Exploring Calistoga

by tatiana on January 17, 2016

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

My good friend and former roommate returned from an 8 month trip backpacking around SE Asia and Central America last year. Before embarking on her trip she mentioned that she thought she might want to work in the wine industry when she got back, and she ended up doing just that. She now works at one of the most beautiful wineries in Calistoga (I mean all of them are pretty gorgeous, right?). My treks up to the North Bay usually take me to Sonoma or Napa, so I was excited to explore a new part of Northern California’s wine country – especially with some of my favorite people.

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I made the trip to Calistoga with three great friends, one who had moved down to Los Angeles 6 months earlier, so her return and our reunion as a group was really exciting and made for an extra fun trip. 

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We rented a car and drove up VERY early to get to the winery before the crowd arrived. Allegedly this place gets so crowded that you sometimes can’t get into the tasting room. When my friend suggested we arrive before 10am, my intial reaction was “I don’t think I can drink wine that early” and her response was “Just remember, it’s wine tasting, not wine drinking.” Valid, but I mean, we all know me. That being said, I was the driver this time around so I stayed well-hydrated and reluctantly used the spitoon throughout the day.

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

This is Tatiana after a 10am wine tasting. #supermodel

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

Tatiana after a 10am wine tasting also makes her friends pose by the flowers. 

Anyway, our first stop was Chateau Montelena, home of the winery whose Chardonnay put California wine on the map at the end of the 1970s. If you haven’t seen or heard of the film Bottle Shock, you will have after visiting the winery because they proudly display it along with other merchandise. I watched the movie before visiting the winery and I give it a 2 out of 5 stars. It’s ok. The story is pretty incredible though, and Chateau Montelena is definitely a place to visit.

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We went through the tasting menu and I picked up a bottle of their 2012 Riesling, which surprisingly was my favorite. I tend to stay away from the sweeter whites but this one was delightfully mellow.

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Our day continued with visits to a couple more wineries, lunch in downtown Calistoga and a nap in the car around 3pm by a park, with the AC running, because we are adults and wine does that to you.

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

That face says “I need a nap and I need it now.”

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My beautiful friends, in a slightly blurred photo taken by a fellow tourist.

After our group nap in the car, we met up with our friend for dinner when her shift was over, said our goodbyes-for-now to our friend and the wine country sunshine, and made our way back to foggy San Francisco.

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WIP Wednesday: 09.23.15

by tatiana on September 24, 2015

WIP Wednesday | tatianajimenez.com

Yesterday, two things happened. 1.) I decided to cave in and give The Voice a whirl. I’ve never seen the show but everyone seems to love it, so I figured, why not. I quickly realized that it would take up two hours of my life, so then 2.) I decided to start a knitting project. I haven’t worked on a knit/crochet project since earlier this year. It felt great to pick up those needles again. I’m working on a blanket, which if you know me, blankets have become one of my favorite things to make.

A couple weekends ago while at Ikea, I stumbled upon this really great, thick, striped canvas fabric.

Sofia Fabric | IKEA

The in-store price was $5.99/yd, it was a steal! The quality feels canvas-y and heavy – a lot more expensive than $5.99. I’ve been eyeing this leather Baggu tote for a while and thought that I’d try recreating the shape of that bag with this fabric. I think I’ll also put a couple pockets on the inside and include a zipper at the top if that makes sense. I feel like this would be cute to carry around Paris when I’m there in two weeks, but I’m also wary of pickpockets, hence the zipper.

Lastly, it’s September — almost October! To someone who likes to make handmade gifts, this is crunch time! I have about four handmade Christmas gifts in mind that I want to make this year. One of which is a belated birthday gift that is now a birthday/Christmas hybrid gift. I’m about 40% done with that, which is good news. I have yet to start on the other three. Two of them are cross stitch projects, and if I learned anything from my first and only other cross stitch project, it’ll take way longer to complete than I think, I’m sure. Fingers crossed I get everything done. The two cross stitch pieces I’ll be working on are from this awesome book:

Twisted Stitches | Phil Davison

Are you working on any projects right now? Have some cross stitch tips for this newbie? Let me know!

