Wolff Designs

If only the joy of traveling paid enough to keep a roof over my head, but since I haven’t found a way it will, I’ve been working on developing my graphic design skills.

I really enjoy graphic design. This past year I have improved immensely on a range of print graphics and I am continuing to pursue website design. Unfortunately the college only offers one course in web design. While I did make some decent websites, there is so much more to learn. Dreamweaver, which requires a greater knowledge of coding is not my favorite method to design websites.

However here are links to a few I made for class. I’m most impressed with how much I improved throughout the semester. These are in progression from most basic to most complex websites.


This year I plan on using a few different programs to design websites. I will be posting my new portfolio website something this year.

Last semester I took a 3D animation class, which wasn’t by choice, however I did work on some really cool things.

3Ds Max Scene

Here I created a bouncing ball breaking glass.

Fish Stamp

This was one of the coolest projects. I designed this on the computer and then it was 3D printed.

Milk Bottle

Not the most fun program to use, but it is really cool to create something from nothing.

I can’t believe I will graduate with my associate’s degree this year. Last year I spent more time working in Photoshop. I don’t consider myself the best at Photoshop, but here is some stuff I worked on. The poster and logo were made in other programs.



I designed this logo, and it was picked as the favorite, so I got a $25 gift card.


Just worked on various posters. The more projects I work on the better.

wolff_masks copy

Just an advertisement. Looking at it now, it looks a bit unprofessional. I have learned a lot about design just in the past year.

I really enjoyed working on this one.

I really enjoyed working on this one.

So the more I look at my past Photoshop work, the more I cringe. These are photoshop assignments from my first year in the program and they don't have the polished look I would like.

So the more I look at my past Photoshop work, the more I cringe. These are photoshop assignments from my first year in the program and they don’t have the polished look I would like.

This one did end up decent I will admit.

This one did end up decent I will admit.


My favorite class by far has been my Indesign class. Here are several projects I’ve created. Portfolio

Book Cover

I redesigned a book cover.

Business Card

I spent a good amount of time designing this card as well as the logo. This semester I will probably design something completely different. The website and email on this card are made up.

Here is the back of the business card.

Here is the back of the business card.

So that’s it. That’s the kind of stuff I’ve been working on at San Juan College. I have enjoyed it more than I thought. Since I’m such an independent person, this degree seems to be the right fit. My internship at Piñon Hills Community Church is helping immensely. I work a lot in print design and continue to see how I can apply my skills. I really would like to pursue web design and am working on developing some websites for free.


A new year, same me

It’s been too long since I’ve written. It’s amazing how quickly things can get away from me. Last year had quite a few highlights.

2014 recap

  • It was the year of many odd jobs, which had its advantages and disadvantages. I’ve had more than five jobs this year.
  • Traveled to China for the first time and had quite the adventure. I still have a stash of photos that I may get to posting.
  • First boyfriend. Still not very outspoken about this.
  • Bought my first car.
  • Completed a semester of 17 credit hours at San Juan College and got all As.
  • Started working out five to six days a week with a friend. Ran a half marathon (13 miles), but not as a part of a race.
  • Started/joined a book group and game night.
  • Enjoyed as much of everyday as I could.

I’m sure 2015 will bring its own set of adventures. I don’t really have any resolutions for 2015, just a few goals.

  • Now that we’ve run a half marathon we’re tackling the 100 push up challenge (be able to do 100 consecutive push ups). I also want to be able to do pull ups.
  • Read more. Write more.
  • Narrow down all my odd jobs to one part-time job. I am now on the search for a new job (how I hate to wait for phone calls).
  • Save for future traveling.
  • Survive two more semesters of college.

And as the year goes on I’ll have a more goals I’m sure. I wish you all the best for the new year. Enjoy it!

A Year Around the World

In May of 2013 I began my gap-year. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. I just knew that I didn’t want to get stuck in school. I knew I wasn’t at the right school. I had little direction about what I wanted to study or do with the rest of my life. I certainly wasn’t going to stay at school and get in to debt. I did know one thing, that what I really wanted to do was travel–to see the world. And that’s exactly what I did.

As I have already blogged extensively about my travels, I think a timeline is appropriate to layout my year off.

  • May 2013-October 2013       worked full-time as a bank teller
  • October 2013-January 2014       Costa Rica adventures
  • January 2014-March 2014    worked as receptionist
  • April 2014   China trip
  • May 2014-August 2014  a mix of work and play

Well put this way it doesn’t look like I did very much in my gap-year. But that’s far from the truth. I experienced more new things in the last year than I have in all of high school. I worked, I saved money, and I traveled. I was a farmer. I walked on The Great Wall. I lived in two completely new cultures. I learned a new language. I turned a year older. I lived. I learned about myself, about what I want and don’t want. I found contentment instead of uneasiness about the future.

