Playing Tourist – A Visit to Alcatraz

A view of Alcatraz Island from the ferry

A view of Alcatraz Island from the ferry

I have probably mentioned this before, but it’s worth noting here again that I’m a Bay Area native. I was born and raised in the Bay Area and have lived here my entire life. 

Which brings me to my point–I’ve lived here my entire life and I have never been to Alcatraz. Until now, of course.

Actually, I can ask any of my friends who were born and raised here and I can tell you only one or two have been to the infamous penitentiary. 

Why? Well, for one, it’s pretty difficult to just go there on a whim. You definitely have to plan ahead. Another reason? It’s right in the middle of all the tourist traps in the city. Fisherman’s Wharf is known for cheap souvenirs, windy cold weather, sea lions, Pier 39, and any other touristy thing you can think of.  

About four weeks ago, we made plans to finally take a trip to Alcatraz! Was it worth it? Absolutely. There were so many unexpected perks from this trip, like panoramic views of the city and East Bay and beautiful spring wildflowers. 

Here’s a recap of our trip: 

The view of Coit Tower from the waiting area

The view of Coit Tower from the waiting area

The waiting area and ticketing area is legit. The National Parks Service really knows how to herd crowds of people and streamline the process. While we were waiting, I snapped this photo of Coit Tower. 

A view of Alcatraz Island from the ferry

A view of Alcatraz Island from the ferry

We were sailing over rough water but our ferry got us to the island in one piece. That’s a view of the island from the ferry. 

As soon as you get to the island, you’re greeting by this gigantic sign. Really, you can’t miss it. 

Right when you get off the ferry, a ranger gives you a quick rundown of what’s happening on the island and where things are at. They have some special demonstrations throughout the day but the main attraction is the guided audio tour that takes you through the jail cells and various rooms of the prison. It’s included in the admission to the island. 

On the way to the guided tour, you’re taken to a room that shows the toiletries they used, the laundry area, and the showers:





Almost all the rows of jail cells looked like this, with the exception of solitary confinement cells. These cells were state of the art. 

Alcatraz Jail Cells

Alcatraz Jail Cells

Entrance to the admin building

Entrance to the admin building

Dining Hall Menu

Dining Hall Menu

Their meals were a mere 20 minutes long. Pictured above is the menu from the last day Alcatraz was in operation.

After the tour (which took about an hour), we walked around the island to take in the views. 

Sailboats on the bay

Sailboats on the bay

And that’s pretty much it! We headed back on a ferry back to the mainland right afterward. 

Some tips, if you’re planning on making a trip:

  • Book your tickets in advance. The ferries are usually booked one week out. 
  • Try to go in the early afternoon so that you’re there before the heavy winds kick in
  • Eat well before you go. There is food available on the ferry (hot dogs, nachos…) There’s no food on the island and you’re not allowed to bring food to the island. You can drink water though!
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. There’s a lot of walking involved.
  • There isn’t much cell phone service on the island. Plan accordingly. 
  • There are other special trips available, such as night tours and combo trips to Angel Island. Take a look to see what they offer!

Have you been to Alcatraz? What do you think? 

DIY Felt Letter Board

DIY Felt Letter Board DIY Felt Letter Board

Chances are, you’ve seen really cute felt letter boards floating on around Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook in posts from other bloggers and cool brands. Sounds easy enough to shop around for a felt letter board and buy one, but, have you ever looked at the price tag on one of them? A small board can run you $50 and a large one could be $100-$120. That’s a lot to pay for  a message board, even a cute one. 

Since I didn’t want to pay $100 dollars for a board that came in a cute pink felt, I wanted to try a DIY version. There were a few roadblocks and no, the board is NOT perfect, but I actually prefer that imperfect handcrafted look for some reason. Maybe it’s because I built something with my own two hands…and it required a saw. 

Anyway, here’s more about the project! 

Cost of the project:

To be frank, I don’t think I cut a lot of costs for this project, but that’s because I really wanted to use a vintage frame. You can find much cheaper frames at thrift stores and get good ones on sale at craft stores. 

  • 11″x14″ Vintage Frame -$22 (I supported a small local business so I wasn’t too upset about paying a lot for this frame.)
  • Felt – $6 
  • Dowels – $12
  • Quartet Letters – $17
  • Total Cost for a 11″x14″ board: (22 + 6 + 12 + 17 = $57)

There was actually a lot of felt and there were enough dowels left over to make another board. You could actually make two boards if you purchased another frame and another set of letters, which would make it far more cost effective. 

