Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Gilbert Farmers Market, a place where a dog can br...

Tragically Hip Living: Gilbert Farmers Market, a place where a dog can br...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Gilbert Water Tower Photo: Tragically Hip Living Farmers markets have gained in popularity...

Gilbert Farmers Market, a place where a dog can bring their best friend to shop organic

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Gilbert Water Tower
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Farmers markets have gained in popularity across the country, and the same is true here in sunny Arizona. Gilbert, Arizona is part of the Greater Phoenix Area, what was once a sleepy farm and ranch town is now dotted with subdivisions and strip centers. The original downtown area  of Gilbert has managed to preserve the past of the historic downtown and remains the focal point of the community.

Although Gilbert has grown in size, the small town atmosphere still remains.




Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Whether a local, or just visiting Arizona, the Gilbert Farmers Market (GFM) is a must see for places to visit. The Gilbert Farmers Market is open every Saturday year-round, rain or shine, and is located at the Gilbert Park and Ride in downtown, just keep an eye out for the iconic water tower and follow the crowds. But the GFM isn't just for humans, dogs are welcome as well, and although the scent from the food trucks must be absolute torture for the rapid waggin' tailed creatures, a chance to hang out with other canines and sniff a butt or two has to be like Disneyland in their eyes.


Gilbert Farmers Market
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Opened since 2010, the Gilbert Farmers Market has grown from it's early days of less than 30 vendors. Today, they have 60 vendors in the summer months, and close to 100 in the summer months. The GFM prides itself on featuring local, chemical free produce and many local artisan products. 

The GFM is easy to find, and parking is free across the street. If the lot is full, there are multiple parking lots nearby and within a short walk. 




Organic Produce
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
So, what are the offering's at the Gilbert Farmers Market? Well, the GFM has offering's a plenty, farm fresh organic in season produce that is grown locally from a number farms. The variety of organic vendors has something for everybody, handmade pasta, hummus, honey, spices and rubs, even some tasty deserts ranging from cakes and pies to snack bars plus so much more. In the market for some plants? No problem GFM has a vendor that offers a select variety of plants at a fantastic price.





Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The Gilbert Farmers Market isn't just for shopping, it's a gathering place as well,  and a tragically hip place to grab some tasty grub from one of the many food booths, or just hang out and have a cup of Joe, perhaps some tea, or other beverages offered. Maybe take in some sun and do a little people/dog watching, whatever your preference, it's a great way to start off a relaxing Saturday.

The vibe of the GFM can only plant a smile on your face with all the activity surrounding you.



Photo: Tragically Hip Living
But the tasty grub doesn't stop there, the Gilbert Farmers Market plays host to an abundance of food trucks that is simply a plethora of cuisine on wheels. The variety the food trucks offer is wide, with many choices, vegetarian, pretzels, Mexican, Polynesian, popcorn, maybe a baked potato, in season inspired choices, waffles, even vegetarian,  the choices are many. For the Chicago style hot dog lover, a Vienna Beef hot dog can be found here,  how frickin' nice is  that! 



Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Without a doubt, buying organic is more expensive than regular produce, but to be honest, some of the produce is comparable to buying produce from a grocery store, the same is true for all the organic products at the GFM. The benefits of purchasing from GFM, besides being fresh, the quality and pride each of the vendor's offer in their products will be the first thing you'll notice. It's an experience, one you certainly wouldn't get from a grocery store, the market creates community and awareness of what is local to the area. 

Supporting local business owners can only profit the community by keeping it local. Many big box stores lack the quality and personal touch in the products they sell. 




The Gilbert Farmers Market is located at 222 N. Ash Street, Gilbert, Arizona, 85296.

For more information, visit the Gilbert Farmers Market at www.gilbertmarket.com, or on Facebook www.facebook.com/GilbertMarket for the latest news and hours of operation.











Friday, January 29, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Fruit or vegetable? Avacados and the amazing healt...

Tragically Hip Living: Fruit or vegetable? Avacados and the amazing healt...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Photo: Google Free Images I have often wondered, is the avocado a fruit or vegetable? Well,...

Fruit or vegetable? Avocados and the amazing health benefits

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living


Photo: Google Free Images
I have often wondered, is the avocado a fruit or vegetable? Well, according to Californiaavocado.com it's a fruit and grown on a tree. The origin of the avocado can be traced back to Mexico and Central America, much of our supply comes from here. Most avocados in the United States are grown in the mild climate of Southern California and produces some of the best avocados for a short few months. The nutritional value of the avocado are many, this little guy is loaded with vitamin B1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9, vitamin C, E and K. It also contains Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Sodium, and Zinc. Oh yeah, among many other benefits, it also has more potassium than a banana. 


