Monday, January 31, 2011

Tucson Gem Show Begins!

What a road trip!  Stopping only for gas, food and potty breaks, we made it to Tucson in just under 30 hours. Since there were three of us, we were able to take driving shifts and push through.  I have always known I am not a night person, and this solidified it.  I tried to take the wheel in the wee hours of the morning and only lasted 30 minutes before having to pull over.  Ernesto did a good job, but Arif logged the most hours driving  It was a rough night, (although I slept a good portion of it) but by the time morning rolled around we got a second wind.  With the sunny blue skies and pretty desert scenery we felt charged.
Why the rush? The gem show was starting on Sunday which gave us all day Saturday to set up.  Mucho trabajo.  The True Blue True Bead show is located at the Doubletree Hotel.  The show takes up a huge ball room and a temporary tent outside.  The tent is huge and looked liked this when we arrived.  Not much action.
 We have 7 tables and it took us quite a while to decide on the set up.  We set up wall grids on the back 2 tables and attached 5 million (or so) hooks to display the high end Indian gems.  This took a while.
After that we unloaded box after box after box.  I was amazed at the amount of inventory Arif packed in his truck. I don't even want to imagine the value of that truck I was driving.  As I unloaded I shopped.  It was inevitable.  He had just gone to Inida on a buying trip over the holidays and I had not seen many of the new gems he had.  OMG!  London Blue Topaz. You. Are. Mine.
In addition to these expensive beauties, I have picked out some pink and blue sapphires, kyanite and more rubies. Add this stash to what I have "earned" working with Arif the last month, and I am set in the way of gems for Zafiro Jewelry shows this year.  Now I just need to stock up on chain and a few extra special pieces.  It just so happens the vendor I bought my geodes from last time is at the same show.  Goddess out of Los Angeles, carries gold dipped gems and geodes that are so beautiful!  Also at the show with us is Green Girl Studios, out friends from Asheville. 

Ok back to the Only Beads booth.  It looks awesome. There is no way I could walk by all these gems without stopping!
The show goes  from 10a-6p for 8 days. When the show opened at 10 am Sunday morning we were ready to sell.  And sell we did!  Although I was so tired at the end of the day I enjoyed helping [mostly ladies] identify and sometimes give design ideas for the gems.   Ernesto snapped this picture when both Arif and I were busy with shoppers.  
Here is hopping the rest of the week is just as busy! Boy oh boy, it's going to be a long week.  Updates to follow!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuscon or Bust!

Today is the big day. We set out on the 28 hour drive out to Tuscon for the annual
bead & gem show.   No. Stopping.  I am not looking forward to it, but I am going prepared.  I have yarn to crochet, turquoise to wrap, books & podcasts to listen to, food to munch on and a fluffy pillow on which to nap.  

By the way, it's in the mid-70's in Tuscon so we packed our running shoes and plan to take advantage of the warm weather.  

Besides getting out of the cold and getting paid, this long journey has other benefit, mainly, the tons of eye candy that will surround me!  I can't wait to buy new stuff for Zafiro!
{my recent "earnings"}
I have a listy-list of "must-haves" and set a spending limit (cough cough) but that is easier said than done when you are faced with never ending vendors selling gorgeous things. 

Of course, besides shopping, I will be working.  Trying to sell as much as I can for my friend Arif.

We lined up a kitty sitter while we're gone.  Lucy and Sean have loved Titi from the day we brought him home.  And although their Labrador Aphi sometimes seems annoyed by Titi's energy,  I think she really likes his company.  I snapped this picture yesterday before waking him up to put into the carrier.  He was soaking up the sun by the window as he often does.  I love this little fur ball and I will miss him dearly.

Next up: Tuscon Gem Show Review!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Weekend and Fit Fridays: It's been a while!

