Eating for Free in SLO

24 Apr

This past week has been a hunt for the most inexpensive eats, and as it turns out many can be found at the best price of all….FREE. Of course, there is a little work involved, and it depends how far you are willing to go. This is especially for voracious fans of tacos and pizza, as this is usually the free food available.

Marisol Restaurant at the Cliffs Resort

A taco salad made with all the fixings

The happy hour at the Cliffs Resort is the easiest of free meals. Every Monday through Wednesday from 4-6p.m., the Marisol Restaurant supplies a complimentary  taco bar. This includes flour and corn tortillas, ground beef, cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, jalepeños, and chips. On Thursdays, this is replaced with a woodfire pizza and pasta bar, complete with spaghetti and a myriad of sauces.

After chatting around, I met Stephen Gilmore, a local Cal Poly student, who frequents the resort about twice a week. “I have never come by myself, but I have definitely considered it,” he said Tuesday, tilting his head with a slightly embarrassed smile. “But easy, free food! And the atmosphere? It is the best in town.”

The beautiful view from the blacony of the Marisol restaurant, at the Cliffs resort

“There have been weeks that I have eaten all three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for free.” -Becca Weaver

If you have the energy and a social appetite as well, free food can be found all over Cal Poly campus. Becca Weaver, a social club butterfly at Cal Poly, has made her way into many campus clubs, mainly for the food. She was wary to reveal most of her secrets, but claimed “there have been weeks that I have eaten all three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for free.”

Another club for the list, Communication Studies club, meets every third Tuesday with pizza and baked goods in Building 10, Room 225

Some of the clubs she mentioned were SWE (Society of Women Engineers) every other Wednesday for pizza, and Mat Pica Phi, the Graphic Communication club, Thursday nights. When asked how she found out about these events, she said “I just look look at flyers on campus, or sign up for their mailing lists.”

Her carefree attitude makes it obvious she has been doing this for a while. “It can be a little embarrassing,” she says while laughing. “Like with the Sales Engineering. There are only three girl members, so they definitely notice when I show up.” However, she claims this is the jackpot of club events because they bring in “Firestone, sushi, and others from all over downtown.”

If you are looking for a variety in your UU lunch hour routine, head over to the Food Science Club in Bluilding 24, Room 113. Dr. Amanda Lathrop is the head of this club, and says they provide a variety of food for club members, such as teriyaki chicken, ravioli, and sandwiches. Sara Rodich, a food science major, goes often, even though she is not a club member.  “It is great food, and you really don’t have to pay.”


Another more altruistic route to free food is through volunteering. GleanSLO is a project done by the Food Bank coalition of San Luis Obispo, where farmers allow volunteers to go out and pick their crop surplus after it has already been commercially harvested, or when there will not be enough profit to make it feasible. The crop that would otherwise be wasted benefits many underprivileged San Luis Obispo residences. As of April 21, Glean has picked 13,701 pounds of assorted apples, avocados, artichokes, grapefruit, lemons, lettuce, oranges, and tangerines for the community at large.

This is also an opportunity for a college student to snack on some apples, or whatever else is grown on the borrowed land. Stephen Gilmore helped them pick apples in the fall. “You get to munch on apples while you help picking, and take some home with you,” he said.


Whether you are looking for a snack, or a full meal San Luis Obispo, there is always something out there. For those of you who do have a couple extra dollars to spend, an extra page has been added to keep track of weekly food specials. If interested in more nighttime snacking, is also a website devoted to happy hours and appetizers, called SLO Happy Hours, listing them both by establishment and day of the week.


Twitter iffic!

22 Apr

Free twitter badge

For avid tweeters and social media junkies alike, Thrifty Thrills also has a twitter! Subscribe to hear all about happenings in SLO, and any little tidbits I might find to share!

Just click on the bird, or the right side of the blog!

Songwriters at Play

18 Apr

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Before heading to pint night at SLO Brew for a typical Tuesday night, come experience some great local and travelling talent. Every Tuesday, Kreuzberg hosts Songwriters at Play from 6:30 to 9, where all different types of performers get a chance to play and experiment with their sound.

This is different than your typical open mic night. It is a showcase with a specially selected group of people, eliminating the “grab bag” effect you get with most open mics.

“There’s an energy that makes people want to hang out. I never have trouble finding people to play here.”

