Meet Yosemite’s Living Legend: Julia Parker a Person of Peace

The next time you visit Yosemite, you should make the effort to meet Julia Parker, a living legend. Sitting in the same spot she has occupied for the past four decades, just behind the museum, you’ll find Julia, patiently weaving her one-of-a-kind, treasured baskets. She is a fixture for park visitors and many people visit Yosemite just to meet her.

Julia Parker had an inauspicious beginning. Orphaned at a young age, a member of the Coastal Miwok and Kashia Pomo tribes and the oldest of five children, Julia was sent to an Indian boarding school along with her brothers and sisters.

After she was old enough to strike out on her own, Julia took a job at Yosemite doing laundry for the Curry Company. While working in Yosemite, Julia lived in the park’s Indian village. It was here Julia met and married Ralph Parker, a Mono Lake Paiute, a tribe with deep ties to the Yosemite valley.

Ralph’s mother was Lucy Telles, a well-known basket weaver. It was here that Julia found her calling. Studying under Telles, Julia learned the craft and traditions of basket weaving. When Telles passed away, Julia took up the torch, demonstrating basket weaving in the same spot Telles once did, behind the Yosemite Indian Museum. Today, Julia is the both the oldest and longest-running park employee.

Julia’s craft dates back generations and she still weaves baskets in the traditional manner. Following a centuries old tradition, Julia collects the natural materials and grasses required to create the basket. After the substance of the basket has been gathered, Julia treats the raw natural material so it’s suitable for weaving.

Weaving from memory, Julia works without a pattern, crafting a basket based entirely on the pattern she has designed in her head. The baskets are complicated and it can take quite a long time to complete each masterpiece, anywhere from several months to an entire year. Julia’s work is well known and highly treasured. Not only has her work been displayed in museums, one of her baskets also resides in Elizabeth II’s private collection.

In addition to her weaving, Julia serves as an ambassador for the native peoples of the Yosemite Valley. Julia answers curious visitors’ questions, demonstrates traditional toys and games to capricious children, and relates traditional methods of food preparation and traditions.

Along with her hand work, Julia has created another legacy. By passing her craft and traditional skills on to her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter, Julia has established a basket weaving dynasty. When Julia initially began learning this traditional craft, it was in part precipitated by her fear that the traditional ways would dies out with Telles’ generation of weavers. By preserving this traditional skill and educating future generations, Julia has ensured that it will survive for many years to come.

Work At Home – Turn Your Hobby Into A Home Business

When you want to start your own home based business, it can be hard to decide what sort of business would suit you. If you have never had a business of your own before, how can you tell what you might succeed at? It can be easier if you start by considering your existing skills and interests. Could you turn your hobby into a business? Here are ten popular possibilities.


If you can reliably produce delicious cakes and pastries, you could start a baking business with very little initial outlay. You probably already own all the basic tools. If your talent runs to making jams or pickles or bottling fruit, you will find your wares very popular at farmers’ markets and fetes. If you live in the vicinity of offices or factories, a sandwich service offers a simple way to make money. The key to success with this business is being reliable; people will become regular customers if they know you will always be there to provide lunch whatever the weather.

Interior Decorating/Design

If you are good at painting and decorating, you can earn good money with your skills. This might not be practical if you are caring for young children, but if you have a flair for home decorating, perhaps you could offer an interior design service. A variation on this idea is offering a garden design service.


If you enjoy gardening, you could raise seeds and cuttings and offer them for sale. Growing small plants does not need much space. If you have plenty of ground space, you could also grow some vegetables for sale. You could also produce seasonal gifts such as spring bulb arrangements for Mothering Sunday and Christmas table centrepieces.


If you enjoy craftwork, creating gift baskets for special occasions can be very satisfying. Gift baskets are highly popular and can be made to suit just about any occasion. Candle making is another popular source of home based income. The modern environmentally friendly soy based candles are ideal for manufacturing at home. They don’t have any smelly messy ingredients and it is easy to produce lovely scented candles that can be sold online or at craft fairs, fetes and markets.


If you are handy with needle and thread, there are all sorts of possibilities. For example, you could make wedding dresses, offer a garment alteration service, make soft furnishings to order and produce soft toys.


