Alaskan Game and Greens You Can Share With Pets

There are a bagillion ways to use 100% of the food you trapped, hunted, fished, gathered, or gardened. And I thought it would be fun to share ideas of native-to-Alaska foods that can be shared with your pets!

Dried Goose/Swan/Duck/Crane Legs and Feet: Snacks and chew toys for dogs, cats, ferrets, and rats.

Crab Shells: Legs of king crab, dungenous crab, and other sea-residing crabs can be crushed up and fed to Hermit Crabs.

Willow Tree Twigs: These can be used as chew toys and snacks for rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, mice, chinchillas, and birds. A grove of willow can also be used to feed goats.

Dandelions: Can be fed as snacks to birds, reptiles, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, and chinchillas.

Voles/Muskrats/Squirrel Meat: Most pet mice, rats, ferrets, and cats will eat these wild meats. If the voles are alive they can be fed to snakes that eat mice/rats.

Lynx/Beaver Meat: A well known source of nutrition for sled dogs these meats will happily be eaten by almost all dogs.

Wild Spinach: These can be fed to reptiles that eat vegetables, hermit crabs, rabbits, birds, gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas and mice.

Blueberries: Almost all small animals enjoy these, excluding ferrets (that should not be fed anything except for meat). Hermit crabs and some reptiles will happily eat these as well.

Blueberry Stems: Birds love these! They make great chew toys and snacks.

Foods for Kids While Camping

What foods are good for camping or even road tripping with kids? After summertime adopting about a hundred village children- I've had a few trial and error events with food and kids. Here are things I've learned usually work out pretty well.
Gossner Milk & Cereal: Gossner milk doesn't exactly taste like fresh milk- but it lasts a long time and goes really well with cereal. When served chilled I'm sure kids wouldn't even notice the difference in taste. The ideal children's camping breakfast food in my mind. Plus cereal and milk makes a great snack.

Dried Fruit and Nuts: The fruit is something sweet that won't melt like chocolate. And the nuts are something crunchy and salty that won't crumble like potato chips. They're a bit more healthy and a bit more practical. Personally I love dried fruit and nuts. Some kids aren't a fan. But try things like kiwi and banana chips and most will happily munch them up.

Chef Boyardee: These genius little cans cook great right beside a campfire. A quick easy meal that almost any kid will eat. If you pour it out of the can after cooking it will cool faster- instead of serving it in the can. And the fact it was cooked on a campfire is usually pretty cool to kids.

Pringles: Unlike other potato chips these ones come in a container that keeps them fresh (with the lid) and prevents them from being smashed. They're great for packing in a backpack. And snack-sized packs are good for kids to carry around in case they get hungry half way through that 3 mile hike your honey decided to take.

Uses For Five Gallon Buckets

Five gallon buckets are literally a universal camping object, that I personally believe everyone should bring with them. They, are light-weight, durable, easy to transport, and have so many uses. Such as:
  • Store food. The sealed lid helps keep food fresh as well as prevents insects from making their way into open pringles containers. You can also use the handle and hang the bucket from a tree limb to keep bears and other unwanted creatures out of it.
  • Store clothes in them when it rains. They're waterproof so if a storm comes through you don't need to shove everything into your tent. If you have a five gallon bucket you can pack clothes inside to keep the rain from drenching them.
  • Use them as a seat! They're the perfect size and height for sitting around a camp fire. Want something a bit more comfy? Bring a small 'chair pillow' and put it on top. Most garden sections have cushions for outdoor chairs- they work perfect for buckets because they're weather proof.
  • Wash dishes! They can withstand heat better than some plastic tubs, so you can boil water, pour it in, and use them as a 'sink' to wash dishes.
  • Store kindling. Just like with the clothes, you can gather up kindling at the beginning of your camping trip and them keep it dry from the rain. No more worrying about finding dry kindling after a storm- or at all, because you already have it stored away conveniently beside the fire!
  • Whiteboards for kids. Bring a collection of dry erase markers and an eraser. Your kiddies can use the plain white buckets as drawing areas. When they're finished they can wipe away the marks and start over again the next day... or hour- depending how 'bored' they get. It's a great way to keep toddlers busy!

Markets for Alaskan Nature Products

There is a market for almost every aspect of nature you can find in Alaska (or anywhere for that matter) if you just get creative. And the ability to earn money on nature hikes is limitless once you realize almost anything has a monetary value. Here are a few ideas!

Cottonwood Oil: An oil derived from cottonwood buds is one of the most expensive things Alaskans can sell. You can do research on making it and then sell it to herbal medicine suppliers or direct customers looking for it. It supplies arthritis relief and is believed to be one of the strongest natural remedies for chronic pain.
Alder Leaves: Alder leaves can be dried and sold as an additive to teas to help aid in headache relief. Some herbal suppliers may purchase them, but your best luck would be to sell them yourself.
Alder Cones: Dried alder cones can be sold as craft supplies for many crafters around the country. They're very popular in holiday crafts because they make such a unique small winter-time accent.
Willow Branches: Willow branches can be made into wicker and sold to craft stores and basket weavers. They can also be sold as chew toys for rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas, and birds.
Blueberry Stems: Blueberry stems can be made into a tea! They add a sweet (lavenderish?) taste to other tea blends. They aren't often used alone, but can be sold as an additive. Many tea makers will buy them as well.
River Rocks: River rocks are purchased for a variety of things. Jewelry makers will buy certain colors or shapes for jewelry (quartz is popular). Religious/Spiritual suppliers will buy certain stones for ritual purposes. They can also be sold as home decor (vase accents, fountain addition, aquarium rocks).
Spruce/Hemlock Branches: Some wreath makers will buy spruce branches for wreaths. They're relatively stiff- which makes them a good decision for outdoor decorations. They also really like hemlock, because hemlock branches have a sort of 'droopy' evergreen appearance that can make beautiful holiday decor.
Dried Wildflowers: Many collectors will buy Alaskan dried wildflowers- specifically ones that are native to the arctic/subarctic and not other areas. Crafters will also sometimes buy them- but your best bet would be collectors and museums.
Tundra Lichen: Tundra lichen is bought by beauty suppliers to be used in making lotions, hair products, facial scrubs, and even soaps. It has a moisturizing property that is thought to help prevent wrinkles and promote glowing skin.
Moose Poop: These have been creatively formed into all sorts of things. Many artists buy them to make key chains, jewelry, novelty items, and other awesome things. But some pet stores will also buy them for Hermit Crab food.

