Summertime Changes

It has been a long time since I’ve given you an update on our daily life.  I’ve been busy preparing for my Simple Living Basics E-Course, tying up loose ends during the hectic end of the school year, and putting together a wonder eighth birthday party for the Bean.  We weathered a crazy storm that led to flooding all over Houston.  (We were unaffected by the flooding, but it did get me a day off of work!)

Otherwise, it’s been daily life as usual aboard Breaking Tradition.  That is, it was life as usual until we unexpectedly had the opportunity to purchase Morning Mist, an Irwin 37 center cockpit.

While we’ve been happy living aboard, sometimes living in under 200 square feet can be a little TOO cozy.  We’re glad that we did live in that small of a space, and we’ve learned a great deal from it.  But, man, when we first stepped onto that Irwin, we were smitten!

Now we’re enjoying such luxuries as a small oven (with a rotisserie!), a larger bedroom for Beanie, a bedroom for us outside of the main salon, a proper dinette, more floor space, and a larger fridge!  Being able to stretch out on an almost-full-sized mattress at night led to the most restful night’s sleep I’ve ever had.

Would you like a tour of our almost 300 square foot palace?  Here are some pictures of our new home:

Beanie packed up her favorite toys to take on our first trek to the west pier.  (We will be moving Morning Mist to our slip, after we move Breaking Tradition).

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She’s definitely not as pretty on the outside as Breaking Tradition.

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But, wait until you step inside!

A kitchen with actual counter space, and a place to eat…

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The aft cabin has a sign that says “Captain’s Quarters” over the doorway, and Beanie was excited to claim this as her bedroom.

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The Bean has been talking about wanting a “tiny office” in her bedroom, so she was very pleased to see that the Captain’s Quarters came with a desk.

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This is definitely an upgrade, space-wise.

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We’ve got two heads with showers.

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Our bedroom is a very spacious v-berth.

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We had a guest outside, watching us move in…

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There is still a great deal of work to be done, but we are enjoying our new home.  Last night we had our first rain storm on Morning Mist. There were some definite leaks, but overall we stayed pretty dry!

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Christmas on Breaking Tradition

This year “Breaking Tradition” was the theme of our Christmas.

First off, we made kind of a spontaneous decision not to travel up north.  We made this choice for various reasons, and we will be making the trip in the summer.  This year, it was time to do something different.

So we were on our own for the holidays.  This the first time in our marriage that we haven’t visited relatives for Christmas, and we wanted to make sure it wasn’t depressing.  Drawing on our success from Thanksgiving, we created a holiday experience that was uniquely…us!

We wanted a real tree, but none of them were small enough.  So we bought the last artificial one at Family Dollar.

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The stockings were hung over the settee with care…

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Beanie got some “Reindeer food” from school, so she spread it over the bow to help Santa’s reindeer find us.

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Notice the low tide.  Boarding was difficult, even with the ladder.

Beanie awoke at 5 a.m. (yes we were up already, because we were so excited!) and chattered to us about the thudding sound she heard when the reindeer landed on the boat, and the sleigh bells.  (For those who don’t know, Santa comes through the hatch when he delivers presents to boats).  Finally, at 6, we let her open her presents.

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She had to open the big one first…

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Because her stocking was filled with homemade mixes!

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My present came in a cardboard box with “Apple” written in faux-Cyrillic.

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I had lost my beloved iPod to the depths of Clear Lake back in October.  Rob found a broken one of e-bay and repaired it to like-new condition.

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Beanie has wanted a Hide Away pet, and we found a new one at the ICM thrift store.  That’s also where we found the Easy Bake Oven, for $4.

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A shave kit for Rob.  I also got him a Maggard razor, but couldn’t find where I’d hidden it!  He found it later, stashed in the bathroom.

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And a pipe rack, with a few pipes…

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Beanie enjoyed her numerous e-bay and thrift store finds.

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Back when we lived in Michigan, Beanie had a suitcase filled with costumes.  Since she was outgrowing them, they got left behind during the move, and Beanie has asked about it many times.  So I stocked up on 90% off costumes after Halloween, and found a suitcase at Goodwill.

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After opening presents, we headed over to my parents’ apartment (they were in Michigan, so we were house-sitting) to enjoy some hors d’voures.

