Exploring Calistoga

by tatiana on January 17, 2016

Exploring Calistoga |

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.


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. 



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 |

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

Exploring Calistoga |

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.


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.


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 |

Exploring Calistoga |

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


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.


Day Trip to Big Sur

by tatiana on November 19, 2014

Day Trip to Big Sur |

“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 |

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 |

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 |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

Just doing some casual rock climbing

Day Trip to Big Sur |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

Day Trip to Big Sur |


Day Trip to Big Sur |

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 |

Day Trip to Big Sur |

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

Day Trip to Big Sur |


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.


Day Trip to Sonoma & Real Talk About Wine

by tatiana on July 6, 2014

Day Trip to Sonoma |

So, fun fact: I managed to stay away from wine until I was about 22 years old. In college, my roommate and another close friend would hang out in our living room with a bottle of Merlot and a plate of stinky cheese whilst watching America’s Next Top Model, and the buttery smell of the wine + the crazy cheese really turned me off. I didn’t grow up around these foods and thought they wouldn’t be enjoyable for me. As a result I went through most of college drinking Midori Sours. Headache central, kids. Head. Ache. Central. Luckily I eventually navigated to new waters that brought me to more fun and complex beverage experiences. My gateway wine was a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, and at that moment I knew that there was a world that I had been missing out on. (And I now LOVE stinky cheese, although there are still a few that are outside of my olfactory comfort zone.)

A few months ago some coworkers and I decided to take advantage of how close we are to California’s wine country and visited a few wineries in Sonoma. I brought my camera along to document our experience. We visited the following wineries: Cline, Jacuzzi (owned by Cline), and Chateau St. Jean.

Day Trip to Sonoma |

This first photo (above) was taken at a winery that I a.) don’t remember the name of and b.) had an unpleasant experience at. The woman pouring the wine wasn’t welcoming and answered our questions with either monosyllabic answers or a condescending tone. I think a few ladies in my group still purchased some bottles, and the woman was friendly after that, which felt extra icky to me. I’m happy to report that everyone at the wineries I listed, that we visited after this first winery, were friendly, knowledgeable and a lot of fun.

Day Trip to Sonoma | Day Trip to Sonoma |

Checking out the tasting menu at Jacuzzi.

Day Trip to Sonoma |

Pretty stained window at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.

Day Trip to Sonoma | Day Trip to Sonoma |

Taking a moment to pose with the wax man statue at Jacuzzi.

We went to the Girl and the Fig for lunch, and it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had. Included below is a photo of the cheese plate, which was one of the many things we ordered. What a treat! If you’re ever in Sonoma, I highly recommend checking it out.

Day Trip to Sonoma | sonoma_09

Caitlin orders her first Bloody Mary (EVER) at Girl and the Fig.

Day Trip to Sonoma |

Day Trip to Sonoma |

We ended our trip at Chateau St. Jean. The photo below was taken by my friend and perfectly describes how I feel after a day of wine tasting:

Day Trip to Sonoma |

Fuzzy and incredibly content.

Do you have any favorite wineries in the Bay Area that you’d recommend? Let me know!

In related news, I recently starting using the Delectable App for the iPhone. (Add me by searching for Tatiana Jimenez!) It’s kind of like a combination of Instagram, Yelp and Foursquare, but for wine. You take a photo of the label, or point to the wine you ordered on a menu and it identifies the wine, adds it to your wine feed, and you can rate it and add notes. It also organizes the wines you’ve tried into country, region, sub-region, etc. It is slowly turning me into a wine nerd, and I’m ok with that.


Postcard from NYC

A few weeks ago I went to New York. I’ve been once before, I was an 18-year-old college freshman who had never really taken public transportation. I navigated my way around Manhattan (and Queens where my high school bestie and I were staying) via paper map (pre-iPhones and GPS). It was an adventure I’ll never forget, so I was especially excited when my friend decided to have her bachelorette “party” (or weekend, rather) in Brooklyn.