Photo: Google Free Images
I have never been much for eating enough fruit's or vegetables partly because I can never tell if they are ripe, but as you get older we tend to re-think our health strategy. I used to like avocados when I was younger, then for some reason I stopped eating them. As we age, we tend to gain wisdom and know by experience the difference between right and wrong. Does this mean we have to stop having fun? Absolutely not, I don't think I will ever truly grow up, I will always be a man-boy traveling my own path, probably sticking my finger in places I shouldn't, and doing so just to say I have done that. Pretty sure I will never change, wearing two different socks, maybe just one sock, that's just who I am.

We must also use our wisdom gained over the years and adjust with age. I have decided to start eating avocados again, try new recipes that contain avocados and track how I feel, and see if the benefits really make a difference in my life. 

My plan is to buy organic, sure it cost more, but the benefit saves you more health-wise in the long run. I will be exploring organic farms and hitting some farmer's markets in my area, as well when traveling too. Food production has changed for us, engineering crops to grow at a faster pace and with no regard to health. But let's not get into that right now, that's another story for another time. What we can do is choose organic and choose local, learn where our food comes from and what measures are taken to deliver the safest crop possible.


Photo: Google Free Images
But how do we know when an avocado is ripe? Here is how:

Light green: Very firm, ready in about 5 days.

Medium green: Firm, ready in about 3 days.

Turning dark: Somewhat firm, ready in about a day.

Pre-ripe: Somewhat soft, ready for slicing.
Dark-ripe: Soft and ready to eat.


Avocados should be stored in the refrigerator, cut avocados will turn brown or oxidize if left unprotected. This is due to breaking the cellular walls which cause oxidation to occur, it can be prevented by adding an acidic agent like lemon or lime juice. Covering in plastic wrap or an airtight container in the refrigerator is essential for this delicate fruit.

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be reached by email: Tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit Flagstaff on less than two hundred bo...

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit Flagstaff on less than two hundred bo...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Flagstaff, Arizona Photo: Tragically Hip Living This past weekend brought me to beautiful Fl...

How to visit Flagstaff on less than two hundred bones

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Flagstaff, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
This past weekend brought me to beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona for a project I'm working on, and a little recreation time too. Like so many Arizona travel destinations, Flagstaff has become an expensive place to visit and if traveling cheap is your goal, this may be an option for you to do so. First, I belong to Wyndham Rewards, a program that allows you an option to visit any of the Wyndham Hotels within it's network of hotels. Ramada, Super 8, Days Inn just to name a few are part of the Wyndham family. But let's step back shall we? Before using my Wyndham option, I checked online at the hotel options for Flagstaff. A stay at the Hampton Inn from Sat., checking out Monday (Jan. 23-25) ran $201 for Sat. and $139 for Sun., hardly a deal for a place to lay your head at night. I then checked La Quinta and found a rate of $97 per night ($214 total) for a stay with the same dates. Frustrated, I called to see why it was so much due to the fact it is usually cheaper in the winter and if they could offer a better deal. 

Days Inn I-40 Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The guy at the front desk told me that the rates increased due to the demand for rooms, a result of the recent snow amounts at Snow Bowl and people wanting to ski. I could feel my panties wadding up with anger but quickly calmed myself down by humming the "Soft Kitty" song from Big Bang Theory. I asked the guy how he can sleep at night? Telling him that if paying $214, you better respect me in the morning and it better include a breakfast, perhaps a nice parting gift would be nice too! With no inexpensive rooms to be had in Flagstaff for the weekend, I decided to use some of my Wyndham points for a deal. 

The constant train traffic in Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
So, logged into my account and searched Flagstaff for rooms and to my surprise, found a room at Days Inn Flagstaff I-40 as you come into town and away from the train tracks. I was offered a low rate just for being a member, didn't even have to use my points, even better, I used my AARP membership to obtain a deeper discount! So, what was my total for the two-night stay including taxes? How about $77.13 for the entire stay! Was pleased to know when the front desk informed me that the room was very clean and they pride themselves on cleanliness. The room also had a fridge, microwave, and a coffeemaker. The stay also included a breakfast, which included among many things, waffles, pastries, and fruit. I was as "happy as a queer in a dick tree," (No disrespect to anyone gay intended, I have some gay friends and they know my sense of humor) and quickly sealed the deal. 

Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Arriving in Flagstaff around noonish on Saturday, a few hours would have to be burnt before my 3 p.m. check-in at the hotel, so hit the streets for some thrift store shopping. A little investigating and talking to some locals, all signs pointed towards the Full Circle Trade & Thrift, a local favorite. It's located on Beaver Street, a block South of Route 66 in the historic downtown area. Although nothing was purchased, they did have some good prices on quality clothing and some tragically hip antiques in the furniture section. The Full Circle Trade & Thrift is a definite must visit when traveling to Flagstaff. After browsing the area, it was time to check-in at the hotel and proceeded to settle in my comfy room before grabbing a bite to eat. After having my freshly brewed Peet's French Roast Coffee, I decided to head over to Bun Huggers, one of the best places in Flagstaff to have a stellar burger for a good price. I ordered the "Little Hugger," a 1/4 pound burger cooked well done and an order of their natural cut fries and a water for a drink. What I like about this place is that you order what you want, they cook it, and let you add the condiments yourself at the condiment station near the register. Everything is fresh and well maintained, the total cost for this beef bonanza was $7.84, well within my intended budget.

Macy's European Coffeehouse
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
After a peaceful night, I step outside to witness the cool sunrise that is before me and sip on my tasty coffee. It's Sunday morning and the views of the snow capped mountains only add to this blessing. I have a meeting in a few hours so I head back to my room to get ready. Wanting a little something to eat and remembering what the locals told me, I make my way to Macy's European Coffee House for a sample of the many baked goods they offer. Macy's is just down the street from Full Circle Thrift and is quite a hip little joint. The walls are adorned with paintings and photos, it's like a little gallery. Anyhoo, the place is packed, so I already know the place is good. I make my way up the line to place my order. I decide to order a hot chocolate, made from scratch and with real milk if you can believe that, and a pecan sticky bun. Right away, I notice my hot chocolate being prepared with the utmost pride and care, the cashier steps over to the baked goods counter and asked if I had any particular pecan sticky bun in mind? I signal no preference and she packages the tasty treat in a bag. An opening at the bar is available and I quickly snag a spot before it's gone. Well, simply said, this was the best hot chocolate and pecan sticky bun I have ever had. Imagine driving in the HOV lane with only you in the car, or ripping off one of those warning labels on a mattress that state "Warning Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law," yeah, it's that kind of feeling, total cost was $9.58, again well within my planned budget.

Flagstaff, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
After my meeting I head out to explore the downtown shops, if it's been awhile since your last visit, the place has changed, many new shops with local owners, and that's a good thing to see. One of my stops brought me to The Old Town Shops located on Birch and Leroux Streets. What's cool about this place is that it has a bunch of shops in one building, mostly geared for women, but some dude stuff too.

Big Foot BBQ
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
What caught my attention was the Big Foot Barbeque located downstairs, the aroma forces one to stop and eat. So, I did just that, ordering a pulled pork sandwich, onion rings, and beans, topped off with a sweet tea to drink. Not the best I have ever had, but certainly well worth the $13.78 spent for this above average meal that could easily feed two. Feeling tired, I head back to my room for a little relaxation and a little work. Later that evening for dinner, a short drive to Cracker Barrel tops off the day and a reflection of my time in Flagstaff, the tab at Cracker Barrel ends up being $17.34, not bad for a home cooked meal.
The following morning I check out at 11 a.m. and decide to hit Sedona on the way home via Hwy 89A out of Flagstaff. I highly recommend this drive because it is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the country. So, what did my weekend excursion cost? Well, here's the breakdown:
$20.00 Gas
$77.13 Hotel
$48.54 Restaurants
Total: $145.67
Snow in Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
If you have a family it would obviously cost more and I did purchase items at the grocery store, but the point is, deals are out there with a little research and investigating. Sometimes there are no deals on certain dates, but utilize things like loyalty programs, or online deals to get the best price. I planned this trip two days prior, I often avoided visiting much of Arizona because to be quite honest, I could go to San Diego for what was being charged for a hotel in Arizona. It's not that I can't afford to pay more, I just learned from the past and know how much money was wasted on inflated fees, I just simply refuse to pay more.
Until next time, have a tragically hip day!
Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit a pricey Sedona without having to sel...

Tragically Hip Living: How to visit a pricey Sedona without having to sel...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Sedona, Arizona Photo: Tragically Hip Living Without a doubt, Sedona, Arizona is one of the...

