Kelsey Anna Ruth

You know when you meet someone randomly and you just know instantly deep down in your soul that this person is one of those grand, kind, friendly, life loving, wonderful people. That is Kelsey.

I informally met Kelsey on the rainiest Mother’s Day that Oregon has ever seen. Ducking between drenched booth tents at a local craft fair with my mom. Both of us running around looking at the crafty wares, on sugar highs from our five pounds of cinnamon roll French toast from the Block House Café in Dayton.
I instantly noticed Kelsey’s beautifully hand lettered greeting cards and desperately wanted to touch them (I am the shopper that gets kicked out of stores for touching everything) but given the soggy weather I thought better of it. Instead I took a picture of her social media information and got a hold of her later.

I have no idea what she was thinking when I contacted her to meet up for tea. Likely, “who is this crazy person and will she wind up trying to murder me”. No, that is what I would think because I watch too many murder mysteries, she is lovely and kind so she probably just thought nice things.Either way, after a ridiculous amount of time we finally managed to find a mutual place and time to meet and so one very sunny Friday afternoon we met up.

We talked about all manner of things. Between our equal love of Oregon, deep seeded needs to travel and our passions of the simpler things in life. Kelsey hails from Oregon, the daughter of a musical family, who grew up knowing, loving and creating art. She left Oregon to attend college and not surprisingly wound up majoring in art.  When finished she came back, to be in the lush greenery of her home state and amongst her family. She currently works several jobs but is hoping to make her hand lettered cards a larger part of her life and income. Which I have no doubt will happen.

We talked a lot of about the importance of art in the world at large. She feels strongly and I am inclined to believe her that while technology has forged many new forms of art, there are still important lessons learned when putting actual pen to physical paper. In her words there is an intimacy to the hard work of written words. Which has drawn her to create her beautiful hand lettered creations. The act of creating physical art can be humbling, as you cannot just press undo. These lessons in learning to slow down and appreciate this often arduous but loving act are important ones that people could stand to take part in now and again in our current fast paced world.

Currently Kelsey only sells at Viv’s Vintage Market, a local market put on several times a year by the Vivian Lee Foundation to fund cystic fibrosis research. This market is the one I visited the day I met Kelsey and first noticed her artwork. At a recent event (not the one I was last at) Kelsey created a beautiful piece that was donated and auctioned off to aid the efforts of the foundation. This idea of creating art to not only serve as a personal outlet but to communicate and better the world was an idea that was born in part from her travels abroad.

Her most memorable trip, she recounts, took her to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva  which had on display countless pieces of art that were gifted from countries and groups that had been given aid by the organization. This and the community values that she learned from her travel abroad has kept her inspired to cultivating the values she wants to see in the world. To give back where ever she can.

Not only is Kelsey terribly kind hearted, well traveled and totally smitten with Oregon  (she suggest spending time in the gorge if you haven’t yet). She is also into vintage and fashion. A girl after my own heart! She suggested if you haven’t yet to check out Sweet Jayne on NE Broadway, it is her favorite local boutique which specialized in all things she supports, small batch, local artisan goods and hopefully, maybe someday soon you can find her cards there too.

But until then, you can find her at all the upcoming events for Viv’s Vintage Market. The next confirmed market is Saturday and Sunday, December 9th and 10th at the Red Berry Barn in Sherwood, Oregon. You can also keep up with Kelsey personally on her blog and instagram which I would highly recommend. All pictures in this post are her property and used here with her express permission. Thank you Kelsey for creating such beauty in the world, and allowing me to help share it.




Jerome Monastery – Lisbon Portugal

The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery is a former monastery in the Belem area of Lisbon. Today it stands as a national monument, museum and UNESCO world heritage site.  It like the tower of Belem is one of the main tourist draws to the city and is most certainly worth the trek if you are staying closer to the Alfama or Baixa areas of the city. Board Tram 15 at the Praça do Comércio and exit at the Belem stop.

Tickets for the monastery, Belem Tower, architectural museum and art museum can be bought at the main counter at the monastery in either single ticket or bundled in various ways depending on what you want to see.


The monastery itself is a quick see, it consists of a gorgeous court yard, a small exhibit downstairs, a small but comprehensive over view of Lisbon, Portuguese and world history on the second floor and then of course the upstairs viewing of the gothic Church of Santa Maria.

To walk around the main level of the church, you must go back downstairs, exit the monastery where you came in, and then re-enter the lower area of the church at the main door which is across the walk way from where you would have bought your tickets.