If you enjoy photography, your hobby can easily be turned into a lucrative home based business. Photographic equipment is no longer horribly expensive and this is a business that does not take up masses of space or create a mess in your home. Wedding photography in particular offers a very satisfying career.

Antiques and Collectibles

If you know something about antiques and collectibles or are interested and prepared to learn, the buying and selling of these items can be a great source of fun and profit. Car boot sales and antiques fairs are good places to find saleable items at reasonable prices and to sell your own finds. You can also sell things through online auctions such as eBay.


Buying and selling items on eBay auctions is very popular and people can make a lot of money with comparatively little effort. People often start by selling a few unwanted items they happened to have at home and then finding themselves hooked on the experience. It has been said that you can sell anything on eBay and I honestly think that people really will buy anything they see there if the price is right!

Surveys and Competitions

Do you ever complete surveys in return for a free pen and a place in a prize draw? Do you ever fill in a missing word and send a prize draw coupon off to a breakfast cereal company? These are a couple of examples of fun and free ways to make a profit in the form of cash or goods. You might be surprised to learn that there are people who make a full time living just from entering competitions. Taking paid online surveys is one of the easiest and most popular ways of earning money on the Internet.

Child Care.

Ok, I admit I fudged this one a bit: looking after children is considerably more than a hobby. The desire to keep their children out of day care is the main reason people give for wanting to work at home, so I wanted to include this option. If you are at home looking after children anyway, why not add a few more? Places in good day care facilities are always in demand and it is no more difficult to look after four children than one or two. If you cater for guests in the same age group as your own children, they will play together and entertain each other. All you need to provide is a safe environment and a few extra toys.

Don’t be put off the idea of having your own business by thinking your skills are only at amateur level. Private tuition (including online courses) is available for most subjects and many local colleges offer very cheap evening or summer courses. For a very small outlay, you can easily develop your level of expertise sufficiently to be able to offer a professional service. The important thing is to be doing something you enjoy.

Copyright 2006 Elaine Currie

Jamaica Food Festivals

Enjoy a different side of Jamaica on your next trip as you explore some of the popular annual food festivals with sumptuous and spicy dishes.

If you are planning a trip to the island of Jamaica in the near future, we are recommending that you try something different on this trip. Naturally, you want to stay at the luxury hotels, visit the many attractions, rock to the reggae beat, but why don’t you try to explore some of the areas for the authentic Jamaican food. This island features some of the most fascinating and unique dishes which you will find in the Caribbean and quite a few of them are on display each year at various Jamaica food festivals.

There is a festival which is held in the parish of Portland called the Bussu Festival. This event usually featured some shell creatures which can be found in the rivers in this area and is mostly used in soup. In addition to the food on display, there is always musical entertainment with performances from local artistes.

Then, there is also the Portland Jerk Festival which is held each year in this parish as well. This event is very popular as it features predominantly the popular cooking style which is the jerk. Jerk is actually the method of seasoning meat with a blend of spices and herbs before grilling. The most important ingredients for this combination is the hot scotch bonnet peppers and pimento, when the meat is well marinated it would then be grilled above charcoal fire. You can expect a sizzling hot, spicy, tender and juicy flavor at the end, but be careful if you cannot eat spicy food.

When you visit this festival you will notice that any meat that can be jerked would be prepared, so whether you are lover of pork, chicken, fish, lobster, tofu or goat meat, you will get your heart desire along with your favorite accompaniment of breadfruit, festival or white bread. This food festival will also feature performances from some local artistes, dances, art and craft, a merry-go-roun, face painting and a lot of events for everyone.

Next, there is the Trelawny Yam festival in the month of April during the Easter holidays and features an array of dishes made from yam. This event usually provides music, dance, prizes, surprises and other cultural performances.

The Westmoreland Curry Festival is actually another of the leading events in when it comes to the Jamaica food festivals. Here, you will find many dishes cooked with this Asian spice and people travel from all over to sample some of these dishes as well. The proceeds from this festival are usually given to a charitable organization and it is held each year at the Manning’s Hill School in Savanna-la-mar.