It wasn’t just about work. Work was a means to make money so that I could travel and now it has been a means to pay for an education. I have decided to pursue a degree in Digital Media Arts and Design. And if I don’t like it, I won’t continue it. Then I’ll just live in other countries for a while, become fluent in a couple of languages and see where that takes me.

That’s all a bit over my head right now though. I’m actually excited to start school Monday. I have already paid tuition in full and bought my books.

I will be taking:

Intro to Digital Media Arts and Design
Intro to Digital Editing
Art: Two Dimensional Design
Beginning Spanish
Digital Photography

Be prepared to see some art and photography from my classes this fall.

And so my gap-year did end with starting school again, but this time with more purpose, experience, exploration and questioning. And although it was a gap from traditional schooling, it was a gap filled with far more than I could have imagined for myself.It only took me 90 blog posts to get here.

The End of Summer

I think I must’ve blinked a few too many times. It’s August already. But really that’s just a month of the year. It’s marked how much time has passed since my last big adventure.

So before I start my new one, I thought I’d share a bit of news of what’s happened since I got back from China.

I came back from China at the end of April, looking to settle into a job for a while. Apparently, God had a few other plans for me.

I had a few job interviews with a couple of corporations and didn’t end up getting either job. You can read about that whole fiasco here (it wasn’t really a fiasco, but it certainly hurt my ego).

I already had been turning rooms at Silver River Adobe Inn. The owner was training me to make breakfast and take care of all the Bed and Breakfast tasks for when she and her husband left for trips. I also continued to drive a lady around, who happens to be named Daisy. So jokingly, but mostly seriously I am “Driving Miss Daisy.”

I still needed a job that was a bit more consistent, and I ended up getting a job as a server/busser/cashier at a small Spanish restaurant downtown. Still that totaled only about nine hours a week.

May was light on work, but I still managed to fill everyday with something to do. Then I tapped into the house sitting/pet sitting market. Since June I’ve watched six or seven houses throughout the summer. I also have managed the B&B all on my own.

In July one more job opportunity presented itself. I was asked to start teaching Taekwondo and as I had already been going, it was basically a no-brainer to get paid to go to Taekwondo.

And if you’ve lost count, collectively that’s five jobs. And yes there isn’t much of a consistent schedule, but I made enough for a semester of college as well as other expenses and some fun. Some days four jobs all collided all in one day–like today.

Now that I think about it, all five collided today.

1. I house sat.
2. I turned rooms at the B&B.
3. I worked at the restaurant.
4. I taught Taekwondo.
5. I drove Daisy.

So what’s going to happen now that I start school Monday? I’ll pretty much keep all of those jobs. I just won’t have the same availability I did this summer, which means I won’t get as many hours, but I’ll have homework to focus on.

This summer has taught me a lot. I now have even more work experience, but at a price of some days being incredibly busy and thus exhausting. If one really wants to make and save money, a full-time job is probably a better bet of a consistent paycheck. However, it has been a fun and fulfilling summer. I’ve hardly even had time to think “there’s nothing to do in this town.”




How Not to Get a Job

I’m 19 and I’ve already had six jobs since the age of 16. That averages me out to only holding a job for six months. Somehow I have problems keeping jobs, not because I’ve been fired, but because I quit. All this quitting is wearing on me. I’m set up to courses in the fall for a Digital Media Arts and Design degree, which will take me two years to complete, if I don’t take a detour. So here is the perfect opportunity for me settle down. Maybe actually have a job for a while, build my reputation up, become part of the a business and a valuable asset. These are all things I realize will help me in the future.

My life has changed a considerable number of directions since my first “real” job. And although I have been welcomed to come back and work for several past employers, I haven’t. There is always something stopping me. I always am striving for better and to learn more. Once I’ve done a job, I feel I have learned it well enough and I want to find something different.

Jobs these days, especially ones you can get without a degree are not supportive of long-term breaks. I have never sacrificed my desires to travel or go on vacation for a job. Maybe this isn’t something employers want to hear. But I think it is far more important to take care of myself. It’s also easier because I have a supportive mother and a place I can stay. I realize that hiring an employee is an investment as well as a cost. They have to take the time to hire, employ, train, do paperwork, etc. The lower the turnover rate the more money stays in the business. I unfortunately have made myself part of that turnover rate.

