Our Arizona Adventures

I am finally feeling myself again after our crazy Arizona adventure and ready to share all the fun things we did around Phoenix. We had initially planned our trip for 10 days and then it got extended to 17 days thanks to Omnicron and the storms in the Pacific Northwest. For those first 10 days I jam packed our days with adventures in the morning and relaxing by the pool in the afternoons. If you have teens or little ones renting a house with a pool is a must.

Our first Airbnb in Glendale

In our 10 days we visited the Desert Botanical Gardens accompanied with a photo shoot, the Phoenix Zoo, The Hole in the Rock, Butterfly Garden, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Odysea Aquarium, Glendale Glitters, Piestewa Peak Hike, and Tom’s Thumb Hike. And I cannot forget to share the most amazing tacos from Cocina Madrigal.

If you have little ones and they enjoy the zoo and animals I recommend checking out the Phoenix Zoo. With our huge family I found tickets on Groupon for cheaper than the admissions price. We found ours on Groupon for $23 a piece and if you purchase them at the zoo they are $29.95 for adults or $19.95 for children. They also have these sweet little animal rides called Rydables and you can rent them by the minute.

Sydney & I at the Phoenix Zoo

Right next to the zoo is Papago Park where there are some great hiking trails, or you can go check out The Hole in the Rock. The Hole in the Rock is a super duper short hike and Sydney enjoyed the views. We didn’t explore the trails around Papago Park but if we visit Phoenix again we will definitely check them out.

Sydney & I enjoying the views from The Hole in the Rock

Prior to our visit to Arizona I booked a photo shoot with the talented Morgan of Prickly Pear Photography LLC. Morgan suggested we take our photos at the Desert Botanical Gardens and she picked a beautiful location. Sydney and my mother in law led the way through the Gardens. The boys were not as impressed as the ladies were but we enjoyed our time exploring the Gardens. Tickets were a little on the spendy side but they were worth it. Make sure you plan enough time to walk through it all, there is a lot to see.

And if you are ever in the Phoenix area and are needing an amazing photographer check out Morgan she was wonderful to work with!

Orson not impressed with the Desert Botanical Garden

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park was a fun little park to explore with Sydney and Orson. The railroad ride and carousel ride were inexpensive and the kids enjoyed the rides. Sydney also had a blast playing at the park. This was a great little park to explore.

Sydney at the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park

The Butterfly Garden was a neat place to explore, it was a little spendy but Sydney loved walking around with the butterflies. I don’t know if it was worth the amount we spent there are no children rates, or Groupon options. If we were to go back to Phoenix I don’t think we would check it out again.

Sydney at the Butterfly Garden

Next to the Butterfly Garden is Odysea the Aquarium. Be sure to check out the bathroom before going upstairs, it is definitely one of the coolest bathrooms we have been in. Again the tickets to the aquarium were expensive and if we were to go back I don’t think we would visit here again. There was no Groupon option or children ticket options. Sydney had a blast exploring the Aquarium and she loved the Tide Touch Pool.

Sydney at Odysea

Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction is a fun place to explore. If we didn’t have the little ones we might have went on one of the tours. But walking around and seeing one of the shows was interesting and loud. A little piece of advice do not stand too close when they start the show if you have sensitive ears like me.

Exploring Goldfield Ghost Town

Two hikes that we were able to explore were Piestewa Peak and Tom’s Thumb. Both hikes were pretty intense with two little ones. We made it about halfway up for both which is pretty impressive for Sydney considering these were her first two hikes. And Orson just added an additional 20 lbs to my hikes but they were both beautiful. The next time we make a visit hopefully we can make it to the top with both kiddos.

Stan-O enjoying Tom’s Thumb
Sydney summiting Piestewa Peak

And if for whatever reason you find yourself celebrating Christmas near Glendale check out Glendale Glitters. Or any light shows for that matter. Sydney and I had blast wandering around checking out all the Christmas lights set up in downtown Glendale.

Syd and I exploring Glendale Glitters

As far as places to stay we loved staying in Scottsdale. And if you ever need a beautiful place to Airbnb please check out Mindy’s place in Scottsdale. Our place in Scottsdale was close to great hikes, restaurants, and shopping. If we find ourself in Arizona again we will definitely be saying in this area again.

