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Sunday, November 4, 2012


"Migiaq" is the Inupiaq word for "throw up."  Mi-gack is how it sounds, with a more gutteral G. 

It's highly appropriate for several reasons. 

Halloween always makes me want to Migiaq.  Too much candy.  Inappropriate costumes for people.  Drunkards acting ridiculous at the annual Dance.  Migiaq.

And then, whatever's on my sewing table too.

This year a cheetah migiaq-ed on my table. 

fabric pumpkin

I made two separate pairs of pants for the girl.  Because she wanted to have a full body suit.  One pair fit exceptionally well, but it was skintight and for a 9 year old I didn't like it.  One pair fit except for the butt (we have been cursed with large behinds) and finally I gave up at 8:30 p.m. and made her a skirt instead.

We used zulu knots with bobby pins to "curl" her hair overnight after a shower so she could have some great "Wild" hair.  It worked.

Hair cheetah

My costume also made a few people Migiaq too.  Dean and I went as Zombie Bride and Groom.  A few weeks ago I did some moulage with a few other nurses for the required disaster drill at the hospital and learned how to use tissue and liquid latex to make burns and scar tissue wounds on people.  Perfect timing for Halloween.

maija zombie

I used my actual wedding dress, burned a few holes in one of Dean's dress shirts, bought a $1 tie for him and ripped up some pants of his.  Not to toot my own horn but I really liked these costumes! 

Anyway, to finish Kaisa's costume, I sewed some boot covers, some fingerless gloves, we made ears and attached a tail to her skirt.  

Cheetah face

I waited until after lunch to paint her face like a Cheetah.  (Although it's sort of interchangeable from a cheetah to a leopard!)

My daughter went overboard on candy collecting this year, which made her Migiaq yesterday also.  Gross.   Candy throw up!

Cheetah Girl


Now...if I ever see Cheetah Fabric again, I'll Migiaq. 

There is your lesson of the day.  :)  Happy Sunday.  I am so thankful it's November!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Old Treasures

This weekend Dean and I celebrated our anniversary .  We usually head off to the big city of Anchorage for a long weekend of just us.  Little did we know that the stupid Alaska PFD direct deposit was also arriving in the big city the day we were to leave Kotzebue.


It was craziness.  Something that we will try NOT to experience again!  Especially since he brought only one pair of pants so we could buy some more and ended up at American Eagle (he's not too old!) behind a bunch of spoiled teenagers.  Mission accomplished though, he did get three pairs of jeans. 


So, to pass the time, aside from eating 15 lbs of good food, we ran off to Chickaloon for a day to visit my dad.  My dad who had a horrible bruise from falling down a hill while my mom is here taking care of our kids.  My dad who had several guns on the couch where I was going to take a nap. 

I took a nap despite those guns.  And then picked some high-bush cranberries.  And took a walk around the rainy trail to the other cabin. 


Whenever I visit Chickaloon, I always find something new, that's old.  They collect cool antique stuff that's practical.  This trip I drooled over my mom's new treadle sewing machine.  I can't believe they end up with such cool new (old) stuff.  Man.  I'm totally jealous.


Another new old pile I found was bound by old twine, and the very first magazine I opened had a story about Della Keats in it.  They traveled to the "Purple River" to look for masru.  Very cool.  Very informative.  I also remember traveling like that when I was a kid.  Up river, kakisaaq-ing and pushing the boat out. 


Next time I visit, I hope to see the loom my grandmother gave to my mom.  :)  Then I'll REALLY be excited.  And by that time, the belt on the treadle will be fixed and I can sew too.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Da Bears...

*Warning - photos of dead animals follow this message!

About a week ago I found out due to budget constraints and "blah, blah, blah," I was going to lose my job.  (You don't really hear much after, "I'm sorry to have to inform you that you're going to lose your job..." right?!)

Luckily, though, I was able to transfer into another position fairly quickly within the association.  Emergency averted.

After I found out about the reduction-in-force layoffs for this year, I was a bit down.  So my pal sent for me.  We spent the weekend laying around on her couch, eating great food (sort of, I had the flu!) and talking about life, in general.  Which was exactly what I needed.

My "village"

My husband...well, when he is worried, or scared, or even if he's happy and calm and carefree, he goes hunting. 

He and a friend of his took off Saturday to camp up river, hoping for some caribou.  Since you can't fly and shoot in the same day, they set up camp and fiddled around with Kobuk the dog that night.  (No, we are NOT getting a new dog!)