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My Favorite Things to Do for Free in San Francisco

by tatiana on September 3, 2015

russian_hillAs we’ve all been reading in the news, or experiencing first hand if you live here, San Francisco and the surrounding cities have become pretty spendy places to live and visit. In addition to real estate and rent prices skyrocketing, the general cost of living here is pretty high. There are definitely ways to keep costs down, some of which include being smart about where you shop, trying to buy produce in-season, cooking at home, walking instead of taking the bus or Uber, etc.

Additionally, going out and spending time with friends (or having a day to yourself!) can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few of my favorite free (or almost free) things to do in the city:

Check out books, eBooks and DVDs from the San Francisco Public Library
I usually visit the Presidio Branch (since it’s a 5-minute walk from where I work). There are 28 branches throughout the city. They even have a mobile branch! I also REALLY love their book sales. I love their book sales a little too much, actually. At the last one, I came home with way too many VHS. Yes, I still have a VCR, and I’m proud of that. Lucky for me/us, their Big Book Sale is happening next week

Go on a San Francisco City Guides Walking Tour
I’ve been on eight of these brilliant tours and have learned something new and fascinating every time. (Some favorites include the Alfred Hitchcock and Chinatown tours.) These tours are free, but donations are encouraged at the end of each tour. The guides are all unpaid volunteers and the program is run by the San Francisco Public Library.

Walk around Golden Gate Park with your horticulturalist friend
Ok, I know not all of us have a friend who is a plant expert, but you can still enjoy the park for free.

Walk (or run!) to Aquatic Park and take in the beautiful view of the city and Oakland across the Bay
I’m currently training for my first ever half marathon, so I’ve been doing this A LOT! It’s pretty incredible to be able to, within 15-30 minutes, take a walk or run and be treated to beautiful views or an entirely different neighborhood to explore. Speaking of walking and exploring – I highly recommend reading Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco by Gary Kamiya, marking pages and then following his footsteps around the city.

Sign up for free movie screenings
I was pretty dubious about this when my coworker told me about it. But since signing up, I’ve seen Amy the Amy Winehouse documentary and got tickets to see The Visit next week. You have to get in line pretty early (I waited about 1.5 hours last time), but I think it’s a fun experience. (Pro tip: bring a book.)

What are some of your favorite free or almost free things to do in the Bay Area, or your town? 

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Bread and Butter Pickles | Recipe and Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

The dream of the 1890s is alive in my tiny kitchen, you guys.

As we all learned from reading Little House on the Prairie, food preservation was an integral part of life before refrigeration. Nowadays, canning remains a popular way to preserve the fruits and vegetables people grow in their gardens, but what about those of us who don’t have a garden? Although I may be a garden-less city dweller, I love picking up in-season fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. Canning for me is more of a hobby than a necessity, so, what does this hobby cost me?

I’m pretty new to the canning game, this being the fourth time I’ve dedicated a day to creating a stash of goods to enjoy over the coming months, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. (I’m definitely still a beginner, though!) Here, I’ll share the costs of getting started, tools you’ll need, things I’ve learned and, my thrice tested (and ever-evolving) Bread and Butter Pickles recipe.

What You’ll Need

Before making my first batch of pickles I watched numerous YouTube videos, pored over tons of blog and recipe sites, and took copious notes with techniques and ingredients I wanted to try. Here are a couple of my favorite videos that go over the basics of canning pickles: video one and video two.

Canning involves working with very hot water and glass, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools so you don’t hurt yourself. I recommend a kit similar to the following:

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

I bought mine on Amazon and it cost $13.99 at the time. I use all of the tools except for the regular tongs. I’m still not sure what those are for.

You’ll also need a water bath canner, which is basically a huge pot that you can fill with water high enough so your jars are completely submerged. I purchased this one, again from Amazon, and it cost about $20.

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

In addition to the internet, as mentioned above, I found that this book has been an excellent resource.