 Good morning Viva Cindy readers!  What are your plans this weekend?  We are up early this morning for a road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio.  (if only it was going to be as pretty as the picture above)  I have committed to running some gem shows for my friend Arif this winter/spring.   Working a couple days a week, say, every other week is a good schedule, don't you think?  It really works out perfectly.  We will be hitting some cities in the south that we haven't been to before, so Im looking forward to experiencing something new.  On the itinerary: Memphis, Greensboro, Nashville, Pensacola, Chattanooga, Greenville, and Jacksonville.  These are all short trips from Atlanta and should be fun.  I see a blogging series on the horizon: "One night in Memphis"

I was hesitant to commit to this  show in Ohio.  Eight hours in the car to spend 2 nights?  Oh, the things I will do for money!  I have never driven to Ohio to see my family in all the years I have lived in Atlanta.  Until now.  I have made this trip about my family.  I suggested that my parents meet us for dinner Saturday night.  (a 3 hour drive for them)  Infact my dad suggested we stay Sunday night so he and Ernesto can watch the big football games.  It was amazing how my attitude changed when I knew I would see my parents.

Yes,  I am now looking forward to the drive!  I got my oil changed yesterday. I bought some snacks. We have downloaded a bunch of podcasts.  (This American Life is one of our favorites!)   And I have a couple books in my itunes as well.   This will be a practice run for the real road trip next week to Tuscon Arizona. 

On to Fit Fridays!
After a holiday hiatis of 30 days or so, I am starting my workouts again.

Remember back in November I started the INSANITY 60 day challenge? Well I was about 2 weeks shy of finishing when Christmas rolled around and that was it.  I felt so good that I ate everything I wanted over the holidays and still felt good!!  Since I don't own a scale, I can't say I lost weight.  That wasn't my goal anyway.  What I can say is that I felt better afterwards.  More firm. Tighter.  Stronger.  All good things.  

This week I did only two of the Insanity workouts and got outside on freedom trail when it was sunny.  It's a start.  Have you guys started any new years workout programs or are you like me just easing in [at the end of January]?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Obsession with the Wingback Chair

As you know, I have an obsession with Craigslist.  I am on a constant search....for something.   Lately it has been wingback chairs.  I have seen so much inspiration for this classic chair featuring not so traditional fabrics. 
For example:  This turquoise beauty is my favorite!
{decor pad via LONNY}
 This ethnic Suzani print is so pretty on this classic chair
 Below, another embroidered Suzani fabric.  A before and after from Designsponge.
I love the crisp white of this pair against the gold walls.
This isn't exactly a "wingback" but another example of unexpected fabric on a classic chair.

So what have I found on Craigslist? Tons of wingbacks that need TLC.  Many sets for only $60!!!
Did you know: The Wing Chair was originally used in late Medieval castles that often didn't have many separate rooms for entertaining making private conversations somewhat difficult. Two men who wished to engage in a private business discussion would pull their wing chairs together and the wings, that ran perpendicular to the back of the chair, would basically wall off their chat.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Storm in Atlanta!

Well, I scoffed at the local news when they were telling Atlanta to stock up on gas and groceries Sunday because the big "Winter Storm" would be hitting us that night.   Lo and behold, there was 6-8 inches of snow on the ground when we woke up Monday morning.  We took Titi out to explore.

After lounging all morning, Ernesto really wanted to get out of the house.  There were as many people out walking in the snow as if it was a sunny day in Spring.  There were also tons of people sledding Piedmont Park.   I don't think many stores sell sleds here so they had to get creative. We saw plastic tubs, bags, laudry baskets and one dude was sledding on a stop sign! ha!

Everyone who was walking kept giving us weird looks.  Are you crazy? What are you doing driving in this snow?  Hello?  I am from Ohio, and I am married to Crazy Nester.  Enough said.

We thought it was a great movie day, but the theatre was closed due to the inclement weather.  We drove all over midtown and nothing was open.  Good 'ol Kroger didn't let us down.  We bought ingredients for Caldo Talpeno and went home to get cozy. That's all we could do. 

