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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Gosh, people have so much time on their hands.

I look like I do lots of "stuff," (well I DO do lots of stuff) I have nothing but time these past two days. I am stuck on the couch. The only thing I can do is sit here, read, surf the net, eat applesauce, and sleep. I feel like time is standing still, except that everything around me is still mvoing at lightening speed. My niece's FIRST birthday is next week. Like as in, NEXT MONDAY. And I'm all about birthday parties, so this is a BIG thing. But I'm still stuck on the couch.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful up in these parts. Spring is here and in full bloom. Except our Bloom is different from your bloom. When I say Bloom I mean Ptarmigan are changing colors, rabbits are changing colors and the Shiifish have arrived. We are still buried with 12 feet of hard packed snow, but our sunny days start out at 6am and don't end until 11pm.

When the sun comes back, everyone is excited. And I'm stuck on the couch.

Sometimes I think this is a sign from above that I need to SLOW DOWN. I work full-time and rush home, cook dinner, make sure homework is done then pack my younger kids off to do something. Sledding, Fishing 30 miles away, community meetings, potlucks, etc. Anything to get them involved as much as I am. Anything to get out of the house. AND I sew almost every night. Skin sewing, cloth sewing, doll sewing, mukluk patching, pattern making, headband making (with Duct Tape!), etc.

But I've been sitting on the couch for two days with a secondary reaction to Strep Throat that is attacking my joints and immobilizing me from doing the simplest skin sewing. Yes, I can still type. I could type when I had blisters too, one finger works, I can still type! Now, to add icing to the cake of life, my son is sick. I swear that kid has inherited EVERYTHING bad from me. When we get sick, we get SICK. We don't get a cold, we get Pneumonia. We don't have sore muscles, we get flesh eating bacteria. We don't have normal blisters, we get those that cover our hands entirely. We don't have normal headaches, we get debilitating migraines.

I will admit, this might be the first time I've had Strep Throat, I might have had it before, it's a sucky thing. But my throat hurting isn't hurting as much as my joints are. I was super worried at the hospital wondering if I was getting early onset arthritis, but they assured me that thanks to my steroid use a couple of weeks ago from recurring blisters, that it was just the reaction to Strep that was doing that. Great.

I wonder if taking a Sauna would help... Makes me want to go to camp. But I can't cause I'm sick. Random thought, I want a 3,500 HP Generator for camp...WITH remote start! (My car doesn't even have remote start) A generator at CAMP with remote start would be livin' large!

So, I know this post is full of unfun stuff, but sometimes life is not fun. Sometimes you just have to sit on the couch and surf the internet at crafty blogs making mental notes about what you can do for your daughter's birthday that's in, OH CRAP, less than two weeks.

I think I could probably become famous if I didn't have to work. Seriously, I can look at a "Dessert Table" and recreate the entire thing. I can make and decorate cakes like a professional. I can bake just about anything. I can sew anything I see in stores with my own pattern. I can make mukluks and mittens and parka's with the best of them. I like to cut up seals and caribou and I love to go fishing.

Priorities I guess...I'd rather work and take care of my family full time and craft/blog/sew part time. I guess that works for me.

Don't get me wrong. If I won a lottery, I'd be gone from my job at least right after I trained someone else to do it. But only because I'd own a coffee shop/skin sewing business/outdoor store/B&B, and be super busy with that. :)

Laid up...

or Down? I don't know.

All I know is that I'm so sick that I can't even sew. Not machine sew, not skin sew. As a matter of fact, this post has already taken me a while to write. But, that's OK. I owe it to my faithful readers! (just kidding, I actually had a funny story from last night!)

Anyway, I did go to the hospital and was diagnosed with Strep Throat with a secondary reaction that's attacking my joints. I guess due to steroid use from last week thanks to recurring blisters . So, some day I'm going to have a regular sickness. A regular cold. Regular Strep Throat. Etc.

Here's what my entire day/evening looked like:


Jodi Picoult's new book, Sing me home. Started and finished it yesterday. My "Best of the Best from Alaska" cookbook to peruse for things to make when I'm well again. Empty saltine cracker sleeve and empty Applesauce containers. My medication that hopefully works. AND $40 that we got from Kaisa's jacket pocket.

Yes, she was stashing $40 in her jacket. She pulled from each of four pockets: $5, $5, $10 and $20 bills. When we asked her how she got all this money she said, quite simply, "I saved it. I'm a good saver."

Friday, March 25, 2011


I love me some muffins.

blule bite

Love. With a capital L.

Apple muffins, Banana Nut muffins, Cranberry muffins, Blueberry Muffins, shoot, even plain old plain muffins.

I love muffins more than cake. With frosting! That's how much I love muffins.


The other day I came across SEVEN GALLONS of blueberries in my freezer that were stuck in a large plastic bag and hidden behind some seal meat. You know what you do when you find seven gallons of berries? You SCREAM for joy!