Our Airbnb in Scottsdale

Last but not least if you are wanting to eat the best tacos in the world you NEED to go check out Cocina Madrigal. They have thee most amazing tacos I have ever eaten in my entire life. The beef tenderloin steak is marinated in the most delicious pomegranate marinade and cooked to perfection. The tacos were so good we had to eat them twice and I am drooling just thinking about them. You will not be disappointed. Do yourself a favor and if you ever find yourself in the Phoenix area you will go grab yourself some tacos, maybe an elote and some delicious chips and salsa!

The best steak tacos I have ever eaten

And that’s it for all my recommendations for if or when you find yourself in the Phoenix area. I will post another blog on what you should and shouldn’t when it comes to traveling with kids. Our 10 day trip turned into an extended 17 day nightmare and there were plenty of things I wish I had purchased and looked into before we went on our family vacation. Overall we had a blast and made the best of it!

Zoom Qaspeq Classes

I plan on hosting three qaspeq zoom classes.

The zoom classes will be over three different weekends. The three weekends are:

November 27-28

December 4-5

December 11-12

The first two zoom classes will be traditional qaspeq classes. And the third class will be a modern qaspeq class. There will be three sessions over the weekend. There will be two (2) hour sessions on Saturday, and one (2) hour session on Sunday.

Students will need to provide their own material, and sewing machine.

The fee to participate in the class with $75 per person. And there will be at 15 person maximum capacity.

I will create three different events on Facebook for these events. If you do not have Facebook you can send me a message to sewyupik@gmail.com if you are interested in participating.

I wanted to create this post to prepare those of you who are interested in attending. Please do not ask me to remind you, or to message you when I post the events. I work full time, work part time, have two little ones at home, and my mom brain is in full force. I forget when I showered last so I am not a good person to ask to remind anyone. Sorry for the TMI but I want to be honest.

Materials needed for a traditional qaspeq:

3 yards for sizes XXS-XL with no skirt

3 1/2 yards for sizes XL and up with no skirt

Add 1/2 yard if you would like a skirt

2-3 packages of bias tape, trimming of your choice

I personally like using the extra wide double fold bias tape, and piping

Materials needed for a modern qaspeq:

2 yards for sizes XXS-XL

2 1/2 yards for sizes XL and up

1 yard of rayon knit spandex

Here is what I like using from Joanns Rayon Knit Spandex

Please let me know if you have any questions. Please keep an eye out for those events created on Facebook and it will have all the information on how to register for the classes.

Quyana Chuck Norris!

Its been hard

Being a school nurse during this difficult time has been unbearable at times to the point that I am breaking into a million pieces.

I cherish my times with the students and generally love every aspect of being a school nurse. But now it has been so hard that I get physically sick to my stomach every morning when I drive to the school. Being yelled at daily is normal. Most times its more than once.

It is all out of my control.

I don’t have control over the school policies. I am not making up any nilly willy rules just because it’s fun and I feel like it. I want students in school just as much as the parents. We all saw how last year students suffered mentally and emotionally because they were not socializing. It was tough. For every single one of us and some more than others who have lost a family member, friend, coworker. I get it. I too have lost family members to COVID related illnesses and it sucks.

It is not hard to be kind. It is not hard to be empathic or sympathetic. We are all doing our best. Most days I am prepared to be yelled at and that is the shittiest feeling in the world. But today is not one of those days.

So please be kind. It’s not hard. And I hope that you can find joy. Life is too short to be angry.

My beautiful babies

Setting your children up for success

My two little investors

Here are my two littlest investors and I am going to share how I am setting them up for success. First and foremost I am not a financial advisor and by no means an expert but I am sharing what I know and have learned in my investing journey.

I first learned about 529’s at a young age when my father started putting my Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) in my own account. He was also gracious and put half of his PFD in my 529. A 529 is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed for future educational expenses. The only downside to a 529 is that the funds can only be used for educational purposes. It may not work in your favor if your child does not have plans on attending college, or a vocational school. I am not planning on investing huge amounts into each of my children’s accounts. With each of their PFD’s half of the funds will go into their accounts and the other half will be invested in their UTMA which is a Uniform Transfers to Minor Act.