How to visit a pricey Sedona without having to sell your kidney

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Sedona, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Without a doubt, Sedona, Arizona is one of the most beautiful and spiritual places on earth. The Sedona landscape has been used in many movies that range from Westerns to Comedies, John Wayne, Sam Elliott, Robert De Niro and tons more actors have filmed here.Sedona is a short two-hour drive from my home in Phoenix when the destination is reached, it's simply pure magic! Since my childhood, I have visited Sedona and have watched it grow. Visitors from around the world flock here to capture it's grandeur and marvel at it's beautiful views.



Statues at Tlaqapaque Shops
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Sedona is a prime location to visit a Vortex, a Vortex is described as a place in nature that energy swirls and draws energy to the center. Sounds crazy right? Well, if you are spiritual you get it, there are four of them in Sedona. Many people visit a Sedona Vortex for a host of reasons, but don't think this is crazy, some well-known people come to Sedona for that very reason. Sedona has some great hiking trails too with much to explore in the area. A drive up Hwy 89A heading North takes you through Oak Creek Canyon and some stunning views. Continue North on 89A brings you to Flagstaff, just a short 30 miles out of Sedona.


Tlaqapaque Shops
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Sedona used to be a quick and inexpensive destination to escape the summer heat of the Valley, but times have changed and the beauty of Sedona has become a costly getaway. Just a few years ago, a simple motel room could be found for $50 a night, give or take a few Washington's if you wanted to save a few bones and avoid the more expensive resorts that make Sedona their home. But those days are gone unless a room is booked way in advance, and even at that nearly impossible in the summer unless you are willing to pony up some major cash, maybe throw in severed limb or sell a kidney as well for payment. If my plan was to stay at one of the many resorts, I wouldn't mind paying if all I were going to do was stay at the resort most of the time, they do have some nice one's here, but the whole Sedona experience isn't in a hotel room or expensive meal, it's about exploring the area and taking in the magical beauty. To really experience Sedona, plan on more than just a weekend, the area really does offer a lot. From shopping, dining, hiking or even camping, Sedona offers something for everybody. It is possible to enjoy this wonderland, even if on a budget.



Sunset outside of Cottonwood
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
West out of Sedona on Hwy 89A, 17 miles and you've arrived in Cottonwood, they have a cool downtown Art's District with some cool shops and places to stuff your mug with some tasty chow. The area is also home to some pretty not to bad wineries too in the area. Maynard Keenan from the band "Tool" has a winery. A short drive out of Cottonwood brings you to Jerome, an old mining town. Jerome was a mining town back in the 1800s and closed down in 1953, pretty much becoming a ghost town after that. Jerome claims to be the oldest ghost town in America. Today, Jerome is home to artist and shop owners. Some cool restaurants and bars line the skinny streets.


Hwy. 89A (Downtown Sedona)
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The places I used to stay have at the very least doubled in price in just the past few years. Some of the restaurants that served good and cheap comfort food have since closed. On a recent trip, I stopped at a pizza joint on Hwy 89A, the main drag in Sedona for a bite to eat. The pizza looked okay, but nothing special so I walked up to the counter to order. When I asked the price for a pizza with sausage and pepperoni, I nearly soiled my panties, as a matter of fact, pretty sure there may have been some seepage! $26 for a fake pizza? For reals? I asked the guy if they offered pizza rentals, or could he make me a deal on some pizza droppings, because unless a table dance came with the pizza, it ain't gonna happen!

If you travel cheap like me, then West Sedona is where you stay and eat, it's a little cheaper, to tell the truth, I don't even stay in Sedona anymore. I drive 17 miles or so down the road to the sleepy little town of Cottonwood and stay at a place called The Little Daisy Motel, named after the "Little Daisy Mine," a few miles away in the town of Jerome. I have been staying at The Little Daisy for about 5 years when visiting Sedona. I'm pretty sure they have not raised their prices, at least not by much anyway since I've been staying there. Even my last visit to this place was only $56 a night, cheaper Sun-Thur. The Little Daisy is nothing fancy, but the rooms are very clean and have a fridge and microwave, they'll even lend you coffee maker at the office if needed.

Oak Creek
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
If going to Sedona is your thing and money doesn't matter, then go for it, you'll have a great time. If traveling on a budget like me, then go to Cottonwood or a surrounding town and find a deal. After talking to a few of the locals in Cottonwood, they all said Sedona has become way too pricey, but as long as visitors are willing to pay, it's not going to change. Many who work in Sedona don't live there because it's just too expensive, they live in places like Cottonwood.


