Healthy Cooking: Hot Soup for Cold Days, Val Wilson

healthy cooking, healthy winter soup recipe, UP holistic wellness, UP holistic wellness publication, UP holistic business

Nothing will warm you up on a cold winter day better than a nice hot bowl of soup. Soup is such a versatile dish. It can be served as an appetizer before a meal, be the main course, or even just a snack.

When you make a soup with red lentils, you have the added bonus of a thick creamy texture because red lentils break down when they are cooked. Red lentils are an excellent source of protein, high in fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, and B vitamins.

Whenever you cook beans or lentils, add a small piece of kombu. This incredible nutrient-dense sea vegetable helps strengthen your intestinal tract and aids in digesting the lentils, helping to eliminate the gas some experience when eating beans and lentils.

Burdock root is an excellent strengthening root vegetable native to Michigan.

You may have come across it while hiking in the woods. It is the plant with the huge leaves and round burs that get stuck on your pant legs. You can dig up the plant and eat the root, but most prefer to just buy it from the store.

Burdock is great for your skin, can cleanse the blood, is good for your digestion, and can help eliminate toxins from the body. It’s best known for helping people with diabetes as it contains inulin, the nutraceutical that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Burdock root has a unique bitter, earthy taste. It is always best paired with a sweet vegetable such as the sweet potato in the soup recipe below. The seasonings paprika, curry, and cumin give a little spice to the soup without making it too spicy. They spices are warming spices, helping to keep you warm during the cold winter months.

Red Lentil Burdock Root Soup

10 cups water
1 (2 inch) piece of kombu
2 cups red lentils
1 onion (diced)
4 cups sweet potato (peeled and cut in cubes)
2 cups burdock root (cut in thin rounds)
3 celery stalks (diced)
1/4 cup minced kale
1 T. olive oil
3 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. curry
1/2 tsp. cumin


Put the water and kombu in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Remove the kombu once it’s soft. Cut in small pieces and put back into pot. Add the red lentils and let water come back up to a boil. Add the vegetables, one at a time, letting the water come back up to a boil in-between adding each vegetable. Once all vegetables are in the soup pot, reduce to low, and simmer for twenty minutes. Turn off heat and add the seasonings. Stir everything together and serve hot.

Chef Valerie Wilson has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. She offers weekly, virtual cooking classes that all can attend. Visit for schedule, cookbook purchases, phone consultations, or her radio show, and follow her on Facebook at Macro Val Food.

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

SHAPE Program Supports Better Health Outcomes, Dr. Linzi Saigh-Larsen, ND, MSAc, CNS

Naturopathy, UP Natural Wellness, UP holistic business, UP wellness publication, UP holistic health, naturopathic doctor in Iron River MI

Naturopathic medicine has so much to offer. It provides individualized care and focuses on creating the conditions for health to support the body in healing itself. This is one of the things I love most about this medicine.

When someone comes to Upper Peninsula Natural Wellness for guidance on their health journey, more often than not they have many challenges taking place. My goal is to implement the most gentle intervention to make the biggest shift in their health. One way I am able to do this is through a program called SHAPE ReClaimed.

This is a health restoration and lifestyle modification program that combines a patented homeopathic supplement with the nutrition protocol for a simple, effective and safe way to achieve optimal health. The goal is to teach you new skills and help you embrace a healthy lifestyle.

I find this program simple and effective. It is organized into three phases: cleanse, stabilize, and live.

These three phases are designed to first balance your brain chemistry, strengthen your immune system, and cleanse your body of excess weight and toxins.        

Then you will reincorporate new foods and begin to stabilize your weight and brain health, and lastly, learn to maintain this healthy lifestyle.

This program is customized to your bio-individual needs. What this means is that I will use your health history, symptoms, and urinalysis results to adjust this protocol specifically for you. This will ensure you feel satiated and achieve optimum results. You receive your own program guidebook, nutrition guide, dietary supplement, and any other recommendations I have found to be beneficial to your healing journey. A urinalysis is used to measure your improvements, and we meet weekly to answer questions, hold you accountable, establish positive health habits, and learn how to take control of your health.

Naturopathy, UP Natural Wellness, UP holistic business, UP wellness publication, UP holistic health, naturopathic doctor in Iron River MI

Individuals have experienced a decrease in inflammation, fewer joint problems, better digestion, normalized blood pressure, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, balanced blood sugar, cognitive improvements, reduced dependence on prescription medications, optimal weight, and better overall health.

Is the program hard? Well, to answer that I often challenge those who come to see me with a mindset shift: Choose your hard!

This means that taking a risk is hard. Staying stuck is hard. Getting in shape is hard. Being out of shape is hard. Meal prep and choosing health over convenience can be hard. Feeling sick, bloated, and inflamed from eating processed food is hard.

Prioritizing self-care is hard. Not making time for self-care is hard.