** Tuesday the warnings continued to only drive if you HAVE to.  Ernesto HAD to.  The movies were open and we stayed for three in a row. 
We watched True Grit and Little Fockers together.  Then we split.  I saw Country Strong and Ernesto saw The Fighter.  We were very pleased with our choices. Good times.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Applying to Art Shows

When applying for juried art shows the competition [especially for jewelry] can be stiff.  Last year I participated in 10 shows.   I did apply to more, but was not accepted.  There could be many reasons for this, but I would guess one reason was my due to my photos.  Yes, you do need to have an interesting, unique product to sell, but like it or not, one of the biggest factors in getting accepted is how the artist presents his/her work to the jury.  The only chance you have, is the 10 or so seconds that your pictures are flashed on the big screen before they move to the next artist.   This, of course, is the reason that you must send in quality pictures.   I think back to some earlier pictures that I submitted and I am surprised that I got in to any shows at all.  For example,
I didn't apply to any shows for a year and a half and felt a bit out of the loop until talking with other participants.

This is what I learned in regards to photos:  Jurors do not want to see pictures that are out of focus, have low lighting, or that have something else in the picture beside the actual artwork (like a prop of some sort).  They would also like to see your art against a graded grey background.

Too bad I didn't learn all these tips earlier, but better late than never.  I recently was put in touch with Kevin Olds, a photographer in Kent Ohio that specializes in working with artists. (Thanks Treff!)  His product photography  has helped many artists impress the judges.   Yes, Im sure there are many qualified photographers right here in Atlanta, but it can be difficult locating the right one without a recommendation.  I had seen Kevin's work and was impressed.   Once I spoke with him over the phone I felt comfortable and confident he was the right guy for the job.  We planned on meeting in Ohio over Christmas to shoot some of my jewelry, but due to circumstances beyond his control, we had to cancel.  I ended up mailing my jewelry to him last week and we worked through the whole process of placement and approving the proofs through email and telephone.  It was wonderfully easy.  Kevin is a true professional and his prices are very reasonable.  I highly recommend his work. 
I'll let you judge for yourself. 

Will Work For Beads!

In preparation for my upcoming job at the Tucson Gem Show,  I worked at The American Bead & Jewelry Show this weekend in Roswell, GA.This show travels around and hits Atlanta a few times a year. Arif was at a show in Tampa, so I assisted Natalie [his store manager] at this smaller show so she could train me on the pricing system.   We were the only vendor there selling faceted gemstones [like I buy for Zafiro].  Of course this was the perfect situation in terms of sales potential.  We were very busy on Saturday.  So busy, in fact,  that we had a lot of merchandise stolen from our table.  Fortunately, we had a good day of sales, but this was still disappointing.

Im not sure if this will become a regular thing for me, but I must say it was quite fun.  Plus, now that I am "in the family" I am receiving the lowest pricing on my supplies.  I couldn't resist and did some shopping while I was there working.  I just told Arif that I would like to be paid for my time in gems!

 Here is what I picked for my weekend of work.  I tend to gravitate to the same blues and greens, and one of my favorite stones labradorite, so this time I decided to throw in a few new [to me] gems.
 top to bottom: labradorite, lapis, chrysophrase, pyrite, green garnet, tourmaline.
I have one more strand waiting for me at Arif's store.  It is s the bulk of my "payment" for working the show.  He only had one strand so they did not come to the show with us.  I had to borrow this pic from internet, but like mine, these gold rutilated quartz briolettes are AAA grade and absolutely gorgeous.  I can't wait to wrap them heavy in gold!!
I know Arif would like me to do more shows for him in the future.  We will see how Tucson goes in a couple weeks.  Maybe Ernesto will like doing the shows too [although my prediction is that he will get bored quickly].  It could be a good source of extra money for us without the commitment of full time jobs.  And you know that is what we are shooting for!!  Work less, live more!  Viva Cindy!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Next Job for the Espinoza Team

The Tucson Bead and Gem Show is the largest gem show in the world!  Held every year in February, this show attracts thousands of people from around the world.  I was able to go back in 2008 for a quick shopping spree.  It was ridiculous.  I was so overwhelmed by the amount of gorgeous gems. There are more vendors than you can visit and the prices are phenomenal.  There is so much competition, they are ready to deal. 