Sedona, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
I also talked to a German tourist on my last trip to Sedona, the gentleman loved Sedona, but he thought it was expensive too. He was visiting America, Los Angeles to be exact and purchased a package for him and his wife.  The package was a 3-day tour of the Grand Canyon, a visit to Sedona and to the surrounding Indian Ruins in the area, it also included a train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. He didn't say how much he paid, but after further investigating, he said that he would have been better off renting a car in Los Angeles and making his own hotel reservations and sightseeing tours.


Oak Creek Canyon
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The point is this, with a little research and a few phone calls, cheap travel is there to be had.

I use TripAdvisor.com a lot, as a matter of fact, I write many reviews for TripAdvisor.com and often find great deals on the site.

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com




Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Minimalist Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons, ...

Tragically Hip Living: Minimalist Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons, ...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Alexis Stephens & Christian Parsons - Tiny House Expedition Photo: Tragically Hip Living ...

Minimalist Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons, a look at their ‘Tiny House Expedition’

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Alexis Stephens & Christian Parsons - Tiny House Expedition
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
To most people, wealth is measured by how much money or the material things that are acquired along the way. We come into this world with nothing and leave this world with nothing but the skin it came in. The Dalai Lama may sum it best when he was once asked about what surprised him most about humanity, “Man.... Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” 

Photo: Tragically Hip Living
For the many who travel a different path, wealth is measured by health, living small and with less, such is the case with Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition, a project they created which will document their nationwide travels. Together, this young couple grew tired of the stress and time given to own too many material possessions. But the story doesn't end there, no sir, it just begins here. Alexis and Christian for a number of different reasons became “Minimalist,” and changed the way they live for a purpose. The two spent about nine months building a tiny house on wheels and I do mean tiny, but yet, totally big enough to live like a boss. They  are traveling the country and educating people on the minimalist lifestyle, doing so in a tiny house on wheels at that. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with Alexis and Christian, they were featured guest, (their tiny house too) at the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show in Phoenix. A tour of their 130 sq. ft. "tiny house on wheels" is proof that one can indeed live very comfortable if planned correctly.

Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Check out the video tour at the bottom of the page from my Tragically Hip Living YouTube Channel, the channel is still in the works, and the video is not edited, but it's a great tour of the home. Sure it’s an adjustment for them and may not be for everybody, but these two have it figured out and made adjustments for a better way of life along the way. Every inch of the home serves a purpose, everything has a place and a function. What I noticed most as I entered through the door, the peaceful energy Alexis and Christian have, the same energy is evident in the house as well. 

130 sq. ft. of pure joy
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Of course, like in real life, it's not always fairies and unicorns every day. Things break down like a normal house or you may wish you had some of the things you gave up, but overall, it's a small price to pay for living in a mobile paradise. I asked them if there was anything they missed from living in a larger home, Alexis said a washer and dryer would be nice, and Christian said he missed having a garden and plants, although he is experimenting with gardening while on the road. Both of them said the few things they miss are only minor compared to the experience they are living now. 

The Tiny House Expedition
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Imagine, being able to have your home with all the comforts, yet, wake up to a whole new view and world that is right outside your door every few days. That my friend is priceless! The purpose of the Tiny House Expedition is to think big and build small, doing it through documentary storytelling and most important, through direct engagement, Alexis and Christian are doing just that. Besides, being advocates for the tiny house movement, they are also filmmakers, and this tragically hip couple have some interesting projects in the works. Alexis and Christian are not only documenting their journey across the country, they have also teamed up with Kai Rostscheck, another advocate (I Love Tiny Houses, Tiny House Lending & Tiny House Dating) for the tiny house movement. "Living Tiny, Legally" will be a co-produced documentary that hopes to educate and make legal tiny house communities a reality along with many other things, best of all it will be free, and a resource for those who want to learn about living tiny and legally. If you would like to donate, or know more about the project, check out their site on Indiegogo for more information. 


Alexis Stephens - Tiny House Expedition
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
So, what did I myself get out this interview with Alexis and Christian? Well, I got a lot out of it to tell the truth. It was inspiring to see a young couple take on a challenge like this, only to find out it's not a challenge at all, but a journey that is packed with adventure and a continuing Tiny House Expedition. Living tiny doesn't mean having to give up style, it's about giving up the things that hold you back. For Alexis and Christian, most of their time is spent outdoors, experiencing the adventures to be had.







Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com





Friday, January 15, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Tiny House Expedition at Maricopa Home Show, How t...

Tragically Hip Living: Tiny House Expedition at Maricopa Home Show, How t...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Tiny House Expedition this weekend at Maricopa Co. Home & Garden Show Tiny House Expediti...

