Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Con la Familia Espinoza de Nuevo!

Friday night Ernesto and I squeezed on a full Delta flight out to San Diego. Today is the first chance I have had to really get online.  Saturday we were at a meeting all day with the Christmas Light Pros.  It was motivating to meet some of the other licensees and hear how they are growing their businesses.  Ernesto and I left with new ideas and confidence that we can make the xmas lights bigger and better this year.  We are going to be focusing on commercial businesses in Atlanta this year.  If you have any leads or you yourself would like lights for a party/event or xmas just let me know.

On a different note, San Diego has been having some "June gloom" weather, as they call it.  Nothing horrible, just overcast.  Thank God it will be July in a few days and we can go back to perfect sunny weather. Every. Day.  It just doesn't seem right if the sun isn't out here.  A bit disappointing.
Something that never fails us when we come to SD is the food [and great family].  We woke up in the a.m. to the smell of menudo which had been cooking all night.  Can you think of a better breakfast than cow intestines and hominy in a spicy chile broth?  De. Lish.  You can find the recipe on Viva la Cocina
It continued from there.    Tacos de barbacoa, carnitas y buche. Salsas, avocados, tortillas.  More menudo. Sunday is the family cookout day, and usually lasts until 8pm or so. Good times.

We were worn out from the weekend and I just stayed inside in my robe all day.  It was chilly and the sun was no where to be seen.   I felt very unaccomplished and I am now ready to hit the sack and just end the day.  That's ridiculous, I am in San Diego. Hello?  This will not happen again.  Goodbye.

Ps.  I failed to post my Fit Fridays last week.  It was not very exciting as I just went running 3 times.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I haven't had an impromptu trip like this is quite some time.  Friday night Smita and I were just sitting with the computer open to Delta and checking the flight availability for this weekend.  (Ernesto was in Connecticut for a bachelor party)
Miami was our first choice.  Yes! Short flight, gorgeous beach, cuban sandwiches, great nightlife.

But no!  No Miami, no Ft. Lauderdale, No West Palm, no San Juan, no Tampa, no Hilton Head, no Myrtle Beach, no Hilton Head, no Savannah???  What was going on at all the beaches this weekend?  None of the flights were open.  I think it is called "summer", but come on. What about us standby people? ha!
We went through many many destinations before finally settling on......
New Orleans.  Wide open flights, nice hotel, good food, lots of culture in a gorgeous part of town.  Done.  We picked the W New Orleans  in the French Quarter.  It was a perfect location.  A $33 taxi ride got us there from the airport in 20 minutes.  
I used my starwood points, so the hotel was free. (Smita used her points and booked our NY hotel for the New Years trip, so it was my turn)  I have never stayed in a W I didn't like, and this one was no different. I  loved how it was the signature modern style of W Hotels, but brought in a taste of New Orleans.   I loved it the second I walked into the small welcome center, complete with old chandeliers and club chairs. 
Missing was the hot club/lounge that is always in a W, but the cute garden, pool and outdoor beds made up for that.  Besides we had more bars than we could ever need just steps away.
With the one hour time change, we were in the French Quarter by 830 Saturday morning.   Although I have been to New Orleans a few times, it has been a while.  Smita went to LSU for grad school and was excited to revisit. She wanted to take me for the beignets (french doughnuts) and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde.  This place is famous and had a long line and packed patio to prove it.
On our way back to the hotel for some pool time, we walked by The New Orleans School of Cooking and saw they had a cooking class from 2-4pm that day.  On the menu:  crawfish ettoufee, shrimp & artichoke bisque followed by pralines.  Sold! We immediately agreed it would be worth the $27.
We lounged at the pool for a couple hours and joined the cooking class.  I was a bit dissapointed that it was a demo class instead of us actually being involved in the cooking.  It was cool watching though, and I now know how to make a perfect rue for soups and stews. 
The teacher was very informative about the interesting history of Louisiana.  The food was phenomenal!   And the recipes came home with us, so we are already talking about having a cajun/creole night.

After the class we did some window shopping.  Im telling you the stores here are so cool.  The vintage and antiques, and oh, the chandeliers!  I was in heaven!   They were a little out of my price range.  We saw one for $34,000?!
My favorite store was a hat shop called Fleur de Paris.  We weren't allowed to take pictures because they hand make all of the hats and are all one-of-a-kind.  Outrageously gorgeous hats! We played around trying on a bunch.  My favorites are these small vintage cocktail hats/caps with feathers.  I was so inspired, I have decided I will make my own vintage hat [for an upcoming wedding] this fall. 

