Alaska life

Alaskan Gift Basket Ideas

A cooler full of subsistence foods was a hit at a fundraiser in Fairbanks. Photo by Robin Renfroe
A cooler full of subsistence foods was a hit at a fundraiser in Fairbanks. Photo by Robin Renfroe

Throughout the year, I see people doing fundraising to support families, organizations or just looking for gift ideas for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays. When families, friends or organizations are holding fundraisers, they are always looking for ideas for gift baskets themes. I asked Peter Captain, Jr. for some ideas on gift baskets. He is an experienced fundraiser and caterer. Peter shared the following ideas and advice.

“Having done and coordinated many successful fundraisers over the years, mainly here in Fairbanks with the help of an awesome volunteer based group of people who help in their own unique way. Learning as we go along over the years what works and what doesn’t has been a big learning stone. But one thing for sure, having REALLY good raffle items makes a HUGE difference.” – Peter Captain, Jr.

Peter said, “Really GOOD raffle items are anything made with LOVE!” For example, homemade items are a hit, like beaded slippers, fur hats, beaded gloves, clothing, snow shoes, dog sleds or quilts/afghans.

According to Peter, the biggest hit sellers are Native food baskets. They are sometimes more challenging to acquire because of shipping costs, but they are very popular. He gives a list below, but says there are many more ideas for Native foods (whether frozen, fresh, jarred or smoked).

Native Food Baskets

  • Moose or caribou Dry meat (Biggest hit)
  • Jarred salmon or smoked salmon strips
  • Frozen fish of any kinds (especially white fish eggs)
  • Frozen moose or caribou meats
  • Fresh, pickled or jarred muktuk
  • Jarred seal oil
  • Jarred pickled fish
Robin Renfroe attended a fundraiser in Fairbanks, and took pictures of these Native food baskets.
Robin Renfroe attended a fundraiser in Fairbanks and took pictures of these Native food baskets. Yum!

 

Here is an example of a Thanksgiving themed holiday basket. Photo by Robin Renfroe
Here is an example of a Thanksgiving themed holiday basket. Photo by Robin Renfroe

Seasonal Gift Basket Theme Ideas

  • Emergency roadside kit tote
  • Emergency household kit
  • Holiday theme baskets (Thanksgiving, etc.)
  • Holiday dinner totes
  • Sledding packages (sleds, hats, mitts, hot coco, mugs, tea, marshmallows, etc.)
  • Bonfire kits (hot dogs, marshmallows, hot coco, fireworks, etc.)
  • Planters Basket (Spring)
  • Picnic Basket (Spring)
  • Graduation Party Kits (Spring)
  • Car Detailing Basket (Spring)
  • Jarring Kits (Summer)
  • Family Swimming Basket (Summer)
  • Fishing Tote (Summer)
  • Camping Tote (Summer/Fall)
  • Rafting Tote (Summer/Fall)
  • Hunting Totes (Summer/Fall)
Here is an example of a spa gift basket prepared by Janet Hall. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Here is an example of a spa gift basket prepared by Janet Hall. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Everyday Fun Basket Theme Ideas

  • Family fun night basket (board Games, card games, soda, popcorn, chips, candy, etc.)
  • Movie night basket (movies, DVDs, chips, candy, popcorn, soda, juices, etc.)
  • Laundry Basket (laundry soap, dryer sheets)
  • Bathroom décor basket
  • Men’s personal hygiene basket
  • Men’s tool set toolbox
  • Women’s personal hygiene basket
  • Home décor basket
  • Kid’s family fun basket
  • Reading basket
  • Knitting basket
  • Sewing basket
  • Beading basket
  • Photography basket
  • Wine basket

Baking Basket Ideas

  • Cookie sheets, cookie mix, baking oil, cookie cutters, frosting
  • Cupcake pans, cake mixes, cupcake holders, frosting, decorations, oil
  • Cake pans, utensils, cake mixes, frosting, oil
  • Bread pans, flour, yeast, oil, milk, sugar
  • Pie pans, pie filling, Pie Crust box

Assorted Dinner Basket Ideas

  • Pasta dinner in colander
  • Lasagna dinner in baking dish
  • Spaghetti Dinner in Colander
  • Soup makings in soup pot
  • Taco makings in frying pan

Last year, I wrote about an Alaskan Road Trip Survival Kit on the Athabascan Woman Blog. Some items that could go into a road trip kit are below.