And then you make muffins. (And Jam, but that's another post!)

Since I really like muffins and I make them ALL THE TIME, I like to experiment and I think I've finally developed the PERFECT muffin recipes. It's all trial and error folks. What better to do with your errors but to EAT them?!

Not to sugary, not too sweet. Just perfect Muffins to eat with your morning coffee. Or evening wine!

cran muff

Cranberry Muffins (Lowbush Cranberry, AKA Lingonberry are the ONLY berries I use in this one)
*Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 ct. muffin tin with cooking spray.
*In a bowl mix together 3/4 C Frozen Cranberries (or fresh if its September!) and 3/4 C Powdered Sugar. Set aside.
*In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together 2 C flour, 1/2 C Sugar, 1 TBS Baking Powder, 1 tsp Salt and 1/2 tsp Nutmeg.
*In a small measuring cup, whisk together 1 C Milk, 4 TBS Oil, and 1 egg.
*Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and carefully combine the two until just moistened. Add the berry/sugar mix to the bowl and carefully fold together until Berries are incorporated and Sugar has dissolved.
*Spoon batter into oiled muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops with Raw Sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes until browned around the edges and firm to the touch.

cran and blue

Blueberry Muffins (Tundra Blueberries are the only berries I use)
This recipe is almost exactly the same, except you substitute Blueberries for the Cranberries, and Cinnamon for the Nutmeg. Also you add 1/2 tsp of vanilla to this recipe.
*Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 ct. muffin tin with cooking spray.
*In a bowl mix together 3/4 C Frozen Blueberries (or fresh if its September!) and 3/4 C Powdered Sugar. Set aside.
*In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together 2 C flour, 1/2 C Sugar, 1 TBS Baking Powder, 1 tsp. Salt and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
*In a small measuring cup, whisk together 1 C Milk, 4 TBS Oil, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 egg.
*Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and carefully combine the two until just moistened. Add the berry/sugar mix to the bowl and carefully fold together until Berries are incorporated and Sugar has dissolved.
*Spoon batter into oiled muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops with Raw Sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes until browned around the edges and firm to the touch.


They're super easy to make, as a matter of fact, I frequently make them for breakfast before work and for a snack during lunch. 30 minutes from start to finish.

last bite

They're good to the last bite!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whip my Hair Back and Forth...

I love Willow Smith. She is so freakin cute!


I mean, if I were a multi-billionaire, I would totally let my kids be on the Disney Channel! My sister would die before letting her daughter do that, but eh...lettum. I'd totally do it.


But alas, I am NOT a billionaire. Or even a Millionaire. Maybe a thousandaire but only in my vested account for retirement! haha.


Anyway, Clara's been bugging and BUGGING and BUGGING everyone to let her get her hair cut and the stars aligned on Tuesday so she could do just that.


We only have one hair salon in Kotzebue, and its dang Great if you ask me. Cheryl went to school and worked at some fancy-pantsy hair salon in the City but her family is here, so eventually the home strings tugged her right back where she belongs. Here. Home. In Kotz.


Anyway, she had some "Spring Break Deals" going on so my sister called for an appointment for Sweet Clarita.


Her only wish, "Side Bangs..." Her mom's only wish, "NO bangs!"


So they compromised and she got a few side bangs. AND of course, Kaisa was super jealous and wanted a haircut too, so Cheryl graciously cut some "side bangs" and curled her hair too.

kaisa cutting

Girls. Now they can whip their hair back and forth.

kaisa done

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Community. I guess the definition would be describing a bunch of people who live in the same area. But up here, Community means so much more. Maybe we should say, "Family" instead.

John and family

Our community is small. Our town is small. Everyone knows everyone business. And you don't win the Iditarod without your entire Community behind you.

kids waiting

We got word from the Dog Mushers Association that they wanted to have a Community Welcome when John Baker came in from Nome with his family.


Community members got together Friday afternoon to discuss a potential welcome for him and his family. Ideas bounced off the walls of the Borough Chambers and everyone promptly forgot about it when the weekend rolled around.


Monday morning at around 10:30 am, I got word that he would be on the afternoon flight. (See how small our community is, we have a "Morning Flight," "Afternoon Flight," and an "Evening flight" and everyone knows what time those come in!) So that gave us exactly three and a half hours to plan and execute a Community Welcome for him.


Luckily, our Community is awesome and a couple of people got on the ball immediately. Cookies and Coffee came from NANA Regional Corporation , The City of Kotzebue rallied their Fire Trucks, Ambulances, and our local radio station, KOTZ started airing news that the community was invited to line Third Avenue (our only long street at about a mile long) after the flight came in to welcome John.

John Speaking

The school was secured and they scrambled to let their students know that John would be speaking about the Iditarod as well as his slogan, "I dream, I try, I win."