   Just like Atlanta, the weather in New Orleans was HOT AS HELL!  The humidity felt like 100%!  We popped in and out of shops to cool off and then, the clouds came in for an afternoon shower. 
And it poured! We waited for it to die down a bit before heading back to our  "heavenly beds" for a little cat nap.  
Ok, it was more than a cat nap, but by 8p, we were recharged to hit the city baby-dead on!
Randomly, an old-co-worker of mine from the Delta Sky Clubs was going to be in N.O. Saturday night too.  She saw my status on Facebook saying I was going to be there, and commented that she was too.  She was at an anniversary party of friends of a friend at the Omni Hotel (right around the corner from the W).  We crashed a anniversary party [with open bar]!  Ha! It was great to see Barbara, and she was ready to head out to Bourbon Street with us.
I was in New Orleans for Marti Gras once in college.  C-R-A-Z-Y!  Although the "bead business" was at a minimum Saturday night (compared to Marti Gras), there were still a few balconies lined with people throwing beads to passers by.  Some girls had one strand.
Others had more.  haha!
Just for the record, we didn't see any flashing, or show anything ourselves to get those beads.  Come on, we are ladies.  Plus,  it just wasn't Marti Gras. 
We bar hopped and ordered a hurricane at the famous Pat O' Brien's, supposedly a must in N.O.  
 Im not a fan.  Way. Too. Sweet!  Makes a pretty picture though.
There was a plethora of drinks to choose from, and although I liked this concept:
I don't drink Bud Light.  Period.  Smita and I didn't go overboard with drinks that night, but I can't say that for everyone else.  Drunk people galore.  Here is a PG-13 example:  We asked a guy to take our picture on Burboun Street.  We joked about him running away with my camera.  Instead this happened: 
Luckily, we felt good in the morning, despite staying out late the night before.  We had coffe and croissants at Le Bucherie, across from our hotel, sat out at the pool for a couple hours checked out of the hotel.  We were not done yet though.  I had a few things on my "must eat" list while in N.O.  We already had, beignets, crawfish etoufee, and shrimp/artichoke bisque.  I still needed gumbo, red beans & rice, jambalaya and a po'boy.   Gumbo Shop was recommended to us by a bookstore owner where we were browsing.  Smita bought the restaurants' cookbook and we walked around the block to make sure the recipes were good enough to try at home.  
Sitting under an umbrella in the courtyard, we ordered everything on my list...minus the po'boys.  I didn't have room after the all that and the praline sundae. ugh!  I think with all the rues and pralines, I may have ate all the calories I burned in my workouts this week. 
Oh well, such is life.  New Orleans,  I love you!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Daddy Dearest!


Last year, I interviewed my mom for mothers day and it was so fun!  I decided this year I would ask my dad some questions to celebrate him on Fathers Day!  He answered them in "true dad style"  making me laugh several times.  Maybe before you read this "interview...interview" you should look at this post to get some background on Paul Arnold, the best dad I could ever ask for!  
I love you dad!  Thanks for all you do for your family! 

1. Why did you marry my mother?
Because she was [and is] beautiful, loved me & was so easy going. I also knew she would be a great wife & mother. Boy was I right on that.

2. How did you feel when your first child was born? How did you think your life would change?
What about after the 5th kid?

I was so happy & proud to be a dad. I remember calling everyone I knew. I did not think my life would change a great deal & it really didn't. Mom took care of Tim & I went to work.
After the 4th kid I thought ...what is one more?

3. What did you enjoy most about being a Dad? Least? How has that changed now that your kids are grown?
Most- The good times - trips, ballgames,school activities dancing, singing & wrestling on the living room floor.
Least- Kids getting their drivers license, kids having parties when we are out of town, girls getting boy friends & the inability to convince a baby sitter come back a second time.

Now that they are grown, I enjoy being friends with my kids & getting together as a family.  I also enjoy the extra cash they provide by using my shuttle service.

4. Are there things you wish you had done differently as a father?
Spent more time with the kids & less time working on the house. I guess you just did what you had to do to make ends meet.

