Sometimes in life you just have to accept that you are awesome.
I know, it's a hard lesson...but even the hard lessons need to be learned.
I learned my lesson last night when I finished a project that Laurel and I had started together. It was going to be an embroidered felted bowl. (felted first, with an embroidered design inside the bowl on the bottom) First I crocheted the bowl, then we felted it by tossing it in the washer and dryer with all our other laundry. (I know...we're so awesome we can experiment with a new craft AND get the halibut blood out of my pants at the same time)
I had never felted anything like this before, so I was surprised to see it didn't shrink that much. Since it was still so tall I thought the design might look better on the outside. I gave it some thought, and I decided to needle felt a design on instead. (the kids and I had just tried our first needle felting project the week before) We had some leftover wool; and at first I was thinking starfish...since they are around us all the time. But then I had an inspired thought...a squid!
All in all...it took no more than 10 minutes to felt the little guy! We all loved him so much we gave him a home on our super-special-project shelf.
It's been a while since I've worked this hard on a craft project. Thank goodness for motivating friends...and for friends who are having babies (and have cute taste).
The original pinspiration for the project were these cute little embroidery kits that you can buy and make from ETSY seller kiriki.
We decided to make something similar ourselves, and made them into pillows for the crib we were buying for the mom-to-be. We sketched out a few ideas, and then finally picked the ones we liked best. From there we made a pattern and did a test run on the size to make sure we liked it before we started cutting the good fabric.
Since we wanted them to all be the same size, I used the same pattern for all three. I made three sets of paper ears and taped them on when it was time for each animal.
The embroidery was where I got to have some fun. I haven't hand embroidered in a while...so I stopped by the library and got a couple of books to help inspire me and remind me of some techniques. This was also the most time consuming part...thankfully embroidery can go anywhere you go...so I was able to stitch at the library, the REC center, during swim lessons, during speech therapy, etc.
I think they came out great...in fact...we liked them so much we're planning a little something for our place!
Alaska will always be in my blood, no matter where else we go in life. It truly is an amazing place. We're lucky enough to be here, to be living on a boat, to be given the chances to really see/feel/hear what this place is all about.
One of the most fun ways to do that is by seeing what the tourists see. So every year on tourist-for-day we go out and act the part. Go TFAD!
This year we added the Aleutian Ballad Bering Sea tour to our list of to-dones in Ketchikan. (and it did not disappoint!) We were swarmed by bald eagles, we saw king crab, giant shrimp, an octopus, pulled in rockfish...and more. All the tour guides had a lifetime of Bering Sea and other Alaskan fishing stories. Thankfully the kids' new cameras came just in time...they used them a lot!
This has been a crafty week for us. I knitted a baby hat, setting off several days of pom pom making for the kids. We've been taking a paper mache class, and just put the final layers on our projects. And, we made these earrings. ACTUALLY, the kids made these earring...I managed to nearly destroy them.
My kids are really into making things with polymer clay. They got the Klutz Clay Charms book for Christmas and have pretty much worked their way through it. Luke in particular got really good at making octopuses. He keeps making them, then leaving them in bad places...which has made for lots of octopus splats on the floor.
This time he made one that I really wanted to make into earrings, so I put it in a safe place. Then Laurel made it's sister-pus, and I attempted to bake them in my not-so-high-quality propane oven. This is where things went horribly wrong. You can't control the heat in our oven...it's basically on or off. So I kept turning it off and on, opening and closing the door to regulate the heat. But regardless of all that effort, the last time I opened the door to check, the tentacles had begun to burn. Sigh.
Thankfully, they seemed strong enough...so I decided to paint and glaze them.
And now, presenting my favorite new earrings...
I love my kids.
This is what it looked like the night we painted the earrings,
so I couldn't help myself...I opened the doors wide and snapped a picture.
I know I've mentioned this before, but when you live in a small space you have to really consider what you keep. Since there isn't much room, every item that you keep either needs to be useful (like underwear or a coffeepot), or really special.
This one is really special...every time I see it I feel my soul get warm (even when I'm mad at my husband). I love how his eyes look worried and mine look irritated...who knew we could capture ourselves so well, without even trying!