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

It isn’t the sexiest book, but it is wonderful, and goes over everything you need to know about the science behind canning, safety guidelines, and contains a lot of great recipes.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe (and a Cost Breakdown)*

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

8 lbs Pickling Cucumbers – $12 
3 lbs Yellow Onions – $3 
3 tbsp Mustard Seed – $7.98 (2 packs at $3.99/each)
4 c White Vinegar – $3.99 (per 64 oz. bottle)
3 c Apple Cider Vinegar – $3.99 (per 32 oz. bottle)
6 c White Sugar – $1.99 (per 4lb bag)
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes – $1.99 (per 1 oz. pack)
1.5 tsp Turmeric – $4.59 (per 2.4 oz. jar)
2 tsp Celery Seed – $3.99 (per 2.4 oz. jar)
1 c Kosher Salt – $3.49 (per 48 oz box)

Cost of Ingredients: $47.01 (assuming you have to purchase all items and don’t have anything on hand)
Cost of Jars: About $8 (The cost of jars can vary depending where you buy them. I purchased mine individually from a local hardware store for 0.75 each.)
Cost of Canning Supplies: About $24

Total First Time Cost: $79.01

* All cost estimates based on local San Francisco pricing. A few other quick things about this cost breakdown that are important to remember: 1.) You can reuse your jars. Just make sure you purchase new lids as those can only be used once, 2.) Almost all of your spices and vinegars will be good for about two or more batches of this recipe (or other recipes), 3.) The math breaks down to $6.58 per pint jar, which still isn’t bad when compared to really good quality pickles on the market. And if you’re reusing jars, and already have canning equipment on hand, it really is about $3.92, or less if you have spices and vinegar on hand. 

Now that we have our costs laid out, let’s jump right into the recipe! First, you’ll need to slice the cucumbers. I like to slice them at about 1/3 of an inch because I like a chunkier, crisper pickle. Then, slice the onions.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Quick tip: taste test a bit of every cucumber just in case you have a bad/bitter cucumber in your batch.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Put them in any non-reactive container (I went with the stoneware part of my Crockpot and a couple Ziploc bags). Take your cup of kosher salt and add it to your pickle/onion mixture. Put that in the fridge and let it do it’s thing for 2-3 hours (3 hours is most commonly recommended, but I sometimes get impatient, and 2 hours has been totally fine).

While your pickles are literally chillin, you can start boiling the water in your canner. This will take about 30-45 minutes to come to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add your jars carefully to the water, cover and boil for 10 minutes.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Carefully uncover the pot, let the water cool a bit before pulling the jars out so there aren’t as many boiling bubbles and possibilities to burn the crap out of yourself. Remove the jars and place them on a clean towel on your nearest surface.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

You’ll also want to throw some of that hot water into a bowl to sanitize your lids. Make sure this water cools a bit, as it should not be boiling. Keep those sitting in the water until you need them.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Next you’ll prepare the pickle liquid mixture. In a large pot we’ll add both types of vinegar, the sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Put it on the stove and heat it on high.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Take your produce out of the fridge and rinse it well. You want to remove the salt. Add the produce to the pickling liquid and combine. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then get ready to jar.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

With your handy curvy tongs and funnel, ladle your pickles into the jars. Be sure to also add enough liquid, and leave 1 inch of space.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Once the jars have been filled, you’ll want to use your stick tool (a wooden chopstick also works fine here) and release bubbles by swishing it around the sides of the jar. Then take a clean, damp towel and wipe the tops of the jars. Place the lids on the jars carefully with your magnet stick (or tongs, just remember that these are probably still hot!), and twist on the bands finger tight (which means, don’t screw it on super tight or else you could crack your jars).

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Now we’re ready to can! Carefully place the jars in your canner. You’ll want to follow proper protocol regarding elevation and how long to process your jars, but I processed mine for 10 minutes.

Once processed, remove your jars and place on a towel about 1″ apart from each other to cool. You should hear a pop, which means your jars have sealed. Leave untouched for 24 hours.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

24 hours later, make sure your jars have sealed by removing the band and picking up the jar from the lid. Be careful just in case your lid pops off. If it does, the pickles did not process properly and you should refrigerate those and eat them within the next few months. The jars that sealed properly should last a year.

Do you have experience canning and preserving foods? Have some recipes or tips you’d like to share? Let me know!

