Where do I even begin…

Its been a whirlwind of travels since July 23rd! Whew!

Where do I even begin?!

I quit my job July 21st and I was on the plane en route to Kotzebue to Camp Sisualik to be a camp counselor for a week! It was such an ahhmazing experience! Camp Sisualik is 14 miles northwest of Kotzebue and a former village and it is still currently a summer camp. It was such a wonderful experience! I taught the kids fish skin tanning. Taught them how to take a good Yup’ik hut maqii. We went out on a hike. Berry picking. The kids were able to check the white fish net. We played some native youth olympics. Made fireweed/bluerry and fireweed jelly. The students collected and made a traditional oil using stinkweed, fireweed flowers, and blueberry leaves. And the students got to just play! There were 10 girls and 6 boys from Kotzebue who made it to camp. Did I mention I was teaching the kids Inupiaq? Or what I learned from the book and shared with the kids. It was such a crazy, wonderful experience! I dont know if I would camp counsel again but it was one for the books!

After camp! I was home for an evening and then right back on the plane the next day to Nome to teach a qaspeq class to the students at the Rural Providers Conference. It was such a wonderful time! I was able to cenirtaq lots with family and friends. Berry pick. Fishing. Get some pro style pictures from my talented friend. And then I was able to share the art of cutting qaspeqs to 23 students from the Norton Sound region! It was such a wonderful experience! I also took the time to speak to our Senator Lisa Murkowski about the heroin epidemic affecting the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta. I urge you if you are concerned to call her office, send her an email, write a letter. Share your concerns with those who have the ability to make waves. Enough is enough. It it is time to take back our communities and protect our future generations.

After Nome! It was home sweet home. For about a week 🙂 I was able to work on some orders before I was right back on the plane heading back to Bethel to teach a class and get lotsa of visits in. I was able to squeeze in three maternity photo shoots! I am not an expert but I am able to point and shoot and try and find good lighting. It was so much fun! I am learning lots and definitely feel like I am improving on my skills. I was able to get out and berry pick for blueberries and tundra tea. And then I taught a class to 6 students and it was wonderful! Everyone was able to make 2 in the class and we had a blast! The weather was raining and windy so it made for a perfect day to be inside sewing.

After Bethel! I was home only for a day before I was right back on the plane the next day to Takotna to teach fish skin tanning at Spirit Camp. I was so thankful for Takotna Community Association for reaching out and making it possible. It was such a wonderful experience! There were 16 students from Takotna, 16 students from McGrath, and 4 students from Nikolai! I was thankful for my Soldotna friends for saving me halibut I was able to bring halibut with me for the students to tan. The water level was so HIGH the students werent able to catch any silvers. It was such a wonderful week with the students. They berry picked. Fished. Hiked. Fish skin tanned. Made survival shelters. Ethical wildcrafting. Knot tieing. Packed water. Chopped wood. Stacked wood. And so much more! It was such an ahhmazing experience! I am so thankful I was able to make it up there and be at my other other home 🙂 I hope to make it again!

After Takotna! Home sweet home! Whew. I am finally home, rested and ready to plan for the fall classes and trips. We are also in the process of home improvements which include painting, new flooring, and light fixtures. I am hoping to make it to new places this fall to teach classes! If you are interested in having me come to teach a class in your community please send me an email sewyupik@gmail.com

I will share more photos of qaspeqs and make up bags I have finished in the last couple days. But for now back to sewing!

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Choose to be happy and healthy!

Fireweed Tuesdays

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I finally got enough energy to finish two qaspeqs last night! Whew. I think I finally recovered from my whirlwind of a weekend.

Weekend consisting of fishing and berry picking, and berry picking.

And then this afternoon on my quick lunch break I was able to pick a bucket full of fireweed. I am hoping to make fireweed jalapeno jelly, fireweed raspberry and another variation of fireweed jelly before Saturday.

My next few weeks are going to be insane! I head to Kotzebue July 23-31 to visit with family and be a camp counselor at Camp Sisualik! Which I am so excited about!