Kids, Math, and Waterfowl Hunting

I love taking children waterfowl hunting for a variety of reasons. It's an activity that they can be involved in (going to get the birds, spotting them in the air, playing around when there is no activity). And if you love integrating education into outdoor activities, like I do, then I have a few 'math ideas' to do when waterfowl hunting.

Ages 3 to 5
Counting: Have the kids count how many birds they see in the flock, or how many birds fall down. You could also have them count how many flocks fly over.

Ages 6 to 7
Basic Addition: Have children count the total amount of birds of each flock that flies by, and then add them up throughout the day to see how many birds migrated over on that date. You could also have them add each species of bird.
Basic Subtraction: Have your kid count the total birds in the upcoming flock. Then, after a few of them have been shot, total up the fallen ones. Then subtract the fallen ones to figure out how many are left in the flock. Once again, you could break this down into a 'species' thing.

Ages 8 to 12
Basic Multiplication: Have your kids estimate how many birds each flock will have, and then have them estimate how many flocks will fly over. Multiply the birds in each flock by the total flocks to find their estimate for the birds total that they think will fly over. Have each kid take a guess and keep track throughout the day to see who 'wins' (who's estimate was closest).
Basic Division: Have your kids guess how many birds total will fly over. Then have them guess how many flocks will fly over. Divide the bird total by the flock total to find out their guess for how many average birds will be in each flock. Keep track throughout the day to see which kid is closest (to find the 'average' from your numbers look below).
Averages: Count the total amount of birds of each flock that flies over throughout the day.Then figure out the average number of birds in each flock (take the total birds and divide it by how many flocks flew over). You could also do this for each individual species.

Medicinal Plants in Alaska

What medicinal plants are in your part of Alaska? Here in western Alaska we don't have too many that I know of, but there are a few.

We have one plant that Yup'ik Eskimos swear by for everything: Chithlook. They use it for aches and pains, fevers, headaches, you name it! I've heard it has a very bitter taste. But some kids around here chew on it like it's candy. They make a tea out of it. It is a leafy weed. I believe it works both fresh and dried. I'm sure it has some sort of menthol property that eases sore throats, congestion, and fever.

Willow: Willow bark, when chewed on or made into a tea, has a chemical that acts just like aspirin and can alleviate headache pain literally in a matter of minutes.

Cloudberries: We call them salmonberries, but technically they are cloud berries. They have a huge amount of vitamin C and when eaten during a cold can help your immune system immensely.

Cottonwood Oil: Cottonwood tree's buds produce an oil in the spring that is very expensive and can literally heal arthritis pain as soon as it's rubbed on the skin where the muscles ache. I've heard it's like magic. I'm not sure how to go about making the oil, but I would like to try and keep some in stock.

Alder Leaves: Alder leaves, like willow, can help alleviate headaches. I think they are supposed to be dried first and made into a tea, but I've chewed on them raw and they work fairly well. Don't swallow them- just chew and then spit them out.

Alaskan Animal Shelters List

Don't shop, Adopt. I've always loved animal shelters and most of childhood pets came from a rescue. In Alaska there are a huge array of animal shelters- for almost every species and breed. I've decided, to help promote adoptions, it might be nice to create a database of Alaskan animal shelters. So here's my list. If you have one to add, please do in a comment! And I'll edit the post to add it onto the list.

AlaskanAnimal RescueFriends (Anchorage)
Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue (Palmer)
Alaska Chihuahua Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaskan Sled Dog Rescue (Mat-Su Valley)
Golden Retriever Rescue (Fairbanks)
Carol Kleckner's Fairbanks Husky Rescue (Fairbanks)
GSD German Shephard Rescue (Anchorage)
Arctic German Shephard Rescue (Fairbanks)

Clearcreek Cat Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaska Cat Adoption Team (Alaska)
Alaska Humane Society (Anchorage)

Forget-Me-Not Ferret Rescue (Anchorage)
Dooka's Weasel Warehouse (Fairbanks)
Rascal & P.A.L.S Ferret Rescue (Eagle River)

The Alaska Bird Club (Anchorage)

C & W Reptile Rescue and Feed (Fairbanks)

Horses & Livestock
Alaska Bird and FArm Animal Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaska Equine Rescue (Eagle River)
Homer Alaska Horse Rescue (Homer)

All Animals
Friends of Pets (Anchorage)
Haines Animal Rescue (Haines)
Loving Companions Animal Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaska Animal Care & Control (Anchorage)
Alaska SPCA (Anchorage)
Houston Alaska Animal Shelter (Houston)
Kodiak Animal Shelter (Kodiak)
Kenia Animal Rescue (Kenia)

Ways To Make Money In Alaska's Bush

Many people think that there aren't ways to make money in the bush. We have some of the worst economical development in the world (literally no 'normal' jobs). But that's no excuse to go on without some change in your bank account. With a bit of creativity and hard work anyone can make a living in remote parts of Alaska. Here are my ideas. Feel free to share yours as well in the comments below.

Conventional Ways:
Get a Job: There are a few places that are always hiring. AC Stores, Anica Stores, Tribal Offices, Corporation Offices, City Offices, and Schools. All of them usually have one or two jobs available and most have a high amount of patience. Show up, do the best you can, and they'll reward you with local friendships and a decent wage.
Commercial Fishing: In almost (not all) every part of the bush there is a commercial fishing industry. Whether it's freshwater or saltwater- there are a variety of things that one can catch and sell. And not all permits are expensive. In fact there are many 'lesser quality' permits (like whitefish) that are less than $100.00.
Trapping: Granted, it's a lot of hard work. But if you enjoy being outdoors it can truly be a dream job. And if you work hard enough almost any animal (even muskrat!) can pay your bills through all 12 months of the year.

