Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 54: A post about hiking on Friday

It is Pride weekend and if I was a good San Franciscan I would have photos of Pride. However, I don't love crowds, especially not crazy ones. I also really wanted to go to church today and it was my friend Elaine's baby shower.

Since I skipped the Pride festivities, I have instead chosen to share some pictures of my hike of Mt. Sutro. My friend Christy (often named here as the giver of clothes) and I went hiking on Friday. I was inspired to hike more by Oh Happy Day's post on urban hikes. We kind of did the Historic Trail but ended up following other trails along the way. Depending on the path you follow it can be fairly flat, but we had to hike uphill to get to the park. We both wanted the challenge of the inclines so we did choose to wonder  from the Historic Trail and climb some hills. 

Steep inclines and descends aside, the best park of this hike is that it is beautiful! I loved being in the city and so far from homes and paved streets at the same time. The woods are just dense enough that you really don't feel like you are in an urban area. It looks like you are in the woods. It felt like a much bigger adventure than it was and I was grateful to spend my Friday pretending like I wan venturing into the unknown. When we did come upon civilization it was unexpected and fun to look up at Sutro Towers from beneath it and then view it again from the top of one of the twin peaks.

I also get pretty excited about any view of the Golden Gate Bridge and this one was really fabulous.

There were multiple warnings about poison oak, and that meant I couldn't take my dog. Luckily, I didn't get poison oak. Overall the trail was amazing and I think I want to try to go running there as I start to train for a 10K trail run this fall.

In the next few weeks I plan to try out Mt Davidson and this week I am back-packing on the Lost Coast. I am loving that hiking and camping can be pretty inexpensive ways to enjoy life.

As for the outfit update, it has been fabulously sunny and I have been living in dresses.  

Day 53: I wore this yesterday as I sat in the sun at Dolores Park.
 My dress today was also amazing- I sadly forgot to take a photo of it in good light. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 50: Tennis Lessons

Today marks the beginning of my third effort to learn to play tennis.

Once upon a time in High School I discovered that despite being in the top percentage of my class, I was not going to graduate because I was short a PE credit. So, I gladly dropped my AP German class and signed up for tennis.

After my first six weeks I received a B in the class. I was livid! I march up to the coach and expressed my anger and he informed me that only real athletes deserve to receive an A, and real athletes are not in PE they are in the athletics class. Needless to say I stopped participating and received the same grade the following six weeks. I also failed to learn how to play tennis.

In college I was again faced with the need to complete PE type electives for the purpose of graduation. I wanted to say some money and pay $40 for my PE class instead of $400, so I signed up for a class at the community college.

Each day of class my instructor would rail on about how community college students are slackers and a total waste of time to teach. A few weeks in I walked over to the registrars office, dropped the class and filed a complaint on the instructor. I then ended up paying way too much to take 3 PE classes at the university I was enrolled in and again did not learn how to play tennis.

Somehow despite these two experiences, a few weeks ago after running past the tennis courts at Golden Gate Park I felt the urge to ask Facebook if anyone had an extra racket and the desire to teach me to play tennis. My good friend Tom messaged me that he both had a racket and would teach me.

This morning I had the most helpful and patient tennis lesson I have had in my life! I obviously have a long way to go before I am not a terrible tennis player- in fact we didn't even get to the part where I played tennis, but it is so exciting to learn. I am also so grateful for someone who will teach me for free and I am that the game is free and almost every city in the US has free courts.

Once I am any good I think I am going to make it a goal to hot up all the courts in the city.

What is one thing you have tried and failed at before, that you wish you would try again?