Then I get home for a day and then head back the next day to Nome for 4 days to teach a qaspeq class at the Rural Providers conference.

And then I am home for about 10 days and then off to Bethel for a week!

Whew! I will be excited once all my travels are done. And I can finally relax and continue working thru my orders.

Life is wonderful! Especially when you fill with smiles, positivity and laughter!

Milky Chance Thursdays Kick Butt!

Thursdays are soo much better when they include Milky Chance, dancing tushies, headaches from too much smiling, achy feet from dancing like a maniacand ahhhmazing friendships.

I did the 4 hour road trip so I can catch this amazing concert by Milky Chance at Mooses Tooth. So WELL worth it! Although my head hurts from too much laughing and shitty grins. Calves hurt from dancing my birks off. Butt hurting from sitting in the car for 2 hours. And too many damn selfies!

Of course when I got home I had to snuggle with Mr. Mac! Its been three years since we got this cute Walker hound dog and I just love him!

Happy Thursday! I am off this weekend to venture out for berries, fish, tundra tea, blueberries, purple clovers, and much more!

Enjoy your weekend!

Sleep. Whats Sleep?

Sleep. Whats that?

I haven’t been able to catch a good wink of sleep since the fish, berries, and business have been in full swing! Oh yeah and working full time. But, next Friday is my last day and I am going to pursue my business full time, school full time and hopefully a traveling teacher of qaspeq making.

I got to go home for 4th of July and it was so wonderful! I got to fill my bucket with blueberries and salmon berries! Lots of visits in my with stinkiest nieces and nephews and lots of visits with good friends and family.

I am having some serious berry picking withdrawals seeing all the blueberry picking and salmon berry picking photos. The berries are in abundance this year and I miss the walk to my favorite tundra spot. Urban living is a little different because you have to worry about bears, property lines, and getting lost. Ha! Bethel there is tundra for DAYS. You would be able to see a bear 20 miles away running to you. Haha. And I am not to comfortable being in the woods yet.

Dipnetting on the Kenai is in full swing! I got my first taste of it on Sunday and now I am hooked! I walked away with 3 Kenai River reds and lost about 7. Oops! I am learning this way of fishing which is definitely different from fishing on the Kuskokwim.

I tested out a new sewing pattern Prima Diva Wallet which I had some difficulty with. I don’t know if I will be making anymore. But it was a good challenge.

I had a Homer getaway with the girls which was much needed. We were tourists for the day. Homer is a beautiful place! And it is only an hour drive away which is awesome.

I was able to finish one custom ordered qaspeq with this beautiful Art Gallery buttery fabric. It turned out beautiful!

I was able to whip out some beautiful BB Bags and two of the three are sold. I will post the one that is for sale on the Items for Sale page.

We celebrated Easy E’s 11th birthday yesterday! Cant believe that kid is 11! Its been fun watching him over the last 6 years.

Salmon Life is the way to go. We use everything from the head, heart, eggs, backbone, skin and the whole fish. We don’t waste. I have yet to brine, dry, and smoke my fish because I don’t have a hanging rack, or smokehouse yet. Hopefully this month we will build one and I can take care of the fish in the freezer.

Life is busy. Life is good. I am excited for my next adventure!

Life is too short to be anything but happy! Do what you love. Follow your heart. If your unhappy find what makes you happy and jump. Don’t wait until your retired to do all the things you WISH you could do now. Make a plan and execute it.

Stay tuned for more fun posts! I got berries, fish, outdoor concerts, half marathon fun, and sewing more to come!

Happy Hump Day!

Kenai River Festival Weekend

It was a whirlwind of sewing, visiting, setting up, taking down, enjoying the fresh air and making new friends.

The Kenai River Festival was this past weekend and it was a festival full of good food, live music, artist vendors and more! I had a wonderful weekend of awesome networking, sales, and lots of laughter and fun!

This was my first show/festival that I have really done a whole weekend of setting up and taking down. It was a whole lot of fun and learned a lot. I don’t know if I will be doing another one for awhile as it consumes my whole weekend and weekends are my rest time since I have a full time job. Maybe after a good nights rest and a weekend of relaxing I might be ready to rock and roll.