So, I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a new job once I rested a bit from China. I have decent work history, good references, and interviews don’t make me nervous. Well I’ve had two interviews within the last week, one at a restaurant, the other at a media store. I wasn’t hired for either one. Yes, it hurts a little. I feel rejected. Like, come on. I’m a good employee. I’ve actually decided to settle down. I will work hard for you. But maybe I didn’t want the job enough. Perhaps I was being a bit hesitant. There are always things I could have said that may have gotten me the job or maybe they just found someone better. I just find it ironic that I was more easily able to find jobs with little to no experience.

Now that rejection has scabbed over, I realize there are other possibilities. I’ve tried retail anyway and didn’t much like it. There wasn’t much upward mobility and the pay isn’t great. After working a couple of jobs for $10 an hour I don’t want to go back to $8 an hour. I thought working in a restaurant might be a solution. I know that with a good restaurant and experience that I could exceed $10 an hour in tips. Unfortunately I have no experience in the restaurant business. I probably would have to start off as a hostess. So it appears I am back at square one.

The jobs I have enjoyed the most have been with local businesses-not corporations. When I work for a corporation I feel much more like a number. I do not feel like an asset. There is micromanagement. I just want an employer to believe that I am a good employee and I will work to exceed that. Also, in corporations it’s much more difficult to work out time off. It feels like there is absolutely no flexibility.

I’m not completely jobless though. Through connections and building relationships I have been working at a bed and breakfast as well as driving a woman around to do errands. Still that amounts to less than $500 a month. I have one more lead to follow-up on and some house sitting in the summer. So, perhaps things will work out better. If I just had one more part-time job I would be quite satisfied. I enjoy a variety of work. Not doing the same things 40 hours a week.

So I leave you with one final thought, and that comes from Mike Rowe who wrote a letter about finding the “right career.” I’m not exactly looking for the right career, but I was looking for the “right job” to have for the next couple of years. Maybe there isn’t “the one.” Rather, I make it the one, by working hard and making myself an invaluable employee.

Here’s the letter.

Man Asks Mike Rowe for “Life Advice” – His Response is the Best Thing You’ll Read Today


Insert Catchy Title

Phase one: work and save money for travel and decide where/what you want to do. Check. I worked full-time for four months saving every penny. I found workaway.info and decided to farm in Costa Rica.

Phase two: live in another country and be a part of the culture. Check. I lived and worked on farms in Costa Rica for three months, learning Spanish along the way.

Phase three: Job shadow, study Chinese, and work part-time for the awkward two and half month period before I go to China in April.

Finding a job proved to be a bit more difficult than I had hoped, but I did manage to get a job before February came. Currently I am working as a receptionist at High Desert Rheumatology and Internal Medicine. (It took me a day to remember what the office was called). It’s a great, low stress job with flexible hours and really nice co-workers.

So after securing a job, things started falling into place. I started feeling more motivated to do stuff. I began searching for people who I could job shadow. I contacted a woman who knows a lot of business people in Farmington and she connected me with a graphic designer at Majestic Media. I interviewed her one day about how she got her job and how happy she was with it. Then I sat and watched what she did for an hour.

I’ve realized that connections and relationships can really get you far in life if only you pursue them. In January, I met a woman who owns a bed and breakfast so I asked if I could see what she does. She showed me around the place and told me about how it got started. Currently it is the low season so I didn’t actually get to see her interact with any guests, but I hope to soon.

The third job shadowing I’ve begun is at San Juan Reproduction. I know one of the graphic designers there. I’ve gotten a quick tour of the place and a peek into what she does. I will continue to go there on a weekly basis and will get to play with the programs that she uses on a computer beside her.

I also have a pending job shadowing at a restaurant, which could even turn into another part-time job…

I plan on writing more in-depth on each of my job shadowing experiences. So if you’re interested in the lessons I’ve learned from each of the jobs I’ve dabbled in, be on the lookout.

In addition to my career exploration, I have been asked to help with a new business. So, not only have I been job shadowing, I also am helping design and maintain a website for this business. (More details about this is March when we launch the website). I have never designed a website before, so I am learning a tiny bit of HTML and a bit more CSS as well as blogging. The woman I am working with (I guess you could call her my business partner?) has over twenty years of advertising and marketing experience, so I am getting to learn that aspect of business as well. We met with a man who owns an internet marketing company called ICT Marketing (Insert Catchy Title…yes I did borrow the name for this blog post). So now I have learned about SEO and how to make a webpage come up in google. And the plan is to continue using his expertise to get people to our website. Being a part of beginning this business has provided me opportunity. An opportunity to learn by doing, to create, to do something for Farmington, to make connections, to form relationships, all of which will help me to get a career(s). I’m learning skills that college just doesn’t provide.