Kobuk VS Bear
"I fought the dog and the dog won..."

The next day, they saw nothing except a huge brown bear walking around their camp.  Bear is better than nothing right?  So my husband shot it. 

And now we have a huge mo-fo bear hide in the freezer waiting to be tanned, and I hate bear meat.  But apparently it was pretty big for a bear (nine foot three inches, something like that) and pretty old (23 or 24 years old) so it was a good catch. 

Plus it always makes him feel better to shoot something and bring it home.  He totally reminds me of a kid bringing home a new frog or puppy or something.  "Look what I brought home honey!!"  Oh joy.  Bear. 

Deans Bear

Anyway, luckily some of his friends got a moose and gave us a front shoulder so he ground it up and made 30 bs of moose summer sausage (HOLY COW it is SO GOOD!).  Moose meat?  YES.  Bear meat?  No.  So I'm happy now.  Ground moose, ground caribou and a bear hide. 

I decided it would make a great garage door in the wintertime.  Either that or we will use it as a rug at camp this winter!  haha.

The joys of being an Eskimo.  Oh, and it snowed today too.

Have a great week.

P.S.  I didn't take these photos, either Dean or his friend Chad did.  :)  But they're pretty good!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Is it possible to actually swell with pride?  Really, is it?  You know, the feeling that grows the lump in your throat.  Where you can't talk to someone asking you a simple question for fear you might just burst into tears.  Where you have to bear down and breathe before the tears fall.  Where you find yourself screaming MUCH too loud. 


If you know me, you know I live above the Arctic Circle.  We live in the tundra.  On a spit of land that's "almost an island."  Cross Country running is in mud, water, tundra, and willows.  It's extremely hard.  There is no hard packed trails to run on.  Literally just horribly wet mud.

My kids run cross country here.  The elementary kids run a 2K, middle school a 3K and high school a 5K. 

Here she comes

Kotzebue hosts an Invitational meet each year rain, snow or shine.  We've had such torrential rain this year the trail was a nasty muddy mess.  But the kids still ran.  Some kids lost a shoe early on.  They kept running.  Some kids lost BOTH shoes and kept running.  Because Eskimo kids are tough.  What's a little mud uphill going to do? 

 Dig up the hill

My girl ran the 2K race this year.  Oh my gosh I was so choked up.  I was screaming much too loudly as she ran up the last hill.   I took photos as best as I could while yelling at all the kids.  The determination on their faces.  The shoeless runners giving it their all.  I can't even explain it. 

It was awesome. 

 Running hard

So, my heart is swollen with immense pride.  I don't even know what place she got.  Who cares, really.  She did well.  And she kept both shoes on!

 End of race

P.S. I made her headband Husky Blue and Gold with a paw print, so I could find her in the willows and scream louder!  It worked.  It's made of fleece and velcro.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pumpkin Cake

Really now, is there anything better than Pumpkin Cake?  I don't know.  When it's windy and rainy and ugly all over, one of the best things we have found to to bake.  Pumpkin Cake.  Bundt cake to be exact.  (By the way, when you say "Bundt" you HAVE to say it like the momma on My Big Fat Greek Wedding!!!  "Buuuunnndt")

cake 1

I love baking in Bundt pans.  They always come out so pretty and warm and the better they look, the better they taste.  Don't try to change my mind.  It's true.  Belieeee dat. (That was my attempt at saying Believe That...yes?  no?  ok we won't go there)

One of the EVEN better things about bundt cakes is that you can always mix it up in about 15 minutes, bake it for 45 minutes and an hour later, you have this awesome smelling, great looking cake.  And if you have a kitchen in your office, WE do, you can take a break to mix it up.  Go back to your office to work for 45 min and tease everyone while it bakes then sneak it off into your office like I did!

cake 3

Then you send an email to the people you like.... or nevermind.  I shared with everyone who stopped by! (for real, I did) On another note, this is also a way to make friends.  "What!?  You don't like me!?  Have some cake...  See, now you're my friend."  Oh, maybe it doesn't work that way, but the world would be better if we could just forgive and forget over some good coffee and a slice of pumpkin cake.

Do you need friends?  Do you want to make one too?  Good news.  I'm going to share the recipe.  Cause you're my friend.

cake 4

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake
*adapted from Whipped Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 C sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C solid pack pumpkin
3/4 C carnation milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

For Glaze:
2 TBS butter, softened
2 TBS cream cheese, room temperature
1-2 TBS carnation milk
1 C powdered sugar (or more for thicker consistency)

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour your bundt pan.

