2011 in Review!

I've been seeing some awesome year-end reviews being posted around the blogosphere, and am happy to share my own. I started this blog almost two years ago when Chris and I decided to make the big move to Dominica so he could pursue his dream of being a doctor. Initially it was set up for friends and family, but I have fallen in love with the blogging community and am so happy to have readers from all over. Whether you are a new or longtime follower of Priceless Adventure, thank you for reading!

{ you can click on the label to see all my posts from the month!}

We moved into a new apartment, that brought us much closer to campus. 
The weather turned beautiful, and I really started to enjoy living in Dominica. 

We went on several beach trips, and I started my second semester of graduate school. 

My first Only In Dominica post went up - check it out!
And I diagnosed myself with CHS: Caribbean Hoarding Syndrome. 

In April, our town finally got a supermarket; no more driving an hour for groceries!
My friend Kristen also came to visit, and we had a great time roaming the island.

In May, vacation ended and grad-school started getting serious again. 
I started posting regularly to my Priceless Tech blog to share my learning.

Most of June was spent back in the states, visiting family and friends.

Dominica narrowly avoided several large storms.
I spent many, many hours building my first website and global learning project: Globablog.
And Priceless Adventure finally got a ".com"!

I took an amazing trip to Scott's Head.
We celebrated our one-year Domiversary.
Sadly, our little kitty, Eve, passed away :(

In September, things started getting busy again with school and RSO.
I had my 28th birthday.
I also started seriously working on my blog design portfolio. 

I hosted a 10 Days in Dominica blogging challenge.
And posted some delicious recipes like this one for pumpkin scones.

I began developing the Priceless Design Studio site on Wordpress. 
I also started my last semester of grad school. 

After months of working, I finally opened Priceless Design Studio.
I was also able to be in California to walk at my graduation.

Every year I learn something, but I think that this year I learned a lot about myself in terms of where I want my career to go. I was reminded of my love for art, and discovered how I could realistically put my hobbies and interests to work for me. I feel like I have been able to lay a foundation for working from home both as a teacher and designer. In 2012 we will undoubtedly be making several moves while Chris begins his rotations, and I am so glad that I won't have to worry about finding jobs each time. 

Here's to the adventures to come in 2012!


Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!!

Gray skies and dormant orchards are what central California is made of in the winter. In the spring the trees come to life and you can see the Sierra Nevadas in the distance, but in the winter everything is cold and gray. The fog here can be unbelievable when the clouds settle in the valley. 

I can think of countless car rides with my sister where we tried to name all of the little towns that are spread between Atwater and Bakersfield. The crazy thing about California is that it is hundreds of miles long, so you can drive for hours and hours and still be in the same state. 

Traveling by train is definitely the way to go. You can get up and walk around, use the restroom, and get a drink whenever you like. Plus, Amtrak has free wi-fi these days. The trip does end up taking an hour or two longer than driving by car, but it is a much nicer journey. 

Today, I'm heading back down to Southern CA to visit friends before we make the long trip back to Dominica. Some of my "must-do's" for the next week include watching the last Harry Potter movie, having several caramel brûlée lattes, and making a trip to the Irvine Spectrum or Marketplace to use a few giftcards that I have tucked away. I'm hoping that there will be some shorts and tank-tops at the stores down south after the first of the year. Wish me luck!


Hand-crafted Gifts

For Christmas this year I received several beautiful handcrafted gifts. I love perusing Etsy, and always prefer supporting small businesses - especially stay at home moms.

I got this purse from Katie Read's It's Elemental Fashion shop on Esty. It is really well made, with big pockets inside, and lots of padding on the strap and purse. Plus my 15" laptop fits in perfectly! The front is covered in ruffles of Amy Butler fabric. It is So Sweet.

Just as bright and cheerful, is this blanket that came from Aubree at Fabricadabra Designs. She had agreed to make me a blanket in exchange for a new blog design. I made myself wait until Christmas morning to open the package, and immediately fell in love with the cheery colors and the grey chevron. Thank you Aubree!  

My little sister made the whole family their own circle scarves. {I've heard them referred to as infinity scarves as well.} It was so sweet of her to handmake these. Mine has a deep shiny blue inside, and then a thick, textured knit on the outside. Thank you Jules! 

Last, but not least, remember the iPad cover I designed a few months ago? Well, Grove did an A-mazing job engraving the leather and creating a bamboo cover for my ipad. Thank you Grove!


Holiday Catch-up!

Graduation, friends, Christmas.. time is flying on our short trip back to the states. Some things I missed: Target, Starbucks, family. Some things I forgot I missed: nice toilet paper, laundry rooms, comfy couches. And some things I could live without: crowds, parking lots, and commercialism.

