Guest Post by Clare of C Squared W

Hello Priceless Adventurers!

I'm so excited to share photos from my trip to St. Maarten with you while Katie is off enjoying the island herself. I've been lucky enough to visit St. Maarten twice and have loved it both times.  I mean, it's a Caribbean island, what's not to love?

I first went to St. Maarten with my neighbor and best friend growing up, Susanna, and her family.  I have fond memories of red-roofed buildings, clear water, and green mountains.  We rode horses on the beach, and saw parrots, goats, and monkeys.  We were lucky enough to get half of our hair braided and beaded with corn rows (we were 11!) and to buy shell jewelry.  It was magical.

This past May, I visited St. Maarten with my sister, Frannie.  She visited my husband and I in Dominica, and then we flew to St. Maarten together enjoy a few days of luxury.

Frannie and I stayed on the Dutch side of the island at the Holland House in Phillipsburg, mainly because it was right on the beach.  Hotel guests were also allowed to use complimentary beach towels and beach chairs (many hotels in the area charge extra for this), so we took full advantage of that.  For our few days we had the entire beach to ourselves, which was absolute heaven!

Our hotel room was nice and my only complaint was the bathroom, which seriously needed a facelift.  The hotel restaurant and lounge, however, was especially awesome.  It was the perfect spot to enjoy morning coffee or cocktails before dinner with an amazing view.  

We were also just steps away from Old Street, which had several fantastic French cafes where we enjoyed breakfasts and lunches daily.  There was also a ton of good shopping in the area. 

{Please disregard the extreme awkwardness of this photo.  Please.}

One day Frannie and I took a local bus to visit the French side of the island.  We went to Marigot, the French capital, and enjoyed the shops and good restaurants.  Our favorite part was visiting the the art gallery of Roland Richardson, a well-known painter from the island who paints in a colorful, Impressionistic style.  The art gallery is a beautiful old building which was actually Richardson's childhood home.

I loved Richardson's artwork so much that I ended up purchasing one of his etchings as a gift for my husband!

We also loved this beautiful view from the waterfront in Marigot:

Another afternoon Frannie and I went on a boat tour and went snorkeling at a nearby reef.  The resort with the red roofs is actually where I stayed back in middle school, so now I've actually gone snorkeling in these reefs on two separate trips.  Pretty cool! 

Saba, St. Barth's, and Anguilla are all just a quick ferry ride away from St. Maarten!  If we'd had extra time, we'd love to have visited one of these islands.

A trip wouldn't be complete without a weird photo beside some sort of mural, sign, or statue, right? 

We had a great trip, and I'd love to go back sometime!
A few favorites from Phillipsburg, St. Maarten:
  • Coffee and pastries at a French cafe on Old Street. (My fave was the cute one close to the street.)
  • Shopping in Phillipsburg.
  • Homemade chocolate treats from the chocolate shop on Old Street.
  • A boat trip and snorkeling, we went with one of the companies located on the dock in Phillisburg, it was great. 
  • Evening cocktails on the Holland House patio lounge.  The guavaberry-coladas were so great!
  • Dinner at Shivsagar Restuarant.  This was an awesome Indian restaurant in Phillipsburg where Frannie and I feasted on an amazing meal! 
  • Ice cream at Haagen Dazs (right next door to the Holland House on the boardwalk)
  • Visit the Roland Richardson Art Gallery in Marigot if you love art. (Look for one of his huge, colorful paintings in the St. Maarten airport, too!)

Thank you Clare for sharing your trip & the wonderful photos! I hope you are having an awesome time in Rome today :) For those of you who haven't met Clare yet, take a second and go visit! 


Guest Post by Kate of Kate Sullivan Blogs

Happy Friday!! My name is Kate and I'm visiting Katie's blog today to share some pictures from my trip to St. Maarten.


 I was lucky enough to visit St. Maarten in 2008 as one of the stops we made on the Spring Break cruise I took with my roommate and two other friends. We got off the ship in a brightly decorated section of town. There were tons of little shops and restaurants here but we had one destination in mind: the beach.


 There were plenty of beach options, but we selected one that wasn't already being swarmed by the other passengers on our cruise. Of course, we did this based on a map and the crowds at the taxi stands so we had no idea what we were getting into. The friendly drivers whisked us away and we were off. We quickly left the charming part of town and wound our way through the island.


 Now, I'd like to claim that we were mature tourists but when we started seeing the neighborhoods get rougher and rougher, we all got a little nervous. It didn't help that our taxi dropped us off in a random cul-de-sac with no sign of the ocean anywhere. Our taxi driver handed us off to another man (and we weren't sure if he was speaking English or if his accent was just really thick). That man handed us off to another man almost immediately. I was pretty sure we were done for when he led us to a random alley. Spoiler alert: I snapped this picture of the alley on our way back out:


 At first we were all just giving each other worried looks but then we made it to the other side and were greeted by the most glorious sight.


 The most pristine beach with crystal clear water was right in front of us - and it was relatively empty.