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And yes, Beanie’s Easy Bake Oven and costumes came along!

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Every year that Rob and I have been together, we have made a cookie house.  We began by making them from scratch.  Then, after we got married, we started buying kits.  Now we buy a kit and hot glue it together!  Here’s this year’s creation, which is mainly Beanie’s vision:

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So that was our Christmas!  Spending it on the boat got us thinking about our future and our plans, which still include eventually cruising full-time.  And while that is at least a few years down the road, we have started brainstorming ways to make that possible.  In that spirit, I have begun experimenting with various projects to use my writing to help support us.

As I try new projects, I will, unfortunately, be spending less time with you here.  But fear not–Journey to Ithaca will continue until the day we leave port.  (I already have my last post planned out, but that will be quite a few years from now!)

As far as immediate plans are concerned, our winter break is far from over.  Tonight, Beanie and I will visit the zoo and look at the Christmas lights (here’s hoping that it warms up and doesn’t rain!).  And tomorrow we’re heading to Houston’s Jellystone Park to celebrate New Year’s.  This campground is cheaper than the one at Canyon Lake, but our accommodations will be much more rustic.  I will be posting pictures.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well!  I will meet up with you in 2015.

 

 

A Tale of Two Kitchens

Three months ago, this was my kitchen:

The kitchen has a window into the living room.

 

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Notice the double sink with hot water, the dishwasher, the oven, and all the floor and cupboard space?  While the apartment kitchen was certainly small, it was an adjustment to move from that to this:

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You can imagine what an adjustment this was!

And around the same time that I moved, Lois from The Eco-Grandma moved from a 300 square foot apartment into a house.  This, too, was an adjustment.

As we settled into our new homes, I began to notice the changes that I was making in my kitchen, and I began to wonder what changes Lois was making.  What lessons had she learned from simplicity?  What luxuries was she choosing to indulge in, now that she can?

As a result of the changes we have made, Lois and I decided to co-ordinate our posts and invite you into our kitchens today.  I will show you how things work in my kitchen, and then you can head over to The Eco-Grandma to visit Lois’s kitchen.  (And we will both be sharing a recipe with you!)

Living in less than 200 square feet has been interesting, and our biggest adjustment has been the galley.  First off, the companionway, aka our DOOR, is right above the counter.  In fact, the countertop is a step that must be used in order to enter the cabin without falling down.  Below the counter is a small ladder, which we refer to as “the steps.”  Both Beanie and the cat like to perch on the steps, especially when I am cooking.

So where do I stand when I cook?  In a teeny, tiny corner, next to the steps!  Our kitchen is equipped with a single-basin RV sink.  While we have a knob for both hot and cold water, only the cold water knob will turn on the faucet.  The water temperature is quite cold in the winter, but hot in the summer.  This is due to the fact that we use shore water, which sits in an RV hose for great periods of time.

Our range is a luxury for a sailboat–it’s dual-powered.  We run it on electricity in our slip, but we can run it on alcohol when we’re anchored out.  We have a bottle Everclear for this purpose!  The range has a stainless cover that turns it into additional counter space when we’re not using it.

We also have a gas grill mounted on the stern rail–it doubles as our oven.  When we feel like picnicking, we have access to communal gas and charcoal grills.  We have a medium-sized dorm fridge and a small amount of cupboard space.

Having such a small kitchen has led me to learn to do without some amenities.  This hasn’t been a huge adjustment, since we were already living rather minimalistically.  We already had service for 3, 3 pans, no toaster, and limited appliances.  But what have we gotten rid of since we moved here?

  • Our blender.  Yes, I used to love making smoothies.  But it isn’t worth the effort to unstow the blender, and then to clean up afterwards.
  • Our plates.  This isn’t permanent, but they broke in the move.  After a month of using bowls, we missed them and bought some Thanksgiving-themed paper plates.  We will soon return to Goodwill and find some plates for our family!
  • Our pressure cooker.  It was too big to store, so it’s gone.  We’re on the lookout, eventually, for a higher-end unit that is small.  But for now, we do without.  We’re down to 2 pans.
  • Our popcorn popper.  All right, so we still have it!  And we’re going to use it next week, when we stay in a rental cottage.  But it takes up so much space that we have is stowed and never gets taken out.  And Rob is learning to pop corn in our saucepan.

