Journey Forward ∴ 7 - Spokesperson

Who is the “spokesperson” for your word? 
Tell us about them, why you look up to them, 
what makes them such a great example.

My Aunt Kathleen always inspires me to live my life with happiness and love. She gives the best advice about what to say or do when the world becomes overwhelming. 

Every now and again I get lovely colorful emails from her in my inbox, because she was thinking about me or had a message to share with me. They are always uplifting, empowering, and thoughtful. Here is a great example:

Give thanks, Katie, whenever you want more.
Of Anything,
The Universe

Thoughts become things, choose the good ones!!

And happy dance, Katie, whenever you want LOTS more.

Kathleen believes (as do I) that our thoughts and intentions are powerful. She believes in invisible helpers and the power of Good. She is also one of the most Relaxed people I know. 

Kathleen lives near the beach in Todos Santos, Mexico. It's a quaint small town about an hour outside of Cabo San Lucas. She, my uncle Barney & cousins packed up and moved to Baja when I was still in elementary school. They chose to take the path less traveled. 

Their family bought a piece of property minutes from the ocean, and over the years have built several little one-room houses & created a unique home. For years the kitchen was completely outdoors, underneath a palapa roof, but recently they added a cement floor & built on a fully enclosed living room area. 

My Aunt Kathleen fully embodies the word Relax. She also reminds me of the words Wisdom and Truth. I am so thankful to have her in my life, she means so much to me.

As she ends all her emails to me, 

"There is nothing that Good cannot accomplish."

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Fifty Shades of Grey

I have a secret. I'm 28 years old and I just finished reading my first ever "adult" romance novel. When I redesigned Reading, Eating & Dreaming last month I asked Morgan what her favorite book was and without a moments hesitation she told me "Fifty Shades of Grey."

I hemmed and hawed about reading it because well, 'I just don't read stuff like that.' But late one night last week my husband looked over and asked, "Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? Apparently it's the hottest book around right now." Chris likes to read the news on his iPhone before bed. He was reading a New York Times article that described Fifty Shades as "THE book everyone is talking about."

Photo from NY Times
So, I did it. I downloaded Fifty Shades of Grey & started reading. I was too embarrassed to put it into Goodreads, because I didn't want anyone to see that I was reading an "adult" book. But I'm telling you today because I just finished it & I need to read the next book to find out what happens.

As I told Clare the other day, just read it. But please don't expect me to discuss all the details with you. (Unless of course you have a bottle of wine - or two - with you.)

Have you ever read a romance novel?


Guest Posting at Hope Squared!

When Emily Hope asked if I would write a guest post about ex-pat life, I was really excited, but I wasn't quite sure about the title of "ex-pat." Even though I've lived in Dominica for almost 18 months, I guess I don't really consider myself an ex-patriate. So, I googled it:

Sure enough, that's me for about 4 more months. It also describes Clare from C Squared W who I teamed up with to write this guest post about #thirdworldproblems. Here's a sneak peak:

Head on over to Hope Squared to see the rest!


American Dreams

If I were in America today, I would...

➻  go watch the Hunger Games & sneak in a Chipotle burrito and/or (probably and) Coldstone cake batter ice-cream

➻  drive myself to Sephora to buy a Clarisonic Mia in Berry (because my skin is freaking out right now)

➻  wander around Target & pick a few things I need like new makeup, moisturizer and a pound of Starbucks (& probably a bunch of stuff I don't need too) ((ok, maybe more like half the store))

➻  visit my pal Stacy & love on her 4 month old (there is nothing like a snuggly baby)

➻  eat a dinner out that doesn't come in a styrofoam container and has real spice and flavor (Maggianos or El Torito for sure)

➻  crawl into our gigantic california king bed & sleep like a starfish


Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I admit it, I'm a sucker for a good legal drama (book). But that is only one of the reasons why I love reading Jodi Picoult novels. She always presents a "hot-topic" sort of issue in such a way that you really feel both sides.

