Bite into the Summer’s Best Grilling!

Bite into the Summer’s Best Grilling!

By Booksellers Tommy Rojek & Danielle McMannus


Summer is upon us, so it’s time to kick off grilling season. Tom and Danielle turn it up a notch this year with these genre-defining (and -defying) guides to perfect grilling! As of the posting of this article, all of these books are available in the store.


Weber’s Ultimate Grilling: A Step-by-Step Guide to Barbecue Genius

The experts from Weber, the most venerable name in grilling, bring you this collection of 100 barbecue recipes perfect for barbecuers of all stripes, from tender beginners to well-seasoned grillmasters. Every recipe includes full-color photos that illustrate step-by step instructions designed to make grilling accessible to even the least confident among us. The guide leads you through the tips and tricks of lighting the grill, perfecting the temperature, and grilling everything from vegetables to seafood to poultry, pork, and beef. You can’t ask for a more comprehensive or authoritative guide to all things grilling.

See interior images.





Martha Stewart’s Grilling

With trademark gorgeous photos, Martha Stewart’s Grilling presents classic grilling recipes with an elegant twist, from honey-brined chicken wings to kielbasa bites, all perfect for memorable meals to celebrate summer. And beyond the excellent recipes, Martha Stewart covers the secrets to good grilling, from why pressing the meat into the grill is a terrible idea to what temperature the meat should be when it hits the grill. Don’t miss this classically smart, stylish, and, above all, delicious guide to grilling.

See interior images.





The Bacon Bible by Peter Sherman and Stephanie Banyas

From Peter Sherman, the renowned bacon maestro behind New York bacon-gastropub BarBacon, comes this aptly named biblical tribute to that delicious, beloved, and infinitely versatile meat, bacon. With over 200 recipes, The Bacon Bible shows you how to incorporate bacon into virtually every imaginable meal in every imaginable way, from bacon rubs to bacon cocktails, from bacon pancakes to bacon hot chocolate (and there’s even a bacon-free chapter just in case you’re feeling wild and crazy). And with information on how to cure your own bacon from scratch and how to turn pretty much anything into bacon (hello, tuna bacon), this book will truly make you nothing less than a bacon god. If you didn’t love bacon before, you definitely will now!

See interior images.





The Campfire Cookbook by Nico Stanitzok and Viola Lex

The Campfire Cookbook brings together camping veteran Viola Lex with chef Nico Stanitzok to explore the possibilities of cooking on an open flame, be it a fire, a grill, or a camp stove. And the possibilities they discover! Recipes run an impressive gamut, from the traditional kebab skewer to the unexpected chocolate cake…baked inside an orange. But beyond wildly inventive recipes, the book also includes clever camping hacks and packing lists. With its beautiful color photos and simple step-by-step instructions, this is a book for connoisseurs, apsirationists, and master campers alike.

See interior images.



8 Weeks In…And We’re Still Alive!

8 Weeks In…And We’re Still Alive!

Wow! It really has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog post. I actually feel like I’m crawling out of the hole that sucked me in when we started renovating the store space 6 months ago. Yeah, we realized this evening that it’s been half a year since we started on this crazy idea of ours to open a bookstore in Downtown Sacramento.


  • Over the last 8 weeks, we sold more than 1,000 books.


  • We’re supporting the Cottage Foods industry by occasionally having pop-ups in the store. We’ve had some lunchtime pop-ups and weekend pop-ups. Vegan and non-vegan. Even though the vast majority of people coming in for the foods are not buying a book, we figure it’s at least letting them know that a bookstore exists in downtown Sac and to come by next time they want a book.


