been feverishly whipping up new designs to share! 

This is the 2nd Annual Festival for beautiful Chastain Park, which is the largest park in Fulton County.  It is also right in the middle of one of the most gorgeous neighborhoods in Atlanta.  (IMO)

The festival hours are:
Saturday : November 6, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m.
Sunday : November 7, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. 


I am very excited to be involved this year, and even though it is going to be quite cool this weekend, they are calling for sunny skies!  It is going to be a great Fall weekend to get out and stroll the line up. Also a great time to get started on Christmas shopping!
There will be close to 200 artists at the festival, 90% of them local to Atlanta.  Oh, so much talent!
Advertising has been big the last couple months.  I have seen billboards, news coverage, blog write ups and this commercial is being run on TV. 

I believe this is one of the last outdoor festivals of the year and I predict a big turn out!
Stop in to the Zafiro Jewelry booth to say hi, it will be lots of fun!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


After receiving the huge bag of roasted green chiles from New Mexico,  I keep thinking of what else I can make with this spicy delicious vegetable.  When my brother sent me the Pozole recipe, he mentioned he had made a apple pie with the chiles?!  I had to give it a try! 

I started with a simple deep dish Apple Pie recipe from Ina Garten.   I followed it closely, accept the peeling the apples part.  I was in a hurry, but fortunately, it didn't make a huge difference.  Many of the reviews said that this recipe calls for way too much citrus, but I don't like overly sweet Apple pie, so the balance of sweet and tart was perfect for me.  If I made this again, I would peel the apples and half the juices of the lemon and orange, so it is a bit more firm.   The chilies add spiciness and a roasted flavor that makes this pie truly unique! It's a keeper!  We served with a coconut ice cream!  Que rico!
** To the following recipe, add 3 roasted green chiles, diced

4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim. Don't stretch the dough; if it's too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1-inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.
Perfect Pie Crust:  
Yield: 2 (10-inch) crusts

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.


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