Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Felt Alive Needle Felting Workshop - Central Oregon Coast!

OK, folks! This is it! This is my first official Felt Alive needle felting workshop since departing Alaska. I am SO THRILLED to have the opportunity to work with THE Wildwoman herself - Rosie of Wildwoman Creations Art and Craft Gallery in Depoe Bay, Oregon. The workshop will take place in a special space known as "My Art Locker" where I will lead 12 brave participants on a 3 day journey into the magic of sculptural needle felting a soft and lifelike needle felted doll.

Felt Alive Needle Felted Doll Workshop Flyer

The workshop will be comprehensive and intense but a whole lot of fun. I will employ my DVD workshop as a visual aid so everyone is sure to be able to see bigger than life every step along the way. And of course, my Felt Alive cast of characters will accompany me.

The dates are January 25th, 26th & 27th.

And to make this collaboration even better, Patti, at DreamFelt is providing the kits so everyone will be sure to have plenty of my favorite wool and supplies for needle felting!

The cost per person for three full days of needle felting fun is $150 + $20 materials fee. Contact Rosie for more information or to register. And for anyone who may not know, the Oregon coast is breathtakingly gorgeous - even in January!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Felt Yourself! Li'l Celebreties Celebrate

Well,it's really Elf Yourself but I couldn't resist the cheesy play on words and the urge to see my Li'l celebrities getting elfed. I especially enjoy Li'l Will Ferrell ELF elfed. Confused? Watch and you will see.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Happy Holidays Friends!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

No, really, where is Felt Alive??

On the Beach in Southern Oregon

I can't believe HOW FAST the time is flying.   We left Alaska almost 8 weeks ago already and have been making so many adjustments to life on the road.  I think we are doing quite well living in small quarters.  My home has always been like a tossed salad anyway, my bowl is just smaller now.

I have made many observations while adjusting to this new lifestyle.  One is that RV parks are very unusual places.  There are full-time residents, people who pull in for just a few hours to sleep and those that stay a few days – like that crazy lady from Alaska we met on our first day here – go figure.  The parks we love tend to be nearly abandoned.  I think it is our Alaskan roots that drive our need forDSCN4845 privacy and solitude. So spending time on the southern Oregon coast in the off-season has been perfect.  In our RV park on the beach we never had more than three neighbors.    But we know it won't be off-season for long as summer nears so we have some hard decisions to make regarding where and what to do next.  When I imagine our little RV park filled to capacity, I shudder. I do have an exciting prospect for a teaching gig for the whole summer at a popular resort - which would keep us far from the crowded parks in a lovely part of rural Oregon. I will post more on that later.  

As for my needle felting journey – I am very slowly starting to work out some live Felt Alive teaching gigs.  These things take some time and planning.  I have been busy giving my website some MUCH needed improvements.  I designed a new banner and I love the new look and feel of the site.  My visitor counter passed the 50,000 mark recently so that is exciting. www.feltalive.com  We are working on getting my DVD workshops online so we can offer them in streaming video format as well as on DVD.  So much to learn at every turn! 

needle-felted-hendrix-wipAlthough I haven't been needle felting as much as I would like, I do have a new Li’l Star in the works.  Li’l Hendrix is proving to be quite fun! 




To make up for lost felting time, we have been having so much fun taking pictures of my dolls in the beautiful Oregon scenery. 

We take off in the Jeep and go exploring the beaches and mountains around here, finding amazing places to photograph the dolls.  Our goal with these photo shoots is to illustrate a children's book. We haven't even dented the places we want to explore.  We have been novice agate hunters and tide pool explorers on the beaches and we love taking off on unmarked logging roads in the mountains.  Mountain Cow Mountain Cows






We haven't met much wildlife but we did meet some cows on the mountaintops on one of these roads.   The other encounters with wildlife were pretty terrifying for these lifelong Alaskans who are accustomed to wildlife that is a bit larger.

 slug snail

We have captured some magical shots in the Redwood forests of Northern California, remote trails along the logging roads of southern Oregon, the beaches and tide pools on the southern Oregon Coast.  This part of the country is known as Oregon's banana belt.  It is remote, beautiful and evergreen.  I love that part the most.