Postcard from NYC - Adventures in T-Shirt Design

Photo above was actually taken in Manhattan.

Five of us rented an apartment in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, which was conveniently a block away from a subway stop, and also a block away from Dunkin Donuts. (YES.)

Postcard from NYC - Adventures in T-Shirt Design

Another photo taken in Manhattan on our way to brunch.

Most brides-to-be these days have cheesy t-shirts that they wear with their bridesmaids at their bachelorette party. We decided that we are not that kind of bridal party. If we’re going to wear t-shirts, we said to ourselves, they’re going to be a.) not wedding related at all, b.) cool enough to wear again outside of the context of a bachelorette weekend, and c.) not embarrassing to wear around New York. All of that being said, I designed this bad boy, inspired by Barbara Kruger, who I’m a huge fan of, and know my friend is a fan of as well.

Let's Rage - Bachelorette T-Shirt designed by Tatiana Jimenez


Here are the shirts in action, with the bride-to-be.


Bachelorette apparel, sartorialized.


The design appeared to be a hit! I even got some requests from folks not in the bridal party for apparel. It was fun to wear around town, get confused looks from people on the street, and we even were asked at one point if we were in a band(?).

We explored both Brooklyn and a bit of Manhattan. I loved the trip, and I can’t wait to go back to do more sightseeing and visit museums. Until next time, NYC!

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I Saw the Sign: New Orleans Edition

by tatiana on May 3, 2014

I Saw the Sign: New Orleans Edition

Royal Street, circa 1900 Photo Credit: Detroit Publishing Company

In March I hopped over to New Orleans for MARDI GRAS for my good friend’s bachelorette trip. It was a trip I’ll never forget! I’m not much of a party girl (only sometimes!), but it was a lot of fun to be engulfed in the atmosphere and sheer joviality of the celebrations. Aside from the festivities, the centuries-old architecture and general look and feel of the French Quarter was a feast for the eyes. There were also a lot of really great signs and typographic goodness. Below is a little tour of some of the great signage I stumbled upon throughout my trip:

I Saw the Sign: New Orleans Edition

A lot of really beautiful tile work around the French Quarter.





The mandatory “I was here!” shoe selfie.


A quick photo outside of St. Louis Cemetery #1, where you can find the tomb of Marie Laveau.



We walked by this building every morning, and every morning I’d get a sudden craving for a biscuit.


This place was rad and also pretty terrifying. We went inside the last day of our trip. Highly recommend it.


Looking back at these photos is making me miss NOLA. I would love to go back to New Orleans to explore the Garden District and other parts of the city that I didn’t have time to venture out to. We mostly stayed in the French Quarter, but escaped for a swamp tour, and to eat at Commander’s Palace in the Garden District (allegedly one of the most haunted restaurants in New Orleans, according to this super legitimate gift shop book that I probably paid too much money for).

AHS Tour | New Orleans

Fun bonus photo – one of the bride-to-be’s wishes was that I lead an American Horror Story: Coven tour for our friends in the French Quarter. It was a challenge! But it was a lot of fun. We dressed in our witch-y best and stopped in a front of the few locations where the show was filmed.

The city is absolutely magical and I can’t wait to return.

To view more I Saw the Sign posts, click here.


Halloween and Aloha

by tatiana on October 18, 2013

Howzit! Happy Halloween!
Photo Credit: SanFranAnnie

Happy October! I just got back from Hawaii where it felt like August weather-wise so my brain is a little confused — especially since we’re currently experiencing our summer weather here in San Francisco. Must acclimate to the concept of Fall! I was in Oahu & Kaua’i for about 10 days. It was so many things: it was amazing, intense, beautiful, educational and challenging. I will post photos and share more soon, but for now, here are some videos I put together using Magisto.