This is what I am wearing today:

Day 50
The sun is out in SF

And one last thing before I go: 

I am so proud to be in SF right now and so HAPPY that the SCOTUS overturned Prop 8!!! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 49: Part 2 What I actually Looked Like

In order to not be cold I ended up wearing this. 
Scarf: Gift from Mom while she was visiting, Jacket: Gifted by Jenny

Day 49: A summery of my parent's visit: 48 hours, 4 adults, $25 on entertainment

I am proud to say that my parents came to town and the only thing we spent money on was food, 2 decks of cards, and parking. The level of cheapness was made possible in part by the fact that my parents splurged on a car rental- we could not have pulled this level of site seeing off in just 48 hours on public transit.

My parents 48 hour tour of SF started with lunch at The Pork Store, followed by drive through Golden Gate Park taking a moment to look at my favorite building in all of SF, the Conservatory of Flowers. If you follow me on instagram I post a picture of it nearly once a week. We found some good street parking of JFK and walked to the De Young viewing tower (free). Then we headed over to the De Young cafe and walked around sculpture garden (also, always free). We hoped back into the car and drove down JFK looked out of our window to view a beautiful GGP waterfall and a few pretty ponds, then headed down to where the buffalo are.

At that point we had to head to the mission to pick up the BF. While in the mission we drove down Vermont Street the actual most crooked street in SF (Lombard is the prettiest crooked street, but Vermont is definitely more intense.) We then walked down Balmy Alley to view the famous Mission Murals. Then hopped back in the car headed to the ocean to see the 1 of the 2 Dutch Windmills, Sutro Baths, and did a drive by viewing of the Legion of Honor. From there we lost my dad in Green Apple Books (at this point in my life I should know that you cannot 'stop in' to a bookstore with my father), and we had dinner at Burma Superstar. After dinner we headed to my house and upon realizing I don't own card I headed off to the liquor store to buy 2 decks. We spent the evening in playing hearts- my mom won, but it was an accident- does that even count as winning when you don't mean to??

Thursday was a full day starting at 7:30 am. We drove over to the Inner Sunset and started our day by hiking around Stow Lake, then headed to 9th and Irving for brunch at Chow. From there we headed back to the mission to visit Mission Dolores (okay, so not actually free but we only spent $15 for 3 of us each, and my dad got in free because he was wearing his preacher clothes). We did lunch in Japan Town then went over to Grace Cathedral to walk the Labyrinth. The stop at Grace could have been free, but I really didn't want to drive around forever looking for parking. The lot at Grace is $2.50 per 20 minutes and for this particular trip to the church, it was worth the $10. The evening was less free: we went to the Do Good Lab happy hour at Dear Mom and dinner at Old Skool. (I already posted about how I spent a bit too much money there, but it was worth it.)

We ended the visit with a trip to the Japanese Tea Garden (Free before 10 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and a final drive through the park so we could see the other Dutch Windmill.

I have to say I think I live in one of the best cities ever. All told we spent less than $30 on entertainment and all the rest of the money went to food and my parents treated me to some fantastic meals. This trip might not fit everyone one who visits SF. We did spend most of the trip in Golden Gate Park and I know many people come to The City to spend time in the city. For us the combination of old churches and gardens was perfect. I would recommend that anyone traveling to SF on a budget take advantage of the park. I know that we could have saved more money by skipping the restaurants, but the food here is just too good for that non-sence. 

If you were planing a cheap tour of SF where would you go? I know I left off some great places, but my parents will be back. Ideas for their next journey?

Today's outfit: 

Day 49
Scarf: Bought with Coupon from ScoutMob from The Mission Statement (sadly, I walked by the store the other day and it is gone) Dress: Hand-me-down from Rachael, Tights: Hue, Boots: Hunter Rain Boots- I wanted them in hunter green for AGES but couldn't justify $100+ for rain boots. Luckily, I found these on sale for $70 a few years ago, and I still love them

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 48: Food Budget 3 Week Update- Learning

By some crazy miracle, I finished the first 2 weeks of the food budget challenge with $2 left over. The miracle came in the form of generous people in my life. Week 3 sadly was an all out fail, but I knew that it would be hard going into it. With that in mind I will call it a week of learning about myself and my food spending- I don't regret the experiences that came with the spending, but I think I could have easily spent less, but it would have hurt my pride just a little bit.