Sing You Home was no different. The premis of the story is that after a divorce, there is a legal battle for who gets to keep 3 frozen embryos. The twist of the story is that the ex-wife wants these embryos so they can be implanted in her new wife.

I'm not here to preach or talk politics, but I will say that this is a beautiful story of finding love where you least expect it. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way to structure a family, so long as the members love and take care of one another.
I love how Jodi Picoult draws you into a story & always throws in a twist. This novel was no exception.

Other Jodi Picoult novels I've read & reviewed.
I'm linking up with Heather from Undercover Blonde this week.

Keep Reading!


Journey Forward ∴ 6 - Clearing my head

What helps you to clear your mind? 
Where do you go/what do you do to re-center and re-focus yourself?

I'm stumped. Since moving to Dominica, the places I can go are limited. You know, I never really realized this is a problem, but it is! Especially because I need to be alone to clear my mind. There really aren't places that I can go to be alone here, because it is such a small town. I will inevitably see several people I know every time I leave the house.

In America, I would get in the car & go to Starbucks, or B&N, or Target to just wander & think. Here, I guess clearing my mind happens when I'm at home alone - away from the computer. Watching TV (well, I guess that is on the computer, technically), reading a book, or painting my toes. 

Sleep always helps too. When I'm cranky because things aren't going my way, it's often because I'm tired and just seeing the negative. 
I'd love to hear your ideas. What helps you to clear your mind?



Welcome Clare to Blogger!

I want you all to meet Clare, my best friend on the island. It's been wonderful to have a real-life friend who is excited about blogging too! Clare has been so supportive and encouraging this last year as I launched Priceless Design Studio. 

Somehow I convinced her to switch from wordpress.com to blogger.com, and in the process was able to work with her on a re-design of her blog: C Squared W

The title of her blog is über fitting because her name is Catherine Clare Wilkinson (C²W) but she is also married to Charlie Wilkinson, so together they are also C²W. Clare comes from Virginia, where I’m learning there is a lot of southern tradition & manners.

Clare blogs about life & style, plus all the crazy situations she somehow get's herself into. She is hilarious. Our island adventures will get to continue, as both of our husbands were told last week that they would be able to do their 5th semester here in Dominica. Yay!


Commenting System with Disqus

I owe you all an apology. For months now, I have been reading all your wonderful comments that come into my email box & then replying through that email's thread. It never occurred to me that those replies were not emailed to you but rather only posted on my site (thanks Disqus). I always appreciate it when I get emailed comment replies, and I couldn't figure out why no one ever kept the conversation going.

Well, Emmy June helped me figure it out. With Disqus, even though I reply by email, the comment goes straight to my blog. So for everyone who thought I was just ignoring their comment, it's not true! I doubt you want to go back & read them now, but they are there. Hundreds of replies that probably never saw the light of day.

This changes today. Anyone who enters their email with their comments is going to get an emailed reply (if the comment warrants it). But really, if you don't have an account at Disqus, why not spend 2 minutes right now & make one? They don't spam you & you can upload a pretty picture of yourself.
What commenting system do you use? Do you like it?


Love those Leprechauns! FB Cover Giveaway & Deal

Happy St. Patricks Day to everyone! St. Patty's Day is special to me, mostly because of my Grandpa Mahon. He loved me more than all the tea in China and when I was younger I could always be found trailing him around the yard to feed the horse or water the plants. Grampy was the most generous, gentle, and gentlemanly man. His parents (my great-grandparents) came over from Ireland and St. Patrick's Day was always a family day to have dinner & get together.

I've already come to terms that there will be no corned beef again this year. It's okay though, because tonight is the 4th Semester Banquet (aka the Med Student Prom).

The Lephrechauns are shining favor on you today as well, because I'm teaming up with Jillian from Geek Chic Social Media to giveaway a free Facebook Timeline Cover. Did you know that all business or fan Facebook pages will be switched over to the new timeline on March 30th? That gives you about 2 weeks to get yours in order.