And what unexpected luxuries have we kept?

  • Stemware.  Mason jars don’t cut it for us.  We keep this bit of elegance.  Of course, we’re constantly breaking glasses, so they never match.
  •  The slow cooker.  I love it.  It’s wonderful to set it, head to work, and have a lovely roast waiting when I get home!
  • A coffee maker.  We did the French press thing for awhile, but we drink too much coffee!  I love to set the coffee pot, then have it wake me up in the morning.
  • A tea kettle.  It boils water.  Fast.  And it doesn’t make it taste like anything else.

So what do we cook in my kitchen?  Normally, we eat very simple meals.  I’ll buy pre-cooked meat, which we’ll eat with a salad.  When it’s nice out, we have burgers and a salad.  When it’s cold, I cook.  When it’s not, we eat salad.  I make sure to eat a lot of protein, with a few carbs and lots of veggies.

But sometimes, we like to do something special.  Here is a fancy dinner we prepared in my kitchen:

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First up is this low-carb lasagna recipe I found.   I browned the beef on the stove, then assembled everything in the slow cooker.  Notice the door above me.

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While the slow cooker did its magic, I simmered the mulled wine on the stove.  In place of brandy, we used our homemade orange liquor.

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There was some zucchini left over, and Beanie decided this was her new favorite snack.  She is standing on the steps.

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It was a crazy, fun night for mother and daughter alike!

 

 

A Warm Welcome!

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Two years ago, during the summer of 2012, I wrote a guest post for Francine’s blog at Miss Minimalist.  At that time we were in the beginning of our 91-day-cruise on Moonraker, anchored out in Thunder Bay.  We had no clue that it would be our last summer cruising on the Great Lakes and that Beanie–who was about to begin her second year in the inclusive Head Start class–would not start kindergarten in Michigan.  Or that two years later we would no longer live on land.

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Looking at all these changes, I decided it was high time to send Francine an update.

So if you’ve just found your way here from Miss Minimalist–welcome aboard!  I’ve been writing this blog for three and a half years.  If you’re interested in my posts from the earlier days, you will want to check out my Start Here page, which I update every March.

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Otherwise, here are some recent posts on the various topics I like to discuss here:

Blossom–My “coming out” post where I announce our plans to move from Michigan to Texas.

Breaking Tradition–My first post about the boat we now live on.  It needed a lot of work!

10 Surprises About Marina Life–About our daily live aboard Breaking Tradition.

Minimalism: A Beginner’s Guide–Interviews with minimalist bloggers about the beginnings of their adventures toward less.

35 Lessons in 35 Years–Lessons I’ve learned, with links to posts telling the story behind each.  An ongoing project and a great sampling of my philosophical posts.

Pancakes–Why I’m fine with being a “bad” mom.

This Isn’t Holland–On raising a kid with a disability.

First Day of School, Take II–My daughter’s school experience this year.

It Still Matters–Why I’ve continued to teach.

12 Years Ago–On marriage–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

New Year’s Eve: 1995 and 2000–A “spill your guts” post about my backstory.

I hope you enjoy exploring my blog.  Please feel free to comment–the discussion is what makes this such a great community, and I always do write a reply!  I am also on Facebook and Twitter.  I use social media sparingly, so there is no need to follow on more than one site.  But connecting on either of those–or following via e-mail–will guarantee that you don’t miss a post!

Red?!  I guess I got bored with aging gracefully...

Red?! I guess I got bored with aging gracefully…

Please also link to your blog in the comments.  I am very interested in reading about your adventures!

 

 

Snowball Fight in Adventure Field

Sometimes, we just have fun.

We’ve got a structured evening routine, here on Breaking Tradition, but it does leave room for fun and games.

For example, yesterday, I came home and read with Beanie while dinner cooked.  Then, after I ate, I got her started on “homework,” which meant writing a letter to a friend in Michigan. Then, after piano practice time, we played rhyme Dominoes.

After that, we had an hour until shower time.  What were a mother and daughter to do?

Well, we headed out to “Adventure Field.”  There are two good-sized grassy areas in the marina, and Beanie has named them Adventure Field and Chaos Field.  Last night, she wanted to go to Adventure Field.