  • Sidelines to support the books are starting to arrive. We needed to first focus on making sure we were adequately stocking our shelves with books, but now that we’re set with that, we can start to add in other fun things. I also wanted to get a feel for what other things our patrons were asking us to carry, like greeting cards. You asked, and we now have a very nice variety of cards. Coming in future shipments will be a few “gifty/kitcheny” items to support our cookbook/wine/beer section, because many of the downtown workers were wanting to be able to pick up gifts along with a book on their lunch hour. I’m working with a company to create our very own candle line that will be exclusive to us. We’re calling it Capital Scents: Where Do You Read? We’ll carry five scents to start with. The candles will be very eco-friendly in that each jar is meant to be refilled with the soy bead wax and cotton wicks that you also will be able to pick up at the store. Really excited about this! We’re also going to soon be carrying custom-designed (by us) t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, and more tote bags, vinyl window clings, and bumper stickers.


  • Author appearances will begin this week. Nervous about this. I’m just so afraid that we will have built it, but no one will come. For now, we’re selecting (mostly local) authors that we know already have a Sacramento following. In due time, we’ll build our own following.


Ross, Tom, and I are settling in and starting to forge a weekly routine and work schedule now. This means that I get one day working at home on the computer, and both Ross and I get to spend every Sunday away from the bookstore while Tom is at the helm till 2:00. The one thing that surprised both of us was how running the bookstore has consumed our lives. Sure, we expected it to be A LOT of work, but we’re working at the store until 7pm, coming home to do the computer work we couldn’t do at the store, pouring some sort of Trader Joe’s bagged meal into a pan for dinner, working till 10pm, sleeping, then doing it all over again. 


How Is the Store Doing?

I’ve been asked this quite a bit lately — partly because I haven’t done my “statistics board” in several weeks. I guess you guys like seeing the numbers.

Yes, we’ve sold 1,000 books, but that doesn’t tell you, financially, how the store is doing. Basically, we need about $500 a day in sales to break even with our rent, inventory costs, and payroll for our one part-time employee (Tom). We’ve been hovering at about two-thirds of what we need. For now, that’s okay. We expected a long ramp-up for people to realize that we’re here and to start buying from us instead of ordering their books from Amazon. We have an incredible landlord who has made this ramp-up doable for us (for a while). But reality will hit in time, and our numbers will need to be at that $500 a day level. And that doesn’t even account for expanding to the second floor — which everyone is really excited for us to do. That’s going to be expensive. Like elevator expensive!

By now, people are starting to get with the “Shop Local” mentality. But we’re not quite there yet. It’s easy to say that you want to buy from locally-owned small businesses, but putting your money where your mouth is is another thing. I’m certainly guilty of it. Being tied to the store all day means I can’t get out there to shop at MY favorite small businesses in town. Everyone needs to make a conscious effort to follow the 3/50 rule: Pick three local small businesses you want to support that month and spend at least $50 at each of them.

We’re starting to get to know our regular patrons and what they enjoy reading. Your loyalty and friendship already mean the world to us. You know who you are — the ones who come in several times a week and buy books. Thank you.

In closing, we’re off to a good start. We’re here to stay as long as the community supports us. We hope that’s a good, long time. We’re committed to Sacramento’s literary community. We are betting on Sacramento supporting us.


Monthly Newsletter Sign-Up

Our “regulars” already know that we offer a loyalty program. Once you’ve purchased $100 worth of store items, you’ll receive at least a $10 credit the next time you come into the store. So, that’s certainly worth signing up for the next time you’re at Capital Books. We’ve already had a few people hit their $100 target.

I’m going to be starting a monthly emailed newsletter for those interested. I’ll discuss upcoming events at the store, books we think should be on your radar, and literary-type things. If you’d like to sign up, all we need is your name and email. We do NOT share this information with anyone outside of Capital Books.

Email can be tricky. I hate it when something I’ve signed up for lands in my Spam folder and I never know it. So, if you’re signing up, add to your email CONTACTS. This will help make sure it lands in your INBOX.




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If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

It’s amazing how many times this one children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, can be applied to real life. Starting on one project, which leads to a whole new, unplanned-for, project, happens to all of us. Despite our meticulous planning for renovating the space to become a bookstore, things creep up that we figure might as well do this now before furniture and books arrive.

Renovating the bathroom was completely unexpected. It originally was the ugliest of all the ugly bathrooms (think gas station bathroom), but I was willing to ignore it because we hadn’t planned on offering it as a public bathroom anyway. As long as it was clean, I was as okay with it as one can be with a Bodega Bathroom.