But! Halloween is less than two weeks away, and that means I need to get moving on my costume. I decided just yesterday what I’ll be dressing as this year, and I’ll be sure to post a tutorial of sorts in the near future.

But for now, here’s a quick roundup of some of my costume-related posts from the past few years. Enjoy!

DIY Veruca Salt Costume
DIY Hello Kitty Costume
DIY Halloween Wreath Tutorial
Spotlight: Makeup Artist Arianna Jimenez


Let’s Take a Walk: Victorian San Francisco

by tatiana on July 28, 2013

Victorian San Francisco |

Like many people who live in or visit San Francisco, I really love this city. One of my favorite (free) things to do is taking advantage of the different guided walking tours City Guides (funded by the SF Public Library and other patrons) has to offer each month.



A few weeks ago I went on the Victorian San Francisco tour, which started literally a block away from my apartment. The tour group met on a street corner in Lower Pacific Heights and we embarked on a 2-hour journey through the history of the neighborhood and an in-depth look at the architecture around us.



I love the intricate detail. Sometimes it pays to stop and take a closer look.



This photo below is of a house that was built by a woman who’s sister had planned to build an identical house next to hers (which is why it looks like it’s been sliced in half), but her sister’s house was never built.



Have you been on any City Guides walking tours? I highly recommend them. Be sure to check out their website!


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.

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Tokyo + Kyoto, Japan: My Top 10 Experiences

by tatiana on July 12, 2012

Buddhist Shrine in Kyoto

I got back to the states from Japan just days ago two months ago (yeah… it took me a while to get this post published!). Anyway, just like my last trip abroad, I’ve put together a countdown of my top 10 experiences in Japan. Since I spent time in both Tokyo and Kyoto, they’re jumbled together in this list.

10. Host Boys and Kabukicho

Host Boys of Kabukicho in Shinjuku

My friend and I had a bunch of goals when we were planning our trip, one of which was to stay in affordable hotels, but still have access to fun parts of town. Naturally that led us to Kabukicho (known for its love hotels and host & hostess clubs). No, we’re not pervs, but it was a really fun neighborhood to stay in. Very busy, and very different from anything I’ve experienced. Who would’ve known the red light district would be so safe and un-intimidating!? Also, if you’d like to learn more about Japanese host boys, I highly recommend this documentary: The Great Happiness Space.

9. Karaoke

Karaoke in Shinjuku

Because, duh. It was significantly cheaper than the private box karaoke rooms in SF… so of course we had to go more than once. Of course. Also, I need to add that I got super home sick when we were singing a song that featured video footage of Fisherman’s Wharf.

8. Vending Machines

Vending Machines in Japan

It’s true what they say about the vending machines in Japan… they are everywhere and they are AWESOME. The one pictured above is not a TRUE vending machine, but it was just the way to order a meal in an eatery. You choose your meal, put your money in the machine, give your ticket to the lady… and then you get your meal! Sometimes I’m all about limited human interaction.

7. Handmade Culture

Pottery being painted by hand in Kyoto

Fans, Handmade in Kyoto

We went on a really great 5 hour walking tour in Kyoto and learned that the handmade culture is still going strong in Kyoto. It’s just a way of life that hasn’t changed much (although our tour guide was telling us that all of the young people were fleeing Kyoto to move to Tokyo and work in more corporate fields, which seemed to concern him). I appreciated the focus and attention to detail; it was really great to watch the experts at work.

6. Public Transportation

Public Transportation in Japan

What can I say? Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of public transportation… especially clean, efficient and FAST public transportation. We mostly took the JR line when we were in Tokyo, and then took the Shinkansen (bullet train) when we went to Kyoto (about a 2 1/2 hour trip). It was pretty affordable, although it probably would have been a little cheaper had we purchased a pass. Oh! Also, fun fact: in Kyoto we took a bus — on the buses there you board in the back and then pay at the front when you exit. Topsy-turvy!