We couldn’t find her ball, so we brought a bag of cloth “snowballs,” made by one of our friends in Michigan.   A fun (and funny!) evening ensued.

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I hope your October is treating you equally as well!

 

“House”work

I have written many times about my dislike of housework.  And I have often told you how much quicker housework is in a small space.

So, today I was feeling unmotivated when I surveyed the mess before me. I had been sick for a week, and Rob had been taking care of me, instead of cleaning the boat. So it was truly daunting.

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I had made Swedish meatballs the night before, in honor of “Swedish day” (we honor Rob’s heritage, instead of celebrating the Hallmark holiday, Sweetest Day).  And Beanie had been making batch after batch of her addictive “Critter Mix,” that she had learned to create at school on Friday.

And then an idea struck me.  I could do a blog post about the short amount of time I spend doing housework on our tiny boat.  I would take “before” pictures, and then update every 10 minutes.

The first 10 minutes went by smoothly, with the clock being stopped momentarily when Rob came in and wanted to play video games.  When I told him what I was up to, he offered to help.  Normally, I would have embraced this, but in the name of science (and of my blog post) I sent him out with a coffee to “walk around and talk to people.”

Here’s what I accomplished in the first 10:

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The kitchen was beautiful, and the dishes were clean!  Washing the dishes is a challenge, since we have lukewarm water only, from our shore hook-up, and our drain empties very slowly.  And Swedish meatballs certainly leave behind a mess!

The kitchen is the most difficult part, so I knew the main salon and quarter berth would go quickly.  However, my second 10 minutes were interrupted…

Our neighbors returned from their cruise.  Beanie enthusiastically found her Critter Mix ingredients and got to work…

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And Wanda, next door, was happy to see Beanie and even happier to enjoy her snack mix!

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The dogs next door were excited as well.

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So, on to the main salon.  As predicted, it cleaned up quite nicely, which Rob was busy discussing photography with Wanda.

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Next challenge–the head.  We don’t use the head itself, but the medicine cabinet was a mess after my recent illness.

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And here’s Beanie’s room.

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I got right to work, with only a few interruptions from Rob and various neighbors.  And here we are, 10 minutes later:

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So, now, all that is left is Beanie’s room.  Here’s the current status on that:

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She has too many toys, and it is a mess.  But no biggie.

However, the clock had to be stopped many times.

First, Beanie’s grandparents called to say the were on their way to pick her up.  So she had to make Critter Mix.  The we visited with them, and they visited with our other neighbors.

After they left, our other neighbors needed an update on Beanie, and I was informed that I needed to let Beanie know that she owed Deanne a Mario Kart-and-Critter Mix date on her boat  

I told Deanne about my blog post I was working on.  I let her know that cleaning the house took me 40  minutes total, on a “bad day.”  She agreed, “Yes, that’s the best thing about living on a boat!”

But then I added that, with everything else it’s taken me an hour and a half!

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Beanie’s clean room!

Deanne laughed, and said, “You know, I think that’s why boats are always messy.  We just have better things to do.”

10 Surprises About Marina Life

It been 53 days since we moved onto Breaking Tradition full time.  This isn’t the longest amount of time that we’ve lived aboard (that would be 91 days), but it’s the longest we’ve lived aboard while living a daily life that consisted of more than vacationing.  Every morning, I get up and take my turn in the shower, then greet the two other professional women who live on the East Pier, as we head off to work.  After I get home each day, Beanie and I do her homework at the dinette, read her take-home reader, then practice her piano lesson on her battery-powered keyboard, which fits perfectly on the kitchen table.  After that, we either play Wii or head out to the grassy area (our “back yard”) so that Beanie can run around and kick her ball.

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Unlike our cruising days, we have consistent electricity and water, and our stove is dual-powered, so cooking fuel is not an issue.  Breaking Tradition is 6 feet longer than Moonraker (although it has the same beam), so we are living in more than 100 square feet, although definitely not more than 200.  We have about the same fridge space, and slightly less storage area in the galley.  Also, we don’t have a working head in the boat at this time, and we won’t be using the boat’s bathroom for more than emergencies, until we have a working engine and can make it to the pump-out area.  Fortunately, our slip is right next to the restrooms.