Alaska Road Trip Kit

  • Camera
  • Car charger for your device(s)
  • Thermos with coffee
  • Jack Link’s Beef Steak Tender Bites
  • Gardetto’s snack
  • Kellogg’s Fruit Snacks
  • Nuts – chocolate covered
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Dried moose meat and fish
  • Pilot Bread Crackers
  • Spam
  • Water and juice
  • Entertainment – books, games and movies

As you can see, there are no shortage of ideas for gift baskets. I can see how  these can be used for the holidays or sent as care packages to loved ones. Thank you Peter Captain, Jr. for sharing your great ideas and experience. I certainly appreciate the ideas as I prepare for the holiday season. There is a lot of work that goes into making specialized gift baskets, but it can make a big difference in fundraising or in making someone feel special.

Alaska life

Alaska Natives Dressing for Success – Ten Tips

I’ve lived in the city for the past 20+ years. When I was in college, I dressed very casually. After I moved to Anchorage, I realized I had to step it up. What has changed over the years? I asked a couple of my Athabascan friends to give me their top five tips for dressing for success. Freddie Olin IV is always dressed impeccably. Lessa Peter is always dressed to impress. They are both business professionals living and working in Anchorage. It’s a new year and it’s a good time to review your fashion and grooming habits.

Related:  Meeting Shirt – A Clothing Staple for Rural Alaska

Freddie R. Olin IV. Courtesy photo
Freddie R. Olin IV. Courtesy photo

Five Tips for Dressing Office Professional from Freddie Olin IV

  1. Accessories (belt, socks, and dress shoes) should match by color to the dress shirt, tie, and slacks.
  2. If no color is black for the shirt, tie, and slacks, do not wear black colored accessories.
  3. Shine dress shoes before wearing them, every time.
  4. Dress jackets and gloves should also be matched in addition to accessories in the winter.
  5. Style your hair how you like it and be clean shaven every morning.
Lessa Peter. Courtesy photo
Lessa Peter. Courtesy photo

Five Tips for Dressing for Success from Lessa Peter

  1. Business casual – A lot of times when there is a business casual dress policy, new professionals think, “Hey, I could do that. I have all kinds of casual going on in my closet!” But sorry, business casual is not a nice strappy pair of sandals in the summer nor a pair of comfy Uggs or Timberlands in the winter. Look at what your boss is wearing. You want to dress for his/her position. Look through your company’s dress policy and stick to the guidelines.
  2. Keep the logos, tight/baggy, low-necklines, low-ride jeans and clothes that look like they’ve been through the wringer for the weekend. There’s nothing worse than bending over to grab something and showing company executives that you actually needed that belt you reconsidered this morning.
  3. Dress for the occasion – If you are going to an event, check with someone who has attended before about recommended attire. You wouldn’t show up on a first date wearing your worst fitting jeans and yesterday’s hair and make-up. Dress to impress when meeting new people and attending events and gatherings. You never know who you might meet!
  4. Hygiene – Most people don’t need a reminder, but it’s an important one to keep in mind. Make sure to shower and brush regularly to keep yourself and your breath smelling clean. Your coworkers and colleagues thank you. Keep your hair coiffed, face shaved or beard/mustache well-groomed.
  5. Wear it well! It’s not all about what you wear, but how you wear it. Remember to make eye contact, shake hands, smile and be engaged with others. Practice good posture. People remember you for the impression you give them within the first 7 seconds of meeting them, so make it count!
Angela Gonzalez in a fancy summer parka. Photo by Audrey Armstrong
Angela Gonzalez in a fancy summer parka. Photo by Audrey Armstrong

Some of the tips are common sense, but cannot be overlooked. There are definitely times for dressing up and dressing down. It is okay to occasionally wear your traditional indigenous clothing, like an Alaska Native summer parka. Some companies celebrate with ‘Cuspuk Fridays’ by encouraging staff to wear summer parkas on Fridays. Each office is different.