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 8 lbs Pickling Cucumbers
  2. 3 lbs Yellow Onions
  3. 3 tbsp Mustard Seed
  4. 4 c White Vinegar
  5. 3 c Apple Cider Vinegar
  6. 6 c White Sugar
  7. 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  8. 1.5 tsp Turmeric
  9. 2 tsp Celery Seed
  10. 1 c Kosher Salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the cucumbers at about 1/3 of an inch. Thinly slice the onions. Put them in any non-reactive container or Ziploc bags. Add the kosher salt to the pickle/onion mixture. Place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  2. Start heating the water in your canner. This will take about 30-45 minutes to come to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add your jars carefully to the water, cover and boil for 10 minutes to sanitize. Remove the jars and place them on a clean towel on your nearest surface.
  3. Ladle some of the hot water into a bowl to sanitize your lids. Make sure this water cools a bit, as it should not be boiling. Keep those sitting in the water until you need them.
  4. Next you'll prepare the pickle liquid mixture. In a large pot combine both types of vinegar, the sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Put it on the stove and heat it on high.
  5. After 2-3 hours have passed, take your produce out of the fridge and rinse it well. You want to remove the salt. Add the produce to the pickling liquid and combine. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then get ready to jar.
  6. With your curvy tongs and funnel, ladle your pickles into the jars. Be sure to top with liquid, and leave 1 inch of space.
  7. Once the jars have been filled, use your stick tool to release bubbles by carefully swishing it around the sides of the jar. Then take a clean, damp towel and wipe the tops of the jars. Place the lids on the jars carefully with your magnet stick (or tongs, just remember that these are probably still hot!), and twist on the bands finger tight.
  8. Now you're ready to can! Carefully place the jars in your canner. You'll want to follow proper protocol regarding elevation and how long to process your jars, but I processed mine for 10 minutes.
  9. Once processed, remove jars from the canner and place on a towel about 1" apart from each other to cool. You should hear a pop, which means your jars have sealed. Leave untouched for 24 hours. 24 hours later, make sure your jars have sealed by removing the band and picking up the jar from the lid. Be careful just in case your lid pops off. If it does, the pickles did not process properly and you should refrigerate those and eat them within the next few months. The jars that sealed properly should last a year.
Tatiana Jimenez | Design + Marketing + DIY http://www.tatianajimenez.com/

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Gallery Hoppin: Art Silicon Valley

by tatiana on June 13, 2015

Art Silicon Valley 2014 | tatianajimenez.com

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been MIA for a while, and I have so much to catch you up on!

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Late last year my cousin Ryan asked me if I wanted to join him to check out a new art show in the Bay Area called Art Silicon Valley. My response was something to the effect of “Does Silicon Valley even care about art?” to which my cousin replied “Good question, let’s go find out.”

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Art Silicon Valley 2014 | tatianajimenez.com

I’m still not sure if Silicon Valley cares about art, but the pieces at Art Silicon Valley were terrific and definitely worth driving to San Mateo for, and the fair was full of attendees. I naturally gravitate towards pop art, which there was an ample amount of, but there was generally a wide variety of art represented – from sculpture and photography to interactive installations .

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Not to mention, art collectors wear the best outfits, as exhibited above. I was mostly trying to get a shot of this woman’s shoes.

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art_silicon_valley_04  art_silicon_valley_08 art_silicon_valley_07

The last piece we saw was an interactive installation called “En-Lightening” by Ryan’s friend Nick Dong. This was also the piece that was featured on all of the ads for the show.

Art Silicon Valley 2014 Ad

We waited in line for about 15 minutes for our turn to go inside the room and experience the piece and chatted with Nick while we waited (he is so nice!). I don’t want to give anything away because each person experiences something different inside, but it is indeed very “enlightening.” The piece also made me want to crawl into a ball and nap. (Nick told us that one person went inside and started taking their clothes off. Isn’t art fun?)

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The day ended with burgers at Five Guys nearby, which I had never tried before. It was ok! I liked the fries. But overall, I always enjoy hanging out with my cousin and catching up. It’s also relaxing to go from a somewhat stuffy environment to a place with greasy food and a floor covered in peanut shells.