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Here are some other surprises that we have found, from marina life:

1.  Daily life is surprisingly “normal.”  When I go to work, it’s like it always has been.  Sure, everyone was initially fascinated by our new lifestyle, but now my focus is on my students, their progress, and the daily reality of teaching seventh grade.  The same is true for Beanie, at her school.  Her school is in Clear Lake Shores, and there are more golf carts than cars picking kids up, but when she’s there, it’s down-to-business.

2.  It’s kind of like living in a floating commune.  Most of the slip-tenants in the marina don’t live there full time.  But those of us who do, have a shared world all of our own.  We don’t own property, we don’t have houses or apartments, and we don’t even have patios of our own. And so we pool our resources and share.  Then men in the marina have gone in together and rented a large storage unit that they have converted into a workshop.  Everything there is for everybody to use!  There is a large vanity in the ladies’ room, and I have claimed a drawer.  I leave my blow dryer out, and everybody uses (and appreciates!) it.  Somebody else has contributed an iron.  There is also a communal grill, as well as lots of coolers.  We often brainstorm ways to create an outdoor eating area on our pier.

3.  Beanie gets her village.  There are only two full-time live-aboard kids in the marina, and only one on the East Pier, so Beanie is well-known.  She’ll talk to our neighbor while she’s on the deck playing under the tarp (her “tent”).  Sometimes, she will hang out by the vending machine, hoping to bum a soda off of one of the live-aboards.  Everybody knows her, and everybody looks out for her.  As a result, I’m able to give her more freedom.

4.  Weird things sometimes happen.  This morning, our dock was blocked by two photographers and two models, shooting photos for something.  Two of my neighbors, one of them in his bathrobe and the other in her pajamas, waited awkwardly by my slip, wondering how to get past them, to the restroom.  Wearing the dress I’d worn the day before, with my hair disheveled, I led the way past them, commenting that I’ve never had anyone have a photo shoot in my front yard.

5.  Having a shared bathroom is worth the inconvenience.  During the week, 5 ladies share the restroom on the East Pier.  Somehow, we all shower at different times.  It gets cleaned once a day.  And I don’t have to do it.  That’s right.  I now have to clean zero toilets.

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6.  Living in a smaller space is not much of an adjustment.  Breaking Tradition is 6 feet longer than Moonraker, so instead of living in 100 square feet, we’re probably just under 200.  And that hasn’t changed our life much at all.  If we’re inside, we’re probably reading, using the Internet, or playing video games.  Otherwise, we’re not inside.

7.  I spend a lot less time online.  And I’m more intentional with the time I do spend online.  I’ve unfollowed a lot of people on Facebook, and just check in with them periodically.  And I hide all forwarded posts.  If doing something online doesn’t enrich my life, I don’t do it.  Instead, I’ve done a lot more reading and writing, and I’ve spent a lot more time with my family.

8.  I’ve simplified our meals.  I also spend less time cooking.  Our kitchen is tiny, and getting our any large appliances is a pain.  So we eat a lot of wraps and salad.  If I do cook, it’s something that requires very little clean-up, such as  quesadillas or pasta.

9.  I’ve overindulged my addiction to take-out.  Since we’re currently not paying any rent, and we pay almost nothing for electricity, I have money to spend at restaurants.  We’ve theorized that there are enough restaurants in Clear Lake Shores for all 1000 residents to eat out at once, with nobody waiting for a table!  At least once a week, I pick up take-out and enjoy a lovely dinner on the boat, without having to cook at all.  So far, we haven’t gotten food from the same restaurant twice.

10.  I have the best morning routine ever.  I shower at night, then wake up at 5:30.  I get dressed, enjoy 15 minutes of coffee and conversation with Rob, then drive over to the island.  From 6:00 to 6:30, I treat myself to a walk around the perimeter, along with all of the islanders.  Not since I moved out of my childhood home (in a very safe, 1950’s style neighborhood, complete with a milk man!), have I lived in a place where I would feel safe talking a mile+ walk before sunrise.  But here, everyone is out and friendly, and all dogs are trained and on leashes.  My walk is the perfect way to start my day!

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I have to say that we have enjoyed our new life, and we love all of the surprises.  I’m sure, as we approach our 92th day living here, we will only discover more!