Unique Ways:
Sell Nature Products: There are a lot of products in the bush that can be turned around and made money on. Fish, fur, berries, even tundra lichen (beauty stores buy it for lotions) all have monetary value. Some things require licenses, others do not. Almost anything is valuable if you look at it in the right way. Willow twigs? Make whicker for crafters! Spruce trees? The branches can be used for wreaths and many lower-forty-eight flower shops will buy them. Everything has a use. And it all can be sold.
Sell Native Crafts: If you're a native and know a traditional craft (beading, ivory carving, mask making, basket weaving, etc) then you have a huge opportunity to make money. Get your things authenticated as 'Native Made' and you can sell them almost anywhere. Many tourist shops, museums, art galleries, and even Alaskan resorts will buy them. You can also create your own markets and sell them online.
Write Articles: Write articles about your lifestyle for magazines that would find them interesting. There are a variety of outdoors magazines that would spend big money on an article on true rural living. Recreational sports magazines that you participate in. ATV, snow machine, fishing, hunting, trapping- there's magazines for everything. Also look into local publications. Alaska magazines, local newspapers (especially rural ones that don't receive many articles), and websites about Alaska might pick up your writings as well.
Be A Pen Pal: There are a few sites online that offer 'Pen Pals for Sale'. Some pay you by letter, some pay you by month, some pay you a one time fee for as long as the writing lasts. But the point is- that a pen pal from Alaska, and rural Alaska is in demand.
Open a Bed & Breakfast: No need to guide or even have much knowledge on rural Alaska. Many people will pay big money just to stay in a remote area or native village. Take them on a boat ride, let them camp on the tundra, or simply let them wander the town. It does take more planning and investment than the other things listed here, but I've always thought it would make a wonderful job- I love meeting new people.

Alaskan ABC Ideas

I know a lot of kindergarten classes around the state have kids list out or bring in ideas for each letter of the alphabet (as homework). Well I thought it would be fun to list a bunch of 'Alaskan' ABC items to help parents think of something culturally creative for their young uns' to add to the class. Here's my list. It was so hard to find ideas for Q, V, X, and Z! But I did it!

A: Alaska, Arctic Fox, Anchorage, Athabascan, Aleut
B: Baluga Whale, Bering Sea, Bourbot, Beaver, Blackfish, Black Bear
C: Caribou, Crane, Canoe, Captain Cook
D: Duck, Denali, Doll Sheep
E: Ermine, Elk, Era Aviation
F: Fox, Fairbanks, Fur Rondy, Fireweed, Forget-Me-Not
G: Goose, Grayling, Grizzly Bear, Glacier
H: Humpback Whale, Hunter, Halibut
I: Innupiaq, Ice Fishing, Iditerod
J: Juneau
K: Kuspuk, King Crab
L: Lynx, Lupin, Lush Fish
M: Moose, Mink, Mountain Goat, Muskox, Muskrat, Marten
N: Northern Lights, Native, North Star
O: Otter
P: Puffin, Pacific Ocean, Pike, Ptarmigan
Q: Quyana
R: Reindeer, Raven
S: Salmon, Swan, Spruce Tree, Seal, Sleddog
T: Tundra, Tlinget, Trout, Trapper
U: Unalakleet, Urchin
V: Vole
W: Wolf, Wolverine, Whitefish, Willow
X: Xantus Murrelet, Xema Sabini
Y: Yup'ik, Yukon River
Z: Zooplankton

What are your Alaskan ABC items? Leave a comment below!

Fur Crafts for Pets

I love supporting local Alaskan trappers. I think buying fur is one of the best ways to support local Native traditions and rural economies. And I know there are a lot of people who love spoiling their pets (I'm one of them)- so I thought I'd share some fur craft ideas just for pets.

Small Pet Bed: Line one of your your hamster, gerbils, mouse, or rat's tunnels with fur. It makes a cozy little tunnel that is 100% dark and extra warm for those colder Alaskan days.

Bird Pruning Toy: Take a strip of fur with long stiff guard hairs (like beaver) and attach it to the side of your birds cage near one if it's perches. It's a perfect pruning toy for birds that will sit on your shoulder and prune your hair for you- now they can do it in the cage! And it's also super warm- so they can snuggle up to it at night.

Dog Chew Toy: I give Coho and Rascal all sorts of animal tails to play with. Sometimes I'll attach a fox tail, coon tail, or even a coyote tail to a string and let them chase it around. Coho loves hunting so she get super excited about it. It's also 100% safe for them to chew and swallow (unlike some inorganic toys). Puppies LOVE chasing tails around! I've never had one refuse to play with a coon tail.
Dog House Insulator: If you have a shorter haired dog and you want to spend a little extra money to bring them some comfort I suggest laying a pelt down in the bottom of their dog house. Expensive- yes. Warm- absolutely. Probably the most insulating material you could give your pup. They'll be as snug as a bug in a rug.

Cat Chase Toy: Take a little piece of fur and glue it on the end of a string. I usually do an oval shape so it looks like a mouse. And wah-lah you've got the perfect toy to inspire even the laziest cat's inner hunter.

Girl Of The Waters

The water was her resting place.
The boat her wooden bed.
The waves were her lullaby.
Dreams of salmon filled her head.

A gypsy of the seas.
A fisherman's wife and friend.
An ocean dweller ever more.
A mermaid to the end.

Alaskan Animal Folklore

I'm constantly doing research on Alaskan folklore- mainly for my own personal use. But I thought that a few other people might find some of these fantasy facts regarding our wildlife quite interesting.

Photo by yjImagery (

Lynx: Lynx are an invisible animal who keep the secrets of the forest. They see all, but are not often seen.

Arctic Fox: In northern Europe folklore seeing an arctic fox foretells the appearance of the northern lights.

Polar Bear: Polar bears are spirit bears, who hold knowledge of the past and will hurt a human who's soul they see has done bad things.

Black Bear: The curious bear. More often than not the sight of a black bear means you're curiosity is taking you too far. Think of your needs before following your wants.

