Archive for Bay Area on a Budget
Have you ever noticed when you walk in to a hotel room you feel an instant sense of relaxation?
One of the reasons is probably the lack of clutter in the room. The closet is empty, the drawers are empty and the only thing on the shelf is a lamp.
No overflowing closets and drawers.
No junk drawers!
No knick-knacks to dust.
What if a new tradition on Black Friday was to purge instead of shop?
What might you find in your kid’s overflowing closet that is so stuffed they can’t even close the door? Your kid might discover a new toy they forgot about which could keep them entertained this weekend.
Think about what you might find in your garage or attic… maybe hundreds of yards of holiday lights.
What about your closet? Dig far enough back and you may find an outfit you did not even remember you had that would be perfect for that upcoming holiday party.
What if we purged before we shopped? I am guessing we would save a whole lot of money. First we would not buy things we already had. Second we would realize how much stuff we actually have and may be a little more conscious about what we toss in to our cart.
Looking back at the years when our kids were younger what we remember now are the experiences we shared together over the holidays, things like ice skating at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, playing Volleyball on the beach in southern California, playing laser tag with the whole family, it is not the STUFF we remember.
When you do shop, please consider shopping at local, independently owned shops.
Inspired by the beautiful weather and my Twitter friends, I decided to go on a bike ride today. If you are not an avid roadie or a hard core Mountain Biker (like Celia) then this kind of ride is for you. A nice, mellow, beautiful ride around Sausalito.
The most challenging part of my ride today was getting my bike on top of my car. I live up a really, really steep hill and am too chicken to ride down that hill and way too out of shape to ride up it. So I needed my car to get my bike the 1/2 mile down the road. I’m short, the bike rack is tall, getting the bike in the rack is challenging, but I did it! Yes, I really am short. For some reason, my virtual friends always assume I am tall and are surprised when they meet me in person. My avatar must look tall or something. I’m 5’3″.
I started my ride on the new Tam Valley bike path located along Tennessee Valley Road.
I then found myself surrounded by flowers on the Mill Valley Bike path as I headed toward Sausalito.
Did you know about this little secret beach in Sausalito? Why did I not discover this place when the kids were little?
I pedaled along the water front path that winds in and out of Sausalito and the boardwalk and happened upon this fun work of art. An art car!
Then I found the entrances to this cool neighborhood. The people who live here must be cool with mail boxes like this!
Found more beautiful flowers along the public boardwalk in Sausalito.
Glanced over and saw San Francisco being wrapped in fog. Glanced away before I spent too much time remembering tomorrow is Monday and I have to be on the other side of the Bay early tomorrow morning. Brought myself back in to the present moment of appreciating all the beauty surrounding me.
I turned around and started heading back home, noticed Mt. Tam in the distance and thought of my friend Maria who inspired this ride by all of her beautifully written blog posts about Mt. Tam and biking.
As I headed back on the path I stopped to take a few more shots of Mt. Tam.
One last shot before I headed home to my empty nest to make some kale chips to eat while blogging.
Thank you to all of my Twitter friends who inspire me everyday to get off of the computer, get up and move!
Home cooked meals are my focus this summer. I want to have more of them. Since I started commuting to work almost 2 years ago I got in the habit of going out to eat more than what I want. I have been missing my home cooked meals. It is not easy to work outside the home full time, plan meals, grocery shop and have time to cook.
I found my last 30 day challenge so helpful with my writing process that I decided to give my self the challenge of eating from home more often. I didn’t go public with this challenge though because honestly the thought of not going out to eat for 30 days in a row seemed daunting to me. I like to set realistic goals. I decided to take the one day at a time approach with this and I am happy to announce I have made it through Day 10 of home cooked meals.