Please don't fall into the trap of cropping your blog header to squeeze into the cover! Use the generous space to showcase some awesome things about your blog. Maybe have a "what's new" area or update pictures of your recent Pinterest projects. Take advantage of the free advertising space that FB is giving you & create something unique to you.

Jillian has you set, with a simple how-to article here. And I have some additional tips for you too:

  • The best size to create a cover is 851x315 pixels. If you have a photo-editing program, set your document settings to 300 DPI in CMYK mode. 
  • If you don't use a photo, use a colored background, not white. It will help your words stand out more clearly.
  • Use an easy to read font & make it large.
  • Save the photo at the highest possible quality! Use a .png file name for anything with type on it. 
Check out my PDS fan page and Mrs. Alana's Miscellany's fan page to see good examples.

OR if you aren't a D.I.Y.er, you can enter the giveaway here, and we will work together to create something perfect for you!

And as a special treat for all my bloggy followers out there I'm going to offer you a little (big!) discount. Any orders I receive before March 26th are guaranteed to be done by the 30th.. even if I'm up all night! And I will do my best to make it something that you can edit yourself in the future!

Anyone interested can send an email to katie@pricelessdesignstudio.com & mention this post!


Journey Forward ∴ 5 - More About Me

I'm a day late & a dollar short on this post. All for a good cause however, the pursuit of my one word: RELAX. I spent yesterday lounging at the most quaint little beach. My friends & I hopped a local bus and went to Mero Beach, where there is a little beachfront french cafe. We had fresh waffles, grapefruit margaritas, lunch, and chocolate mousse for dessert. It was delightful.

But on to the real purpose of this post, Journey Forward. The task this week is to describe myself.

Hi, my name is Katie & I'm 28 years old. I'm married and live in Dominica with my med-school husband. I think you've heard all this already though, or if not, go read my about page. {I'll wait.}

Great, now we can talk about everything important. I love Mexican food. Burritos, enchiladas, chile rellenos, and margaritas fill my dreams. I'm a good cook. In college I spent a summer cooking at a summer camp and learned to be afraid of nothing in the kitchen. This doesn't mean I like having to cook dinner every night, but when I'm in the mood, it's fabulous.

I am personable & friendly, but I get exhausted being around lots of people for extended periods of time. I like to wander around my house when no one is home & just be alone. I like being in charge & am good at multi-tasking; I am a great teacher.

I can be sarcastic & snarky. I like to be right. I am a perfectionist at heart, and if things can't be the way I like them, I tend to get annoyed. I am a worrier, and find it hard to relax. But I am aware of these qualities, and try my best to over come them (or mask them).

We don't have any kids yet, but not for lack of wanting them. I just don't feel old enough! No offense to all you wonderful young moms out there. I'm just not at that stage in my life yet. We live on an island for goodness sake! But hopefully within the next 5 years there will be babies. This year will be our 5th wedding anniversary.

I just finished my master's degree in Ed Tech, and have no idea how I will use it yet. Mostly because I am in love with my new gig as a blog designer. LOVE I tell you. I love to play on the computer, work on the computer, make friends on the computer (you get the idea). But I also love to read, write, do yoga, travel, play board games, enjoy a drink, and hang out with my husband. I've been to more countries than states and have lived abroad twice already.

There are a lot of things I wish I could change about myself, and a lot of areas that I need improvement. But I am happier today than I was 5 years ago. Thinking about what the next 5 years holds for us in terms of moving, school, career, baby-making, etc. is scary. But I know that we will do more than just get through it. I am determined to make choices that will keep me happy in my journey forward.

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The Awkward Years

The Awkward Years

My awkward years would be circa 1995.. the time of overalls, Mickey Mouse clothing, and wide legged jeans. Chunky blonde highlights in my hair, braces, and no contacts.

