Thursday, April 29, 2010

Weekly Update and Smilebooth

I know that it is Thursday, a bit late for a weekend update, but guys I am a working woman now and just can't blog all the time.  Sorry.  I started last week on my temp job as a Crew Leader with the 2010 US Census, and so far I am liking it.  I was in training all last week and this week I am preparing to teach a class next week to a group of enumerators (people going door to door).  After teaching the class I will be assigned anywhere from 8 to 18 enumerators to supervise.  The majority of the people coming to work this job are unemployed professionals like myself.  People who want to work.  A much better pool of people than in previous census years I have been told.   The job is until June 14th and could be extended if the project is not finished by then, which seems likely.  I should be assigned to work somewhere close to where I live. 

Speaking of...I love the area we live in Atlanta.  It is called Old 4th Ward.  We actually live one block from Martin Luther King's house. I think that is pretty cool.  It is a historic area and is very centrally located.  I can reach anywhere I need to drive in 15 minutes, including the airport.  We can walk to several different neighborhoods and we live right off the Freedom Park Trail, which is great for running. 

We learned just last week that the Studioplex, a string of lofts and businesses one block from our place, holds a "third Friday of the month" Artwalk.   We strolled over at about 630pm and were pleasantly surprised at all of the action.  There was a band playing in one parking lot and all of the business/galleries had there doors open to welcome everyone.   

One salon called Aviary Collective hired a cool company called Smilebooth to be at the event.   It is like a photobooth, but so much better.  The set up is compact and stylish (a big SLR camera enclosed in a white box, and a light box both on a little metal stand).  It sheds a soft white light that is nothing short of flattering.   You hold the remote and just click away. 
I am holding up my complimentary bird bag from the salon which also had some goodies inside.   "I like birds"? I mean, how perfect is that?  You can rent the "Smilebooth" for events - 4 hours for $1500.    Ernesto and I decided we should look into this business.   We had fun playing in front of the camera. 
Pictures from all Smilebooth events are posted online for anyone to see, and nothing can be deleted.  At a St. Pattys party you can see as the night goes on, the people are more intoxicated and the pictures get a little crazy.  Im sure this guy is very sorry about that "can't delete" rule.  (scroll to bottom of page and look for Silence of the Lambs type pic....expect to gasp!)

Also this weekend was the annual Inman Park Festival, and in my opinion, the best festival in Atlanta.  It rained ALL day Saturday, but Sunday was gorgeous weather.  It was really different to actually walk around this show rather than work a booth.  Although I would have rather been selling my jewels,  I enjoyed partying with my neighbors.  I realized what a party this festival truly is;  I think anyone who lives in that neighborhood is obligated to have a party based at their house and the guests wander out in the streets of the festival.  It was packed.   

I saw my cousin Ken and Treff at the Pluma Jewelry booth.  It was really nice to see them and her booth looked awesome!  She gave me some great advice and really inspired me to change some things around for my upcoming Zafiro shows.  I really paid attention to all the jewelry booths at Inman and the Dogwood Festival, which was held the week before.  For example, it seems essential to include a glass case in the front of the booth, also to have a big banner or picture hanging somewhere.  I laid awake Sunday night from 3a to 430a thinking of jewelry stuff.  I designed a simple piece of furniture in my head for the glass case to sit and Ernesto said he would be happy to build it for me.  Thanks mi amor!  More updates on that coming soon! 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cooking with Nopales (prickly pear cactus)

I have always been fascinated with succulent plants and cactus, but it wasn't until the last few years that I started eating them.  Nopales is a prickly pear cactus that I'm sure you have seen growing outside, or as a house plant.  In fact,  this hearty plant grows in Georgia and even at my mom's house in Ohio.

Nopales have a light, slightly tart flavor and have a crisp texture on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. To me it seems like a vegetable because they are very rich in fiber.  They are also rich in vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K) and minerals (magnesium, potassium), in recent years, I have really grown to love them.

Until several months ago when mis suegras (in-law's) did a big landscaping project, they grew this cactus in the back yard and we were able to go outside with a knife and cut off a peddle or two.  If you don't have it growing though, you can check your local Whole Foods, or you may even need to go to a specialty mexican grocery.  You will see them in the markets of Mexico for just 5 pesos, here it's closer to $1.
After you find it, the hard part is over.
When deciding what do do with this beautiful cactus I considered nopales en crema, [which I will share with you another time] but I wanted something that really highlights the flavor of the cactus, so I opted for a simple saute.