The local Farmer’s Market has made this goal a lot more fun and easier to do. Every Tuesday on my way home from work I stop at the Tam Valley Farmer’s Market and stock up on fruit, veggies, eggs, chicken and fish. I do my best to make this last for the whole week of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I’m still not ready to commit to #30days30meals but I am committing to more home cooked meals. The last 10 days have been great, not to mention better for my budget. Keeping in mind the Happiness Spreadsheet, right now there are things I would rather be spending my hard earned money on than restaurants! Plus I can write during the down time of waiting for things to cook to. Right now, writing is my priority.
How often do you go out to eat?
One of my most popular blog posts is the one I wrote about cheap haircuts in Marin. It seems affordable haircuts are in high demand around here. Today Celia wanted to get her hair cut but when she called to make an appointment she found out her favorite hair dresser, Tere was no longer working at the usual place.
After a little detective work we found Tere was now working at Tabu Hair Salon in San Rafael.
Tabu Hair Salon is located in the little mall off of Francisco Blvd in San Rafael (behind City Carpets). I cannot believe in all the years I have lived in Marin County I have never been to this mall! It is located right on the water of The Canal and is full of a bunch of treasures like KabaBBQ serving Persian food, a Taqueria, a Vietnamese restaurant and a small Mexican grocery market (that sells Corona beer actually made in Mexico).
Celia was very happy to find Tere and get her hair cut. Tabu Hair Salon is a super fun place owned by Juliana and Omar.
There is an area for kids and adults to play! You can play pool while you wait for your $10 haircut.
Celia was very pleased with her $10 haircut.
I just met Omar and Juliana for the first time but it seems Omar specializes in artistic haircuts (see photo) and Juliana in colors and cuts. They have the coolest kid in town. Check out his hairdo!
Did I mention the standard haircuts are only $10?!
Tabu Hair Salon
555 Francisco Blvd, E
San Rafael, CA 94901
For people who live in Marin and work in San Francisco here are 5 reasons to take a Golden Gate Transit bus to work.
- You can. If we don’t use our public transportation we might lose it.
- It’s better for the environment than driving in.
- Way cheaper than driving in. You only have to pay the bus fare, no bridge toll, no parking fee, no gas, no wear and tear on your car.
- Frees up your time to do other things. You can read, rest, text, work, check your Facebook, tweet, blog, space out, whatever – all sorts of things you can’t (or shouldn’t!) do while driving.
- It’s one of the most beautiful commutes in the world!
I know there are hundreds of excuses why not to take the bus to work but I challenge you to try it. Don’t forget we also have the awesome Golden Gate Ferry option!
A friend whom I adore once quoted Eleanor Roosevelt to me when I was making an excuse for not doing something. That quote has stuck with me for years.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Yes, Marin is filled with many spandex wearing folks doing their part by commuting on a bike. I commend the cyclists. However, Marin is also full of very steep hills and not all of us have the strength to go up the hills or the guts to go down them on a bike. For the rest of us who are not triathletes , thankfully we have other options for getting around.
If you use some form of public or alternative transportation please leave a comment below sharing with others how you do it.
When you do start taking the bus here are some basic bus etiquette tips to follow.
Views from the bus
A year of photos from the bus: Google+ Album
Fun, healthy, affordable meal!
This chili is super healthy and works great if you are doing the Sugar Divorce, Four Hour Body or Weight Watchers lifestyle.
1 Onion, chopped
a few cloves of Garlic, chopped
Bell Pepper, chopped (optional – I don’t like peppers, Yuck! But they do add pretty color to the dish)
Lentils – I used the pre-cooked ones from Trader Joe’s sold in a box in the fridge section (usually near the vegetables)
1 can Pinto Beans, rinsed & drained*
1 can White Beans, rinsed & drained*
1 can Black Beans, rinsed & drained*
(you can use any beans – I just pick these 3 to make it more colorful)
1 can diced Tomatoes in juice
1 can of Corn.