5. In what ways are we alike and in what ways are we different?
We are very much alike. We procrastinate, we like to party & be with people. Both of us retired early. Ways we are not alike ? Car maintenance, getting to the airport on time & carrying a wallet aren't concerns of Cindy.

6. Besides me, who is your favorite child? Ernesto!!!! ha ha
No really, what is one good memory you have of me in my childhood, and one bad? (but not too bad please)
Good - Dancing with "Minnie" to the song Delta Dawn.
Bad - Trips to the emergency room. Once she ate fish food & another time she shoved a peanut up her nose

7. What is the secret to raising good kids? I mean you do have 5 of them.
First is to make sure they have a great mom. Make sure they are involve in things & try to encourage them in everything they do.

8. Do you think today’s fathers have it harder, easier or just different?
I think it is just different. Today parents usually both work so when they have free time they seem to dedicate it mostly to their kids. I think that is good. 

9. What do you want to make sure that your grandchildren will remember about you?
Hopefully that Im loving & supportive. I hope they will feel I am are part of the reason they have great parents. I think that the three of my kids who are parents have really committed themselves to being great parents. When their time comes, I also feel that the other two will do the same.

10. Do you think Paul's Shuttle Service would have been so successful without your kids? What do you think the future holds for PSS?
I think without my kids the business would have failed long ago. Probably would have never gotten of the ground. I truly thank my kids for allowing me the opportunity to start the business. I think it has been good because the volume of traffic has been steady & profits have always been consistent. Not always good, but consistent. 
I think the future looks good as I am thinking of adding trailer & food delivery services. I got some new business last week as I was able to provide travel services for my granddaughter. Hopefully my business will grow as all the grandkids get older. 

11. Seriously Dad, How do you think you "get yourself into these things" so often?
I can't keep my mouth shut when I see that someone may need help. I always think I need to be involved in others problems.

Bonus Question - Let's settle the score once and for all Dad:
Do you or do you not, love it when your children make fun of you and quote you?

I hate it. I would rather be ignored. Haha!!

Sorry Dad, I don't believe that for a second, anyone else?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fit Fridays: Ready for Beach

The count down is on!  Beach, here we come!  
Exercising in this Georgia heat is HARD.  Im sweating my a$$ off (but not literally)
Are you guys working out harder now that it is summertime?
We did some killer Crossfit workouts this week:

Run 1 mile
200 bar lifts (in lieu of rowing)
Run 1 mile

Sunday- Rest

Seven rounds for time of:
10 Handstand push-ups
Squat clean, 10 reps
10 pull-ups

Five rounds for time of:
15 pull-ups
15 dips
10 reps of power cleans
Run 220 meters

Run 5k and Crossfit: 
For time: 150 Wallball shots, 15 pound ball

Thursday- Rest

Walk 5k and Crossfit:
Complete 5 rounds for time of: 
Run 800 meters
30 kettle ball swings
30 pull ups
**I only completed 3 rounds - I started at noon and was dying in the heat

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Craigslist and TJMaxx!

The other day I showed you the sofa that I am drooling over at Crate and Barrel. Well, have I mentioned that I am addicted to surfing Craigslist?  Im not sure why I keep looking at Craigslist in Ohio, but when Im done browsing Atlanta, I pick another city.  Ohio is an easy choice because I have family there.  It never fails, whatever you are looking for will eventually turn up on Craigslist.

Find of the week:
Check out this vintage sofa and chair set! 

I don't ask my family for too many favors, but I really need one now from my kin in Ohio!   Come on family!  I sent out an email but only got sarcastic remarks.  I am serious guys!  I want this set!

I guess I will have to call Paul's Shuttle Service out of Canton.  He has been reliable in the past with pick ups and deliveries.  Hopefully he can do it!

Deal of the week:
Maybe this is the deal of the year!  I haven't been shopping too much since I started working again, but when I have gone, it has been all about buying pots and plants this summer.  I haven't bought any shoes, and very minimal clothing.  Yesterday, when I stopped in TJMaxx, I saw these Cole Haan leather platform sandals and I broke down.
Nothing to feel bad about though, they were on sale for $41!?  "WOW! THAT'S A LOW PRICE!"  Yep. I know.  I am loving the woven leather on the wedge heels, I feel like I just stepped out of Lucky Magazine!  I wore them today and almost broke my ankle (twice).  Ha!  I am not used to wearing heels anymore.  I have spent the last 2 years in flip flops/running shoes and really have lost my balance.  After one day of practice though, Im ready to run in them. (they are Nike Air too, so very comfortable)  Ooooh Im so tall in them.  I love it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Plants and Planters