Three and a half hours after the initial email came through, our entire community came together, as we always do to bring home our Champion, John Baker.


To see Johns speech to the students, please visit Tundra Tantrum. She recorded it while I shot stills! :) Cause that's what we do, work together!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Caps, Caps for Sale

Or Hats, in this case.

Warm, comfy Fur Hats.


Lately I've been on a sewing kick. I made one blond beaver fur hat and sold it last week so my son could have spending money in Anchorage for Spring Break.

Yesterday, I made three more. (Money is a good motivator when you want a new serger!)

kaisa and momma

One Women's Muskrat and leather one. One Sheared Beaver and Leather for Kids and One Sheared Beaver and Leather for Men.

kids hat

All Dark in color, all warm on your head.


All perfect for our long days out on the ice Shiifishing. Cause its that time of year again.

fish raw

Fishing! Yay. That means raw frozen fish, baked fish, beer battered fish, etc. And if you've ever had Halibut, Shiifish is BETTER. So much better. Ahhh... Shiifish.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Northern Traveler! (And Congratulations!)

First off, Congratulations to John Baker from my hometown of Kotzebue for winning the Iditarod, an 1,100 mile dog race that spans half of Alaska. Its the first time since before I was born that an Alaska Native has won.

John Baker
This picture was taken last year at the Kobuk 440 race, here in Kotzebue.

In other news...I've been out on Village Travel for the past week or so. Yay.

That means that my commute is in a Cessna Grand Caravan and I have the best-seat-in-the-house, which is pretty much every seat cause we have huge windows in bush planes!

My hometown from the air.

But when you're traveling to a place that everyone wants to get to, you end up taking the "milk-run" which basically means you village jump until you finally get to your destination two hours later.

Our villages are located on the River system.

Every morning I get up, pack my backpack full of things like food, water, a knife, a first-aid kit, a survival kit, extra underwear and socks, medication, my sewing kit, an iPad (to read and play angry birds) and my camera and set out to check out the country in Northwest Alaska.

My country

I always bring along something to hand sew so I can listen to music, read and sew at the same time. Sort of distracting me from the fact that I'm in a small bush plane with one engine. I usually end up finishing whatever it is I brought on the way back home.


Sometimes my friends and co-workers go with me to villages like Noatak where we find people who will hang out with us when we're done with work.

me and paulette

I always wear warm gear in the plane, or at least warm everything and pack snow pants just in case. Plus we do a lot of walking in the villages, so we need some comfy warm shoes to keep our tootsies feeling good.


And sometimes we end up being picked up by an Eskimo Limousine and carted around the village from here to there. I love riding the Eskimo Limousine...its what I grew up with.

me in sled

Lots of the places in the villages could be paintings they're so beautiful.


I always take the time to appreciate the hard work our people do to make things like sleds...


And baskets...


And other things that are important and much needed up here.

paulette and david

When I was on the sled out of Ambler with six other adults being pulled by a snowmachine with all our gear, I closed my eyes and listened to the strains and flexing of the sled. It was awesome to hear a wooden sled flex under and over snowdrifts carrying all that weight like it was nothing. I am in constant awe at tools the Eskimo's invented that are still here today. Sleds, Qayaqs (Kayaks), Ulus, etc.


Most of the time I like to just relax in the village. The life there is so much less fast paced than Kotzebue and even slower than urban cities. Its just peaceful and quiet. Perfect to read on a couch with your mukluks on.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oh the Beauty.

Sometimes we forget how beautiful it is up here. Sure, we live in Alaska, the "last frontier" but in the dark of winter I always love when "Spring" comes. My spring, not your spring.

northern lights 2

In December and January, it is dark. Dark and gloomy. People get depressed. I sew. In February we just get storms. People get cabin fever. I sew. But in March, the sun decides to come up sooner and set later and we end up with cold crystal clear days where the sun beats off the snow from the February storms and brightens the darkest days. In March the northern lights come out and people go fishing. I go fishing! (And I sew.)


My spring is filled with 14 hour days of sun. Sun, SuN, SUN! I love to travel to the surrounding villages and check out people's lives. It's the sun!

I am lucky enough to have a job where I commute a lot to the villages around us. 35 minute flights in the morning to spend the day in the village, and 35 minute flights in the afternoon to go back home.


Yesterday I went to Kivalina. It was so gorgeous, the ENTIRE flight. It was smooth (always a plus for me!) and clear the entire way.

We hung out at the offices for the day and I did what we went there to do, then went exploring. I love walking to people's houses, knocking on the door and saying HI!


Chances are, they don't even know who I am, but I ALWAYS get fed, I always get laughs and I always learn something awesome. Our people are so generous and FUNNY. I am always laughing. And I always leave with something to eat. I left Kivalina with some trout for my aana!