5. Buddhist and Shinto Shrines

Shrines of Kyoto

On the previously mentioned walking tour in Kyoto, we saw a handful of shrines. Our guide took us to the smaller, local shrines because he wanted us to see “where the people of Kyoto really go to pray.” At the end of our tour, we didn’t feel the need to go to the bigger shrines that attract tourists… also we were pretty tired from walking around for 5 hours.

4. LGBTQ Bars and Shinjuku Ni-Chome

LGBT Bars in Shinjuku Ni-Chome

My pal and I decided to take advantage of the many great night spots of Shinjuku (Golden Gai was another great one that didn’t quite make this list!). We glammed up and moseyed over to Shinjuku Ni-Chome to check out the scene. What we discovered was… not matter which country you’re in and what language is primarily spoken there, the gays will ALWAYS know the lyrics to the new Madonna song. Fact. We had so much fun.

3. Feeling Safe Everywhere

Safety First!

We were in Japan for 11 days and I can only think of two instances where I felt unsafe… which is pretty good considering how I encounter questionable people who make me uncomfortable every day here in San Francisco. Everyone in Japan was super polite, and really respected your personal space (at least in my experience). My friend and I would get home at 2am and have to walk through alleys to get to our hotel — not once did we feel uneasy. I really loved that about Japan.

2. The Shopping in Harajuku + Shibuya

McDonalds in Harajuku

I know this section is about the shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya (which was a lot of fun), but I want to take this opportunity to talk about the McDonalds that recently opened in Harajuku and how freakin’ cute their outfits are. Look at those berets! Talk about a fancy dining experience. We went to McDonalds a few times during the trip for a quick iced coffee or a cheap lunch. It was always super clean and seemed like kind of a hip place to be eating. The food also tasted cleaner than in the states, which was nice I guess.

1. The Food

Omurice in Kyoto

The best part of my trip was basically every time I ate. Seriously. Some of the amazing things I ate: omurice (pictured above), okonomiyaki, ramen, and a plethora of curry and beef bowls. And onigiri. Oh, onigiri, how I love thee. Everything was delicious and reasonably priced. Also, everything felt super clean (even though I did eat my fair share of curries and chicken karage). Loved it loved it.

Bonus: Attending Tokyo’s 1st Pride Celebration EVER

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012

Two weeks or so before we left for our trip, a friend told us that we’d be in Tokyo during their pride celebration, so OF COURSE we had to go. Being from San Francisco, a huge pride celebration is not only natural, but it is mandatory and it is always a good time. So we showed up, we walked in the parade, we cheered and danced. What we didn’t know until an English-speaking gent sat down next to us, was that we were at the very FIRST pride celebration EVER in Tokyo. Kind of amazing right? We thought so!

All in all, especially now that I’ve written about my trip and am craving some pork onigiri, Japan was an incredible experience. It was a bit frustrating navigating a country where neither of us understood or spoke the language, but after a few days, it wasn’t as frustrating. We learned how to get around and were really grateful for everyone who answered our questions (or tried to answer our questions). I absolutely fell in love with Japan and can’t wait to go again.


You Can’t Go Home Again

by tatiana on May 30, 2012

High Desert by Daniel Mundy

It’s only been 2 months since I last went home, but it feels like a lot longer than that. With my trip to Tokyo (which I still need to write about) and how busy I’ve been since I returned, I’ve really been craving some down time. I mostly blame the cold San Francisco “springtime” weather and my desert-girl longing for dry heat and tank tops (and not having to carry a cardigan in my bag) come May. Around this time tomorrow I’ll arrive at my 90 degree hometown. Ahhhh. I can feel the oven-like heat already, and can’t wait to see family (and extended family!). I’m sure I’ll start missing San Francisco at some point, but not as much as I miss home right now… and definitely not when I’m sitting poolside at my sister’s house. (Probably one of two times I’ll wear a bathing suit this year, for the record.) Hope you all have a great weekend, wherever you may be!