Can you believe it's mid June already? I have just a few more things to finish up with the Census and then on the 24th (ish) we are off to sunny San Diego, which will be such a welcome break from the stifling humidity here in Atlanta.  Back in March I showed you the beginning stages of my garden, and everything has grown so much in the last 3 months. 
It will be exciting to come back to our house and see how all my plants are doing in August.  I went with mostly succulents and sedum, which are low maintenance plants (ie: don't need watered too often) and come in so many interesting varieties.  If I come across a new one I have to buy it.  I will be coming home from San Diego with more plants.  I also have a request from Lucy for a California jade plant.  Anyone else?
Not only am I addicted to the plants, but I am addicted to buying the pots for them.  Blue pots specifically.  I just got done counting them and I feel a bit like my sister with her never ending jeans collection. (she can't stop, her famous line is:  "how can I not buy them?")  This is how I've become with the pots I see at TjMaxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods.   Are you ready for the number? .......wait for it.......38 pots in some shade of blue, 46 in total [counting non-blue].   Oh well, everyone has there vices.   All I know is that they make me happy.    I check on the growth of all my plants daily.   They are looking fabulous!  Look at the Creeping Jenny spilling over the pot in the middle.   Mint is growing like crazy in the pot to the left and on the right morning glory vines are starting to climb up the trellis.  
So exciting!  Are you excited?  Its so pretty walking up my stairs....take a look:
Look who else likes to walk up my stairs. Hi Rare.
At the bottom of the stairs I planted a couple tomato plants, hot peppers and tomatillos.  They were growing slowly.  I moved them a few feet to where they recieve a couple more hours of sun and I started watering them more often. Surprise, surprise they are developing beautifully!  Hopefully I can get a pico de gallo made before we leave.  
Ok, probably not going to happen with those peppers, but the tomatoes are looking ripe for the pickin'.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Neto's Shelving Project

I wasn't fully on board when Ernesto told me his idea to add a shelving unit to our living room wall.  The whole wall.  At first I was not feeling it. I probably was thinking [$$$] it's a rental...it's so much work....yada yada yada, but when he showed me his drawing, it looked really cool, and I concurred!  (Plus, the reality is, we will probably be living here for another year or so before we can buy a house. We might as well make the apartment as cute as possible, right?)

Neto started by drawing on the wall and nailing in biggest part of the shelving unit where the tv goes.  He used MDF, and circular saw and good old hammer and nails.   We tested it out for a couple of weeks just like this just to make sure we liked it, ha!  Our projects are never quick, and this one was no different.  Lazy days, little by little. 
When he started painting the unit with a semi gloss white, it came together like an actual piece of furniture. and I was totally impressed.
Then came the fun part, pulling out my beautiful sand collection, and decorating the white shelved with some of my colorful "stuff" including artwork I have collected from Latin American.  I love how Neto made the little shelves especially for my sand.  I threw all this together quickly, but I am loving it! 
Next on the list for my builder:  a jewelry cabinet with decorative molding. 

Weekend Recap

No, no, I didn't get a kitty.......yet.   But I can't stop looking online.  There are so many cute kitties out there ready to be adopted.  I think I have to wait until after our San Diego trip.  This tabby kitty in the picture is the kind I am looking for.  Look how fluffy...and his orange nose, white chin....ay my little ti ti! 
How was your weekend?  

This is how mine went: 
1. Watched a little soccer [and got patriotic] Go Mexico and USA! (both teams tied)

2. Treated myself to a much needed manicure/pedicure with Lucy
3.  Pool party at Jason's/cookout at Livini's
4. Ate some of Smita's homemade Indian food
5. Planted 2 more pots with sedum
6. Made Sunday a true day of rest and barely left the house due to the heat
7. Finished painting Neto's shelving project (pics coming)
8. Enjoyed a "low country" breakfast on Lucy & Sean's beautiful garden patio 
(biscuits, sauteed shrimp, baked eggs, Oh my!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sopa de Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup)

In college I rarely ate meat.  No, I wasn't a vegetarian, however I had two perceptions about meat.

#1 Meat is expensive and #2 it is fattening.