I only wish we had digital cameras back then! The few pictures I have scanned from home hardly do my awkwardness justice. But let's start with this one:

Sissy-la-la, Mommy-Dearest, Awkward Me
Why yes, I am rocking prescription sunglasses, an awesome tie-dye shirt & a hip-bag. Throughout my childhood, my mom would pack my sister & I up and take us to Brownsville, Oregon; home of the hippies. We would help my favorite aunt and her family pack up to go to the Oregon Country Fair. We would put up the tee-pee and circle the tents and custom VW bus to make a fabulous little campsite. This is only the beginning of my awkward stage.

Wow-za. I must have felt as awkward as I looked! No boyfriend, at a party, probably should have hid under that blanket! This picture was recently added to Facebook by an old friend. Thanks for that.

See the braces there? We all had braces, didn't we. I also love my baby-fat cheeks. Is that a dimple or a pimple? Hard to say.

Sissy-la-la, Sarah, Pam, Awkward Me
Here is a fine specimen of a true awkward adolescent. By this point I think I had contacts, but still had braces. Notice the trendy W.W.J.D. bracelet & girls with bangs. This photo was taken my freshman year of high school. Freshman year, yup, I was awesome.

Well guys, it was fun looking back at my awkward years. If you want to see more, go check out the link-up at Confessions of a Graphic Design Student.


I'm Off!

After yesterday's post about working & needing time to relax, I'm so excited to say that I'm heading out today on a bridal-shower-getaway-slumber-party celebrating one of my favorite island girls!

Kristen is a fellow California native & is in "my" semester. (Which really means that her husband & my husband are in the same class.. neither of us are in actually in school.) I'm so glad that I got to know Kristen this year, she is a great friend with a huge heart. 

Kristen is getting married in a little less than 2 months on the island of St. Maarten between our 4th and 5th semesters here. And I'm going!! I'm so excited to be there for her on that special day & it will be my first island-hopping vacation. 

Please excuse me for the next day & a half as I turn off the computer & get ready to:



Journey Forward ∴ 4 - Goals

This week's Journey Forward asks me to set some goals towards my one word: RELAX.  Earlier this year, I set myself 4 goals to work towards.

  • complete 4 or more blog designs per month
  • find an online teaching job at a college or university
  • make dates with my husband at least twice a month
  • read 12 books 
It's interesting that 2 of the 4 goals are aimed at relaxing, and the other 2 are aimed at working. I still like all 4 goals, but thinking in terms of becoming a more relaxed person I think that I should add two more to the list:
  • exercise at least 3 times a week: yoga, gym, something
  • create working hours and stick to them
I have rarely been spending time alone that doesn't involve working or blogging (which is sort of working as it reflects on my brand). Exercising has just gotten thrown out the window. It feels more "okay" to take time away from working to hang out with Chris or friends than it does to go work out by myself. 

How is it possible that finding 3 hours a week to go work out is hard for me?! I just need to suck it up and go do it. 

I'm learning just how hard it is to get a small business going. Even when that business is online! There are just so many things I have to learn about advertising, client management, and the like. I could seriously spend all day, nine to midnight, happily working on PDS things. Between creating designs and working on my site, creating content, advertising, working, etc; I just get sucked in and don't leave time for relaxing. 

This might sound like I'm a recluse, but that isn't the case either. I'm still going out with friends (Pinterest Party last night, what-what!) and going on trips, making dinner and hanging out with Chris. But any extra time is spent on the computer.. not relaxing by myself. 

I think creating working hours might help. Even if they are non-traditional, like 10-3 and 9-midnight. Or saying that I only work certain days of the week. The first goal is to create those hours, and then secondly I need to stick to them. 

I have found a lot of helpful tips and articles at Revolutionize Her, a blog where self-employed women share their stories on how they make it work. Definitely go check it out!

I think the moral of today's story is: I need to work smarter, not harder. Part of working smart is going to be finding time to relax so that I don't burn out. Even if I'm happy spending all my time working right now, I don't want to come to regret it later.

Thanks for sticking with me on this long post. I'd love to hear your tips on time management & relaxing!


Manic Monday

Well, it's just another manic monday here in Dominica. Chris is off taking his mid-term, which means I got up super early & am on my second cup of coffee already.