Beat butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. 

In another bowl mix together pumpkin, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla.

(*CONFESSION:  I do not waste three bowls by doing this.  I mix it all into my kitchenaide mixer and it turns out great.  I did, however, mix it this way for the first couple times I made the cake.  Then I got lazy.  And didn't want to do dishes.  So there.)

With the mixer on low, alternate flour mix, pumpkin mix, flour mix, pumpkin mix and end with flour mix until smooth. 

Carefully spoon batter into bundt pan, smooth top and bake for 45-50 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool for at least 15 minutes in pan, then remove and cool to the touch.

While cooling cake make glaze:  Mix butter, cream cheese and milk together.  Add powdered sugar until glaze like consistency.  Pour or Ribbon over top of cake.

cake 2

Make this and you'll have plenty of friends.  Have a great three day weekend!  "Someone" special is having a big birthday on the 4th!  Stay tuned to see what fun we have in store.  (Or well as fun as an avid hunter can have on a three day weekend!!!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good Things

It's a Good Thing.  Quick, who said that?  Me.  No, actually it was Martha Stewart.  But, whatever.

Plenty of good things happening up here.  Aside from the torrential rain that caused a little bit of flooding in town, (Go check out the facebook photos, if you want) we have had a great week.

Temperatures hovering around 45, NO rain, sunny and did I mention, NO rain!? 

Here are my top 5 Good Things that have conspired this week: (In no particular order)

Belly Painting

peackock belly

My pal is nice and ripe with a baby in her belly.  Since she is being sent to the "City" to give birth, give life?  Have birth?  I don't know.  She's gonna have the baby in Anchorage.  Anyway, I had a chance to paint some peacocks on that preggo belly.  Apparently only male peacocks have awesome feathers, so we decided it was A-OK to paint two gay peacocks in love.  Or whatever, you know what I mean.  Pretty belly.  Big baby.  Good luck with that!

Drinking Wine

wine on the boat

One of my friends came up to Kotz to visit for the weekend and we consumed a boatload of wine while discussing world politics and the perpetuation of the Inupiaq culture.  Either that or we watched movies, sewed and didn't talk about work, all while consuming good wine.  Either way it was awesome.  Since we took NO photos of ourselves, here is a photo of me drinking wine from my Kuksa while on the boat.  Hey, I wasn't driving...I was cold...and Kuksa's are meant to be used for drinks.  :) Oh yeah, my mom came up to visit last week too, but she left because it was rainy and ugly.

Fabric Presents

spider fabric

A Facebook Friend of mine messaged me and said, "I have a stash of fabric and junk, I need to make room, you want it?"  Of COURSE, being the sound reduce-reuse-recycler I said YES.  And I swear it was like Christmas in two boxes!  My daughter is in LOVE with the blue glittery spiderweb fabric and has already decided what she will be for Halloween.  "A person with blue glittery spiderweb fabric dress AND cape... with a hood... and black gloves."  Really authentic if you ask me.  So that was an awesome day.  Any day you get free fabric is great, right?  Thanks Britt!

Duck Season

ducks in a boat

It's subsistence waterfowl season up here.  This means, in my house, that every morning my husband is awake, checking weather and greasing his shotgun.  And then every night, I get fresh smoked Duck Breasts, or Duck Sausage, or Duck wrapped in Bacon.  :)  Life is good when you're married to a duck hunter.

New Table for Sewing


I usually keep my sewing stash downstairs in the Guest-Room/Bed-and-Breakfast, but during the month of September my husband lets a bunch of hunters stay there so I have to clean it out.  So, basically once a year I actually go down there and either sew or re-organize my horrendous fabric pile.  THIS year, I inherited a great desk from my mom when she moved and it now houses my pretty rainbow of thread.  Among other things.  But I still have about seventeen totes of fabric to go through by Thursday.  Ugh.  At least I have pretty thread.

Hope you guys had a great week too.  And I just noticed how little I have posted this year.  Holy Cow, I'll try to change that!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Last time I checked the climate and rainfall up here made us a desert.  What's with all this stupid rain!?  If I wanted to live in my rubber boots, we would move to Sitka. 

I don't want to live in them.  They stink.  Like rotten feet.  They're there only to pick berries and get in and out of the boat!  Dumb rain.