The moral of the story is: Life is hard. No matter which direction you choose, it’s going to be a challenge. The solution? Choose the hard that pushes you to be better and closer to your goals! You are stronger than you think, and can do hard things!

I look forward to the opportunity to help you on your health journey. I work with individuals locally in my office, and remotely via phone or zoom. Call, text or email the office to schedule a free twenty minute consultation to see if you are a good fit, and ready to take control of your health.

Dr. Linzi Saigh is a naturopathic doctor. Naturopathic medicine is a system that uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself. It embraces many therapies, including herbs, massage, acupuncture, exercise, and nutritional counseling.

Article sponsored by Upper Peninsula Natural Wellness.

Article excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Bodies in Motion: Fitness Tips for the Holidays & Beyond from Local Fitness Trainers

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Matthew Wheat, founder of Superior Performance Training, Doctoral Student of Physical Therapy & Certified Strength & Fitness Specialist

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) current physical activity guidelines are 150-300 minutes of light to moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly, as well as participating in strength training twice/week, including exercises that stress all major muscle groups. Adherence to these guidelines can improve and preserve quality of life, reduce healthcare costs, and reduce the risk of all-cause mortality.

Learning a new sport or activity can be an exciting way to get exercise this winter. Examples include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or even getting together with friends to join a group exercise class.

When exercise does not feel like a chore, it makes adherence to a lifetime of physical activity much easier. Celebrate the holidays this year by implementing or maintaining the WHO’s physical activity guidelines. It can increase the number of holidays you get to spend with your loved ones.

Melodie Alexander, Owner of TM Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer & Certified Wellness Coach

Winters can be tough on our mind, body, and soul. But after many years of utilizing fitness and nutrition to fuel my health, I now feel the best I have overall in the winter months!

In addition to starting my day by setting myself up for success, noting what I’m thankful for (i.e. “a house full of kids and laughter”), what I will remember for tomorrow (i.e. “I am in control of my success and health”), and one word of the day (i.e. “FORWARD”), I also plan when I’ll do my workout and set out key points for my nutrition.

Moving and sweating takes care of a lot of those stress hormones naturally. Making good food choices continues to aid both my positive mindset and physical health.

Through the holidays, I always suggest if you enjoy certain sweets and meals, have a portion and be done with it so you don’t overindulge.

One of my core mantras is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Working with someone to keep you accountable and having long and short-term goals also helps set you up for success.

Kari Getschow, Licensed Athletic Trainer & Certified Personal Trainer at Synergy Fitness

With the holidays approaching, our routines can become cluttered with family commitments, holiday parties, and school performances. Though we may have good intentions to exercise, it can be difficult to make time. A proactive strategy is to write down your normal daily schedule. Be specific. For example, in the morning you get out of bed, brush your teeth, make your coffee, walk the dog, and check your email. The list continues until you go to bed. Circle or underline the healthy habits you can continue throughout the holiday season. Add new habits or specificity before the schedules get busy. For example, in the morning, after you brush your teeth and drink a cup of coffee, you go for a 30-minute walk/exercise, and then make breakfast.

Everyone’s schedule is different. Maintain an exercise habit that fits in your schedule. You can honor commitments to yourself by inviting family and friends to walk with you, or block exercise into your schedule as you would a standing appointment. Make a small and attainable fitness habit to maintain your health through the holiday season. Most people miss a day of exercise but focus on the next day to quickly return to their routine.

Connor Ryan, founder of Unity Human Performance and Unity Yoga Co-op & Certified Physical Preparation Specialist

It’s time to set the tone for winter. A simple daily discipline to help you open to the calmness of being in the present moment (in addition to incorporating moments of silence and gratitude first thing in the morning and before going to sleep), is breaking up the middle of your day both mentally and physically with movement.

With changing weather conditions, determination is required to persist in the variable elements. No matter your method, indoors or outdoors, consider and commit to moving your body daily for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Some exercises I recommend to help keep fit are the squat, hinge, lunge, step up, horizontal push, horizontal pull, vertical push, vertical pull, and plank variation. If you don’t know these movements, it’s best to learn them from a professional. If you do know them, you can incorporate them into a daily routine that takes anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours.

Newton’s First Law: An object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion. Find a way. Keep moving forward to stay moving forward.

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

U.P. KIDS, Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine Annual Donation Recipient: Caring for Children, Building Brighter Futures

UP foster parenting, UP parenting support, UP adoption services, UP wellness publication

Families at Play at U.P. KIDS Fall Pumpkin Patch Event

U.P. KIDS is an organization supporting children and families in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It began in the Copper Country in 1899 as Good Will Farm, providing a home and school to children from the UP. In 2012, its name changed to U.P. KIDS, but its mission has remained the same: Caring for children and building brighter futures. Its foster care, adoption, and in-home service programs provide caring temporary and permanent homes where children are protected and nurtured.