My children who are 4 years old and 6 months old each have an account for their 529’s with Alaska 529 which is associated with T.Rowe Price. There are many other websites that offer 529 plans make sure you do your research. I chose Alaska 529 because my children’s PFD’s can be deposited directly into their accounts.

Now I chose to open UTMA accounts for my children because I can invest in Mutual Funds, ETF’s (exchange traded funds) and individual stocks. With a UTMA I am able to invest as little or as much as I prefer up to $13,000 per year per child. I chose Vanguard to open their UTMA’s because I have been a Vanguard investor for the last 10+ years and I like how their website is user-friendly also their funds have low expense ratio’s.

Creating an account on Vanguard is fast and easy. Once you decide which account you want to open with them then it takes a couple days for the funds to hit the account. Once you see the funds in the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund the key is moving those into a mutual fund, index fund, or individual stock. You do not want those funds to sit in the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund because they will not start accruing that compound interest.

When it came to selecting funds for my children my go to tickers have always been VOO (Vanguard S&P 500 ETF), VTI (Vanguard Total Stock) and VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares). The key to choosing funds is selecting ones that have a low expense ratio. I prefer funds that have an expense ratio of 0.10% or less any more than that you are losing out on free money.

If all this is another language to you and confusing I recommend checking out Personal Finance Club’s website Jeremy does an amazing job of explaining all of this in simpler terms. At the beginning of the year I knew that I wanted to learn more about investing and the stock market. I went head first and started watching hours of YouTube videos, researching the web and then started stumbling across great finance accounts on Instagram. If I can start, you can do it! Sure, it can be scary at first but the scarier thing is not starting. If you have funds sitting in a bank account and you are not sure what do with it I suggest you start researching investing. And if you are scared to put it into the stock market look into HYSA (High Yield Savings Accounts) at least allow your money to work for you.

My goal for my children is to set them up for success and allow them to have that financial freedom that I am working hard to create for myself. I am working on that generational wealth. Money should not be a topic that is taboo it should be something that we discuss with our children at a young age. I know that when my daughter is old enough I will allow her to choose her own stock to invest in for her birthday present. For now mama will invest in one stock for her each year and right now mama is liking AAPL (Apple).

And if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out I am willing to share what I know to help others. I hope that this post was helpful and if you enjoyed it please feel free to leave me a comment. Quyana Chuck Norris!

Sew Yup’ik YouTube Channel

Waqaa!

I have created a Sew Yup’ik YouTube Channel and I would love for you to head over and tell me what you think.

What types of tutorials would you like to see?

Would you be interested in a live class with me for a donation?

I am open to any and every suggestion! I love to share and teach and I am hoping to create more tutorials around salve making with traditional plants, making moose jerky, salmon processing, akutaq making and sew much more!

Quyana Chuck Norris!

Here is my youtube link to my channel!

Sew Yup’ik YouTube Channel

Ways to support a small business

There are many ways you can support a small business without actually buying anything. Here are some of the ways you can support a small business that are free.

Share a Post

Like a Post

Repost

Comment

Tag a friend

Give a shout out

Encourage them

Leave a review

Engage with their posts

As a small business owner I do not have any employees but myself. Sometimes my almost 4 year old daughter Syd loves to help me, and my 3 month old often sleeps on the job. So any like, share, post or anything helps me and it is much appreciated.

Quyana cakneq!

Mama’s Positive Affirmations

Mama’s Positive Affirmations

You are a good mom. I am a good mom.

You are not a bad mom. I am not a bad mom.

You are not your thoughts. I am not my thoughts.

You are safe. I am safe.

You are not alone. I am not alone.

Tomorrow is a new day.

You are not in charge of anyone’s happiness but your own.

You don’t owe anyone anything that includes space.

You are amazing. I am amazing.

You are okay. I am okay.

You are exactly where you need to be at this very moment.

You do not have to enjoy every moment. It’s okay to not like this moment.

You can do this. I can do this.

You are strong. I am strong.

You are loved. I am loved.

Step outside and take three deep breaths. Breathe in love. Breathe out the anger.

I am grateful for my health.

You are a survivor. You are giving your children the best possible life.

You are alive. I am alive.