Bushes abloom year round, green grass and ferns in the forests, warm, sandy beaches;  the smells are all intoxicating to me.  After our monthly rental ran out, we drifted around for a week but found ourselves back here at the beach for another month. 

But, of course, it's not all fun and games.  The Felting Forum has been giving us all troubles and that has been more than frustrating.  Our server lost three weeks worth of data and then tell me not to use my back-ups because the data is corrupt.  Hopefully things will get back to normal soon.


This is a cat sanctuary built on the jetty at Gold Beach, Oregon.  It became quickly apparent to us that it was a sanctuary for more than cats.  I missed the shot of the raccoons but the skunks were none too shy.  (Did I mention that there are no skunks or raccoons where I am from?) 


And I have been busy upgrading myself with the latest devices to keep me in touch while on the road.  I must admit, the learning curve for my new Blackberry handheld PDA device has been much tougher than I anticipated.  But soon I will be a pro at twittering, facebooking and even forum posting from some of the cool places we are visiting via my mini computer/cell phone.  When we moved into the RV, we made a spot for my desktop computer because the last thing I wanted to do was switch computers during a move.  But I just got a new laptop so I will be able to free myself from the confines of my desktop.  But I haven't even started transferring files and getting my laptop set up yet.  It's times like these that I really miss my nephew, Ben - sigh...I left my computer guru back in Alaska - Hi Ben!!  But, I will muddle through!  This blog post was created through the Windows Live system on my new laptop.  I can see how nice the upgrades will be but again, I have much to learn! 

Felt Alive in the Forest - Needle Felted Dolls

Happy Trails!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Exploring Strange New Worlds

We had a great time in our old stomping grounds but decided to push south. When we lived in Oregon we used to visit the Pacific coast as often as we could - the beauty of the rugged coast -where the forest meets the sea is truly amazing. We never took the time to stay and explore though.

The drive to the coast was crazy fun in the big coach. The road, as you can see, is not wide. It is a well traveled highway and quite scenic. I'm suggesting to anyone who may get the chance to make this drive - Highway 199 from Grants Pass OR to Crescent City, California straight through the giant Redwoods of Jedediah Smith Park. The air is still and pungent in this ancient rain forest - massive groves of massive trees. I'm talking beyond incredible. Our big coach and Toad made stopping here difficult but we are still in the area and plan to drive back for a day of photographing the dolls in the forest. The light that filters through the towering canopy is nearly magical. But that's another day and another blog!

After passing through the Redwood groves, we dropped into Crescent City California to a warm, sunny day.

The Felt Alive Boys loved checking out the view.

And the Petal boys traveled a very long way to get finally get a chance to romp on a beach. There is something about beaches and dogs.

Of course we had to stop in our favorite seafood restaurant in Crescent City. It's too bad we had to drive over 3000 miles to enjoy the best Alaskan cod ever. The fish and chips at the Chart Room are just about to die for.

Situated right on the Crescent City Harbor, watching the local sea lions sunning themselves
makes for a very authentic seafood dining experience. I don't often order seafood unless I can actually see the sea!

From Crescent City we drove north along Highway 101 into Oregon's Banana Belt on the Gold Coast. I have read that this drive is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. I wouldn't argue that. It is breathtaking where the lush coastal evergreen forests meet the vast Pacific Ocean.

Ethan has had his heart set on spending some time on the Oregon Coast since we started this whole adventure so we decided to find a great spot to settle down for a month or so. We have so much work to do to get workshops scheduled and moving every few days is not easy, even when your home is on wheels. So, we found a beautiful spot right on the beach complete with it's own lighthouse!

We are in a cool little coastal community - our home is prime beachfront property. The beach is just out our front door; literally, out the front door - there is short trail through the sea grass to the open Pacific. We walked and played on the beach the first two days we were here - The sun felt so amazing on my pale, Alaskan skin. I braved the cold water's edge and the surf and sand felt like heaven swirling around my feet. Wasilla Lake, back home in Alaska, is now frozen. I like ice skating ok but I LOVE the surf in my toes!