I have two diva frame wallets ready for new homes and I will share the details on the Items for sale page and I will update what I have left of the qaspeqs for sale. I finally set up my square so I am set to take credit/debit cards.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! And hope you have a good week ahead of you!

Memorial Day Weekend Fun!

It was a WHOLE weekend of fun, fun fun!

I was a road master between Cooper Landing, Homer, Soldotna and Cooper Landing it was a whole lotta driving.

We had a sewing retreat in Cooper Landing from Friday night-Monday afternoon. I made it Friday night and was able to whip out two qaspeqs for my customers, and a cute Diva Wallet frame for another awesome patient customer.

Saturday was a busy day working at the quilt shop Bearly Threaded Quilting Too! And then I was a roadrunner and headed out to Homer to have a fun evening with the girls “camping” on the beach. It was a much needed night of lots of laughs, jumping pictures, Baywatch beach running, and more laughs! So glad I snuck away for a night and was able to visit with friends from home 🙂

Sunday was a perfect day resting. My body must have needed it because I just lazed around on the couch all day and it was wonderful!

Cooper Landing was calling my name Monday so I went back and able to almost three BB bags, organize my fabric for the millionth time, finished a customers order that went to Shageluk  and visit with the gals. My allergies were giving me heck from the fresh smelling rain on the cottonwood buds for my motivation was slugging.

I also finally received all my tags for my Sew Yup’ik business! Made in Alaska and the Silver Hand Program thru the Alaska State Council on the Arts! So I am going to be rocking and rolling at the Kenai River Festival which is in two weeks! I better get sewing!

Its also my dads birthday! So if you see him around wish him a Happy Birthday! I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my strong, amazing dad who has been there for me from the very beginning. I feel lucky and am super grateful for him 🙂

And of course! My pops and Arraq share the same birthday too! So its my wonderful anaans birthday Arnaq! Who would always send for me in the summers to visit her in Anchorage and would take me all over! I love her for that and if you see her in Anchorage wish her a happy birthday and give her the biggest hugs!

Happy Wednesday! Happy Sewing! Happy June!

Recipes for Salves

I am not an expert in gathering or making salves out of cottonwood buds, devils club, dandelion flowers and spruce tips. I am learning as I go and I will share the recipes that I plan on using once they have all infused in the extra virgin olive oil and are ready to be made into salves.

I didn’t grow up learning about them other than caiggluk, berries, wild celery, the grass that you pick in marshy areas and it tastes sweet, ayuq (tundra tea), the tasty pink flowers from the tundra, and the tasty bluebells.

And I am grateful for participating in the Ethnobotany  certificate program thru the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. It has been an amazing experience and I am three classes away from getting my certificate. I was lucky to be able to travel to Nunivak Island for a 2 week class in 2009 and it was amazing and really opened me up to a new world that I never really understood. And I talk to anyone and everyone who knows about using plants and medicine and try and soak up all their information. The internet is also a wonderful tool to find out recipes, and information about each plant. I also have some books at home and I will share those titles because they are also wonderful resources.

So far I have gathered cottonwood buds, devils club, spruce tips, and dandelion flowers. I usually pick them in a jar on my quick 30 minute lunch breaks and cover the tips, or dandelion flowers with extra virgin olive oil until they are completely covered and I let them sit in my car in the sun. I have heard and read different times to let them infuse in the sun and so I am just winging it. I check to make sure they are covered in oil daily and shake up the jar or add more oil if need be.

I have heard that you can use other oils like sunflower oil, almond oil, coconut oil. But I just extra virgin olive oil because it seems to be the cheapest and I get more for my dollar.

If I am going to use the spruce tips for jelly or tea I let them infuse in water in the sun. They are also good just to snack on and they are pretty citrusy and sour but you get used to the taste.

I also plan on making some dandelion jalapeno jelly and I will use this recipe and just add a couple jalapenos in the mix.