On another note, Dean LOVES to live in his boots.  He's from Ketchikan, so living in Xtra-tuffs is normal for him.  He wears them as dress shoes up here.  

We need it to go away so we can get back to boating, and picking berries, and camping, and hunting.  Duck season opened and it's been raining and windy ever since.


We found the motherload of blueberries and it's rained ever since.  We played softball in the rain, we go to work in the rain, we fish in the rain.  Seriously, whatever made Mother Nature cry this much needs to stop being an ass and make up already. 


So the kids can get back in the boat and explore the outdoors.  So they can roast grapes (Yes, they roasted their grapes) and find caterpillars and get stuck in the mud.

 kids stuck

We want to pick blues, blacks and crans.  We want to go hunting for Geese.  We need the tundra to dry up so our villages stop being flooded.  Flood season isn't until October.

OK, just so we are clear on this.  Summer and Fall are the only benefit to living up here.  We look forward to the three months of nice weather and Momma Nature is taking this away from us.  Winter is brutal.  At least give us Fall.  Crisp fall days where you wake up and see your breath, adjust your long johns and make a fire to warm up.

roasting sticks

And please, by any means necessary...  NO MORE RAIN!  Oh yeah, and World Peace.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Food and Sewing

Sewing and Food.

Story of my life.  First we make food, then we sew.  Or first we sew, then we make food.  Whatever the case may be that's what's going on around here.

Case in point...

This Thursday I made three atikluks.  Then on Friday, I made 21 pies.  :)

Here, I'll show you, on Instagram! 

I'm "finnskimo" if you want to see how much food I post.  Mostly Eskimo food, but some other kind too.  Like Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Yum.

more food

Clockwise from top left...
*Caribou Patiq bones boiling in broth.  Patiq soup is the BEST soup.  You get to suck the marrow out.
*Berries.  Aqpiks (Cloudberries), Blackberries (Crowberries) and Blueberries (Alpine blueberries) a;; mixed together in a huge bowl, ready for us to eat.
*Tail on Smoked Salmon.  Dean smoked about 8 fish and this tail was super cool all hot and smoked!
*Suvaks.  Salmon Eggs, boiled with the heads.  Super yummy.


*Two of the three atikluks I made.  Cute colors, awesome trim.
*Kaisa, wearing her atikluk, eating muktuk.  Lots of it.
*Figuring out which way to sew the ric rac on the atiluks.
*My current stash of unopened ric rac and bias tape.


*Boiled Ingalauqs (Seal intestines) with Blackmeat in seal oil.  Super good.
*A whole bunch of the softest muktuk I've ever eaten. 
*Tundra Blueberry - Apple pie.  Part of the 9 baked pies I made.
*Eskimo salad.  Cabbage, cauliflower, peas, broccoli, turnips, apples, salmon eggs, black meat, white muktuk, black muktuk, dried pike, with a seal oil vinaigrette.  :)

Soul Food for sure.  We had a community celebration to honor the late Senator Al Adams, who passed away with his family last week.  He was a hometown guy and most of Kotzebue showed up. 

We like to get together and eat.  Maybe that's why I'm overweight.  Either that or the food I make is so good that I can't help myself...  hahaha. 

Oh yeah, and today was the first day of school for the kids.  Max and Maddie in 8th grade in Palmer.  Koy is a Junior at Kotzebue High School and Kaisa is in the 4th grade.  My how time flies around here.

Happy eating.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We have the Blues

Blues.  Muddy, foggy, rainy blues.  Softball has been a mess playing in the rain on a dirt field.  Man, I wish we had grass in this town!  But, after the men's and women's seasons are over, we all kind of just slump into fall with a sigh.


Luckily, though, my husband likes to get outta town on a daily basis.  We take the boat, or the 4 wheeler with the kids and just go.  This past weekend we attempted to go camping on the river in tents.

Two boats overflowing with children and food to feed said endless-stomached kids.  And, oops, just one tent!  The men dropped the women off at the mudflats between some willows and the river where we were told by them, "We will be right back.  There are no bullets in the chamber..." 