1-2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1-2 tablespoons Chili Powder
1-2 teaspoons Oregano
Cayenne pepper – as much or as little as you can handle
3 cups fat free Veggie broth
1-2 chunks semisweet Chocolate, choppped
a handful of Quinoa
Miscellaneous veggies – I like yellow squash and green zucchini for the color
Spray bottom of large pot with olive oil. Add onion, garlic and yucky peppers and sauté until soft, I add a splash of the broth to help soften up the veggies and to avoid burning the garlic.
Add Miscellaneous veggies, saute some more.
Add spices: cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper.
Add tomatoes in juice.
Put top on pan to allow veggies to cook.
Drain and rinse beans (rinse a few times for maximum gas avoidance).
Drain corn and add.
Add chunks of chocolate.
Add rest of the broth, throw a little extra in if you need to feed more people.
If too watery, throw in a handful of Quinoa to thicken up and add more texture to the chili.
Season with salt & pepper.
If too spicy, a dollop of sour cream cools down the chili and gives it a creamy flavor.
Come back here, leave a comment and let me know if you enjoyed the chili!
Rainbow Chocolate Chili recipe was inspired by they Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili recipe I found on epicurious.
*rinsing and draining canned beans seriously reduces any side effects of gas. I read this in the 4 Hour Body book and it is true. I’ve been testing it on my friends and family.
It is my belief that the best way to bring balance back in to the world is to support local, independently owned businesses. What better time to do it than Black Friday?! There are SO many reasons as to why it is better to shop local than big box / chain stores but I will spare you my ramble.
Below is a list of local, independently owned Bay Area businesses, organized by area.
I asked my Twitter, Facebook and Google+ friends to tell me their favorite places to shop in the Bay Area. The response from Twitter was overwhelming!
If your favorite independent locally owned shop is not on the list please leave a comment below and I will do my best to add it to the list.
I came across the 3/50 project which I think is a fabulous idea! They’re asking that we spend at least $50 a month at 3 different locally owned independent businesses. Read more about it here: www.the350project.net
Thank you for checking out my Shop Local list! I’m currently offering special (a.k.a. affordable) prices to local, independently owned businesses for sponsorships on my blog. If you’d like to place an ad like the ones you see to the right of this post please contact me for pricing. —–>
Another suggestion I got was to shop at your local Farmer’s Market – great crafts and food gifts often available.
For that special holiday outfit you might only wear once try local consignment and thrift shops. You might just find the perfect outfit!
I’ve also included a few coffee shops and restaurants on this list because we need to eat, right?!
North Bay / Marin
A Childs Delight (Toys)
Mimi The Sardine (eco-coated products for kids)
Rick’s Wine Cellar (stop in and have a glass or pick up a bottle for a gift)
The Book Passage
Tiller Diggs (home & garden, jewelry & clothing)
Good Earth Natural Foods (healthy holiday meals & gifts)
Iron Springs (brewery & restaurant)
Sherman’s General Store
The Hummingbird Restaurant
Various & Sundries
Coquelicot (antiques, home & garden, jewelry)
Marin Brew Co. (brewery & restaurant)
What Poppy Wants (boutique & vintage consignment shop)
At The Top Salon (gift certificate or jewelry)
Dan’s Liquor (for your holiday wine or bubbly)
F. Joseph Smiths (massage, ask for Jessica B)
Frantoio Ristorante & Olive Oil Co. (BEST Olive Oil EVER!)