I had no idea how much I would love these when I came up with the idea...but I really do.
This was a super simple project; craft paper, a cheap canvas (3 for $3), scissors, glue and Modge Podge. The only "rule" was that you could only use paper. No drawing, writing, etc. All the details of the face, hair, background, etc were all cut or torn from the craft paper. (I wouldn't use construction paper for this, it doesn't hold up as well)
This was Laurel's second portrait that she made, it
was in a childrens' art exhibit at the Main Street Gallery
Cut the pieces and glue them on to the canvas really well. Once they are secure it's time to coat it in Modge Podge, but if the parts aren't glued on well the Modge Podge causes the pieces to bubble up.
Give it time to dry...and then instant masterpiece. Hang and enjoy for years to come. I loved that Jon (who never crafts) really had fun doing this with us. The kids made one too and we gifted them to Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas. (Grandma and Grandpa made one as well, this project is good for all ages!)
Life on the boat is great. That's the easiest way to describe it. Not that living in such a small space doesn't have disadvantages, obviously it does. But the advantages have been so amazing, so awesome and thankfully completely automatic.
Jon and I have been married for nearly 10 years...and for nearly 10 years we've said that we should simplify our lives, slow down, spend more quality time together and have more cool adventures. But for ten years our house, jobs and lives got in the way...no matter how many articles or books I read, and no matter how many times we talked about it, we simply couldn't make the change happen. But when we took the big plunge and moved onto the boat, suddenly, with this big change we'd made all those things just happened...without even trying.
We should simplify, cut-down, downsize, organize...clean up.
Moving to the boat has forced that change, because 250 square feet simply isn't a lot of room. (plus it only takes about 20 minutes to clean up when it is dirty) Obviously you can simplify without moving onto a boat or reducing your house size by 90%...but no matter how much stuff we got rid of we still had too much stuff! We estimate that we got rid of 6,000 pounds of stuff. Yep...you heard me right. We sold, donated and tossed nearly 6,000 pounds of stuff that we obviously didn't need. No wonder I could never keep our house clean!! Now we have 4 towels, 4 plates, 4 bowls...just the stuff we need... not the stuff we kept just in case an NBA allstar team came to stay with us. (seriously, we had like 15 towels...who needs that?)
When you only have 4 of everything,
even the 5 year old can do the dishes!
We should spend more quality time together
Between homeschooling, living in a boat and having no cable on the docks...again it's just automatically happened. In our last house the kids became accustomed to going off to their own rooms to play.Now that they share a room, and it's right next to the living room, we are always near each other. Plus, without the temptation of TV, we just don't have that crutch of "seeing what's on." Now we read, play, craft, talk, cook...or just hang out. We don't have to plan to spend time together like we used to. It just happens.
We totally built this pantry...that never
happened before we simplified our lives!!
We should do more cool things.
Living on the docks is it's own adventure. Between drunks and fishermen and sea lions and seagulls...it's a regular party down here! We've seen a raven decimate a rat, a dozen sea lions playing, a heron dive for food, crabs sneaking around the ocean floor...we even have a pet seal we like to call AquaRog, cause he looks like Roger (our dog). Plus since we have less house cleaning and such to do, I find that we go out more. We've done art classes and hikes, played on a frozen pond, collected specimens at the beach, we play chess and use our microscope...and thoroughly just enjoy our time. Last night Laurel and Jon snuck out at midnight for an Aurora Borealis hunt. I just don't think they would have done that before.
Having such a small space means only keeping those
things that are special to you, things that make you smile.
Cutting out the stuff that kept the house messy, and removing the time wasters like TV (and cleaning!) have made us focus on what's most important to us as a family. It's also renewed our enthusiasm for the next adventure around the bend. (Nope, not gonna talk about it yet...it's not time.) But suffice it to say, as much life changing as we have done, we have BIG plans still on the horizon.
We are living the life we wished for, and planning for more.
Becoming Maggie Blue is the journey to becoming the person I want to be. I live on a boat in Southeast Alaska with my husband, 2 kids, 1 dog and 4 fish. We are doing our best to live our lives right. We love nature (the ocean obviously), crafting, reading, homeschooling and having family adventures. This blog is where we share it all.