Gazing at the sea from the lighthouse tower is mesmerizing.

And the view from the tower looking down at our temporary home site.

It is hard to get any work done with the beach beckoning but it will be our home for a while so the novelty may wear off. Part of the thrill of our adventure is to find amazing spots and take the time to explore the area. This part of Oregon is really amazing. The weather here is quite diverse. But it rarely freezes and that I love. It can be sunny and 70 degrees one minute and then horizontal sheets of rain soaking you the next. It seems to stay at least 50 F and I am not chilled all the time like I was in Alaska.

We have been here about four days now. Even though we stopped moving, I still haven't gotten much work done- we've just been having so much fun in the sun and taking long walks on the miles of expansive beaches just out our front door. It's was a vacation that was very much needed.

Beach Shanty


Surfer Dude

But then some wild winter coastal storms hit that chased even the bravest surfers out of the water. The Dolphin (the brand of our RV) weathered the storms so well. We were cozy and comfortable as the wind and rain hammered the coastline. The next day the sun was out again but the ocean turned from a gentle creature into an angry beast. A huge storm in the Gulf of Alaska created some large swell conditions that made their way here - the beautiful beach shanties made by visitors during the long days of summer were destroyed as giant waves battered the shoreline. Ethan and I have discovered the thrill of watching the high surf. It is dangerous to be close to the shoreline as a sneaker wave can overcome you at any moment. The high waves tossed logs all the way down the winding beach trail leading to our rv park. I would not want to get caught up in that yet the ocean beckons us to watch the immense power of the 25 foot breakers relentlessly slamming the shoreline. I prefer watching the show from the safety of the little lighthouse, far above the tumultuous surf. I will post pictures of the storm in my next post.

And my Li'l Donald Trump is finally finished but still hasn't posed for his official portrait in the lightbox.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Giant Oregon Outhouse Fly

I thought we grew things big in Alaska! This funny landmark is in the tiny little community of O'Brien, Oregon. Very near to our old hometown of Cave Junction, staying in O'Brien felt like being home. There is a casual, laid-back spirit in these parts.

We were fueling up and it took me a few minutes to figure out what the people willing to brave the giant fly were carrying - they were GIANT fly swatters! So funny! I guess they hand them out when you get the key for the restroom! I must admit, it was very nice to have my own private john in my traveling home that does not require a giant fly swatter!

We did so much work to set out on this great journey; we totally upturned our lives and uprooted ourselves and our dogs in order to make this happen. Now that the monumental task of getting out of Alaska is behind us, Ethan and I were talking the other night about how we are both finding comfort in our old familiar territory here in Oregon. We lived here for several years and have already explored this area but we found ourselves reluctant to push down the highway - even though the weather is getting cool and rainy. We set up camp in a nice RV park just behind the giant fly.

They boys are both really doing so well adjusting to RV park life. Very well mannered! The Giant Fly RV Park had a nice trail leading to a creek - the dogs love rv parks with places for them to romp free. But Spikey got the first tick! They visited their old vet just the other day to get all set up for life outside of Alaska - the tick was dead but GROSSSSSS!! We don't have ticks, fleas or heartworm in Alaska.

And we finally put my vinyl graphics on the sides of the RV - it is just my business name and website - pretty low key - but I have a funny story to tell about those graphics. I was at the Alaska State Fair with my friend, Mindy, and we spotted this booth doing vinyl graphics - I guessed at the dimensions and had the guy make a pair - one for each side. Fast forward to somewhere in the Yukon - Ethan and I spotted this fresh cinnamon bun place - it was a roadside lodge on a long, lonely stretch of road and hot, sweet bread sounded SO good - we learned that they were sold out because somebody bought 70 of them (mutters under breath - 70???? - damnnnnn!!!) There was another disappointed couple there too - they were also traveling out of Alaska with their howling husky mutts - we started chatting because all of our dogs were howling while waiting for us. It turns out the guy remembered me from the fair - he had made my graphics. Small world!

And here is a picture of the Toad - RV'er lingo for a towed vehicle.

View Through the Pacific Northwest in a larger map

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Toad, Trout and Spilled Milk.