Tiny House Expedition at Maricopa Home Show, How to travel cheap like a boss

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Tiny House Expedition this weekend at Maricopa Co. Home & Garden Show

Tiny House Expedition
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
If downsizing and living a minimalist lifestyle is your passion, then head out to the Tiny Homes Street of Dreams at the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. It starts today and runs through Sunday (Jan.15-17) and is only $5 for admission, kids 3-12 get in for $3 and little nippers under 2 are free. Six tragically hip tiny homes will be displayed in a real life neighborhood setting. Tiny House Street of Dreams will also feature Tiny House Expedition blogger and media personality, Alexis Stephens. Along with her partner Christian Parsons, the two embark on adventures along the way, documenting  their nationwide journey which will someday become a documentary. Yesterday, I had the extreme honor interviewing Alexis and Christian for my blog. Impressive is an understatement, they both possess a kind and gentle spirit, an inspirational couple, proving on a daily basis that living big can be living tiny, it's simply contagious. They gave me a tour of their house on wheels and highlighted the many features that are packed in this little jewel. If you can't attend, or live out of state, Tragically Hip Living will be attending the Tiny House Expedition this weekend and will blog the tips and tricks Alexis and Christian will be sharing. The Arizona State Fairgrounds is located at 1826 W. McDowell Road Phoenix, AZ. 85007.

How to travel cheap like a boss

Photo: Tragically Hip Living
When it comes to cheap airfare, one must think outside the box and be willing to compromise. Travel to Texas from Arizona is common for me and whenever, wherever there is travel, planning, and research is just part of the game. Basically, it's what you are willing to do if saving money is your goal. Let's look at how I travel to Texas shall we? Well alrighty then, I use Southwest Airlines, sometimes United Airlines, but mostly Spirit Airlines. Yes, Spirit Airlines doesn't always get the best reviews, but I rarely have any issues with Spirit. Look at travel in a different sense, relax and enjoy, give yourself extra time and avoid getting worked up if there is a delay, do this, and pure adventure awaits if you can simply look at it from a different angle. I joined Spirit Airlines $9 Club, it cost $60 per year and provides some deep discounts. I book anywhere from 1-3 weeks out and pay almost nothing in terms of air travel. I never upgrade or pay extra for pricey baggage fees. A small rolling bag and a laptop briefcase that I stuff in a backpack until on the plane is my choice. 

Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Here's an example, my destination is Houston from Phoenix for most of my travel, but that flight is almost always sold out, so, this is how I do it. I book a round trip from Phoenix to Dallas, my last trip cost just $60.10 round trip (usually, it's $48 or less), but the destination is Houston, oh no what now? I take a Greyhound bus from  Dallas to Houston, usually runs $17 or less round trip, join the rewards club and save even more. But how do you get from DFW Airport to the Greyhound Depot in downtown Dallas? Easy-peasy, by using  the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system train, it cost $2.50 for a 2-hour pass and runs from the airport (Orange Line) to downtown, exiting at the West End Station, a short walk to the Greyhound Station. The total cost for everything round trip, $82.10. I don't expect much and look at each trip as an adventure, out of the 14 trips to Texas last year I had only 2 delays. Yes, the plane has seats that may not be the most comfortable, they don't recline, but usually the plane is not full and you can move once in the air, often getting an entire row for the 2-hour flight. The train ride is less than an hour from the airport to downtown, the bus from Dallas to Houston is 4 hours with one stop. Time is passed on the bus enjoying the view out the window, maybe by sleeping, working, or watching a movie as all Greyhound buses are equipped with Wifi. If cheap travel is your thing like me, just do some research and find a way. Expect delays that hardly ever happen and no frills, make it an adventure and take in the surroundings that you didn't even know existed.



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: A Texas trail ride could quite possibly save the w...

Tragically Hip Living: A Texas trail ride could quite possibly save the w...: Going on a trail ride in Texas could quite possibly save the world. Having traveled to many places, Texas has to be one of my favorites and...

A Texas trail ride could quite possibly save the world

Going on a trail ride in Texas could quite possibly save the world. Having traveled to many places, Texas has to be one of my favorites and will be mentioned often in my blog. Let's face it, Texas is a state of mind and can only be understood in person. Texas is rich in many ways, not just oil, but landscape, culture and history just to name a few. Every state has their share of problems and issues, Texas is no different, but if we look past this a whole world of adventure sits on your fingertips. Whether you prefer the city lights of Dallas and Houston, maybe the arts in Austin, or the rich culture of El Paso, Texas has something for everybody.