When I get home I am always in a good mood. And last night, after I got home I sewed a bunch and then the Northern Lights came out. Just ANOTHER reminder of how beautiful it really is to live here.

northern lights

Today (Friday) I'm heading to Noatak for the day. Yay! (It also helps to be related to most of the town, as I am in Noatak!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Photo Challenge, Day 16

Someone who inspires you.

Every Day I am inspired. Every day I spend time checking out the blogosphere and looking at other people's designs, creations, lives.

Every day I watch people overcome hurdles. Some mental, some physical, some emotional. And they inspire me.

You should always be inspired by other people. It's good for the soul.

My husband inspires me to be a better parent. His calm demeanor with the kids and dogs and messes really calms me down in my utter chaos of trying to be great. He watches the Outdoor Channel and drinks a beer while kids are running around crazy and dogs are biting each others ears off. I just want to scream, but he just sits there and smiles.

My step-kids inspire me to slow down. They come to us in the height of summer. When every Eskimo family is busy. Busier than normal. They are rushed here and there, we rush to camp, rush to get food put away, rush to the softball games...and rush rush rush. Which my children are completely used to. But they aren't.

My son inspires me to be more forgiving. As a mother, its hard to forgive people who harm your child. Years can go by and one glance toward that person, all the feelings come rushing back to the day your child was hurt. He, on the other hand, tells me to just forget about it. He's ok now, and I'm more affected then him.

My daughter inspires me to overcome. She has overcome some of the most difficult situations that a 7 year old ever has had. And she's always come out cheery with a smile on her face. She forgives, forgets, and moves on in a heartbeat.

I have a handful of people who really inspire me, one who inspires me to be a better friend, one to be a better baker, one to learn how to knit. But the one person who is the most inspiring to me is this woman:


She inspires me to be a better PERSON. And that's a big feat considering how much I do for people. I constantly think of what she would do in the situation. One, because she is a phenomenal Christian woman. She truly shows God's Grace to everyone while I spit my ugly words toward people. She is quick to love and slow to shame. Always reminding me (with a smile) that no matter what someone "does" to us, we still need to show them love. Even more so for "certain individuals." And Two, because she is just am amazing person.

In every life situation, Life, Death and everything in between, Emily inspires me the most. Thank you so much for allowing me and my children into your (and your son's) life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shooting tips from a 7 year old

Now if that's not the most odd title! But comparable with "Mice Killers!"

Thanks for all of your help and recommendations about how to get rid of this horrible cold/flu/sinus/whatever-it-is. I'm still down in the dumps, but only by way of a stuffed up head and I can handle that.

I LOVE it when kids want to be a tiger!

It didn't stop me from painting faces for six hours straight on Saturday. Or making enough stuff for about 150 "Indian Tacos." (Which included that many fried breads big enough to fit on your plate! And Meat and Corn and Pico and Refried Beans and Cheese and Lettuce. Yeah, it was that good and I was that busy)

Sunday we finally were able to RELAX which meant sitting on our duffs in front of the television almost all day. Ahhh... We did manage to take Kaisa out shooting though. She got a Pink .22 single shot rifle for Christmas and has been itching to get some rabbits. And Dean's been bugging me to get reacquainted with my .357 pistol.

momma shoots

She needed a refresher lesson though, because she's seven and even though she's been around guns her entire life, we still don't let her handle them without one of us standing RIGHT next to her. Cause you know, guns are dangerous.

So, without anymore from momma, here is Kaisa:

Guns are Dangerous. They can't be played with. Even if your friend wants you to see their gun then you should tell their adult parent. (Apparently some parents aren't adults)


First you get your earmuffs on. I got mine from my brother. He's gonna paint them pink to match my gun. (Priorities) Then you get your gun. Then you get a bullet from Dean's pocket.

Put the bullet in the hole.

put bullet in

Push the thingy to the bullet and then push the thingy down. (Someone needs gun vocab lessons)

click into place

Pull the thingy back. You have to pull it back hard. And you can't wear gloves.

pull back

Aim at the target. You can't put your fingers on the trigger until you're ready to shoot.


Then put your finger on the trigger. Breathe real big and then SHOOT! (she CLAPPED her hands right here for some dramatic flair)


If you want to shoot again, you just have to pull the thingy back and open it up, but do it fast or else the bullet thing gets stuck.

And there you have it. How to shoot a gun from a 7 year old's perspective. I guess I'm very happy that she did mention that you should NEVER put your finger on a trigger until you are READY to shoot the gun. She did shoot about 25-30 rounds at a little bitty target in the snow, by herself.

shooting targets

She's not quite ready to go out and shoot rabbits, but she's getting there. And being an Eskimo, living in Alaska, she is going to know how to handle guns and how to handle guns at friends houses, because chances are, there are guns at her friends houses and who knows if their parents taught them the correct way to handle them. The more she knows, the better.