Mill Valley Market (for you holiday groceries)
Moss & Moss
Mountain Biking Marin (bike tours and clinics)
Pharmaca (not totally local but great alternative to the big box drug stores & wonderful products)
Red Dragon Yoga (clothing, gift cards, yoga classes to destress)
The Book Depot
Two Neat (gifts)
The Pelican Inn (restaurant)
Dr. Insomnias (coffee shop)
Class Cycle (bike shop)
Grazie Cafe Italiano (restaurant)
Moylan’s (brewery & restaurant)
Studio 4 Art (make stuff)
Marin Humane Society (adopt a pet, pet store)
Della Fattoria (restaurant)
iLeoni (kitchen & gifts)
Mrs. Grossman’s Stickers (great field trip for young children)
Nan Winters (clothing)
Shop Paper White
Tara Firma Farms (for your healthy holiday meal or a fun activity for the family)
McEvoy Ranch (body care products, olive oil, more)
Robindira Unsworth (jewelry, clothing, accessories)
Sorella (hair studio, fashion boutique)
Tuscan Gardens (home & garden)
3 Ring Cycles (bike store)
Gathering Thyme (herbs & health care products)
Gioia’s Boutique (Clothing)
Great Acorn Co. (gifts)
Holiday Pop Up Shop (Dec. 3 Only)
Marin Coffee Roasters
Pure Joy Body work
Susan’s Store Room
Fig Garden (gifts)
A Childs Delight (Toys)
Andy’s Market (great wine & chocolate selection)
Art Works Downtown
Bananas At Large (musical instruments & pro audio equipment)
Beads of Marin
Bedrock Music & Video
California Bike N Bean (bike store)
Celebracion Bridal (pretty dresses, tux rentals & tiaras!)
Dharma Trading Co. (fiber art supplies & clothing blanks)
Friends Books (used books, 100% proceeds support San Rafael Public Library)
Elegant Images Fine Art Photography
Gamescape (non-electronic games)
Jan Orcutt, Accupunture (remember to take care of yourself)
Marin Jewelers Guild
Merritt Chiropractic Center (might need this after all the shopping)
Pin Up Hair Emporium & Unique Boutique
Ponsford’s Place (Bakery)
Red Dragon Yoga
T & B Sports
The Magic Flute
Toni Tierney Baby Clothes (she often has great sales right out of her headquarters)
Via Diva (furniture)
Viva Diva (clothing)
Youth in Arts – Retail shop
Mollie Stones (groceries, gifts)
Sweet Ginger (Sushi restaurant, gift card!)
Downtown Sausalito is full of lots of wonderful little shops.
T & B Sports
Fallon Hills Ranch (to buy your ranch raised grass fed holiday meal)
Five Little Monkeys (Toy shop)
Berkeley Bowl (groceries)
Gather Berkeley (restaurant, gift certificate)
Kermit Lynch (wine importer on the larger side)
Tail of the Yak (gifts)
Fourth Street in Berkeley has lots of great shops
Hayward Book Shop
Calm, A Salon
Cole Coffee (local roasted coffee)
Laurel Book Store
Oakollectiv (local hand painted t-shirts, local designs)
Paws and Claws (pet shop)
Relish Catering (for your holiday parties)
Someone’s In The Kitchen
The Crucible (gift & art sale 12/10 – 12/11)
The Oakland Chocolate Factory (you can get my gift here)
The Wine Mine
Tootsies (shoe boutique, pedicures)
Walden Pond Books
A Childs Delight (Toys)
Cheekbob (pet store)
Christopher’s Books (Potrero Hill)
Create More (Apple supplies, support & more!)
Ferry Building San Francisco (lots of independent shops here)
Flax Art & Design
Green Apple Books – Inner Richmond. Clement at 6th.
Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper (honey!)
MSR museum (best #sf place for small children. Small place, lots to do & see, parents just relax @ entrance & watch them run. @thecara)
Pacific Catch (restaurant, gift certificate)
Prints, Etc (vintage art, framing, concert posters, antique stock certificates, maps, curiosities, collectibles, etc)
Rancho Gordo Beans (SF Ferry Plaza Farmers Market)
Recchuti (Did someone say chocolate?)
The Book Passage (ferry building)
Hicklebees Books (mostly kids)
Thank you to everyone who sent suggestions!
Please leave a comment and let us know what you got at your local independently owned store!
If you live in another area please make your own list and share it with your readers!
If your appliances break during the holiday season… don’t fret! Call Appliance Techs of Marin!
According to this video you might even get a date if you shop local.
*disclaimer I have not been to many of these businesses they are suggestion I crowd-sourced from my social networks. If there are any corrections that need to be made please leave a comment below.