Brown Bear: Also known as 'the mother bear'. They protect and respect humans, but will also discipline and overpower them.

Moose: Moose, although large, are quiet. Seeing them means you'll learn more from silence than you will from your own voice.

Vole: Voles, like mice, are helpers- and can aid humans in daily chores (aka cleaning up food scraps, making messes disappear, etc)

Owl: From the wonderful literature of Winnie The Pooh- owl's are the knowledgeable creatures. Seeing an owl means very important information is coming your way. And a white owl predicts paranormal experiences that hold ancestral knowledge.

Raven: Ravens, like crows, are known to tell of death. But raven's unlike crows, don't foretell it- they warn it. seeing a raven means be cautious.

Red Fox: Predict simple happiness. Usually you'll have a small amount of good luck after seeing a red fox.

Rabbit: Rabbits foretell fertility. Hence the Easter rabbit! They also possess feminine energy- which can aid in dealing with children and health issues.

Snowshoe Hare: Offer protection and awareness! They can help you sense danger before it happens.

Frogs: Masculine energy. Frogs can aid when dealing with physical strengths, logic, and math and science.

Salmon: A change of seasons. Salmon can help change your opinion and allow you to keep an open mind. They are also known as being the source of the northern lights.

Beaver: Beaver furs offer a very powerful protection of homes and houses. Keeping one near your door can ward off unwanted visitors. And keeping one in your homes protects it from natural disasters, fires, and other unfortunate events. Some people believe they offer the same protection for cars and other modes of transportation.

Alaskan Kid's Science Fair Ideas

Blackfish Study: Capture blackfish and keep them in captivity. Study their color variations, size variations, diet, and color. What will they eat (mealworms, mosquito larva, smaller fish, algae, commercial fish food, salmon eggs, etc)? What sizes do they range from? Are there in variations in colors, patterns, and physical appearance? Record all data and show a full study of blackfish biology.

Animal Study: Ask a trapper if you can study all of his catches of one species for one month. Check the gender ratio (how many males vs females). Record color variations, size variations, and any special markings or patterns. Check their stomaches for dietary matter. Compare one locations statistics to another. Is there a difference? What research did you discover? (If you wanna go all out, you could ask Fish and Game for their records in your area from previous years via tagging reports).

Bug Study: Hatch different bug species in your home. You can purchase praying mantis, butterflies, spiders, ants, and even ladybugs online. I know it sounds a bit unethical, but put each species in the cold weather (in a container where they cannot escape) and judge how long that insect can stay alive in Alaska's winter conditions. What animal stayed the longest, the shortest? Did their behavior change? Did any hibernate or hide away? Did any survive- would they be an invasive species?

Decomposure Study: Introduce maggots to a peice of meat and judge how long it takes them to 'decompose' the meat. Do temperature changes effect the decompsure rate? What about light changes or the age/size of the maggots?

Sleddog Quickness: Compare different sleddogs for their quickness (record their time over a certain distance). What breed of dogs are the fastest (malimutes, greyhoud/malimute mix, huskey, etc). What makes them the fastest? Do they have larger ribs, longer torsoes, longer legs, wider chests, etc? Does size matter?

Winter Clothing Warmth: Measure the insulation of different winter fabrics. Goose down, mink fur, wool, polyester, etc and record the differences. Which one is the warmest? Which is the coldest? Do layers matter? Does thickness matter? I'm not sure how to measure heat insulation, but I know a young girl in this village one the Anchorage Science Fair last year with a measurement of different furs. This is a slight variation of that experiment. So I should give credit to Kayci (she was the original one to do this kind of experiment).

Fighting Colds, Naturally

I've never been a huge fan of medications... as we all know by now. And around this time every year the stuffy indoor sick usually brings some sort of sickness upon me. And I know how hard it can be for people in the bush to get actual medical care. So I thought I'd share a few of my tips on fighting colds naturally.

Sleep: Whenever I get sick, I burrow away under the covers and sleep- for as long and as much as I can. I wrap up in a hot blanket and let myself sweat. It's the quickest way to break a fever, and the sleep is what your body honestly needs to get better.

Eat Vitamen C: like it's going out of style. I eat oranges, suck on cough drops with vitamen C, stock up on cloudberries, and go nuts on all citrus fruits. It soothes my stomache, my throat, and my immune system.

Drink Tea With Honey: Honey is a great way to fight colds and tea helps soothe your throat. Whenever I have a sore throat the first thing I do is make a pot of tea. No better way to get your voice back ASAP.

Organic Tea Blend Sampler by Marble and Milkweed

Inhale Evergreen Steam: If I can get to a spruce tree, I'll take a branch (about the length of my forearm) and when I get home put the needles in a pot of water. I'll boil it for about five minutes and then take a towel, cover my head over the pot, and inhale all of the steam. It helps clear your mucus, soothes your sinuses, and the fresh scent wakes you up (so you don't feel so drouzy and dizzy). If you have to go to work sick, try starting out the morning with this- it will honestly help you feel better throughout the first half of your day. Try again at lunch time (if you can find a spot to do so) and it'll help you get through the second half too.

Modern Kuspuk Ideas

There are literally a hundred styles of kuspuks and I love them all. But I've seen a few really cute ideas that I thought were worth sharing. Feel free to add your ideas to the list by commenting below!

Appliques or Patches on the Pocket: I saw a kussuq lady who made kuspuks for her daughters and on the pocket she had iron on patches. One little girl had a red parka with little farm animals on the pocket (a cow, pig, chicken). It was like a red barn with farm animals! A super cute way to combine Midwest living and Alaska. And then another girl had a cute little skull applique on the corner of her black kuspuk. She was a little older and it definitely fit her style.

Fur Trim: I've seen quite a few kuspuks with a very small amount of short haired fur trimming the bottom skirt and wrist cuffs. Not like a parka trim where it's thick. But rather just a thin strip of rabbit or mink.

Zippers on the Pocket: Another kussuq idea! A lady in Bethel added zippers to her kuspuk pockets. The pockets are deep enough to keep stuff in without risking it falling out. But it's still a cute idea to ensure when you bend over everything you're holding doesn't fall to the floor.

