coming fall

My knitting basket has been the first sign of fall this year. Grays and blues have shifted over to greens and oranges as Christmas stockings take first priority.

coming fall | seekthewelfare

I felt fall in the air for the first time two weeks ago as I walked across the crunching gold of my childhood home's lawn, and again in a slight crispness to the shade deep in Bainbridge woods.  This year it has been subtle and quiet and certainly hasn't touched the city yet other than ad campaigns in the chain-store windows.

The rush of school beginning is oddly dampened by being a substitute, though I'm more than happy to scrape together every last second of summer that I can, content in my ability to simply wait for the sixth to arrive without stress over lesson plans, IEPs, or classroom politics. It will come, but for now I'll enjoy these last few days. 

Is fall finding its way into your life yet?

summer on pine street

Most things are hot and sticky. Overheated, trying to fall asleep, I measure my breathing by the thump of the leather bar's four, out four. In five, out five. In six, out six...

Some evenings we stuff our little space full of people, food, and conversation. Those are the best evenings. Something tangible fills the air. We all feel as though we could change the world, one sentence at a time, trying to forget (or save?) the bodies that fill the park every night, humans trying to find some corner to be safe and settling in drifts along the chain link fence instead.

summer on pine street

Graffiti vaginas and Bernie Sanders' hair appear at regular intervals along the peeling, brick walls of the surrounding buildings while the streets are filling up with the memories of the past... almost three? years...the jerking movements of the man coming down the street while wrestling to get the door open. The woman's attack down by the park. The yells, sirens, sobs, and triumphant calls at three in the morning.

The most famous thrift shop in the world (thank you Macklemore) is plastered over in ten-foot-high letters, empty, echoing, yet another sign that soon I won't be able to afford to live here. The owner dreamed of more money so now it's been vacant for over a year. Every half block and old storied homes lie dismembered as shining examples of modern design spring up in their place. Filled with wood but somehow too angular. Density. Yes. Density is important but it feels like we humans are being bulldozed. ...I say as if I'm not part of the if I didn't choose this community on purpose. I could have chosen somewhere else. But I didn't. This one was the most alive. And we could afford the rent.


Plants crowd around the windows of our apartment, filling every last inch of sun-filled sill. Doctor's literal orders. I never thought I would see that written on a prescription slip. I have never been more grateful for the hedge-turned-haywire tree out our windows but somehow the filtered light isn't as comforting anymore. It doesn't block enough of the late-night desperate sounds and my tolerance for them is weakening.

More often than not I retreat into the apartment, a cool shady corner or claustrophobic hot-box depending on the day. I retreat out of fear.

Fear that I can't do anything; fear that I won't.


This past month has quietly filled up with waiting. 


Waiting for little things to matter again after the wonders and hardships of traveling across the ocean and poking about in history's back closets. Waiting for test results. Waiting for the strained heartstrings of teaching to heal. Waiting for school to re-start so that those same heartstrings can sing again. Waiting for rent to rise. Waiting for faith to spring out of me like uncalled for water works. Waiting for the avocado seed to crack open, sacrificing itself to the sprout inside.

They say it takes months. It feels like it's already been years.

thirty before thirty

Upon the writing of this list, I was six months and a quarter of a century old. With so much life happening all at once and rushing by, I took a moment to pause and challenge myself to continued growth and write a thirty before thirty list. And, to throw in an element of accountability, here it is, edited as I dream about, plan, and work to complete the list before my 30th birthday.

thirty before thirty | seekthewelfare

Some of these goals will take a great deal of time and effort such as saving for and buying a house. Some of them are more or less out of my control such as being taken on a date (no judgement please). Some of them I've been putting off for years like reading all of the books I own. Some of them totally freak me out (any kind of performance in front of anyone ever). But each one is possible and that is extremely exciting.

thirty before thirty

goal date: december 2021
last updated july 2017



live in a house -- preferably my own

create a vegetable and flower garden -- i've got all of my tools, now i just need the dirt.

care for a flock of chickens

procure beautiful dinner dishes and napkins -- preferably by a local artist



start my own business. in 2016 I opened The Sick Box, a little shop filled with handmade and carefully curated goods to nurture and encourage self-care.

earn a teaching certificate

lead-teach for at least one full year

get paid to organize someone's home -- currently in process!

work with a photography client



travel solo outside of the United States

wild camp

drive from one coast of the United States to the other

live in a foreign country for a month or more. lived in Paris for a month in 2017 with a week in London thrown in the middle for good measure.