Wheres coltrane

So, I put my trust .357 side holster on and loaded it with some bear slugs while telling the kids that if I tell them, they need to run into the boat they left for us.  They agreed.  Morgan and I started to unhaul the Arctic Oven (kids tent!) when this most god-awful smell happened across our noses.  Fresh crap.

dean and girls

Bear crap.  Uh oh...  So, I took my gun and walked around a bit to check things out, and found the bears sleeping quarters, a trail to the willows and some fresh crap, still steaming.  So, I did what any other Eskimo would do.  I walked on the trail toward the willows.  Oh, and I texted my husband and said there was a bear and maybe they should hurry up!

kuksa blues

The guys came back fifteen or twenty minutes later and walked into the food supply, watched the willows rustle and shot in the air a couple times to scare it off while we packed everything up and the kids cried.  We headed home to sleep in our bear-proof houses ready for the next day.

The other boat was acting up so Sunday, just Dean the three middle kids and I went scouting for moose, geese, berries and caribou.  And we found the motherload of all motherloads of blueberries.

Huge, grape sized, sweet tundra blueberries!  (Also known as Alpine Blues) So, I endured 18 mosquito bites to the hand while we picked and picked and picked that afternoon. 

coltranes berries

We stopped by the regular "picnic" ground we've dubbed the "Joule-Lukin Picnic Grounds" because we always find the Joules there eating or sitting relaxing.  Dean dragged a huge driftwood log to the area and cut it up for other people because it had looked like people were down to burning willows, due to the lack of driftwood on that side of the river. 


Aside from all the rain we've been having (and are not enjoying again this week), it has been a great year for both Aqpiks and blueberries, so I am beginning to feel OK with the rain if it gives us grape sized berries. 

kaisa eating

Hopefully we get 10-15 gallons of blues this year.

Monday, August 6, 2012

PLAY ball!

Our village kids had their annual softball tournament this past weekend.  Luckily the rain that we've been experiencing let up a bit and allowed the teams to play without fear of catching a cold.

Noatak boated in a team from up river to compete in the Majors, and Nome flew their all-star team in as well.

 kaisa throwing 12

Plenty of us had kids in both leagues so we ran around all weekend between fields screaming like crazy.  (Or we sat between the two and yelled from the outfield to both!)

kaisa batting 12

Kaisa's team, the Drake Dragons, ended up winning the tournament in probably the BEST game of the season.  These kids (ages 7-11) did spectacular!  One of Kaisa's friends caught the ball in right field to force the game into "overtime" of sorts.  Maybe you had to be there, but between the sunshine, the kids having a blast, great coaches and the crowd yelling for both teams, it was awesome.

frank pitching

I won't say that Kaisa is good but she has tons of fun, smiles the entire time, usually plays with the dirt and runs when she's told to run.  So, I don't mind!  She likes to stand at home though, and watch strikes go by.  Gotta work on that, I guess.

 drake dragons

Another parent and I spent the evening after the first game putting the kids names on their shirts using the  Freezer Paper Stenciling  method of painting.   The kids loved their names and numbers. 

shirts backs 12

Koy's team, OTZ Telephone,  battled the losers bracket and forced a double elimination game with Nome Saturday afternoon.  He hit three homeruns during the first championship game, then petered out and hit only one during the true championship.  They lost by a few runs, but again, they had fun as well. 

kiasa team won

In all, the only thing I was disappointed in was the fact that it was windy on Sunday.  The aqpiks are ready to be picked, so we are waiting for the wind to die down and the water to recede so we can get out and pick a few gallons for winter.

koy hitting 12

Other than that, thankfully it wasn't raining.  This stupid summer has been nothing but rain.  We don't usually get more than two or three inches a YEAR, and it's been raining a few inches a week.  Horrible.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ugruk and stuff

I want to write every day.  I really do.  But I don't.  Sorry.

We are too busy.  Busy taking care of food and busy soaking up a winter's worth of Vitamin D. 

My side of the boat

Smoking Fish, Cutting Ugruk, Boating, Boating and more boating. 

But now that it's been ugly for the last few days, and its forecasted to be ugly for the next week or so, maybe I'll post a few things I said I would a long time ago! 

Not today though.  Some of you already know and follow me on Instagram (seriously, if you like fish eyes, and bug shots, this is the place to be!) and plenty of you are my facebook friends.  So, you already know what's going on. 

In a nutshell:


My cousin, friends,  girls and I worked on a HUGE ugruk.  We did have to scrape some fly eggs off it though, and that was sorta gross.


We have been boating up a storm.  Every day it's nice out.  Excuse the butt shot.  (and the camo pants!)


Found some late babies.  Hope they survive.  I wanted to take them home and raise them to eat.  


Stupid horsefly population has been growing steadily.  These suckers bite HARD!  But, they don't stop us from going swimming or boating.  They're still gross all the same though.