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!