Here are the challenges with trying to hold myself to intense (for me) spending rules-

  • I think there are valid reasons to break my own rules (good-bye parties and guests) 
  • I sometimes use that as an excuse to spend money when I can have the same experience not spending it (ordering more expensive food than I need) 
  • I am really bad at communicating my need to spend less.

Recapping week 3: First, there was the dinner that cost me my entire weekly budget so I could say good-bye to a friend, followed be another good-bye dinner that I justified over-spending on because I had babysat that day. Then, I was great at not spending money, because my parents were in town and covered all but one meal and I insisted on paying for that meal. (Did you notice the theme that for all 3 weeks, I had other people spoil me? I did, and I am grateful for them. I am grateful, both because they spoil me and because it challenges me to recognize that I have everything I need.)

The good-bye dinner for Christie was well worth it. Moments like that are an experience I would rather allow myself to enjoy than freak out about. We went to Cha Cha Cha, a reasonably priced tapas place- the issue I need to figure out is how to be polite about the reality that I don't want split a check on a family style meal when I can't eat half the food on the table (I am gluten free). I have read other budget bloggers take on the social side of budgeting, but it is still crazy awkward to announce "sorry, I can't do this because I can't afford it" especially when it isn't an over priced request. My friends are very responsible spenders and spending the money didn't put too much of a dent in my bank account it just prevented me from meeting my arbitrary goal of $25-35 per week.

In the post linked above one of the best tips she gives is not treating it like I am missing out. The truth is: I could have ordered a salad, skipped the sangria and still enjoyed a wonderful meal with amazing company. I wouldn't have been missing out. I mean it is kind of like being on a diet. Sure you eat less amazing food, but you feel better, you're healthier, and you are less stressed. After all I am talking about learning to live on a healthy budget, I am not trying to go on a hunger strike. 

The actual finical fail was the next day- at a table of 3 good friends I need to learn to be responsible for myself and just order one taco and load up on chips- seriously if there are free refills on chips there is no reason for me to spend extra money. Plus, I need skip the margarita already! They would have all been super supportive of me ordering less and spending less and I would have enjoyed the same experience with less food and no alcohol (even if Tacolicious has the best tequila in the city.)

Buying one meal for my parents while they were in town I think is extremely valid. I am an adult and they were my guest. They paid for so many great meals while they were here so I really can't justify not buying them one dinner. In fact, I have a hard time justifying the reality that it was the only meal. (I know they enjoyed their time and were happy to pay, but still one of the reasons I want to get out of debt is so that I can afford to be a host.) The meal I paid for was very reasonably priced. Dinner was just $80 for 4 people- we even had wine and desserts for that price! I also chose a place that I really love. If you are ever looking for a great meal that helps the community you need to check out Old Skool Cafe in the Bay View. I do some volunteering with them and I love their mission. They employ low-income youth, empower them to run the restaurant, and help them develop the skills they need to find jobs in San Francisco. Sharing a meal with my parents at a place that has meaning is worth the budget cheat. The wine and the dessert, however, was something that I could have skipped. I justified spending a bit more for the experience, when I could have had the same experience without the wine.

In conclusion, Cheers to the learning experiences! Succeeding in the first 2 weeks tells me I can do it, and I probably should do it more often. It also helps me feel better about 3 meals that were out of the budget challenge. Nonetheless, it is a humbling moment when I feel like I am going doing so well on my spending but I look at my bank statement and realize my little cheats are adding up.

If you have any tips or stories to share I would love to hear how have you handled dieting or budgeting while celebrating people who matter in your life? or if other thoughts pop out from this post, let me know!