Most of the trip has been wonderful though. Graduation was the best, because I was able to meet the other teachers who I've been talking to everyday for over a year! I loved putting faces to names, and I'm so proud of us for finishing.

Graduation from APU
(still have 4 weeks of classes left though)
I missed my 10 year high school reunion this year, but a few of my old friends were in town for the holidays so we had a mini reunion of our own. We haven't all been together since back in college. Not much has changed!

For the last few years, Christmas trees at my mom's house have been a little unconventional. This year it was a lime green, skinny, spiral tree. She has promised me that when there are grandkids there will be a real tree. Guess I better get on that.

My mom's two children pups kept us on toes. They are quick to steal any stray socks or unattended snacks. And depending on what you are munching on, the poodle has been known to jump several feet in the air to snatch it out of your hand!

Ian Scott McDoogle

I've also spent a lot of time watching Bravo and playing on my iPad instead of doing homework. And have made several trips to Barnes and Noble and Target to wander and lust. It has been a wonderful break so far, and I still have 10 days left!


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles..

After several days of traveling, I've finally made it home to my mom's house! Let's take a second and review the legs of this particular journey:

  • taxi to airport in Dominica
  • flight to Puerto Rico
  • flight to Miami
  • shuttle to & from hotel
  • flight to Los Angeles
  • car to the Inland Empire
  • bus to Bakersfield
  • train to Merced
This is definitely a planes, trains, and automobiles Christmas. Thankfully, everything went just as planned. Pictures of graduation are coming soon!


Free Blog Makeover

Not only am I having a Grand Opening sale for Priceless Design, but one lucky blogger will also win a FREE Custom Blog Makeover!  There are 5 ways to enter, so go check it out!


Merry & Bright!

It's a Kate Spade inspired Christmas! I just finished up my Christmas card and had it printed at the local printing shack. And by printing shack, I literally mean a one room shack. 

Chris took his final today, and we are getting ready to head back to California tomorrow. Today has been full of packing, cleaning my closet, cooking the kitty food, etc. I am really looking forward to spending the night in a hotel tomorrow, and getting my first Starbucks in 6 months, and eating mexican food on Friday!

Speaking of Kate Spade, Fais over at aboutfais.com is having an awesome giveaway this week! You can enter to win this 2012 Kate Spade planner. Isn't it beautiful? 

Next time you hear from me, I'll be back on American soil!


It's time to Celebrate!!

I am so excited to announce the Grand Opening of my new design business: Priceless Design Studio. After weeks of hard work, the site is ready to go! It was a tough (but rewarding) adventure to learn how to self-host and code a Wordpress blog. My eyes have been opened to the wonders of Wordpress.

To celebrate the Grand Opening, I am having a sale. Between now and January 5th, visitors who order a new blog will receive $25 dollars off their total bill.

Thank you to everyone who has helped this dream become a reality. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to make money from something I love doing. I couldn't have done it without your encouragement!

p.s. I also get to cross another thing off of my 12 by Twelve list.


Hustlin' & A Plea to Spouses

Can I be excited for one minute and tell you, "I'm doing it!" My first Wordpress site is up and live!! I've still got a lot of design changes and content to create for it, but it's happening. My goal is to have a Grand Opening before Christmas, which is cutting it close with all the traveling I have coming up.

What a week. I've been up at 7am everyday and working on the site in my spare moments between schoolwork and RSO. We had our last Ross Spouses Organization board meeting for the semester yesterday, and I feel like there is huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I am relieved to pass the title of president off to someone else, and so thankful that Olivia has agreed to take it on. 

At the meeting we had a discussion about why there have been less volunteers and less people wanting to help with the board. It really hit home with me that even though it has been a somewhat thankless job, the reason I did it for so long was because of what RSO gave to me my first few months on the island. 

Having a sponsor to answer all my questions before I got to Dominica was huge, and then once I was here there were people who wanted to help me get involved and who cared if I was adjusting ok. I think what most people don't realize is that RSO is a binding force between spouses. Without the organization I don't know if there would be the same sense of community on the island.

What I know is that I'm thankful for what RSO did for me and I feel like I have given back to that community in a tangible way. The rewards have been less tangible, but it has felt good to volunteer my time to raise money for local charities, to welcome people who have just arrived, and to make events and activities happen. I really hope that RSO is able to continue on next semester and that they find the volunteers they need to fulfill the SGA funding requirements. So, if you are on the island and reading this,  think it over. Maybe it's your time to give back.


Where are you Christmas?

It is hard to believe that Christmas is only 20 days away. Here in Dominica, there just aren't many signs.  There are no twinkle lights decorating houses, the air is still warm and sticky, and there is no Starbucks to sell special holiday drinks in red-cups. However, I managed to find a little Christmas door decoration to hang on our front door under some red tinsel my mom sent me last year.  A small bright spot, in a very un-Christmassy climate.