Bummed you missed the first Art Silicon Valley? Fear not, kittens, as their next show will be happening later this year October 8-11. I unfortunately will be in Europe (I know, how sad for me, right?) but I encourage you to check it out! You can learn more by visiting their website (which is really well-designed by the way): www.artsvfair.com

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Lake Merced | tatianajimenez.com

Photo taken during a run around Lake Merced

At the beginning of each yoga class the instructor will ask everyone to set an intention for their practice that day. My intentions usually range from releasing stress, to striving for some kind of deep focus without letting distracting thoughts enter my practice during those 90 minutes.

As 2014 came to an end and we moved into 2015, I tried to think about everything I accomplished. I was the Project Leader and Art Director on my very first big project at work, which was to redesign our credit union’s website. I designed a website for a financial literacy non-profit I’m a big fan of – MyPath – that launched in November. I juggled a couple volunteer commitments as well as a huge project for a management program that I’ll graduate from this year, freelance design work, and numerous knit and crochet projects.

I feel very proud of everything I achieved in 2014. I want to continue to grow, and in order to do that I felt that 2015 needed to be a year where I learn to focus on one thing at a time, and so far I think I’ve been doing just that (for the most part!). I decided not to talk about it much for fear of being obnoxious, and I feel like what we eat is pretty personal, but I decided to join my sisters and coworker in doing the 21 Day Sugar Detox in January. I normally am not a “dieter” but the science behind this detox sounded logical to me. At the end of the detox, I felt energized, healthier and ready to tackle my next goal, which was to run a 5 mile race!

I trained for about 8 weeks and ran the SacTown 10 in April. I ran all 5 miles without stopping! I’d never done anything like that before, and it was a really incredible feeling. One of my favorite things about running is talking about running with other runners. (Also, just being able to call myself a “runner” seems really amazing and frankly, unbelievable.) Over those 8 weeks I learned a lot about myself, which sounds cheesy, but it’s pretty fascinating to learn what you’re capable of doing if you just keep going. So many times during my longer runs, I’d reach the 2 mile point and want to take a break to walk because I thought I was tired, but I would talk myself out of it, kept running, and surprised myself every single time by what I was able to accomplish. Even though that race is over, I’m still running every week and will start training for this half marathon in August. I’m really excited for the challenge.

The last few months have also been full of fun trips to wine country, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and my beloved hometown, many “kitchen adventures,” and the completion of exciting design projects (which I’ll share more about here soon). I’ve been away from this space for a while, so I’m antsy to be back.

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Day Trip to Big Sur

by tatiana on November 19, 2014

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

“Dude, wanna meet up for a day in Big Sur?” my friend Bri texted one day. “Is that even possible?” I asked, and then proceeded to Google whether or not this would be an attainable feat. Alas, it was! At least according to Google. But we’ll get to the details later.

Bri lives in my hometown in Southern California and was already planning a weekend trip where she’d check out Hearst Castle, spend the night in that area, and then hop over to Big Sur. I rented a car for a day, bought some snacks, filled up my water bottle, put on my Victorville baseball cap (because we’d be hiking and I wanted to represent, also because Bri bought it for me). I was ready to hike, ready to immerse myself in a day of wilderness and exploration, and I was ready for the 3.5 hour drive by myself.

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Behold the Victorville baseball cap, also that enthusiasm for hiking.

Living in a city where I mostly take the bus, or get rides from friends with cars, I often miss being in a car alone so I could do what I rarely have the opportunity to do anymore — sing all of the songs at the top of my lungs as if I were Mariah/Whitney/other amazing singers, with an imaginary audience. It’s probably the best thing about driving, in case you haven’t discovered this already. So that went on for a while during my trip. I also made a mandatory McDonalds stop for breakfast, because it isn’t a roadtrip if there isn’t fast food involved — even if your roadtrip is only 3.5 hours long.

I drove along the 101 through cities I’ve heard of but have never seen — Redwood City, Morgan Hill, Watsonville. All neat in their own ways, at least from the freeway. The big red barn with a sign that said “Disneyana” on it in Watsonville was probably the most intriguing landmark I passed that I’d love to check out.