Families become foster families for a multitude of reasons–they may want to help children in need, they may be struggling with infertility and see foster care and adoption as a way to have the family they’ve always dreamt of, or they may be caring for relatives who are children. Foster families are needed throughout the entire Upper Peninsula, particularly homes willing to take sibling groups and adolescents.

The primary goal of foster care is reunification.

Foster families work with the child’s case worker and their biological family to ensure the concerns which originally brought the child into care are rectified. Foster families provide a safe, loving, temporary home during the reunification process.

Sometimes reunification is not possible. U.P. Kids then turns to foster families to provide permanence (adoption) for the children in their care. There are over ten thousand children in foster care in Michigan, and currently there are 246 children available for adoption without an identified adoptive home.

There is no charge to become a foster family, and licensing workers are happy to work with your family throughout the foster care licensing process. There is no charge to adopt a foster child in Michigan, and many children are waiting for their forever home. Most families receive a financial subsidy for adoptive children, along with health insurance and other supportive benefits.

Adoptive families are offered supportive services through U.P. Kids’ Post-Adoptive Resource Center (PARC). Adoption comes with its own obstacles, and Post-Adoption Specialists are there to help families thrive together. Post-Adoption Specialists partner with adoptive families to connect them to resources, and offer training, support, and advocacy. PARC is available for all adoptive families throughout the adoptee’s childhood, whether they adopted through foster care or a privatel adoption, and is free for families to utilize.

Families UPWARD is an innovative new program at U.P. KIDS.

The program takes a look at problems families may be experiencing and helps break the generational cycle of trauma. Caseworkers collaborate with families to strengthen them using evidence-based models and professional training, as well as family input to come up with a plan to best serve it. Each family is unique. Families UPWARD focuses on and helps build upon each family’s strengths while helping the family to overcome its challenges.

U.P. KIDS’ Big Brothers Big Sisters programs inspire children to realize their full potential and build brighter futures by providing strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships. This opens up new perspectives for children by offering friendship, guidance, and opportunities for enriching activities with caring volunteers.

While your family may not require U.P. Kids’ services, any family can work to become stronger a stronger unit.

Here are four tips for parenting from U.P. Kids:

1) Boost your child’s self-esteem throughout their childhood. Set a goal to praise your child for being (i.e. “You are so wonderful!”) and praise for doing (i.e. “Thank you so much for doing that!”). While it may seem a little strange at first, praising your child can be a step in the right direction for developing good self-esteem. Low self-esteem, low self-worth, and negative self-talk is developed during childhood and can lead to many negative consequences as your child grows. Children thrive when caregivers focus on the positive things they do and not just the things we are trying to correct.

2) Ensure quality time with your children. In today’s busy world, it is more important than ever to provide your child your undivided attention. Set time each day to be fully present for your child(ren). Some fun ways to engage can be asking questions to get a conversation going–“Can you share the best part of your day? What do you think your life will be like in the future? Would you rather eat pickles and peanut butter, or pickles and chocolate?” Opening the door to conversations and showing interest in your child(ren) will keep communication open throughout their lives.

3) Be flexible with discipline techniques and allow yourself grace. No child comes with a manual on how to parent them. Each child has their own love language, personality, and their own uniqueness. There is no parenting style that is going to work for all children just like we adults are not the same. (And how boring a world it would be if we were!)

There is no shame in tweaking your parenting as you learn and as your child grows. Nothing in life works rigidly; we need to learn to roll with the punches gracefully. And no parent is perfect. What makes a good parent is the willingness to learn and grow. Apologize when you mess up—this is a great moment for modeling that we are all human and capable of making mistakes.

4) Practice being empathetic and teach your child(ren) empathy. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes does not come automatically. It’s a skill that needs to be constantly practiced and modeled. Looking at things from a child’s perspective will help you be empathetic.

When a child is having a meltdown, being mindful of how difficult it can be when feeling many emotions is important. Instead of getting flustered, try to empathize. Children and adolescents are not hard-wired with the skills to emotionally regulate themselves, nor to be aware of how others perceive them. When they feel big emotions, those emotions are huge for them even when their reasons may seem absurd to us adults due to our much bigger foundation of experiences, for example, not getting their way, wanting to have a toy at the store, getting hurt, etc.

If you’re willing and able to make room in your heart and your life to help more children in the UP, here are some ways you can do so:

  1. Become a foster or adoptive family. To find out more about becoming a licensed foster or a pre-approved adoptive family, please contact Dolores Kilpela at
  2. Support UP foster families by providing respite care, donating to your local foster closet, or lending a hand to a foster family with a new child placement.
  3. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister and mentor a child who needs a positive role model. If you’re interested in applying for Big Brother Big Sister of the Western Upper Peninsula, please contact Maggie Munch at

*See the businesses that supported Health & Happiness’s 2022 donation to U.P. Kids in our upcoming post.