2 cactus paddles
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 serrano peppers, diced
2tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Boil cactus until until tender (but not mushy)  about 15 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.
Heat olive oil and saute garlic and onion until translucent
Add tomatoes, peppers and cactus and until cooked through
Serve hot.  Que rico.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fit Fridays: a tough week

I can honestly say that Crossfit has kicked my butt this week.

Saturday:  Snatch balance 1 rep, 5 times

For time:
50 Box jump, 24 inch box
50 Jumping pull-ups
50 Kettlebell swings, 1 pood
Walking Lunge, 50 steps
50 Knees to elbows
50 Push press, 45 pounds
50 Back extensions
50 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball
50 Burpees
50 Double unders

Monday: rest
Tuesday: rest

95 pound Deadlift, 5 reps
13 Push-ups
9 Box jumps, 24 inch box
*Repeat as many rounds as you can in 30 minutes ( I completed 15)
50 sumo dead lifts
rest 3 minutes
*complete 4 rounds

Friday: rest

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jewelry Bust Project

It all started with this post on DesignSponge.  That blog inspires me so.  Kate Pruit, an artist from CA wrote about several jewelry storage projects and this wood bust really grabbed my attention.  I am happy to say I finished this project with Neto's help of course!!  They are so damn cool I want to make more!
The directions are clearly written out here, but I will give you a quick abridged version.  You can print out the template, but Neto thought it would be more personal to use a "well known" silhouette. ha! We blew it up to 140% on a copier and traced it onto the board.  (a pre-treated pine shelf from IKEA. It is big enough to make 3)  We also bought a $4 piece of thin cork board at Home Depot and made two bigger busts with it. 
You can find an inexpensive jigsaw at home stores for under $30.  Instead of using the blades that come with, we bought smaller finer blades to make sure they could whip around the curves and tiny spaces.  It was incredibly smooth and took no time at all to cut 5 of them.

We lightly sanded the wood before adding a primer and finally two coats of semi gloss white paint. What do you think?

I was so excited with the finished products, I set up a table in the garage just to see what they all look like together! 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Visit from an Old Friend

The last time I saw him was two years ago. Way. Too. Long.   
He moved to Germany almost 10 years ago.  Although we skypey skype and email back and forth, I have to say I really miss my friend.  A best friend.  He is a great listener, funny as hell, a good advice giver, non-judger, and I learn much from him every time we talk.  He can even make politics interesting.  I love you Chris!I flew to Ohio last week because Chris and his family are in the US for 2 months visiting family.  They stayed at my brother Bill's house and I stayed next door at my sister Jenny's.  (Yes, they live beside each other.  Its the perfect set up!)   We spent 5 days relaxing, talking,  eating, laughing our a$$es off, reminiscing, drinking tons of coffee [and beer].  Bill and Chris individually are the two funniest guys I know, and when you put them together, my stomach gets a workout from laughing.  Witty. as. hell.  
Watching them both in their roll of "new father"  was inspiring.  The question did come up a few times, "When are you going to have kids Cindy?"  I wish I could answer that.  I will say this, I do admire their families they have started, and I am always excited for a change.  Kids will bring it.  Only time will tell. 
One sunny afternoon (our only outing besides Walmart) we visited the gardens of  OARDC, a division of The Ohio State University which specializes in agriculture research and development.   Ohio is a few weeks behind Atlanta in blooming, so it was great to see the flowering trees all over again. I love this picture because it captures the silliness of Bill.  As Im trying to take a pic of the moms and kids, here comes his big head with that smile.  Love love love my family!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fit Fridays -a slow week

Unfortunately, with my trip to Ohio this week, I  did not have a good workout week.
I only worked up a sweat two times with these Crossfit WOD's (workout of the day)
Two is better than none.

Wednesday - Crossfit: 20 weighted squats, 20 yards walking on hands, repeat 5 times.
This workout was a killer.  I completed only 3 rounds.

