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After five years of living in China, and two years of This Beijing Life, things have changed. I left my job as a college counselor in China, and now I’m living a life on my terms. I’m my own boss, I travel when I want, and live where I want. I’m FINALLY living my dream of location independence.
I hope you’ll all follow me along on my new journey: The Freedom Life.
What I Was Up to This February
February was definitely a big month with a lot of changes, including GETTING ENGAGED on Valentine’s Day. Yes, Chris and I are actually engaged and will be getting married in October 2019!!!
Aside from that big news, I started the month with a few days in Vegas and then headed to my parent’s house in Palm Desert, California. I also went wine tasting in Temecula, and headed over to Atlanta for a friend’s wedding!
Where I Went in February
- Vegas, Baby!
- Los Angeles
- Palm Desert, California
- Temecula Wine Country, California
- Atlanta, Georgia
Here are a few of the absolute best moments of January!
I Got Engaged!!
Obviously, getting engaged is my number one highlight of the month. Chris got down on one knee this Valentine’s Day, proposing right next to the vineyard at our Airbnb property in Temecula wine country at sunset.
It was an incredible day, and I don’t think any Valentine’s Day will ever top this one! I actually wrote a post on the whole story if you’re interested!
Seeing Zumanity in Vegas
I had a great time in Vegas, meeting up with Chris’ mom and his brother-in-law David, who also happened to be in the area. It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, but I absolutely loved riding on the New York New York rollercoaster and then heading over to see the Zumanity Cirque du Soleil performance. Not only were the acrobatics amazing (and sexy), the show was also hilarious!
Next time I’ll definitely spring for closer seats so I can get more involved in the performance.
Finally Getting to See My Family
I haven’t been home to Seattle since last May, and I haven’t seen my brother since Christmas, so having a little family reunion this month was great. I finally got to see my brother’s house in LA and my parents’ new place in Palm Desert.
It’s been a while since I could actually spend more than just a week or so at home, so hanging out in Palm Desert has been really great. I’ve also loved having my parents here to bounce wedding ideas off of, while Chris and I have been loving hitting the pool every few days.
Wine Tasting in Temecula
Aside from the proposal, I really enjoyed spending Valentine’s Day wine tasting in Temecula. The Airbnb my parents booked was very cute, and right next to Wilson’s Creek Winery. The host even gave us some coupons to go wine tasting in the area!
After a full day of wine tasting and an engagement(!!), Chris, my parents, and I headed to Wilson’s Creek for a Valentine’s Dinner. We even got two free bottles of almond champagne because our food came out very, very slowly. Score!
A Wedding and Reunion in Atlanta
One of the main reasons why Chris and I planned a trip back to the US is because my college friend and sorority big sister Caroline was getting married in Atlanta! Chris and I flew over for the wedding and had an incredible time.
Not only did I stuff my face with all the biscuits and gravy and cheesy grits I could get my hands on, I also got to meet up with Sarah and Breanna, two of my best friends from college. Caroline also invited a ton of girls from our sorority to the wedding, so it was almost like a mini Pi Phi reunion! It was crazy to see all of these people I haven’t met up with since graduation.
The wedding itself was also really great and a ton of fun. She held it at the King Plow Art Center, which is a really cool venue with an industrial vibe. The drinks were flowing, the music was great, and Caroline looked beautiful!
To be honest, this month was pretty great! I really had to think hard about the negatives, but there were a few things that were less than perfect.
Getting Sick in Vegas
Chris and I booked an affordable room at Bally’s for our Vegas Trip, however, I think there was something wrong with their air conditioning or air filtration vents because every day we woke up feeling like crap. Puffy eyes, exhausted, a runny nose, and a hangover… even if we only had one drink the night before!
If that wasn’t bad enough, on the last night I started to feel pretty sick during the Zumanity performance. I thought that maybe I was just a bit too full and feeling bleh from having a few cocktails at dinner. However, on the way home I could barely even walk back to my hotel. I ended up feeling so sick that I had to spend about an hour throwing up in the bathroom.
I barely made it out of the hotel by our checkout time the next morning and felt horrible on the flight back to LA. Not a great end to an amazing time in Vegas…
Sketched Out in a Hotel in Los Angeles
Because it takes 2.5 hours to drive from Palm Desert to LA, Chris and I decided to grab a cheap airport hotel room before our morning flight to Atlanta. However, what we thought would be a cute, fun airport hotel/hostel was actually a really sketchy place.
The room was very nice, however, the neighborhood in Inglewood is not great, and we spotted a few guests who loitered around a bit too much, knocking on random people’s doors. The entire place smelled like weed, and the staff were all very rude. Not to mention their “free airport shuttle” just never showed up even through we waited for it for over 40 minutes…
The weirdest incident was right before we were about to go to bed. A man knocked on the door to our room, and when Chris opened the door, the man quite literally ran off. I’d hate to think what might’ve happened if I had opened the door…
This place was so sketchy, that I was afraid to go into the common area after dark to get a tea from the vending machine. When Chris went to grab something for the both of us, we devised a code knock and I deadbolted the door.
I’ve traveled all over the world, and this is the most sketched out I’ve ever felt at a hotel.
