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Thursday, September 18, 2014

How small is TOO small?


I remember when we thought that our 1400 sq foot home was too small.  Funny.  It's easy to say that we were different people then...and I guess we were...but really we weren't.  We were us. but without a clear vision of who we wanted to be. 



We began scratching at the surface a few years back, trying to figure out who we wanted to be...but it had to do with a nicer house, better schools...though our first taste of understanding ourselves was wanting some property so we could have a hobby farm.  From there it grew, sometimes accidentally, and then eventually into a very purposeful look at ourselves and who we wanted to be.  To begin to learn who you are and what you really want, on a deeper level...it's like solving the mystery of life.  There is a comfort that comes with knowing what you truly want...it gives you the confidence and integrity to withstand just about anything. 


Living small is part of our journey.  Realizing that we didn't need (or want!) more space has allowed us to pare down our lives to a very manageable level.  Financially speaking, we have always lived below our means. We carry no debt, we budget, and we save.  We did not need to downsize on a financial level.  We did it to remove the useless weight on my shoulders, cleaning and organizing all the time...and never winning the battle against mess or clutter! And we did it to be closer together, I hated having everyone in a different room...no one was happier or kinder for it. And we did it to save even more money, rather than just tossing it away...between rent and house upkeep, we're saving over $2000 a month!  It's also less stress on our lives...being so safely in the financial black, not having much to clean, and being so close together has changed our lives so profoundly.  It's given me time to focus more on being the kind of parent, wife and human that I want.  I am calmer, kinder, more fun, less stressed and more actively involved than I have ever been.


So...how small is too small?  I guess that's up to you...but we're in 250 sq ft...and I have never been happier.

Monday, August 11, 2014

6 year blog-a-versary

I was going down memory lane last week, and I realized that I wrote my first blog post 6 years ago.  Where does the time go?  What I found particularly crazy was how prophetic my post was. At that point in time Jon and I both had full time jobs, plus he had two additional part time jobs. We owned 4 cars.  We had a mortgage.  More disturbingly...we had no intention of changing our lives. If anything we wanted more, we just didn't know what more meant.  (more money? more time? more space? more savings?)

Knowing that, look at what I wrote.

"It's so easy to get caught up in the world of school, work, paycheck, death. I wanted to break free and make sure that I was living the life I wanted to live. And more importantly now that I'm a mom, to live the kind of of life I want my children to live. "

It seems so plain to me now...what I was looking for AND how to get it.  But back then they were just words...until I read them the other day I had no idea how long I had been searching for the life that I am just now beginning to live. I can see now the path I was searching for then, but it was not an obvious choice that we made to end up here...it was more like a series of smaller seemingly unrelated choices.

For now I really just want to reminisce about six years of becoming maggie blue.  This started with me feeling like something was missing and trying to find the person I was meant to be...and I can finally say I am happily, healthfully on that journey. I am Maggie Blue.  It started with an idea, then an ETSY shop, which turned into learning and trying new things, which led to; construction school, buying a foreclosed farm and living in a camper while renovating the house...then we switched gears completely and moved to Alaska and upped the ante by downsizing & simplifying by moving onto a boat...

Whew...that is the summed up version anyway.

Along the way I made these things, and that's what today is about for me...looking back and seeing the changes in myself, but also celebrating my creative accomplishments.  I really didn't realize just how many things I had created (that I am truly proud of) until I looked backwards over the last 6 years.



I truly can't believe I made all these things.  I also can't believe I live on a boat in Alaska.  I am so blessed to have been able to find the person that I didn't even realize I was searching for all those years ago.  But I suspect that if I could go back and tell 6-years-ago-me about my life, she'd be smiling from ear to ear...just like I am right now in this moment. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day Kayak

Happy Father's Day to our Daddy...without whom we would not be living in this amazing place where we can kayak, hike, explore, boat, fish, hammock, float...and just be.  Thank you.
 
 












squidy the felted bowl



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.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Embroidered Forest Family



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!

Ketchikan, Alaska Tourist for a Day: Round 3



 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!








Thursday, March 6, 2014

Octopus Earrings: An Education in Burning Polymer Clay

 


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.
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