Favorite Free Thing: Trick-or-Treating on Halloween

Haloween-candy-webI love Halloween. It’s one of my favorite holidays of the year!

I also love our townhouse but the one thing I don’t love about it is that kids never come to our door on Halloween. I mean, our townhouse is located at the end of a dark alley but what’s a little spookiness on Halloween?

Anyway, they never come, so every year for the past six years, Marcus and I have gone over to our friends Mike and Caroline’s house for their Halloween party and potluck.

It’s fun and festive–with a huge bat hanging from the trees in the front yard, glowing jack o’lanterns, fake spiders, and all kinds of spooktacular stuff–and always filled with good people and good food.

But really, in the end, we go for the trick-or-treaters.

We love seeing all the kids (and adults and dogs!) in costume out trick-or-treating. And technically, I count it as a Favorite Free Thing even though we contribute about $20 of candy every year. $20 is a small price to pay for a night’s worth of entertainment.

Caroline, a die-hard list lover, loves to count the number of kids and adults in costume that come to the door. We also count the number of dogs that come up (costume optional). Caroline gives out the candy (and biscuits to the dogs) and I keep count on a notepad.

This year we broke all records with 152 kids! 18 adults! And 13 dogs! Oh my!

Here are some of my favorite tricksters from last night.

Halloween-day-of-the-dead-webLoved the cute and spooky Dia de los Muertos Family. Adore the mom’s face makeup! Thinking about R&Ding (rob & duplicating) that next year.

Halloween-Mr-Paddington-webThis kid told us he/she was “Mr. Paddington” from some video game. He/she said no one knows who she is. Still, the kid gets points for making the costume from scratch. DIY!

Halloweeen-hot-dogs-webMy favorite of the night–the Hot Dog Family. Look at their cute costumes! Look at their cute smiles! It just warmed my heart…and I couldn’t stop laughing. They even inspired me to create a new Twitter hashtag: #SoCuteItKillsMe.

Halloween is over but I’m still craving chocolate and more costumes. Can’t wait for next  year!

Photos by Marcus Donner.

Favorite Free Thing: Outdoor Trek

Outdoor_Trek_1_7.2013You’ve probably figured out by now that Outdoor Trek is not about hiking in the woods.

No, sir.

As you can see from the photo above of me, Marcus and Mr. Spock (portrayed with authentic stoicism by Helen Parson), Outdoor Trek is the live reenactment of classic Star Trek TV episodes in a park.

Awesome, huh?

And to top it off, it’s free. That’s right, free.

Now, truth be told, Hello Earth, the non-profit theater company that puts on Outdoor Trek, does give you the option of donating money at the end of the show. But it’s optional. If you can’t afford it, you don’t have to donate.

But after watching these fine actors put on a great show with their live band, cool costumes, and tongue-in-cheek props, you will feel inclined to reach into your wallet. Plus, you get to vote with your dollars by putting them into the water jug labeled with the Star Trek episode you most want to see them produce next!

This year’s episode was “The Devil in the Dark” (William Shatner’s favorite episode). The year before last was “This Side of Paradise.” And next year in 2014, the episode will be “Mirror, Mirror.” Yes!

Outdoor Trek usually happens in Seattle during the last week of July and/or the first week of August. For evening shows, I recommend showing up an hour early to picnic in the park–it seems to be a tradition for many audience members. For exact dates, check out Hello Earth’s site, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook.

Outdoor Trek is absolutely one of my favorite free things. Hope to see you there next summer!

Some more pics for your viewing pleasure…

Captain Kirk examines eggs 8.2013Captain Kirk (portrayed with stern panache by Kris Hambrick) examines some strange-looking spheres…or could they be eggs????!!

Outdoor_Trek_2_8.2013Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy (played with the utmost aplomb by Shaina Ward Siegel) deal with the mysterious and frightening Horta.

Note the live band, The Redshirts, in the background.

Peg & The Horta 8.2013As you can see, I’m thrilled to high-five the multi-talented Stevie VanBronkhorst who played The Horta and drew the killer cover art for the program.

Me & Mr. Spock 8.2013Live long and prosper!

All photos (except for the first one) are by Marcus Donner.

Super Frug Hero: Macklemore

A rapper promoting frugality?

Telling people to buy used instead of new?


Yes, this is Macklemore, aka. Ben Haggerty, a homegrown, self-made rapper from my beloved city of Seattle, who sings about shopping at the Goodwill in his chart-busting single, “Thrift Shop.” Not only that but he and his producer Ryan Lewis made it big without a record label, a contract or an agent.

As the song goes, “This is f**cking awesome.”

Macklemore, I hope you’re able to hold onto your frugal, down-to-earth ways as you ride the waves of stardom.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you at the next Goodwill Glitter Sale.

NOTE: If you’re offended by swearing, do not watch this video.