Waaaay Too Much Driving and Flying
I’ve never been so sick of planes and long-distance driving in my life. In one month, this is the list of flights and long-distance drives I’ve had:
Sydney -> Auckland, Auckland -> LA, LA -> Vegas, Vegas -> LA, 3+ hour drive to Palm Desert, 2+ hour drive from Palm Desert to Temecula, 2+ hour drive from Temecula to Palm Desert, 3+ hour drive from Palm Desert to LA, LA -> Atlanta, Atlanta -> LA, 2.5 hour drive from LA to Palm Desert.
I just feel bad for my mom that has been driving from Palm Desert to LA and back to pick us up. She is quite literally a saint.
Attempting to Plan a Destination Wedding
I actually really enjoy wedding planning, and I find many aspects of it fun. However, trying to find a ceremony space for our wedding has been infuriating!
Not only am I unable to actually see any of the pretty outdoor ceremony spaces, I’m having major issues with getting people to respond to my emails. The most popular place for outdoor weddings is run by a community hall, which took OVER A MONTH to get back to me, and only responded after I’d sent 3 emails. I asked for a few photos of the different locations and said I was ready to book, and it’s been over 2 weeks and I still haven’t heard anything.
It’s not just this location either. I’ve contacted 8+ locations, all of which don’t do weddings or take weeks and weeks to respond to a simple email. How can I plan a destination wedding if no one will even respond to my emails?
At least our reception venue owner has been awesome. Not only does she respond to emails immediately, she’s also been helping us try to get in touch with ceremony venues. Fingers crossed that we eventually find something!
Here’s My Monthly February Income Breakdown!
- Blogging Partnerships – $0
- Freelance Writing – $0
- Affiliate Sales – $508.20
- Teaching Referrals – $0
- Online College Counseling – $385.99
Total Revenue – $894.19
Total Profit (Minus Blog Expenses) – $518.85
This month was a bit lower than I’d like when it comes to income. I did a lot of work, but haven’t been paid for much yet (yay cash accounting!). I also had a big expense from Convertkit because my email subscribers are now over 1,000. Yay?
I also received almost $400 from my old college counseling company as a flight reimbursement. Technically, I wasn’t supposed to get anything unless it was a direct flight from Beijing to the US, but I managed to convince them that comping a flight from New Zealand to LAX would be more cost effective for them and a win-win for both of us. Yay for money I didn’t think I would ever get!
Total Savings – $17,214
While I didn’t make much money this month, I actually didn’t spend much either! My savings only went down by around $500 this month, which is pretty good considering I spent over $1,000 on a wedding venue deposit, and I’ve been buying lots of stuff for my upcoming travels.
Shopping at Trader Joes and living at home is great for your budget!
Best Blog Post
Well… this month wasn’t the best for blog posts, in that I only wrote TWO (whoops). However, by far my most popular post was: I’m Engaged!! The Story of Chris and Richelle.
In this post, I reveal all the juicy, personal details of my relationship with Chris from start to finish: How we met, how we started dating, how we got engaged, and our plans for the wedding!
Other Blog Posts
This might be the most likes I’ve ever received on an Instagram photo…
Who knew ‘basic’ boots and leaves were loved by the masses! I do love the fall leaves in Japan though. So pretty!
Book of the Month
This month I finished RASH: A Memoir by Lisa Kusel. This book is about Lisa’s crazy experience moving with her husband and daughter to Bali, while her husband works on opening an eco-friendly international school.
This book contains some crazy stories, from a very, very disorganized school, to living in a designer “eco-bamboo” house completely open to the elements. Meanwhile, the stress of the school and administration along with the conditions they live in threatens to tear Lisa’s marriage and family apart.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to teach abroad in Asia (especially Bali), or women 40+ who love reading travel stories. I could definitely identify with Lisa about her frustrations dealing with a completely dysfunctional school, and I loved chuckling at the crazy owner and his obsession with designer bamboo structures that are not at all functional.
Paradise isn’t always paradise.
Best Reads of February
These are my favorite blog posts from the month!
Why I’ve Had a Drone For a Year and Barely Used It – Vicky Flip Flop
Do not underestimate drones! These things are powerful (and a bit scary). I’ve wanted to get one for a while, but a part of me is afraid I won’t use it…
7 Things About China That Will Make You Book Your Flight Now! – Teacake Travels
Alice is another China lover, and her post is a great representation of all the things I love about China!
I Still F*ing Hate Koh Phi Phi – Nomadic Matt
I don’t normally write about how I hate destinations, but this post explains why I’ve never been to Koh Phi Phi and never plan to go. There are plenty of other islands in Thailand that you should visit instead.
Diving Raja Ampat: An Underwater Paradise – Be My Travel Muse
Well… I just added a new location to my diving bucket list.
Celebrating Tet in Saigon – The Travel Lush
The first time I visited Saigon, the city was prepping for Tet (or the Lunar New Year). It was such an exciting time to be there!
What’s Next for March 2018?
This March I’ll be splitting my time between Palm Desert and my hometown of Seattle. I plan on getting off my computer to do some hikes in the Palm Desert area before I have to leave this paradise. Then in Seattle, I’ll have a solid two weeks of a million doctors/dentist appointments, and a ton of meetups with friends.
March will be my last month in the US before heading to Tanzania at the beginning of April! My to-do list before I head over is a bit out of control, so wish me luck!
What Do You Think?
Excited about the engagement? Questions about why I’m so obsessed with chessy grits? Be sure to let me know in a comment!
I’m always checking for new comments, and I’ll be sure to get back to you ASAP!