skinny dip

take a multi-day cross-country train trip. in june 2017 i took my grandmother on an amtrak train from Seattle, WA to Saint Paul, MN for her birthday. it was magical.

bike from one major city to another -- anyone want to go from Seattle to Portland with me?

return to Scotland

swim in warm ocean water -- Hawaii perhaps? Or Florida? Spain could work too...

go on another overnight boat voyage. june 2017 saw me cruizing the puget sound from case inlet to everett.



go 30 days with a quart trash jar without filling it up -- because I haven't yet gotten this strict with myself though I have significantly reduced my trash

have my portrait taken or painted

read every book I own -- it's been a goal of mine for about a year now. I've made some progress but it could be much better.



throw pottery

confidently play and sing at least three tunes on the ukulele with someone to witness them

accomplish a difficult yoga pose -- preferably with a balancing element

try oil painting -- i'm scheduled for a class from late july through august of 2017!



write the life story of at least one relative

be taken out on a date -- I believe there will be no judging for this one, thank you.

buy work from a local artist

fix someone else's flat tire

Here's to the next five years.

Do you have a goal list going? What's your favorite one? Comment below or share with us on the facebook page.

my minimal packing list for one month in paris ... UPDATED


One month in a Paris apartment with
one week in London thrown in for good measure

One woman
watercolorist, writer, photographer, journaler, zero waster

There are two parts of me that do battle when I'm packing for a trip. The first, is the minimalist vagabond who wants to walk out the door with just her toothbrush and a good book. The second is the easily overwhelmed introvert who is determined to stuff anything that might possibly bring comfort into an already over-sized bag.

They do battle before every trip but, the more I go on these adventures, the more I realize how it isn't so much how much you take, but what you take. I have learned how intimate and personal a packing list is.

So. Here is a window into my soul. Here is my latest packing list.

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my minimal packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


Safety razor | merkur's "1904" handle

Clippers + tweezers + file | from my childhood

Comb | once my grandmother's

Bamboo toothbrush | these ones have charcoal bristles and are gorgeous to boot

Dry shampoo | kitchen-made

Deodorant | I've used this recipe for over a year and still love it

my minimal packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


Passport wallet | I am in love with this one and its handmade simplicity

Printed tickets | obviously (though not pictured)

Emergency contact card | simple and hand-written in french on one of these lovely cards that ship plastic free and which I use for everything (not pictured)

Sleeve wallet | just took the lanyard off of my work badge

Keys | on this keyring

Sunglasses | snagged this case from Roommate

Phone + charger | wrapped in one of these

Essentials kit | see below



Lavender essential oil | I use this one for calm, for minimalist perfume, and for questionable hygiene days

Lip balm | naturally I use this one

Activated charcoal | because there will be bread and I will be eating some of it

A couple pain capsules | just in case

One sprinkle pill | also just in case

Glasses cleaning cloth | because glasses don't usually jive with dusty roads

Bandages | just a couple (not pictured)

my minimalist packing list for one month in paris | seekthewelfare


Pewter flask | a gift from Roommate two years ago. I didn't end up using it but it was so pretty sitting on the bedside table that I might just take it again next time.

Stud earrings | another gift from this fantastic indy maker

Hoop earrings | me-made

Dangle earrings | second-hand

Silk scarf | once my grandmother's. Another piece I didn't end up using though I felt better knowing that I could dress up my look if I needed to.



Ichabod | handmade by my college roommate, he wrote letters to my students back home in Seattle. A comfort to me in his familiarity, and a great deal of fun for my students.

my packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


Spork | I use this one every day at work in my sack lunch

Napkin | the same one I used as a kid on family camping trips

Travel Mug | I also use this one every day at work. Roommate got it for me because I can't break it. Yes she's brilliant. It proved the perfect companion on my watercolor wanderings as it held a generous amount of paint water and looked awesome doing it.

Water bottle | second hand

Market bags | one is made from vintage tea towels by my mother, one was a gift, and one is a french market bag similar to this one.

Sewing kit | see below.

my packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


Fisherman's Friend tin | same size as an altoids tin and way prettier

Assorted buttons | when you need a button you really need a button

Safety pins | always useful

Scissors | once my grandmother's

Assorted threads | picked to match our clothes

Three needles | because I break them more than you might think

my minimal packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


BookGrain journal | it doesn't get better than this. It proved sturdy, beautiful, but not too flashy. A joy to bring ou at museums, cafes, and anywhere I wanted to jot down a quick message or sketch.