I saw this SNL skit a few weeks ago and yelled downstairs to my husband: “SNL did a skit about our bathroom!”

Just as renovations were starting, we made the decision to make the bathroom ADA-compliant, just so we wouldn’t be sued by anyone we took pity on and let them use the bathroom. That led to another while we’re at it moment. May as well make space for a future elevator.

So, now, you sit on the toilet and it takes you to the second floor.

I kid!

But wouldn’t that be fun?

After the wall and toilet were moved (still ADA-compliant, you bastards!), well…I just had to make it look like a cool bathroom, right? So, add that to my long to-do list.

This became The Bathroom That Required Two Doctor Visits and Vicodin.

Tiling, grouting, and wallpapering did me in. Aggravated a healing leg muscle injury that had me in tears last week. After taking a few days off, I’m ready to start painting the existing floor tile — because why not hurt myself one last time? — that’s what Vicodin is for. We didn’t want to go through the expense of ripping out the existing tile, so I played around with painting it to go with our Art Deco theme:


Every patron who comes into the bookstore is going to be asked if they have to tinkle and want to see our cool bathroom.

The painting: It just never ends. I never want to paint anything ever again. And I haven’t even been the one doing the bulk of the painting. Ross and Tom have been the chosen ones for most of it. And, of course, it has snowballed to more things. We originally were going to carpet the mezzanine office, but then I got the idea to paint the ugly floor white and do a harlequin stencil on top of that. It’s going to look cool, but it’s yet another task for me before we can put desks in there. I know. I know. I do it to myself. But it’s now or never to do it.

It’s hard to see the forest for the trees this week, even though I know we have made great progress from where we started. It’s just … the dust. It’s everywhere. I’m tired of feeling grimy. We’re coughing all the time because of it. I walked in the door the other day to see a layer of construction dust on the newly laid floor planks. Not our contractor’s fault. We’re putting the cart before the horse on probably every task we’ve done. We’re working concurrently with the contractors, just trying to get the bookstore open on time. Flooring probably should be last, but it’s going in now, and that’s just the way it is.

For the last month, the only running water we’ve had is from a disgusting bathroom in the basement. The contractors installed a line from the pipe for us to get water for construction needs. So, we traipse down there with buckets to siphon water and try to not spray it everywhere. Not that it would matter. That bathroom gives me the heebie-jeebies. It’s the kind of bathroom that men see no problem with because they don’t have to sit.


Now that our *real* bathroom toilet has been re-installed, in frustration last night with dust and dirt everywhere, I decided to glove-up and super-clean the main floor toilet so it looks brand-new. I just needed something to be clean in the space. Having a clean bathroom lifted my spirits so much. Granted, the contractor will be installing the sink today, so “clean” may be fleeting. But I had my Moment last night.

A good friend told me today that this is like having a baby. Right now, I’m in transition, and I need to throw up, push harder, then all I’ll feel is the euphoria of what we created.

She’s right.

Pushing harder.



Putting Lipstick on a Pig

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

We’re starting to feel the pressure now that March is nearly halfway over. When we started renovating the space two months ago, April seemed so far away. Now, it’s right around the corner. When we’re there tearing things apart, many people poke their heads in the open door to say hello and tell us how excited they are to have a bookstore in the neighborhood, which is always followed by “When are you opening?” We would enthusiastically reply with “April 1!” Now, we simply say “April.”

It’s difficult to realize all of the progress we’ve made in just a couple months when you still have so much ahead of you and are sore and tired from doing this nearly every day. While we did hire a licensed contractor to do the things that we were not qualified to do, the demolition, painting, tiling, wallpapering, flooring, and building custom bookcases are all on us. Lately, it’s been feeling like we’re just putting lipstick on a pig. My vision of the bookstore is clouded in billows of sheetrock dust, paint dust, and I’m covered in tile grout. I post several photos on our social media as we’re going through this, but what those don’t convey is how going through something like this makes one feel. That’s what I wanted to capture in our blog. If not for all of you, for ourselves as we look back on this years down the road. We’ll be able to say “Yeah, that really sucked, but look what we built ourselves!”