Photo: James Daniel Emmanuel/Cindy's Uncommon Horse Sense
I have to say one of my favorite things to do in Texas is a trail ride. If you haven't been on one, then you need to add it to your bucket list. My pop has lived in Houston since the 70s and has been trail ridin' for well over 20 years. He doesn't go on many trail rides anymore, mainly because most of his time is spent taking care of his wife (my step-mother), which is another story that needs to be told later. I never understood how important it was to pop until I went with him on one of his rides couple of years ago. Although pop is well into his 80s and isn't the young buck he once was, he still acts like a kid and pretty much soils his panties when he knows he is going on a ride. What I discovered from him is that it isn't so much the ride itself (although he loves horses), but the friendships he has developed with his club over the years. 

Photo: Ronatingside.com
Pop belongs to a club called the "Stampede Riders" of Houston, people that range from young to old, business owners, even the regular working Joe and everything in between. When they all meet for a ride, they become a group of individuals that are all about having a good time. I gotta say, these people are "down to earth" and know how to live. The ride starts out early in a morning after a hearty breakfast. Teams of wagons and riders line-up, the sound of laughter is heard, the trail ride is ready to begin. I watch pop as he drives the lead wagon, the look on his face is pure magic.


Photo: Ronatringside.com
One such person is James Daniel Emmanuel, known mostly as Daniel on the trail, a free-spirit kinda person like me that just knows how to enjoy life. Daniel's wife, Cindy rides her horse as a lead and sets the tone for the ride while Daniel rides in the lead wagon taking some bad-ass pics. Because my free-spirit nature, or whatever the hell you call it, I am often drawn to people who are metaphysical by nature, people like Daniel who travel the same path, the kinda people who dare to stick their hand in between a sofa cushion just to see what's there. 


Photo: James Daniel Emmanuel/Cindy's Uncommon Horse Sense
Anyhoo, Daniel has the same passion for photography as I do, I love looking at pics that people have taken because it captures a moment and tells a story. He has done some amazing work with his photography, capturing moments of time on the buttload of rides he and Cindy have been on. As if life couldn't get any better, Cindy has a website that depicts her passion for all things horses and is loaded with some great information about horses. The site also has tons of pics that Daniel has taken and can be viewed at www.uncommonhorsesense.com. So, get out there and be dazzled, hit the trail and own it like the bitch owes you money! 

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com




Friday, January 8, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Working in America, Adjusting to tiny living and a...

Tragically Hip Living: Working in America, Adjusting to tiny living and a...: Working in America-The new trend The employment landscape seems to be changing, not just for me, but for the younger generation as well, m...

Working in America, Adjusting to tiny living and a free spirit

Working in America-The new trend

The employment landscape seems to be changing, not just for me, but for the younger generation as well, many with a college degree are having trouble, not all, but many. I'm not particularly looking for a job, but I have my resume out there should something good come along. My background has been in real estate, actually title insurance and usually as a consultant, sometimes as an employee. My passion is writing about boxing, living simple and with fewer material possessions. I live on a tight budget, save money and take time off when possible. My income from boxing is rarely touched for the most part and will be used for retirement should that ever happen. As of late, I have been contacted by various companies and agencies for possible employment which is a good thing right? One would think so, but all of the companies that have contacted me by email or phone want to start out with a phone interview usually later that day, or within a few days. In the past if a company contacted me we would meet, hammer out a deal and I would start working under contract until they didn't need me anymore.

Photo: Google Free Images
I loved it because they often became repeat employers and it gave me a lot of freedom. Now, besides lower wages in my field since the mortgage crisis, it seems companies or agencies have been making odd demands if you want to work for them. Several companies require "role playing" as part of the interview, usually having nothing to do with the job. Really? "WTF" does role playing have to do with a job unless it's an acting job? I told them all to give me a job-related question and I will give them a job-related answer. When called for a possible job, I now ask if the interview requires "role playing" as part of the interview, if they reply yes, I tell them I'm not interested. Corporate America is changing, many jobs are being shipped overseas and the trend in my field has been more about hitting numbers, spreadsheets and meeting quota's. Title insurance often requires intense investigation, reviewing legal documents and maps along with many other things, sometimes you just can't rush it. I may take a short term contract job to keep me going, but I have no intention of working for companies like these unless I have the passion, I'm just too much of a free spirit. So, what can we do? The answer is simple, either give in, or find something you like, maybe reinvent yourself. Get inspired and think about what you want to do, ask yourself, "how much of my life am I willing to give up for the amount of money offered."