Thursday - Crossfit: 15 dumbell split cleans, 21 pull ups, repeat 5 times.
I am still doing jumping pull ups, but have a goal to learn crossfit kipping pull ups by end of summer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Amicalola Falls State Park

Last week, my brother Brrrian was here for Easter.  He is an art teacher in Asheville and was on spring break.  Since he has been to Atlanta so many times to visit us, we wanted to find somethin' different to do.  He loves to enjoy the outdoors, and his dog Bruno does too.  

  Brrrian got online and found Amicalola Falls State Park in North Georgia.  The park has 12 miles of hiking trails and, as the name suggests, a huge waterfall too.  In fact, the Appalachian Trail starts just 7 miles north of Amicalola, and ends over 2000 miles later.  Someday, I would like to hike some of it. Ernesto and I have been in Atlanta almost 10 years and only hiked in the GA mountains once!  Despicable, I know.

  The visitors center offers maps and there are rangers available to answer questions.  You can leave your car in the lot and get started up the stairs to the falls.  425 stairs to be exact.
Once at the top of the waterfall, you are rewarded with a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 
Our original plan was to hike to the AT trailhead (7 miles and back) on the AT Approach Trail, as it is cleverly called.  The trail was very well maintained, and because the leaves were not yet out on the trees, the views were exceptional!
As we progressed and realized how little water we had left, we had to rethink our route.  There was a break-off trail called Hike Inn Trail which leads to none other than the Hike Inn, a secluded lodge with great views, and water!  We refilled our bottles and continued on. 
Only after we had stopped and refilled our bottles, Brrrian pulled out his water filtration gear and filled his water bottle?!  Oh, that crazy Brrrian!  What a cool little gadget it is though.  You drop one end of the little hose, which has a filter, into the water and pump.  It fills up the bottle with clean water in no time! 
Hike InnTrail took us on a 5 mile loop back to the AT approach trail and ended back at the top of the waterfall.
  I like a loop trail better than doubling back anyway, so no disappointment on our route change.  It was a 12 mile hike all together, and I would say it was strenuous.  When Brrrian was searching for this hike he came across a Crossfit instructors' blog who runs this trail often and has named this workout "The Meat Grinder".  He said it is for "ultra-runners" and an ultra-runner, I am not.  We ran parts of the trail and got worn out quickly.  Nonetheless, a great great workout!

Caldo Talpeno

Back when I was in college, I spent a winter studying Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  I wanted to live with a Mexican family so I could immerse myself in the Mexican culture.  That is, in fact why it is called an immersion program. ha! Studies have shown that language immersion is the surest and quickest way to learn a language, and I can attest to that!  It went a little further for me though.  I came back to the US obsessed with not only the Spanish language, but the food, and culture as well.

Typically in Mexico, lunch is the biggest meal of the day.  I would come home mid-day for this comida and the table would be set for a full on feast.  My "familia" owned a clothing store and would shut the doors from 1-3pm and eat together.  I love that custom.   If only.....

The main dish, usually meat, would change daily, but the one thing you could count on is that the comida would start with a soup and fresh pan (bread,  a type called bolillos).  This is a tradition I love. 
This classic Mexican chicken soup is absolutely one of my favorites, and you will find it on every menu in Mexico.  On a recent trip to Mexico I would want to order it, but kept seeing new things that I hadn't tried before...and I always love to try new foods.  Still, I never lost that craving that I had, so we made a big pot of it the other night.   Que rica esta sopa.

Caldo Talpeno

10 cups chicken broth 
1 white onion, chopped
3 gloves garlic, diced
2 lbs chicken breast
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 small can chickpeas
3/4 cup rice
1 small can of jalapenos in adobo sauce
2 avocados, cubed

Cut chicken into thin slices, and season with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven or stock pan, sauté  onions, garlic and celery in olive oil, and add chicken to pan and cook until 3/4 done. 
Add chicken broth and carrots.  Bring to a low simmer for 20 minutes. 
Add rice, zucchini and chickpeas.  Cook until rice is done.  Add salt to taste.

Serve hot, and garnish with avocado cubes and one chile en adobo.  
Buen provecho.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fit Fridays and Half-Marathon Training Schedule

This week has been good in the way of workouts, despite the fact that we have been drinking beer and eating sweets again. 