This year I am lucky enough to be going again though it's going to be a very different experience.  Last time I was there for 6 hours.  This year I will be there for 10 days!  (Oh, the damage I will do!)  Also different, this year I will be a vendor.  Ernesto and I will be helping out my friend (also my supplier) Arif with selling his gems.    I volunteered for this months ago and last week Arif called to strike a deal.  I know all of the gems and Im a pretty good sales woman, so I will sell a lot for him.   Plus I'm sure I will get the vendor to vendor discounts.  Im totally excited about it!

As an added bonus [and part of the deal],  Ernesto and I will be driving to Tucson!!!  Can you say road trip?  I don't think we have ever driven more than 5 hours together, so this is going to be an experience! At just over 1,700 miles, this is a whole new travel test for us. 
On the trip out west, we will be taking just 2 days.  Considering the cities we are driving through in the most direct route (shown above) Im not too disappointed to be rushing through, none of the cities we pass through are calling out to me.   On the return trip, however, we would like to make a couple stops.   The route (shown below) hits a few interesting cities and because we won't be on a tight schedule (although i'm sure Arif will need his truck back in Atlanta), I wouldn't mind finally checking out San Antonio.  Ernesto's top city to see is New Orleans.  Oh, ok twist my arm.
Of course the other possibility is that Arif drives his truck back to Atlanta and Ernesto and I can leave from Tucson to........I don't know where? Albuquerque? San Diego? Thailand?  Just kidding.  Or am I?

If you are thinking about going to the Tucson Gem Show, you may want to take a look at this insiders guide to the 40+ shows that go on and make a plan of the specific shows you would like to visit.  Every show will not be a good fit.  For example, I do not want to waste my time with a show selling seed beeds and swarovski crystals.
Our booth will be at the To Bead True Blue  show which will be held Sunday through Friday, January 30 - February 4, 2011, 10am-6pm at the Tucson Doubletree Reid Park, 445 South Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85711.

"To Bead True Blue is the major event of its kind in the U.S., representing 500 artists and artisans who will be showcasing a fine assortment of beautiful handwork, including antique beads, designer components, nomadic textiles, art jewelry, gold and silver, precious gems, handmade beads, ethnographic art, metalwork, ceramics, hats, wearable art, and extensive selections of wholesale bead and jewelry supplies."

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


It's that time again!  Time to start anew, make new goals, and reflect on the past.  Last January I wrote a year in review for 2009 and it was really cool to see what went on in my life.  I am always thankful that I have my blog to look back on.  I have over 500 posts now on Viva Cindy and they are documentation of my life.   There is no way I could ever remember all of this.  I often think about how cool it would be if my mom had a blog before I was born.  Hopefully someday I will have kids and they will read this and see their mother in a different light.

So, without further adieu, what went on with Viva Cindy in 2010?

*  Rang in the New Year in NYC
Spent a week in Asheville visting Brrrian

*  Flew to Tucson to support Tim and Back of the Pack Racing at 24 Hours in Old Pueblo
*  Spent a week at Tim and Michelle's house in NM
*  Visited Santa Fe for the first time
*  Flew from NM to San Diego [and spent 6 weeks]
*  Ernesto and I gave up beer and sweets for 40 days

*  A total stranger gave me a diamond ring
*  We replaced my lost wedding ring with a new one
My family visited us for a week in San Diego
*  Visted Sedona with mis suegras
*  Hiked the Grand Canyon
*  Flew back to Atlanta, but due to full flights, missed a jewelry show. 