Our stay in Anacortes was short - we boogied south down I-5 towards our old stomping grounds in southern Oregon.

We found a vehicle just across the border in California. It was all set up to tow behind and RV - the RV crowd calls towed vehicles Toads. So, we have a green Jeep Toad. It is nothing fancy but we will be able to drive around now after we get the RV all set up. It will get us to many beaches and hiking areas and today I learned about geocaching so we may just have to try that. I really had never heard of it but all it takes is a google search! Wow!!

Cool Vintage Motel Sign in Yreka, California

Mt. Shasta at 65 mph

It's great to be back in southern Oregon - we lived here back in 2001-2003 when we bought a great place out in the country near Cave Junction where I learned to garden and preserve. Work and life called us back to Alaska but it was a great escape while it lasted! It felt so inviting driving into this area after our long drive.

Some friends generously offered us refuge on their vacant property and it felt like being home again. I didn't' realize how much I missed the night sky here. The stars can make me dizzy! We really do love this area and may very well wind up settling down here after a year or two of traveling. It will be our home base, that's for sure.

But while it is great fun out in the country, getting reliable internet is tough! I have been out of touch for a few days because of it. So, we moved closer to town are parked in a friend's yard in Grants Pass. And now that we have our Toad, we plan to rent a space for a week or two in an RV park close by. It's nice to stay with friends but having the proper power plug-ins, wi-fi, cable tv, water and sewer makes life much easier. RV Parks are so very convenient. There is a lot to learn about full time RV'ing and we are totally green. But we already know we usually learn things the hard way so we are prepared for some trying moments on occasion as we learn the ins and outs of life on the road. The folks we bought the Toad from were full-timer's and I had more questions about that than about the vehicle we were buying. It's certainly a much different lifestyle than what either of us know. But so far, we are meeting some really fun people and are enjoying the freedom of what we are doing.

So while we are here, regrouping in familiar territory, I'm trying to put together a few workshops. With only short notice they will be small but that's a great way to start out. There is definitely interest wherever we go - I met a puppet maker named Trout who was quite intrigued with my needle felting - he had never seen the medium. It is so thrilling to be able to open a new world of possibilities to creative people like Trout.

So there we have the Toad and the Trout but hold your tears for the spilled milk. Never cry is what I have been told but sometimes that is tough. We made it 3000 miles without any problems but as we were rounding the corner to our friends' house the refrigerator popped open and out spilled a 1/2 gallon of milk -and not on the wood floor, but it bounced into the bathroom and spilled all over the carpet. It ran under the walls and soaked everything. We had to pull carpet because I cannot live in a small space shared with the smell of rotting milk in the carpet. We are still letting the floors dry out and will be replacing the carpet soon. The joy of living in a moving house!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We Made It!!!!

We made it safely and happily through Canada and arrived in the US early this afternoon.

Our day started with a bit of a chuckle as we pulled out of the RV Park we stayed in. The other name had been removed from the sign. I guess that relationship didn't work out. Personally, I would have removed both names but perhaps Micheal is holding out hope for a new name to put in the slot.

The trip through the Frasier River canyon was stunningly gorgeous. The road is narrow and winding so I had to take all of the pictures while moving. Finding a place to pull over at a moments notice is tough.

(what in the heck is Crackers up to?)

We stopped in Hope, BC for a little breather before crossing the border back into the US. Hope is such an quaint town in one of the most dramatic settings imaginable with towering mountains on all sides. So beautiful!!

Bald eagles certainly reminded me of home.

We are settled in for the evening in an RV park in Anacortes, Washington. It is so nice here we just might stay a few days. I just can't seem to take in enough of the amazing Pacific Northwest smells. I step outside and breathe deeply - it is just so lush and green here. I realized that I have spent nearly every winter of my life deprived of the smell of the great outdoors. When everything goes into a deep freeze, nothing smells; except for car exhaust and smoke from wood stoves.

We are having fun watching people's reactions to my dolls in the windows. They are bringing smiles to many faces and are quite a conversation starter when we pull into an RV Park. We are really going to have fun!

More tomorrow!