I am here. I am ready. I am prepared to ride out this wild storm. I am strong. I can do this.

Here are my positive affirmations to help me in my postpartum depression bouts. When I am suffering I will turn to these to help me through those deep, dark moments. The one that I will repeat to myself over and over again is:

You are not your thoughts.

I am not my thoughts.

My thoughts can be so scary at times but I know that those moments will pass. I know that there are times when I am overly exhausted and I need to remind myself that I am okay. My goal is to post my affirmations on post its around my house. I will repeat them every morning when I wake. I am a good mom. I am safe. I am not alone.

Postpartum depression and postpartum rage can be so scary. I know that I am not the only suffering and I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone. Navigating through those emotions can be so difficult when I am trying to heal my childhood trauma wounds. Becoming a parent opens up wounds that I must have hid deep, deep down in my heart. But I am trying every day and that is the important part. I am doing the work. I am showing up and learning. It’s hard. And somedays are harder than others and I avoid going down that road because its hurts my core. I know that I have to go down to that dead end so that I can heal and move forward.

My self-healing journey has been a long, long road but I am so thankful where I am today. And I am excited where I am going to be 1, 5, 10 years down the road. I deserve to be healthy. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to enjoy my life to the fullest. My children deserve a happy, healthy mama. My husband deserves a healthy wife and partner but mostly friend.

Find your people. Find what works for you. Keep going. Don’t ever give up. Know that you are not alone. Reach out to me if you have no one and I can be your person. Motherhood is hard. Self-healing from childhood trauma is hard. And navigating those headwaters can be scary but know that you are not alone.

You are not alone.

You are safe.

You are loved.

You will be okay.

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 Jalapeno Jelly

First the fun part is gathering the fireweed petals. Try and pick away from the roads so they are not super dusty or dirty. You just have to be careful of the bees I usually just talk to them and tell them to find a new petal. Gather enough petals to fill 8 cups.

Once you’ve gathered enough fireweed petals then you will put the 8 cups and I usually just add enough water so it covers the petal. I have read other recipes that use 4 cups or 4 1/2 cups of water so just depends on how you want to go about it. You boil the flowers until they are a whitish color.

Once the flowers are a nice whitish color then you strain out the flowers. I use a potato masher and mash the flowers down to get all the juice out of the flowers. Then you can discard the flowers and you should have a nice reddish juice.

021

On medium heat you bring the juice to a boil then I add my 1/4 cup of lemon juice. And then I will start to add the sugar. There are different recipes that call between 4-6 cups of sugar. I had a lot of juice so I ended up using 6 cups of sugar. I will add the cups of sugar one by one until the sugar dissolves.

This recipe I used 4 jalapenos and 2 sets of seeds.

Caution! Use gloves when cutting jalapenos. I thought I could wing it and not use gloves and I am still feeling it on my fingers. Oh! And just a tip for you and maybe for me take your contacts out BEFORE you cut the jalapenos. Not After. Big mistake. My eyes are still burning from last night hahaha!

After I add all my cups of sugar I will let it come to a rolling boil. Once it does I then add the jalapenos and the two packets of Sure jell. I let that come to a rolling boil for a minute and then I ladle it into my sterilized jars.

There are a couple ways to sterilize jars. You can throw them in the dishwasher and sterilize them that way. I usually just throw them in two pots of boiling water on the stove top and then let them sit and cool until I ladle in the jelly.

I always garnish my fireweed jelly with fresh picked flowers. They look pretty when you open them. And they gel nicely in the jelly. If it sets the first time. Which unfortunately this did not set this morning after a hot water bath for 15 minutes. So I am going to wait a couple days and if it still does not set I will have to re boil it and add one more cup of sugar and one more packet of pectin. It is a hit or miss with fireweed jelly some years it sets overnight and other times it doesn’t set. There is an art to making jelly!

Happy Jelly making!

There are many different variations of fireweed jelly. You can add raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, or any other kind of berry. If I pick enough I am going to try and make fireweed spruce tip jelly. And one year I also made fireweed, cinnamon and all spice jelly.

May the jelly be with you!

Happy Harvesting! And always leave something behind for the plants or thank them if you have nothing to give them. If you have water give them a little water. And don’t over pick save some to grow next year.