Article by Alysa Cherubini-Sutinen, PARC Supervisor & Families UPWARD, Dolores Kilpela, Foster Care, Adoption, & Licensing Supervisor, Sarah Codere, Executive Director

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Co-op Corner: Recipe For Success Program Receives Funding to Continue Food Education Across U.P., Marquette Food Co-op

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MFC Outreach Director Sarah Monte (right) and Education Coordinator Amanda Latvala (left) at a Feeding America distribution site this summer.

Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM) sends monthly trucks to locations all around the Upper Peninsula to distribute food to people in need. FAWM recently performed a detailed assessment of their mobile pantry distribution program and learned that attendees wanted to learn more about how to prepare healthy meals with the ingredients they were receiving. FAWM, the Marquette Food Co-op (MFC), and the Northern Michigan University Center for Regional Health (NMUCRH) teamed up to create a food education program that would specifically serve attendees of the mobile pantry distribution.

Funding from the Superior Health Foundation has enabled the team to create this multi-faceted project with a virtual and in-person food education component that links food educators across the Upper Peninsula. Seven mobile pantry locations whose attendees indicated strong interest in food education were selected for live food demos or sampling. These locations include Marquette, Ishpeming, Newberry, Sault Ste. Marie, Manistique, Norway, and Ontonagon.

Comprehensive kitchen equipment kits were put together so that our partners had the tools necessary to prepare and serve the food.

At mobile pantry distributions throughout the summer and fall, our partners prepared food in certified kitchens and brought it to the pantry distribution so attendees could taste the prepared recipes. Depending on the location, our team of food educators would demonstrate recipe preparation, or move from car to car serving the featured recipe and chatting about how they prepared it.

This is a particularly fun and challenging partnership, as what food will arrive on the truck often isn’t known until twenty-four hours before the event. FAWM notifies the food educators of the products, and the team gets to work finding the right recipe that features food participants will be taking home that day. Recipients get a copy of the recipe so they can recreate the meal at home.

The MFC and Food for Life Nutrition services developed a suite of recipes tailored to the items most often delivered via the mobile pantry, so the demo team has resources ready to go. These recipes are housed on the NMUCRH website. NMUCRH also worked with the MFC to put together video demonstrations to accompany the recipes. These demonstrations and recipes are available to anyone and can be found at

The MFC provided staff for the demos at the Marquette and Ishpeming locations.

We used our experience with food demonstrations offsite to create equipment kits for each team of food educators at each location. NMUCRH, as an organization that serves the entire Upper Peninsula, travels frequently and was instrumental in dropping off the kits to our partners.

Preliminary evaluations indicate that the recipes are a big hit. For example, out of the 128 evaluations at the Marquette location, 115 people indicated they would make the recipe at home, with another 11 saying maybe they would make the dish at home. 119 people stated they would share the food and/or recipe with other people. It’s not just the participants enjoying the event. As one food educator said, “I loved getting to interact with so many people, cracking jokes and chatting with them. This filled my cup.”

We are thrilled to announce renewed funding for the Recipe for Success Program and are looking forward to another year of bringing food education to sites across the Upper Peninsula. Be sure to visit the NMUCRH site above to learn more about our partners and to try out some of the recipes in your own home!

*Article sponsored by the Marquette Food Co-op

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Creative Inspiration: Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame, Julia Seitz

Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame, Marquette musicians, UP holistic business, UP wellness publication

Halls of fame have etched the names of influential figures on their walls, placing notoriety and accomplishments on an eternal altar. There’s a hall of fame for football, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and even the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What about locally? In 2017, Marquette’s musical community saw a need to create a hall of fame for local entertainers and honor Marquette’s musical history. The Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame inducts Marquette musicians plus musical entities and promoters.

“I did it because if we didn’t get down some of those facts and history, they would be lost,” said Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame founder Cindy Engle. “Right now, if you ask somebody about a venue like The Diamond Club or The Brockton, they have no idea what you’re talking about because those buildings have become other things or are gone.”

The Marquette Music Scene (MMS) is under the umbrella of non-profit organization MÄTI, the Masonic Arts, Theatre, and Innovation Company, which promotes artistic innovation in Marquette. Currently, there are fifty-seven members in the Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame. Anyone can nominate an individual, group, ensemble, institute, event or venue. The Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame even inducts musical talents posthumously, making sure their legacy lives on.

A nomination form is available on the Marquette Music Scene website, Qualified nominees must be born, raised, or founded in Marquette County, and may represent any music genre or be associated with a music-related vocation from Marquette County’s historical eras.

“It’s a great honor being picked for something like that because you’re chosen by your peers.

We feel strongly about our musical community. It means a lot,” said Dave Zeigner, a 2017 inductee. He plays Latin jazz and blues with the guitar, bass and piano for enjoyment and composing music. He has also played Latin jazz, Afro-Brazilian music, rock, and performed in a symphony.

Zeigner described the ceremony as similar to being at the Grammys or Oscars. There were many guests, people gave speeches, a couple of bands played, and a jam session ensued.