Eventually, I made it. And on time! I parked at the deli that is also a supermarket and gift shop and perused their sizeable inventory of 420-friendly souvenirs. I wasn’t aware that Big Sur was so boastfully 420-friendly, but now I am thanks to the gift shop.

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Bri FINALLY arrived (she was around 20 minutes late and I enjoy giving her a hard time because she is ALWAYS on time, if not 15 minutes early, always). We grabbed sandwiches and headed to our first hike – Valley View & Pfeiffer Falls.

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Tatiana Jimenez, amateur nature photographer

We walked, we took photos, we took breaks. It was a nicely paced trek up the hill to see “the view.” Since we’ve been in a drought, the hike was a very dry one, and as a result so was the waterfall. I mean, there was water, but not as much as usual, I’m guessing.

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

A very flattering, blurry photo of yours truly in front of the waterfall

Valley View was exactly what it sounds like — a view of a valley. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I’d recommend skipping this hike. It was a short hike, but I’d prefer spending more time closer to the ocean next time.

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

The top of the Valley View trail

We ate our sandwiches at the top of the trail and met a couple from Oakland who were also there for the day, and whom were also underwhelmed with the view. “Is this it?” they asked. “That’s exactly what we said,” we replied. “Those sandwiches look good though.” “Thanks.”

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Precious love notes left behind from hikers before us

Bri and I got back into her car, I left mine in the parking lot because it would just be easier that way, and headed towards the ocean. The views were gorgeous.

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Just doing some casual rock climbing

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

I’M QUEEN OF THE WORLD!

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Can you see the house?

My favorite view was this one, and I bet it’s even prettier in the spring.

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

And also this one. Breathtaking, isn’t it? And maybe FAMILIAR???

Day Trip to Big Sur | tatianajimenez.com

POETIC JUSTICE anyone???

All in all, it was a great trip. I got to hang with one of my favorite people for a day and we explored a new-to-us part of our beautiful state. I’m still trying to block out the painful 4.5 hour drive home, but it was well worth it, and oddly, Big Sur now feels like it’s in my backyard. We Californians are a lucky bunch.

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That Time I Went to a Poetry Slam

by tatiana on September 24, 2014

Coming out of a season which my friends and I have dubbed The Summer of Love, where two of my best friends got married, it has been a very busy (very fun!) year. But having done a lot of traveling, I kinda just want to hole up in my apartment for the rest of 2014, hermit style. However, when my friend Jonina emailed with a link to cheap tickets for a poetry slam a short bus ride away from my apartment, I decided that this could be just the low key “outing” that I’d be down for.

I’ve never attended a poetry reading, let alone a poetry “slam”. I imagined that it would be laughably hippie, like a scene straight out of Portlandia. Either way, it was an $8 night that promised a new experience. I figured, why not.

To my utter delight and surprise, it was not at all what I had expected. But first there was booze, and $1 pizzas (to soak up said booze).

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That is a happy face, kids.

I don’t want to say happy hour is necessary before going to your first poetry slam, but it wasn’t not helpful. Two cocktails and a really good pizza later, I was ready to embrace the evening. We got to the theater, I grabbed a water (because now I was slightly dehydrated) and we found our seats, middle seats in the middle row, basically at eye level with the folks on stage. If you’ve never been to a poetry slam, newflash – it is a competition. This honestly shocked me. How can you rank art? I thought. That is so rude and blasphemous! I thought. The winner would be published in their quarterly publication Tandem, so there was at least a nice incentive for being judged. A handful of folks from the audience volunteered to be the “editors,” i.e. the judges, and would give each poet a score from 0-10 (10 being the best), and some feedback, the host read both out loud, to everyone. This alone was worth the $8 admission.

The poets were all very different. There were clear creative writers, folks who possibly went to school for this and/or write for a living. Then an emcee, a couple hippies and a dude who is what I imagine all of Burning Man to be like. A lot of superfluous imagery and whimsy.

