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? 


Book Recommendations for Designers

by tatiana on September 18, 2014

Book Recommendations for Designers  |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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!


Weekend Goals: 12.28.12

by tatiana on December 28, 2012

Sometimes I feel like I’m the most productive over the weekend. I have more energy, more access to sunlight (on the rare occasion that the sun decides to peak out through the ever-present San Francisco fog), and usually get more sleep (yes, I’m 28 and still like to sleep in until 10am. Don’t hate.).

Here are some of my goals for this weekend, the last few days of 2012:

  • Clean my apartment – I was out of town for about a week and it needs a good scrub down. The thing about cleaning aside from it being annoying is that it is also time consuming. BUT, it is also exercise. AND, it would be really nice to start the new year with a clean apartment. This is really important in some cultures.
  • Finish reading for Book Club – My good friend started a book club. My good friend lives in Long Beach. Normally that would be a problem, since I live too far away to attend meetings, but thanks to modern technology (i.e. Skype) I can attend said meetings! This month’s selection is Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. I’ve seen the film 3 or so times and loved it. I’m about 40% through the book and am loving it even more than the film. (Although I’m imagining Frith as Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey. But whatever — it’s my brain, I can imagine whomever I please!) My goal is to finish this bad boy by Sunday night.
  • Upload Photos from my DSLR – About a month ago I bought a Canon 30D DSLR and a 50mm lens. I also bought this sexy camera strap at Renegade Craft Fair in Los Angeles (except mine is mustard). My sisters are photographers, so I took advantage of their knowledge when I was at home last week to finally learn the basics. I took about 200 photos and can’t wait to get them into Adobe Lightroom (and learn how to use that!). A lot of learning happening this month.
  • Finish my Online Portfolio – ‘Nuff said. I just need to get everything loaded to my Cargo Collective page and I’m sure I’ll make an announcement here and EVERYWHERE via social media. Because that’s how I roll. For now I’m happy to finally have a PDF of some of my work available.

I think this weekend will be cold and rainy in these parts, so staying indoors to accomplish all of these things shouldn’t be too difficult. Hope you all have a great weekend! Enjoy the remainder of 2012, and make the most of it!


Documenting My Days in 2011

by tatiana on December 29, 2010

One of my little goals for 2011, and hopefully the years to come, is to keep a little record of the tidbits of my days. I’m really proactive about keeping my Google Calendar up to date with upcoming events, so I thought it would be a nice change to keep record of things that happened during my day. Just a few things – filling out nothing in advance. I decided to use this Sanrio pocket calendar that I got for free.

This was inspired by my friend Jane’s mom. She was given her mom’s purse from the 1980s which contained, amongst other cool remnants of the past, her mom’s daily journal. It was a simple datebook in which she jotted down a few things that happened each day. We were both really inspired by this little historical relic.

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Reading Survey Time

by tatiana on December 3, 2010

It’s Friday! That means, we’re all counting down to the weekend. It also means, downtime! (Or, at least we can hope). And in my down time, I like to read. I got “tagged” to fill out this reading survey on Facebook, but I figured it would be more fun to slap it in a blog post. Because I’m crazy violent with words like that. Also, it’s 1:30am right now and I may or may not know what I am typing. I’m somewhere between conscious and subconscious, so let’s see what happens, shall we?

1. What author do you own the most books by? Probably Sohpie Kinsella. Don’t hate.

2. What book do you own the most copies of? I don’t own more than one copy of any book. Although, on my desk right now I have two copies of Prison for Bitches, which is a Lady Gaga fanzine. I bought one copy for myself, and one for my sister who is a HUGE fan. Can’t wait to give it to her for Christmas!

[click to continue…]


One of my favorite crafty people, the oh-so-talented Twinkie Chan, will be at Booksmith in San Francisco on Tuesday, November 9th at 7:30pm to talk about her new book Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies.

Here’s a fun video featuring Twinkie making one of her scrumptious cupcake scarves. So cute! I can’t wait to pick up her book and start making yummy things.


I haven’t visited my fam in four months (which is the longest I’ve been away from home! Ack.) and in that time my Taschen catalogue arrived! I finally got to flip through it while I was waiting (for 3 long hours) to board my flight. But anyway, these images kept me company, as well as the lady next to me who kept glancing over. Sorry I didn’t scan these, but I think the iPhone worked just fine. Enjoy! [click to continue…]


Me vs. Book. Also, Youtube is evil.

by tatiana on June 2, 2010

A few months ago my roommate and I joined Book Club. The first rule of Book Club was not to talk about Book Club, but I just think I broke that rule. Mah bad. Our current selection is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, which is pretty amazing so far (I’m halfway through). The problem is, I opened my laptop to turn on some music. Then I decided to look up an Erykah Badu video “really quick” on Youtube. The next thing you know, it’s 10:30pm and I’m writing a blog entry about it. Anyway, I wanted to share one of my favorite songs/videos and I hope you enjoy the adorable couple that once was, Common and Erykah Badu.

You’re welcome. Happy Wednesday!


I have been meaning to buy a new sketchbook. I always keep one in my purse in the event that I need to jot something down or sketch a quick idea. My current 5.5″ x 8″ Pro Art black spiral sketchbook is slowly running out of pages, so it’s time to move on. (*tear) You’ve treated me well little sketchbook!

So, today I bought this from Jaime’s fabulous Etsy shop Sparkles and Sticks:


I can’t wait to get it! It’s a nice new blank-paged Molskine notebook perfect for summer doodling. And I love how Jaime’s design was inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s The Secret Garden. I remember reading both The Secret Garden and A Little Princess as a young girl, and I think I might read them again. It’s always neat re-reading the books I’ve read, in this case, over a decade ago. I like finding new ways to appreciate them, and sometimes finding new nuances and underlying meanings.


So, this weekend I did what every other tween in America probably did: I saw Twilight.

Now before the mockery begins, I took my little sisters. That’s my excuse. :o) I did not read any of the books, but after seeing this film, the second book seems to be calling my name. Having not read the books, I thought the writing in the film was borderline poor. The acting was very melodramatic at times, but I really loved the cinematography and the costumes. Particularly the baseball scene. Everything about that scene is great. And I must say, I kind of think Edward is dreamy.

In other book-to-film related news, my sister informed me this morning that she saw a movie poster for none other than the Confessions of a Shopaholic.

About two years ago I tore through these books. Well, the first two at least. The rest of them were kind of lame. I never read Shopaholic and Baby just because after reading the second book I was a little frustrated by Kinsella’s predictably formulaic style. But I’m thinking this will be one example where the film will be better than the book, which usually does not happen. We’ll see.

Anyway, going with the book theme of this post, I’ve included my latest review on Goodreads. No offense to my super cool friend who recommended this book to me. :o) It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m almost to my goal of reading 24 books in a year. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is for me. That’s about 2 books a month. I’m going to try to up my goal next year to 3 books a month.

Weekend in Paris Weekend in Paris by Robyn Sisman

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
My good friend recommended this book to me one day when I said I was in the mood for good chick lit. But, you know, opinions are subjective. This book was as another reviewer said, quite predictable. I thought the flow of the story was a bit choppy and not woven together very well. I found the main character Molly to be a little too air-headed for my liking. The book wasn’t horrible; I did find it tolerable enough to finish the whole thing. I wouldn’t recommend it.

View all my reviews.