This week I am excited to announce a special project that I've been working on, the Alden Park Collection. A special collaboration with my dear friend, Maria Fabrizi, this is a collection of handmade textiles, inspired by our textile design roots.  

Photo by David Hansen

Maria and I met in college, where we were both studying textile design. After graduation, we both went on to work in the textile industry, designing home furnishing fabrics for American mills. When the industry fell and most American mills moved to Asia, we both changed career paths, but have always loved textiles. This year we designed and created a small collection of handmade scarves, available for purchase at Craftland.

Photo by Jonathan Crane

Each piece is made entirely by hand, either knit or woven and make great gifts for the holidays. Maria knits from her home near Binghamton, New York and I knit and weave from my studio in Providence. Despite being 5 hours apart, we share inspiration and ideas constantly and make everything ourselves. 

Check out photos of the items we've made here, or if you're local you can head to Craftland to see them in person.     

Off of my high of being in Peru, I have been spending time on some projects at home. I finally started to update the look of my blog. It's long overdue, and will make it easier to navigate between stories and help you find stories within a certain topic, like traveling or making or living.

I've switched over the look, but haven't finished all the nitty gritty details, like connecting all the links. Thanks for your patience as I work to make this nicer to read and use.
About a year ago, I was asked by the lovely women over at The Lady Project to join their team of bloggers as travel editor. I could not have been more excited to have a place to share my love of travel with an inspiring group of women.

This week I featured photographer Diana Brennan, as she gave me some pointers on taking better travel photography. You can read the whole piece over on The Lady Project site.

I invite you to check out all of my pieces, and all the others too.

Photo: Diana Brennan
Putting a full journal on my shelf when I get home, is always the last part of any trip. This trip, however, I came home with just the signatures of the book, and needed to sew them all together. I chose a National Geographic map of Peru for the front and back, with the Sacred Valley and all our stops on the trip visible, and used a soft binding.

For the collection of ephemera that I hadn't glued in, I made a folder on the back from a brochure that I picked up along the way.

This worked out perfectly to leave me with a journal that doesn't bulge and holds everything snugly.

Certain trips are hard to sum up easily. For everyone who asked me, "how was your trip?" I found myself at a loss of how to answer. How do you sum up seeing Machu Picchu in small talk? When my massage therapist asked me how my trip was, I stumbled and told her it's so hard to answer. "Forever changed?" she asked. Yeah, I am. I've been home nearly 2 weeks, and am still coming down from this experience.

Despite all the jokes about turning 40, I'm really excited about this next decade. Each decade brings with it new adventures, renewed confidence and moments of clarity. I turned 40 at the Incan ruins in Moray and felt so happy at where I am in life and ready for whatever is coming next.

Peru is way too huge a trip to sum up in one blog post, so expect a lot of small ones over the next couple of weeks as I come down from this high.

As I was sewing together my journal for our next trip, I kept getting distracted. Peru. I was really going. It's actually happening.

This is a country I've wanted to visit since I was a little kid, and Machu Picchu is a destination every traveler dreams about. This year, for my 40th birthday, it's happening. 

When I sat down to make my journal, I was inspired by the journal I made for our 2014 trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. For that trip, I made a small folio, that fit nicely into my travel bag. It held one signature at a time, and then I sewed each signature into the bigger journal on the go as I filled them. 

This trip, I decided to skip the sewing on the go part, but just make the folio and signatures. Peru has a strong weaving and textile culture, so I plan pick up something from one of the markets we'll be visiting and use that when I get home to make the larger journal that I'll sew all my full signatures into. 

This way, the final journal is the exact size to fit everything and I still can travel light when I'm out and about. 
I decided to use a vintage flight route map for the cover. These types of maps fascinate me, there is the added bonus of being able to use it for another trip if I wanted to. 

The title page is the image that comes to mind every time of think of Peru, the classic view of Machu Picchu. 
Along with my regular kit, I'm also bringing little maps from a dated guide book that I had picked up in a used book store. It's too old to use for up to date information, but the small maps in it can be used on the go. 

New journal, new decade, new adventure. Let's go!
Last weekend I headed up to Boston for my first ever  Women in Travel Summit, put on by She's Wanderful (previously known as the Go Girl Network). It was an inspiring weekend spent with 300 women, passionate about travel.

Last year I joined the editorial team of The Lady Project blog as travel editor and decided to reboot my personal blog with more of a travel focus. WITS turned out to be the perfect shot of inspiration for both of these endeavors.

Not only did I attend some valuable workshops full of helpful technical info, I also heard some inspiring key note addresses about the travel industry and traveler's individual experiences. Most importantly, I met and chatted with many other like minded women. Usually admitting we want to take a year off and travel the world, or save enough to retire early and live in South America for a stretch, gets raised eyebrows and comments like "ok, come back to reality." Not this group. Instead I heard, "Oh, did you talk to Kathryn? She did that." It was so refreshing.

Personally, this summit helped me realize that the work I've been doing since 2009 may seem different, but it's actually not. I have experience with running my own business, branding myself, and navigating various forms of income flows. My interests are also not as all over the place and I was imagining them. Craft, art and travel all fit together in my world, and I have a lot of stories to tell.

Speaking of which, I couldn't go to a weekend long conference about travel without something to take notes in. I was torn between making a new journal, and using a Moleskine that was the perfect size for this occasion. I decided to compromise and make a cover for the Moleskine using a vintage time zones map. Worked perfectly.

An unexpected outcome was that WITS inspired me to start promoting David's wine blog. Started in 2004, it's a rich resource for wine lovers, and more people should be reading it. This week I set up a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account for him. Please follow along!

I'm definitely feeling energized.
Europe in the off season is one of my favorite places to be. While you may need to wear a coat, nothing beats having big sites to yourself and having restaurants and shops filled with locals. Lisbon in particular also has an air about it that is very different from other European cities. It still feels a bit undiscovered. Walking around, even near some of its most important sites, you get the sense that people still live there and you're visiting their city.

If you're heading to Lisbon, and I highly recommend you do, here are some things to be sure you put on your must do list.

Standing at a counter for a coffee and a pastry.
Don't sit at a table, stand at the counter with the locals and have your tiny, strong coffee and one of their delicious pastries.

Get a Viva Viagem card and use the Metro.
Public transportation in a new city quickly immerses you. In Lisbon there is the added bonus of art in all the subway stations. Download the app for the Metro system before you leave and you can find out about the art in each station while you wait for your train.

Get used to graffiti.
It doesn't mean you're in a bad neighborhood, it just means you're in Lisbon.

Try goose barnacles.
A delicacy in Portugal, we were told more than once that people risk their lives to forage for these. If your waiter asks if you need instructions on how to eat them, say yes. If you've never had them, then you need instructions!

Taste Portuguese wine. 
Portugal was once known only for its port, the export and growing of which was highly regulated by the English, while non-fortified wines were made mostly for local consumption. Wineries are now expanding into the US wine market, and are very affordable. Many little wine shops in Lisbon have small bars in them for sampling, or for stopping by for a glass. Try as many as you can, as many brands are not exported and many grapes are unique to Portugal.

If you're more into wine and want to learn more about Portuguese wine, consider a wine tasting guided tour. We would recommend Francisco from Venha Vinho tours.

Get lost in the Alfama.
Most attempts to find where you are on a map end up not mattering, as you are very quickly lost again in the narrow, winding streets. Laundry billowing out people's windows and kids running between houses, all in the ancient streets built by the Moors, it felt like we'd stepped back in time and were just watching life go by.

Eat some ham!
You're on the Iberian peninsula, have as much of it as you can!