After each round, one poet was eliminated. There were one, two and three minute rounds. My favorite part of the evening was the guest poet. A woman who has single-handedly changed my mind about poetry and I am a big fan of hers. I also felt like a huge asshole for ever thinking that a night like this would be laughable or silly. Her name is Chinaka Hodge and everyone should know about her. She shared six pieces, I believe, and each one was so incredibly powerful. She brought tears to my eyes, and left me in awe. I’d love to see her recite her work again someday.

In the end, my favorite poet ended up winning. Her pieces were really smart and relatable. Will I attend a poetry slam ever again? YES. All caps. I actually can’t wait to check out more, and take friends with me. I can’t believe I haven’t gone until now. Like going to a museum or gallery to view art, the entire experience was really inspiring. Spoken word/poetry is something that I have never attempted, but I have so much respect for these writers, all of them, especially for being so brave to share their work on stage. With lights. In front of people. I guess we all get in front of a stage with our own work in other ways, right? I left the theater feeling refreshed and rehydrated.

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Book Recommendations for Designers

by tatiana on September 18, 2014

Book Recommendations for Designers  | tatianajimenez.com

As graphic designers, it’s our job to make sure things look great, convey messages effectively, and solve problems. How do we step outside of what we know and use everyday to create something innovative and unique? For some, this is an innate and organic ability, and for others it’s learned over time through trial and error — I think it’s a combination of both.

That being said, over the last few years I’ve been asked for book recommendations for designers who are just starting out, or people who are interested in the field. I am by no means an authority on what the right things to read are, I just know what I really like and what has worked for me. So here are some books that helped me grow as a designer, and some that helped me become a better businessperson — which is very important if you decide to do freelance or contract work. Others served as inspiration and reminders to embrace what you love and what interests you and to bring those influences into the work you do.

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I had to read this for a film studies class when I was in college, and it’s a book that I’ve held onto and re-read every few years. It poses a lot of important questions about how we view art, film, the media around us, and how those messages that we receive may or may not be manufactured to change the way we perceive ourselves and each other. It is a very critical book, but it helped inform the projects and clients I take on as a designer and the pieces I create.

Golden Nuggets:

“The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images.” // “Publicity images also belong to the moment in the sense that they must be continually renewed and made up-to-date. Yet they never speak of the present. Often they refer to the past and always they speak of the future.” // “[Publicity] proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives, by buying something more. This more, it proposes, will make us in some way richer — even though we will be poorer by having spent our money. […] The state of being envied is what constitutes glamour. And publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour.”

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

A brilliant marketing friend recommended this book to me a few years ago when I was feeling stagnant and uninspired. This book is brief, brilliant and bold. This is a book I read whenever I need a good kick in the pants, which is about once a year. It happens to all of us right? This book also lives on the bookshelf by my front door so I see it when I leave my apartment every day.

Golden Nuggets:

“Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people. Being right is also being boring. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas. You are rooted in your own rightness, which is arrogant. Arrogance is a valuable tool, but only if used very sparingly. Worst of all, being right has a tone of morality about it. To be anything else sounds weak or fallible, and people who are right would hate to be thought fallible. So: it’s wrong to be right, because people who are right are rooted in the past, rigid-minded, dull and smug. There’s no talking to them.”

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

The Non-Designer’s Type Book by Robin P. Williams

I took a community college typography class and absolutely hated it (because the instructor was terrible) but I LOVED this book. It claims to be for non-designers, but I think it’s really for designers. If you wanna work with type, you better know how to use it, and this is a terrific guide.

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller & Veronique Vienne

I didn’t go to school for design, so I’m sure there are tons of books out there that cover the history of graphic design, but I particularly love this one. The layout is sexy, letsbehonest, and it’s fun to flip through hundreds of years of history that relates to design. It’s kind of a coffee table book, but also a lot more informative than a lot of the other books I’ve come across about design history (that are not text books).

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte

When I started my third (and current) full-time design job, I was working under a senior designer who was very meticulous and had a great eye. I wanted to learn everything he knew, and asked for book recommendations. He brought me this gem and I devoured it in a weekend. It’s a pretty dry but incredibly intelligent book about the history of communicating data visually. Written in 1983, this book illustrates how information graphics are used correctly and basically, how easy it is to f*ck them up. It has, as a result, made me very critical of basically every infographic I see on the internet.