JAN 2014 UPDATE: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis win 4 Grammys including Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song (with Michael “Wanz” Wansley) and Best Rap Performance for “Thrift Shop.” Congrats to two of Seattle’s best!

World Domination Summit 2013

Peg Cheng at WDS 2013Sometimes you have to do something you don’t like to do in order to gain something wonderful.

This is what happened when I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) last week in Portland, Oregon.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand sitting in a small seat in a very large auditorium with thousands of people for hours and hours.

Makes me claustrophobic. Makes me cramp up. Makes me want to leave.

I will tolerate all this to see a play, concert or performance that I’m really interested in, but usually, I avoid.

The WDS attracts a lot of entrepreneurs, writers and bloggers. I’m an entrepreneur, a writer and a blogger. My friend Laila Atallah went last year and told me it was awesome.

So, I went.

I had to sit in a little seat in the Schnitzer Concert Hall for two days in a row, for six or so hours each day, listening to 10 different keynote speakers with 2800 other people.

Uncomfortable? YES.

Worth it? HELL YES!

I came to be inspired, to get new ideas, and to meet other entrepreneurs, especially solopreneurs. I accomplished all three of my goals.

Sukhneet, Me, Sean and Michelle at the WDS Opening Party at the zoo

Sukhneet, Me, Sean and Michelle at the WDS Opening Party at the zoo

I especially loved learning how to improve my workshops through story from Nancy Duarte; how self-knowledge is the key to happiness from Gretchen Rubin; and how to embrace rejection from Jia Jiang.

Not only that, I got to DANCE BOLLYWOOD STYLE with thousands of my fellow conference-goers at the after-party!

Which just goes to show…sometimes you have to do something you don’t want to do to gain something wonderful.

ps. This video of thousands of WDSers dancing Bollywood Gangnam Style was shot by my husband Marcus Donner who couldn’t join me at the party since he was not a WDS attendee but he could watch and shoot from the balcony of a nearby Starbucks. Way to rock it, Marcus! Here’s the full article from the Portland Business Journal.

The Best Things in Life are Free Challenge

The best things in life are free. It’s not just some corny saying.

If you’re trying to be Super Frug, and your checkbook is hurting, I challenge you to spend one month doing The Best Things in Life are Free Challenge. For one month you can only pay money for the bare essentials: rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, gasoline or bus/train fare, and groceries to provide three meals a day.

That means NOT spending money on eating out, lattes, treats, movie tickets, entertainment, magazines, books, cosmetics, haircuts, pedicures, etc.

If you’ve never been in a situation where you only had enough money for the essentials and nothing else, you will be in for a rude awakening. It will be hard.

Get past that. Breathe. Avoid shopping unless absolutely necessary. And with more free time on your hands, try some of the following…

– Watch the sun rise.
– Go for a walk in the park.
– Go to a free reading at the library or your local bookstore.
– Rediscover your local library.
– Go for a hike.
– Sit outside and listen to the birds.
– Work in your garden.
– Ride your bike or go rollerskating or rollerblading.
– Have a long conversation with a friend.
– Play your favorite music and dance!
– Play a card or board game with your family or friends.
– Make up a new recipe using only ingredients you have at home.
– Watch all your favorite movies that you already have on video or DVD.
– Watch the sun set.

I think you will be amazed at all the things you can do and enjoy that are free.

I feel very lucky that I live in a city that is filled to the rafters with free events. The Silver Fox and I scan our local newspaper’s calendar section every Friday for interesting happenings and we almost always find something fun and free to go to.

Last week, our local bookstore, The Secret Garden Bookshop, held a “reaping” in honor of the movie release of the crazy popular young adult book, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

At the reaping, contestants (“Tributes”) compete to the death answering Hunger Games trivia questions. There was going to be cool prizes. We had to go.

Marcus and I thought we would both die early.

There was no way we could survive against the teens who had the read the book umpteen times. Each time I was called up to answer a question (you had to stand by yourself in front of the Question Queen), I would whisper, I’m not ready. I meant it. Somehow though, I squeaked through each round.

In the end, there was just four Tributes standing. As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, I am the oldest and the tallest. Marcus came in seventh. I got second place and was dubbed the “honorary Peeta.” I won a Hunger Games lunchbox and thermos. Cool.

That night, competing against people one-quarter my age, was more fun than I ever thought it could be. Everyone there was having a great time from the adults to the kids to the booksellers. We cheered every time someone answered a question right and we mourned every time someone “died.”

The beauty of it is we didn’t pay a dime for all this fun. It was totally free.

I hope you will try The Best Things in Life are Free Challenge. It can be hard but it can also be rewarding. Who knows? By the end of the month, you just might want to keep it going.

ps. Tributes in the Secret Garden Bookshop photos by Marcus Donner.