Steve Key, the head of this event, has been hosting these events at Kreuzberg for a year now, and has hosted “showcases” all over the county since 2007. As a professional musician for 35 years, he wants to help local artists through the transition and struggle they face finding a following. “This event offers a little more than an open mic. I help them gain an audience and publicity they would not otherwise have. Sure I could make more money doing wineries myself, but I like the surprises you get here.”

What is so special about the Kreuzberg event is “the vibe. There’s an energy that makes people want to hang out. I never have trouble finding people to play here.” Steve says Tuesday is the best because you can get some amazing artists that are just travelling through. “As a travelling musician, I know how hard it is to get weekday shows. Instead of just sitting in their motels they get a chance to come out and play. Even artists who have moved on to ticketed shows.”

When asked how he seems to find so many people to play his shows he says, “I’m just lucky I guess.”

On Tuesday, two singer songwriters from Alberta, Canada stopped by to show off their talent. Tatam Reeves and Cadence Burns started their trip for Coachella, and are staying a couple weeks to explore Los Angeles. Tatum has been to San Luis Obispo before, and loves the scene so much he made a point to add it into their trip. Tatum says,

“Cadence was who got me my first open mic night. I wanted to show her one of my favorite towns.”

Tatam loves San Luis Obispo for “the cozy, happy atmosphere. Plus everyone is so friendly!” He has worked with Steve before, so whenever he is in town he makes sure to play a couple shows. He makes it look so easy as he plucks away at the guitar with speed and grace, playing soft folksy tunes.

Cadence loves travelling because of all the people you meet. “There are so many different sounds out there and different kinds of people. It’s an amazing experience.”  She played very melodic rhythms and her soft sultry vocals were entrancing, making you softly move side to side.

Cadence and Tatam both have websites with soundclouds, showcasing their seemingly effortless talent.

“The more fans, the more inspiration I get to write.”

The local talent is in force as well. Katie Edmiston, a Communication Studies major at Cal Poly, has played at Songwriters at Play several times. She found Steve by web searching “open mics in SLO,” and she says “I feel like a really tiny fish, even though SLO is a small pond. Steve really helps me find my way in the music scene.”

What she loves most is “having a following. It is great to find an experience like this. The more fans, the more inspiration I get to write.” Kreuzberg is her favorite event because of the atmosphere. “It’s so artistic and interesting. Plus I love the tea.” She loves to drink the Macadamia Nut Rooibos tea before she goes on to get relaxed and ready.

Here is a video of her playing one of her songs. Click here for more of her work.

All About RSS

16 Apr

What is RSS? It’s simple, really.

RSS icon

RSS is a way of tracking your favorite blogs and Internet happenings all from one source. This eliminates the need for bookmarks and constant update checks. It is a much easier way to keep track instead of sending it your email inbox, which if it is anything like mine, is clouded in subscriptions, spam, school, work, and whatever else I have signed up for.

Here are the easy steps:

1. First of all, you should have your own RSS reader. The easiest for me is Google Reader, because I can check it with my email and it does all the homework for me. It finds the blog and puts it into a format that is very easy to read. This article, “Choosing an RSS reader,” gives a more detailed account of each reader, such as which browsers it is best with and the interface designs.

2. Set up one for your blog. Wordpress makes it very easy: this theme already has it incorporated into the header, but there is also a widget. By copying the code, you can add it to your RSS feeder.

3. Follow Thrifty Thrills! For all kinds of free adventures and thrifting tips, just copy the url into the reader of your choice, and you are on your way to easy internet browsing. Just click either the link in the top right, or the bottom of the page.

For even more info check out this blog dedicated to everything RSS.

Thank God It’s Free (Fridays): Art After Dark

11 Apr

Bored and broke on a Friday night? This seems to be the curse of college students and thrifters alike. For art lovers and supporters of local business, the search is over.

Every first Friday of the month, Art After Dark transforms 20 or so local businesses into a scattered art gallery, featuring an array of local artists and entertainment. This event, which typically runs from 6-9, has been put on by ARTs Obispo for nine years. It was created to introduce new artists to stores every month, helping both the arts and local economy.

HumanKind fair trade store

Entering HumanKind Fair Trade

HumanKind fair trade, a nonprofit dedicated to fully supporting farmers and craftsman through fair trade,  is an avid supporter of this event.

Last week, this tiny storefront was packed with people. A band of Cal Poly students were playing easy jazz in the storefront, providing lovely background that still allowed for good conversation. In the back was a sampler of Central Coast brewing growlers and Paso Robles wine, along with some great chips and dips. This month, they are featuring local surfing photographer Jean Paul Molyneux. <— click for a blog of his work

Joy Friesen, who manages this event for the company, loves the atmosphere.