Adjusting to Tiny Living and a free spirit

Photo: Google Free Images
Living tiny and with less wasn't by choice, it was forced upon me by my own doing and with no valid excuse. Some bad decisions and a divorce produced a bad attitude toward life, but that was the past. Looking back it has turned out to be the greatest adventure and blessing indeed. Having lived in a large home (to me anyway), 5 bedrooms, 4 baths with a large home office, the master bedroom alone was 546 sq. ft. was living the American Dream. I now live in a space that is 544 sq. ft. total. For me, it has turned into more of a game, what can I do to live stress-free, no worries and strive for less of a carbon footprint? The answer is simple, the less material things you own, the less you have to worry about. Example, a tiny house is less to heat and cool, less to clean and way less maintenance.

Photo: Ronatringside.com
Possessing things you do own without having to make payments is peace of mind and produces a state of mental and emotional calmness. I also use public transportation whenever possible, although I own an old 1989 Ford truck (in great shape) if needed. The truck was purchased cash, no payments and with the intention of re-purpose. The journey was the "change of life" for me (about 6 years ago), it was the beginning of a great adventure. It required taking a look at myself, analyzing all my faults and acknowledging them, not an easy thing to do when you are approaching the backside of life. What was discovered was something that has always been in me, a "free spirit," someone that lives in the moment and travels a different path just for the adventure, it creates an energy that people notice.

Photo: Ron Valderrama
God plays a big part too, I have always believed in God, but now I talk with him throughout the day. My day starts early, around 3:30 a.m. with prayer and meditation, a Peet's French Roast Coffee and a cigarette (a bad habit I hope to quit soon), I do this every single day. Meditation draws in positive energy and thought's from God's Universe, sounds crazy, right? Well, it works for me, it sets the tone for my day. I can honestly say I don't have bad days anymore, maybe days that weren't as goods as others, but never bad. Having a positive outlook and prayers can only net good results, think about it, it's simply impossible to have negative thoughts when you think only positive thoughts. Think about what you wish to achieve, have a passion for it and it will happen because you draw the energy to you. More on my transition to tiny living and my free spirit soon just wanted to give an insight to my journey.

Some good friends, Cindy & Jack informed me that "Tiny Homes" will be at the Maricopa Home and Garden Show on Jan. 15-17 at the Fairgrounds in Phoenix. I am planning on attending and will blog and take pics too. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcome to Tragically Hip Living, a blog about creating balance, living simple and small. Tragically Hip Living will also touch on ideas on "how to," ranging from downsizing to travel and everything in between. I love boxing and write for a few websites including my own, www.ronatringside.com, but I also love the simple life and living small and with less. I travel, live, and have the blessing of meeting some very cool people almost on a daily basis.



Sedona, Arizona
Photo: Ronatringside.com

It's only been a few years since I have found my balance. Now in my 50s, a ton of mistakes and a couple of divorces later, life is now good. What was once important in my 20s, things like money and material things have been replaced with a stress-free lifestyle and appreciating the blessing that surround us. When one can wake up in the morning, witness an amazing sunrise and end the day with an amazing sunset is a perfect example. I believe in God and keep him close throughout the day by meditation and prayer, but whether a believer or not, there is no judgment here. Everybody is entitled to what they seek, go out and find your bliss.

Amazing Sunset
Photo: Ronatringside.com

Let's begin with an inspirational story, one that is special to me because it involve's one of my kids. My son Ron Jr. has always been gifted with vision and making things happen. He is a man of God, and a few years ago he and his wife gave much of their savings to the church, a tough decision when supporting a wife and two children. He trusted his faith knowing he would be blessed down the road. An avid lover of indie movies and shows, Ron had the vision to launch a channel and live a dream. Through Roku, he launched his channel "Stream Now TV" and never looked back because he knew him and his family would be blessed. Check out www.streamnowtv.com for some great content, we will be doing more stories on Stream Now TV from time to time.

Stream Now TV

This morning on Fox Rochester, actor Che Holloway talks about his new show "Dark Justice," a comedy about a the first black police officer in a small town. It will premier on Steamnowtv.com
 Jan. 11. I am just amazed and proud of my son for what he has achieved in such a short amount of time, he had a dream, and today he lives that dream. Click the link below to check it out.

Stream Now TV on FOX Rochester

So, there you have it, Tragically Hip Living is up and running. If you have anything that interest you, or want to know about, email me at tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com.