The good news is that he will have the rest of the day off and be able to go out tonight! Usually we go to The Tomato for dinner & drinks. The food is way overpriced but it's about as close to an American restaurant as they come here. And they serve real-ish margaritas.. so that's a bonus.

What did I do this weekend?

  ➵  finished up a new blog design for Tess at Human Sparkler. This blog was SO much fun to do!

  ➵ joined in on the #blogbrunch twitter party. I never really "got" twitter until recently. Liking it just sort of crept up on me, and now I check it daily. Well, maybe more like 3 times daily!

  ➵  got hooked on Downton Abbey..  the first season is only 7 episodes, so I'm more than halfway done already. Do it!

  ➵   Thank you to Colette from Caffeinated Conversations for giving me a Sunshine Award! I just started following her recently & am loving her writing style.

  ➵ spent some time away from the computer, reading a book & doing my toes. I really miss pedicures. Have you ever seen Anjelah Johnson's Nail Salon comedy sketch? yeah, miss that too.

 ➵ had some pool time with the girls, Skyped with my mom, and just (sort of) relaxed.

Now it's time to get back to work. I've got 2 new blogs to start on, Leah and Amanda, and several other island adventures coming up this week. I LOVE working from home!


Happy Friday!

Back when I was teaching elementary school, Friday afternoons would be reserved for wrapping up and having some fun. I would have the kids clean out their desks, pass out all the papers that needed to go home, and hold an auction or treasure box time. Every Friday I would also write a letter home to the parents, letting them know the highlights of the week & important dates to come. I sorta miss it.

Friday Wrap-Up:

➳ Remember when I posted about The Dilemma? After a lot of thought and discussion, Chris and I decided that it would make the most sense for us to stay in Dominica for his 5th semester of medical school. It is not a given that we will get to stay, but Chris marked it as our preference on the application. One more hot & sweaty summer, here I come!

➳ I watched my first episode of Downton Abbey, and I am hooked! I love historical fiction and anything with loads of drama. (Confession: Totally thought it was Downtown Abbey until I just googled it for the link.)

➳ Speaking of confessions, Kristen from Confessions of a Graphic Design Student blogged about the amazing results she got with no-heat curls and I thought I'd try it myself. Total success!

➳ Over at PDS ( ...Priceless Design Studio... ) I revealed my 3 most recent blog designs. I'm slowly learning that it's not always about what I want to design, but rather what the client wants to see. I'm new to this whole "customer service" thing because my customers have always been 10 year olds.

➳ Yesterday at PDS, I also updated my Services & Pricing. I added a few new à la carte items, and made some changes to my custom packages. You can read more about the changes & why I made them, here.

➳ Becca at One Girl suggested I turn my Pin Fact or Pin Crap idea into a Link Up. I've never hosted something like that before, but would love to give it a shot. I know that Wednesday is usually Pinterest Day around the blogosphere, maybe on the last Wednesday of the month we can do a little linky party? Start thinking about it!

➳ It was my mom's birthday this week, and I ordered her a beautiful Katie Daisy print. Katie is so sweet and helped me out by writing in the card for me. I'm sure you have seen her art around Pinterest recently. It is very reasonably priced, and comes beautifully packaged. You should go check out her Etsy store!

Happy Birthday Mommy Dearest!!


Journey Forward ∴ 3 - A Letter

Dear (last year's) Katie,

You need to chill out. Stop worrying about the future. I know your tenant's haven't paid rent in 2 months, and school is getting stressful, but you need to take a second to relax. The next few months are going to be rough, but the evil-tenant's will eventually be evicted.

Do yoga, enjoy your friends, take time for yourself. Explore your passions, start dreaming! You are going to find a job this year that you will fall in love with. For the first time in your life you will wake up in the morning excited about the work you get to do that day.

Spend quality time with your husband. He loves you, and this med-school thing on a Caribbean Island is just as rough on him as it is on you. Take a walk to the beach, go out to dinner every once in a while.

You have one life to live, don't waste it on the past or future; enjoy your life right now!

With Love and Kindness,