Before our trip to Helm Creek we were scrambling to get everything we thought we might need in case of emergency. This put our "packing for comfort" needs at a low priority. I knew that the cabins had plywood bunks, and that you needed to bring your own pads if you didn't want to sleep on the hard bunk...but I didn't really have time to figure something out for the kids. (we had an air mattress for ours...hells yes we packed an air mattress)
As I was doing my last minute Wal-mart run for the trip I realized that a twin sized mattress pad cut in half lengthwise would be a perfect sized mat for my kids. So I picked up the least expensive, which here in Alaska was $11 (usually everything is pricier up here...so it might even be cheaper elswehere). I brought it home, cut it in half and grabbed some old cheap cotton fabrics I picked up at walmart for 25 cents a yard. I just placed the mat on the fabric and eyeballed it, then cut it out and sewed up 3 sides. I put the mat in (like you would insert a comforter into a duvet) and sewed up the top side.
At this point I did something that you don't have to do, but I did it because as a kid I always remember my pillow sliding away from me when I was camping. I folded the pad over and sewed the edge back to the pad, making a pocket for a pillow. I made it the same size as some extra throw pillows I had, then I just slid the pillow in, rolled up the pad and packed it up.
They worked like a charm, the kids were comfy, the pillow stayed put and it only cost me $6.50. Nice. (Plus, as you can see it works well for movie night too!)
Yes, my kids tried their hand at log rolling this week. And no, I never thought I would ever use the word log rolling in relation to anyone in my family. Hell, we have all our teeth...why would we be log rolling?
What can I say, Alaska is different. Log rolling could even be considered cool here. I know, I know...but if you don't live here...you can't understand. We actually KNOW loggers here. Actual loggers. Jobs that only seem to exist on TV in other places are really real here.
The log rolling team allows people to pay a drop-in rate, so there is no long term commitment. (thank goodness, because while Luke loved it...Laurel was not fond of being cold and wet) And the kids loved that the practice was at the Lumberjack Show, they got to watch a little ax throwing before it all started.
It took a while for their teeth to stop chattering, even after we got dry. Even after some hot tea and flipping through the pictures and videos Laurel wasn't convinced that she wanted to try it again. Luke however, is ready to roll. (literally)
We did not get eaten by bears. We didn't even SEE bears. But, we did see sea lions, eagles, whales, halibut, crabs, jellyfish and clams.
Ask me if we had fun. Go ahead, ask me.
From the time we got there it was like we had stepped into another world. We saw no one else for 4 days, except the one boat that came to check on their crab pots. We learned that we really love complete solitude. The kids and the dog were completely free to do whatever they wanted, and they loved it. The kids practiced casting, shot arrows, colored, read, explored the beach, and told stories.
We set the crab pots out 3 times. The first time we caught a giant sunflower star, which the kids thought was great. (and the 2nd pot was empty)
The second time we pulled up 4 crabs and a small halibut, and 1 crab in the other pot. We had a big crab boil that night with potatoes and corn, and by the end of those 5 crabs we thought we were going to burst.
The third day we pulled (I actually pulled these pots in) in 7, of those 5 were keepers. So once again we had a big crab feast.
The second day brought a fair amount of rain, so we stayed in and read about half of Little House The Long Winter and told stories and played games. In the evening it cleared up so we went out to set the crab pots, explore Helm Bay a little and try our hand at some fishing.
The toilet situation wasn't the best. No one wanted to use the outhouse, so we tried all sorts of things. The favorite in the end was the Luggable Loo. (it was the favorite of the kids anyway...Jon took one whiff and threw up). No loo for him...but the kids preferred not having to go into the woods. (of course the kids aren't the ones that had to clean it!)
I could live like this. (except, maybe with a real toilet)
We're off to the Alaskan wilderness. If you haven't heard from us by Monday...we've been eaten by a bear. (this time there are real bears....Grizzly bears!)
We're off to stay in a rustic cabin in a remote area for the next 4 days, and I can't wait! Four days of hiking, fishing, crabbing and good family fun! This will be our first time setting our own crab pot, and I've planned for two nights with a crab dinner...so if we don't catch any...we'll be eating boiled potatoes and corn for dinner.
We have our bear spray, fishing rods, crab pot, games...I think we're ready.
Plus I bought the kids an archery kit, so even if we don't get eaten by bears someone's bound to lose an eye. I think we're ready!
Since I've had kids I've tried to move more and more into the world of all natural products. But considering that we also follow a pretty strict budget we can't afford all of the organic products the stores offer, from cleaners to make up. To save on money we've tried several homemade things over the years; we clean our house almost exclusively with baking soda and vinegar, we've made our own dish and laundry detergents. But I had yet to try making my own beauty products other than simple things like sugar scrubs.
Finally after some Pinspiration I purchased several products to get me started...but after 2 months they're still sitting in a box in the closet. Until today! Looking through my make-up drawer I noticed 3 lipsticks that I don't use because I never liked the color. (what a waste!) So I decided that it was time to try making a tinted lip balm, using the old lipstick scraps as the coloring agent.
To be honest, this isn't the way I had planned to do it. This is a little less natural (because I used lipstick scraps for the tinting instead of mineral make up), and I used the microwave to melt the oil and beeswax...but come on, it took less than 10 minutes to go from old scraps of lipstick to a full lip balm container full of pepperminty-tinted goodness.
I used equal parts beeswax and coconut oil, about 1 tsp a piece. I put them together in the microwave in 20 second intervals until they melted. I then put in the scraps of old lipsticks and stirred until combined. Then I added about 1/2 tsp of vitamin E oil and 8 drops of peppermint, and stirred until combined. Then I poured it into an old lip balm container and put it in the fridge to solidify...which only took about 5 minutes.
When it was done it was a pretty shade, a nice consistency and just enough peppermint to add a little tingle to my lips. The balm goes on silky smooth, and tastes pretty good too. Give it a try, if you have 10 minutes to spare!
If you would have told me two years ago that I would be living on an island in Alaska, that I would own a boat, and that rubber boots would become part of my daily footwear...I would not have believed it (but I would have thought it was really cool).
And yet, here were are; new boat owners.
Here she is folks, our Freedom. Laurel came up with the name at the same time I was thinking about how a boat really gives you freedom, so it seemed like fate. And in this family when fate names something we go with it...fate named my daughter, fate named me (actually the doctor that delivered me named me at the last minute because they thought I was a boy...surprise!).
Today was our maiden voyage...and yes, we did it up right. I didn't chop off the top of a champagne bottle with a sword or anything...but sparkling cider in fancy plastic cups did the trick. (Jon may be the one that bought the boat, insured it, figured out where to store it, rewired the car for the trailer, moved it and put it in the water...but I bought the fancy plastic cups.)
Becoming Maggie Blue is the journey to becoming the person I want to be. After many years of living a conventional life, we decided to move to Alaska and live on a boat. Currently we're traveling full time in a camper with our two kids, exploring North America. We have no plan beyond going slowly and seeing all there is to see, and taking the time to connect and be together as much as possible in these special years.