I was very conscious of what I ate back then [thinking it would affect my workouts],  and I was very poor.  I remember my family having cookouts and I would not even eat a hamburger!?  Crazy girl.
I don't remember what I was eating for those 5 years, but it must have been boring as hell.   I don't know why I just didn't get a little more creative in my college years.  Well, it was because I really didn't spend much time in the kitchen back then.  And there you have it.   My eating habits have changed; rarely do I turn down meat.  I do however look for lean cuts.

Ernesto, on the other hand, started all his cooking in college.  He moved from San Diego to Ohio, and really missed his mothers delicioso food.  He called her frequently to get her recipes.  I was very impressed when I met him that he was so into food, and not only that but he loved to be in the kitchen making it.  Many of our dates were late nights in the kitchen cooking dinner and to this day is our "hobby" as a couple.  I can't think of a better one.

This Sopa de Albondigas is one of my favorites from his mother.  Ernesto remembers eating a lot of soups and stews in his Mexican upbringing.  I would imagine there was a cost savings reason to serving soup to a family of 6, but it also happens to be a staple in Mexican cooking.    This recipe busts both my college perceptions by being very inexpensive to put together and very healthy.  (try to buy lean hamburger 93/7% fat)
It is a repeater for sure. Buen provecho! 

Ligia's Albondigas

Ingredients for broth:
1 small white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 16oz can tomato sauce
8 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 small zucchini, cubed
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 large russet potato, cubed 
1 can chipotles in adobo sauce

ingredients for meatballs:
1 lb lean hamburger
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup rice
1 egg
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1tsp garlic powder 
1tsp onion powder
1tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients meatballs in bowl and roll into golf ball sized balls.  In large stock pot, saute onions and garlic in one tbsp olive oil until translucent.  Add tomato sauce, water bouillon cubes and potato.  Add meatballs and cook for 20 minutes on medium heat.  Add the remainder of the chopped vegetables and cook for 15 minutes.  Serve hot with a chipotle pepper in the bowl!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fit Fridays: You Go Girl!

I am TIRED!  This week was a tough week in the way of workouts.  My Census workload however, was very light so I blame this exhaustion solely on Crossfit.   Those people are CRAZY! Of course I was introduced to Crossfit by my brother Tim, and he likes to [and I quote] "inflict the maximum amount of pain to the body"..... I should have known you have to be a bit crazy to do it.  Oh well, whatever gets me to the beach!  

Sunday- bike ride 6 miles at Big Creek
5 rounds of:
20 pull ups
30 push ups
40 sit ups
50 squats

Monday-  rest

Tuesday- run 5k and ...
Five rounds of:
5 Dumbbell deadlifts
5 Dumbbell hang cleans
5 Dumbbell push presses
5 Dumbbell squats

Three rounds, 21-15- and 9 reps, for time of:
135 pound overhead squat
Chest to bar pull-ups

complete as many rounds as you can in 7 minutes of:
10 squat cleans
20 sit ups

Friday- run 4.5 miles

Biggest Yard Sale Ever!

When Ernesto and I were on our way home from the Dekalb Farmers Market the other day, we saw a few moving trucks being unloaded in front of the First Baptist Church of Decatur and a big sign : Yard Sale starts 7am on Thursday.  I made a reminder on my phone and we were out there by 715 am...along with hundreds of other people.  It was amazing!  My mom and sister would have died if they had seen it.  (this post is dedicated to them)
I was so excited, I didn't know where to start. There was a ton of furniture.  You know I had my eye open for a cool couch and I saw a  few vintage pieces that I would have liked, but by the time I found them, they already had "sold" tags on them.
It took a couple hours to go through, and Ernesto actually lasted longer than I thought he would.  He was excited for the pilsner glasses he found for $2.50 each (which I bargained down to a$1 at checkout).  Eventually he got bored and left me, but that was just after my friend Lucy showed up and so I went through things a second time with her.  I needed "the find" to jump out at me.  Pilsner glasses are just not exciting enough.   It was a little overwhelming for some.
In the end, which was just at 10am, I walked away with 4 pilsner glasses and a Mexican Talavera planter. Like I needed that.  I do still have this chair on my mind though and I may stop back tomorrow to see if they have lowered the price.   $50 is just too high for a chair that needs reupholstering and that I don't even have room for.  I would make room for $20.  Not $50.  The fluted back is awesome, don't you think?
Oh mom! I thought of you when I saw this: 


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