Sunday - Crossfit WOD: (Workout Of the Day)
For time:
10 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks
1 Weighted pull-up
9 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks
2 Weighted pull-ups
8 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks
3 Weighted pull-ups
etc...down to one clean & jerk and up to 10 pullups

Monday - Hike 12 miles in
Amicalola Falls State Park

Tuesday- Rest

Wednesday - Run 4 miles /walk 1

Thursday -  Crossfit WOD: 5 weighted overhead squats/Repeat 5 times, increasing weight

Friday - Crossfit WOD:
50 dead lifts 
150 double under jump rope (or 300 singles if your like me and can't get the doubles)
50 burpees 

If you'd like to learn more about Crossfit, click here.

I have been searching online for a half-marathon training schedule that fits for me. I have 18 weeks and the following is a 12 week program. I like that because if I am having trouble with upping my milage one week I have some extra time to repeat as necessary.

This is a 'beginners' training schedule. (from About: Running
This is where I should start. I love to run, but it is not easy for me. I am not great at pushing myself to continue when I get tired. I like how the long run adds just one mile per week. I can handle that!

Beginners' Half-Marathon Training Schedule

1Rest2 miRest2.5 miRest3 mi2 mi EZ
2Rest2 milesRest3 miCT or Rest4 mi2.5 mi EZ
3Rest2.5 miCT3 miRest5 mi2 mi EZ
4Rest3 miCT4 miRest6 mi3 mi EZ
5Rest3 miCT3 miRest7 mi3 mi EZ
6Rest4 miCT4 miRest8 mi3 mi EZ
7Rest4 miRest4 miCT9 mi3 mi EZ
8Rest4 miCT3 miRest10 mi3 mi EZ
9Rest5 miCT4 miRest11 miRest
103 mi EZ4 miRest3 miCT12 mi3 mi EZ
11RestCTRest3 miCT5 mi2.5 mi EZ
12Rest2 mi20 minutesRest20 minutesRace Day!Rest Day!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: Color me Yellow!

I have been blogging for years now.  It wasn't until just a year and a half ago though when I really started subscribing to other people's blogs.  I became, dare I say, addicted to reading blogs.  Many of them are design blogs; others are about crafting, cooking, etc..  (you can see the list of them on the right side)  You should check them out, they are a lot of fun, and best of all inspiring.  So much so that I couldn't keep track of all the ideas running through my head.
On the recommendation of my friend Lauren, I started a folder on my computer called "lookbook" and it is here that I save all the pictures that inspire me in some way.   
I thought I would start sharing with you, and my first batch is YELLOW
Can you believe this house? You see why im inspired right?  The bright yellow shutters are so unexpected and the striped curtains really say "welcome!"  As a result of this picture, I bought yellow and white fabric at a flea market in San diego and it's patiently waiting to be created into something!

I can't say when it started, but it could have been with that gold leather Sophie C bag that I bought at TJMaxx 3 years ago.  With all of the rich yellow I am seeing everywhere, I can't tell you when it will end either.   Just last week I bought a great vintage-y striped apron at a thrift store.  

Just to be clear, it's not buttery yellow it is bright, rich, almost gold. And you know how crazy I am about gold!   Something about this bright color makes me happy. (yes, mom, kind of like your kitchen!) 
Example #2:
I would be in heaven with these curtains.  Let me rephrase that, I will be in heaven when I get/make these curtains!  They would cheer up any room.  Oh my and this yellow silk headboard too!  
What about this silk chiffon dress?  Isn't there a wedding to attend this year?  This is the design of Kathy Rose.  She was a contestant on Bravo's  Launch My Line.  She won!
Besides the list of my yellow inspiration, I have the folowing yellow items:  the above fabric (and more), many articles of clothing (skirts, shirts, tunics), three leather bags, this embroidered Otomi beadspread, fabric napkins, oh and the list goes on.   Just for the record, I will always love turquoise, but I am a girl with many loves. Besides yellow, I am also loving anything orange.  What are your favorite colors? 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Western Road Trip Part 2: Grand Canyon

It was late afternoon when we pulled into the Grand Canyon National Park. Even though I had seen it before when I was younger, standing on the edge that day made my knees weak. It was I say something so cliche, take a look for yourself.
I know this picture doesn't come close to capturing the magnitude of this beast. Did you know that the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World? Its over 277 miles long, ranges from 4-18 miles wide and more than one mile deep. Wow!When I went with my family a long time ago, we were only passing through. This time I wanted to do some hiking and get inside this monster! The more I read about all the trails and activities, (rafting, biking, camping, bird watching) the more I was thinking of taking a longer trip sometime in the future. We had 2 days, which wasn't nearly enough time, but we used our time wisely! Me, Ernesto, and his mom and dad, (mis suegros) walked the Rim Trail along the canyon and stopped here and there for some pictures.