“A good amount of music is going on in our community, and shining a light on that and the people that created it is important,” said Zeigner. “[The Marquette Music Scene] puts in a lot of work to do it every year. My hat’s off to them….. They shine a light on our community and hopefully pique interest in our musical history founder—not just in the county, but the whole UP.”

Judging criteria is based on three categories: impact, influence, and reach.

The inductee must have had a remarkable effect on developing Marquette County’s musical heritage. The inductees are the backbone of music in Marquette through their musical art, teaching Marquette the technique and joy of music, or taking bands and musicians under their wings to promote their voice and manage their growth.

Inductees have a renowned artistic force, compelling their network of fellow musicians to be inspired by their voice or sound. Marquette music fanatics and connoisseurs, even the community at large, are moved by their work.

Also, the musician’s reach must go beyond the boundaries of Marquette’s county lines—their contributions to the music world must be recognized across regions, the nation, and even across the globe.

Cindy Engle is the sole judge for the Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame, but does have Andrew “Bear” Tyler, a business consultant and marketer, assist. A board of directors for the Marquette Music Hall of Fame is in the process of being established.

Engle conducts an intensive and thorough review of nominees’ applications.

She encourages including any letters of recommendation, awards, multi-media, compositions, discography, or other career highlight documentation. Nominees’ activities in the community, technical innovations, musical teaching experience, and much more are also considered.

Additional awards are gifted to approved nominees. For example, the Music Mafia is an annual award granted to a local business owner or venue operator that has helped the music in Marquette thrive the previous year.

“Renee Prusi at The Mining Journal does all sorts of local music write-ups and stories,” said Engle. “Most of the other Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame inductees have been bar owners that have kept playing music and promoting live music as much as possible.”

As the title suggests, the Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame awards Rising Stars to bands formed in the last five years who have heavily influenced the local music scene. The award tells the public and music community to keep an eye out for these rising musicians.

The Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame induction ceremony is held every year on Small Business Saturday in the Upper Peninsula Masonic Center’s Red Room.

The decision to hold the ceremony then ensures everyone can participate.

“It enables more band members to come and share [their music and time] with the new inductees,” said Engle. “I try not to be in competition with the other venues when they have big events because we all need each other. I don’t want to take away from someone going to see a band at a bar, so if I can pick a weekend when there are not too many places holding live music, that makes it better for everybody.”

Each inductee speaks to the audience about themselves and receives a trophy that acknowledges musical accomplishments. The Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame will also display inductees’ names on a wall with those of past nominees.

There are hopes to build a showcase where the Marquette Music Scene Hall of Fame can display memorabilia. The 2022 induction ceremony will be at 6:00 p.m. on November 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, in the Red Room of the Masonic Building in downtown Marquette. All are welcome to join and celebrate Marquette’s musical best.

Julia Seitz is a Northern Michigan University student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts. You’ll find her either writing creative fiction or researching a new fixation. She enjoys reading scary stories, but is too scared to watch horror movies.

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Spotlight On…. Amelia’s Craft Market & Boutique with Owner Amelia McDonald

Marquette MI craft market and boutique, UP holistic business

What is Amelia’s Craft Market & Boutique all about?

It’s an opportunity for my husband and I to sell products that we create through woodworking and laser in my hometown, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, while also providing an outlet for other creators to sell their products too. We know how difficult the whole craft show business can be.

Thirty to thirty-five other local creators and small Midwest businesses are represented in our store. We carry a wide variety of clothing, home décor, gifts, personal care items such as soaps, essential oil chap sticks, bug sprays and home cleaning products. We have merchandise for all ages and both genders. It’s not just a ladies store; it’s for everybody. We are always looking for other products to meet the interests of our UP audience!

What prompted you to open your shop?

In August 2021, my mom, Barbie Ward-Thomas, was looking for other opportunities and I asked if she’d be willing to manage and run a store with my husband Nick and I. We live in Wisconsin so it wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t willing to run it for us day-to-day. I thought my mom and husband would say I was crazy, but both said, “Let’s do it!” The idea came to life on August 26 and we quickly began preparing. We opened on Front Street in downtown Marquette on October 9. The support of my mom for my dream had a huge impact on making it happen.

The UP is a huge part of my and my husband’s heart. I was born and raised here. Nick was raised in Lower Michigan and moved to the UP to go to college. We both went to Northern Michigan University. We moved to northern Wisconsin for job opportunities for ourselves and our children, but our hearts are still in Marquette and the UP. That’s why we wanted our shop in Marquette.

What skills and experiences have helped you to open and run it?

My parents ran the Red Horse Ranch in Gwinn during my childhood. Mom has been in food service or retail ever since. My entire post-college life has included lots of customer service–first in the restaurant business and then in education. My husband went into construction and woodworking after twelve years in law enforcement. I just left my education career this spring so I could navigate my businesses. I was Dean of Students at an elementary school and an elementary school teacher prior to that.