*  Brrrian came to Atlanta for Easter
*  Hiked Amicacola Falls in the GA mountains
*  My best friend Chris visited from Germany
*  Started a 2 month job with the 2010 Census and met Lucy

*  We had a fiesta for Ernesto's 38th birthday
*  Zafiro had it's first Jewelry Show of 2010
*  Enjoyed a short weekend in Ohio with family

*  Celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary
*  Girls trip to New Orleans with Smita
*  Flew to San Diego for another 6 weeks (more hiking, biking)
*  Had fun at Del Mar's Opening Day at the Races
*  Drove to Mexico to eat lobster on the water

*  Flew to Ohio for an Arnold week
*  My cute niece Cheekers turned one
*  Met family in Asheville for some fun

*  Ernesto took a Man vs Food challenge in NYC
*  Attended friends wedding on a boat in NY
*  Participated in Arts on the Creek and Atlanta Art Festival 

*  Adopted  sweet little Titi
*  Zafiro was in Candler Park Festival
*  CLP ramped up for Christmas lighting season

*  Busy busy busy with Christmas lighting
*  Started insane workout called Insanity
*  Celebrated my 37th birthday with Neto
*  Brian came to Atlanta for Thanksgiving and to work for CLP

*  Had our most successfull year yet with the Christmas lights
*  Had a white Christmas in Ohio with my family
*  Rented GA mountain cabin for NYE

Although 2010 was a great year, I did have one big disappointment.   12 years of traveling the globe came to a hault this year!  I didn't fly out of the country. Not. Even. Once.  Ernesto rolled his eyes when I told him this revelation.  Maybe it's not such a big deal, but it's somethin' different!  I did get to Mexico a couple times [driving across the Tijuana border], but does that count as traveling abroad?   Well, I can't say where we will go this year, but believe you me, this will not happen in 2011!

Here is to the best year EVER!

Monday, January 03, 2011

A Cozy Cabin New Year!

Can you believe it is 2011?   We are back from a long weekend at mountain cabin we rented in Ellijay, GA.  What an AWESOME little trip!  All I kept thinking was " I have got to get my whole family here this summer!" Our friends Sean and Lucy  found the place and booked it online.
When I looked at the pictures on the website I thought it looked nice.  But we were so surprised when we arrived.  It was so much better than we expected.  This did not seem like a rental property.  It was furnished as if you were staying at your friends house.

For a mere $150/night, we enjoyed a very cozy decor complete with fireplace, nice linens, a fully equipt kitchen, outdoor hot tub, balconies, grill, pool table, satellite TV and a location right on the Coosawatee river.  

What to eat:
  • Grilled flank steak, chicken and ribs
  • Popcorn (Espinoza style)
  • Pumpkin pancakes
  • Vegetable lasagna
  • Pigs in the Blanket (ie: pork and cabbage. A family tradition for New Years Day)
  • Cheese, cheese and more cheese
  • Grapefruit
  • Chorizo and eggs
  • Mexican tinga [with eggs]
Pets were invited on this trip too.   Whether they were cuddling with the humans, or running around outside, they had a great time.
Aphi played fetch in and out of the water.  Titi didn't go too far and he definitely was not interested in the water. He  did like poking around in the tall weeds.  Do you see him hiding near the middle tree? 

What to do:
  • Eat, drink and be merry!
  • Watch movies/football/Sex in the City
  • Relax in the hot tub
  • Keep the fire going all day in fireplace
  • Stay in lounge clothes all day:)
  • Play with our pets outside in the sun
  • Make 5 pairs of earrings and 2 necklaces 
  • Siestas
  • Play Bananagrams
  • Listen to rain pour over tin roof
  • Watch river rise from 24 hours of rain
  • Slept with windows open to hear the raging river
  • Wake up before sunrise to enjoy silence and the great view 
  • Wear a sequin shirt with pajama bottoms to ring in the new year. (half party/half cabin wear) 
  • Do handstands and bike tricks
I highly recommend this for a getaway weekend or a week's vacation.  My parents have already said they are in for a nice Arnold Family week this summer.  Who's coming with us??


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