Summer Parka in Some Alaska Native Languages
Koyukon Athabascan – bets’egh hoolaanee
Inupiaq – atikłuk
Yup’ik – cuspuk or kuspuk

Thank you to Lessa and Freddie for sharing their tips for dressing for success. Remembering the details of fashion and grooming are important. It’s all about creating a package. Dress codes vary widely depending on the type of field you are in, so some tips may not apply. What tips would you add? Has dressing and grooming well made a difference in your career or life? 

Alaska life

Huslia Dog and Snowshoe Races

Some of the biggest fans of the races on the Koyukuk River races. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Some of the biggest fans of the races on the Koyukuk River races. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton

Huslia has a long standing tradition of holding dog races, snowshoe races and other competitions around Christmas and New Year’s Day. Here are some photos courtesy of Dolly Simon-Dayton and race results courtesy of Jo Derendoff.

Huslia Open Dog Race
1. Lois Vent
2. Joseph Bifelt
3. Nicole Gregory
4. Westley Henry
5. Andrew Huntington

Huslia Old Timer’s Dog Race
1. Al Yatlin, Sr. 
2. Agnes Dayton
3. Bill Derendoff
4. Jackie Wholecheese
5. Don Ernst

Huslia Woman’s Dog Race
1. Vivian Henry
2. Joyce Sam
3. Danielle Huffman
4. Eleanor Sam
5. Ilona Vent
6. LeAnne Bifelt

Huslia Snowshoe Race Results 

Men’s Old Timers Race
1. Alvin Dayton

Women’s Old Timers
1 Agnes Dayton
2 Joyce Sam

Men’s Race
1. Joe Bifelt 19.43
2. Darrell Sam 20.05
3. Kevin Albert 22.38
4. Beatus Moses 22.58
5. Bruce Sam 23.04
6. Devon Penn 23.34
7. Justin Vent 24.23
8. Seth Williams 24.24
9. Steven Woods 26.39

Women’s Race
1. Shirley Sam 4.16
2. Samantha Sam 4.30
3. Marissa McCarty 4.46
4. Lacey Sam 4.57
5. Jo Derendoff 5.51
6. Melody Oakes 5.59
7. Athena Sam 7.16

Photo from the Men’s Open Dog Race by Dolly Simon-Dayton

Andrew Huntington of Galena. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Andrew Huntington of Galena. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Andrew Huntington of Galena. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Andrew Huntington of Galena. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Joseph Bifelt. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Joseph Bifelt. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Joseph Bifelt. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Joseph Bifelt. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Lois Vent. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Lois Vent. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Lois Vent. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Lois Vent. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Nicole Gregory. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Nicole Gregory. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Nicole Gregory. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Nicole Gregory. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Westley Henry. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Westley Henry. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Westley Henry. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton
Westley Henry. Photo by Dolly Simon-Dayton

 

Alaska life

Helping Ourselves to Be Tobacco-Free

I love the coming of a new year. It is a great time for reflection about your life and it is a time to make new resolutions. It is a time when anything seems possible.

My daughters and I participated in a commercial for tobacco prevention for the State of Alaska. I used to smoke cigarettes in my teens and college years. I stopped when I started having children. I know of a few people who planning to quit tobacco in 2015, mainly for their health and children.