Mandeville and the South Coast is not to be left out as there is an annual Fish Festival which is held at Little Ochi in Alligator Pond. If you are a fish lover, this is the place for you, as you can get fish and other seafood cooked in any style that you can think of. In addition to the meal, you will get good entertainment and easy access to enjoy the lovely beach area.

One thing is for sure, you will not be hungry on this trip to Jamaica, as there will be more than enough to eat and drink. While you checking out the different food festivals, this will give you a good chance to visit some of the areas other than the popular tourist spots and you will get to sample even more authentic Jamaica dishes.

The Noble Bay Leaf From Kitchen to Craft

The bay tree has been sacred since ancient times. Even its name suggests greatness. Nobilis means renowned, and the bay branches were woven into wreaths of victory. Apollo’s temple was said to have its roof made entirely of bay leaves for protection, and bay leaf garlands were later used in architectural moldings. The genus Laurus is derived from the Latin laus, meaning praise. Yet this wonderful plant also has a prominent place in the kitchen, giving wonderful flavor to countless dishes, and wreaths of laurel are still made as beautiful craft projects to decorate our homes.

The Bay Tree, also called Sweet Bay or Bay Laurel, is indigenous to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, though it is now cultivated in many temperate climates. It does not tolerate strong winds and very cold temperatures, so container growing is an alternative. In the wild, the tree can grow to 60 feet, though outside its natural growing area, it may not grow to more than 10 to 15 feet. Container plants generally do not get more than about 5 feet tall, though this is more than adequate if growing for kitchen use. The leaves maybe used either fresh or dried for culinary purposes. For crafts, the branches may be woven into wreaths while still supple and green, and will dry beautifully to maintain shape. If not from plants sprayed with poisons, wreaths are great for use both as a decoration and as a handy place to grab a bay leaf when needed for cooking.

Bay leaves are key ingredients in many spice mixtures, such as the French bouquet garni, and some garam masala mixtures. The leaves themselves are very stiff, with a strong vein and stem. Remove leaves from a dish before serving, to prevent any choking hazard. In making a garam masala, all the ingredients will be ground, so any vein or stem that has not been pulverized is easily removed. The bouquet garni herbs are used whole in a bundle and removed before the dish is used. Some dishes that typically use a bouquet garni are Boeuf Bourguinon, Osso Buco, Bouillabaisse, French Onion Soup and Cassoulet, among others.

Simple Garam Masala

One Tablespoon each:

Cumin Seed

Coriander Seed

Cardamom Seeds (removed from pods)

Black Peppercorns


Bay Leaves, crushed

Cinnamon, crushed

Heat a dry skillet and toast each spice separately until fragrant, removing to a plate to cool. Place all together in a spice grinder or small coffee grinder used only for spices and grind to a powder. Remove any bits of vein or stem from the bay leaf, or pass through a sieve before storing in a glass jar with an airtight seal.

Bouquet Garni:there is no specific recipe for a bouquet garni. It is often prepared to suit the particular soup or stew. A common basis for bouquet garni is bay leaves, thyme and parsley. These are either tied in a bundle or wrapped in cheesecloth and immersed into the soup pot, to be removed later.

Other herbs, generally used fresh, are lemon thyme, sage, chervil, marjoram, oregano, celery leaves, tarragon, savory, mint, rosemary, chives. For a poultry dish, try using sprigs of thyme or lemon thyme with celery leaves or lovage, bay leaf and tarragon. For a pork dish you might try mixing thyme, mint, rosemary and bay. Make your own combinations.

Besides use in spice mixtures, use bay leaves in marinades, stock, soups, stews and gravies. Also, use in potato or other creamed soups, pate, curries, game and poached fish liquid. Boiled in milk they will flavor custard and rice pudding. Cooks instinctively add bay leaves to Creole, French and Spanish cooking. They are also an essential part of pickling spices. They are great used in combination with peppercorns, saffron, garlic, allspice, citrus, prepared and dry mustards.

Bay leaves are also said to relieve indigestion, relieve flatulence and stimulate the appetite. It is said that bay leaves deter kitchen insects. While there is no solid proof, many still keep a bay leaf in their flour bin, or rice and other dry staples. While this may or not work, it is best to maintain a clean pantry so as not to invite the pests.