 The sand was velvety soft and we spent several glorious hours basking in the Caribbean sun. Pretty soon we forgot all about the shady beginning of our beach day - and when I think back on it I feel silly for judging my surroundings just because they were different than what I was used to.


 Did I say basking? I should have said burning. Can you tell that I almost match my bathing suit top? After we'd been lounging for a few hours the peddlers started to come around. This is something that happened to us on most of the beaches we visited since we were clearly in tourist areas. Most of the men flirted with us and invited us to move there and marry them. The offer was less appealing when they revealed their girlfriends were at home making jewelry all day while they were out selling it!


 I know what the above picture looks like, but I assure you he's pointing and not holding a joint! The white is a charm hanging from his necklace. Sadly we were limited to only one day in St. Maarten but it was my favorite port of call and I definitely think of it as my "happy place" and picture myself back there whenever I'm feeling stressed out or worried. I hope I'll get a chance to visit there again someday! 

 I also hope that Katie is having a great time in St. Maarten right now! Thanks for having me, Katie! I can't wait to hear all about your trip and especially look forward to seeing your pictures of this beautiful place.

Thank you Kate, for sharing your trip to St. Maarten. And dear readers, if you haven't met Kate yet, take a few minutes & get to know her!


Guest Post by Leah of Keep Your Sunnyside Up

When Katie asked if I would do a guest post while she was in St. Maarten attending a friend's wedding I was ecstatic. First of all, I think Katie's Caribbean adventure is amazing. Although I do know it would come with many challenges, I would love to have the opportunity to live on an island in the Caribbean. Second of all, I've been to St. Maarten a couple of times and I was so glad Katie wanted me to share my adventures with all of you!

The first time I was lucky enough to make it to St. Maarten I was 17 and in high school. I was on a cruise with my parents. While in St. Maarten, we went over to Orient Beach, which is located on the French side of the island. Orient Beach is part nude beach so that was quite an experience at my young age. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from that trip, I think they are all at my parent's house. Those were the ancient days before I owned a digital camera.

Lucky enough, I was back in St. Maarten last April and I have lots and lots of pictures from that trip! Last April I went on another cruise and St. Maarten happened to be one of the stops on our itinerary. We came into port on the Dutch side. From the pier, we took a ferry to the main part of Philipsburg. 

Morning view from our balcony

Catching a ferry to town

Shopping around

We shopped around Philipsburg for awhile and decided to take a cab to Marigot, 
a town on the French side of the island. 

We had never been to Marigot before and thought we would explore someplace new. 
When we got to Marigot, we found marinas, flea markets and eateries.

View as we drove into Marigot

The flea markets were full of fresh fruits and veggies, spices and jewelry. 
It was one of the best island flea markets I've been to!

The views from Marigot were amazing. 

As we left Marigot to go back to port, the drive was very scenic.
I was quick enough to capture the harbor where the cruise ships were docked.

The color of the water in St. Maarten was incredible.
Before we caught the ferry to go back to the ship, we stopped for a drink on the beach.

As we sailed off into the sunset, I couldn't get enough of St. Maarten. 
I stayed on the balcony of our ship for what seemed like forever just staring and taking pictures. 
I didn't want to leave St. Maarten!

And for your reference, a small map of St. Maarten so you can see the places I've been:
Orient Beach, Philipsburg and Marigot.

I wish I could be in Katie's flip flops right now, enjoying some time on St. Maarten. 
I can't wait to get back there some day. 
St. Maarten is a great place to visit and I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance. 
Thank you Katie for having me and a big thank you to all of her lovely readers 
for letting me share my St. Maarten experiences with you!

Leah, for being my first Guest Poster! I really appreciate the time & thought you put into this post, and will have a Carib for you tonight. Dear Readers, if you haven't met Leah yet take a second & go visit her!


Guest Posting at C Squared W

Today is the day! As you are reading this, I'm on my way to St. Maarten. {insert happy dance!} I have some awesome guest posts set up for you over the next 3 days, but today I'm guest posting over at Clare's while she is in Rome.

Head on over to C Squared W to read about the trip I took to Rome before my semester at Oxford. You'll even get to see some old-school pictures of me, circa 2005! 

{This one didn't make the cut!}



It's a Vacation - Unplug!

I am getting so excited for my trip to St. Maarten! Tonight I'm spending the night at Mary's house because we have to catch a bus really early tomorrow morning. The bonus is that it will feel like I'm extending my vacation an extra day!

Maybe we will get lucky & catch this bus again:

Is it totally lame that I want to bring my laptop (aka Big Mac, Mac Daddy, the Precious)? Yes, I fear it is. Would you like to hear the 'excuses' I'm telling myself for why I need to bring it?

  • What if one of my lovely clients has a design problem, that can't wait till next Monday?
  • What if I have a stroke of genius & need to type or Photoshop it? 
  • But I can't just not answer my email.
  • It will be useful, we can watch movies on it at night.