Pen + pencil | Roommate got me hooked on these years ago

Gray pen | this one is my favorite because it looks like pencil

Eraser | a nice big one

Washi tape | I use a wood grain print (similar) for any stray tidbits I want to save in my travel journal

my minimal packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


This kit ended up being perfect for plein air sketches and wanderings. I didn't want for anything, neither did I end up carrying around unecessary supplies.

Paints | I'm a Daniel Smith girl

Tin | vintage

Brushes | Princeton Neptune in 1.5" mottler, 0.5" oval wash, 6 round, 4 script, and 0 round.

Watercolor postcards | these are perfect for street-painting shenanagins and foreign stamps

Paper | 8x8 coldpress finish

Pencil | cedar is my favorite

Sharpener | second hand

Putty eraser | allows you to erase tiny details or a whole page

Binder clip | for keeping everything together while street painting

Paper towel | I use mine over and over again because I love collecting colors

Water jar | find my mason jar mug above in "zero waste kit"

my minimal packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


Camera | Canon EOS Rebel T2i (not pictured)

Lenses | 55mm (not pictured) and 18-55mm. Two lenses may seem like overkill, but I used both constantly. The 18-55mm lets you capture wide open spaces while the 55mm prime lens is perfection for capturing pastries and other details.

Lens cozy | me-made from second-hand material from my mother

Strap | it's this one's inaugural trip! And it was perfect. Subtle and un-branded, it doesn't call attention to itself nor does it let everyone know that you've got an expensive camera to be stolen.

Battery charger | just the kit charger

Tripod | a gift last summer In the end this never made it into my bag and I didn't miss it while we were there.


Second hand unless starred

top left
Sun hat | for painting in the sun
Sun dress | comfortable t-shirt dress
Formal occasion dress | gray, doesn't wrinkle, always reliable. I never had occasion to wear it but again, felt much better for having it as an option if I needed it.

top right
Fedora | for getting caught in the rain
Shawl scarf | warmth, class, and versatility
Light jacket | (stolen from Roommate) for finicky weather. Wore it nearly constantly.
Wool sweater | for even more warmth without any bulk

bottom left
Tank top | pajamas
Leggings | pajamas
Oversized pullover | for cozying up at home. A lot of space for something I never wore outside but absolutely worth it.

bottom right
Gray Pencil skirt | to dress up or down
Black leggings | extra warmth and super versatile
Black skinnies | they go with all shoes and all occasions. Wore them all. the. time.
Neutral mid-length sleeve top | the chevron stripes add fun detail and mirror other pieces
Longsleeve top | a light almost-neutral green
Shortsleeve top | gray with a scoop back
Colored mid-length sleeve top | a pop of burgundy never hurt anyone. Wore it so much it has holes now. 

not pictured
Black raincoat* | trench style
Assorted underthings* | three pairs of everything
Two bras* | sport and nude
Opaque black tights* | for extra warmth with no extra bulk
Thick socks* | 2 pairs

my minimal packing list for one month in Paris | seekthewelfare


Knee-high leather boots | because they class up anything you wear with them

Toms wedges | second hand, very comfortable for walking while still being a little dressier

Toms flats | second hand and perhaps a bit too casual for Paris but! They're my wander shoes that I don't have to think about when I'm wearing them and you bet I'm going to be rocking the "traveling artist who only cares about color and texture" look at least some (read most) of the time. Definitely my go-to meaning that I now have a strong toms tan and am desperately trying to figure out how to fix it.

my minimal packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare


Dry bags | osprey 6 liter, sea to summit 8 + 13 literLife savers, particularly while we were living out of our suitcases in London.

Laundry bag | 12 literJust the right size.

my packing list for one month overseas | seekthewelfare

THE BAGS (yes it all fits)

Backpack | a storied hand-me-down

Sidebag | my forever bagFit everything I could pososibly need...My camera with lens, passport wallet, watercolors, paint water, pens, pencils, brushes, paper, and journal. And I could still take one thing out at a time. Perfection.



Laptop + charger | for writing, photo editing, and skyping

Headphone splitter | for planes, trains, and city buses


Shampoo + conditioner
Razor blades

What would you put in your bag for a month-long city trip? Comment below or share on facebook.