Oh, and my outfit for the day:
Day 48 
It is a typical Summer day in SF
cold, wet, and foggy
Scarf: Free not sure who gave it to me, Top: Vintage from my grandma's closet, Jeans: Gifted by Christy they are Mossimo and can be found at Target (They fit me better than my $200 jeans. I might need to rethink where I buy my jeans when I am allowed to buy them again. But I don't like the way they are faded, so I might be experimenting with fabric dye soon, and that makes me happy.) Shoes: Izod on sale for $16 from a store on Haight Street.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day 47: Updates on what I haven't been blogging about

I missed over 2 weeks of blogging. The whole staying at a friends while airbnbing my place is a bit distracting from blog time/organizing my life in general. I did complete 2 guests blogs and 2 client stories, but I still need to write 1 more client story for Old Skool and one more guest blog for Femgineer- I am not sure how I am so far behind.

But for a recap of what I have been up to in the more than 2 weeks I missed of blogging- I ran a half marathon, got almost an entire wardrobe for free from a friend, went on an Alcatraz night tour, helped Old Skool win a shrimp and grits cook-off, went to Napa, had a mild credit disaster, paid off my highest interest rate credit card, completed my first three weeks of the food spending challenge (the last of 3 weeks was a fail, but that is another blog post), had my parents visit (also its own wonderful post with great photos to come), booked a venue for the Do Good Lab Gala, and one of my dearest friends moved.

Photo highlights:

Creepy photo of the hospital at Alcatraz. They only open it for the night tour and it is really intense. Also, we went the same day as the race, so I was ready to take a nap on this table.

The view from the back yard in Napa.

Clearly over more then 14 days I wore a bunch of outfits, these are the ones I felt like posting.

 Left: Top: Mod Cloth (bought with gift card) Jeans: Indi, custom made, Shoes: Gifted from my parents. I wore this to my friends house for her clothing give away.
Middle: Necklace: Vintage hand-me-down from mom, Top: Calvin Klein Gifted, Jeans: Gifted, Shoes: Gifted. I got most of this at the give away.
Right: Blazer: Gifted by Jenny, Top: Boutique in Austin, Necklace: Boutique in Houston, Jeans: Gifted from Christy. I wore this to Christie's goodbye dinner. :(  

Left: Blazer rom Anthropology, Top: Hand-me-down from Rachael, Jeans: The Loft Gifted by Christy, Shoes: Ambiance, Scarf: H&M. I wore this on a day when I felt like I had dressed like a slop for ages, but I still wanted to be comfy. It was a good writing outfit.
Right: Blazer Anthropology, Necklace: Sunset Craft Fair, Shirt: Gravel and Gold, Jeans: Gifted, Shoes: Bass. I really don't remember why I wore this, but I absolutely love the necklace (see below). 

Tune in tomorrow for more outfits and other random updates. 

Side note: considering this blog is mostly motivated by my desire to face my debt I probably should have focussed more on the part about paying off one of my cards. The babysitting and airbnb thing are proving to be worth while side gigs. So, please do a happy dance in my honor. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 26 & 27: My other side gig (Babysitting)

I am babysitting in Napa and the view from my room is pretty AMAZING. One of the first things I did when I lost my job was let my friends with kids know that I would babysit- the extra money has been so helpful and this week's gig takes the cake. I am spending 2 nights in a gorgeous home watching one of two boys while the parents are downstairs in meetings all day.

I also posted a profile on but I haven't received any requests and I haven't applied for many jobs. With my new program in the fall bringing in a smaller paycheck than I have had and my need to get out of debt, I am hoping to find some extra income watching tiny humans.

Back to the Napa recap: this place is breathtaking.

Some fun pics of the actual kid. He is seriously too cute to handle. He is two and bossy, but so much fun. If being a mom only consisted of days like today, I swear I'd be on that.

Obviously the day ended with wine by the fire pit. 