Right now my life is a collage. It seems a bit messy, but it works.

My goal of studying Chinese has been a bit difficult as every time I try to think in Chinese it comes out in Spanish…But I’m working on it.

You’d think that once I got a job and started job shadowing that would be enough, but I also enjoy learning/playing bridge twice a week and I’ve started going back to Tae Kwon Do. And I still have free time. Cool, huh? It’s amazing how many things you can fit into a week.

Costa Rica fading fast

Can you believe it? I’ve already been home for two weeks! Back in the good ol’ USA. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve settled back into living at home. Not much has changed. You would think that after being gone from one place for three months that a lot would be different, but no. There’s still yard sale signs in the back of our car from October! Those three months in Costa Rica were filled everyday with something new. Yes, the time was flying when I was there, but it also felt strangely long. I really experienced every one of my 88 days in Costa Rica. And when I came back home it felt as if I had only been gone for a week. I just picked off where I left off. Of course I’m not exactly sure where I am headed now.

I’ve gotten my room in order. I’ve had one job interview. Applied for five jobs at this point. Gone to two movies. Gone to church twice. Eaten out twice. Spent way too much time on the computer and watching TV. Yes, this may seem like a great life and for two weeks it has been nice, but now I’m getting restless. I haven’t yet found a job because I just don’t want to get stuck with a job I don’t like (I suppose I can’t afford to be picky as I only have a high school education). It also doesn’t help that I will be gone in April for three weeks. Oh did I tell you that I have a trip to China in April for three weeks? Just another little trip to plan and prepare for. First hurdle: visa, cost $220+. I’m definitely excited for the trip though, and this will be my first time back since I was adopted. That would make it fifteen years since I’ve breathed Chinese air (not actually sure that I want to breathe Chinese air…). Continue reading

Venturing to Central America

I leave in four days, and really this shouldn’t feel much different from when I went to college for eight months. But, inevitably it does. I suppose the major reason it feels different is because this is the first time I will be traveling by myself to another country. My mom won’t be coming with me to see where I’ll be staying. I’ll be figuring everything out on my own. It’s not like I don’t have experience traveling on my own, but going to another country will be a first for me.

Several people have asked me why Costa Rica? And yes, I have some good reasons for going to Costa Rica, but it’s not really the country that is drawing me there, but rather the experience it will provide me. I don’t think anyone needs a specific reason to travel. The best possible reason I can give for wanting to go to Costa Rica is because I love to travel. I want to experience new cultures and see new things. I want to understand the world, which will always be a lifelong endeavor. Costa Rica is only one of many places I want to go. I believe that wherever I am I will find joy in my adventures and will never stop learning. Whatever country I may end up in, will be a country I will be interested in.

When I began this year off there were so many places I wanted to go. There still are. However, I had to go with some place practical. Even I can’t argue that the idea of traveling in China by myself makes me nervous. I consider Costa Rica a warm up for future international travels.

Here are some reasons that Costa Rica became my first stop on my gap-year.

  • I’ve had a couple of friends go to Costa Rica and come back in one piece.
  • Costa Rica is relatively safe. It also has a decent number of English speakers and a lot of American tourists.
  • Costa Rica has a lot of farms. I found a couple to stay at. I am leaving my options flexible as to if I’ll go to one or two farms.
  • Costa Rica is in the same time zone as New Mexico and really is only about 3000+ miles away. That doesn’t seem so far to me. I’ll be there in a day of travel, just like when I went to Massachusetts for school.
  • Costa Rica accepts US currency in some places and uses standard US plugs with 110 V, so I won’t have to worry too much about my electronics.
  • I won’t have to worry about the safety of drinking water, except possibly in rural areas. Costa Rica is a developing country and is the most well off of Central America.
  • It’s warm and tropical. I’m really excited to see how Costa Ricans spend their holiday season. Definitely looking forward to escaping the three month holiday season of the United States. (I can’t stand holiday advertising that begins before Halloween!)