I discovered last night at 7 pm that grouting tile is HARD WORK. I no longer need a gym membership. My body is screaming at me today, and I’m finding streaks of dried grout on me that the shower didn’t rinse off. Our contractor recommended we use sheets of tile adhesive, rather than mud, but the super-sticky adhesive is literally taking the skin off of my fingertips. So, I decided to take a day off and not be tiling or endlessly vacuuming the space today.

Over the weekend, Ross and Tom painted the main walls the light-grey I chose. I was so worried about the color (all of the colors, actually). Because the gallery before us painted the ceiling this awful chocolate color, any light color on the walls will appear differently throughout the space (grey towards the windows, but mauve towards the back). I was giddy when I saw the color on the walls for the first time on Saturday afternoon. You can tell that it’s grey!!!

My parents were in town for the weekend, so we showed them the space. They were pretty quiet as I led them precariously through the myriad of saws, cords, and wet walls. Pretty sure they think we’re crazy for doing this.

We spent all day Sunday taping off our freshly painted walls so Tom could spray the poop-colored ceiling with the blue I chose. Let’s just say that if you think taping off your home for painting is tedious and hard, you haven’t lived until you’ve done it on 14-foot ceilings. Luckily, that wasn’t my job.

The blue started going on last night. Another sigh of relief. The blue is as perfect as the light-grey. Phew! Two for two. One more color to go (dark-blue on the bump-outs). And then we ran out of paint. Vastly underestimated how much paint the ceiling would take, so it’s another trip to our home away from home (Home Depot).

Any day now, I think we’ll start seeing the pretty.





Today, Presidents’ Day, there was a marked shift in how renovation felt at the bookstore. The professional construction crew arrived. It was like the Cavalry coming in, and that felt pretty presidential — and LOUD — to me. (Be sure to turn your sound on.)

We’ve started to have “regulars” on K Street pop their heads into the open doorway to check on our progress. One man, who I assume has been keeping tabs on us, gave me the thumbs up, saying “It’s coming along.” To which I replied, “It doesn’t feel like it.”

We’ve been in a sea of wall dust for what feels like weeks now. Everything that is currently on the first floor — tables, tools, mini-fridge, water bottles, ladders — have this thick layer of dust from spackling, sanding, resanding, and re-spackling. I set my purse on the table and left with it covered in white dust. We’ve become regulars at Pizza Rock, just across the street, and my son said during a happy hour lunch, “Ew, I have dust in my ears!” (He’s been the main sander in the family…well…because he’s 27, and we are not.) Besides, we’re saving him money on a gym membership. Every day he tells us he’s discovered muscles he never knew existed in his body. 

I decided that today was the day to tackle my fear of the 14-foot ladder and patch the holes on the upper wall that the former gallery left large pockets in. I’ve found that spackling is not unlike frosting a cake. You get into your zone and I didn’t really realize how high up I was. But the scaffolding. NOPE. Climbing the straight-up ladder to get onto the scaffolding was reminiscent of being on the school playground when I was little. Pretty sure I have not used those muscles since 5th grade, and I wasn’t about to revisit the Monkey Bars at age 52, so after two steps I took a hard pass on climbing the scaffolding. 


One more day of spackling and sanding and that task should be done. The contractors put drywall onto the mezzanine office wall today and started sorting out the wonky electrical throughout the building. They will be making the first-floor bathroom ADA-compliant by moving the sink — well, let’s be real here — taking that awful, disgusting sink to the dumpster — and replacing it with a different sink on to the adjacent wall. I am hoping that they will be able to use this super-cool cast-iron sink from upstairs. They’ll have to tell me if it is ADA-compliant. If it’s not, then I’m taking that bad boy home. 

Tomorrow morning, the construction crew will be back at it while Ross and I go to Loftings to see what they might have for two chandeliers that are in our Art Deco theme. 

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