As for the outfits; there were a few because kids are messy. Also, the selfies were more fun because this house has a ton of fun mirrors:
Day 26
Started out in a Scarf: Free, Cardigan: Banana Republic Hand-me-down, Dress: Old Navy $20 (bought with Groupon) The dress got soaked playing with the boy by the pool and became a swim suite cover when I realized I hadn't packed on.
After pool time I wore: Top: Hand-me-down, Tank under top: Old Navy, Shorts: Gifted The LOFT (Isn't this kid the cutest! he is wearing a train shirt and he loves being in photos)

Day 27
Top Layer: Hand-me-down, Top Second Layer: Seamless T on sale $18, Shorts: Anthropology (on sale $30)

I realize I am so fabulously lucky to have friends that needed a sitter in Napa during their work retreat. If you are not in the same boat, but want to travel and babysit simultaneously I found some websites that have some babysitting/nanny gigs. I have not used them, but I think it sounds like a good idea.

Escape Normal Jobs
Work Away


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Day 25: Sunday Simplicity

Day 25
Scarf: Hand-me-down, Top: J Crew via Buffalo Exchange (and yes it is super wrinkly- we can just pretend that is part of the Sunday casual look), Jeans: GAP gifted by Christie, Shoes: Gifted by my parents, Sweater (in hand): Vintage

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 24: June and July Food Spending Goals

Spinach, Heirloom Tomatoes, Almonds, Chunks of Aged Cheddar, 
with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic salt

In the scheme of goals I set and blog about, this one is one of the ones I am most scared of posting. I am pretty terrified I will fail and everyone will see that when it comes to yummy things- I have no self control. Still, I need to take on my fear of failing at this and instead hope that just maybe I will succeed.

I spent this much on food in these months:
January $0 (This according to my bank statement, and I think I was in shock from loosing my job, so it might be true. I mean I had to have eaten something, but I have no idea what. Also, I know that I spent a good amount on my bf's birthday dinner, so I am thinking it is wrong.)
February $133
March $263
April $530
May $551
As you can see the numbers are going up too much in the past few months. So, with the beginning of June I am committing to spend less. MUCH less. It is so hard, because to be honest I was feeling good about how much I was eating at home and not spending until I looked at my budget review. I love food, and I love eating with people in fun places. It is my biggest budget vice (much more than clothes). Close to $200 of this past month was spent buying some things bulk in order to save and in order to support fair trade, but still that keeps me at $351 and that is excessive for one person who isn't making much money and needs to pay down debt.

The goal is the keep the number at $190, in general, but I think I might need to aim lower for 2 months. As in I want to eat on $25-35 a week. To be clear I am starting the 2 months off with pasta, rice, quinoa, and a bunch of other staples. I also have multiple gluten free mixes for pancakes, corn bread, pizza dough and such. Mostly, what I need is produce to make these food items into a meal. With so much in season in the summer I am planning to hit up the cheapest farmers markets and save some money while supporting local farmers.

I also need to limit what I spend eating out. For the most part any meal out in the city will kill my $25 for the week in one sitting and more likely take the following weeks money as well. I am also just not going to drink. I love wine and a good cocktail but I need to save the money (plus cutting the calories can't hurt.)

There will be 2 exceptions to this budget that I need to figure out: My parents and my older sister. I cannot have my family see the city for the first time, and not feed them AMAZING food. So, I will need to find some extra money for that.

As for today's outfit, here she is:
Day 24 
(I couldn't decide on the photo, so I posted both)
Sunglasses: Buffalo Exchange $10, Earrings: Random store in Texas Hill Country $5, Scarf: Hand-me-down, Jumper/Romper (not sure which title is best): Scavenged from a stack of clothes left over from a fashion show = Free, Bag: Hand-me-down, Shoes: Gifted by my parents

Yesterday I wore this to the theater: 
Day 23
I went to see Arcadia at ACT- it was so good!
Necklace: Gifted from my mom (She wore it when she was my age), Dress: Gifted by Jenny, Belt: no idea I have had it forever, Shoes: Ambiance (I wear them more often than I should)

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