“This event does an amazing job of bringing the community together to support both local businesses and artists. It is such a great pairing.”

Another fun stop was Old World Rugs. Greeted by a friendly table of peach sangrias and sugary goodies, the signs take you down a flight of stairs into a basement den. Colorful wallets, shoes, and canvases fill the straw floored room, with a raised circle of couches. It is a quieter, more laid back feel, but the artists are young and eager to chat.

Tommy Nickerson, a music major at Cal Poly, paints artwork on solid white Vans, as well as a couple canvases. He says the thing he likes most most about this event is “being able to see people face-to-face”, as most of his interaction is done online.

“Showcasing my work is cool and fun because i actually get to meet people that are interested in my stuff. The internet can be a cold place.”

Tommy Nickerson and some of his custom Vans designs

There are custom designs, album artwork, and very fun bright colors, each with it’s own story.

<— These shoes he made for a transgender person who wanted some theme elements incorporated into a rainbow. “I did not want to do just a traditional rainbow. Bright and colorful, but more subtle,” said Tommy. He also encorporated the transgender flag on the back (blue, pink, and white stripes).

Check out his etsy site for more of his  work.


There were so many different stores, it was hard to get through all of them. This is a very brief representation of what is out there. A Cal Poly Graphic Communication student, Leah Pyron, just found out about it this year, and thinks the event does a great job of catering to a different kind of college student.

“It is something to do away from the norm, that also supports the town and art. Plus who can beat free snacks and drinks. It’s a whole experience.”

Come down and find your own favorite places. There is even “an app for that,” if you are an iPhone user. It features all the stores, and more about what Art After Dark is all about. There is also more information about other events hosted by ARTs San Luis Obispo.

Rummaging Through Tutorials

9 Apr

Hello Readers!

This last week consisted of scouring the Internet for all kinds of fresh and exciting ways to make the blog really shine. Color and excitement are important, especially when it has to do with crafty, adventuresome blogs. Eventually, it will be filled with pictures and artsy happenings from all around SLO.

A lot of research went into tags and categories and the differences between the two. The most important tips to remember are less is more, and be very specific. It will make your posts easier to find and attract interested readers. Here is a blog that explains it a bit more in detail.

Widgets were a lot of fun as well. The twitter site was added to the side, and a featured blog post to separate school assignments from the actual blog. There is also a little Meebo chat bar in case anyone wants to ask questions or give anonymous comments straight to the writer. (*Hint hint* I would love to hear from you!)

This is a Youtube video that went into some small details about what WordPress can do to make it a little easier to post blogs. As an example, this video did not need an embed code because wordpress automatically will do it, which you can set up in the media settings tab.

Also, if you want a simple way to find related topics and pictures, use Zemanta! It is such a great way to get started with blogging. It shows up when you are posting and recommends copyright free pictures and articles. Here are a couple articles found thanks to this helpful widget:

Penny Pinchers Unite!

4 Apr

Welcome to Thrifty Thrills, the blog devoted to finding the best deals all over San Luis Obispo. This is not just coupon clipping and how to save, but instead it is an expedition to find fellow thrifters and share their stories, inspiring ideas, and helpful tricks.

This is also a great place to look for some free activities around SLO that are not as well known (easy ways to impress dates without spending a penny). This is for the amateur, eager to learn what it means to “thrift” shop and how to find anything at all amid the piles of…well, trash.

Apron Thrift Girl is an example of a broader based, more crafting-style approach to the “art” (as it does take great skill). She features stories aimed to help the reader, not just a “hey look what I found” journal and tease!

To initiate you into the thrifting world, here are 12 tips on thrift store shopping. Good luck!


Female Seeking Muse

1 Apr

Hello and welcome to my blog!  My name is Kelley, and I am writing this blog for a journalism class at Cal Poly.

I am still very undecided as to themes and structures for my blog, so I have done some research on a previous class to find my purpose in the vast blogosphere:

Coffee grounds in SLO

1. My first impression of this blog is that it is devoted to reporting on all the coffee shops in the area, and probably critiquing the coffee.

The all about espresso throws me off because not all coffee is espresso, and it makes me wonder if it will show how beans are roasted in the area and other behind the scenes type of work.

