san francisco

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? 


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).

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.


Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

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 | Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

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 |

Portraits of George and Mike Kuchar

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

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 |

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

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 |

Photo credit: All photos taken by Ali

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

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |


FOG Design + Art Fair

by tatiana on January 19, 2014

Above piece: The Future Perfect

This weekend I was fortunate to have two passes to the FOG Design + Art Fair at Fort Mason in San Francisco, so I brought my friend who’s currently attending the Masters of Architecture program at CCA. I figured she’d be a great person to geek out over some good design & art with, and she was! We had a blast, and found the event incredibly inspiring. Here are some highlights from the day (both inside and outside the fair):


The weather was PERFECTION on Saturday. I’m so glad I brought my camera along. You can see Alcatraz in the distance.



After taking many photos of the water and generally marveling at how beautiful it was outside, we finally found our way into the event. The above piece, “Girls at War” by Beth Katleman, was pretty incredible in person.


Pieces in the Ratio 3 booth (a local San Francisco gallery).


Airbnb built miniatures based on real vacation rental properties available through their site.


Quick coffee & snack break, indulging in goodies from Jane (hey, favorite cafe on Fillmore Street!).



The piece above and the interactive installation below are works by Benjamin Rollins Caldwell.



We attended Craig Dykers’ talk on the Architecture of Engagement and the new SFMOMA Expansion. Craig Dykers is a principal architect at Snøhetta, the Oslo-based architecture & design office working on SFMOMA as well as the new Warriors Pavilion near the Bay Bridge. It was inspiring to see Snøhetta’s plans for SFMOMA, and the philosophies & research behind those plans, and fun to get some sneak peeks of how the space will evolve.




We left just in time to enjoy golden hour – which made the already beautiful day look even more spectacular.


FOG Design + Art


Exploring the Inner Sunset

by tatiana on February 26, 2013

Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez
Kirkham & Funston, where our Inner Sunset journey begins

This past Christmas I decided to splurge a little on myself and bought a DSLR camera. (Which means that my posts will be a lot more photo heavy from now on!) I did some research and asked around to get recommendations for a body and lens that would best suit a beginner. My friends unanimously recommended a 50mm lens, and for the camera body, I decided to go with a Canon 30D.

Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez

Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez

My sisters are photographers, so I was lucky to have them around during the holidays to answer all of my questions (I had a lot, and still have a lot). My sister let me borrow this book, which was a fantastic introduction to the world of understanding aperture, ISO and exposure.

Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez

Graffiti | Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez

A good friend of mine also jumped into DSLR photography last year, so we spent a day together about a month ago exploring her neighborhood (the Inner Sunset) and taking some photos.

Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez
Kate leads the way on our trek up Mt. Sutro

Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez
The view from about halfway up Mt. Sutro

It was a very cloudy day, which (for me especially) was quite a challenge. As dark as it seemed to be outside, a lot of my photos were overexposed. But luckily a few came out ok too.

Inner Sunset | Photos by Tatiana Jimenez
Golden Gate Bridge in the distance

I hope that my photos only get better from here. One thing I know about myself is that I’m not the biggest fan of hiking, but taking my camera outside on that day in the Inner Sunset and (gasp) hiking up Mt. Sutro didn’t feel like exercise at all. It felt like work, for sure, (I totally tripped over a tree branch at one point) but I think the photo-taking distracted from the idea that we were hiking. Basically, I think this is a great new way to trick myself into getting out of the house and getting some Vitamin D and endorphins.

{ 1 comment }

Movie Night in Dolores, and Other Weekend Happenings

by tatiana on September 24, 2011


I love movies. I love the outdoors. I love sneakily consuming Sauvignon Blanc in public places. Put all of these things together and you have Dolores Park movie night! I’m “live blogging” I guess directly from my t-shirt quilt in the park and Top Gun is about to start. This is the first time I’ll be watching this classic. I’m mostly excited to watch the eye candy that is Val Kilmer. Yum.

The Girl Talk is a-bumpin’ and the place is packed with happy people, dogs and the occasional baby/child. It’s events like this that made me want to live in this great lil city.

I hope you’re all having a great weekend!


This weekend, after failing in my attempts to make an Ikea run (long story), a friend and I decided to enjoy the pretty weather and take a stroll through the Mission. We happened upon Artillery Apparel Gallery, which neither of us had seen on Mission Street before, so we decided to check it out.

It’s a boutique full of handmade goods from local artists & designers. The bowties were super cute and the jewelry selection was a feast for the eyes (in a low-key boutique sort of way – even though the prices were still quite steep). The fella working at the shop was really sweet, and his personality alone made being in the shop an enjoyable experience. The innovative displays and sculptures were a really unique sight as well.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, pay them a visit! Artillery Apparel Gallery, 2751 Mission St. (between 23rd & 24th), San Francisco, CA 94110


So, Marissa (who is my roomie extraordinaire and often mistaken as my twin – it’s the Russian nose!) stumbled upon the gold mine that is this series of vlogs featuring none other than one of my favorite people, Pahole Sookkasikon (known to many also as Mr. Hyphen… AND Mr. Mesa – zot zot!). In these vlogs, he gives us a behind the scenes look at the makings of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

And yes, I included 3 episodes. You can thank me later.

This last one is a little hard to see/hear, but it’s fun nonetheless.

To learn more about the film festival, the Center for Asian American Media, or to volunteer, check out their schnazy website:


Adventures in Japantown

by tatiana on February 19, 2011

Sometimes, you just need a day of random adventures. Today was one of those days. Two gals, one mission: to catch up. I recently returned from my vacay in London. Although a short trip, it’s important to reconnect! And while doing so, I reconnected with our beloved city, from the safety (and warmth!) of a car. Did I mention it was raining today? The car was a definite plus (thanks, Jane!)

I know, kind of ridiculous, but what was more ridiculous was the shriek sound I made when I saw Hello Kitty taking photos in the store – I HAD TO GET ONE! Also, Jane and I did not coordinate our outfits this morning, yet we were twinsies today.

We were also excited about taking purikura photos. It was $10 but TOTALLY worth it. I can’t wait to take my sisters and cousin there when they come up to visit in April. Hilarity will ensue.


All done! – Valentine's Sweetie Pie and Art Fest

by tatiana on February 13, 2011

Last night was my first craft show in San Francisco, and my first craft show in like 3 years, so needless to say, I was pretty nervous. But luckily, my lovely roommate had the brilliant idea of hitting up Chipotle first and then decided to lend me a hand with set up, which was awesome.

Babushka Designs at 111 Minna

[click to continue…]