How did you and your husband become interested in making wood and laser products?

Nick grew up in construction and has always had a passion for woodworking. We started remodeling our home and then branched out. He stumbled upon videos about CNC machines and we took the leap and purchased one, and that led us to our lasers.  

What do you find most challenging about running Amelia’s?

It’s technically business number three, and I’m a mom of four boys. Navigating family and multiple businesses can be challenging. I’m able to be successful due to the support of my mom and my family. Also, the weather in the UP makes a huge impact on small business, so you just never know what your business activity will look like from month to month.

What do you enjoy most about running the business?

My favorite part is that I can share our hard work and our passion for what we do and also support other small businesses.

Sharing your work through craft shows and vendor events, you have to carry all your products there; you have to set them up and take them down. Wood products are very difficult because they’re very heavy and can also get damaged being moving around. You have to fit multiple days on end into your schedule. We have set up our business so that our vendors don’t have to work in the store. They can set up their merchandise and then it stays. Many also share their products at craft shows or other places. My husband and I have been able to downsize the amount of events we do.

What do customers enjoy most about your shop?

Customers really enjoy our product choices. We try to be very selective to reach the Marquette area. They also comment on the openness and airiness of the store, and the customer service experience. My mom has a lifetime of experience through food service and customer service. Our customers really appreciate her welcoming, friendly help.

What are your future plans for Amelia’s?

We will be having more classes on site, in our room at the back. Two of our other creators have already taught classes – one taught an acrylic painting class and another taught some jewelry making. Craft opportunities are there. We’re also working very hard to have youth classes so kids can experience making crafts and other projects. We were recently approved to start selling off-premise beer and wine, so in the near future, customers will be able to purchase beers and wines from Michigan and the Midwest.

What else would you like our readers to know?

This has been a crazy dream and a lot of fun! We decided “Let’s just have fun with this!” And we’re really glad we can help other creators and the people who love their work.

Excerpted from the Fall 2022 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Bodies in Motion: Adaptive Athlete Overcoming Hurdles for Self & Others, Julia Seitz

How do you keep your body in motion? Do you body-build in the gym, take a light jog around the block, or use a track wheelchair for racing 400m dashes? Maria Velat, an eighteen-year-old quadriplegic athlete, has a drive for sports and nothing will stop her.

Ever since childhood, sports were part of Velat’s identity. She played soccer, ran cross country, skied, and sailed. “All of my family does sports, so it’s kind of always been a part of my life. Once I started school, I started joining teams,” Velat said.

Velat ran for the Houghton High School Gremlins in varsity as captain of her team. She consistently held places in the top of results for cross country races. In the 2018 season, she made a personal record of 20:27.3 for the Women’s 5,000 Meters Varsity.

It wasn’t until later in her sports career that Velat needed to change her approach. On October 2, 2019, Velat was transported to an Ann Arbor, Michigan hospital and diagnosed with transverse myelitis. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) explains transverse myelitis is spinal cord inflammation. The spinal cord is responsible for sending messages from the brain to our nerves and sensory information back to the brain. It tells our body how and where to move, for example when you need to move your fingers to grab a plate. Our skin can feel when a pan is hot because our nerves tell the brain about that sensation. Transverse myelitis interrupts this connection between the brain and nerves, and now that they can’t communicate, it will be hard for a person to move or feel.

The next step after hospitalization and recovery for Velat was returning to the field.

“I had to figure out a way to do sports kind of differently than I was used to. So, I found the world of adaptive sports,” said Velat. From running to hand-cycling, she found different ways to get back on the track through equipment such as track wheelchairs and sit-skis. She said adaptive sports are a different way to do sports but still in the same spirit.

“There are a lot of ups and downs with being disabled and fighting a system that isn’t really built for you, but once you have any small successes, it really helps bring you back up, and then you see that you can have more successes in the future.”

The change from running to wheels wasn’t the only hurdle Velat faced during her comeback. Michigan’s sports system itself presented quite a challenge. Velat learned she could participate in events but couldn’t score any points for her team.

A petition intended to change this Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) rule says, “Almost every state has some model in place to allow adaptive athletes the same opportunities for placing and advancement, but Michigan and thirteen other states do not.” Participating in a sport means being part of a team, and if you can’t contribute, you feel left out–a problem experienced by many para-athletes. 

Velat and other supporters pushed for a proposal to include adaptive athletes in races and to be able to score points for their teams.

The MHSAA responded to their efforts. On January 26, 2022, a MHSAA committee hearing concluded an adaptive category needs to be set up before adaptive athletes can earn points for teams. There was no consensus on allowing team scoring in this category, however, future discussion on this is being considered. In the meanwhile, MHSAA decided wheelchair athletes can compete in regionals and finals in a few events, but cannot score points. 

“I’m still pushing to have [races] be more inclusive and have an ambulatory category so that people with amputations or cerebral palsy can also be in finals, and also get that point system in place so it’s really being part of the team and not just running alongside it,” said Velat.