Bows on the Hood/Wrist Cuffs: I saw a cute little (I think Innupiaq?) girl who had kuspuk with little bows on the wrist cuffs. And then she also had a little bow on each of the strings that pull the hood tight. I thought it was adorable.

Glitter Trim: Instead of fabric trim, use fabric paint or glitter. You can make intricate designs, like swirls and circles. It looks similar to a fabric trim, except you can experiment with different shapes and mix colors.

Sports Number on Back: I thought this was a cool idea for boys kuspuks. If they are in basketball, cut a jersey-style number from a piece of fabric and sew it to the back of the kuspuk. It'd be a great way to show their team spirit and Alaskan pride at the same time.

Rainpuks: A lady in the southeast makes these adorable rainpuks! Which are waterproof kuspuks. They're more lightweight than parkas, and styled just like a kuspuk, except with a zipper down the middle. And she uses waterproof material.

Alaskan Business Ideas

Because Alaska is a relatively 'new' state there are a lot of businesses that have yet to make their way up here. What businesses have you noticed Alaskan is missing? Here are a few business ideas that I think someone here in the north could cash in on.

Interior Designer: As the rest of America's housing economy drops- ours is rising. And with it a demand for interior designers. Many of our wealthier Alaskans don't have the time nor the creative mind to make their home comfy. And many would happily pay someone else to make their house a true home. It's a niche market that hasn't really been picked up in Alaska yet.
Art Agent: Alaska has a huge market for art agents- because we have a huge market for our art. Native artists, Alaskan artists, and even Alaskan musicians need people to represent them. And once you have the right contacts, finding markets for their work can become a breeze. Plus you get a commission rate from each peice that sells- so the harder you work, the more you're paid.
Kennel/ Pet Sitter: There are a lot of kennels in Alaska, but even so they always seem to be full. Just by petsitting sleddogs alone, you can make huge money throughout the year. But Alaska also is missing a few key pet sitters- specifically ones for cats, small animals, and birds. Dog kennels are popular- and could make money, but require space. But other animals need a place to stay too! And they don't require nearly as much room.
Nanny: Live-in nannies, specifically for oil workers, can make a lot of money in Alaska. We have a lot of jobs here that require travel. And unfortunately that travel doesn't cooperate with a child's education. So many people are in need of someone who can help babysit their children, on a full-time live-in basis. Nannies also usually perform daily household chores- but if you're like me, and enjoy that sort of thing, it can be a wonderful job.
Animal Breeder: Alaska has a surprisingly large market for exotic and small pets. Specifically birds, gerbils, ferrets, and chinchillas. African Grey parrots have always been in high demand and many Alaskans have to leave the state to buy one (there are very few breeders here). I, personally, love animals. And have had a lot of experience breeding them. It's a full-time job but a really rewarding one- and in Alaska it can be a great way to make money. Because we have so few reliable breeders, a good one can make a good chunk of change with each animal.

Reflective Tape Ideas for School Kids

On Alaska's dark mornings I think it's more important than anywhere else in the US that are kids can be seen when walking to school. I know they handed out reflective tape at many schools in Anchorage recently and I think it's an awesome idea and so proud that the community took that innitiative. So I wanted to give people a few creative ways to use the stuff!

Backpack Straps: I know a lot of parents already do this, but I thought I'd put it on the list anyways. Just line the tape along the straps of a bookpage. It's convenient. Your kids ALWAYS have their backpack going to and from school and it easily reflects because it's always on the outside of clothing.

Parka Zipper Pull: Take two peices of tape and a string, Tape the peices together with the string in between. Attatch the string to a keychain ring, and then attatch the ring to a zipper. It's a cute zipper pull that reflects light!

Bracelets: I make these and sell them on ebay. These work GREAT for teens. Basically just take them and attatch them to a bangle bracelet that they can wear around their sweatshirt sleeve or coat sleeve. I made mine with felt and have attatched a picture of them. They look kind of 'construction-y' but work REALLY well and I love giving them out to kids in the village because they where them and it keeps them safe!

Best Stylish Alaskan-Wear for Tweens/Teens

Keeping your kids- especially tweens and teens, warm and stylish is literally impossible in Alaska. I know the village kids here love a few select things that keep them warm:

Toe Socks: Tween girls (ages 9 to 12) seem to love toe socks out here. I did too when I was their age. Usually these socks are made with thicker better material than other normal socks and they tend to be warmer. Great way to keep their feet warm!

Fluffy Socks: These are another huge hit with tween girls. Look for socks that have a really soft fluffy material. I'm not sure what to call it, but it really is warm! I use them all the time throughout the winter, and I know countless girls here who share the same admiration for them.

Fur Ruffs: This is more of a teen thing. Add a fur ruff to a goose down parka (of their choice). Boys tend to like wolf and almost any girl would go for an arctic fox. Ruffs really do help block winds from hitting the face and prevent frost bite- and they're actually in style right now. Even the 'faux fur' ruffs that come on most department store coats can help block are harsh arctic winds.

Matching Glove/Hat/Scarf Sets: This probably goes more for girls than boys. But I've noticed if you give a teen girl a matching set of outdoor accessories, she's more likely to wear them because they actually accessorize her outfit instead of just keep her warm.

Stalking Caps: This one is a better one for boys. Fortunately stalking caps have never really went out of style, so let him pick out one. It may not be as great as a fur hat, but at least he won't come home with frozen ears from school. This is one accessory that teen boys around here actually will be seen in public wearing.

Fur Boots: I don't mean so much like mukluks, but just faux fur boots that have a 'modern bohemian' appearance. Most teen girls can pick out a color and style of fur boots that they'll love to wear. Another great way to persuade a girl to dress warm!

Fur Rondy Crafts Worth Selling

I've always wanted to go into Fur Rondy and sell some of my handmade fur items. Financially, I don't know if I'll ever get the chance. Life in the village doesn't offer much opportunity to leave. Sometimes (like during this situation) it's disappointing. Other times it's beautiful. But I thought I'd share a few of my sales ideas for some people in the Anchorage area who may want to set up a Fur Rondy-worthy tent on 5th Avenue (or any other craft fair during our Alaskan winter celebration).