DIY Felt Letter Board

Here’s how to make it!


  • Frame with about a 11″x14″ opening, or smaller. 
  • Felt in the color of your choice (I purchased 1 yard but didn’t use all of it)
  • Wooden Dowels ( I purchased 3/16″ x 36″ dowels and used a hacksaw to cut them down to size. It was pretty damn tedious, but I have enough dowels to make another board)
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Hacksaw (depends on if your dowels are the right size)

Note: Select a frame based on how long the dowels you purchase can be. If you want to have a really large board, say 24″x32″, you’ll need to make sure you purchase a bunch of dowels that will fit! 


If the dowels aren’t the perfect fit for your frame, saw all dowels to fit the opening of the frame from the back. I wanted my board to be vertical so I made sure all the dowels fit horizton

Make sure you have enough dowels to fit your board! Lay them over the frame. Since the felt takes up room, you won’t need to fill up the entire open area with dowels, but you should aim to cover 2/3 – 3/4 of the open area with dowels to be safe. 

Turn your frame over so the back side is up. Use the hot glue gun to glue the felt to the frame on the back of the frame at the bottom edge. Place a dowel over it and position it to to where you can see a sign of the dowel in the opening of the frame. Pull on the felt until it is taut against the dowel and make an accordion fold.  Glue in place. You’ll need to glue the dowels to the felt and the felt to the frame as you go. Keep repeating until at the end of the board. You’ll have to keep pulling the fabric taut and gluing. It’s difficult to explain but basically you’re sandwiching the dowels between the felt and gluing in place. 

Another approach you can take to build the board is to create a frame with the dowels that will fit within the dimensions of the opening of the frame. Then, place the dowel frame into the real frame.

It’s all complicated but basically just do what you’re comfortable with. This is by no means an easy project. It’s actually pretty tedious and frustrating but at the end of the day this board rocks. 

That’s it! You’re done! Put the letters in place and you’re good! 

DIY Felt Letter Board

Skincare Favorites: Sunday Riley

My Sunday Riley Skincare Haul

In the world of beauty, I would hands down have what you would call “problem skin.” With an oily complexion that highlights the imperfections in my skin thanks to scarring and acne, I tend to have trouble finding skincare products I really like and work consistently for me. 

Sometime last summer I came across a new brand at Sephora–Sunday Riley. The Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner was showcased at the front of the store with it being advertised for oily to acne prone skin (oh hey, that’s me!). The $65 price tag was enough to make me take a few steps back and do a loop around the store.

My inner voice was saying “$65? That’s a helluva lot to pay for a product you don’t know will work. Plus, it’s just a toner.” And then it began to say, “But, it’s summer, and you’re kinda desperate over here to come up with ways to keep your skin from looking like an oil slick.” 

And then then genius of my inner voice said, “Wait, doesn’t Sephora give you free samples of any product?” 

I found someone at Sephora and asked for a sample and she gladly created a sample for me. The sample lasted me about 7 days and wow, I really liked the product. The best part of the product is how it would soothe my irritated skin without creating more oil. I had no breakouts from using the product for a couple of months, so I began to look at the other skincare products from Sunday Riley. 

Next, I ended up purchasing Good Genes and Luna. Good Genes is strong (there can be a burning sensation) but works well to remove the gross top layer of skin. The Luna night oil was also really nice but I personally didn’t see a huge difference from using it on my skin. Luna seems like the kind of product you need to use for a while to see benefits from using. 

I ended up getting UFO and then Tidal to use in combination and now these products make up my nightly skincare routine and holy sh*t, I don’t think my skin has ever looked better in the mornings. 

I first wash my face with a gentle cleanser. Then I use Martian and UFO or Luna. Then I wait 5 minutes and use Good Genes, then Tidal. It may seem like a lot of products at first but when you can see a big difference when you wake up in the morning, it’s totally worth it. 


I actually like using UFO so much, I’m going to start incorporating it into my morning routine as well. When they say it’s a dry oil, they mean it. It absorbs well into the skin and you can’t tell that you’re wearing an “oil.” 

As you can tell, I’ve kind of fallen in love with this brand. Here are some of the other Sunday Riley products out there that I want to try but haven’t gotten around to just yet. I’m still enjoying the products that are already in my routine so I can’t say I’m in a rush to try every product Sunday Riley makes.

Disclosure: This post is NOT, I repeat, NOT sponsored by Sunday Riley. All opinions are my own. This post DOES contain affiliate links.