The Keweenaw Community SparkPlug Awards recognized Velat’s efforts to improve adaptive sports in her community, and she was nominated as the Youth Contributor of the Year. She urges others to become involved in their communities as well.

“There are lots of local programs. If there aren’t any local programs, it’s not that hard to just find adaptive equipment and get other people to start it,” Velat said. For example, the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) supports aspiring athletes with disabilities by lending aid and sports equipment. Velat’s community held a sled hockey clinic in which over a hundred people participated.

“If you see someone who you think might like adaptive sports, just let them know about it because they might not even know that it exists.”

Velat will take her ambitions to the University of Michigan and pursue medicine, specifically neurology. Inspired by her own experience, she wants to help people and learn more about how the brain and body work. She will also be part of the new adaptive track and field team, noting that very few colleges have an adaptive sports program.

“[The University of Michigan] has taken initiative in the local schools to get adaptive sports into the gym programs. I’m really hoping to get kids into it so they can start earlier,” said Velat. During college, she plans to continue working on the proposal to improve the MHSAA rules.

During hardships, Velat says it’s important to set a goal for yourself and work towards it. Training her body to do sports differently was a huge shift, and having family, friends, and the community support encouraged her to keep moving forward.

“Just consider other people’s situations, and if you find something you’re passionate about, just work towards that goal, especially if it’s something that can help you with your own health or helps other people.”

Julia Seitz is a Northern Michigan University student pursing a Bachelor of Arts. You’ll find her either writing creative fiction or researching a new fixation. She enjoys reading scary stories, but is too scared to watch horror movies.


Excerpted from the Fall 2022 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Healthy Cooking: Antioxidant-Rich Wild Rice, Val Wilson

wild rice pilaf, health benefits of wild rice, healthy cooking, UP holistic wellness publication, UP holistic business

Wild rice is known for its rich, black color and mild, earthy flavor, but did you know that it is a fantastically healthy food that can help slow the signs of aging?

Its high antioxidant levels, thirty times higher than other rices, can help do this and offer many other health benefits. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, the dangerous by-product of cellular metabolism that may cause healthy cells to mutate or turn cancerous. Our bodies may form free radicals from eating refined processed food, smoking, drinking, environmental pollutants, eating sugar, and taking pharmaceutical drugs.

When you eat wild rice, the high antioxidant content may help neutralize the free radicals that accumulate under the skin, which can cause wrinkles and other blemishes. It is important to note that white rice has no antioxidant capabilities. 
Wild rice offers other wonderful health benefits too. It has high fiber content, which can help improve digestion, is good for the heart, and may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Wild rice’s high phosphorus, vitamin K, and zinc levels are good for strong bones, bone mineral density, and healthy joints. Wild rice also contains vitamins A, C, E, B6, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Wild rice is best cooked with other brown rices to create a nice chewy texture, sweet, earthy flavor, and colorful combination. 

Wild Rice Mushroom Pilaf

1/4 cup wild rice 
1/4 cup short grain brown rice 
1/4 cup long grain brown rice 
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 onion (diced) 
2 garlic cloves (minced) 
2 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, cremini, or your favorite) 
1 carrot (diced) 
2 celery sticks (diced) 
1/2 cup walnuts (chopped) 
2 T. minced parsley 
2 T. raisins (optional) 
toasted sesame oil 
1/2 tsp. thyme 
1/4 tsp. rosemary 
1/4 tsp. sage 
1/4 tsp. sea salt


Put the rices and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to the lowest possible temperature, cover, and simmer for one hour until all the water has been absorbed. Sauté the onion in a little toasted sesame oil and tamari until soft and translucent. Put the sautéed onions in a large mixing bowl. Using the same pan, sauté the carrots in a little toasted sesame oil and tamari for a couple of minutes until they are browned and add to the bowl. Sauté the mushroom and celery the same way, then add to the bowl.

Chef Valerie Wilson has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. She offers weekly, virtual cooking classes that all can attend. Visit for schedule, cookbook purchases, phone consultations, or radio show, and follow her on Facebook at Macro Val Food.

Excerpted from the Fall 2022 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Creative Inspiration: Limit-Busting Community Artist Mary Wright, Christine Saari

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Mary Wright

L’Anse-raised Mary Wright was a homesteader, a teacher of health education, English, history, and art, a cancer survivor, and a feminist. Most people remember her, however, as a community art organizer.

Well over three-thousand blue and white hand-painted chairs brightened NMU’s campus during FinnFestUSA 1996 and 2005. 50 colorful fish shanties appeared at the Lower Harbor parking lot during the World Winter Cities Conference held in Marquette in 1997. Residents painted 400 book covers to represent their city block and raise money for their library. The history of pioneer settlers and families of today were recreated on one of the 500 Heritage Family Poles, set up to celebrate the Marquette Sesquicentennial in 1999. In 2007, 200 doors told the stories of grandmothers, past and current. Over the years, many thousands of people participated in these and other projects, and uncountable locals and tourists viewed them.

