Nizhoni Lee is a Navajo and woman-owned small business that is based out of Flagstaff, Arizona. Kimberly Lee is the owner and designer behind the brand, which specializes in handmade jewelry made from upcycled salvaged leather. She believes that everyone is given a natural talent so they can give back to the world, so she feels that creating these sustainable wearable works of art is her way of giving back.
Lee grew up in Black Mesa, AZ, and comes from a long line of artists. She would watch her mother forge jewelry from seed beads, while her father made alabaster sculptures. Her parents always encouraged her to experiment with using different forms of mediums when it came to the arts and crafting.
Her brand was established in 2018, when she noticed a need for more cutting edge, yet eco-friendly accessories. ‘Nizhoni’ is Navajo for “beautiful.” She finds inspiration from Navajo rug textiles and colors that are found in nature.
The statement earrings in the photos are the Floral Swarovski Leather Earrings. They are beautifully made, using angelus leather paint, Swarovski beads, dyed horsehair, Czech seed beads, leather, and sterling silver hardware.
Aravaipa Farms Inn and Orchard is located about 70 miles north of Tucson. The drive up via Arizona 77 is beautiful and takes you through the small towns of Oracle and Mammoth. Once you turn off 77, it’s another seven miles to get to the inn (with three miles being well-maintained unpaved road). The driveway is a somewhat steep descent into the property, where you can either leave the car parked and get shuttled across Aravaipa Creek (which is generally low and accessible with a four-wheel-drive but isn’t required). I chose to leave my car across the creek and requested a shuttle ride across the creek. The Inn owners- Jill and Kevin Maddon, and the Inn’s host- Laura Bailey met me and took me across the creek and to the property.
The Inn and (mainly peach, pear, and apricot) Orchard sits in a riparian countryside, and is nestled beneath the shadows of Brandenburg Mountain. In 1995, Carol Steele (widely known in the Phoenix and Scottsdale culinary scene in the 70s through 90s) acquired the property from Bill Farney. For almost twenty years, she hosted guests in her “reverse B&B” (Arizona Highways- March 2001) and served up her legendary artisanal food. In October 2016, the Maddons bought the 46 acres after learning that Carol was retiring and was selling the property. They did some renovating, while still maintaining Carol’s original flair and tradition, and re-opened in 2017. Check out the article on ‘Carol Steele- The Godmother of the Phoenix Culinary Scene’ here.
I was given a tour of the Inn, which included a peek into most of the casitas (minus the Blue Door Casita, as a guest was staying there), The Tree House, and the Farmhouse. Two casitas are housed in the original barn, where you can see remnants of the original horse stalls and the barn doors. Other features include galvanized steel roofs and ceilings, and Saltillo tiling. The other two casitas have been built out (of the original property). The Farmhouse is the largest of the lodging options, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. The Tree House is the largest of the casitas, with a tree trunk post that stands majestically in the middle of the space. Each of the lodging options has its unique style, decorated with kitsch and rustic items (Carol’s quirky folk art, handmade birdhouses, paintings, rocks, primitive items, etc.) that don’t necessarily make sense, but yet, fit perfectly in their nook. Walkways feature bits of broken pottery and old dishes.
Inside The Farmhouse, The Tree House, and Mountain + Garden Casitas
I stayed in the Orchard Casita- a beautiful stucco suite with eclectic furnishings, and stonework designed by Lazaro Cervantes (you can see more of his work throughout the property). The kitchenette was well-stocked with fresh coffee, honey from the orchard, sugar, and creamer. The distressed hutch contained utensils and dishware for my convenience. Breakfast is available for an additional fee, but I highly recommend it. You’ll find a homemade frittata, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, orange juice, and muffin(s) in the mini-fridge. There is no phone nor television, however, I was still able to access wifi on my phone (which was still spotty).
Inside the Orchard Casita + Breakfast
In the evening, we gathered at the main house’s patio for Happy Hour. When the dinner bell rang, we proceeded to the communal dining room for the farm-to-table three-course meal that was prepared by Laura and her lovely staff with recipes that have been handed down by Carol. It was an intimate group, with the Maddons and the only other guest at the Inn. We started with salad and Laura’s homemade bread (which I’m still dreaming about to this day…). The main course was a noodle dish with veggies for me (let the staff know ahead of your stay of any food allergies or dietary restrictions), while the others had fish. Dessert consisted of prickly pear sorbet with a madeleine cookie. Everything was delicious! Tip: Bring reusable containers for leftovers.
Dining Area and Dinner
This was a wonderful and peaceful experience. I enjoyed roaming around the orchard, stargazing and watching the bats flutter around the casita porch after dinner, looking at all the unique curiosities, taking photos, and just enjoying the solitude. I would’ve taken a dip in the pool, but the temperature was too cool for me. However, when I stay there again, I’ll be sure to test out the waters. Tip: Be sure to obtain your hiker’s permit prior to staying here, as it’s only three miles to Nature Conservancy’s Aravaipa Wilderness Preserve.
The most photographed door on the property, which has also been featured in Arizona Highways and Sunset Magazine.
Enjoy this video of the serene Aravaipa Creek …
Address: 89395 E. Aravaipa Rd., Winkelman, AZ 85192