Fur Cuffs: I sew long haired furs like fox, beaver, and wolf onto a plastic bangle bracelet to make 'fur cuff' bracelets. You can wear them plain or use them to accent coats and sweaters.
Fur Charms: I attach a ball of fur to string and then accent it with beads to make a charm that people can wear on a keyring, belt loop, purse zipper, etc. Or they can hang them on their wall or from their rear view mirror.
Fur Broaches: Take a piece of long haired fur- fox works really well, and attach it to a pin. Then press in an applique- like a crochet flower- into the middle. It makes a really cute broach.
Fur Key chains: There are a variety of ways to make fur key chains. You can attach a fur ball to a key ring, a fur charm, animal tails, animal feet, etc.
Fur Blankets and Pillows: A bit more expensive- but a great accessory for tourists to take home, is fur blankets and pillows. I've seen some beautiful ones made with shorter furs like mink, muskrat, and even otter and seal.
Animal Masks: I wet down animal faces like fox, wolverine, and lynx and then re dry the leather in a stretched out form. I then connect the 'mask' to a stick to make sort of a masquerade mask. I usually accent them with feathers, glitter, and beads.
Animal Leg Bracelets: I love these! I take animal feet and legs- fox work amazing, and I make them into a bracelet. I usually connect the feet to a piece of an old leather belt to make it a bit 'stiffer' and then sew it into a circle to fit a wrist.
Animal Ears Headbands: I take the ears from animal pelts and attach them to a headband. I cover the rest of the base with extra fur. Lynx ears look adorable on these! But wolf work really well too.
Animal Tails Clips: I take full length animal tails and attach a pin to the base to make an attachable tail that little girls (or boys) can wear. Fox tails look cute, but so do wolf, coyote, and even wolverine.

Midnight Speaks

Midnight speaks.
You know, the way blizzard winds whisper through a cabin wall.
And you really only listen, truly listen, while lieing in bed.
You're still enough to finally feel it, hear it, know what it's saying.
Midnight speaks.
In the way the stars change directions and slip behind the clouds.
The way the moon travels insignificantly across the sky.
The way every small glimmer seems oddly brighter than daylight itself.
Midnight speaks.
In a solumn, slow, quiet tone. A night owl tone. A nocturnal tone.
It speaks in secrets and stories and neverending sentences.
Midnight speaks.
To the silent souls who dare to stay in the darkness long enough to listen.

Rural Romantic Date Ideas

I am, in the deepest sense, a lover of love. I think it's typical of any twenty year old girl. But most twenty year old girls don't reside in a remote cabin in the foothills of Alaska's never-ending tundra. So how exactly does one go about dating in such a place? Well, the feat is not an easy one. And to be completely honest, I think fate plays a huge role in all relationships. You're going to end up with who you need to be with at that certain time in your life. And maybe it will last forever and maybe it will only last a little while and maybe it won't happen for twenty years or maybe it will happen in the next twenty seconds. No matter how fate plays it out, though -- it's going to happen (trust me, darling, I'm a gypsy- I know these sorts of worldly secrets). For some, it happens to happen in some little village that leaves no room for nice dinners, movies, midnight drives, and fresh cut flowers. So what exactly can one do for a date in the bush? Here's a list, of the sweet things, that a special darling did for me once upon a time:

Go Camping: There's no such thing as a warm Alaskan night, which makes camping often miserable. But, when you're with someone worth cuddling, it can become really, really magical.

Watch The Northern Lights: We didn't have a car, so we hopped on the back of a four-wheeler one autumn evening and took a ride way out into the tundra. There are no city lights for at least 500-miles any direction. And when the sky is just right, sitting next to someone and watching the lights dance might stir up emotions most tough guys didn't even know they have.

Take A Boat Ride: Somewhere abnormal. Like a lost little slough, or stream, or creek that's never been ventured before. And just follow it for a while to see where it leads. See something different together. Your little discovery/exploration can become a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Take A Midnight Ride: Take the ride in the winter by snow machine, if you can. There is something peaceful about a village in the winter. Everyone is quiet when children are tucked away in their blankets and the air smells of sweet woodsmoke.

Read A Book: One winter, a darling and I spent the every evening for one month reading a chapter of Where The Red Fern Grows. We didn't have a television and so we found ourselves completely submerged in the story. It gave us something to talk about and to think about and enjoy together.

Spend A Night By The Woodstove: Where I live, we're doomed to have frozen water for at least four months. Our electricity is bound to go out. And our stove oil delivery is bound to completely break down for at least month. But it forces us to take a little trip back in time and it's the perfect opportunity to spend a week or two in a one-room cabin warming up with good company near a woodstove. Specifically pulling a bed into the living room for a night to 'stay warm' is utterly romantic.

Fur Blanket Ideas

Zebra Design: Skunk furs, when sewed together, can look al ot like a zebra! Keep the white stripes following the same paths, and fill in the empty spaces with black. If you match them up decently they can pull off an awesome zebra appearance.

Leopard Design: Furs like lynx and bobcat can immediate a leopard if used correctly. Instead of looking for whiter bellies- look for darker ones. They more closely represent the spots of cheetahs and other spotty cats.

Stripes: Colour variations in animals like marten, raccoon, and fox allow you to use the same fur lengths and make stripes! Simple alternate between two different shades of fur for your blanket. I've seen some creations on etsy that use this and look gorgeous.

Baby Blankets: I find that mink, muskrat, chinchilla, and weasel work good for baby blankets. They are short and have very soft furs- which won't be itchy or irritable to the soft skin of a newborn.

Keeping Small Pet Rodents Warm in the Winter

I'm an animal lover...obviously. And as a child I kept all sorts of things in the corner of my bedroom- from hamsters to gerbils to mice to rats, I loved them all. Living in Alaska though, you really have to ensure that these short haired creatures stay warm. So, as with most of my other posts, I've come up with a list of things to help keep small pets warm in our not-so-warm environment.