I would have gone farther for my first trip abroad, but in an effort to be practical and safe I had to compromise a few things. I am taking this trip all on my own. I am doing this without an organization or a set program. I am funding this trip from my personal savings. I would say that as an 18 year-old, I’m quite proud of myself, but really I haven’t done this on my own. I have been blessed with innumerable support. Without this support I would not be here typing this post out. It would be a far different story. So, I can say that I’m not leaving America, I’m just going to a different part of it.

What am I up to?

Well I suppose it’s time for an update. People seem to be more interested in what I’m doing than I am. That’s probably because I know exactly what I’m doing but I end up having to say the same thing several dozen times.

Here’s a recap.

Got a major haircut in May.

Began work as a bank teller in May.

I went to a  family reunion in Montana at the end of June.

I bought tickets for Costa Rica in July. The trip is from October 10th to January 8th.

I continued to work.

I read.

I took bridge lessons.

I studied Spanish daily.

In August I bought tickets to China for an April trip.

September 21st was my last day of work which was bittersweet. It felt a bit like the last day of school.


Last day of work I got a haircut.

I just got a credit card for all my world travel expenses.

I’m taking more formal Spanish lessons a couple of times a week.

I still watch a good amount of TV.

I’m working an embroidery on pillow case that probably won’t be done for 5 years at the rate I’ve been sewing.

I’m still playing bridge. Yes, I may one day actually understand that game.

Yesterday I went back to Tae Kwon Do. I haven’t been back in at least a year and a half, but it was so energizing. I will continue to go three times a week until I leave.

I got a flu shot.

I’m reading The Godfather.

And speaking of The Godfather I just helped my Godfather take several loads of books to the library.

I’ve been cooking up a storm. Yay free time! I’ve made butternut squash risotto, blueberry and peach pie from scratch, pea pancakes, crepes, pinto beans, and more.

And yes, I still feel like a fairly typical teenager. I Skype. I message on Facebook. I text. I email.

What’s Next?

Well now that I’m not working I have time to hang out with people.

I’ll catch a couple of movies. I think I’ve seen only one in theaters all summer.

Prepare for a yard sale this weekend.

Pack for Costa Rica.

Clean my room. Get rid of more stuff.

Bake some bread.

Make it known on Facebook that I’m going to Costa Rica.

Share my blog URL.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather!

Okay I tried to keep it short and sweet. Hopefully now you are all caught up with what’s going on in my life. It still doesn’t seem all that interesting, but I’m enjoying it. I’m really excited to start writing about Costa Rica. If you have any questions let me know and I’ll do a post answering them.

Digging my way to China

I always seem to come up with great post titles (well I think they are pretty great), and then I never finish writing the darn post. Well this one I am going to finish.

Can you believe it, I’m already planning another leg of this epic journey? I was going to write this post once I’ve actually purchased the tickets, but I’m too excited not to share. I am going to go to China in April for three weeks! I will be going with a couple and their four-year-old triplets and the grandpa. Can you say brave? Anyway, they told me I am welcome to go with them. God really has been gracious and has put so many opportunities before me this year. This is probably the most ideal way to see China because I will be going with two Chinese speakers (one of whom lives in China and visits the US yearly). I also get to help keep track of three adorable little girls. April is quite aways away, so I’ll talk about what I am doing presently regarding travel.

I’m not one to use metaphors a lot, but this one seem too good to pass up. I really do feel like I’m preparing to dig my way to China (and Costa Rica). Preparing for international travel is a lot of work, so much more so than I would have imagined. Right now I am gathering all my tools and finding a spot to start digging. Trying to prepare for the worst. There are so many logistics it’s enough to drive one crazy. I’m pretty sure it already has driven me a bit crazy. I have to think about what to pack, how to coordinate flights, how to handle money, etc. Sure, there are books written on this, but it’s really not the same as doing it. People have given me advice, but the advice doesn’t feel all the helpful. There’s a lot to be said for experiential learning. That is definitely what I am doing now. I could probably write a book or blog more extensively about how to travel the world, with  step-by-step processes, but reading how someone has managed their travel planning is far different from doing it yourself. I’ve been following a few guidelines and taking some advice, but for the most part I’ve had to figure this out on my own. Currently, I’m trying to figure out the best way to get out of New Mexico and to San Francisco in time for my flight to Shanghai. There seem to be so many options, but none are quite ideal. I’m rather frustrated by it all, it’s just giving me another reason to move to a big city. It’s so much easier to hop on a plane to, well, anywhere. I’m sure there will be a workable solution. No matter how it works out, I’ll be doing something I’ve never done before. Soon, I’ll be through digging, and I’ll be there. All the hard work will pay off. Wish me luck. 🙂