Location Hours and More Information:

  • Praça do Império, Belem
  • 10AM-5PM (Oct.-April), 10AM-6PM (May-Sept.) (Closed Mondays)
  • To get there from Baixa (Praça do Comércio) take Tram 15 and exit at the Belem stop.
  • Museum Site
  • Other things in the area include; Maritime Museum, Archeology Museum, Tropical Gardens, Belem Palace, Coach Museum, Electricity Muse am, Princess Fountain and more.




A Brief History of Where I Have Been – United States Edition

Sometimes I forget all the places I have been. Not because I am soooooooo cool and I have been to so many places but honestly because I work full-time, go to yoga  and barre a few times every week, cook dinner every night for my husband, paint, knit, go out with my friends, keep our house clean, do laundry, go on long walks to listen to podcasts, take care of and train our new puppy, and volunteer our the local humane society. And that is just a normal week.

I am busy, like most of us. And I am actually quite bad at journaling. I have 200 journals (give or take) that I have been gifted over the years, written in once and then forgot all about. Which is part of the reason I wanted to start this blog, a way to keep up on everything that we do, on the go, with a little more accountability. And a lot fewer dead trees.

I am going to do a little word association exercise on the places that I have been to help jog some memories. Many of these will likely later become full-fledged blog posts and I will make sure to link them through as they get written up in more detail.

Alaska: favorite state, best mountains, best wildlife, lots of driving, very expensive.

Arizona: hot, really hot, baseball, malls, great tex mex food.

Arkansas: ….

California: wine, Disneyland, art museums, family, movie locations, hiking, great food.

Colorado: dry, weird weather, hard to breath, friends, work, outdoors, Denver city walk.

Delaware: strange little state, highways.

Florida: Disney World, road trips, old military sites.

Georgia: Family, fried food for days, grits, humid, karate classes, cleaning fossils, movie locations.

Hawaii: hula, friends, best beaches, great food, hiking, tropics, horrible traffic, amazing fish.

Idaho: boring

Illinois: works, museums, pizza, weird weather, stomach aches, friends, parties, indoor gardens.

Kansas: art museum,  bbq, architecture, great antiques.

Louisiana: food, the best food, the nicest people, history, walking tours, bayou tour, movie locations.

Minnesota: terrible weather, work, music, the greatest bar ever, skyway.

Montana: family, friends, big mountains, the cutest little down town ever.

Nevada: hot, dry

New Jersey: freeways

New Mexico: hot, dry

New York: so many people, so many buildings, broadway, ellis island, empire state building.

North Carolina: my favorite beaches, great food, old towns.

North Dakota: flat, cold, big ass stuff.

Oregon: home state, hiking, food, wine, beaches, small towns, big towns, music, I love this place.

Pennsylvania: history, battlefields, school

South Carolina: beaches, great food.

Tennessee: music, elvis, museum, the Peabody hotel, work.

Texas: airports, horrible layovers and more airports.

Utah: airports.

Vermont: farms, ice cream, lakes, work, antiques.

Virginia: school, history, hotel with indoor pool, amusements parks.

Washington: family, friends, outdoors, hiking.

West Virginia: …

Wisconsin: cheese, outdoor water parks, the last of the trees.

Wyoming: buffalo, old faithful, snowmobiles, cold.

Please don’t be upset or offended by any of my comments, I actually rather liked everywhere I have been. Most I visited for work, for two or three days at a conference and didn’t have a lot of time to explore. But I would love to go back to all of them and would love some ideas of what to do in each state.


What is your favorite state and what do you love to do there?



Where It All Began – Virginia to New York

I often say this trip is where my love of travel first began, but in truth I probably love travel because I was hauled all over creation with my parents when I was a kid. But for simplicity sake I am going to continue to call this trip “WHERE IT ALL BEGAN” in big booming letters. It was in fact my seventh grade liberty trip to the east coast.

I think I have heard of other schools doing this sort of thing. The schools allows the top students to apply and then you have to raise money to go, and then some VERY brave parents and teachers escort a bunch of wildly hormonal pre-teens up and down the east coast learning all about American History.

The idea is pretty cool, and the execution is mostly reasonable. You after all in theory have the most level headed, intelligent kids in your school. Which is great, except even the most level headed intelligent pre-teens, and are still pre-teens. Surprisingly nothing horrible happened, and it was actually a really fantastic trip. I am sure some of the teachers were silently sobbing in their hotels rooms each night.