Bath Tissue Tubes With Cotton Inside: Gather some old empty rolls from your bathroom and line them with cotton or soft tissue. In the lower-48 people use plane tubes as toys, but in Alaska you can fill them with soft material and make them insulated hiding places that your little creature can cuddle in and keep warm.

Thick Bedding: Some small pets, such as gerbils, require deep bedding to dig- but I think in Alaska it should be used for all small rodents. Aspen is a good commercial choice, but a cheaper alternative is all natural tundra moss gathered from your backyard. It's all over Alaska and works great for small pets without causing respiratory problems. Pluck some moss clumps up, bring them home, and dry them out in your oven at 250 degrees for about fifteen minutes. Once it's dry you can use it as a bedding for your small pets. So much cheaper and healthier than aspen bedding anyways!

Reptile Tank Heater: These things are great for tanks of mice and gerbils. Don't place it on the bottom, but rather on the side. It will give your little pets a place to snuggle up and keep warm without overheating the bottom with all the insulated bedding.

Felt Fabric Pieces: You can buy a package of felt pieces at a craft store for about $5.00. Put one in and let your little pet shred it to pieces and create it's own bed. The felt is naturally really warm and works great for breeding pets too.

Tundra Cotton: I love this stuff! It's literally the best Alaskan pet product you can find for free. Simply pluck the tops of these flowers when they are in bloom and stick them in little beds, hammocks, and hiding toys to insulate them. They're so soft you're little creatures will adore you. And, once again, they're free!

Keeping Kids' Rooms Warm

Back bedrooms in a lot of cabins can be cold. I know mine are and I thought it'd be nice to share a few ideas of ways to keep kids rooms warm.

Heat Blanket: You can put a heat blanket under the sheet of the bed and have it on a constant low setting throughout the night. Turn it on about an hour before bed and it will warm up the blankets so your kiddie doesn't have to climb into cold sheets.
Leave a Light On: Lights, no matter their size or type, give off a little bit of heat. Leave one on if you can afford it. Or, if your kid goes to school (and isn't too young) leave a candle lit in their room. Even a small candle can put off some major heat. In the winter I light a few candles in 'drafty cold' parts of my home and it helps counter-act the winter coolness.
Leave the Door Open: If your teen isn't throwing a hissy fit, leave the door open. It will help promote an even air flow throughout the house, so one room isn't colder than another. Basically it ensures that that room will be almost as warm as the remainer of the home.
Pack On the Blankets: Layers helps! Don't just leave your child with one blanket on their bed, give them two or three. Fleece ones make a great 'under cover' that really helps insulate heat. And because their so soft kids love snuggling up with them at night.
Add A Rug: If you have hardwood or lanolium floors, try putting down a rug. It doesn't have to be a nice carpet one. A cheap one will do. Rugs help insulate the floors and keep cold hair from coming from the basement or under the house. It also helps keep those little feet a little warmer when they jump off the bed in the morning. Plus it's a comfy place for them to play on the floor.

Containers for Carrying Things in a Backpack

What creative ways do you keep things safe while they're tucked away in your backpack? Here are a few of my ideas.

Pringles Can for Trail Mix: The lid helps keep it fresh and it's a convenient way to take it out and put it back in. You can stuff the can in a water bottle pocket for easy access and munch while you're walking.

Tupperware Container for Electronics:
Putting things like cellphones, cameras, and ipods in a tupperware container keeps them from accidentally getting wet. If it rains or something spills in your bag- they're safe. Plus the 'boxed' area helps keep things from being jostled around or crushed when you're moving.

Plastic Bag for Socks: Just like with the tupperware containers for electronics- a zip block bag for socks helps keep them dry. And dry socks could be your very best friend someday.

Crackers in a Sandwich Container: I put pilot bread crackers in sandwich sized tupperware containers. It keeps them from breaking or crumbling- and helps keep them fresh. A zip-block bag doesn't offer that kind of protection.

Before School Check List (Alaskan Style)

I've learned a thing or two about what exactly school supplies means when it comes to Alaska. So I've created a short little list of a few things every Alaskan kid should have for back to school:

Ball-Point Pens: They're less likely to freeze up in the cold weather. As a writer, I take a notebook everywhere I go, and I swear by these pens even in the middle of winter.

Waterproof Book Bag: Snow is bound to get onto a book bag- so look for ones that are made of a plastic 'glossy' material or a heavy-duty outdoors material instead of normal fabric. That way, when the snow melts. The water goes to the floor and not the books inside.

Book Covers: If your kid drops a library book in the snow, that means you could be buying it. A quick way to protect all of your kids books is to buy a book cover (they're only like $3.00 to $4.00). They're affordable and spare the school's budget on buying better books next year.

Boots: Every other school in the US, swears by sneakers. In Alaska every single child should own a pair of boots- and should wear them. If they ride the bus- they still have recess. Spare their feet and give them a shoe that can handle Alaska's weather.

Any other school supplies suggestions for the Alaskan climate and school system? Leave a comment below!

All About Alder

This is an excerpt from my tree encyclopedia, about Alder which is personally my favorite tree along with Willow. I thought some people may find it interesting or helpful.


•The catkins (flowers) can be eaten for survival purposes.
•The charcoal can be used as an ingredient in gunpowder.
•The trunk is used for firewood when smoking game and fish.
•The wood is ideal to use in bridges and troughs, because of it's waterproof properties.
•Red dye can be made from the bark.
•Green dye can be made from the leaves.
•Brown dye can be made from the twigs.
•The wood can be used for making furniture and cabinets.



courage, banish nervousness and anxiety, wealth, career opportunities, good financial fortune, bravery, growth, spiritual developement, charisma, confidence, self journey, strength, determination,charisma, leadership

•The trees are thought to be a doorway to fairy realms. Their dense branches can be used as pathways to communicate with pixies and fay.
•Carrying an alder twig while taking trips by boat or ship can bring protection from harsh waters and promote good sense of direction.
•It brings bad luck to handle alder wood with the thoughts of death.
•The wood can be made into flutes, pipes, and whistles that can be used to call on wind spirits.
•Divining rods from the wood can be used to make it rain and banish drought.