Phantom Ranch [cabins and camping site] is the only lodging facility below the rim of the canyon and is something I want to experience. The problem is that since it is the only facility, you need to make reservations as far as one year in advance. Yeah right. Like I can commit to something a year in advance.

Ernesto booked the Canyon Plaza Resort on Priceline that morning. It is one mile outside of the park and cost $100 per night. It was nothing special; the decor was reminiscent of the 80's, but it was comfortable clean and convenient. It also included a buffet style breakfast which was quite good.

We did some reading online and used the literature from the visitors center to determine our hiking route. Bright Angel Trail is the most traveled trail in the park. This is where most of the mule rides go and it starts from the Bright Angel Lodge. For those two reasons [read: crowded] we decided on the South Kaibab Trail. Plus Kaibab offered a more open view to the canyon with the trail. We read "best views, steep trail, no water and little shade" ok! let's go!
The rangers at the visitor center also warned us that at this time of year the top of the trail would probably be icy. It surprised me to find out that the bottom of the canyon is usually 20 degrees warmer than at the top. So while it was chilly in the morning it got warmer as we descended. (is 11 am considered "morning"? this is what time we got to the trailhead)
This was the top of the trail, and you can see the snow all around. The elevation is 7,200 ft.
The first switchbacks on the trail were snowy. At one point there was a bottle neck because it was solid ice. Everyone was falling and eventually ended up sliding down on their a$$.
The trail was not crowded as this picture suggests. After the icy turn, everyone spread out, hiking at their own pace. The trail was about 3 foot wide, although in some parts it got skinnier and I really felt like I was living on the edge! Overall the trail was very well maintained. Many steep parts of the trail had wide spread stairs in place, and that day there were people (probably volunteers) working on creating new stairs. It looked like hard work!

I know you shouldn't feed the animals, but this little squirrely-squirrel was right at my feet begging. I gave him nuts and dried fruit, is that so bad?
Along the trail you there are many spots where I just had to stop and take it all in. Yes, I did that the whole time we were hiking, but you really need to keep your attention on the trail beneath you rather than staring out at the view. Tripping and falling here is not an option. There were drop offs and cliffs that I didn't want to look down because it made my stomach feel weird. But I had to face my fears!
Every publication you read tells you "Do not attempt to hike down to the river and back up in one day." There are about 250 people per year that need to be "rescued" and most are a result of the hiker underestimating the hike. Im sure the extreme heat of the summer plays a large roll and people not drinking enough water. Im not going to dwell on our slow start, but...Im sure we could have made it all the way down if we had started earlier! The weather was perfect, and we carried plenty of water with us, so if you are in shape, I say, go for it!

If you are planning on a day hike and don't want to go to the floor, you could hike to:
Ooh Aah Point - .9 mile (6,320 ft)
Cedar Ridge - 1.5 miles (6,060 ft)
Skeleton Point - 3 miles (5,200 ft)
This is one way, so 6 miles total round trip. This is where you are warned not to go any further on a day trip.**
We had to push on!

We hiked beyond skeleton point and passed the next marker, Tip Off. It was worth the extra time for this view of the Colorado river, Phantom Ranch and the canyon floor.

It was 500pm when we reached the top. The sun was casting shadows on the canyon that seemed to tint it blue. It was so beautiful.

Well, are you inspired to go? If you haven't been to the Grand Canyon, I highly recommend it!

**Im sure the park is obligated to give these warnings. They also said to plan on the hike up taking double the time as the way down. Not so. It took us 2.5 hours to descend and another 2.5 to reach the top. We were about 1.5 miles from the canyon floor and the Colorado river, but had to turn back so we would make it back up by dark.


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