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

Suffragettes to She-Devils by Liz McQuiston

This is a book, as I mentioned in the intro to this post, that inspires me on a personal level. The personal is political, right? This is more of a coffee table book, and I have never actually READ it. I just look at the photos and captions. It’s a wonderful collection of suffragist and feminist posters, postcards, artwork from the last two centuries. Some of my favorite artists are featured in the book, including Guerrilla Girls, Judy Chicago and Barbara Kruger. Really phenomenal book to keep in your arsenal if you can find a copy.

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers by Shel Perkins

I actually took Shel’s class a few years ago at UC Berkeley Extension. I believe it was called Business Basics for Designers, and this book was our text book for the class. It goes over registering your business, how to set your rate, legal things to consider when creating your invoice and contracts, and more. I think this book would be helpful for any type of creative starting their own business or doing freelance work.

Book Recommendations for Designers | tatianajimenez.com

Role Models by John Waters

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of John Waters’ work, and John Waters as a human being. In this book he shares stories about the people he looks up to. What I love about this book, and about John Waters in general, is that he is unabashedly proud of 1.) where he grew up, 2.) the people he surrounds himself with, and 3.) who he is — and I think this is incredibly inspiring. It’s important to embrace where you’re from and who you are and use it to your creative advantage. He did! And now he hosts a Christmas special every year where he gets to talk about poop and people EAT IT UP. (You’re welcome for that visual.)

Golden Nuggets:

“True success is figuring out your life and career so you never have to be around jerks.”

Have any book recommendations? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re a fellow bookworm, add me on Goodreads!

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Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

Last Friday I attended my cousin’s solo show opening at Mark Wolfe Contemporary in downtown San Francisco. I’ve written about my cousin Ryan Martin many times before and am a big fan of his work (and not just because he’s my cousin!). So many friends, coworkers and family members showed up that it just felt like a big party, which was great.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

It’s fun talking to my cousin about his work and his process. As a graphic designer who focuses mostly on web interfaces and communication design, it’s interesting to hear my cousin’s answers to questions that illustrate just how different creating art can be than designing for a client, at least in my experience. I remember asking him about why he chose a specific color and texture in one of his pieces and he responded “I don’t know, it just felt right.” With communication design, I feel like every design decision is made to fulfill an objective or purpose, and it’s fun to recognize the differences between designing for usability vs. creating art for the sake of creating something beautiful, or to convey a message in an entirely different way. It’s incredibly inspiring.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

Portraits of George and Mike Kuchar

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

Ryan Martin with underground film actress (and all around amazing lady) Linda Martinez and her portrait, and my lovely Aunt Val (Ryan’s mother)

Being someone who spends the majority of her time behind a computer, or at a desk, it’s refreshing to get out of my office or apartment to take in some new visual inspiration, and Ryan’s work is always that for me. His use of color is bold and fearless. The subjects and themes of his pieces can be fun at first glance, but draw you in and the longer you stare at them, the more thought provoking they become. He is truly an expert at his craft, but it’s wonderful to see him grow and evolve as an artist. This show was a great example of that. One major focus was the 37 Portraits of Julian Larach. Just as the title explains, he painted 37 portraits with varying scenes and themes with one model. And luckily for the opening night attendees, Julian was there!

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

I encourage everyone to check out Ryan’s show if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area. And if you’re unable to check out his show, check out your local art galleries! Seeing art in person is such a rich experience, and guess what friends, it’s free. Learn about the artists in your area, figure out what you’re drawn to, and follow those artists on Facebook and Instagram, send them messages of encouragement. If you’re lucky and discover an artist earlier in their career, you might be able to purchase one of their pieces. The world can be a scary place a lot of the time, and it’s truly a gift that there are so many people who are selfless enough to share their talents with all of us. That definitely should be celebrated.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

Photo credit: All photos taken by Ali

To view more of Ryan’s work, visit www.ryanmartinart.com, or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | tatianajimenez.com

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