I have a wish list of things that I would like to see changed in 2015. One wish I have on the list is to lower the statistics of Alaska Natives using tobacco. Is 2015 a year to make that resolution to quit using tobacco? No matter if it’s a New Year’s resolution or any other times, it’s worth it to at least consider stopping tobacco use for your health.

According to the State of Alaska’s Tobacco Prevention & Control Program, Alaska Native adults have a smoking prevalence of 42.3% and a smokeless tobacco prevalence of 14.8% in 2013. Alaska Native youth have a smoking prevalence of 18.5% and a smokeless tobacco prevalence of 20.5% in 2013.

I spoke with Larry Kairaiuak with the State of Alaska Tobacco Prevention & Control program. Larry explained the increasing usage of e-cigarettes by youth. Usage of e-cigarettes by youth tripled in between 2011 and 2013. According to Larry, e-cigarettes are not regulated and they contain carcinogens (cancer causing agents).

“This is a growing trend we have to pay attention to, just to be one the safe side. We need to eliminate all types of harmful tobacco from our lives. It has long term affects. It has taken away our family member much too soon.”- Larry Kairaiuak, Yup’ik

Amy Modig shared the 2014 Alaska Tobacco Facts report. She works with the Growing Up Tobacco-Free in Alaska program at RurAL CAP. Amy pointed out the following statistics and information.

  • In 2011, there were about 3,600 deaths in Alaska (all deaths). Almost 600 died from tobacco use, making one in six deaths tobacco-related.
  • Smoking prevalence has remained high for Alaska Native adults, and has not changes significantly since 1996. Roughly 1 in 3 Alaska Native adults (37.9%) smoked in 2012.
  • Among non-Native adults, smoking has decreased significantly from 24.9% in 1996 to 18.1% in 2012 (p ‹ 0.001).
  • Use of smokeless tobacco has increased significantly among current smokers from 3.6% in 1996 to 7.0% in 2012.
  • Use of smokeless tobacco has not changed significantly among former smokers between 1996 to 2012, but there is a significant decrease among adults who have never been smokers.

The statistics tell the story and truth of tobacco usage among Alaska Natives. It is a real issue with real consequences for ourselves and our loved ones. The information also shows the rise of e-cigarette usage.

Despite what the statistics tell us (or maybe because of them), I think it is important to have hope that we can be smoke-free. It may take a lot of help and encouragement. Resources are available and at your fingertips.

I asked friends in November – What is one thing that you would tell your younger self (or a younger tobacco user) about tobacco use? Check out their powerful responses on this previous blog post.

Remember, the New Year is a time when anything seems possible. Maybe you already have plans to quit tobacco this year. I wish you the best of luck! You can do it.

Alaska's Tobacco Quitline has a ton of resources for tobacco-user to kick the habit and other information. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or enroll online through this website.
Alaska’s Tobacco Quitline has a ton of resources for tobacco-user to kick the habit and other information. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or enroll online through this website.

Resources
Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line – 800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669)

Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program

Safe and Healthy Me – Tobacco Free – State of Alaska

 

Alaska life

Alaskan Road Trip Survival Kit

Denali View South is located at mile 135.2 of the Parks Highway. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Denali View South
is located at mile 135.2 of the Parks Highway. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

My family travels along the Parks Highway and the Seward Highway several times a year. We enjoy the scenery, fishing and road trippin’. We are thinking about driving up to Fairbanks this holiday season. What do you need to survive an Alaskan road trip in the winter? I will share travel tips from the State of Alaska and some extra things I like to bring.

Thank you to Man Crates for prompting me to write about my ultimate Alaskan survival kit! They stuff their crates with snacks, gadgets, gear and video games. This is not a sponsored post.

Download the Alaska 511 App for up-to-date info as you drive around Alaska.
Download the Alaska 511 App for up-to-date info as you drive around Alaska.