2. I think this blog takes on more of a critic feel, even though she never gives her own opinion, I think it would have made it more solid if there was a rating system. The titles need something like best homework spot, or best homebrewed beans, because instead it is just lists of what each coffee shop is like.

I feel I could find out most of this information by just visiting them. There is nothing specifically newsworthy about the topics. I wish it had been more focused on how they started; the stories behind each of the smaller coffee shops.

3. The design is a very simple one. I would have liked a little more coffee related content, maybe some rich brown colors.

It is well spaced, and I like the headers within the blog itself.

The photos were very nice, and I liked how she spread them out in each blog post.

4. I really liked the theme of this blog. It was something I would really want to read as an avid coffee drinker and an ADD student always in search for the next homework niche.

I really think more about the coffee shops would be helpful, not simply about their food and drinks.

I did really like the article on fair trade. I thought it was thought provoking and showed a new side to fair trade. It is now pretty common to have fair trade coffee, but to go into the details of the plantations was good journalism.

5. I liked her page about coffee lingo. It was helpful, especially for a topic with plenty of jargon. This would do well in a sports blog, or anything that has cultural vernacular.

Well That Was Awkward

1. I was very intrigued by this blog, especially in terms of how it would transform into an actual news blog. I liked the idea for it, but it seemed lacking momentum.

2. I do not think that many of the stories were newsworthy, however she did try to have a journalist’s approach to each story.

3. The design was very basic, but I liked the bold title header. I did not like her obviously faked pictures for the awkward first date or her friends doing poses in the dorm. It lacked professionalism. The quotes were very clearly set apart and stood out with the turquoise line and white background.

4. The breast pumping post was way out of left field for the blog. It felt like it was all about her friends and texts, things applied to our demographic, and then there would be random posts like this. I think she took the word awkward too leniently, and had no direction to her work. It was a blog that I could see people following, but there was not a lot of substance.

5. I liked the focus on one word and how she tried to build stories from that. The use of maps was helpful when pointing to a specific place. It adds another dimension to the blog. I think I enjoyed the humor she attempted to bring to the blog. It makes you want to keep reading, but it needs to be executed a little better.

Lashes and Leotards

1. I was actually not attracted to this blog at first because it seemed to fit a narrow niche that did not interest me. However, the blog fit the theme so perfectly, with the color and the head banner, that I felt I had to read at least a little.

2. This site is a journalism site because it tells the stories of Cal Poly dancers from different angles. It explains what goes into a rehearsal, as well as some fun little tips on the ballerina bun. She did an excellent job of catching “experts” (Cal Poly dancers) on film and in writing. Their personalities and stories were well told.

3. I loved her step-by-step tutorials. I feel it could have used a few more pictures of the dancers themselves, but she had some great videos and pictures of the small items like the health foods and stretching.

4. The content was well written. I liked the way she pulled out the quotes with purple.

5. I loved the organization at the top of the page. It was well thought out and had a lot of content separated into easy to digest sections. I also loved how she covered the scope of a narrow theme. The big production for the quarter was represented, as well as some good tips for her fellow dancers. I also really liked the interview videos as well, and will make sure to do some personal stories in my blog.

1. The first impression of this blog is very professional. The color scheme is strictly red, white and blue. It is evident this blog is here to give news specifically catered to politics.

2. This is definitely a journalism website. Each story is headlined below a highlight picture. The samples I read follow the inverted pyramid style, and there is a specific topic for each of the headlines.

3. This blog’s visual fits the theme. The people who want to read this material are generally not looking for anything flashy. I think it fits its demographic well. I like the poll on the side and the video content. It does not command your attention, but breaks up the text.

4. The content is a little dense. It would be nice if there were more ways to break it up. The topic is dense, but I think they could do a better job in the banner.

5. My topic is not very similar to this blog but I do like having the polls on the side if that is possible. I would also like an organized banner bar and a search engine.

1. I was confused by this blog. It is owned by Conan (?) and covers everything?? I could not figure out its purpose.

2. This does have newsworthy stories, but I am lost in its purpose. I think it is just a news blog about everything from entertainment to business, but I am confused as a first time user.

3. It is all over the map visually. I like the amount of photos, but I do not think things are visually organized.

4. The content is all over the map. I wish there was more of a focus. I would rather read something that specifically focused on technology, or entertainment. I like to have an expert in a field, instead of just all around information. It is similar to a newspaper, but not set up correctly.

5. I like the use of videos for Conan. They add a funny touch. I do not think there is much I can use for my own blog. The pictures are quality.