When Mary Wright dreamed up these community efforts, the sky was the limit.

No idea was too big or impossible to carry out. Her criteria for any of these undertakings were straightforward: The project had to involve fun, collaboration, and community spirit. Mary believed that every person has the capacity to be creative if provided the opportunity, and that working on joint art projects, reflecting the spirit of old-time barn-raising events, could create miracles.

This community aspect was essential. All participants, from elementary school child to grandmother to prisoner, were welcomed. The wilder the inspiration, the better! If you wanted to cover the wall of your fish shanty with left-over socks gathered at laundromats, or hang shoes of your relatives from your family tree, why not?

Mary Wright Doors Project, community arts, community artist, UP holistic publication, UP holistic business
Mary Wright’s Doors Project

To make these complicated events happen required multiple skills. Mary had a knack for roping people in, persuading them to help paint a mural, create a prototype, drive logs from Munising to Marquette, give money, or procure materials. She networked with local and state art organizations, city government departments, labor unions, and corporations, found donors and sponsors, and worked with the news media. She made countless presentations in schools, clubs, and to any group. And she did it all without a computer or the Internet! Her persuasive powers and persistence were legendary. Mary Wright did not take “no” for an answer.

Mary Wright had a special gift for finding the perfect expression of a particular event:

Blue and White Chairs, Finland’s national colors, were the perfect symbol for FinnFestUSA, an annual international festival held each year in a different city. They gave people of Finnish heritage a chance to honor their families and to define what being Finnish meant to them. They were an expression of hospitality, an invitation to sit down to strike up a conversation, to recycle old furniture, to create an heirloom. All fifteen UP counties participated. Chairs were set up by their painters’ regions, so visitors could find the chairs, benches, stools, and rockers they had decorated. A calendar was later created to provide a lasting souvenir of the event.

Mary felt Fish Shanties symbolized the spunk, spirit, and sisu of UP winter culture. Some grandparents used them to create playhouses for their grandkids. Book Covers were a natural for a library fundraiser. The project was organized around city blocks. This created special pride for residents and helped distribute the covers widely. Family Poles were perfect to portray the 150-year history of Marquette. The many different stories of individual families and organizations told through these poles formed a kaleidoscope of the community’s past and present.

Mary Wright learned how to draw the attention of the news media. Her flamboyant way of dressing in bright exotic costumes, colorful hats, and artful jewelry made her stand out. She managed to get herself on the Today Show in New York, at which she presented a bench decorated with portraits of the show’s luminaries. In the days before drones, she had an aerial photo taken from a helicopter to help advertise her book project. Family poles rode in the Fourth of July Parade. Outdoor working sessions gave visibility to a given project. There were interviews, photographs, and editorials in the newspaper.

community artist Mary Wright, UP holistic wellness publication, UP holistic business

Mary’s unique style is featured in Yoopera, a film documenting the production of the Rockland opera and the creation of Mary’s Storyline project in which thousands of white panels strung on wires fluttered in the wind like layered prayer flags from their spots around the Rosza Center and more Michigan Tech campus areas. Primarily made by schoolchildren, each panel had a photo transfer of someone’s image and the story of that person’s life told in the first person.

Mary Wright’s activities were not restricted to Marquette and Houghton.

She organized over thirty-five community projects, including in places like Alpena, Ypsilanti, and Port Huron, and also worked internationally in Toronto and Finland. Her themes were often based on ordinary objects such as shovels, stepladders, pillow cases, spring flowers, or winter mittens. In 1999, she received Michigan’s Governor’s Award for Arts and Culture.

Participating in one of these community projects has had a lasting impact on many. Often it was the first time someone had created an art object. Mary Wright supporter Doug Hagley said about Family Poles, “Some families were reunited after years of separation. Dialogues were fostered… Children honored their parents and grandparents…. The community and its visitors experienced the healing and community-building power of art.” School children became interested in their family history and realized that you could be an artist at any age. Poet Sandy Bonsall’s experience painting blue and white chairs with her students prompted her to write My Mother’s Story Is My Story. I myself was inspired to create a family pole to explore the Finnish background of my husband, and Grandma Doors led me to research the life of my Bavarian grandmother whom I had never met.

We lost Mary in November 2021. To honor her and her work, the Beaumier Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University will feature her in an exhibit in the spring of 2023. If you are willing to loan Mary Wright project object for the exhibit, please contact Dan Truckey at (906) 227-3212 or email

Austrian writer and visual artist Christine Saari has lived in Marquette since 1971. She has published memoir Love and War at Stag Farm (2011) and poetry book Blossoms in the Dark of Winter (2018). Find her visual work at The Gallery and Wintergreen Hills Gallery.

Excerpted from the Fall 2022 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.