Winter Driving Tips from Alaska 511
Winter weather too often catches people unprepared. The National Weather Service reports that 70 percent of the fatalities related to ice and snow occur in automobiles, and about 25 percent of all winter-related fatalities are people caught off guard, out in the storm. What winter weather preparations are being made in your area and what are the appropriate steps to take that will ensure your winter weather safety? Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.

Safe Winter Driving Tips from Alaska 511

  • Before you travel check with the National Weather Service (NWS). They issue winter weather warnings, watches and advisories. Please see www.arh.noaa.gov/hazards.php or you can dial 5-1-1 and request call transfer to the NWS weather information line. Any NWS weather alerts, if active, will also play on the 511 phone system, and they appear on the website and apps as well. Check the weather cameras where available.  They show what is going on in real-time.
  • Know the current driving conditions. Listen to the local radio station, call 5-1-1 Travel In The Know, or log onto http://511.alaska.gov.
  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights – even the hood and roof – before driving.
  • Plan long trips carefully.
  • Don’t let your gas fall below a half tank. You can’t count gas stations being open in the winter. If it’s an extremely long drive through rural areas, packing an extra gas can might be a good idea in winter time.
  • Let someone know where you’ll be going and when you expect to arrive or return. Tell them to call authorities for help if you don’t get back or check in within an hour of your estimate.
  • Carry a cell phone or other communications radio. Know, however, that cell phone coverage along much of Alaska’s highway system is spotty and you may not be able to reach someone on the cell. If you are within cell range and run into life-threatening trouble, use it.
  • Travel during the daylight and travel with another person.
  • If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation.
  • Dress warmly. Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, light weight clothing.
  • Carry food and several bottles of water.
  • Pay attention. Don’t try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Leave plenty of room for stopping.
  • Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows – stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right.
  • Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Watch for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.
  • If you use social media, you can subscribe to receive notifications via either the 511 Facebook or Twitter (@alaska511) pages.  

The Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game has first aid and travel safety on their website at:  http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.firstaid.

Winter road trip snacks for an Alaskan adventure
Winter road trip snacks for an Alaskan adventure

There is more information about car safety and emergency tips available online and from your insurance agent. In addition to safety and survival info for your car, you also need warm winter gear. The weather can change quickly. What else will you need for your road trip? Besides the survival and safety gear, we bring along some other food and supplies to enjoy  our trip.

Alaskan Road Trip Survival Kit Extras

  • Camera
  • Car charger for your phone
  • Thermos with coffee
  • Jack Link’s Beef Steak Tender Bites
  • Gardetto’s snack
  • Kellogg’s Fruit Snacks
  • Nuts – chocolate covered
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Dried moose meat and fish
  • Pilot Bread Crackers
  • Spam
  • Water and juice
  • Entertainment – books, games and movies
Alaska Natives enjoy cheese on Pilot Bread crackers, dried moose meat and dried salmon. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Alaska Natives enjoy cheese on Pilot Bread crackers, dried moose meat and dried salmon. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

In addition to the store-bought snacks, we also like to bring along some traditional Alaska Native prepared/preserved foods, like dry meat or fish. It is harder to come by in the middle of winter, because it gets eaten up pretty quickly. Of course, we have to have our good ole’ Pilot Bread crackers too.

The drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks takes about six to seven hours on the Parks Highway, depending on the weather and how fast you are going. We take our time going up to Fairbanks and stop on some pull-outs to take photos. We fill up our gas tank in Healy or other places along the way.

We have two kids, so we have to find ways to keep them entertained along the way. I make sure they bring books, movies or games. We usually download books or movies for them. I also remind them to download their favorite games to keep entertained. There is plenty of time for them to take naps, so they bring a pillow and blanket to keep comfortable.

There are a lot of adventures to be had in Alaska and there are many travel resources. For instance, AK on the Go is a website dedicated to Alaska family travel. I love traveling around Alaska by road, water and air. I feel grateful to live in this great state with adventure at our doorstep!