We flew from Portland Oregon aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way down to Virginia. Since this was about 400 years ago I remember very little (read nothing) of this flight. We went to Busch Gardens and road some roller coasters. It was here that I and half my classmates discovered sun stroke. Not surprising given we all grew up in a place where the sun never shines. We stayed at a hotel with a really wild indoor pool that had a waterfall, I have no idea what the hotel was called.

We visited Jamestown, Plymouth Rock and Williamsburg all of which I loved and have been dying to go back to even since. I am a huge nerd, and a history buff (hence getting a spot on the trip). After some days in way too sunny Virginia, we moved on up to DC.

I was dying to go to the Smithsonian, instead we spent the whole day walking around monuments and the capital building. All I recall from this really is there were way too many steps, my shoes were really loud and I kept getting shushed in the capital building. And some story about the statue on top is facing away from the city because some dude got the city instructions upside down. I feel like even for a seventh grader this was a really horrible dumbed down version of what actually happened, and I was pretty miffed at the tour guide.

On the second day I was still dying to go to the Smithsonian, instead we went to the Ford Theater and watched changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Ford Theater was really great, and it only fueled my intense love of history.   The changing of the guard was very grand and wonderful and patriotic, but again it wasn’t the freaking Smithsonian.

Finally on the last day there  we were going to get to see the museum. But on the way in all my friends got distracted by the guys on the street selling sunglasses. So half the day was wasted right outside the museum, buying knock off sunglasses. It was rough. I was mad. In the end, before they shuttled us on the bus, I got to see some old dresses, some planes and some plants. I really need to go back.

I got my first ever boyfriend on the bus somewhere between DC and Philadelphia. We sat next to one another the whole way and didn’t speak a word to each other. Somewhere between getting to the baseball game in Philadelphia and meeting Tim Allen at the concessions stand we had broken up. He was just too needy, the boyfriend, not Tim Allen. I have no idea what Tim Allen is like really, other than he ordered a hot dog.

We then drove up to Gettysburg. We got a lot of information about ghosts and photos that wouldn’t turn out because the battle fields were all haunted. Mine turned out fine, other than the fact I was 12 and using a Mickey Mouse camera. Actually I take that back, all the pictures are horrible. But not because of ghosts.

Then we were all lined up and told to charge one another to “experience the intensity of battling your friends and family”. My best friend accidently clothes-lined one of our teachers, he was certainly feeling some intensity the entire bus ride to New York that night.

New York quite honestly scared me and still does a little bit. I am a small town lass, I like the country. So the sprawling estates, small charming towns and battlefields we had previously visited were totally my jam. New York was….intense.

Turns out I loved it. I didn’t love all the people, or getting stuck in a rotating door, or getting hip checked by a taxi cab. But I loved the architecture. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty were amazing. Broadway was amazing, the buildings and history all of it. I loved it. I cannot wait to go back there some day as adult with much more ability to control what I see and do.


Did your school offer a similar trip? Did you go? What are some of your favorite experiences in these states?



I have never been a very good writer, but I have always felt as though I have a lot of stories to tell. My intent with this blog is to document the adventures that I go on partially so I can remember all of the wonderful places I have gone in detail. But in a small way I would also love to help others get out and start experiencing the world.

The great wide world we live in can be a scary place, the news the social media can in part make it seem much scarier. I have certainly been in plenty of situations that were uncomfortable while traveling but I wouldn’t call a single one of the truly scary, and certainly not dangerous.

So while getting lost might be worrying, you can always ask for help. Language barriers might be daunting, but jilted body language conveys more than people often realize and usually lead to laughs and smiles from both parties. Missing your train or plane isn’t the end of the world, there is always another one. Unexpected expenses are an inconvenience but you can always make more money. Bad weather might ruin your plans for the day but doesn’t have to ruin your entire trip. Strikes happen, road closures happen, lost wallets, stolen bags, incomplete reservations, broken down transportation, storms, all happen but they aren’t the end of the world. And fear of things that have yet to happen shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world.

So I hope you will choose to wander along with me on all my adventures great and small. Some might just be exploring the area around where I live (since I have a corporate job and can’t just up and leave when ever I feel like it). Some adventures might be great, like my upcoming family trip to Portugal. And some might not seem great to travelers who are more adventurous than me and that is fine. I am doing what I love best and hoping to inspire others to do the same.