Fox, Masculine Energy, Bran, Neptune, Water, Fire, Phoroneus

•Heating the leaves in a bag and then holding it to your joints can help relieve pain.
•Tea made from the dried bark can help with inflimation and a sore throat.
•Placing the leaves in your shoes can help ease foot pain while hiking.
•Chewing on one raw leaf can alleviate stomache pain.
•Boiled alder leaves can be placed on insect stings to reduce swelling.
•Boiling the bark and adding the water to a bath can can help with body aches or chicken pox.


Common Alder
Zone: 3-7
Habitat: damp or wet soils, moist woodlands, riversides, swamps, tolerate poor soils
Identification: Grows to a large sized shrub with round green leaves and oval shaped lenticels or "tears" in the bark. The leaves have a bit of a ragged edge that looks similar to torn paper. They also often times curve in at the end of the leaf like a heart. They have horizontal symmetrical viens going out from both sides of the center vien of the leaf. They have long yellow-brown catkins and small red clusters of cones (that look like small pine cones) that harden when pollinated.
Mountain Alder
Zone: 2-6
Habitat: moist nutrient-rich soils, in forests along streams, bogs, near willow trees
Identification: A small tree that tends to grow in clusters. They have leaves similar to the common alder, but with a point at the end and they tend to be rounder. The viens going through the leaf also often times have a bit of a whiter tint to them. The front of the leaf is green, the back is lighter with a hairy surface. Has catkins and cones just like common alder. Has yellow-brown bark with oval shaped tears in the bark.
Red Alder
Zone: 2-6
Habitat: grows after disturbances, full sun areas, wet soils
Identification: Small tree with white bark. They do share the common alder's "tears" but they tend to be sparcer and a bit bigger in size. Younger trees have a greenish-brown bark with white tears. More than often this tree will house lichens. Leaves are very similar to the common alder, with a slightly more oval shape.
Siberian Alder
Zone: 3-7
Habitat: swamps, bogs, wet soils with long winters, near streams
Identification: A small sized tree that has brownish-gray bark with the typical alder "tears" (oval like scars) and catkins and cones. Leaves are similar in comparison to the common alder, but are more vibrantly green. The leaves also seem to be rounder and wider than the common alder.
Sitka Alder (Green Alder)
Zone: 4-7
Habitat: near willows, rocky soils, river gravels, stony slopes, mountains, tracks of avalanches
Identification: Sharing leaves practically identical to the common alder this alder is differentiated by it's whitish bark and white female cones. The male catkins are long and yellowish in color. The leaves turn to a purple color in fall.
Speckled Alder
Zone: 2-6
Habitat: acedic soils, in dense forest areas with other trees and shrubs, bogs, swamps, tundra
Identification: Practically identical to the common alder, but with very distinct white "tears" in the bark. These tears are small, but very thick on the bark and also appear on the branches- where as only on the trunks of other alders. The bark is a rusty-brown color and branches tend to grow very thick with this kind of alder.

Yearning For Something Northern

I took my knit mittens and ever so slowly reached out
In one last haphazard attempt I tried to catch a snowflake
But it disappeared into a gust of the wind
And whisked through the willow branches with one subtle shake

I sighed a deep breath of chilled frosted air
And stepped onto the empty ice of the frozen Yukon water
My seal skin mukluks barely grip to the few texture ridges
Yet I feel connected to the ground like a mother to a daughter

Sometimes I wonder if my parka and mittens are where I belong
For a midwest girl, Eskimos seem so far from home
But somehow this tundra land speaks to my hopeless heart
And I know it's the one place in the world I want to roam

I feel the rythem of the salmon as the pass by every summer
I know the ways of the waterfowl every spring and every fall
In the winter, the cold warms me in a way not a quilt could
And I find evening contentment in the arctic wolf's call

So who's to say that a blond of blue eyes and city nature
does not belong in a world of snowflakes and freezing nights
I think that fate takes you where you need to go
And where I needed had northern lights

Keeping Kids 'Bright' During Cabin Fever Season

Now that Christmas is over and school is started, it seems like a lot of kids are getting antsy. The lack of sunlight and short days don't make for much excitement outside of school. So what do you do to keep your kids 'bright' even during our dark days?

Here are a few ideas I've come up with:

Play Outside: Best idea I can suggest! Build snowmen, go sledding, go ice skating, play with your outdoor pets, have a snowball fight, take a snowmachine ride- anything!

Keep Your Lights On: We have bright flourecent lights in our house. And we keep them on long after the sun goes down. They stay on until at least 9:00 every night- which helps prevent that lack of vitamen D from Mister Sunshine's short visits.

Use a Night Light: For kids I've heard this helps them in the winter time because it gives them that constant sense of light that the outdoors is missing. I know some children can't sleep with one, but if your kids can it might be a worthwhile investment.

Have a 'Chimes' Alarm Clock: Instead of an alarming buzzing noise, a chimes alarm clock sounds like chimes. And it starts out soft and low and slowly gets louder- so it doesn't wake you up abruptly. It helps keeps kids in a good mood when they're waking up in pitch black darkness for school. As a teenager these totally made my mornings easier!

New Years Resolutions (Alaskan Style)

I thought it would be fun to make a list of new year's resolutions worthy for Alaskans! A selection of things every Alaskan should challenge themselves to do this year.

Money Saving Goals
Only order online from sites with free shipping to Alaska.
Buy more items from local thrift shops. Good deals + Support the AK economy= Win Win

Activity Goals
Get outside in the winter. Go iceskating, snowmachine, build a snowman, walk your dog.
Try a new winter sport (skiiing, snowboarding, dogsledding, snowmachining).
Go on a summer hiking tour with tourists. You get to tell your stories and be active!

In Alaska Goals
Try some eccentric native foods (seal oil, blackmeat, dry fish, boiled salmon heads)
If you dare: The Polar Bear Plunge
Visit a big Alaskan event (Fur Rondy, Alaska State Fair, Iditerod)
Do Pick.Click.Give!

What are your New Years Resolutions for 2013? Leave a comment below!