**This is an evolving/growing list. I plan to add links to all the businesses and to keep adding more local, independently owned businesses. However, if I continue working on this tonight I may find myself disowned by my family. Thanks for shopping local.
PS. Please feel free to copy/use this list and pass it on to others. I’d appreciate a link back to the original list. Here is the link: http://sallyaroundthebay.com/2011/11/shop-local-bay-area/ Thank you!
Thank you for shopping local!
I just discovered today that Royal Franks in downtown San Rafael is so much MORE than a hot dog stand.
I’ve walked by this place many times and never even considered going in. (I’m not a big fan of hot dogs.) Today as we were walking by we a saw a friend (Tere- the amazing woman who cuts our hair in Marin for $10) standing in front of Royal Franks. She was waiting for a friend but told us we absolutely had to try the Pupusas. I was like, “what are you talking about this a hot dog place?” She insisted we try their Pupusas and ordered one for us.
I asked the man behind the counter, Junior (who I think is the owner) what was up, did he have some kind of secret menu or something? I pointed to the menu that listed hot dogs and other random typical American food. He smiled and said yes and then handed me a card announcing the new menu. The card said, “Royal Franks now serves authentic Salvadorian and Guatemalan Food”.
We sat down and had to wait a few minutes. It turns out he makes the Pupusas fresh as you wait.
He brought us the Pupusa steaming hot! It was SO good and authentic tasting.
We decided to have Pupusas for dinner. They’re served with a tomato sauce and a cabbage salad. The total price for Celia and I to eat and bring home leftovers was under $10. The food was fresh, authentic and delicious!
Royal Franks is located at 1109 Fourth Street in San Rafael, CA.
In case you are wondering what Papusas are… here is how Wikipedia describes them:
A pupusa (from Pipil pupusawa) is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of thick, hand-made corn tortilla (made using masa de maíz, a maize flour dough used in Latin American cuisine) that is filled with a blend of the following: cheese (queso) (usually a soft cheese called Quesillo found in all Central America), cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency (called chicharrón, not to be confused with fried pork rind, which is also known as chicharrón in some other countries), ), refried beans (frijoles refritos), or queso con loroco (loroco is a vine flower bud from Central America). The two most common pupusas are the pupusa de queso (cheese) and more popular pupusa revuelta with mixed ingredients of queso (cheese), frijoles (beans), and chicharrón. Pupusas are typically served with curtido (lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar) and a watery tomato salsa. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pupusa
I had the bean and cheese Pupusa!
A few weeks ago, I decided I was officially tired of all the lunch options in the Financial District (known as FiDi to the hip crowd. Not sure if it is pronounced fI-dI or fee-dee? I’m not part of the hip crowd).
The food in the FiDi is all starting to taste the same to me. The lunch restaurants have to produce a LOT of food in a very short period of time. Between 12-1pm every week day, all of the restaurants are processing what seems like hundreds of hungry, in a hurry professionals.
Ideally I would be making enough dinner every night to have leftovers for lunch. As much as I want to do this and know how much better it would be for my health and my budget, I just can’t seem to get my act together!
I put out to my Facebook & Twitter community that I needed suggestions for new food options in the San Francisco Financial District and a few people suggested I try the food trucks. What a great idea!
What do you know? The next day Kung Fu Tacos happened to be parked across the street from my office. It was meant to be! I had to try this place! I walked up, got in line with a bunch of guys in suits and said, “what’s good here?”, they told me their favorites and I bounced up and down saying “I’m so excited to try this place!” The men in suits politely smiled at me and probably thought to themselves: “this girl doesn’t get out much”.
I ordered the chicken tacos, they were light, healthy and delicious! The tacos were $2 each.
I’m now on a mission to try all the food trucks/carts that make their way in to the Financial District. If you know of any, please let me know!
Which do you think is cheaper for organic products? Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Safeway. I was very surprised by the results.
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