Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Blog, Pass it On!

I'm finally following through with an idea I've longed toyed with (and has been suggested to me by others). I'm blogging about how I live my fabulously thrifty lifestyle.

Check it out and pass it on: Sac Thrift Chick. I resolve to update this blog regularly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Snapshots

Remember when you were little and time passed so slowly?  It felt like the school year would never end and summer was so far away. Then summer vacation felt like it lasted so long, but not long enough? Yea, those were the days. I feel like time is always flying by me. I blink and another month has come and gone.  Here's a snapshot of my fleeting summer, so far.

Enjoying the Sacramento Music (Jazz) Festival outside of Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records.

Participating in the democractic process, as I have every election since I was 18.

Seeing the hilarious "Wicked" at The Community Center Theater.

Finding chickens in our backyard, adding to the list of random animals which wander in.

Rockin' out to one of my favorite local bands, Bastards of Young. See my post on CIP.

Walking the dog through the nearby park under a cotton-candy sky.
Racing the sun on the way home from a Craigslist pickup in Folsom.

Eating ice cream on the back patio after a long day of moving furniture.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Concerts in the Park

Summer means many things to many people. There's swimming, road trips, barbeques, fireworks, and for most teachers and students, a much needed break. For over a decade, summer has also meant one very important thing to me: Friday Night Concerts in the Park. I attend a few different CIP shows every summer.

I believe I first started attending CIP in 1999. That was the year I really got into local music scene.

At that time, these Friday Night Concerts were a big deal. This was before the days of Myspace and Facebook. Bands really worked their butts off promoting their appearances, enlisting the help of street teams and even sending out reminders via snail mail.

Every Friday night, by the time the headlining band struck its first chord, the area in front of the stage at Cesar Chavez Plaza would be packed with loyal fans and those just wanting to be in on the action. Standing against the gate separating the crowd from the bands on the cement stage, you could feel the energy. It was something special.

That "specialness" remained for years, but I noticed it tapering off the last few years. At first I thought maybe it was me. Maybe because I was older and had been to countless shows for over a decade, the excitement just wasn't there for me.

But it wasn't just me. My husband, who has been attending CIP since 2004, also noticed it. And it wasn't just that the crowds were smallerwhich they wereit was that those Friday nights just didn't seem to be that big of a deal anymore. I noticed bands didn't promote them like they used to. The crowd just didn't react the same. The area in front of the stage was often depressingly empty.

The shows had become commonplace. Whether it was lack of promoting on the bands' end, people tired of seeing the same bands (a common complaint, although one I don't always think was justified) or maybe the fact that the scene seems far more fragmented (and with less of a good pop rock presence) than in my youth, I don't know. I just knew something had changed.

This year, a big drama-filled change occurred, and it's turned out to be a huge change for the better.

Under new leadership, the Friday Night Concerts in the Park series is back to its old glory. The park is packed on Friday nights (breaking records, even), but more than that, the park is buzzing with that energy you only experience at a great live show.

This is not to take away from what Jerry Perry did for CIP, because he did amazing things for it for many years. I wouldn't look back so fondly on those shows of years past if it wasn't for Perry's hard work behind the scenes.

This is to give credit where credit is due. So props (yea, I said props) to Play Big Sacramento. Say what you will about the name and the individuals on the panel, but as a group, they've breathed much needed life into CIP.

I've loved the shows I've attended thus far and can't wait to make the trek in freeway traffic for more. (OK, I could do without the traffic to the 5 p.m. start time.)

Here's some of my favorite "crappy cell phone" pics this year.

I make Aaron take a photo like this at every CIP. This was during The Infamous Swanks in May.

A disabled (and maybe homeless) man gave me this pinwheel during The Nickel Slots' set in May. I gave it to a kid.

7 Seconds inspired circle pits for people of all ages in June.

I dub this one, 'The cutest circle pit, eva!"

Aaron and me during 7 Seconds, one day before our fifth wedding anniversary.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Love at First Sight ... and Eight Years Later

Do I believe in love at first sight? Well, that’s a complicated question.

If we’re talking shoes, handbags and my pets, then yes. 

But if we’re talking the more traditional, girl sees guy and *bam* it’s love. Well, not exactly, but maybe sorta. 

I met my husband online. On Hot or Not, to be exact. He has said when he read my profile, he thought, “I could marry this girl!” 

I wasn’t quite as blown away by his first email to me, but I was interested. 

We began chatting online, and I quickly started falling for him; however, it wasn't until I saw him standing at my door for our first date, the verdict was in: HOT.

Due to his being late (on purpose, since he didn’t think a local concert made a good first date), we ended up winging it. We went bowling, got milkshakes at Dennys, and played at a playground near his house in Rancho Cordova. 

It was the most magical first date this girl could have. I think I started falling in love that very first date, and I think that’s about as close to “love at first sight” as you can get. I went home that night thinking, if he's for real, I could marry this guy. 

And so I did. Exactly a year later, he recreated that first date, and at the end, proposed. On June 23, we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. It’s been eight years since that fateful first date. 

To mark the five-year milestone, we took wedding anniversary photos at the park that started it all, Hagen Park in Rancho Cordova

Here are some of my favorites. Thanks to Christina Campbell, Lifestyle Photographer.



 There's even more here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Updating an Antique Bedroom

I recently got it in my head that I wanted to update our bedroom. We never really finished the bedroom since moving back in after last summer's mold problem. The only catch was, no extra money with which to do it. That might be a problem for most people, but not a thrifty pro like myself.

Problem No. 1:

It never actually looked this neat, except when we had company. Coloring is off in pic.
Our pressed-wood bookshelf style headboard was driving me crazy. The open space made it nearly impossible to prop up pillows to watch movies. And I was getting tired of all the random stuff left on it.