Dandelion Jalapeno Jelly:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/dandelion-jelly

Dandelion Sunshine Jelly

Spruce Tip Jelly:

http://frontierfreedom.blogspot.com/2010/12/spruce-tip-jelly.html

Spruce Tip Jelly

http://www.pbs.org/food/kitchen-vignettes/spruce-tip-jelly/

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This is my jars at home now infusing in extra virgin olive oil and they get plenty of sun, maybe they are sunburnt 🙂 I jokes.

Here are the websites that I have been using as guides for when I do make the salves I will be using these websites and recipes for guidance.

Spruce Tip syrup:

http://honest-food.net/foraging-recipes/sweets-and-syrups/spruce-or-fir-tip-syrup/

Spruce Tip tea:

http://medcookingalaska.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-to-harvest-spruce-tips-with-recipes.html

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http://plants.gwichin.ca/node/6

Wild Foods & Medicine:

Fir, Hemlock and Spruce Tips

Spruce Tip Salve:

Spruce Tip Salve Recipe

Make a wonderful winter chest rub-From Spruce sap

Cottonwood Salve:

Cottonwood Bud

http://www.wildernesscollege.com/cottonwood-salve.html

https://feralbotanicals.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/harvesting-cottonwood-buds-for-medicine/

Make Balm of Gilead / Cottonwood Oil

http://bearmedicineherbals.com/harvesting-medicine-making-with-cottonwood-bark.html

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Devils Club Salve:

http://www.alaskafloatsmyboat.com/beachcombing/2013/5/15/making-devils-club-salve-and-tincture

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Healing Qualities of Devils Club:

http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/Devils_Club_Salve

And this video is Ahhhhhmazing! If you haven’t already you should check out all the UAMuseumOfTheNorth film series on YouTube. They are all wonderful and informational so grateful for videos like these to learn from.

Dandelion Salve:

Dandelion Salve Recipe

How to Make Dandelion Salve

DIY Dandelion Salve

http://www.freshbitesdaily.com/dandelion-salve/

http://littleseedfarm.com/to-be-a-farmer-blog/kitchen-witchery-dandelion-salve.html

Dandelion Salve

Happy Harvesting!

Remember not pick spruce tips from the young trees because it will stunt the growth.

Do not over pick one tree, one area, and always leave a token of thanks to the plant or tree that you harvest from.

Go out and pick with your friends, family, niece, nephew, son, daughter or whoever and keep spreading the knowledge that plants are medicine. We are surrounded by plants and they all have strong medicinal qualities that could be better for you than any pharmacy or prescription. Be sure to consult with your physician or provider if you are on any types of medications as some of the medicinal qualities in the plants or trees can affect your medication.

Quyana and happy harvesting!

Qaspeq Class & May Fun!

My qaspeq class at Bearly Threaded Quilting Too was ahhhmazing! There was two gals Barbara and Nikki and it was wonderful! They both made beautiful qaspeqs! And I got to sew and make a couple qaspeqs for my amazingly patient customers 🙂

I love how Alaska is such a small world! I used to work for Nikki’s son Luke in Bethel over 10 years ago. And she knew alot of people from back home 🙂

And! I finally busted out Janome Memory Craft 500E Embrodiery machine and put it to good use! I cant believe it took me this long to brave it and try it out! Now all I want to do is embroider 🙂

Its going to be another busy week I have quite a few orders to fill and need to gather more spruce tips and dandelion flowers before its too late!

Hope you have a wonderful week! IMG_2264

Busy Busy Month

Its already been such a busy busy month of May already! I snuck home for a weekend for some good maqii’s, my nephews, auntie, and my Conwads graduation, and lots of cenirtaqs!

Its also been a busy busy sewing month! I have been getting orders in left and right and am trying to keep up with all of them between work, gathering devils club, dandelion flowers, and spruce tips! All are medicinal and I am hoping to make them into salves 🙂

I just had a wonderful weekend teaching a small two person sewing class at Bearly Threaded Quilting Too which was great! I got to sit and sew with the gals and had fun!

I will share some photos 🙂