I think it's partly guilt over taking a vacation and partly separation anxiety. I should leave work & the laptop behind, right? If I really need the internet, I will have Paddy with me (yes, my iPad has a name too.) The funny thing, is this wasn't even a Question until I saw this video on Katelyn's blog today. Not a question, as in of course my laptop is coming.

Hi, my name is Katie and I might be addicted to my computer/the internets.
Do you have problems unplugging? or is it just me...


5 TV Series You Can Watch with Your Guy

Thank you all so much for your encouraging words on Thursday. Your comments really helped me get through the day & look at the bigger picture. You all are so wonderful.

Chris and I did a lot of sleeping, eating, and watching TV yesterday & Thursday. We started watching Game of Thrones and are halfway done with the first season. Let's do a little TV update, shall we? Here are 5 TV Series that you can watch with your guy & both enjoy.

1- Game of Thrones

When I heard people talking about Game of Thrones (IMDB link) I always envisioned it was set in space (why? isn't all science fiction set in space?) but actually, the story takes place back in the days of kings & knights & dragons. It is sci-fi, but it's also old school. Your guy will love you for watching it with him, and it really is interesting. If you liked the Tudors, you will like this.

2- Mad Men

I'm working on the second season right now. Mad Men is another series that I had the wrong idea about. My first thought was it was about comic book heroes. Ya guys, I really pay attention. Actually, it's about the men and women who work at an ad agency in NY during the early 60's. It's full of glamour, drama, and will make you shake your head at how different things were back then. Chris wasn't interested in this one, but it's definitely geared at both men & women.

3- House

Yes, we watch House religiously! It's been more & more fun as Chris can play doctor alongside Chase & Taub. Recently, the drama has overtaken the medicine a little bit, but it's still top notch in my book. If you have never watched House, give it a shot. p.s. It's never sarcoidosis!

4- Dexter

We finished up Dexter a few weeks ago, and can't wait for season 7. I was really skeptical that a show about a serial killer who kills serial killers would interest me. I'm not a fan of blood & guts or scary movies. Dexter though, is just so love-able.

5- Weeds

Weeds is one of our very favorite series, especially the first few seasons. Nancy Botwin is a suburban housewife whose life spirals out of control after she starts selling pot to help make ends meet. This show is hilarious & fun & overall awesome. Season 8 starts July 1 so you have time to catch up!

Bonus for the Ladies- Downton Abbey

I recently finished up Downton Abbey and want more! This series by PBS is set in the early 1900's around the first World War. It chronicles the lives of both the servants and the Lords & Ladies of Downton Abbey. For those of you who have seen it, check out this spoof, Downton Arby's.

Do you watch any of these? Have any other recommendations?


Journey Forward ∴ 10 - Getting Real about Worry

Journey Forward - Getting Real about Worry

If there were ever a day where I need to RELAX, today is that day. Today, Chris takes his 4th semester final exam. Today, he determines if we get to move on to the second half of medical school. Today, I feel sick to my stomach with worry. I know that I have to think positive about it, but my stomach doesn't lie. I am nervous.

The biggest obstacle to me becoming a more relaxed person is: I have trouble letting go of things I can't control. It's a mindset that I wish I didn't have. In situations where there is nothing I can physically do, my brain turns to worry.

by Cory Say via Behance

I'm a nervous wreck today, guys. Since I'm having trouble thinking positive thoughts and prayers, would you mind sending a few out for us?

1  ∴  2  ∴  3 ∴  4 ∴  5 ∴ 6 ∴ 7 ∴ 8 ∴ 9


How I set up Blog Lovin'

Did you guys know that I read blogs via RSS? Yes, I'm one of those. Until recently, I exclusively read my blogs using a cool little mac program called Reeder, which syncs with Google Reader. But I started getting frustrated at the inability to pin the cool things I found without re-opening the blog in my browser, and also how frustrating commenting could be. In steps Bloglovin'.

Add to Blog Lovin'

A few weeks ago Emmy June did a Review of Bloglovin' and I couldn't help but wonder if I might like it better. Go read her post, it explains why Bloglovin' is awesome & also the basics of how to set it up. I love the little navbar on the bottom, that lets you click "next" and move on to the next blog.

My main concern was how I would get all of my blogs from Google Reader into Bloglovin' because there are well over a hundred blogs that I follow. But, I found a solution for that. I know what you are thinking,
If you have a gmail account and follow blogs via Google Friend Connect // Google Followers then you already have a Google Reader list set up of all the blogs you follow! Google owns Blogger & is smart like that. They automatically import your Google Followers into your Reader, even if you have never set it up!

I bet you've already put two and two together! Instead of having to add all your blogs one by one, you can export your blogs from Google Reader & import them into Blog Lovin'. Problem solved!

And because I'm hip like that, I made y'all an infographic to walk you through how to add the blogs you follow via Google Friend Connect // Google Followers to BlogLovin'. Give it a shot, and if you have any questions, let me know!