 This super-sturdy wood headboard not only has the shelf that my husband loves, and the solid back for pillows that I desired, but it also has a built-in reading lamp and two cubbies to store all the things that cluttered the last headboard!

Price: Free from Craigslist.

Problem No. 2:

Our white Ikea Kajak always looked messy, took up a lot of space and didn’t match our antique-style bedroom. It spins so you can show the mirrored side, but it was always so overflowing with towels, spinning caused towels to fall on the floor. 

This pressed-wood pantry fits perfectly next to our entertainment center, works well as a linen closet, and I love that it has doors so no one has to see our linens! Bonus: The bottom shelf stores Aaron’s music books, notebooks, harmonics and "box of stuff" that cluttered the entertainment center.

Price: Free from a friend.

Problem No. 3:

I don’t have a night stand. Not really. I have a wobbly bookshelf filled with beauty stuff. I pull a modern blue nightstand and a floor lamp in front of that at night. Tack-y.

Problem No. 4:
I had already dug into the mess when I took this.
The clutter! Although my husband is mostly to blame for this, I admit my part. He piles things on the entertainment center, the headboard and his dresser. I stuff the small built-in shelves with papers and random things that belong in the bedroom but don’t really have a place.

Solutions 3 and 4:

The small shelves now house all my lotions, body sprays and nail polishes. Lining everything up prevents me from shoving random items there.

This space is now officially my girlie corner of the room.
I sorted through my collapsible organizers and made better use of them. One continues to hold my belts and hair scarves. The second holds sunglasses, glasses, sunblock and all those little things I would stuff in the shelves (with plenty of room to toss in more). I moved the third to the entertainment center to hold the CDs and DVDs that were always lying around.

And I finally convinced my husband to unpack his boxes of stuff that sat on the entertainment center, driving me crazy.

Now, I just have to secure the perfect nightstand to fit between the bed and my antique dresser and decide on curtains. Aaron's agreed to hang curtains for our five-year wedding anniversary ... he really hates hanging things.

I'm also toying with the idea of some romantic word art above the bed. Something along the lines of this.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Freelancing is Not an Auction for the Lowest Bidder

I'm hyper aware of what I post online could come back to bite me in the butt. For this reason, I hold back a lot. I rant to my husband. I rant to friends. I write in a locked journal. You get the picture.

You never know who is reading your little blog. In this case, I hope people read this post because I'm just plain sick of the state of freelancing. I'm tired of "wanna-be writers," as I call them, working for pennies and doubting that other writers actually receive decent pay from private clients.

In the world of freelancing, it's not "to each his own." When green-around-the-ears writers flood the market and accept meager rates, it drives down the going rate for all writers. I've seen it first hand. There's nothing more frustrating than wasting your time applying for a writing gig, only to find out it pays next-to-nothing once the gig is offered.

I recently had a pretty insulting experience with a start-up publication. I asked for the rates as soon as I was welcomed aboard. The pay per article was low but acceptable for a start-up, at least I thought. Then, after jumping through hoops with contracts and virtual meetings, I find out the real rates with the word counts. Laughable, insulting, ridiculous! But I seemed to be the only one insulted. Plenty of writers were eager for this opportunityeager to pound out their best investigative journalistic work for a magazine looking to make butt-loads in advertising but not willing to pay even $.10/word.

I see it everywhere. Writers begin to think in terms of hourly rates. If they can pound out article after article in one hour, then the paltry per word rates really aren't so bad, they say. Sure, I write for a variety of places. And there's some justification for taking a lower rate from a huge company that pays twice a week, like clockworka place where things operate differently from the "real world" of freelancing. I do it. But that's the exception to the rule.

Writing for a ginormous content mill is not the same as writing for a private client or a magazine or a newspaper. Outside in the real world, you have to demand better pay. You have to realize your worth. Because the bottom line is, better pay is out there. But thanks to the over-saturated market of writers for hire, it's becoming harder and harder to attain. Places are paying less because writers are willing to work for less.

It's got to stop. The idea of "I'll do it for the clips" has got to stop, too. I've done it. I did it recently, accepting pay below my standards, and, surprise, surprise, I regretted it right away. The editor was unprofessional, and I'm still waiting on my copies of the magazine for those clips.

I know that times are tough and the market is changing. But it hasn't changed so much that I have to work for pennies, and I wish other writers would wake up and realize that, too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sunny Days, Keeping the Clouds Away

Officially, it's been spring for almost a month, but it's only starting to feel like it in Sacramento. This beautiful, sunny Sacramento weather has inspired me to walk the dog more, spend more time in the sunshine and exercise more.

So far, I'm doing well on accounts, and my new giant trampoline is certainly helping with resolutions two and three!

The trampoline was a gift from a friend who is moving and didn't want to take it with her. Aaron and I put it together yesterday, and I'm having a lot of fun on it ... in small increments. I'm just too out of shape (and with heart problems) to bounce for very long.

Aaron and I, and by that I mean mostly Aaron, have been working hard to ready our large yards for human use. We tend to ignore the backyard all winter, until the grass grows so high, Gizmo gets lost in "the jungle."


Now the jungle has been tamed into nice, short suburban blades. Roses have been trimmed, weeds pulled and the yards sprayed for bugs.

Soon we'll go through the exhausting process of dragging the patio furniture out of the shed and setting up the shade canopy. I can't wait until I'm sprawled across the patio couch, reading a good book.

First roses of the season.
Our resident squirrels seem to be enjoying the weather, too.
Maybe we'll even plant some flowers along the fence, finally!

Hello, Spring!